Sunday, April 30, 2006

“Diversity” Hiring At Law Schools

From Michael A. Livingston, Professor of Law at the Rutgers-Camden School of Law, an honest (and therefore politically incorrect) critique of affirmative action hiring in law schools.

The exact same thing, of course, could be said of affirmative action hiring in any other part of academia.
The first problem relates to the organization of the hiring (admissions) process. Since race and gender are more or less objective, and quality is not, the former tend to move quickly from being a partial factor in hiring decisions to being the only factor that really counts. At my own law school this has taken on a depressingly familiar form. After two or three years of more or less open hiring there is pressure from the university or outside forces for more rapid process on the diversity front. At this point everything changes: the members and chair of the committee, the methods for selecting candidates, even the voting rules change in order to ensure the desired result. (The university has even been known to add or delete hiring lines depending on the physical features of the candidates, a process equivalent to adding an extra Senator to any State who votes Republican.) One can well ask whether this procedure produces the best candidates: but the point is that no one will believe they are the best candidates, even if they are, so that the process tends to degenerate into a “perpetual first wave” rather than any genuine progress to a more balanced faculty. (In almost twenty years of such policy there has been virtually no change in the female component of our faculty, and the percentage of minorities is actually lower than it was a decade ago.) It goes without saying that conservatives, including conservative women and minorities, are rarely if ever produced by this process.

The second problem concerns the internal operation of the law school that hires on the basis of diversity criteria. Because it is so costly to dip below the required minimum of diversity faculty, in practice almost anything has to and is done to ensure that they are happy. At my school, I have watched sadly as one after another of the unwritten faculty rules — the level of publication expected, the expectation that one’s work would be presented to the faculty before tenure, even the assumptions regarding physical presence at the law school — were compromised or abandoned to accomodate female or minority candidates who the law school simply could not “afford to lose” under the new dynamic. . . .

This leads to the third and in my view most significant problem with diversity programs: their effect on civility and free speech at the relevant institution. Because everyone knows that the people other than the best candidates are being selected, but in the nature of things cannot really say so, they tend to develop a habit of dishonesty and “wink-nod” compromises that is extremely difficult to limit to this one area. The entire trust and honesty that characterize academic exchange accordingly tends to atrophy in very short order. Nor do the proponents of diversity shrink from retaliation against its opponents. Propriety requires me to spare many of the details, but suffice it to say that there have been at least two grievances and one threat of litigation at my school by faculty members who asserted retaliation for the expression of conservative, anti-diversity views, one of whom was specifically told that he would be promoted when he “shut his mouth” and stopped criticizing the policies of the law school. Others have informed me privately that they will not vote against diversity candidates for fear that they will be hurt in the pocketbook if they do so. Many simply avoid faculty meetings, finding this the surest way to avoid uncomfortable issues; I myself have done this more often than I would like to admit.
We have long been aware of the cynicism of liberal academics on this issue. They will typically assert the desirability of “diversity,” but know full well that “diversity” candidates are going to be inferior to real hires. They concoct elaborate schemes to hire a “diversity” candidate — schemes that bypass the normal hiring process in which the “diverse” candidates are unlikely to be the best candidates. When necessary, they will simply vote against a better qualified white male and support a less well-qualified “diversity” candidate — as happened just last year in Political Science. (Happily, the “diversity” faction was outvoted.)

The net effect, of course, is corruption. And not mere venal corruption. The effect is intellectual corruption, which is the worst kind imaginable at a university.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Liberals Were Wrong About Welfare Reform

From City Journal, a review of how welfare reform, the great public policy innovation of the 1990s, was a splendid success — in most ways.

It was the reform the liberals said would not work, and the one many didn’t want to work.
So it seems a good time to remember the drama — make that melodrama — that the bill unleashed in 1996. Cries from Democrats of “anti-family,” “anti-child,” “mean-spirited,” echoed through the Capitol, as did warnings of impending Third World–style poverty: “children begging for money, children begging for food, eight- and nine-year-old prostitutes,” as New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg put it. “They are coming for the children,” Congressman John Lewis of Georgia wailed — “coming for the poor, coming for the sick, the elderly and disabled.” Congressman William Clay of Missouri demanded, “What’s next? Castration?” Senator Ted Kennedy called it “legislative child abuse,” Senator Chris Dodd, “unconscionable,” Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan — in what may well be the lowest point of an otherwise miraculous career — “something approaching an Apocalypse.”

Other Washington bigwigs took up the cry. Marion Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund called the bill “national child abandonment” and likened it to the burning of Vietnamese villages. Immediately after President Clinton signed the bill, some of his top appointees quit in protest, including Edelman’s husband, Peter, who let loose with an article in The Atlantic Monthly titled, “The Worst Thing Bill Clinton Has Done.” No less appalled, the Chicago Tribune seconded Congresswoman Carol Moseley Braun’s branding the bill an “abomination.” And while in 2004 the New York Times lauded the legislation as “one of the acclaimed successes of the past decade,” the editors seem to have forgotten that they were irately against it before they were for it, pronouncing it “draconian” and a “sad day for poor children.”
What have been the actual effects? A huge decrease (about 60%) in the welfare roles. A drop in poverty, and indeed in child poverty. The majority of women who have left the welfare roles are working.

But what hasn’t been achieved? The revival of marriage and family and a reduction of out-of-wedlock births. But even here, there is some evidence of a leveling off of the nasty trends that prevailed in the decades before reform.

He Thinks It’s a Shame It “Didn’t Happen”

Wikipedia: Playground for Those With an Agenda

With a hat tip to Peter DiGaudio, the Texas Hold ‘Em blogger, the following from the Associated Press:
Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that can be altered by anyone with a computer, has proved remarkably useful for pulling political dirty tricks.

Political operatives are covertly rewriting -- or defacing -- candidates’ biographical entries to make the boss look good or the opponent look ridiculous.

As a result, political campaigns are monitoring the Web site more closely than ever this election year.

Revisions made by Capitol Hill staffers became so frequent and disruptive earlier this year that Wikipedia temporarily blocked access to the site from some congressional Internet addresses. The pranks included bumping up the age of the Senate’s oldest member, West Virginia’s Robert Byrd, from 88 to 180, and giving crude names to other lawmakers.

The entry for Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall of Georgia labeled him “too liberal” for his state, in part because of a contribution he received from a political action committee run by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. The man who doctored Marshall’s biography now works for his Republican challenger.

[. . .]

Wikipedia leapt into the news last year after the journalist and former Kennedy administration aide John Seigenthaler Sr. complained that someone had edited his Wikipedia entry to say that he had been involved in the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy. The man who posted the false information said it had been a joke.

The flap prompted Wikipedia to adopt stricter controls, Wales said.

However, such oversight is probably minor, said Steven Jones, who teaches communications and technology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“Given the sheer size of Wikipedia and the sheer number of entries, it seems impossible that they could police it in an effective way,” Jones said.
DiGaudio became interested in this topic when he learned that a leftist had altered the article on the American Legion to assert that the organization has been and is fascist. Our conclusion then was that:
What we have, in the Wikipedia treatment of the American Legion, is an example of the fact that the material that appears in that online “encyclopedia” is no more reliable than that found elsewhere on the Internet, since the same sort of people who write garbage elsewhere on the ‘net can write the same garbage on Wikipedia.
Our policy, with regard to course papers submitted by students, is to refuse to allow the citation of Wikipedia. Most of what is there is doubtless true. But you just can’t be sure of any particular assertion.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Hate Speech Laws in Canada

From our Canadian e-mail correspondent, an example of “hate speech” laws in Canada.
SASKATOON (CP) - If David Ahenakew’s hate crime conviction stands, it will lead to the creation of a “tattletale state,” where anyone who is goaded into vocalizing their racist thoughts could be charged, his lawyer said Monday.

Appealing Ahenakew’s case in Court of Queen’s Bench, lawyer Doug Christie argued his client never intended to spread hatred against Jews and is being persecuted for angry outbursts he made while in an argument with a reporter.

“I suggest this law wasn’t intended to capture and criminalize people that get ‘lit up,’” Christie said, referring to the way Ahenakew has said he felt during the now infamous 2002 interview with the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

“This section has never been used to attack isolated, spontaneous speech.”

Last July, a provincial court judge fined the former head of the Assembly of First Nations $1,000 for wilfully promoting hatred at a Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations conference in December 2002.

Court heard that Ahenakew referred to the Jews as a “disease” when he was approached by a reporter after giving 45-minute, profanity-laced speech in which he blamed the Jews for the Second World War.

Christie spent much of his time arguing that Ahenakew’s interview with the reporter should not be covered by the hate laws.

The section of the Criminal Code under which Ahenakew was convicted applies only to hate spoken “other than in private conversation,” and Christie argued that a one-on-one interview with the reporter meets that exception.

The trial judge heard how Ahenakew consented to the interview at first but didn’t realize he was being taped.

“I would like to submit that ‘private’ means anything to which the public does not have access to by right,” Christie told Justice Robert Lang.

“If it had not been for the existence of the tape recorder, unknown to Mr. Ahenakew, the words would not have gone any further than six feet from the speaker’s mouth.”

But the Crown argued there is no merit to Christie’s assertions because Ahenakew knew he was giving an interview to reporter, not simply having a conversation.

“If the words do promote hate then they shouldn’t be said,” argued Crown prosecutor Dean Sinclair.

“When you equate a people with a disease - when you say there is an upside to the Holocaust ... you promote hate.”

Lawyers for the Canadian Jewish Congress, which had intervener status at the appeal, argued Christie’s stance on the issue of private conversation makes no sense.
It is a bit disconcerting to see Jews, long a mainstay of liberal politics, take such an illiberal position.

But then, most of the positions that all social groups take are the result of social biases, rather than philosophical principles.

Our opposition to “hate speech” laws goes beyond a libertarian support for free speech.

We simply can’t imagine that “hate speech” laws can ever be administered in a consistent way. We can’t imagine, for example, that leftist professors would ever be punished for encouraging students to hate capitalists, or that anti-war activists would ever be punished for saying demeaning things about American soldiers.

We can’t imagine that New York Times columnists or gay activists would ever be punished for saying hateful things about conservative Christians.

Indeed, the status of Jews as a protected group is in doubt. On college campuses, attacking Jews (or at least the vast majority of Jews who support Israel) is pretty routine.

In fact, it has happened at Marquette, and indeed happened under the aegis of the University’s Manresa program.

Under these circumstances, the only legitimate punishment for hate speech is that people will think you a nasty bigot. Not only does Ahenakew deserve this, but so a lot of leftist professors and anti-war activists and New York Times columnists and gay activists.

The Real Profiteers

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Jail Time for Tire Slashers

From WisPolitics.com, the fact that four Democratic political activists have now, contrary to the recommendation of the prosecution, been given jail time for slashing the tires of vehicles used to take voters to the polls.
A Milwaukee County judge today ordered jail time for the four defendants in the 2004 Election Day tire slashing case, rejecting a recommendation from prosecutors for probation.

Judge Michael Brennan said the four committed acts of voter suppression and civil rights violations. He wanted the case to be a “public example of what could happen if you interfere with voters’ rights.”

“Voter suppression just has no place in our country,” Brennan said. “Your crime cuts to the core of how we define ourselves as citizens.”

The four defendants -- Sowande Omokunde, son of Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore; Michael Pratt, son of former Milwaukee Mayor Marvin Pratt; Lewis Caldwell; and Lavelle Mohammad, all of Milwaukee -- each received a $1,000 fine and jail terms ranging from four months to six months. The defendants were also ordered to pay just more than $5,300 in restitution, which was part of their plea agreement. They will be eligible for work release.

The judge asked the defendants how they would react if Republicans committed similar acts.

“What type of outcry would there be?” Brennan asked. “Some of you might be out there protesting.”
Of course, in a case like this the race card gets played.
After the sentencing, Marvin Pratt criticized the decision and referred to the Frank Jude case.

“It’s funny how in the city of Milwaukee how you can beat a man half to death and you are exonerated, and you have men that committed a property crime at worst and they get jail time,” he said.
Of course, that logic would suggest that any crime less severe than the beating of Frank Jude should not get jail time. Indeed, the fact that people sometimes get off after committing murder (O.J. Simpson comes to mind) might suggest that the cops who beat up Jude should get off. At least, the demented logic of Pratt would suggest that.

Actually, the tire slashing case and the Jude case have one key similarity: a rather feckless District Attorney who wanted the tire slashers to go free, and who also was not sufficiently shrewd and aggressive to convict the guys who beat Jude.

Happily, in one of those cases, the judge intervened to do justice. It’s impossible, under our system, for a judge to overturn a “not guilty” verdict.

Another Marquette Student Blog

Josh Roling is a Freshman majoring in Political Science, and his blog is Roling Through the World.

There is no indication yet what his politics are, or even whether he intends to blog about politics, but he is blogging about his experiences at Marquette, and this one looks worth checking out at least every few days to see how it develops.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Howard Fuller’s Controversial Past

Via Marquette University News Clips:

Howard Fuller is famous today as a hero of the school choice movement, but few people know of his role in the 60s in the civil rights struggle in Durham, North Carolina.

Fuller had his critics, and some of them are still his critics. Durham’s mayor during the period insists that Fuller “has a proclivity for vexation,” and “became a somewhat disruptive presence in the city and on the Duke University campus.”

But Fuller continues to have fans in Durham. An historian of the black community in Durham, Kelly Bryant, says that “He made a tremendous contribution to getting us together.”

Fuller’s 60s attraction to Marxist and black-nationalist ideologies might seem mildly embarrassing in 2006. But then, being a bit of a rabble rouser doesn’t sound as dangerous and subversive today as it did to people then — given that we now know how little real threat the 60s radicals posed to fundamental American institutions.

Certainly, Fuller’s passion for helping the people at the bottom of the social power structure hasn’t dimmed with age.

Tonight on Campus: New York Times Reporter to Discuss Darfur

From Marquette Public Affairs:

Marquette will host New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, a leading voice on the human rights crisis in Sudan, for the Allis Chalmers Distinguished Scholars Lecture Series on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Weasler Auditorium. Kristof’s lecture, “Report from Darfur: First Genocide of the 21st Century,” is free and open to the public.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Feminist Elitism Toward Women Who Stay Home

From the libertarian website Reason Online. . .

. . . author Cathy Young discussing the contempt some feminists show for women who want to stay home and raise their children.
After lying dormant for a while, the Mommy Wars reignited late last year with “Homeward Bound,” an article by the feminist legal scholar Linda Hirshman in the December American Prospect. Hirshman, who is not known for mincing words (she earned a spot in Bernard Goldberg’s book 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America by declaring that women who leave work to raise children are choosing “lesser lives”), boldly assailed the truism that, when it comes to full-time mothering vs. careers, it’s a good thing for women to have a choice.

Hirshman surveyed 33 women whose wedding announcements had appeared in The New York Times during a three-week period in 1996. Of the 30 with children, she found, half were not employed and only five were working full-time.

Drawing on that and other studies, Hirshman argued that such choices by elite women are a primary reason for the dearth of women in the corridors of political and economic power. Instead of “reaping feminism’s promise of opportunity,” she wrote, these former lawyers and executives are in the kitchen baking apple pies.

While Hirshman conceded that those “expensively educated upper-class moms” seemed happy at home, she insisted that “what they do is bad for them [and] is certainly bad for society.” It’s bad for society, she argued, because it reinforces a “gendered ideology” of family roles, perpetuates male dominance in government and business, and deprives ambitious women of role models. It’s bad for the women who give up careers, Hirshman suggested, because they fall short of a good life, which includes “using one’s capacities for speech and reason in a prudent way,” “having enough autonomy to direct one’s own life,” and “doing more good than harm in the world.”
Translation: “you women don’t know what’s best for you. Only we feminist activists know what is best for you.”
Hirshman’s “get thee to the office” hectoring has an obnoxiously patronizing tone. She takes us back to the French feminist Simone de Beauvoir’s assertion, in a 1976 interview with Betty Friedan, that “no woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children . . . because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.” Friedan — whose 1964 classic The Feminine Mystique Hirshman invokes as a model of pro-work feminism—was understandably appalled by this diktat.

Furthermore, one needn’t lapse into hand-that-rocks-the-cradle clichés to be put off by Hirshman’s bilious contempt for anything traditionally feminine — even for volunteerism and less-than-lucrative jobs tainted by “idealism” (though it’s amusing to see so hearty an endorsement of capitalist values in a left-wing magazine).

Focusing only on the drudgery of home life, Hirshman misses the brighter side of the female dilemma: When it comes to work-life balance, women have far more options than men, including more freedom to choose lower-paying but more flexible and fulfilling jobs. Men, by contrast, are often trapped by more rigid social expectations and economic pressures.
While feminists differ among themselves, it’s important to understand that the mainstream — at least among feminist activists and academics — does not really believe in “choice.” They think that they know best, and if they had the power, they would impose their choices on all women — as well as on all men.

Vice President Cheney at White House Easter Egg Roll

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Saying the “G Word” in Canada

Yes, the “G Word” is “God,” a concept in which many on the left don’t believe, and many more are hostile toward. According to the National Post:
At the conclusion of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s March 28 speech to the Conservative Party’s national caucus, and his March 13 speech to our troops in Afghanistan, God is acknowledged, and His assistance is sought. “God bless Canada,” said the Prime Minister on both of those occasions. And Mr. Harper has used those words many other times since.

To say that the Prime Minister’s invocation has stirred up media hysteria would be too strong. But quite a few media observers -- and not just the heartless atheist ones, either -- have expressed disdain for the Prime Minister’s littlest of prayers.

In a pre-election column in the Montreal Gazette, writer Sue Montgomery was scathing. “This brings to mind [Harper’s] buddy south of the border, George W. Bush, who sees the Lord, not the constitution, as his guide,” wrote Montgomery. “This should be the first red flag to Canadians set to elect Harper as prime minister that we are in for the right wing ride of our lives.”

The Vancouver Sun’s Barbara Yaffe was a bit less critical in a February opinion piece, but perturbed, nonetheless. “Lord protect me for saying this, but any reference to God or people’s prayers should be curtailed by Harper. Canadians don’t mix religion with their politics ... it’s crass.”

Even international media organizations were unimpressed. Le Figaro and Liberation observed that the words rendered Mr. Harper too Bush-like. Le Figaro went so far as to caution the Conservative leader that “at the slightest misstep, Quebecers will throw themselves into the arms of the sovereignists.”

Finally, in the pages of the Toronto Star, Linda McQuaig was highly agitated by it all. “Is it just me, or does anyone else find it ominous that Harper says ‘God bless Canada’ . . . deliberately aping the most unsavoury president in U.S. history?”
The columnist who wrote the article, one Warren Kinsella, doesn’t seem too disturbed by the invocation of the Deity. He notes that the Canadian national anthem implores God to “keep our land glorious and free!”

Friday, April 21, 2006

Zacarias Moussaoui’s Lawyers Try the Abuse Excuse

From Alan M. Dershowitz, writing in Slate:
The Zacarias Moussaoui defense team has decided that the best way to save Moussaoui’s life — to convince the sentencing jury that the mitigating factors in his case outweigh the aggravating factors — is to paint their client as a mentally disturbed victim of abuse. They will argue that despite the horrendous nature of the crimes to which Moussaoui has confessed, his “diminished moral culpability” entitles him to leniency. To make their point, the defense is parading a series of witnesses into court to testify to Moussaoui’s troubled childhood. The witnesses tell tales of an abusive father, Dickensian orphanages, and pervasive French discrimination against Muslims. The most poignant story to emerge is that of Moussaoui’s longtime high-school girlfriend, whose parents mistreated Moussaoui because they considered him “a dirty Arab.” Moussaoui was also deeply shaken, according to a former friend, when racist bouncers refused him entry into nightclubs. These injustices, coupled with his poverty and proximity to violence, radicalized and destabilized the young Moussaoui, ultimately turning him into an al-Qaida terrorist.
Is this a plausible way of getting the sympathy of the jury? Dershowitz doesn’t think it is, and further he doesn’t think it ought to be.
Moussaoui’s lawyers are left with what I have called “the abuse excuse,” the tactic by which criminal defendants claim a history of abuse as an excuse for violent retaliation. The trouble with this tactic is that, if the jurors think about it, they will realize that it doesn’t make much logical sense. Lots of people of Middle Eastern and North African descent grew up in France. Lots were raised in poverty. Many faced racial or religious discrimination, or otherwise experienced difficult childhoods of some sort of another. But only a tiny minority of those who experienced those conditions, and sometimes much worse, grew up to participate in conspiracies to murder thousands of people by terrorism. According to the New York Times, the prosecution has already highlighted this point. In his cross-examination of Moussaoui’s sister, Assistant U.S. Attorney David J. Novak noted that their brother, Abd Samad, who “endured the same difficult home environment,” is now a “successful engineering teacher in France and not a terrorist.”

In addition to the illogic of the abuse excuse, it poses the threat that, if taken seriously, it could have dire consequences for precisely the people “represented” by the defendant. If you accept the notion that someone is less responsible for his actions based on his demographics, socioeconomics, or history, you are also making the case for racial profiling and a slew of liberty-curtailing state actions, such as the surveillance and preventive detentions of entire categories of people. After all, what Moussaoui’s defense team is essentially alleging is that Moussaoui is not as morally culpable as he might otherwise be, because poor Muslim immigrants are not capable of controlling their rage. It is a profoundly anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant position. The abuse excuse is always a two-edged sword: It might help a particular defendant, but it is bad for the groups to which that defendant belongs, and it is bad for the society that loses the capacity to demand personal accountability from all its members.
For a liberal ACLU lawyer, Dershowitz is making a lot of sense here.

Free Speech vs. the Gay Lobby in Canada: One Victory

From the StarPhoenix:
REGINA - Saskatchewan’s highest court has ruled a Regina man did not violate the human rights code when he published a newspaper ad that criticized homosexuality.

In rejecting the decision of a human rights tribunal, the appeal court ruled that while Hugh Owens’ ads were no doubt blunt and upsetting, they didn’t violate the code.

Owens was charged after he saw newspaper ads publicizing gay pride week in 1997.

He then published his own ad in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, which featured passages from the Bible that appeared to condemn homosexuality

There was also a drawing of two stick men holding hands surrounded by a circle with a line drawn through it.

A human rights board of inquiry found he affronted the dignity of gays - a decision that was upheld by a Queen’s Bench Justice in 2002, but has now been rejected by the high court.
Update:

At least one gay blog takes the gay activists to task for trying to shut up speech that they don’t like.

No group is monolithic, and there is a bit of a libertarian streak in the gay community, as shown by the reaction of our former student, Nate Romano, to a California federal court decision shutting up a high school student who expressed his Christian disapproval of homosexual acts.

In spite of this, the center of gravity among gay activists, as among feminists and other politically correct groups, is authoritarian and intolerant.

Iran Wants Into the Nuclear Club

From the The Office of Homeland Security, a good collection of editorial cartoons about Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Have a few good chuckles before you go back to worrying about just how dangerous these people really are.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Boston Globe: Blogs Essential to a Good Career

With a hat tip to a buddy who is a public relations professional, an article from the Boston Globe on how blogs can be an important tool for career advancement.

Some salient points:
Employers regularly Google prospective employees to learn more about them. Blogging gives you a way to control what employers see, because Google’s system works in such a way that blogs that are heavily networked with others come up high in Google searches.

And coming up high is good: “People who are more visible and have a reputation and stand for something do better than people who are invisible,” says Catherine Kaputa, branding consultant and author of “Blogging for Business Success.”

A blogger puts himself out in the world as someone who is interesting and engaging — just the type of person everyone wants to meet. “A blog increases your network because a blog is about introducing yourself and sharing information. . . .”

Blogging can get you a job

Dervala Hanley writes a quirky literary blog that got her a job is at Stone Yamashita Partners, a consulting firm that “tries to bring humanity to business.” Hanley says the firm was attracted to her ability to put her business experience into personal terms on the blog.

Blogging helps you move up quickly

To escape the entry-level grind, you can either pay your dues, working up a ladder forever, or you can establish yourself as an expert in the world by launching a blog. High-level jobs are for people who specialize, and hiring managers look for specialists online. “Decision-makers respect Google-karma,” writes Tim Bray, director of Web technologies for Sun Microsystems — on his own blog, of course.

Blogging makes self-employment easier

You can’t make it on your own unless you’re good at selling yourself. One of the most cost-effective and efficient ways of marketing yourself is with a blog. When someone searches for your product or service, make sure your blog comes up first.

Blogging provides more opportunities

Building brands, changing careers, launching a business — these endeavors are much easier once you’ve established yourself online.

“My blog is a foundation,” says Rosengren. “I’m building an awareness that I can leverage to do other fun things with my future, such as product development, or public speaking.”

A blog gives you a leg up when you meet someone new. Dylan Tweney, a freelance writer, says a blog gives him instant legitimacy with clients.

Clearly, this article is not about us hobbyist political bloggers.

It’s not about the people on our blogroll, nor about the bloggers whom we regularly read.

None of us blogging to promote our careers. Indeed, blogging can be an impediment if it becomes a too-time-consuming hobby.

But in fact, blogs are becoming a normal adjunct to an academic career, as evidenced by Ann Althouse, Shark & Shepherd, the Becker-Posner Blog, Freakonomics or Tony Palmeri.

And blogs have certainly become a way of establishing legitimacy in a field.

While we happen to have the credentials and position to speak on public affairs (blog or no blog), that’s not true of Owen Robinson of Boots & Sabers. How has he become a “somebody” in Wisconsin politics? By dint of his blog.

One can, in other words, establish onself on the basis of merit, credentials or no credentials.

In the jargon of the economists, barriers to entry are lowered in many fields.

What we hobbyist bloggers have been doing is more and more becoming a career strategy for people in a lot of professions, especially the self-employed and those who live as consultants and independent contractors. Having a blog is becoming a necessary component of being a “somebody.”

Fr. Wild on Evolution, Intelligent Design

Via GOP3.COM, a discussion of the current number of Marquette Magazine. Among other pieces is an article by President Robert Wild on the current evolution/intelligent design debate.

We are not sure how this has any direct relevance to Marquette, since professors in the science departments do what scientists do: produce models that are entirely naturalistic and never make recourse to any possibility of an Intelligence that might intervene in the natural world.

If this latter possibility is ever addressed, it is in Philosophy and Theology classes.

At any rate, here is Wild’s view, for what it’s worth:
Marquette’s mission statement reads, “As a Catholic university, we are committed to the unfettered pursuit of truth under the mutually illuminating powers of human intelligence and Christian faith.” We believe that science and faith do not simply coexist under some sort of separate but equal détente, but that both are, if pursued with methodological integrity, independent and yet complimentary sources of truth.

True enough, not all Christians view human reason so positively. And, true as well, there are those who view science alone as a source of truth, dismissing revelation as something that can never be demonstrated in scientific terms. They therefore conclude that discussions about God and God’s activity in the world only impede the search for truth and so do not belong on a university campus. This means that a major aspect of human experience, religious faith in all its forms, is ruled out of bounds on many campuses. As I see it, however, institutions, such as Marquette, that encourage the study of religious faith and revelation are in that respect more open to understanding the human condition in all its varied dimensions.

So where exactly does this place Marquette along the Darwinism/Creationism spectrum? While a university community ought to be open to debate on this as well as anything else, here at Marquette most professors who would concern themselves professionally with this topic might say something like this.

First, while evolution may technically remain a scientific hypothesis, it has proven extraordinarily productive in terms of explaining a great many facts in our natural world and is very strongly supported by a vast array of fossil evidence. Consequently, it must be taken very seriously.

Secondly, the account of creation in the first two chapters of Genesis is not a literal history or scientific statement nor was it ever intended as such. . . . Because this biblical text is a theological narrative and not a scientific account, it does not contradict evolution or any other scientific theory. On the other hand, if science attempts to explain the ultimate origins of the universe by random causality alone, it really is overstepping its methodological bounds. For just as the Bible does not purport to be a scientific text, so natural science can only speak about the natural world and natural causality and therefore must, if remaining true to its own methodology, leave open the question of ultimate causality. That is, scientific methodology can neither affirm nor deny the existence of God since by definition it only deals with material causes, and in religious understanding God is always deemed to be immaterial.
Our view is that every sensible person should believe in Intelligent Design at some level. When we see a clock, we have to think of a clockmaker. When we look at the universe, we see a Creator.

On the other hand, there is no reason to invoke Divine Intervention to explain every change in the earth, or in the species that inhabit the earth. God can simply let his clock run according to its own rules when He wants to.

But we must reject the dogmatic hostility of the scientists to the notion that God might in fact intervene to guide the process of evolution. Scientists assume that can’t happen. They can’t prove it doesn’t, and they don’t know that it doesn’t. They are just professionally hostile to the idea.

Wild doesn’t deal at all with the issue of teaching intelligent design in secondary schools. We see nothing wrong with doing so. Indeed, we are appalled at the intolerance of those crusaders fighting to prevent any challenge to the evolutionary orthodoxy being presented to students.

Remember, the issue is never whether evolution will be taught. The issue is only whether intelligent design will be taught too.

Interestingly, those who crusade against intelligent design never seem to mind if some high school history teacher favorably presents disreputable conspiracy theories about (say) Pearl Harbor or the Kennedy assassination. They never seem to mind if Marxism is among the viewpoints taught in social studies classes.

So it seems they are not against bad history or bad social science being taught. In some cases, they are merely motivated by hostility to religion. But in others, they have bought into the notion that science is some sort of sacred enterprise, the basic tenets of which are not allowed to be challenged.

Does Fr. Wild’s expressed opinion actually matter? No, not really. The professors at Marquette do and will continue to do what their disciplines dictate.

Still, it’s nice to see a sensible and balanced statement from Marquette’s President.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Campus Speaker to Discuss My Lai Massacre, Lieutenant William Calley Trial

It was not the first nor the only war crime committed by American soldiers, but the massacre of Vietnamese villagers at the village of Son My during the Vietnam War was the most notorious.

A Lieutenant named William Calley was eventually put on trial at a court martial proceeding and convicted for the incident.

Tomorrow, Thursday, April 20th the civilian attorney to represented Calley will be speaking in Alumni Memorial Union Room 227 at 4:00 p.m.

His name is Richard Kay, and the talk is being sponsored by the Marquette History Department, the History honorary society Phi Alpha Theta, and the Political Science honorary society Pi Sigma Alpha.

People interested in the Vietnam War, or in U.S. military history or in the way justice is administered in the armed services will not want to miss this presentation.

There will be a reception afterward.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

More on the Mexican Politicians Who Lecture the U.S. on Immigration

While we aren’t hostile to Mexican immigrants who come to the United States, we are pretty contemptuous of Mexican politicians who lecture America on its immigration policy.

The reasons for this are laid out in an article in the Christian Science Monitor, written in late March just before the presidents of the United States, Canada and Mexico met in Cancún. The author, who teaches government at the College of William & Mary, explains:
. . . Mexico’s leaders have turned hypocrisy from an art form into an exact science as they shirk their obligations to fellow citizens, while decrying efforts by the US senators and representatives to crack down on illegal immigration at the border and the workplace.

What are some examples of this failure of responsibility?
  • When oil revenues are excluded, Mexico raises the equivalent of only 9 percent of its gross domestic product in taxes - a figure roughly equivalent to that of Haiti and far below the level of major Latin American nations. Not only is Mexico’s collection rate ridiculously low, its fiscal regime is riddled with loopholes and exemptions, giving rise to widespread evasion. Congress has rebuffed efforts to reform the system.
  • Insufficient revenues mean that Mexico spends relatively little on two key elements of social mobility: Education commands just 5.3 percent of its GDP and healthcare only 6.10 percent, according to the World Bank’s last comparative study.
  • A venal, “come-back-tomorrow” bureaucracy explains the 58 days it takes to open a business in Mexico compared with three days in Canada, five days in the US, nine days in Jamaica, and 27 days in Chile. Mexico’s private sector estimates that 34 percent of the firms in the country made “extra official” payments to functionaries and legislators in 2004. These bribes totaled $11.2 billion and equaled 12 percent of GDP.
  • Transparency International, a nongovernmental organization, placed Mexico in a tie with Ghana, Panama, Peru, and Turkey for 65th among 158 countries surveyed for corruption.
  • Economic competition is constrained by the presence of inefficient, overstaffed state oil and electricity monopolies, as well as a small number of private corporations - closely linked to government big shots - that control telecommunications, television, food processing, transportation, construction, and cement. Politicians who talk about, much less propose, trust-busting measures are as rare as a snowfall in the Sonoran Desert.
Generations of leftist journalists, college professors, authors and activists have lamented the fact that the United States spends, as a percentage of Gross National Product, less than socialistic European nations.

But, by a massive margin, the most successful program of social uplift this nation has had has been its willingness to accept large numbers of immigrants. This was true circa 1900, when the immigration was virtually all legal, and it’s true in 2006, when the majority is probably illegal.

None of the socialistic nations of Europe has done so much to lift so many people out of poverty.

This is not to argue that massive illegality should be ignored, but it is to argue that immigration is good for the immigrants and its good for America.

And waiting for Mexico to get its economic act together isn’t a policy.

How Mexico Treats Illegal Immigrants

From the Associated Press:
TULTITLAN, Mexico - Considered felons by the government, these migrants fear detention, rape and robbery. Police and soldiers hunt them down at railroads, bus stations and fleabag hotels. Sometimes they are deported; more often officers simply take their money.

While migrants in the United States have held huge demonstrations in recent weeks, the hundreds of thousands of undocumented Central Americans in Mexico suffer mostly in silence.

And though Mexico demands humane treatment for its citizens who migrate to the U.S., regardless of their legal status, Mexico provides few protections for migrants on its own soil. . . .

The level of brutality Central American migrants face in Mexico was apparent Monday, when police conducting a raid for undocumented migrants near a rail yard outside Mexico City shot to death a local man, apparently because his dark skin and work clothes made officers think he was a migrant.

Virginia Sanchez, who lives near the railroad tracks that carry Central Americans north to the U.S. border, said such shootings in Tultitlan are common.

“At night, you hear the gunshots, and it’s the judiciales (state police) chasing the migrants,” she said. “It’s not fair to kill these people. It’s not fair in the United States and it’s not fair here.”

“If you’re carrying any money, they take it from you — federal, state, local police, all of them,” said Carlos Lopez, a 28-year-old farmhand from Guatemala crouching in a field near the tracks in Tultitlan, waiting to climb onto a northbound freight train.

Lopez said he had been shaken down repeatedly in 15 days of traveling through Mexico.

“The soldiers were there as soon as we crossed the river,” he said. “They said, ‘You can’t cross . . . unless you leave something for us.’”

Jose Ramos, 18, of El Salvador, said the extortion occurs at every stop in Mexico, until migrants are left penniless and begging for food.

“If you’re on a bus, they pull you off and search your pockets and if you have any money, they keep it and say, ‘Get out of here,’” Ramos said.

In the United States, mostly Mexican immigrants have staged rallies pressuring Congress to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants rather than making them felons and deputizing police to deport them. The Mexican government has spoken out in support of the immigrants’ cause.

While Interior Secretary Carlos Abascal said Monday that “Mexico is a country with a clear, defined and generous policy toward migrants,” the nation of 105 million has legalized only 15,000 immigrants in the past five years, and many undocumented migrants who are detained are deported.

Although Mexico objects to U.S. authorities detaining Mexican immigrants, police and soldiers usually cause the most trouble for migrants in Mexico, even though they aren’t technically authorized to enforce immigration laws.

And while Mexicans denounce the criminalization of their citizens living without papers in the United States, Mexican law classifies undocumented immigration as a felony punishable by up to two years in prison, although deportation is more common.
None of this, of course, is any sort of argument for harsh treatment of illegal immigrants here in the United States.

But it is a demand for moral clarity. We are a better nation with a better political system than is Mexico. Mexican immigrants here need to remember that (in fact, the vast majority doubtless do). Americans faced with the rhetoric of Mexican politicians have every right to remember how little moral authority those politicians have.

Which isn’t, of course, to argue that we should craft our policy to spite Mexican officials.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter and Nonsense About Jesus

In a world where people love conspiracy theories, it’s not surprising that the life of Jesus and how it is told should be, itself, the subject of conspiracy theories.

From the Telegraph:
The Archbishop of Canterbury today attacks society’s obsession with books such as The Da Vinci Code which, he says, encourage people to believe that the Christian faith is a series of “conspiracies and cover ups.”

In a strongly worded Easter sermon being delivered in Canterbury Cathedral this morning, Dr Rowan Williams says that there is a tendency to treat Biblical texts “as if they were unconvincing press releases from some official source, whose intention is to conceal the real story.” Fascination with “bringing secrets to light,” he said, evoked All the President’s Men, the 1976 film about the investigative journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, who exposed the Watergate scandal.

“We have become so suspicious of the power of words. . . the first assumption we make is that we’re faced with spin of some kind, with an agenda being forced on us. So that the modern response to the proclamation, ‘Christ is risen!’ is likely to be, ‘Ah, but you would say that, wouldn’t you? Now, what’s the real agenda?’”

The Da Vinci Code, by the American author Dan Brown, tells of a Church-led conspiracy to suppress Christ’s marriage to Mary Magdalene and his fathering of a royal bloodline. The novel has sold more than 40 million copies and was the subject of an unsuccessful plagiarism action in the High Court this month.

The Archbishop also pours scorn on the recent discovery of a leather-bound papyrus written around 300 A.D. believed to be “The Gospel of Judas,” which claims that it was Christ himself who asked Judas to betray him.

“Anything that looks like the official version is automatically suspect,” says Dr Williams. “Someone is trying to stop you finding out what ‘really’ happened, because what really happened could upset or challenge the power of officialdom.”
We certainly encourage our students to be skeptical of organizations with vested interests -- including ecclesiastical ones.

The problem comes, however, when the skeptics fail to use their skepticism in an even-handed way. Might the Church have a vested interest in a particular view of history? Certainly.

Might a big-bucks publisher and an author out to make a killing just invent a wild fantasy paying essentially no attention at all to cannons of historical judgment and accuracy? Absolutely.

Might an organization like National Geographic hype a proprietary “find” of theirs, claiming huge significance for a rather mediocre Gnostic writing that has no plausible claim to historical accuracy? A manuscript that was not only written long after the events it claims to describe but contradicts all the best early sources?

Yes.

As an editorial in the Telegraph put it:
The ease with which supposedly sophisticated people fall for the fantasies of books such as The Da Vinci Code is surprising and depressing. A large portion of that book’s readers claim to believe its contention that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, had a child by her, and founded a dynasty of French kings. The infallibility of Dan Brown is rather less plausible than the reality of the Resurrection . . . .

It is further evidence of the aphorism attributed to G.K. Chesterton, that “when a man stops believing in God, he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes in anything.” The Da Vinci Code is not an inane apologia of evil or a senseless cult of Satan - but it is extremely silly. We hope its baroque fantasies will soon be forgotten.
No doubt this kind of theorizing about what “really happened” is a lot of fun.

If wacky 9/11 theories implicating the United States government can gain fairly wide acceptance, why not wacky theories about a whole secret history of Jesus and ancient events surrounding his life?

But at some point, it’s really desirable to come back to earth and start thinking like an intellectually serious person.

On these issues, what you were taught in Sunday School (or in catechism class) is, quite simply, vastly more reliable than the current pop culture fantasies.

Yes, we know we are sounding like a real spoilsport.

Happy Easter

Friday, April 14, 2006

Studying English Literature

Via Boots & Sabers, a student in a college English class analyzes an exchange between members of his class and an acclaimed author:
The question went something like this:
The book is very profound, with many details hidden deep within, did you fully understand the relationship of the characters when you wrote it? Do you now?
Author’s response:
When I started, I really didn’t know much about the characters. Slowly, they revealed themselves to me. After talking with many readers, I now know more about them, but I don’t know if I fully understand them yet.
So, in review, the acclaimed author had characters reveal themselves to her. She didn’t create them, they revealed themselves. (Sounds a little schizo to me.) She only got to really understand the very characters she wrote after the book was published and she talked to readers.

Does anyone else find this odd at all? She didn’t invent all of these “genius” characters on purpose, the way others interpreted the book made it so. The person who wrote this book was learning about it from other people who took no part in its creation.

And of course, we are supposed to be analyzing the text to discern what the author is trying to hint at with subtle details. It’s always been clear to me, that analyzing texts to figure out what the author meant, is nothing more than pulling something out of your butt, and English not a real discipline.
Out of deference to the sensibilities of our colleagues in the English Department, we will have no comment on this.

Liberals Won’t Tolerate Campus Anti-Abortion Speech

Via Sykes Writes, the story of how a feminist professor encouraged her feminist students to vandalize a display of which she disapproved:
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS — A professor at Northern Kentucky University said she invited students in one of her classes to destroy an anti-abortion display on campus Wednesday evening.

NKU police are investigating the incident, in which 400 crosses were removed from the ground near University Center and thrown in trash cans. The crosses, meant to represent a cemetery for aborted fetuses, had been temporarily erected last weekend by a student Right to Life group with permission from NKU officials.

Public universities cannot ban such displays because they are a type of symbolic speech that has been protected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Witnesses reported “a group of females of various ages” committing the vandalism about 5:30 p.m., said Dave Tobertge, administrative sergeant with the campus police.

Sally Jacobsen, a longtime professor in NKU’s literature and language department, said the display was dismantled by about nine students in one of her graduate-level classes.

“I did, outside of class during the break, invite students to express their freedom-of-speech rights to destroy the display if they wished to,” Jacobsen said.

Asked whether she participated in pulling up the crosses, the professor said, “I have no comment.”

She said she was infuriated by the display, which she saw as intimidating and a “slap in the face” to women who might be making “the agonizing and very private decision to have an abortion.”

Jacobsen said it originally wasn’t clear who had placed the crosses on campus.

She said that could make it appear that NKU endorsed the message.

Pulling up the crosses was similar to citizens taking down Nazi displays on Fountain Square, she said.

“Any violence perpetrated against that silly display was minor compared to how I felt when I saw it. Some of my students felt the same way, just outraged,” Jacobsen said.
The point about this is not that here are intolerant people — we have long known that.

The point is that it is especially on college campuses where intolerance flourishes.

And the appalling thing is that Prof. Jacobson felt that her subjective reaction to other peoples’ act of free speech was a sufficient reason to shut it up.

She was “outraged.” Nobody has a right to outrage feminists.

When a similar display was mounted here at Marquette, it went unmolested.

But make no mistake, the feminist intolerance that would destroy such a display is present here too.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

But I’m Nice to People Who Obey the Law


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Marquette Blogs

We’ve run across several Marquette student blogs recently. All of the following have been overshadowed by the top undergraduate student blogs on campus, GOP3.COM (on the conservative side) and Campus Tavern (on the liberal side). But all of the following have some political content, and might be worth checking out.

On the Liberal Side:

The Misadventures... -- the blogger here describes himself as:
Hello all, I am a philosophy and politics student at Marquette University. To most here, I will be a leftist. But, as I have seen how making large and overreaching political statements early in life can pigeonhole one in many bad ways, I refrain from defining myself too clearly... For those interested in nuanced politics, I am most clearly a communitarian, probably a romantic Rousseauian (or a Rousseauian-romantic), I draw some from contemporary (e.g. 20th century) Marxists, a lot from modernists, and I am interested in classical or ‘true’ democracy. Most notably, I dislike liberalism and liberal politics, and am especially opposed to the weak ideas of individual space, individual freedom, and civil liberties/rights that come from such a tradition...
But as this post on abortion shows, the blogger is indeed a leftist.

Grey Street. Blogger Dave Streier spends considerable time fussing about the Bush Administration, but also expresses respect for The Warrior because that conservative student paper published a letter of his.

Greg St. Arnold, who has a short foray at blogging a year ago with The Smoking Room is back with Life is Good, subtitled “Musings of a mindless young man in East Africa.” St. Arnold, while writing a bit about africa, also continues to care enough about Wisconsin politics to write about Russ Feingold.

St. Arnold (along with three other guys) is also a blogger at Temporary Dispersion where the writing tends toward undergraduate pseudo-artsy (translation: incoherent).

Logan of We Live Our Lives Among Giants is also a poster on Temporary Dispersion. At the moment, his blog shows no politics at all, but rather a quite interesting travelogue as he moves across Europe, being in Sarajevo at the time of his most recent post.

On Sorting through Absurdity blogger Vincent calls himself “L’Étranger” and describes himself as “A bisexual, Roman Catholic scholar, I am an amateur philosopher and student of education at Marquette University.” As that description might imply, he’s more interested in gay issues than the average straight blogger, but it happens he’s also fairly moderate.

On the Conservative Side:

The blogger at The Life of Ray isn’t in fact a Marquette student. He seems to have just finished up at M.S.O.E., but he’s a big Marquette basketball fan (that’s close enough, isn’t it?). A big Scott Walker supporter, he accepted the need for Republicans to unite to defeat Doyle.

Previously Mentioned on the Conservative Side

MU Cerebellum has been around for about three months, and while it’s energetically conservative, the women who blog here (Id, Ego and Superego) don’t post very often.

Much the same could be said of Melissa and Katie of This, That and All the Crap in Between, although they do have one hilarious photo of Cindy Sheehan with Hugo Chavez.

Like all student enterprises, student blogs come and go. Will any of these rise to the level of actually being important on campus? The odds are strongly against it.

But somewhere in the Marquette student body are people who, either by starting their own blogs or by getting onboard at one of the two top ones, can do what the top student blogs have done this past year: break stories, get noticed, affect the direction of the debate and just generally be a force on campus.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Alien? Certainly.

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Wiretapping in Europe

Via Ask Me Later, the story of how measures to wiretap potential terrorists are going great guns in Europe:
ROME (AP) -- In Europe, Big Brother is listening - and being allowed to hear more and more.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks and the terrorist bombings that followed in Madrid and London, authorities across the continent are getting more powers to electronically eavesdrop, and meeting less apparent opposition than President Bush did over his post-9/11 wiretapping program.

As part of a package of European Union anti-terrorism measures, the European Parliament in December approved legislation requiring telecommunications companies to retain phone date and Internet logs for a minimum of six months in case they are needed for criminal investigations.

In Italy, which experts agree is the most wiretapped Western democracy, a report to parliament in January by Justice Minister Roberto Castelli said the number of authorized wiretaps more than tripled from 32,000 in 2001 to 106,000 last year.

Italy passed a terrorism law after the July 7 subway bombings in London that opened the way for intelligence agencies to eavesdrop if an attack is feared imminent. Only approval from a prosecutor - not a judge - is required, but the material gleaned cannot be used as evidence in court.

Similar laws have been approved in France and the Netherlands or proposed elsewhere in Europe, leading to fears by some that the terrorist threat is giving authorities a pretext to abuse powers.
How does Ask Me Later describe this state of affairs? “Amazingly, European Countries Don’t Want to Get Blown Up.”

On many issues, we applaud the more libertarian political culture of the United States, and scoff at the authoritarianism that is so common in Europe. Hate speech laws are a good example of what we think wrong with Europe.

So it is tempting to say that their political culture serves them better on this issue. But we think it’s more complicated.

We think the case for wiretapping people communicating with suspected terrorists is so good that even the American political culture tolerates it and accepts it. Then why the huge uproar over Bush’s policies? Simple partisan politics. If you are Russ Feingold, you can appeal to your party’s leftist core by attacking Bush on this issue. If you are the mainstream media, you can give Bush grief by creating a huge amount of flack, even though you know that, in the end, what he did was reasonable.

So while Europe has had rational politics, the U.S. has had the irrational politics of Bush-hating.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Justice Kennedy: The Great Liberal Hope

An excellent post on Eminent Domain dubs him (with no apologies to Mark Knopfler) “The Sultan of Swing.”

Yes, the subject is Justice Anthony Kennedy, nominated as a conservative by Reagan, who has drifted to the left over the years.

For liberals, this just means that he (like O’Connor) has “grown” or “evolved” into a better understanding of the “complexity” of issues.

For conservatives, he is somebody who has been subverted by the liberal media establishment (and one might add, the liberal academic establishment and the liberal interest group establishment).

There is a lot of evidence to support the conservatives, such as the media’s treatment of Supreme Court Justices:
Federal appeals-court judge Laurence Silberman once shrewdly described this media practice as the “Greenhouse effect.” He was referring to the fact that a Justice who voted in politically correct fashion would receive laudatory coverage by New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse, the alpha liberal of the Supreme Court press pack. If the Justice typically joined with conservatives, however, he’d soon find himself characterized as somebody else’s clone, or not very bright, or a traitor to his race, or some other derogation.

Justice O’Connor’s early years were widely demeaned in this manner, as was the late Justice Harry Blackmun, who was derided as the “Minnesota Twin” of then-Chief Justice Warren Burger before he came around and wrote Roe. Judge Silberman’s point is that such media hazing has a larger impact on some Justices than is widely believed, especially given the desire many of them have to be revered and to fit into Washington’s social whirl.
One could add to this the fact that, if one is a liberal-voting judge one is likely to be greeted as a hero in law schools and given honorary degrees at the nation’s universities.

Eminent Domain then rhetorically asks:
Would this really happen? Would a Supreme Court Justice vote to please the media? Well, Mark Tushnet discusses that in A Court Divided . . .
Kennedy’s concern for his public persona is suggested by the views of a former Kennedy law clerk, recounted by Rosen: Kennedy “would constantly refer to how it’s going to be perceived, how the papers are going to do it, how it’s going to look.” p. 176
But the good news, as pointed out by the Wall Street Journal, is this:
As Justice Kennedy’s complaint [about the media] last week suggests, the judicial left knows exactly what it’s doing in singling him out. Liberals seem to think they won’t be able to intimidate new Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts. Which is why liberals will continue to treat Justice Kennedy as if he’s the pigeon in one of B.F. Skinner’s behavior-modification experiments.
The message to Republican presidents is crystal clear (although it seemed to escape George Bush during the Harriet Miers fiasco). Appointing conservative hacks won’t do. They will just turn into liberal hacks — or at least into “moderates” who won’t cross the liberal elites on any real hot buttom issue.

Conservative judicial appointments have to be absolutely top-notch both morally and intellectually. Since George Bush might get another chance at a Supreme Court nominee, we do hope he has learned this lesson.

Is the Death Penalty for Moussaoui “Revenge?”

From Jeff Jacoby’s latest column, dealing with the issue of whether Zacarias Moussaoui should get the death penalty:
. . . opponents of capital punishment argue that putting Moussaoui to death would amount to nothing more than blind vengeance.

“Revenge . . . is sweet,” writes Nicholas Coates, an editor at Gulf News; it “is what Americans want more than anything else.” Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen labels Moussaoui’s trial “a laborious procedure to carry out what most of us recognize is nothing more than revenge. Call it justice if you will, we all know what it really is.” Elizabeth Hayden, whose husband was among the murdered passengers on United 175, argues that the death penalty is “pure vengeance,” the mark of a nation “acting out of fear and hatred.”

But if the death penalty is revenge, life imprisonment must be revenge as well. How can it be “pure vengeance” to execute a man, but not to lock him behind bars for the rest of his life? Especially if, as some death penalty critics claim to believe, life in prison is actually worse than death? A dictionary definition of vengeance is “infliction of punishment in return for a wrong committed.” By that standard, every punitive sanction from a parking ticket on up is a form of revenge. Eliminate the element of retribution from the penal code, and a lot of prison cells would stand empty. Is that what the opponents of “revenge” have in mind?
And of course, if some sort of mindless emotional desire for revenge was driving the proceedings, notions of due process would get pushed aside. But that hasn’t happened here.
Just two weeks ago, the judge in Moussaoui’s case suppressed a very large chunk of the prosecution’s case when a government lawyer was found to have improperly contacted witnesses. Was that the act of a criminal-justice system acting out of fear and hatred, hellbent on putting Moussaoui to death?
Jacoby, although a supporter of the death penalty, is not himself entirely sure that Moussaoui deserves it. But he can readily recognize a bad argument for sparing the would-be terrorist.

Opponents of the death penalty constantly use arguments against it that, if applied logically, would equally rule out other punishments. Is there a possibility of error? Certainly. Is there racial disparity? Yes (although not the sort that most people believe). Are these problems absent where prison is at issue? Certainly not!

Is an execution a terrible thing to inflict on an offender? Most certainly. But where the issue is not the death penalty, liberals will insist that prisons are inhumane, dehumanizing and degrading.

Maybe You Should See Your Doctor

Science news from USA Today:

New red, blue rings found around Uranus

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Letter to the Editor: United Church of Christ

It’s pathetic that the United Church of Christ has no problem slandering other churches. Making the claim through television commercials that anyone is rejected from attending church services is absurd. It’s a lie. If they have any valid point to be made it’s this: Church membership has something to do with admitting those who agree on certain principles. Even the United Church of Christ has such membership requirements. But to hear them tell it churches with high attendance, who have no need to produce commercials to attract parisoners, are routinely rejecting the poor, infirm, gay and troubled. Where’s the evidence?

Bob Holmgren

When Guns are Outlawed, There Will Still Be Plenty of Guns

From the Queensland Sunday Mail, the story of how Australian gun laws haven’t really restricted the availability of weapons:
ILLEGAL guns can be bought “as easily as a pack of cigarettes” through a booming weapons black market in Queensland.

Despite official denials, The Sunday Mail has been told that weapons are freely available through underworld dealers.

Prices start at $300 for a pistol and range to $4000 for the firepower of an Uzi sub-machinegun, capable of firing 10 heavy-calibre rounds a second.

Police Minister Judy Spence assured Parliament this week that tough laws had brought gun crime under control.

However, Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg, leading criminologist Paul Wilson, retired hero policeman John “Bluey” O’Gorman, legal gun dealers and even an ex-bank robber have confirmed the illegal trade is thriving.

Yet an underworld source who contacted The Sunday Mail said “guns are everywhere” in a flourishing black market.

“Buying a firearm is as easy as buying a packet of cigarettes if you have the right connections,” the source said.

“You can get anything you want. The new laws didn’t change anything except push them further underground.”

The unnamed source said a Glock 19 pistol could be bought in Brisbane for $2500. The Sunday Mail was sent a photograph of the weapon.

The high-powered Glock is similar to those issued to police. It has a shorter-than-average barrel length of 100mm, making it easily concealed and more attractive to criminals.

The source said a lightweight Uzi sub-machinegun could be bought “from the right people” in Brisbane for $4000. The Israeli-designed 9mm automatics are favoured by special forces troops -- and crime gangs -- around the world.

Mr Springborg confirmed that police officers had privately told him of an estimated “hundreds of thousands” of weapons on the black market.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Letter to the Editor: Wisconsin Anti-War Referenda

At Letter to the Editor on our recent article on the anti-Iraq War referenda here in Wisconsin:

I don’t really see where there would necessarily be a correlation between Kerry voting and the referenda across the state. A good many people who are against this war are still hung up on the idea that if we pull out of Iraq chaos would ensue, though of course it already is happening. I found that a lot when seeking signatures for the referendum petition in Shorewood.

So if this was purely a poll measuring opposition this would have been far higher. In fact that would be the case if we made this a state wide advisory.

As for Shorewood, we just about hit equal to Kerry’s percentage. That somehow did not make onto your post.

In fact it might have been higher if many people had not been put off by our 12-31-06 withdrawal deadline, which we failed to better explain as the establishment of something more solid than the Bush promising endless war in Iraq. As a matter of fact it appears that we drew more votes either way on the referendum than the race for village trustee and granted, maybe many of those might have been people who showed up to vote against it.

Keith Schmitz
Coordinator/Grassroots Shorewood

New York Times Op-Ed on Virtual Schools

Here is a piece by Andrew J. Rotherham about the attempt by the teachers’ union, right here in Wisconsin, to shut down virtual Charter schools in the state. Rotherham’s bottom line:
America’s teachers are ill served by the unions when policymakers and politicians are increasingly forced to work around them rather than with them; and the important contributions teachers’ unions can make are lost. In an era of strained budgets and competing priorities, it is politically foolish for the unions to alienate parents and essentially encourage families to leave public schools.

This debate, like the ones over many other education issues, is fundamentally about who gets to have power. Yet the power the teachers’ unions now wield will be fleeting if public schools do not become more responsive to parents.

An industry cannot survive by rushing to court every time a new idea threatens even a small slice of its market share. Instead, maintaining, and even broadening, support for public schools means embracing more diversity in how we provide public education and who provides it.
Rotherham is with the left-leaning Progressive Polity Institute, and doesn’t much like private school vouchers.

Still, there is no denying that he’s right about the self-defeating nature of the politics of the educational status quo.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

That’s a Good Point


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

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Anti-Iraq War Referenda — Running Behind John Kerry

The anti-Bush and anti-Iraq War crowd will doubtless try to spin tonight’s results on anti-war referenda around the state as a victory, pointing to the fact that more localities passed an anti-war measure than rejected one.

Based on votes on the Journal-Sentinel website, anti-war referenda appear to have won in 24 localities, and lost in 9.

Both the list of places where the referenda won and the list of places were they failed are laced with small localities with few votes.

If there is some upsurge of anti-war sentiment in the nation, we should find that localities that voted for Bush in 2004 are now approving an anti-war ballot measure. Otherwise, it’s just the garden variety partisan division.

A geunine groundswell of anti-war sentiment should move people who voted for Bush to defect and express their disapproval of the Iraq War.

This doesn’t appear to have happened.

It is true that Draper voted for Bush in 2004, and has now voted anti-war. Likewise, Edgewater, which went for Bush by 212 votes to 153 votes for Kerry, has endorsed the anti-war measure.

But on the other hand, Egg Harbor leaned toward Kerry in 2004, and has rejected the referendum.

A more sensible test, however, is to ask whether the anti-war referenda did better or worse than Kerry did. If better, it’s bad news for Bush. If worse, the anti-war movement hasn’t made any real converts. They just got the votes of people who didn’t like Bush anyway.

Consider Mt. Horeb, which voted for Kerry by a 60-40% margin. It has endorsed the anti-war referendum by only a 52.8-47.2% majority.

Looking at substantial population centers:

La Crosse, which went heavily for Kerry, has endorsed the anti-war referendum only narrowly. In 2004 the city favored Kerry by a 61.1% to 38.9% margin of the two-party vote (oddball minor parties omitted). Yet the anti-war referendum passed in the city by only 54.8% to 45.2%. The anti-war crowd didn’t even keep all the Kerry voters.

That bastion of liberalism, Madison, went with Kerry in 2004 by 75.0% to 25.0%. Yet it passed the anti-war referendum by only 68.4% to 31.6%.

Turning to conservative and Republican Watertown, which favored Bush by a 62.3% to 37.7% margin, we find the town rejected the anti-war referendum by an even more lopsided 74.8% to 25.2% margin.

Far from eating into Bush’s conservative base, the referendum seems to have firmed it up.

Of course, the issue is a bit more complicated in an election like this that shows low turnout. The vote is not merely a reflection of the voters’ sentiments, it’s also a test of which side turns out to vote.

But this sort of analysis can hardly be a comfort to the anti-war movement. Genuine staunch opposition to the war ought to get people to the polls. In this case it didn’t.

Seeking Action on Darfur

From our colleague Barry McCormick:


The second full meeting of the Darfur Action Coalition was held on Monday, April 3. About 50 people attended.

Prof. Richard Friman reported that while death and displacement in Darfur continue to accelerate, the existing peacekeepers from the Organization of African Unity are exhausting their funding and remain incapable of halting the violence. There are vague reports that NATO or the UN may eventually supplement or replace the OAU force, but thus far no firm commitments.

Prof. Barrett McCormick reported on the progress of the petition drive so far. Last week the DAC organized a trial run which collected 2000 signatures in two days. Those attending the meeting were asked to volunteer to staff tables during the next two weeks when the DAC will initiate an effort to obtain signatures from our whole campus.

Prof. John Pustejovsky of the Languages Department finished the meeting with a talk on why doing the right thing is important even when it is not clear that it will bring the results we want.

Anyone who wants more information or to help can contact the DAC at DarfurActionCoalition@yahoo.com.

9/11 Conspiracy Theories Debunked

From the The Office of Homeland Security, a list of moonbats who have embraced (or at least flurted with) U.S. government 9/11 conspiracy theories:
UPDATE – Actor Seth Green and writer/poet Erica Jong join Ed Asner in questioning the U.S. government’s role in the deaths of three-thousand American citizens on September 11th, 2001. Thanks Charlie Sheen, now look at what you’ve started – a bunch of copycat lunatics.
As we noted in a previous post, at least one former editor of the Marquette Tribune has fallen under the spell.

Also from the Office of Homeland Security, a good dose of sanity on the issue: an article in Popular Mechanics debunking some of the wild notions.

Admittedly, the truth is usually less fun.

Monday, April 03, 2006

We Get the Better Deal, Certainly


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United Church of Christ: We are Inclusive, We Hate People Who Aren’t

From the New York Times, another ad campaign from the liberal United Church of Christ about how Christians who don’t agree with them are narrow minded:
The campaign is being sponsored by the United Church of Christ, a Protestant denomination that garnered attention in late 2004 with a commercial that offered a startling perspective on religious diversity and inclusiveness. The spot, which returned last spring, showed two burly bouncers using a red velvet rope to block the entrance to a church, keeping out worshipers whose appearances departed from mainstream norms but letting in those with stereotypical all-American looks.

The church will return on April 3 with a second commercial, also from Gotham, titled “Ejector Pew.” The spot depicts a smug, traditional-looking family looking askance as they are joined inside a church by worshipers who are significantly different from them.

Suddenly, the worshipers who are disabled or elderly, or who appear to be gay, Hispanic or of Middle Eastern origin, are forcibly ejected from their seats. “God doesn’t reject people,” the commercial says. “Neither do we.”

. . .

The campaign will also run on the radio and in print. The contents will be different from the television commercial, carrying themes like “Our faith is over 2,000 years old. Our thinking is not” and “We don’t sing ‘Come Some of Ye Faithful.’”
Of course, the United Church of Christ is quite tolerant of (say) homosexuals, but not at all tolerant toward Jews who support Israel.

Indeed, UCC President John Thomas blasted the Simon Wiesenthal Center for a campaign of “disinformation” and accused them of being part of a cabal that constitutes “the powerful pro-Israel lobby that largely controls the Washington agenda on the Middle East.”

That is the way of politically correct “tolerance.”

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Darfur Meeting on the Marquette Campus

Tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. in Straz 105, a meeting about genocide in Darfur.

For information, you can contact our colleague Barry McCormick.

We have avoided being very interested in this issue, not because it lacks merit, but because we have despaired of seeing any good done.

The United Nations looks to be a toothless tiger, and the United States — the only power able to intervene unilaterally or lead a “coalition of the willing” — is tied down in Iraq.

The organizers of the event are calling for intervention by a multinational force. We wish them well.

The Race Card

From the Texas Hold ‘Em Blogger, a discussion of Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, along with a picture of the “race card!”

Don’t miss it.

On the Horns of the Immigration Dilemma


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9/11 Conspiracy Theories Run Wild

It must be the result of some wide-ranging social pathology, but at the moment we don’t feel like switching into social scientist mode and explaining it.

First, a conspiracy video that has made a believer out of former Tribune editor Adam Kirby.
Until tonight, I just laughed off the suggestion that the events of that horrible day were somehow concocted by the government. After watching this documentary, I’m left shaken to my core. I’m convinced.

And I’m horrified.
Another comes from a buddy and former colleague who does not (repeat, does not) endorse the content. The thesis is that no 757 struck the Pentagon.

We’ll trust our readers to know how fallible witness testimony can be, how selectively it can be used, how tendentiously it can be interpreted, and so on.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Marquette’s Arab Students Have a Problem

When the Middle East, and especially the Israeli/Palestinian conflict gets discussed on the Marquette campus, the discussion is inevitably going to have an anti-Israel bias. Indeed, it has been dominated by people with a visceral hatred of the Jewish state.

Two Jewish Law School students recently went public with a Tribune Op-Ed column objecting to this.

In last Tuesday’s Tribune two representatives of Arab students replied. First, former Arab Student Association President Salma Khaleq:

We explicitly draw a line between anti-Semitism, which would entail excluding speakers, members or attendees of events by virtue of their religious affiliation, and programming that explores a variety of dimensions within the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Events such as Dr. Norman Finkelstein or Julie Enslow (an event we co-sponsored during Islam Awareness Week) are no different. We do not feel that we should censor the works of Jewish scholars such as Dr. Finkelstein because the mainstream disagrees with them. That would mean marginalizing a large portion of the Jewish people who feel just as we do that Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is wrong. That would entail anti-Semitism.
She points out that one of the speakers that the ASA hosted, Norman Finkelstein, is Jewish. That’s true. He’s a Jew-hating Jew.

As for sponsoring speakers that the “mainstream disagrees with:” suppose the mainstream has good reason to disagree with the viewpoint? Would a Klansman discussing race relations be merely somebody the “mainstream disagrees with?”

Then there is former President of the Arab Student Association Khalaf M. Khalaf:

We look for programs that recognize and respect our differences, while also bringing us closer to understanding one another. We believe that embarking on such a task will help shorten the distance that keeps us separate. However, this can only be achieved if our fellow students work with us, and not try to censor the discourse.

But how can one “recognize and respect our differences” if Israel and the Jews are demonized?

Both Kahlaf and Khaleq invoke “censorship,” but that is entirely a red herring in this context.

In the first place the article, by Law School students David Cherner and Brenda Yaskal, doesn’t in the least advocate censoring the Arab Student Association. Rather, its concern is with Marquette’s official endorsement of a biased slate of speakers. Marquette’s Manresa program, the Office of Student Development and the University Ministry (as well as MUSG) have all cosponsored the one-sided panels and presentations. As Cherner and Yaskal explain:
Our concern is not that Arab Awareness or Islam Heritage should be banned from campus. Students have the 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.
But for the moment let’s leave Marquette aside and discuss what the Arab Student Association has done. While we might expect an Arab student group to side with the Palestinians, it doesn’t follow that they have to apologize for and even support violence. It doesn’t follow that they have to be anti-American. It doesn’t follow that they have to promote bogus claims about the conflict.

There is a difference between censoring a student organization and taking them to task for irresponsible positions.

So now, we offer Arab student activists three pieces of advice. They doubtless don’t want then, and will probably be offended by them, but they are good advice anyway.
  • Eschew Violence – whether it is suicide bombers in Iraq, rioters in France, the nation of Iran wanting a nuclear bomb with which to attack Israel, or killing people in riots over some Danish cartoons, far too many Muslims are sending the message that Islam is a violent religion, heedless of the value of human life and willing to kill at the slightest provocation. Or quite frequently, with no provocation at all. This means that supporting or endorsing spokespeople who advocate violence, apologize for violence, or even are quick to “understand” violence on the part of Muslims directed at non-Muslims feeds into the stereotype.

    It’s long been quite obvious that non-violent tactics and serious negotiation would have gotten the Palestinian people far more than they have gotten through terrorism. The fact that you think Israel deserves to be attacked by terrorists is a problem you need to overcome, not any part of a solution.

  • Eschew Anti-Americanism – Many of the Israel hating speakers you have been promoting are also violently anti-American. Quite frequently, it’s hard to figure out whether they started out hating Israel and then came to hate America (Israel’s ally), or vice versa.

    An increasing number of people in Europe (and some in America) are coming to view Muslims as a fifth column, enemies hostile to Western Civilization and willing, should they gain political power, to oppress others. Happily, this view is still a rather marginal one (especially in America). But continued demonization of America and continued siding with Muslims in any conflict with the U.S. could make this a mainstream view.

    Remember: make it clear that you don’t like America, and Americans don’t like you. Ask the French.

  • Tell the Truth – Last year you featured a “documentary” called “Jenin, Jenin” at the Arab Heritage Celebration. It told about the supposed “massacre” of Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli Army. Unfortunately, the “massacre” was in fact a pitched battle between Palestinian fighters and Israeli soldiers.

    Likewise, one of your speakers (Jennifer Loewenstein) had accused Israel of using nerve gas.

    It’s not cool to promote lies in the service of a “greater good.” And if you really believe all these charges against Israel you look at best silly and at worst bigoted.
Finally (this is number four, and a bonus) don’t get lulled into a sense of self-righteousness because leftist professors and leftist University bureaucrats dote on you and make you their pets and give you awards. The posturing that works so well on a college campus won’t work at all in the larger world of American politics, where there is strong support for Israel and little patience for anti-American attitudes and suicide bombers.

So the sooner you escape the campus political sandbox and start playing by the rules of the broader society, the better for you. And the better for the Palestinian cause too.

Judicial Activism Now Disreputable?

An excellent post on Eminent Domain takes off from a column in Slate where a liberal writer admits that believers in judicial restraint have the rhetorical upper hand.

The gist is that people have caught onto the game. It has become obvious that liberal activist judges aren’t really judges. They are just legislators in black robes.

Thus none of the Senate liberals really laid a hand on Roberts or Alito. Indeed, the Senate liberals looked downright sleazy in demanding that Supreme Court Justices promote their liberal policy preferences rather than basing their decisions on the law.