Thursday, November 30, 2006

We Certainly Believe That

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Marquette Will Refuse to Recognize Students for Academic Freedom

We have blogged about the Marquette Students for Academic Freedom, which is trying to get itself the status of a recognized student group on campus.

The Office of Student Development has been dragging its feet on approving the organization’s Constitution. The Marquette Tribune, in fact, has slammed the lack of transparency surrounding the issue.

The organization’s president, Charles Rickert, has been told by Kelly Neumann of the Office of Student Development and Mark McCarthy, Dean of Student Development that the organization’s current Constitution won’t be accepted. Rickert shared the details of the meeting, which took place on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, with us.

Neither Neumann nor McCarthy was immediately available to comment on the situation.

McCarthy was fairly explicit about what in the Constitution the OSD bureaucrats find objectionable.

First, they don’t mind that the organization promises to:
  • Invite speakers to address the issue of campus bias [but note that OSD could refuse to allow any speaker they don’t like]
  • Encourage vigorous, reasoned and civil debate, which is respectful of serious intellectual diversity
Now what is it that they don’t like?

The organization promises to:

  • Research political bias on campus by interviewing students and making a record of specific incidents, including unprofessional faculty behavior in the classroom and on campus, obstruction of campus speakers, and destruction of student literature
  • Note and object to events that abuse the academic nature of the university. These include: one-sided faculty political teach-ins, one-sided faculty conferences and one-sided faculty lecture series that are inappropriately partisan events in an academic setting
  • Note and object to one-sided reading lists, one-sided speakers programs, and lopsided funding of student organizations
  • Note and object to the absence of diversity among faculty in a particular department, in class curricula, and in classes offered [in context, this means intellectual diversity, and not race, gender or sexual orientation]
  • Create and disseminate a newsletter or pamphlet that documents any abuses
In other words, the group will complain, hopefully loudly, about ideological bias on campus.

Neumann and McCarthy also didn’t like the name “Students for Academic Freedom,” insisting that academic freedom at Marquette isn’t for students!

They particularly didn’t like the group’s affiliation with the national group Students for Academic Freedom, which they attacked as one-sided and controversial.

Bottom line: they simply don’t want any group on campus that will criticize anybody at Marquette for having an ideological bias.

Yet they certainly can’t have a policy of rejecting all groups that might criticize Marquette. They would have no objection if a black student group criticized Marquette for a lack of racial diversity. They would have no objection to the Gay/Straight Alliance criticizing Marquette for not being “gay friendly” enough.

It seems that what they really don’t want is for Marquette to be criticized from the political right.

As for affiliation with a controversial national organization: Marquette has recognized a student chapter of Amnesty International, which is certainly controversial.

The idea that students in the organization have a right to criticize individual faculty is hardly a new one. Until recently, students were encouraged to rate their professors on Dog Ears, and to do so via a link on the student government web site!

What we have here is some combination of ideological bias and bureaucratic politics. The liberal bureaucrats at OSD probably don’t see Amnesty International as a controversial organization, and don’t mind having Marquette attacked from the left.

But it’s also the case that this organization is likely to make trouble for the University, including OSD, which has a record of promoting and encouraging a left-slanted program of events and speakers.

Talk Radio Brings Justice in Bogus Los Angeles Racial Discrimination Case

We earlier reported how an innocent prank, directed toward a black Los Angeles firefighter, resulted in his getting a settlement of $2.7 million when he played the race card and claimed discrimination.

Now, a follow up, via Patterico’s Pontifications. From the Los Angeles Times.
It seemed like a slam-dunk when the Los Angeles City Council made a near-unanimous decision to pay black firefighter Tennie Pierce $2.7 million to settle a racial harassment lawsuit that claimed he had been tricked into eating dog food by station mates, then taunted for months.

But almost immediately, other voices in Los Angeles demanded to be heard.

The talk show team on KFI-AM (640)’s “John & Ken Show” wasted no time making the case a cause celebre, pumping up listeners with daily drive-time diatribes against the settlement. Council members began backtracking. The fire chief intensified his push to toughen department discipline. And Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa tried to offer something for everyone — vetoing the settlement but demanding an end to the kind of hazing that led to the headlines.

On Tuesday, the furor continued. The NAACP called for the ouster of fire Chief William Bamattre. The newly elected union head applauded the mayor’s veto, saying institutional racism is not a problem. And it became clear that fault lines between the mayor, city attorney and council were widening.

The case was only the most recent in a string of settlements of Fire Department harassment claims.

But it was a case tailor-made for radio talk-show fame, thanks to the hefty price tag and the notion, in some quarters, that Pierce — called “the Big Dog” by fellow firefighters because he is 6 feet 5 — was being paid off for a harmless prank.

Pierce, 51, alleged that a firefighter mixed canned dog food into his dinner at their Westchester station two years ago with the assent of two captains. He contends that the taunting he endured afterward forced him to leave the department.

After the settlement was announced Nov. 8, radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou urged listeners to send dog food to the 11 “nincompoop” council members who approved the settlement and to City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo, who recommended it. Last week, several council offices received cans of dog food; others received voice mail protests. In Northridge, a councilman’s secretary was pelted with a bag of kibble.

Firefighters, angry that their department was being maligned, began calling in to the radio program, and several sent along old photos of Pierce — shirtless and beaming — participating in crude firehouse pranks that involved half-naked men, shaving cream and what appeared to be mustard.

The photos were posted on the program’s website and displayed on television, and public outrage heated up.

“When people saw [Pierce] participated in pranks, that was what really ignited them,” Kobylt said. “If we didn’t have those pictures, it would have gone away a lot sooner.”

The pictures proved to be critical to the case’s undoing. Villaraigosa said the hazing they portrayed sickened him.
One can see why a lot of elites don’t like talk radio.

The NAACP obviously doesn’t like anybody blowing the whistle on a racial hustle. And members of any city council would much prefer to pay off a claim — using the taxpayers’ money — rather than have to deal with a contentious issue.

Top administrators at the Fire Department would rather widespread hazing not be made public.

And (although they would deny this) the Mainstream Media can’t like it when highly salient details in a case like this — details they didn’t know about or ignored — get reported by competing media.

So a lot of people’s lives would be much simpler if talk radio went away.

That Will Teach Him

From USA Today:
U.S. bans sale of iPods to North Korea

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration wants North Korea’s attention, so like a scolding parent it’s trying to make it tougher for that country’s eccentric leader to buy iPods, plasma televisions and Segway electric scooters.

The U.S. government’s first-ever effort to use trade sanctions to personally aggravate a foreign president expressly targets items believed to be favored by Kim Jong Il or presented by him as gifts to the roughly 600 loyalist families who run the communist government.

Kim, who engineered a secret nuclear weapons program, has other options for obtaining the high-end consumer electronics and other items he wants.

But the list of proposed luxury sanctions, obtained by The Associated Press, aims to make Kim’s swanky life harder: No more cognac, Rolex watches, cigarettes, artwork, expensive cars, Harley Davidson motorcycles or even personal watercraft, such as Jet Skis.

The new ban would extend even to music and sports equipment. The 5-foot-3 Kim is an enthusiastic basketball fan; then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright presented him with a ball signed by Michael Jordan during a rare diplomatic trip in 2000.

Experts said the effort — being coordinated under the United Nations — would be the first ever to curtail a specific category of goods not associated with military buildups or weapons designs, especially one so tailored to annoy a foreign leader. U.S. officials acknowledge that enforcing the ban on black-market trading would be difficult.

The population in North Korea, one of the world’s most isolated economies, is impoverished and routinely suffers widescale food shortages. The new trade ban would forbid U.S. shipments there of Rolexes, French cognac, plasma TVs, yachts and more — all items favored by Kim but unattainable by most of the country.

“It’s a new concept; it’s kind of creative,” said William Reinsch, a former senior Commerce Department official who oversaw trade restrictions with North Korea during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Reinsch predicted governments will comply with the new sanctions, but agreed that efforts to block all underground shipments will be frustrated.

“The problem is there has always been and will always be this group of people who work at getting these goods illegally,” Reinsch said. Small electronics, such as iPods or laptops, are “untraceable and available all over the place,” he said. U.S. exports to North Korea are paltry, amounting to only $5.8 million last year.
We all love a good parody, such as David Zucker’s lampooning of Clinton’s foreign policy toward North Korea.

But sometimes, you don’t need to stretch things to make a point. Example: the movie This is Spinal Tap, which is supposedly a parody on the heavy metal rock scene.

What is mostly does is merely report the heavy metal rock scene, which parodies itself.

So what we now have is the Bush Administration and the United Nations parodying economic sanctions.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It’s Bipartisan

Monday, November 27, 2006

Some Spaniards Do Oppose Terrorism

Marquette student Katie, of Me in Madrid, has been given some grief by anti-American types.

But she recently ran into the aftermath of a demonstration of people who were much more favorable to the U.S.

What kind of people were at that demonstration? Relatives of terror victims.

As the streets were cleaned up, she saw a woman with a Spanish flag and ask her what the demonstration was about.
The woman continued to rave about how much she loved the US and how firm our president is in his stance. She expressed embarrassment over an incident in which the Spanish president refused to stand as several Marines passed by in a parade with an American flag. She also noted that as a Spaniard she is ashamed that her country pulled out of Iraq when our American soldiers are over their losing their lives for a good cause every day.
Not a typical example of European public opinion, to be sure. But then in 1936, people who opposed Hitler were not typical either.

Not Exactly George Washington

Church/State Split in Norway?

From Aftenposten, an article about the possibility of ending religious establishment in Norway.
Norway’s three-party coalition government looks set for another internal conflict on whether the church should be spun off from state control and almost complete state funding.

Last week’s meeting of the church hierarchy resulted in a move to separate church and state, although Norway’s evangelical Lutheran church would likely still rely heavily on state funding. Political rhetoric was already running high over the weekend about what this might mean, and whether a separation is a good idea.

The Center Party (Senterpartiet) doesn’t want any separation at all. Party leader Aslaug Haga contends that individual membership in the church “should be decided at the time of christening, not by the size of one’s wallet,” fearing that membership in the church will plummet if it depends on the payment of a fee.

The party leadership called for a continuation of the state church, but also an advisory referendum in which Norwegians could vote on the issue.

The party’s government partner SV (the Socialist Left Party), meanwhile, promotes separation of church and state, even though it won’t rule out a referendum.

The cabinet member in charge of church affairs, Trond Giske from the Labour Party, hasn’t taken a firm position but spoke warmly of the state church when the church leaders’ meeting opened last week.
Viewed superficially, it might seem that Christians would favor established religion, with the supposed advantages for the faith.

In reality, the tradition of established religion is probably the main reason that Europe is so secular.

Just how corrupt this system can become is shown by a case in Denmark, when a pastor of the established Evangelical Lutheran Church publicly stated that he did not believe in God. He was suspended from his post, but then reinstated a few weeks later.

John Edwards: Book Signing Gone Wrong

From Iowa Voice, an account of how 2008 Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards got into a most ironic situation.
Former Sen. John Edwards is to spend an hour at the Manchester Barnes & Noble tonight promoting his new book. We find his choice of venue very interesting.

In Manchester, the local Wal-Mart store sits right behind the Barnes & Noble. It has more floor space, a parking lot several times the size of Barnes & Noble’s, and is easier to access by car or public transportation.

But Edwards would not be caught dead inside a Wal-Mart. Saying that the company pays its employees too little, Edwards has embarked on an anti-Wal-Mart crusade. He instructs his staff members and all Americans not to shop at Wal-Mart.

“Wal-Mart makes plenty of money. They need to pay their people well,” Edwards said at a Pittsburgh anti-Wal-Mart rally in August.

So naturally Edwards is holding his book signing at Barnes & Noble instead of Wal-Mart. Which is too bad for his anti-low-wages campaign, because in Manchester Wal-Mart pays hourly employees more than Barnes & Noble does.

The Barnes & Noble where Edwards will hawk his book pays $7 an hour to start. The Wal-Mart that sits just yards away pays $7.50 an hour.

Oh, the humanity!
Edwards anti-Wal-Mart campaign is part of his strategy to position himself as a “populist” candidate for President in 2008.

But that rings entirely hollow.
John Edwards should take the virtuous path and stop his anti-Wal-Mart demagoguery. Anyone can see that it is nothing more than a populist ploy to make him look like a champion of low-income people. But those very people he is trying to help end up saving hundreds of dollars a year by shopping at Wal-Mart. Its efficiencies provide them with low-cost items they might not be able to afford otherwise.

We’d bet that if America’s poor could choose between Wal-Mart and John Edwards, they would choose Wal-Mart. They understand that Wal-Mart has done more to improve their lives than John Edwards ever will. Which is why, as Edwards signs copies of his coffee table book inside Barnes & Noble tonight, hundreds of people will continue to shop at the Wal-Mart just a stone’s throw away, never knowing that a millionaire former senator is sitting nearby secretly disapproving of their behavior.
In truth, of course, is that Edwards’ “populism” doesn’t represent poor or working class people at all.

It’s the political ideology of affluent latte-sipping Yuppies, labor union activists and scruffy left-overs from the ‘60s.

Hard to Avoid “Warriors” For Marquette Basketball

From the usually politically correct Journal-Sentinel, a headline about the current Marquette basketball season:
MU hopes to be road warriors
A considerable number of Marquette students wear “Warriors” sweat shirts and t-shirts.

It’s simply hard to hear “Golden Eagles” without remembering the fact that this wimpy nickname was substituted for “Warriors” by a feckless, politically correct administration.

Sure, That All Makes Sense


Click on Image to Enlarge

Sunday, November 26, 2006

American Art Superior to French Art

Via the web page of Reason Magazine, a discussion of French culture versus American culture, coming (of all places) from France.
Eric Le Boucher
Le Monde

The French have underestimated America’s cultural richness, said Eric Le Boucher in Paris’ Le Monde. We’ve long dismissed the U.S. as a place where the market alone decides what gets written, filmed, painted, or choreographed. Our own system, “which rests largely on public subsidizing of the arts and on massive unemployment insurance for artists,” seemed intrinsically superior—even morally superior. Yet a new French study of the American culture industry says this caricature of the U.S. as McHollywood is way off the mark. The U.S. has 2 million people professionally employed as artists. Not only is that figure nearly three times the number employed as police in the U.S., but it’s also proportionately much larger than the artist population in France. Even more surprising, to French sensibilities, is “the diversity of the American art scene.” Spurred by competition and lacking the complacency that government funding imparts, American artists have created independent theaters, studios, writing workshops, and alternative dance groups, even in small towns. The result is not a cultural scene ruled by money but one that is “profoundly democratic.”
Some of the comments posted on the Reason blog are priceless.
french cinema will never be equaled by us. first, they call movies “cinema,” which seems ever so intellectual. second, they have marguerite duras. third, they have absolutely perfected the two hour understated exploration of the innermost angst suffered by pretty 14 year olds who smoke.

then there’s french rap music. because of their local content laws, it’s impossible to listen to french radio without being subjected to this. as lame as the idea of french rap might seem, the reality is far worse.
And then:
News item: American culture is better than the French think it is, and is, in fact, better than French culture.

In other news: Experts say oceans go up and down with the tide. Also, water is wet.
And further:
There is an annoying irony about an artist who spends their days railing against society’s conformist squares, styles themselves an anarchist, and then goes and picks up their government handout of the square’s hard earned money at the end of the day.
While we aren’t keen on chauvinistic bragging — American or French — this sort of information is a worthwhile counter to Europhile arrogance.

Thus we would not recommend you use it as part of an offensive against your liberal friends. But by all means keep it available for a counterstrike!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Darwin & Islam

From the Daily Times (Pakistan), a reminder that it’s not just conservative Christians in the U.S. who have a problem with Darwin.
A lavishly illustrated “Atlas of Creation” is mysteriously turning up at schools and libraries in Turkey, proclaiming that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is the real root of terrorism.

Arriving unsolicited by post, the large-format tome offers 768 glossy pages of photographs and easy-to-read text to prove that God created the world with all its species.

At first sight, it looks like it could be the work of United States creationists, the Christian fundamentalists who believe the world was created in six days as told in the Bible.

But the author’s name, Harun Yahya, reveals the surprise inside. This is Islamic creationism, a richly funded movement based in predominantly Muslim Turkey which has an influence US creationists could only dream of.

Creationism is so widely accepted here that Turkey placed last in a recent survey of public acceptance of evolution in 34 countries - just behind the United States.

“Darwinism is dead,” said Kerim Balci of the Fethullah Gulen network, a moderate Islamic movement with many publications and schools but no link to the creationists who produced the atlas.

A dose of religion: Like the Bible, the Quran says God made the world in six days and fashioned the first man, Adam, from dust. Other details vary but the idea is roughly the same.

But unlike in the West, evolution theory has not undermined the traditional creation story for many Muslims.

“Science is hardly an issue in Turkey, therefore evolution could hardly have been an issue,” said Celal Sengor, a geology professor at Istanbul Technical University. Darwinism did become an issue during the left-versus-right political turmoil before a 1980 military coup because Communist bookshops touted Darwin’s works as a complement to Karl Marx.

“It looked like Marx and Darwin were together, two long-bearded guys spreading ideas that make people lose their faith,” said Istanbul journalist Mustafa Akyol.

After the coup, the conservative government thought a dose of religion could bolster the fight against the extreme left.

In 1985, a paragraph on creationism as an alternative to evolution was added to high school science textbooks and a US book “Scientific Creationism” was translated into Turkish. In the early 1990s, leading US creationists came to speak at several anti-evolution conferences in Turkey.

Darwin and terror: Since then, a home-grown strain of anti-Darwinist books has developed with a clearly political message.

“Atlas of Creation” offers over 500 pages of splendid images comparing fossils with present-day animals to argue that Allah created all life as it is and evolution never took place.

Then comes a book-length essay arguing that Darwinism, by stressing the “survival of the fittest”, has inspired racism, Nazism, communism and terrorism.

“The root of the terrorism that plagues our planet is not any of the divine religions, but atheism, and the expression of atheism in our times (is) Darwinism and materialism,” it says.
Of course, we have no problem with Darwinism, but we don’t much like the campaign to ban Intelligent Design from the schools. The people trying to do this seem to be running a sort of Secular Inquisition, intent on stamping out heresy in the name of the scientific orthodoxy.

In this context, it’s good to find one quite tolerant perspective at the top levels of the Turkish government.
[The campaign for Intelligent Design] got an unexpected boost last month when Education Minister Huseyin Celik hinted on television that he might want to see it added to Turkish textbooks.

“If it’s wrong to say Darwin’s theory should not be in the books because it is in line with atheist propaganda, we can’t disregard intelligent design because it coincides with beliefs of monotheistic religions about creation,” he told CNN Turk.

Getting $2.7 Million for Non-Existent Racial Discrimination

From columnist Larry Elder, an example of Civil Rights legislation has been turned into a racial hustle that often has no connection to racial justice.
Tennie Pierce, a black 19-year veteran firefighter, recently won a $2.7 million settlement from the Los Angeles City Council.

Here’s the story. Following a firehouse volleyball game, fellow firefighters laced Pierce’s spaghetti with dog food to “humble” him. Pierce, who calls himself “the Big Dog,” took a few bites, saw three co-conspirator firefighters — two whites, one Latino — laughing, and demanded to know why the chuckling.

Pierce, after learning that the firefighters — in an undoubtedly good-natured way — placed dog food in his spaghetti, called the prank “racist”! He hired a lawyer, found an “expert” witness who associated the consumption of dog food with “300 years” of discrimination against blacks, and successfully settled the case with the city.

Los Angeles Times reporter Sandy Banks, in an article about the award, failed to mention a few salient facts: that Pierce somehow managed to survive on the force for almost 20 years; that fellow firefighters referred to Pierce as a “turd stirrer” — meaning he routinely pulled pranks on others; that the 6-foot 5-inch Pierce often referred to himself as “the Big Dog”; that the incident was apparently a reaction to a volleyball game won by Pierce during which he repeatedly urged to his teammates to “feed the Big Dog” by throwing the ball to him; and that, in the frat boy tradition of many firefighters, his co-workers likely fed him dog food as a display of affection, knowing that, after all, Pierce had pulled pranks on many others during his long career — photos of which (including Pierce’s involvement in the shaving of the pubic hairs of a fellow firefighter) later appeared on the Internet.
Elder then goes on to recount the experiences of his father, who served in a segregated Marine Corps in World War II. He then concludes:
Your crass, manipulative use of the race-card-for-money insults countless men and women who endured indignities, marched and died, in order to provide you the right to work as a firefighter — an opportunity historically denied to qualified black men and women.

You, sir, are a disgrace.
Marx famously said that history does repeat itself. It comes the first time as a tragedy, and the second time as a farce. Pierce made a farce of the notion of racial justice.

More Negative Fallout From the O.J. Fiasco

Friday, November 24, 2006

Democrats Call for U.S. Troops to Leave Lebanon

From Scrappleface

by Scott Ott

(2006-11-22) — A day after the assassination of Lebanese Christian politician Pierre Gemayel, Democrats in the U.S. Congress called on President George Bush to pull U.S. troops out of Lebanon as a way of ending the strife that threatens to descend into civil war.

“As everyone knows,” said Rep. Jack Murtha, D-PA, a former Marine, “the American military is the cause of terrorism and sectarian tensions around the world. We can’t win in Lebanon, so we need to begin a phased redeployment immediately.”

Sen. John Kerry, D-MA, a professional Vietnam veteran, said, “There’s no reason that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Lebanese people in the dead of night terrorizing kids and children and women, breaking historical customs, religious customs. Lebanese soldiers should be doing that.”

The former Democrat presidential nominee added, “if American young people would study hard, do their homework and make an effort to be smart, they wouldn’t get stuck in Lebanon.”

House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, said the recent U.S. elections in which Democrats swept to a majority in the House and Senate, “were a mandate from the voters to get out of Lebanon and liberate those people from the oppression of the U.S. occupation that causes them to act out like this.”

Asked when the president would submit to the will of the people and pull the military from Lebanon, an unnamed White House spokesman said, “1984.”

In related news, Iran and Syria today offered to mediate the crisis by holding a summit meeting with the president of Lebanon and Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah to discuss ways of preventing foreigners and Muslim fanatics from upsetting Lebanon’s natural state of peace and security

All We Have to Say About Michael Richards

From USA Today, a comment from the fellow who was the model for the “Kramer” character on the Seinfeld show:
“You know what the good news is?” Kenny Kramer jokes. “Judith Regan is now on a plane to California, trying to sign Michael Richards to a book deal: If I Were a Racist, Here’s What I Would Have Said.”

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Couldn’t You Just Chill For (Say) Two Weeks?

Pelosi’s Next Big Test

From the leftist (but in this instance quite fair and accurate) Nation.
Having unsuccessfully supported Representative Jack Murtha for the No. 2 slot in the House of Representatives, Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi moves on to her next hard decision: whether to name Representative Alcee Hastings as chairman of the House intelligence committee.

This is tough call for Pelosi. The current senior Democrat on the committee is Representative Jane Harman from California, and Pelosi wants her out. There has long been bad blood between Harman and Pelosi, who preceded Harman as the top Democrat on the panel. Pelosi, according to several Capitol Hill sources, has been upset with Harman’s performance on the committee and has faulted Harman for not sufficiently confronting the Republicans and the White House. Next in line for the Democrats on the committee is Hastings. But he, too, poses a problem. In the late 1980s, Hastings, then a federal judge, was impeached by the Democratic-controlled House on bribery and perjury charges and removed from office by the Democratic-led Senate. He was later elected to the House and subsequently joined the intelligence committee.

Can Pelosi pick a fellow impeached and convicted on corruption charges to run a committee handling the most sensitive secrets of the government? But can she bypass Hastings, an African-American, and alienate the Congressional Black Caucus?

Prior to the congressional elections, conservatives and Republicans started raising the obvious question about Hastings: Should a person kicked off the federal bench for conspiring to receive a $150,000 bribe be placed in charge of the intelligence committee?

On August 3, 1988, the House voted to impeach Hastings by a vote of 413 to 4. The floor manager of the impeachment resolution was Representative John Conyers, a CBC stalwart to this day, who declared that there was “damning evidence” that Hastings had plotted with another lawyer to obtain a payoff in exchange for reducing the sentences of an undercover FBI agent posing as a convicted racketeer. Five years earlier, Hastings, appointed to the bench by President Jimmy Carter, had been acquitted of these charges by a Miami jury. But Conyers maintained that Hastings had lied at his trial. (A post-trial investigation conducted for the U.S. Court of Appeals had concluded that Hastings had sought the bribe and then faked evidence and testified falsely.)

During the impeachment, Conyers declared, “I looked for any scintilla of racism. I could not find any.” He noted that “race should never insulate a person from the consequences of unlawful conduct.” No House members defended Hastings during the impeachment proceedings. When the Senate tried Hastings in October 1989, Conyers, who was part of the House prosecution team, told the senators, “We argue that he must be removed from office so that he does not teach others that justice may be sold.” The Senate voted 69 to 26 to oust Hastings from office. He became the sixth judge in U.S. history to be removed from the bench by the Senate.
This will be an interesting test for Pelosi, and of course for the Democrats generally.

Are the Democrats so intent on taking a tough line on national security (and this means taking a tough line against national security) that a corrupt member will do as the chair of a key committee?

Race Riot in Milwaukee Restaurant

From Agrestic:

It’s the sort of thing that colors one’s perceptions of urban problems. A racially tinged incident left the blogger and his companions fearing for their lives, and happy to get out of Jalisco’s on North Avenue.
We had just finished our meal having left the bars about fifteen minutes before closing time and were waiting for the waitress to come take the money.

A group that we watched walk in not two minutes earlier was noisily leaving yelling about racism and discrimination for not being served promptly enough.

Yelling quickly lead to an all out brawl – chairs flying, grown men throwing punches (and connecting) on women and people WALKING INTO THE RESTAURANT immediately joining the fight. Somehow a patron yelling to a waitress “you need to see a gynecologist, look at that glitter shit on your face” (I don’t get it either) from the group claiming racism triggered it all. Never mind that the establishment was (and is) primarily frequented by minorities and is minority owned.

We quickly grabbed our belongings – cell phones, cigarettes, coats and credit cards and left as soon as the path to the door was cleared. In the car – driving away — one friend asks “don’t you feel bad about not paying.” I said no – I’m just glad we didn’t get shot. Another friend agrees. North Ave. isn’t exactly a dangerous neighborhood – I’ve drunkenly stumbled down it at 3 or 4 in the morning many times without a care in the world — but with all the random, senseless, shootings in Milwaukee I really couldn’t care less if a restaurant was stiffed for $20.
The consequences of this sort of thing are, of course, unfair to a lot of people living in minority neighborhoods and to a lot of minority business owners. (Although Jalisco is actually on the trendy East Side, but only a few blocks from the North Side.)

But how would we expect people to react when they begin to fear for their lives?

From the Gulf Coast

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wisconsin Democratic Representative Steve Kagen Outs Self as Socialist

Last Friday Milwaukee Public Radio (WUWM), did a short piece on newly elected Representative Steve Kagen who represents Wisconsin’s 8th congressional district (in the Green Bay area). Producer Christina Shockley kindly supplied us with a transcript.
When asked about the photo of Lambeau Field on his Web site, Kagen replied:

“Well, Green Bay is a great team. It’s owned by the people in Wisconsin. That’s the way every one of our manufacturing jobs should be. If Kimberly Clark were owned by the people in our district, they’d never leave.”
Of course, he’s not necessarily endorsing the economics of Joseph Stalin. He appears to be talking about some sort of private ownership, with the shares held by people in the area (perhaps workers).

But that doesn’t change the fact that the suggestion is boneheaded.

The notion that “every one of our manufacturing jobs” should be in locally owned firms implies that outside risk capital should not be allowed into the area, no matter how many jobs it might produce, nor what the benefits would be.

What happens when a firm wants to raise new capital? Are they forbidden to go outside the area to raise it? Suppose the necessary capital isn’t available locally?

Are local firms to be forbidden to merge with outside firms? No matter what the economic benefits? Such a merger would cause most of the owners of the firm to live outside the area.

And what happens when economic change requires that at least some jobs need to be outsourced for a firm to remain viable in a competitive world market? Would the “people owned” firm refuse to do this? Would everybody stick to this position and watch an industry go into bankruptcy, destroying not only the jobs of local workers, but wiping out the capital investments of local people?

Economic illiteracy has real costs for real people. Romantic notions like “owned by the people” can’t evade economic reality.

Not Much Thanksgiving for Episcopalians

From the American Spectator:
Supposedly, it was Anglicans in Virginia who celebrated the First Thanksgiving rather than Puritan Congregationalists in Massachusetts.

Steadfast Virginians believe that the first celebratory autumn feast was held at Berkeley Plantation in 1619, where 38 men just arrived from England knelt on the banks of the James River. They declared: “Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

These English Anglicans had demographic goals somewhat similar to the Calvinist Pilgrims, though. They were going to settle and populate a whole continent, creating a nation and spreading the Christian faith.

In the mythology of the Religious Left, of course, these earliest of Americans were not only defrauders of the original tribes, they were also despoilers of the environment. Like good “fundamentalists,” these hearty Protestants took the Bible too literally about being fruitful and multiplying. They also took too seriously the ostensible divine mandate placing the earth under man’s dominion.

The spiritual descendants of those early English/Virginia Anglican pioneers are now correcting the divine record. New Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori recently told the New York Times that her fellow Episcopalians are proudly not procreating so as to spare the environment.

The Presiding Bishop was asked how many Episcopalians there are in the U.S. “About 2.2 million,” Schiori responded. “It used to be larger percentagewise, but Episcopalians tend to be better-educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations. Roman Catholics and Mormons both have theological reasons for producing lots of children.”

“Aren’t Episcopalians interested in replenishing their ranks by having children,” the New York Times asked.

“No,” Schori replied. “It’s probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.”

True to Schori’s boast, the Episcopalians have done magnificently in reducing their numbers and, purportedly, sparing the earth the ravages of an enlarged Episcopalian presence. Forty years ago, the Episcopal Church was over 50 percent larger than today, even while the U.S. population was 40 percent smaller.

Had the Episcopalians maintained the same ravenous membership pace of Roman Catholics, or Mormons, or Southern Baptists, over the last 40 years, there would now be somewhere between six and 8 million Episcopalians in the U.S., rather than the current 2 million.

Undoubtedly, the 2003 election of the Episcopal Church’s first openly homosexual bishop has accelerated that denomination’s decline, with increasing numbers of conservative church members giving up and walking out. Perhaps those Episcopalians who become Catholic or Baptist will soon thereafter become more procreative.

But the remnant Episcopalians under the pastorship of Presiding Bishop Schori no doubt will hold fast to their noble environmental stewardship and maintain a steady, and eco-friendly, downward membership spiral.
The author, Mark Tooley, goes on to compare the Episcopalians to the Shakers, a group that has virtually disappeared due to its unwillingness to “be fruitful and multiply,” He then concludes:
There are now nearly 80 million Anglicans around the world, for example, and their numbers are increasing exponentially, especially in Africa. Forty years ago, for example, the number of Anglicans in Nigeria was somewhat smaller than the number of Episcopalians in the U.S. Today, there are 20 million Nigerian Anglicans, all of them no doubt polluting and contributing mightily to global warming. Bishop Schori must be aghast.

But the growing Anglican communion, like nearly all growing religious groups, view people as gifts from God, not as parasites on an exploited planet earth. And like the hearty Anglicans and Puritans who celebrated America’s first Thanksgivings almost four centuries ago, they see the world as still an unexplored adventure, waiting to be unwrapped, enjoyed, and meriting thanks to a God in whose image all people were made.

Politics As Usual, As Usual

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Students For Academic Freedom: Good Tribune Editorial

From today’s Marquette Tribune, an editorial condemning the way in which the Office for Student Development has dragged its feet in approving recognition of Students for Academic Freedom.
The Office of Student Development has once again neglected its supposed goal of transparency.

It has been 36 days since Charles Rickert, a College of Business Administration senior, submitted a constitution for the proposed group, Students for Academic Freedom. OSD has yet to approve or deny the organization.

Instead of issuing a simple “yes” or “no” decision, OSD continues dragging its feet and hiding its views behind closed-door sessions.

It’s time for OSD and the Marquette administration to learn that students deserve to know why decisions are being made — or rather, why they aren’t.

Rickert, like most Marquette students, just wants more interaction and consultation between the university and the students it intends to educate.
The worst thing about this is the fact that the Office for Student Development clearly wants to reject the group’s application, but is casting around for an acceptable excuse to do so. Unwilling to be open and honest about the basis of their dislike for the group, they stonewall.

This guarantees that, if they reject the group’s application, the explanation they give will be implausible and disingenuous. If they were willing to be honest about their opposition, they would be frank and open now.

Elton John on Teen Sex

Singer Elton John’s intolerant comments about religion have been widely reported, having been featured on the Drudge Report, for example.
From my point of view I would ban religion completely, even though there are some wonderful things about it. I love the idea of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the beautiful stories about it, which I loved in Sunday school and I collected all the little stickers and put them in my book. But the reality is that organised religion doesn’t seem to work. It turns people into hateful lemmings and it’s not really compassionate.
Much less noticed are the singer’s comments about his sexual history in the same interview.
I didn’t have sex until I was 23 and that was with a man. I made up for lost time after that in a hurry. I wish I could have had sex when I was, like, 14, 15 or 16 because that’s such an exciting age to have sex.
Liberals typically claim that they don’t really approve of teenagers having sex. It’s just unavoidable, they say. Teens are going to have sex, so let’s hand out condoms and teach about “safe sex.”

But many (and perhaps most) simply aren’t being honest about this.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Anti-Military Bigotry in San Francisco

From Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe:
“In the first place God made idiots,” observed Mark Twain. “This was for practice. Then he made school boards.” The San Francisco Board of Education’s 4-2 vote last week to abolish the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, which has been active in the city’s high schools for 90 years, tends to support his view.

Why is JROTC being done away with? It isn’t for lack of interest. More than 1,600 San Francisco students currently take part in its voluntary activities. “Kids love this program as if it’s family,” notes the San Francisco Chronicle. It is “a program that students and their parents wholeheartedly support.”

Finances aren’t the problem either. Operating JROTC costs the city less than $1 million out of an annual school budget of $356 million.

Nor is the problem bad management. The Chronicle reports that “no one has offered an alternative as coherent and well-run as JROTC.”

Safety? Also not a problem. Though cadets have uniforms, they carry no weapons; the nonviolent programs emphasize leadership, self-discipline, citizenship, and teamwork. “This is where the kids feel safe,” says one JROTC instructor, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert Powell.

And the problem certainly isn’t an absence of diversity. In a story on JROTC cadets at Galileo High School, Chronicle reporter Jill Tucker writes: “These students are 4-foot-10 to 6-foot-4. Athletic and disabled. College-bound and barely graduating. Gay and straight. White, black, and brown. Some leave school for large homes with ocean views. Others board buses for Bayview-Hunters Point.” Several of the students come from immigrant families. At least one is autistic.

So what is the problem with JROTC? There isn’t one. The problem is with the anti military bigotry of the school board majority and the “peace” activists who lobbied against the program on the grounds that San Francisco’s schools should not be sullied by an association with the US armed forces.

“We don’t want the military ruining our civilian institutions,” said Sandra Schwartz of the American Friends Service Committee, a far-left pacifist organization that routinely condemns American foreign policy and opposes JROTC nationwide. “In a healthy democracy . . . you contain the military.” Board member Dan Kelly, who voted with the majority, called JROTC “basically a branding program or a recruiting program for the military.” In fact, it is nothing of the kind: The great majority of cadets do not end up serving in the military.

But then, facts tend not to matter to smug ideologues like Schwartz and Kelly, who are free to parade their contempt for the military because they live in a nation that affords such freedom even to idiots and ingrates. It never seems to occur to them that the liberties and security they take for granted would vanish in a heartbeat if it weren’t for the young men and women who do choose to wear the uniform, willingly risking life and limb in service to their country.

According to The Chronicle, scores of JROTC students were on hand when the school board met last week; many of them burst into tears after the vote. Sad to say, they should probably have seen this coming. For in its trendy anti military animus, the school board was hardly breaking new ground.

In 1995, San Francisco’s board of supervisors wiped the city’s famous Army Street from the map, renaming it Cesar Chavez Street. Last year, city supervisors refused to allow the retired USS Iowa, a historic World War II battleship, to be docked in the Port of San Francisco. Like the school board vote, the spurning of the Iowa was intended as a slap at the US military and the foreign policy it supports. Supervisor Chris Daly explained his vote against accepting the battleship by announcing: “I am not proud of the history of the United States of America since the 1940s.”

In 2005, San Francisco voters handily approved Measure I, a nonbinding ballot question dubbed “College Not Combat,” which called for the exclusion of military recruiters from public high schools and colleges. The prevailing political attitude was summed up in a Weekly Standard headline: “San Francisco to Army: Drop Dead.”

Not everyone feels that way. To his credit, Mayor Gavin Newsom excoriated the school board last week for “disrespecting the sacrifice of men and women in uniform” and warned that killing JROTC would only accelerate the flight of city residents from the public schools. “You think this is going to help keep families in San Francisco?” he asked. “No. It’s going to hurt.”

Going to? For 1,600 kids now faced with the death of a program that infused their lives with purpose, camaraderie, and self-respect, the hurt has already begun.
What San Francisco does is quite simple. It distills and crystalizes the bigotry that is all too typical of liberals and leftists everywhere — including Milwaukee.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Burqa Ban in the Netherlands

From the French News Agency, AFP:
Dutch Muslims have hit out at a proposed government ban of face veils, saying it was over the top, ill-conceived and infringed religious rights.

On Friday the Dutch cabinet said it was proposing a bill banning clothing that covers the face in public, targeting in particular Muslim woman wearing the burqa or niqab.

The burqa is an Islamic veil covering the entire face and body and a mesh screen to see through, while the niqab is a veil covering the face but leaving the eye area clear. The garments are worn by a few dozen women in the Netherlands.

Rita Verdonk, minister of immigration and integration, said the bill proposed a ban on the basis that covering the face constituted a risk to public order and safety.

The ban would be imposed in public and “semi-public” places such as schools, courts, ministries and trains, her spokesman Martin Bruinsma told AFP.

“In this country, we want to be able to see each other. The ban is a question of security,” daily De Telegraaf quoted on Saturday the minister as saying.

But representatives of the country’s Muslim population were unimpressed.

“They are going to have to find a better argument than security. It is an infringement on the freedom of religion,” said Ahmed Markouch, a Moroccan mosques representative.
Europe really doesn’t seem to know how to deal with Muslims. It vacillates between treating them as a politically correct multicultural group that deserves special treatment and deference, and then turning around and depriving them of basic rights of religious expression.

Where Are the High Gas Prices?

Just a few months ago, gas prices were up above $3.00 per gallon all around the Milwaukee area.

Not surprisingly, politicians like Wisconsin’s Herb Kohl demagoged the issue, blaming the oil companies, and demanding an investigation.

But then, prices began to decline.

If Big Oil manipulated the prices to increase their profits, then why in the world would they let them go back down? The conspiracy mongers had an explanation. Big Oil was trying to manipulate the November election by reducing the price of gas in order to help the Republicans.

Now the election has come and gone, and prices are still low. We just filled up at a station where the price for regular was $2.25.

Journals such as Investor’s Business Daily say “Holiday Sales Should Be Strong As Low Gas Prices Spread Cheer.”

Are the nasty monopolists in Big Oil asleep at the switch?

Or could it possibly be that the price of gas is set by supply and demand in markets?

McCain-Feingold Benefits (Surprise!) John McCain

Over at Eminent Domain, a post about how the McCain-Feingold bill, and supposed “reform” of how money is used in elections, very conveniently serves the presidential aspirations of one John McCain.
Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has something interesting to say about the McCain-Feingold campaign finance laws. Huckabee, a potential 2008 presidential contender, thinks that the current campaign finance “reforms” unfairly benefit the federal politicians who wrote them...
“If you’re a senator, you can take the money you raise in a Senate campaign and transfer it to a presidential, but you can’t take money you raise in a state campaign and transfer that to a federal campaign,” Huckabee, a Republican, told The Associated Press in an interview Friday.

“McCain was very smart in creating a system where he could take all of this Senate money that he had and turn it over to his presidential campaign to give him a distinct advantage over anyone else who ran,” he said.
This point was made about Senator Clinton’s Senate campaign war chest. She raised boatloads of money for her re-election for her extremely safe Senate seat. A lot of that money is now waiting for an 08 presidential run. Senators made out pretty well in our enlightened, reformed campaign finance regime.
Not surprisingly, a spokesman for the McCain campaign “denied that was a motivation for McCain’s campaign finance legislation.”

That statement may, in fact be true. But it doesn’t change the fact that McCain (along with Wisconsin’s own Russ Feingold) radically rewrote campaign finance laws out of self-righteous moralism with little regard for freedom of speech.

It also doesn’t change the fact that the bill has utterly failed to take money out of politics.

Thus we seem to have the choice of viewing McCain (and Feingold, who has clearly had presidential aspirations) as either successful schemers (if they foresaw the effects of their legislation) or incompetents (if they did not).

Not Very Supportive

Friday, November 17, 2006

Conservatives More Generous Toward Needy

Via Drudge, an account of how political views are related to charitable giving.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse University professor Arthur C. Brooks is about to become the darling of the religious right in America — and it’s making him nervous.

The child of academics, raised in a liberal household and educated in the liberal arts, Brooks has written a book that concludes religious conservatives donate far more money than secular liberals to all sorts of charitable activities, irrespective of income.

In the book, he cites extensive data analysis to demonstrate that values advocated by conservatives -- from church attendance and two-parent families to the Protestant work ethic and a distaste for government-funded social services — make conservatives more generous than liberals.

The book, titled “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism” (Basic Books, $26), is due for release Nov. 24.

When it comes to helping the needy, Brooks writes: “For too long, liberals have been claiming they are the most virtuous members of American society. Although they usually give less to charity, they have nevertheless lambasted conservatives for their callousness in the face of social injustice.”

For the record, Brooks, 42, has been registered in the past as a Democrat, then a Republican, but now lists himself as independent, explaining, “I have no comfortable political home.”

Since 2003 he has been director of nonprofit studies for Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

The book’s basic findings are that conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure.

Conversely, secular liberals who believe fervently in government entitlement programs give far less to charity. They want everyone’s tax dollars to support charitable causes and are reluctant to write checks to those causes, even when governments don’t provide them with enough money.

Still, he says it forcefully, pointing out that liberals give less than conservatives in every way imaginable, including volunteer hours and donated blood.
These findings put in proper perspective the liberals’ claim to have more compassion for the poor.

They also put into proper perspective the claim of liberals that religion should pay less attention to sexual matters, and show more concern for the poor.

Such rhetoric is the staple of liberal bloggers such as Logan of we live our lives among giants, who complains that “. . . the heirarchy of the Church cannot seem to get their heads out of our pants” and “certainly there are more pressing issues in society that more directly conflict with the teachings of Jesus, who the religion is derived from. It is very troubling to me that the poor and suffering have been largely ignored.”

We would be more impressed with this kind of rhetoric coming from liberals if it weren’t so convenient.

Religious conservatives can’t have sex outside marriage, and can’t have homosexual sex (if they are inclined that way). They can’t have an abortion, no matter how convenient it might be. At least, they can’t do any of this without feeling very guilty.

But liberals feel perfectly free to do any of these things.

What restrictions do they impose on their own behavior? They have to drink Fair Trade coffee, vote Democratic and rail against the evils of multinational corporations.

Both liberals and conservatives want to feel that they are righteous.

But for liberals that feeling just comes too damn cheaply.

Church of England: Allow Disabled Babies to Die

From Modern Commentaries, news on how the culture of death has made huge inroads in the Church of England.
The Church of England has broken with tradition dogma by calling for doctors to be allowed to let sick newborn babies die.

Christians have long argued that life should preserved at all costs - but a bishop representing the national church has now sparked controversy by arguing that there are occasions when it is compassionate to leave a severely disabled child to die.

And the Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler, who is the vice chair of the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council, has also argued that the high financial cost of keeping desperately ill babies alive should be a factor in life or death decisions.

The shocking new policy from the church has caused outrage among the disabled.

A spokeswoman for the UK Disabled People’s Council, which represents tens of thousands of members in 140 different organisations, said: “How can the Church of England say that Christian compassion includes killing of disabled babies either through the withdrawing or withholding of treatment or by active euthanasia?

“It is not for doctors or indeed anyone else to determine whether a baby’s life is worthwhile simply on the grounds of impairment or health condition.”

The church’s surprise call comes just a week after the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology sparked fury by calling for a debate on the mercy killing of disabled infants.

But it has been made in a carefully thought out official Church of England paper written by Bishop Butler for a public inquiry into the ethical issues surrounding the care of long premature or desperately ill newborn babies.

The inquiry, by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, began two years ago and its findings are due to be published in London - but the church’s contribution to the debate has been leaked in advance.

The Nuffield Council, an independent body which issues ethical guidelines for doctors, began the inquiry to take account of scientific advances which mean increasingly disabled and premature babies can technically be kept alive.

The church stressed that it was not saying some lives were not worth living, but said there were “strong proportionate reasons” for “overriding the presupposition that life should be maintained”.

The bishop’s submission continued: “There may be occasions where, for a Christian, compassion will override the ‘rule’ that life should inevitably be preserved.

“Disproportionate treatment for the sake of prolonging life is an example of this.”

The church said it would support the potentially fatal withdrawal of treatment only if all alternatives had been considered, “so that the possibly lethal act would only be performed with manifest reluctance.”

Yet the Revd Butler’s submission makes clear that there are a wide range of acceptable reasons to withdraw care from a child - with the cost of the care among the considerations.

“Great caution should be exercised in bringing questions of cost into the equation when considering what treatment might be provided,” he wrote.

“The principle of justice inevitably means that the potential cost of treatment itself, the longer term costs of health care and education and opportunity cost to the NHS in terms of saving other lives have to be considered.”

UK Disabled Peoples Council spokeswoman Simone Aspis said the group’s members were appalled that the Church was joining doctors in calling for disabled babies to be left to die.

“It appears that the whole debate on whether disabled babies are worth keeping alive is being dominated by professionals and religious people without any consultation with disabled people,” she said.

Out of babies born at just 22 weeks of pregnancy or less, 98 per cent currently die. In Holland babies born before 25 weeks are not given medial treatment.
Most chilling is the claim that “The church stressed that it was not saying some lives were not worth living.”

But of course, that’s exactly what the Church of England is saying.

Intellectual corruption, in other words, generally accompanies moral corruption.

Victory (At Least For Now) For Religious Freedom in the University of Wisconsin System

From the Journal-Sentinel, a situation which we have blogged about:
Madison - A University of Wisconsin-Superior religious group that is suing the university over its refusal to recognize it will be able to operate on campus while the lawsuit is pending.

UW-Superior agreed to allow the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter to operate as the lawsuit progresses challenging the student body’s refusal to recognize the group. The agreement was entered into by both groups and approved Monday by the U.S. District Court for Western Wisconsin.

Groups not recognized by the university cannot have access to campus facilities and student funding.

The Alliance Defense Fund’s Center for Academic Freedom, a Christian legal group, is bringing the lawsuit.

The UW Roman Catholic Foundation has also filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming university policies discriminate against religious groups that want to qualify for student fees.

The lawsuit challenges a policy that says student organizations must agree not to discriminate in their membership on the basis of religion. It claims the requirement discriminates against religious groups whose members share a similar faith and beliefs.
It‘s close to impossible to view this situation as an example of university bureaucrats being scrupulous about discrimination. As we have pointed out, several UW campuses have an active Greek system consisting of all male fraternities and all female sororities.

And programs targeting minorities -- in other words, programs that discriminate against whites -- are common in academia.

What we have here is hostility to Christianity, especially conservative Christianity which might challenge campus norms about sexuality.

But happily, the legal system does provide some protection.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sometimes the Truth Comes Out

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Letter to the Editor: On the Culture Wars

A Letter to the Editor from a former student of ours:



I have long maintained that the “Culture Wars” within Western Society are gravely overstated. That they matter much more to the handful of people on the far right and far left than they do the great majority of people.

While most people do have views on these issues and will express them given the chance, most people don’t let it dictate to their entire view of politics. For a simple example, look at Wisconsin where the Gay Marriage amendment passed despite Democrats taking the highest profile of contested seats (Governor, 8th Congressional District are the ones that people out in DC noticed). People are willing to express their views on these issues and to vote upon them, but aren’t so politically exorcized as to view these issues as the centerpiece of a political “war” that must be fought with the enthusiasm of a scorched-Earth campaign.

Quite simply, there are many people who usually vote Democratic who fall the opposite side expected in these issues and vice versa. There are Democrats who have plenty of children and oppose Gay Marriage, there are Republicans who have one or no children and could care less whether or not gays get married.

I suppose the reason I feel that the culture wars are truly overblown is that most everyone has friends that they disagree on these issues with. If this were truly a war of two Western cultures, this wouldn’t be possible. There are people who truly view this as a war and behave as this is a war with a distinct enemy that must be isolated and defeated. They live this out by isolating and shunning individuals who disagree with them on these wedge issues. However, these people do this because they’re jerks rather than being warriors, in a true sense. If they didn’t have the issues of abortion, gay marriage, etc. to inflate their own importance and to judge others upon, they’d find other ways to do so.

The vast majority of people in our American culture are fine with those who disagree with them, even on issues that rouse great passion. Because of that, I don’t see an American culture at war with itself. Do I wish that more people were supportive of Gay Marriage? Yes. Do I wish that some people would have more on their mind when entering the ballot box than abortion? Yes. However, there’s a vast world of difference between wishing that more people agreed with your own views (which is something everyone does) and feeling that there is a war to be won and that those who disagree are your enemy. At the end of the day I’m still able to hang out with people whose only determination at the polls is whether or not a candidate passed a single-issue litmus test. I’m able to have a drink with people who feel that homosexuality is a deviant lifestyle choice, and they’re able to do so with me.

This is not because there has been some bizarre cease-fire zone in this war at the bars and local hangouts in Washington, DC or Milwaukee. It’s because there isn’t a real war to start with.

Response:

This letter is doubtless a laudable expression of tolerance, but unfortunately not everybody is so tolerant.

Just what are Christians to think when Federal judges try to take “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance?

And how are Christians to react when a “diversity” curriculum attempts to indoctrinate children with the view that, not only is homosexuality normal and healthy, but that anybody who disagrees with this is a bigot?

And how are people supposed to react when the San Francisco school board bans Junior ROTC in the schools? Especially, how are the kids who are having what they consider a great opportunity taken away from them because of the political bent of a leftist school board supposed to react?

Preaching tolerance is fine. But it’s not very impressive when there is so much intolerance.

Further, telling people they should think about something besides abortion looks, quite frankly, like a tactic used by abortion supporters to put down people who oppose abortion. Remember, if abortion really is the murder of millions of innocent babies, it’s an issue that people ought to think about quite a lot.

Saying people ought to “think about something else” makes sense only if one is fine with abortion.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Democratic Congress

Monday, November 13, 2006

“Street Beacon” Out

We blogged last night about the Street Beacon, a “street” newspaper described as being for the Near West Side neighborhood.

The paper is published by a group of Marquette students called the “Urban Initiative” which is a recognized Marquette student group.

The editor, Matthew Ryno, says (in his column):
We distinguish ourselves from other community newspapers by focusing on issues pertaining to poverty and homelessness while hiring unemployeed, homeless or impoverished members of the community to vend for our paper. We operate at no profit for ourselves.
The paper is being distributed on campus, and is in fact pretty impressive for a first issue.

It’s a twelve page tabloid with essentially no ads. That’s a large “news hole” to fill. And the staff has done quite a good job of filling it. The headlines give a flavor of what the paper is about. They include:
  • Wireless internet on the West-Side lacks a network of input
  • Nonprofit groups and Legal Action say Fire Department money is up in smoke
  • New computers will assist guests at transational shelter
  • Community members grow their own healthy food
  • Lack of supermarkets may affect local health
While being impressed with the effort, we have some questions about this project.

First, is there actually a market for a paper dealing with neighborhood issues of the Near West Side? Is there any sort of Near West Side community, aside from the sense of community among Marquette students?

Second, will the publication persist? Independent student papers tend to disappear quite quickly. The masthead of the paper, and the bylines of the writers show about a dozen students who are involved. That’s a good number, and if they stay committed (and especially if they recruit other volunteers), the paper has a future.

The final question is whether this paper actually has anything to do with the homeless. We walked around campus today, and found the paper being distributed in three locations. In each case, it was students, and not homeless people, who were doing the selling. We were told that, in front of the Raynor Library, one homeless person had worked for an hour selling the paper.

“Street newspapers” have come up with journalistic coups. A sister paper to the “Street Beacon,” StreetSense in Washington, D.C., produced an article which we blogged about when local unions there hired homeless people to picket.

So what will we see from the Street Beacon? Time will tell.

Still . . . the students who put the paper together deserve a lot of credit for their initiative and enterprising spirit.

Follow-Up: Thought Police in Schools of Social Work

We recently blogged on the case of a Missouri State University student who was punished because her Christian views prevented her from engaging in a activism project that the professor favored.

She was assigned to write a letter to the state legislature demanding that gays be given the right to be foster parents.

With the help of the Alliance Defense Fund she went to court, and has now been vindicated. According to the News-Leader:
Missouri State University has settled a lawsuit brought by a former student who accused a faculty member and the school of violating her First Amendment rights.

Emily Brooker, who graduated from MSU last spring, will have her academic record cleared, be paid cash for her attorneys’ fees and have her tuition fees waived for graduate school as part of the settlement.

In addition, her instructor, Frank G. Kauffman, will give up his administrative duties and be put on nonclassroom duties for the rest of the semester.

He has not lost his job, MSU President Mike Nietzel said. “I expect him to be teaching in the spring,” he said.

Kauffman could not be reached for comment at his home or office.

“We acted quickly on these allegations as soon as we became aware of them. It was a priority for this office,” Nietzel said Wednesday after the settlement was announced.

In the complaint, Brooker alleges she faced a college ethics committee for allegedly violating the School of Social Works’ “Standards of Essential Functioning in Social Work Education.” She had refused to sign a letter supporting homosexual adoption.

Brooker, who has referred all questions to her attorneys, said in the suit that she faced a 2 ½-hour interrogation by faculty members, who, according to the complaint, asked her personally invasive questions such as: “Do you think gays and lesbians are sinners?” and “Do you think I am a sinner?”

David French, director of the Alliance Defense Fund’s Center for Academic Freedom, which filed the suit, could not be reached for comment but said last week that there is a growing trend of Christian students speaking out against ideological teachings in college classrooms.

“The university is supposed to be the marketplace of ideas, and professors should be tolerant of the opinions of Christian students as well as those of non-Christian students,” French said.

The university responded last week with a statement that the school “has been and is committed to protecting the rights of its students, as well as its faculty and staff, including free speech and expression, and freedom of religion.”

For the past week, Nietzel and Provost Belinda McCarthy have been interviewing people connected to the program.

“Although our investigation did not support all of the allegations made in the lawsuit, we were concerned about some of the actions that we did learn about,” Nietzel said.

The investigation did confirm that the social work department has an ethics committee that conducts hearings like the one Brooker mentioned in her suit.

Nietzel said he was not aware of such a committee and as a result of that and other findings, he will commission an evaluation of the social work program by outside experts.

“It’s important for current and prospective students, for potential employers and for the faculty and staff in the program to have confidence that the policies, procedures, leadership and delivery of the programs are up to par,” he said.

The program’s review could start in the spring, Nietzel said.

The president will also appoint an ad hoc committee to recommend ways for the university to better publicize and implement policies regarding freedom of speech and expression on campus.

“We have strong and effective grievance policies in place. We need to make sure that all members of the campus community are familiar with (them).”
It’s good that the law can vindicate Christians whose rights have been infringed.

Unfortunately, most Christian students probably just accept second-class treatment rather than go to the trouble of making an issue of it. But outcomes like this should be an encouragement. You don’t have to accept religious discrimination.

Hopefully, they will also have a chilling effect on secular leftists in academia. We don’t want legitimate academic freedom compromised, but discriminating in any way against students for Christian or other conservative views ought to be dangerous, just as discriminating against (say) blacks, gays or Hispanics is dangerous.

There Is a Lesson Here

Sunday, November 12, 2006

New “Street Newspaper” in Marquette Neighborhood

A press release we just received:
A new Street Newspaper will be distributed at Marquette University and in the surrounding community. Local homeless workers will be employed with the proceeds of sale and paper content will raise awareness of urban issues and community news.

A startup student group at Marquette University will be selling the street newspaper: The “Milwaukee Street Beacon,” in front of Raynor Memorial Library for a suggested contribution of a quarter on Monday and Tuesday. All proceeds will go towards recovering printing costs of 4,000 newspapers and employment costs of homeless vendors.

We are the first street newspaper to be distributed by homeless vendor in Milwaukee, and the second in Wisconsin after the beginning of the “Street Beat” in Madison a year ago. We have defined our paper using the North American Street Newspaper Association as a guide, and more information on the growing street newspaper movement is available at http://www.nasna.org.

WHO: The new Marquette University student group: the Urban Initiative

WHAT: Distribution of street newspapers with homeless vendors

WHERE: 1355 W. Wisconsin Ave, outside the main entrance to Raynor Memorial Library

(http://www.marquette.edu/contact/finder/raynor.shtml)

WHEN: Monday, November 13th; Tuesday, November 14th

WHY: To raise awareness of urban issues, provide a community newspaper in the Near West Side and provide a means of employment for homeless vendors seeking work.

Matthew Ryno, the Editor in Chief and founder of the Milwaukee Street Beacon and Urban Initiative, can be reached throughout the week for interviews or comment at 414-248-1455 (cellular phone), or by email at matthew.ryno@marquette.edu.
Whether a “community newspaper” for the Near West Side is a viable project remains to be seen. The Warrior has been a huge success, but it’s aimed at the Marquette community.

Is there a coherent “Near West Side” community that can support a paper? Our guess is that, to survive, this will have to be, de facto, a Marquette paper (but perhaps stressing neighborhood rather than campus issues).

Is this simply a slightly disguised form of panhandling, in which people will happily pay 25¢ just to get rid of a homeless person?

But still, two bits isn’t a lot of money, and we expect the initial press run to sell out simply on the basis of curiosity.

What happens beyond that? As with all journalism, content is king.

The Culture Wars -- Writ Very Large

From Opinion Journal, a fascinating piece from Mark Steyn. The arguments are now a sort of conservative conventional wisdom, but very well articulated.

Some excerpts:
Most people reading this have strong stomachs, so let me lay it out as baldly as I can: Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries. There’ll probably still be a geographical area on the map marked as Italy or the Netherlands--probably--just as in Istanbul there’s still a building called St. Sophia’s Cathedral. But it’s not a cathedral; it’s merely a designation for a piece of real estate. Likewise, Italy and the Netherlands will merely be designations for real estate. The challenge for those who reckon Western civilization is on balance better than the alternatives is to figure out a way to save at least some parts of the West.

One obstacle to doing that is that, in the typical election campaign in your advanced industrial democracy, the political platforms of at least one party in the United States and pretty much all parties in the rest of the West are largely about what one would call the secondary impulses of society--government health care, government day care (which Canada’s thinking of introducing), government paternity leave (which Britain’s just introduced). We’ve prioritized the secondary impulse over the primary ones: national defense, family, faith and, most basic of all, reproductive activity -- “Go forth and multiply,” because if you don’t you won’t be able to afford all those secondary-impulse issues, like cradle-to-grave welfare.

The design flaw of the secular social-democratic state is that it requires a religious-society birthrate to sustain it. Post-Christian hyperrationalism is, in the objective sense, a lot less rational than Catholicism or Mormonism. Indeed, in its reliance on immigration to ensure its future, the European Union has adopted a 21st-century variation on the strategy of the Shakers, who were forbidden from reproducing and thus could increase their numbers only by conversion. The problem is that secondary-impulse societies mistake their weaknesses for strengths--or, at any rate, virtues--and that’s why they’re proving so feeble at dealing with a primal force like Islam.

[W]hat the war’s about: our lack of civilizational confidence. As a famous Arnold Toynbee quote puts it: “Civilizations die from suicide, not murder” -- as can be seen throughout much of “the Western world” right now. The progressive agenda --lavish social welfare, abortion, secularism, multiculturalism -- is collectively the real suicide bomb. Take multiculturalism. The great thing about multiculturalism is that it doesn’t involve knowing anything about other cultures -- the capital of Bhutan, the principal exports of Malawi, who cares? All it requires is feeling good about other cultures. It’s fundamentally a fraud, and I would argue was subliminally accepted on that basis. Most adherents to the idea that all cultures are equal don’t want to live in anything but an advanced Western society.

Terror groups persist because of a lack of confidence on the part of their targets: The IRA, for example, calculated correctly that the British had the capability to smash them totally but not the will. So they knew that while they could never win militarily, they also could never be defeated. The Islamists have figured similarly. The only difference is that most terrorist wars are highly localized. We now have the first truly global terrorist insurgency because the Islamists view the whole world the way the IRA view the bogs of Fermanagh: They want it, and they’ve calculated that our entire civilization lacks the will to see them off.

What will London--or Paris, or Amsterdam--be like in the mid-‘30s? If European politicians make no serious attempt this decade to wean the populace off their unsustainable 35-hour weeks, retirement at 60, etc., then to keep the present level of pensions and health benefits the EU will need to import so many workers from North Africa and the Middle East that it will be well on its way to majority Muslim by 2035. As things stand, Muslims are already the primary source of population growth in English cities. Can a society become increasingly Islamic in its demographic character without becoming increasingly Islamic in its political character?

This ought to be the left’s issue. I’m a conservative -- I’m not entirely on board with the Islamist program when it comes to beheading sodomites and so on, but I agree Britney Spears dresses like a slut: I’m with Mullah Omar on that one. Why then, if your big thing is feminism or abortion or gay marriage, are you so certain that the cult of tolerance will prevail once the biggest demographic in your society is cheerfully intolerant? Who, after all, are going to be the first victims of the West’s collapsed birthrates? Even if one were to take the optimistic view that Europe will be able to resist the creeping imposition of Sharia currently engulfing Nigeria, it remains the case that the Muslim world is not notable for setting much store by “a woman’s right to choose,” in any sense.

I watched that big abortion rally in Washington in 2004, where Ashley Judd and Gloria Steinem were cheered by women waving “Keep your Bush off my bush” placards, and I thought it was the equivalent of a White Russian tea party in 1917. By prioritizing a “woman’s right to choose,” Western women are delivering their societies into the hands of fellows far more patriarchal than a 1950s sitcom dad. If any of those women marching for their “reproductive rights” still have babies, they might like to ponder demographic realities: A little girl born today will be unlikely, at the age of 40, to be free to prance around demonstrations in Eurabian Paris or Amsterdam chanting “Hands off my bush!”
This is the fundamental defect of modern secular liberalism. It’s simply not historically sustainable. Long term, it’s not a possible choice. American red-state Christian conservatism is.

But which the the secular liberals hate most? Sharia or Christianity?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Althouse In a Funk About Election

Blogger Ann Althouse is a social liberal (pro-gay marriage for example), but a hawk on national security.

We can’t resist quoting her succinct and accurate comments about what was wrong with the election outcome Tuesday:
What I’m concerned about is national security and, consequently, the way the election was fought and is being interpreted. I’m upset because I think we have sent a terrible message to our enemies: Just hang on long enough and continue to inflict some damage, and the Americans will lose heart and give up. You barely need anything at all. You might not be able to hijack a plane with a box cutter anymore, but you can take back a country -- a country we conquered with overwhelming military power -- merely by mercilessly and endlessly setting off small bombs in your own town day after day.

How much harder it becomes ever to fight and win a war again. Only pacifists and isolationists should feel good about the way this election was won.

Walker for Wisconsin Governor in 2010

Look for Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker to be in the running -- and probably the front runner -- for the Republican nomination for Wisconsin Governor in 2010.

Walker is ambitious, capable and articulate, and some of us thought he was the better candidate in 2006.

He was a good soldier, and dropped out of the Republican primary because Green had more money, and Walker doubted he had the money to beat Doyle in the general election. Also, there was the (suspect) notion that a bruising primary would hurt whoever won.

Walker looked really classy doing that, and created a lot of good-will among Republicans.

Admittedly, this is politics, and such good will can have a rather short shelf-life. Further, Walker could screw up -- or merely be the victim of bad luck as some crisis or scandal hits his administration.

But as of right now, he is the front runner and likely nominee in 2010.

Democrats Win, Bad Guys Cheer

From Reuters:
TEHRAN - Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday called U.S. President George W. Bush’s defeat in congressional elections a victory for Iran.

Bush has accused Iran of trying to make a nuclear bomb, being a state sponsor of terrorism and stoking sectarian conflict in Iraq, all charges Tehran denies.

“This issue (the elections) is not a purely domestic issue for America, but it is the defeat of Bush’s hawkish policies in the world,” Khamenei said in remarks reported by Iran’s student news agency ISNA on Friday.

“Since Washington’s hostile and hawkish policies have always been against the Iranian nation, this defeat is actually an obvious victory for the Iranian nation.”

The Democrats wrested control of both houses of Congress from the Republicans in this week’s mid-term elections, partly because of voter concern over the war in Iraq.

Khamenei, a senior cleric in power since 1989, has the last word on matters of state in Iran’s complex system of Islamic rule, while the government, under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in charge of day-to-day decision making.

“The result of this election indicates that the majority of American people are dissatisfied and are fed up with the policies of the American administration,” the IRNA state news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

Khamenei said military maneuvers in the Gulf this week in which Iranian forces tested new missile systems showed Iran was ready to face any threat.

But, he said: “With the scandalous defeat of America’s policies in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Afghanistan, America’s threats are empty threats on an international scale.”
And now a word from the terrorists:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A purported audio recording by the leader of Iraq’s al Qaeda wing gloated over the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as a top U.S. general said the military was preparing to recommend strategy changes.

Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri, said in the recording posted on the Internet on Friday that the group has 12,000 armed fighters and 10,000 others waiting to be equipped to fight U.S. troops in Iraq.

“I tell the lame duck (U.S. administration) do not rush to escape as did your defense minister . . . stay on the battleground,” he said.

We’ll Find Out

John Trever

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Wal-Mart, Macy’s Embrace “Christmas”

From USA Today:
Wal-Mart will put “Christmas” back into the holidays this year, the retailer plans to announce Thursday.

A year after religious and other groups boycotted retailers, including Wal-Mart (WMT), for downplaying Christmas, the world’s largest retail chain will have an in-your-face Christmas theme this year.

“We, quite frankly, have learned a lesson from last year,” says Wal-Mart spokeswoman Linda Blakley. “We’re not afraid to use the term ‘Merry Christmas.’ We’ll use it early, and we’ll use it often.”

Wal-Mart told about 7,000 associates of the plans at a conference last month and “was met with rapturous applause. ... We know many of our customers will feel the same,” says John Fleming, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president of marketing.

Fleming says the retailer, which recently lowered prices on toys and electronics, will be pitching Christmas almost as much as “value” to holiday shoppers.

New this year:

• A TV ad trumpeting Christmas will air for the first time next week. Wal-Mart also will air TV ads along with the Salvation Army mentioning Christmas.

• The name of the department with Christmas decorating needs will change from The Holiday Shop, which it was for the past several years, to The Christmas Shop.

• Store signs will count down the days until Christmas, and Christmas carols will be piped throughout the season.

• About 60% more merchandise will be labeled “Christmas” rather than “holiday” this year over last.

The Christmas spirit is spreading. Macy’s, the largest U.S. department store chain, plans to have “Merry Christmas” signs in all departments. All of Macy’s window displays will have Christmas themes. At New York’s Herald Square, the theme will be “Oh, Christmas Tree.”

“Our intention is to make every customer feel welcomed and appreciated, whether they celebrate Christmas or other holidays,” spokesman Jim Sluzewski says.

As at Wal-Mart, Macy’s employees are encouraged to consider wishing customers holiday greetings that are appropriate to their race or religion, including Happy Kwanzaa or Feliz Navidad.
Here is a Wal-Mart ad with a Christmas theme.

Wal-Mart PR guy Marshall Manson says “Wal-Mart will also be supporting the Salvation Army, as it always does, by making a contribution and inviting bell-ringers to its stores. (Remember, Target and others shoo them away.)”

We no longer view Wal-Mart as a reliable supporter of “red-state” family values. They have become a mega-corporation with the usual obsession about getting good public relations, and evading bad public relations.

They are, for example, happy to cozy up to the gay lobby when it serves their interests.

However, it’s good that they feel it prudent to placate Christians on this issue.

The War on Christmas has been the result of an unholy alliance between people hostile to Christianity and woolly-minded people who think they are promoting “inclusiveness.”

But you can’t be “inclusive” by stamping out Christmas. Attacking the beliefs and traditions of Christians is no better than attacking the beliefs and traditions of Muslims or Buddhists.

“Inclusiveness” is served, not by trying to neuter Christmas so that it has no Christian content (not even the name “Christmas”), but by whole-hearted recognition of other religious traditions.

Does the local Jewish community want to display a menorah to celebrate Chanukah? We are all for it. Indeed, we think it’s just fine to have the menorah on public property.

But we feel the same about a Nativity scene.

And indeed, last year, there was a White House menorah. Presumably, there will be again this year.

And a Christmas tree should be called a “Christmas tree.”