Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Reporters Call Al Gore “Mr. President”
Al Gore has been out of politics for nearly eight years, but you wouldn’t have known it backstage at the Oscars.Another source says:
Some journalists addressed him as Mr. President, although Gore lost the closely contested 2000 election to President Bush. Others called him Mr. Vice President.
Gore, whose film “An Inconvenient Truth” captured the Oscar for documentary, pretended at one point during the awards show to be announcing his candidacy for president, but backstage he sang a different tune.
“I do not have plans to become a candidate for office again,” the former vice president told reporters.
Hands shot up all over for Al Gore when he came backstage. What did the international press want to know? Maybe something about how it was to star in an Oscar-winning film? Or how they can help stop global warming? Or how can they fix the wipers on their Priuses? Um, no. Two questioners addressed him as “Mr. President,” and it continued from there, with journalists imploring him to take on Clinton, Obama, and Edwards. For the record, Gore said: “I do not have plans to become a candidate for office again.” Pretty clear in any language.So do we have a Freudian slip? A slap at the 2000 election process, that gave the presidency to Bush in spite of the fact that Gore won the popular vote? An encouragement to run in 2008?
Campus Internet Connection Overloaded: Student File Sharing at Fault
Happily, attempts from outside Marquette to access web sites located on campus are not affected.
The situation is bad enough that the Marquette Tribune recently posted a story about it, and (correctly) reported that student peer-to-peer “file sharing” (read: illegal music piracy) is to blame.
We talked to Information Technology Services network guru Chad Gorectke about the problem.
The University has what, by historic standards, is a lot of bandwidth connecting it to the Internet.
There is one 45 Mb (megabit) per second link to WiscNet, one 70 Mb. connection to Time-Warner Telecom, and an additional 50 Mb. connection to Time-Warner Telecom.
But even that bandwidth can’t keep up with the voracious appetite of students who download music and (increasingly) videos.
These connections are used to full capacity from (typically) 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 a.m, leaving only the wee hours of the morning with any excess bandwidth. Of course, if the demands for connections merely equal, or only slightly exceed, the available bandwidth web pages may load fairly quickly. But during the afternoon, the amount of traffic has often caused web pages to time out and entirely fail to load.
The straightforward way to attack this sort of problem is to buy more bandwidth, much as you might junk a dialup connection from your home and go to DSL.
The problem is that bandwidth is expensive, and student demands for bandwidth are pretty much insatiable. Previous increases in bandwidth have quickly been overwhelmed by increased use.
ITS has long tried to limit peer-to-peer traffic. A few years ago, the strategy was to block Internet ports that Napster (the then-current way of pirating music) used. But technology rushes forward.
Gorectke declined to talk on the record about the current attempts to block this sort of traffic and the ways students get around it, not wanting to give out information that might help people abuse University resources.
But we can say that, while the University has more capability to block certain kinds of traffic now, the technology for evading any blocking attempt has progressed even faster.
The problem is hardly unique to Marquette. Indeed, it’s absolutely typical at universities all over the country.
Segregating Student Traffic
The strategy likely to be used is to segregate what Gorectke calls “real traffic” (faculty and staff internet access, workstations at libraries, etc.) from student traffic. Aggregate student bandwidth could then be limited, leaving a clear internet path for other users.
Might this result in students being unable to do research in their dorm rooms because of a lack of connectivity? Certainly. Might students have to go to the library to get any real work done? Quite likely. Will this increase the incentive to leave Marquette dorms and take off-campus apartments? Quite possibly.
But lacking the infrastructure to give each and every student limited and controlled bandwidth, there is really little choice.
This whole situation is a classic example of “The Tragedy of the Commons” in which, when some resource is shared by everybody and used at will, it will be overused and eventually destroyed.
The solution will be to install an infrastructure that can limit the bandwidth available to each individual student. For the moment, however, things are going to get worse (at least for students) before they get better.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Al Gore: Mansion Consumes 20 Times More Energy Than Average House
Last night, Al Gore’s global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, collected an Oscar for best documentary feature, but the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has found that Gore deserves a gold statue for hypocrisy.Of course, just because one is a hypocrite does not mean one is wrong on a particular issue.
Gore’s mansion, located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).
In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.
The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.
Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.
Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.
Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.
“As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk to walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use,” said Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson.
In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006.
If we find that a conservative Christian minister is engaged in an adulterous affair, that doesn’t make adultery a good idea.
But on issues like this, unsophisticated people tend to look for the “moral” side, and assume that, since one side is more “moral” than the other, it must be right.
Thus a little cynicism is a good logical tonic. Once you decide that no group is particularly moral, you can examine an issue on its merits.
And while we are at it, consider John Edward’s six million dollar mansion.
Marriage: Gay & Straight
Is marriage intrinsically connected to bearing and raising children? Advocates of same-sex marriage often argue peremptorily that it is not .Jacoby omits another important reason to extend the right to marry to opposite sex couples who may not in fact bear children.
“In today’s society,” Yale law professor William Eskridge asserts in The Case for Same-Sex Marriage, “the importance of marriage is relational and not procreational.” The privileged status of marriage in modern society, in other words, has to do with the love and commitment of the spouses, not with the needs of any children those spouses may produce. In its 2003 Goodridge decision mandating same-sex marriage, the Massachusestts Supreme Judicial Court was even more emphatic. To the argument that the state’s interest in marriage is connected to procreation, the SJC replied categorically: “This is incorrect.”
As evidence that marriage and childrearing are not fundamentally related, same-sex marriage proponents frequently point out that married couples aren’t required to have children. No law prevents infertile couples from marrying or orders childless marriages dissolved. If procreation is so important to marriage, they say, why should elderly couples, or couples determined not to have children, be permitted to wed?
[. . . ] No mainstream opponent of same-sex marriage claims that having children is the sole purpose of wedlock. Marriages can serve any number of purposes, as diverse as the people entering into them -- cementing the bond between devoted partners, guaranteeing financial security, having a legitimate sexual outlet, ensuring companionship, and so on. People get married for various reasons; the desire to raise a family is only one of them.
What makes marriage a public institution, however -- the reason it is regulated by law and given an elevated legal status -- is that it provides something no healthy society can do without: a stable environment in which men and women can create and bring up the next generation, and in which children can enter the world with mothers and fathers committed to their well-being.
Because sex between men and women makes children, and because children tend to do best when raised by their mothers and fathers, society has a vested interest in encouraging long-term, monogamous, heterosexual marriage. True, not all married couples reproduce. But every opposite-sex marriage has the ability to give a father and a mother to any child the couple creates or adopts. That is something no same-sex couple can provide, which is one reason homosexual marriage has never become a social institution.
Of course procreation is not the only reason to marry, but to insist that marriage is not closely related to having children is like arguing, to use an analogy offered by marriage scholar David Blankenhorn, that cars are not intrinsically connected to driving.
“When you acquire ownership of a car,” Blankenhorn writes in his forthcoming book, The Future of Marriage, “society does not impose upon you a binding obligation to drive it. If you buy a car but fail to drive it, the state does not for that reason revoke your driver’s license. . . . Cars can be about many things, including pleasure, aesthetics, economic gain, and social status.” But whether any particular car is driven or not, cars and driving are intrinsically linked.
Similarly, whatever the circumstances of any married couple, marriage and procreation are intrinsically connected. Men and women make babies; babies need mothers and fathers. That is why there has always been a public stake in the marriage of husbands and wives. And why no such stake exists in the union of same-sex couples.
For government to determine who will and who won’t likely have children would be excessively intrusive.
Demanding that couples seeking a marriage license prove they are fertile, and demanding they swear that they intend to bear children simply isn’t acceptable. And even if it were, how would we enforce the promise?
Of course, we could deny the right to marry to couples until the child is born. But society has an interest in children being conceived, born and raised by married biological parents. We’ve long fudged on the “conceived” part, and more recently fudged massively on the “born” and “raised” part, but that doesn’t change the fact that society has such an interest. Indeed, the social cost of the fudging is now huge and obvious.
Liberals are always lecturing people about how one should not “impose ones moral views” on other people. They are most likely to do this when they are themselves trying to impose their moral views on others.
The simple fact, however, is that letting anybody get the special treatment that comes with marriage is an “imposition.” Society’s interests in the welfare of children may justify this imposition where heterosexual couples are concerned, but nothing can justify it where homosexual couples are concerned.
If one does not buy this argument, it makes more sense to privatize marriage entirely than to extend it to same sex couples.
We think of homosexuals demanding the right to marry as akin to pacifists demanding admission to West Point. One has a right to be a pacifist. We think that position is flatly wrong, but you have a right to it.
But social institutions have a purpose. When you freely opt out of the purpose behind the institution, you have opted out of the institution.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Parody Song Draws Harassment from Michael McGee’s Supporters
It all started with the “Early Spin” on WISN radio ran a parody song directed at Michael McGee, Jr., the corrupt racial hustler on the Milwaukee Common Council. It was titled “It Ain’t McGee Babe.”
McGee, Sr. gave out the cell phone number of the show’s producer, and a steady stream of threatening and harassing phone calls followed.
You can listen to some of the calls here.
Warning: the language is the sort you would expect from people who support McGee (Jr. or Sr.).
Friday, February 23, 2007
UWM Student Journalist Coup: University Censors Robber’s Description
But it’s still surprising to find political correctness actually endangering public safety and impeding law enforcement.
Via Sykes writes, how a student journalist exposed the dereliction of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
First, from the police report, a description of a crime:
A UWM student was not injured during an armed robbery that took place on the west side of campus at 7:20 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21.But when the university sent an e-mail to all UWM students about the incident, the description was as follows:
The student was walking between the EMS and Physics buildings when he was approached from behind by a black male, with a dark complexion, 5’4” to 5’-6” tall, thin build, and in his mid-20s. The man displayed a black handgun and demanded the student’s wallet and cell phone. The student complied and the man ran to a parked maroon or red Mercury station wagon, which he then drove south on Cramer Street . The man was further described as wearing jeans and a brown-and-gold jacket with the word *Ecko* or “Epikos” written in yellow or gold graffiti lettering on the back.
A UWM student was not injured during an armed robbery that took place on the west side of campus at 7:20 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21.So the e-mail lists the color of the gun, the color of the station wagon and the color of the jacket. But not the color of the robber.
According to University Police reports, the student was walking between the EMS and Physics buildings when he was approached from behind by a man in his mid-20s. The man displayed a black handgun and demanded the student’s wallet and cell phone. The student complied and the man ran to a parked maroon or red Mercury station wagon, which he then drove south on Cramer Street. The man was further described as wearing jeans and a brown-and-gold jacket with the word *Ecko* written in a graffiti style on the back.
Tom Luljak, vice chancellor of University Relations, told me in an interview that he made the decision to omit the suspect’s race from the email to the student body.Apparently, it’s not important to aid in the apprehension of the robber.
“It is important that the university does nothing to contribute to racial profiling,” Luljak said. He added that there are thousands of black men in the city of Milwaukee and many of them are on campus.
Let’s suppose that it would be better if whites didn’t believe that blacks are more likely than whites to commit crimes.
The problem is, blacks are more likely commit crimes, and people know it.
It’s hard to conceal the reality shown in the City of Milwaukee 2005 Public Safety Report, that murders in Milwaukee are concentrated on the north side, and the near south side.
Thus trying to protect black males from being “profiled” by concealing the race of a particular criminal is not only fruitless, it contributes to public cynicism. People will start assuming that the perp in a particular case must be black, since his race is not being reported.
Marquette Tribune: Mimicking Warrior Stories
It’s a nice little piece of writing.
But interestingly, The Warrior ran a piece virtually identical in tone, writing style and substance back on 27 September 2006.
This one was written by Kyle Shamorian.
This is not the first time in the last few weeks that the Tribune has followed in the footsteps of The Warrior.
The February 15 number of the Tribune had a front-page, above the fold feature story on Marine Corporal Dave Warnacut, a Marquette senior who served in Iraq in late 2004 and early 2005.
Yet The Warrior ran a similar feature story on Warnacut back in November, 2005.
Of course, we can’t assert that the Tribune is copying The Warrior. A good story idea is a good story idea, and different journalists might come up with it independently. But if this is what is happening, The Warrior staff can be forgiven for being just a bit smug that they came up with the ideas months and months before the Tribune.
The same can be said of the Tribune’s new practice of putting long feature stories, with large color photos, on the front page above the fold.
The Tribune, for at least the last few decades, has been preparing fledgling journalists to take jobs in monopoly local newspapers. In that environment, if something doesn’t appear in the paper, it’s literally “not news.” In that environment, nobody really has the power to seriously complete with the paper, and nobody has the power to hold it accountable for misreporting and bias.
But the rise of the New Media has changed the landscape. Monopoly papers have to exist in an environment with rival media -- typically on the Internet or talk radio. They can be called out for bias or misreporting. Life isn’t so cozy.
Which is why the new media reality at Marquette is good training for the new media environment in the larger society.
But it’s a lot less cushy and comfortable.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
New Blog Roll Entry: The National Conversation
Readers who listen to Charlie Sykes will know about “James from Sherman Park.” Yep. This is indeed James from Sherman Park.
Since Harris is black and conservative, a certain number of politically correct whites and race baiting blacks are going to consider him a traitor to his race.
We, however, think that it’s inherently demeaning to think that black people aren’t allowed to have different political opinions.
After all, we expect whites to disagree among themselves.
Of course, if varies by issue. It will be a cold day in hell when any significant number of black people decide that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was a bad idea.
And blacks clearly lean in a liberal direction on economic regulation and social welfare spending. Here, however, there are a fair number of blacks who own businesses, or work for corporations that are the targets of liberal politicians (energy, pharmaceuticals, health care).
But on a variety of social issues rank and file black folks are not particularly liberal at all. Blacks are split down the middle on the death penalty. And there is an often hidden but intense condemnation in the black community of behaviors that make upward mobility for youth impossible: drug use, promiscuous sex, contempt for academic achievement and hostility toward authority.
Just listen to Bill Cosby give his talk in front of a black audience.
So blacks who are in the business of telling white liberals and leftists what they want to hear aren’t the only “authentic” voices of the community.
Anti-Christian Darwin Day
February 12 used to be known in classrooms across the nation as Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. But over the last decade, an increasing number of schools and community groups have decided to celebrate the birthday of the father of evolution instead.We have no problem with Darwinism as a scientific theory. But we have a considerable problem with Darwinism as the government-imposed dogma.
The movement to establish February 12 as “Darwin Day” seems to be spreading, promoted by a evangelistic non-profit group with its own website (http://www.darwinday.org/) and an ambitious agenda to create a “global celebration in 2009, the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origins of Species.”
Darwin Day celebrations provide an eye-opening glimpse into the world of grassroots Darwinian fundamentalism, an alternate reality where atheism is the conventional wisdom and where traditional religious believers are viewed with suspicion if not paranoia.
Promoters of Darwin Day deny that their activities are anti-religious, but their denial is hard to square with reality.
According to the Darwin Day website, the movement’s inspiration was an event sponsored by the Stanford Humanists and the Humanist Community in 1995. Since then the honor roll of groups sponsoring Darwin Day events has been top-heavy with organizations bearing such names as the “Long Island Secular Humanists,” the “Atheists and Agnostics of Wisconsin,” the “Gay and Lesbian Atheists and Humanists,” the “Humanists of Idaho,” the “Southeast Michigan Chapter of Freedom from Religion Foundation,” and the “San Francisco Atheists.” The last group puts on an annual festival called “Evolutionpalooza” featuring a Darwin impersonator and an evolution game show (“Evolutionary!”).
Given such sponsors, it should be no surprise that Darwin Day events often explicitly attack religion. At a high school in New York a few years ago, students wore shirts emblazoned with messages proclaiming that “no religious dogmas [were] keeping them from believing what they want to believe,” while in California a group named “Students for Science and Skepticism” hosted a lecture at the University of California, Irvine, on the topic “Darwin’s Greatest Discovery: Design without a Designer.” This year in Boston there is an event on “Biological Arguments Against the Existence of God.”
The original “honorary president” of Darwin Day was biologist Richard Dawkins, author most recently of The God Delusion. Dawkins is best known for such pearls of wisdom as “faith is one of the world’s great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate,” and “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”
Darwin Day celebrations are fascinating because they expose a side of the controversy over evolution in America that is rarely covered by the mainstream media. Although journalists routinely write about the presumed religious motives of anyone critical of unguided evolution, they almost never discuss the anti-religious mindset that motivates many of evolution’s staunchest defenders.
What Darwin Day shows, however, is just how ordinary the anti-religious views expressed by Dawkins are among grassroots Darwinists. Far from being on the fringe, Dawkins’ views form the ideological core of mainstream Darwinism.
Not that this should come as a shock. According to a 1998 survey of members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), nearly 95 percent of NAS biologists are atheists or agnostics.
The anti-religious outlook of many of Darwin’s chief boosters exposes the hypocrisy in current discussions over Darwin’s theory. The usual complaint raised against scientists who are skeptical of Darwin’s theory is that many of them (like the vast majority of Americans) happen to believe in God. It is insinuated that this fact somehow undermines the validity of their scientific views. Yet, at the same time, defenders of Darwinism insist that their own rejection of religion is irrelevant to the validity of their scientific views—and most reporters seem to agree.
Of course, in an important sense these defenders of Darwinism are right. Just because leading Darwinists are avowed atheists or agnostics does not mean that their scientific beliefs about evolution are wrong. Scientific propositions should be debated based on their evidence, not on the metaphysical beliefs of those who espouse them.
But if Darwinists have the right to be debated based on evidence, not motives, then scientists who are supportive of alternatives to Darwin’s theory such as intelligent design should have the right to expect the same treatment.
And we have a huge problem with Darwinism as a rallying cry for people who hate religion.
We have posted on the culture of religious intolerance in science.
The problem is not wanting to “do science,” the problem is adopting a whole complex of cultural attitudes that are typical in science, but not at all required to “do science.”
Interestingly, the Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment as prohibiting any attempt to “promote” religion on the part of government. But the same rulings also prohibit any attempt to “impede” religion.
Intolerant secularists, of course, pound on the first restriction, and entirely ignore the second.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Marquette Basketball Photo Coup
The photo is of freshman guard David Cubillan. It says “I love this game.” It says “I’m a competitor.”
Indeed, it says “I am a Warrior.”
The Tribune showed good judgment featuring it on the front page.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Via Sykes Writes, a rundown on the two significant candidates.
Bottom line: it’s a contest between a liberal activist would-be judge (Linda Clifford) and a conservative judge (Annette Ziegler).
Governor Jim Doyle has endorsed Clifford. That’s pretty much all you need to know.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Bucking Up Troop Morale
Students For Academic Freedom: Trying Again As Students for a Free Marketplace of Ideas
The document is here.
The organization will now be called Students for a Free Marketplace of Ideas.
The document has been sanitized of the things that offended the OSD bureaucrats, including especially plans to criticize ideological bias in instruction at Marquette, and affiliation with the national organization Students For Academic Freedom.
It remains to be seen how OSD will react to the new application. Students for a Free Marketplace of Ideas remains a group of conservative students unhappy at the leftist bias of discourse on campus, and particularly at the stifling of conservative speech.
And OSD bureaucrats remain liberals who don’t much like uppity conservative students.
But given that the document contains none of the things that OSD claimed were unacceptable, it will be difficult for people such as Dean of Student Development Mark McCarthy to find an excuse to reject it.
Any such rejection would be an utterly bald admission of ideological bias.
Not that Marquette is unwilling to be baldly ideologically biased.
Labels: Leftist Bias, Leftists Free Speech Tolerance, Liberal Bias, Mark McCarthy, Marquette, Office of Student Development, Students, Students for Academic Freedom, Students for a Free Marketplace of Ideas
Amanda Marcotte: Unrepentant Anti-Christian Bigot
(You will have to click through an advertisement to see the entire article.)
Some key passages:
What I also failed to understand was how much [Melissa] McEwan and I would stick out. I was aware that I didn’t exactly fit the image people have of bloggers who join campaigns -- the stereotype being 30-something nerdy young white men who wear khakis and obsess over crafting their Act Blue lists. I wasn’t aware that not fitting the image would attract so much negative attention. In fact, I mostly saw this all as a baby step in the direction of diversity, since McEwan and I differed from the stereotype mostly by being female and by being outspoken feminists.Readers unfamiliar with the things Marcotte actually wrote on here blog should look at the quick summary here.
[. . .]
The right-wing noise machine’s favorite trick, possibly its only trick, is to select a target and start making a fuss, hoping that by creating the appearance of smoke, just enough people will be fooled into thinking there’s a fire. Unfortunately, it works.
[. . .]
Looking back, the detail that astonishes me the most is the sheer amount of ink, air time, and energy devoted to keeping this phony scandal going until McEwan and I felt we had to resign. One question that’s hard to avoid is how much of the venom had to do with the fact that McEwan and I were young women entering into a field (Internet communications) that’s viewed as almost monolithically masculine.
[. . .]
Regardless of its motive, the result of the smear campaign was to send a loud, clear signal to young feminist women. It tells them that campaigning for Democratic candidates, and particularly doing so in positions that would help the candidate connect with young feminist communities like the one that thrives in the blogosphere, is a scary, risky prospect.
[. . .]
Whether or not it was the intention of the right-wing noise machine to throw more obstacles in the way of Democrats who want to play to their pro-choice, pro-gay rights feminist constituents -- it’s also plausible that the right-wing noise machine was working on pure misogynist emotion -- the episode has had a chilling effect on the future of Democratic outreach to feminist communities, particularly the younger ones that flock to computers for political information as earlier generations flocked to television sets and newspapers.
[. . .]
In response to what happened to Melissa and me, Garance Franke-Ruta has written a post on the American Prospect’s Tapped blog wagging her finger at liberal bloggers and warning us that unless we are willing to ape the language and habits of the D.C. insider crowd, we can expect never to be allowed through the gates. She probably has a point that bloggers can expect this sort of pushback from the establishment. Blogs are popular because they provide space for everyday citizens to engage in politics, in the language and manner that is comfortable for us, if not for the establishment. To my mind, however, it would be a terrible thing if bloggers did heed the advice to mind our manners and ape our betters if we want in, since this is supposed to be a democratic system that respects the right of everyday, common people to participate in politics. While there’s a chance that the crusade to separate McEwan and me from the Edwards campaign was just a singular happening, the possibility lingers that this was just the first sign that the established media and political circles will not be letting the blog-writing rabble into the circle without a fight.
Marcotte’s apologia raises the question: is there anything particular about her hatred of Christians (particularly Catholics), or is it simply a distilled version of rather conventional feminist doctrine?
Having acted irresponsibly, she can’t concede that she did anything wrong.
Rather, she plays the gender card and claims it’s just those evil “misogynist” attitudes (translation: any opinions that feminists don’t like) that did her in.
Her writing is a window into a world where there are no legitimate differences of opinion, only “progressive” attitudes versus “misogynist” and “homophobic” and “reactionary” forces.
It’s a world were it is acceptable -- indeed good -- to hate those on the other side of the political issues one cares about.
Unfortunately, a lot of college students won’t need that window, because those attitudes are what they have imposed on them every day.
Supporting the Troops By Working For Their Defeat?
Smart people who work hard become successful, John Kerry “joked” last fall, but uneducated sluggards “get stuck in Iraq.” Osama bin Laden is beloved by Muslims for “building schools, building roads, [and] building day-care facilities,” Washington Senator Patty Murray explained in 2002, while Americans only show up to “bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan.” Obama’s Illinois colleague Dick Durbin took to the Senate floor to equate US military interrogators in Guantanamo Bay with genocidal mass-murderers: “Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or . . . Pol Pot.”Claims of the Democrats that they “support the troops” are much like their claim to be Christians. It’s not exactly that they are lying. It’s that there is a deep-seated hostility toward the military in the Democratic “base,” and more and more it moves into the mainstream of the party.
It goes without saying that many Democrats and liberals take a back seat to no one in their admiration and appreciation of the US military. But there is no denying that a notable current of antimilitary hostility runs through the left as well. Examples are endless: ROTC is banned on elite college campuses. San Francisco bars a historic battleship from its port. Signs at antiwar protests exhort troops to “shoot their officers.” An Ivy League professor prays for “a million Mogadishus.” Michael Moore compares Iraqi insurgents who kill Americans to the Minutemen of Revolutionary New England.
America is a free country, but it is not the Michael Moores or the ROTC-banners or the senatorial loudmouths who keep it free. They merely enjoy the freedom that others are prepared to defend with their lives. It is the men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform to whom we owe our liberty. Surely they deserve better than pious claims of “support” from those who are working for their defeat.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
That’s the Correct Direction, Certainly
The focus of Christensen’s presentation was the testimony of a woman who said she bore her daughter in 1961 because the law prohibited her from having an abortion.“Shack” gets it right when he says “I would hate to be her daughter.”
“It was an extraordinarily difficult time,” said the woman, who wished to remain anonymous. “It changed my life forever.”
The woman even traveled to Mexico in an attempt to bypass the abortion laws in the United States, but she returned home immediately upon seeing the dangerous conditions under which the abortions were performed.
“I am thankful that my daughter is alive and well and happy,” the woman said. “But each and every day I am reminded of the fact that she exists. My life would have been much different if I would have been able to [have the abortion].”
What we have here is nothing less than a perversion of the normal human instinct to nurture and protect young and innocent human life.
Heavens, it’s getting crowded in the pews these days--at least with Democratic presidential candidates. Here is Sen. Barack Obama in California’s Saddleback pulpit at the invitation of mega-selling pastor Rick Warren. There is Sen. Hillary Clinton with downcast eyes in Newsweek, praying before the cameras in New York’s Riverside Church. And there preaches John Edwards, also in Riverside Church, weaving his personal faith into everything from AIDS to the minimum wage. Clearly the push is on to show that, for now anyway, the Democratic hopefuls are just plain folks in the religion department.The author of this piece, Mary Eberstadt, politely fails to be explicit about the vitriol that Marcotte (and McEwan) posted.
All the more reason to plumb the curious episode of Amanda Marcotte, that blogger for the Edwards campaign who resigned on Monday and was followed out the door Tuesday by another technical consultant, Melissa McEwan. Both quit thanks to circulation by conservatives of some of these former staffers’ Internet musings. That is to say, in Ms. Marcotte’s case especially: scatological Catholic-baiting rants about “theocracy” marked by leering references to the pope and liberal use of the F-word.
So far, so unremarkable. Just being a bilious feminist with a potty mouth doesn’t much distinguish one in the blogosphere these days. What does matter is something else: We have here a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern moment, in which the fate of bit players becomes emblematic of a larger drama.
For what the blogger tempest really illuminates is a fact that could come to haunt the Democrats as they vie for national office: namely, that their past few wilderness years have also been boom years for the church-loathing liberal/left punditry. As a result, anti-Christian invective now graces (or disgraces) many of the books, magazines, Web sites and blogs to which liberals, including the Democratic elite, habitually look for ideas. One motto of this cottage industry is that the most serious threat to the American republic can be found in, no, not those religious fundamentalists, the ones that first leap to mind after 9/11; but, incredibly, certain other believers--our nation’s Christians.
The cover of Damon Linker’s 2006 “Theocons: Secular America Under Siege,” for example, declares: “For the past three decades, a few determined men have worked to inject their radical religious ideas into the nation’s politics. This is the story of how they succeeded.” Again, he is not talking about al Qaeda. Other books in a similar vein include Michelle Goldberg’s “Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism,” praised on its cover by Katha Pollitt for exposing “the ongoing takeover of our country by right-wing Christians.” There is Kevin Phillips’s “American Theocracy,” which identifies in its subtitle “radical religion” as a “peril” facing the nation. Enter also Randall Balmer’s “Thy Kingdom Come: An Evangelical’s Lament,” which opens with the unfortunate metaphorical notion that evangelical faith has been “hijacked by radical zealots” and closes with a vow about “taking America back.”
To repeat, this apocalyptic rhetoric is not being heaped on, say, bomb-toting Islamists but on your churchgoing neighbors next door. Some authors even argue that those neighbors and Islamic “fundamentalists” are joined at the hip. Mel White’s “Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right” is one; he warns that Christians want to “forcibly” take back the country.
Not to be outdone is the recent tome “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America,” by New York Times reporter Chris Hedges. It delivers more of the same, studded with that tonier F-word, “fascism.” Yet despite the book’s conflation of prayer groups and jackboots, Publisher’s Weekly awarded “American Fascists” a starred review and praised its attentiveness to a supposedly “serious and growing threat to the very concept and practice of an open society.”
Of course, whatever has been hurled against Christians in books and magazines has been positively restrained by the standards of the blogosphere. Like Ms. Marcotte’s more embellished arias, a lot of blog commentary cannot be printed in a family newspaper.
Sophisticates and secularists have always titillated themselves by despising the Bible Belt. But professional Christian-bashers have never been as “embedded” in the liberal mainstream as they are today. And therein lies a problem for Democrats. More Amanda Marcottes are not what the party needs as it scrambles to re-establish its religious bona fides with wary red-staters. No wonder so many Democratic candidates are in church. Now they really have something to pray about.
But just to give a taste of the vile stuff she posted, here is a sample.
Q: What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit?And via Sykes Writes, Michelle Malkin does a dramatic reading of Marcotte’s rants.
A: You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology.
People like Edwards and Hillary and Obama may not, in their hearts of hearts, be anti-Christian bigots. But they are tolerant of anti-Christian bigotry. They will accept from their supporters and campaign operatives nasty rhetoric that they would never accept if directed toward blacks or homosexuals.
A lot of Democratic operatives and pundits claim that being a Christian and voting Democratic are perfectly consistent; that any notion that the Democrats are anti-Christian is some kind of misperception.
But it’s not a misperception. The Democratic party is the party of those who hate Christians -- and those who will tolerate hatred toward Christians.
Muslim Violence in Middle East Targets Christians
1. Lebanon gets worse as Christians targetedOf course, conservative American Christians are much more likely to side with the Jewish victims of terrorism than more secular Americans, and more likely to favor a tough line against terrorism anywhere.
Two commuter buses were bombed Tuesday in the small Christian village of Ain Alak (photos). “Many residents simply shrugged over the culprit’s identity, a seeming gesture of weariness over a crisis that has brought Lebanon perilously close to civil war,” The Washington Post reports. But everyone agrees that the target was Lebanon’s Christian community, and the victims were among the poorer members of that community.
“The buses were packed with students, blue-collar workers, Sri Lankan maids and women making their way to Christian theology lessons,” the Los Angeles Times notes.
“The attacks, spaced 10 minutes apart … appeared to mark a new chapter in Lebanon’s months-old crisis, with the aim shorn of any apparent political objective beyond killing civilians,” says the Post.
If you haven’t read our recent coverage of the Lebanon crisis from the perspective of two Lebanese evangelicals, be sure to read Martin Accad’s “The ‘Jesus Manifesto’ for Lebanon” and Riad Kassis’ “The Colors of Lebanon.”
2. Coptic Christians attacked again in Egypt
It seems not to take much for Muslims in southern Egypt to attack Christians in the area. Reuters reports that “rumors of a love affair between a Muslim woman and a Coptic Christian man” set off a riot in Armant, with Muslims attacking Christian shops and a minivan. Eight Muslim men (who are permitted to marry Christian women, but whose daughters are not allowed to marry Christian men) were arrested.
But if there remain any Christians who are (illogically) thinking “this terrorism stuff is just a threat to other people,” the only advice we can give is “wake up!”
Friday, February 16, 2007
OK, Just One More
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Gays and the United Nations
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A U.N. committee rejected credentials of a Canadian gay and lesbian organization seeking consultative status with the United Nations and deferred the application of a similar body from Sweden, according to documents circulated on Friday.Gosh, we thought the Bush Administration was a bunch of nasty homophobes.
Accreditation, which has been given to more than 2,000 groups, enables them to take part in U.N. conferences and offer advice in their field of expertise, such as human rights, health and humanitarian aid.
Envoys from the Canadian and Swedish U.N. missions criticized the U.N. Committee on Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) at its Wednesday meeting, with Canada’s Nell Stewart expressing dismay at the panel’s “pattern of discrimination” in treating groups on sexual orientation.
The Canadian group was the Coalition of Gays and Lesbians of Quebec (Coalition Gaie et Lesbienne du Quebec), a national organization. The Stockholm group was the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights.
On the rejection of the Canadian group, the vote was 8 to 6. Against were Burundi, China, Egypt, Guinea, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia and Sudan. Voting in favor were Colombia, Israel, Peru, Romania, Britain and the United States.
Abstaining were Angola, India and Turkey.For politically correct leftists, this has to produce a lot of cognitive dissonance.
The U.N. committee is a subsidiary of the U.N. Economic and Social Council, which can reverse the panel’s decisions. But with notable exceptions it agrees with the committee’s rulings.
British delegate Thomas Woodruffe told the panel that every NGO that met the criteria approved by the U.N. Economic and Social Council should be admitted in the fields of health, gender and human rights.
He noted that 100 groups had been accepted with varying viewpoints not all governments accepted.
Human rights groups are often turned down, particularly when they deal with dissidents in authoritarian countries. Even the influential New York-based Human Rights Watch was rejected in 1992 before being admitted a year and a half later.
Jewish groups also have a problem, and their applications are usually deferred or rejected. Hadassah, the women’s Zionist organization that runs hospitals in Israel, succeeded after lengthy diplomatic fights in 2001.
In its decisions this week, the committee admitted the American Conservative Union and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the (U.S.) Southern Baptist Convention.
On the one hand, gays and lesbians are a politically correct victim group, and any opposition to their agenda is called “homophobia.”
On the other hand, the U.N. is supposedly a source of great moral authority. It represents the “world community.” Thus if the U.S. acts without U.N. sanction (invading Iraq, for example), it must be American that’s in the wrong.
The reality, of course, is that the U.N. has no particular moral authority. It is made up of highly self-seeking politicians, often representing extremely unsavory regimes.
And many of them aren’t too keen on homosexuality.
Brian Carnell suggests:
. . . the best bet for gay and lesbian groups would probably be to adopt anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic planks. Egypt, Pakistan and Qatar may not be thrilled by a gay and lesbian group, but if that group, say, argued that Jews were behind a worldwide plot against gays and lesbians, they’d probably win immediate approval.That would present an interesting test: do they hate gays or Jews more?
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
The Only Anna Nicole Smith Post You Will Ever See Here
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Online Newspaper at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Front Page Milwaukee is an online project of journalism students at UWM, and the Faculty Supervisor is Jessica McBride, blogger and talk show host on WTMJ.
I am the editor-in-chief of this paper, which is produced by students at UW-Milwaukee’s Journalism and Mass Communication Department. Many of the stories and columns are produced in classes. The paper launched today. The goal of the paper is to enrich the public debate by providing stories that aren’t being told elsewhere. The paper also will offer a rich mixture of opinion voices. You can find everything from liberal to conservative voices in this paper, and everything in between.Our first response is “wait a minute, this isn’t a student paper!”
Our second thought is: “students do reporting for journalism classes, why shouldn’t their work appear on the web?”
We have served as a source for countless reporting assignments in Marquette journalism classes which never appeared in any public venue. Some of this probably resulted in “C” grades -- so nothing was lost. But some probably deserved a wider audience.
The UWM journalism students appear to have done some pretty decent muckraking in their first two issues, revealing quite questionable spending by local school districts, and the criminal records of Milwaukee city cops.
The web-only format is clearly the wave of the future, given that the circulation of print newspapers is steadily declining, while the readership of the web (including the web sites of traditional papers) is headed upward.
When Marquette students founded The Warrior, they chose to go with the now-traditional pattern of a print newspaper with an online version essentially identical to the print edition. This certainly has advantages. But web technology has radically reduced barriers to entry in journalistic enterprises.
Are there faculty or students at Marquette who should follow the lead of the public university across town?
Is the Phrase “Careers in Political Science” an Oxymoron?
Tonight, 6:30-8:00 p.m., in Raynor Library Conference rooms B & C, they will be hosting a Career Panel.
Panelists will include a:
- Business professional
- Foreign Service officer
- Non-profit sector professional
- Congressional staffer
- Graduate school representative
And yes, you might have a shot at paying back your loans.
The most important thing about the proceedings: refreshments will be provided.
Monday, February 12, 2007
The Culture of Religious Intolerance in Science
Believing Scripture but Playing by Science’s RulesThe level of intolerance coming from some secular scientists here is stunning.
KINGSTON, R.I. — There is nothing much unusual about the 197-page dissertation Marcus R. Ross submitted in December to complete his doctoral degree in geosciences here at the University of Rhode Island.
Prof. Steven B. Case of the University of Kansas said it would be frightening if universities began “enforcing some sort of belief system.”
His subject was the abundance and spread of mosasaurs, marine reptiles that, as he wrote, vanished at the end of the Cretaceous era about 65 million years ago. The work is “impeccable,” said David E. Fastovsky, a paleontologist and professor of geosciences at the university who was Dr. Ross’s dissertation adviser. “He was working within a strictly scientific framework, a conventional scientific framework.”
But Dr. Ross is hardly a conventional paleontologist. He is a “young earth creationist” — he believes that the Bible is a literally true account of the creation of the universe, and that the earth is at most 10,000 years old.
For him, Dr. Ross said, the methods and theories of paleontology are one “paradigm” for studying the past, and Scripture is another. In the paleontological paradigm, he said, the dates in his dissertation are entirely appropriate. The fact that as a young earth creationist he has a different view just means, he said, “that I am separating the different paradigms.”
He likened his situation to that of a socialist studying economics in a department with a supply-side bent. “People hold all sorts of opinions different from the department in which they graduate,” he said. “What’s that to anybody else?”
But not everyone is happy with that approach. “People go somewhat bananas when they hear about this,” said Jon C. Boothroyd, a professor of geosciences at Rhode Island.
In theory, scientists look to nature for answers to questions about nature, and test those answers with experiment and observation. For Biblical literalists, Scripture is the final authority. As a creationist raised in an evangelical household and a paleontologist who said he was “just captivated” as a child by dinosaurs and fossils, Dr. Ross embodies conflicts between these two approaches. The conflicts arise often these days, particularly as people debate the teaching of evolution.
And, for some, his case raises thorny philosophical and practical questions. May a secular university deny otherwise qualified students a degree because of their religion? Can a student produce intellectually honest work that contradicts deeply held beliefs? Should it be obligatory (or forbidden) for universities to consider how students will use the degrees they earn?
Those are “darned near imponderable issues,” said John W. Geissman, who has considered them as a professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of New Mexico. For example, Dr. Geissman said, Los Alamos National Laboratory has a geophysicist on staff, John R. Baumgardner, who is an authority on the earth’s mantle — and also a young earth creationist.
If researchers like Dr. Baumgardner do their work “without any form of interjection of personal dogma,” Dr. Geissman said, “I would have to keep as objective a hat on as possible and say, ‘O.K., you earned what you earned.’ ”
Others say the crucial issue is not whether Dr. Ross deserved his degree but how he intends to use it.
In a telephone interview, Dr. Ross said his goal in studying at secular institutions “was to acquire the training that would make me a good paleontologist, regardless of which paradigm I was using.”
Today he teaches earth science at Liberty University, the conservative Christian institution founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell where, Dr. Ross said, he uses a conventional scientific text.
“We also discuss the intersection of those sorts of ideas with Christianity,” he said. “I don’t require my students to say or write their assent to one idea or another any more than I was required.”
But he has also written and spoken on scientific subjects, and with a creationist bent. While still a graduate student, he appeared on a DVD arguing that intelligent design, an ideological cousin of creationism, is a better explanation than evolution for the Cambrian explosion, a rapid diversification of animal life that occurred about 500 million years ago.
Online information about the DVD identifies Dr. Ross as “pursuing a Ph.D. in geosciences” at the University of Rhode Island. It is this use of a secular credential to support creationist views that worries many scientists.
Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, a private group on the front line of the battle for the teaching of evolution, said fundamentalists who capitalized on secular credentials “to miseducate the public” were doing a disservice.
Michael L. Dini, a professor of biology education at Texas Tech University, goes even further. In 2003, he was threatened with a federal investigation when students complained that he would not write letters of recommendation for graduate study for anyone who would not offer “a scientific answer” to questions about how the human species originated.
Nothing came of it, Dr. Dini said in an interview, adding, “Scientists do not base their acceptance or rejection of theories on religion, and someone who does should not be able to become a scientist.”
A somewhat more complicated issue arose last year at Ohio State University, where Bryan Leonard, a high school science teacher working toward a doctorate in education, was preparing to defend his dissertation on the pedagogical usefulness of teaching alternatives to the theory of evolution.
Earle M. Holland, a spokesman for the university, said Mr. Leonard and his adviser canceled the defense when questions arose about the composition of the faculty committee that would hear it.
Meanwhile three faculty members had written the university administration, arguing that Mr. Leonard’s project violated the university’s research standards in that the students involved were being subjected to something harmful (the idea that there were scientific alternatives to the theory of evolution) without receiving any benefit.
Citing privacy rules, Mr. Holland would not discuss the case in detail, beyond saying that Mr. Leonard was still enrolled in the graduate program. But Mr. Leonard has become a hero to people who believe that creationists are unfairly treated by secular institutions.
Perhaps the most famous creationist wearing the secular mantle of science is Kurt P. Wise, who earned his doctorate at Harvard in 1989 under the guidance of the paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, a leading theorist of evolution who died in 2002.
Dr. Wise, who teaches at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., wrote his dissertation on gaps in the fossil record. But rather than suggest, as many creationists do, that the gaps challenge the wisdom of Darwin’s theory, Dr. Wise described a statistical approach that would allow paleontologists to infer when a given species was present on earth, millions of years ago, even if the fossil evidence was incomplete.
Dr. Wise, who declined to comment for this article, is a major figure in creationist circles today, and his Gould connection appears prominently on his book jackets and elsewhere.
“He is lionized,” Dr. Scott said. “He is the young earth creationist with a degree from Harvard.”
As for Dr. Ross, “he does good science, great science,” said Dr. Boothroyd, who taught him in a class in glacial geology. But in talks and other appearances, Dr. Boothroyd went on, Dr. Ross is already using “the fact that he has a Ph.D. from a legitimate science department as a springboard.”
Dr. Ross, 30, grew up in Rhode Island in an evangelical Christian family. He attended Pennsylvania State University and then the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, where he wrote his master’s thesis on marine fossils found in the state.
His creationism aroused “some concern by faculty members there, and disagreements,” he recalled, and there were those who argued that his religious beliefs should bar him from earning an advanced degree in paleontology.
“But in the end I had a decent thesis project and some people who, like the people at U.R.I., were kind to me, and I ended up going through,” Dr. Ross said.
Dr. Fastovsky and other members of the Rhode Island faculty said they knew about these disagreements, but admitted him anyway. Dr. Boothroyd, who was among those who considered the application, said they judged Dr. Ross on his academic record, his test scores and his master’s thesis, “and we said, ‘O.K., we can do this.’ ”
He added, “We did not know nearly as much about creationism and young earth and intelligent design as we do now.”
For his part, Dr. Ross says, “Dr. Fastovsky was liberal in the most generous and important sense of the term.”
He would not say whether he shared the view of some young earth creationists that flaws in paleontological dating techniques erroneously suggest that the fossils are far older than they really are.
Asked whether it was intellectually honest to write a dissertation so at odds with his religious views, he said: “I was working within a particular paradigm of earth history. I accepted that philosophy of science for the purpose of working with the people” at Rhode Island.
And though his dissertation repeatedly described events as occurring tens of millions of years ago, Dr. Ross added, “I did not imply or deny any endorsement of the dates.”
Dr. Fastovsky said he had talked to Dr. Ross “lots of times” about his religious beliefs, but that depriving him of his doctorate because of them would be nothing more than religious discrimination. “We are not here to certify his religious beliefs,” he said. “All I can tell you is he came here and did science that was completely defensible.”
Steven B. Case, a research professor at the Center for Research Learning at the University of Kansas, said it would be wrong to “censor someone for a belief system as long as it does not affect their work. Science is an open enterprise to anyone who practices it.”
Dr. Case, who champions the teaching of evolution, heads the committee writing state science standards in Kansas, a state particularly racked by challenges to Darwin. Even so, he said it would be frightening if universities began “enforcing some sort of belief system on their graduate students.”
But Dr. Scott, a former professor of physical anthropology at the University of Colorado, said in an interview that graduate admissions committees were entitled to consider the difficulties that would arise from admitting a doctoral candidate with views “so at variance with what we consider standard science.” She said such students “would require so much remedial instruction it would not be worth my time.”
That is not religious discrimination, she added, it is discrimination “on the basis of science.”
Dr. Dini, of Texas Tech, agreed. Scientists “ought to make certain the people they are conferring advanced degrees on understand the philosophy of science and are indeed philosophers of science,” he said. “That’s what Ph.D. stands for.”
Consider, for example, Scott’s claim about “fundamentalists who capitalized on secular credentials to miseducate the public.”
She is claiming that scientists, when they get out of graduate programs, are obliged to use their honestly gotten credentials only to promote ideas that the majority of members of a discipline condone.
This is like saying that (for example) students who graduate from conservative theological seminaries are not allowed to decide they favor gay marriage. Or that graduates of highly reputable history departments are not allowed to write books claiming a conspiracy in the assassination of John Kennedy.
To state what should be obvious to tolerant people, individuals get to decide for themselves what constitutes “miseducating” the public.
Likewise, Michael L. Dini is admittedly discriminating against students who disagree with him. If a student can answer questions asked on exams, and write papers that pass scholarly muster, why should personal religious beliefs be penalized?
We teach public policy, and expect students to be able to write on the claimed virtues of markets as a device for allocating resources. This is as much the orthodoxy in economics as evolution is in biology. But it would never occur to us to penalize a student who merely expressed a preference for a socialist system.
It gets more and more bizarre. Consider the notion that subjecting students to creationist or intelligent design arguments is “harmful” to them, and thus violates a University’s rules on dealing with human subjects.
How would left leaning faculty react if conservatives claimed it was “harmful” to subject students to Marxist ideas? To feminist ideas?
In which context, “harmful” clearly simply means “ideas we disagree with.”
People like Scott would never claim that students who are Marxists should not be admitted to reputable economics programs because they “would require so much remedial instruction.”
But worst of all is Dini. Saying that people should not be allowed to get a degree in science unless they “understand the philosophy of science and are indeed philosophers of science” is simply a way of saying “you have to buy our philosophical orthodoxy, in toto, or we will deny you a degree.”
We have discussed issues like this with some of our colleagues in the physical sciences. They have no objection to exposing students to conspiracy arguments about the JFK assassination. They have no objection to exposing students to Marxist economics.
But the idea of exposing students to heterodox ideas about the history of the planet and the origin of species is a different matter to them.
It seems that scientists have deep-seated cultural biases. They don’t start with the idea “let’s explore the universe and see what we can find.” They don’t start by saying “maybe we can find some regularities in the universe and model them and explain things that nobody has an explained before.”
Rather, they start with the notion that science is the rational way of addressing any issue, and all else is “superstition” which must be banished.
Thus, their dogmatism about “science” has historically outrun their actual ability to explain phenomena.
Thus, they often lack the patience to actually debate those with heterodox ideas. They don’t think they should have to do that. And to protect people from heresy, they want to shut up the heretics.
There are exceptions like Fastovsky, Geissman and Case. But there is also a nasty streak of authoritarianism.
Friday, February 09, 2007
On Trial in Paris For Cartoons of Muhammad
PARIS, Feb. 7 — Hearings began Wednesday in a suit brought by two influential French Muslim organizations against a satirical weekly newspaper for printing cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that had touched off international rioting.That last observation might suggest that this fellow will get off.
The Paris Mosque and the Union of Islamic Organizations of France contend that the newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, and its director, Philippe Val, are guilty of slander, an offense that carries a possible six-month sentence and a fine of up to 22,500 euros, or about $29,000.
“If we can no longer laugh at the terrorists, what weapon is left for the citizen?” Mr. Val said at the hearing, according to The Associated Press.
“These drawings are about ideas, not men, about ideas defended by men who commit violent acts.”
The case is causing debate in a country where separation of church and state is considered a fundamental tenet of the national identity.
In its Feb. 8, 2006, issue, Charlie Hebdo republished 12 drawings that had originally appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, some of them representing the Prophet Muhammad.
The cartoons were first published in September 2005.
Two of those drawings are cited in the suit: one depicting the prophet greeting suicide bombers in heaven with the caption, “Stop, stop, we have run out of virgins,” and another depicting Muhammad wearing a turban containing a bomb. A third image included in the suit was an original drawing by the French cartoonist Cabu, depicting a crying Muhammad with his head in his hands, saying, “It’s hard to be loved by idiots.”
Outcry in the Muslim world over the Danish cartoons led to violent protests in a number of countries — which resulted in the deaths of at least 50 people — and boycotts of Danish products. A number of other European publications also reprinted the cartoons.
A lawyer for the newspaper on Wednesday read in court a letter of support from Nicolas Sarkozy, the interior minister and the leading conservative presidential candidate. Mr. Sarkozy, whose office said that he had written the letter as a presidential candidate and not as a cabinet minister, said he “preferred an excess of caricature to a lack of caricature.”
In response, representatives of the French Council for the Muslim Religion, a national group that Mr. Sarkozy’s office helped to create, called an emergency meeting.
Another presidential candidate, François Bayrou, and the Socialist Party leader, François Hollande, have been called by the defense to testify.
The issue of whether revisions to the 1901 law separating church and state might be needed has become a topic of discussion in the presidential campaign.
In recent decisions, French courts have largely ruled against religious groups that contended that their faiths had been insulted.
But that is not an adequate response for people who care about free speech.
In this, as in the case in which Christians express opposition to homosexuality, the fact that one might be put on trial for expressing an opinion has a chilling effect.
Al, Don’t You Think You Should Lay Low For a While?
More Muslim Censorship On a College Campus: San Francisco State University
The incident had echos of a case at Pace University where activist Muslim students objected to, and got the administration to censor, a documentary film about terrorism.
At San Francisco State, the College Republicans produced large copies of the flags of the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah and walked on this.
The upshot: they got into trouble with the univesity, and face disciplinary hearings. From the The Volokh Conspiracy, quoting the San Francisco Chronicle:
This story starts with an “anti-terrorism rally” held last October on campus by the College Republicans. To emphasize their point, students stomped on Hezbollah and Hamas flags. According to the college paper, the Golden Gate (X)Press, members of Students Against War and the International Socialist Organization showed up to call the Republicans “racists,” while the president of the General Union of Palestinian Students accused the Repubs of spreading false information about Muslims.Volokh notes:
In November, the Associated Students board passed a unanimous resolution, which the (X)Press reported, denounced the California Republicans for “hateful religious intolerance” and criticized those who “pre-meditated the stomping of the flags knowing it would offend some people and possibly incite violence.”
Now you know that there are students who are opposed to desecrating flags on campus -- that is, if the flags represent terrorist organizations.
But wait -- there’s more. A student filed a complaint with the Office of Student Programs and Leadership Development. OSPLD Director Joey Greenwell wrote to the College Republicans informing them that his office had completed an investigation of the complaint and forwarded the report to the Student Organization Hearing Panel, which will adjudicate the charge. At issue is the charge that College Republicans had walked on “a banner with the world ‘Allah’ written in Arabic script” -- it turns out Allah’s name is incorporated into Hamas and Hezbollah flags -- and “allegations of attempts to incite violence and create a hostile environment,” as well as “actions of incivility.”
At an unnamed date, the student panel could decide to issue a warning to, suspend or expel the GOP club from campus.
Maybe SFSU should just put up a sign that reads: Conservatives need not apply.
Sounds to me like SFSU is acknowledging that under SFSU rules, desecrating Allah — or, to be precise, desecrating religious symbols — is indeed prohibited. Everything old (here, blasphemy bans) is new again.What is new, of coure, is that Islam is protected against blasphemy, and Christianity is not.
And flag desecration is bad, unless it’s the American flag.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Global Warming Dissent
Yesterday’s column by Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe outlines how much serious dissent there is among reputable scientists.
You know that big United Nations report on global warming that appeared last week amid so much media sound and fury? Here’s a flash: It wasn’t the big, new United Nations report on global warming.But when journalists have signed onto a moralistic crusade, don’t expect much checking.
Oddly enough, most of the news coverage neglected to mention that the document released on Feb. 2 by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was not the latest multiyear assessment report, which will run to something like 1,500 pages when it is released in May. It was only the 21-page “Summary for Policymakers,” a document written chiefly by government bureaucrats -- not scientists -- and intended to shape public opinion. Perhaps the summary will turn out to be a faithful reflection of the scientists’ conclusions, but it wouldn’t be the first time if it doesn’t.
In years past, scientists contributing to IPCC assessment reports have protested that the policymakers’ summary distorted their findings -- for example, by presenting as unambiguous what were actually only tentative conclusions about human involvement in global warming. This time around, the summary is even more confident: It declares it “unequivocal” that the Earth has warmed over the past century and “very likely” -- meaning more than 90 percent certain -- that human activity is the cause.
That climate change is taking place no one doubts; the Earth’s climate is always in flux. But is it really so clear-cut that the current warming, which amounts to less than 1 degree Celsius over the past century, is anthropogenic? Or that continued warming will lead to the meteorological chaos and massive deaths that alarmists predict? It is to the media. By and large they relay only the apocalyptic view: Either we embark on a radical program to slash carbon-dioxide emissions -- that is, to arrest economic growth -- or we are doomed, as NBC’s Matt Lauer put it last week, to “what literally could be the end of the world as we know it.”
Perhaps the Chicken Littles are right and the sky really is falling, but that opinion is hardly unanimous. There are quite a few skeptical scientists, including eminent climatologists, who doubt the end-of-the-world scenario. Why don’t journalists spend more time covering all sides of the debate instead of just parroting the scaremongers?
Only rarely do other views pierce the media’s filter of environmental correctness. A recent series by Lawrence Solomon in Canada’s National Post looked at some of the leading global-warming dissenters, none of whom fits the easy-to-dismiss stereotype of a flat-Earth yahoo. There is, for example, Richard S.J. Tol -- IPCC author, editor of Energy Economics, and board member of the Centre for Marine and Climate Research at Hamburg University. Tol agrees that global warming is real, but he emphasizes its benefits as well as its harms -- and points out that in the short term, the benefits are especially pronounced.
“Tol is a student of human innovation and adaptation,” writes Solomon. “As a native of the Netherlands, he is intimately familiar with dikes and other low-cost adaptive technologies, and the ability of humans in meeting challenges in their environment.” Whatever changes global warming may bring, Tol is confident that human beings will adjust to them with ingenuity and resourcefulness.
Another dissident is Duncan Wingham, professor of climate physics at University College London and principal scientist of the European Space Agency’s CryoSat Mission, which is designed to measure changes in the Earth’s ice masses. The collapse of ice shelves off the northern Antarctic Peninsula is often highlighted as Exhibit A of global warming and its dangers, but Wingham’s satellite data shows that the thinning of some Antarctic ice has been matched by thickening ice elsewhere on the continent. The evidence to date, Wingham says, is not “favorable to the notion we are seeing the results of global warming.”
Still other scientists profiled by Solomon contend that the sun, not man, plays the dominant role in planetary climate change.
Henrik Svensmark of the Danish National Space Center, for instance, believes that changes in the sun’s magnetic field, and the corresponding impact on cosmic rays, may be the key to global warming. Nigel Weiss, a past president of the Royal Astronomical Society and a mathematical aerophysicist at the University of Cambridge, correlates sunspot activity with changes in the Earth’s climate. Habibullo Abdussamatov, who heads the space research laboratory at Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, points out that Mars is also undergoing global warming -- despite having no greenhouse conditions and no activity by Martians. In his view, it is solar irradiance, not carbon dioxide, that accounts for the recent rise in temperature.
Climate-change hyperbole makes for dramatic headlines, but the real story is both more complex and more interesting. Chicken Little may claim the sky is falling. A journalist’s job is to check it out.
Political Talk Show on Campus Radio
As I mentioned yesterday Matt Woleske and myself are starting a once a week political talk show. The show will be on from noon - 2 every Sunday on Marquette radio (can be listened to on their website http://marquetteradio.mu.edu/ or on Channel 96 if on campus. Basically, the idea of the show is that Matt and I are going to discuss the political decisions that happen in the week that has passed. It is going to be interesting because Matt is a self declared liberal, and myself a conservative, we disagree on most issues. This week we will probably talk about cloture, the pending Wal-Mart class action suit, Bernake’s speech claiming that their is widening inequality among Americans, and so on. It should be a fairly good show.Yes, we think it will be.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
More Global Warming Fascism
There is still more evidence on this point. First, Al Gore attacks those who disagree with him.
MADRID , SPAIN (CNN) -- Former Vice President Al Gore said in an interview on Tuesday the Bush administration is now paying scientists to dispute global warming since the administration can no longer argue against it.But global warming skeptics are not only being derided, they are being fired from their positions.
During an interview with CNN affiliate Cuatro in Madrid, Gore said, “they’ve lost the argument and they don’t want to stop dumping all this pollution into the Earth’s atmosphere. The only thing they have left is cash and now they’re offering cash for so-called skeptics who will try to confuse people about what the science really say. But it’s unethical because now the time has come when we have to act.”
Gore was the Democratic nominee against Bush in the 2004 presidential election. His film, An Inconvenient Truth, is up for the best documentary Oscar.
In the face of evidence agreed upon by hundreds of climate scientists, George Taylor holds firm. He does not believe human activities are the main cause of global climate change.In other words, scientists whose views conflict with the government’s policies need to be shut up and silenced.
Taylor also holds a unique title: State Climatologist.
Hundreds of scientists last Friday issued the strongest warning yet on global warming saying humans are “very likely” the cause.
“Most of the climate changes we have seen up until now have been a result of natural variations,” Taylor asserts.
His opinions conflict not only with many other scientists, but with the state of Oregon’s policies.
Politics determines science.
Note that Taylor would not lose his job as a professor. Only the title State Climatologist.
But people trying to make rational policy -- rather than wage a moralistic crusade -- want to hear competing opinions, and welcome challenges to the conventional wisdom.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Campus Speaker on Globalization of Textiles
It seems the next big push by the campus leftist activists is some sort of “anti-sweat shop” policy at Marquette (so that the people who feel self-righteous drinking “fair trade” coffee can feel equally self-righteous about wearing sweat shirts and t-shirts sold by Marquette).
The Marquette Economics Association
The Center for Global and Economic Studies
Professor Pietra Rivoli, author
The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy
Wednesday, February 14th
Conference Center, Raynor Library
(reception to follow immediately afterward)
We don’t know whether we will agree with Rivioi in toto (unlikely), but her view will doubtless be much more nuanced and realistic than the prevailing anti-sweat shop moralism.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
John Edwards: I Voted For the War Because I Was Burdened With Information
Edwards, who now vehemently opposes the war, is confronted with the fact that Barack Obama opposed the war at a time when Edwards was voting for it.
He wasn’t burdened like a lot of us with the information that we were receiving on the intelligence committee and as members of the United States Senate. We were getting very detailed, intimate information about what was actually happening in Iraq.Yes, Senator, you were. And it led you to favor the war. And your opposition now looks opportunistic.
Interestingly, Edwards doesn’t claim that the Bush Administration bears the responsibility for hoodwinking him.
SEN. EDWARDS: For the same reason a lot of people were wrong. You know, we — the intelligence information that we got was wrong. I mean, tragically wrong. On top of that I’d — beyond that, I went back to former Clinton administration officials who gave me sort of independent information about what they believed about what was happening with Saddam’s weapon—weapons programs. They were also wrong.All this, of course, is perfectly consistent with saying that Bush made a mistake invading Iraq. But it’s not consistent with saying he was some sort of Machiavellian manipulator.
[. . .]
I’m not defending what I did. Because what happened was the information that we got on the intelligence committee was, was relatively consistent with what I was getting from former Clinton administration officials.
Politicians Can Get Away With That -- To a Point
Nanny State: Left & Right
Mike Huckabee, governor of Arkansas, is a “conservative Republican.”But of course, the most aggressive and extreme nannyism comes from the leftists.
He’s pro-life, and a “staunch opponent of . . . gay marriage,” which is wonderful, but he’s also drunk from the Nanny-state Kool-Aid.
After being diagnosed with diabetes, Huckabee lost 110 pounds and became a “champion of healthy lifestyles.” That’s all well and good, but Huckabee decided that because he lost 110 pounds - of his own free will and doing - he decided it would be a good idea to keep track of the BMI and obesity rates of students in all Arkansas public schools on fitness report cards.
First, the BMI is an unrelistic indicator of obesity. It doesn’t take into consideration build, bone structure, or muscle mass . . . thereby making it possible for a fit person to register overweight or obese on the BMI.
Second, there’s the issue of privacy. A child’s weight should be an issue between the parents and the physician. Not the schools. Not the government.
Do they make Valentine’s Day string cheese?Blogger Amy notes the absurd level of hypocrisy of the leftist nannies.
I suppose you could type up slogans like “Don’t string me along” and tape them to the packages.
This, sadly, is what Valentine’s Day has become in schools where the federal wellness policy is being interpreted with revolutionary zeal.
Kids recently brought home a list of what foods will be allowed, and which are henceforth banned, from upcoming Valentine’s Day celebrations at Sunset Ridge Elementary School in the Middleton- Cross Plains School District.
The allowed list includes yogurt, pretzels, animal crackers, string cheese and air-popped popcorn with no butter or oil.
The banned list includes such Valentine’s Day favorites as cookies, candy, brownies, bars, cupcakes, Oreos and sweetened fruit juice.
And what about those pastel conversation hearts from NECCO that have been part of American Valentine’s Days since the Civil War? As one of the hearts might proclaim: “No way.”
But the left, while eager and enthusiastic to ban Valentine’s Day treats, would have no problem teaching Madistan kindergarteners about same-sex marriage or alternative lifestyles. They go apopleptic whenever abortion restrictions are on the table, and demand that birth control and abortion be government-funded.The simple fact is that nannyism is never based on objective policy considerations, although these may be a pretext.
Sex, with anyone at any time and for any reason, is perfectly acceptable. In spite of the fact that it also spreads disease (some of them fatal, and without cure), and allows the gravest evil of all to cover up for a night of irresponsibility: abortion.
So being promiscuous is okay. But having a chocolate on February 14 is bad.
It’s about imposing one’s cultural values on other people.