Friday, April 27, 2007

Pity the Poor Beggar

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Liberal Attack on Conservative Talk Radio Shot Down in Washington State

Via Sykes Writes, a case that we have blogged on previously, in which conservative talk radio hosts in Washington State were ordered to report their vocal support of an anti-tax initiative as a “campaign contribution.”

Here in Wisconsin, liberal Bill Christofferson wanted to use the same tactic to shut up Charlie Sykes support of school choice.

Of course, the liberals who want to regulate what radio talkers say as a “campaign contribution” would never think of considering liberal editorials in the Journal-Sentinel or liberal commentary on (say) CNN as a “campaign contribution.”

Happily, the Washington Supreme Court shot the entire attempt down.

Although the decision was unanimous, two justices went further and said:
Today we are confronted with an example of abusive prosecution by several local governments. San Juan County and the cities of Seattle, Auburn, and Kent (hereinafter Municipalities) determined to file a legal action ostensibly for disclosure of radio time spent discussing a proposed initiative. This litigation was actually for the purpose of restricting or silencing political opponents and was quickly dismissed after the filing deadline for the initiative.
That’s a decisive victory, but the war is far from over. Liberals are not becoming more tolerant.

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World Trade Center Janitor Speaks in Madison

Via Althouse, the story of how a bit player in the 9/11 tragedy is now telling interesting tales that incline toward there having been a U.S. government conspiracy to bring down the Twin Towers.
The last man alive out of the World Trade Center’s North Tower Sept. 11 2001, janitor William Rodriguez, told his story of survival and heroism Saturday at a lecture sponsored by the Muslim-Jewish-Christian Alliance for 9/11 Truth.

Rodriguez held one of five master keys to the WTC—a tool he calls “the key of hope” that enabled him to save 15 people trapped inside the two towers.

At 8:46 a.m. he heard an explosion. “Boom!” Rodriguez imitated. He heard a man screaming “Explosion! Explosion!” from underneath. “I wanted to say a generator blew up. I thought it was a bomb.”

This piece of evidence may show explosives were used in accompaniment to the hijacked planes, he said. When the plane hit, “the walls cracked and the building shook.”

Rodriguez did not pause. He helped a man with a third of his body burned and pulled two out of an elevator filled with water. He put them in an ambulance and re-entered the towers.

He met firefighters and used his key to open stairwells and guide them through the building he had worked in for over twenty years.

A native of Puerto Rico and a U.S. citizen, Rodriquez is now a global activist. He has been honored by the White House five times and helped create the 9/11 Commission.

But Rodriguez says survivors are still searching for answers.

“Twenty-two people were injured down there [in the basement], and not one of them was called to testify. We believe they did not tell us the truth.”

Rodriguez’s visit was sparked by an invite from UW lecturer and 9/11 conspiracy theorist, Kevin Barrett.

Barrett said Rodriguez wrote to him, and wanted to visit to “set the record straight,” after the College Republicans hosted a 9/11 survivor in March and much of the talk surrounded Barrett’s conspiracy theories.

“He is the custodian of truth that can save the world—he is the 9/11 key master—the key to unlocking the truth,” Barrett said of Rodriguez.
We’ve seen this before: bit players in a national tragedy who come forward to tell stories that imply a conspiracy and become the darlings of a small clique of conspiracy believers.

Where the Kennedy assassination is concerned we have (just to name a few):

  • Jean Hill, a woman who told of seeing a Grassy Knoll shooter, of seeing Jack Ruby in Dealey Plaza, and of being waylaid and intimidated by phony “Secret Service agents” in the minutes following the assassination.
  • Roger Craig, who testified to seeing Oswald flee the scene in a Rambler station wagon with an accomplice, to seeing a Mauser recovered in the sixth floor of the Depository, and to have witnessed a confrontation in Dallas Policy headquarters that implicated Ruth Paine in the assassination.
  • Beverly Oliver, who claims to have seen Oswald and Ruby together in the Carousel Club, and to have photographed the assassination in Dealey Plaza (with the FBI confiscating the film).
  • Robert Morrow, who claims to have been a CIA agent, and to have supplied weapons for the shooters in Dealey Plaza.
  • Gordon Novel, who claimed to be a CIA agent, first worked with the Garrison investigation and then turned into a Garrison suspect.
  • Judyth Vary Baker, a fellow employee of Oswald’s at the Reily Coffee Company in the summer of 1963, claims to have been Oswald girlfriend, and involved with him in a secret bioweapons project that intended to kill Castro but ended up killing Kennedy.
And that is just a few choice examples from a much longer list.

We have no evidence that Rodriguez is telling less than the full truth about what he did on 9/11, but he seems to be at least a bit eccentric in the conclusions he draws.

From New York Magazine:
A few days after the St. Mark’s meeting, I went to a Community Board No. 1 forum where the NIST report would be discussed. The meeting was in the Woolworth Building, the world’s tallest structure when it was completed in 1913. Since it was still standing, it seemed a good place to talk about the only former world’s tallest building(s) to fall down. I was with William Rodriguez, who, as he always does, brought along his video camera, “so they know I’m watching them.”

On 9/11, William was late. Instead of mopping the stairwells on the 110th floor, where he almost certainly would have died, he was chatting with the maintenance crew on level B-1 in the basement. “I heard this massive explosion below, on level B-2 or 3. I saw this guy come up the stairs. The skin on his arms was peeled away . . . hanging. Then I heard another explosion, from above. That was the first plane, hitting the building.”

Four years later, after repeatedly being rebuffed in his attempts to tell officials his story about the basement explosion, William is suing the U.S. government under the rico statute, legislation drafted to prosecute Mafia families. The suit reads like an Air America wet dream, with Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, John Ashcroft, George Tenet, Karl Rove, and others (the Diebold Company is thrown in for good measure) listed as defendants.

“They say I’m a conspiracy theorist; I call them conspirators, too,” William says.

“It is like [magician] Randi said. There’s reality, and there’s illusion. When illusion becomes reality, that’s a problem. Nine-eleven is a giant illusion. Besides, what can they do to me? I’m a national hero, Bush told me so himself.”
Given the tricks that human perception and human memory can play, Rodriguez may honestly believe that he heard a basement explosion before the first plane hit.

But since the plane strikes alone were adequate to bring down the towers, just why would conspirators set off an unnecessary explosion in the basement of one of the buildings?

Rodriguez seems to be enjoying his celebrity a bit too much.

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We’ll Accept That

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Full Rosie: The Definitive Collection of Rosie O’Donnell’s Rants

From the Media Research Center, here is a collection of the hateful and bigoted things that Rosie has said over the airwaves in recent years.

If we are going to hold Imus to some standard of decency, the same should apply to Rosie.

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CBS News Staffers Livid at Anti-Abortion Comment on “Free Speech” Segment

Via NewsBusters, a revealing piece of information deep in a Philadelphia Inquirer story on Katie Couric’s troubles with long-time CBS staffers. They don’t like her for a lot of reasons, but one important one is that her evening news show, on a “Free Speech” segment, allowed the parent of a murdered Columbine High School student an opportunity to make an anti-abortion comment. According to the Inquirer:
One of the early casualties was “Free Speech,” a segment in which ordinary people as well as celebrities sounded off on various issues.

For many CBS News staffers, the nadir was a “Free Speech” segment Oct. 2, the day five Amish schoolgirls were murdered in Lancaster County.

The father of a child killed in Colorado’s Columbine High School massacre in 1999 blamed the Amish tragedy, in part, on the teaching of evolution in public schools and on abortion.

Despite CBS’s avowed intention to include all viewpoints in “Free Speech,” the segment caused an uproar in the newsroom, according to CBS insiders.

“There’s a difference between free speech and responsible speech,” an embarrassed correspondent says.

It was another significant misstep in Couric’s uphill climb to legitimacy, a trek that seems to grow steeper by the day.
Of course, the “Free Speech” segment routinely allowed liberal and leftist statements.

We blogged on this incident back in October, and it’s significant that now, six months later, it is still the subject of a grudge among CBS staffers.

With the country split down the middle on abortion, one might think that “free speech” involves letting both sides be heard. But in the rarefied liberal atmosphere of network newsrooms, there aren’t two sides.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Marquette Struggles With Illegal Student File Sharing

Illegal student “file sharing,” in which students either download copyrighted audio and video material or allow others to download such material from their own computers, has bedeviled Marquette, just as it has bedeviled pretty much every other college and university.

Indeed, it has created Internet access problems at Marquette in spite of what is now (by historical standards) a lot of bandwidth connecting the campus with the worldwide network.

Indeed, in one case a single student was found to be tying up 14% of the entire Internet bandwidth of the University.

So what is Marquette doing about this?

We interviewed both Kathy Lang, Director of Information Technology Services and Mike Wiedower, head network security guru at ITS, and here is the picture.

Marquette is dependent on complaints from the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America to initiate action.

Basically, those two organizations identify the network addresses (“IP addresses”) of users who have volunteered to let people download pirated files from their computers. When the address traces back to Marquette, they complain to ITS about the activity.

Assuming that Marquette can identify the connection of the computer offering illegal sharing (not always possible) all users at that connection (say, two roomates in a dorm room) are mailed “cease and desist” letters which they must sign, promising not to continue illegal file sharing. If they fail to respond within three days, they are disconnected from the Internet.

This is not exactly draconian, and indeed is probably about the least Marquette can do to avoid getting itself sued by the RIAA or MPAA. Nothing, of course, stops the RIAA or MPAA from suing the individual students.

Students can get into worse trouble, and in a handful of cases have gotten dragged before the Student Conduct Review Board.

To meet this fate a student has to be really brazen.

Marquette, like virtually all colleges and universities has an Acceptable Use Policy. Some students have run afoul of this by using certain tricks to defeat University attempts to “shape” use of bandwidth.

Such “shaping” involves ITS routers identifying certain kinds of traffic (downloading of audio and video files, for example) and giving it less bandwidth than other uses (say, accessing research resources from the library).

Such shaping, of course, can be evaded with the right sort of software. But only at the risk of being found out by ITS and getting in real hot water.

The good news is that, compared to other universities, Marquette seems to get little attention from the RIAA and the MPAA. While the University of Wisconsin-Madison is near the top of the list of schools where students pirate copyrighted materials, Marquette is far down in the pack.

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Still Waiting

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Getting Beyond Race in College Admissions

John Fund of the Wall Street Journal ponders the legacy of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and takes issue with her view of affirmative action.

It’s true that O’Connor is not a fanatical quota advocate. She has said that racial preferences should be seen as “a temporary bandage, rather than a permanent cure.”

What’s disturbing is that liberals were saying the same thing in the early 1970s, when the first racial preference cases were coming to the Supreme Court. The “temporary” expedient isn’t looking so temporary today, especially when there is a whole cadre of activists, affirmative action bureaucrats and liberal politicians supporting it.

Fund continues:
She seemed strangely unaware, however, of the growing evidence that racial preferences might have actually decreased the likelihood that blacks and Hispanics will graduate from college. Put differently, if the body of evidence is correct, the whole affirmative action enterprise has been deeply and tragically flawed from the beginning, failing to achieve its most basic aim: increasing the number of minority college graduates, doctors, lawyers and other professionals.

Other panelists at the Powell symposium discussed the work of UCLA law professor Richard Sander, which shows that minority law students in California who attend law schools at which their academic credentials do not match the credentials of other students are less likely to pass the bar exam than they would have been if they had attended less prestigious law schools where their academic credentials would have been closer to the norm. As a result, according to Mr. Sander, there are fewer minority lawyers than there would have been under colorblind admissions. Justice O’Connor did not attend the rest of the symposium and made no reference to the Sander study in her remarks.

Moreover, Justice O’Connor’s comments about UCLA obscured an important and promising real story. While it’s true that black and Hispanic enrollment at UCLA and Berkeley went down after Prop 209, these students simply didn’t just vanish. The vast majority were admitted on the basis of their academic record to somewhat less highly ranked campuses of the prestigious 10-campus UC system, which caters only to the top one-eighth of California’s high school graduates. In the immediate wake of Proposition 209, the number of minority students at some of the nonflagship campuses went up, not down.

This “cascading” effect has had real benefits in matching students with the campus where they are most likely to do well. Despite what affirmative action supporters often imply, academic ability matters. Although some students will outperform their entering credentials and some students will underperform theirs, most students will succeed in the range that their high school grades and SAT scores predict. Leapfrogging minority candidates into elite colleges where they often become frustrated and fail hurts them even more than the institutions. It creates the illusion that we are closing racial disparities in education when in fact we are not. While blacks and Hispanics now attend college at nearly the same rate as whites, only about 1 in 6 graduates.

Affirmative action often creates the illusion that black or other minority students cannot excel. At the University of California at San Diego, in the year before race-based preferences were abolished in 1997, only one black student had a freshman-year GPA of 3.5 or better. In other words, there was a single black honor student in a freshman class of 3,268. In contrast, 20% of the white students on campus had a 3.5 or better GPA.

There were lots of black students capable of doing honors work at UCSD. But such students were probably admitted to Harvard, Yale or Berkeley, where often they were not receiving an honor GPA. The end to racial preferences changed that. In 1999, 20% of black freshmen at UCSD boasted a GPA of 3.5 or better after their first year, almost equaling the 22% rate for whites after their first year. Similarly, failure rates for black students declined dramatically at UCSD immediately after the implementation of Proposition 209. Isn’t that better for everyone in the long run?
Then there is the claim that affirmative action preferences benefit the “disadvantaged.” After all, aren’t all blacks disadvantaged?
Racial preferences were intended to help disadvantaged minorities, but in reality they have been turned into a spoils system for the privileged. “Most go to children of powerful politicians, civil-rights activists, and other relatively well-off blacks and Hispanics,” says Stuart Taylor of National Journal. “This does nothing for the people most in need of help, who lack the minimal qualifications to get into the game.”
This situation reminds us of the old quip that foreign aid is a subsidy from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.

And indeed, Fund produces statistics to show that disadvantaged whites have been hurt by race-based preferences, while privileged black students have -- if not exactly been helped -- gotten into schools beyond what their qualifications justified.

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Pace University: Free Speech Finally Wins Out

We’ve discussed the situation at Pace University, where Muslim students (and politically correct administrators) blocked the showing of Obsession, a video on Islamic Fascism.

There is some good news.
Last fall, Pace University student Michael Abdurakhmanov tried to hold a screening of Obsession, a documentary about radical Islam, on his campus. Hoping to show that Islam is home to moderates as well as extremists, and that it is important to distinguish between the two camps, he unexpectedly found himself beset by opposition. Muslim students angrily rejected the idea. University administrators took an even harder line, with the school’s dean ominously warning Abdurakhmanov that showing the film could be considered a “hate crime,” and intimating, less than subtly, that police might be invited to sift through his personal record.

Now Abdurakhmanov has received restitution in a big way. Not only has Pace president David Caputo tendered a personal apology to Abdurakhmanov for the school’s strong-arm tactics, but yesterday marked the first-ever “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Day,” a nationwide effort to call attention to the threat of militant Islam by holding a mass-screening of the film that Abdurakhmanov’s school, quite literally, didn’t want him to see: Obsession. In total, 96 colleges and universities, among them Pace University, Columbia, Duke, and other prominent schools, together with three high schools and two military bases, showed the film. . . .
All to the good, we might say.

But free speech isn’t as robust on college campuses as that might suggest.
Even as many schools successfully screened the film, many students found themselves pressured -- and in some cases openly harassed -- to cancel the event. They resisted, and showed the film anyway.

Josiah Lanning, a student at Ohio’s Columbus State Community College, offered one such story. Lanning recounted that his attempt to show the Obsession was nearly frustrated by the head of his school’s student activities center, which is in charge of such events. Even though he took pains to fill out the proper paperwork for the event, the center repeatedly intervened. First, Lanning was admonished for his proposed flyer for the event, which had the indelicacy to point out that terrorist groups like Hezbollah committed, well, terrorism. Forced to replace the flyers, Lanning was next told to suspend the film until further notice due, incongruously, to this week’s massacre at Virginia Tech.

One professor, meanwhile, wrote Lanning an abusive email, berating him for showing a film that, as she saw it, creates “barriers to acceptance of any Muslim person,” and judging his motives “suspect” because of the event’s connection to David Horowitz. (“David Horowitz is insulting to me and to my colleagues,” the professor pompously informed him.) Only after Lanning appealed to the dean of students at the college was he at last allowed to proceed with the showing.

College Republicans at the University of New Haven in Connecticut, who also showed the film, had a similar experience. Cassie Sgro, a student who helped organize the event, said that some students and faculty members worried that showing the film would encourage harassment against Muslim and foreign students. Sgro disagreed. “The point of the film is to separate innocent people in the religion from the radical minority,” she told them.

Carl Soderberg, chair of the school’s College Republicans chapter, encountered similar resistance. “There were some faculty members who pressured me to postpone the film until they could find someone who ‘could properly frame the issue,’” he recalled. (Soderberg confessed that he was unsure what was meant by this, but was unwilling to put it to the test.)

Ruth Malhotra, a student at Georgia Tech and a member of the school’s College Republicans chapter, had perhaps the most difficult time winning the right to show Obsession. Among the hurdles erected by the school, Malhotra listed the fact that an ad for the event placed by the College Republicans was “censored” by the campus newspaper (a second ad was later published as submitted). In addition, she faced regular interference by opposed faculty and school administrators, boycotts and counter-demonstrations from left-wing student groups -- and even death threats designed to prevent the screening. Of Obsession’s subject -- radical Islam -- Malhotra understatedly observed: “It’s an issue that ignites a lot of passion and opposition.” Be that as it may, Malhotra, who spent much of the day under police protection, has no regrets about trying to show the film. “It’s important for students to know that violent Islamic extremism does pose a threat to our way of life, and to challenge that threat we have to understand what it is we’re up against.”
We want to know: when is the film going to be shown at Marquette?

And a prediction: the same crowd that was keen to present “The Vagina Monologues” will want it censored.

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The Shinigans: Marquette Students’ Irish Band

Having retreated to the Union cafeteria this past Friday with our laptop computer hoping to get some undisturbed work done, we were at first slightly annoyed to find a band performance about to start.

But hanging around, thinking that we could ignore the distraction, we quite soon found ourselves enjoying The Shinigans, an Irish band made up of Marquette students.

According to their Myspace page, they have played Irish Fest and the Irish Cultural Heritage Center in Milwaukee. But mostly they have played around Marquette.

When you check the page, be warned that none of the audio clips (with the exception of “Springlands,” which features the supple fiddle of Therese Gotcher) does justice to the band. Between amateur recording on the clips and the fact that the band is improving both in terms of technical skill and repertoire, expect to be less impressed by the clips than you would be with the live performance.

They are good enough that we’ll probably seek them out when they perform again.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Not On the Same Page

Friday, April 20, 2007

Campus Discussion of Vagina Monologues: Conservatives Fail to Step Up

This past Saturday saw the campus performance of “The Vagina Monologues,” presented under the aegis of the Honors Program. There is plenty wrong with the play, as we have explained right here.

But one of the most comprehensive and eloquent explanations of the moral defects of the play was written by five undergraduates in a Tribune op-ed.

It said, in part:
“The Vagina Monologues” contains many problematic elements. It glorifies practices which are regarded as immoral by many Christians and non-Christians alike.

It provides no positive male characterizations and lacks any examples of healthy intimacy.

It lacks any representation of a Christian view of sexuality, though the author claims to have interviewed hundreds of women. Rather than viewing the body and sexual organs with respect, it draws on every possible vulgar reference.

From a standpoint of sexual violence awareness, the play has little to offer victims of violence or those who care for them.

True, it describes accounts of exploitation and rape in graphic terms, but the author freely admits that many of these accounts are purely imaginary and improvised.

By reducing them to a single body part - the vagina - the play objectifies and dehumanizes women while ignoring the qualities of intellect, morality, creativity and leadership which women have worked so long to have recognized by society.

With a wealth of other materials at its fingertips which would promote an educated discourse, why did the university choose this particular work?
That’s a good question, and the answer is doubtless that lefty feminists (and their liberal allies) want to perform it precisely because Christian conservatives don’t like it.

There is really little other justification.

But what is wrong with performing it on campus as a point of discussion? In principle, nothing.

But if the purpose is to promote discussion, it’s fair to evaluate the quality of that discussion. Going in, there were plenty of reasons to suspect that it would be stacked with one-note feminists who would care little for Christian views of sexuality.

The Tribune, back in early April, noted the one-sidedness of the panel slated to discuss the play, observed:
. . . with just more than two weeks left until the April 14 performance, there is no Catholic representative yet. Alongside three faculty members from political science, philosophy and English, the panel includes Rosalind Hinton, an assistant professor of religious studies at DePaul University, according to a flier for the event.

Hinton’s specialties, according to the DePaul Web site, include African American religions and gender in American religious contexts. A survey of her writings reveals little, if any, handling of Catholic issues. While it sounds like she would add perspective to this panel, there remains no faculty member, such as a priest or Catholic theologian, to represent Catholic teaching.

As we wrote in January, “if the reading is in opposition to a healthy view of female sexuality, why is this? If it is empowering, how do we understand this vision in terms of our Catholic faith?” We need to adequately represent all perspectives to answer these questions properly.
We asked Anthony Peressini, Co-Director of the Honors Program and organizer of the event, to respond to the Tribune’s criticism. He replied as follows:
The panel includes well-qualified individuals who will lead a dialogue that addresses multiple perspectives, both faith-based and academic, of the issues presented in the reading. I am not comfortable assigning “left leaning” or other labels to these individuals in this setting.

Until we hear their presentations tomorrow, I could not pre-judge or classify their opinions of the play. As I said, our goal is to present a variety of perspectives that enable a multi-faceted analysis of the issues presented in the reading. I expect our panel will do just that.
Did it happen that way?

Mostly not.

The bright spot of the evening was feminist English professor Heather Hathaway, who introduced the work. Far from providing a sycophantic view of the piece, she criticized it for (among other things) not being well written, for not being contextualized or self reflective, for being incoherent (such that sometimes we don’t actually know what it is saying), for reducing women to their genitalia and for being western and bourgeois (obsessed with the concerns of affluent feminists in rich countries as opposed to poor women in the third world).

In spite of several positive comments that she made, some of the leftists in attendance were unhappy with this.

And some conservative students were unhappy because she failed to discuss the moral stance of the play concerning human sexuality.

So who was supposed to discuss that latter issue? Who was supposed to analyze the play from a Catholic perspective? A certain Rosalind Hinton, who is an Assistant Professor of Religious studies at DePaul University. Well before the performance, blogger Daniel Suhr had no trouble establishing that Hinton is a leftist of the same stripe as Daniel Maguire.

So her performance was not surprising. She began as follows:
I’m supposed to give a Catholic viewpoint… (Short pause marked by sarcastic grin.) the Catholic Viewpoint. (Visibly rolls eyes.)
The substance of her talk wasn’t any better. According to blogger Katie Wycklendt:
She went to discuss her conviction that the acceptability of masturbation shouldn’t even be disputed [as well as asserting] her theory on the legitimacy of dispute over the Church’s stance on homosexuality, contraception, and consensual, responsible premarital sex. She asserted that Church authorities are merely trying to control people’s lives and that there is a context for every truth (a good way of getting around [explicitly] endorsing relative truth).
In other words, the speaker who was supposed to represent the Catholic perspective actually attacked the Catholic perspective!

And the issue here wasn’t whether the Catholic perspective should be the only view presented, or even whether it should be one among alternative views presented, but whether it should be represented at all.

So is this just another example of standard political correctness? Did the Honors Program (basically an adjunct of the very politically correct English and Philosophy departments) let all its biases hang out here?

In fact, the story is more complicated.

Peressini in fact expended a lot of effort trying to get a conservative speaker who would uphold the Church’s teaching. He contacted at least eight (and perhaps ten to twelve) people, all of whom turned him down. And he called the Chair of the Theology Department (which is not nearly so leftist and politically correct as English and Philosophy) to get leads on possible speakers.

Peressini appears to have shot himself in the foot by limiting his search to people with academic credentials. A well-informed and eloquent student like Suhr would have done very well.

But the most disturbing thing about this is that several fairly orthodox and conservative Catholic scholars failed to step up and defend the Church’s position. Somebody who doesn’t know better might assume that the Church’s position can’t be defended. That’s not true, but neither is it going to prevail if people won’t defend it.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

France: Economy Mired in a Statist Morass

You know that a free market economic philosophy has become dominant when even a Mainstream Media organization like the Associated Press blames the economic woes of a nation on government control.

But that’s what the wire service did in a report on France.

PARIS - Clusters of migrant workers mount the train’s crowded carriages, leaving their families and filing across the border to work at jobs more plentiful and lucrative than at home.

These hungry young men and women are not from lands riven by war or financial ruin, but from France — one of the world’s richest countries, and straining to stay that way.

Their knapsacks bear laptops or bottles of champagne, and their transport of choice is the Eurostar train, zipping them beneath the English Channel to London, a city radiating growth and opportunity.

The French workers are leaving an economy that is treading water while those of developing nations, and other wealthy ones, speed ahead. They’re fleeing a land once seen as a symbol of superior quality but that now even the French are convinced is in decline.

Half of French households live on less than $1,990 in income per month. Unemployment hasn’t fallen below 8 percent since 1984. Public debt has quintupled since 1980 to fund a welfare state that more people depend on for survival. Imports are spiking and fueling a ballooning trade deficit. France was among the top 10 richest countries per capita a generation ago — today’s it’s slipped to 17th place.

France is now on the cusp of change, choosing a new president who will be expected to yank the state-dependent economy out of its doldrums — but probably won’t. None of the candidates to replace conservative Jacques Chirac in the first round of elections April 22 appears to be a French Margaret Thatcher who would force profound and painful reform.

Fresh ideas

Some of the freshest economic ideas are coming from Francois Bayrou, a champion of the average guy riding on disillusionment with the left-right paradigm. Bayrou, polling in third place, would allow businesses to hire two employees free of payroll taxes and social charges for the first five years — a shocking proposition here. But he would govern by consensus, a formula certain to bury bold reform.

Across the spectrum, jobs are question No. 1 for French voters mulling their presidential choices.

“I’d like to live in France. But I don’t want to work there,” said Nicolas Boutry, whose family lives on the French Riviera but who works for a London bank.

“In France you either search eternally for a job, or you stay eternally in a job,” he said.

Strict French labor laws are dubbed “worker-friendly,” yet millions can’t find work. Industries decamp to countries like China where hiring is cheaper and easier. Job seekers leave for countries like Britain with more job openings.

It would take major upheaval in France’s labor markets to draw people like Boutry home. A dramatic solution, too, is needed for the chronically unemployed and for the minorities in French housing projects, where riots broke out in 2005 and up to half of young people are unemployed.

A generation ago, debt-laden, strike-suffering Britain looked enviously at France, which boasted lavish worker protections and paid its state-run businesses to innovate.

History, however, favored free markets. Thatcher’s unpopular economic reforms in the 1980s left Britain better placed to benefit from fast-changing labor markets and accelerated capital movements.

“We should not be afraid today to be inspired by what works. The British model managed to create a society of full employment, peaceful and confident in the future,” wrote Pascal Boris of France’s BNP Paribas bank, who heads a group of French executives in Britain.

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Marquette Will Reveal Race of At-Large Suspect

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has recently come under fire for excessive political correctness in the e-mails it sends to students to warn them about security threats near the campus.

How so?

When the suspect in an assault or robbery is black, they refuse to report that fact in e-mails sent to students to warn them to be on the alert. This is the case even when the suspect is still at large.

We are proud to report this is not Marquette’s policy.

From an e-mail we just received:
7. Safety Alert

The Department of Public Safety reported an armed robbery in the 900 block of North 17th St. at about 3 a.m. Thursday. The victim, a Marquette student, was not harmed.

The victim was able to give a detailed description of both the suspect and the vehicle. The suspect was described as a black male, approximately 6 feet tall with a thin build, about 25 years of age with braided-style hair, sideburns and a thin beard. He was wearing a white jacket with logos on it. The vehicle was reportedly a white Jeep. The victim was unable to describe the driver of the vehicle.

If you notice a white Jeep with someone matching the suspect’s description, notify DPS immediately. Also be sure to exercise common safety precautions, such as using LIMOS or the student safety patrol when walking at night, walking in groups and being aware of your surroundings and of the location of blue light phones.
No doubt plenty of quite upright, law-abiding black folks are harmed when people steretype criminals as being disproportionately black.

Still . . . when you are warning people to be on the lookout for a particular individual, they deserve a decent description. So sometimes you have to tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Odd Exception to Liberal Media Bias on Partial Birth Abortion

Given the overwhelming liberalism of journalists, it’s no surprise to find a huge bias on the issue of partial birth abortion.

Indeed, much of the Mainstream Media has refused to call partial birth abortion “partial birth abortion.”

They have described it as “a certain abortion procedure” -- doubtless because they know that an honest description would make it clear that the procedure is infanticide.

And the headline over the Associated Press story on today’s Supreme Court decision continued that bias, saying that “Supreme Court OKs Abortion Procedure Ban.”

But further down in the story, the AP reporter commits the cardinal sin against political correctness. He writes the following:
The procedure at issue involves partially removing the fetus intact from a woman’s uterus, then crushing or cutting its skull to complete the abortion.
Wow! An actual honest description.

But it gets even more graphic.
Abortion opponents say the law will not reduce the number of abortions performed because an alternate method—dismembering the fetus in the uterus—is available and, indeed, much more common.
Liberals and feminists say that such straightforward descriptions are “inflammatory.”

But if the truth is inflammatory, what does that say about the people who don’t want it spoken?

[Update:]

Blogger Nick Schweitzer noticed these two passages, and his response was “I’m having a hard enough time keeping down my breakfast after reading that.”

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Solidarity

Holocaust Denial to be a Crime In Europe

Further evidence that Europe simply doesn’t “get” free speech and free expression comes to us in the Financial Times.
EU aims to criminalise Holocaust denial

Laws that make denying or trivialising the Holocaust a criminal offence punishable by jail sentences will be introduced across the European Union, according to a proposal expecting to win backing from ministers Thursday.

Offenders will face up to three years in jail under the proposed legislation, which will also apply to inciting violence against ethnic, religious or national groups.

Diplomats in Brussels voiced confidence on Tuesday that the controversial plan, which has been the subject of heated debate for six years, will be endorsed by member states. However, the Baltic countries and Poland are still holding out for an inclusion of “Stalinist crimes” alongside the Holocaust in the text – a move that is being resisted by the majority of other EU countries.

The latest draft, seen by the Financial Times, will make it mandatory for all Union member states to punish public incitement “to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.”

They will also have to criminalise “publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes” when such statements incite hatred or violence against minorities.

Diplomats stressed the provision had been carefully worded to include only denial of the Holocaust – the Nazi mass murder of Jews during the second world war – and the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

They also stressed that the wording was designed to avoid criminalising comical plays or films about the Holocaust such as the Italian comedian Roberto Benigni’s prize-winning Life is Beautiful . The text expressly upholds countries’ constitutional traditions relating to the freedom of expression.

Holocaust denial is already a criminal offence in several European countries, including Germany and Austria. It is not a specific crime in Britain, though UK officials said it could already be tackled under existing legislation.

In an attempt to assuage Turkish fears, several EU diplomats said the provisions would not penalise the denial of mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman troops in the aftermath of the 1915 collapse of the Ottoman empire. Turkey strongly rejects claims that this episode amounted to genocide.

The proposal draws what is likely to be a controversial distinction between inciting violence against racial or ethnic groups and against religious groups. Attacks against Muslims, Jews or other faiths will only be penalised if they go on to incite violence against ethnic or racial groups, the draft text states.
Note all the bizarre political jockeying here.

The Baltic States, having suffered under the crimes of Stalin, want people who deny those crimes put in jail. But the rest of Europe, not having a particular grudge against Stalin, says that free speech can apply to that case.

And it’s alright to deny Turkish genocide against the Armenians.

Since Rwanda isn’t part of the EU, those who say that what happened there wasn’t so bad can get locked up.

It seems that free speech in Europe depends on the relative political power of various nations in the EU. If a majority doesn’t particularly mind what you want to say, you get to say it.

That’s free speech, European style.

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Obama: Imus, Outsourcing Comparable to Virginia Tech Massacre

From the Reason Magazine blog, an account of a particularly silly statement from the Democratic presidential candidate and Senator from Illinois. He mentions the shooting at Virginia Tech, and goes on. As described by a reporter for Politico:
“There’s also another kind of violence that we’re going to have to think about. It’s not necessarily the physical violence, but the violence that we perpetrate on each other in other ways,” he said, and goes on to catalogue other forms of “violence.”

There’s the “verbal violence” of Imus.

There’s “the violence of men and women who have worked all their lives and suddenly have the rug pulled out from under them because their job is moved to another country.”

There’s “the violence of children whose voices are not heard in communities that are ignored.”
Just a stray bit of rhetorical excess?

If so, a particularly callous and offensive kind of rhetorical excess. How are parents of the dead students going to react to the use of their children for cheap political points.

We have generally viewed Obama as the strongest of the Democratic presidential pack, more dangerous to the Republicans than the polarizing and not very likable Hillary Clinton, and more attractive than the very conventional John Edwards.

But comments like this will quickly earn him a reputation as a political lightweight.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

MSNBC Straw Poll: Imus Firing Wrong

Those online straw polls aren’t any sort of scientific survey of opinion, but neither are they useless. While “scientific polls” are usually heavily laced with respondents who could care less about the issue and simply concoct a plausible sounding answer, online polls sample people who are attentive enough to visit a particular website, and care enough to vote.

Which is why we were at least a little surprised to find an online poll about the Imus firing on MSNBC and, after clicking through to look at the results, seeing at a large majority of respondents oppose firing the shock-jock.



What could these people be thinking? We don’t believe that ¾ of Americans are racist. Perhaps people are tired of political correctness, and failed to distinguish between the merely politically incorrect and the genuinely vile. Maybe people think it’s unfair for key elites, who for so long tolerated Imus’ antics (and even valued the opportunity to be on his show) to suddenly turn against him.

Perhaps they don’t see Imus as any worse than many black rappers and hip-hop “artists” -- whose language has the implicit but clear approval of both black elites and white-run mega corporations.

Perhaps they note that bigots like Rosie O’Donnell and Bill Maher say vile things about Christians and Republicans, and don’t really think that blacks should have more protection than any other group.

We sympathize with each and every one of these reasons.

Still, when we had to vote to see the results, we voted that Imus should have been fired.

But we are looking forward to casting the same vote for O’Donnell and Maher.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Finally Caught Up With You


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ABC’s Terry Moran: Don’t Feel Sorry For the Duke Lacrosse Players

Via Drudge, ABC TV’s Terry Moran says DON’T FEEL TOO SORRY FOR THE DUKIES. Why not?

First, they are white.

Second, they are affluent.

Thirdly, their behavior in hiring a stripper was less than admirable.

Forthly, “there are many, many cases of prosecutorial misconduct across our country every year. The media covers few, if any, of these cases. Most of the victims in these cases are poor or minority Americans--or both.”

Which means that it’s not so bad to falsely prosecute affluent white guys.

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Imus Firing: Problem For the Democrats

From Sykes Writes, a bit of analysis that makes clear what the media have blacked out with regard to the Imus firing: Imus was a liberal.
Democratic politicians lose a soapbox with firing of Don Imus

His show helped many of them reach a national audience of white males -- a crucial voting bloc.

WASHINGTON — They came by the hundreds that hot August day in tiny Johnson City, Tenn., gathering on an asphalt parking lot to meet Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. It was not just that he might become the state’s first black senator. More than that, even in Republican eastern Tennessee, the Democratic congressman was a celebrity — a regular guest on Don Imus’ radio show.

And today, with Imus’ career in tatters, the fate of the controversial shock jock is stirring quiet but heartfelt concern in an unlikely quarter: among Democratic politicians.

That’s because, over the years, Democrats such as Ford came to count on Imus for the kind of sympathetic treatment that Republicans got from Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity.

Equally important, Imus gave Democrats a pipeline to a crucial voting bloc that was perennially hard for them to reach: politically independent white men.

With Imus’ show canceled indefinitely because of his remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, some Democratic strategists are worried about how to fill the void. For a national radio audience of white men, Democrats see few if any alternatives.

“This is a real bind for Democrats,” said Dan Gerstein, an advisor to one of Imus’ favorite regulars, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). “Talk radio has become primarily the province of the right, and the blogosphere is largely the province of the left. If Imus loses his microphone, there aren’t many other venues like it around.”

Jim Farrell, a former aide to 2000 presidential candidate and Imus regular Bill Bradley, said the firing “creates a vacuum.”

This week, when Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) was asked by CNN why he picked Imus’ show to announce his presidential candidacy, Dodd explained: “He’s got a huge audience; he gives you enough time to talk, not a 30-second sound bite, a chance to explain your views; . . . and a chance to reach the audience who doesn’t always watch the Sunday morning talk shows.”

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Politically Correct Racism: UWM and “The View”

Both of these are via Jessica McBride’s blog.

In the first case, there were two cases of suspicious behavior near the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus. How did UWM administrators respond? They sent out an e-mail warning students about the situation. They described the suspect as follows:
The suspect in both of these cases was described as a white male, in his mid-20s, 5 feet 11 inches tall, 185 pounds, brown hair and blue eyes. He drives a blue Buick sedan with Wisconsin plates.
What’s odd about that? They included the suspect’s race.

Why is that odd? Because they routinely refuse to reveal the race of black suspects.

UWM student Kyle Duerstein, in Frontpage Milwaukee, asks:
What’s the moral of the situation? If UWM’s administration wants to be idiotically “politically correct” by excluding important identifying characteristics of black suspects, at least be consistent, and leave it out for white suspects as well. Better yet, why not just send out all information that you have available, regardless of whose feelings you might hurt?
Of course, given that the people who get the UWM e-mails (and anybody attentive to media outlets that are similarly politically correct) will simply begin to assume that if the race of a suspect is not given, the person is black.

And that would be a sound assumption.

The other case involves the fact that politically correct race hustlers can’t admit that the Duke Lacrosse players were the innocent victims.

First, there is Eugene Kane, Milwaukee’s own journalistic race monger.
Eugene Kane says the Duke lacrosse players bear responsibility for their own nightmare

That’s what he told an individual I know who talked to him about the case. He thinks because they hired a stripper, they somehow deserved what they got. That’s sort of a gender twist on the old “the victim deserved it” argument.

He also thinks the “white” cops and DA are mostly responsible. The accuser doesn’t even make his list.
Just is bad are the airheads on “The View,” who insisted that it was fair to prejudge the Duke athletes, since they are white, and “white boys” do things like that.

And if they didn’t actually rape that woman, they were probably guilty of doing something like that.

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Not Your Job, Nancy

All That Needs To Be Said About Imus

From Jiblog:
Don Imus’ unemployment is not a free speech issue

I had a chance to listen to some Sirius talk radio last night, a little today, and I’ve seen some talk shows on TV at night, and I must say I’m getting irritated by hearing people defend Don Imus on the basis of free speech. Don Imus still has free speech. Nobody sentenced him to hard labor for his comments. Nobody sent him to a concentration camp. He wasn’t executed in the dark of night. What he lost was his far reaching platform for his speech, and it wasn’t the government that took it from him. It was his employers, and his employers took it from him because they no longer wanted to be represented by the things Imus says. The lesson to take away from this isn’t that free speech is being restricted, because it isn’t; Imus could hop on Blogger tomorrow and start insulting anyone he wants. Freedom of speech does not mean that you are entitled to reach millions of people with your words.
Actually, we lied in the headline. There is more to say.

The same analysis that applies to Imus applies to Natalie Maines, the Dixie Chick who first attacked President Bush in London, and then started attacking country music fans. So let’s be consistent, shall we folks.

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John Ashcroft to Speak at Marquette

Former Bush Administration Attorney General John Ashcroft will speak at Marquette at the Varsity Theater on April 25th at 7:00 p.m.

Ashcroft was at the very center of the War on Terror during his tenure in office.

After the speech, there will be a question and answer session and a book signing.

The College Republicans booked Ashcroft through Young Americas Foundation, with MUSG helping out.

Having one conservative speaker on campus hardly makes up for the pervasive leftist bias of the menu of speakers who come to Marquette, but this is way better than nothing.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Most Revealing Segment of “The Vagina Monologues”

Performing “The Vagina Monologues” on campus has been a sort of cause célèbre among campus leftists, and sure enough they are getting to perform it this coming Saturday.

There is a lot wrong with the play, but one very revealing piece of dialogue (along with the attached directions) is as follows:
Intro — Because He Liked To Look At It

This monologue was based on an interview with a woman who had a good experience with a man.*

(*This statement is not meant to be sarcastic as much as it is matter-of fact. The laugh will actually be stronger the more straight forward the delivery.)
That’s right. The feminist audience is expected to laugh at the notion that a woman might have a good experience with a man.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Street Beacon Out Tomorrow

Barring any last minute glitches -- like snow or rain -- look for the second issue of the Street Beacon out tomorrow.

Update:

The paper was for sale on Tuesday morning, as planned. When we walked by the Raynor Library at about 10:00 a.m. Editor Matt Ryno, a fellow student and two homeless guys were selling it.

We bought two copies from one of the homeless guys.

We may have more to say about the issue later, but it’s obvious that the staff has produced quite a good paper.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

It’s Easter Sunday

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Bono: Capitalist Exploiter

From the free market Ludwig von Mises Institute, an account of how a certain rock singer and premier moralist actually behaves.
Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson, have been traveling the globe endorsing their new clothing line, Edun. This clothing line promises to create Fair Trade–like principles which respect the workers who make the clothes and pass on the workers’ story.

As Ali Hewson says with an interjection from Bono, “It’s making people aware of the story of clothes . . . do you really want to put on something that’s made — with despair.”[1]

Bono promises to have decent working conditions and to abstain from employing child labor.

According to the factory manager in Lesotho, Thabang Kholumo, the wages paid are 600 rand (currently $87.68) a month. This is a little over 50 cents an hour assuming a 40-hour work week.

Surely these are twice that of other factories in the area? Not so. The country of Lesotho has minimum-wage laws by profession. According to a report highlighting current labor market conditions in Lesotho on the Global Policy Network website,[2] the minimum wage for trained sewing machine operators is 650 maloti ($94.80) a month.[3]

Unless there were specific fluctuations in the currency price at the time of Thabang Kholumo’s information, Bono would have been paying below the minimum wage allotted for textile workers. In any event, he doesn’t seem to be paying more than the required minimum.
And further:
Thabang Kholumo reveals that 125 female employees make 3,000 items a day. These items retail for $50-$300! A pair of Edun jeans will cost you a pricey $275. You can do the math for yourself. One pair of jeans $275 and one month of work $87.68 in Bono’s “sweatshop.”

According to Bono’s mistaken economic theories, he is no champion of the poor in his own factory. These wages are incompatible with the message Bono and Ali are trying to portray. Bono speaks about creating a new business model that can be emulated by other companies. In fact, he is doing what others are doing and have done for a very long time, and it is good for everyone.
So Bono is paying workers a wage that is -- by American standards -- wretched, and making a ton of money off them.

So that makes him evil, right?

No, he’s paying a wage that looks very good compared to the subsistence agriculture to which his workers would otherwise be relegated.

And work like Bono is providing is a necessary stage in the economic development of Lesotho. You don’t go directly from subsistence agriculture to Silicon Valley high-tech industries.
Bono may be paying below-minimum wages today, but that will not last as the productivity of his employees improves. One thing that would speed up this process is even more foreign “sweatshop” investment, which would stimulate competition for Lesotho’s labor force even more. Countries like Lesotho need more sweatshops, not fewer. Perhaps Bono can persuade some of his multimillionaire entertainment industry friends to invest with him.

To say that Bono’s factory is something special would not be truthful. The Edun clothing line is doing well, and is employing hundreds of people. That’s great. It’s called capitalism.
But what Bono is is a hypocrite. Much like Al Gore’s buying carbon offsets to support his lavish lifestyle, there is nothing wrong with what he is actually doing.

What is odious is his self-righteous moralizing.

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The Hostages Aren’t Really Free

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Street Beacon: Second Issue Out Soon

Late last week, we interviewed Matt Ryno (pronounced like the French auto maker Renault) the editor of the Street Beacon, a “community newspaper” for the Near West Side. In spite of the “community” orientation, Ryno and several other Marquette students (organized and recognized by the university as the Urban Initiative) have been the driving force behind the paper.

One key purpose of the paper has been to help homeless people by giving them an opportunity to make some money selling copies.

We have blogged about the paper before, and have been a bit skeptical about the project, not because it lacked journalistic merit, but because we doubted the inherit viability of a community newspaper in an area we didn’t view as any sort of real community, and because of minimal participation of homeless people in the project.

But it seems the project has been more successful than we expected. A second number is slated to come out on April 10.

An article Ryno wrote for the one issue so far (released back in the fall) won an award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Titled “Food stores are still a needed oasis in the New West Side,” it took third place for “in depth reporting.” It reported how the closure of a food store at north 35th Street and Juneau Avenue has left a very large swath of the West Side without a sizable food market.

But Ryno seems less proud of the award than of the fact that a core group of about 10 community activists came together to try to get something done about the situation. They met with representatives of Harley-Davidson (which has a lease on the property, which is owned by Marquette) and discussed the feasibility of putting a new market there.

Harley is now using the property for a parking lot, but according to Tony Shields, Manager of Community Relations for Harley, a feasibility study is underway to evaluate the use of the property, and “all viable options” are on the table.

So the paper has had an impact.

Finances

With any new media startup, financing is a potential problem. The second issue of the paper is being financed by a grant of $500 from tolerance.org (a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center), plus proceeds from the sale of the first number of the paper, added to individual donations.

The first issue contained no advertisements, but the staff now includes a Marquette Advertising major, who will be around next year and will be seeking ads. The paper now has in place a media kit and ad pricing, and is working with Business Improvement Districts and at least one additional community paper to sell ads.

What about helping the homeless? Most of the actual neighborhood distribution of the first issue (as opposed to campus distribution) consisted of Ryno driving around and dropping off copies at locations where people might pick them up and read them.

Ryno reports that he has “talked to other street papers,” and is changing the compensation plan for homeless people. The new plan is to pay $7.00 per hour for the first two hours that a seller works. In addition, the paper will now sell for $1.00. Ryno explains that most buyers voluntarily paid $1.00 for the paper the first time around, notwithstanding that the “suggested contribution” was 25 cents. A seller would keep 75 cents of the selling price, and pay the Street Beacon 25 cents for each copy.

Staffing the Paper

If we were skeptical of the business viability of the paper the first time around, we had no reservations about the journalistic viability. A cadre of about a dozen students produced a lot of good copy to fill a rather large “news hole” (remember, the paper was twelve pages and had no ads).

Many of the original group of student journalists are still with the paper. A few have drifted off, to be replaced by new people recruited into the project.

Ryno wrote much of the copy for the first issue (about half of it, by our count), but says that having “set the tone” for the paper, he intends to “back out” a bit, letting the rest of the staff do the vast majority of the writing.

As with any student enterprise, a big issue is whether new people will take over when the student entrepreneurs graduate. Ryno admits to worrying a bit that many seniors are among the paper’s writers.

The paper now has online a handsome website with several articles from the first issue:

www.streetbeacon.com

Time will tell whether the Street Beacon can become a fixture in the Near West Side community. But every new issue increases the probability of long-term success, adding credibility and visibility while the entrepreneur who started the paper learns from mistakes and adopts to the environment, tweaking what needs to be tweaked.

The paper has already done better than we expected. It may do better still.

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You’re All About Hillary

Washington Post Condemns Pelosi Visit

Yes, it’s the liberal Washington Post, which is not at all impressed with Nancy Pelosi’s exercise in private diplomacy.
HOUSE SPEAKER Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered an excellent demonstration yesterday of why members of Congress should not attempt to supplant the secretary of state when traveling abroad. After a meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Ms. Pelosi announced that she had delivered a message from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that “Israel was ready to engage in peace talks” with Syria. What’s more, she added, Mr. Assad was ready to “resume the peace process” as well. Having announced this seeming diplomatic breakthrough, Ms. Pelosi suggested that her Kissingerian shuttle diplomacy was just getting started. “We expressed our interest in using our good offices in promoting peace between Israel and Syria,” she said.

Only one problem: The Israeli prime minister entrusted Ms. Pelosi with no such message. “What was communicated to the U.S. House Speaker does not contain any change in the policies of Israel,” said a statement quickly issued by the prime minister’s office. In fact, Mr. Olmert told Ms. Pelosi that “a number of Senate and House members who recently visited Damascus received the impression that despite the declarations of Bashar Assad, there is no change in the position of his country regarding a possible peace process with Israel.” In other words, Ms. Pelosi not only misrepresented Israel’s position but was virtually alone in failing to discern that Mr. Assad’s words were mere propaganda.

Ms. Pelosi was criticized by President Bush for visiting Damascus at a time when the administration -- rightly or wrongly -- has frozen high-level contacts with Syria. Mr. Bush said that thanks to the speaker’s freelancing Mr. Assad was getting mixed messages from the United States. Ms. Pelosi responded by pointing out that Republican congressmen had visited Syria without drawing presidential censure. That’s true enough -- but those other congressmen didn’t try to introduce a new U.S. diplomatic initiative in the Middle East. “We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace,” Ms. Pelosi grandly declared.

Never mind that that statement is ludicrous: As any diplomat with knowledge of the region could have told Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Assad is a corrupt thug whose overriding priority at the moment is not peace with Israel but heading off U.N. charges that he orchestrated the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri. The really striking development here is the attempt by a Democratic congressional leader to substitute her own foreign policy for that of a sitting Republican president. Two weeks ago Ms. Pelosi rammed legislation through the House of Representatives that would strip Mr. Bush of his authority as commander in chief to manage troop movements in Iraq. Now she is attempting to introduce a new Middle East policy that directly conflicts with that of the president. We have found much to criticize in Mr. Bush’s military strategy and regional diplomacy. But Ms. Pelosi’s attempt to establish a shadow presidency is not only counterproductive, it is foolish.
We have frequently remarked that the Democrats taking over Congress was the best thing that could happen to Republicans in the run-up to the 2008 elections. When you are in power, people look to you to produce.

But what Pelosi has produced is very little, and most of it is bad. Or, as the Washington Post says about this: “foolish.”

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Terrorists Laud Pelosi Visit to Syria

From WorldNetDaily:
JERUSALEM – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit today to Syria – in which she called for dialogue with Damascus – was “brave” and “very appreciated” and could bring about “important changes” to America’s foreign policy, including talks with “Middle East resistance groups,” according to members of terror organizations here whose top leaders live in Syria.

One terror leader, Khaled Al-Batch, a militant and spokesman for Islamic Jihad, expressed hope Pelosi would continue winning elections, explaining the House speaker’s Damascus visit demonstrated she understands the Middle East.

Pelosi’s visit was opposed by President Bush, who called Syria a “state sponsor of terror.”

“Nancy Pelosi understands the area (Middle East) well, more than Bush and Dr. (Condoleeza) Rice,” said Al-Batch, speaking to WND from Gaza. “If the Democrats want to make negotiations with Syria, Hamas, and Hezbollah, this means the Democratic Party understands well what happens in this area and I think Pelosi will succeed. . . . I hope she wins the next elections.”

Islamic Jihad has carried out scores of shootings and rocket attacks, and, together with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group, has taken responsibility for every suicide bombing in Israel the past two years.

Ramadan Shallah, overall chief of Islamic Jihad, lives in Syria, as does Hamas chieftain Khaled Meshaal. Israel has accused the Syrian-based Hamas and Islamic Jihad leadership of ordering militants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to carry out terror attacks.

Al-Batch expressed hope Pelosi and the Democratic Party will pressure Bush to create dialogue with Syria and Middle East “resistance movements” and prompt an American withdrawal from Iraq.

“Bush and Dr. Rice made so many mistakes in the Middle East. Just look at Palestinian clashes and Iraq. But I think some changes are happening for the Bush administration’s foreign policy because of the hand of Nancy Pelosi. I think the Democratic Party can do things the best. . . . Pelosi is going down a good road by this policy of dialogue,” he said.

Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas’ military wing in the Gaza Strip, said the willingness by some lawmakers to talk with Syria “is proof of the importance of the resistance against the U.S.”

“The Americans know and understand they are losing in Iraq and the Middle East and that their only chance to survive is to reduce hostilities with Arab countries and with Islam. Islam is the new giant of the world.”

“Pelosi’s visit to Syria was very brave. She is a brave woman,” Jihad Jaara, a senior member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group and the infamous leader of the 2002 siege of Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, told WND. “I think it’s very nice and I think it’s much better when you sit face to face and talk to (Syrian President Bashar) Assad. It’s a very good idea. I think she is brave and hope all the people will support her. All the American people must make peace with Syria and Iran and with Hamas. Why not?” Jaara said.
Audio of the terrorists statements can be found here.

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It’s Called “Being an Underdog”

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Student Government Legislator Speaks Against “Domestic Partner” Benefits, Vilified in Tribune Headline

Warning: Obscene language

Often the biases of media people show in their reporting. But they typically make at least an effort to conceal them.

But sometimes an unguarded comment, an e-mail not intended to be widely seen, or a technical glitch can show exactly what they really believe.

Thus when Marquette Tribune writer Eric Lombardi wrote a story about a meeting of Marquette University Student Government, he apparently didn’t like the fact that a Business Senator named Scott Seramur spoke against a measure to give gay and lesbian employees “domestic partner” benefits.

When Lombardi write the story he also wrote a headline that said “Scott Seramur proves how much of an official fucknut he really is.” A subhead said: “Heather’s roommate exclaims ‘See Marquette DOES hate gays.’”

Katie Wycklendt at GOP3.COM found it online, and archived a copy.

Lombardi obviously didn’t expect the headline and subhead to appear online. Normally, three different editors at the Tribune would have looked at the article, and doubtless caught the headline and subhead.

Tribune Editor in Chief Ryan Nilsson, reached for comment today, blamed the version that appeared online on a software glitch. The Tribune uses College Publisher, which should require that one box labeled “Completed” and another labeled “Approved” be checked before an article can appear online.

In this case, neither box was checked, but the article appeared online anyway.

By about 11:00 p.m. last night, shortly after the article appeared, Diana Sroka (editor of The Warrior) notified Tim Horneman (the Tribune editor who was on duty) about the headline, and Horneman took it down.

Nilsson said that the whole episode “an error” that showed “poor judgment on the part of the writer [Lombardi].” And further, “we regret the error.” Nilsson told Lombardi to send an apology to Seramur, and Nilsson himself tried to reach Seramur by phone to offer an apology.

This episode is a classic example of the intolerance and bigotry directed at people on college campuses who oppose the agenda of the gay lobby. We have blogged before about the fact that Jessica Cushion, President of the Gay/Straight Alliance, claimed that speakers opposed to gay marriage should not be allowed on the Marquette campus, since such advocacy is “hate speech.”

And here we have a Tribune reporter who uses an obscenity to describe a student legislator who won’t support the gay agenda, and accuses him of “hating gays.”

Sometimes, technical glitches reveal the ugly truth.

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Linda Clifford’s Desperate Phone Calls

The Clifford campaign for Wisconsin Supreme Court must be desperate.

Fred Dooley of Real Debate Wisconsin put the state’s blogosphere onto a questionable Clifford campaign tactic.

The campaign has been making automated phone calls, saying that that she will “support public schools, their students and their employees’ rights.”

Given that there is no disclaimer saying who is paying for them, the calls are illegal. They also came with no caller ID.

The rhetoric about “public schools” looks very much like a coded way of saying that Clifford will oppose school choice, something her earlier statements clearly imply. As part of a liberal majority on the court, she would have the power to kill Wisconsin’s choice program.

Another, apparently different call, went out that gave the impression that the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel was calling and asking for support for Clifford.

The liberal Journal-Sentinel did endorse Clifford, but didn’t take kindly to the calls, labeling them “misleading” and having their lawyer call the Clifford campaign on Monday afternoon to demand that they be stopped.

Clifford, who has been attacking the judicial ethics of her opponent, Annette Ziegler, has run a stunningly unethical campaign.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Ziegler Lenient on a Sex Offender?

Most of the cases in which the Linda Clifford campaign has accused Annette Ziegler of being soft on sex offenders hardly need any further analysis. But let’s look at one that is featured in a Linda Clifford campaign ad.

From FactCheck.org:
No Prison Time for a Sex Offender?

The Greater Wisconsin Committee, a state-wide political action committee funded by labor, education and healthcare PACs, attacked the tough-on-crime image that’s been a staple of Ziegler’s own ads with a spot claiming that Ziegler gave a convicted sex offender a lighter sentence than even his own defense attorney asked. The ad is true only if the sentence is measured strictly by years in prison. The whole story is more complicated.

In December 1998 a jury found Gary Tate guilty of sexually assaulting his step-daughter repeatedly during a three-year period. Ziegler sentenced Tate to 25 years in prison but stayed the sentence, instead giving him a year in county jail and 20 years’ probation conditioned upon Tate successfully completing a treatment program for sexual offenders. At the time, admission of guilt was a requirement of the treatment program.

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Ziegler made this comment at the sentencing:
MJ-S: “I want very much to punish the defendant for what he did,” Ziegler said. “I want very much to protect the community.” Equally important is providing treatment “so this never happens to anyone else again,” Ziegler said.
Tate filed a motion asking for a new trial, but Ziegler denied it. Tate refused to admit he was guilty, which meant he automatically flunked his sexual-offender treatment. His probation was revoked as a result, and he began serving his 25-year prison sentence.

In November 2002, Tate appealed his probation revocation. The case went to the state Supreme Court. Tate’s lawyers argued that since his sexual-offender treatment required him to incriminate himself and thereby forfeit any possibility of future appeals, the revocation of his parole was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled in Tate’s favor. He was released from prison and is living in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Sex-Offender Registry.

The ad is misleading in implying that Ziegler sentenced Tate to nothing more than a year in county jail. It would have been accurate to say that Tate became a free man just four years after his conviction as a result of Ziegler’s sentence.
So we ask, as we did in a previous post: do liberals see anything ethically wrong with campaign ads that intentionally try to mislead?

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Linda Clifford: Sleazy, Misleading Campaign Ads

One of the more bizarre things about the very expensive and rather dirty race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court is the fact that the liberal (Linda Clifford) has been accusing the conservative (Annette Ziegler)of being soft on sex offenders.

This isn’t merely a matter of opinion. It’s simply untrue, and Clifford is being intentionally misleading.

The facts of the case are outlined in this press release from the Ziegler campaign.
West Bend – Linda Clifford’s campaign has been caught lying again. In both a press release and new attack television commercial, the Clifford campaign deliberately attempts to mislead voters.

Clifford’s campaign claims that nearly 60% of the child sex offenders (1st and 2nd Degree Sexual Assault and Repeated Sexual Assault of a Child) sentenced by Judge Ziegler were given a year in jail or less. However, they include the following cases in their calculation:
  • 1997CF000270 – The sentence in that case was handed down by Judge Richard Becker, not Judge Ziegler.
  • 2001CF000271 – The defendant in this case was sentenced in multiple cases (see 2001CF000359) on March 15, 2002 and was given 25 years in prison by Judge Ziegler for his crimes.
  • 2000CF000432 – The defendant in this case was convicted of a misdemeanor and not eligible for prison.
In eight of the nine remaining cases Clifford cites, Judge Ziegler simply was signing off on the district attorney’s joint agreement.

“Linda Clifford should be ashamed of herself for launching these desperate attacks against a judge who is known for her tough sentences of sex predators,” said Sheriff Maury Straub, who is one of the 54 sheriffs endorsing Judge Ziegler. “Linda Clifford has a clear problem with telling the truth and voters are going to reject her dishonest campaign on Tuesday.”

According to the Wisconsin Sentencing Commission, the median prison sentence given for Repeated Sexual Assault of the Same Child (948.025(1)) is 10 years. Judge Ziegler’s median sentence for the same crime is 20 years in prison – twice the statewide number.

Additionally, since 2000, Ziegler has been substituted ten times in child sex offender cases. During that same period of time, the other three judges in Washington County were only substituted for in a cumulative total of four child sex offense cases. That means Judge Ziegler has been substituted on over twice as many times in child sex offender cases as the other three judges combined.

“Judge Ziegler has one of the strongest records in the state when it comes to handing out sentences to child sex offenders,” said District Attorney Todd Martens, who is one of the 43 district attorneys endorsing Judge Ziegler. “Sex offenders actually work hard to get out of her courtroom because they know what her real sentencing record.”

Judge Ziegler is the only judge and only prosecutor running for the Supreme Court. In addition to the bipartisan support of a majority of Wisconsin’s sheriffs and district attorneys, Judge Ziegler has been endorsed by every law enforcement organization that has endorsed in the race.
The Clifford campaign has made a big deal of Ziegler’s failure to recuse herself from several cases that involved West Bend Savings and Loan (where her husband sits on the Board of Directors).

But nobody has even claimed that anybody was treated unfairly in any of these cases, which were mostly so routine that they were handled by a clerk.

But what are we do think about the ethics of a candidate who intentionally tries to convince voters that a judge who is in fact tough on sex offenders is actually lenient?

Is there an ethical problem about that?

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Yep, Not the First Time

Linda Clifford on Marquette Radio

Liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Linda Clifford was just heard on the Marquette radio program Bipartisan Bickering with Matt and Joseph.

Joseph Schuster, the conservative/libertarian on the program, was well prepared, asking Clifford about school choice and gay marriage.

On school choice, she backed off earlier statements that seemed to question the concept, saying “I think that it is settled law.”

She did express interest in the financing of education in Wisconsin. This is a huge can of worms, because activist liberal courts in numerous other states have (for example) ordered legislatures to change school financing to rely less on the property tax, and more on state funds.

This, of course, makes local schools much less responsive to local citizens, and redistributes influence into the hands of lobbies that are powerful at the state level.

Yes, we are talking about WEAC.

Liberal activist courts have also ordered legislatures to increase spending on education, and raise taxes as much as is necessary to satisfy the judges’ notions of what level of spending is required.

On gay marriage, she refused to back off even a bit, but did equivocate.

When confronted by Schuster with her letter to the Wisconsin legislature attacking the Defense of Marriage Amendment, she said that “nobody will say this day how anybody will vote” and “I can’t say today.”

And she added “we don’t know what the arguments of the parties would be.”

She also said she didn’t know how the law would “develop” in the next few years. Translation: if other state Supreme Courts order gay marriage, she is leaving the door open to using the “developing” law to legalize homosexual unions.


Hear audio:

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Tribune Coup: Brother Ron and the “Godmobile”

Everybody has seen the “Godmobile” on Wisconsin Avenue.

But just who is the crank who has been driving that around?

This past Thursday we all got the answer from the Marquette Tribune.

The Tribune published a long and fairly sympathetic account of Brother Ron, the fellow who owns and drives the Godmobile.
The 63-year-old Vietnam veteran said he became a preacher of “God’s Word” after he was saved by God decades ago.

“I was at a bar one night and became surrounded by enemies,” he said. “A woman had made a false accusation, a case of mistaken identity, but these people were drunk and stoned and were going to kill me anyway.”

Ron said he prayed to God and was able to walk out of the bar safely.

“I got into my truck and felt safe and secure,” he said. “I had the gospel on the radio and I felt like the message was for me.”

From that point on, Ron said he gave up being a semi-truck driver and has dedicated the last 25 years to serving the Lord and passing on the Good Word. When asked what religion he followed, Ron replied, “Jesus-only.”

At first Ron tried a more traditional approach to spreading God’s word. He was clean-shaven, wore nice clothes and passed out fliers inviting people to come to church. But according to Ron, people reacted in ungodly ways.

“People spit on me, threw things at me,” he said.

Ron said the criminal element of the streets and the lack of street preachers inspired him to step up his visibility on the street and use his car as a purveyor of God’s message.

“I felt that if the devil could play his music loud, why couldn’t I also share some good news?” he said.

Ron grew up in Milwaukee and wants to help the people here.

“God said, ‘Start where your miracle happened,’” he said.

People believe they are animals and they take away the value of life, which makes it easier for them to start killing one another, he said.
As interesting as the story is, perhaps even more interesting is the way in which the reporter, Joesph Boesen, got the story. His account is posted on the Tribune’s Editors’ Blog.
I knew that I wanted to talk to Bro Ron because it seems like everybody knew him but did not know his story.

I began by calling Jim Stingl, a columnist of the Journal Sentinel. I knew that he had written a few stories about Ron so I thought he might have a good idea of how to approach Ron. He was very cooperative and gave me Ron’s home number and address. From there I waited until I got ahold of Ron, calling but not leaving a message because I didn’t want to spook him. I went to the McDonald’s on 24th and Wisconsin, knowing that he used it as his unofficial office, but the manager said he was no longer allowed there because of customer complaints. I called the next day, got ahold of his wife, who told me to call later that night. I called at 7 p.m. and Ron picked up. After about 20 minutes of haggling I finally got him to agree to an interview the next day at 1:00. He said he would be at 1508 N. Farwell Ave. helping a “lady friend” of his with his mission.

I was initially nervous because I was unsure of what to expect, but I resolved to take the interview in stride and give Bro Ron the benefit of the doubt. It seemed to work out.

I met him the next day and the rest is what you see.
Yes it is.

The story is not only a coup for the Tribune, but for reporter Boesen. Tim Horneman, Campus News Editor, told the Marquette Warrior that “from my perspective, Joe is a great asset to the Tribune. He’s tackled controversial issues and controversial people with no fear (his first story this year was reporting on a Neo-Nazi rally in Madison), and he has a great ability to get sources to open up to him.”

The result of the story is that we feel a bit more favorable toward Brother Ron. He’s had a hard life. He’s not the most sophisticated fellow, theologically. His methods of evangelism may not be the most effective. But he’s a good guy. And very far from being merely a crank.

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