Friday, June 29, 2007

Lots of Evidence for Global Warming Skepticism

The National Post in Canada has made a crusade of giving a voice to all the global warming skeptics -- most of whom have excellent scientific credentials -- that the mainstream media has ignored.

Here is a compilation of their articles on the subject. Warning: to see these articles you will have to register for a free trial. Unlike most such free trials, they will not ask for your credit card number, and will not bill you credit card if you forget to cancel.
And the latest entry, “Read the sunspots.”
The fact that science is many years away from properly understanding global climate doesn’t seem to bother our leaders at all. Inviting testimony only from those who don’t question political orthodoxy on the issue, parliamentarians are charging ahead with the impossible and expensive goal of “stopping global climate change.” Liberal MP Ralph Goodale’s June 11 House of Commons assertion that Parliament should have “a real good discussion about the potential for carbon capture and sequestration in dealing with carbon dioxide, which has tremendous potential for improving the climate, not only here in Canada but around the world,” would be humorous were he, and even the current government, not deadly serious about devoting vast resources to this hopeless crusade.

Climate stability has never been a feature of planet Earth. The only constant about climate is change; it changes continually and, at times, quite rapidly. Many times in the past, temperatures were far higher than today, and occasionally, temperatures were colder. As recently as 6,000 years ago, it was about 3C warmer than now. Ten thousand years ago, while the world was coming out of the thou-sand-year-long “Younger Dryas” cold episode, temperatures rose as much as 6C in a decade -- 100 times faster than the past century’s 0.6C warming that has so upset environmentalists.

[. . .]

Our finding of a direct correlation between variations in the brightness of the sun and earthly climate indicators (called “proxies”) is not unique. Hundreds of other studies, using proxies from tree rings in Russia’s Kola Peninsula to water levels of the Nile, show exactly the same thing: The sun appears to drive climate change.

However, there was a problem. Despite this clear and repeated correlation, the measured variations in incoming solar energy were, on their own, not sufficient to cause the climate changes we have observed in our proxies. In addition, even though the sun is brighter now than at any time in the past 8,000 years, the increase in direct solar input is not calculated to be sufficient to cause the past century’s modest warming on its own. There had to be an amplifier of some sort for the sun to be a primary driver of climate change.

Indeed, that is precisely what has been discovered. In a series of groundbreaking scientific papers starting in 2002, Veizer, Shaviv, Carslaw, and most recently Svensmark et al., have collectively demonstrated that as the output of the sun varies, and with it, our star’s protective solar wind, varying amounts of galactic cosmic rays from deep space are able to enter our solar system and penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere. These cosmic rays enhance cloud formation which, overall, has a cooling effect on the planet. When the sun’s energy output is greater, not only does the Earth warm slightly due to direct solar heating, but the stronger solar wind generated during these “high sun” periods blocks many of the cosmic rays from entering our atmosphere. Cloud cover decreases and the Earth warms still more.

The opposite occurs when the sun is less bright. More cosmic rays are able to get through to Earth’s atmosphere, more clouds form, and the planet cools more than would otherwise be the case due to direct solar effects alone. This is precisely what happened from the middle of the 17th century into the early 18th century, when the solar energy input to our atmosphere, as indicated by the number of sunspots, was at a minimum and the planet was stuck in the Little Ice Age. These new findings suggest that changes in the output of the sun caused the most recent climate change. By comparison, CO2 variations show little correlation with our planet’s climate on long, medium and even short time scales.

In some fields the science is indeed “settled.” For example, plate tectonics, once highly controversial, is now so well-established that we rarely see papers on the subject at all. But the science of global climate change is still in its infancy, with many thousands of papers published every year. In a 2003 poll conducted by German environmental researchers Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch, two-thirds of more than 530 climate scientists from 27 countries surveyed did not believe that “the current state of scientific knowledge is developed well enough to allow for a reasonable assessment of the effects of greenhouse gases.” About half of those polled stated that the science of climate change was not sufficiently settled to pass the issue over to policymakers at all.
We don’t claim to have the scientific knowledge to judge the “global warming due to human activity thesis.”

But we do know enough about science to know that groupthink, careerism and political ideology have often distorted scientific findings. Indeed, these things have often created a consensus that has later proven to be nonsense.

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Supreme Court Decision Upholds Brown: Media Misrepresents Issue

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision outlawing race-based school assignment in Louisville and Seattle has set off a huge uproar among the usual racial suspects.

And those suspects include the Mainstream Media.

It has widely been attacked as backing away from Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark case which, in 1954, overturned government imposed segregation.

The liberal mythology about Brown, unfortunately, has come to completely obscure what Brown intended to do.

When Brown was being argued before the Court, NAACP lawyer (and later Supreme Court Justice) Thurgood Marshall was asked by Justice Felix Frankfurter:
You mean, if we reverse, it will not entitle every mother to have her child go to a nonsegregated school?
Frankfurter is asking here whether a black parent will have the right to demand that her child attend a predominately white school if the Court upholds the NAACP position.

Marshall makes it clear this is not what he is arguing for.
The school board, I assume, would find some other method [besides race] of distributing the children, a recognizable method, by drawing district lines.
And later:
The only thing that the Court is dealing with . . . [is] whether or not race can be used . . . . What we want from the Court is the striking down of race. . . . Put the dumb colored children in with the dumb white children, and put the smart colored children with the smart white children -- that is no problem. (Lino Graglia, Disaster By Decree, p. 31)
This was what Brown aimed to achieve back in an era when liberals were against racial discrimination, and most people of good will agreed with them.

By the 60s, the Constitution was being used by liberal activist judges to impose a massive social experiment in forced busing on the nation.

That social experiment is now widely recognized as a failure, so much so that the Milwaukee Public Schools has a “neighborhood schools” initiative.

But during the heyday of busing (and in some places to this day), every black parent, ironically, was deprived of the right to say “I don’t want my child bused.” They were deprived of the right to say “I prefer my neighborhood school, so please keep your hands off my kid.”

The media, which is both biased and ignorant of Constitutional history, is not going to tell people the truth on this. It’s not only that they don’t want to. It’s that they literally don’t know how.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Which is the Party of the Rich Fat Cats?

From the The Campaign Finance Institute, an analysis of 2008 presidential candidate spending, and some baseline data for interpreting the candidate reports what will list receipts through June 30.

The latest data only lists fundraising through March 31.

What might surprise people who still think the Republican Party is the party of rich fat cats is the fact that Democrats have raised a lot more money.

As of March 31, they had raised a bit over $95,000,000.

Republicans, in contrast, had raised a bit over $61,000,000.

This represents a massive explosion of fund raising compared to 2003, the year before the 2004 election. In 2003, counting receipts through June 30, Democrats had raised only a bit over $17,000,000.

Republican fund raising has exploded too, but since Bush was running essentially unopposed in that year, the comparison isn’t informative.

All this has happened since McCain-Feingold, passed in 2001, was supposed to take the evil influence of money out of electoral politics.

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Paris Liberated

From Four Block World, one of Tom McMahon’s drawings is good for a nice chuckle.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Benighted

Secular Intolerance in Europe: Scientology

It seems that Tom Cruise is not allowed to film in a certain location in Germany because of his religious beliefs.

He is a Scientologist.
Tom Cruise has been banned from making a film in Berlin about a plot to kill Adolf Hitler because the German government says his belief in Scientology is akin to Nazism.

The Hollywood star is set to play Count Claus von Stauffenberg, who almost succeeded in assassinating the Nazi leader in 1944.

The project is due to start production next month but the Germans fear Cruise will use the film, which he is co-producing, as a public relations vehicle for Scientology, which many of the country’s politicians have compared to Nazism.

The German government claims it masquerades as a religion to make money, a charge Scientology leaders reject.

The country has fought against the sect for a decade. It is even under observation by the Federal Agency for the Protection of the Constitution, a body that usually hunts spies, terrorists and neo-Nazis.

One of Germany’s few war heroes, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg had been deeply opposed to the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews and planted a briefcase bomb under a table near Hitler in his Wolf’s Lair headquarters on July 20, 1944. The bomb went off but only wounded the Fuehrer.

Two hundred of his conspirators were also arrested and killed.

German Defence Minister Franz-Josef Jung has ruled that Cruise should not be allowed to film in the inner courtyard of his ministry where von Stauffenberg was shot.

A Defence Ministry spokesman said: “The film makers will not be allowed to film at German military sites if Count Stauffenberg is played by Tom Cruise, who has publicly professed to being a member of the Scientology cult.

“In general, the German military has a special interest in the serious and authentic portrayal of the events of July 20, 1944 and Stauffenberg as a person.”
Of course, he has no evidence that the portrayal will be anything less than serious and authentic.

We have no problem with calling Scientology a cult.

We have a huge problem with any government deciding what is a cult and what isn’t, and discriminating against “cult members.”

While the word “cult” might, in principle, have some objective definition that distinguishes between a cult and a church and a movement, in practice a “cult” is a religious movement one happens to dislike.

We have heard of liberal women who label as “male cult” any religion that doesn’t ordain women as ministers. And any religion that takes its beliefs too seriously (with “too seriously” judged by secular people) is going to be called a cult.

Further, people have every right to join a cult -- a real cult that we and the secularists would agree is a cult.

This is just another example of the secular intolerance of Europe.

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Secularist Europe Silences Pro-Lifers and Creationists

From the Brussels Journal:
Last week, a German court sentenced a 55-year old Lutheran pastor to one year in jail for “Volksverhetzung” (incitement of the people) because he compared the killing of the unborn in contemporary Germany to the holocaust. Next week, the Council of Europe is going to vote on a resolution imposing Darwinism as Europe’s official ideology. The European governments are asked to fight the expression of creationist opinions, such as young earth and intelligent design theories. According to the Council of Europe these theories are “undemocratic” and “a threat to human rights.”

Without legalized abortion the number of German children would increase annually by at least 150,000 – which is the number of legal abortions in birth dearth Germany. Pastor Johannes Lerle compared the killing of the unborn to the killing of the Jews in Auschwitz during the Second World War. On 14 June, a court in Erlangen ruled that, in doing so, the pastor had “incited the people” because his statement was a denial of the holocaust of the Jews in Nazi-Germany. Hence, Herr Lerle was sentenced to one year in jail. Earlier, he had already spent eight months in jail for calling abortionists “professional killers” – an allegation which the court ruled to be slanderous because, according to the court, the unborn are not humans.

Other German courts convicted pro-lifers for saying that “in abortion clinics, life unworthy of living is being killed,” because this terminology evoked Hitler’s euthanasia program, which used the same language. In 2005, a German pro-lifer, Günter Annen, was sentenced to 50 days in jail for saying “Stop unjust [rechtswidrige] abortions in [medical] practice,” because, according to the court, the expression “unjust” is understood by laymen as meaning illegal, which abortions are not.

Volksverhetzung is a crime which the Nazis often invoked against their enemies and which contemporary Germany also uses to intimidate homeschoolers. Soon, the German authorities will be able to use the same charge against people who question Darwin’s evolution theory.

Indeed, next Tuesday, the Council of Europe (CoE), Europe’s main human-rights body, will vote on a proposal which advocates the fight against creationism, “young earth” and “intelligent design” in its 47 member states.

According to a report of the CoE’s Parliamentary Assembly, creationists are dangerous “religious fundamentalists” who propagate “forms of religious extremism” and “could become a threat to human rights.” The report adds that the acceptance of the science of evolutionism “is crucial to the future of our societies and our democracies.”

“Creationism, born of the denial of the evolution of species through natural selection, was for a long time an almost exclusively American phenomenon,” the report says.
“Today creationist theories are tending to find their way into Europe and their spread is affecting quite a few Council of Europe member states. […] [T]his is liable to encourage the development of all manner of fundamentalism and extremism, synonymous with attacks of utmost virulence on human rights. The total rejection of science is definitely one of the most serious threats to human rights and civic rights. […] The war on the theory of evolution and on its proponents most often originates in forms of religious extremism which are closely allied to extreme right-wing political movements. The creationist movements possess real political power. The fact of the matter, and this has been exposed on several occasions, is that the advocates of strict creationism are out to replace democracy by theocracy. [...] If we are not careful, the values that are the very essence of the Council of Europe will be under direct threat from creationist fundamentalists.”
George Orwell, please call the Council of Europe.

Letting people advocate creationism or intelligent design is a serious threat to “human rights and civic rights.” But having the government impose an orthodoxy on the subject is perfectly fine.
According to the CoE report, America and Australia are already on their way towards becoming such undemocratic theocracies where human and civic rights are endangered. Creationism is “well-developed in the English-speaking countries, especially the United States and Australia,” the report states.
“While most curricula in Europe today unashamedly teach evolution as a recognised scientific theory, the same does not apply to the United States. In July 2005, the Pew Research Center conducted a poll that showed that 64% of Americans favoured the teaching of intelligent design alongside the theory of evolution and that 38% would support the total abandonment of the teaching of evolution in publicly owned schools. The American President George W. Bush supports the principle of teaching both intelligent design and the theory of evolution. At the moment, 20 of the 50 American states are facing potential adjustments of their school curricula in favour of intelligent design. Many people think that this phenomenon only affects the United States and that, even if it is not possible to be indifferent to what is happening on the other side of the Atlantic, it is not the Council of Europe’s role to deal with this issue. That, however, is not the case. On the contrary, it would seem crucial for us to take the appropriate precautions in our 47 member states.”
Though one may disagree with people who take the Book of Genesis literally (believing that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh), surely secularist political organizations telling people what they may or may not believe, constitute a far greater threat to human rights than religious institutions telling their faithful how to vote. In the voting booth people are free to do what they like, whilst in contemporary Europe people are no longer free to publicly voice their own, deeply felt opinions in public.

In Germany, believing abortion to be as murderous as the holocaust is a crime, and educating your own children is a crime too. In France, saying that “homosexual behaviour endangers the survival of humanity” is a crime, and so is the distribution of pork soup to the poor. In Belgium, speaking out against immigration is a crime.
Europe is the continent that, for centuries, imposed a religious orthodoxy on its population. In some places the established church was Catholic, and in others Protestant. But the intolerance of dissenters was close to a constant.

It seems the culture of Europe hasn’t changed much.

Now the orthodoxy is secular. But the willingness to punish people who won’t hue to it remains very much in place.

Is America better? Yes, the civil culture here is a lot more tolerant.

But not perfectly tolerant. And the people here who look to Europe as a model -- for the abolition of the death penalty, for socialized medicine, for preferring John Kerry to George Bush in 2004 -- are perfectly willing to shut up opinions they don’t like.

Indeed, there are a fair number of people like that on the Marquette campus.

Just last year, Jess Cushion, President of the Gay/Straight Alliance claimed that any speaker opposed to gay marriage should be banned from the Marquette campus. She explained:
. . . the problem is that gay marriage is an issue of human rights, and having a speaker on campus that will stand up against human rights would basically be promoting hate speech on campus . . .
It’s no wonder that liberals now don’t call themselves “liberals.” They call themselves “progressives.”

Perhaps that’s appropriate, notwithstanding that their vision hardly constitutes progress.

For generations, liberals in American had some tenuous relationship with classical liberalism and its defense of individual liberty and free speech.

But that is fast disappearing.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Former Washington Post, Seinfeld Writer: Bush Worse Than Hitler, Who “Meant Well”

Via Newsbusters, a new low in Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Leftist are fond on saying Bush is like Hitler. But now a former Washington Post writer claims that Bush is worse than Hitler -- and evey other nasty dictator of the 20th Century.

Writing on the Huffington Post, Peter Mehlman claims:
So now we’re six and a half years into Bush and everyone from Helen Thomas on down is declaring him the worst president ever. What no one is saying is the one overarching reason he’s the worst: the Bush administration is the first that doesn’t even mean well.

[. . .]

You could argue that even the world’s worst fascist dictators at least meant well. They honestly thought were doing good things for their countries by suppressing blacks/eliminating Jews/eradicating free enterprise/repressing individual thought/killing off rivals/invading neighbors, etc. Only the Saudi royal family is driven by the same motives as Bush, but they were already entrenched. Bush set a new precedent. He came into office with the attitude of “I’m so tired of the public good. What about my good? What about my rich friends’ good?”

How can anyone not see it? It’s not that their policies have been misguided or haven’t played out right. They. Don’t. Even. Mean. Well.
That’s right.

He’s saying that Adolph Hitler “meant well” in eliminating Jews.

Only in the context of hating Bush could a member of the mainstream media get away with saying that. That’s how far it has gone.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Mideast Cavemen

Is Respect for Life “Ideology?”

From Jeff Jacoby, discussing President Bush’s veto of a bill that would fund embryonic stem cell research, using cells derived from killing embryos.

Jacoby, he makes clear, differs from Bush on this issue. But he respects the president’s logic.
A human embryo is not just another lab supply or raw material, to be manipulated or destroyed at will. Even in nascent form, human life must be treated with dignity and care. How and under what circumstances embryos can be harvested for their stem cells are not just scientific questions. First they are questions of ethics and morality, and of the values we wish to live by.

Or are they? To judge from the criticism of Bush’s stem cell veto last week, nothing outranks the claims of science, and only a zealot could think otherwise.

“With one pen stroke,” charged Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, “President Bush has ignored hard science, embraced misplaced ideology, and turned his back on the millions who stand to benefit from . . . stem cell research.”

Similarly, Senate majority leader Harry Reid blasted Bush for “putting the politics of his narrow ideology ahead of saving lives.”

So did Senator Hillary Clinton: “This is just one example of how the president puts ideology before science.”

And Senator Barack Obama: “The promise that stem cells hold does not come from any particular ideology; it is the judgment of science, and we deserve a president who will put that judgment first.”

What these statements have in common is their use of “ideology” as a pejorative for the principles and ethical values that have guided Bush’s thinking on the stem cell issue. They treat “science” as an unqualified good, and reproach the White House for letting ethical qualms impede scientific progress. Yet not all science is progress, and not all ethical qualms are impediments.

It is for man to master science, not the other way around. Unfettered scientific investigation isn’t always morally neutral, nor a sufficient end in and of itself. We all want diseases to be cured and lives to be prolonged, but there are ethical limits to how far we can go in acquiring knowledge that may one day save human life. Embryonic stem cell research, as Bush notes, is at the leading edge of a series of moral hazards. It is not blind “ideology” to say so.

“You don’t need religion to tremble at the thought of unrestricted embryo research,” wrote Charles Krauthammer, a physician and former member of the President’s Council on Bioethics, last January. “You simply have to have a healthy respect for the human capacity for doing evil in pursuit of the good. Once we have taken the position of many stem cell research advocates that embryos are discardable tissue with no more intrinsic value than a hangnail or an appendix, then all barriers are down. . . . The slope is very slippery.”

I wouldn’t have vetoed the bill Bush rejected. Nevertheless, I appreciate his effort to block that slippery slope. As science tugs us toward a brave new world of manufactured human life, it is more urgent than ever that moral boundaries not be ignored when biomedical public policy is made.
It’s a bit ironic that proponents of embryonic stem cell research call opposition to their agenda “ideology.” In reality, science has it’s own ideology. That ideology says “if we can do it, we should do it, and moral scruples be damned.”

Science also has its own set of vested interests. There is potentially vast wealth to be made from stem cells, and it’s ironic that the sort of liberals who are happy to bash pharmaceutical companies for their “excess profits” and who want to regulate all kinds of other economic activity are laissez-faire people on this.

But actually, they aren’t laissez-faire people. Nothing in the Bush policy prevents private individuals or corporations from funding stem cell research. These folks want a taxpayer subsidy.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Clinton People Behind Attack on Conservative Talk Radio

We have not gotten too upset about the campaign to reimpose the Fairness Doctrine in broadcasting. Although it’s clearly directed at conservative talk radio, we have dismissed it as a project of leftist cranks like Dennis Kucinich.

But now, via Shack Sounds Off, evidence that the mainstream of the Democratic Party is serious about the attack.

Specifically, a group called (in Orwellian fashion) the Center for American Progress has just issued a report calling for more censorship of broadcasting (although they don’t admit that’s what they want. Whom does this group consist of?
For those unfamiliar with the Center, its President and CEO is none other than
  • John Podesta, the former Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton. And:

  • The Executive Vice President for Management is Sarah Rosen, who was also a member of the Clinton administration.

  • Senior Vice President for Development Debbie Goldberg worked for the Clinton campaign.

  • Senior Vice President and Director David Halperin was a speech writer for President Clinton.

  • Vice President of Communications Jennifer Palmieri was Clinton’s White House Deputy Press Secretary.

  • Senior Vice President for External Affairs Winnie Stachelberg worked at the Office of Management and Budget under Clinton.

  • Vice President of Finance and Operations Brad Kiley worked for the Clinton administration.

  • Ditto Peter Rundlet, Anna Soellner, Debbie Fine, and Michelle Jolin.
In reality, the staff and Senior Fellows listing of this Center reads like a Clinton administration Who’s Who.

The report of the group is thoroughly Orwellian, talking about lot about “upholding . . . public interest responsibilities” and how talk radio is skewed to the right (which of course it is, just as print media and the broadcast networks are skewed to the left).

But the total import is stark and clear: shut up the conservatives.

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Letter to Editor: Hypocrisy on Madison City Council

We recently blogged about a member of the Madison City Council who has called for the impeachment of President Bush? Why? He has violated the Constitution, or at least the Constitution as the left interprets the Constitution.

The irony: she and some of her cohorts, being required to swear an oath of allegiance to the Wisconsin Constitution as they took their seats on the Council, made it clear that they didn’t really respect a certain part of the Constitution.

What part? The part that prohibits same-sex marriage.

Our post brought the following e-mail from our former student Nate Romano, who has graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison law school and is practicing law.
I agree with your point (and the point quoted by Prof. Schweber here at UW-Madison). You can dislike part of the constitution, and even say that you think it should be changed. But, if you are going to take an office to serve under that constitution, you serve and adhere to all of it. You don’t sign a statement that says parts are optional. It is sad that people who think they can complain that President Bush, Vice-President Cheney or whomever have been acting unconstitutional, and then blatantly state that you will essentially ignore parts of the constitution. It is frustrating that people don’t have the common sense to think things through.

Also, I thought it pertinent to point out that Alderman Eli Judge of Madison, who represents the district that covers most of the University, is openly gay and refused to sign the “supplemental” oath section. The ones who signed are mostly the “Progressive Dane” party -- a far left/socialist group.
So the gay guy on the Council is more principled -- even about gay marriage -- than the straight lefties.

We can’t say that we are surprised.

Anybody who has dug around gay blogosphere a bit knows that there are plenty of gay bloggers who are pretty reasonable people. Some are moderates, and many have a strong libertarian streak.

About the Madison lefties, on the other hand, there is little good to say.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dogs of War

Silly Maureen Dowd Comment On Gays in the Military

From her column of June 10.
Be honest. Who would you rather share a foxhole with: a gay soldier or Mitt Romney? A gay soldier, of course. In a dicey situation like that, you need someone steadfast who knows who he is and what he believes, even if he’s not allowed to say it out loud....
Is she showing anti-Romney bigotry here?

If she means, “would you rather share a foxhole with a gay soldier who has intensive military training and combat experience, or a politician,” then of course she is right. But it’s a silly comparison.

But why is a gay soldier supposed to define “who he is and what he believes” in terms of homosexuality? Indeed, why might he not see his sexuality as a private matter? Why the need to proclaim it to the whole wide world?

The gay lobby will demand that he should, but he may not agree.

Interestingly, gays and lesbians are not nearly so monolithically leftist as the public rhetoric of the gay lobby suggests. The 2004 National Election Pool exit poll, for example, shows that 23% of gays and lesbians voted for Bush, rather than Kerry.

Part of this is the result of gays caring about issues other than sexual ones.

For example, the same 2004 National Election Pool exit poll showed 54% of gays and lesbians saying that “government should do more to solve problems” and 43% saying that “government is doing too many things.”

So back to Dowd’s comment: if a gay guy defines himself as an American and a warrior first, and incidentially as homosexual, we would be delighted to have him protecting us. If he defines himself as a homosexual who just happens to be a soldier, we’d be interested in knowing whether Romney is a good shot.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

And You Won What?

The Ultimate in Spin?

From Fox News:
TOKYO — Japan has changed the name of the Pacific island of Iwo Jima to the original name of Iwo To given by locals, who have become disenchanted with the popularization of its modern-day moniker by such movies as Clint Eastwood’s recently released “Letters from Iwo Jima.”

The new name in Japanese looks and means the same as Iwo Jima — or Sulfur Island — but sounds different, the Japanese Geographical Survey Institute said.

The institute announced the name change on Monday after discussing the issue with Japan’s coast guard. An official map with the new name will be released Sept. 1.
This reminds us a bit of the campaign in Dallas, Texas to tear down the Texas School Book Depository, the building from which Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed John Kennedy. Before better judgment prevailed, some Dallasites wanted to excise a symbol of what they viewed as a shameful episode from the landscape.

Ironically, no civilians now live on Iwo Jima. They were relocated from the island in 1944, and are now scattered across Japan. But they somehow want the name changed.

Madison Leftist Alderwoman: Committed to the Constitution, Unless I Disagree With It

Great catch from Rebecca Kontowicz, who noticed an irony in a story about an “Alder” on the Madison City Council, who is calling for the impeachment of President Bush.
Madison would become the first municipality in Wisconsin to call for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney under a resolution to be introduced to the City Council tonight.

Ald. Marsha Rummel, 6th District, will propose a resolution urging the U.S. House of Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings against the administration, accusing it of “launching an illegal War of Aggression against Iraq without cause,” ordering “electronic surveillance of American citizens without seeking warrants” and “conspiring to commit the torture of prisoners” in violation of the Geneva Convention.

“I was required to swear an oath to the Constitution and to obey the law,” Rummel said. “I think we should hold all elected officials to the same standard. . . . It’s never too late to hold people accountable.”
Yes, it’s a matter of defending the Constitution!

But how does Rummel react when there is something in the Constitution that she doesn’t like?

We know because there is something in Wisconsin Constitution that she doesn’t like: a ban on gay marriage. When members of the City Council were sworn in back in in April, Rummel made it clear that she feels free to pick and choose what parts of the Constitution she will uphold.
The meeting began on a solemn note as Mayor Dave Cieslewicz asked the room to stand for a moment of silence to remember the people killed Monday at Virginia Tech.

Then, before detailing the agenda for his second term, Cieslewicz paused to explain why he signed a supplemental oath objecting to constitutional language he said was “blatantly discriminating against my fellow citizens that are gay and lesbian.”

Half of the council members joined him in signing the supplemental oath that read, “I take this oath of office today under protest to the passage of the constitutional amendment” banning gay marriage, which passed by state referendum in the fall. Signing it were Robbie Webber, Julia Kerr, Brian Solomon, Marsha Rummel, Brenda Konkel, Satya Rhodes-Conway, Tim Gruber, Mike Verveer, Zach Brandon and, later in the afternoon, Larry Palm.
So, it seems her committment to the (Wisconsin) Constitution is conditioned on her agreement with specific provisions.

Of course, one might argue that these Council members did not flatly say they would not enforce the Wisconsin Constitution as it stands.

Unfortunately, they came very very close.
The statement also says the oath-taker will “work to eliminate this section from the Constitution and work to prevent any discriminatory impacts from its application.”
The problem here is that the Amendment was intended to have a discriminatory impact. It was explicitly intended to favor man/woman relationships, which are the kind that can produce children. Concern for the welfare of children is the main (if not the sole) reason for traditional marriage.
UW-Madison political science professor Howard Schweber warned the addition would allow officials to “come perilously close to saying (that) in their duties they will ignore the law or alter the law when it conflicts with their personal principles.”
Of course, if it is “unjust” to ban gay marriage in the Wisconsin Constitution, it might be equally “unjust” to provide the full panoply of civil liberties protections to terrorists (real and suspected).

It seems that, for a lot of liberal and leftists, the Constitution (state or federal) is something to be used to attack partisan enemies. It’s not something binding on them.

Michael McKinney Retires As Arts & Sciences Dean

From an e-mail send to all Arts & Sciences Chairs, and forwarded to faculty.
After forty rewarding years as your colleague and friend, Department Chair and Dean of the College, I have decided to retire from the University, effective December 31, 2007. It has been my privilege to serve you and the University in these capacities. During my remaining months at the University I will continue to support your teaching and scholarly efforts. You have made the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences a stellar example of how to carry out, with excellence, the educational mission of the University.

Provost Madeline Wake will convene the Department Chairs and faculty of the College to discuss the search process for the next Dean of the College.
McKinney generally gets high marks from Arts & Sciences faculty. He seems to understand what academic excellence means.

We’ve seen that in recruitment efforts in Political Science, where he has gone out of his way to offer salaries, benefits, time off for research and so on to attract scholars whom we wanted to hire. And we have recruited excellent young scholars.

Nobody is perfect, and McKinny has made a few missteps.

The most visible one has been junking the traditional Arts & Sciences graduation ceremony and replacing it with a tedious and boring event.

And he has allowed something called a “Senior Experience” requirement in the Arts College. Sounding like a good idea, it ended up being an unfunded mandate imposed on departments, who responded by arbitrarily designating some courses “senior experience” courses. The courses so designated are perfectly fine courses, but they were perfectly fine courses before anybody came up with the notion of a “senior experience.”

Another source of discontent in the Political Science Department is the fact that the College of Professional Studies has been allowed to offer a course in American Politics under the number POSC 020. Arts & Sciences faculty have taken a dim view of Professional Studies, as Brian Collar correctly reports on GOP3.COM.

The Economics Department successfully rebelled when Professional Studies offered courses with the prefix “ECON” and got that banned. McKinney failed to take up the cudgels for Political Science. Faculty interpret that as his having to “pick his battles” and feeling that the power position of Professional Studies among higher level administrators is too strong.

The hiring of McKinney followed a national search for an Arts & Sciences Dean in 2000-2001. It involved interviewing three candidates from outside the University. McKinney, who was serving as Interim Dean at the time didn’t make the short list of candidates to be interviewed -- an outrageous blunder on the part of the selection committee. When all three outside candidates bombed (we Political Science faculty were instrumental in knocking off one of them, ironically an alum of our own department) the job went to McKinney.

Marquette lucked out big time on that. McKinney, with decades of service to Marquette, has been a vastly better dean than any of the outside candidates would have been, and better than Marquette had any right to expect, given the blundered selection process.

We now face that process again.

The pitfalls are clear. Will we hire an activist who wants to implement whatever academic fad is current? Will we hire some résumé builder who wants to spend a few years at Marquette before moving on to a higher paying and more powerful position elsewhere?

Will we hire somebody too committed to increasing revenue and reducing costs -- neither of which is something that a dean can ignore, but both of which are things that can be obsessed on to the long-run detriment of the institution.

Or will we hire another Michael McKinney?

Given the lack of vision and judgment in higher levels of the Marquette administration, one has to fear that our luck has run out.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

BBC Admits Its Own Leftist Bias

From the London Times.
THE BBC is institutionally biased, an official report will conclude this week. The year-long investigation, commissioned by the BBC, has found the corporation particularly partial in its treatment of single-issue politics such as climate change, poverty, race and religion.

It concludes that the bias has extended across drama, comedy and entertainment, with the corporation pandering to politically motivated celebrities and trendy causes.

Singled out is the coverage of Bob Geldof’s Live 8 concert and the Make Poverty History campaign. The report says there was no rounded debate of the issues.

The report also raises serious concerns about accompanying programmes, including a drama by the writer Richard Curtis and the finale of his Vicar of Dibley where Dawn French shows a minute-long clip of the Make Poverty History video.

The report points to the danger of BBC programmes being undermined by the liberal culture of its staff, who need to challenge their own assumptions more. “There is a tendency to ‘group think’ with too many staff inhabiting a shared space and comfort zone,” says the report.

It goes on to highlight a “Roneo mentality” where staff ape each other’s common liberal values.

The report has been approved by a steering group led by Richard Tait, a BBC trustee and former editor-in-chief at ITN. Its members also include Mark Byford, the BBC’s deputy director-general, Helen Boaden, head of BBC News, and Alan Yentob, the creative director.

Although its coverage of conventional politics is judged to be fair and impartial, the inquiry says the BBC allowed itself to be hijacked by Geldof, the U2 singer Bono, and Curtis, who urged Tony Blair to pressure world leaders to alleviate poverty in developing countries.

Even before the BBC cleared its schedules to cover the Live 8 concert from Hyde Park – which coincided with the G8 Gleneagles summit in 2005 – the report points out that it broadcast a related drama by Curtis called The Girl in the Cafe. It featured Bill Nighy as a shy civil servant who falls in love with an antipoverty campaigner and takes her to a summit in Iceland where she makes an impassioned plea to world leaders.

Gordon Brown, the chancellor, saw the film before it was shown on BBC1.

After the BBC broadcast a week of programmes to highlight poverty in Africa and a day celebrating the National Health Service, Adam Boulton, political editor of Sky News, told a House of Lords select committee the BBC’s coverage came dangerously close to peddling government propaganda.

The programmes came at a time when the BBC was negotiating a new royal charter with ministers.

The document, jointly commissioned by BBC managers and the board of governors, now replaced by the BBC Trust, includes details of a staff impartiality seminar at which senior figures criticised the corporation for being antiAmerican and pandering to Islam.

Criticisms highlighted from the seminar include: A senior BBC reporter attacking the corporation for giving “no moral weight” to America. Executives admitting they would broadcast images of a Bible being thrown away – but not the Koran for fear of offending Muslims. The BBC deliberately championing multiculturalism and ethnic minorities, while betraying an anticountryside bias.

Mary Fitzpatrick, the BBC’s “diversity czar”, told the seminar Muslim women newsreaders should be allowed to wear the hijab, or headscarf, on screen. Fitzpatrick spoke out after criticism over Fiona Bruce’s decision to wear a necklace with a cross while reading the news.

The report’s findings come in the wake of a separate independent review of the BBC’s business coverage which two weeks ago accused the broadcaster of lapses in impartiality because of its desire to popularise corporate stories.

It singled out an interview with Bill Gates on the 10 O’Clock News as “sycophantic”.
None of this will come as a surprise of U.S. readers.

The mentality of the Mainstream Media -- which is the mentality of mainstream journalism -- is about the same here as in Europe.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Campus Speaker: Abuse of Psychiatry Under Communism

An e-mail sent to faculty:
Dr. Witold Simon

Psychiatrist at the Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology in Warsaw, Poland, and Senior Fulbright Fellow at Brigham Young University presents:

The Abuse of Psychiatry in Central and East Europe Under Communist Rule
Wednesday, June 20, 2007

9:30 a.m.

Using illustrations from daily life, Dr. Simon will describe how the Soviet penal code abused psychiatric practices and the characterization of mental illness. He will also discuss the aftermath for victims of psychiatric abuse and contemporary approaches and treatment.

Alumni Memorial Union, Room 163

1442 W. Wisconsin Avenue

Marquette University Campus

Free and open to the public

Continental breakfast will be provided

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Life in the Central City

An eloquent post on The National Conversation shows what life in the inner city is like.

Blogger James Harris recounts what happened when he went out to walk his dog.
I made it a whole block and a half before I hit trouble. The ambulance was already rushing the wounded away as the police were cleaning up the mess.

The dog and I continued on to the constant sounds of pops and cracks. Firecrackers? A few weeks ago I guessed wrong and walked up on a gunfight that had just taken place in the house I was passing.

Life is a box of chocolates…

Two blocks into my walk I ran into a man and his two sons. They were standing near the sidewalk in the front yard of their beautifully manicured lawn. The gentleman said “Labrador Poodle, right?”

Right.

My designer dog is big now, but he is very friendly. Sort of defeats the purpose but, whatever. The gentleman and I chit chat for a minute then I say goodbye. As I am walking away the man stops me and asks, “Can you do me a favor?”

“Sure, how can I help you?”

“Will you pray for me. . . ? That little girl? The one that was shot in the head? That’s my daughter.”

I say nothing.

“She’s in Children’s Hospital right now. Her head is as big this.” He makes his hands in the shape of a small watermelon. “They can’t take the bullet out until the swelling goes down. Pray for her, please, and for my family, too.”
Harris, who is a Christian, doubtless has prayed for the man and his daughter. But we can’t blame him for being stunned and mute in a situation like this. We would be too.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

All Over the Middle East

Antioch College Down the Tubes

From the New York Times, a reminder that it’s possible for a university to destroy itself with extreme liberalism.

The author, Michael Goldfarb, is a former public radio correspondent and author.
THIS is an obituary for a great American institution whose death was announced this week. After 155 years, Antioch College is closing.

Established in 1852 in Yellow Springs, Ohio, by the kind of free-thinking Christian group found only in the United States, Antioch College was egalitarian in the best tradition of American liberalism. The college’s motto, not in Latin or Greek but plain English, was coined by Horace Mann, its first president: “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”

For most of its history the institution lived up to that calling. It was one of the first coeducational colleges in the United States, and at a time when slavery was being practiced 70 miles to the south of its campus, it was one of the first colleges not to make a person’s race a factor in admission. It was also the first to appoint a woman as a full professor. All this happened before Lincoln became president.
So far, so good. It’s a legacy the institution could be proud of.

But what happens when liberalism turns into a philosophy of self-indulgence, and a stifling political orthodoxy.
Yet it was in the high tide of liberal activism that the college lost its way. I know this firsthand, because I entered Antioch in the fall of 1968, just when the tide was nearing its peak. So much of the history of 1968 reflects an America in crisis, but if you were young and idealistic it was a time of unparalleled excitement. The 2,000 students at Antioch, living in a picture-pretty American village, provided a laboratory for various social experiments of the time.

With a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, the college increased African-American enrollment to 25 percent in 1968, from virtually nil in previous years. The new students were recruited from the inner city. At around the same time, Antioch created coeducational residence halls, with no adult supervision. Sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll became the rule, as you might imagine, and there was enormous peer pressure to be involved in all of them. No member of the faculty or administration, and certainly none of the students, could guess what these sudden changes would mean. They were simply embraced in the spirit of the time.

I moved into this sociological petri dish from a well-to-do suburb. Within my first week I twice had guns drawn on me, once in fun and once in a state of drunken for real by a couple of ex-cons whom one of my classmates, in the interest of breaking down class barriers, had invited to live with her.

Each semester, the college seemed to create a new program. “We need to take education to the people” became a mantra, and so satellite campuses began to sprout around the country. Something called Antioch University was created, and every faculty member whose marriage was going bad or who simply couldn’t hack living in a village of 3,000 people and longed for the city came up with a proposal to start a new campus.

“It was liberalism gone mad,” a former professor, Hannah Goldberg, once told me, and she was right. The college seemed to forget the pragmatism that had been a key to its ethos, and tried blindly to extend its mission beyond education to social reform. But there were too many new programs and too little cash reserve to deal with the inevitable growing pains.

. . . In 1973, a strike trashed the campus and effectively destroyed Antioch’s spirit of community. The next year, student enrollment was down by half.

Most of the talented faculty members began to leave for other institutions, and the few who were dedicated to rebuilding the Yellow Springs campus found themselves increasingly isolated. The college that gave the Antioch University system its name had become just another profit center in a larger enterprise and not even the most important one at that.
The business about “profit centers” sounds like business, and not merely ideological, motivation took its toll.
Antioch College became a rump where the most illiberal trends in education became entrenched. Since it is always easier to impose a conformist ethos on a small group than a large one, as the student body dwindled, free expression and freedom of thought were crushed under the weight of ultraliberal orthodoxy. By the 1990s the breadth of challenging ideas a student might encounter at Antioch had narrowed, and the college became a place not for education, but for indoctrination. Everyone was on the same page, a little to the left of The Nation in worldview.

Much of this conformist thinking focused on gender politics, and it culminated in the notorious sexual offense prevention policy. Enacted in 1993, the policy dictated that a person needed express permission for each stage in seduction. (“May I touch your breast?” “May I remove your bra?” And so on.) In two decades students went from being practitioners of free love to prisoners of gender. Antioch became like one of those Essene communities in the Judean desert in the first century after Christ that, convinced of their own purity, died out while waiting for a golden age that never came.
Marquette isn’t Antioch . . . yet.

But a variety of trends point in that direction. The College of Professional Studies suggests that Marquette is willing to compromise its traditional mission and its traditional academic standards in an attempt to make a buck.

Marquette’s dropping of the Warrior nickname, its penchant for shutting up conservative student groups like the College Republicans and Students for Academic Freedom, and the dominance of an intolerant politically correct orthodoxy in places like the Philosophy Department, the English Department and the College of Education, all point in that direction.

The example of Antioch shows that politically correct intolerance can hurt.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Liberal Hired for Top Marquette Administrative Position

From GOP3.COM, Daniel Suhr on a new administrator hired to work in Marquette President Robert Wild’s office.

The fellow is named Jeff Snell and his job will be “to define long-term strategic priorities of the university.” Yes, that’s vague as hell. But he’ll be another of the O’Hara Hall crowd.

Snell was chief operating officer of the Argosy Foundation. What is significant about this? Suhr explains:
Dollars to Marquette from Argosy (from 2002-2005, and later from news reports): $0.

They give lots to Stanford, Duke, Yale, Vermont, Wyoming, Amherst, and the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, but $0 to MU.
Second, we have the liberal political agenda of Argosy.
The Argosy Foundation, where Snell is COO, is for Milwaukee liberals what the Bradley Foundation is for Milwaukee conservatives. And it does lots of good work, don’t get me wrong, for instance supporting WisconsinEye and the Symphony. But it is an unabashedly liberal organization: “creating a force from the liberal side of the spectrum of even more significance than the Bradley Foundation has been on the conservative side.” The Business Journal described Argosy as a “supporter of liberal social and environmental causes,” and it is well connected to Team Doyle. Recipients of Argosy largess include Planned Parenthood, the Milwaukee LGBT Center, the Women’s Medical Fund (it pays for poor women’s abortions), Wisconsin Citizen Action, WAVE (gun control), the Feminist Majority Foundation, and a variety of environmental groups.
So is there anything wrong with hiring a liberal bureaucrat at Marquette?

It depends on how many other liberals you have.

As the conflict over the “Marquette Warriors” nickname, and the frequent censorship of conservative speech on campus shows, liberal groupthink already dominates O’Hara Hall as well as Student Development, Manresa, the University Ministry and so on.

Conservative viewpoints simply aren’t being heard in the Marquette administration, and University decisions suffer for it.

[Update]

Daniel Suhr has amended his original post with new information. Although he did a standard search, and failed to turn up any Argosy donations to Marquette, in fact, some Argosy money has flowed to Marquette:
Turns out I was wrong. Comment-leaver Greg prompted me to search MarquetteTribune.org, and it turns out Argosy has given money to Marquette to support the Institute for Human Rights Leadership. An email from the Foundation puts the support at $168,329.30. The email also noted the possibility for future partnerships between Argosy and Marquette.

To the extent those future partnerships help develop Marquette’s theatre and fine arts programs, I am for it. If Argosy supports conferences or institutes on important questions of politics and public policy that feature both sides of the ideological debate, I am for it. If Argosy supports new buildings or scholarships or (probably) endowed professorships, I am for it. In fact I very much appreciate it.

I hope, however, that Argosy does not simply pour money into funding left-wing causes, centers, and professors on campus. We have enough of those already, thank you, and they don’t need special support from foundations, they have our tuition dollars.

Moreover, I do not think that $160,000, when compared to Bradley’s $13 million plus, changes my first point at all.

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Quick Historical Briefing on Israeli/Palestinian Conflict

This is from a pro-Israel perspective, of course.

But for people who only know what Jimmy Carter says about the conflict, or only what their politically correct professor says, this is a good opportunity to see the other side.

The bottom line for us is simple: until Islam learns to accept the existence of the State of Israel, there will be no peace, nor should there be.

And “moderate” Palestinian leaders (and their supporters at places like Marquette), have an obligation to help bring the anti-Israel militants under control.

The problem is: they would rather bash Israel than enlist in the cause of peace.

And this is true of the politically correct types at Marquette, who are obsessively anti-Israel.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Marquette Philosophy Department Censorship Continues To Reverberate

It was a huge fiasco last fall: James South, Chair of the Philosophy Department at Marquette, ripped down from the door of a graduate student a quote from humorist Dave Barry.

South said it was “patently offensive.”

In Monday’s New York Post, an Op-Ed column from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education rehashes the story.

Of course, Marquette’s behavior sounds as sordid now as it did when the story broke.

Marquette, and especially the Marquette Philosophy Department will have a hard time living this one down.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Not In His Nature

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McGee Story Goes National

It’s odd it took so long, given the bizarre quality of the saga of the thugish, race-bating Alderman from Milwaukee, but a story on Michael McGee, Jr. appeared in the American Spectator.

A Google news search shows that, aside from this article, virtually nothing has appeared in the media outside Wisconsin.

There is one exception: Workers World ran a story with the headline “Community rallies behind Black alderman.”

And yes, Workers World is a communist paper.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

New Blog Roll Entry: Taking a Sharp Right

From UWM student and frequent writer for Frontpage Milwaukee Rebecca Kontowicz, a blog called Taking a Sharp Right.

Two recent posts of great interest:
  • An account of how homosexual city workers in Oakland, California, got official city recognition and used the city e-mail system to promote “National Coming Out Day,” among other things. When a Christian group of city employees put up fliers opposing “all views which seek to redefine the natural family and marriage” a lesbian worker claimed this was discriminatory, and that she felt “excluded” and “targeted.” A court sided with the lesbian, although the Supreme Court may take this up, and hopefully overturn the decision. It is apparently alright to target and exclude Christians, but don’t you dare say anything that homosexuals object to!

    What we have here, quite simply, is an attempt by liberals to define as “discriminatory” the expression of any political opinion of which they disapprove.

  • A new Federal policy calls for the removal of religious books from Federal prisons. Not all books, but the number available is now strictly limited. The policy is apparently aimed at radical Islamic texts that might incite violence on the part of inmates. Kontowicz approves of the policy, which we think is very shortsighted.
This is clearly a blog to watch.

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Milwaukee Public Schools Spend Too Much

Milwaukee Magazine columnist Bruce Murphy is a card-carrying liberal.

But interestingly enough, he’s often unhappy when taxpayers’ money is spent to no good effect. He has, from example, opposed the massive taxpayer subsidies to business that “TIF districts” involve, and complained about excessive salaries at the Milwaukee Area Technical College.

His most recent column takes on the Milwaukee Public Schools.

Any story about government spending is necessarily going to get a bit complex. For example:
For starters, MPS is spending less per pupil than the Madison system and an amount similar to what other urban districts in Wisconsin spend. But it’s doing that with less-experienced teachers: Milwaukee teachers average 10 years of experience versus 15 years statewide. Since teachers typically get an automatic “step increase” for every year of service, you need to hold the level of experience constant and then measure. That measurement shows MPS teachers are getting 38 percent more than the statewide average in total compensation, the report found.
Then there is the administrative load.
Nearly as egregious is the money spent on administration, which was 19 percent higher for Milwaukee than schools statewide. The most jaw-dropping statistic is the number of assistant principals in Milwaukee: There is one for every 541 students versus one for every 1,177 students statewide. Given that assistant principals often handle discipline, this may merely reflect a district with more troublemakers. Still, it raises a red flag about how resources are distributed in MPS.
The bottom line: Milwaukee Public Schools spend more than needs to be spent to give kids a good education.

A key culprit: lavish benefits (such as health insurance) for teachers. As Murphy notes, this:
. . . reflects a long-term strategy by unions (and governmental leaders like former county executive Tom Ament) to spend quietly on benefits rather than salaries, because benefits were less likely to be noticed. In recent years, we’ve begun to notice, and for good reason.
We sometimes run across rhetoric, typically coming from liberals who want more government control over the economy, that private business operates on a very short time-line. Executives supposedly don’t care about the long-run welfare of the enterprise, but just want to jack up profits (and stock prices) now.

But the lavish benefits that public employees get reflect the fact that the public sector is much worse in this regard. If lavish health care benefits, or the promise of very generous retirement benefits, will placate the union right now, why bother with the fact that politicians sitting in your chair years or decades in the future will have trouble delivering on your promises?

Just ask Scott Walker.

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Bringing Back the Old Days

Al Gore Caught Using Bogus Lincoln Quote

Via Shack Sounds Off, a bit of information about former Vice President (and now anti-global warming crusader) Al Gore, and how he is less than careful about getting his facts straight.

As reported by the Washington Post:
You can’t really blame Al Gore for not using footnotes in his new book, “The Assault on Reason.” It’s a sprawling, untidy blast of indignation, and annotating it with footnotes would be like trying to slip rubber bands around a puddle of quicksilver. Still, I’d love to know where he found the scary quote from Abraham Lincoln that he uses on page 88.

In a chapter entitled “The Politics of Wealth,” Gore argues that the ancient threat to democracy posed by rich people run amok has finally been realized under the man who beat him in the 2000 presidential race. Even Lincoln, Gore says, saw the age of Bush coming in 1864: “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

The quote is a favorite of liberal bloggers, which is probably how Gore came across it. And as a description of how many on the left see the country seven years into their Bush nightmare, it’s pretty much perfect.

Too perfect, in fact. If you’re familiar with Lincoln’s distinctive way of expressing himself, you’ll hear the false notes the passage strikes. For one thing, Lincoln just wasn’t the “trembling” kind -- or if he was, he kept his trembling to himself. Words such as “enthroned” and “aggregated” are a bit too fancy for his plain, unclotted prose, and the phrase “money power” suggests a conspiratorial turn of mind that would have been foreign to him. Indeed, these words don’t show up anywhere else in “The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln” (which, thanks to Gore’s Internet, are now searchable at http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/).

Moreover, the point of the passage is very un-Lincolnian. A corporate lawyer whose long and cunning labor on behalf of the railroads earned him a comfortable income, Lincoln was a vigorous champion of market capitalism, even when it drifted (as it tends to do) toward large concentrations of wealth. Many of his administration’s signal initiatives -- the transcontinental railroad, for example -- amounted to what liberals today would condemn as “corporate welfare.” Lots of speculators got rich under Lincoln, as Gore notes. As Gore does not note, Lincoln seemed not to have minded.

Unless, of course, Gore’s quote from a trembling Abe was evidence of his real thinking.

It isn’t, though. It’s a fake.
But maybe this is such a tough historical call that we can’t really expect Gore to get it straight, right?

No, it’s been debunked on Snopes.com (the first place any savvy person will turn to check out anything found on the Internet) since at least July, 2002.

To ask the obvious question: if we can’t trust Gore to get easily checked historical facts right, how reliable is he on a technical issue like global warming?

The answer: even some liberal global warming believers like Gregg Easterbrook have taken Gore to task for slipshod handing of the facts.

Even more questionable, however, is Gore’s use of anti-business demagoguery.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Marquette’s Hot Dog Man is Back

His name is John Rockefeller, and he has been selling hot dogs, bratwurst and Italian sausages in the sidewalks around the Marquette campus since at least fall, 2005.

Rockefeller was in the middle of a minor controversy on campus last year, when we failed to show up, and a local blogger reported that Marquette had forced him to close up shop.

In fact, no such thing had happened, and the blogger (Ryan Alexander) was given bogus information by an employee of campus food service.

The notion that Marquette might have tried to run him off seemed plausible, given that Marquette officials had tried to prevent a woman who briefs incoming graduate students mentioning Sweeney’s book store as a place to look for books at better prices than can be found in the University-sponsored Book Marq.

So it seemed plausible.

But in reality, Rockefeller’s hot dog cart sits in front of Raynor Library on land owned by Milwaukee County. It was originally planned as a bus shelter, but after a concrete slab was poured, those plans were scrubbed.

So it sits there now as a dandy site for a hot dog stand. And Marquette could not force Rockefeller to move away even if it wanted to.

Several days ago, we got an e-mail from a colleague in another department, “Did Marquette finally make good in kicking him out?” And indeed, Rockefeller had not been seen on campus at that time.

We contacted Rockefeller, and he said there was “no grand conspiracy.” He had, quite simply, been missing from campus because he only comes in good weather, and the weather had been poor.

Rockefeller works in construction in the winter, and was indeed back on campus last week, and again today.

He offers a hot dog, brat or Italian sausage for $2.50. For just another fifty cents he will throw in a bag of chips and a soda.

Such a bargain. We ate there today with a colleague.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Does Giuliani’s “Pro Choice” Position Make Any Sense?

Liberal Catholic politicians, not wanting to admit that they simply reject inconvenient or culturally out-of-fashion positions of the Church, often claim to be “pro-choice” on abortion.

But does this really make any sense? Via Shack Sounds Off, a recent column in the Washington Post takes issue with that.
There is, however, a question that comes before politics: Does Giuliani’s position on abortion actually make sense?

In early debates and statements, he has set out his views on this topic with all the order and symmetry of a freeway pileup. His argument comes down to this: “I hate abortion,” which is “morally wrong.” But “people ultimately have to make that choice. If a woman chooses that, that’s her choice, not mine. That’s her morality, not mine.”

But the question naturally arises: Why does Giuliani “hate” abortion? No one feels moral outrage about an appendectomy. Clearly he is implying his support for the Catholic belief that an innocent life is being taken. And here the problems begin.

How can the violation of a fundamental human right be viewed as a private matter? Not everything that is viewed as immoral should be illegal; there are no compelling public reasons to restrict adultery, for example, or to outlaw sodomy. But when morality demands respect for the rights of a human being, those protections become a matter of social justice, not just personal or religious preference.

American history has tested these arguments. In debating the Missouri Compromise, Sen. Stephen Douglas said of slavery: “I am now speaking of rights under the Constitution and not of moral or religious rights. I do not discuss the morals of the people of Missouri, but let them settle that matter for themselves.” Abraham Lincoln differed: If faith and conscience tell us that enslaved Americans are men and brothers, then slavery must eventually be ended. Passing the 13th Amendment was not “imposing” our moral views on slaveholders; it was upholding the meaning of law and justice.

Giuliani’s doctrine of individual sovereignty goes much further than did Douglas, logically preventing even states from restricting abortion. And this raises a question about Giuliani’s view of the law itself: Can it be a right to violate the basic rights of others? . . .
Of course, one can be a thoroughgoing libertarian and believe that the “basic rights of others” is a controversial matter, not to be decided by government.

The problem is: even the “right to life” of people who have already been born is often a controversial matter. Historically, plenty of people have rejected the “right to life” of certain kinds of people -- Hitler with the Jews, Stalin with the kulaks, The Ku Klux Klan with any “uppity” black person.

Government should have taken the “controversial” position that all of these group have a right to life.

The difference between a libertarian and an anarchist is that a libertarian wants to define “basic rights” narrowly, and have government enforce as few as possible. An anarchist wants the government to enforce none -- indeed, doesn’t even want a government.

So the question is: is there any principled libertarian position that says that the right to life isn’t a basic right that government should enforce? It’s hard to see what that would be, unless one wants to claim -- against all evidence and common sense -- that a fetus isn’t a human being. But some people do claim that.
A number of pro-choice positions can be held consistently. It is possible to believe that human worth develops gradually and that the early fetus is merely a clump of cells. It is possible to accept professor Peter Singer’s teaching that human worth arrives only with self-conscious rationality, opening up disturbing new possibilities of infanticide.

But Giuliani has chosen an option that is not an option -- a belief that unborn life deserves our sympathy but does not deserve rights or justice. This view is likely to dog him in the primary process, not only because it is pro-choice but because it is incoherent.
The entire “pro-choice” view is incoherent in a larger sense.

The “pro-choice” crowd is chronically anti-choice when it comes to any behavior of which they disapprove. Like smoking. Or owning a gun. Or owning an SUV.

And they not only reject the idea that whites should be free to choose to discriminate against blacks, they want government for force whites to discriminate in favor of blacks.

Indeed, they would force anti-abortion taxpayers to pay for abortions.

When one is “pro-choice” only when one approves of the choice in question, one is not pro-choice at all.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Not What We Had in Mind



Media Bias in Europe: Worse than the U.S.?

American conservatives can get to exercised about liberal media bias in the U.S. that we sometimes forget that it’s even worse elsewhere.

Like Europe, for example.

Via NewsBusters, an example from the war in Afghanistan.

Reporter Michael Fumento, embedded with U.S. forces in that war, describes two Associated Press reporters from Spain.
One of the AP reporters says he believes 9/11 was a Bush administration conspiracy hung on al Qaeda. . . . I don’t hear the other reporter sound out on the subject, but he never takes off his Che Guevara T-shirt. Maybe these two will provide unbiased footage and commentary notwithstanding their personal views--maybe not.
When liberals here in the U.S. proudly proclaim that President Bush is vastly unpopular in Europe, and therefore is a bad person and a bad president, they are ignoring that Europeans are judging him based on what they see in their media.

Biased media produces biased opinions. This can be counterbalanced by a diversity of media sources. But when it’s not what the people believe -- especially on matters far from their personal experiences -- will simply reflect what the media tell them.

Indeed, negative opinions of Bush around the world are the result of a (literally) unholy alliance. Secular leftists who dominate the media in Europe dislike him because he’s a conservative, but also (probably to a greater degree) because he’s a Christian and a Texan.

In the Muslim world, they hate him because he is allied with Israel.

But neither the secular Europeans nor the anti-Israel Muslims have any particular moral authority.

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British Academics: Attacking Israel, Siding With the Terrorists

From FrontPage Magazine.
BBC reporter Alan Johnston has been held since March 26 by a terrorist group in Gaza, where he had been the last international journalist to keep living and working. He appeared last Thursday in a video wearing an orange sweatshirt and reading a prepared statement. Meanwhile British soldiers are under attack by Muslim and Arab terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, and fifteen British sailors were recently kidnapped and held in harsh conditions for two weeks by Iran.

Closer to home, a survey found one-quarter of British Muslims expressing sympathy for the London bombers of July 7, 2005, and British intelligence estimates that about 16,000 of them are capable of carrying out such attacks themselves. Indeed, last August 11 the left-wing Guardian reported that British Muslim “suicide bombers were within days of blowing up 12 passenger jets above five US cities in an unprecedented terrorist attack designed to commit [quoting intelligence sources] ‘mass murder on an unimaginable scale.’”

Yet Britain’s University and College Union, made up of university academics, as well as other groups have figured out who their real enemies are . . . the Jews.

Last Wednesday, the UCU voted 158-99 to “circulate the full text of the Palestinian boycott call to all branches” and to “encourage members to consider the moral implications of existing and proposed links with Israeli academic institutions.” British journalists’, doctors’, and architects’ unions have also recently proposed boycotts of Israel, the Anglican Church has decided to divest from companies cooperating with it, and later this month UNISON, Britain’s largest trade union, is to vote on cutting economic ties with the Jewish state.

The UCU’s resolution “notes that Israel’s 40-year occupation has seriously damaged the fabric of Palestinian society through annexation, illegal settlement, collective punishment and restriction of movement” and “deplores the denial of educational rights for Palestinians by invasions, closures, checkpoints, curfews, and shootings and arrests of teachers, lecturers and students.” It also “condemns the complicity of Israeli academia in the occupation, which has provoked a call from Palestinian trade unions for a comprehensive and consistent international boycott of all Israeli academic institutions.”

The resolution does not include a single mention of: Palestinian terrorism against Israel; Israel’s total withdrawal from Gaza including the destruction of decades-old Israeli villages and even the exhuming of all Israeli graves; the 1993 Oslo agreement and Israel’s transfer of civil administration in the West Bank (and Gaza) to a Palestinian government that Israel created; Israel’s 2000 offer of full statehood to the Palestinians; or the fact that all universities now existing in the West Bank and Gaza have been established since Israel took control of these territories in 1967.

The UCU does, however, call for “organis[ing] a UK-wide campus tour for Palestinian academic/educational trade unionists” and “actively encourage[s] . . . branches to create direct educational links with Palestinian educational institutions and to help set up nationally sponsored programmes for teacher exchanges, sabbatical placements and research.” It does so at a time when the Palestinian Authority is ruled by a popularly elected government of Hamas, which is officially defined as a terrorist organization by the European Union, proudly claims credit for rocket attacks on civilians, and whose charter openly calls for Israel’s destruction and the killing of all Jews.

The UCU resolution, however, states that “passivity or neutrality is unacceptable and criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-semitic.”

No, perish the thought. Apart from the evasive use of “criticism”—what is at stake is not criticism, but boycotts—it is of course not anti-Semitic to make Israel the sole and obsessive focus of efforts at condemnation and excommunication by academics, journalists, doctors, architects, clergy, and ordinary workers at a time of ongoing genocide in Sudan and constant severe human rights abuses in the likes of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority itself—to go no further than the Muslim Middle East.
In this, leftist academics are following in the footsteps of (for example) the leftist World Council of Churches. And leftist activists and bureaucrats on the Marquette campus.

Is this anti-Semitism, or not?

There might well be some traces of the ancient hatred of Jews in the actions of some of these folks, but we don’t think that is the mail impetus.

Rather, Israel is an ally of the West, and particularly of the United States.

So what we have is not anti-Semitism, but rather anti-Americanism and even hostility to free and democratic societies.

But is that any better than just hating Jews? In today’s world, it pretty much comes down to the same thing.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Cutthroat Competition

James Harris Takes Obama to Task for Stupid Statement

From the National Conversation:
Here we go again.

On Tuesday, Barack Obama said that the Bush administration is at fault for doing nothing to defuse a quiet riot brewing among blacks.

The problem? Black people displaced by Hurricane Katrina. He went so far as to compare the resentment and frustration of the federal government’s response to Katrina, to the Rodney King riots of 1992.

(Remember those gems of black frustration? Los Angeles erupted after a jury acquitted four police officers of assault charges in the 1991 beat down of Rodney King. Several days of rioting ensued where black people really proved a point by burning down their own damn neighborhoods.)

Wow.
You know a presidential candidate is out to lunch when he starts speaking in oxymorons.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Liberal Intolerance on a College Campus: Case 46,897

From the American Thinker, yet another case of a university punishing students for speech -- in this case speech critical of Islam.
In another instance of what has become a predictable and frequent assault on conservative campus publications, The Committee on Student Life at Tufts has censured the The Primary Source, a student magazine, for running satirical pieces that offended, in two separate instances, some black and Muslim students. Instead of actually functioning as marketplaces of ideas- “a place where controversial expression is embraced,” and “an open campus committed to the free exchange of ideas,” as described in Tufts’ own student handbook-universities continue to punish what they categorize as offensive speech that does not conform to the acceptable, liberal views of politics, race, or sexuality.

While Tufts’ official policy extols the merits of unfettered speech, suggesting that students “should cherish the opportunity to be learning in a place where controversial expression is embraced,” it turns out that in reality that embrace is a somewhat deadly one for anyone whose controversial comments are aimed at groups perceived to be too vulnerable and sensitive to confront offensive speech with expression of their own views. The offending Primary Source piece, “Islam-Arabic Translation: Submission,” which satirized Tufts’ “Islamic Awareness Week” with a series of factual points about some of Islam’s violent characteristics, “made the Muslim students on campus feel very uncomfortable and unwelcome,” according to some of the complainants, and “was uncalled for and demean[ed] all of the work we put into our Islamic Awareness Week.” The publication’s punishment includes the prospect of being de-funded and the requirement of now having all stories and editorials signed by authors (a requirement that no other Tufts publication has), presumably so victims can henceforth know exactly who to drag before the Committee for any future offenses.

There are troubling issues here, putting aside the basic question of fairness of punishing a student publication with repressive speech control because it exhibited loutish behavior. The publication was sanctioned, not because it displayed actual illegal harassing or intimidating behavior, but because some individuals were “offended” or “intimidated” by speech that they were perfectly free never to read. Students have a right to be offended by the speech-even hate speech-of their fellow students and speak back to that speech with speech of their own, but their fellow students also have a Constitutionally-protected right to be offensive, provided their conduct is within the bounds of the law.

In ruling campus speech codes to be unconstitutional, courts have therefore understood the real intent of cases such as the current one at Tufts: not to suppress all speech and attitudes, but merely those ideas with which the moral gatekeepers disagree, those ideas, views, and political beliefs that are unfashionable. Even when speech is seemingly blasphemous, irreverent, or anti-social, the Supreme Court in the 1989 Texas v. Johnson case stressed that the “First Amendment does not recognize exceptions for bigotry, racism, and religious intolerance or matters some deem trivial, vulgar, or profane.”

In fact, other groups and individuals at Tufts regularly engage in expression that might cause some people to feel intimidated, harassed, or insulted. One example is the annual “Gaypril” celebration sponsored by the school’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center, replete with such events as “Queer Sex Now,” involving “erotic trends, including the explosion of queer porn, the development of public sex spaces, and the growing exploration of alternatives to monogamy,” and other sex-obsessed narcissism that may well intimidate or cause harassment to students on campus who do not embrace or have religious or philosophical issues with this lifestyle or level of effusive sexuality. Of course, no one could ever speak in opposition to a month of homosexual festivities on campus, nor obviously could their complaints about how it harassed or intimidated them ever cause the Committee on Student Life to end funding for the event or cancel future celebrations.
The Orwellian “logic” of the Committee on Student Life can be found here.

And the response of the President of Tufts can be found here.

The latter is quite instructive. President Lawrence S. Bacow takes issue with the logic of the Primary Source piece (fair enough) and also defends the right of the paper to publish material such as this.

Also fair enough, but he needs to bring his Committee on Student Life under control on this issue!

He then goes on to say:
Third, students can hold their fellow students accountable. How to do so? By confronting the editors who publish such opinions and asking them to defend their opinions directly and personally.

When community standards of civility and respect are violated, we should not ask those who have been unfairly attacked to respond on behalf of the community. This responsibility should be borne by all.
In other words, he is recommending the harassment of staffers of the Primary Source.

He then goes on to threaten the conservative students, suggesting that the controversy they may cost them future jobs.

The irony about all this is that Bacow is suggesting “harassment and creating a hostile environment on campus” for conservative students!

But being a university president, and therefore thoroughly politically correct, he has no sense of irony.

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