Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Socialized Medicine and Prostrate Cancer

From Reuters:
Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani launched a new radio advertisement this week touting his health care plan and cited his battle with prostate cancer as an example of why the private U.S. health care system is best.

Giuliani, who passed on a U.S. Senate race in 2000 against Hillary Clinton (now a possible opponent in 2008 election) while he fought the cancer, pointed out in the ad that if he had been in Britain the survival rate is only 44 percent for prostate cancer because the government runs the health care system there.

However, Democratic-leaning bloggers and others have argued that the number is inaccurate and the survival rate is much higher. . . . The British Office of National Statistics says the most recent available five-year survival rate for prostate cancer there was 74.4 percent.

The U.S. five-year survival rate is almost 100 percent for those men who have prostate cancer that has not spread far in the body, according to the American Cancer Society. The 10-year survival rate is 93 percent, it found.
As is the typical case on issues like this, head to head comparisons are difficult. But any way you slice it, survival rates are higher in the U.S.

Even a critical piece on the MSNBC web site admitted that care is better in the U.S.
Dr. Patrick Walsh, a prostate cancer expert from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, said there is no doubt that screening and treatment for prostate cancer in the United States is better than in England, but said the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

“I don’t know where Giuliani got those numbers,” said Walsh, a university distinguished service professor of urology. “You can’t exactly compare death rates” because many prostate cancer patients technically die of pneumonia.

Walsh said that when he travels to England, he sees patients frustrated with the level of national care.
So while Giuliani’s numbers are exaggerated, the simple fact is that under socialized medicine in the U.K. the survival rate is around 75 percent, and the U.S. has a survival rate near 100 percent.

Turn that around and ask “how likely am I to die from prostate cancer if I get it?” You have about one chance in four in the U.K., and a vastly lower chance in the U.S.

Let’s face it: taking over the U.S. health care system was the dream of 20th century liberals and leftists. But increasingly it seems anachronistic.

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Pro-Gay Indoctrination Required of Foster Parents in U.K.

Intolerance run riot:
CHARD, UK, October 24, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Christian couple in Somerset, UK, have been told by child services that they would be required to take teenaged foster children to homosexual support groups and teach the children placed in their care that homosexuality is normal. When the couple told officials at social services that it would violate their conscience to do so, the eleven year-old boy who had been placed with them was removed.

Somerset Council officials cited the recently passed Sexual Orientation Regulations when they decided that people who open their homes to children in need, must also discuss same-sex relationships and promote homosexuality as normal and “equal”.

Vincent and Pauline Matherick have looked after twenty-eight children since 2001 with an untarnished record as care givers. When the couple first started fostering, they took in young single mothers and their babies, but have recently had mostly primary school aged children. They told the Daily Telegraph that officials with the Somerset Council had told them that if a child in their care showed signs of interest in homosexuality, they would be expected to encourage them by taking them to a homosexual support group.

Vincent Matherick, a minister at the South Chard Christian Church and a primary school governor, told the Telegraph, “They were saying that we had to be prepared to talk about sexuality with 11 year-olds, which I don’t think is appropriate anyway, but not only that to be prepared to explain how gay people date.”

While the Sexual Orientation Regulations were being debated in the House of Commons, Christian groups and others warned that they would be used to force believers out of the public services such as adoption agencies.

David Davies, a Conservative Party MP and former contender for leadership of the party, said, “It’s absolutely horrendous that Christian men and women doing their bit for the community are being discriminated against because of their beliefs. I’m quite certain that social services would never dare to ask a member of any other established religion to agree to such a stance on homosexuality.”

Mr. Matherick said, “I simply could not agree to do it because it is against my central beliefs.” The Mathericks asked if they could continue to care for the boy who is with them until he is placed somewhere permanently, but the request was refused and he will be removed this week and placed in a council hostel.

“We have never discriminated against anybody,” Mr. Matherick said, “but I cannot preach the benefits of homosexuality when I believe it is against the word of God.”

The Mathericks are consulting with the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship to decide what legal action to take.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports that the UK is experiencing a shortfall of about 8000 placements for children in need of care.
If foster parents were required, for example, to take children to church or teach sexual abstinence, we can imagine the uproar that would ensure.

Rhetoric about “imposing one’s views on others” would fill the air.

Apparently, the liberal bureaucrats would rather children go without foster placements than have foster parents who dissent from the gay orthodoxy.

File this under “fascism,” where most of the things coming from the gay lobby need to be filed these days.

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More: Media Bias on School Choice

An e-mail, sent to a variety interested observers by George Mitchell, an expert on and strong supporter of school choice:
On page 5 of the WPRI [Wisconsin Policy Research Institute] report the following appears:
“A story in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recently noted that ‘parents might have more choices in publicly funded education in Milwaukee than anywhere else in the United States.’”
The referenced story discusses a study on how low-income parents choose schools in Milwaukee, Denver, and Washington DC. That study’s findings pertain directly to the issues raised by WPRI. Namely, to what extent do parents in Milwaukee make discerning decisions?

I have attached a copy of the study. Its findings and methodology differ starkly from those of the WPRI study.

Unless I am too numbed by this whole affair, I find no discussion in the WPRI report that addresses these differences. That is perplexing. With a recent study (from a highly credible source) having addressed essentially the same issues as WPRI, one would expect WPRI to examine that study and comment on similarities and differences. Questions that arise include:
  1. How do the studies differ in terms of gathering information about Milwaukee parents?
  2. How does the studies differ in terms of conclusions about how those parents choose schools?
  3. Given those differences, what suggests that more confidence should be placed in the WPRI method and findings?
I encourage you to skim the attached study. It differs in so many ways from the WPRI report that I feel a summary from me would not do it justice. WPRI must disagree with its findings, but WPRI’s report is silent on that matter. If I have missed something in the WPRI report, it means that the reference is very brief and thus does not address the obvious questions raised above.

A separate question is why the Journal Sentinel did not raise these questions in reporting on the WPRI study.

Setting aside the paper’s demonstrated failure in connection with this story, the failure of WPRI to pursue the questions raised above stands out as yet another glaring inadequacy in its report. I thank Mike Ford for bringing this to my attention.

George
This, of course, is a follow-up on an issue we have covered here, in which the Journal-Sentinel enthusiastically jumped on and covered prominently reported a study from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute casting doubt on the ability of school choice to improve the quality of Milwaukee’s public schools.

We critiqued the study, and commented on the failure of the Journal-Sentinel to report better studies showing positive gains from school choice in Milwaukee.

Mitchell followed up with his own critique posted here.

The study sends mixed messages about the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. First, it shows considerable integrity when an organization that strongly favors school choice publishes a study that goes against school choice. Honest policy analysis says to go where the data take you.

But on the other hand, it simply wasn’t a very good study.

But how about the local media? The Journal-Sentinel gave high visibility to the WPRI study, but didn’t even bother to report a study from a New York Federal Reserve Bank economist who found that choice has indeed improved Milwaukee’s schools. This latter study has been accepted for publication by a top ranked peer-reviewed economics journal.

Likewise, as yet there is nothing in the paper about the study Mitchell references above. The conclusion, based on extensive research into parential decision-making, including a sample of parently in Milwaukee:
On balance, the research indicates that while there are some differences related to income, race and ethnicity, parental education, and the kind of school the family selects, overall these low- to moderate-income parents seem fully capable of making the decision. They feel well informed; they appear satisfied with their choices; and they go about the process in very much the same way as middle- and upper-income families choosing schools—or other consumer goods.
Are we soon going to see this in the local paper (or on local radio and TV)?

And if not, why not?

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Monday, October 29, 2007

WPRI School Choice Study: Clarification or Recantation?

We’ve blogged on a recent study from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, which has been interpreted by the local media and liberal bloggers as showing that school choice can’t be expected to improve education.

Not only did we critique the assumptions and methodology of the study, we published a penetrating dissection of the study by George Mitchell.

Now George Lightbourn, a fellow at WPRI, jumps in with comments strongly supportive of school choice.

Key quote:
Unfortunately, the headline in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel read, “Choice May Not Improve Schools.” That headline not only misrepresented the study, it energized those who are dying to go back to the days when parents were forced to send their children to whichever MPS school the educrats thought best.

So that there is no misunderstanding, WPRI is unhesitant in supporting school choice. School choice is working and should be improved and expanded. School choice is good for Milwaukee’s children.
Unfortunately, the tone of the original study is pretty much accurately reflected in the Journal-Sentinel article.

Give the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute credit for having the integrity to publish a study that ran contrary to its long-established support for school choice.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a very good study.

[Full Disclosure]

We have written three articles for The Wisconsin Interest, a publication of WPRI, and been paid for the articles. But of course, if that had corrupted our journalistic judgment, you wouldn’t be reading this.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gaggle of Aging Leftists Demonstrates Against Marquette ROTC

Check out a first person account from Brian Collar here.

An interesting observation: Muslim students were not in evidence. We have confirmation from Asmah Mallick, President of the Muslim Student Association, that an announcement of the demonstration was sent to the membership.

But apparently Muslim students at Marquette aren’t that interested in attacking ROTC.

That’s good news.

[Update]

Joe Kastner took photos of both the protest and the counter protest. He left the protest fairly early, however, so things might have looked different 30 or 45 minutes later.

Kastner also reports seeing no Muslim students.

[Further Update]

Milwaukee’s Channel 12 reported on this protest, although the photo on their web site casts doubt on the newsworthiness of the event.

A very small, forlorn group of protesters stood on the steps on the old gym, in which the ROTC is housed.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Leftist Bigotry Toward American Soldiers

Via Sykes Writes, an obsurdly nasty and offensive cartoon about American soldiers serving in Iraq.

You can click on the image to see a larger version.

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More Hate Speech in the Leftist Blogosphere

Well, Illusory Tenant has finally gotten it though his head that you don’t call a female blogger (Jessica McBride in this case), the “C word.”

The the anonymous but very hateful fellow who runs Hermes’ Journeys isn’t about to do anything so wimpish as refrain from showing how much he hates those who disagree with his political views.
Let it known throughout the blogosphere that I, Hermes, the veritable Messenger of the Gods, declare Jessica McBride to be a conniving, confused, and consummately clueless conservative who is hurting women everywhere by pretending to have an understanding of feminism. Illusory Tenant was justified in using the definition of the word to mean an unpleasant or stupid person in describing her, for she is an embarrassment to educated women everywhere. Furthermore, Charlies Sykes is a laughable twit and Rush Limbaugh is a closeted homosexual pig of a man who wouldn’t know what a c-word was if he could pull his head out of his own pompous ass long enough to stop hating school and read something other than the Bible. But that would entail focusing on something other than how vainglorious his own ignorant, uneducated, loathsome existence has become, which is understandably impossible for someone as arrogant and contumacious as Rush’s swollen, bloated, gay, vapid, incomprehensible and downright stupid personality has made him.
You see, this is the party of tolerance and diversity. So it’s fine for them to hate people who disagree with them.

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Wisconsin Policy Research Institute School Choice Study: More

The following was left as a comment to an earlier post of ours, and we feel it deserves the prominence of a full-fledged post. It’s from George Mitchell, policy wonk and activist who has been a stalwart supporter of school choice.
George Mitchell said...
The following was sent to the study’s author:

October 26, 2007

Dave,

WPRI’s sponsorship of your recent study, combined with the Journal Sentinel’s misleading article, has generated wide interest in the findings. You can anticipate many questions regarding the methodology you employed and whether it was appropriate for the Milwaukee situation.

For reasons summarized below, I am interested in knowing if you or WPRI submitted your methodology to others for independent review. If so, can you share the responses you received? If the methodology was not reviewed by others, I think it would be advisable for you or WPRI to seek such a review.

You estimate “the extent and nature of public school choice and parental involvement” in Milwaukee by applying “a variety of demographic variables…correlated with…parental choice and parent involvement...” The variables, derived from a “national data set,” were:
  • educational attainment of parents
  • race and ethnicity of students
  • household composition (single-parent vs. two-parent), and
  • mother’s employment status.
The “national data set” consisted of answers to an NHES survey. These answers apparently show, for example, that high educational attainment is correlated positively with parental involvement and more engagement in school choice. Similarly, I assume that two-parent, non-minority families also were positively correlated with parent involvement and engagement in school choice. And so on.

You assume (or “extrapolate”) that MPS parents will behave in the same manner as those who answered the NHES survey. By constructing a demographic profile of MPS parents, you thus believe you can estimate the “extent and nature of public school choice and parental involvement within the Milwaukee Public Schools district.” In the specific case of school choice, you conclude that only 10 percent of MPS parents are discerning choosers.

George Lightbourn’s introduction to your report says, “The report you are reading did not yield the results we had hoped to find.” However, given your methodology, the results were completely predictable — even pre-ordained. Specifically, rather than gathering information about the actual behavior of MPS parents, the study simply assumes that they behave in a manner similar to respondents to a national survey. Given the demographic profile of MPS parents, you knew from the start that you would estimate relatively low levels of school choice and parent involvement. To quote one scholar who has read your report, “[WPRI] simply assumes that parents of a certain demographic profile behave the same way no matter what. In this way, the WPRI study assumes the very thing it claims to prove. The study finds that [parents] are not effective choosers based on data from environments where they have few choices.”

The key question, then, is whether the methodology is appropriate for Milwaukee’s unique situation.

Consider some actual numbers, beginning with your ten percent conclusion. Applied only to MPS enrollment, that yields a group of 9,000 discerning choosers. Applied to all Milwaukee students in tax-supported K-12 education, the total would be 12,000. So, you find that between 9,000 and 12,000 students have discerning parents. Yet:
  • There are more than 17,000 students who attend schools in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.
  • More than 5,000 other students attend independent public charters authorized by the City of Milwaukee and UW-Milwaukee. That’s more than 22,000 students.
  • There are thousands — perhaps tens of thousands — of MPS students with parents who have chosen neighborhood schools. Indeed, a specific focus of MPS school selection in recent years has emphasized neighborhood schools. Your report appears to discount all those choices by labeling neighborhood schools as a “default” option.
  • Roughly 10,000 other parents use the open enrollment process and the Chapter 220 program to make clear choices about where their students attend school.
  • Thousands more parents enroll their children in so-called specialty MPS schools. These parents make clear choices. Many of those schools have waiting lists, yet another measure of choice.
In other words, by any reasonable estimate the number of actual choices made by Milwaukee parents substantially exceeds 9,000-12,000. Even allowing for a subjective definition of what a well-informed choice is, the number is simply much greater than your 10 percent estimate.

This raises the possibility that your methodology is highly inappropriate when it comes to the Milwaukee situation, one that is unique among American cities. Given that Milwaukee parents have so many options — a condition that has existed for more than a decade — it is questionable to assume that their behavior will not differ from other urban parents who don’t have such options.

While there are other assertions in your study that I find debatable, those are overshadowed by the methodology question. As part of the continuing discussion your report will engender, I reiterate that an independent assessment of that methodology is in order. This is all the more so given the existence of peer-reviewed scholarship (such as by Hoxby and Chakrabarti) that is at odds with your conclusions; it is unclear why your report does not acknowledge and discuss their work.

George

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To the Rescue

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

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Homosexual Indoctrination in Elementary School

From Massachusetts, where homosexual indoctrination is mandated, some chilling video showing what goes on in some elementary schools (and would go on in all, if the gay lobby had its way).

These clips are not alarmist stuff from a right-wing activist group, but rather actual “training videos” used by gay activists.

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Sign Petition Supporting ROTC at Marquette

In the face of a planned demonstration by local leftists demanding a shut-down of ROTC at Marquette, Brian Collar of the GOP3.COM blog has set up an online petition supporting the officer training program.

The link to the petition is here.

Of course most conservatives will be happy to sign it, but we think a fair number of liberals will too.

Consider, for example, this comment by a liberal poster on the GOP3.COM blog.
ROTC won’t be shut down and everyone knows it. It gives too much to the school for being there and it’s far too helpful for students who need it.

It’s not the ROTC’s fault that the government is sending soldiers to fight an unjust war. I’m pretty sure it’s Congress’s fault for approving the insane “First Strike” law and not invoking their power to end the war, when ending the stinkin’ war was 99% of the reason anti-war Democrats were elected to congress last year.
That’s the right spirit. Feel free to disagree with the Iraq War if you want, but don’t try to stifle a program that has large benefits for both students and the university.

If you don’t want to serve in the military, by all means don’t join ROTC. But have a little respect for those who do.

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Media Bias on School Choice

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has rather gleefully jumped on a study from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute that supposedly shows that school choice doesn’t improve education.
A study being released today suggests that school choice isn’t a powerful tool for driving educational improvement in Milwaukee Public Schools.

But more surprising than the conclusion is the organization issuing the study: the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank that has supported school choice for almost two decades, when Milwaukee became the nation’s premier center for trying the idea. The institute is funded in large part by the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, an advocate of school choice.

“The report you are reading did not yield the results we had hoped to find,” George Lightbourn, a senior fellow at the institute, wrote in the paper’s first sentence.

“We had expected to find a wellspring of hope that increased parental involvement in the Milwaukee Public Schools would be the key ingredient in improving student performance,” Lightbourn wrote. But “there are realistic limits on the degree to which parental involvement can drive market-based reform in Milwaukee.”
Rick Esenberg has beat us to the punch in critiquing the methodology of this particular study. As he points out, it’s not a study of private school choice, only a study of choice within the public sector.

And further:
First, the study doesn’t really measure what parents in Milwaukee actually do. As the authors say, “the basic approach was to identify the determinants and frequency of parental choice and parental involvement using a national data set, and extrapolate those results to Milwaukee, relying on the particular demographics of the MPS district.” In other words, they take national data on how households with particular demographic characteristics act with respect to choosing schools and becoming involved with the schools and then assume that people with those characteristics in Milwaukee would act the same way. They then look at the characteristics of families in MPS and run the numbers.

That’s a respectable approach, although it would not catch the effects of any local efforts to improve decision-making or increase parental involvement.

Second, it seems less plausible to extrapolate from these data to families who choose voucher schools. The demographics of that group may be different. In addition, opting out of the public schools may itself reflect a higher degree of involvement with a child’s education (it presumably takes more effort) and a population that does that may differ from others with same socioeconomic characteristics.
If social scientists know anything, it is that contextual effects matter, and they often matter a lot. Put people on one social context, and they act one way. Put them in another social context, and (although they may have the same characteristics) they act in an entirely different way.

Thus it is highly questionable to generalize from school districts across the nation that have fewer choices -- and a much shorter history of giving parents a choice -- to Milwaukee.

Then there is the fact that the study insists that parents have to be, essentially, model consumers before choice can work.
Taken together, these three estimates allow one to perform calculations regarding a hypothetical “ideal consumer” in a public school choice system. This consumer would maximize the marketplace pressures on schools, thereby creating the greatest prospects for school reform and student achievement. Such a consumer would:
  • exercise choice, rather than simply enrolling his or her child in the local neighborhood school;
  • consider at least two schools in the choice process, rather than simply choosing a school without assessing the potential costs and benefits of alternatives; and
  • bring performance-based/academic criteria to bear in the choice process.
The estimate of MPS parents meeting all three criteria is just 10 percent. Given this number, it seems unlikely that MPS schools are feeling the pressure of a genuine educational marketplace.
In the first place, loss of ten percent of your students is not trivial. In most industries, a loss of ten percent of market share would set off huge alarm bells in the executive suites.

In the second place, who says that simply putting your kid in the neighborhood school is not an exercise of “choice?” The criterion for “choice” is not that you send your child off to another part of the city to school, rather, it’s that you would if the opportunities there outweighed the advantages of a neighborhood school.

Further, who says you have to consider two or more schools? Rational consumers will often decide to “stand pat” with their current choices if those choices are considered “good enough.” Imagine a parent whose child seems satisfied with his or her current school. The parent sees that the child is doing an appropriate amount of homework, getting decent grades, and doing as well as he or she should be doing on standardized tests.

This parent is perfectly rational to simply “stand pat.”

Finally, who says that parents must “bring performance-based/academic criteria to bear in the choice process?” Choosing a school on the basis of the values taught there (relevant when parents choose a religious school) or extracurricular activities (relevant if a child has a lot of potential in, say, football or swimming or drama) might be the best way to go. Especially if there is no reason, a priori, to suspect you are giving up academic quality in the process.

The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute study can be contrasted with the best academic study on this issue, one that appeared in the American Journal of Political Science.

(In the interests of full disclosure, we have published both in The Wisconsin Interest, published by WPRI, and in the AJPS.)

The scholars who published in the AJPS note that in spite of limited information, parents tend to select schools that match their preferences:
The results in the three analyses presented in Table 3 all point in the same direction-even though levels of objective information held by parents are low, their actual choice of schools reflects their preferences in education. For example, parents who say that high scores are important enroll their children in schools that are more than a quarter of a standard deviation above the district mean in reading scores. Similarly, parents who value safety and those who value diversity also enroll their children in schools that are significantly higher than the average schools in their district on these dimensions. (p. 780)
In short, school choice works, even in the absence of highly informed parents.

The authors of this article further point out:
We demonstrate that the same puzzle we have just documented in school choice-that of matching preferences in the face of low levels of information-has been posed in the study of many private goods markets. Most research into this phenomenon has demonstrated that the solution to the puzzle lies in a small group of consumers who actually gather information about products. Thus, while on average, information about products is low, a small group of buyers in markets tend to be more informed. More importantly, these studies also show that this small percentage of buyers can effectively drive a market toward a competitive outcome. (p. 782)
At least in New York City, were this study was conducted, the informed parents are numerous enough to drive a choice system effectively.

But do we need to look at data from elsewhere? Is there a good analysis of Milwaukee data?

Indeed there is. A study from Rajashri Chakrabarti, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, looks specifically at Milwaukee, and reaches the following conclusions:
The Milwaukee voucher program, as implemented in 1990, allowed only non-sectarian private schools to participate in the program. Following a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling, the program saw a major shift and entered into its second phase, when religious private schools were allowed to participate for the first time in 1998. This led to more than a three-fold increase in the number of private schools and almost a four-fold increase in the number of choice students. Moreover, due to some changes in funding provisions, the revenue loss per student from vouchers increased in the second phase of the program. This paper analyzes the impacts of increase in competition brought about by these changes on public school performance in Milwaukee. Using data from 1987 to 2002, and a difference-in-differences estimation strategy in trends, the paper finds that these changes have led to an improvement of the public schools in the second phase of the program as compared to the first phase. The results are robust to alternative samples and specifications, and survive several sensitivity checks including correcting for mean reversion. The findings imply that voucher design matters and choice of parameters in a voucher program is crucial as far as impacts on public school incentives and performance are concerned.
The article has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Public Economics.

This, of course, makes excellent intuitive sense. Where options for parents are tightly constrained, and where public schools have little to fear, fiscally, from parents “opting out,” there is little reason to expect them to improve their performance.

But when competition becomes a real threat, it also becomes a real prod.

Now, a question.

How much attention did the Milwaukee media pay to the Chakrabarti study?

Searching the archive of the Journal-Sentinel, there is only one mention. It’s a blot entry from Patrick McIlheran pointing how that the study has gotten no attention!

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Marquette Leftists, Muslim Students To Demonstrate Against ROTC

GOP3.COM broke this story.

A coalition of campus leftists and Muslim students will demonstrate against Marquette’s participation in the ROTC program this Friday.

The demonstration has been supported by both the Muslim Students Association and the student group J.U.S.T.I.C.E. which have sent e-mails encouraging participation to their members.

Neither, however, is an “official” sponsor of the event.

Apparently the Casa Maria Catholic Worker organization, and an activist associated with that organization (Patrick Kennelly) originated the idea.

The organizers claim:
We will gather from 12 noon-5 pm on Friday October 26 in front of the Marquette University Department of Military Science at 1508 W. Clybourn Ave -- which recruits and trains young men and women to participate in what many recognize as an immoral, illegal and unjust war in Iraq. We will seek the removal of this military/financial complex from this campus.
The protesters then promise to march around various campus locations, and demand to speak to Fr. Wild.

Marquette resisted demands to kick ROTC off campus during the anti-war hysteria of the late 60s and early 70s. The University is now run by a much more liberal bunch of administrators, but even so we doubt that demonstrations like this -- or even a sustained movement -- could possibly undermine the program.

Brian Collar, of GOP3.COM, promises to organize a counter-protest.

We expect the demonstration to consist of a modest-sized gaggle of the usual suspects. And we don’t know whether the counter protest will even come off.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Elderly Man Killed by Hit-and-Run Driver -- Crowd Doesn’t Help, Steals His Groceries

From KPHO, in Phoenix.
MESA, Ariz. -- An elderly man was struck by a hit-and-run driver and as he lay dying, thieves made off with his groceries.

Mesa police said the victim was waiting for a bus after grocery shopping Tuesday evening.

Witnesses said the driver of a dark GMC pickup, later identified as 23-year-old Alan Ricardo Flores-Ocon, swerved off the road and onto the sidewalk near Main Street and Horne.

Flores-Ocon fled the scene after crashing through the bus stop, police said.

Boro Mitrovich said he was sitting close to the old man when the victim was hit. “He didn’t even know what happened,” said Mitrovich, 51, of Mesa, who dove out of the way. “The old man took the brunt of it,” he said.

The elderly man was thrown across a parking lot, landing in front of a restaurant and a pawn and loan shop.

It was there that witnesses said people in the parking lot “began picking up the groceries and taking them,” said Mesa police spokesman Detective Steve Berry.

As he was checking on the victim, Mitrovich said his groceries were also stolen. “One minute it’s on the ground, the next minute it’s gone,” Mitrovich said.

If caught, the people who stole the groceries could face theft charges, Berry said.

Police, using a helicopter, tracked the Flores-Ocon to an apartment complex less than two miles from the hit-and-run scene.

By the time police got there, he had ditched the truck and fled, Berry said.

The front of the truck was mangled and missing a headlight. A white plastic shopping bag was still stuck to the grill.
Here is another version of the same story.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Global Warming Skepticism from ABC

But of course, it’s from John Stossel.

Stossel goes through some of the now standard (but usually unheard of in the Mainstream Media) criticisms of Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth.”
The movie has been seen by millions, won an an Academy Award and earned Gore widespread praise in the media. People have proclaimed him a “prophet,” a “cultural icon” and a “conquering hero.” Just last week, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. With all this news coverage, it’s no surprise that 86 percent of Americans think global warming is a serious problem and 70 percent want the government to do something now.

But is it a crisis? The globe is warming, but is it really all our fault? And is it true the debate is over? No. What you think you know may not be so.

In the movie, for example, Gore says that if we allow the globe to warm, “sea levels worldwide would go up 20 feet.” Then he shows his audience terrifying maps of Florida and San Francisco submerged under rising sea levels. But the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared last week’s Nobel Prize with Gore, said that would probably take thousands of years to happen. Over the next 100 years, sea levels are expected to rise seven to 24 inches, not 20 feet.

Gore also implies that polar bears are dying off, because receding Arctic ice has forced them to swim longer distances. The kids I interviewed were especially worried about the fate of the polar bears. But the polar bears appear to be doing all right. Future warming may hurt them, but right now data from the World Conservation Union and the U.S. Geological Survey show most populations of polar bears are stable or increasing.

The Debate Is Over?

The most impressive demonstration in Gore’s movie is that big graph of temperature and carbon dioxide levels stretching back 650,000 years. Carbon dioxide is thought to amplify temperature increases, but his graph seemed to show clear cause and effect: When carbon dioxide levels rose, so did temperature. It suggested that carbon levels controlled temperature. But a real inconvenient truth is that the carbon increase came after temperatures rose, usually hundreds of years later. Temperature went up first.
But Stossel is perhaps most interesting when he discusses the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“The fact is, when climate changes, there are gains and there are losses,” said Tim Ball, who studies the history of climate change. But, he points out, all we generally hear about is the bad news from the IPCC — that massive group of climate scientists.

Paul Reiter of the Pasteur Institute participated in one of the IPCC drafts and Christy was a contributing author. Both say that this Nobel Prize-winning group is not what people think it is.

“The IPCC is the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change,” Reiter said. “It is governments who nominate people. You’ll find in many chapters that there are people who are not scientists at all.” Reiter claims that some of these scientists are “essentially activists” and there are some members with affiliations to groups like Greenpeace.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Yardley Report: External Consultant Evaluates Marquette Ph.D. Programs

There has been a bit of a buzz among the Marquette faculty, in recent weeks, about something called The Yardley Report, an evaluation by an outside consulting firm of the University’s Ph.D. programs (and one proposed program in Political Science).

(We have had a copy for a few weeks, but have declined to publish or discuss it here, since there is an insuperable conflict of interest when a faculty member uses as blog fodder a document he got because of his faculty status. On the other hand, we will gladly publish anything of interest that somebody leaks to us.)

But Daniel Suhr, of GOP3.COM, noticed a brief mention of the Yardley Report in the Tribune, and obtained a copy, which he has now published.

The Report is scathing in its evaluation of Marquette Ph.D. programs. Some examples:
  • In the end we must agree, in the context of the competitive landscape in which Marquette University operates, with the prevailing faculty view that it is untenable to hold each of these factors -- research, teaching, and societal impact -- as an equal imperative. To do so has created a significant confusion of identity and operation for the University and has resulted in a tendency to give short shrift to that factor that is most vital to doctoral programs -- research -- and to the doctoral programs themselves.
  • . . . the research and doctoral missions of most departments in the University are fragmented and half-formed, and so long as this is the case, the University will not achieve national prominence.
  • It is clear from our interviews with faculty that many programs are losing potential doctoral students to some of the country’s best Catholic universities.
  • . . . the ratio of research grants to overall funding is excessively low for a research university, and adherence to this model prevents scientists from competing for funding, a scenario that is both financially unviable and scientifically harmful.
  • As a result of these factors -- isolation from the field because of lack of grantsmanship, a disproportionate percentage of faculty who are research-inactive either by choice or because of conflicting priorities, the inability to integrate research into the ordinary work of faculty and the academic units, and structural impediments to the conduct of research -- Marquette is lagging behind in some of its chosen areas of research focus.
  • There is no question that faculty teaching loads at Marquette are too heavy to facilitate greater research orientation.
  • There are aspects of the “Marquette way,” however that are detrimental to the University’s research mission. Part of this is a rigid adherence to the traditions of the institution, which have not, after all, included serious attention to doctoral education and research. The more troublesome aspect is the tendency to be isolated within the institutional community, to be unaware of or resistant to ideas, practices and conventions that come from the outside. This kind of isolation can be fatal to a research profile.
We could go on -- and on and on.

But is this criticism justified?

Doubtless some of it is, and doubtless Marquette could change some of its policies to improve research.

But there is a fundamental problem with Yardley. The firm’s view, in spite of some polite nods to other parts of Marquette’s mission, is that Marquette should be a research factory.

External research funding is the be all and end all for Yardley.

Daniel Suhr has noted the “smoking gun” on this issue: footnote 30 of the Report. It says:
We have a particular concern about the strategic goal of the College of Arts and Sciences to increase the number of core classes taught by regular tenure-system faculty. . . . [T]here is no question that it would decimate the doctoral programs and keep research faculty productivity low. Ultimately, we think that expense will force the University to come to grips with the notion of fixed term instructors and adjunct professors. The American Association of University Professors released a report . . . that indicates that overall, nearly half of all faculty are off the tenure track, and in some disciplines, this figure is as high as 65%.
Marquette, in Yardley’s view, has been spoiling freshmen and sophomores by allowing them to be taught by faculty who are (in some cases) star scholars, faculty who publish in top scholarly journals, and faculty who get invited to national and international meetings.

And the Arts & Science College is hoping to spoil them even more!

Yardley, in other words, has a problem with “the vision thing.” It’s not that they don’t have a vision. It’s that it’s a vision of mediocrity.

It would be much easier for Marquette to become a mediocre teaching institution than for it to become a top research institution. If the administration tries to “mess with success,” we are likely to achieve the former but not the latter.

And academia is awash with institutions what, while they soak up big bucks in research funding, aren’t particularly prestigious. That’s because the research is routine, and the faculty aren’t particularly illustrious. You don’t become Harvard merely because you double the dollars you get from the National Science Foundation.

Daniel Suhr nails it in his post.
There are already universities out there that do research. The University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Minnesota Twin Cities are two such institutions. Certainly the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign or the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor are also such mega-research institutions. But Marquette students, who primarily draw from the Midwest, did not choose to go to those schools, even though they could have done so for significantly cheaper tuition, half or less. Marquette undergrad students chose to pay $10,000 or $20,000 more to come here.

They did so because they wanted an excellent, personalized education in a Catholic setting where they have options. For my own mind, Marquette offered all the resources and opportunities of a major national institution - exciting DI athletics, leading faculty, lots of academic and extracurricular programs - with the promise of individual attention and classes taught by professors, not TAs.
There is no doubt that a better and more prestigious Marquette can be built, and that Marquette will do better research -- and maybe bring in more external research money. But it will come about by building on strength.

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Pete Stark: Deranged Liberal Democrat

Playing the Race Card in Chicago

From our Chicago correspondent:
Saw your recent entries about the commission on making sure that minorities get sentenced only in relation to the proportion of the population they represent -- oops, I mean the commission on “justice.” Anyway, I was tempted to email and say “you’ll never convince them of anything” but I was sure you already knew that much. But a few items in the paper recently have been on this subject. Chicago recently opened a military high school sponsored by the Air Force, I believe.

Apparently Chicago is now the only school district in the USA with four military high schools, one representing each branch. And of course, on the day it opened someone was in the paper saying that these high schools “targeted minorities.” Now if you have a high school in the city of Chicago, I simply don’t see how it could not have a significant minority representation-plus what would they say if whites were a majority of the students in a Chicago high school?

This was followed by a story about how Chicago cops shouldn’t associate with felons. Of course, the immediate reaction from some was that this “disproportionately affects African-American officers.” So there you go . . . thats a great reason to not follow thru with this. Because blacks are in jail more, black police officers shouldn’t have to follow some arbitrary rule about not being seen with felons.

Finally, something I noticed a few weeks ago when the Cubs were in the playoffs. You can’t get the playoffs on free TV anymore: and you know what this means....its because of discrimination. Obviously, all whites can get the game on free television. I have to find my “whites only” converter box. According to the Tribune:
Lillie Gonzalez, 63, of Chicago said that in the past she would watch cable games at the corner bar. But it closed two years ago, meaning she will have to scramble this week.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” Gonzalez said. “We’re just as big a fan as people who have cable. . . . What’s wrong with minorities watching their favorite team on television?”
The assumption, we suppose, is that no minorities have cable, and none can go to a favorite bar to watch.

But aren’t such assumptions demeaning?

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Birds of a Feather

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Live Blogging Gun Control Debate At Marquette Law School

Esenberg introduces both participants.

Lott speaks first:

Notes that DC brief in case (District of Columbia v. Heller) makes mostly policy arguments, not Constitutional arguments.

Does Bill of Rights confer on individuals a right to own guns? Lott says yes. When one looks at the language of Second and Fourth Amendments, it was clear that it protects individuals.

Lexington and Concord were about British trying to take guns.

Can DC argue that a gun ban protects public safety? Lott says no. Murders have increased since the DC gun ban was put in place. Murder rates were falling before the ban, and began to rise after it. Same with all violent crime.

Compare DC to Virginia and Maryland: DC was falling relative to those states (and counties in those states adjacent to DC) before the ban, and began to rise afterward.

Look at other cities, like Chicago. After gun ban, Chicago regularly had the highest murder rate among the 10 largest cities.

DC (in brief to Supreme Court) is pointing to other countries, urging the Court to follow the policy of foreign countries. But if we look at, for example, Britain, their crime rate has radically increased since they instituted a gun ban.

Even going back to 1900, crime in Britain has had nothing to do with gun ownership.

Lott mentions other nations.

Problem: if you try to take guns away from criminals, in fact the criminals won’t obey the law. You can get more crime if you actually disarm law-abiding citizens.

DC will let people own rifles and shotguns, but they must be locked up and disassembled. But that prevents people from actually using them for self-protection. Studies show that “safe storage” laws increase both murder and rape.

Is passive behavior better when faced with assault? Lott says that, particularly for those who are physically weak, having a gun makes you safer.

What about the notion that guns laying around will be used when somebody get mad.

Lott points out that murderers are not average citizens, they have long histories of personal problems, and they are particularly likely to be black. So it doesn’t help a lot to keep guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens.

What about children? Lott says look at mortality data on CDC (Centers for Disease Control) website. Very few handgun deaths among children. And most of the killers are adult males with long criminal histories shooting (sometimes accidentally) children, not children somehow getting possession of a gun.

Withers:

Says the Second Amendment doesn’t matter!

Mentions Miller decision, which says that individuals don’t have the right to own guns.

Says it took the Court of Appeals 58 pages to “get around” this.

Admits there is an “individual liberty interest” in the ownership of guns. Our history and tradition have created this. State constitutions enshrine this right.

DC seems to believe that the “collective right” issue (the traditional liberal argument that only the collective, and not individual people have the right) is going to disappear and the Court is likely to uphold an individual right.

Says the “key issue” is the policy issues. Wants to frame it as a “public health” issue.

If we address the issue as a crime issue, we go astray. Points out there are two suicides for every murder in Wisconsin.

Points to large geographic disparities. Murder/suicides outside Milwaukee metro area. Often the person is committing suicide, and taking other people with them.

Admits that Lott is right about the small number of child accidental shootings. But when there was a very small number of aspirin poisonings, we went to child-proof caps. So we should “modify the product” (guns) to make it safer for kids.

Wants a national system of public safety oversight on guns.

Wants to avoid Second Amendment issue. Makes arcane analogy to a streetlight being out.

Wants “better information” that might provide basis for outlawing or requiring the licensing of guns.

Esenberg Asks the first questions:

Politicians living in high crime areas, they tend to be stridently opposed to things like concealed carry.

Lott responds: people in those areas would be biggest beneficiaries. But people get their information from the media. Guns are used much more often to defend against crime than used to commit crime. But consider media bias: if a gun is brandished in defense it doesn’t make the news, but if somebody is shot, that gets reported.

Esenberg addresses Withers:

If you accept the notion that the nation would be safer with no guns in circulation, there are 200 million guns out there. Is it possible to get all of them? And what about concealed carry and crime rates? Even if Lott is wrong about deterrence, nobody has produced a serious study showing that concealed carry increased crime.

Withers:

Admits that concealed carry does not increase crime!

Repeats we need better information.

Isn’t a big fan of trigger guards, since they can cause a misfire and kill somebody.

Claims that certain design flaws can be eliminated. Seems to want a combination lock on guns.

Says “get realistic about what causes deaths in Milwaukee:” fighting and alcohol.

Question for Withers from Audience:

What about suicides? Won’t people find a way to kill themselves?

Withers responds that guns are simply more effective, and a lot of people will fail when guns are lacking. They may then change their minds.

Question for Lott:

What about black market? Lott says there is robust evidence, including nations that have a lot better chance of actually enforcing a ban, that outlawing guns simply creates a huge black market.

Lott admits that increase in crime in Britain is not just from banning guns, but the rise of the drug trade. But drug dealers are not going to obey gun laws. So the black market booms.

What about licensing guns? That doesn’t help. Guns are almost never left at the crime scene, and when they are, they are almost never registered. So virtually no crimes are solved this way.

Withers:

Agrees that cross-national comparisons don’t help.

Lott challenges Withers to name a jurisdiction that has reduced gun violence with a gun ban. Wiithers admits he doesn’t know of one!

Commentary

Quite an excellent debate with (in our view) Lott coming off ahead. To a degree, this is because Withers was very scrupulous about not overstating his case, and thus conceded much to Lott.

Withers deserves a lot of credit for being willing to debate Lott when a lot of people (including a very large number of Marquette professors) declined to do so. Still, Withers was a good advocate, and bona fide expert in public health issues, and he presented a thoroughly reasonable persona.

One glitch: the crowd vastly exceeded expectations. The Federalist Society supplied lasagna, which ran out. It was standing room only.

Which, combined with the high intellectual of the debate, makes this a signal success.

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Free Food!


Click on Image to Enlarge

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Folkbum: 9/11 No Big Deal

From Keith Schmitz, posting on Folkbum’s Rants and Rambles, a rather rambling post (I guess the name of the blog justifies that) about Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem and New York and Rudy Giuliani. But in the middle of the meandering little essay we get this:
The answer in part lies in the fact that Rudy is desperate to become president, and he has to appeal to the base of the Republican base to get to the nomination.

In part this impugns on [sic] the people who are active in the Republican party who want to be treated like rubes. Yes, 9/11 was terrible, but 5,000 planes went up that day and 4997 planes landed, as have pretty much all the planes since 9/11.
That’s what being a liberal does to your mind. You not only label as “rubes” those people who care about 9/11, you assert that the murder of 3,000 Americans is no big deal!

And you lose the ability to count!

Schmitz goes on as follows:
This country is hungry for positive leadership, for vision and for our cities to be rebuilt. This is the type of boldness many of our Democratic leaders sad to say lack.

This is the type of leadership that a great country has, and Rudy could run on that if he didn’t have to cater to those in his party who spout macho but who cower in fear when they see someone in a turban get on their plane. Rudy could do this but his die has been cast and it would be tough to shift gears at this point.

This fear that politicians have ginned up through this decade has cost us and squandered opportunity in ways we have yet to appreciate.
Yes, those airline passengers who fear for their safety are cowards.

And it can’t be that there is a real terrorist threat, or people who really want to kill Americans (an odd notion coming from folks who are constantly touting the death toll of American soldiers in Iraq). It’s all just the invention of those evil politicians.

Right. And Hitler didn’t have any territorial ambitions in Europe.

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Will the American Political Science Association Cave to Its Gay Lobby?

We wouldn’t belong to the American Political Science Association except for the fact that membership carries with it a big discount on the registration fee for the annual convention. But it does, so we belong and thus got this e-mail:
Dear Political Science Colleagues at Marquette University:

I write to request your support of a boycott of the American Political Science Association’s 2012 Annual Meeting, currently slated for New Orleans, Louisiana.

In 2004, 78 percent of Louisiana voters (including a majority in Orleans Parish) passed this amendment to their state constitution: “Marriage in the state of Louisiana shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman. No official or court of the state of Louisiana shall construe this constitution or any state law to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any member of a union other than the union of one man and one woman. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.

No official or court of the state of Louisiana shall recognize any marriage contracted in any other jurisdiction which is not the union of one man and one woman.”

This language both limits marriage to different-sex couples and denies to same-sex pairs all “legal incidents” of marriage that arise from civil unions, domestic partnerships, and other familial arrangements. In other words, as a matter of state constitutional law, coupled lesbians and gay men can be nothing other than legal strangers to one another in Louisiana.

In 2005, the APSA’s Committee on the Status of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and the Transgendered in the Profession (on which I served from 2004 to 2007) adopted a resolution calling for the Association not to hold conventions in states with constitutional prohibitions of same-sex marriage. That year, the APSA Council forwarded the LGBT Status Committee’s siting resolution to the newly formed Annual Meeting Review Committee for consideration.

This year, the Annual Meeting Review Committee reported that any change in the Association’s conference-siting policy was a matter solely for the Council to determine.

On August 31st, the Council rejected the Status Committee’s resolution.

The APSA’s choice to hold annual meetings in states with constitutional provisions like that of Louisiana impedes the ability of LGBT political scientists to participate in the Association and to progress in the profession.

For instance, the domestic partners and children of LGBT members travel with them to conventions. Lee, my own partner of 12 years, has gone with me to meetings in Chicago and San Francisco. Were I to be hospitalized or otherwise incapacitated while visiting New Orleans in 2012, I would want Lee to make medical and other decisions on my behalf, and vice versa. However, under the Louisiana amendment, we couldn’t do that for each other.

This example isn’t hypothetical. Lee has Type 1 diabetes, and I’ve had to take him to hospital emergency rooms because of his disease. I wouldn’t want to face the question from medical staff in Louisiana, “Are you a member of his family?” In short, the Association’s rejection of the Status Committee’s siting policy makes only heterosexual families uniformly welcome at annual meetings.

The APSA’s posture hits LGBT graduate students and junior faculty with particular force. In 2012, they face the Hobson’s choice of, on the one hand, subjecting themselves and their families to an overtly hostile legal environment while in New Orleans or, on the other hand, not attending the conference and missing its opportunities to interview for jobs and to present papers in order to advance careers.

What is more, the Association established a relevant precedent in the 1970s and ‘80s when it refused to hold conventions in states that hadn’t ratified the federal Equal Rights Amendment. That policy precluded meetings in Chicago, because Illinois never approved the ERA.

Hence, while the APSA was fully prepared a generation ago to battle gender discrimination, the organization isn’t willing today to combat sexual-orientation discrimination with similar resolve. Instead, by selecting New Orleans for an annual meeting, the Association condones the condemnation of same-sex couples to the legal purgatory that Louisiana, and New Orleans itself, authorized in 2004.

In truth, the APSA would never consider New Orleans if the Louisiana Constitution discriminated on the basis of ethnicity, gender, race, or religion as blatantly as it does with regard to sexual orientation. Our national professional organization of political scientists, thus, reinforces the sad reality that explicit governmental discrimination against LGBT Americans remains politically and socially acceptable.

The Status Committee’s resolution eliminates just Atlanta and New Orleans from the cities with convention facilities that have been sufficient in the past to accommodate the Association’s annual gatherings. Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Toronto, and Washington are, and will remain, viable venues for conferences. Surely this list is adequate to suit the organization’s siting needs.

I have faith that the American Political Science Association has the capacity -- and can summon the compassion -- to ensure that all of its members are treated with dignity and respect at annual meetings. I hope that you share my belief. If so, please be kind enough to forward this message with your own statement (e.g., “I support the New Orleans boycott”) to the Association’s President and Executive Director:

Dianne Pinderhughes, Dianne.M.Pinderhughes.1@nd.edu
Michael Brintnall, brintnall@apsanet.org

Please “cc” me at dpinello@jjay.cuny.edu

In addition, if you know members of the APSA Council, please ask them to reconsider their rejection of the Status Committee’s siting resolution. Current Council members include:

Lisa Baldez, lisa.baldez@dartmouth.edu
Susan Burgess, burgess@ohio.edu
Dennis Chong, dchong@northwestern.edu
Michael Doyle, md2221@columbia.edu
Kerry Haynie, klhaynie@duke.edu
Arthur Lupia, lupia@umich.edu
Anna Sampaio, anna.sampaio@cudenver.edu
Melissa Williams, mwilliam@chass.utoronto.ca

Lastly, please let me know if you’re willing to assist in organizing the boycott.

With your help, we can persuade the Association to relocate the 2012 conference while there’s still time to do so.

Gratefully,
Dan

P.S. This message is being sent to political scientists at more than 200 colleges and universities across the United States.

Daniel R. Pinello
Professor of Government
John Jay College of Criminal Justice of
The City University of New York
dpinello@jjay.cuny.edu
www.danpinello.com


Author of:
Gay Rights and American Law
(Cambridge University Press, 2003)
and
America’s Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage
(Cambridge University Press, 2006)
Of course, the profession of Political Science has a strong liberal bias, so why wouldn’t the APSA boycott a state that has done something so politically incorrect as limit marriage to opposite sex couples?

Part of a possible answer rests in the APSA Constitution, which says:
1. It shall be the purpose of this association to encourage the study of Political Science, including Political Theory, Political Institutions, Politics, Public Law, Public Administration, and International Relations.

2. The Association as such is nonpartisan. It will not support political parties or candidates. It will not commit its members on questions of public policy nor take positions not immediately concerned with its direct purpose as stated above.
Of course, this language didn’t prevent the APSA from boycotting the State of Illinois when that state failed to embrace the Equal Rights Amendment.

So if the Association blew off its Constitution once to placate the feminists, why not blow it off again to placate the gay lobby?

This, of course, will be a test case to see whether a bunch of liberal academics can act in even a minimally principled way. They didn’t when the issue was the ERA. And they are the kinds of people who think the U.S. Constitution can mean whatever you want it to mean.

But if the APSA placates its internal gay lobby on this issue they will be sending a clear message. It’s well known that political science is a discipline with little intellectual diversity, and what there is is between (say) liberals and leftist radicals, or between old-time democratic socialists and cultural leftists.

But the profession has always maintained that, in spite of this lack of diversity, political scientists can be fair in dealing with contentious public issues, and fair in dealing with students.

But why should anybody believe that if the APSA won’t abide by its own rules?

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

It Says You Have No Protection

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Gun Control Debate on Campus This Tuesday

From the Marquette Law School Federalist Society, what looks to be an absolutely dandy debate on gun control.

Richard Withers, JD, from the Milwaukee City Government’s Legislative Reference Bureau will debate John Lott, a pro-gun advocate and author of a widely cited and controversial study that found that concealed carry laws save lives.

The specific question at issue is a case called District of Columbia v. Heller which held that citizens do have a right, under the Second Amendment, to keep and bear arms.

You thought that was obvious? Unfortunately, is hasn’t been to lawyers and Federal judges.

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Still the Bizarro World: The Commission on Reducing Racial Disparities in the Wisconsin Justice System

Our previous run-in with Governor Doyle’s Commission on Reducing Racial Disparities in the Wisconsin Justice System quickly turned into something that Franz Kafka might write about.

This past week, we had three different encounters with commission members, all in public settings, and Kafka, were he still around, would probably have picked up some good material.

1. Wisconsin Public Radio

The first was Tuesday morning on Joy Cardin’s show on Wisconsin Public Radio. We were there, of course, to discuss our recent article on racial disparity in incarceration in Wisconsin, and Cardin led off the show with an audio clip from Spencer Coggs, Chair of the Commission.

According to Coggs:
There is no social scientist other than McAdams, that I know of that thinks that incarcerating large numbers of anybody of any particular race is a good thing. It almost seems that it’s code talk for some inherent quality of whites being more law abiding than blacks.
Gil Halsted, who did the interview with Coggs, added that Coggs said that the Commission will focus on the “underlying causes” of inner city crime and the high rate of black incarceration.

Of course, the theory of “code” is a way of calling somebody a racist, notwithstanding that they have said nothing racist. Indeed, even if they have said something that’s absolutely true, that doesn’t help. It’s racist because it runs contrary to the interests of the race hustlers who use the term.

2. Marquette Law School Reception for Wayne S. McKenzie

Late Tuesday afternoon, Marquette’s Law School hosted a reception for Wayne S. McKenzie, a program director at the Vera Institute. McKenzie was in town to share the findings of a study of race and prosecutorial discretion in the office of the Milwaukee County District Attorney. Milwaukee DA John Chisholm, a member of the Commission, was also present.

But here, he was the victim rather than the perpetrator of race card insanity.

McKenzie was running late, and Chisholm engaged in a conversation with several “community activists” who were present, explaining the study.

The activists didn’t seem to feel that any study was necessary. So far as they were concerned, the system is racist, and no study is needed to show that. Chisholm asked “don’t we want some evidence?” That resulted in looks from the activists ranging from discomfort through incredulity to hostility.

He then asked them whether they had looked at what neighborhoods were most afflicted by crime – the obvious import being that black neighborhoods are the most crime-ridden. The activists weren’t placated.

3. Vera Results Presented

Then on Wednesday morning, we were present when McKenzie presented his findings.

Before the main event, State Representative Tamara Grigsby was introduced and spoke. She started by saying “let’s put this in perspective. I represent about 60,000 people, mostly poor and black,” and added “I see a system that is not working for people like me.”

And further: “We incarcerate more juveniles of color than any other state in the nation.”

She explained that she approached the Governor two years ago, after a report came out that showed that Wisconsin is the worse state in the nation in terms of living conditions for blacks.

Then, in the most bizarre moment of the morning, she announced she was “calling out Professor McAdams!”

(We were thinking “do we have to go out and fight her? If so, we’ll be at a huge disadvantage since momma taught us never to hit a girl.”)

She went on the deny that black people commit more crime than white people.

But then she added that even if it is true that blacks commit more crime, it’s still a problem. It’s “crippling” to the community if one in three fathers is in prison.

Massive Denial Among Black Activists

It’s absolutely stunning to hear black politicians and activists deny that blacks commit more crimes than whites. Not only is the truth obvious in crime statistics, nobody knows it better than the constituents of Coggs and Grigsby!

The fact that black politicians would deny reality is the result of their having been coddled, patronized and pandered to by whites. A lot of moderate and conservative whites are scared of being called racist if they tell the truth about racial matters, and a lot of white liberals who know better can’t bring themselves to give up the ideological advantage that playing the race card brings.

But massive denial is not a recipe for making anything better. How much better if a lot of people were willing to say to people like Coggs and Grigsby “get your head out of your ass and let’s talk seriously about the problem.”

The Race Card Fallback Position

In spite of this stubborn refusal to talk honestly, one senses that the race hustlers are having to concede a bit and accept the fact (even if they won’t forthrightly admit it) that the vast majority of racial disparity in incarceration is the result of black people committing more crimes.

Coggs admission to Halsted that the Commission would be looking into the “underlying causes” of black crime, and Grigsby’s claim that there is still a problem even if incarceration is the result of racial differences in committing crimes both show this.

So does the following statement by Pamela Oliver, a sociologist who is a consultant to the Commission.
Roughly half of the presentations the Commission has heard and roughly half of the Commissioners have an orientation that is primarily focused on reducing crimes committed by Black people. That is, they have raised concerns about funding for education, about programs to strengthen families and reintegrate fathers into communities, about jobs programs and job discrimination, about bringing people to God, etc. In short, a lot of the people on the Commission think this is a terrible crisis that should be addressed by dealing with underlying problems of crime.
This is far better than pretending that the whole problem is the result of racist cops, prosecutors and judges.

But the problem is that it’s still phrased, to a large extent, in the language of racial aggrievement. At least some members of the Commission, when they look for the “underlying causes,” are going to say it’s not just a racist criminal justice system, it’s the whole racist American society.

It would be hasty, however, to assume that the race hustlers will write the Commission’s final report. The most closely analogous case is the Wisconsin Sentencing Commission, which quite prudently refused to overstate the case for racial discrimination.

This in spite of pressure from people like State Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), Sentencing Commission member, who, complained to the Journal-Sentinel that the “the report’s message was too muted.” And further:
“These disparities exist,” Taylor told a reporter. “I think the commission should have come out and said that more as a matter of fact, more forcefully.

“They exist. Now, what are we going to do about it?”
The Sentencing Commission, however, prudently refused to draw strong conclusions from data that had massive limitations.

So the Racial Disparity Commission may come up with a fairly sensible report. But if that happens, it will be because the moderate and prudent people on the commission have prevailed over the race hustlers.

[Addition]

Via Badger Blogger, the fact that Alderman Joe Davis, Sr. has issued a press release demanding a Summit to Address Violence in the African American Community. The money quote:
“It is no longer acceptable that statistically, homicides in the City of Milwaukee are overwhelmingly committed by and perpetrated on African American members of our community.”
He calls for black leaders to “sit down and address this issue and develop workable solutions for the short and long term.” That’s easier said than done. But then it’s impossible if you won’t admit what the problem is.

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Scare Them Good!

Democrats and NASCAR

A lot of Republicans (and a Democrat or two) have had some good fun with the Democrats’ notion that NASCAR fans are a bunch of hicks who have all sorts of communicable diseases.
“Democrats should know that there is no preventive measure yet designed to ward off the blue-collar values and patriotism that NASCAR fans represent,” said Linda Daves, the chairwoman of the North Carolina Republican Party. “If they aren’t careful, they just might catch some of it.”

Republican Rep. Tim Walberg, whose district includes the Michigan International Speedway, said Democrats must not understand the term “rubbin’ is racing.”

“To suggest that vaccines are needed to attend NASCAR races is insulting to millions of hardworking Americans who love their country and the smell of burnt rubber,” he said.

Republicans said the suggestion of vaccines usually recommended for travel to Third World countries showed that the Democrats were out of touch with real Americans.

“While red-blooded, patriotic Americans were packing their coolers and gathering their families in preparation for attending last week’s race at Talladega, a leading Democrat was advising staff to get immunized,” said a news release by the National Republican Congressional Committee titled “Talladega Frights: Democrats Allergic to NASCAR Nation.”

“If anything, it’s the NASCAR fans who should get immunized against Washington officials, not the other way around,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Not Pro-Life

Politically Correct Academic Idiots: Numbers 87,094 and 87,095

Our first loyalty in Milwaukee talk radio is to Charlie Sykes. But we have to admit that when he wanders onto a topic we aren’t especially keen on we turn over to WISN to see what Jay Weber or Vicki McKenna are talking about.

Both are good, in fact good enough to dominate the market, were it not for the formidable competition from Sykes.

Yesterday, McKenna recounted a couple of experiences she had as an undergradute at Beloit College in the 1980s. She was, at the time, a self-styled Marxist, but apparently not a rigid enough Marxist for some of the administrators and professors.
  • At one point, cards were distributed among students asking them to suggest a speaker to bring to campus. McKenna thought that it would be interesting to hear G. Gordon Liddy, former Watergate burgler and right-wing talk show host at the time. She put that on her card, and was then called in by a dean who cross-examined her on why she would suggest inviting such an evil person to campus.
  • In a speech course, the assignment was to examine the rhetoric used by some public figure in a speech. Choosing a speech by Jesse Jackson, she applied the standard tools of rhetorical analysis to the text, and turned in the paper. Her professor called her aside and expressed concern that she “might have a problem with the Reverend Jackson.” Apparently, only the rhetoric of conservative figures was to be critically analyzed in that class.
Multiply this a few million times (since there are at least a few million students who aren’t politically correct) and then by an additional three or four more times (political correctness has gotten worse in the last 20 years) and you have the reality of higher education in America today.

While the egregious violations of student rights get a lot of attention, more common is the experience of students who, while not formally punished, have it made clear to them that certain kinds of thoughts are frowned upon.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

No Racial Bias in Decisions of Milwaukee County District Attorney

This morning Wayne McKenzie of the VERA Institute presented the results of a large-scale study of decision-making in the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office at the Marquette Law School. A small crowd including several Marquette Law School students, a few “community activists,” a couple of Marquette faculty and District Attorney John Chisholm was present.

The study included 52,784 felony and misdemeanor accusations brought to the District Attorney’s office in calendar year 2006.

There are many points in the criminal justice process at which racial discrimination might show itself, including the decision to prosecute (the DA’s office simply declines to prosecute some cases), the decision as to what charges are appropriate, the decision as to what plea bargain to offer (over 90% of cases are plea bargained), and what sentence to recommend for a guilty offender.

The VERA institute studied one of these: “declination,” the decision not to prosecute a particular person accused by the cops of a crime.

The results were virtually identical by race. 40% of the misdemeanor charges against whites were not prosecuted, and 40% of such charges against non-whites were likewise declined. Where felonies were concerned, the declination rate was 32% for whites, and 33% for non-whites. That’s about as equal as you can get.

Of course, equality in the aggregate can mask fairly serious disparities in specific cases, so the VERA Institute “drilled down” to see whether specific categories of crime showed a pattern of racial inequality.

There was one, although it was a fairly minor one.

VERA found that in cases of possession of drug paraphernalia (a misdemeanor) 41% of the time whites were not prosecuted for the crime, but in only 27% of the cases was prosecution of cases against non-whites declined.

Does this suggest racism at work? It would be odd if prosecutors who are fair in dealing with the vast majority of offenses put on their white sheets and turn into Klansmen for this one kind of offense.

District Attorney Chisholm investigated, and found that the very junior and inexperienced prosecutors in the misdemeanor unit were looking at cases where black drug offenders had large numbers of prior offenses, and deciding to go ahead with prosecution.

It wasn’t racism, it was a racially neutral process operating to the detriment of (mostly) black offenders.

So that means there isn’t a problem, right?

Even a racially fair process has to pass a cost-benefit test, and Chisholm argued convincingly that prosecution of this particular offense doesn’t meet it (except in unusual cases, such as when the person charged is a known gang leader). Not only is this charge difficult to prove in court, the typical sentence is only a month in jail, if it involves incarceration at all.

These offenders, for the most part, are addicts (drug dealing is a felony), and aren’t going to be helped by the sentence.

Chisholm has responded to this situation by merging the felony and misdemeanor units, such that more experienced prosecutors get to look at these cases.

As the debate over the supposed “disproportionate” incarceration of blacks in Wisconsin continues, we can point to this case as an example of doing things right. Former District Attorney E. Michael McCann initiated a study that was clearly a bit politically risky. The study mostly vindicated his office (since occupied by Chisholm), but when one area of questionable practice was found, the DA moved decisively to fix it.

Things are supposed to work like that, although they rarely seem to.

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Over the Edge

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

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Women’s Studies Departments and Women Under Islam

From Frontpage Magazine:
Despite their vigilance in behalf of women’s rights in America and other Western nations, Women’s Studies Departments across the nation have been strangely passive in the face of the barbaric treatment of women in Islamic regimes. Numerous hours are spent in the classroom, dissecting the reasons for the ‘wage gap’ in America, violence against women and the ‘privileges’ accorded Caucasian males. But courses on the plight of women in Islamic regimes are strangely absent. Where there are a few courses that touch on Islamic women in Women’s Studies programs, the focus is often cultural and literary, while the abuses go unmentioned.

This failure to confront the abuse of women who live in Islamic countries stands in stark contrast to the mission statements of many Women’s Studies departments, which describe their focus as the inequality that women suffer in patriarchal societies. Thus the official mission statement of the Penn State Women’s Studies Department declares that “As a field of study, Women’s Studies analyzes the unequal distribution of power and resources by gender.” Why then does the Penn State department not offer a course analyzing the extreme inequalities that characterize the status of women in the Islamic world?
The article goes on to analyze the course offerings in Women’s Studies at eight universities. It concludes:
It is stunning that among the Women’s Studies departments of these eight prominent universities which openly declare that their missions are to analyze “unequal distribution of power and resources by gender” and to envision “a world free from sexism” there is only a single course on Women and Islam which speaks to these issues.
We ran this by a source who is well-informed on women’s studies in academia, and got this response.
The article is essentially accurate but also fails to understand the nature of women’s studies. It has always been biased toward the humanities (English, history, and philosophy). The social sciences are suspect due to our method (objective not intersubjective, to name one distinction). Thus, it is no surprise that “women in Islamic studies” is mostly literary/social history. Further, US women’s studies are often criticized as being ethnocentric. An occasional academic position in women’s studies will call for “Third World Women” expertise but this merely spotlights the “otherness” of non-Western women. One exception to this is that the texts for the intro to women’s studies course are always written by social scientists (in political science, sociology, psychology) and several new texts on my shelf are international/comparative in focus and the US is just one case.

So, post a rant against women’s studies as not toeing the Bush line against “rape rooms” and his mission of saving Afghani women. However, women’s studies would be the same, 9/11 or not. It is consistent. On the other hand, the women’s movement in the US is very engaged with Islamic women, to the extent that a raging critique of the feminist movement is on-going in women’s studies journals (the charge is that Ellie Smeal and her Feminist Majority Foundation’s project has orientalized Islamic women by focusing on the veil/burqa without understanding the non-oppressive cultural meaning).
Nothing about this response makes us think better of Women’s Studies departments. But we are inclined to agree that the Frontpage article is really a bit of a cheap shot.

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New Film on Academic Intolerance: Indoctrinate U.

Monday, October 08, 2007

We’ll Be Discussing Racial Disparity in Incarceration in Wisconsin on Wisconsin Public Radio Tomorrow Morning

It starts at 7:00 a.m., and goes (probably) until 8:00.

Should be interesting to see how their callers react.

Big Brother Pediatrics Exam?

Via the Texas Hold ‘Em Blogger, a story that, if accurate, should set off alarm bells among all parents.
They’re watching you right now.

They counted every beer you drank during last night’s Red Sox gams.

They see you sneaking out to the garage for a smoke.

They know if you’ve got a gun, and where you keep it.

They’re your kids, and they’re the National Security Agency of the Nanny State.

I found this out after my 13-year-old daughter’s annual checkup. Her pediatrician grilled her about alcohol and drug abuse.

Not my daughter’s boozing. Mine.

“The doctor wanted to know how much you and mom drink, and if I think it’s too much,” my daughter told us afterward, rolling her eyes in that exasperated 13-year-old way. “She asked if you two did drugs, or if there are drugs in the house.”

“What!” I yelped. “Who told her about my stasher, I mean, ‘It’s an outrage!’ ”

I turned to my wife. “You took her to the doctor. Why didn’t you say something?”

She couldn’t, she told me, because she knew nothing about it. All these questions were asked in private, without my wife’s knowledge or consent.

“The doctor wanted to know how we get along,” my daughter continued. Then she paused. “And if, well, Daddy, if you made me feel uncomfortable.”

Great. I send my daughter to the pediatrician to find out if she’s fit to play lacrosse, and the doctor spends her time trying to find out if her mom and I are drunk, drug-addicted sex criminals.

We’re not alone, either. Thanks to guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and supported by the commonwealth, doctors across Massachusetts are interrogating our kids about mom and dad’s “bad” behavior.

We used to be proud parents. Now, thanks to the AAP, we’re “persons of interest.”

The paranoia over parents is so strong that the AAP encourages doctors to ignore “legal barriers and deference to parental involvement” and shake the children down for all the inside information they can get.

And that information doesn’t stay with the doctor, either.

Debbie is a mom from Uxbridge who was in the examination room when the pediatrician asked her 5-year-old, “Does Daddy own a gun?”

When the little girl said yes, the doctor began grilling her and her mom about the number and type of guns, how they are stored, etc.

If the incident had ended there, it would have merely been annoying.

But when a friend in law enforcement let Debbie know that her doctor had filed a report with the police about her family’s (entirely legal) gun ownership, she got mad.

She also got a new doctor.

In fact, the problem of anti-gun advocacy in the examining room has become so widespread that some states are considering legislation to stop it.
We, of course, tried to check this out by calling the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and we talked to Cathleen Haggerty, the Executive Director. She admitted that pediatricians did mental health screening, and indeed invoked “national guidelines” and a legal case called “Rosie D.” as requiring “mental health screening.”

She had no comment for the record as to whether those particular questions were part of the process, and promised that the organization would, in a day or two, come out with a statement on the issue.

We’ll report that when it happens.

We can’t help but note a comment from another blogger on this issue:
Isn’t this the sort of thing that liberals claim they are against? Isn’t this a lot worse than asking librarians about who has been checking out books about explosives? I thought liberals got excited when the state sticks its nose into the bedroom. But if it turns out that Mom and Dad have their gun safe there, apparently liberals are okay with it.

I am not holding my breath waiting for the ACLU to take up the cause of family privacy. Teachers and school administrators in government schools have been known to try to turn their charges into informants, too. The left’s big boys are cool with it.
Indeed, because it’s “for the children.” But terrorists kill children too. And indeed, they own guns.

But they don’t vote Republican, which may explain the different attitudes.

[Update]

An e-mail correspondent sends us the following:
From Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a link to the page where I found the article “Alcohol Use and Abuse: A Pediatric Concern” Published at Pediatrics, 1995; 95; 439-442. Go to page 441 and look at the paragraph numbered “4.” It states “Prenatal visits and preventive child health care provide an opportunity to inquire about a family history of alcoholism and parental attitudes about alcohol use.” We do not need a Nanny State.

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