Friday, November 30, 2007

Atheists: Key Constituency of the Democratic Party

From National Review Online:
It will surprise nobody to learn that the American left is much less religious than the rest of the U.S. population. The General Social Survey tells us that in 2004, liberals were less than half as likely as conservatives to attend a house of worship weekly, and nearly three times as likely as conservatives never to attend. Furthermore, the American left is becoming more secular still: While 27 percent of American liberals attended church weekly in 1974, only 16 percent did by 2004. In contrast, the percentage of church-attending conservatives rose over the same period from 38percent to 46percent.There are still some religious liberals left in America, but today they are outnumbered by religious conservatives by about four to one.

Secular liberals, and especially those who are explicitly nonbelievers, have become a major force on the political left. Researchers have found, for example, that delegates to the Democratic National Convention — the politically-active folks who nominate the Democratic candidate for the U.S. presidency — are more than twice as likely to be completely secular as the population-at-large.

Further, secularists are by far the most politically active liberals at the grassroots level. In the 2005, the Maxwell Poll on Civic Engagement and Inequality revealed that those who never attend religious services are just 11 percent of the adult population in America. But they are 21 percent of self-described liberals, 27 percent of liberals who contribute money to political causes, and 33 percent of liberals who attend political rallies and events. The bottom line is that the Democratic party — at least at the national level — depends critically on nonbelievers. They have influence over American liberal politics that extends far beyond their actual numbers in the population.
Of course, Democratic politicians keep saying that they want to connect with the “faith community.” They claim that they have just as much right to be the party of believers as the Republicans.

But the simple fact is: they don’t.

Deep in their hearts, they think that conservative Christians are ignorant rubes who can be persuaded to vote for the party of abortion and gay marriage by some pro forma expressions of Christian faith.

But the simple fact is: they aren’t and they won’t be.

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Debating Islam and Jihad

Anybody who has been following the controversy over the talk that Walid Shoebat will be giving at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee should be interested in the following event:

“Why I Chose Islam”
Dispelling the Misconceptions

Tuesday, December 4th 2007 at 8:30 PM
UWM Union Ballroom
2200 E. Kenwood Blvd

Featuring a response to misconceptions regarding Islam and terrorism and converts’ journey to Islam
Open to the public and press

Speakers:
---------------
Musa Mcguire (Confirmed)
Taqi Patrick (Confirmed)
Janan Najeeb, Milwaukee Muslim Womens Coalition (Confirmed)
Ahmad Rehab, CAIR (Center for American-Islamic Relations) (Tentative)

Sponsored by the UWM Muslim Student Association.

Cosponsored by the Palestinian Student Organization, Global Peace Project, the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition, the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Islamic Da’wah Center, Musalla Nur Foundation

This event is scheduled in response to Shoebat’s talk, which will be Tuesday, December 4th, 7:30 PM in the UWM Union Wisconsin Room. The address is: 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd., Milwaukee, WI 53211. Shoebat’s talk is also free and open to the public.

Hopefully, this will be a learning experience for the UWM Muslim Student Association, which first tried to get Shoebat banned. Trying to shut up speakers is terrible public relations.

Now they are trying to counter speech they dislike with more speech. That’s in the best tradition of free societies.

And if Shoebat’s talk is likely to provide a window on the ugly side of Islamic radicalism, the pro-Islam position of the Muslim Student Association is also something that a lot of Americans would benefit from hearing.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Canada’s Immigration Problem

Via an e-mail correspondent, a news item from the Manitoba Herald.
The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada Has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration.

The actions of President Bush are prompting the exodus among Left-leaning citizens who fear they’ll soon be required to hunt, pray, and agree with Bill O’Reilly.

Canadian border farmers say it’s not uncommon to see dozens of Sociology professors, animal-rights activists and Unitarians crossing their Fields at night.

“I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood Producer huddled in the barn,” said Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota.

“The producer was cold, exhausted and hungry. He asked me if I could spare a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn’t have any, he left. I didn’t even get a chance to show him my screenplay.”

In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher Fences, but the liberals scaled them. So he tried installing speakers that blare Rush Limbaugh across the fields. “Not real effective,” he said. “The Liberals still got through, and Rush annoyed the cows so much they wouldn’t give milk.”

Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals near the Canadian border, pack them into Volvo station wagons, drive them across the border and leave them to fend for themselves.

“A lot of these people are not prepared for rugged conditions,” an Ontario border patrolman said. “I found one carload without a drop of drinking water. They did have a nice little Napa Valley cabernet, though.”

When liberals are caught, they’re sent back across the border, often wailing loudly that they fear retribution from conservatives. Rumors have been circulating about the Bush administration establishing re-education camps in which liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer and watch NASCAR races.

In recent days, Liberals have turned to sometimes-ingenious ways of crossing the border. Some have taken to posing as senior citizens on bus trips to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs. After catching a half-dozen young Vegans disguised in powdered wigs, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior-citizen passengers on Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney hits to prove they were alive in the ‘50s.

“If they can’t identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, we get suspicious about their age,” an official said.

Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are creating an organic-broccoli shortage and renting all the good Susan Sarandon movies.

“I feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just can’t support them,” an Ottawa resident said. “How many art-history majors does one country need?”

I wonder...
Searching the archives of the Manitoba Herald, we can’t find this particular article.

But it must be true, don’t you think?

Really “Coexist?”

Boots & Kittens is a parody of Owen Robinson’s blog Boots & Sabers by a lefty.

Technically, it’s a copyright violation, since so much of Owen’s code was copied.

But in reality Robinson should be flattered that he’s important enough to parody.

Of course it’s unfair and shows a leftist bias. That’s the point.

But it does have one good image: a parody of the parody of the “Coexist” image that has been so controversial in recent days.



That’s probably a tougher form of coexistence than Christians getting along with Jews getting along with Muslims getting along with atheists.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Unbalanced

Free Speech Wins at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Walid Shoebat is a reformed Palestinian terrorist who has been speaking out against jihad and anti-Semitism.

When the Conservative Union at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee invited him to campus, the Muslim Student Association tried to get the UWM administration to ban him.

Under pressure from the media, and especially Conservative talk radio, UWM administrators relented and agreed to let Shoebat speak.

It’s a clear victory for academic freedom.

So what’s been happening in the last 24 hours?

Sykes did a segment on it this morning.

Who is This Guy Shoebat?

Via Sykes Writes, a video clip.



Will Muslim Students Demonstrate Against Shoebat?

We yesterday reported that the Muslim Student Association would stage a demonstration against Shoebat. UWM was preparing for that, with space set aside both outside the Union and within the meeting hall for such demonstrations. (In the meeting hall, students would have been allowed to hold signs, but not to disrupt the discussion.)

A member of the organization told WTMJ that a demonstration was planned.

But it seems that the current plans of the MSA are not to demonstrate. An e-mail from Aamer Ahmed of the MSA says:
We will be holding a counter-forum immediately after the Shoebat lecture which will be entitled “Why I Chose Islam.” We are not planning to disrupt his speech as we recognize his right to freedom of speech. However, our main focus is on dialogue, diversity, and understanding and not conflict. We do however hope to educate the campus community on the background of Walid Shoebat prior to the event.
This, of course is an excellent plan. Indeed, the Muslim students have every right to stage a demonstration against any speaker they dislike.

That won’t make people forget that they preferred to shut the speaker up, however. Nor make people forget that they actually claimed that letting Shoebat speak would have threatened the physical safety of Muslim students.

Belling Weighs In

Our previous post had links to the Charlie Sykes and Jay Weber segments on the controversy. Yesterday afternoon, talker Mark Belling weighed in.

Belling went on one of his patented rants about how Muslims are bigots. We are a bit put off by such broad-brush rhetoric, although a lot of Muslims have a real problem where Israel is concerned, and a considerable minority will countenance terrorism.

Saying that Muslims are deplorably intolerant of Israel is no worse than saying that, circa 1955, Americans were deplorably intolerant of blacks. And, of course, there are politically correct leftists who today shriek that America is a “racist” nation.

But we still wish that Belling was a bit more restrained about what he says.

Is the UWM Policy Unconstitutional?

Blogger Rick Esenberg, a UWM alum, chimes in defending free speech, and makes a potentially critical point.
You never know how accurate a news report is, but it seems that the amount of the fee may have been set based upon the anticipated reaction to Shoebat’s views. As a general matter, this is unconstitutional. The government has the right to charge for the cost of policing an event, but, in general, it can’t set that fee based upon an assessment of the speaker’s views and the likely reaction to it.

The paper notes that other universities have banned or restricted Shoebat speeches, but they are private institutions. UWM is a public university and, while it may impose reasonable time, place and manner regulation, it does not get to engage in viewpoint discrimination. Basing the amount of a fee upon what a speaker will say and how others may react to it does that.
Whether anybody will bring this issue before a court, however, is questionable.

Want to Come?

Attendance will be somewhat limited -- apparently due to security concerns.

UWM students will be allowed in with a student ID.

Members of the community can attend, but they have to register to do so.

If you want to register, you can simply e-mail the Conservative Union and asked to be put on the list.

[Update]

It seems the talk will be open to the public without preregistration.

We just got the following e-mail from Josh Dirkse:
John- following a meeting today with the administration. We were able to negotiate regarding the access list for the event. The event with now be open to all [the] public, and will not require individuals to pre-register. I apologize for the rapid developments!
It seems the rapid developments are good ones.

You can see Shoebat Tuesday, December 4th, 7:30 PM in the UWM Union Wisconsin Room. The address is: 2200 E.Kenwood Blvd., Milwaukee, WI 53221.

When we hear from the Muslim Student Association about their counter event, we will post that information too.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Do Muslim Students Get to Shut Up Speakers They Don’t Like? The UWM Case

Via Texas Hold ‘Em Blogger, an interesting case at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

It seems that a reformed Palestinian terrorist has been slated by the Conservative Union to speak on campus, and the Muslim Student Association objects.

The university, it appears, is unwilling to flatly forbid the speech, but they are charging the Conservative Union about $2300 for the room. And $1,700 of this is for “security.” These figures have been confirmed for the Marquette Warrior by Laura Glawe at UWM Media Relations.

It is her understanding that the Conservative Union has produced a check for the necessary amount, and that the talk is “on.” It’s not officially “confirmed,” however. Glawe was unable to say what issues, if any, remain unresolved. Josh Dirkse, president of the Conservative Union confirms that the payment has been made, and says the event is “on,” but describes himself a “wary.” He says the confirmation process has been “quite a headache.”

Charlie Sykes has the relevant e-mails, showing the opposition of the Muslim students. One sent to Muslim students urges:
We have noted to the University that the event will create a safety concern for Muslims at UWM. We ask every Muslim who receives this to voice their concern and demand the cancellation of the event.
And an e-mail to the UWM administration claims:
The Muslims at UWM feel that their safety will be in danger if the above mentioned event takes place on the UWM campus. We ask the UWM Administration to cancel the event due to these circumstances for the safety and comfort of the students.
Yes, they actually raise the specter of non-Muslim students going out and beating up Muslims!

Opposition to free speech on the part of Muslims does far more to harm interfaith relations than any speaker condemning radical jihad.

And Jay Weber has more of the details.

Tight security is planned -- indeed the Conservative Union has paid for it! Not only will there be eight UWM police officers, there will be an additional 13 security guards.

There will be metal detectors.

Muslim students will have ample opportunity to protest, either outside the Union (where the speech will be held) or even inside the hall (where they will be allowed to hold up protest signs.)

Do the Media Matter?

When the Conservative Union found itself facing resistance from university bureaucrats, they “went public” with the issue. And indeed, the issue has been thoroughly hashed out today on conservative talk radio.

An official in the UWM Reservations and Event Planning office admitted to Dirkse that “the media coverage pushed us to believe that it’s a free speech issue.” It’s nice they came to believe that, but it would have been better had they believed it all along.

Is this Really Academic Freedom?

Glawe stressed that UWM has “done research” and established that it’s typical on other campuses to charge student organizations extra for security if they bring in a controversial speaker.

It should be obvious what’s wrong with this policy. It gives the groups or organizations who threaten violence or disruption the right to silence speakers, simply by imposing on sponsors costs that they, in a lot of circumstances, cannot bear.

Dirkse said the Conservative Union, to cover the cost of the event, had to take some money out of the honorarium that the speaker, Walid Shoebat, will receive. He said his organization is “a little behind on finances” and that “security costs really hurt us.”

Thus if conservative students will accept with civility the speech of a left wing radical, and leftist students will disrupt or shout down a conservative speaker, the leftists are rewarded with fewer conservative speakers.

The victims are being punished here.

It’s an incentive for being a fascist and a fanatic.

There are too many such incentives already on college campuses.

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Planned Parenthood Slogans

Via Dad29, the fact that Planned Parenthood is having a slogan contest.

A blogger called The Curt Jester offered several suggestions -- none of which are likely to be favorably received by that pro-abortion organization.
  • Making womb and tomb synonymous
  • Depopulating the world one person at a time.
  • Life without consequences
  • Keeping minorities minorities
  • Reach out and abort someone
  • Betcha can’t kill just one
  • Giving breath to the culture of death
  • Where is everyone?
  • Doing our best to reduce class size
  • 30 years of providing incest and statutory rape protection
  • Support your local Abortuary
  • Keeping predatory males happy
  • Have you plunged forceps into your kid
    today?

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wonders of Totalitarian Art

Via Conservative Donnybrook, an article on the artistic (???) wonders (???) of the totalitarian world.

[Warning] the link to Esquire magazine may try to show you an ad, and then when you bypass it, dump you into a page having nothing to do with this subject. If this happens, just go back and hit the link again.]

While public art may not be so hot here in the U.S. of A., it never reaches the level of megalomania that it does under some of the nastier dictatorships of the world.

As the author explains:
On some level, each of the New Seven is also a colossal monument to narcissism, either some ruler or some culture’s desire to go bigger and leave a mark that cannot be erased -- a sentiment not unlike the one held by some of today’s most ruthless dictators. With that in mind, we created the following list, celebrating those modern monuments from the totalitarian world that may or may not make it through the next coup. Check them out while you still can.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

What Cars Do Harvard Faculty Drive?

Via Cold Spring Shops, a survey of what autos Harvard faculty drive.

The title of the post? Smug Alert.
Many of [the faculty] express their concern about the environment in a more conspicuous way: they drive Toyota Priuses, the hybrid-engine vehicles that get over 40 miles to the gallon. Computer scientist Margo I. Seltzer ’83, a recent Prius convert, says she started feeling guilty about her ’96 Toyota Corolla when she saw Al Gore ’69’s “An Inconvenient Truth” over the summer.

Other green-conscious professors contacted by The Crimson bragged about their fancy bicycles. Economist Emmanuel Farhi says his bike is “very powerful,” and physicist Gerald Gabrielse notes that his is made of titanium.
What do Harvard faculty not drive?
Overall, Toyota was the most popular make, followed by Subaru, Honda, Saab, and Volvo.
Of course. American cars!

Click on the following image to enlarge:


Another blog notes:
I am reminded of this conversation on EconTalk where Mike Munger tells of a meeting of Duke department chairs. Everyone has a Prius or other hybrid. Next to last comes up the chair of chemistry, who argues that hybrid cars may use more energy (though less fuel) than gas vehicles. (Here’s one report explaining why that might be so.) The chemist is then asked what he drives. “Oh, I drive a Prius, but that’s just because you have to if you’re gonna be a faculty member.” At Harvard, one environmental studies professor drives a ‘96 Suburban, arguing that he reduced his carbon footprint at home. But eight of 18 economists who answered the survey said they owned luxury cars. Most popular across the campus? The Subaru Forester.

Moonshine Energy Policy

Via Random10, an article on what a bad investment ethanol is -- both for private investors and socially.

But of course, if you can persuade the government dragoon customers for you, it might seem to work.
Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Ethanol, the centerpiece of President George W. Bush’s plan to wean the U.S. from oil, is 2007’s worst energy investment.

The corn-based fuel tumbled 57 percent from last year’s record of $4.33 a gallon and drove crop prices to a 10-year high. Production in the U.S. tripled after Morgan Stanley, hedge fund firm D.E. Shaw & Co. and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla helped finance a building boom.

Even worse for investors and the Bush administration, energy experts contend ethanol isn’t reducing oil demand. Scientists at Cornell University say making the fuel uses more energy than it creates, while the National Research Council warns ethanol production threatens scarce water supplies.

As oil nears $100 a barrel, ethanol markets are so depressed that distilleries are shutting from Iowa to Germany. An investor who put $10 million into ethanol on Dec. 31 now has $7.5 million, a loss of 25 percent. Florida and Georgia have banned sales during the summer, when the fuel may evaporate and create smog.

“I don’t anticipate any sort of immediate rebound,” says Barry Frazier, the 50-year-old president of Center Ethanol LLC in suburban St. Louis. “It’s going to take 12 to 24 months before the market is able to absorb the large amount of new capacity.”

The federal government has 20 separate laws and incentives to boost ethanol use, and 49 states offer additional subsidies and supports, according to the Energy Department in Washington.

Scientists question the wisdom of using ethanol. Stanford University researchers say ethanol, originally added to gasoline in the 1970s to reduce tailpipe emissions, does nothing to improve the environment.

“It takes more energy to produce ethanol than it actually gives off,” says David Pimentel, a Cornell University professor who has studied production of the fuel for two decades.

Ethanol is a form of alcohol indistinguishable from moonshine that’s created by fermenting and distilling the starches from corn, sugar, wheat and other crops. Harvesting, crushing, fermenting and distilling corn requires 29 percent more energy than ethanol produces, says Pimentel, a professor of ecology and agriculture.
But if the moonshine fuel can’t hack it in the market, there is always politics.
U.S. distillers’ best hope for a recovery rests with attempts by farm-state lawmakers to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline, Berg says.

Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives and Senate are negotiating on whether a final energy bill should include a Senate plan to increase the so-called renewable fuels mandate to 36 billion gallons a year, more than five times the amount produced now by all 131 U.S. mills.

“Long-term prospects for the industry depend very much on whether a new energy bill requires higher blending targets,” Berg says. “Any increase in the mandate would give a psychological lift to the ethanol market.”

Almost one-quarter of the $33.8 billion corn crop is devoted to ethanol, causing food companies to raise prices for tortillas, meat and soda-pop made from corn-based ingredients. Land prices climbed 13 percent in the central U.S. during the second quarter, the biggest increase in at least 27 years, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
Translation: windfall profits for farmers, while consumers -- and especially poor consumers -- get hit hard.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

No Mercy

Flash: America Not Really Going to Hell in a Handbasket

From the November 2007 number of Commentary, an account of how the dire predictions about the decline of American culture in the 1990s have proved to be inaccurate:
As for the social reality underlying this general feeling of decline, a number of conservative commentators, concentrating especially on the areas of crime, welfare dependency, and illegitimacy, undertook the task of quantifying and analyzing the available evidence. The most notable such effort was by William J. Bennett, who in March 1993 released a report entitled The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators.

Over the course of the preceding three decades, Bennett wrote, the United States had indeed experienced “substantial social regression.” About this, the data were unequivocal. Since 1960, there had been a more than 500-percent increase in violent crime; a more than 400-percent increase in out-of-wedlock births; almost a tripling in the percentage of children on welfare; a tripling of the teenage suicide rate; a doubling of the divorce rate; and a decline of more than 70 points in SAT scores. To Bennett, the conclusion was inescapable: “the forces of social decomposition [in America] are challenging—and in some instances overtaking—the forces of social composition.”
But a funny thing happened as American was (in the term used by Robert Bork) slouching toward gomorrah.
In a number of key categories, the amount of ground gained or regained since the early 1990’s is truly stunning. Crime, especially, has plummeted. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the rates of both violent crime and property crime fell significantly between 1993 and 2005, reaching their lowest levels since 1973 (the first year for which such data are available). More recent figures from the FBI, which measures crime differently from the NCVS, show an unfortunate uptick in violent crime in the last two years—particularly in cities like Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Even so, however, the overall rate remains far below that of the mid-1990’s.

Teenage drug use, which moved relentlessly upward throughout the 1990’s, declined thereafter by an impressive 23 percent, and for a number of specific drugs it has fallen still lower. Thus, the use of ecstasy and LSD has dropped by over 50 percent, of methamphetamine by almost as much, and of steroids by over 20 percent.

Then there is welfare. Since the high-water mark of 1994, the national welfare caseload has declined by over 60 percent. Virtually every state in the union has reduced its caseload by at least a third, and some have achieved reductions of over 90 percent. Not only have the numbers of people on welfare plunged, but, in the wake of the 1996 welfare-reform bill, overall poverty, child poverty, black child poverty, and child hunger have all decreased, while employment figures for single mothers have risen.

Abortion, too, is down. After reaching a high of over 1.6 million in 1990, the number of abortions performed annually in the U.S. has dropped to fewer than 1.3 million, a level not seen since the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized the practice. The divorce rate, meanwhile, is now at its lowest level since 1970.

Educational scores are up. Earlier this year, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reported that the nation’s fourth- and eighth-graders continue to improve steadily in math, and that fourth-grade reading achievement is similarly on the rise. Other findings show both fourth- and twelfth-graders scoring significantly higher in the field of U.S. history. Black and Hispanic students are also making broad gains, though significant gaps with whites persist. The high-school dropout rate, under 10 percent, is at a 30-year low, and the mean SAT score was 8 points higher in 2005 than in 1993, the year Bennett published his Index.

More generally, we are seeing important progress in critical areas of youth behavior. Since 1991 (a peak year), the birth rate for teenagers aged fifteen to nineteen has decreased by 35 percent. The number of high-school students who have reported ever having sexual intercourse has declined by more than 10 percent. Teen use of alcohol has also fallen sharply since 1996—anywhere from 10 to 35 percent, depending on the grade in school—and binge drinking has dropped to the lowest levels ever recorded. The same is true of teens reporting that they smoke cigarettes daily.
All of this is good news, but there have been counter trends.
Perhaps most importantly, some of the most vital social indicators of all—those regarding the condition and strength of the American family—have so far refused to turn upward. Even as the teenage birth rate has fallen, out-of-wedlock births in general have reached an all-time high: 37 percent of all births in 2005. Over half of all marriages are now preceded by a period of unmarried cohabitation, and marriage rates themselves have declined by almost one-half since 1970.
We can hope that the general trend toward responsibility will soon affect illigitimacy and cohabitation too. Of course, powerful cultural forces -- most importantly the mass media -- are pushing things in the wrong direction.

But it seemed those cultural forces were also pushing all the other indicators in the wrong direction.

And a hard core of ideologues, the same people who opposed welfare reform and continue to oppose the increased incarceration that was a major factor in decreased crime rates, is firmly ensconced in college faculties, some think tanks and much of the government bureaucracy.

But they were beaten, and can be beaten again.

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Give Thanks

Drumbeat of Good News: The Surge is Working

Just one article, typical of many others:
Violence in Iraq has fallen at a rate that has surprised military commanders and even one of the architects of the “surge” that boosted US troop numbers in the country this year, according to figures gathered by the US.

The figures show the numbers of suicide attacks, roadside bombings, mortar and other attacks on US forces and on the Iraqi population have more than halved since 30,000 extra troops in June.

Jack Keane, the former army general who helped persuade George W. Bush, US president, to increase troop numbers in Iraq, said the decrease in violence was “phenomenal” and had occurred far faster than he had expected.

“When you understand you are dealing with the complexity of a counter-insurgency operation which can take years to resolve, to have this dramatic a success in a short period of time, it’s unprecedented,” he said.

The US military says the number of civilian deaths has also fallen 60 per cent since the surge took effect, with a drop of 75 per cent in Baghdad. According to icasualties.org, the average monthly US death toll dropped from 96 for the first half of 2007 to 66 in the past four months. The average monthly death toll for Iraqi civilians and security forces has dropped from 2,157 to 1,223 in the same period.

Stephen Biddle, former adviser to General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, said the most important factor was the spread of ceasefire agreements. He said the “key challenge” now was to make sure they could be adequately policed.

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Shark and Shepherd on “Coexist” Bumper Sticker

As is typical these days, the most sensible comment on this brouhaha comes from Rick Esenberg.
It is because of these faithful and peaceful Muslims that we ought to be careful to limit our criticisms to those factions within Islam who do, with apologies to Mr. White, believe that their faith commands murder and misogyny.

But those factions exist and they are rather large. Islam has a problem and it will still be there whether or not we pretend that it isn’t. As the left correctly points out, terrorism is not a cause, it’s a tactic. I wish the enemy wasn’t an ugly version of Islam adhered to by millions of people. But it is. I don’t see how you respond to a problem by deliberately misunderstanding it. By positing an equivalence among faiths on the question of coexistence, the bumper sticker does that.

One final point. Marcus White’s belief that coexistence requires that TMJ take down the parody actually reflects what has made coexistence with Islam in Europe so difficult. Coexistence in a diverse society requires understanding that other people who do not share your views will say and do things that offend you and you do not get to make them stop.
While saying that Islam has a problem is politically incorrect and not to be uttered by the liberals at places like the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, attacking Christians is something they never seem to object to.

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WTMJ Supports Sykes on Parody “Coexist” Bumper Sticker

That’s the word from Tim Cuprisin, after a conservation with Jon Schweitzer, the general manager of WTMJ.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Leftist “Interfaith” Group Tries to Censor Charlie Sykes

It all started with a parody from Tom McMahon, who was aggravated by the extremely smug and intellectually slovenly bumper sticker in which a variety of religious symbols spell out “COEXIST.”



McMahon produced a parody bumper sticker with Nazi and Communist symbols substituted.



His point, of course, was that some religious views are simply impossible to coexist with, and must (like Nazism and Communism) be fought.

Charlie Sykes picked this up and ran it on his blog, and then the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee jumped in, demanding of Sykes and Sykes’ boss that the symbols be removed.

Interfaith Conference

Is the Interfaith Conference a protector of religious tolerance, attentive to slights against diverse faiths?

No, they are a bunch of liberal bureaucrat/activists who dislike Sykes simply because Sykes is a conservative.

Their leftist politics is not some sort of secret. They advertise it all over their web site.

They are, for example, supporters of socialized medicine. Not only did they sponsor a showing of the Michael Moore film “Sicko,” they strongly supported the “Healthy Wisconsin” proposal in the recent state budget battle.

They are also strong supporters of a Housing Trust Fund supposedly for low-income housing. While this may sound good, in reality it is merely a pork-barrel subsidy for local social activist organizations.

They are supporters of something called “Project Working Communities.” The web site of that project lays out its objectives.

  • When available, all jobs will be with locally owned, union-represented businesses paying living wages and offering full-time work.
  • All construction-phase jobs will pay at least prevailing wage.
  • During construction, at least 25% of jobs will be in Disadvantaged Business Enterprises/Minority Business Enterprises and 5% in Women’s Business Enterprises
  • During construction, at least 25% of employees will be minorities and 5% women.
  • After construction, at least 75% of jobs will pay at least a living wage or market wage (whichever is higher), plus health insurance. The living wage is 110% of the federal poverty line for a family of four (in 2003, $9.73 per hour). Jobs without health insurance will pay at least $2 per hour more.
  • Preferred jobs will be full-time, with sick leave, vacation time, and flexibility for family needs.
In short, unionization and rigid affirmative action quotas will be imposed, and economic reality will be ignored.

The Conferences sponsors a meeting called Common Ground, “A One Day Conference on Racism and White Privilege” where, from all appearances, the race card will be played incessantly. The program from the 2007 conference makes this clear, and the 2006 program features panels on subjects like “Globalization and New Urbanism are metaphors of white privilege,” and “White bonding, hurricane Katrina & other unnatural disasters.” Add to that the enchantingly titled “Old glory, mom, apple pie and racism: A dialogue on race beyond black and white.”

Anybody familiar with the mindset of leftist clerical bureaucrats won’t be surprised to learn that they oppose the death penalty.

Nor to learn that they favor a very liberal approach to immigration, and buy into the standard environmentalist agenda.

Who is Anti-Semitic?

Perhaps the most bizarre thing about the Interfaith Conference statement is the claim that the parody bumper sticker is somehow anti-Semitic. Yet the actions of the Conference raise serious questions. For example:
When the Toledo charity KindHearts was shut down this past February, for raising millions of dollars for Hamas, the group’s leaders got off scott free. One of those leaders was KindHearts’ President, Khaled Smaili. Another was KindHearts’ South Asia Director, Zulfiqar Ali Shah. Unlike Smaili, who has remained virtually silent since the closure, Shah has continued to bask in the spotlight. He now sits in his new digs in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Religious Director of a large Islamic institution and the toast of the media. Today, the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee will be sponsoring a Shah talk, taking place at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.
And further:
. . . Shah’s love for his fellow man was not manifest, when, just a few years prior, in June of 2001, he spoke of a wild conspiracy regarding Jews retaking the Saudi city of Medina. He said, “If we are unable to stop the Jews now, their next stop is Yathrib (The Prophet’s city of Medina), where the Jews used to live until their expulsion by Prophet Muhammad. That’s the pinnacle of their motives.”
You can find further information on Shah here. Local Milwaukee columnists Cary Spivak & Dan Bice raised a variety of questions about Shah in a 2006 article.

But Shah’s group, the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, is a member of the Interfaith Conference!

The simple fact is that the Interfaith Conference lacks any credibility in attacking Sykes, or making any assertions about religious tolerance.

They are simply a bunch of liberals and leftists who dislike Sykes because they don’t like conservatives.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Child Abuse Most Likely in Out of Wedlock Cohabitation

Via Modern Commentaries, an article from the Associated Press:
NEW YORK - Six-year-old Oscar Jimenez Jr. was beaten to death in California, then buried under fertilizer and cement. Two-year-old Devon Shackleford was drowned in an Arizona swimming pool. Jayden Cangro, also 2, died after being thrown across a room in Utah.

In each case, as in many others every year, the alleged or convicted perpetrator had been the boyfriend of the child’s mother — men thrust into father-like roles which they tragically failed to embrace.

Every case is different, every family is different. Some single mothers bring men into their lives who lovingly help raise children when the biological father is gone for good.

Nonetheless, many scholars and front-line caseworkers interviewed by The Associated Press see the abusive-boyfriend syndrome as part of a broader trend that deeply worries them. They note an ever-increasing share of America’s children grow up in homes without both biological parents, and say the risk of child abuse is markedly higher in the nontraditional family structures.

“This is the dark underbelly of cohabitation,” said Brad Wilcox, a sociology professor at the University of Virginia. “Cohabitation has become quite common, and most people think, ‘What’s the harm?’ The harm is we’re increasing a pattern of relationships that’s not good for children.”

The existing data on child abuse in America is patchwork, making it difficult to track national trends with precision.

However, there are many other studies that, taken together, reinforce the concerns. Among the findings:
  • Children living in households with unrelated adults are nearly 50 times as likely to die of inflicted injuries as children living with two biological parents, according to a study of Missouri abuse reports published in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2005.
  • Children living in stepfamilies or with single parents are at higher risk of physical or sexual assault than children living with two biological or adoptive parents, according to several studies co-authored by David Finkelhor, director of the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center.
  • Girls whose parents divorce are at significantly higher risk of sexual assault, whether they live with their mother or their father, according to research by Robin Wilson, a family law professor at Washington and Lee University.
None of this is new.

One of our routine exercises with students is to ask them “what is the strongest factor that is likely to result in child abuse.”

They always give the politically correct answer: “That the parent was abused.”

We then distribute a graph bases on British data (which is more complete than U.S. data) showing that children living with their biological mother and a live-in boyfriend are 33 time more likely to be abused that children living with their married biological parents.

In fact, the same data show that a child whose mom’s live-in boyfriend is living in the household is 73 times more likely to be fatally abused than a child with married biological parents.

Of course we then ask students: “why didn’t you know this? Why has this information been withheld from you?”

The reason, of course, is that it’s politically incorrect to question people’s sexual behavior -- even if it has nasty social consequences.

And this from people who will happily attack people for merely owning an SUV.

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CNN’s “Undecided Voters” Were Actually Democratic Shills

Via Real Debate Wisconsin, an account of how CNN had “undecided voters” ask Hillary questions in the Las Vegas Democratic debate.

Just how “undecided” were they?

They included:

A Democratic Party bigwig
An antiwar activist
A Union official
An Islamic leader
A Harry Reid staffer
A radical Chicano separatist

One could argue, of course, that while all of them were liberals or leftists, at least they might be undecided as between the (entirely left-leaning) Democratic candidates.

But this is implausible. People this politicized have preferences, even this early, and even among rival Democrats.

And if they believed that Hillary is the favorite to win the nomination (a widely held idea) they have a huge incentive to throw her softball questions. The last thing they would want is a tough question leading to something that would hurt her in the General Election.

And further:
After mentioning that the debate was sponsored by the national party — something likely understood by most viewers as a mere formality — he described them as “ordinary people, undecided voters.” Note: not even “undecided Democrats.” Just undecided.
Look for this in the General Election too -- if the networks get to choose the questioners.

Or if a network recruits a group of “undecided” or “middle of the road” or “representative” citizens to comment on the debate. Such a group will (to about a 99% certainty) think the Democrat did better.

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Male Liberal Bloggers Hating Conservative Female Bloggers

From Stepping Right Up!, a rundown of the tough, even vicious treatment that conservative female bloggers have gotten from liberal male bloggers.
The nastiness and the anger out of the liberal bloggers in the cheddarsphere has hit a new low.

Over the last several months, you can just feel the anger and the hatred dripping from their blogs.

Currently their favorite attack method is accusing conservatives of being racist.

It happened to me, on this very post.

Apparently, the blogger on Pundit Nation was upset over a post I made on Jimmy Carter.

Now, there was nothing that I wrote that could have been construed as racist or the KKK.

No, instead it was a twist on my name that gave this particular blogger the right to imply that I am a racist. (Kathy Karpenter FOR Kenosha / Koncerned Kristian Kitizen)

Of course, not to be outdone, every conservatives favorite blogger, Illusory Tenant, called me a bitch. For what reason, I don’t know. I am pretty certain we have never met.
And there have been plenty of other cases.
I am not exactly sure what happened to Jeni at Sheboygan Shenanigans today. Clearly she has grown weary of the personal attacks also. Jeni has also been accused of being a racist, by the mayor of Sheboygan, no less.

Clearly, no conservative female blogger has taken more personal attacks than Jessica McBride. Every time I post about Jessica, the personal attacks against her seemed to be stepped up even more. (So sorry, Jessica. I could not keep it to myself any longer.)

The vile, hateful personal attacks against Jessica has reached a fevered pitch over the last several months.

The same liberal blogger that called me a bitch, Illusory Tenant, also called Jessica the “c” word. There are no excuses for this type of behavior. When called on it, there was an apology.

Of course, this did not stop some of these liberals from piling on her husband or stop them from dragging her children into this.

An entire website, dedicating to insulting and trashing Jessica, has been created. How angry must a person be in order to create a website dedicated to trashing one private citizen writing her opinion?
Of course, liberals and leftists are so convinced that they represent “oppressed minority” groups that any challenge to that notion is likely to be met with anger and aggression.

Much more than traditional “patriarchal” males, liberal males are insistent that women have to play the role assigned to them.

Except the assigned role is to be a leftist feminist, railing against “sexism” and pushing a standard liberal policy agenda.

When women (or blacks) fail to conform to the role assigned them, they are vilified.

Welcome to Women’s Liberation, circa 2007!

[Correction/Update:]

The blogger on Pundit Nation who attacked Kathy Carpenter was Anne Quimby Mathias, not Michael J. Mathias who also blogs at Pundit Nation. Ms. Mathias has now apologized, but apparently because liberal bloggers are now “offended” at a post on Charlie Sykes’ blog, and feel they must clean up their act if they want to attack Sykes.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Dumb Thief

Women Pressured to Abort Down Syndrome Babies

From Christianity Today:
Women whose babies are prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome report that “their obstetricians had failed to provide enough up-to-date printed material” and “felt rushed or pressured into making a decision about continuing the pregnancy.” The study of mothers whose children have Down syndrome was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

One woman quoted in the study said that in 1999, when her child was diagnosed with Down syndrome, the doctor “showed a really pitiful video first of people with Down syndrome who were very low tone and lethargic-looking and then proceeded to tell us that our child would never be able to read, write, or count change.”

In response, senators Sam Brownback and Ted Kennedy are sponsoring legislation that would require doctors to provide current medical information about any diagnosed disability after a prenatal test, along with treatment options, the expected development of the child, and information about local support communities.

“A lot of the testing is done for disease processes that we really can’t do anything about,” says Stephen Nelson, staff neonatologist and director of the Neonatal Transport Service at MeritCare Children’s Hospital in Fargo, North Dakota. “Our ability to diagnose diseases prenatally exceeds our ability to treat.”

Prenatal testing is a way of learning valuable information about a baby, but just as important is what parents will do with that information, says John Kilner, president of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois. “It is usually used to find out if there is something there you don’t want so you can abort.”

Kilner said that when he and his wife had trouble conceiving their second child, doctors offered prenatal tests. “It was just offered to us as obvious in the normal course of things,” Kilner said. “It was only in response to our questions that we discovered there was any risk at all. And then when we realized that we would only be getting information that would lead us to abort, it was like, wait a minute.”

Still, “there’s a lot of unspoken pressure to abort once you’ve had the testing done,” says Nelson. Throughout the medical literature, “parents are blamed if they have a baby with Down syndrome.” Parents who decide to give birth to a Down syndrome child “say that they feel like outcasts, they feel blameworthy.”

The Brownback/Kennedy bill could help alleviate cultural pressure to abort. “The effect of this sort of ‘weeding out’ is creating new eugenics, a form of systematic, disability-based discrimination,” said Brownback. “We don’t want a world where parents feel driven to justify their children’s existence. We need to link parents with these programs so that they are equipped with all the information they need to hopefully make a life-affirming choice.”

For many parents, having a child with a disability can be difficult but profoundly enriching. “Scripture doesn’t lie. These children really are gifts,” says Nelson, whose son has a genetic disability. “Our other children have a much greater appreciation for people with differences as a result of their brother, Taylor. It’s been a really remarkable experience for our family. He’s truly been a gift to our family.”
This is exceedingly ironic in a society which has an Americans With Disabilities Act.

Not only is it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities, one is required to make special accommodations for them!

Unless they haven’t been born yet.

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Face Cards

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How Dangerous is Milwaukee?

Congressional Quarterly has released rankings of the “safest cities” in the United States.

Inverting the list, we find that the most dangerous city is Detroit (number 378), followed by St. Louis, MO, Flint, MI, Oakland, CA, Camden, NJ, Birmingham, AL, North Charleston, SC, Memphis, TN, Richmond, CA and Cleveland, OH.

Milwaukee is rated 343. Not good.

Among the most dangerous cities above 500,000 population, Milwaukee is ranked seventh behind: (1) Detroit, MI (2) Memphis, TN (3) Baltimore, MD (4) Philadelphia, PA (5) Washington, DC and (6) Dallas, TX.

In terms of safety, the Milwaukee metropolitan area ranks 230 out of 333. Not terrible. The worst problems are in the City of Milwaukee.

Can we now get past political correctness, and start taking crime seriously?

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Politically Correct Anti-Rape Feminists Refuse to Condemn Rap Music

We recently blogged on a forum at Marquette were the usual politically correct leftist professors discussed the issue of rape, and said a variety of bizarre things.

But one of the most bizarre came when we decided to throw a monkey wrench into the proceedings during the question and answer period at the end.

The panel had been fussing and fuming about the evils of “hypermasculinity” and “objectifying” women.

So we asked them: “will you therefore condemn rap music.”

Members of the panel said they would not. We put it to them that rap music thrives on “hypermasculinity” and “objectifying” women.

They said that rock and roll does that too.

We replied that content analysis shows that rap music does that a lot more than other genres. They blew it off.

But the facts aren’t hard to ascertain. From a new study by Brian A. Primack of the Medical School of the University of Pittsburgh.
Background: Adolescents are exposed to 104 minutes of popular music daily, and sexual content is highly prevalent in popular music lyrics.

Methods: Two independent coders analyzed references to sex and degrading sex in the top songs of 2005 in various genres according to Billboard magazine. We simultaneously conducted a cross-sectional survey of 302 urban ninth grade students in which we measured sexual experience, genre preference, and fourteen covariates related to sexual experience in adolescents.

Results: References to sexual intercourse were most common in Rap music (83%), followed by R&B/Hip-Hop (56%) and Rock music (7%). References to degrading sex were also most common in Rap music (76%) followed by R&B/Hip-Hop (41%) and Rock music (3%). In the fully adjusted and trimmed model (covariates included gender, age, race, socioeconomic status, rebelliousness, academic achievement, and desire to lose weight), preference of Rap music was associated with increased odds of having had sexual intercourse . . . whereas preference of Rock music was associated with decreased odds . . . . Preference of R&B/Hip-Hop was not associated with increased or decreased odds of having had sexual intercourse.

Discussion: Preference of musical genre is independently associated with early sexual experience in adolescents. In particular, those preferring genres with more sexual references are more likely to have had sex.
We doubt that panel members objected to ninth graders having sex, but shouldn’t they have been disturbed by the fact that 76% of rap songs had references to degrading sex?

Of course, it goes beyond sex. From the abstract of another paper from the same project:
Objective: To perform a comprehensive content analysis of substances of abuse in contemporary popular music.

Design: We analyzed the 279 most popular songs of 2005 according to Billboard magazine. Two coders working independently used a standardized data collection instrument to code portrayal of substances of abuse.

Outcome Measures: Presence and explicit use of substances of abuse, and motivations for, associations with, and consequences of substance use.

Results: Ninety-three (33.3%) of the 279 songs portrayed substance use, with an average of 35.2 substance references per song-hour. Portrayal of substance use varied significantly by genre, with one or more references in 9% of pop, 14% of rock, 20% of R&B/hip-hop, 37% of country, and 77% of rap. While only 2.9% of songs portrayed tobacco use, 23.7% depicted alcohol, 13.6% marijuana, and 11.5% other or unspecified substances. Substance use was most often motivated by peer/social pressure (48%) or sex (30%). Use was commonly associated with partying (54%), sex (46%), violence (29%), and/or humor (24%). Only 4 songs (4%) contained explicit anti-use messages and none portrayed substance refusal. The majority of songs (68%) with substance use portrayed more positive than negative consequences; these positive consequences were most commonly social, sexual, financial, or emotional.
So it seems that drugs and sex don’t particularly go with rock and roll, but they do go with rap.

If panel members were somehow ignorant of this reality, their response might be understandable.

But panel member Ed de St. Aubin knew of content analyses showing exactly what percentage of rape victims in porno films are portrayed as having an orgasm!

What’s going on here?

Simple. Feminists aren’t particularly “pro-woman.” If they were, they would be much more forthright condemning rap music. They would also be forthright in condemning the way fundamentalist Islam treats women. And they would also have objected to the way Bill Clinton treated women.

But they aren’t really “pro-woman.” They are leftists, and condemning anything coming from the black community is verboten.

[Update]

A feminist source of ours points out that there is plenty of feminist writing condemning the treatment of women and sex in rap music.

Indeed, videos taking this exact tact can be found in Raynor Library.

This same source, however, points out that the intersection of race and gender can get pretty dicey, and politically correct people (our source didn’t use that term) are cross-pressured when the two clash head-to-head.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

More: Keeping Tabs on Student Government

We recently blogged about student blogger Joseph Schuster and his resolve to hold student government accountable by bringing some light to the rather opaque subject.

After a brief spell of blogging for the Marquette Tribune, Schuster is back at his old blog, The MUSG Disconnect.

Why? Because the Tribune refused to publish (on his Tribune blog, not in the paper) a piece saying that Marquette University Student Government is “unnecessary.” That the student body would be better off without it.

What heresy!

A Tribune editor called this “not constructive” and spiked it.

Just what did Schuster say that was so bad? Here are the first few paragraphs.
As I was walking through campus today, I had a most horrible thought, what would Marquette University be like without MUSG?

As I looked around with this thought in my mind, the entire campus began to crumble before me. I saw buildings, never getting built. Sports teams never reaching the levels they are at. Academics not being what they are, and there just are not as many students as we have today.

Actually, it would be the exact same place that it is today. The administration and staff at Marquette take care of everything. MUSG just takes up space and resources. This year, MUSG’s revenue, according to their budget was $447,700. The majority of this money was raised through the student activity fee. Now how much of that $447,700goes back to the students through the student organization allocations? Only $128,500.

Now just think, if we didn’t have MUSG taking their cut of that $447,700 and doing whatever it is that they do (we are still trying very hard to figure that out), then students could put all that money, specifically where they want it. According to the budget $3,000 gets spend on MUSG advertising. I guess they have to convince people to join them.
Schuster also revealed some interesting data about how MUSG allocates its funds.
As most probably know, MUSG (mis)allocates the student activity fee among student organizations. Recently 2 of the organizations that received a fairly generous portion of the activity fee demonstrated against the Marquette ROTC, because apparently, soldiers are being trained for the “unjust war in Iraq.”

The two student groups that were supporters of this event (through encouraging members to attend) were the Muslim Student Association and the group known as J.U.S.T.I.C.E. (An acronym meaning liberal student organization). Information about the specific s of the demonstration can be found on the Marquette Warrior Blog.

But the reason that I feel a need to mention this protest on a blog devoted to MUSG is because in period 2, MUSG gave JUSTICE, $3,084.00, see MUSG’s SOA allocations here the exact amount that they requested. Now just to let you know how hard it is to get the exact amount that you request from MUSG, in the last period, only 17.6% of events received the funding level which they requested. So either the JUSTICE application was quite good, or MUSG has a special heart for the leftist organization.
It’s the latter, obviously. J.U.S.T.I.C.E. is a leftist student organization that represents, with unerring fidelity, the political agenda of the University Ministry.

And MUSG is pretty much under the thumb of bureaucrats in the Office of Student Development. Since the University Ministry and OSD think the same way and work hand-in-hand on projects of leftist indoctrination, it’s not surprising that MUSG funds the organization generously.

Look for more from Schuster.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wrong Direction

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Outlaw Political Robo Calls?

Yes, it’s yet another attack on free speech.

From the Wisconsin Radio Network:
There’s another push to outlaw robocalls in our state.

The automated computer-generated calls are more common in political campaigns, because technology allows the robocalls to be made pretty inexpensively. State Representative Spencer Black (D-Madison) points to an incident involving robocalls in last week’s election in New York.

“In New York people were awakened at 2am in the morning because a computer was misprogrammed. Obviously if these calls were made by a person as my bill would require, that person would not be calling at 2am, but a computer can make mistakes.”

The Madison Democrat says the deceptive and harassing use of robocalls could happen in Wisconsin, that’s why he says lawmakers need to pass legislation (AB-311, SB-172) banning such calls before next year’s election. Black says in some areas of active elections, people get as many as 30 intrusive robocalls a day ... annoying taxpayers and even blocking important personal calls.

“We had one incident in Wisconsin where a person up in Appleton missed his own brother’s funeral because there were so many calls on his answering machine he did not receive calls informing him of the death of his brother and the date of the funeral, so he missed his own brother’s funeral.”

Black says candidates have the right to get their message out, but taxpayers have the right to personal privacy. Black’s measure was unanimously approved in a senate committee, but is not yet scheduled for a vote in the full senate
It’s not yet time to man the gunboats, since this bill probably has little chance to pass. According to a blog following the issue:
The NPDNC Registry doubts that this bill will pass the legislature. Instead, it will simply languish in committee long enough for some politicians to say that they are trying to do something to help the voter.

In reality, they had no intent to pass the legislation in the first place.
We certainly hope so.

Wisconsin Right to Life calls these bills “The Politicians Protection Act (SB 77),” and “The Welfare for Politicians Act (SB 171).”

But given the willingness of “reformers” to stifle speech, we wouldn’t write this off entirely.

Perhaps Spencer Black and the other legislators who approved this in committee really don’t intend for it to pass, and it’s merely an example of “position taking” to placate disgruntled voters.

If so, it’s to be lamented that voters are willing to credit attempts to stifle free speech, and that legislators are so cynical as to pander to them.

If they want to actually pass this legislation, it’s even worse.

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Blogger Keeping Tabs on Student Government

Blogger Joseph Schuster has taken on the role of being a thorn in the side of Marquette University Student Government.

We can hardly think of a better target.

Actually, the Office of Student Development and the University Ministry might be better targets, but they aren’t really different targets, since MUSG is pretty much in the pocket of those University bureaucrats.

Schuster’s most recent post concerns an MUSG “concert” that turned into a real flop.
When I have discussions with people about the necessity of MUSG, the one point that always comes up about what MUSG does that is great for the student body is that it puts on events. That would mean the only worthwhile MUSG department is the Program Board, headed by Program Vice President Matt Robinson.

I was wrong again. This past weekend, I attended the Reel Big Fish concert, expecting the Varsity Theatre to be full. After all, Reel Big Fish is an enjoyable band and MUSG was basically giving away tickets at $15. I couldn’t believe it though; when I walked in about 20 minutes before the show began, the Varsity Theatre was probably only one-eighth full. I would say though, that in the last 20 minutes it filled, to (at best) one-third capacity.
So why does MUSG sponsor concerts? It’s not like Milwaukee hurts for performance venues.

The reason, quite simply, is that “student government” is in fact a government, able to tax students (it’s called “activity fees”) and stage events with no market test.

A private promoter who mounts too many money-losing concerts will go out of business. But MUSG can just continue to rake in tax money from students.

All in the service of building little bureaucratic empires in Alumni Memorial Union.

Administration Intimidation

Schuster, by the way, had to face what looks very much like an attempt at intimidation as he was starting his blog.

Duane Bruce, Assistant Dean for New Student Programs, approached Schuster and asked him “what’s your goal?” in starting the blog. He then warned Schuster to “be careful” with his blogging, and added that he preferred that people would be “doing something” rather than “talking about” things.

Which, of course, denigrates the entire journalistic profession!

Schuster has been stonewalled by MUSG officials, who refuse to talk to him on the grounds that he is a blogger. We asked Brock Banks, MUSG President, about this policy, and he refused to respond to us too!

Since he is a former student of ours, we were prepared to view him favorably, but he threw that away.

Apparently, MUSG will only talk to the Tribune and The Warrior. Both publications should be deeply offended at that, since it implies they are “in the tank” for MUSG, and either unwilling or unable to provide critical coverage.

MUSG appears to be afflicted by the arrogance typical of all the bureaucrats that infest Alumni Memorial Union.

Deep down, they must sense that real transparency would be a threat to them.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Girl Athletes Less Sexually Promiscuous

This is not new, but it’s worth repeating and discussing here.

A paper from the Journal of Health and Social Behavior explains a study:
Using multivariate analysis of covariance to test hypotheses about the effects of sports and sexual behavior on a sample of 611 Western New York adolescents, this study concludes that athletic participation and gender interact to influence adolescent sexual outcomes. Female athletes report significantly lower rates of sexual activity than female nonathletes . . .
But just why would this be?

The authors have an explanation.
Because athletic participation increases boys’ social position within the high school status hierarchy, it may be easier for them to request or even demand sex from girls. Athletic participation also augments the social status of girls, but in contrast to boys, the status enhancement provides them with the power to resist male pressures. Social status accrued in this manner gives girls an alternative to trading sex for popularity or self esteem. Athletic participation enhances the value of the package of resources that both girls and boys bring to the sexual bargaining table.
This is all sensible enough.

Is this an argument for Title 9, the Federal mandate that imposes a rigid affirmative action quota on sports for both high schools and colleges?

Some might argue it is, but we suspect that the people most happy about Title 9 are the same folks who want to hand out contraceptives to 11 year-olds.

In fact, Title 9 is a classic example of elitist social engineering. Feminists have managed to impose a rigid quota, demanding that equal money be spent on girls sports, quite independent of how interested girls (and college women) are in sports.

Having said that, however, parents ought to encourage their daughters to participate in sports. Just because feminists want to mandate an activity doesn’t make it bad.

The mandate is bad, but the activity is good.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Indoctrination at Marquette: Feminists Don’t Hate Men, Do They?

We just returned from a panel discussion at Marquette that was part of a program called “This is What a Feminist Looks Like Week.”

As the Marquette Tribune explains:
As a part of “This is What a Feminist Looks Like week”, two student organizations will hold panels and discussions on sexual violence and gender roles today and Thursday.

The week is sponsored by feminist student group Empowerment and seeks to remove the stigma of feminism.

Today at 7 p.m. in Cudahy Hall 001, Violence Opposition in Community Education is sponsoring “Men, Masculinity, and Sexual Violence: A Discussion.” V.O.I.C.E. is a sexual violence prevention peer education group run through the Counseling Center, according to Christopher Daood, assistant director of the Counseling Center.

In the panel, five professors will discuss masculinity, male gender roles and male involvement in sexual violence prevention, Daood said.
It’s interesting that the article says that feminism has a stigma. Philosophy professor Theresa Tobin admitted, in her talk, that the stereotype of feminists is that they hate men. She insisted that this isn’t so.

But did her talk (and the others) really show this?

Ed de St. Aubin

The first speaker, Ed de St. Aubin from the Psychology Department, discussed how, if you dress a boy baby up in pink, people will make comments appropriate to female stereotypes, and if you dress a girl baby in blue, people will make comments reflecting male stereotypes (“look at that kick!”). This, to him, showed the evils of patriarchy, and the “hegemony” of males.

He mentioned the usual litany of evils, including the “fact” that women make “less pay for the same work,” apparently unaware of the literature of labor market economics which shows that women make choices which lower their incomes -- but may be very fulfilling in other ways.

St. Aubin insisted on the “social construction” of gender roles -- shorthand for saying that there are few if any real inherent differences between men and women (although he did admit, in the face of massive evidence, that there are real hormonal differences).

So what is at fault for rape? “Gender rigidity” and “hypermasculinity.” He insisted that the U.S. is, among nations, particularly “rape prone” (an extremely dubious proposition) and that this is the result of the “rigid differentiation of the sexes” and the lack of “nurturing parenthood.”

What is the solution? Pretty much the standard liberal agenda, from Title 9 to chemical castration of sex offenders (which he admitted is controversial), to men doing more housework.

Theresa Tobin

Tobin started off with standard and, if you are used to it, bland politically correct cant. The goal of feminism, she said, is “overcoming gender based oppression.” She said that early feminists stressed legal equality, but that society has to move beyond that.

But the root cause of inequality, she said, is “patriarchy.”

At this point her talk turned interesting, in much the same way that a rant at a Klan rally would be interesting.

Tobin rejected the notion that rapes should be seen as “acts of morally corrupt individuals.” Yes, guys, the fact that you have never raped any women and would never rape any woman doesn’t let you off the hook. You are still part of the “deep social and political causes” of rape.

Why? Because you are part of a system that involves the “use of violence to keep systems of oppression in place.”

In fact, according to Tobin, you are part of a “protection racket.” Because of the threat of rape, a woman “needs to be protected by men against other men.”

And what is wrong with men protecting women against rape? For Tobin, the system “forces compliance with traditional norms.” And further, “the penalty for being protected is to conform.”

That’s right, guys. If your girlfriend gets uppity and gets a job in a traditionally male field, you’re going to let her be raped. It’s your devious plot to keep her in line.

Who is at fault? For Tobin, “we are all responsible.”

R. Clifton Spargo

The final speaker was R. Clifton Spargo from the English Department.

While he didn’t exactly accuse all men of being rapists, like Tobin he got pretty close.

He rejected the notion that rape is “merely aberrant, deviant behavior,” and told the male members of the audience “you are living in the rape culture.” Where? “On Campus. In the bars.”

He discussed a continuum of behaviors, including at one end actual rape. But then there was making demeaning comments about women and the use of pornography.

But also on the continuum was tolerating rape (by not reporting a known case, for example) and tolerating demeaning comments that “objectify” women, and tolerating the use of pornography. He admitted these are not equally morally culpable, but insisted they are all part of the phenomenon.

He clearly implied (and St. Aubin said) that if a buddy of yours sees an attractive woman on the beach and says “wow, what a babe!,” it is your responsibility to rebuke him. And presumably, one is required to war against Internet porn, else one is “tolerating” the kinds of attitudes that lead to rape.

Feminists, in other words, are a contemporary variety of prudes. If the old-style prudes thought that letting people read Lady Chatterly’s Lover would lead to the dissolution of Society as We Know It, the new prudes believe that any appreciation of feminine pulchritude will lead to rape.

Conclusion

One might ask what the point of an event like this is. There is plenty of room to argue pro and con on gun control or government health insurance, but who argues for rape?

The answer the feminists give is: you have to embrace our entire political agenda or you are a rapist -- or at least an accessory to rape. If you oppose Title 9, or women in combat roles in the military, or affirmative action to guarantee that women are half of all business managers, it’s your fault.

The event was very well-attended, largely because several professors had promised their students extra credit points to come.

And students who came without being bribed were doubtless a self-selected bunch who went believing the usual feminist shibboleths, and had their beliefs reinforced.

But would anybody be convinced that feminism doesn’t resolve, essentially, to man hating? The feminists who deny it aren’t lying. They don’t think they are man haters, they just think they are working for “gender equality.”

But then, the average Klansman would probably insist he has “nothing against Negros.”

In the world of the feminists, the villains are the white males.

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Lady, Do You Think You Are Up to the Job?

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Christian Soldier At War -- And Anti-Christian Bigotry

Marquette alumnus and future Jesuit priest William Blazek wrote a Veterans Day piece for the Washington Post/Newsweek website, just published today.

Among his observations:
One thing that has always struck this veteran about those who serve our nation in the armed forces is the incredible generosity with which they care for each other, the incredible generosity with which they love one another. They do this in sharing meals, in giving burned-out comrades time to catch a bit of sleep, and in simple things like cups of coffee. Although I could not see it as clearly then, God was very present to us in such simple gestures during the First Gulf War. Now that I am a bit more practiced in looking for signs of Him, it is not too hard to figure out. To take care of someone is to love that person, and God is love. Therefore, we can find God’s love in our service members’ care for each other.
A nice sentiment, and typical of American soldiers today as in the past.

But the essay, unfortunately, opened the floodgates for anti-Christian bigotry in the comments section following the article.

Among the typical statements:
Why do Christians call any positive emotion love? It cheapens the word.

What you have here is the concept known as ‘comitatus’. It’s group identity, being a part of a warrior band. Comradeship.

Talk about reaching for the same old towel.

Everything you describe here was done in much the same way by successful warrior bands from time immemorial. The Vikings just didn’t see it as evidence of the presence of Wotan.
And then:
God is very present to us in such simple gestures. . . To take care of someone is to love that person, and God is love. Therefore, we can find God’s love in gays’ care for each other.

I’m not saying all service people are gay but what I am pointing out is that some people who find God in simple gestures of those they approve of somehow can’t find God in the same gestures of those they condemn.
It’s not clear Blazek would disagree with this. It seems this poster can’t accept a Christian sentiment without working homosexuality into the discussion.
And pray tell, didn’t your God have something to say about killing? Oh, yes, I know. You conveniently forgot all those teachings about “love thy neighbor” and “turn the other cheek” and stuff that Jesus said about peace. If you find God in a cup of coffee and can’t figure out that a battlefield is not a tribute to Him or anyone else, then you don’t understand squat.
And then:
This said, to those Wiccan or other pagan soldiers who still serve today, I wish you the best. Stand like the stones, burn like the fires, shout with the wind, and fill your spaces and roles confidently and fully like water. Wherever you may fall, the earth mother waits to embrace you. You are not alone.
And then:
What’s God got to do with anything? There’s no God, or if there is a God, there’s no evidence of his existence in a combat zone.

Do us all a favor will you? Keep God out of a discussion of what goes on in a combat zone. Soldiers help each other out for partly altruistic and partly for selfish reasons.

What keeps men going is comradeship, not God.

That pietistic hogwash your put out has no place in any serious discussion of the business of war.
And further:
Oh, yes!

War is the ultimate expression of love!

Love thy neighbor by blowing his head off! Yes, war is a divine virtue!

Hallelujah and let’s kill in the name of Jesus.
And then:
Regarding Anne . . . I think she is tired of the trail of death that is associated with Christianity. (Before you get your panties in a twist, read a history book or two and you’ll see why the rest of the world is sick of you Christians.)

Most likely, she used small words that Christians can understand.

Of course, she could have explained how the metaphysics and epistemology of a dualisism of Christianity is constantly out of synchronization with its axiology, but she didn’t want to talk over your heads.

Besides, it’s fun to watch you Christians tweak when anybody challenges your beliefs.

Have a nice day.
And then:
2 studies should be done: The Use of Religion for Power and The Use of Power for Money. If you ask: “Is God on the Battlefield?” The answer should be: “No, people are on the battlefield and they were put there by other people for reasons they may not (1) know or (2) agree with.”

Getting people to risk their lives for an abstraction (national identity) requires Demonizing the other side - be they fighters or innocent bystanders. Hence, the illogic - if they are devils, god must be on our side.

From all I have heard of Jesus this was not the sort of logic he engaged in or practiced.
And then:
When (some) Christians want to justify warfare, they always quote Jesus overturning the tables of the moneychangers. Is overturning tables equivalent to shooting people, maiming them, dropping bombs on them? Isn’t there a distinction between violence towards inanimate objects and violence against human beings? Presumably God could have nuked the lot of them to prevent the crucifixion, but he didn’t. I wonder why not?
And then:
You got Bush living down to his own myth of the Antichrist cause that’s the only place his cokehead self can find in the universe... And you have people parroting everything that crosses his fratboy mind, why?

Cause that’s what they’re *told.*

And they know nothing else.
And then:
This is a vile attempt to somehow suggest that God, whatever your theistic bias, is somehow present on the battlefield ------ perhaps in that cup of java. Or, maybe he’s in the next IED.

Tell me, doc: Is it the same God that allowed my friend to blown to bits in front of me ------ while sparing my sorry, sinful a$$? Or, is it the God that high school basketball teams each pray to?

While we’re at it, how does this prayer thing work? If enough people pray about the same thing does God finally take notice ------ as if HE says: “Oh for Christ’s sake, alright already! I’ll save the dying child, the cancer-ridden pregnant mom, and I’ll let your team beat the other guys.”

Exactly what part about “Thou shalt not kill” don’t you fundamentalists get?

Do me a favor ----- don’t pray for me.
It keeps going:
As for the Chaplain, here, well... he thinks it’s special ‘God’ is in a cup of coffee if people are sufficiently-stressed-out.

I don’t get why it’s a big deal, really. I been under siege in America, and, senses get sharp, but ‘God,’ (well, Goddess) was in that coffee in the first place.

Not like I never spent a long night waiting for some Christians to sober up and act on their righteous threats.

Try having a break-action .410 between yourself and a whole lot of Fundie gun enthusiasts that are told you and everyone you love are Satanic agents.
And then:
And I swear to the Gods, Captain, If I could move, instead of being on the Internet all these days, I’d be over there. Not cause I have any faith in the ‘faith-based policy,’ but cause I don’t trust you Christians with guns, never mind in someone else’s country.
And then:
William Blazek sadly reveals the sentimentality mistaken as ‘religious’. A sunset, the fact that someone smiles at you, perhaps getting a parking space in the mall when you’re pressed for time. These become ‘signs’ to the believer. Small ‘favors’ the Catholics would say.

Unfortunately, if the believer is so moved and so attentive to Godliness in life as emotional neediness, much of reality in all its harshness, venality, and violence go unnoticed and unaddressed. It is this immaturity to face life as it is and to face themselves as they are that makes religion and the religious a target of ridicule for those who cannot in honesty agree with the perceptions and conclusions they offer.
And then:
Except Jesus (as) wasn’t a soldier for a world empire occupying and interfering in foreign lands to satisfy corporate greed and thirst for world domination. You gave a scruffy GI Joe some love. But what about the principle of your mission?

Save the platitudes for when you are just a regular person helping another regular person. You were on a mission to kill people so your leaders could get access to 100s of billions in Kuwaiti wealth and a permanent strategic foothold in the Arabian Peninsula like empires have tried to do for eons.

Repent to God for the evils which you have engaged in.
And then:
The “seeing” of God in these experiences is really the act of interpreting what actually happened (meaning, sharing, bonding) within the context of a preexisting dogmatic belief structure. To me, that actually corrupts and pollutes the experience since it is no longer seen for what it is. Instead, it is exploited in the service of superstition.
It keeps going:
People of faith see Jesus and Mary in rust stained highway underpasses, potato chips, grilled cheese sandwiches, and trees that get spared by the California wildfires.
Many of these comments don’t, in fact, begin to address what Blazek wrote.

Some semi-reasonable posters, for example, pointed out that battlefield camaraderie may exist among non-Christians -- like atheists or “pagans” (whatever that means these days). There is no reason to think that Blazek would disagree.

Rather, people who have a deep-seated hatred of Christianity spew forth their grudges.

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It’s Veterans Day

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Starve the Third-World, Fatten Corn Farmers

We published an editorial cartoon on this, but it’s time for a post. Via Nick Schweitzer, how the craze for biofuels starves people in poor countries.
The western appetite for biofuels is causing starvation in the poor world

Developing nations are being pushed to grow crops for ethanol, rather than food - all thanks to political expediency

George Monbiot
Tuesday November 6, 2007
The Guardian

It doesn’t get madder than this. Swaziland is in the grip of a famine and receiving emergency food aid. Forty per cent of its people are facing acute food shortages. So what has the government decided to export? Biofuel made from one of its staple crops, cassava. The government has allocated several thousand hectares of farmland to ethanol production in the district of Lavumisa, which happens to be the place worst hit by drought. It would surely be quicker and more humane to refine the Swazi people and put them in our tanks. Doubtless a team of development consultants is already doing the sums.

This is one of many examples of a trade that was described last month by Jean Ziegler, the UN’s special rapporteur, as “a crime against humanity”. Ziegler took up the call first made by this column for a five-year moratorium on all government targets and incentives for biofuel: the trade should be frozen until second-generation fuels - made from wood or straw or waste - become commercially available. Otherwise, the superior purchasing power of drivers in the rich world means that they will snatch food from people’s mouths. Run your car on virgin biofuel, and other people will starve.

Even the International Monetary Fund, always ready to immolate the poor on the altar of business, now warns that using food to produce biofuels “might further strain already tight supplies of arable land and water all over the world, thereby pushing food prices up even further”. This week, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation will announce the lowest global food reserves in 25 years, threatening what it calls “a very serious crisis”. Even when the price of food was low, 850 million people went hungry because they could not afford to buy it. With every increment in the price of flour or grain, several million more are pushed below the breadline.

The cost of rice has risen by 20% over the past year, maize by 50%, wheat by 100%. Biofuels aren’t entirely to blame - by taking land out of food production they exacerbate the effects of bad harvests and rising demand - but almost all the major agencies are now warning against expansion. And almost all the major governments are ignoring them.

In principle, burning biofuels merely releases the carbon the crops accumulated when growing. Even when you take into account the energy costs of harvesting, refining and transporting the fuel, they produce less net carbon than petroleum products. The law the British government passed a fortnight ago - by 2010, 5% of our road transport fuel must come from crops - will, it claims, save between 700,000 and 800,000 tonnes of carbon a year. It derives this figure by framing the question carefully. If you count only the immediate carbon costs of planting and processing biofuels, they appear to reduce greenhouse gases. When you look at the total impacts, you find they cause more warming than petroleum.

A recent study by the Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen shows that the official estimates have ignored the contribution of nitrogen fertilisers. They generate a greenhouse gas - nitrous oxide - that is 296 times as powerful as CO2. These emissions alone ensure that ethanol from maize causes between 0.9 and 1.5 times as much warming as petrol, while rapeseed oil (the source of more than 80% of the world’s biodiesel) generates 1-1.7 times the impact of diesel. This is before you account for the changes in land use.

A paper published in the journal Science three months ago suggests that protecting uncultivated land saves, over 30 years, between two and nine times the carbon emissions you might avoid by ploughing it and planting biofuels. Last year the research group LMC International estimated that if the British and European target of a 5% contribution from biofuels were to be adopted by the rest of the world, the global acreage of cultivated land would expand by 15%. That means the end of most tropical forests. It might also cause runaway climate change.
We, of course, remain skeptical of global warming alarmism.

But while Monbiot is less skeptical, his analysis indirectly supports our position.

If the relevant elites can’t properly figure out that biofuels are a bad idea (or if they are too corrupt to admit that), why should be expect them to be any better where “global warming” is concerned?

It is so utterly typical that monomaniacal obsession with one “social problem” causes people to do things that have nasty ripple effects. A more balanced analysis of policy would have seen those coming.

But politicians and activists don’t want a balanced analysis of policy.

They want a crusade.

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