Friday, February 29, 2008

Wooing a Spanish Girl If You Have Only One Semester of Spanish

video

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Journal-Sentinel Working on Walker Transit Hit Piece

Quite often, journalists let their biases show.

Sometimes, they make their agenda patently obvious.

Via GOP3.COM, an account of a Journal-Sentinel reporter who is clearly working on a hit piece directed against Scott Walker.

From post on the Journal-Sentinel Newswatch blog.
THURSDAY, Feb. 28, 2008, 3:36 p.m.

Have county transit changes affected you?

How have you been affected by Milwaukee County Transit System fare increases and service cuts? Please contact Journal Sentinel reporter Larry Sandler at lsandler@journalsentinel.com to let him know, and please include your name and a telephone number where you can be reached.
Of course, any such accounts will be used to attack budget-cutting County Executive Scott Walker.

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Gimme That!

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New Blogs from Marquette Law School Students

We always welcome new blogs on campus.

So we note there are two new blogs from Marquette Law School students.

It might make sense that law students are especially likely to blog, since blogging has taken much deeper root among law school faculty than among faculty elsewhere in the modern university.

If we had to speculate, we might guess that lawyers, unlike people in other professions, have to be good at sitting down and knocking out, in a rather limited time, a pretty decent piece of writing. This would make them the perfect people to blog.

At any rate, we have Brazen Maverick, from a first-year liberal student, and Roaches and Twinkies from one of his first-year conservative cohorts.

Both bloggers are currently pretty active.

We wish them the best, hope they enjoy the blogging and hope that they keep it up during the rest of their Marquette careers.

We especially encourage them to blog on campus events and issues, following in the footsteps of the now defunct Campus Tavern, and the still very active GOP3.COM.

Report, comment, air dirty laundry. It’s fun, and it makes Marquette a better university.

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Anti-Capitalist Indoctrination in European Schools

From Foreign Policy:
Millions of children are being raised on prejudice and disinformation. Educated in schools that teach a skewed ideology, they are exposed to a dogma that runs counter to core beliefs shared by many other Western countries. They study from textbooks filled with a doctrine of dissent, which they learn to recite as they prepare to attend many of the better universities in the world. Extracting these children from the jaws of bias could mean the difference between world prosperity and menacing global rifts. And doing so will not be easy. But not because these children are found in the madrasas of Pakistan or the state-controlled schools of Saudi Arabia. They are not. Rather, they live in two of the world’s great democracies—France and Germany.

Just as schools teach a historical narrative, they also pass on “truths” about capitalism, the welfare state, and other economic principles that a society considers self-evident. In both France and Germany, for instance, schools have helped ingrain a serious aversion to capitalism. In one 2005 poll, just 36 percent of French citizens said they supported the free-enterprise system, the only one of 22 countries polled that showed minority support for this cornerstone of global commerce. In Germany, meanwhile, support for socialist ideals is running at all-time highs—47 percent in 2007 versus 36 percent in 1991.

“Economic growth imposes a hectic form of life, producing overwork, stress, nervous depression, cardiovascular disease and, according to some, even the development of cancer,” asserts the three-volume Histoire du XXe siècle, a set of texts memorized by countless French high school students as they prepare for entrance exams to Sciences Po and other prestigious French universities. The past 20 years have “doubled wealth, doubled unemployment, poverty, and exclusion, whose ill effects constitute the background for a profound social malaise,” the text continues. Because the 21st century begins with “an awareness of the limits to growth and the risks posed to humanity [by economic growth],” any future prosperity “depends on the regulation of capitalism on a planetary scale.” Capitalism itself is described at various points in the text as “brutal,” “savage,” “neoliberal,” and “American.” This agitprop was published in 2005, not in 1972.

When French students are not getting this kind of wildly biased commentary on the destruction wreaked by capitalism, they are learning that economic progress is also the root cause of social ills. For example, a one-year high school course on the inner workings of an economy developed by the French Education Ministry called Sciences Economiques et Sociales, spends two thirds of its time discussing the sociopolitical fallout of economic activity. Chapter and section headings include “Social Cleavages and Inequality,” “Social Mobilization and Conflict,” “Poverty and Exclusion,” and “Globalization and Regulation.” The ministry mandates that students learn “worldwide regulation as a response” to globalization. Only one third of the course is about companies and markets, and even those bits include extensive sections on unions, government economic policy, the limits of markets, and the dangers of growth. The overall message is that economic activity has countless undesirable effects from which citizens must be protected.

No wonder, then, that the French default attitude is to be suspicious of market forces and private entrepreneurship, not to mention any policies that would strengthen them. Start-ups, Histoire du XXe siècle tells its students, are “audacious enterprises” with “ill-defined prospects.” Then it links entrepreneurs with the tech bubble, the Nasdaq crash, and mass layoffs across the economy. (Think “creative destruction” without the “creative.”) In one widely used text, a section on technology and innovation does not mention a single entrepreneur or company. Instead, students read a lengthy treatise on whether technological progress destroys jobs. In another textbook, students actually meet a French entrepreneur who invented a new tool to open oysters. But the quirky anecdote is followed by a long-winded debate over the degree to which the modern workplace is organized along the lines imagined by Frederick Taylor, the father of modern scientific management theory. And just in case they missed it in history class, students are reminded that “cultural globalization” leads to violence and armed resistance, ultimately necessitating a new system of global governance.

French students, on the other hand, do not learn economics so much as a very specific, highly biased discourse about economics. When they graduate, they may not know much about supply and demand, or about the workings of a corporation. Instead, they will likely know inside-out the evils of “la McDonaldisation du monde” and the benefits of a “Tobin tax” on the movement of global capital. This kind of anticapitalist, antiglobalization discourse isn’t just the product of a few aging 1968ers writing for Le Monde Diplomatique; it is required learning in today’s French schools.

Learning to Love the Dole

Germans teach their young people a similar economic narrative, with a slightly different emphasis. The focus is on instilling the corporatist and collectivist traditions of the German system. Although each of Germany’s 16 states sets its own education requirements, nearly all teach through the lens of workplace conflict between employer and employee, the central battle being over wages and work rules. If there’s one unifying characteristic of German textbooks, it’s the tremendous emphasis on group interests, the traditional social-democratic division of the universe into capital and labor, employer and employee, boss and worker. Textbooks teach the minutiae of employer-employee relations, workplace conflict, collective bargaining, unions, strikes, and worker protection. Even a cursory look at the country’s textbooks shows that many are written from the perspective of a future employee with a union contract. Bosses and company owners show up in caricatures and illustrations as idle, cigar-smoking plutocrats, sometimes linked to child labor, Internet fraud, cell-phone addiction, alcoholism, and, of course, undeserved layoffs. The successful, modern entrepreneur is virtually nowhere to be found.

German students will be well-versed in many subjects upon graduation; one topic they will know particularly well is their rights as welfare recipients. One 10th-grade social studies text titled FAKT has a chapter on “What to do against unemployment.” Instead of describing how companies might create jobs, the section explains how those without jobs can organize into self-help groups and join weekly anti-reform protests “in the tradition of the East German Monday demonstrations” (which in 1989 helped topple the communist dictatorship). The not-so-subtle subtext? Jobs are a right to be demanded from the government. The same chapter also details various welfare programs, explains how employers use the threat of layoffs as a tactic to cut pay, and concludes with a long excerpt from the platform of the German Union Federation, including the 30-hour work week, retirement at age 60, and redistribution of the work pie by splitting full-time into part-time jobs. No market alternative is taught. When fakt presents the reasons for unemployment, it blames computers and robots. In fact, this is a recurring theme in German textbooks—the Internet will turn workers into “anonymous code” and kill off interpersonal communication.

Equally popular in Germany today are student workbooks on globalization. One such workbook includes sections headed “The Revival of Manchester Capitalism,” “The Brazilianization of Europe,” and “The Return of the Dark Ages.” India and China are successful, the book explains, because they have large, state-owned sectors and practice protectionism, while the societies with the freest markets lie in impoverished sub-Saharan Africa. Like many French and German books, this text suggests students learn more by contacting the antiglobalization group Attac, best known for organizing messy protests at the annual G-8 summits.

One might expect Europeans to view the world through a slightly left-of-center, social-democratic lens. The surprise is the intensity and depth of the anti-market bias being taught in Europe’s schools. Students learn that private companies destroy jobs while government policy creates them. Employers exploit while the state protects. Free markets offer chaos while government regulation brings order. Globalization is destructive, if not catastrophic. Business is a zero-sum game, the source of a litany of modern social problems. Some enterprising teachers and parents may try to teach an alternative view, and some books are less ideological than others. But given the biases inherent in the curricula, this background is unavoidable. It is the context within which most students develop intellectually. And it’s a belief system that must eventually appear to be the truth.
One might, if one is an alarmist, say that this constitutes a threat to capitalism and free markets. In reality, it is mostly a threat to the countries where such attitudes thrive.
Attitudes and mind-sets, it is increasingly being shown, are closely related to a country’s economic performance. Edmund Phelps, a Columbia University economist and Nobel laureate, contends that attitudes toward markets, work, and risk-taking are significantly more powerful in explaining the variation in countries’ actual economic performance than the traditional factors upon which economists focus, including social spending, tax rates, and labor-market regulation. The connection between capitalism and culture, once famously described by Max Weber, also helps explain continental Europe’s poor record in entrepreneurship and innovation. A study by the Massachusetts-based Monitor Group, the Entrepreneurship Benchmarking Index, looks at nine countries and finds a powerful correlation between attitudes about economics and actual corporate performance. The researchers find that attitudes explain 40 percent of the variation in start-up and company growth rates —- by far the strongest correlation of any of the 31 indicators they tested. If countries such as France and Germany hope to boost entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic dynamism—as their leaders claim they do—the most effective way to make that happen may be to use education to boost the cultural legitimacy of going into business.
There are, of course, laws of economics that the leftist intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals who write these books -- and the bureaucrats who impose them on innocent schoolchildren -- can’t change.

But just as a nation’s elites can choose a backward political system, they can choose a backward set of economic attitudes. As always, ordinary citizens are the victims.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Panel on Crime Reporting at Journalism School

WHAT: “Feeding the Media Beast: Crime Coverage in the Cheese State”
WHERE: Johnston Hall 103
WHEN: Thursday, February 28, 2008

TIME: 7:00 p.m.

COST: Free

Marquette University’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists invites you, your classes and your colleagues to the crime reporting panel discussion, “Feeding the Media Beast: Crime Coverage in the Cheese State” featuring:
  • Tony Anderson (moderator), managing editor of the Wisconsin Law Journal
  • John Diedrich, federal reporter at The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • Tom Held, general assignment reporter at The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • Martin Hintz, author of “Got Murder? The Shocking Story of Wisconsin’s Notorious Killers”
  • Michael McCann, former Milwaukee County District Attorney
  • Charles Benson (just added), broadcast journalist for WTMJ
The event is in fact open to the public, so members of the Milwaukee community (Marquette and otherwise) may want to come.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

New York Times McCain Smear: Even Mainstream Media Question

From the Media Research Center’s Cyberalert series.
ABC’s World News:

CHARLES GIBSON: Good evening. We begin tonight with politics, and another example of how difficult it is for a politician to prove a negative. John McCain began his day answering questions about a story in the New York Times alleging an improper relationship eight years ago with a female lobbyist. The story had no evidence the relationship was romantic -- only unnamed sources reportedly claiming they were convinced it might be. McCain and his advisors knew the story was coming. The candidate reacted with calm. His campaign reacted with fury. Here’s our senior political correspondent Jake Tapper.

...

GIBSON: And as Jake mentioned, the New York Times story was the talk of the political world today and raised as many questions about the paper and what standards of proof it would need to publish such a story as it did about the Senator. Indeed, McCain’s camp immediately tried to make the New York Times the issue, and not the story itself. Here’s ABC’s Dan Harris.

DAN HARRIS: Today, conservative talk radio hosts accused the New York Times of a supremely cynical slam job.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: The story is not the story. The story is that this paper endorsed McCain, sat on this story, and now puts it out just prior to McCain wrapping up the nomination.

HARRIS: The Times has been on the story since November, and the paper did endorse McCain in January, saying that he, quote, “demonstrated that he has the character to stand on principle.” Today, however, the executive editor of the Times, Bill Keller, said in a statement, “We publish stories when they are ready. ‘Ready’ means the facts have been nailed down to our satisfaction.” According to this story, published today by the New Republic, staffers at the New York Times debated their McCain story intensely. There was a lot of fighting going on behind the scenes?

GABRIEL SHERMAN, The New Republic Magazine: Yeah, I mean, the reporters working on this piece felt passionately that they nailed it to their satisfaction. Bill Keller, the executive editor, felt that they couldn’t just run with a piece that had a string of anecdotal evidence.

HARRIS: But many critics, and not just conservatives, say the Times did just that, basing their story on two anonymous former campaign associates who presented no proof of an affair, just concern about the possibility of an affair.

KEN AULETTA, The New Yorker Magazine: That’s not proof that he was having an affair with her. And the New York Times, the greatest newspaper in the world, I believe, has to have a higher standard of proof.

HARRIS: The McCain campaign is dealing with this crisis by, quote, “going to war against the New York Times.” Critics say the way the Times has handled this story has made McCain’s strategy much more likely to succeed. Dan Harris, ABC News, New York.

CBS Evening News:

KATIE COURIC, in opening teaser: Tonight, John McCain versus the New York Times: The Senator denies the paper’s suggestion he had an improper relationship with a lobbyist.

JOHN MCCAIN: I’m very disappointed in the article, and it’s not true.

COURIC: Supporters accused the Times of a smear campaign.

...


KATIE COURIC: Good evening, everyone. John McCain was savoring what’s become a cakewalk to the Republican presidential nomination when a bundle of morning newspapers came crashing down in his path. It was today’s New York Times questioning his ethics. But McCain says the front-page story suggesting he had an improper relationship with a lobbyist is not true. And now his supporters and others are questioning the Times’ journalism and motivations. Nancy Cordes is covering this still-developing story. Nancy?

...

NANCY CORDES: The head of the Project for Excellence in Journalism says the Gray Lady wandered into a gray area with this one.

TOM ROSENSTIEL, Project for Excellence in Journalism: So this is an odd situation where anonymous sources are not alleging something. They’re alleging their feelings about something.

CORDES: New York Times executive editor Bill Keller turned down interview requests today saying in a statement, “We think the story speaks for itself. On the timing, our policy is we publish stories when they are ready.” The article was in the works for months but only went to press, the McCain campaign argues, because the left-leaning magazine New Republic was working up its own story about internal debate at the Times over whether to print the sensitive allegations.

...

CORDES: McCain’s opponents did their best to avoid the flap today-

MIKE HUCKABEE: I only know him what I know him to be, and that’s a good and decent, honorable man.

CORDES: -as conservative commentators rushed to his defense. Even Rush Limbaugh took a break from bashing McCain to take on another favored target.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: The New York Times endorsed that candidate while they sat on this story, and now with utter predictability, they are trying to destroy him.

CORDES: And that’s an argument the campaign is hoping it can ride all the way to the bank. Already, Katie, they’ve put out this fund-raising letter asking donors to help them combat the liberal establishment and the New York Times.

...

COURIC: And meanwhile, Bob, what about this New York Times story about John McCain? Do you think it has legs? And do you think it will trip him up?

BOB SCHIEFFER: I think it has legs, but the legs may be it may become about the New York Times and not about John McCain. You know, Katie, there were some people in the McCain campaign who actually winced when he was endorsed for the Republican nomination by the New York Times. They thought that would set off the Republican right, and, boy, did it ever. It looked like he would never find a way to get those people to warm to him. But look what happened today. Here’s Rush Limbaugh coming to his defense, Laura Ingraham. The Christian Broadcasting Network said it is a badge of honor to be attacked by the New York Times. So maybe we’re going to see some changes there, and the McCain campaign, as we just heard from Nancy, is trying to do everything they can to take advantage of it. They actually sent out fund-raising letters to conservatives today pointing out you got to help us beat back the liberal media and the New York Times.

COURIC: So now they’ll bond over a common enemy.


NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Good evening. When it hit the Internet last night and the front page of the New York Times this morning, it was the shot heard ‘round the political world. It’s a story about a female lobbyist in Washington and her relationship, business and perhaps otherwise, with Senator John McCain. It’s a story about influence, appearances and propriety. But as this day went on, it was about more than that. It was about the timing and sourcing of a negative story on page one of a very influential newspaper. Importantly here, the parties involved strongly denied the story. The paper defends the story. And that’s where we’ll begin tonight, with NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell, who covers the McCain campaign for us.

...

KELLY O’DONNELL: The Times found itself the target of criticism today. Rush Limbaugh, usually harsh on McCain, was now on his side.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: The story is that this paper endorsed McCain, sat on this story, and now puts it out just prior to McCain wrapping up the nomination.

O’DONNELL: The Times defended both its journalistic methods and the timing of its decision to publish the story. And, Brian, tonight campaign advisors are seeing an opening here. They’re very eager to see the focus of attention shift to the newspaper. They’ve already sent out an e-mail to fund-raisers talking about the controversy about the story and reaction to it, trying to get more support for John McCain.
In short, the Times journalism was so bad that even the three major broadcast networks, the epitome of “Mainstream Media,” questioned it.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Blog Returns

Logan Adams’ blog, “We Live Our Lives Among Giants” was active for a while, and then suffered a long hiatus.

He’s back!

A Marquette graduate, Adams is now in Teach For America.

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Dirty Dancing Among Middle School Students

From the Chicago Tribune:
Dirty dancing by 6th, 7th and 8th graders prompts Frankfort Park District to cancel its ‘08 dances

Somewhere between the groping, the grinding, the insults and the foul language, Megan Zobel had seen enough. How could middle school students -- 6th, 7th and 8th graders -- act this way at a teen dance?

Zobel, an event coordinator for the Frankfort Park District, wasn’t being naive. She was once a teenager. She knew the kind of drama that’s typical of hormone-charged dances at this age.

But after a district-sponsored dance in January unraveled into too much touching and feeling among dancegoers -- as well as too much contact, too much abuse hurled at adult supervisors and, finally, a staged sit-in by about 50 teens -- officials knew something had to be done.

They’ve now canceled the remaining eight dances on the district’s 2008 calendar, a decision that has sparked considerable debate among parents, students and educators in southwest suburban Frankfort. The decision has also brought to life age-old generational struggles regarding boundaries and breaking them.

“When parents ask why we’ve done this, I tell them I couldn’t even have shown them what these kids were doing on videotape -- it’s almost illegal,” said Zobel, 34. “We’re talking about groups of 20 kids or so rubbing up against each other.”

The Frankfort Square Park District, which spans parts of Frankfort, Mokena, Tinley Park and unincorporated Will County, also discontinued its 7th- and 8th-grade dances after organizers saw kids’ behavior spiraling downward, said district Executive Director Jim Randall.

“Each dance was a different story,” Randall said. “But often you saw the same types of problems come up with vulgar dancing” and kids showing too much skin.

Along with inappropriate dancing and dress, Zobel said some dancegoers were verbally abusive to park staff who tried to defuse the volatile dancing.
Probably most liberals would agree that this sort of thing among middle school students is a bad thing.

But the problem is: how do you keep the sexual norms of the general society from filtering down to kids whom everybody agrees lack the maturity to handle sexual decisions?

The simple answer: you don’t and you can’t.

With a sex saturated media, how does one expect pubescent kids to be less raunchy than what they can see on TV?

How many of these girls are allowed to watch “Sex in the City?”

How many have older sisters, say 16 or 17 years old, who are on birth control and having sex with a boyfriend or the most recent of a string of boyfriends?

How many have a college age sister who is brazenly shacking up with a boyfriend, and even having a kid ot of wedlock?

How many of the boys assume that, in a year or two (or even now) they will have a girlfriend who will have sex with them? And if one girlfriend won’t, will drop her for another.

This is the problem with the liberal yuppies who think their contempt for traditional sexual norms has no consequences. After all, they say, “it’s my life.”

But it isn’t just their life. It establishes the norms that young teens and preteens accept.

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Free Speech Wins -- Sort Of -- In Canada

As much as free expression is under siege in the U.S. (especially on college campuses), things are worse in Canada. But it does win sometimes. From the Reason blog:
Last month, when an officer of the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission interrogated him about his decision to reprint the notorious Muhammad cartoons that originally appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, Ezra Levant did not try to ingratiate himself. Levant, former publisher of the news magazine the Western Standard, called the commission “a sick joke,” compared it unfavorably with Judge Judy, and dared the “thug” across the table to recommend that he face a hearing for publishing material that offended Muslims.

That way, Levant explained, he could be convicted, which would give him a chance to challenge the censorship that Canadian human rights commissions practice in the name of fighting discrimination. “I do not want to be excused from this complaint because I was reasonable,” he said. “It is not the government’s authority to tell me whether or not I’m reasonable.”

Legally, that remains to be seen. Canada’s national and provincial human rights commissions were established in the 1970s to vet complaints about discrimination in employment, housing, and the provision of goods and services. But many of them have broad legal mandates that can be used to attack freedom of speech. Alberta’s Human Rights, Citizenship, and Multiculturalism Act, for example, prohibits publishing anything that “is likely to expose a person or class of persons to hatred or contempt.”

Syed Soharwardy, president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, claims Levant did that by running the Muhammad cartoons. “Publishing of cartoons in the Western Standards [sic] is in fact spreading hate against me,” Soharwady scrawled on a complaint form he submitted to the commission in February 2006. He also complained that “Mr. Ezra Levant insulted me” when the two debated the cartoon controversy on CBC Radio. Soharwardy is demanding an apology. The commission can impose fines and gag orders as well.

Meanwhile, the Canadian, Ontario, and British Columbia human rights commissions are considering similar complaints against Maclean’s magazine and the journalist Mark Steyn over an October 2006 article adapted from his book America Alone. The Canadian Islamic Congress claims Steyn “subjects Canadian Muslims to hatred and contempt” and harms their “sense of dignity and self-worth” by worrying about high Muslim birth rates.

Even if a complaint is dismissed, Levant notes, responding to it requires “thousands of dollars in lawyer’s fees” and “an enormous amount of time,” which encourages journalists to steer clear of touchy subjects. “A warning shot has gone out to every other media [outlet] in the country,” he said during the 90-minute commission interview. “‘Don’t mess around with the Muslim radicals, because they’ll call in the censors.’”
As on U.S. college campuses, the fact that a spunky person or group can beat the censors isn’t sufficient. The should not have to.

Most people don’t much like conflict, and particularly don’t like having to pay high legal fees just to enjoy the right of free speech.

So actual instances of censorship aren’t the real issue. The chilling effect of the mere threat of censorship is what’s pernicious.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

School Reform Speaker Coming to Marquette

A talk by an important educational reformer:

Dr. Ted Mitchell

The Problem in Public Education

Ted Mitchell heads the California governor’s commission on excellence in education, runs the New Schools Venture Fund, and was recently named president of the California State Board of Education. Previously, he served as a Stanford University Trustee and completed a very successful six-year term as twelfth president of Occidental College.

Monday, March 10, 2008
4:30 p.m.
Weasler Auditorium


You can find more on Mitchell here.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Marquette Political Science Students: See One of Your Professors Play Bluegrass Tonight

The professor, of course, is Ryan Hanley, who is a member of the Cream City Bluegrass Band.

He’s the follow in the Santa Claus cap in the shadows on the right-hand side of the photo at the top of the band’s home page.

They will be playing at the Village Pub (4488 N. Oakland) in Shorewood from 8-midnight tonight!

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Clinton and Obama Trying to Buy Superdelegate Votes?

Via Republicratocracy, a story broken by Capital Eye, an operation run by the left-leaning Center for Responsive Politics.

February 14, 2008 At this summer’s Democratic National Convention, nearly 800 members of Congress, state governors and Democratic Party leaders could be the tiebreakers in the intense contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. If neither candidate can earn the support of at least 2,025 delegates in the primary voting process, the decision of who will represent the Democrats in November’s presidential election will fall not to the will of the people but to these “superdelegates” — the candidates’ friends, colleagues and even financial beneficiaries. Both contenders will be calling in favors.

And while it would be unseemly for the candidates to hand out thousands of dollars to primary voters, or to the delegates pledged to represent the will of those voters, elected officials who are superdelegates have received at least $890,000 from Obama and Clinton in the form of campaign contributions over the last three years, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Obama, who narrowly leads in the count of pledged, “non-super” delegates, has doled out more than $694,000 to superdelegates from his political action committee, Hope Fund, or campaign committee since 2005. Of the 81 elected officials who had announced as of Feb. 12 that their superdelegate votes would go to the Illinois senator, 34, or 40 percent of this group, have received campaign contributions from him in the 2006 or 2008 election cycles, totaling $228,000. In addition, Obama has been endorsed by 52 superdelegates who haven’t held elected office recently and, therefore, didn’t receive campaign contributions from him.

Clinton does not appear to have been as openhanded. Her PAC, HILLPAC, and campaign committee appear to have distributed $195,500 to superdelegates. Only 12 percent of her elected superdelegates, or 13 of 109 who have said they will back her, have received campaign contributions, totaling about $95,000 since 2005. An additional 128 unelected superdelegates support Clinton, according to a blog tracking superdelegates and their endorsements, 2008 Democratic Convention Watch.

This isn’t quite the same thing -- at least in pure legal terms -- as bribery. It has long been the case that politicians have had PACs, known as “leadership PACs,” whose role is to make contributions to the election organizations of other politicians.

Still . . . where these “other politicians” are people who might vote to give you the Democratic nomination, the conflict of interest is pretty blatant.

Republicratocracy points out one huge irony here.
Let me get this straight. Barack Obama won’t take campaign cash from lobbyists. He has said he wouldn’t hire lobbyists (but he has).

So what’s he doing acting like the lobbyists he vilifies? Why is he spending over three times as much on superdelegate handouts as Clinton, whom he criticizes for her lobbyist ties?

The Obama cult, which has benefitted from uncritical media coverage, is in fact far from the juggernaut that some have supposed. As the general election draws near, people will begin to notice that Obama looks very much like an ordinary politician, and an extremely liberal one at that.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Election 2008: Wisconsin Will Matter

Pundits have a poor history in this election season, but their bad luck can’t continue forever. So here we present one of the best, Charlie Cook, who is perhaps the top election handicapper in the nation. This is from his “Off to the Races” e-mail list.
With Obama’s sweep this past weekend, he has effectively pulled even with Clinton in the delegate battle and he is building a formidable advantage in money. If Obama’s fundraising remains at this level for long, that alone could change the delicate balance in this evenly matched contest.

Obama was expected to win the bulk of the delegates in the Nebraska and Washington state caucuses as well as the Louisiana primary, although his victory in the Maine caucus was considered to be less of a cinch. He is also expected to prevail in today’s Chesapeake primaries in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

This should give Obama a respectable advantage over Clinton in terms of delegates. But Clinton is expected to be strong in Ohio and Texas on March 4, which should swing the delegate advantage back to her, albeit narrowly.

Given Obama’s fundraising, wins this past weekend and likely strength today, he is very likely to end up the Democratic nominee if he can diminish or even thwart Clinton in Ohio and Texas.

With more than half of the pledged delegates to the Democratic convention already picked, and given the vagaries of the proportional representation system Democrats use, it’s hard to build up a significant delegate lead. But once a lead is built, it is very difficult to overcome.

Colby College political scientist and delegate selection expert Anthony Corrado calls Wisconsin’s Feb. 19 primary “the gateway to Texas and Ohio.” Indeed, Wisconsin will likely play a decent-size role, as it bridgestoday’s primaries and the March 4 Buckeye and Lone Star state primaries.

If Obama’s winning streak continues through Wisconsin, it’s entirely plausible that his momentum going into Ohio and Texas will prevent Clinton from having a sorely needed victory week. Should that happen, it would be quite hard for Clinton to get back in the race.

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Joe Wilson On Campus This Afternoon

From an e-mail sent to the University community:
Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson—The husband of former CIA agent Valerie Plame, Wilson is making a just-announced campaign visit to Milwaukee on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Wilson is a former diplomat, who accused the White House of intentionally leaking his wife’s covert role to the press after he contested the administration’s reasons for going to war in Iraq. Last–minute scheduling allows Mr. Wilson to answer questions “On the Issues” with Mike Gousha at Marquette Law School this afternoon, Tuesday, at 4:00 p.m. in Eisenberg Hall, 3rd floor, Marquette Law School.
We won’t be able to attend, because of office hours, but we hope that some well-informed people will be there so hold him accountable for some of the untruths he has told.

The record is now quite clear, and has been detailed not only in conservative blogs, but in the Washington Post.

Wilson’s claim that White House officials “outed” his wife Valerie Plame to punish him for negative statements about the Bush Administration. In reality, Richard L. Armitage revealed her name.

The willingness of Clinton to use Wilson radically compromises her own credibility.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Banned Wisconsin Vanity Plates

Trivial, but interesting, information from your state government.

From Daily Takes, access a list of vanity license plates that are banned in Wisconsin.

Marquette’s Jason Rae: Super Delegate

On the front page of the Journal-Sentinel today: an article on “Super Delegates” to the Democratic National Convention which will pick the Democratic presidential nominee.

And one delegate is featured: Marquette student Jason Rae.
With Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton locked in a delegate-by-delegate battle, there are many scenarios developing for how the party’s presidential nomination will be decided.

Here is one that just a few weeks ago was unfathomable: It could all come down to the preference of Jason Rae, a Marquette University student who has never even voted in a presidential election.

Or Melissa Schroeder, a party activist from Wausau.

Or Awais Khaleel, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The three, all members of the Democratic National Committee, are among 796 “super delegates,” a bloc of political free agents who will make up nearly 20% of all the voting delegates at the party’s August convention. More than half of them have endorsed candidates, but many have yet to decide.

Most delegates are allocated based on the results of primaries and caucuses.

But after Super Tuesday’s coast-to-coast voting left Clinton and Obama effectively tied when it comes to winning delegates at the polls, the intense focus is on wooing super delegates in person.

Some DNC members, such as Rae, are still a bit surprised when folks like former President Bill Clinton and 2004 nominee John Kerry call to chat.

Bill called last Friday, just as Rae was headed to dinner with friends, hoping he’d back Hillary. When John called, suggesting Obama, Rae was driving to the grocery store with a friend.

“I said, ‘Hi, Senator Kerry, how are you?’” said Rae, noting his friend “looked at me, like, ‘Are you for real?’”

Yes. And for real when former (and possibly future) first daughter Chelsea called. And former Secretary of State Madeline Albright. Both were backing Clinton.

“It’s not a huge deal on campus,” said Rae, active in student government. “I’m just a normal student like everyone else. In my private life, I’m a super delegate.”

At this point in the race, Rae and the others might want to order blue shirts with a red-and-yellow “S” on the front. Red capes, too.

Indeed, when Albright called Rae, she was well-briefed: She knew he was a Marquette student, that he was elected to the national committee at age 17. He was the youngest member of the group then, and likely still is.

Rae turned 18 just weeks after the November 2004 election. His first presidential vote will be Feb. 19.

And if the political cards play out just so, his convention vote in August might be a critical one.

So is he holding out for a dorm-room debate, or at least a sit-down with the candidates?

Nah.

He got to meet Clinton and Obama last year, with a handful of other super delegates, at a national party meeting.

“I really like the qualifications of both,” Rae said. “I think that’s one of the reasons we’re seeing, especially in Super Tuesday, it be so close.”
When Rae took our Introduction to American Politics class in the Fall of 2005, we pegged him immediately as highly political, highly capable and highly ambitious. We thought it a slam dunk that he would be President of Marquette University Student Government.

But in fact, although he has been fairly active on campus, he has bypassed the sandbox politics of student government and gone on to real world politics. Dealing with important issues. Making decisions with actual consequences.

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Health Care in Wisconsin: Roundtable This Thursday

Something that’s not too common in academia: a very balanced discussion on health care is coming up this Thursday.

Health Care in Wisconsin: Where Do We Go from Here?

A Roundtable Discussion

Thursday, February 14, 2008
9:00-11:00 AM

Marquette University
Alumni Memorial Union, Ballrooms A and B.

Roundtable Panelists:

Sen. Alberta Darling (Repub.), Wisconsin Senate

Sen. Jon Erpenbach (Dem.), Wisconsin Senate

Secretary Kevin Hayden, State of Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services

Mr. Steve Martenet, President of Anthem Blue Cross-Blue Shield

David Riemer, J.D., one of the architects of Healthy Wisconsin and former Director of the Wisconsin Health Project

Mr. John Torinus, Chairman of Serigraph, Inc.

Dr. Nick Turkal, President and Chief Executive Officer of Aurora Health Care

Dr. Susan L. Turney, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice President of the Wisconsin Medical Society

Moderator: Mike Gousha, Marquette University Law School

This event is free and open to the public as well as the Marquette University community and other colleges and universities.

For more information, contact:
Dr. Susan Giaimo
Marquette University
Department of Political Science
Tel. (414) 288-3356 email: susan.giaimo@marquette.edu

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Al-Qaeda on Ropes in Iraq

From the Times of London.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq faces an “extraordinary crisis”. Last year’s mass defection of ordinary Sunnis from al-Qaeda to the US military “created panic, fear and the unwillingness to fight”. The terrorist group’s security structure suffered “total collapse”.

These are the words not of al-Qaeda’s enemies but of one of its own leaders in Anbar province — once the group’s stronghold. They were set down last summer in a 39-page letter seized during a US raid on an al-Qaeda base near Samarra in November.

The US military released extracts from that letter yesterday along with a second seized in another November raid that is almost as startling.

That second document is a bitter 16-page testament written last October by a local al-Qaeda leader near Balad, north of Baghdad. “I am Abu-Tariq, emir of the al-Layin and al-Mashahdah sector,” the author begins. He goes on to describe how his force of 600 shrank to fewer than 20.

“We were mistreated, cheated and betrayed by some of our brothers,” he says. “Those people were nothing but hypocrites, liars and traitors and were waiting for the right moment to switch sides with whoever pays them most.”

Assuming the two documents are authentic — and the US military insists that they are — they provide a rare insight into an organisation thrown into turmoil by the rise of the [anti-terrorist] Awakening movement. More than 80,000 Sunnis have joined the tribal groups of “concerned local citizens” [CLCs] that have helped to eject al-Qaeda from swaths of western and northern Iraq, including much of Baghdad.

US intelligence officials cautioned, however, that the documents were snapshots of two small areas and that al-Qaeda was far from a spent force.

The Anbar letter conceded that the “crusaders” — Americans — had gained the upper hand by persuading ordinary Sunnis that al-Qaeda was responsible for their suffering and by exploiting their poverty to entice them into the security forces. Al-Qaeda’s “Islamic State of Iraq is faced with an extraordinary crisis, especially in al-Anbar”, the unnamed emir admitted.

In an apparent reference to al-Qaeda’s brutal tactics, he said of the Americans and their Sunni allies: “We helped them to unite against us . . . The Americans and the apostates launched their campaigns against us and we found ourselves in a circle not being able to move, organise or conduct our operations.”

He said of the loss of Anbar province: “This created weakness and psychological defeat. This also created panic, fear and the unwillingness to fight. The morale of the fighters went down . . . There was a total collapse in the security structure of the organisation.” The emir complained that the supply of foreign fighters had dwindled and that they found it increasingly hard to operate inside Iraq because they could not blend in. Foreign suicide bombers determined to kill “not less than 20 or 30 infidels” grew disillusioned because they were kept hanging about and only given small operations. Some gave up and went home.

Finally the emir recommended rewards for killing apostates, using doctors to kill infidels and offering gifts to tribal leaders. He said al-Qaeda’s fighters should be sent to more promising areas such as Diyala province or Baghdad — which is exactly what happened.

Most of the first battalion’s fighters “betrayed us and joined al-Sahwah [the Awakening]”, he says. The leader of the second ran away and all but two of its 300 fighters joined the Awakening. The activities of the third were “frozen due to their present conditions”. Of the fourth he writes: “Most of its members are scoundrels, sectarians, non-believers”.

He lists 38 people still working for him but beside five names he has written comments like “We have not seen him for twenty days” or “left us a week ago”. He concludes, wistfully: “And that is the number of fighters left in my sector.”

‘WE WERE MISTREATED AND CHEATED’

Extracts from letters

Abu-Tariq, al-Qaeda leader

“There were almost 600 fighters in our sector before the tribes changed course 360 degrees . . . Many of our fighters quit and some of them joined the deserters . . . As a result of that the number of fighters dropped down to 20 or less.”

“We were mistreated, cheated and betrayed by some of our brothers who used to be part of the Jihadi movement, therefore we must not have mercy on those traitors until they come back to the right side or get eliminated completely.”

Unnamed emir, Anbar province

“The Islamic State of Iraq [al-Qaeda] is faced with an extraordinary crisis, especially in al-Anbar province. Al-Qaeda’s expulsion from Anbar created weakness and psychological defeat. This also created panic, fear and the unwillingness to fight.

“The morale of the fighters went down and they wanted to be transferred to administrative positions rather than be fighters. There was a total collapse in the security structure of the organisation.”

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Jail Global Warming Skeptics?

Via the Reason blog, an account of how a prominent Canadian political figure wants to imprison people who disagree with him on anthropogenic global warming.
David Suzuki has called for political leaders to be thrown in jail for ignoring the science behind climate change.

At a Montreal conference last Thursday, the prominent scientist, broadcaster and Order of Canada recipient exhorted a packed house of 600 to hold politicians legally accountable for what he called an intergenerational crime. Though a spokesman said yesterday the call for imprisonment was not meant to be taken literally, Dr. Suzuki reportedly made similar remarks in an address at the University of Toronto last month.

The proposal has lit up many conservative blogs since it was first reported by the McGill Daily on Monday.

Addressing the McGill Business Conference on Sustainability, hosted by the Faculty of Management, Dr. Suzuki’s wide-ranging speech warned against favouring the economy to the detriment of the ecology -- the tarsands in Northern Alberta being his prime example.

“You have lived your entire lives in a completely unsustainable period,” he told students and fans. “You all think growth and [climate] change is normal. It’s not.”

Toward the end of his speech, Dr. Suzuki said that “we can no longer tolerate what’s going on in Ottawa and Edmonton” and then encouraged attendees to hold politicians to a greater green standard.

“What I would challenge you to do is to put a lot of effort into trying to see whether there’s a legal way of throwing our so-called leaders into jail because what they’re doing is a criminal act,” said Dr. Suzuki, a former board member of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

“It’s an intergenerational crime in the face of all the knowledge and science from over 20 years.”

The statement elicited rounds of applause.
If somebody can be locked up in Canada or Europe for saying that homosexual acts are sinful (and they can), why not lock people up for saying politically incorrect things about climate change?

Alexander Cockburn has felt the full fury of the moralistic crusaders, and explains what he faced.
Since I started writing essays challenging the global warming consensus, and seeking to put forward critical alternative arguments, I have felt almost witch-hunted. There has been an hysterical reaction. One individual, who was once on the board of the Sierra Club, has suggested I should be criminally prosecuted. I wrote a series of articles on climate change issues for the Nation, which elicited a level of hysterical outrage and affront that I found to be astounding - and I have a fairly thick skin, having been in the business of making unpopular arguments for many, many years.

There was a shocking intensity to their self-righteous fury, as if I had transgressed a moral as well as an intellectual boundary and committed blasphemy. I sometimes think to myself, ‘Boy, I’m glad I didn’t live in the 1450s’, because I would be out in the main square with a pile of wood around my ankles. I really feel that; it is remarkable how quickly the hysterical reaction takes hold and rains down upon those who question the consensus.

This experience has given me an understanding of what it must have been like in darker periods to be accused of being a blasphemer; of the summary and unpleasant consequences that can bring. There is a witch-hunting element in climate catastrophism. That is clear in the use of the word ‘denier’ to label those who question claims about anthropogenic climate change. ‘Climate change denier’ is, of course, meant to evoke the figure of the Holocaust denier. This was contrived to demonise sceptics. The past few years show clearly how mass moral panics and intellectual panics become engendered.
The key thing here is that environmentalists, and indeed the left generally, are secular. They don’t believe in God, and don’t like religion.

But not believing in God doesn’t change the fact that people have a deep desire to feel righteous, to feel clean and redeemed and right with God -- or with something equivalent to God.

Environmentalists fulfil this need with environmentalism, and like the least tolerant religious people want to cleanse the world of unrighteousness. They want heresy stifled. They want goodness and virtue to prevail -- by force if necessary.

And they are quick to decide that force will be necessary.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Christianity Today: The 10 Most Redeeming Films of 2007

From the evangelical Christian magazine, a list of films with uplifting messages, sometimes explicitly Christian, but always consistent with a Christian value system.
  1. Into Great Silence
  2. Lars and the Real Girl
  3. Juno
  4. Amazing Grace
  5. Bella
  6. Into the Wild
  7. The Kite Runner
  8. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  9. Ratatouille
  10. Freedom Writers
Click through the link above for more information and reviews.

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Commission on Reducing Racial Disparities in the Wisconsin Justice System: Report Not So Bad

We’ve blogged several times on the Commission on Reducing Racial Disparities in the Wisconsin Justice System, often noting some of the wilder and more extreme statements and views of some of its members, including especially Spencer Coggs and Tamara Grigsby.

We have also debated, in an exchange right here, Prof. Pamela Oliver, sociologist who is a member of the Commission.

The Commission’s Report was posted this morning, and it was pretty much what we reported it would be in a post last Thursday.

What is happily missing from the Report? Any blanket condemnation of the Wisconsin justice system as racist. Given that the Commission was appointed by Governor Doyle as a sop to some black legislators, and given that some of those legislators have a propensity to play the race card at any opportunity, we feared that this might happen.

Such a “finding” would be highly damaging, since it would create pressure for an affirmative action program by police and prosecutors to “make the numbers come out right.” It’s clear who would be harmed by this: blacks in the inner cities of Wisconsin who are the most frequent victims of black criminals.

Indeed, the Report admits this possibility:
One on-going form of discrimination in United States history has been the under-protection of minorities in the criminal justice system. The Commission notes that progress in avoiding over-incarceration of minorities should not be made at the expense of victims of crimes. Protection must also remain for those victims who live in challenged neighborhoods.
The one area where the Report comes closest to asserting an actual bias against blacks concerns drug crimes.
The evidence is that in some areas, particularly enforcement of the drug laws, some disparity results from policies and practices that have disparate impacts on people of color – most heavily on African-Americans – and these policies and practices should be carefully reviewed and could be improved by police, prosecutors and defense attorneys, judges, corrections officials, social workers, and others who work in and influence the operation of the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems.
Note, however, that even here, the charge is not flat-out racial discrimination but rather a disparate racial impact of policies that aren’t discriminatory on their face.

We stated as much in our article that came out this past September in The Wisconsin Interest, although we added that the black community has been in the forefront of promoting tough drug enforcement, and that there is a rational basis for tough drug enforcement where drug trafficking can be viewed as a community problem, and not a mere private vice.

Where the Commission looked at new data, they pretty much found no evidence of racial discrimination. For example, a report on the treatment of inmates in an Appendix to the Report (pages 77-83) shows only minor and inconsistent differences between the treatment of blacks and whites.

Recommendations

The recommendations of the Report, which span pages 5-22, are numerous and mostly benign. From example, the last one says:
DOC [Department of Corrections] should work collaboratively with the faith communities to provide services that would assist in the rehabilitation of inmates and prepare them for release from prison. The networks built through this interaction will assist in the maintenance of strong ties and supervision once the inmate returns to his or her community.
OK. Sure. We are all for that.

One large class of recommendations calls for gathering more data. For example, we get this:
Currently, there is a lack of data and/or lack of tracking data by race at all stages of the justice system, from initial law enforcement contact through probation, incarceration, and parole. Local jurisdictions need to have data so they have an understanding of what is happening in their communities and can begin the discussion locally.
This sounds benign enough. But it could actually be damaging if it becomes an unfunded mandate in which agencies are required to devote scarce resources to gathering data and producing reports, as opposed to actually doing their jobs.

It could also be damaging if it leads to a preoccupation with “getting the numbers right” and a sort of affirmative action program where blacks get treated more leniently so that they won’t appear to be “disproportionately” punished. But this latter possibility is mitigated by the lack or rhetoric about racial bias in the system. People having to collect and report such data won’t face a situation where they are presumed to be racist until they prove otherwise.

The Report is particularly concerned about revocations of probation and parole, which have an effect on the disproportionate imprisonment of blacks. Is this evidence of racial bias? The Report doesn’t assert such, but does call for collecting data.

The Report does show a sensible concern with offenders who have been released and need to rehabilitate themselves with a job or education or both. For example:
Active efforts should be made to change prohibitions against financial aid for education and housing for convicted drug offenders.
And there is this:
The State Department of Transportation and Department of Corrections program should be expanded to serve inmates at all Department of Corrections facilities and aid inmate reintegration by ensuring that inmates who request them have a valid identification card before they are released.
Although we are very hard-nosed about the value of incarceration (the one “social program” with a consistent track record of reducing crime), when an offender has “paid his debt to society” we see no need for artificial barriers to rehabilitation.

Even where the Report seems to embrace mushy liberalism, the practical effect of doing what they recommend would probably be small. Making more drug treatment available, for example, doesn’t seem so lenient when one understands that simple users rarely get prison time anyway. Then there is this:
Consistent with the results of the January, 2008 Legislative Audit report, legislation should be introduced to return jurisdiction of 17 year olds alleged to have violated state or federal criminal laws to juvenile courts. Current waiver provisions should be maintained.
So long as particularly dangerous 17 year-old offenders can be waived into adult court, the practical effect of this is likely to be small. Simply being in adult court doesn’t guarantee tough punishment.

Conclusion

No doubt the Report does have a bit of a mushy liberal ambience, with about every feel-good idea you can think of thrown in. But some of the ideas are good ones, and excessive racial rhetoric has been avoided.

We see little harm in it, and maybe at least some good.

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Super Bowl Upset

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Catholic Gay Priest Problem

Via Dad29, a post from Crunchy Con comments on the “Gay Priest Problem.”

Although child molesters in society generally are more likely to be heterosexual than homosexual, it’s very different where the Catholic priesthood is concerned.

The issue is not nearly so simple as the notion that “gays are child molesters.”

The story is much more complex, involving the domination of many seminaries by open and aggressive homosexuals. And no, not just guys who lust after other guys, but men who unashamedly engage in homosexual sex. Indeed, seminarians (gay and straight) who want to remain celibate are often marginalized.

It’s not, in other words, about the sinful nature of individuals (something Christianity holds to be universal) but about a perverse culture.

The mainstream media, not surprisingly, won’t touch the issue.

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Sensible “Socialists”

Via the Reason blog, news about the change of government down under.
By Michael Keats - MELBOURNE, Australia — A new left-wing government in Australia has begun with a decidedly unliberal approach to economic policy — proposing a budget based on deep cuts in spending and taxes.

U.S. officials, who are headed in the other direction with a stimulus package likely to increase the federal deficit by at least $100 billion this year, had their first chance to hear about the novel Australian approach to the recent global economic turmoil during a first visit to Washington yesterday by Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith.

Mr. Smith had meetings with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates before attending the State of the Union address.

The Australian plan, announced Jan. 21 by Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, was based on the assumption that a 3.8 percent inflation rate — rather than slow growth — was the greatest threat to the nation’s economy. It calls for spending cuts sufficient to produce a surplus equaling 1.5 percent of gross domestic product — even as the government goes ahead with promised tax cuts totaling $27 billion over four years.

The fiscal belt-tightening goes far beyond anything envisaged by the previous right-wing government of defeated Prime Minister John Howard — a staunch U.S. ally for more than a decade — or for that matter by U.S. governments since the 1990s.

“We are embarking on a hard-line approach to fiscal discipline,” Mr. Rudd said in announcing the plan last week. “It won’t be easy.”

In addition to $8.8 billion in savings the party identified during the campaign, the prime minister said the new government will turn to its “razor gang” to find more spending cuts.

He said his Labor Party government will also look for ways to encourage private savings and tackle a chronic shortage of skilled labor.
It seems that Australian socialists are more responsible than American Republicans, and wildly more responsible than American Democrats.

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Obama Video: All Style, No Substance

Via The National Conversation:

Simply as video propaganda, this is a very nice piece of work. But viewed with a critical eye, it underlines the utter lack of substance of the Obama campaign.

At some point (and certainly if he wins the nomination) he’ll have to to campaign -- indeed, the Republicans will make him campaign -- as the most liberal Senator in the U.S. Congress.

And then “change” may not sound so attractive when it’s revealed as the standard liberal agenda.

A Question

In the mode of Charlie Sykes’ “insight checks,” what politically incorrect thing does Obama say in his speech?

Commenters, step up!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Fr. Bryan Massingale: Politically Correct Race Hustler

From Daniel Suhr of GOP3.COM, a thorough deconstruction of a fellow who appears to be Dan Maguire’s successor as the high-profile leftist in Marquette’s Theology Department.
It has been reported to me that during his homily celebrating the opening of Mission Week, Fr. Bryan Massingale, associate professor of theology, said that when you fight for justice, “People may write about you on blogs, or call you liberal or politically correct.”
But as Shur makes quite clear, Massingale is liberal (or leftist) and is politically correct.

Anybody who wants to dispute that might find any statement of his that contradicts the standard orthodoxy of secular liberals.

A key element of Massingale’s rhetoric is the idea of “white privilege:” the idea that if you are white you have it better than most black people, and should feel guilty about that.

Well, you do have it better and you should not feel guilty about that.

If black people are worse off on average than white people, the causes are complex, but blathering about “white privilege” gets you nowhere in understanding them.

Black people, for example, are worse off because they are much more likely to have been born out of wedlock, or to have grown up in a single parent family. Is it the fault of white people that black guys knock up black girls and women and then run off? The hard core politically correct types say “yes,” but that’s because they hold the idea, profoundly demeaning to black people, that the latter can’t be expected to make moral decisions.

The generation of black people that marched with Martin Luther King was able to make moral decisions. Today’s generation could too, but are less likely to if people like Massingale tell them they are not expected to.

Black people are much more likely to be victimized by crime than whites. But it’s not Klansmen doing the victimizing. It’s other blacks. Again, trying to blame whites is not convincing.

Where whites are to blame, they are mostly long dead. Of course, in the world of the politically correct, just being white taints one with the sins of the slaveowners. But this is no better than the old racist canard that blacks bear the Mark of Cain.

For the politically correct, it doesn’t matter if an ancestor of yours died fighting on the Union side in the Civil War. You are still tainted.

The blather about white privilege is simply a strategy for manipulating people. As Massingale put it: “The reality of one’s white privilege does not make him or her an evil individual; what a person does with that privilege is the acid-test of his or her personal morality.” Translation: adopt our political agenda, or you are an evil person.

A common theme among the victim mongers is the notion that whites are well off because they exploited blacks. As Massingale’s document asks rhetorically: “‘Why should I give up a social status that benefits me?’ We answer: ‘Because the privileges of some are obtained at the expense of others.’”

This, quite simply, is nonsense.

If it were true the South, where slavery was widespread after it had withered away in the North, would have been richer and more prosperous than the North. In fact, the South ended the Civil War poor and remained crushingly poor up until only a couple of generations ago. While the slave owners may have benefited the region did not.

Slavery and segregation did not make whites any better off, with the arguable exception of the slave owners. Probably the people who benefited most were slave traders.

But a lot of those were blacks in Africa.

In the narrow little zero-sum world of the politically correct, nobody gets better off unless they make somebody worse off. This belief is why they tend to be socialists. John Paul the Great, in Centesimus Annus, preached the gospel of economic growth, opportunity, entrepreneurship and free markets. Clerical leftists like Massingale essentially blew this off, and continued to take their cues from secular leftists.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Final Report of the Commission on Reducing Racial Disparities Will Be Released Thursday

It’s a story we have been following: Wisconsin’s Commission on Reducing Racial Disparities, which was supposed to release a Final Report today will in fact (they say) be released on Thursday.

There appears to be no large-scale rewriting going on, rather a bit of quibbling about language.

Our prediction last Thursday that the report will be relatively sensible and moderate appears to hold.

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Real Estate Shuffle Around Marquette

Marquette now has a little empire in commercial real estate, and how they manage it has considerable implications for the neighborhood and the student body.

A lot of student attention has focused on Sweeney’s College Books, the very welcome alternative to the University-sponsored monopoly of the Bookmarq.

As we have reported, Sweeney’s has been forced to leave their current location in a (now) Marquette-owned building at Wisconsin Avenue and 16th Street and look for a new place in the neighborhood to do business.

Also forced out is Dany’s Foods, located just north of Sweeney’s on 17th Street. Owner Adnan Shanaa is a bit bitter about having to leave. He explains that he has been doing business at that location for 24 years, and laments that “Marquette wants to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.” Shanna says that, financially, he’s “just happy to pay his bills.”

One business which apparently won’t be leaving is Ziggies. Ziggie explained to us that he has an eight-year lease that does not expire until 2015.

Not part of Marquette’s little empire, but still part of the neighborhood scene is China Garden Restaurant. Manager Jun confirms that they are looking for new quarters and will be moving about the end of the school year.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Leftist University of Wisconsin Professor: If You Live in a Suburb, You are a Racist

Via Patrick McIlheran, a comment from a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Sociology professor (it figures) named Bill Washabaugh about how anybody who lives in the suburbs does so because of racism.
Michael Murphy is right to raise tough questions about Menominee Falls and water. If, indeed, the dissatisfactions of the citizens of Menominee Falls have led them into residential self-isolation, then they should accept their thirst as a logical consequence of their dissatisfactions.

The term self-isolation is not too strong here. The evidence for it is overwhelming (http://www.uwm.edu/~wash/Milwaukee.htm). As recently as five years ago, the percentage of African Americans (1.5%) and Hispanic Americans (1.2%) living in Menominee Falls contrasted sharply with percentages in Milwaukee (37.3% Africans Americans, and 12% Hispanic Americans).

Patrick McIlheran presents this self-isolation as something far more benign than it is. He suggested that suburban folks are simply “dissatisfied with the city” (Journal Sentinel 1/27/08, 3J). He makes it sound as if choosing to move to Menominee Falls is like choosing clothing for the cold weather. If one is dissatisfied with cold feet, one puts on warmer socks.

Living in the burbs, he suggests, is a simple preference, that there is nothing very complicated about it, and certainly nothing conspiratorial or malign. Instead, it is a matter of following a simple preference, perhaps, as David Brooks argued a couple years ago (The Atlantic Monthly), a matter of flocking together like birds of a feather.

But I don’t buy that argument. There are few preferences that deserve to be called simple and natural. Most human choices are driven by unseen forces. Scholars in a number of relevant fields (neuroscience, psychology, aesthetics) concur. Barbara Stafford, for example, has offered a powerful argument about visual preferences -- why one likes one painting more than another. She contends that the conscious activity of determining likes and dislikes really amounts to little more 10% of brain’s functioning. She further argues that, when it comes to understanding such preferences, it would be naive to ignore the larger 90% of the brain’s silent operations.

Her point bears on the burbs. It reveals the stunning simplism of one who explains his or her suburban residence as a result of being “dissatisfied with the city.” Such a one would be well advised to dig into the submerged iceberg of forces that have driven such dissatisfaction.

Studies of such submerged forces are numerous and helpful (see works by Pierre Bourdieu). They provide the ground for supposing that much suburban “dissatisfaction” has been shaped by longstanding social practices and institutional constraints, and especially by racism (see Paul Gilroy) and classism (see Walter Benn Michaels).

The way I see it, racism and classism lurk behind and beneath the issue of selling water. And so, Michael Murphy’s questions about this sale challenge us all to dig deeper into the roots of suburban residential preferences. I applaud his efforts.
This sort of thinking is not unusual in academia. Indeed, it’s perfectly standard to yell “racist” at any political opinion that leftist professors disagree with.

One has to ask: who are the bigots, those who move to the suburbs, or those who claim that everybody who does so are racists?

We wonder what Bill Washabaugh would say about blacks who choose to live in the suburbs. They are 12% of the population in Brown Deer, and a majority of the population in many of the close-in suburbs around Washington, DC., being 66% of the population of Prince George’s County, Maryland.

And, of course, a lot of blacks who can’t afford to buy houses in the suburbs choose to send their kids to school there. As Bruce Murphy has observed:
. . . Brown Deer’s [school] system, is 41 percent black, 4 percent Hispanic, 8 percent Asian and 1 percent American Indian. . . sane observers might describe it as a melting pot of diversity.

Beyond Brown Deer, there has been a fairly impressive increase in the percentage of minorities in most of the suburban school systems of Milwaukee County. Back in 1996, those systems ranged from 75 to 91 percent white; by 2006, that had dropped to 46 to 88 percent white. Back in 1996, 12 of 17 systems were more than 80 percent white; today just five systems are that white.
If white suburbanites are so racist, who are they so receptive to having minority students enroll in their schools?

And we might wonder whether very liberal-voting suburbs like Shorewood are populated by racists.

Very subjective biases may determine what kinds of paintings and music people like, but very objective things like crime rates, the quality of schools and the quality of the housing stock make suburban living better (for many and maybe most Americans) than city living. Especially when the city is as dysfunctional as Milwaukee.

Washabaugh is hardly atypical. Is he really different from some of the faculty at Marquette? How is he different, for example, from Sharon M. Chubbuck of Marquette’s Education School. When students disagree with her leftist political opinions, she derides and demeans them as follows:
Given the blinders of their common white, middle- to upper-middle class experiences, a small group of our students, when challenged to consider teaching for social justice, becomes recalcitrant, burrowing deeper into their mono-cultural understanding of life. . . . As seen in the student journals quoted above, some resist what seems like an imposition of political views, failing to realize that not raising issues of injustice can also be considered an imposition of political views by virtue of what is left unsaid.
And how is Washabaugh different from Philosophy Department Chair James South, who tore down a quotation from Dave Barry from the door of a Graduate student, claiming it was “patently offensive.”

We might ask the same question about faculty who recently spoke at a campus program on rape. Male students were told they are part of a “rape culture.” Feminist professor Theresa Tobin explained that all men are part of a “protection racket.” Because of the threat of rape, a woman “needs to be protected by men against other men.” Tobin, according to one sympathetic student, teaches that capitalism and Catholicism are “among the most guilty parties” in oppressing women.

Let’s be blunt. Academics inhabit a very narrow, parochial and intolerant culture. It’s deeply ironic — and indeed utterly absurd — that they should talk about intolerance elsewhere.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Voucher Foes Hurt Poor Kids

From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Chicago is gearing up for another round of tumult from the closing of possibly more than a half dozen failing schools. Whatever the Chicago Public Schools administration does to solve this problem, the parents of students have no choice but to cope.

Middle-class families exercise school choice by loading up a moving van and relocating to a suburb with good schools. The rich can afford private schools. Only the poor -- often minorities in inner cities with under-performing schools -- are stuck with little or no choice.

President Bush tossed out an idea Monday to open up choice for poor kids but, as usual, it was rejected out of hand by Democrats and teacher unions. The $300 million Pell Grants for Kids proposed by the president in his State of the Union message is modeled on the popular Pell Grant program that helps poor kids go to college. Basically, the Bush plan would turn over tax dollars to parents to send their children to private schools.

In other words, vouchers.

Bush’s proposal was shouted down by Democratic lawmakers and unions with the usual complaint that vouchers pull resources away from urban schools.

This argument has been rebutted by studies, many of them compiled online by the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. No school district that has adopted choice has had its budget reduced, the foundation says. For example, it reports that in Milwaukee, per-pupil spending jumped from $6,316 in 1990-91, when its program began, to $10,375 by the 2003-04 school year. Other studies show vouchers improve student performance. Milwaukee recorded better graduation rates, and Harvard studies of privately funded voucher programs in New York and Dayton, Ohio, revealed better math and reading scores for African-American students. What’s more, research shows competition from vouchers improves public schools.

Vouchers remain an appealing idea with the public. A just-released poll done for the Friedman Foundation, the Illinois Policy Institute and seven other groups finds 51 percent of people in Illinois favor vouchers and the number was 73 percent when the aid is limited to low-income families or kids in failing schools.

So why doesn’t the voucher movement find traction?

For one thing, there’s opposition from unions supported by their allies in the Democratic Party and civil rights movement. Conservatives believe in the sovereignty of the individual and trust in his or her ability to make the right decisions. Liberals believe individuals need help from government in confronting big challenges or, especially, big interests like business. There’s some truth in that. But in this case, liberals are aligned with the big interests -- teacher unions and the education monopoly. Yes, teachers and school administrators are committed to educating children. Still, their position is complicated by self interest, i.e. unions putting job security first.
The author goes on to explain that most middle class parents, happy with their own kids’ education, view real choice for poor kids as a source of possible trouble. Thus voucher initiatives (at least broad based ones) fail.

And poor kids are denied choice.

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Mortgage Bail-Out Piece in The Warrior

The student paper The Warrior this week ran an op-ed piece of ours on the supposed “crisis” around subprime lending and foreclosures.

Check it out here.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Finally Noticed