Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cystic Fibrosis Not “Inclusive” Enough: Booted From University Fund Drive

From the National Post in Canada:
OTTAWA -- The Carleton University Students’ Association has voted to drop a cystic fibrosis charity as the beneficiary of its annual Shinearama fundraiser, supporting a motion that argued the disease is not “inclusive” enough.

Cystic fibrosis “has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men” said the motion read Monday night to student councillors, who voted almost unanimously in favour of it.

Every year near the beginning of fall classes, during university orientation for new arrivals, students fan out across the city and seek donations from passersby. According to the motion, “all orientees and volunteers should feel like their fundraising efforts will serve their (sic) diverse communities.”

Nick Bergamini, a third-year journalism student on the student council, said he was the only elected councillor present to vote against the motion. The decision is an example of campus political correctness gone too far, he said.

“They’re not doctors. They’re playing politics with this,” said Mr. Bergamini. “I think they see this, in their own twisted way, as a win for diversity. I see it as a loss for people with cystic fibrosis.”
The article goes on to quote Cathleen Morrison, head of the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
The rationale for dropping cystic fibrosis as the beneficiary is not correct, she said. CF is diagnosed just as often among girls as boys, although the health of girls deteriorates more rapidly, she said. It is commonly considered an illness that affects Caucasians, but that includes people from the Middle East, South America, North Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

“‘Caucasian’ as we understand it isn’t just white people,” said Ms. Morrison. “It includes people with a whole rainbow of skins.”

Meanwhile, public reaction to the student association decision has been swift, from those who denounced the decision as political correctness to those who facetiously mused about what would qualify as an “inclusive” disease. Others wondered if the student association decision would affect alumni donations to the university.

“The reasoning behind this is totally ridiculous. Eventually cystic fibrosis is a fatal disease. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” said Marie Lunney, a Carleton graduate who has worked as a foundation volunteer. “If I had a choice between donating to CF or Carleton, I’d donate to CF.”
Of course, diseases that affect entirely women (breast cancer, uterine cancer) or blacks (sickle cell anemia) would not get treated this way. As usual, the point isn’t “inclusion,” it’s siding with the “oppressed” against the “oppressor.”

And the irony here: we can’t imagine the vast majority of blacks or Asians thinking that cystic fibrosis is somehow an unworthy cause. Only people who have been corrupted by being on a college campus think that way.

[Update]

Student government at Carleton seems to be on track to reverse the decision.

Interestingly, Carleton students appear to overwhelmingly oppose the action.
Following the controversial Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) council vote to drop Shinerama from frosh events, Carleton students have rallied together to oppose the decision.

A Facebook group called “Students do Support Shinerama CUSA! Because Diseases Don’t Discriminate!” has reached nearly 2,000 members overnight. The group was started by Nick Bergamini, the lone elected council member who voted down the motion.
The question is: have the yahoos in student government learned anything, or do they remain set to do something similar the next time the opportunity arises?

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So It May Be Moot

Monday, November 24, 2008

Faith is Better Than Atheism

From Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe, the story of Rabbi David Wolpe, a former atheist who turned to faith, and wrote a book called Why Faith Matters.
It is interesting to experience, in the same week, both Wolpe’s book and Religulous, Bill Maher’s cinematic assault on organized religion. Maher, a caustic comedian and TV host, also turned his back on religion in his teens. “I hated church; it scared me,” he says near the start of Religulous. He also says, somewhat inconsistently, that he found religion “boring” and that it “wasn’t relevant” to his life.

Like Wolpe’s book, Maher’s movie raises questions about faith; unlike Wolpe, Maher isn’t interested in answers. Religulous is a profane, condescending, and often funny rant against religion -- Christianity especially, but also Judaism, Mormonism, and Islam. Maher’s mocking documentary promotes the idea that only oddballs, cranks, and nincompoops can take religion seriously. That’s a fairly easy case to make if you focus, as Maher’s interviews mostly do, on oddballs, cranks, and nincompoops: the Puerto Rican cult leader who claims to be the Antichrist, the pothead in Amsterdam with his marijuana “ministry,” the misfit rabbi who embraces Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the young-earth creationist who teaches that human beings and dinosaurs co-existed.

It’s also easy to portray faith as a goofy fairy tale if you spend your time deriding tales of ancient miracles -- a burning bush! A virgin birth! A prophet swallowed by a fish! -- but never pause to acknowledge the far-fetched improbabilities inherent in atheism.

Maher characterizes religion as “fantasy and nonsense.” Yet atheism is no guarantee of enlightened rationality. In a study released this past September, researchers at Baylor University found that adherence to “traditional . . . religion greatly decreases credulity, as measured by beliefs in such things as dreams [foretelling the future], Bigfoot, UFOs, haunted houses, communicating with the dead, and astrology.” By contrast, those who reject traditional religion -- “self-identified theological liberals and the irreligious” -- are “far more likely” to believe in superstition and the occult. Or other nonsense: Maher, for example, claims that aspirin is lethal, doubts that the Salk vaccine eradicated polio, and has praised the horse that threw Christopher Reeve.
This, of course, brings to mind Chesterton’s famous aphorism: “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing -- they believe in anything.”

And Jacoby failed to mention (since this seems like ancient history now) the nastyest and most destructive belief that many 19th and 20th Century atheists held: Marxism.
So it is unsurprising that Maher sees only the foolishness and evil that religious people, like all people, are capable of, and misses entirely the extraordinary good that religion engenders. As Wolpe notes, numerous researchers have found that “religious people are happier, more charitable, have more stable families, and contribute more to their communities.” They are less likely to suffer depression or commit suicide, to use drugs or be involved with crime, to drink to excess, or to smoke.

The Los Angeles Times reported last year on research showing that people without faith were less likely to help a poor or homeless person than religious believers. While both were equally likely to describe themselves as “good citizens,” their charitable practices were strikingly different. Americans of no faith donated an annual average of $200 to charity; active-faith adults typically contributed $1,500. Even when church-based giving was subtracted from the mix, religious Americans donated twice as much to charity as the nonreligious.

It is no coincidence that so many hospitals, schools, homeless shelters, and aid organizations have been started and sustained by religious groups. “We are creatures designed to flourish -- to heal and to help -- when we believe,” Wolpe writes.
Normally, we wouldn’t bother to debate religous belief, viewing it as an individual matter. But aggressive and hostile secular people, including both those like Maher and the gay lobby, have dragged it into the public arena. So if they want to debate, they can have a debate.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Marquette and the Financial Crisis

An e-mail, forwarded to all faculty, from Provost John Pauly:
From: Pauly, John
Sent: Friday, November 14, 2008 4:43 PM
To: [Department Chairs]
Subject: Finance office website

Hi, folks,

Linda Salchenberger said that some of her faculty have been asking questions about Marquette’s financial situation in relation to the current economic downturn, and have asked whether Father Wild planned to issue a letter addressing the problem. I suspect that some of you may be fielding similar questions.

So far Father Wild has resisted writing a note as other universities have because Marquette is not anticipating any layoffs, cutbacks, closings, or freezes. The situation is serious but not dire, and so far seems manageable. Indeed, we hope to propose a modest tuition increase, offer at least some salary increase for faculty and staff, and even finance one or two new academic initiatives.

The finance office has put together an information page on Marquette’s response to the current turmoil, which it regularly updates. Here is the link to that page:

http://www.marquette.edu/financeoffice/

Please feel free to share this link with any of your faculty and staff.

Have a good weekend!

John Pauly

Provost
The relevant document from the Finance Office website can be found here.

Clearly, the Administration is trying to calm people down a bit. We have no reason to doubt the assertions in the Finance Office document. It claims that Marquette operating funds are invested conservatively and that Marquette remains able to borrow money when needed. It doesn’t address, and indeed appears to evade, describing what has happened to Marquette’s endowment funds.

We’ll report further when we learn more.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Detroit Hybrid

Tribune Story on the Catholic Vote: Biased, Misleading

Today’s edition of the Marquette Tribune has a story virtually celebrating the fact that (to quote the headline) “Obama takes the Catholic vote in election.”

Several sources are quoted, and all of them have one thing in common: all were Obama supporters. Admittedly one, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry Steve Blaha, didn’t say for whom he voted. But it was clear that he wanted Catholics to blow off the abortion issue. According to the Tribune Blaha “said while voting, it was important for Catholics to consider all concerns for life: the unborn, the sick and the elderly.” And further:
“It’s important to weigh which questions and issues have the greatest impact on life,” Blaha said. “At the end of the day it is up to each Catholic to discern what is reality and how do I live out my faith in this context.”
Even worse, the article quotes Patrick Whelan, president of Catholic Democrats, as saying “During his campaign, Obama said, ‘nobody is pro-abortion,’” Whelan said. “He succeeded in articulating the abortion issue better than McCain.”

In reality, Obama has been not merely pro-abortion, but a pro-abortion extremist, favoring the Freedom of Choice Act, which would, according to Pro-Life Wisconsin:
. . . eliminate laws on informed consent, parental consent, abortion clinic regulations, conscience protection laws, government programs that fund and promote childbirth without funding abortion, laws prohibiting certain abortion procedures (e.g., partial birth abortion), laws requiring that abortions only be performed by licensed physicians, etc.
Anybody who doubts this characterization needs merely to read the Act.

The article quoted nobody who argued that Catholics should oppose Obama because of his position on abortion.

Even worse, the article implied there was some sort of groundswell of support for Obama among Catholics. But anybody can simply look at the Pew Forum report that the article cites to see that this wasn’t so.

While the exit polls used show a net shift of five percentage points in favor of Obama relative to the Kerry vote in 2004 (due to sampling and other errors, this doesn’t exactly match the real vote shift), Catholics showed a seven point shift.

But more striking, white Catholics showed only a four point shift.

The biggest shift of any religious group was the “unaffiliated,” who favored Obama by eight points more than they favored Kerry. As is always the case in recent presidential elections, the Democrat was the choice of secular people.

In fact, white Catholics favored McCain over Obama by 52 to 47 points.

Further, the black and Hispanic Catholics who gave Obama his margin are generally conservative on social issues like abortion and gay marriage. In 2008, they didn’t vote predominantly on these issues, although in California where it was possible to vote on gay marriage, strong majorities of blacks and Hispanics voted against it.

The Tribune story reflected the liberal position on Catholics and abortion: don’t take it seriously. It isn’t an important issue. Vote on other things. Assume that the Democrats are best for the poor. Killing over a million unborn babies a year isn’t something that you should worry about.

That’s the standard liberal take on the issue. An article in the Tribune should have also included people on the other side.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Yet More Bogus “Global Warming” Data

From the Telegraph:
A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore’s chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China’s official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its “worst snowstorm ever.” In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.

So what explained the anomaly? GISS’s computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.

The error was so glaring that when it was reported on the two blogs - run by the US meteorologist Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre, the Canadian computer analyst who won fame for his expert debunking of the notorious “hockey stick” graph - GISS began hastily revising its figures. This only made the confusion worse because, to compensate for the lowered temperatures in Russia, GISS claimed to have discovered a new “hotspot” in the Arctic - in a month when satellite images were showing Arctic sea-ice recovering so fast from its summer melt that three weeks ago it was 30 per cent more extensive than at the same time last year.

A GISS spokesman lamely explained that the reason for the error in the Russian figures was that they were obtained from another body, and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with. This is an astonishing admission: the figures published by Dr Hansen’s institute are not only one of the four data sets that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) relies on to promote its case for global warming, but they are the most widely quoted, since they consistently show higher temperatures than the others.

If there is one scientist more responsible than any other for the alarm over global warming it is Dr Hansen, who set the whole scare in train back in 1988 with his testimony to a US Senate committee chaired by Al Gore. Again and again, Dr Hansen has been to the fore in making extreme claims over the dangers of climate change. (He was recently in the news here for supporting the Greenpeace activists acquitted of criminally damaging a coal-fired power station in Kent, on the grounds that the harm done to the planet by a new power station would far outweigh any damage they had done themselves.)

Yet last week’s latest episode is far from the first time Dr Hansen’s methodology has been called in question. In 2007 he was forced by Mr Watts and Mr McIntyre to revise his published figures for US surface temperatures, to show that the hottest decade of the 20th century was not the 1990s, as he had claimed, but the 1930s.

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You Should Have Known Better

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Would Marquette Do This?

From the Boston Herald:
Boston College’s merchandising deal with racy lingerie peddler Victoria’s Secret is raising ire on campus and among the conservative, Catholic school’s alumni.

“It’s disgraceful and appalling,” said Boston College graduate C.J. Doyle, who runs the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts. “This is just one more example of the university’s callous contempt for Catholic sensibilities and its complete indifference to what remains of its Catholic identity.”

Yesterday on Newbury Street, outside a Victoria’s Secret store that is selling hot-pink Boston College tank tops for $19.50 and Eagles “short shorts,” others agreed.

“It’s just not appropriate,” said Maura Orrell of Quincy, as she surveyed the rhinestone- and glitter-covered Boston College sweatshirts, hanging just past the candy-colored Miracle bras.

“It’s really tacky,” added Marcia, a “50-ish” auditor from Boston.

Since July, Victoria’s Secret stores have been selling university-themed clothing from 33 schools with strong name recognition. The Collegiate Licensing Co. is a partner and has arranged for some of the revenue to get passed on to the schools.

The universities of Minnesota and North Carolina have already pulled out of the deal, in part because they did not want their brand associated with the retailer.

“There is no way that we want that (BC) logo to be interpreted as ‘We OK the sexualization of women,’ ” said Sharlene Hesse-Biber, director of the Women’s Studies Center at Boston College, about the products.
You wouldn’t want that, eh? It’s too late.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Another Conspiracy Course From English Professor John Boly

We have blogged about Marquette English professor John Boly, who appears to be a heavy-duty conspiracy theorist.

He’s back at it this spring, according to the English Department’s list of courses.
ENGLISH 173: STUDIES IN GENRE:

PROFESSOR JOHN BOLY

• 1001 TUTH 9:35-10:50

DYSTOPIAN FICTION: UTOPIA/DYSTOPIA/HETEROPTOPIA

Is America run by a hidden and arrogant financial elite? Are politicians their sock-puppets? Could illegal and immoral petro-wars be started on false pretexts so a corrupt few can get rich and herd everyone else into a police state? Is corporate owned news a megaphone for CIA propaganda? Are vaccines and other pharmaceutical drugs delivery systems for diseases like cancer and AIDS? Are water supplies deliberately poisoned by eugenicists intent on reducing the population to morons? If questions like these interest you, then try this course. We will study the connections among three closely related genres: utopia (the desirable place), dystopia (the abject hellhole), and heterotopia (the denied or repressed place). The syllabus will include a broad range of works, from Frank Baum’s beloved children’s tale, The Wizard of Oz, to George Orwell’s vision of a global concentration camp, 1984; from Aldous Huxley’s eugenic paradise, Brave New World, to Margaret Atwood’s nightmare society dictated by women-hating fundamentalists, The Handmaid’s Tale; from Kurt Vonnegut’s slapstick black comedies to Kazuo Ishiguro’s elegant psychological thriller, Never Let Me Go. In addition to these fictional works, we will also look at some of the non-fictional narratives that inspired our novelists. These heterotopias, the repressed histories often dismissed as “conspiracy theories,” will give us an opportunity to consider the writings of historians and investigative reporters such as Ida Tarbell, Anthony C. Sutton, Robert Stinnett, and Gary Allen. But the big surprise is that these heterotopians are joined by some unexpected conspiracy theorists: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, both Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton. If recent events leave you questioning the official picture of the world, then utopia, dystopia, and heterotopia are the genres for you.
When we blogged about a different (but equally conspiracy-oriented) course of Boly’s this summer, we were not in a particularly mellow mood, and denounced his conspiracy theorizing as indicative of “the corruption of academia generally, and especially the humanities, by attitudes that are fundamentally hostile to sound history and sound social science.”

Looking at this course description, we are inclined to be a bit more mellow, thinking “he’s just an English professor, so getting the empirical truth right is less important than a compelling aesthetic vision” and “he can’t really believe all this stuff, can he?”

In fact, the course looks to us like a real hoot. Indeed, if some student signs up for both Boly’s course and our own course on the Kennedy assassination, they are guaranteed a wild, and we think, very interesting semester.

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Yet More Gay Fascism on Marriage

Watch this all the way to the end, where a cross is ripped out of the hands of an anti-gay marriage protestor, and trampled upon.

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More Anti-Israel Speakers on Campus

It’s become pretty routine to hear pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel speakers on this campus, and two more will be speaking tomorrow at noon in the Union, in Ballroom D.

The speakers will be Dianna Buttu (formerly a lawyer for the terrorist PLO) and Eddie Makue (South African activist).

Both claim to be supporters of the Palestinian cause, although their extreme rhetoric and uncompromising positions are typical of those that make a solution to the problem more difficult.

Diana Buttu is slightly more incendiary. In response to an interviewer who asked “What is your impression of the PLO-Israel negotiations?” she said “That of a child rape victim negotiating with the rapist.”

Even worse, during a Global Exchange tour in the U.S., November 2002 she remarked that “People say, ‘How can we get the Palestinians to stop the suicide bombings?’ That’s like saying to a rape victim, ‘Make sure not to hurt him, don’t scratch his eyes.’ It’s demanding that the oppressed protect the oppressor.”

Makue is not a lot better, constantly claiming that Israeli treatment of the Palestinians is like apartheid in South Africa. Indeed, he has proclaimed:
If the struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa was an example of how ‘people of conscience in the international community have historically shouldered the moral responsibility to fight injustice… through diverse forms of boycott, divestment and sanctions’, then we have no choice but to help shoulder the responsibility to abolish the apartheid that seeks to oppress and destroy the Palestinian people.
That the Palestinians, who have engaged in a virtually constant campaign of terrorism against Israel, are themselves largely responsible for restrictions on their movement is something Makue doesn’t seem to recognize.

As one observer put it:
I in no way condone or agree with the way Israel has conducted its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and believe it was a huge strategic and costly military mistake to build the settlements on Palestinian land after 1967. At the same time, Israel’s actions must be viewed in the context of the overall conflict: the Palestinians’ refusal since 1948 to recognize Israel’s right to exist and their decision to resort to airplane hijackings, murder on the high seas, suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism and armed conflict.

Rightly or wrongly, Israel has concluded that while it tries to negotiate a settlement of the conflict, it has to ensure its survival and safety through its military strength and superiority. This context in no way resembles the situation in which apartheid was developed as an ideology and social system in South Africa.
We are happy to report that this event is not sponsored by Marquette, but rather by the Arab Student Association. Marquette has a rather sordid record of one-sided programming attacking Israel and supporting rather extreme pro-Palestinian speakers.

Just letting a student organization present the speakers it wants is an entirely different matter.

But it still remains the case that discourse on campus is badly biased on this issue, and both sides need to be heard.

We would urge people to show up and ask pointed, but civil, questions. Questions about Palestinian terrorism should be particularly interesting.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Running On Empty

Gay Marriage: Who Are the Real Bigots?

From Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe:
Plainly, declining to change the timeless definition of marriage deprives no one of “the civil rights once denied” to blacks, and it is an absurdity to claim otherwise. It is also a poisonous slur: For if opposing same-sex marriage is like opposing civil rights, then voters who backed Proposition 8 are no better than racists, the moral equivalent of those who turned the fire hoses on blacks in Birmingham in 1963.

Which is, of course, exactly what proponents of same-sex marriage contend.

It has become routine for the defenders of traditional wedlock to be cast as the worst sort of hateful bigots, “gladly donning the roles played by Lester Maddox and George Wallace in the civil rights era,” to quote The New York Times’s Frank Rich. Anyone who insists that marriage can only mean the union of male and female -- and “anyone” now includes a majority of voters in 30 of the 30 states where marriage amendments have been on the ballot -- can expect to be told that they are no better than racists, modern-day segregationists motivated by malevolence and an evil heart.

Thus, supporters of same-sex marriage regularly referred to the California ballot measure as “Proposition Hate,” while a group calling itself “Californians Against Hate” launched a website to publicize the names and addresses of donors to the Yes-on-8 campaign. Yet it was the foes of Proposition 8 whose hatred and intolerance were most vividly on display. Signs promoting the amendment were stolen or defaced, churches were vandalized, and at least one supporter of the amendment ended up in the hospital after being beaten by an assailant screaming: “What do you have against gays?”

For sheer hatefulness and bigotry, however, nothing surpassed the anti-Proposition 8 television ad that depicted two Mormon missionaries forcing their way into the home of a married lesbian couple.

“Hi, we’re here from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” one of the Mormons says. “We’re here to take away your rights,” says the other.

The missionaries pull the wedding rings from the women’s fingers, then proceed to ransack the house, looking for their marriage license. When they find it, they triumphantly tear it up.

“Hey, we have rights,” one of the women protests.

“Not if we can help it,” one of the missionaries smugly replies.

As the commercial ends, a message appears on the screen: “Say NO to a church taking over your government.”

If black voters overwhelmingly reject the claim that marriage amendments like Proposition 8 are nothing more than bigotry-fueled assaults on civil rights, perhaps it is because they know only too well what real bigotry looks like. Perhaps it is because they resent the assertion that adhering to the ageless meaning of marriage is tantamount to supporting the pervasive humiliation and cruelty of Jim Crow. Perhaps it is because they are not impressed by strident condemnations of “intolerance” and “hate” by people who traffic in rank anti-Mormon hatemongering.

Or perhaps it is because they understand that a fundamental gulf separates the civil rights movement from the demand for same-sex marriage. One was a fight for genuine equality, for the right of black Americans to live on the same terms, and under the same restrictions, as whites. The other is a demand to change the terms on which marriage has always been available by giving it a meaning it has never before had. That isn’t civil rights -- and playing the race card doesn’t change that fact.
Other examples of “gay rights” bigotry abound, including the disruption of a church service in Michigan, and the forced resignation of the director of the California Musical Theatre because he made a campaign donation supporting traditional marriage.

Add to that the fact that, right here on the Marquette campus, the former President of the Gay/Straight Alliance, insisted that no speaker opposing gay marriage should be allowed on campus, since such opposition would constitute “hate speech.”

In Massachusetts, for example, people opposed to gay marriage were subjected to harassment and intimidation.

The gay lobby, and their liberal allies, can’t tolerate people who disagree with them. The movement is essentially fascist.

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Should We End All Immigration? Debate Coming Up

An announcement via e-mail:
“Should We End All Immigration? Legal and Illegal?”

WHO: A debate between author Mark Krikorian and Marquette Law Professor Ed A. Fallone sponsored by The Federalist Society

WHEN: Tuesday, November 18, 2008; 12:00 noon (we will begin serving lunch a few minutes before)

WHERE: AMU, Room 157 (directly across from the post office)

FREE LUNCH FROM EINSTEIN’S BAGELS

Mark Krikorian is the author of a controversial new book, “The New Case Against Immigration, Both Legal and Illegal.” In it he argues that today’s immigrants aren’t too different from a century ago, but we are, in ways both good and bad, but ultimately in ways that mark us as a mature, grown-up society. And these changes mean that mass immigration of any kind is now a problem for our modern society in a way that it wasn’t in the past, and so we need to end it. Krikorian is the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. You can learn more about the book here.

You can also read a Q&A he did on the book for National Review Online here: here.

Ed A. Fallone is an Associate Professor of Law at Marquette University Law School where he teaches immigration law. He has published numerous articles on immigration and is a frequent speaker on the topic. He was instrumental in the founding of the Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Assistance program which represents immigrants and citizens with immigration-related issues. More information may be found here.
We have a couple of things to say about this.

First, we have long been an advocate of controlling the borders, but allowing a high level of legal immigration. So we apparently differ with Krikorian on the latter point. But Krikorian appears to be much more than a simple-minded nativist, and his arguments deserve to be considered.

Second, we have to again note The Federalist Society arranges balanced debates with capable advocates on both sides. That’s very different from what normally happens on a university campus.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

An Honest College Advertisement

Warning: One “F-Bomb” here.

Has Anybody Noticed? Gas is Back to 2.129 Per Gallon

Nothing turns politicians into demagogues like high gas prices.

We hear loud demands to investigate the evil doers running the oil companies, who must (the idea goes) be manipulating prices.

We hear loud demands to confiscate the “excess profits” of the oil companies.

Of course, if the oil companies were manipulating prices, they would keep oil prices high. Why bother to increase them and then let them go back down?

But go down they do.

Sighted on College Avenue just yesterday: gas at 2.129 per gallon.

This will shut up the demogogues for now. But when prices go back up -- and sooner or later they will -- they will be back in full force.

They don’t learn. It serves their interests not to know.

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New National Motto

In the Enlightened Netherlands: “Unfit” Moms Forced to Use Contraception

Via Marquette feminist blog Word Warrior, a proposal in the Netherlands to force women judged unfit mothers to use contraception.
Women in the Netherlands deemed “unfit mothers” may soon be forced to take contraception, if a draft bill currently before the Dutch parliament is passed. The bill “targets women who have been the subject of judicial intervention due to their bad parenting,” says its author, a member of the Netherlands’ socialist Labour Party.

Under the proposed legislation, a woman judged unfit who refuses to take contraception and becomes pregnant would have her child taken away at birth. The infant then would be placed in a foster home.

While it’s certain that such a measure could potentially prevent convicted child abusers from conceiving and abusing more children, many questions have been raised about the draft bill’s potential impact on human rights in the Netherlands.

Disabled mothers already face a worldwide uphill battle for the right to bear children. Earlier this year, “K.E.J.,” a woman with developmental disabilities, was taken to court by her own aunt, who wanted K.E.J. to be sterilized against her will. K.E.J. won her court battle. But would a woman with similar disabilities be judged unfit under the proposed Dutch system? What about a woman who could not care for a child due to a mental illness like post-partum depression, but who has entered a treatment program and wants to try again?
Interesting that we are on the same side of this issue as the feminists at “The Word Warrior.”

Our comment to them: once one decides the Nanny State is just fine, don’t expect it to merely take away freedoms that you happen to dislike. It will soon enough take away freedoms you consider essential.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Free Speech Under Attack Internationally

We have regularly blogged about attacks on free speech, which today come overwhelmingly from the left.

But we have more, from the American Spectator:
Geert Wilders is a member of the Dutch Parliament and a documentary film producer; not exactly the person one would expect to find on the front line in the battle against both radical Islam and the Islamist assault on free speech. Yet, that is where the 45 year-old founder of the Party for Freedom stands. Wilders, by posting the infamous Danish cartoons of Muhammad on his website and producing a short film titled Fitna, has stirred international controversy that has prompted boycotts of Dutch products, condemnation by the UN Secretary General, constant death threats, and civil and criminal prosecution. Americans, especially politicians on the Left, should take notice.

Fitna features graphic images of terrorist attacks and quotes radical Imams and Koranic Suras used to justify terrorism. In response to the film, Wilders’ own government, at the behest of an angry Muslim population, investigated whether he violated any “hate speech” laws but ultimately declined to prosecute him. However, the Jordanian government is prosecuting Wilders, along with 12 other Europeans, for blasphemy against Islam and requesting that Wilders be extradited to Jordan to stand trial. If convicted in Jordan, Wilders could be sentenced to death.

Of course, the experience of Geert Wilders and those like him, says much about radical Islam and the threats it poses to free societies. However, it says something, perhaps nearly as frightening, about what Western societies are doing to themselves. Natan Sharansky, who spent years in the Soviet gulags and knows something about freedom, defined a free society in The Case for Democracy as one in which “people have a right to express their views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm.” By that definition, democracies all across the world are in jeopardy.

In much of Western Europe, where multiculturalism seems to be the official language, “hate speech” laws suppress candid discourse. Liability potentially awaits anyone whose views offend others. The Council of Europe’s website even states that “In multicultural societies it is often necessary to reconcile freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience and religion. In some instances, it may also be necessary to place restrictions on these freedoms.”

People who are offended by what a critic or commentator writes about them have started suing in countries with restrictive speech laws, in a means of forum shopping known as “libel tourism.” Deterred from pursuing libel cases in countries like the United States where legal standards are higher and free speech protections greater, these plaintiffs force authors to incur the expense of mounting a legal response or risk defaulting in a foreign jurisdiction.

There are also disturbing signs that free speech in America will become less protected and more regulated in the near future, especially with the reality of large Democratic majorities in Congress and a Barack Obama presidency looming. The most publicized example is reenactment of the Fairness Doctrine, which requires broadcasters to devote equal time to both sides of controversial issues. Paternalism aside, the Doctrine would cause an explosion of regulation and litigation and would effectively be used to destroy conservative talk radio and possibly FOX News. Members of Congress, mostly Democrats, have also suggested imposing “neutrality” requirements on the Internet, which could lead to content regulation of websites, including blogs.

The left no longer seems bashful about regulating free speech for political gain, and when I asked Wilders whether the prospect of a Democratic government could have profound implications for free speech rights in America, he coyly stated, “I know who I would vote for and it wouldn’t start with an ‘O.’” In fact, Barack Obama’s campaign, which raised and spent more money than any presidential campaign in history, has wielded the threats of libel suits and government investigations as a sword to quiet critics.
If protecting people from attacks on their religion sounds even the least bit attractive, one should ask why Christians aren’t protected, and indeed why anti-Christian bias is pretty much the orthodoxy on the secular left.

The reality is simple: when government punishes speech, it never does so in a principled and consistent way. Favored groups will always be allowed to say noxious things about disfavored groups, and disfavored groups will be muzzled.

At the moment, Muslims are a favored victim group of the liberal/left New Class. But if Muslims should seriously begin to impede the left agenda, they too will become fair game for censorship.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Aftermath: Obama Supporters

The Left Opposes Direct Democracy

In the wake of an election during which conservatives scores some signal victories in ballot issues (referenda), it’s interesting to review the history of direct democracy, and why the left now hates it.

From the Wall Street Journal:

A total of 24 states allow voters to change laws on their own by collecting signatures and putting initiatives on the ballot. It’s healthy that the entrenched political class should face some real legislative competition from initiative-toting citizens. Unfortunately, some special interests have declared war on the initiative process, using tactics ranging from restrictive laws to outright thuggery.

The initiative is a reform born out of the Progressive Era, when there was general agreement that powerful interests had too much influence over legislators. It was adopted by most states in the Midwest and West, including Ohio and California. It was largely rejected by Eastern states, which were dominated by political machines, and in the South, where Jim Crow legislators feared giving more power to ordinary people.

But more power to ordinary people remains unpopular in some quarters, and nothing illustrates the war on the initiative more than the reaction to Ward Connerly’s measures to ban racial quotas and preferences. The former University of California regent has convinced three liberal states -- California, Washington and Michigan -- to approve race-neutral government policies in public hiring, contracting and university admissions. He also prodded Florida lawmakers into passing such a law. This year his American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) aimed to make the ballot in five more states. But thanks to strong-arm tactics, the initiative has only made the ballot in Arizona, Colorado and Nebraska.

“The key to defeating the initiative is to keep it off the ballot in the first place,” says Donna Stern, Midwest director for the Detroit-based By Any Means Necessary (BAMN). “That’s the only way we’re going to win.” Her group’s name certainly describes the tactics that are being used to thwart Mr. Connerly.

Aggressive legal challenges have bordered on the absurd, going so far as to claim that a blank line on one petition was a “duplicate” of another blank line on another petition and thus evidence of fraud. In Missouri, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan completely rewrote the initiative’s ballot summary to portray it in a negative light. By the time courts ruled she had overstepped her authority, there wasn’t enough time to collect sufficient signatures.

Those who did circulate petitions faced bizarre obstacles. In Kansas City, a petitioner was arrested for collecting signatures outside of a public library. Officials finally allowed petitioners a table inside the library but forbade them to talk. In Nebraska, a group in favor of racial preferences ran a radio ad that warned that those who signed the “deceptive” petition “could be at risk for identity theft, robbery, and much worse.”

Mr. Connerly says that it’s ironic that those who claim to believe in “people power” want to keep people from voting on his proposal: “Their tactics challenge the legitimacy of our system.”

What about voters’ rights to sign ACRI’s petitions? BAMN organizer Monica Smith equates race-neutral laws with Jim-Crow segregation laws and slavery. She told Tuscon columnist Denogean that voters are simply being educated that ACRI is “trying to end affirmative action . . . We let them know it’s up on the KKK’s Web site.” Mr. Connerly has repudiated any support from racists.

The war against citizen initiatives has other fronts. This year in Michigan, taxpayer groups tried to recall House Speaker Andy Dillon after he pushed through a 12% increase in the state income tax. But petitioners collecting the necessary 8,724 signatures in his suburban Detroit district were set upon. In Redford, police union members held a rally backing Mr. Dillon and would alert blockers to the location of recall petitioners. Outsiders would then surround petitioners and potential signers, using threatening language.

This is a nation were supporters of racial preferences are well-organized and well-represented in legislatures, courts and even business firms (which are the willing victims of a protection racket run by the left), direct democracy gives voice to the people.

The reality is similar where gay marriage is concerned. The elites are on one side, and the majority of the American people are on the other.

In such an environment, the left too often resorts to thuggery to frustrate the public will.

Celebrating a Total Lack of Commitment

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Super Rich

Bluegrass at Maxie’s Southern Comfort

An e-mail from our colleague Ryan Hanley:
Hi Bluegrass Fans and Friends!

A quick note on an upcoming show: my group, the Cream City Bluegrass Band, has a fun gig coming up. On Saturday, November 8th, from 9-midnight, we’re going to be playing our first show at Maxie’s Southern Comfort. Maxie’s has been getting great reviews for its food, and the owner is a big bluegrass fan!

We’re excited for the gig, and we’d be even more excited if we knew we might see you there! Please do come on down if you can make it!

More info on Maxie’s here:

http://www.maxies.com/milwaukee/index.html

And, as always, more info on the band -- including video (!) --
here:

http://www.creamcitybluegrass.net/

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The Culture Wars

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Professor Tears Down McCain Yard Signs, Fired

From Politico:
The St. Olaf (Northfield, Minn.) professor who, in a well-read Huffington Post item, recounted tearing down McCain campaign signs has resigned.Per the Northfield News, it appears that Philip Busse was forced out.
St. Olaf spokesman David Gonnerman issued the following statement Monday afternoon:

“The St. Olaf College administration first learned of Phil Busse’s self-admitted theft and destruction of campaign signs on the morning of Oct. 31 as a result of his posting on the Internet. “The St. Olaf administration immediately referred the matter to local law enforcement authorities and commenced an investigation of its own.

“Mr. Busse has tendered his resignation and is no longer affiliated with St. Olaf College.”
Busse has been charged with misdemeanor theft.
This is far from the first time an academic has done something like this.

Would the average liberal college professor do something like this?

No.

Would the average liberal college professor feel just a little bit of glee on hearing about McCain signs torn down -- before a scruple or two kicked in?

Yes.

We were talking to a colleague the other day, and he was fussing and fuming about how George Bush is supposedly tapping everybody’s phones. He was delighted that somebody had hacked into Sarah Palin’s e-mail account. His view seemed to be that Republicans deserve that.

So the problem is not that the average liberal professor is the sort of fascist who would tear down yard signs or hack into a political enemy’s e-mail account.

It’s that the average liberal professor is part of a culture so full of bias and hostility that such things happen.

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Democrats Continue to Push “Fairness Doctrine”

From The Hill:
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday defended the so-called Fairness Doctrine in an interview on Fox News, saying, “I think we should all be fair and balanced, don’t you?”

Schumer’s comments echo other Democrats’ views on reviving the Fairness Doctrine, which would require radio stations to balance conservative hosts with liberal ones.

Asked if he is a supporter of telling radio stations what content they should have, Schumer used the fair and balanced line, claiming that critics of the Fairness Doctrine are being inconsistent.

“The very same people who don’t want the Fairness Doctrine want the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] to limit pornography on the air. I am for that… But you can’t say government hands off in one area to a commercial enterprise but you are allowed to intervene in another. That’s not consistent.”

In 2007, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a close ally of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told The Hill, “It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine. I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”

Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) last year said, “I believe very strongly that the airwaves are public and people use these airwaves for profit. But there is a responsibility to see that both sides and not just one side of the big public questions of debate of the day are aired and are aired with some modicum of fairness.”

Conservatives fear that forcing stations to make equal time for liberal talk radio would cut into profits so significantly that radio executives would opt to scale back on conservative radio programming to avoid escalating costs and interference from the FCC.

They also note that conservative radio shows has been far more successful than liberal ones.
Schumer’s claim that if government can limit pornography on the airwaves, it can limit political discourse is bizarre. The Founders, who wrote the First Amendment, never intended it to protect pornography but did intend it to protect political discourse.

Anybody who actually think the “Fairness Doctrine” is about fairness needs to read George Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language,” or better yet 1984.

The urge to shut up those who disagree with you is embedded deeply in human nature, especially among people with strong (but perhaps misguided) moral conventions. And when people with strong moral convictions get power, they inevitabily use to to shut up speech they think harmful.

For about the last couple of decades, the left on college campuses has had the power to shut up speech it didn’t like. Now liberals, flush with victory in the 2008 election, are trying to bring that fascism to broader American society.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Trick or Trick

Who is for McCain?

Pro-Obama liberals love to tout the large majorities of Obama support in foreign countries.

For the liberals, the notion that Americans might disagree with secular, left-leaning Europe is outright heresy.

But it is interesting to note what sort of people favor McCain.

First, Americans in Israel:
JERUSALEM: If Israel were on the U.S. election map, it would be bright red.

A survey of Americans in the Holy Land has found that absentee voters supported Republican John McCain over Barack Obama by a three-to-one margin.

The survey interviewed 817 Americans who have cast absentee ballots for next week’s presidential election. It was conducted by Vote from Israel, a nonpartisan group that has encouraged Americans to vote.

An estimated 40,000 Americans living in Israel are expected to vote, and pollster Mitchell Barak says he believes his survey is a good indicator on how they will choose.

He says most American immigrants to Israel are observant Jews who tend to have conservative social views and hawkish attitudes toward the Mideast peace process.
In other words, people who care about Israel, and the continued survival of Israel, favor McCain. People throughout the Muslim world (numerous polls have shown) favor Obama.

What about U.S. soldiers?

A poll done by Military Times shows them favoring McCain by about a 3-1 margin.

And who (besides Israel) is on the front lines, the people most likely to lose their freedom (or even be killed) by bad U.S. foreign policy? The people of Iraq.

From the French Press Agency:
For five years Ali and Mohammed have lived alongside US soldiers in their Baghdad neighbourhood near Rasheed Street, a prominent commercial artery running through the heart of the Iraqi capital.

During that time American culture and politics have become familiar to them, and they say that if they could, they would vote for Republican candidate John McCain in next week’s US presidential election.

“McCain would be best for Iraq because he would ensure stability,” said Ali, 66, an expert on the Sumerian era.

The personal qualities and political platforms of McCain and his Democrat rival Barack Obama are of little import to Ali, however. His focus is on Iraq and its neighbours such as Iran.

“The Iranians believe that if Obama is elected he will not take action against them despite their nuclear ambitions. That worries me,” said Ali, sitting on an old bench in Al-Zahawi coffee shop.

“If the Iranians get the bomb they will become the Tarzan of the region,” said the former teacher and lecturer at the University of Baghdad, referring to the vine-swinging strongman of the jungle in old Hollywood movies.

Mohammed, also a professor at the university, said he too preferred McCain “because Obama supports a rapid withdrawal of US troops.”
This latter article has no systemic survey data, but Agence France-Presse hardly has a history of pro-American or pro-war bias.

So what we have opposing the war is a (literally) unholy alliance between secular decadent Europe and a Muslim world that is hostile to Israel. These two groups are radically different, the first being hostile to America because we are not secular enough, and the latter because we are too secular.

But who is on the side of the war effort, and therefore McCain? The people of Iraq (whose lives and freedom are on the line), American soldiers (whose very lives are on the line) and people who don’t want Israel wiped off the map.

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