Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ms. Magazine Likes Only Certain Women

This is not a surprise, but the context is not hating Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter, but rather a different set of women.
The American Jewish Congress sent an ad to be run in Ms. Magazine featuring three women in Israeli political life who have broken through the glass ceiling. The organization thought that a woman’s magazine calling for complete enfranchisement of women would be eager to highlight in its pages an ad showing that enfranchisement has indeed happened, in Israel. Pictures of Israel’s President of Supreme Court, its Vice Prime Minister, and Knesset/Parliament Speaker — all women — were to be placed under a heading “Women in Israel.”

To the amazement of the AJC, Ms. Magazine refused to run the ready-to-be-paid-for ad because, as it said, “it would set off a fire storm” and that “there are very strong opinions” on the matter. In other words, the people who run Ms. Magazine maintain that featuring anything positive about mainstream Israel is contrary to its editorial convictions and the wishes of its readers. Ms. Magazine’s message: Israel is bad and we want no part of it, even if Israel fulfills the aspirations we have for years called for.
So why does the left hate Israel?

Simple. Israel is too much like America. It is America’s ally, is rooted in western values, and is a success. The last is particularly galling to the left, since the left wants victims to patronize.

Thus, the Palestinians play the victim. The fact that their victimhood is partly their own fault (supporting terrorists who want to destroy Israel) and heavily the fault of Arab states (who find the existence of the stateless Palestinians all too convenient) isn’t something they are willing to comprehend.

It’s not really a secret that feminism is not a pro-woman movement, but a leftist movement. On this issue, like dozens of others, the feminists stand with the left, and against women.

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Pollster Busted for Bogus Data, Local TV Station Among Victims

From the Daily Kos, a statistical analysis that shows that the firm Research 2000 has been producing and distributing to clients apparently bogus data.

The conclusion was the result of a statistical analysis that will seem arcane to people who haven’t had statistics, but in fact is quite sound.

One of the victims of the firm was Milwaukee’s WISN-TV, which used data from Research 2000 in at least eight reports between 2004 and 2008.

WISN was far from the only media outlet using Research 2000. Its clients, according to the Daily Kos included:
KCCI-TV in Iowa, WCAX-TV in Vermont, WKYT-TV in Kentucky, Lee Enterprises, the Concord Monitor, The Florida Times-Union, WSBT-TV/WISH-TV/WANE-TV in Indiana, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Bergen Record, and the Reno Gazette-Journal.
A source at WISN-TV confirms that the station is no longer using the polling firm.

We have a call in to the News Director asking for a comment.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Rossi Will Be Interim Dean

An e-mail to faculty from Provost John Pauly:
I wanted you to know at least a little in advance that later this afternoon, through the regularly scheduled News Briefs, we will announce the appointment of the interim dean and two new associate deans for academic affairs for the college. Rev. Philip J. Rossi, S.J., professor of theology, will become interim dean, effective July 1. Dr. Belén Castañeda, associate professor of Spanish, and Dr. William Donaldson, professor of chemistry, will be the new associate deans, effective August 1.
More information on all these folks is here.

Our first impression is that none of these folks has a particularly high ideological profile. None of them, for example, signed the petition objecting to the fact that Marquette refused to hire lesbian dean candidate Jodi O’Brien.

(That in no way rules out the possibility that one or more of them thought that hiring O’Brien would have been a dandy thing.)

Rossi, particularly, is somebody whom our sources simply cannot peg as liberal or conservative. He has strong internationalist leanings, and has worked to make the Theology Department more internationalist in orientation. But that is not, in fact, necessarily a trendy or fashionable thing to do. The Third World and the “Global South” tend to be orthodox, and to supply a large share of “vocations” for the Church.

And being a specialist in Kant (which Rossi is) isn’t particularly trendy either.

Rossi has been at Marquette for 35 years, was associate dean for graduate affairs for three years in the 2000s, and has chaired the Department of Theology several times. He has extensive committee service under his belt. He knows where the bodies are buried.

In this coming year, we face the likelihood of real battles over a new Arts & Sciences Dean, and (even more so) over a new President.

One can never be sure how these things will work out, but it’s distinctly possible that the secular left on campus -- its appetite whetted by the fight over O’Brien and better organized than before -- will make a major push for a liberal, secularizing candidate for either or both positions.

So the Administration, in picking Rossi, has opted for steady, competent leadership. We don’t expect a lot of drama from the Arts & Sciences College for a while, and we’re happy about that.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Jodi O’Brien Affair: Undergraduates Loyal to Catholic Teaching Silenced

We found the comments responding to an essay by Matt Wion more cogent than the essay itself. Wion is far short of being a knee-jerk liberal, although he shows flashes of intolerance (calling an essay of our former colleague Chris Wolfe “vile”).

But the most poignant comment came from an undergraduate, and it shows the true nature of intolerance at Marquette.
Hi Matt,

As a senior at Marquette who is admittedly a part of that “traditional Catholic” block, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your post as a breath of fresh air! It’s nice to know that there are people who disagree with my view point who do not throw my intellect in the garbage and call me a bigot. If people are curious why this issue hasn’t been discussed in such a way on campus before now, perhaps de facto silencing of the opposing view point would be a good place to start. What student in their right mind would counter protest these fellow students? Who would post what they actually think as their facebook status? The answer is sadly very few, because to do so is to be labeled as an anti-gay bigot, a student in lock-step with McAdams, and a blind follower of an “intolerant” religion, even if that religion speaks to the very core of who they are. So sometimes it’s better to just fade into the background than to stick up for what you think. And to think, this kind of fear of, are we allowed to call it discrimination?, is prevalent and unchecked at an institution of higher learning. How sad.

But the problem with all of this is, and in my mind the saddest part about this, is these conversations will never take place in the current campus atmosphere. It can’t, when fear of labels silences the traditional Catholic voice and when groups of students who suggest they are speaking on behalf of all students, declare that the time for listening is over. Nothing could be more destructive towards building a campus that embraces Catholicism, the LGBT community, and the value of all the various beliefs of all members of our community.
This, of course, underlines the utter hypocrisy of those who invoke “tolerance” in wanting to hire a lesbian dean.

They are not, in fact, tolerant at all. They are utter bigots when faced with opinions at odds with their politically correct orthodoxy.

And this, indeed, is the real threat to academic freedom at Marquette.

The issue is not whether it’s possible to espouse views at odds with Catholic teaching.

The issue is whether it’s possible to espouse views in support of Catholic teaching.

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Another Voice on Jodi O’Brien From the Philosophy Department

A comment, appended to an essay by Matt Wion, is one of the more cogent things we have seen on the Jodi O’Brien fiasco, in which a rogue Search Committee almost got an outspoken lesbian candidate hired as Arts & Sciences Dean at Marquette.
I would add two points to your fine analysis.

1) The question of what is core to Catholic theology is one that Catholics need to decide. I, you, and Dr. O’Brien really need to stay out of it. Suppose that, internally, the Church decides that traditional teachings concerning family are stable and central to Catholic ethics. Suppose that we find such teachings ethically reprehensible. Then we should leave the university. A parallel situation: for a while the Mormon church had a racist theology. Were I on the job market then, I would not be able to teach at Brigham Young in good conscience. But why should a Jew be the one to say what is authentic LDS teaching?

2) I think that if MU had offered the position to a gay activist arguing for his position from within the Catholic intellectual tradition -- someone like Mark Jordan -- this would have been a courageous move, and I’d be out there with the protesters if the appointment were rescinded. But MU has been moving away from being grounded in this tradition (one I honor and learn from). The O’Brien appointment was double pronged stick in both of the eyes of MU’s Catholic identity -- its historical intellectual tradition, and Catholic teachings. Her scholarship represents that of nontheistic mainstream scholarship in the humanities -- where values are human creations, grounded neither in nature nor the Divine. And it takes her places where she attacks teachings apparently central to the church -- such as the natural basis of the family. Her appointment as dean was the reductio ad absurdum of the idea that scholarship at MU should be indistinguishable from that at secular universities. The most public face of Arts and Sciences would have been one whose scholarship encourages Catholics to invent their own sexual identity and accept fluid family arrangements for children.

I suggest that MU find a wealthy donor to allow it to offer her an endowed chair for a couple hundred thousand a year, and then find a traditional Catholic intellectual as dean. Such a move could bring everyone together and heal the damage.

Owen Goldin
Dept. of Philosophy
Of course, we don’t think that O’Brien deserves any sort of endowed chair. Indeed, her scholarship would not even merit tenure at Marquette -- although some politically correct department like Sociology would probably give that to her.

But the temptation to try to buy off the campus gay lobby with more “programs” and courses on “human sexuality” (taught from a pro-gay perspective) will be great. Indeed, Fr. Wild has suggested he would do just that.

Such would be foolish indeed. When you have won a battle at substantial cost, you don’t turn around and surrender.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Most Cogent Comment on the McChrystal Affair

Maureen Dowd may be an airhead ditz, but she made the most cogent comment we’ve seen on the McChrystal affair.
So this general with the background in intelligence who is supposed to conquer Afghanistan can’t even figure out what Rolling Stone is? We’re not talking Guns & Ammo here; we’re talking the antiwar hippie magazine.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Warrior Among Top 200 “Catholic Blogs”

We were a bit surprised to find our blog listed among the Top 200 Catholic blogs.

Admittedly, we are holding onto the place by our fingernails, being in a four-way tie for the 197 rank.

This is odd since we aren’t Catholic.

Of course, this isn’t as bizarre as being (say) listed among the Top 200 liberal blogs. We do bring a Christian perspective to certain issues, and do report on what’s going on around Marquette University, and do support the rather tattered “Catholic mission” of Marquette. So the average conservative, loyal Catholic will probably find our posts simpatico.

It’s just a little odd to get an honor for which you aren’t really eligible.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

We Would Like it Much Sooner

Teachers’ Union Protects Senior Teachers, Harms Younger Teachers and Kids

From Murphy’s Law, an account of how the Milwaukee teachers’ union is acting like . . . a union.
In the last couple weeks, we’ve seen the dispiriting spectacle of layoff notices going to nearly 500 Milwaukee Public Schools teachers. This includes some excellent ones let go simply because they have less seniority. This will mean even bigger average class sizes – and further declines in quality – for a district already struggling badly. And a clear culprit is the teachers union.

The union has always been more concerned about its veteran teachers, more worried about pensions than starting salaries for new teachers. Union officials have argued that this “career ladder” will attract new teachers, but that’s nonsense: What twentysomething teacher is thinking about a retirement that is at least 30 years away? Milwaukee teachers were already part of the excellent state pension system, yet back in the late 1990s, the union successfully pushed for an unneeded, supplementary plan that used local tax dollars to sweeten the pension for a select group of long-term teachers.

MPS officials argue that none of the recent layoffs would have been necessary if the union would agree to switch from its Aetna insurance plan to a lower-cost plan offered through United Healthcare. This could save the district some $48 million, enough to prevent any job layoffs for teachers, school board president Michael Bonds claims. “I’m not aware of any place in the nation that pays 100 percent of teachers’ health care benefits and doesn’t require a contribution from those who choose to take a more expensive plan,” Bonds told the press.
The teachers’ union is always demanding more funding for education, but embarrassingly, private schools hire good teachers that provide effective edutation and spend about half as much to educate a student for a year as the Milwaukee Public Schools.

Unionized teachers are a classic example of what economists call “rent seekers,” using politics to get for themselves money and perquisites that their productivity could never get them in a competitive market.

Think Detroit.

Think Greece.

And of course, think Milwaukee Public Schools.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Wall Street Journal on L’Affaire O’Brien

An e-mail correspondent brought this to our attention because it quotes us (but not as much as we would like).

Titled “Another Catholic University Fails a Litmus Test,” the litmus test referenced to is the requirement that any Catholic university renounce Church teaching (if not explicitly, then implicitly and clearly) whenever it conflicts with the politically correct orthodoxy.

One of the comments: “In reality the protesting faculty are little more than willful children having a tantrum in a sandbox belonging to others.”

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Latest Bit of Obama Administration Arrogance: “Office of Livable Communities”

Basically, the bureaucrats under Obama know how you should live.

You should be punished for driving a car, for example.

You should be required to have a certain number of low-income housing units in your community, and if you fear that will create problems, you are just a racist.

Since they know best, they want to dictate local land-use decisions.

It’s the usual kind of elitism.

And it has been running out of control since Obama was elected.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Liberals Are Less Informed About Economics

From the Wall Street Journal, a story about a public opinion poll testing knowledge of economics. The author is Daniel B. Klein.
Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic and I considered the 4,835 respondents’ (all American adults) answers to eight survey questions about basic economics. We also asked the respondents about their political leanings: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; and libertarian.

Rather than focusing on whether respondents answered a question correctly, we instead looked at whether they answered incorrectly. A response was counted as incorrect only if it was flatly unenlightened.

Consider one of the economic propositions in the December 2008 poll: “Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.” People were asked if they: 1) strongly agree; 2) somewhat agree; 3) somewhat disagree; 4) strongly disagree; 5) are not sure.

Basic economics acknowledges that whatever redeeming features a restriction may have, it increases the cost of production and exchange, making goods and services less affordable. There may be exceptions to the general case, but they would be atypical.
The researchers, rather generously, refused to count “not sure” against respondents. Maybe they misunderstood, or maybe they thought it is an open question (which in most cases it’s not).

What were the other questions?
The other questions were: 1) Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services (unenlightened answer: disagree). 2) Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago (unenlightened answer: disagree). 3) Rent control leads to housing shortages (unenlightened answer: disagree). 4) A company with the largest market share is a monopoly (unenlightened answer: agree). 5) Third World workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited (unenlightened answer: agree). 6) Free trade leads to unemployment (unenlightened answer: agree). 7) Minimum wage laws raise unemployment (unenlightened answer: disagree).
So here we have a test of basic economic knowledge.

How did different groups respond?
How did the six ideological groups do overall? Here they are, best to worst, with an average number of incorrect responses from 0 to 8: Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26.

Americans in the first three categories do reasonably well. But the left has trouble squaring economic thinking with their political psychology, morals and aesthetics.

To be sure, none of the eight questions specifically challenge the political sensibilities of conservatives and libertarians. Still, not all of the eight questions are tied directly to left-wing concerns about inequality and redistribution. In particular, the questions about mandatory licensing, the standard of living, the definition of monopoly, and free trade do not specifically challenge leftist sensibilities.

Yet on every question the left did much worse. On the monopoly question, the portion of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly (31%) was more than twice that of conservatives (13%) and more than four times that of libertarians (7%). On the question about living standards, the portion of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly (61%) was more than four times that of conservatives (13%) and almost three times that of libertarians (21%).

The survey also asked about party affiliation. Those responding Democratic averaged 4.59 incorrect answers. Republicans averaged 1.61 incorrect, and Libertarians 1.26 incorrect.
Liberals and leftists like to think that their views are merely “enlightened.” Indeed, they chortled three years ago when a poll came out showing that a majority of Republicans don’t believe in evolution.

(Of course, in the same poll 40% of Democrats said they didn’t believe in evolution.)

But if Christian conservatives don’t much like evolution, liberals and leftists don’t much like economics.

But the implications of the two things are radically different. While not believing in evolution is pretty much an innocent foible (unless you want to be a biologist), not believing in economic science has nasty implications for public policy.

Further, the liberal ignorance of economics is not innocent. It’s rooted in a class-based ideology. Markets run counter to the class interests of liberals. Markets give power to people who produce wealth, and not to those who redistribute it.

Markets give power to ordinary people, who are allowed to live their lives the way they want. This is a source of frustration for people who believe they should be able to dictate the lifestyles of others.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Sunset: Kennedy, Alabama, June 2010


This is the sunset viewed from my sister’s house in rural Alabama.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Marquette, Arts & Science Dean Candidate Settle

From an e-mail sent to all faculty (and probably a lot of other people too):
Dear Colleagues:

I want to share with you the news that the university and Dr. Jodi O’Brien have reached a mutually acceptable resolution regarding my decision to rescind the contract with Dr. O’Brien to be dean of the Helen Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences.

In reaching this resolution, we have apologized to Dr. O’Brien for the way in which this was handled and for the upset and unwanted attention that we have caused to this outstanding teacher and scholar. We have also extended our gratitude for the graciousness with which she has addressed the situation these past six weeks.

Now, to you, I also express my regret for the shortcomings and the ways in which this has hurt our Marquette community. Although I stand by my decision, which was made in the context of Marquette’s commitment to its mission and identity, the withdrawal of the contract clearly raised anxiety, even anguish, among our faculty, staff and students – and beyond our campus, too. While the Search Committee performed its work exactly as it was asked to do, there followed lapses in communication in the university’s procedures. In hindsight, I certainly wish I had asked more questions earlier in the process and worked harder to achieve clarity in my own discussions of the offer. I am sorry that we did not handle things differently, and I assure you that, together with some of your academic colleagues, we are reviewing the procedures for leadership searches and will make improvements.

There has been much speculation – and many accusations – about what this decision involved. It is true that I heard from many individuals, both those supporting and those opposing the appointment. My conversation with Archbishop Listecki, for example, was like the others: he gave me his thoughts, and at no point did he attempt to tell me what to do. As his own statement correctly pointed out, Marquette is an autonomous institution. No donor, big or small, caused me to make my decision. The decision, as it should be, was ultimately mine alone. I fully recognize that others could reasonably reach a different conclusion, but I needed to act according to both my own conscience and my judgment, based on 14 years as president and my own background as a Jesuit and theologian.

Throughout my tenure as president, I have vigorously defended the academic freedom of various faculty members – in the face of statements from bishops, in support of the breadth of intellectual inquiry that makes a university strong, and in making promotion and tenure decisions. And I will continue to do so. I certainly respect the rights of our faculty to pursue any research in their own fields of expertise, including scholarly investigation of gender, sexuality and identity.

While the events of the past few weeks have raised questions about Marquette’s commitment to the LGBT community on campus, sexual orientation was not a factor in my decision. I remain firmly and fully committed to and supportive of the university’s efforts to improve faculty and student diversity. Throughout my administration, and with my active support, openly gay faculty and staff have been hired and received promotions and tenure based on academic merit and accomplishments. I want every student, every employee, to be able to proudly declare that this is their Marquette. To that end, we will continue to meet with students, faculty and staff, both individually and through recognized groups, to elicit feedback and ideas on how we can best achieve that climate.

This is just one element of the community discernment in which we will engage in the year ahead. I am saddened by the divisiveness this decision has caused, and, as I enter my final year as your president, a priority focus will be continuing dialogue and reflection, among faculty, staff and students, about our Catholic, Jesuit identity and the important principles of academic freedom, shared governance and the needs of our LGBT community. I expect us to explore these topics through the research, teaching and service projects that are a part of university life, in ways that include, but certainly are not limited to, faculty summer research, faculty-student team research projects, conferences and speakers, course development, and student service-learning projects, particularly in the areas of gender and sexuality and Catholicity in higher education. I welcome, indeed encourage, your ideas.

In the months ahead there will be much opportunity for continued reflection, in the spirit of St. Ignatius. And I will be asking God’s blessings on our Marquette family and His guidance as we move forward.

Sincerely,

Bob Wild, S.J.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Kennedy Assassination Course Offered This Summer

One of our interests (some would say “obsession”) is the Kennedy assassination, and we will be offering the course at Marquette this summer, from July 6 through August 14.

The course description (from the syllabus) is as follows:
The course will examine the question of who killed John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. Both the Warren Commission conclusion that a single gunman killed Kennedy, and a variety of conspiracy theories will be critically evaluated.

The single most important objective of the course will be to sharpen students’ analytical skills in the context of evaluating competing theories, with particular emphasis on critical evaluation of evidence, and theorizing in the face of conflicting data.
Of course Marquette students can take the course, but pretty much anybody else who wants to take it can do so as a “non-degree” student.

Indeed, bright high school juniors and seniors often take college courses in the summer. (You don’t have to have taken the ACT, although the admissions office will want to see your transcript.)

Tuition is fairly steep: $1,800 plus. But this is real college credit that will transfer to any institution (although whether it would fit any particular degree program is something you would have to ask about.)

If you are interested, call the Admissions office at Marquette at 414-288-7302, and ask about getting admitted on a “non-degree” basis.

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