Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Obama on “The View”

From NewsReal blog, a splendidly catty, bitchy take on Obama and the airheads who think themselves the arbiters of what women ought to believe.
I hate “The View.” I can’t think of anything that I’d like to watch less than a bunch of inane broads, prattling on about their va-jay-jays endlessly while pretending that they are oh so cool and hip. In fact, the entire premise of the show annoys me. “Oh look at us! 4 (or 5) women sitting around talking ! Aren’t we super awesome and daring? Isn’t this bold and unique?”

Um, no.You’ll see the same thing every morning in many households in those “bitter” small towns, after the school bus picks up the kids. Only with real coffee not some chai tea business. And better conversation. And hotter, younger dames. Plus, I am pretty sure that a bunch of old, embarrassingly stupid, unattractive women discussing their “va-jay-jays” is one of the modern day seven signs of the Apocalypse. If not, it should be. The use of the term va-jay-jay is another, I’m certain. What happened to the much more elegant and classy “naughty bits”? Oh, right. Feminists happened. You’ve come a long way, baby!

So anyway, apparently, President Obama has no such qualms. In fact, he finds “The View” preferable to attending the 100th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts. Makes sense, I suppose. I mean, the boy scouts are just a bunch of kids that other people were “punished by.” Plus, it’s all American like apple pie and stuff, which we know he thinks is super icky.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

More On Journolist Scandal: Journalists As Political Hacks

Friday, July 23, 2010

Upcoming Bluegrass

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

Given today’s weather, I’m sure many of us will be spending our weekends cleaning our basements. But if you need a break, there’s bluegrass!

Two upcoming Cream City gigs, one this weekend and one next:

7/24/10 (Saturday) South Shore Farmers Market, South Shore Park, Bay View, 10:00-11:00 AM

7/31/10 (Saturday) Silver Creek Brew Pub, Cedarburg, 8:30-11:30 PM

More details/directions/links on the website: http://www.creamcitybluegrass.net/
We’ve blogged about this band before. The bottom line assessment: if you like bluegrass, you’ll enjoy this band.

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Still More Gay Fascism in Academia: Stalinist Thought Reform in Counseling Program

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:
A graduate student in school counseling is accusing Augusta State University in federal court of violating her constitutional rights by demanding that she work to change her views opposing homosexuality.

In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Augusta, Ga., the student, Jennifer Keeton, argues that faculty members and administrators at the university have violated her First Amendment rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion by threatening her with expulsion if she does not fulfill requirements contained in a remediation plan intended to get her to change her beliefs.

Ms. Keeton’s lawsuit accuses the university of being “ideologically heavy-handed” in imposing the requirements on her “simply because she has communicated both inside and outside the classroom that she holds to Christian ethical convictions on matters of human sexuality and gender identity.” It argues that her views, which hold that homosexual behavior is immoral and that homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle, would not interfere with her ability to provide competent counseling to gay men and lesbians.

An Augusta State spokeswoman, Kathy D. Schofe, declined on Thursday to comment on the litigation, saying that the university had not yet been served with the lawsuit and officials there would need time to devise a response.

Ms. Keeton is being represented by lawyers affiliated with the Alliance Defense Fund, a coalition of Christian lawyers. The group has brought a similar lawsuit on behalf of an Eastern Michigan University graduate student who alleges she was dismissed from a counseling program for her beliefs about homosexuality. In 2006 the group extracted major concessions from Missouri State University in settling a lawsuit filed by a former social-work student who refused to respect a class project’s requirement that she sign a letter to the state legislature in support of homosexual adoption.

In a news release announcing the lawsuit against Augusta State, David French, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, said: “A public-university student shouldn’t be threatened with expulsion for being Christian and refusing to publicly renounce her faith, but that’s exactly what’s happening here. Simply put, the university is imposing thought reform.”

The lawsuit says Ms. Keeton has stated in classroom discussions and written assignments that she believes sexual behavior “is the result of accountable personal choice,” that people are born male or female, and that homosexuality is a lifestyle and not a “state of being.” It says faculty members at Augusta State confronted her about her beliefs based on such statements and on a student’s claim that Ms. Keeton has advocated “conversion therapy” for homosexuals in conversations with her peers—an allegation that Ms. Keeton denies.

The lawsuit says Augusta State faculty members developed a remediation plan specifically for Ms. Keeton and told her she would be expelled from the College of Education’s counselor-education program if she did not fulfill its requirements. The plan calls on Ms. Keeton to attend workshops on serving diverse populations, read articles on counseling gay, lesbian, and bisexual and transgendered people, and write reports to an adviser summarizing what she has learned. It also instructs her to work to increase her exposure to, and interaction with, gay populations, and suggests that she attend the local gay-pride parade. Ms. Keeton has refused to comply.
In other words, Stalinist reeducation reform.

Any time a story like this appears, watch the comments following the story. They will make it clear that a lot of people hate Christians, or at least hate Christians who dissent from politically correct views on sexuality.

So then the question arises: Why aren’t students who make it clear that they are gay, or make it clear that they are atheists, questioned on whether they could counsel people who are conservative Christians?

If having certain opinions is a bona fide occupational qualification, why not be even handed?

Of course, maybe they can convincingly answer “I’m able to be professional, even if I fundamentally disagree with the client.” But the same answer should be acceptable from a Christian.

We all know the answer to that. The new Puritans are politically correct leftists, and they are intolerant of ideas they disagree with.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Buyer’s Remorse

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Liberal Journalists Actually Conspire to Tilt the Political Debate

We usually aren’t keen on conspiracy theories, but sometimes there is a smoking gun.

This was the case with e-mails leaked from something called “Journolist,” a mailing list that hosted an ongoing discussion among liberal and leftist journalists.

And yes, it was an actual conspiracy.
It was the moment of greatest peril for then-Sen. Barack Obama’s political career. In the heat of the presidential campaign, videos surfaced of Obama’s pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, angrily denouncing whites, the U.S. government and America itself. Obama had once bragged of his closeness to Wright. Now the black nationalist preacher’s rhetoric was threatening to torpedo Obama’s campaign.

The crisis reached a howling pitch in mid-April, 2008, at an ABC News debate moderated by Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos. Gibson asked Obama why it had taken him so long – nearly a year since Wright’s remarks became public – to dissociate himself from them. Stephanopoulos asked, “Do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?”

Watching this all at home were members of Journolist, a listserv comprised of several hundred liberal journalists, as well as like-minded professors and activists. The tough questioning from the ABC anchors left many of them outraged. “George [Stephanopoulos],” fumed Richard Kim of the Nation, is “being a disgusting little rat snake.”

Others went further. According to records obtained by The Daily Caller, at several points during the 2008 presidential campaign a group of liberal journalists took radical steps to protect their favored candidate. Employees of news organizations including Time, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian, Salon and the New Republic participated in outpourings of anger over how Obama had been treated in the media, and in some cases plotted to fix the damage.

In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”

Michael Tomasky, a writer for the Guardian, also tried to rally his fellow members of Journolist: “Listen folks–in my opinion, we all have to do what we can to kill ABC and this idiocy in whatever venues we have. This isn’t about defending Obama. This is about how the [mainstream media] kills any chance of discourse that actually serves the people.”

“Richard Kim got this right above: ‘a horrible glimpse of general election press strategy.’ He’s dead on,” Tomasky continued. “We need to throw chairs now, try as hard as we can to get the call next time. Otherwise the questions in October will be exactly like this. This is just a disease.”
A little later, Wright was back in the news again.
Jeremiah Wright was back in the news after making a series of media appearances. At the National Press Club, Wright claimed Obama had only repudiated his beliefs for “political reasons.” Wright also reiterated his charge that the U.S. federal government had created AIDS as a means of committing genocide against African Americans.

It was another crisis, and members of Journolist again rose to help Obama.

Chris Hayes of the Nation posted on April 29, 2008, urging his colleagues to ignore Wright. Hayes directed his message to “particularly those in the ostensible mainstream media” who were members of the list.

The Wright controversy, Hayes argued, was not about Wright at all. Instead, “It has everything to do with the attempts of the right to maintain control of the country.”

Hayes castigated his fellow liberals for criticizing Wright. “All this hand wringing about just how awful and odious Rev. Wright remarks are just keeps the hustle going.”

“Our country disappears people. It tortures people. It has the blood of as many as one million Iraqi civilians — men, women, children, the infirmed — on its hands. You’ll forgive me if I just can’t quite dredge up the requisite amount of outrage over Barack Obama’s pastor,” Hayes wrote.

Hayes urged his colleagues – especially the straight news reporters who were charged with covering the campaign in a neutral way – to bury the Wright scandal. “I’m not saying we should all rush en masse to defend Wright. If you don’t think he’s worthy of defense, don’t defend him! What I’m saying is that there is no earthly reason to use our various platforms to discuss what about Wright we find objectionable,” Hayes said.
This desire to shut down discussion turned up again when the issue of Fox News was mentioned.
The very existence of Fox News, meanwhile, sends Journolisters into paroxysms of rage. When Howell Raines charged that the network had a conservative bias, the members of Journolist discussed whether the federal government should shut the channel down.

“I am genuinely scared” of Fox, wrote Guardian columnist Daniel Davies, because it “shows you that a genuinely shameless and unethical media organisation *cannot* be controlled by any form of peer pressure or self-regulation, and nor can it be successfully cold-shouldered or ostracised. In order to have even a semblance of control, you need a tough legal framework.” Davies, a Brit, frequently argued the United States needed stricter libel laws.

“I agree,” said Michael Scherer of Time Magazine. Roger “Ailes understands that his job is to build a tribal identity, not a news organization. You can’t hurt Fox by saying it gets it wrong, if Ailes just uses the criticism to deepen the tribal identity.”

Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor at UCLA, suggested that the federal government simply yank Fox off the air. “I hate to open this can of worms,” he wrote, “but is there any reason why the FCC couldn’t simply pull their broadcasting permit once it expires?”

And so a debate ensued. Time’s Scherer, who had seemed to express support for increased regulation of Fox, suddenly appeared to have qualms: “Do you really want the political parties/white house picking which media operations are news operations and which are a less respectable hybrid of news and political advocacy?”

But Zasloff stuck to his position. “I think that they are doing that anyway; they leak to whom they want to for political purposes,” he wrote. “If this means that some White House reporters don’t get a press pass for the press secretary’s daily briefing and that this means that they actually have to, you know, do some reporting and analysis instead of repeating press releases, then I’ll take that risk.”

Scherer seemed alarmed. “So we would have press briefings in which only media organizations that are deemed by the briefer to be acceptable are invited to attend?”

John Judis, a senior editor at the New Republic, came down on Zasloff’s side, the side of censorship. “Pre-Fox,” he wrote, “I’d say Scherer’s questions made sense as a question of principle. Now it is only tactical.”
If this desire to shut up opposition media isn’t nasty enough, the list sometimes included outbursts of pure ideological hatred.
If you were in the presence of a man having a heart attack, how would you respond? As he clutched his chest in desperation and pain, would you call 911? Would you try to save him from dying? Of course you would.

But if that man was Rush Limbaugh, and you were Sarah Spitz, a producer for National Public Radio (update: Spitz was a producer for NPR affiliate KCRW for the show Left, Right & Center), that isn’t what you’d do at all.

In a post to the list-serv Journolist, an online meeting place for liberal journalists, Spitz wrote that she would “Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out” as Limbaugh writhed in torment.

In boasting that she would gleefully watch a man die in front of her eyes, Spitz seemed to shock even herself. “I never knew I had this much hate in me,” she wrote. “But he deserves it.”

Spitz’s hatred for Limbaugh seems intemperate, even imbalanced. On Journolist, where conservatives are regarded not as opponents but as enemies, it barely raised an eyebrow.
If the liberal journalists hate Limbaugh, they hate the Tea Parties as much.

On Journolist, the question was whether the protestors were garden-variety fascists or actual Nazis.

“You know, at the risk of violating Godwin’s law, is anyone starting to see parallels here between the teabaggers and their tactics and the rise of the Brownshirts?” asked Bloomberg’s Ryan Donmoyer. “Esp. Now that it’s getting violent? Reminds me of the Beer Hall fracases of the 1920s.”

Richard Yeselson, a researcher for an organized labor group who also writes for liberal magazines, agreed. “They want a deficit driven militarist/heterosexist/herrenvolk state,” Yeselson wrote. “This is core of the Bush/Cheney base transmorgrified into an even more explicitly racialized/anti-cosmopolitan constituency. Why? Um, because the president is a black guy named Barack Hussein Obama. But it’s all the same old nuts in the same old bins with some new labels: the gun nuts, the anti tax nuts, the religious nuts, the homophobes, the anti-feminists, the anti-abortion lunatics, the racist/confederate crackpots, the anti-immigration whackos (who feel Bush betrayed them) the pathological government haters (which subsumes some of the othercategories, like the gun nuts and the anti-tax nuts).”
As we have observed before, the interesting thing about liberalism these days is not that liberals hate.

All people who are strongly partisan easily fall prey to hatred.

It’s that, at least when they think they are talking in private to each other, are proud that they hate.

And the interesting thing about journalists doing this is that liberal bias in the media is not just about honest journalists having a somewhat skewed view, and failing to deliver they honest journalism they do aspire to.

It’s that they make no pretense at all of objectivity, and quite frankly admit that they want to manipulate the political process.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hysteria Over the Tea Party

Friday, July 16, 2010

More Gay Fascism in Academia: Professor Fired for Teaching Catholic Doctrine in Class on Catholic Doctrine

File under “this isn’t surprising anymore” and “of course the left is intolerant of free expression.”
(CNSNews.com) – The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, has given the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign until the end of Friday to re-instate a professor who was relieved of his teaching duties following complaints he engaged in “hate speech” by teaching Catholic dogma about homosexuality in a course about Catholicism.

In a letter to University officials, ADF attorneys say that Dr. Kenneth Howell lost his position simply for teaching an unpopular Catholic doctrine, and that University officials have until July 16 to respond to demands that the university immediately reinstate Howell to his teaching position, or face court action.

While teaching the course “Introduction to Catholicism” at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, they say, Howell expressed Catholic Church teaching on homosexuality in an e-mail to his students, prompting a student complaint to the University that read in part, “allowing this hate speech at a public university is entirely unacceptable.”

“We are gravely disappointed that the University would succumb to such a ‘heckler’s veto,’ jettison principles of academic freedom, and violate Dr. Howell’s First Amendment freedoms. And we insist that he be reinstated to his teaching position immediately,” the letter said.

“We are seriously going to consider a lawsuit if they do not back down from this. It was clear cut censorship of a professor simply for expressing a politically incorrect view in the classroom on the subject that the class was about,” Jordan Lawrence, the Alliance Defense Fund attorney representing Howell, told CNSNews.com.

Howell’s May 4 e-mail, obtained and published by the Champaign News-Gazette, discussed the differences between utilitarianism and Natural Moral Law in judging the morality of homosexuality.

Howell explained to his students that Natural Moral Law, “says that Morality must be a response to REALITY. In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same. How do we know this? By looking at REALITY. Men and women are complementary in their anatomy, physiology, and psychology. Men and women are not interchangeable. So, a moral sexual act has to be between persons that are fitted for that act.”

Howell further states in the e-mail: “Natural Moral Theory says that if we are to have healthy sexual lives, we must return to a connection between procreation and sex. Why? Because that is what is REAL. It is based on human sexual anatomy and physiology. Human sexuality is inherently unitive and procreative. If we encourage sexual relations that violate this basic meaning, we will end up denying something essential about our humanity, about our feminine and masculine nature.”

Howell’s dismissal came after an e-mail from an unnamed student was sent to the head of the Department of Religion at the university, complaining that Howell “allowed little room for any opposition to Catholic dogma.”

“Teaching a student about the tenets of a religion is one thing. Declaring that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man is another,” the student e-mail said. “The courses at this institution should be geared to contribute to the public discourse and promote independent thought; not limit one’s worldview and ostracize people of a certain sexual orientation.”

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the official Roman Catholic teachings, homosexual acts “are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

In a 1986 letter, “On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,” then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, wrote: “Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living.”

Ironically, the U of I Department of Religion had congratulated Howell in the previous school semester for his “excellent teaching” in the Introduction to Catholicism course, as ranked by students in the Fall of 2009.

But Howell was informed in late May of this year by Dr. Robert McKim, head of the religion department, that he would no longer be able to teach classes at the University.

“This kind of heavy handed authoritarian response to an opinion that some anonymous person found objectionable is simply not the way classrooms should function at universities in the United States,” Lorence told CNSNews.com

According to Lorence, the university officials who dismissed Howell have been vague as to the exact cause of his dismissal. He said no mention of work performance or inaccuracies in presenting material to students were when Dr. Howell was dismissed. Lorence told CNSNews.com that the complaints about “hate speech” seem to be the direct cause of the dismissal.

Dr. Michael Hogan, who started his tenure as president of the University of Illinois in May of this year, has responded to individuals concerned about Dr. Howell’s dismissal via an open e-mail letter:

“Let me begin by thanking you for expressing your concerns,” the letter states. “Academic freedom is at the core of our teaching and research missions. It’s vital to our ability to explore new ideas, educate our students, and promote the civil and free exchange of alternative viewpoints in a democracy.

“I learned of this action on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) campus late last week and immediately asked Chancellor Robert Easter, who oversees the campus, to provide me with a briefing on the matter. I want to assure you that the University administration shares my commitment to the principles of academic freedom. At the same time, we do believe it’s important to fully investigate all of the details related to this situation. As I’m sure you’re aware, it is sometimes the case that public reports may convey only part of the story. I think it important to reserve judgment until I have all of the facts and I hope you’ll agree.

“We have asked the UIUC Senate’s standing Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure to immediately review this action. This is the mechanism on the campus through which these matters should be vetted. We expect this review to be completed very soon. By using our channels of shared governance and review, we are in the best position to make informed decisions that afford a fair process for all.”

The Alliance Defense Fund letter, meanwhile, says the First Amendment protects faculty speech in the classroom, and lists several federal court precedents protecting faculty speech. The letter also points out that “decades of Supreme Court precedent” prohibit the University from firing Dr. Howell simply because his speech was controversial.

The ADF letter reiterates several times that Howell was fired for teaching Catholic doctrine in a class about Catholic doctrine, and says that, “the University’s only reason for removing Dr. Howell is that other students, faculty, and staff disliked his speech.”

According to the University of Illinois Academic Staff Handbook: “Academic freedom is essential to the functioning of a university. It applies to its teaching, research, and public service and involves both faculty and students.”

The handbook goes on to say, “Faculty members are expected to instruct their assigned courses in a manner consistent with the scheduled time, course content, and course credit as approved by the faculty. Within these constraints, they are entitled to freedom in the classroom in developing and discussing according to their areas of competence the subjects that they are assigned.”

A decision by the university Senate’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure may be forthcoming.
The treatment of the issue in the leftist Huffington Post makes it clear that the CNS dispatch is accurate as regard the facts.

Howell’s real sin, of course, was giving the Catholic view of homosexuality a sympathetic and favorable treatment. Had he denounced Church teaching as “homophobic” the speech nazis at the University of Illinois would have been fine with that.

Of course, doing that would have been hate speech directed against Catholics. But that’s always acceptable on a college campus, even at Marquette.

The truth is that every student, even at a state-run university, needs to be taught Church teaching about sexuality (including homosexuality) with the arguments presented in a sympathetic way. Of course they should be taught the gay critique of Catholic doctrine too. That’s what education is all about.

Why “even at a state-run university?” Because of the historical and philosophical importance of Catholic doctrine. What about atheists who won’t like anything Catholic? They are free to dislike it. In the same way, Christian students should be taught about Islam, and they are likewise free to disagree with what they hear.

Of course Catholic doctrine is “controversial,” but that’s the point. The more controversial the issue, the greater the need for students to hear both sides, and to hear both sides from a sympathetic perspective, rather than having either caricatured by people who hate it.

Marxism is controversial too, as are deconstructionist approaches to literature and (say) critical race theory. But in the politically correct hothouse atmosphere of the modern American university only controversial views that leftist faculty happen to like are allowed to be presented.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wisconsin Arts Board Withholds Funding for Marquette’s Haggerty Museum: The Inside Story

We have blogged about the decision of the Wisconsin Arts Board to defer funding for the Haggerty Museum here at Marquette. The reason? The fact that Marquette refused to hire a woman named Jodi O’Brien as Arts and Sciences Dean.

O’Brien is not only an “out” lesbian, her writings are sharply at odds with Catholic teaching about homosexuality, marriage (which she does not like) and the need to “queer” Christianity.

The Board objected, and decided to defer funding for the Haggerty, pending a decision at a meeting in the fall.

We now have the audio of that meeting. It can be heard via an embedded player (below) or downloaded by clicking on this link and doing “save target as.”
Gay Board Member Leads the Charge

An entire list of grant awards was on the verge of being approved when Paul Meinke, a member from Green Bay, spoke up, saying “I have a question. I have a concern about one of the recipients. . . one of the recipients receiving an award.” And further: “That’s with Marquette University Haggerty Museum.”

Meinke continued: “In view of what’s going on currently, I’m not comfortable with state dollars being sent there. And I don’t know how to address that.”

In explanation, he said, “It’s . . . it’s a very strange situation. The university sent out a contract to an individual, and then rescinded the contract. . . . Some were saying that it’s because she’s a lesbian, but I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it goes back to some of her writings that she’s written twenty years ago that are in conflict with the interests of the Catholic Church.”

Meinke, who is an “out” gay male, pointed out that faculty and students have objected to the decision, and continued: “I disagree with it based on two reasons, one because it’s a GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender] issue, and two because . . . we’re not, you can’t tell. It’s so easy to hide that.”

Meinke then continues (rather incoherently) “and two, if the religious institution wants to jump into education when do they start indoctrination versus education . . and [some unintelligible words] state dollars . . . I think they made a mistake and I don’t think they deserve to be recognized with state dollars.”

It’s ironic that Meinke mentions “indoctrination,” since there is vigorous indoctrination about homosexuality going on at Marquette: pro-homosexuality indoctrination.

At this point the Executive Director of the Arts Board, George Tzougros, spoke up and offered a caveat.
The only thing I would say is I understand that concern for the overall institution, but I think in the case of the Haggerty they would be the very people that would be defending and promoting the very issues we are trying to support by that action. . . . Haggerty would be the one institution on the campus that would . . . .
Meinke then jumped in with “I said then let Haggerty do it, but not with our money.”

Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton then spoke up to ask “have they made a final decision?”

Meinke gave a non-responsive reply “I’ve read that the Archbishop in Milwaukee is actually the one who blabbed it to them.”

Lawton then continues “. . . but in terms of our relationship if we want to discuss this further between state funding and what has an appearance right now of discrimination . . . that we may want to wait while this is in process. . . . I don’t know if this is final . . . is anybody aware?”

At this point, Tzougros says “they have rescinded the letter but there is a lot of process ongoing. . . my comfort level would be in holding it and acting . . . if you as a board said ‘I’m not going to give it until I see the resolution of this process’ I’m good with that. I would hate to see you say ‘absolutely not’ because there is no coming back from that because the money would have to be distributed elsewhere.”

Then Lawton claimed “it’s a hiring of a dean, they don’t want a news story that goes on the air,” to which Board member Jerry Kember replied “they may try to sidestep . . . may sidestep the issue, the real issue.” Replied Lawton: “and that’s why I think we could flag it for our next meeting, and it would allow all of us to examine it more carefully and to examine the implications.”

Meinke then jumps in with “you realize she would be coming from a school with equivalent religious base . . . she’s already working at a school that is exactly like Marquette, and I just don’t understand.” Aside from the fact that she is not a dean at Seattle, Meinke seems oblivious to the fact that some “Catholic” universities take their Christian mission more seriously than others.

After a little parliamentary wrangling, Lawton invites a motion to remove Marquette from the current list of grantees, and to take it up in September. Tzougros then jumps in to insist that Marquette has a right to know why it is not getting funded. There is agreement on this.

A Dissenting Voice – That Quickly Backs Down

At this point Jerry Kember speaks up saying “I’m struggling with this a little bit in that I totally agree with Paul, but I also . . . I’m not sure it’s our place to make some sort of political stand here.” He is quickly silenced by Lawton saying “it’s discriminatory . . . .” Kember then folds saying “well, OK.”

Helen Klebesadel then chimes in with “I think it’s our place. . . I think it’s viewpoint discrimination, but I think it’s unresolved.”

Klebesadel appears not to recognize that “expressive organizations” have a right to “viewpoint discrimination” (that’s what being an expressive organization means).

Kember, in a final futile attempt to be sensible repeats the point that Tzougros made earlier, asking “who are we hurting? Are we hurting Marquette as a whole, or are we hurting the museum?” But Kember is quickly silenced, as Lawton says “we’re not hurting anybody,” and “it allows them to understand how this impacts their image and the messaging that counts. . . . ”

Later in the meeting, Meinke and Lawton return to their idea that the O’Brien decision is bad public relations. Meinke says of the controversy that “it does not paint a very nice stroke for the school or for the city of Milwaukee.” Lawton smugly adds “for the state, I think, for the state.”

Apparently, Lawton and Meinke care most about how the decision plays among secular liberals like themselves, rather than among loyal Catholics.

The motion to defer the grant to the Haggerty passes unanimously.

Summarizing

So a gay member of a liberal/left leaning Arts Board chose to make an issue of Marquette’s failure to hire a lesbian dean. By his own admission, he had no evidence that she was rejected because she was a lesbian. But he and the rest of the Board had suspicions.

(In fact, Fr. Wild knew O’Brien was a lesbian when he made her the offer, and only rescinded it when the nature of her writings became known.)

A couple of other Board members offered some caveats, but were overruled and silenced. The Board, claiming that this might be discrimination against a lesbian, decided to defer the grant to “send a message” to Marquette. It was, quite simply, an exercise in bullying.

And the claim of illegal discrimination looked for all the world like a cover for the fact that Board members don’t like Catholic views on homosexuality.

Both Meinke and Lawton were unavailable for comment.

Marquette’s Response

Our response to something like this would be to sue immediately, since Marquette has always maintained the right to “hire for mission,” and that includes the right to reject job applicants who outspokenly oppose Church teaching.

Marquette fully recognizes academic freedom, meaning that faculty (but not necessarily administrators like deans) have the right to reach whatever conclusions they want and publish and teach those conclusions, regardless of Church doctrine.

But Marquette is in fact playing it cool.

We talked to Wally Mason, Director of the Museum, and he told us that he had heard nothing further about the Arts Board decision. “We know nothing at this point” he told us.

Mason was a little perturbed that the letter announcing the deferral was released to the media before it was sent to the Haggerty. The Haggerty did know the letter was coming, since a supporter of the museum is on the Arts Board (but was not at the meeting).

But what is Marquette’s response? According to Mason:
We at the University decided in consultation with the Provost to not explore it any further with the thinking, I guess, that they made their point by this decision and maybe that’s all they wanted to do was make their point of stating this and I guess we’re optimistic that they’ll reinstate the funding in September.
In other words: no push back, but no groveling either.

Hopefully, Mason is correct and the funding will be approved. We can’t be sure, however. This could certainly end up as another of the cases (extremely common these days) in which the gay lobby (and liberal allies) persecutes those Christians who disagree with their orthodoxy.

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Monday, July 05, 2010

Challenging the Climate Change Orthodoxy

From a German research organization, a paper attacking the orthodox dogma on climate change.

We have no credentials in climatology, so we can’t vouch for the scientific merits. We do know enough to know it raises some very interesting issues.

We also know that apostles of the climate change orthodoxy have destroyed their own credibility by the actions that were revealed by Climate Gate.

We know enough about academia to know that skepticism of any supposed “consensus” among college professors is warranted.

In the first place, the notion that there is a “consensus” is largely a product of the mainstream media. There is plenty of dissent among people with impressive scientific credentials.

In the second place, any “consensus” among professors is likely to be the product of their ideological biases. Leaning to the left, professors can be counted upon to favor any scientific “finding” that supports big government, and increasing the power of politics over the economy.

Third, there is groupthink. Professors are as conformist as any other group. Indeed they are more conformist since they tend to exist in a cocoon of similarly-minded people, getting their information from Public Radio, newspapers like the New York Times and leftist websites and knowing few people who will challenge the assumptions of their subculture.

Finally, there is careerism. If global warming is a huge threat to human civilization, that makes climatologists very important people. If important elites outside of academia (left-leaning politicians, grant-giving agencies, foundations, the media) have an interest in promoting the idea of global warming, scientists who provide the “correct” results are certain to prosper. Scientists who produce the “wrong” results are likely to languish.

The bottom line here is that academics aren’t any special sort of people. They are generally more ideologically biased than other groups, just as conformist and just as likely to pursue their own interests.

And those interests aren’t always condusive to learning and speaking the truth.

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Saturday, July 03, 2010

No Doubt Where She Stands!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Should People Be Able to Buy a House With Zero Money Down?

In the wake of the housing meltdown, it sounds outrageous. The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) has a program that allows private banks to give people mortgages with (supposedly) zero money down.

Superficially, this sounds like the outrages that caused an epidemic of foreclosures and a crash in the housing market. Banks, knowing that they could sell mortgages in the secondary market (typically to Fannie Mae or Freddy Mac) lent promiscuously, not bothering about credit-worthiness, not bothering to seriously ask whether the borrower had an income to make the payments, and not even worrying whether the borrower already had multiple mortgages on multiple properties and was thus leveraged up to his eyeballs.

They were also none too scrupulous about whether the house was worth the purchase price. Appraisers were given a wink and a nudge and encouraged to come up with an appraised value that would allow the loan to go through.

But superficial appearances are often at odds with substance.

WHEDA has sent a defense of the program to Charlie Sykes (who questioned the program yesterday morning on his talk show), and we have a copy of that.

The Ownership Society

Before we talk about the specifics of this program, we should ask whether home ownership is something that conservatives and libertarians should favor.

The answer is obviously “yes.”

Once a family buys a home, property taxes cease to be hidden in their rent payment. They have to write a check (or at least see explicitly how much extra the mortgage company is demanding so that their property taxes can be paid). Ronald Reagan famously said “taxes should hurt.” Property taxes hurt.

In normal times (and admittedly, the last few years haven’t been “normal times”) housing appreciates. The owner begins to have equity. The owner comes to be among the “propertied” rather than the “propertyless.” The owner begins to think more about increasing the value of his property, and less about political schemes that victimize property owners to benefit the propertyless.

The owner now has a much greater stake in the quality of public services, in what goes on in the schools, and in any proposal that would compromise the value of his or her property. If the neighborhood goes to hell, renters can easily move on.

Social engineering schemes that hurt the qualify of life in the neighborhood – and thus property values – won’t have much appeal.

Thus President George Bush’s touting of the “ownership society” made perfect sense. Unfortunately, when he was doing that the foundations (like foundations of liberals’ claimed concern for home ownership among the working poor) were built on sand.

The WHEDA Program

In this context, reasonable concessions to allow people with modest assets to buy a home make good public policy sense.

But what concessions are reasonable?

Letting people with poor credit get a mortgage? Certainly not. But the WHEDA program requires a 680 credit score to qualify, and the average credit score of people who get mortgages is 732. That’s credit worthy.

How about employment and income? Under the WHEDA program, employment and income are checked. Too low an income or a spotty employment record can get you rejected.

And the program is not a real “zero money down” deal. The buyer has to put in at least $1,000 of his or her own money. The money can’t be a gift, and it can’t be borrowed (at least theoretically it can’t). It has to be hard cash. For a low income family, saving even a thousand dollars requires a bit of discipline.

Another thing to consider: giving people a mortgage with little or no down payment makes a lot more sense after the market has experienced a major correction. We aren’t on a bubble now. We can’t be sure where the “true bottom” of the market is, but it’s unlikely to be much lower than it is now.

Further, the whole system of property appraisal has been reformed. Appraisers are now at considerable risk if they assign too high a value to a property.

This particular program is too new to have meaningful statistics on default rates, but WHEDA claims that historically its default rates have been low. From their letter to Sykes:
WHEDA and other Housing Finance Agencies around the country were never part of the sub prime mortgage problem that plagued the housing industry in recent years. Quite the opposite - our 35-year track record of safe, responsible lending is what has resulted in a foreclosure rate of only 1.25% - far lower than the state’s average of 1.82% for similar “prime” fixed-rate loans, according to the latest data reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association. During the height of the foreclosure epidemic, WHEDA’s rate remained at less than one percent for several months. Moreover, the WHEDA foreclosure rate is minuscule when compared with the Wisconsin foreclosure rates for FHA and subprime loans, which are 4.30% and 11.31% respectively.

The bottom line: the default rate under the WHEDA program is very low: about 1%. This is well below the 3-5% that prevails in the industry generally.
Issuing mortgages with a small down payment has been going on for a long time. When we bought a house in 1982, we did so with an FHA loan that required only 3% down. They most certainly checked our credit. They most certainly checked our income.

WHEDA claims they are doing the same thing now:
. . . our current denial rate is higher than a few years ago. The top five reasons we deny loans today are: The borrower’s debt ratio is too high (in other words, they already owe too much on other lines of credit); The borrower’s credit score is insufficient; The property is somehow ineligible, often due to value; The borrower doesn’t have enough of their own seasoned and verified funds to close; or we do not believe their income or employment is stable enough to support a monthly mortgage payment over the long term.
The program, of course, deserves continued scrutiny. A further drop in housing prices (which we think unlikely) could leave a lot of borrowers “under water.” And we want to see what the default rate is in this program.

Still . . . on a public policy landscape littered with outrages, this falls far short of being an outrage. In fact, it’s probably an outright good thing.

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