Friday, May 27, 2011

Netanyahu Speaks to US Congress



The most obvious thing about this speech is the contrast between the moral clarity of Benjamin Netanyahu and the equivocating, apologizing, half-hearted support for America and democracy that is the best that Barack Obama can produce.

Obama, in other words, is afflicted by all the moral and intellectual vices of liberal elites. The contrast to Netanyahu is stunning.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, May 23, 2011

Iron Laws of Politics

(1) The voters want fewer taxes and more spending.

(2) Citizens want honest politicians until they want something fixed.

(3) Constituency drives out consistency (i.e., liberals defend military spending, and conservatives social spending in their own districts).

Friday, May 20, 2011

Stories of the Rapture: Media Bias, or Manipulation of the Media

It really ought to be ignored: the claim by Oakland evangelist Harold Camping that the rapture will come tomorrow.

Rapture is a Christian concept that says that, during the End Times, Christian believers will be taken up to heaven while the godless will be left on earth to face a cataclysm.

The concept has a sound basis in the scripture, specifically in Matthew 24, in which Jesus tells his followers about the coming catastrophe:
Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
Exactly when this will happen is another matter. And of course, no Christian leader other than Camping has given the slightest bit of credence to his calculations.

So why pay any attention to Camping?

Our first inclination is to blame the secular bias of the media. Liberal and secular reporters like stories that make Christians look like idiots. A bunch of Christians going to volunteer in a homeless shelter doesn’t fit the template, but a rather cultish crowd with a crackpot eschatology is highly congenial.

Which has a corollary. Any publicity-seeking Christian evangelist can garner a huge amount of unmerited attention by doing something outrageous.

And indeed Camping has gotten a huge amount of attention. Here is a screen capture we did from Google News a few minutes ago. As you can see, there are 1,519 sources on this story.


Interestingly, Christian fundamentalists are often accused of the sin of taking the Bible literally. But Camping isn’t doing that.

Jesus was quite explicit about end times predictions:
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
And of course, Paul told the Thessalonians:
Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
Both Jesus and Paul have essentially the same message: live as though the end could come at any time, since you are not going to be able to predict it.

Camping should take the Bible literally on this point.

And the media should ignore people like him.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Vatican Expands Opportunities for Latin Mass

From Christian Century:
VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican on Friday (May 13) broadened access to the old Latin Mass with a new rule that gives the Vatican the power to overrule bishops who fail to make the rite available in their dioceses.

The Vatican also said that Catholics who request celebrations of the old Latin Mass must not support or belong to groups that challenge either the pope’s authority or the “validity or legitimacy” of the newer Mass.

The announcement comes nearly four years after Pope Benedict XVI lifted most restrictions on the old Latin liturgy, also known as the Tridentine Mass, which had largely fallen out of use in favor of worship in local languages.

Celebrations of the older liturgy remain relatively rare. Few priests are qualified to celebrate its rites, and many bishops view the Latin Mass as a symbol of resistance to the church’s liberalizing reforms of the 1960s.

The Vatican on Friday said bishops should permit use of the old Mass for even small groups that request it, and said pastors should receive such requests in a “spirit of generous welcome.”

Bishops are also asked to offer instruction in the old liturgy to priests and seminarians, thus expanding the ranks of qualified celebrants.

“That really is basic to the pope’s thinking,” said the Rev. Joseph Kramer, a member of one such group, the Fraternal Society of Saint Peter, an order dedicated to celebrating the old Latin Mass. “He would like the old rite to take its place alongside the new rite in the mainstream of the church.”

Kramer called it an “important step,” that Catholics may now contest bishops’ decisions regarding the old rite before a Vatican commission, with the possibility of appealing to the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s supreme court.
On the Marquette campus, the St. Robert Bellarmine Society has fought for more than a year to get the Latin Mass celebrated on a regular basis on campus, to little avail.

The Campus Ministry, which would have to approve any such masses, has stonewalled, invoking a rather narrow reading of guidelines from the Milwaukee Archdiocese.

In reality, the Campus Ministry has been in the forefront of political correctness on campus, actively pushing a gay political agenda and even sponsoring demonstrations at the School of the Americas in Georgia.

So the problem seems to be the cultural ambiance of the Latin Mass, firmly at odds with the trendy and liberal outlook of the campus clerical bureaucrats.

This action of the Vatican straightens the hand of the Bellarmine Society, but resisting what the Pope wants and has clearly endorsed is an old tradition among liberal Catholics.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Playing the Race Card on a College Campus: Another Fake Hate Crime

From Inside Higher Ed:
Many campuses experience bigoted incidents of various types, but for many years now, hoaxes have emerged as well. Typically these cases involve undergraduates who make charges and — after some period of time — are found to have faked whatever it is they said happened to them. The fake hate crimes tend to frustrate just about everybody on campus. Minority students worry that truthful complaints in the future will be doubted. College officials bemoan wasted time and money investigating a fake report, and damage done to the reputation of the institution or individuals.

When a fake report is filed with the police, it is also can be a violation of the law. A gay student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was charged last month with filing a false police report after authorities determined that he had made up his story of being attacked for being gay — a story that generated considerable concern on the campus.

Another hoax was uncovered last week at the University of Virginia — and in this case, the university is being criticized for opting not to press charges against the black law student who made up a story about police harassment in the form of apparent racial profiling. The student — Johnathan Perkins — is scheduled to receive his degree May 22.

Perkins made his allegations in a letter to the editor of the U.Va. law school’s student newspaper, Virginia Law Weekly. He sent a copy to the university’s police department, which treated the essay as a formal complaint. Perkins described walking home from a bar review session and being stopped by the flashing lights of a University of Virginia police car. Two white officers, he said, questioned him, told him that he “fit the description of someone we’re looking for,” made fun of him as a law student, frisked and searched him, refused to give their names and badge numbers, and then followed him home after saying he was free to leave.

Invoking the names of victims of police brutality, such as Abner Louima, Perkins wrote that he knew he could not resist. “I knew that there would be no remedy for the indignity that I suffered at the hands of two of the University of Virginia’s ‘finest.’” he wrote. “As I stood there, humiliated, with my hands on the police car, my only thought was: ‘There is nothing I can do to right this wrong. I have absolutely no recourse.’ I hope that sharing this experience will provide this community with some much needed awareness of the lives that many of their black classmates are forced to lead.”

As soon as the letter was published, the university’s police department began an investigation, bringing in some outside experts to assist. Perkins gave several interviews to local reporters, and many students said that they were outraged by the way he said he had been treated.

On Friday, however, the university released a statement announcing that the investigation found that Perkins had made up the story. The university’s statement (not available on the university’s website, but posted on the Virginia Law Weekly’s Facebook page) quoted Perkins (without naming him) as saying that he fabricated the story. “I wrote the article to bring attention to the topic of police misconduct,” he said in a written statement. “The events in the article did not occur.”

The university said that its investigation included a review of all relevant dispatch records, personnel rosters, police radio tapes, surveillance video from the university’s cameras and those of businesses near where the incident was alleged to have taken place, and interviews with Perkins. The university said that Perkins cooperated in interviews and admitted the fabrication as the “facts of his story came into question.”

The part of the statement that has attracted the most discussion was a quote from Michael A. Gibson, the chief of police at Virginia, who announced that he would not press criminal or other charges.

“I recognize that police misconduct does occur,” he said. “Pressing charges in this case might inhibit another individual who experiences real police misconduct from coming forward with a complaint. I want to send the message just how seriously we take such charges and that we will always investigate them with care and diligence.”
Of course, the message is also that playing the race card, even to the point about lying about an incident to the police, is excused if a politically correct minority does it.

None of this is new.

According to the Los Angeles Times:
Several researchers say the liberal atmosphere at many of the nation’s colleges creates an environment ripe for deception.

“There’s the preconception that if a charge is made, it’s true,” said John Perazzo, author of “The Myths that Divide Us.”

“One common thread running through many such incidents is the accuser’s sense of victimhood.”
One can file this, of course, under “the corruptions of political correctness.”

Of course, bogus claims of victimization poison academia as much as genuine victimization would. Genuine victimization of minorities is everywhere met with condemnation — no excuses allowed. That’s the morally healthy response.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Constitutionality of Obama Care

William Neidhardt, undergraduate student in Political Science (and former student of ours) has published an article in the Pi Sigma Alpha Undergraduate Journal of Politics arguing that Obama Care is constitutional.

The issue is fairly simple: if the Court abides by the intentions of the Founders, there is no way that Obama’s policy is constitutional.

However, since 1937 the Court has largely given up on limiting the power of Congress when Congress claims to be regulating commerce. (Two somewhat minor exceptions have been United States v. Lopez and United States v. Morrison.) Neidhardt does a fine job of citing chapter and verse of cases where the Court has done this.

So if the Court decides that Obamacare is unconstitutional, it will mark a clear change of direction.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Environmental Hysteria: Top Five Cases

Osama or Obama? Oops!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Osama’s Last Facebook Post

Click on the image to enlarge.

Movie About St. Josemaria Escriva, Founder of Opus Dei

From Spero News, a review by Diane Thunder Schlosser:
There Be Dragons is creating quite a stir among moviegoers. The movie opened in Spain to a solid 300-theatre sellout crowd, and opens here in the United States the weekend of May 6th. (Check your local listings for specific theatres and dates.)

There Be Dragons is a powerful story of war, tragedy, love, forgiveness, and redemption. Set during the often overlooked horrors of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, it tells the story of two boyhood friends who enter the seminary, but when the war interrupts their lives, one leaves the seminary and chooses the life of a soldier though driven by jealousy and revenge. The other remains in the seminary and becomes a priest just when the provisional government of Spain is on the brink of murdering over 6,000 priests and religious. Each will struggle to find the power of forgiveness over the forces that tear their lives — and their friendship — apart.

Why the fascination with There Be Dragons? Because a self-proclaimed ‘wobbly’ agnostic and two-time Oscar nominee, Roland Joffe, (The Killing Fields and The Mission) writes and directs a movie that focuses our attention on faith of all things and the “turning points in our lives where we’re faced with…choices that are going to affect our future. . . and how hard it is to escape cycles of hatred, resentment, and violence.”
While Joffe may not be particularly religious, he presents a favorable portrait of Escriva. Schlosser asks:
When was the last time Hollywood produced a movie about a priest – a real priest?

Not a vampire-chasing vengeful priest. Not a sensationalized exorcist. Not a fictitious albino ‘monk’ or even a crooning Bing Crosby priest, but a real priest! This generation is privileged to know of a priest who lived in our lifetime and has been canonized in our lifetime, yet St. Josemaria is not just a saint for members of Opus Dei. He is not just a saint for the people of Spain. He has been raised to the high altars of the Church and canonized a saint for all of us as a model of heroic virtue for the 21st century.
Opus Dei, of course, is a conservative organization that Catholic liberals don’t like, but the director likes the organization, although not for political reasons. Quoting Joffe:
Josemaria also claimed that ordinary people were quite capable of being saints – and I think this kind of heroic forgiveness is what he was talking about . . . (it is) what offers room for hope. But the price is high: It takes a deep sense of what it is to be fully human . . . and, yes, heroic resolve not to be caught up in prevailing hatreds, but to fight them with unremitting love.
If all that sounds a bit syrupy in prose, don’t be put off. Film is different from prose, and often vastly more compelling.



In all fairness, we have to point out that the critics, so far, don’t much care for it. Whether that reflects on the movie, or the social values of the critics, is a question the reader will have to decide.

[Update: 5/13/11]

Although the critics continue to dislike the film, 81% of the audience members who have rated it on Rotten Tomatoes like it. Of course, there is a lot of self-selection here: the people who go to see it are those inclined to like it. But that means that if it sounds like the sort of movie you would like, you probably will.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Feminists’ Bogus Rape Statistics

We recently took the “anti-rape” activists on campus to task for the general lameness of demonstrating against something that everybody is against, and especially for their use of bogus statistics about the incidence of rape.

The activists cite a 2000 Justice Department report as showing that a quarter of American college women have been victims of rape. The study, of course, is online, and can be easily analyzed — at least by somebody used to the labyrinthine structure of reports like this.

The authors struggle mightily to jack up the numbers of women who have been victimized by rape, but end up far short of the numbers they need.

The report claims, for example, that 1.7% of college women had (as of the time of the survey) been victims of rape since the beginning of the school year. They then add another 1.1% who had been victims of attempted rape. Of course, attempted rape is a bad thing, but not nearly so bad as a completed rape. We would not like to be the victim of an attempted murder, but . . . well, you get the point. (See page 11 of the report.)

So the authors, by combining the two numbers, get 2.8%. They then note that this is for a period of (on average) 6.9 months and the extrapolate and say that this is really 4.9% per year, and that with five years (on average) needed to finish college, “the percentage of completed or attempted rape victimization among women in higher educational institutions might climb to between one-fifth and one-quarter.” (p. 10)

But of course, their own report admits that women in college are more likely to be raped than women who are not, and it seems questionable to assume that over the summer months, when many women are working, living with parents, away from the party atmosphere of the campus, etc. that they would face nearly the same threat of rape (or attempted rape, remember). The report concedes:
College campuses host large concentrations of young women who are at greater risk for rape and other forms of sexual assault than women in the general population or in a comparable age group. (p. iii)
Yet another problem is that multiplying the yearly victimization numbers by five makes sense only if no woman is a victim more than once. If particular women are victimized in the first year, and again in the following years, you have fewer new victims, and the total number of women who have been victimized is not so high as it would be if each woman had been victimized only once. Indeed, the study admits:
Consistent across the models, it was found that four main factors consistently increased the risk of sexual victimization: (1) frequently drinking enough to get drunk, (2) being unmarried, (3) having been a victim of a sexual assault before the start of the current school year, and (4) living on campus (for on-campus victimization only). (see page 23)
We might add dating frequently, dating scummy guys, and going to venues where the guys view the women as sexual prey.

But even worse, the authors do a comparison study, based on the National Crime Victimization Survey, and find that the rate of rape to be only 0.16% for completed rape, and 0.18% for attempted rape (see page 14).

The massive discrepancy between the two studies should create huge skepticism.

In the main study, women where asked why they did not report the rape (95% did not report it). A broad range of possible answers were suggested, most of them plausible and reasonably socially acceptable — for example “did not want other people to know” or “afraid of reprisal by assailant or others.” Yet 65.4% of the victims of “completed rape” and 76.5% of the victims of “attempted rape” said that they “did not think it was serious enough to report” (pp. 24-26).

Among the 86 incidents that the researchers classified as “completed rape,” the women, when asked “Do you consider this incident to be a rape?” answered “no” 48.8% of the time (p. 15).

Worse, the authors report that “Victims in the sample generally did not state that their victimization resulted in physical or emotional injuries.” (p. 22)

These findings suggest that the definition of rape used by the researchers was too broad. We can’t imagine results like this among women victimized by real rapes.

Findings like this ought to make any social scientist hesitate to make any strong assertions about the exact incidence of rape. But latching onto an outlier that produces the highest possible incidence of rape (but still not high enough to support feminist claims) is not responsible.

Labels: , , , ,

The On-Again/Off-Again French/Latin Mass

We have heard for several days that the French Honor Society would be sponsoring a mass tomorrow night. It would be the “Latin Mass” we were told, but with parts in French.

It was to be led by Rev. Canon Olivier Meney, who is the “go to” guy for the Latin Mass in southeastern Wisconsin.

Indeed, just a few minutes ago we got the flyer for the event.

But now it has been cancelled. We confirmed that with Rev. Meney’s secretary, and with Emily Schumacher-Novak in Campus Ministry.

According to Schumacher-Novak, “the student organization wasn’t able to get the proper confirmations on the event in time to do it.” They were unable to get the proper information from Fr. Meney, and they didn’t have confirmation from the Office of Student Development. Further, “we thought let’s push it back a little bit so they can get the publicity out in time and do it correctly rather than haphazardly.”

More critically, Schumacher-Novak explained “I needed to check with Fr. Meney as to which form of the mass he was doing.” She explained that “we don’t have permission on the campus to do the Extraordinary Form [Latin Mass] at this point in time.”

But Meney’s secretary confirmed that part of the mass would indeed have been in Latin.

A student organization, the Robert Bellarmine Society, has been trying to get the Latin mass established on campus for most of this academic year, and has faced the resistance of the Campus Ministry.

No doubt, a narrow reading of the guidelines put forth by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee supports their refusal. But of course, if they really wanted too allow the Latin Mass, permission would not be hard to obtain.

What we appear to have from the Campus Ministry is a cultural aversion to the Extraordinary Form.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, May 02, 2011

Protesting Against Something That Everybody’s Against

[Updated to correct identity of organizers.]

Yes, just a couple of hours ago, we walked across campus and found a demonstration against rape. It was organized by students. On the scene: Prof. Nancy Snow, the lesbian philosopher with the bullhorn very much in view a year ago, protesting Marquette’s refusal to hire lesbian Arts & Science Dean candidate Jodi O’Brien.

A few photos (not our best work, since we were using a cell phone):





Why protest against something that everybody is against?

It’s a kind of superstition on the politically-correct left: all problems can be solved by “raising awareness.” If any social problems persist, it’s just because not enough people have had their “awareness” raised.

Of course, sometimes the simple fact is that there are evil people who will do evil things, and the way to deal with them is to deter them with the threat of punishment if possible, and if that doesn’t work lock them up for an extended period.

There is another reality that campus leftists don’t want to face, but before we get to that we need a reality check about the supposed 25% of college women who have been raped.
During the 1980s, feminist researchers committed to the rape-culture theory had discovered that asking women directly if they had been raped yielded disappointing results—very few women said that they had been. So Ms. [Magazine] commissioned University of Arizona public health professor Mary Koss to develop a different way of measuring the prevalence of rape. Rather than asking female students about rape per se, Koss asked them if they had experienced actions that she then classified as rape. Koss’s method produced the 25 percent rate, which Ms. then published.

Koss’s study had serious flaws. Her survey instrument was highly ambiguous, as University of California at Berkeley social-welfare professor Neil Gilbert has pointed out. But the most powerful refutation of Koss’s research came from her own subjects: 73 percent of the women whom she characterized as rape victims said that they hadn’t been raped. Further—though it is inconceivable that a raped woman would voluntarily have sex again with the fiend who attacked her—42 percent of Koss’s supposed victims had intercourse again with their alleged assailants.

All subsequent feminist rape studies have resulted in this discrepancy between the researchers’ conclusions and the subjects’ own views. A survey of sorority girls at the University of Virginia found that only 23 percent of the subjects whom the survey characterized as rape victims felt that they had been raped—a result that the university’s director of Sexual and Domestic Violence Services calls “discouraging.” Equally damning was a 2000 campus rape study conducted under the aegis of the Department of Justice. Sixty-five percent of what the feminist researchers called “completed rape” victims and three-quarters of “attempted rape” victims said that they did not think that their experiences were “serious enough to report.” The “victims” in the study, moreover, “generally did not state that their victimization resulted in physical or emotional injuries,” report the researchers.
So what is going on here? Why the discrepancy between what the feminists consider rape and real, clear cases of rape? According to Heather McDonald of the Urban Institute:
So what reality does lie behind the campus rape industry? A booze-fueled hookup culture of one-night, or sometimes just partial-night, stands. Students in the sixties demanded that college administrators stop setting rules for fraternization. “We’re adults,” the students shouted. “We can manage our own lives. If we want to have members of the opposite sex in our rooms at any hour of the day or night, that’s our right.” The colleges meekly complied and opened a Pandora’s box of boorish, sluttish behavior that gets cruder each year. Do the boys, riding the testosterone wave, act thuggishly toward the girls? You bet! Do the girls try to match their insensitivity? Indisputably.
But of course, one is not supposed to pass judgment on any sexual behavior. Unless you call it “rape.” Saying that one should exercise some sexual restraint is just so old-fashioned. But that attitude doesn’t help women who were not raped, but did things they were profoundly unhappy about in the morning.

Labels: , , , , ,

Marquette’s Gay Honors Program End-of-Year Party

From the Honors Program, a flyer saying:
Marquette Faculty, Administrators, and Staff,
you’re invited to…

End of Year LGBT & Allies at Marquette Celebration
But it was on April 15. Damn! We missed it!

It was hosted, of course, by the Honors Program.

The flyer tells people to “Spread the Word,” and then tells them the location:
Coughlin Hall 001 (enter through the south door)
The purpose:
In 2010-­2011, the Marquette community has taken some important steps to affirm the dignity of our LGBT members. Let’s recognize and celebrate these accomplishments with good food and our fellow faculty, administrators, and staff!
And finally:
  • Unveiling of the “LGBT @ WGST” website
  • Recognizing Research Accomplishments in Lesbian, Gay, and Queer Studies
  • Celebrating the coming of partner benefits in 2012!
There is indeed a lot to celebrate when the Marquette administration has given you virtually everything you wanted.

Labels: , , ,

The Perfect Song for Today

We had some reservations of this song when it first came out. And not because of the bellicose tone (which we thought absolutely appropriate), but because we don’t think you should threaten things you can’t deliver.

But it turns out we could deliver.

Labels: ,

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Journal-Sentinel on BPA: Ideology, Ambition Trump Science

Liberal reporters love the narrative in which the chemical industry is poisoning the American people, and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has adopted that narrative with regard to bisphenol A (BPA.

Unfortunately, the sound science is radically different from what the paper has said.

A smackdown has been administered to the Journal-Sentinel by no less an outlet than the very liberal Huffington Post.

One key graph:
“[Journal-Sentinel editor] Stanley appears to have thrown one of his reporters under the bus to protect what he believes is the sanctity of those journalism awards,” adds SPJ [Society of Professional Journalists] ethicist Smith. “He even says he’s quoting from the acknowledgments section of the German report, which makes it seem as if his columnist was sloppy for not alerting readers to the alleged biases of the scientists, when actually he was the biased one.” The editor, he suggests, appears heavily invested in the controversial endocrine disruptor hypothesis, which is gradually losing favor in the international science community. “If the Journal Sentinel was really committed to truth, it would welcome new data and just report factually on developments. That’s the way science and journalism should work. It seems the editor was more committed to presenting his version of the truth.”

Labels: , , ,