Monday, January 30, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
On the Issues at the Marquette Law School
February 2 — On the Issues with Mike Gousha: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson. He was elected Governor of Wisconsin an unprecedented four times. He was Health and Human Services Secretary in the administration of President George W. Bush. Now, after a stint in the private sector, Tommy Thompson is running for public office again. What’s driving his decision, and what does he think about the current political climate in Washington and Wisconsin? Find out when the former Governor and current candidate joins us at the Law School. Marquette Law School, Eckstein Hall, 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. Reserve your spot.
February 16— On the Issues with Mike Gousha: Mark Block, Chief of Staff for former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain—Running for president is a long, tough, even strange journey. Nobody knows that better than Mark Block, Herman Cain’s top advisor. A longtime Wisconsin political operative, Block will share his stories from the campaign trail; the rise and fall of the Cain candidacy; and Block’s starring role in a low-budget campaign ad that went viral (remember the cigarette?). Block will also discuss the state of the GOP nomination battle and his role in Cain’s latest political project. Marquette Law School, Eckstein Hall, 12:15 to 1:15 p.m., Reserve your spot.
April 5— On the Issues with Mike Gousha: Vice Admiral James W. Houck, Judge Advocate General of the United States Navy—Vice Admiral Houck is the principal military legal counsel to the secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations. He leads the attorneys, enlisted legalmen, and civilian employees of the worldwide Navy JAG Corps community. Houck will discuss what he calls the Navy’s “global law firm” and the issues it faces today, including the handling of detainees, piracy on the high seas, and meeting the legal needs of sailors stationed around the world. Houck is a graduate of the Naval Academy and the University of Michigan Law School. He later earned a Masters of Laws from the Georgetown University Law Center. Marquette Law School, Eckstein Hall, 12:15 to 1:15 p.m., Reserve your spot.
April 9— On the Issues with Mike Gousha: Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin—Congresswoman Baldwin has represented Wisconsin’s Second Congressional District since 1999. Now, she’s trying to make history. Running as the lone Democrat in the race to replace retiring U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, Baldwin is seeking to become the first woman elected to the Senate in Wisconsin. Baldwin is a University of Wisconsin Law School graduate. She’ll address the major issues in this year’s campaign during her visit to Eckstein Hall. Marquette Law School, Eckstein Hall, 12:15 to 1:15 p.m., Reserve your spot.
May 9— On the Issues with Mike Gousha: Yale University Professor John Lewis Gaddis, author of George F. Kennan: An American Life—Born and raised in Milwaukee, George Kennan went on to become one of the preeminent diplomats of the Cold War era. He is credited with being the architect of the American policy of containment toward the Soviet Union. Now the story of his profound influence and his complicated life has been told in a book written by John Lewis Gaddis, the noted historian of the Cold War who is the Robert A. Lovett Professor of History and Political Science and Distinguished Fellow in Grand Strategy at Yale. Professor Gaddis knew Kennan for decades, and was granted full access to his personal papers. He has produced a remarkable biography praised by critics and diplomats alike. Henry Kissinger has called it “magisterial” and “seminal.” Professor Gaddis will reveal the Kennan he came to know during this appearance in his subject’s hometown. Cosponsored by the Marquette University Department of History. Marquette Law School, Eckstein Hall, 12:15 to 1:15 p.m., Reserve your spot.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Gay Censorship in Shawano
SHAWANO — A gay couple with school-age children is outraged over a Shawano High School newspaper column that cites Bible passages and calls homosexuality a sin punishable by death.Her academic specialization, of course, makes it clear what she is going to say.
The column ran on the editorial page of Shawano High School’s Hawks Post recently as part of an opinion package about gay families who adopt children. The other side said sexual orientation does not determine a person’s ability to raise kids.
“This is why kids commit suicide,” said Nick Uttecht, who is raising four children with his partner, Michael McNelly.
Uttecht told school district officials he thinks the piece opposing gays as parents is hateful and should not have run. He worries the strong language will hurt his children and could lead students to bully gay classmates.
School officials apologized and said they will review the process for editing and producing the paper.
“Offensive articles cultivating a negative environment of disrespect are not appropriate or condoned by the Shawano School District,” district Superintendent Todd Carlson said in a written statement.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, out of 17,019 households in Shawano County, 82 were same-sex households, and nearly half reported children in the home. In Wisconsin, 13,630 out of 2.28 million households in 2010 were same-sex, and 5,978 of those households had children.
A step back?
The student newspaper column against same-sex couples says: “If one is a practicing Christian, Jesus states in the Bible that homosexuality is (a) detestable act and sin which makes adopting wrong for homosexuals because you would be raising the child in a sin-filled environment.
“A child adopted into homosexuality will get confused because everyone else will have two different-gendered parents that can give them the correct amount of motherly nurturing and fatherly structure. In a Christian society, allowing homosexual couples to adopt is an abomination.”
Uttecht said his 13-year-old son, Tanner, who is in eighth grade, saw the article and asked about it.
“When I saw this I was in shock,” said Uttecht, who is raising four children, three who are his biological kids and the biological daughter of his partner. Three are in the Shawano school system; the youngest is 4.
“I talked to the school superintendent; he said he was shocked,” Uttecht said
Carlson told the Green Bay Press-Gazette “appropriate steps are being taken” to remedy the situation, but did not provide details.
He sent the following written statement:
“The Shawano School District would like to apologize for a recent article printed in the Hawks Post newspaper. Proper judgment that reflects school district policies needs to be exercised with articles printed in our school newspaper. Offensive articles cultivating a negative environment of disrespect are not appropriate or condoned by the Shawano School District. We sincerely apologize to anyone we may have offended and are taking steps to prevent items of this nature from happening in the future.”
Uttecht said he’s worried about the lasting impact of the column.
“I’m worried about how this is going to affect my kids,” said Uttecht, who also is an elected member of the Menominee Indian Head Start Policy Council. “And I’m worried how gay students in school will be treated. It took me a long time to come out, and I think this just really sets things back by being so closed-minded. This sets things back 20 or 30 years.
“I know there are at least three openly gay families in the district, there’s probably more. What effect is this going to have on my kids? And how are other people going to react?”
David Hudson, an expert for the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group First Amendment Center, said the column may be distasteful to some, but student journalists were practicing their constitutional right to free speech.
“Bullying is a serious concern, and I don’t take it lightly. But I hope it doesn’t lead to squashing different viewpoints. I do think (gay adoption) is an issue people are deeply divided about. Hopefully student journalists don’t have to fear they’ll be squashed if they take a controversial view.”
Editors and advisers have the job of toning down language if it is too sensational, Hudson said.
“Freedom of speech includes speech about religious viewpoints,” Hudson said. “If you took that away, it could be seen as discrimination. Someone could have an atheist opinion, and that’s OK, too.
“Any controversial issue is a lightning rod for censorship.”
Although students have the right to voice their opinion, it doesn’t mean they should say it in a school paper, said Christine Smith, assistant professor of psychology, human development and women’s studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
“High school students are at a time in their life when they are developing intellectually and socially,” she said. “To see something like this debated in the paper could be devastating. How would you feel if someone said your family is abnormal, is not acceptable, that your parents never should have been allowed to have you, that they’re not suitable to raise you?This, of course, is the theory universial among politically correct people: you can’t say bad things about homosexuality, because that might make gays (or the children of gays) feel bad.
“Of course, it’s got to be harmful. Kids this age are so worried about discovering who they are and what they are. To have them told their family is immoral and not suitable has to be devastating. To be told by your peers, people you see in the hallways, these people who clearly have passed judgment.”
A consistent policy of not saying things that make people feel bad might have something to recommend it. Unfortunately, the people who want to censor anti-gay speech are quite willing to attack Christians who view homosexuality in a negative light.
They don’t at all mind if the open promotion of homosexuality by a school district tends to marginalize Christian students. In fact they want that to happen.
It’s interesting to see politically correct school bureaucrats talk about “a negative environment of disrespect” when they are in fact encouraging and promoting “a negative environment of disrespect” for Christian values and thus for Christian students.
If the school is worried about negative consequences of controversial columns in a student newspaper, they should refuse to run such columns, banning both sides of the argument. In fact, a large body of Constitutional law holds that any government-imposed restrictions on speech must be “content neutral.”
You can file this case under “gay fascism.”
Monday, January 16, 2012
Brits Used to Talk Like Americans
In 1776, whether you were declaring America independent from the crown or swearing your loyalty to King George III, your pronunciation would have been much the same. At that time, American and British accents hadn’t yet diverged. What’s surprising, though, is that Hollywood costume dramas get it all wrong: The Patriots and the Redcoats spoke with accents that were much closer to the contemporary American accent than to the Queen’s English.
It is the standard British accent that has drastically changed in the past two centuries, while the typical American accent has changed only subtly.
Traditional English, whether spoken in the British Isles or the American colonies, was largely “rhotic.” Rhotic speakers pronounce the “R” sound in such words as “hard” and “winter,” while non-rhotic speakers do not. Today, however, non-rhotic speech is common throughout most of Britain. For example, most modern Brits would tell you it’s been a “hahd wintuh.”
It was around the time of the American Revolution that non-rhotic speech came into use among the upper class in southern England, in and around London. According to John Algeo in “The Cambridge History of the English Language” (Cambridge University Press, 2001), this shift occurred because people of low birth rank who had become wealthy during the Industrial Revolution were seeking ways to distinguish themselves from other commoners; they cultivated the prestigious non-rhotic pronunciation in order to demonstrate their new upper-class status.
“London pronunciation became the prerogative of a new breed of specialists — orthoepists and teachers of elocution. The orthoepists decided upon correct pronunciations, compiled pronouncing dictionaries and, in private and expensive tutoring sessions, drilled enterprising citizens in fashionable articulation,” Algeo wrote.
The lofty manner of speech developed by these specialists gradually became standardized — it is officially called “Received Pronunciation” — and it spread across Britain. However, people in the north of England, Scotland and Ireland have largely maintained their traditional rhotic accents.
Most American accents have also remained rhotic, with some exceptions: New York and Boston accents have become non-rhotic. According to Algeo, after the Revolutionary War, these cities were “under the strongest influence by the British elite.”
Smug Liberals Demand “Civility” in Discourse
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Washington Post: Stop Electric Car Subsidies
But it has shown itself able to take a cold hard look at some of the programs that give liberals the warm fuzzies. One recent example dealt with one of the Obama Administration’s favorite class of subsidies.
THERE MAY NOT have been a party in Times Square to celebrate, but two of the most wasteful subsidies ever to clutter the Internal Revenue Code went out with the old year. Congress declined to renew either the 45-cent-per-gallon tax credit for corn-based ethanol or the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol, so both expired Dec. 31.The problem, of course, is that policies like this have nothing to do with a cool-headed policy analysis. Rather they are mostly symbolic. The liberals who favor them want the “committment to green energy” that these programs claim, and aren’t inclined to ask whether they are really “green” and if so whether they are green at any sort of reasonable price.
Taxpayers will no longer have shell out roughly $6 billion per year for a program that badly distorted the global grain market, artificially raised the cost of agricultural land and did almost nothing to curb greenhouse gas emissions. A federal law requiring the use of 36 billion gallons of ethanol for fuel by 2022 still props up the industry, but the tax credit’s expiration is a victory for common sense just the same.
Meanwhile, a lesser-known but equally dubious energy tax break also expired when the year ended Saturday: the credit that gave electric-car owners up to $1,000 to defray the cost of installing a 220-volt charging device in their homes — or up to $30,000 to install one in a commercial location. As a means of reducing carbon emissions, electric cars and plug-in hybrid electrics are no more cost-effective than ethanol. What’s more, only upper-income consumers can afford to buy an electric vehicle (EV); so the charger subsidy is a giveaway to the well-to-do.
The same goes for the $7,500 tax credit that the government offers purchasers of electric vehicles, a subsidy that, alas, did not expire at year’s end. The Obama administration says that the credit helps build a market for EVs, which helps create jobs. Given the price of eligible models, like the $100,000 Fisker Karma, that rationale sounds an awful lot like trickle-down economics.
Backers of the charger tax credit may lobby Congress to renew it when lawmakers tackle the payroll tax extension issue again in the new year. We hope that Congress says no. Not only is it a case study in upward income redistribution, it also would represent a deepening of the taxpayers’ commitment to what looks increasingly like an industry not ready for prime time.
Sales of electric vehicles were disappointing in 2011, with the Volt coming in below the 10,000 units forecast. In addition to its high price, the Volt brand is suffering from news that some of its batteries burst into flames after government road tests. Meanwhile, Fisker, the recipient of more than half a billion dollars in low-interest Energy Department loans, repeatedly delayed the introduction of its ballyhooed Karma — while repeatedly raising the sticker price. And now Fisker has announced a recall of the cars because of a potential defect in its batteries — made by A123 Systems, another large recipient of Energy Department support.
Evidence is mounting that President Obama was overly optimistic to pledge that there would be 1 million EVs on the road by 2015. Electric cars are not likely to form a significant part of the solution to America’s dependence on foreign oil, or to global warming, in the near future. They simply pose too many issues of price and practicality to attract a large segment of the car-buying public. More prosaic fuel-economy innovations such as conventional hybrids, clean-diesel cars and advanced gasoline engines all show much more promise than electrics.
The ethanol credit was on the books for 30 years before it finally died. Let’s hope Congress can start unwinding the federal government’s bad investment in electric vehicles faster than that.
After all, they are paid for with other people’s money.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Easy To See Who the Real Bigots Are
All You Really Needed to Understand About Federal Fiscal Policy
Monday, January 02, 2012
Milwaukee Conservative Talk Radio to be Discussed on MPTV
Brien Farley’s documentary “Liberty or Lies” will be aired on Milwaukee Public Television at the end of January.
We were Farley’s academic adviser on the project, although in fact Farley is a seasoned broadcast professional who needed little advice or guidance.
Farley is himself rather conservative and favorably inclined toward conservative talk radio, but his documentary gives both the defenders and supporters of the genre plenty of time to state their case. It includes extensive interviews with all the local conservative talkers (Belling being the only exception) and equally extensive interviews with journalistic critics (Bruce Murphy and the late Tim Cuprisin, for example). and local political activists (Jay Heck of Common Cause and Chris Kliesmet of Citizens for Responsible Government, for example).
This will be a “must watch” show for anybody interested in local politics.