Thursday, March 31, 2005

Where There Is Fire There Is A Torch

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I would be quite remiss if I didn't mention the good work being done by the folks at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (or F.I.R.E.). They have recently started their own blog, The Torch. I'm sure I'll be using them quite a bit in the future.

Here is a good starter post to check out: The AAUP's Ringing Defense of Diversity

In response to this startling evidence of political and intellectual uniformity on our nation's campuses, the American Association of University Professors issued a strong call for a renewed emphasis on diversity and an end to viewpoint discrimination:

A diverse educational environment challenges [students] to explore ideas and arguments at a deeper level, to see issues from various sides, to rethink their own premises.

We learn when shaken by new facts, beliefs, experiences, and viewpoints. The student assimilates the new data so that they fit the existing conception, or revises the conception to accommodate the new data. [Emphasis added.]

My mistake. Those comments were not from the AAUP's response to the ideological uniformity on campus. The comments instead come from the AAUP's amicus brief in the case of Gratz v. Bollinger and relate to racial diversity, not intellectual diversity. When it comes to intellectual diversity, the AAUP's response is a bit different:

When asked about the findings, Jonathan Knight, director of academic freedom and tenure for the American Association of University Professors, said, "The question is how this translates into what happens within the academic community on such issues as curriculum, admission of students, evaluation of students, evaluation of faculty for salary and promotion." Knight said he isn't aware of "any good evidence" that personal views are having an impact on campus policies.

"It's hard to see that these liberal views cut very deeply into the education of students. In fact, a number of studies show the core values that students bring into the university are not very much altered by being in college."

No evidence that personal views are having an impact on campus policies? Has Knight read a modern speech code lately?

There is plenty more of this over at The Torch.

Irony Overload Cripples Indiana Town

Federal officials have informed the town of Richmond, Indiana that the area's yearly allotment of irony is already nearly depleted. Administrators in Washington blame a recent incident at Earlham College, a small Quaker school famed for their Peace Studies Program, where an Earlham student attacked conservative pundit William Kristol with an ice cream pie, for the shortfall.

"We just don't budget for this kind of irony use in midwestern towns." stated an EPA spokesperson. "We haven't seen this type of shortfall since the Durham, North Carolina situation of 1995."

The spokesperson was referring to the infamous baseball brawl between the Durham Bulls and the Winston-Salem Warthogs on "Strike Out Domestic Violence Night" at the ballpark. That single incident depleted Durham's irony reserves for fiscal 1995, 19996 and 1997.

"It was horrible!" stated Durham sportswriter Buzz Needer. "Nothing could be ironical after that. We had to resort to calling everything 'coincidental,' because it's far cheaper."

There are some hopes that such a fate can be avoided in Richmond. The EPA is working on a proposal that would shift some of Seattle, Washington's irony quotient to Indiana. In return Richmond would transfer some of their "all American wholesomeness" out to Washington state.

"It might be a nice change of pace for the folks out in Seattle." said Richmond mayor Sally Hutton. "EPA documents show there hasn't been an unironical moment out there since the late 80's."

Public relation officials in Seattle could not be reached for comment.

Columbia University: Anti-Semitic Police State

Now there is a slogan for you. I hope the dumb bastards try to sue me too.

In case you don't remember (read my earlier posts here and here) Columbia U. had impaneled an anti-Israeli comission to look at charges of anti-Semitism at the university. Lo! and Behold! They didn't find any! (What were the chances?)

Instead the panel faulted, as I predicted, the Jewish students. From the New York Sun:

The faculty committee appointed by Columbia's president, Lee Bollinger, to investigate a series of student allegations against professors in the Middle Eastern studies department issued a report yesterday largely clearing the accused scholars of blame. At the same time, committee members described a polarized classroom environment in which pro-Israel students disturbed lectures and seminars with inappropriate interruptions.

The message is clear: If you are going to persist in being a damn dirty Jew at Columbia University you better learn how to take it and don't you dare get uppity.

According to one student, senior Ariel Beery, one of the campus's most outspoken critics of the professors, a Columbia spokeswoman told him that students were not being shown the report yesterday "for your own good."

Late last night, however, after some of the students who made the charges demanded to see the report, the administration relented and showed it to them.

"The report only focuses on three incidents, and we brought to them a lot more incidents that were not reported and they made no mention of them," Mr. Beery said.

The public complaints, aired in a documentary video, "Columbia Unbecoming," produced by a pro-Israel group based in Boston, have focused national attention on the treatment of Jewish students and how Israel is portrayed and researched at one of the nation's most prestigious universities.

The committee's report - four months in the making and the product of dozens of interviews with students and faculty members - represents a significant victory for Columbia's Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures.

One of the incidents not mentioned by the report involves assistant professor Joseph Massad, who allegedly told a class that it was Israelis - not Germans or Palestinians - who shot to death the Israeli Olympic athletes in the 1972 Munich Massacre, according to one of Mr. Massad's former students.

Mr. Massad's alleged interpretation of events is sharply contradicted by historians, who say the 11 Olympic athletes were murdered by their Palestinian hostage-takers in a botched rescue operation conducted by German authorities. Historians have debated whether some of the athletes died in the crossfire between German police and the kidnappers, but the notion that the athletes were killed by Israeli gunfire has not been given credence.

The committee gently criticized Mr. Massad in its report for purportedly threatening to expel a female Jewish student, Deena Shanker, from his classroom in 2002 when she asked him whether the Israeli military warned Palestinian Arab civilians of the West Bank before launching military strikes there. "That provoked him to start screaming, 'If you're going to deny the atrocities being committed against the Palestinians then you could leave the class,'" Ms. Shanker told the Sun last fall.

Yep. Nobody here but us non anti-Semites.

So where does the "police state" part come in? Also from the Sun:

In an effort to manage favorable coverage of its investigation into the complaints, the university disclosed a summary of the committee's report only to the Columbia Spectator, the campus newspaper, and the New York Times. Those newspapers, sources indicated to The New York Sun last night, made an agreement with the central administration that they would not speak to the students who made the complaints against the professors.

The Sun obtained a copy of the report without the permission of the university administration. Last night, when a reporter from the Sun came to Low Library, the central administration building, for a copy of the report, a security guard threatened to arrest the reporter if she did not leave the building.

Isn't Columbia University's commitment to the central tenets of American democratic society heart warming?

It is sad to say but maybe Jewish students should think twice about going to Columbia University. Actually, maybe they simply shouldn't go to Columbia. I can understand not wanting to be intimidated off of campus, and I applaud the courage to stay in such a climate, but on the other hand it is the Jewish student's tuition that is helping to pay the salaries of these bigots. I cannot think of a better place to begin divestment.

The whole thing makes me sick.

A Libertarian Leaning Judiciary...

...would be quite a nice thing I believe. From QandO: The Imperial Judiciary

At the heart of this debate is something that Pepperdine Law Professor Douglas Kmiec suggested when responding to the court's decision in Roper v. Simmons, several days ago:

The court's decision fans the flames of a long-standing dispute over how the Constitution is to be viewed. Should it be treated as an enacted law-that is, something to be fairly interpreted and evenhandedly applied-or is it an open-ended document for the court to interpret as it sees fit? The first methodology is democratic self-government; the second-in which an elite body is invited to impose binding pronouncements about how the rest of us are to live-is something else.

Nor is this a new concern. It has been present since the founding. "It is a very dangerous doctrine to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions," said Thoman Jefferson. "It is one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy." James Madison, writing in The Federalist, wrote that the combination of legislative and judicial power in one body was "the very definition of tyranny." Abraham Lincoln, referring obliquely to the Dredd Scott decision in his First Inaugural Address, said, "[T]he candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the government, upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court...the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having, to that extent, practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal."

Defenders of the court often respond that an independent judiciary is critical the the operation of our government-which is true-but, it seems problematic to me to argue that usurping the legislative power by ordering tax increases is a legitimate power of an independent judiciary. Is it even possible to argue seriously that the founders, who fought for a decade to gain independence from England under the slogan, "Taxation without representation is tyranny", ever seriously intended for an unelected judge to levy taxes?

I believe that has it exactly right. Many people in this country may be quite content to live in an enlightened oligarchic tyranny, but I find it does not lead to my contentment. I kind of like the democratic aspects of our Constitution. (I know, I know, I'm nutty that way.)

Part of this comes from growing up in Missouri where one could see first hand that judicial power was untrammeled. The taxes that the judge imposed to pay for the Kansas City school districts were payed by the entire state. Why people in St. Louis or in poorer rural counties in Missouri, who were having their own difficulties paying for their own schools, were supposed to pay for Kansas City schools was never made clear. And in the end the whole thing turned out to be a swindle. Billions (with a "B") were put into the KC schools, and, man, did they build schools: modern buildings with wall-to-wall computer labs, sculpture gardens and artificial rivers, and all this at a time when St. Louis schools were having difficulty getting enough textbooks for their students.

But didn't the new schools improve the lot of the Kansas City students? Based on test scores the answer was a clear "no." Scores in the KC school plummeted. Maybe the kids were too distracted by the artifical river.

All the whole episode taught me was that the judge involved was not only a tyrant but also an idiot.

And that's the point. There are lots of idiots out there in all walks of life. At least when we have legislatures making the laws and raising the taxes, we the people have some hope of making sure the idiots do not rule the day and ruin our fate. But when you place that power in a judiciary far removed from democratic checks and balances you've got no chance.

I'm no libertarian, but I'd gladly accept an entire judiciary of libertarian leaning justices. In a heartbeat.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Is This Post Mind-Numbingly Intellectual?

Uh...not as such. But I can't help myself. Iowahawk says, Profs Gone Wild: Extreme Ultimate Spring Break Volume 6 - It's Hot, Tenured, and Out of Control!

Next, the Profs Gone Wild crew hits the hot beaches of Daytona... along with special guest star Snoop Dogg! You won't believe the uncensored academic craziness behind the scenes at the Modern Language Association Jello Shotz Party!

Dave (whispering): Snoop and I just shared some 'special herb' with these profs, and now we've got a bet to see which one will say and do the craziest shit! Keep the video rolling Duane...

Snoop: Hey dog, where you teach?

Professor #1: Michigan... Go Blue! Beat the Buckeye Zionist Tools!

Snoop: Say what you gotta say, bitch.

Professor #1:
The rightwing Zionists want to racialize the Sudan conflict in American terms, as "Arab" versus "black African" because they want to use it to play American domestic politics, and create a rift among African-Americans and Arab-Americans.

Snoop: Damn, that's some crazy ass shiznit. How 'bout you?

Professor #2 (grabbing microphone): I'm Noam from MIT, and I just gotta say that if the
Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.

Snoop: Show me some more of that, ho.

Professor #2:
I have often thought that if a rational Fascist dictatorship were to exist, then it would choose the American system.

Snoop: Man, you is one crunk bitch. Where'd you get that pizimped-out Audi?

Professor #2: My daddy bought it for me.
Under capitalism, we can't have democracy by definition. Capitalism is a system in which the central institutions of society are in principle under autocratic control. Wanna see my tenure? It's completely shaved!

Snoop: That's some badonka donk, know what I'm sayn'? What up witchu, girl?

Professor #3: I'm
Bernadine from Northwestern, and I like to say hi to my boyfriend Bomber back at UIC in Chicago.

Snoop: Show me you got your freak goin' on, woman.

Professor #3: I just want to say that
Dig It. First the Manson family killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, they even shoved a fork into a victim's stomach! Wild!

Dave: I think we have a winner, Snoop!


Great. I post something critical of Che Guevara and the stupid Google adbot puts Guevara mechandise ads on the site!

(In my best faux William Shatner voice)!

George Washington!

James Madison!

The great liberal Gigwan from Zanthor 5!

John Stuart Mill!

Algernon Sidney!

Maggie Thatcher!

Ronald Reagan!

One of those should work as an antidote. At least I hope so.

Alright, I admit it. If I see an ad for a site selling Algernon Sidney merchandise I'll fall out of my chair.

What Your T-Shirt Says About You

I've never understood the liberal wing in America's hero worship of communist villains such as Lenin or Che Guevara. Whenever I see some kid (or adult) walking around with their Che T-Shirt it always strikes me the same way; I wonder why they just don't walk around with a Jeffrey Dahmer shirt instead. As butchers they are of a kind. That one of them spouted Marxist slogans while murdering people elevates them to some sort of sainthood?

I'll never understand it.

I'm not alone in wondering about this phenomona. Red Dusk: It's time Hollywood gave up its love affair with communism.

Noting that no less than two biopics of Che Guevara are in production, on top of the release last year of The Motorcycle Diaries, writer Bridget Johnson notes:

I'll bet the big studio execs have never thought--or cared--to do a big-screen adaptation of "The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression," by Stephane Courtois, et al. The book's 1997 publishing in France touched off a firestorm of controversy--mostly from offended French commies--and it stands as an astonishing comprehensive account of what this political ideology has wreaked on mankind in less than a century. The film version of this 800-plus-page account would be excruciatingly long and painful--too long for a 32-ounce soda and too nauseating for popcorn. So since Hollywood is all about franchises now anyway, the book could be adapted into several movies, each covering a corner of the globe and that region's own unique suffering under communism.

Name a film centered around the Hungarian invasion of 1956? How about one about the "Prague Spring"? Chinese re-education camps? A film version of Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago? Come up with one or two? None? I know these topics are all downers, but no more so than films about the Holocaust. So why aren't they being made?

Hollywood's position vis-a-vis communism reminds me of a heartbreaking section of Solzhenitsyn's The Red Wheel: August 1914. In it an educated but naive character named Varya attepts to convince a young Anarcho-Commuist that she is on his side.

"You can rely on me!" Varya said, still more earnestly and enthusiastically, still leaning heavily on the counter, noticing briefly and forgetting at once that her bare elbow had crushed a stray smut from the Primus mender's booth.

People walked behind her. None of them was a would-be customer. She stood, elbows on the counter, head in hands, staring at the desperate anarchist. She remembered more.

"A revolutionary knows only the science of destruction...All tender feelings must be surpressed with cold passion...He is no revolutionary if he feels pity for anything in this world..."

Of course! It was so obvious! He had voluntarily renounced everything in this world. But surely a sympathetic friend would not be in his way? A disinterested helper? Varya, an orphan herself, understood only too well how lonely an orphan could be.

She looked closely at him. There was so much bitterness, so much pent-up suffering in his brooding, unshaven face and his dark stare.

Yet, all her sympathy for the Communist does her little good as the man takes her into a back room and rapes her.

Head Spinning Moment Of The Day

Grab your cranium, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

This paragraph comes from a preliminary report issued by the University of Colorado on angry white guy Ward Churchill. Enjoy!

The question of Professor Churchill's Indian status raises two separate but related issues. First, did Professor Churchill misrepresent his Indian status on an employment application and, as a result, gain an employment advantage? This question arose in 1994 when certain Indian leaders communicated with the University claiming, among other things, that Professor Churchill lied on his application about his Indian heritage. The then Boulder campus chancellor reviewed this complaint and concluded that University policy permitted self-identification. The chancellor noted that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took the position that observation and self identification are the most reliable indicators of ethnicity. The chancellor declined to pursue the matter. The question about Professor Churchill's employment application must be considered closed as a result of this ten-year old review.

Do you have a Master's degree but worry that you might not be hired for that tenure track position at a major research university without a Ph.D.? Well, why not improve your chances by taking advantage of generous affirmative actions opportunities? I myself will start applying for jobs at Colorado as a black female. Why not? As long as I self identify myself that way the university is bound by precedent to accept it. Why is that? Well, self indentification is the most accurate measure of ethnicity. So if I claim to be a black woman, despite the actual color of my skin and the fact I have a penis, that is most likely correct, right? Unbelievably, Colorado states this is what they think. Colorado even goes a step further to imply that actual evidence can be ignored. Phew! I was worried for a second that my white skin and my genitalia would get in the way of my university career as a black woman.

The stupidity of Colorado's position is breathtaking. It's almost beautifully stupid. Just take a moment to step back and marvel at it. You won't see its like very often.

Just think of its larger implications! As long as something is generally true you have to assume it is true in every specific instance, logic be damned! Contradicting evidence be damned! Just imagine all the interesting historical possibilities this can open up.

* It's generally true that world leaders do not engage in genocidal campaigns. Therefore we have to assume that Hitler and Pol Pot are not guilty of genocide.

* It's generally true that citizens do not rob banks. Therefore we can assume that no specific individual is a bank robber.

* It's generally true that terrorists do not hijack planes and fly them into buildings. Therefore it is safe to assume that no individual terrorist would do such a thing.

Isn't modern scholarship exciting?

The idea that it is the actual policy of the University of Colorado to remain open to fraud needs to be retired to some stupidity hall of fame. The idea that because a question was looked at (and swept under the rug) ten years ago it mandates that no new evidence can be looked at, is almost nearly as dumb. Incredible.

Colorado should change their mascot from the Buffaloes to the Deuling Stupidities.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Limits Of Space & Time (O.K. Just Time)

I've been meaning to write a little something about two thought provoking posts by Marc over at American Future (see, The EU and The Arabs, Part I and Part II). Unfortunately, I seem to be a little pressed for time this week so I doubt that I will be able to give it the serious attention it deserves, at least in the short run. I wanted to make sure that everyone who drops by here took the time to check them out.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Opinion Or Screed?

Granted, picking an intellectual argument with Maureen Dowd is a little unfair as she is unarmed, but it hasn't stopped me before. Her latest effort The Vatican Code is almost not worth the effort. Almost.

It evokes the Dan Quayle-Murphy Brown flap for a Vatican official to slam Dan Brown's fictional characters, but a former Vatican reporter explained it this way: "The church is founded on a story that some people believe and some people don't, so the Vatican tends to get very threatened by other versions of that story, especially racier ones."

Mr. Brown's zippy version has Jesus and Mary Magdalene marrying and having children. This "perverts the story of the Holy Grail, which most certainly does not refer to the descendants of Mary Magdalene," Cardinal Bertone said. "It astonishes and worries me that so many people believe these lies."

The novelist is not the first one to conjure romantic sparks between the woman usually painted as what one writer calls "the Jessica Rabbit of the Gospels" and the eligible young Jewish carpenter and part-time miracle worker.

For years, female historians and novelists have been making the case that Mr. Brown makes, that Mary Magdalene was framed and defamed, that the men who run Christianity obliterated her role as an influential apostle and reduced her to a metaphor for sexual guilt.

The church refuses to allow women to be ordained as priests because there were no female apostles. So if Mary Magdalene was a madonna rather than a whore, the church loses its fig leaf of justification for male domination and exclusion.

The utter vacuousness of comparing this with the Murphy Brown flap should be enough to send any thinking person to the sports page. And excuse me for doubting that Dowd has any credentials whatsoever to speak as a theologian. I am forced to wonder what exactly is her "fig leaf justification" for even calling herself an intellectual?

And, for a kicker:

After whipping you into a feminist frenzy over the hidden agenda of the church's unjustly perpetuating itself as an all-male, all "celibate" institution - precepts that have clearly led to some unnatural perversions and attracted a disproportionate number of priests fleeing sexual confusion

So according to Dowd, it is the Catholic Church that makes priests assault young boys. It's too stupid and openly bigoted to be believed, and very much at home in the Times. Arguing with Dowd would be like arguing with David Duke. It is simply pointless.

Over at Captain's Quarters they haven't thought it entirely pointless. In their nice post they present this handy list of some of the troubling anti-Catholic aspects of The Da Vinci Code that have caused this whole thing, including:

The problem is that many of the ideas that the book promotes are anything but fact, and they go directly to the heart of the Catholic faith. For example, the book promotes these ideas:

* Jesus is not God; he was only a man.

* Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene.

* She is to be worshiped as a goddess.

* Jesus got her pregnant, and the two had a daughter.

* That daughter gave rise to a prominent family line that is still present in Europe today.

* The Bible was put together by a pagan Roman emperor.

* Jesus was viewed as a man and not as God until the fourth century, when he was deified by the emperor Constantine.

* The Gospels have been edited to support the claims of later Christians.

* In the original Gospels, Mary Magdalene rather than Peter was directed to establish the Church.

* There is a secret society known as the Priory of Sion that still worships Mary Magdalene as a goddess and is trying to keep the truth alive.

* The Catholic Church is aware of all this and has been fighting for centuries to keep it suppressed. It often has committed murder to do so.

* The Catholic Church is willing to and often has assassinated the descendents of Christ to keep his bloodline from growing.

Catholics should be concerned about the book because it not only misrepresents their Church as a murderous institution but also implies that the Christian faith itself is utterly false.

Why exactly isn't the Catholic Church, or any other institution for that matter, entitled to defend itself from this kind of crap? Because such a defense would upset anti-Catholic bigots like Dowd? I'm sorry, but no one gets a free pass on their hatred. Not even Maureen Dowd of the New York Times.

On second thought maybe this is the Times and Dowd's way of telling all their Catholic readers "Happy %$#^ing Easter, You Dumb %$#holes."

Friday, March 25, 2005

Washington Post Smacks Dems On Nose

From the editorial Dishonest Debate:

Over the next 75 years, as the Social Security trustees reported on Wednesday, the program has a projected deficit of $4 trillion; the longer the nation waits to address this problem, the nastier the tax hikes or benefit reductions that will result. But that's not the impression conveyed by some Democratic leaders. The trustees' report, according to Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), "confirms that the so-called Social Security crisis exists in only one place: the minds of Republicans." The senator's desire to score political points is understandable. His willingness to do so by implying that Social Security is healthy is not.

Democrats defend this opportunism by saying the president is worse. President Bush, they complain, is talking up an alleged Social Security "crisis" in order to ram through an unrelated proposal to create personal accounts. But, in addressing Social Security, Mr. Bush is taking on an issue that the Clinton administration also regarded as important; he is not inventing a problem.


It is also true that Medicare poses more of a problem than Social Security. Mr. Bush dodges that larger problem, pretending that he put Medicare on the road to reform when, in fact, he and Congress mostly added to its fiscal problems by creating a new entitlement for drug reimbursements. But it's hard to take seriously the Democrats who say that Mr. Bush should switch focus from Social Security to the much bigger problem of Medicare: If they aren't willing to play a constructive role on the supposedly "minor" challenge of Social Security, why should anyone believe that they would behave constructively if the administration wanted to fix Medicare?

The nation faces a severe economic threat from the aging of its population combined with escalating health costs. The sooner it begins to grapple with this problem, the less painful the solution will be. For Mr. Bush, that would mean acknowledging the need for more revenue. For the Democrats, it would require for a smidgeon of honesty about Social Security's state.

I'd say the Post has it just about right. They might have added that the Dems play a dishonest game about the Medicare drug coverage as well. They complain that it is more expensive of a program than the Bush administration originally said it was going to be, but there is no indication that the Democrats would have done anything differently. If the Democrats are really against the drug benefit, which they obviously are not, they should speak up about it. Since when has an expansion in Medicare not been outrageously expensive? And since when have the Democrats not been on the side wanting to expand Medicare? (In case you didn't know the answers are "never" and "never.")

It seems clear that Bush is not going to get the Social Security "reform" he wants. The Democrats are now in a position where they might be able to wrangle real concessions from Bush and congressional Republicans. Why they instead prefer to stick their heads in the sand is anyone's guess. I'm fairly confident they could even get the Republicans to raise the income levels on Social Security tax above the $100,000 mark.

Why would that be a bad thing?

Trouble At HQ

It seems Al Qaeda isn't what it used to be. Head over to American Future to see why.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Displaying The Inability To Learn From History

Evidently, in Ames, Iowa (home of Iowa State University) they have a little celebration called Veishea which takes place every spring. There have been a few problems with the celebration over the years. Specifically, riots in 1988, 1992, 1994 and 2004. They are trying to keep these things from happening, which is fair enough, but I'm not sure officials have a grasp on things.

[ISU President Gregory Geoffroy] said Veishea will be held the weekend of April 22 next year. But he said changes will be made, including re-evaluating the event's no-alcohol policy. ISU officials first barred alcohol on campus during Veishea after Harold "Uri" Sellers, 19, of Monroe was stabbed to death outside a fraternity house at the end of Veishea in 1997.

"We will re-evaluate the 'dry Veishea' alcohol policy, which many believe has had unintended consequences of encouraging the growth of large off-campus parties," Geoffroy said....

Last April, students smashed windows, set fires and toppled lampposts at the end of Veishea weekend, after police broke up a large off-campus party one block west of Campustown. About 100 police, state troopers and sheriff's deputies used tear gas, pepper spray and batons against the mob.

O.K. So how are they proposing to keep something like this from happening again?

The task force on Nov. 30 made 15 recommendations, including stricter rules to prevent large unruly parties and rioting, better communication with students about rules, and more opportunities for underage students to socialize off campus.

Let me see if I've got this straight. A riot was caused last year by police attempting to break up a large party. The proposal to stop future riots is to crack down on more large parties.


I've been to many "large unruly" parties and in exactly none of them did a riot break out as a consequence. Riots tend to break out when there is some sort of provocation, like the police coming in to break up your party. Sending the cops in to break up every big party they see will only create an atmosphere of resentment that will fuel future troubles. Just see if it doesn't.

A similar thing happened at Southern Illinois University where official's attempts to "crack down" on unruly Halloween festivities in 1995 helped spark riots the following year. And those difficulties continue. Basically they turned a nuisance into a chronic rioting problem. Great job folks!

So, for all of you in Ames, sit back and watch history repeat itself. Again.

When The Blogosphere Gets Boring

Am I the only one that just can't stand the Schiavo case any longer? My God, I hate everything about it, from every sanctimonious pro-lifer pontificator to every bloodthirsty euthanasia enthusiast. You can't open a website without reading some MSM view or blogger's take on the matter. Which would be fine for a day or two, but two weeks and counting?


Wake me when it's over.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

My 5th Grade Teacher, The Wandering Vagrant

N.Y. Teacher Charged With Exam Hoax:

A Bronx schoolteacher was charged with coercing a former homeless man into taking his state certification exam for him, authorities said.

Wayne Brightly, 38, allegedly bullied a former college classmate into taking the exam in July, using a fake identification and Brightly's Social Security (news - web sites) card, the city Department of Education (news - web sites) said Tuesday.

Authorities said Brightly's stand-in was Rubin Leitner, 58. Leitner had met Brightly when the two were students at Brooklyn College in the late 1980s and had tutored him for the exam beginning in 2001 after Brightly failed at least twice, authorities said.

Leitner, who suffers from mental problems, scored so much higher than Brightly had on his previous attempts that authorities began to investigate.

I used to say that public schools might be better served hiring random people from off the streets. I didn't mean it literally.

Maybe it really couldn't be any worse.

On Being Consistently Inconsistent

Commenting on this piece from The Nation, Jon Henke from QandO makes the following observation:

That's funny, The Nation condemning Republicans for abdicating their principles, because, previously, The Nation felt differently about the whole State's Rights issue. When Thomas Jefferson had the idea for State's Rights, it was a pretty swell idea. When Republicans advocate State's Rights, though, it's almost always portrayed in The Nation as an excuse for racism.

Until now, of course, when The Nation trots out that noble principle of State's Rights. You'll forgive me if I'm less than impressed at their sudden concern.

I think Henke is exactly right. You heard similar complaints about the legal aftermath of the 2000 election. "Oh now they see an "equal protection" argument! Republicans never saw one before!" But, of course, that also cuts the other way. Democrats saw "equal protection" claims in everything, except when it was politically disadvantageous for them. At those times they found good old time state's rights religion. Yeah, I don't buy the conversion story either.

Here is a shocker, Democrats are neither better than nor more principled than Republicans. And vice versa.

It's a damn shame.

Be Careful Who You Boo Off The Stage

From the Chicago Sun-Times: Killer Poet Caught On West Side

In Chicago, J.J. Jameson's voice resonated deeply on poetry stages. He marched for peace and even helped set up chairs at community policing meetings in his Far West Side neighborhood.

But in Massachusetts, Jameson's story is a much darker tale of murder and jail break and a 20-year run from the law.

On Tuesday morning, Massachusetts authorities finally caught up with Jameson -- whose real name is Norman A. Porter Jr. -- and arrested the twice-convicted murderer. Porter was picked up at the West Side church where he worshipped after simply walking into the church office.

Porter, 65, appears to have been in Chicago for at least the past decade and possibly the whole time he's been a fugitive. He made a name for himself as a poet, local handyman and quirky neighbor. He occasionally talked of family and growing up on the East Coast, but neighbors said the anecdotes were short on details.

"This is a huge one,'' said Marc Smith, a Chicago poet. "It will be shocking to everybody and a little disconcerting. That's pretty wild.''


He had served 26 years in prison for the 1960 execution-style shooting of a clothing store clerk in Saugus, Mass., and the 1961 shooting death of a jail master at the Middlesex County Jail, where Porter was housed while waiting for his trial on the murder of the store clerk.

Porter attacked the jail employee during the jailbreak while another inmate, who also was breaking out, shot him, according to Massachusetts State Police. Porter was arrested a week later trying to rob a store in New Hampshire.

Once back behind bars, Porter earned an undergraduate degree from Boston University. He published poetry, founded a prison newspaper and by 1975 had his first life sentence commuted and began serving his second life sentence, according to Massachusetts state police.

He was transferred to Norfolk in September 1985, where he did maintenance work on prison grounds. In December, Porter walked away from the facility.

In various alerts issued over the years by Massachusetts, Porter is described as a diversely talented activist and poet. That much seems to have carried over to his life in Chicago, where he sometimes turned up at the city's well-known poetry slam at the Green Mill in Uptown.

"He was a total character,'' said Smith, who runs the slam. "The old anarchist. .. . If you tried to pin him down and be serious, he was going to [mess] with your mind.''

Smith said he loved watching Porter engage with the audience, who often booed him off during the sometimes raucous, loose slam. He said he was also sometimes hard to control.

More Support For Iraqi 2nd Amendment Rights

The Moderate Voice informs us of another instance of ordinary Iraqis taking up arms against the terrorist thugs in their country.

TMV Quoting the NY Times:

It was the first time that private citizens are known to have retaliated successfully against insurgents. There have been anecdotal reports of residents shooting at attackers after a bombing or assassination. But the gun battle today erupted in full view of half a dozen witnesses, including a Justice Ministry official who lives nearby.

Despite what the Times claims, it seems pretty clear that this isn't the first well documented case of this type of thing (see this for example).

Tangent: What exactly makes something anecdotal or non-anecdotal for the Times? By definition all news reporting is anecdotal. Maybe they mean that everything that the Times didn't bother to publish before isn't real in the same way what they choose to call "news" is real. It's interesting. Whatever language they are speaking over at the New York Times it isn't exactly English.

Back to our original story.

Joe Gandleman from TMV offers these thoughts:

Basically, what this seems to indicate is that Iraqis are starting to get their political feet on the ground and feel a sense of ownership in their new society. And they are defending it against those who want to either turn the clock back two years to The Bad 'Ol Days of Sadaam...and against those who would like to turn it back a few centuries, to be like the late, unlamented Afghani Taliban regime. Bad news for anti-democratic forces...but a suggestion that the U.S. is now closer to the day when the Iraqis will be running their whole country themselves.

I hope he is right.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Strange Nice Things

From Technorati I have learned that The Iconic Midwest is the "Blog Of The Day" at the Blog Para Lectores De Espanol from Ecuador (or at least run by someone from Ecuador.)



Babies As Necessary Evils

I'm not one for demographic predictions of gloom and doom. Ever since I went to college in the 80's I've heard about and read about this or that dire demographic catastrophe that was right around the corner. Well, we've been turning corners for thirty years and all we've found are other corners to turn.

I've heard people say that there are just too many people on the earth and it just won't sustain the numbers anymore, or it won't once we turn that corner. Now I read that the real trouble is that there won't be enough westerners to stave their (and our) civilizations from collapse.

It isn't that I don't believe that demographics can have profound effects. Everybody in my age cohort can see that if they look around. I was born in 1968. That places me in a generation that doesn't enjoy the sheer weight of numbers that the Baby Boomers enjoy in America, or those in what they call the Boomlet. As a result our generation could be best called "demographically challenged." There just isn't enough of us to cast a very long shadow over our political society or our consumer economy. You will see what I mean in a few years time when during PBS pledge drives the early prime time programming lineup will feature Crosby, Stills & Nash and The Moody Blues, and the late prime time will lineup feature Pearl Jam and Green Day. It will be as if nothing came in between.

I ramble.

Anyway, I was reading this piece from Mark Steyn (The Strange Death Of The Liberal West) and I came up on this section:

Almost every issue facing the EU - from immigration rates to crippling state pension liabilities - has at its heart the same glaringly plain root cause: a huge lack of babies. I could understand a disinclination by sunny politicians to peddle doom and gloom were it not for the fact that, in all other areas of public policy, our rulers embrace doomsday scenarios at the drop of a hat. Most 20-year projections - on global warming, fuel resources, etc - are almost laughably speculative. They fail to take into account the most important factor of all - human inventiveness: "We can't feed the world!" they shriek. But we develop more efficient farming methods with nary a thought. "The oil will run out by the year 2000!" But we develop new extraction methods and find we've got enough oil for as long as we'll need it.

But human inventiveness depends on humans - and that's the one thing we really are running out of. When it comes to forecasting the future, the birth rate is the nearest thing to hard numbers. If only a million babies are born in 2005, it's hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2025 (or 2033, or 2041, or whenever they get around to finishing their Anger Management, Systemic Racism and Gay Studies degrees). If that's not a political issue, what is? To cite only the most obviously affected corner of the realm, what's the long-term future of the Scottish National Party if there are no Scottish nationals?

When I've mentioned the birth dearth on previous occasions, pro-abortion correspondents have insisted it's due to other factors - the generally declining fertility rates that affect all materially prosperous societies, or the high taxes that make large families prohibitively expensive in materially prosperous societies. But this is a bit like arguing over which came first, the chicken or the egg - or, in this case, which came first, the lack of eggs or the scraggy old chicken-necked women desperate for one designer baby at the age of 48. How much of Europe's fertility woes derive from abortion is debatable. But what should be obvious is that the way the abortion issue is framed - as a Blairite issue of personal choice - is itself symptomatic of the broader crisis of the dying West.

I read this and I tried to come up, not with exceptions to this or that assumption of Steyn's or this or that statistic of his, but with a different way to frame the issue he is talking about. I've not been able to do it. I believe he is framing the issue fairly and, more importantly, in a non-ideological fashion.

It is hard not to come to the conclusion that the drift in our society is towards viewing babies as necessary evils, and maybe not even as necessary. I don't mean this in a "pro-choice vs. pro-life" manner. The change in western society from the day that families routinely had 7-10 children to the day that families had 2-4 children does seem to be explained sufficiently by the rising living standards. The shift from 7-10 children to 2-4 children didn't necessarily mean that societies were thinking differently about children in the abstract. However, the change in societies from families of 2-4 children to "families" with one or none does seem to have engendered a fundamentally different view of children.

It's also hard not to view this as true when you read the following (also from Steyn):

In Britain, two doctors escape prosecution for aborting an otherwise healthy baby with a treatable cleft palate because the authorities are satisfied they acted "in good faith". You can read similar stories in almost any corner of the developed world, except perhaps the Netherlands, where discretionary euthanasia is so advanced it's news if the kid makes it out of the maternity ward. As the New York Times reported the other day: "Babies born into what is certain to be a brief life of grievous suffering should have their lives ended by physicians under strict guidelines, according to two doctors in the Netherlands.

"The doctors, Eduard Verhagen and Pieter J. J. Sauer of the University Medical Center in Groningen, in an essay in today's New England Journal of Medicine, said they had developed guidelines, known as the Groningen protocol."

Ah, the protocols of the elders of science. Odd the way scientists have such little regard for scientific progress. It's highly likely that many birth defects - not just the bilateral cleft lips - will be treatable and correctible in the next decade or two. But once you start weighing the relative values of individual lives, there's no end to it. Much of that derives from the way abortion has redefined life - as a "choice", an option

It just struck me as strange that we have doctors that seem to believe that a baby born with a birth defect is, in effect, struggling to die as opposed to fighting to live. At least that is the best face we can put on the matter. The harsh reality seems more likely to be that, for us modern western adults, if we are going to "endure the evils of raising children" we should at least not have to put up with the defective variety. This is especially true if we only plan to have a single child.

The Catholic marriage rites have a moment when the bride and groom are asked if they will accept the children that God may grant them as an integral part of their life together. I wonder now if that language doesn't sound merely strange and archaic to our ears but positively alien. That children might come naturally as a result of marriage simply doesn't make sense in a society that views every child as a choice, and a reluctant and grudging one at that.

And before I get emails or comments from people saying how they personally really want 25 children, and so on, let me state again I'm talking about the drift of our entire society in general. I also am not exempting myself from this drift. I am 36 years old, and I have no children. Now, I've never been married either, but it is not so easy for me to let myself off the hook. Now, maybe for the unmarried man the thought of fathering children will always be intertwined with thoughts of horror. But can I honestly say that doesn't also mask a view of babies as necessary evils? I desperately wish I had an unequivocal answer to that. I'm not sure I do.

Maybe there is nothing so insidious as thoughts of our own comfort.

Quantifying My Dorkiness

Thanks to Monty Python I can score quite well in some of the standard measures of dorkiness.

In Entertainment Weekly's Ten Question Monty Python quiz I correctly answered 9 of the 10 question, making me, according to their scale, "A Killer Bunny." I don't know if I should be relieved that I didn't get every question correct, or disturbed that I'm bothered by the fact that I got one wrong.

Ah well, it's people like me what cause unrest.

(Gleaned from DougPetch)

Monday, March 21, 2005

"Nobody Here But Us Non Anti-Catholics!"

In the midst of this post complaining that the Vatican is crying wolf when it complains about anti-Catholic bigotry in The Da Vinci Code, the following is stated on the left-leaning People's Republic Of Seabrook:

To be honest, I don't think anti-Catholic prejudice truly has ANYTHING to do with this issue. I do think that it has EVERYTHING to do with the collective paranoia of Vatican leadership. Let's face it; what we have here is a collection of old, out-of-touch, celibate men who have no clue about the realities of day to day life that all of us face. They feel threatened by anything new and different that can be perceived, even tangentially, as threatening their control of and dominion over millions of Catholics worldwide. In the end, it's about power, it's about control, and ultimately- repeat after me, kids- IT'S ABOUT MONEY.

Oh, I see. Evidently, the problem with The Da Vinci Code was that it was not anti-Catholic enough. Thanks for clarifying.

Hippity Hoppity Community Service Is On Its Way

From the Des Moines Register: Hopping-mad Easter Bunny faces charges

A Council Bluffs cottontail hopped down the bunny trail to jail on multiple harassment charges Saturday.

Police were dispatched to Mall of the Bluffs in response to a call of disturbance by a man dressed as the Easter Bunny.

Officers found Michael J. Desantiago Sr., 36, of Carter Lake, who told them he was working as the Easter Bunny at a photo area when somebody threw water and other items at him. He said he became frustrated, left the area to change clothes, and returned to tell a co-worker he was leaving. He said the employee yelled at him and called security.

The photo employee and a witness said Desantiago threatened to kill them.

Officers took Desantiago into custody and charged him with two counts of second-degree harassment.

Can't you just hear the prison banter?

"What you in for?"

"Well, you see, first my bunny suit got wet......"

Getting Caught Telling The Truth

From a nice piece by John Fund of the WSJ on the "Pew bought McCain-Finegold Travesty" (its new official name here at the Iconic Midwest): Astroturf Politics

If a political gaffe consists of inadvertently revealing the truth, then Sean Treglia, a former program officer for the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts, has just ripped the curtain off of the "good government" groups that foisted the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill on the country in 2002. The bill's restrictions on political speech have the potential for great mischief; just last month a member of the Federal Election Commission warned they could limit the activities of bloggers and other Internet commentators.

What Mr. Treglia revealed in a talk last year at the University of Southern California is that far from representing the efforts of genuine grass-roots activists, the campaign finance reform lobby was controlled and funded by liberal foundations like Pew. In a tape obtained by the New York Post, Mr. Treglia tells his USC audience they are going to hear a story he can reveal only now that campaign finance reform has become law. "The target audience for all this [foundation] activity was 535 people in [Congress]," Mr. Treglia says in his talk. "The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot. That everywhere [Congress] looked, in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about reform."

The truth was far different. Mr. Treglia admits that campaign-finance supporters had to try to hoodwink Congress because "they had lost legitimacy inside Washington because they didn't have a constituency that would punish Congress if they didn't vote for reform."

But that's O.K. because we have a free and independent press that just loves to go after groups that would attempt to do such things. Right?

Reporters are used to attempts to hoodwink officials into thinking an issue is genuinely popular, and they frequently expose them. But when "good government" groups like the Center for Public Integrity engage in the same tactics, journalists usually ignore it. Perhaps that's because Washington media types overwhelmingly wanted McCain-Feingold to pass.


The efforts of Pew and the other liberal foundations, which include George Soros's Open Society Institute and the Carnegie Corp., were aided by the news media's complicity. The American Prospect, a liberal magazine, put out a special issue on campaign finance reform in 2000 that was paid for by a $132,000 Carnegie grant--a fact the magazine failed to disclose.

National Public Radio openly accepted $1.2 million from liberal foundations to provide such items as "coverage of financial influence in political decision-making." Its campaign finance reporter, Peter Overby, is a former editor of the magazine put out by Common Cause, a major supporter of McCain-Feingold. No one suggests there was direct collusion between NPR and campaign finance lobbies. With the money and personnel available to NPR, there didn't need to be. Sympathetic stories on the need for campaign finance reform flowed naturally.

I have to say all of this dovetails nicely with my own experiences. I've never met a single person that seemed to be worried about campaign finance reform as an issue. Oh, it's an issue now, but only as the cause of (and not the solution to) our problems.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Maybe I'm Just Oblivious

There has been some concern voiced about us poor souls that do our blogging via Blogger. (For example read or The Glittering Eye.) It maybe just that I've been away this week and didn't experience outrageous difficulties, but I'm not sure what all the hand-ringing is about. I've had no serious issues, although there have been the occasional minor troubles. Since November I've lost maybe three posts. Annoying? Yes. The end of the world? Hardly. What amazes me is how complacent people have become about computer technology. If I put a lot of time and effort into a bit of my online writing I back it up, exactly as I have always done with my offline writing. Evidently that places me into a distinct minority.

The thought of paying for a blogging service fills me with a sort of dread. Oh, I can see myself maybe getting my own domain name for the blog at some point in the future, but it is sort of like how I envision myself visiting St. Petersburg; It will probably happen but God only knows when. The dread part of the equation comes in when you talk about paying for a blog service because that would be a sure sign that I was treating this as more than a hobby. Right now it is a hobby that takes time but no money. That seems to be a fair trade off. Working on the blog helps keep me informed and actively engaged with ideas, as well as offering me the chance to improve my writing through sheer repetition. (Ooo! Me write English good!) As a result I watch far less television. (A pretty good win-win no?) However, if I start outlaying cash to keep on blogging, well that changes the dynamic a bit. It turns from being a win-win situation to being a simple transaction. It is a transaction that might remain worthwhile, but it might not. Likewise, it is the sort of transaction that would need to be constantly re-evaluated. The time may come where I get back far less than I put into it. It is the kind of worry I'd rather avoid.

Maybe I'd feel differently if I were getting a couple of hundred visitors on a good day as opposed to a couple of dozen. I tend to doubt that I would feel differently. If that day ever comes I'll let you know if my mind changes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Departures (Mine)

I'm off for a few days. It is spring break time and I will be without the Internet until the weekend. I'm headed south. Unfortunately, only about 60 miles south, so I will have to leave the swimming trucks at home. (That's what happens when you live in west central Minnesota.)

Were I too be blogging this week, I'm certain I would have talked about:

Harvard As Transylvania (only Transylvania didn't have an intellectual reputation to squander in the first place.)

Question: Has anyone here ever met a truly impressive academic with a Harvard Ph.D.? I haven't.

If Lebanon were a red state/blue state thing what color would Hezbollah be?

If Susan Estrich were really a feminist, would still nobody care?

For a second I thought I was the only one who thought The Futureheads sounded a little like Devo.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A Supreme Mouthing Off

Antonin Scalia has a few tings to say:

"If you think aficionados of a living Constitution want to bring you flexibility, think again," Scalia told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington think tank. "You think the death penalty is a good idea? Persuade your fellow citizens to adopt it. You want a right to abortion? Persuade your fellow citizens and enact it. That's flexibility."

"Why in the world would you have it interpreted by nine lawyers?" he said.

Scalia, who has been mentioned as a possible chief justice nominee should Chief Justice William Rehnquist retire, outlined his judicial philosophy of interpreting the Constitution according to its text, as understood at the time it was adopted.

Citing the example of abortion, he said unelected justices too often choose to read new rights into the Constitution, at the expense of the democratic process.

"Abortion is off the democratic stage. Prohibiting it is unconstitutional, now and forever, coast to coast, until I guess we amend the Constitution," said Scalia, who was appointed to the court by President Reagan in 1986.

He blamed Chief Justice Earl Warren, who presided from 1953-69 over a court that assaulted racial segregation and expanded individual rights against arbitrary government searches, for the increased political role of the Supreme Court, citing Warren's political background. Warren was governor of California and the Republican vice presidential nominee in 1948.

"You have a chief justice who was a governor, a policy-maker, who approached the law with that frame of mind. Once you have a leader with that mentality, it's hard not to follow," Scalia said, in response to a question from the audience.

Scalia said increased politics on the court will create a bitter nomination fight for the next Supreme Court appointee, since judges are now more concerned with promoting their personal policy preferences rather than interpreting the law.

"If we're picking people to draw out of their own conscience and experience a 'new' Constitution, we should not look principally for good lawyers. We should look to people who agree with us," he said, explaining that's why senators increasingly probe nominees for their personal views on positions such as abortion.

"When we are in that mode, you realize we have rendered the Constitution useless," Scalia said.

Scalia often gets criticized for not living up to the consitutional ideals he espouses. Sometimes, it is argued, he will impose his personal policy preferences just like every other Supreme Court justice. Maybe that is true, maybe it isn't. But even if you come to the conclusion that Scalia does falter sometimes, isn't it better to have justices that are inconsistently right as opposed to justices that are consistently wrong?

Paper. Printed On. Being Not Worth It.

You are going to see stories floating around about this (so-called) survey: An Annual Report on American Journalism. I'll print an exerpt of their methodology and you tell me if it looks like a good way of doing things.

To assess the nature of the 24-hour news cycle as presented on cable news programming, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC were selected because they were the three most-viewed cable news channels in 2003.

For the twenty-day sample, we selected three program types to study at each network: Daytime programming, the closest thing to a traditional newscast, and the highest-rated prime time talk show. The following programs were captured and analyzed:


The 11-to-12 o'clock hour for each network


CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown

FOX's Special Report with Brit Hume

MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann


CNN's Larry King Live

FOX's O'Reilly Factor

MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews

How many of these strike people as straight news programs? My answer is almost none. Maybe the CNN and MSNBC 11-12 shows, certainly not that awful "Dayside" program on Fox.

To top it off these are some of the results they get.

In the degree to which journalists are allowed to offer their own opinions, Fox stands out. Across the programs studied, nearly seven out of ten stories (68%) included personal opinions from Fox's reporters -- the highest of any outlet studied by far.

Just 4% of CNN segments included journalistic opinion, and 27% on MSNBC.

Let me see if I've got this right: This study's assesment of CNN news is 2/3 made up on Aaron Brown's Newsnight and Larry King Live and they could only find 4% of the segments that included journalistic opinion? I watch Newsnight all the time and if you cannot find Aaron Brown's opinions all over it you are not looking.

Besides is comparing Larry King's program with O'Reilly's really fair? Larry will spend whole shows talking to teachers who sleep with their students or with actors or other non-news type folks. Wouldn't it have made more sense to add Lou Dobbs' program instead?

It looks like, to this observer, that the people who ran this survey found exactly what they set out to find.

For The Googley Challenged

DougPetch examines Atrios and finds him lacking.

Over at Eschaton, This post by Atrios caught my attention. Specifically this observation - ...

but I did spend a few minutes trying to track down the wingnut communications post from which he got his claim that "between 2011 and 2016, Social Security outlays will exceed revenue by $32 billion." Usually this kind of wingnuttery bubbles up from somewhere, but I couldn't find it anywhere except Will's column.

But, hey, I'm just a silly blogger who doesn't have any editors. Will's editors appear to be asleep.

Never one to ignore an implied challenge, I spent even less than a few minutes on Google and was able to find this .pdf document (it was the fourth result listed, by the way) dated March 7 2005 and written by Judd Gregg, the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

Atrios, thy editor's name is Doug Petch.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Is It Just Me...

...Or does this AP headline seem wrongheaded? Thousands March Against Syria in Beirut. Especially when in the body of the article you learn the following:

Monday's protest easily surpassed a pro-government rally of hundreds of thousands of people last week by the Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah. That show of strength forced the opposition to try to regain its momentum.

While there were no official estimates of the size of the crowd, Lebanon's leading LBC TV station and some police officers estimated it at about 1 million people. The officers refused to speak publicly because it was an opposition rally. An Associated Press estimate by reporters on the scene put the number at much higher than the approximately 500,000 who attended the March 8 pro-Syrian rally.

This really is the factual basis for the headline "Thousands March Against Syria In Beirut"?

I can't wait for baseball season to begin so we can all see the AP headline "Dozens Attend Red Sox Opener."

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Wilson's Creek Ltd.

The weekend St. Louis Post-Dispatch also delivers this depressing story: Preservationists struggle to hold ground at Wilson's Creek site

The field of the Civil War's second major battle is a tranquil country refuge, its low rolling prairie and commanding ridge largely unchanged since peace was restored.

But just to the west, screened from view by only a low hill, are clanking bulldozers and rapid-fire nail guns. They herald the progress that is grinding its way toward the 1,750 acres of Wilson's Creek National Battlefield. The vanguard of new homes is a half-mile away and closing.

On the planning table are drawings for the biggest advance yet - a development of 2,500 homes on 2,240 acres adjoining the southwestern boundary of the National Park Service battlefield. A smaller subdivision already is being positioned to its northeast. Individual homes are popping up along the east flank.

One mile to the north is the 140-acre site for a new high school that's planned.

Park Superintendent Ted Hillmer Jr. and the park's defenders, including the mother of Gov. Matt Blunt, are raising the alarm: Fast-moving suburban growth threatens the pastoral setting of an important place in American history.

"I'd like to make this whole thing go away, but that won't happen," Hillmer said. "We want to work with the players to protect our mission, which is to preserve this place for future generations. Once something gets built, there will be pressure for more. And more.

"I know we all have to live in houses, but they're not making any more Civil War battlefields."

This hits close to home for me. I've always considered the Wilson's Creek National Park to be the single best civil war battlefield that I've seen in the country. I've been to probably a couple dozen of battlefield, from the big name places like Antietam and Gettysburg to little known skirmishes like that of Parker's Crossroads, Tennessee, and in many ways there is no question that Wilson's Creek is unique. A big part of that is due to the fact that it was largely ignored for a good long while. It is also a fairly compact battlefield that allows for anyone walking the field to get a real feel for what happened there.

It is also the site where Gen. Nathaniel Lyon, a personal hero of mine, was shot and killed leading Union forces.

Even putting aside their historical importance places like Wilson's Creek are intensely beautiful places. I often get the feeling that, for most Americans, parks like Yellowstone or Yosemite are considered the "real" National Parks while the battlefield parks are strictly second class affairs, places for local school field trips and "nutty" re-enactors. This is a shame as nearly all of the battlefield parks offer wonderful recreational facilities and natural history right along with the military variety. If some developer was planning on putting a subdivision and a few strip malls at the doorstep of Yellowstone a lot of people would be (rightfully) up in arms. Those same folks should get just as involved at the Wilson's Creek's of the world.

So many of the battlefield areas across the country are gone forever already. Anybody who has tried to visit the sites associated with the battle of Chancellorsville has had to feel slightly horrified as they travel from shopping mall parking lot to shopping mall parking lot looking for a few historical markers. It seems like such a dishonorable way to treat the memory of the people who breathed their last on those spots.

I'm not asking for those malls to be torn down and everything set back the way it was. I know that is impossible. All I'm asking is for the few acres we have set aside to be protected. That is not impossible. All it calls for is a little respect for something other than the almighty dollar.

Then again, maybe that is asking the impossible.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Stripin' It Old School

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Whatever Happened To Evelyn West?

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - When a police officer climbed through a rear bedroom window of a cream-colored duplex at 708 Columbus Parkway on Nov. 14, he found the body of a St. Louis legend.

Amy Charles had not been seen for several days. Friends from Tampa, Fla. - those who had known her in her heyday - had called and e-mailed repeatedly but got no response. They called the police, who found the door locked and no one to answer the knock.

As it turned out, Charles had died in her sleep. Nearby were medications for thyroid and heart problems. Officer William Comeford filed his report - death apparently from natural causes - and returned to business as usual.

He ignored the clues that this 83-year-old woman once had been famous. They could be found in the stacks of provocative photographs all about her quarters; three bedrooms stacked with boxes that made it impossible to walk through the rooms. Some contained the outfits she donned backstage and then discarded onstage to the cheers of hundreds each night.

Amy Charles was known in St. Louis as Evelyn "$50,000 treasure chest" West. Her chief claim to fame: her 39 1/2-inch bust that Lloyds of London insured for the $50K. She performed twice nightly in a striptease act at the Stardust Club on the old DeBaliviere Strip, just north of Forest Park and its Jefferson Memorial. In St. Louis in the '50s and '60s, her name was as familiar to male adolescents and young adults as that of Stan Musial, though, of course, the two inspired different forms of adulation.

Go read the whole, nicely done, article.

It may have been a bit before my time, but I've always honored my elders. If you are rated up there with Stan the Man who could argue with that? I'll raise a glass soon to a lady who was truly iconic in the Midwest.

Just Desserts

It looks like noted white guy Ward Churchill will not be getting his big cash settlement after all, thank the gods. From The Rocky mountain News: Claims of plagiarism, threat stall Churchill buyout negotiations

Allegations that University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill plagiarized and threatened a professor in Canada scuttled negotiations Friday for a financial settlement that would have ended Churchill's employment at CU.

Churchill and the university were close to an agreement that would have required the professor to give up his tenured position in exchange for a substantial payment, but several sources said a report in Friday's Rocky Mountain News disrupted those talks.

The News has also learned that a prominent American Indian artist told law enforcement authorities in New Mexico that Churchill threatened violence against him.

The Friday story detailed accusations against Churchill by a professor at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. Professor Fay G. Cohen complained in 1997 that Churchill had plagiarized an essay she wrote on Indian treaty fishing rights. After she made the allegation, Cohen says, Churchill phoned her in the middle of the night and said, "I'll get you for this."

Dalhousie officials sent CU an internal report this week about the 1997 allegations. A spokesman for Dalhousie said Cohen decided not to pursue her allegation of plagiarism after being threatened.

Churchill said he did not plagiarize Cohen's work, nor threaten the Canadian professor.

Oh you didn't, eh?

From the introduction to the conclusion, Ward Churchill's essay on Indian treaty fishing rights mirrors one he edited the year before by Canadian professor Fay G. Cohen:

• Cohen wrote: "The treatied people of the Northwest endured more than a century of denial of their rights."

• Churchill wrote: "In the Northwest, despite clear treaty language permanently ensuring such prerogatives, treatied people suffered more than a century of systematic deprivation of their rights to fish."

• Cohen wrote: "In recent years, the treaty tribes of the United States have moved closer to regaining their rights to harvest and manage fish and other resources. Strong legal rulings have supported their claims to harvest and manage the natural resources upon which they depended for centuries."

• Churchill wrote: "After decades of conflict, the treatied people of the United States are moving closer to regaining their rights to harvest and manage fish and other resources. In recent years, strong legal rulings have confirmed their claims to the natural resources upon which they depended since time immemorial."

O.K. Mr. Churchill, we have established that you are a liar. Now why should we take your word over Prof. Cohen's?

[Beware! Categorical statement ahead!] Anyone who defends Churchill now is an idiot.

(Gleaned from QandO)

"I'll Grant You Reality." Gee, Thanks.

Nick Kristoff of the NY Times recognizes the nose on his face: "I Have A Nightmare"

I was once an environmental groupie, and I still share the movement's broad aims, but I'm now skeptical of the movement's "I Have a Nightmare" speeches.

In the 1970's, the environmental movement was convinced that the Alaska oil pipeline would devastate the Central Arctic caribou herd. Since then, it has quintupled.

When I first began to worry about climate change, global cooling and nuclear winter seemed the main risks. As Newsweek said in 1975: "Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend ... but they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century."

This record should teach environmentalists some humility. The problems are real, but so is the uncertainty. Environmentalists were right about DDT's threat to bald eagles, for example, but blocking all spraying in the third world has led to hundreds of thousands of malaria deaths.

Likewise, environmentalists were right to warn about population pressures, but they overestimated wildly. Paul Ehrlich warned in "The Population Bomb" that "the battle to feed humanity is over. ... Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death." On my bookshelf is an even earlier book, "Too Many Asians," with a photo of a mass of Indians on the cover. The book warns that the threat from relentlessly multiplying Asians is "even more grave than that of nuclear warfare."

If it were just these handful of cases I might cut them some slack, but there are dozens of other "nightmare" scenarios that also haven't taken place.

A current one you hear about is that ocean levels will rise dramatically and inundate places like miami and New York by the end of the 21st century. So I went looking for the data on ocean level rise. All over the internet you can see a stat that over the last 100 years ocean levels have risen from 4 to 8 inches. I've tried to find the original souce for that data, but I haven't been all that succesful. I did find this from the Meteorlogical Service of Canada's website:

Tide gauges along the Eurasian coastline suggest a regional mean sea level rise since 1950 of about 1.8 mm/yr, increasing to 5.8 mm/yr since 1980. Much of these variations can be explained by changes in Arctic Ocean circulation and atmospheric pressure patterns, which may in turn be linked to global climate change. Globally, key tidal gauges suggest ocean levels have risen by 1.4 mm/yr over the past 40 years. However, model studies project that sea level rise due to thermal expansion alone during the period should be only about 0.5 mm/yr. One plausible explanation for this difference is that the paucity of tidal gauges in many regions of the world's oceans may be resulting in significant error in the measured data. Recent satellite altimeter data, for example, appear to be much closer to that simulated by models. Changes in ocean circulation and atmospheric pressure patterns may also have a significant influence on regional tide gauge data.

If this is the key information that people are using to predict ocean level rises, I think Manhattan can rest easy. This admits they don't have a lot of data, what data they do have cannot be directly related to global warming as such, and there are a lot of other factors that need to be accounted for in interpreting the data. In other words, there is a lot that isn't known yet.

Is it too much to ask for people to not make hysterical pronouncements until after they have all the scientific information at hand?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Site Rebuild

As returning visitors should recognize, the Iconic Midwest has gone through another permutation. I basically rebuilt the site from the ground up. As my HTML skills are less than perfect, there may be bits that aren't exactly working right. If you come across something malfunctioning please leave a comment or drop me an email.

The good thing now is that I'm the only blog that looks like this. I was tired of being one of the crowd.

Having It Both Ways

Here is a pretty typical piece of sophistry from The Nation: Filibustering the Truth

Myth 1: Judicial filibusters are unconstitutional. Frist and other Republicans adamantly argue that efforts to challenge Bush's judicial nominees via filibuster are unconstitutional. This past November Frist said, "After much debate and compromise, the Framers concluded that the President should have the power to appoint. And the Senate should confirm or reject appointments by a simple majority vote. This is 'advice and consent.'"

Frist and company love talking about the Constitution and what the Framers intended. But they should get their facts straight. There is nothing in the Constitution requiring the Senate to "confirm or reject appointments by a simple majority vote." The Appointments Clause of the Constitution requires the consent of the Senate before judicial nominees are appointed. The Rules of Proceedings Clause gives the Senate the power to determine the method of consent. It doesn't matter how many times Frist says it: There is no requirement for the Senate to confirm or reject a nomination. No vote means no consent: And that's OK.

I'll grant every single sentence above, but where would that get Democrats? Exactly nowhere. Just as there is nothing in the Constitution "requiring the Senate to confirm or reject appointments by a simple majority vote," there is also nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the Republicans changing the procedure to stop the filibusters from happening in the first place. There is no requirement that any given group of Senators must be given the chance to filibuster whenever they feel like it. By the very rules of parliamentary procedure the majority run the show: And that's OK.

In fact, Paez was only one of at least six filibusters Republicans attempted during the Clinton years. Senator Orrin Hatch and others argue that these filibusters don't count because they ultimately weren't successful in blocking the nominees. All that proves, however, is that Clinton's nominees were moderate enough to secure sixty votes. It also suggests the remedy to Bush's problem: Stop nominating extremist judges to the federal bench.

Here I will just point out that logically this needn't be true. Given this situation it is as logical to assume that it is the minority blocking the nomination that is extremist. In fact, given that the nominations are supported by a majority opinion in the Senate, it would seem more likely that it is the minority opinion that is extremist. At least in the realm of logic this is so.

In reality, given that the positions of the Senators in these cases are determined not by an appraisal of the merits of the nominees involved, but by the political party affiliation of each Senator, it is safer to conclude that each side is being "extremist." I would be forced to ask the authors, why are Democratic extremists to be preferred to Republican extremists?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

GOP Time Travelers Attempt To Influence 1936 Election

Thanks to the tireless pursuits of internet "bloggers" a devious plot to influence the course of the 1936 presidential election has been uncovered. Phase one of the plan was initiated on Fox News by so-called newsman Brit Hume (GOP code-name: "The Mumble Monkey") on his cable television show. Hume's deliberate distortion of FDR's statements on Social Security provided the basis for a GOP plan to travel back to 1936 and boost the campaign of Alf Landon.

"This was a stroke of genius," stated one Republican booster, "It gave us the perfect opportunity to label FDR a flip-flopper!"

Working under the aegis of the High Energy Physics Group at the University of Texas at Arlington (you really thought Bush was working for the Rangers?? Grow up!) the GOP perfected time travel only in the last year.

"We've only done small trial runs to this point," stated another anonymous Republican involved. "We brought back a modern word processor to the 1970's and let them use it in a Texas National Guard office for a day, but that is small potatoes compared to what were planning to do next."

During the present historical timeline Franklin Roosevelt punished Republican presidential candidate Alf Landon by a whopping 11 million votes. But Republican operatives believe they could have dramatically altered that timeline.

The Dastardly Landon.

"C'mon! We would have shown up in 1936 from the future with proof that FDR was a no good lying prevaricating huckster! His campaign would have floundered from there."

"Damn those bloggers!", she added in a rising state of fury.

The ever increasing din of those calling for the resignation of Brit Hume shows no sign of abating.

"Well you see, man," explained proto neo-beat Oliver Willis, "We just can't, you know man, handle cats that would attribute things to people without the proper contextualization. Can you dig it?" Yes, we can dig it.

When told of the exacts lengths that the Republicans were willing to go in their time travel scheme Willis responded with a heartfelt "That's far out man! Would you like to see my etchings?"

Would you like to see my etchings, indeed.

Carry on the good fight brave soldier.

"Academic Freedom For Us. Not For You."

The sad but typical case of Phil Mitchell, Ph.D. from The Denver Post: A CU Prof Deserving Of Sympathy

He began teaching history in 1984, and in 1998, Mitchell won the prestigious SOAR Award for teacher of the year.

Recently, William Wei, director of the Sewall Academic Program, let Mitchell know that CU would not be renewing his contract after this year because "his teaching was not up to the department standards."

(While Wei confirmed this to me, Joyce Nielsen, associate dean for Social Sciences, denies she gave that reasoning for Mitchell's deal.)

As a conservative, and even worse, a ghastly evangelical Christian, Mitchell wondered how he lasted this long.

"I've had enough. I am clearly being closed out for political or religious reasons," Mitchell says. "I am one of the top-rated professors in the history of the department."

Wei, hardly a conservative, says that in his perspective, "Phil is a great person, a good teacher and highly regarded by his students."

Faculty course questionnaires confirm what students think of him. You'll be hard-pressed to find anything but an A+.

But it's never been easy.

Mitchell taught at the Hallett Diversity Program for 24 straight semesters. That is, until he made the colossal error of actually presenting a (gasp!) diverse opinion, quoting respected conservative black intellectual Thomas Sowell in a discussion about affirmative action.

Sitting 5 feet from a pink triangle that read "Hate-Free Zone," the progressive head of the department berated Mitchell, calling him a racist.

"That would have come as a surprise to my black children," explains Mitchell, who has nine kids, as of last count, two of them adopted African-Americans.

Then, Mitchell had the audacity to use a book on liberal Protestantism in the late 19th century. So repulsed by the word "god" was one student, she complained, and the department chair fired him without a meeting, he said.

Was there a protest for academic freedom? Bullhorns? Power to the people?

Conceivably, if Mitchell would have used a less-offensive book - say the Churchill classic "Perversions of Justice" (Ward's hobby?) - he could have rallied the Kool-Aid brigade lickety split.

In time, Mitchell was reinstated but was never able to teach in the history department again.

"People say liberals run the university. I wish they did," Mitchell says. "Most liberals understand the need for intellectual diversity. It's the radical left that kills you."

When I say this is sad but typical I mean it. I've witnessed someone losing their job in part because they dared make an argument that (a more powerful) someone didn't want to hear. And in that case the fired individual had impeccable liberal credentials! Oh, don't kid yourself, they will eat their own.

From my reading of the American Association of University Professors website it seems clear that the University of Colorado runs afoul of the written standards of academic freedom.

"After the expiration of a probationary period, teachers or investigators should have permanent or continuous tenure, and their service should be terminated only for adequate cause, except in the case of retirement for age, or under extraordinary circumstances because of financial exigencies."


"Termination for cause of a continuous appointment, or the dismissal for cause of a teacher previous to the expiration of a term appointment, should, if possible, be considered by both a faculty committee and the governing board of the institution. In all cases where the facts are in dispute, the accused teacher should be informed before the hearing in writing of the charges and should have the opportunity to be heard in his or her own defense by all bodies that pass judgment upon the case."

They have employed Prof. Mitchell for 22 years without tenuring him, that alone, according to the AAUP, is a violation of academic freedom. Add to that the fact that he was dismissed without the appropriate hearings and one must come to the conclusion that CU is leaving themselves open to censure, at least at the level of theory.

The pathetic truth is they are much more likely to get censured not for this, but for doing the slightest little thing to Ward Churchill.