News on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative via Chetly Zarko at Power, Politics & Money: It's final: Affirmative action issue on November ballot in Michigan.
Dawson Bell's Detroit Free Press headline, above, is my favorite, and it catches the mood. We have been through 2 years and two months of legal battles so far. It's final.
So far, here's the running tally against BAMN (By Any Means Necessary). A 3-0 appellate ruling in June 2004, overturning an activist circuit court judge. That decision was upheld in Dec. 2004 by a 4-3 decision refusing to review the case (note, the 3 who would have reviewed may not have voted against MCRI). In round two, BAMN lost a 3-0 court of appeals ruling (twice or three times, depending on how you count) and 6 out of 7 Supreme Court judges refused to hear the case. That's 9 out of 10 judges agreeing that there was no merit to BAMN's claims. 9 out of 10 judges is unheard of. Of the 9 judges, at least three known Democrats voted against BAMN. 3-4, to be precise. That is vast and deep support for the legality of MCRI, whether the judges agree with us or not on the issue, they did the right thing by the law.
More at the Detroit Free Press.
This week's winner is Richard McAloon of Middletown who writes:
If your purpose in publishing columns by Ellen Goodman is to stir up the angst of your readership, congratulations, you succeeded!
Her latest column, "Gay couples can make good parents," is the latest in an overall promotion to normalize the gay/lesbian culture into our society. I don't understand why we have to consistently be told that this form of "family unit" is normal and to include it in our reasoning of "what's best for the child" when it comes to adoption.
C'mon, Rich. I highlighted the word "can" in the title of Goodman's column because that's precisely the point -- gay couples CAN make good parents!! Why is this some sort of revelation? Goodman does occasionally use over-the-top lingo, but she's absolutely correct in her title here.
While it may not be the ultimate situation for a child in which to be brought up, it certainly beats the hell out of [rotating] foster homes, and in many (most?) cases even single-parent homes.
In a more sensible vein, Chip Irons also of Middletown scribbles:
I must constructively criticize your policy of not including a person's race when reporting crimes. Your policy is especially disturbing when you report a crime where the suspect is not yet caught.
On March 1 you reported "Dover police seek bearded man in rape". You stated he drives a 4-door, blue Chevrolet. Without stating race, how can the public assist in locating the suspect?
Detectives are seeking assistance, but your policy makes this difficult. Is not a person's race part of the factual reporting of the news?
Regarding a criminal act, one would think so, Chip! But, you see, the News Journal has a nagging tendency to view things through a politically correct racial lens. That's the bottom line, sir. Unfortunately.
Writer Anna Quindlen writes in the latest issue of NEA Today:
After a lifetime of hearing the old legends about cushy hours and summer vacations, they figure out that early mornings are for students who need extra help, evenings are for test corrections and lesson plans, and weekends and summers are for second and even third jobs to try to pay the bills.
While I can sympathize with some of what Quindlen says -- especially the part about staying after school (or early mornings) for students that need extra help and many loooong evenings devoted to test/assignment corrections -- for me, weekends and summers are certainly not there to "pay the bills" via a second and third job. Exactly how many other teachers do this? 90%? 75%? 60%? Quindlen doesn't say. But with regards to summer vacation, the NEA Today itself provides an answer on page 14-15 of the hard copy edition: 42% of teachers across the country either teach summer school or work another job. So, obviously this means 58% of teachers enjoy a two to two and a half month break! That's right -- a two to two and half month break. What person in industry wouldn't love that? Quite a few, I would imagine. And, out of that 42% figure, how many actually choose to work -- meaning, to make extra $$ for essentially the heck of it, not out of necessity (like to pay bills, etc.)? I know quite a few teachers who do just this -- they choose to work merely to (monetarily) take advantage of the time alloted them by summer vacation.
This is why I cringe when I hear some teachers moan and groan about their "long hours" and "bad pay." This is when I think: "Look, you knew what you were getting into when you decided on the field of education. You knew the pay isn't great. However, especially here in Delaware and nearby states, the bennies are first-rate. Have you factored that into the 'bad pay' scenario? How much have you paid for hospital care? Dental? How many sick days do you get a year? Oh, and what's that -- your unused sick days carry over from year to year? Wow, that's nice!"
Yes, the hours are long during the school year, even on the weekends. But that's for the GOOD teachers, however. The lemons really couldn't care less. And this is what gets me thinking on what Quindlen says here:
The point about tying teaching salaries to widget standards is that it's hard to figure out a useful way to measure the merit of what a really good teacher does. You can imagine the principal who would see McCourt's gambit as the work of a gifted teacher, and just as easily imagine the one who would find it unseemly. Tying raises to pass rates is a flagrant invitation to inflate student achievement. Tying them to standardized tests makes rote regurgitation the centerpiece of schools. Both are blind to the merit of teachers who shoulder the challenging work of educating those less able, more troubled, from homes where there are no pencils, no books, even no parents. A teacher whose Advanced Placement class sends everyone on to top-tier colleges; a teacher whose remedial-reading class finally gets through to some, but not all, of a student group that is failing. There is merit in both.
Indeed. What is the best way to assess/judge teachers' competence? Delaware has an idea where some 20% of a teacher's evaluation (and pay raise) would be based on students' DSTP reading, writing and math scores ... no matter what subject you teach. That's right. And I teach Spanish. Yet, 20% of my performance evaluation would be based on my school's students' DSTP scores! Can someone explain to me how this makes any sense? What it does is give me an incentive to lessen the amount of time in class teaching Spanish, and tutor kids in reading, writing and math! As DSEA spokesperson Pam Nichols said, "If you're an art teacher, nurse or science teacher, your student improvement would be based on the math, reading and writing scores of the students you have. Why try a program we know won't evaluate this teacher on what they were hired to do?"
There's certainly no shortage of ideas when it comes to how best to assess teachers. Currently, at least in Delaware, assessments come from principal (or asst. principal) observations. The pitfall of this method is that these administrators may not be sufficently trained themselves (especially if they're new) and/or they may know little or none of the teacher's subject matter. Ideally, in my opinion, teacher assessments would be made by an expert -- or as close to an expert as you can get -- in the teacher's subject area. For instance, I'd be assessed by a "master" Spanish teacher. And, certainly, such evaluations would take place several times throughout the year with a final assessment at the end of the year.
Trust me, there's no shortage of people who think they know "best" how to assess teachers. Most of the ideas suck, frankly (just like the state of Delaware's, natch). The problem with my idea is one of the constant hassles with education -- money. Who would be the "master" assessor? Another district teacher? If so (and I wouldn't have a problem with that), the district would have to pay for a substitute when that master teacher goes to assess another teacher. Even though this makes sense, it is unlikely districts would go for it. (Which is a shame, too, because many districts will pay for substitutes so that teachers can attend workshops and/or inservices -- many of which are a total waste of time.)
I could go on and on and on about this topic. But I won't. Instead, I'll get back to the main thrust of this post: The NEA is hardly the most objective source to get information on teaching and teachers. And I just happened upon a (further) terrific example: on the same page of NEA Today where it notes that 42% of teachers teach summer school or work another job in the summer, NT's Daniel Moise gives a glowing review to a book that many have absolutely lambasted -- Rethinking Mathematics -- Teaching Social Justice By The Numbers. He writes:
It may seem unconventional to discuss integers and inequality in the same lesson, but a new book says it's a great strategy for simultaneously teaching math and social justice.
You may ask yourself (as David Byrne once famously sang) "What the hell does social justice have to do with math?" (Or, even, how exactly is "social justice" defined?)
Almost a month ago, I read a scathing critique by college math instructor Moebius Stripper of Tall, Dark & Mysterious who admittedly actually hasn't read the book -- mainly because she's seen it all before:
What bothers is this: is anyone familiar with a movement among social studies educators in secondary schools to use math in their courses, or does the movement toward interdisciplinary studies of social justice only go in the other direction? I am aware of none. Why are the educators who are motivated by political issues - and who see numeracy as a means to that end - injecting those issues into the math curriculum, rather than injecting math into social studies classes - which seems more natural to me? If I think that potters would improve their craft by learning some elementary Newtonian mechanics, I'd sooner give impromptu physics lessons at the pottery wheel than drag my physics classmates to the studio.
Is the overall effect to the high school curriculum, a net reduction of mathematical content?
The authors of Rethinking Mathematics are unabashedly politically-driven, and from the table of contents it is apparent that the math they present in their book leads students, none too subtly, to such conclusions as the one that capitalism is a fundamentally damaging economic system. Leaving aside for the moment the validity of this conclusion - I personally dispute it - let's consider just how very involved a topic economics is. To come to any conclusion about capitalism requires one of two things: 1) a great deal of in-depth studies of economics and related issues, issues that Ph.D. students have written theses about; or 2) some superficial examination of pre-selected data (is this the Global Capitalist Economy Cartoon mentioned in the book's table of contents ?) that leads directly to the desired conclusion. In the context of a high school math class, (1) entails a huge use of the mathematics class's time to teach and learn economics, while (2) constitutes brainwashing.
Given how ill-prepared the majority of high school students are to either do mathematics or think (let alone "think critically", and the first person to point out case of that phrase being used by anyone who doesn't have an ideological axe to grind, gets a cookie), you'll forgive me if I can't get on board with either of those two options.
Diane Ravitch lays it all out against this text. She writes:
Among its topics are: "Sweatshop Accounting," with units on poverty, globalization, and the unequal distribution of wealth. Another topic, drawn directly from ethnomathematics, is "Chicanos Have Math in Their Blood." Others include "The Transnational Capital Auction," "Multicultural Math," and "Home Buying While Brown or Black." Units of study include racial profiling, the war in Iraq, corporate control of the media, and environmental racism. The theory behind the book is that "teaching math in a neutral manner is not possible." Teachers are supposed to vary the teaching of mathematics in relation to their students' race, gender, ethnicity, and community.
'Ya just gotta love it, 'ya really do.
Way back when at the old "Cube," I noted a Northeastern University course titled "Teaching Mathematics for Social Justice." (Link to the course has since expired.) The course description was as follows:
This introductory course explores principles of social justice in education as a lens in rethinking school mathematics. The course will provide participants with a) an opportunity to expand their knowledge and awareness of issues of social justice in the context of mathematics education; b) an opportunity to develop a pedagogical model for teaching for social change; c) a process to critically examine the content of school mathematics curriculum and instructional practices from the perspective of social justice; d) an opportunity to contemplate on the role of the teacher as an agent of change and “transformative intellectual”.
Throughout the course we will emphasize the relationship between theory and practice in an attempt to understand some of the complexities and challenges in addressing issues of social justice in mathematics teaching and learning.
•Have the opportunity to explore the complex relationship between mathematical knowledge, power, and learning
•Conceptualize a socially just mathematics curriculum and instruction
•Be encouraged to reflect critically on the role of mathematics in society and formulate a philosophy of mathematics teaching and learning
• Develop instructional activities based on a pedagogical framework for teaching mathematics for social justice.
Required readings from the course were:
- Social Justice and Mathematics Education: Gender, Class, Ethnicity, and the Politics of Schooling.
- Radical Equations: Math Literacy and Civil Rights.
- Multicultural Mathematics: Teaching Mathematics from a Global Perspective.
- New Directions for Equity in mathematics education.
- Multiple Factors: Classroom Mathematics for Social Justice.
- Changing the Faces of Mathematics: Perspectives on African-Americans.
- Multicultural and Gender Equity in Mathematics Classroom: The Gift of Diversity.
Is it any wonder why schools of education get so little respect? Nutjob courses like the above (sort of like these) which do little if anything to actually prepare prospective teachers to teach, and the dismal nature of current educational research are huge factors. Quindlen notes in her article "In recent years, teacher salaries have grown, if they’ve grown at all, at a far slower rate than those of other professionals ..." Maybe if schools of education got their collective acts together and cut the nonsense they and the teachers they produce would get the respect they feel they deserve. Those other professions -- like, for instance, computer science, engineering, medicine -- don't often utilize quackery-masquerading-as-research/learning in their fields of study.
That's what one of my students told me some years back when I taught a career exploration class for sixth-graders at an elementary school in Southeast Washington. I was pleasantly surprised when the boys in the class stated that being a good father was a very important goal to them, more meaningful than making money or having a fancy title.
"That's wonderful!" I told my class. "I think I'll invite some couples in to talk about being married and rearing children."
"Oh, no," objected one student. "We're not interested in the part about marriage. Only about how to be good fathers."
And that's when the other boy chimed in, speaking as if the words left a nasty taste in his mouth: "Marriage is for white people."
So reports (sadly) Joy Jones in yesterday's Washington Post. It's an eye-opening article, to be sure, with some further interesting quotes and statistics. For example:
African American women aren't the only ones deciding that they can make do alone. Often what happens in black America is a sign of what the rest of America can eventually expect. In his 2003 book, Mismatch: The Growing Gulf between Women and Men, Andrew Hacker noted that the structure of white families is evolving in the direction of that of black families of the 1960s. In 1960, 67 percent of black families were headed by a husband and wife, compared to 90.9 percent for whites. By 2000, the figure for white families had dropped to 79.8 percent. Births to unwed white mothers were 22.5 percent in 2001, compared to 2.3 percent in 1960. So my student who thought marriage is for white people may have to rethink that in the future.
A black male acquaintance had a different prediction. "I don't believe marriage is going to be extinct, but I think you'll see fewer people married," he said. "It's a bad thing. I believe it takes the traditional family -- a man and a woman -- to raise kids."
"Amen" to that last sentence, but to be more specific, I'd say it takes a traditional family -- a man and a woman -- to have a much greater chance of successfully raising kids. Teaching for fifteen years has demonstrated to me which students have been the most successful, and they are without a doubt mostly from homes where both parents are present (i.e., married).
More via a cursory Google examination:
Lastly, here's a debate site that asks "Is the Two Parent Family Best"? Needless to say, I think the "pro" argument is demonstrably stronger.
Back on March 8th I included a bit about Leeds (UK) Professor Frank Ellis who holds rather detestable views on race. But, amazingly (then), the university refused to remove him because "A spokeswoman said that there was no evidence his extreme theories had affected his teaching." Now however, Ellis "was sent home on full pay by the University of Leeds, which accused him of breaching its obligations to promote racial harmony under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000."
"It is the first significant test of academic freedom since the introduction of the Act, which places a duty on public bodies to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between different races."
"He voiced support for the theory set out in The Bell Curve, a book published in 1994 by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray, that white people had higher average IQs than blacks. He said the study had 'demonstrated to me beyond any reasonable doubt there is a persistent gap in average black and white average intelligence'.
"Dr Ellis also told Leeds students that women did not have the same intellectual capacity as men and that feminism, along with multiculturalism, was “corroding” Britain. His views outraged students, who staged a campaign to have him dismissed from the university.
"Leeds responded initially by stating that Dr Ellis had a right to express his views, although they were 'abhorrent to the overwhelming majority of our staff and students'. Officials said that they had no evidence that his beliefs had led him to discriminate against students or colleagues.
"Yesterday, however, it announced that the ViceChancellor, Professor Michael Arthur, had suspended Dr Ellis and that disciplinary proceedings had begun. Roger Gair, the University Secretary, said that in publicising his views Dr Ellis had 'acted in breach of our equality and diversity policy, and in a way that is wholly at odds with our values'.
"The lecturer had 'recklessly jeopardised the fulfilment of the university’s obligations under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000'. Mr Gair said: 'As a public body, the university is required under that Act to promote good relations between people of different racial groups. That is a requirement we are happy to accept.'" (Link.)
Hey, what was it that UK Greenie Pete Tatchell said in Rhodey's previous post from today? That
" ... the truth is that is that some of the left would rarely, if ever, rally to defend freedom of expression because they don’t wholeheartedly believe in it. Mired in the immoral morass of cultural relativism, they no longer endorse Enlightenment values and universal human rights. Their support for free speech is now qualified by so many ifs and buts. When push comes to shove, it is more or less worthless.”
But hey, at least Ellis is getting full pay, eh? That has to be some consolation, right? I'm sure it assuages those PC leftists.
Via Michelle Malkin:
The Muslim Action Committee is up in arms over this London demonstration:
Despite being asked by the organisers not to bring placards with cartoons, and despite literally thousands of requests by Muslims and others that the police should prevent people carrying these offensive images, some protestors carried placards with the cartoons on and when Muslims who were present complained to the police, no action was taken. We condemn those secular extremists who attended who seem intent in damaging good community relations rather than building them.
Here's a declaration made by organizers of the march:
“The strength and survival of free society and the advance of human knowledge depend on the free exchange of ideas. All ideas are capable of giving offence, and some of the most powerful ideas in human history, such as those of Galileo and Darwin, have given profound religious offence in their time. The free exchange of ideas depends on freedom of expression and this includes the right to criticise and mock. We assert and uphold the right of freedom of expression and call on our elected representatives to do the same. We abhor the fact that people throughout the world live under mortal threat simply for expressing ideas and we call on our elected representatives to protect them from attack and not to give comfort to the forces of intolerance that besiege them.”
Peter Tatchell, a Green Party member, wonders why more leftists don't come out in support of free speech:
“Sections of the left moan that the rally is being supported the right. Well, if these socialists object so strongly why don’t they organise their own demo in support of free speech? The truth is that is that some of the left would rarely, if ever, rally to defend freedom of expression because they don’t wholeheartedly believe in it. Mired in the immoral morass of cultural relativism, they no longer endorse Enlightenment values and universal human rights. Their support for free speech is now qualified by so many ifs and buts. When push comes to shove, it is more or less worthless.”
Yep. Just check out "progressive" San Francisco recently!
Elsewhere, the New York Times provides a somewhat fitting example of the "immoral morass of cultural relativism" with this nugget about Abdul Rahman, the Muslim on death row for converting to Christianity:
The case had fueled feelings among many here of a sense of assault against Islam worldwide, coming after widely publicized cases involving the desecration of the Koran in Guantánamo Bay in 2004 by American soldiers interrogating prisoners and, more recently, cartoons published in Europe of the Prophet Muhammad.
Dr. Mohammad Ayaz Niyazi, an Egyptian educated in Islamic law, who attended one of the gatherings today, said, "There have been serial attacks on the Islamic world recently, starting with insulting the Holy Koran Quran, insulting the prophet of Islam, and now converting to Christianity by an Afghan."
The list of "serial attacks" against other religions by Muslims is far too lengthy to mention here. In fact, it'd probably take several editions of the Times to print them all.
The Times UK (via Eugene Volokh) reports the following (my emphasis):
President [Jacques] Chirac stormed out of the first session of a European Union summit dominated by a row over French nationalism because a fellow Frenchman insisted on speaking English....
When [Ernest-Antoine Seillière, the leader of the European business lobby UNICE], who is an English-educated steel baron, started a presentation to all 25 EU leaders, President Chirac interrupted to ask why he was speaking in English. M Seillière explained: “I’m going to speak in English because that is the language of business.”
Without saying another word, President Chirac, who lived in the US as a student and speaks fluent English, walked out, followed by his Foreign, Finance and Europe ministers, leaving the 24 other European leaders stunned....
"President Chirac, who recently denounced British food as the worst in the world after Finnish, has led an increasingly eccentric campaign to try to turn back the growing dominance of English in the EU and across the world."
You can never fault a Frenchman for one thing -- and that is criticizing British cuisine!
Since I had planned over a month in advance to go see Los Amigos Invisibles in New York City last night, and knowing I'd be getting in quite late at night (actually, quite early in the morning), I took a personal day today. How clairvoyant, too -- I get a call around 8:30am from my daughter's school ... she has a bad stomach ache (there's been a virus going around) so now it's indeed fortuitous that I'm home with her.
The Amigos show at SOBs was fantastic, as I expected. My buddy Javier and I encountered hardly any traffic on the voyage to Manhattan, but as soon as we got through the Holland Tunnel it was mayhem. Luckily, SOBs is only a mere three blocks from the Tunnel, and amazingly, we found a parking meter spot less than a block from the venue! After a very good meal at the "Español Café," Javi and I hit the show. Even though the band didn't come on until after 9pm, guitarist (and songwriter) José Luís Pardo (aka "Cheo") spins his own dance mixes right up until the band takes the stage. Since our arrival at SOBs was pretty early, I got a chance to rap with José, as well as José Rafael Torres, aka "Catire," the bass player (above, left). Catire was a great guy -- after our conversation was interrupted by a couple of sound-men, he came back to Javi and I to continue the discussion! Most cool. I asked him if the Amigos will be playing often in the northeast corridor this year, to which he replied "most likely," but many dates aren't confirmed yet. He asked me how I became such an Amigos fan, and he got a kick out of my story! ("Thanks to recently installed digital cable, I now had MTV en Español -- and this intro'd me to Los Amigos. I caught the video 'Sexy' and I was immediately hooked.")
The trip home was easy and uneventful. Absolutely no traffic, even through the Holland Tunnel (unlike the last time we saw the Amigos at SOBs -- an hour and a half traffic delay due to construction!). The show, of course, was stupendous. Javi and I had a couple pictures taken with one of the "Chivas Girls" (Chivas Regal sponsored the Amigos concert last evening). If I find out if/where these pics get posted, I'll be sure to link to 'em. ("Chivas Girls" = YOWSAH!)
The strong Western response to a threatened death sentence for an Afghan convert to Christianity looks something like a mirror image of the Muslim reaction to the Prophet Mohammad caricatures printed in the European press.
There have been no riots or sackings of Afghan embassies, unlike the violence that marked the uproar in Muslim countries after the Danish cartoons were published, but the shock and mutual incomprehension expressed in both cases are similar.
The difference lies in the issues at stake. In the cartoons row, Muslims stressed the sanctity of Mohammad, whom they say nobody — even non-Muslims — can criticize. The subtext was resentment against perceived Western prejudice against Islam.
Now, Western governments and societies are speaking out for religious freedom and against the death penalty. The fact many Western troops now help defend the Afghan government against al Qaeda and Taliban remnants heightened the outrage in the West.
Let's see if I can follow this: It's a "mirror" image of what happened during the Mohammed cartoon controversy, but there's been no violence whatsoever (thus far) and the moral comparison is that of a political cartoon vs. a death sentence for a religious conversion.
That sure sounds like one smudged mirror.
It would be one thing if the [movie's screenwriters] Wachowskis had constructed their narrative in a way that allowed organic integration of these issues. Instead, they seem to have poorly retrofitted Moore's original story, ripping out sizable chunks of his plot to make room for their pretentious gabbing. Particularly noticeable are the changes made to Chancellor Sutler. In the movie, he's a fire-breathing Hitler caricature, the sort of Saturday-morning cartoon villain you expect to see shaking his fist and yelling, "I'll get you next time..." Moore's graphic novel made him an honest believer in the necessity of fascist rule to preserve his beloved country — a far more compelling, complex enemy. Changes like this abound, and they are telling: V for Vendetta may be the first movie to come off more one-dimensional and cartoonish than a comic book.
Armavirumque's Stefan Beck notes
Now we can add to that V for Vendetta, which transforms Blair's Britain or W's America into, as Rolling Stone put it, "a police state ruled by . . . a fear-mongering, gay-bashing, Islam-hating dictator who strips citizens of their civil rights and religious freedoms." Why look to a hypothetical Britain, when present-day Iran has all that and more?
"It's Only Science Fiction For So Long" Dept.: "Star Trek" Tricorder invented by NASA.
Scientists working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have designed a gadget that could prove invaluable during NASA's next planned mission to Mars, in 2009. The laser-powered device -- which is about the size of a cellphone -- can identify almost any known substance. (Link.)
It's a shame DeForest Kelley, "Bones" McCoy from the original "Trek" series, has passed away. Because when nothing alive is found on the Red Planet they could've used his voice to exclaim "It's dead, Jim."
Speaking of "Star Trek," if you haven't caught this very cool show on the History Channel (or elsewhere) yet, do so ASAP: "How William Shatner Changed the World." The premise isn't quite serious, and Shatner knows this -- which makes this "documentary" quite funny, and, thus, delightfully watchable.
UN "special rapporteur" on racism and xenophobia Doudou Diéne rips Denmark for one of its newspapers publishing those now well-known cartoons of Mohammed. That newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, has released part of the leaked report (my emphasis):
Their [the Danish government's] uncompromising defense of a Freedom of Speech without limits or restrictions is not in accordance with the international rules which are based on a necessary balance between Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion, especially to combat calls for racial and religious hatred, and which all the member countries of UN have decided are the basic rules for Human Rights. This attitude shows an alarming lack of sensitivity and understanding of the religious conviction and deep emotions of the groups of society in question. Thus the newspapers strengthen the connection between Islam and Terrorism which arose after September 11th and which is the most important reason for Islamophobia being on the rise in the world at large and in their own countries.
Oh, so a few little drawings are contributing to the rise of "Islamophobia," and "strengthens the connection" between Islam and terror. The actions of [radical] Islamists have little or nothing to do with "strengthening" those connections now, do they? Nor do they contribute to Islamophobia, eh?
Eugene Volokh notes that Denmark "is accused of breaking its international obligations by not conforming with the following three articles in the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights":
Article 18, paragraph three: Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
Article 19, paragraph three:
The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
1. For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
2. For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
Which limits certain rights in paragraph two:
Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
Article 20, paragraph two:
Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.
Volokh then notes in this the danger of utilizing international law in determining national laws and policy. He brings up Prof. Peter Spiro who is a supporter of using international law for, in this case, a basis in determining US law doctrine:
... treaties can, in the long run, "insinuat[e] international law" that would create "a partial displacement of [U.S.] constitutional hegemony" -- for instance, with "an international norm against hate speech ... supply[ing] a basis for prohibiting [hate speech], the First Amendment notwithstanding." "In the short term," he argued, international norms would and should be "relevan[t] ... in domestic constitutional interpretation." And "[i]n the long run, [this tendency] may point to the Constitution's more complete subordination."
Whoa. Indeed, Volokh concludes (emphasis mine):
What's more, I've heard international law fans urge that U.S. constitutional decisionmaking should be informed not just by express statements in treaties that the U.S. has signed and ratified, but also by international practice outside treaties, by statements in treaties that the U.S. hasn't signed or hasn't ratified, and by actions of international bodies established pursuant to treaties that the U.S. has ratified. What U.N. commissions say and do may thus ultimately affect not just international politics, but the constitutional rights of Danes, Americans, and anyone else who has a broader view of free speech than the U.N. seems to endorse. Not a pretty prospect, it seems to me.
Darn right it ain't pretty, especially when it comes to free speech. Our First Amendment works damn well and has for over 200 years. Who wants the petty bureaucrats at the UN -- and their proxies on our Supreme Court like Ruth Ginsburg -- "interpreting" what the First Amendment (or any other, for that matter) "means" via international treaties, especially ones to which the United States isn't even a party??
Be sure to read the excellent comments at the original Volokh post.
UPDATE: Mike at Down With Absolutes! has more, in his inimitable manner!
... as "out of touch." Actor Charlie Sheen Questions Official 9/11 Story.
A couple "HUH?"s:
1) Subheadline: "Calls for truly independent investigation, joins growing ranks of prominent credible whistleblowers."
2) "We're not the conspiracy theorists on this particular issue," said Sheen.
Dana Garrett, who just accused us of "censoring" him because of a MuNu server spam filter glitch (that, or his own lack of technical ability), has recently equated "neo-cons" to murderous dictators Pol Pot and Josef Stalin.
'Nuff said? You be the judge.
Received a reply from Borders on their policy of preferred shelf placement for the Koran. Previously, they'd given me conflicting signals on the issue -- one customer service email said it was Borders policy to show respect for Islam by keeping Korans on the top shelf while a second email stated it wasn't company policy at all. This latest message seems like their definitive statement on the subject:
After calling several stores regarding the shelving practices of the title, I discovered that the stores I called all placed the Koran on the top shelf. They could not verify if this was company policy, but the stores that I spoke with stated they shelved the Koran on the top shelf out of respect for the religion.
I would also like to apologize for the discrepancies in the previous responses. Scott's email was completed before Tamra's, but Tamra's reached you first. Tamra received a call from the store's manager concerning the issue with the updated information that Scott was not provided when he made a contact to the store.
Fair enough. But then the question becomes why shouldn't other religious holy books get the same level of defference? I can't speak for the other stores the Borders customer rep contacted, but as far as the one here in Wilmington, the only Jewish Bibles getting similar "respect" were the oversized editions -- the rest were on a middle shelf. If Borders is going to predicate shelf placement on respect for the Islam, does the fact that other holy books don't warrant the same treatment imply disrespect?
I haven't yet seen "Walkout," the HBO film that details the "true story of a 1968 Chicano student uprising in the Latino barrio high schools." But there seems to be some inconsistencies in the history it offers, and some key omissions.
Edward James Olmos, the "driving force" behind the film (and star of the hit show "Battlestar Galactica," natch) has always been an advocate for Latino issues; however, he lost my sympathetic impulses when I saw him once on the Univision "Oprah"-like talk show "Cristina" where he said he was a big supporter of "Aztlán." (Mildly funny was the fact that he got just a bare smattering of applause when he stated such -- a good sign.)
As it happens, this year marks the 10th anniversary of the state’s anti-bilingual backlash, which began when Skid Row activist and Episcopal priest Alice Callaghan organized about 100 Spanish-speaking parents who wanted their Ninth Street Elementary children to learn English in class.
In the film, spunky 17-year-old heroine Paula Crisostomo, now an administrator at Occidental College, has a friend and fellow protester named Vickie, who (at the end we learn) grew up to be Victoria Castro, L.A. school board member from 1993 to 1997 and board president in 1998. The film doesn’t mention that after Castro refused to help those frustrated Ninth Street parents, they staged a walkout of their own, an incident that inspired Ron Unz to back Prop. 227 two years later....
There are some interesting remarks in the Volokh comment section. For instance, a reader points out from Seipp's article that the "hero" of the film was irked that school counselors wanted Latino (Chicano) kids to take French:
“No, ma’am, here you go,” snapped [high school history teacher and hero of Walkout Sal] Castro in response. “That’s the problem — counselors in our school were programming kids to learn French. What Mexican family can help their kid with French homework?”
How many [Anglo-]American families can help their kids with such homework? Ah, the bigotry of low expectations.
Geez, if anything, the study of another [foreign] language would only assist Chicano students not only with their developing English skills but their native Spanish, as well. My study of Spanish over the years has given me insights into my native English that I'd never otherwise have; in addition, it makes the study of an additional language (particularly another Romance language) that much easier (I've studied a small bit of French).
Hey -- and I was actually able to make many connections with the spoken Latin when I saw "The Passion" a couple years ago!
Seemingly forgetting that President Bush is hardly the only chief executive to claim "inherent presidential powers," Senate maverick Russ Feingold went so far as to state that
so the last resort is to somehow say that the President has inherent authority to, to ignore the law of the United States of America and that has, that has a consequence that the President could even order the assassination of American citizens if that’s the law ...
Assassinate American citizens??? Is there no limit to the nuttiness of the Far Left? Can you imagine if, say, Rick Santorum had taken to the Senate floor and stated that the Clinton administration's advocacy of the very same "inherent power" could lead to assassinating American citizens? Do you think the Left would be screaming bloody murder? Would we see Carville, Begala, Franken, Olbermann, et. al. on the air 24/7 exclaiming how crazy the Right had become?
(h/t: Donkey Stomp.)
UPDATE at 9:00pm by Hube: Hey, I saw "V for Vendetta" today (from where the parody above comes). Apparently the film's premise has changed since its original graphic novel writing in th early 80s. And why didn't creator Alan Moore get credit in the, er, credits? He's weird like that, so who knows.
At any rate, while reading some reviews of the original work on Amazon, one editorial review called Moore "paranoid." That about gets it right when it comes to this screenplay (and may explain perhaps why Moore didn't want credit?). The story is essentially a 1984-esque scenario where numerous terrorist "bio attacks" have resulted in a neo-fascist regime taking power in the UK. A mystery dude in a Guy Fawkes mask (from the Gunpowder Plot) begins knocking off government bigwigs, and eventually we discover that it was the British government itself that was responsible for the killer viruses (bio attacks). The conspiracy was to use to terrorism as an "excuse" for the fascists to take power.
The film reveals itself to be the radical anti-warist's dream come true about half-way through. We learn that virtually all "undesirables" -- in particular homosexuals -- are "disappeared" (or "black hooded" as they call it) and never heard from again. One of Evey's (Natalie Portman's character) friends is gay, and he reveals a secret room where he has many "illegal" possessions, one of which is a Koran. (In this scene, we see a flag that is amalgam of the US, British and some other flags, with a huge swatstika emblazoned in the center.) Numerous references are made to the "US's wars" which led to much of the world chaos; indeed, the US is in a state of civil war at the present time of the film. When Evey's friend is eventually "black hooded," he would have been spared execution except for ... that Koran in his possession!
Yeesh. Yeah, that is what we have to worry about. When this sort of crap is happening right now.
Controversial cartoonist Ted Rall -- who has shown very little regard for people's feelings in the past -- demonstrates just how utterly thin his own skin is. He's asking for reader donations to help fund a potential lawsuit against [equally] controversial pundit Ann Coulter:
Columnist Ann Coulter made a provocative remark Friday about "Doonesbury" creator Garry Trudeau and editorial cartoonist Ted Rall. Trudeau is shrugging it off, but Rall is considering a lawsuit.
Coulter reportedly said Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.: "Iran is soliciting cartoons on the Holocaust. So far, only Ted Rall, Garry Trudeau, and The New York Times have made submissions."
Giving her remark another twist is the fact that the conservative Coulter has the same distributor -- Universal Press Syndicate -- as the liberal Rall and Trudeau.
When asked Monday if he wanted to respond to Coulter's comment, Trudeau told E&P via e-mail: "Nah."
Say what you want about him, at least Trudeau knows the position in which his career places him. Poor pantywaist Rall shows yet again how too many fringe radicals can't take the cheap shots they're so often shooting at their opponents.
Still, Rall is no dummy. He won't use his own funds to take on Coulter:
Rall said people were voting roughly 3-1 in favor of suing. And he told E&P Monday that pledges are coming in fast. "If pledges continue to come in at the present rate, I'll have the $6,000 available by tonight," Rall said. "A lot of people are fed up with how Coulter has turned slandering liberals into a cottage industry and want to see her held to account. I'm actually fairly overwhelmed by the response -- more than 300 pledges, many in the $20 to $100 range."
Here's the great line, though:
The "no" votes, according to Rall, are "mostly from people who worry that what she said is protected free expression."
Well, how 'bout that! People -- probably even many liberals -- are worried that Coulter's comments should be protected as free speech! Funny then that Rall, whose career has been made on such protections, doesn't so worry. Xrlq, keen lawyerly mind that he is, pontificates similarly.
By the way, Rall also unintentionally gets laughs:
"She (Coulter) has no reason to believe that I am less patriotic than any other American."
Yeah, whatever, Ted. While I'm certainly not one that prescribes to the notion that disagreeing with your government equates to being unpatriotic, many of your past statements and cartoons can certainly give someone a reason to believe you are "less patriotic than any other American."
So, how are YOU doing in your NCAA pool? I have 23 victories total in the now-complete First Round.
What Has Potentially Killed Me: 1) Syracuse being beaten by Texas A&M. I had the Orangemen going two rounds; 2) Michigan State being upset by George Mason -- I had MSU going three rounds deep; 3) California being knocked off by N.C. State. Like Syracuse, I had Cali. going two rounds; 4) Northern Iowa losing to Georgetown. Not an upset, but I had N.I. going two rounds.
Where I Picked (Guessed?) Right: Every First Round pick of mine in the Oakland quartile won. This includes upsets by Alabama over Marquette, Bucknell over Arkansas, and most especially 13th seed Bradley over 4th seed Kansas.
My other successful upset pick was Montana over Nevada (in the Minneapolis quartile). But get this -- I was 0.4 seconds away from potentially having THE upset pick of the tourney: I picked 15th seed Winthrop to beat 2nd seed Tennessee. But the Vols won on a last 0.4-of-a-second falling-out-of-bounds jumper. DOH!
"Danish Muslim groups are to report Denmark to the UN Commissioner on Human Rights for failing to prosecute the newspaper that first published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad," the Times (UK) Online reports. The groups also plan to sue the newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, in Danish court for "defamation."
The Muslims' lawyer, Michael Christiani Havemann, is miffed that Henning Fode, Denmark’s director of public prosecutions, won't pursue charges against Jyllands-Posten.
Good. Stay miffed. Fode is dead right. Now, hopefully he won't just become "dead" for taking such a stance.
(h/t: Michelle Malkin.)
The solution to GM's problems is to ... buy more American cars? So says Susan Matthews of Newark. She continues:
I went to the bank the other day and there were nine cars in the parking lot. Seven out of nine of the vehicles there were foreign; two were American made.
I went to the mall and walked down one aisle and there were 38 vehicles and 29 out of 38 were foreign. So stop complaining and whining about what the government is doing to us, and start helping by purchasing American made and American owned.
We the people of the USA, are not helping with what is going on, if we do not support our own companies in America.
While I can appreciate the sentiment, I find it very difficult to believe that the American consumer is responsible for GM's woes, or those of any domestic car manufacturer, or that we should all just purchase American-made cars just to preserve [what may be] a flawed company (or at least flawed co. policies).
Recall what occurred back in the 1980s when Japan owned almost 50% of the American automobile market? Why was that? Were Americans being "unpatriotic"? Hardly. They were responding like typical consumers by purchasing a better product for a better price. Eventually, domestic car makers wised up and began making better cars.
Personally, I still believe most foreign car companies are superior to domestic ones (as I noted here). That being said, I think many, if not most folks, will pay a bit more for better quality. Some American cos. fit that description; for example, Converse shoe co. used to make all their sneakers in the USA. They don't anymore, but besides their prices being a bit lower, the quality has suffered tremendously in my opinion. There was a time when Converse "Dr. J's" were the only basketball shoes I'd buy. They cost a bit more, but they'd last for friggin' ever. I've yet to encounter a b-ball shoe to equal it since.
One bad experience is enough to keep a customer away. In automobiles' case, I saw my parents go through American lemon after American lemon when I was growing up (a Ford Torino, Dodge Horizon, some other Ford whose make I can't recall), and then my very first car was a Chrysler New Yorker. Ugh. Then my folks wised up, bought Japanese, and were content. My second car was a Toyoto Corolla. Ran like a dream. After "Dr. J's" were discontinued by Converse (and they began making their shoes abroad), I tried Reebok. The damn things fell apart after about four months. Never again, Reebok. And again, as noted here, I already got burned attempting to try an American car again.
... just a tad??
The universe expanded rapidly — growing from the size of a marble to billions of light years across — within the first trillionth of a second after its cataclysmic birth, astrophysicists reported Thursday. (Link.)
The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. I wonder if someone could do the math and figure out how fast an expansion of "billions of light years across" -- in a trillionth of a second -- equates to.
I bet the answer would make those who design warp drive engines on "Star Trek" beyond green with envy!
US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg claimed that threats on her and former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's life were "apparently prompted by legislation in Congress, filed by Republicans, that would bar judges from relying on foreign laws or court decisions."
"It is disquieting that they have attracted sizable support. And one not-so-small concern — they fuel the irrational fringe," she said in a speech posted online by the court earlier this month and first reported Wednesday by LegalTimes.com.
Why is the implication that the Republican legislation is actually -- somehow -- responsible for these threats made by a few lunatics? Does this mean then that the loonies at the DU and Atrios (and elsewhere) can be held "responsible" for any threats made against President Bush and/or members of his administration -- that they'd be fueling an "irrational fringe"? This, not to mention the Democratic leadership! (Howard "Bush May Known Something Prior To 9/11" Dean and John "US Troops Are Terrorizing Iraqi Women and Children At Night" Kerry, to name but two.)
Michelle Malkin has more:
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg gave a speech in South Africa last month, which, for some reason, is just now being publicized. Ginsburg's speech was titled "A Decent Respect for the Opinions of [Human]kind." In it, Ginsburg argued explicitly for the relevance of foreign law and court decisions to interpretation of the American Constitution. Ginsburg did not try to hide the partisan nature of this issue; at one point, she referred to "the perspective I share with four of my current colleagues," and she specifically criticized Justice Antonin Scalia, Judge Richard Posner, and the two bills that were introduced in Congress in 2004 and were broadly supported by Republicans. And she indulged in an outrageous bit of demagoguery, suggesting that those who disagree with her are somehow aligned with Justice Taney's infamous defense of slavery in the Dred Scott case.
But, naturally, people -- i.e. Republicans in Congress who do not agree with this view -- must be careful not to attempt to thwart this line of reasoning ... because they just may give a few complete nutcases the "wrong idea."
Mark "The Great One" Levin has still more, including much more of Ginsburg's speech. He says:
It is unseemly for a Supreme Court justice to smear judicial originalists, including members of Congress, by lumping them with some nut who wrote a disgusting post on some website. Ginsburg’s purpose is to paint legitimate critics of her extreme activism and the Court’s excesses as encouraging physical threats against justices. To the best of my knowledge, Ginsburg has never spoken publicly about the attacks on the judiciary or nominees to the bench by leftwing groups, bloggers and members of Congress — whose rhetoric and tactics are typically poisonous. Perhaps the reason is that she’s sympathetic to their goal, which is the perpetuation of judicial supremacy.
What Ginsburg and other activists don’t appear to realize is that they are undermining the legitimacy of the judiciary by their refusal to accept the limited role of judges in our constitutional system. The Court’s repeated interposition into political and policy areas invites the kind of scrutiny and criticism received by politicians and policymakers. And the public is growing increasingly resentful of justices and judges who use their office to impose their personal preferences on society. And rather than smearing legitimate critics or tuning them out, Ginsburg and her colleagues could learn something from them.
The first thing to happen, for example, when 'geography teacher' Jay Bennish's anti-American rant was made public was an attack from Bennish's attorney on Sean Allen, the high school student who recorded and then publicized Bennish's 20-minute in-class diatribe. If Bennish were courageously Speaking Truth To Power, why then was he so eager to condemn the agent of that Truth's broad dissemination? And parenthetically, is anyone besides me just a tad tired of the phrase "speaking truth to power"? The phrase implies brave speech in the face of terrible retribution, but what retribution has Bennish faced? He's back teaching classes, albeit with the apparent promise to present both sides of whatever argument he's discussing (what a huge concession; I had always assumed—wrongly, it turns out—that that was the responsibility of every educator).
Oh, and by the way, as Bennish's attorney even admitted, Allen recording Bennish in class was not illegal. Colorado only requires one party's consent for taping a conversation.
UPDATE: This teacher was axed for showing a clip from the opera "Faust." "Several parents complained that the video, which Waggoner got from the school library, contained references to abortion and Satan worship."
And get this -- the video didn't even feature real actors. It starred sock puppets.
... when you assume.
Ah, yes, Delaware's most famous lefty (and emotional) blogger has a recent post up accusing us here of being "censors." Regardless of the fact that it shows he still doesn't get the meaning of the term, Garrett assumes we purposely reject certain linked websites because of their political content. Garrett, in this case, wanted to use a link to Common Dreams (apparently it works in posts, eh?) in a comment here at CoR.
The problem, as I once encountered myself when trying to link to a story in comments, is that our MuNu server spam filter sometimes -- erroneously -- prevents legitimate URLs from being linked. (In my case it was a link to a USA Today story, of all things.) All Garrett had to do was either inquire -- in comments or e-mail -- what the deal was, and we'd have replied.
But nah -- Garrett "knows" how dastardly us right-wingers are! We just HAD to prevent him from adding that nasty URL to our comments! We cannot handle dissent! Our sensiblilities are too delicate!
I wonder if Mr. "I'm Quick to Ask for an Apology" will offer us one over his silly emotional post? Nope. Just check out the comments section -- Garrett remains firm in his "disbelief." We're lying, and that's that.
They're bAAAaaack! At SOBs (Sounds of Brazil) in NYC's SoHo district (where I first saw them over two years ago) on March 23. I'll be there, even if I have to journey alone!
A month ago I posted about how comics creating genius Frank Miller is working on a new Batman adventure where the Dark Knight will take on al Qaeda. Discussing it, Miller said
The reason for this work, Miller said, was "an explosion from my gut reaction of what's happening now." He can't stand entertainers who lack the moxy of their '40s counterparts who stood up to Hitler. Holy Terror is "a reminder to people who seem to have forgotten who we're up against."
It's been a long time since heroes were used in comics as pure propaganda. As Miller reminded, "Superman punched out Hitler. So did Captain America. That's one of the things they're there for."
As I often do on weekends before a good afternoon nap, I'll cuddle up with a few good back-issues of Marvel's halcyon days. This Sunday I nabbed Captain America #255 from 1981. This is a special "anniversary" issue, marking Cap's 40th birthday in comics. As such, this ish proves exactly what Miller is talking about. Check out the panel below from page 18:
Would it be politically correct to have, in this case, Batman tearing into some home-grown Muslim terrorists while exclaiming "You Islamic fundamentalists disgust me! You're native-born Americans, most of you ... yet you'd sell out your own country to the most horrific ideology on earth!"??
PC or not, I can see Miller doing just that. he's never been very PC in the past and I can't see him being so now. Just the fact that he's even doing such a Batman story is anti-PC enough. But just count on CAIR -- and others -- to be out there complaining if this Dark Knight tale is too ... "insensitive."
On a different entertainment front, on last night's 8pm episode of Star Trek: TNG, ("Chain of Command, part II" for true believers!), Capt. Picard is on a secret mission for the Federation to investigate a potential super-deadly Cardassian WMD (a "metagenic" weapon that can infect a planet's atmosphere and kill the whole population -- now that's a WMD!) The whole thing's a set-up, however, and the Cardassians nab Picard. Patrick Stewart is at his best here, too, alongside his Cardassian counterpart Gul Madred played by fellow Brit David Warner. Gul Madred tortures the living hell out of Picard for most of the hour, while the Enterprise crew juggles interstellar relations with the Cardassians and denying/acknowledging Picard's mission.
This episode is keenly relevant to today's headlines in more ways than one: The Federation attempts a pre-emptive measure to prevent possible use of a WMD ... except that there wasn't one (US attacks Iraq because of WMD). The resulting fallout almost causes interstellar war (actual war with Iraq), and the issue of POW vs. terrorist is even brought up (al Qaeda are "illegal combatants" or "POWs"?). The replacement capt. of the Enterprise refuses to acknowledge that Picard was working for the Federation -- which, if he did, would have granted him "POW" status -- thus enabling the Cardassians to label Picard a "terrorist" meaning he has no rights under the articles of war. (Gitmo, anyone?)
Wow, even the 24th century differentiates between unlawful combatants and prisoners of war, eh? Must be those 24th century Geneva Conventions!
That's right! No matter what.
From USA Today: Federal aid programs expand at record rate.
A sweeping expansion of social programs since 2000 has sparked a record increase in the number of Americans receiving federal government benefits such as college aid, food stamps and health care.
A USA TODAY analysis of 25 major government programs found that enrollment increased an average of 17% in the programs from 2000 to 2005. The nation's population grew 5% during that time.
It was the largest five-year expansion of the federal safety net since the Great Society created programs such as Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s.
Spending on these social programs was $1.3 trillion in 2005, up an inflation-adjusted 22% since 2000 and accounting for more than half of federal spending. Enrollment growth was responsible for three-fourths of the spending increase, according to USA TODAY's analysis of federal enrollment and spending data. Higher benefits accounted for the rest.
Out of the five years measured, guess who was president for four? The guy who "could care less" about the less fortunate. Oh.
Jay Nordlinger reports that Frank Tracy Griswold, head of the Episcopal Church in America, lauded Fidel Castro and his government's healthcare system during a recent visit. He says:
Such clerics never give the dictator any trouble, as they move about the island, with their minders. Political prisoners are safely out of sight, in their dungeons.
I could go on about this — you know I could — but I will simply say, When the history of totalitarian Cuba is written, mainstream U.S. religious leaders will occupy a dark, dark chapter. They already do.
It is always amazing when "leaders" such as these, who get guided tours by gov. officials, offer glowing accounts of the island, specifically its leader and its system. Why don't they request no "official guides" so they can wander Cuba at will to speak freely with the average Cuban? Or even better, come anonymously with some expatriate Cubans who're visiting to get the real story. It boggles the mind.
I know several Cubans -- those who escaped Castro (or whose relatives did), and they have been back to the island since. Foreigners are treated like gods as the island wants dollars and euros badly. The average Cuban is forbidden to enter hotels (unless they're employed there) as that "would be bad for business." And being "employed" also means "being a prostitute." One acquaintance of mine who recently returned to Cuba to visit some relatives told me that not only is prostitution rampant, it is "official" -- the government encourages it in order to get a hold of more hard currency. Nice, eh?
The US State Dept. classifies Cuba (and Venezuela, by the way, Castro's buddy Hugo Chavez' country) as a "Tier 3" country -- the classification that is the worst for human trafficking. Here is Cuba's specific report. An excerpt:
Cuba is a source country for children trafficked internally for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced child labor. Trafficking victims from all over Cuba are exploited in major cities and tourist resorts. There are no reliable estimates available on the extent of trafficking in the country; however, children in prostitution is widely apparent, even to casual observers. These children are sometimes trafficked into prostitution by their families and exploited by foreign tourists. Anecdotal evidence suggests that workers at state-run hotels, travel company employees, taxicab drivers, bar and restaurant workers, and law enforcement personnel are complicit in the commercial sexual exploitation of minors.
Such is what I heard from my friend -- at hotels and bars/clubs, the women work for the state.
Funny, then, that I was chastised for praising another Latin American country months ago because that country apparently has a "big" trafficking problem. That country, Costa Rica, is labeled a "Tier 2" country by the State Dept., the next level worse than "Tier 1" (obviously). "Tier 1" includes virtually all "First World" countries; "Tier 2" countries obviously need to do better, but out of the four rankings (worse than "Tier 2" are "Tier 2 Watch" and then "Tier 3," the worst) CR's isn't "abysmal" as some put it.
Cuba and Venezuela: National healthcare, national education and ... national prostitution/child exploitation.
"I genuinely believe that American democracy faces a time of trial and challenge right now more serious than any that we have ever faced." -- Al Gore, to a West Palm Beach, Fla., audience on March 12.
And no, he wasn't referring to al Qaeda or other Islamic fundies. You know who he was talking about!
The Grumman F-14 Tomcat, in my opinion the coolest fighter craft of all time, is being retired. Instapinch has a great tribute.
This bad-ass jet is why I always catch "Top Gun" whenever it's on. I could care less for the cockiness of Tom "Maverick" Cruise or Val "Iceman" Kilmer, and even the [then] babeness of Kelly McGillis. I watch it for the awesome dogfights, baby!
Here's a great info page on the plane.
Kate van Horn of Newark offers up this gem:
I recommend that all citizens with an annual income below $100,000, all women of childbearing age and their children, move to an enlightened country that respects citizen rights.
We are definitely devolving with the biggest apes in charge of our lives. I weep.
What else can one add, eh?
A few weeks back, I posted about a recent trip to the Concord Pike Borders here in Wilmington:
[A friend of mine had gone to buy a Koran] and when we met back up he told me how at first he and a store clerk couldn't find the Koran. After a minute, the clerk remembered that, "That's right, the Koran's not supposed to be on the floor." And sure enough, the Korans had been moved from where section directory listed them near general Islamic Studies on a bottom shelf to a top shelf that -- perhaps appropriately -- cut the Judiaism section in two.
I had wondered at the time why the Korans got such special treatment when there were some Christian Bibles on the bottom shelf and the Jewish Bibles were right where they were supposed to be. On February 19, I wrote Borders Customer Care inquiring if this was a storewide policy, and on the morning of February 23 received the following response (sorry for the delayed update, by the way -- traveling for work combined with general laziness once I was home got in the way posting):
Thank you for contacting Borders Customer Care with your concerns about the categorization of this title.
I wanted to reply to you once again in reference to your question concerning the shelving of the Koran. [Ed. note: I don't know what this person meant by "once again" -- I've never contacted Borders Customer Care about anything else in my life.] We did check with the GM of the store and the policy for our stores are that we don't shelve anything above the Koran as a show of respect. This is a store wide policy through Borders. If you have any further questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact Linda at the store or ourselves.
I hope that this information is helpful. Thank you for taking an interest in our stores and sending us your feedback.
It wasn't even a general, "We try to keep all religious holy books (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc.) as close to the top shelf out of respect," but an admission of special treatment for the Koran. Dhimmitude comes to book superstores. It was kind of what I figured anyway, but I appreciated their honesty.
Which was why I was surprised when I got a second response from another Borders customer relations representative that afternoon:
[. . .] The location of the Korans at the Wilmington, DE store is not a Borders chain-wide policy. After contacting the store and speaking with Linda the Sales Manager, I learned that the Korans were temporarily moved as the staff was in the process of solving shelf space issues in that area of the store. The Sales Manager assured me that there was every intention to put the Korans back in their proper place and apologized for not having the project completed before customers needed to reference the Islamic Studies section. I was assured that the Korans would be moved back to their proper location immediately.
Again, thank you for taking the time to bring this matter to our attention. If there is anything else we can do for you, please let us know.
These contradictory responses are strange given that both messages stated they had contacted the Concord Pike store (indeed, both mention the same person, "Linda"). Also strange is that the messages don't reference one another. The second message, for instance, doesn't present itself as a correction of the first. Both were meant to be the final answer to my question, and neither appears aware that someone else was answering me.
So, just a case of one department not knowing what the other is doing or some poorly-managed CYA by Borders given the irritation Americans are beginning to feel about having to walk on eggshells whenever Muslim sensitivities are involved? I'm inclined to believe the former, but only because I think Borders (kind of like the MSM during the cartoon intifada, I guess) would be proud about being so culturally sensitive. Still, I've sent a follow-up to Borders with these emails attached asking for a more definitive statement and an explaination for the confused responses. I'll try to be more timely posting any response I receive.
... when comparing President Bush to Adolf Hitler in a geography class." So says controversial teacher Jay Bennish through his attorney David Lane. Bennish also told school officials he should "have balanced each lecture rather than the course as a whole."
Well, at least he's making more sense as he goes along, I suppose.
The Denver Post notes that "disciplinary action was taken against [Bennish], though Superintendent Monte Moses declined to provide details." Most likely the action was a reprimand with instructions to provide a more balanced approach to controversial subject matter. (The Rocky Mountain News reports just this.) Superintendent Moses said
"The district values the principles of free speech and academic freedom, but expects them to be applied within the context of district policy, professional ethics, and common sense. As our policy states, 'Like any freedom, academic freedom carries responsibilities. It is not a license for abuses. It may not serve as a cloak for indoctrination.' "
Which is how it should be, of course, as I've said previously. Bennish doesn't seem like a bad guy, just misguided -- especially on how to present lessons in the classroom. His college education professors sure didn't help him in that regard, though!
Hopefully now, this whole incident will die out -- as it never should have been so prominent in the first place, really.
Is it out of respect ... or safety?
Germany's Carnival – OK to Bash Catholic Church but Islam off Limits.
Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday and Pancake Tuesday are among the many names for the custom of keeping a festival on the last day before the beginning of the Christian penitential season of Lent. In most countries that have European roots, Mardi Gras has always included elements mocking Catholic ceremonies and customs.
The custom for making fun of Cathlic symbols goes back to the middle ages said Matthias von der Bank, a historian from Cologne's Carnival Museum said, "In the Middle Ages, carnival was a festival of reverse worlds and a playful expression of this," von der Bank said. "So Christian symbols, for example, were turned upside down."
Von der Bank said, however, that the tone today has changed from playful satire to one of vicious attack. Slandering the church was not part of carnival's festivities he told a German newspaper.
Although the rule of the Düsseldorf carnival committee was that there would be no floats dealing with religion this year, parade organizers seem to feel that Catholicism does not qualify. A float in the Dusseldorf parade featured a statue of Pope Benedict wearing the jersey of the often-defeated soccer team Fortune. The message was clear: the Catholic Church is the losing team and attacking it is acceptable.
Bernd Jost, spokesman for the Dusseldorf carnival committee said that the religion the committee wants to exempt is Islam. "In view of the current debate, we will be keeping very clear of things related to Muslims," Jost said. "We don't want to fuel hatred," Jost said. But he admitted that the real motive is the need to keep parade spectators safe.
Ahh. Just like the Mohammed cartoon controversy. The "official" reason outlets wouldn't publish them was "respect;" however, the real reason was safety. As noted here, "Never believe a liberal when he professes to find Christian fundamentalists 'scary.' There is no need to appease an opponent who respects rules of civilized behavior." German Christians are like American Christians -- they'll do, as James Taranto noted:
What accounts for the difference? A combination of fear and ideology. Muslim fundamentalists, or at least some of them, express offense by torching embassies and threatening terrorist attacks. By contrast, U.S. military leaders write firm but polite letters to the editor, and Christian fundamentalists ask their elected representatives to stop spending tax money on offensive stuff.
Safety, of course, is a good reason to ... kowtow to Muslim fundamentalist demands and wishes. But what is the ultimate result? Cliff May has some interesting insights.
Gotta go to the funeral for one of my teaching colleague's sons. Not looking forward to it (a son), but this colleague is one of -- if not THE -- nicest, and best, people I know. And a phenomenal teacher. Truly special.
The Battlestar Galactica season finale was last night. It was ... OK. The "evil" Baltar (who is responsible for the annihilation of the human race) has been elected president of the 12 Colonies, and he demands that the "rag-tag fugitive fleet" (to borrow a phrase from the old Galactica series) set down on a habitable planet that was recently discovered. The last half hour or so of the episode takes place a year later, where the remnants of humanity have established their new colony, and the Battlestars Galactica and Pegasus are orbiting the planet in a defense perimeter. The only problem is, most of the crew of both ships have elected to renounce their positions to go live on the planet! Baltar has used his position for mere pleasure (he's constantly in bed with beautiful women) while the population struggles to survive on their new world.
Suddenly, Pegasus picks up blip after blip on its sensors -- a massive Cylon fleet has warped into the planet's neighborhood. The two Battlestars (and a few other ships) are no match for this incursion, so they ... warp to safety! The Cylons do not destroy the new human colony however; they merely capture it. The last scene is that of the "classic" Cylons -- the robotic models -- marching through the center of the new human city's downtown, while the defeated humans can but ... watch. But, there's Starbuck, who when asked "What can we do?" retorts, "Keep fighting 'till we can't anymore."
The third season begins in October.
Speaking of sci-fi, my favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation episode was just on channel "G4" (a new addition to my local digital cable service). "The Inner Light" features Capt. Picard's (Patrick Stewart's) awesome acting ability to the max -- he lives out the life of a scientist, and father, of an alien civilization that died out over a thousand years ago. And he lives it in the span of ... twenty-five minutes!
Lastly, I hope my feet (and ankles) survive playing basketball this afternoon. I've been playing regularly (again) the past month or so, but I'm beginning to wonder if the fifteen years of standing on hard tile floors in the classroom have taken its toll on my feet. Last week I played on Saturday and Monday, but after two games on Monday my feet were in utter agony. I've bought special padded inserts for my sneaks; hopefully they'll do the trick (or at least help!).
While Cuba played the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, a spectator in the stands raised a sign saying "Down with Fidel," sparking an international incident that escalated Friday with the velocity of a major league fastball.
The image of the man holding the sign behind home plate was beamed live Thursday night to millions of TV viewers _ including those in Cuba. The top Cuban official at the game at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan rushed to confront the man.
Puerto Rican police quickly intervened and took the Cuban official _ Angel Iglesias, vice president of Cuba's National Institute of Sports _ to a nearby police station, where they lectured him about free speech.
"We explained to him that here the constitutional right to free expression exists and that it is not a crime," police Col. Adalberto Mercado was quoted as saying.
Cuba's Communist Party newspaper, Granma, called the sign-waving "a cowardly incident."
Looks like embattled educator Jay Bennish is keeping his job -- breaking news. Which, as I opined, is as it should be. However, we now have some insight into perhaps why Bennish does what he does in class:
"I fear he may have got some of that left-wing orientation from me," she said with a laugh. "You know how professors are." Raines is a professor in the College of Education at Bennish's alma mater, Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
Yeah, "ha ha" Prof. Raines. What's really funny is that you apparently don't see the inherent problem in your statement.
"I think Jay was one of our top candidates," Raines said. "We were very clear that Jay would go out and do something, and probably be a shaker and a mover. My guess was that he would probably be a political activist."
Your guess was correct, it seems!
She added, "I had a feeling that Jay would be famous - or infamous."
What a "great" teaching candidate -- one that a professor had a feeling could become "infamous." Nice.
Speaking of many students who passed through her department at NAU, Raines said, "They care about social justice issues. They care about making the world a better place. So, I'm not exactly surprised that this is happening to Jay."
Didn't you, as an education professor Ms. Raines, ever teach students like Bennish that providing a balanced approach to issues in social studies classes was imperative? Obviously not.
"I just think it's a shame that the conservative right-wingers can try to dictate curriculum," Raines said. "I think it's a shame that he could be suspended for trying to do what he does well, up there."
Oh! As opposed to liberal left-wingers! That wouldn't be "a shame," would it Ms. Raines? And what exactly do you mean what Bennish "does well"? Proselytize about radical causes before a captive audience? 'Cause that's what he was doing, after all. Gad, these educationists are so predictable.
A second NAU professor who also remembers Bennish's time there is Judy Giesberg. Giesberg, now a history professor at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, further described Bennish as a young man who was "very bright and very engaged, and saw teaching as an opportunity to make a difference, to do something meaningful."
That's so nice. But "making a difference" and doing "something meaningful" is actually imparting knowledge on students, not indoctrinating them for heaven's sake. Try reversing this situation: What if Bennish was invoking religion in his classroom soliloquies? The superiority of Western culture? I'd be willing to bet good money that Ms. Raines and Giesberg would be quite miffed about a teacher "teaching" those things.
Raines said one legacy of Bennish's NAU experience is that he and his fellow students were taught to be "change agents" and to "push the envelope" a bit.
"Change agents." And there you have it, people.
"I think teachers need to know what they stand for, and I think he knows what he stands for," Raines said. "And yes, I think we have an obligation not to press our own agendas in classrooms. "But, let's face it. You can't hang up who you are at the door."
That may be, Ms. Raines, but one has to at least try to "hang up who you are." Bennish sure didn't even attempt it. And why do you contradict yourself? First you say your students were taught to be "change agents," and then you claim "I think we have an obligaion not to press our own agendas in classrooms"? YEESH.
And educationists wonder why colleges of education get so little respect??
Because I am 17 years old, some people might say that I am not mature enough to understand many issues. However, let me just say that I get more laughs reading the opinion page than I ever have from the comics.
Delawareans seem to be fixated on bashing President Bush and proposing new conspiracy theories whenever they seem convenient.
President Bush did not cause Hurricane Katrina or the complications afterwards. New Orleans was built below sea level so they should have seen it coming and made preparations themselves.
If Dick Cheney shoots someone by accident on his own time, it is none of your business and neither he nor the president has any obligation to tell you about it.
Finally, it seems unreasonable to me that Bush was able to graduate from Yale University, be elected governor of Texas, and earn the respect and confidence of enough of his peers in the Republican Party to be nominated as their presidential candidate if he is indeed as dim-witted as you say.
I am willing to wager that the majority of Delawareans who get their information from this sorry excuse for a newspaper have barely enough brainpower to govern their own lives, let alone governing a nation of almost 300 million.
Maybe another bright teenager knows this Bradley.
You gotta admit it -- this makes sense.
"There's such a spectrum of choice that women have - it's her body, her pregnancy and she has the ultimate right to make decisions. I'm trying to find a way for a man also to have some say over decisions that affect his life profoundly."
In other words, just like I argued over at Mike's before, if a woman has absolute say over her body -- including the baby she may be carrying inside her -- then why doesn't a man? Why does a man have to pay child support if the woman he impregnated wants to have the baby, and he doesn't? After all, if the reverse was true, it doesn't matter what the man wants!
The verbal twists and turns of the feminists over this are funny to read and watch. I just saw Mel Fiet, the mastermind behind this idea, on FNC's Cavuto Show, alongside some feminist. She starts off with "Well, men have the same access to contraception that women do..."
Um, OKAAAYYY .... and that's relevant ... how??
Then it was down to something like "Well, it's not exactly the equivalent of reproductive choice for women...."
No duh. That's because it's a reproductive choice for men. The logic is as simple as it is beautiful: Women don't want a child, they can abort. Men don't want a child, they can pay nothing. Neither choice inhibits the other's freedom.
Shame about the kid either way, though, huh?
The clear unfairness the man is pointing out is real; he's got that right. The issue isn't that's he forced to deal with the consequences, it's that the child can be disposed of through abortion. The woman is allowed to avoid responsibility for part in the creation of the new human life by ending it. That's the real unfairness: that the law allows murder as a means of avoiding responsiblity.
James Taranto adds:
... if feminism has harmed society by allowing women to be irresponsible about sex and reproduction, making it easier for men to be irresponsible will only compound the problem. One top feminist makes that point:
The president of the National Organization for Women, Kim Gandy, acknowledged that disputes over unintended pregnancies can be complex and bitter.
"None of these are easy questions," said Gandy, a former prosecutor. "But most courts say it's not about what he did or didn't do or what she did or didn't do. It's about the rights of the child."
Then again, if the men's rights movement can induce the top guy at NOW to admit it's a "child" rather than a "clump of tissue," perhaps it has already done some good.
University of Rochester philosophy prof. Robert Holmes, during a panel discussion titled "Is Hindsight 20/20: Reflections on the Iraq War":
"We are in violation of international law in the actions that we are taking," Holmes said. "In having attacked Iraq and overthrown its government, we have committed the same violations of the U.N. Charter for which we killed many Nazis."
Umm, doesn't the esteemed prof. know the Nazis were already defeated before the United Nations Charter even came into existence?
Looks like authorities are reluctant to call the plowing into U. of North Carolina students by a disgruntled Muslim with a SUV a "hate crime" -- even though the culprit has explicitly stated he did it to avenge the American treatment of Muslims. When asked if he was trying to kill people, Mohammad Taheri-azar said "Yes."
Hey, speaking of colleges, how 'bout this? You can get a "Masters in Social Responsibility"! Check out the list of "Social Responsibility Topics!" Check out some of these neatly titled courses! Here's a mere sampling: "Minorities in the Capitalist World-Systems;" "Sociology of Aging and the Life Course;" "Feminist Scholarship and the Construction of Knowledge;" "Diversity in the Workplace."
Next, Britain is changing the wording of certain nursery rhymes so as not to "offend" anyone. Instead of singing "Baa baa, black sheep" as generations of children have learnt to do, toddlers in Oxfordshire are being taught to sing "Baa baa, rainbow sheep."
"In keeping with the new approach, teachers at the nurseries have reportedly also changed the ending of Humpty Dumpty so as not to upset the children and dropped the seven dwarfs from the title of Snow White."
Sounds like the UK is ahead of the curve on defining "acceptable" speech. The United Nations wants to halt "anti-Muslim" speech.
The Islamic campaign against free speech continues to pick up steam. With the backing of the visiting High Representative of the European Union for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Mr. Javier Solana, and of a visiting Russian delegation, the Permanent Representatives of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Member States convened at the OIC Headquarters in Jeddah on February 14, 2006 to approve the following five points (emphasis added):
* making joint efforts by the EU and the OIC to adopt UN Resolution on the lines of existing UN Resolution 60/150 (Combating defamation of religions) which should prohibit defamation of all Prophets and faiths;
* the adoption of an International Communication Media Order by the United Nations which should cover a definition of freedom of speech in case of religious symbols;
* the inclusion of an operative paragraph prohibiting blasphemy, defamation of religions and incitement to hatred in the text of Human Rights Council resolution presently being negotiated.
Kofi Annan is hip to all these. "He has endorsed the language prohibiting blasphemy or defamation of religions which the Organization of the Islamic Conference wants to add to the text of the new Human Rights Council resolution."
Lastly, back to the UK, "Students and lecturers are calling for a Leeds University don to be sacked after he said he supported a theory that black people were inferior to whites."
Frank Ellis said he supported right-wing ideas such as the Bell Curve theory, which held that white people were more intelligent than black people. '[It] has demonstrated to me beyond any reasonable doubt there is a persistent gap in average black and white average intelligence.' Repatriation would get his support, he added, if it was done 'humanely'.
Now students are preparing to picket his lectures, protest on campus and bombard the vice-chancellor with emails calling for Ellis to be removed from his post.
Hanif Leylabi, a student at Leeds and a member of Unite Against Fascism, said: 'Knowing that he's a lecturer and that he holds views that black people are inferior and that women can't achieve the same as men, it's disgusting and certainly not conducive to an academic environment.'
Amazingly, school officials are holding firm against ousting Ellis (in Europe, at that!) despite what they (rightly) dub his "abhorrent views."
A spokeswoman said that there was no evidence his extreme theories had affected his teaching. 'The question of discrimination does not arise in student assessment. All work counting towards a degree in Russian and Slavonic studies is double-marked. Ellis has a right to his personal opinions, but he does not have the right to treat students or colleagues in a prejudicial or discriminatory manner. We have no evidence that this has happened, but we will look carefully at any such evidence if it is presented to us.'
Sounds sort of like someone closer to home. Or this guy, on the "other side." Or even this guy. Speaking of that last guy, I wonder if Ellis could use as his excuse (if he ever brought up race differences in class) that he was "only trying to 'challenge' his students ... try to get them to 'think critically' and to 'challenge him'" ... ?
Nutty Colorado "teacher" Jay Bennish has made himself "more presentable" to the public at large, and has gleefully entered the media realm that toss softball "questions" to you.
Case in point: Matt Lauer during today's "Today" show ...
"They shopped it around to conservative media outlets and finally released it to one and created an uproar. On the tape you can hear Sean Allen [the student in question] asking you questions that seem to be egging you on a little bit. Do you feel you were set up?"
As Newsbusters' Matt Finkelstein says,
Wait a second, Matt. Isn't the essence of the teacher's defense that he was trying to provoke discussion of these issues? Didn't you just hear him say that "my job as a teacher is to challenge students to think critically," that he was trying to "encourage critical thought" and that students would "get extra credit regardless of their viewpoints"?
But when a student does just that, he is "setting the teacher up"?
On that last point, however, the student, Sean Allen, disputes it. Today on the "Sean Hannity" show, Allen said Bennish has never offered extra credit for challenging his views. That, and Allen has disputed several points Bennish's lawyer has stated previously on various pundit shows.
Still, I agree with Hube. Bennish shouldn't be fired or even suspended (without pay) over this. He should be brought into the principal's office and told to knock off the radical partisan crap. Then again, if this story is accurate, Bennish has already been called to the principal's office due to a similar complaint. With this previous incident, now some sort of disciplinary action might be warranted since it's occured again. But even with that, some of the right-wing, like Chris Short's posts at Conservative Thinking (linked above), ought to chill a bit when yelling for Bennish's ouster (Short believes Bennish's district should have "canned [him] after the first incident"). Even the student who recorded him (and his mother, who's a Democrat) doesn't want Bennish fired. He just wants him to stop the political yammering in class. That's certainly a very fair and just position.
But if Bennish insists he has some First Amendment right to say what he wants in his class -- and wins a potential court case based on that position -- then I fear what will become of public classrooms. Facts and basic knowledge will get lost amid politics.
The US Supreme Court unanimously agreed that the Solomon Amendment -- which withholds federal monies from universities which prohibit military recruiters on campus -- is constitutional, meaning the plaintiffs' claim that their free speech rights were "violated" was, well, "nice try," let's put it that way.
Law schools had become the latest battleground over the "don't ask, don't tell" policy allowing gay men and women to serve in the military only if they keep their sexual orientation to themselves. Many universities forbid the participation of recruiters from public agencies and private companies that have discriminatory policies.
[Chief Justice John] Roberts, writing his third decision since joining the court, said there are other less drastic options to protest the policy. "A military recruiter's mere presence on campus does not violate a law school's right to associate, regardless of how repugnant the law school considers the recruiter's message," he wrote.
The federal law, known as the Solomon Amendment after its first congressional sponsor, mandates that universities give the military the same access as other recruiters or forfeit federal money.
I had thought this would be a slam dunk against the plaintiffs from the get-go. It seemed ludicrous on the face of it that they wanted the government's money, but then at the same time didn't want any strings attached whatsoever. Oops.
UPDATE: The SCOTUS decision seems to indicate that even if universities do not receive federal funding, they'd still have to allow recruiters on campus. Indeed, in Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, the Court said
The Constitution grants Congress the power to "provide for the common Defence," "[t]o raise and support Armies," and "[t]o provide and maintain a Navy." Congress' power in this area "is broad and sweeping," and there is no dispute in this case that it includes the authority to require campus access for military recruiters. . . .
This case does not require us to determine when a condition placed on university funding goes beyond the "reasonable" choice offered in Grove City and becomes an unconstitutional condition. It is clear that a funding condition cannot be unconstitutional if it could be constitutionally imposed directly. Because the First Amendment would not prevent Congress from directly imposing the Solomon Amendment's access requirement, the statute does not place an unconstitutional condition on the receipt of federal funds.
I would assume this has to apply only to public universities. I cannot see how the federal gov. (especially one that receives no federal monies) could force a private campus to allow military recruiters there.
I'm home today because my daughter has caught that flu bug that has been going around. While she was sleeping, I pulled out some of my favorite back-issues of comics that were created by some of the best in the business. One was 1980's Captain America #250. (Every 50th issue usually is a "special" issue featuring some "big" event or appearance of a classic villain.)
Cap #250's "event" was the Capt.'s actual consideration of running for president! After rescuing a group of folks from a small terrorist band, Cap is approached by the head of the New Populist Party (NPP) about running for the highest office in the land. He initially shrugs it off as a joke, but eventually takes it more seriously -- especially after the party chair plants a newspaper headline that says "Cap for President!" Cap (or Steve Rogers, Cap's secret ID) hears advice from both sides, pro and con. Two of those who attempt to dissuade Cap are Iron Man and the Vision, two of my favorite characters. Iron Man says
"Come on, Cap! You of all people should know better than to get mixed up in politics! You know the kind of red tape and corruption you'd be faced with!"
The Vision offers
"The question is not one of respect, but of qualifications! You are a man out of time, Cap -- 1940's solutions will not work for today's problems!"
Supporting the idea are the Wasp and Steve's [future] girlfriend Bernie Rosenthal.
Cap does some "heavy thinking," and in one neat sequence, while hurdling NYC skyscrapers, he happens upon his now-delapidated and abandoned elementary school building from the 1930s. He recalls his teacher, Mrs. Edna Crosley, discussing the idealism of America, and about keeping keep faith in the trying times that were the Depression. This apparently solidifies Cap's decision, and he makes his way to a convention center to address the NPP faithful. In a brief address, Cap states
"[A president] must be ready to negotiate -- to compromise -- 24 hours a day, to preserve the Republic at all costs! I understand this ... I appreciate this ... and I realize the need to work within such a framework. By the same token -- I have worked and fought all my life for the growth and advancement of the American Dream. And I believe that my duty to the Dream would severely limit any abilities I might have to preserve the reality. We must all live in the real world ... and sometimes that world can be pretty grim. But it is the Dream ... the Hope ... that makes the reality worth living.
And with that, Cap turns down the offer of presidential candidate.
This awesome story was written by Roger Stern and drawn by the spectacular John Byrne.
Seven years later, Captain America stalwart writer Mark Gruenwald takes this concept to a different level: The US government claims "ownership" of the very concept of Captain America, and demands that Steve Rogers work for the government as their operative. The government's claims are indeed difficult to dispute. Some of them were: they financed "Project Rebirth," which gave Cap his powers; Steve signed a contract that he'd serve the US in an "official capacity" until the president relieved him of that duty; and, Cap's uniform and shield were designed and created by the federal government. The special commission is actually incredulous that Rogers is contemplating not agreeing to the government's demands!
The dilemma facing Cap is almost the same as that which he faced seven years ago. In one panel he thinks "I'd be compromising my effectiveness as a symbol that transcends mere politics." In another panel (that clearly demonstrates the political situation at that time) Cap wonders "[Would they] maybe send me to Nicaragua to help the Contras?" and shows Cap firing a gun at some (apparent) Sandinistas.
Eventually Steve Rogers decides to give up the role of Captain America, making for one of the most controversial moves in Marvel Comics history. As Steve enters the government building to relinquish his uniform and shield, he tells the commission
"Captain America was created to be a soldier. But I have made him far more than that. To return to being a mere soldier would be a betrayal of all I've striven for, for the better part of my career. To serve the country your way, I would have to give up my personal freedom ... and place myself in a position where I might have to compromise my ideals to obey your orders.
I cannot represent the American government; the president does that. I must represent the American people. I represent the American Dream, the freedom to strive to become all that you dream of being. Being Captain America has been my American Dream. To become what you want me to be, I would have to compromise that Dream ... abandon what I have come to stand for."
And so, for the next 18 issues of Captain America, Steve Rogers operates solo, becoming "The Captain" (and using a uniform very similar to his Capt. America suit, but with a red, white and black motif). The US government chooses John Walker to become the "new" Captain America, but he becomes a liability after his secret identity becomes known, his parents are assassinated, and then he goes nuts as a result.
Steve Rogers reassumes the mantle of Capt. America in the landmark #350.
An Oregon State University student newspaper article titled "The Islamic Double Standard" led to the inevitable protests, of course, but also something more ... intriguing:
“The pain that it caused ... did not subside with time,” said DD Bixby, the Barometer’s editor-in-chief. “It kind of just festered.”
She said editors have been checking copy with Muslim students, and on Tuesday deleted one paragraph from a piece scheduled to be published the next day.
Bixby said her staffers are “all pretty much Oregon-type kids” who knew little about Islam and didn’t foresee how people would respond to the column.
Maybe The Barometer is on to the next big thing on college campuses -- having different "aggrieved" groups edit "offensive" and "disrespectful" text from student newspapers.
All in the name of "tolerance" and "diversity," of course!
In today's Wilmington News Journal under the headline "Del. experts try to explain Muslims' anger," we are treated to this amazing piece of insight:
"Muslims take their religion and their religious symbols -- and particularly God, the Quran and the prophet -- very seriously," said Muqtedar Khan, an assistant professor of political science and international relations at the University of Delaware.
"There is a tremendous respect ingrained in Muslims about the prophet Muhammad and all of the prophets," added Kahn, who teaches courses on Islam and global affairs as well as Middle Eastern and South Asian politics.
Not mentioned by Khan: some Muslims take it so seriously that they feel it "right" and "just" to kill, maim, and generally wreak havoc upon others.
Also not mentioned by Khan: how a "religion of peace" is constantly misinterpreted to allow such.
We got another winner this week. It's Joe Apostolico of Wilmington who writes
I'm happy to see that elected officials are attempting to control the increasing rates of Delmarva Power. Now when is somebody going to do something about the thieves at Comcast Cable, who raise their rates on a whim?
While I can appreciate the sentiment behind Joe's letter, comparing a necessity like electric power to an obvious luxury like ... cable TV??
C'mon, Joe. You can't call Delmarva and say "I want to cancel my electricity service." You can call Comcast and tell them you want to cancel cable TV. Just resort to pulling out those rabbit ears from the back of the tube and enjoy channels 3, 6, 10 and 12!!
(The best solution would actually be to introduce competition to both services, but I'm merely dealing with the present circumstances, natch.)
In my view, who cares really? Not 'cause of Al -- 'cause the News Journal's a rag. And besides, Al has his daily WDEL radio show anyways.
UPDATE: Here's the News Journal's article about Al's exit.
I did a little Googling about the situation down in the Indian River School District to see if I could get a handle on the timeline regarding Mona Dobrich and her lawsuit against said district. Mainly, I wanted to see if it jibed with what my source down in that district had to say about the whole affair.
Dobrich's initial complaint is that the district allowed a denominational prayer (Christian) at a graduation (Sussex Central HS), to which Dobrich said "she felt excluded." But that wasn't all.
The lawsuit alleges the district has created "an environment of religious exclusion" and that school-sponsored prayer, often explicitly Christian, is pervasive.
The lawsuit alleges prayers are used at official school board meetings, athletic events, banquets and graduation services; that a Bible club is offered at Selbyville Middle School, and students who participate receive preferential treatment; and that religion has worked its way into some classrooms.
The lawsuit claims a social studies teacher at Selbyville Middle told his class there is "only one true religion" and a science teacher told her class she did not believe in the "big-bang theory" of the creation of the universe. She then encouraged students to attend the Bible club to learn more.
My source says that after the complaint about graduation prayer, myriad meetings were held across the district to clarify and set policies. Indeed, the district agreed to stop prayers at graduations. But the Dobrichs' other complaints were maintained, and indeed, that's why they filed their lawsuit.
My source says that there is indeed a Bible Club at Selbyville Middle, but that its legality was thoroughly investigated before it was established. It is held during lunch hour, is student led, and the teacher that supervises it does so on his/her own time (it's lunch, after all) and is purely voluntary.
What's forgotten, too, perhaps, is that part of the Dobrichs' lawsuit has already been defeated.
A judge's ruling that an explicitly Christian prayer before a school board meeting is legal -- a small part of a Jewish family's civil rights lawsuit against a Delaware public school district -- could help set a national precedent.
While officially sanctioned prayer in public schools has been illegal for years, national experts said the issue of prayer at school board meetings is unsettled and this case could resolve the matter.
Other courts have found, as U.S. District Judge Joseph J. Farnan Jr. did this month, that a school board is equivalent to a legislature or town council, where courts have ruled prayer is a "tolerable" tradition and legal.
Still, Indian River initially agreed to a settlement of the further complaints, but then backed off, all the while taking advantage, it seems, of Judge Farnan's ruling noted above. So, it seems the Dobrichs and another anonymous couple (how can someone remain anonymous when filing a lawsuit? Doesn't one have the right to face one's accuser?) will now go forward on their other claims, and also, perhaps, to test Judge Farnan's ruling.
Dickie Dunn has more. I think he misses that Judge Farnan had already ruled that school board meeting prayers did not have to be non-denominational. I am also curious as to the $1 million settlement figure Dickie mentions. My source says it was between $100 and $400 thousand. Nevertheless, based on this Googling and my source's info, I now think Indian River has a better chance of prevailing in the lawsuit than I initially did.
Elsewhere, teacher Jay Bennish remains in "hot water" for his anti-Bush, anti-American diatribe in a 10th grade geography classroom in Colorado. The Huffington Post erroneously reports that Bennish was "suspended for criticizing Bush" (it may also be the Washington Times headline); it seems he was actually suspended for unprofessional conduct in the classroom -- mainly, failing to provide a balanced approach to topics and subjects that clearly require it.
I already opined on Bennish; now, his attorney has been on all the pundit shows claiming that Bennish's free speech rights have been violated. I think that whole premise is bunk (I wonder what the ACLU in the Indian River District would say. I mean, a teacher can't opine that he/she doesn't believe in the Big Bang Theory but Bennish's free speech rights have been tossed aside??); in addition, Bennish's lawyer actually said that Bennish's course is designed to allow Bennish to do just what he did. He said (paraphrase) "Bennish is throwing out ideas and statements to his students. He's saying 'disagree with me. Rebut me. Debate me.'"
Does anyone else not see the problem with that? Bennish is a 28 year old college graduate who wants ... 14 to 16 year olds to "take him on"?? Wow, what a "man"! What a "stud"! A guy with a college education in the subject he teaches "debating" kids half his age. Give me a royal break. A REAL teacher would provide viewpoints from both sides of the political spectrum, and then ask the kids to debate the given topic.
Conservative Thinking, which apparently is located near Bennish's district, has much much more. I especially liked this one student comment about Bennish culled from Rate My Teachers.com:
A teacher who knows his stuff but refuses to teach it! Stop complaining and start teaching.
I once wrote back on the old "Cube" about my cooperating teacher when I did my student teaching. (Quick aside: Delawarean Mike McKain of McLefty is currently doing his student teaching; send him your well wishes if you have a sec 'cause student teaching is indeed a "trying" time!) This teacher was very conservative; however, he was adamant -- ADAMANT -- that I, or anyone else, not bring their personal politics into the classroom, and, in addition, that a balanced presentation be offered especially for more controversial subjects. Period. This teacher would even refuse to discuss his personal views with students after school or even out in public if he ran into some of his students.
He never moaned about his First Amendment rights in the classroom. Know why? He was a professional. He understood what his job was and he did it -- properly.
Here's Bennish's class syllabus, supposedly. In he writes "Students need to learn for themselves, in the end, this make their education more meaningful and relevant." Yes, but Mr. Bennish, aren't you supposed to assist in this learning? And how can students learn if they're only getting one side of the story? Elsewhere, he ironically writes "The main objective of my class is to help students to think for themselves ..." and "Students will be treated as adults, as long as they demonstrate mature, responsible behavior. Since discussions and participation are a significant part of my class, all students must feel comfortable sharing their ideas."
But they're not adults, Mr. Bennish. And it is very unlikely that "students will feel comfortable sharing their ideas" if they constantly only hear ONE version of events from their instructor!
Dignan dissects Bennish's recorded classroom lecture.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention in this post that yesterday I sent an e-mail to the Delaware Civil Liberties Union asking them if they had threatened a lawsuit -- or at least expressed interest in -- the Christina School District's accommodation of Muslim students during Ramadan (see here). So far, no reply.
The daughter of one of the artists behind one of the controversial newspaper caricatures of the prophet Mohammed was sought out at her school by twelve Muslim men, a leading Danish politician claims.
Jens Rohde, political chairman of the prime minister's Liberal Party, made this claim during a debate program on Danish television on Thursday evening.
The twelve cartoonists are now in hiding after receiving death threats.
"And a daughter of one of the artists was sought out by twelve Muslim men at a school, they wanted to get hold of this daughter. Luckily she was not at school," Rohde said.
Rohde told Danish news agency Ritzau that he received this information from a meeting with the artists.
Danish blogger Sugiero has more thoughts.
UPDATE: Turns out this story was not true.
Howard Dean to the Jewish Council for Public Affairs:
The Democrats have a better idea. First we will conclude the negotiations with the Chinese and the North Koreans to disarm North Korea. Secondly, under no circumstances will a Democratic Administration ever allow Iran to become a nuclear power. Three, we will kill or capture Osama bin Laden and four, the authority and the control of the ports of the United States must be retained by American companies.
Negotiations with the Chinese? No problem! Disarm North Korea? Sure! And What exactly will a Democratic administration do to prevent Iran from getting nukes? Bomb them? Send in troops? Use nukes ourselves?
Capture Osama bin Laden?? You mean just like the last Democratic administration did when offered him on a silver platter? Like that?? Wow!!
And forget that Dubai deal -- NO foreign company will run American ports! That ain't racial profiling! That's only what occurs when foreigners are unfairly targeted at airports!!
... this dude is really a bad example of a teacher. Not because of his [radical] political views, but because he espoused them without balance in his classroom. Period. Be sure to read the entire transcript of what he said.
(In a related matter on this story, did the student who made the recording get permission to tape the teacher's lectures/discussions? That's a legitimate question.)
In a similar story, this teacher held a mock war crimes trial for President Bush. The difference in this case, however, is that this teacher is presenting a balanced presentation -- there are students "prosecuting" Bush and those "defending" him. From the article, it sounds like a neat lesson plan, albeit controversial, surely. But what's social studies without a bit of controversy anyway?
The teacher, Joseph Kyle, is supported by his principal. And, he hasn't just used such a lesson plan against "one side":
Kyle is no stranger to controversial topics. Starting on Tuesday, his sophomore class will put former President Andrew Jackson on trial for alleged abuses against Native Americans.
Kyle insisted that he doesn't have a partisan agenda. While teaching at Montclair High School, he conducted an impeachment trial of President Clinton while he was in office.
"There's nothing bad with exploring evidence on both sides," Kyle said.
Indeed there's "nothing bad!" It's vital when teaching social studies!
UPDATE: The dude from the first story (who really looks like this guy) has been put on leave. Isn't that a bit extreme? Couldn't the principal or superintendent haul the guy in and say "Knock it the hell off?"
And on the Cavuto show on FNC, they're showing students staging a "walk-out" -- in support of the teacher and against the kid who recorded the teacher's rants, calling him a "snitch"!! It's silly to report this anyway as kids will use ANY excuse for a walk-out (you should have seen some of them in this case, too). But "snitching"? As a parent, I'd be pissed as hell at this teacher's unbalanced diatribes, and would definitely want to know about it.
By the way, does anyone else recall a few years ago when a district in Florida wanted to pass a curriculum measure that referred to the United States as "the best country in the world" (or something like that) and how the local NEA chapter and other left-leaning organizations went ape-doodoo?
UPDATE 2: Found a link about that Florida district. Google is awesome. Here was their original resolution on how to teach multiculturalism:
This instruction shall also include and instill in our students an appreciation of our American heritage and culture such as: our republican form of government, capitalism, a free enterprise system, patriotism, strong family values, freedom of religion and other basic values that are superior to other foreign or historic cultures.
Yeah, a bit harsh. Even Lynne Cheney finds it so. Still, the NEA is supposed to represent ALL its members (and their viewpoints), so I'll wait and see if they show outrage at radical teacher Jay Bennish.
UPDATE 3: The rad teacher, Jay Bennish, has hired an ACLU attorney, apparently -- the same hotshot who represented Ward Churchill.
Who'da thunk it?
Today's News Journal editorial opines against the Indian River School Board's decision not to make a deal on its ... religiosity. I concur with much of what the [editorial] board says here, in particular it is refreshing to see a school board stand up a to a group like the ACLU; unfortunately, they picked the wrong time to do it. The I.R. board is wrong if it insists on a specific denominational prayer at events like graduations.
But, it must be noted it's not clear what the initial deal was between the school board and the woman who made the initial complaint, Mona Dobrich. It seems, based on the WNJ's reporting, that the Indian River board desires to keep reciting denominational prayers (in this case, Christian) at various events. On the other hand, if the deal was to ban all forms of prayer at school events, then the school board has a damn good point about refusing the deal.
Back to the main point of this post, I was wondering if the WNJ board opined similarly when the Christina School District allowed Muslim students to have a separate room in which to pray (supervised by a teacher) during Ramadan. They did. Score one for consistency.