Friday, March 31, 2006

Wage Vs. Compensation

People have been complaining that wages aren't going up much. What they leave out is that employers have to pay more than just the hourly rate. This chart in the Wall Street Journal really illustrates this. And of course the UAW is going on strike because they are trying to cut back on these expenses to stay out of bankruptcy.

Jay Leno Joke O' the Day

"As part of their new national security plan Democrats are promising to find the leader of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden. Oh come on, the Democrats can't even find the leader of the Democratic Party!"

-Jay Leno-

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Boycott Borders!

Odd, whenever Christian groups protest books that they find objectionable, you don't see bookstores pulling the material off of their shelves, instead you hear outraged cries against censorship. I think we should start a boycott, until Borders reverses this cowardly act. I am going to send them in my red discount card. Either that or start rioting until they pull all of the Al Franken books.

Borders and Waldenbooks stores will not stock the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine because it contains cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that provoked deadly protests among Muslims in several countries.

"For us, the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we believe that carrying this issue could challenge that priority," Borders Group Inc. spokeswoman Beth Bingham said Wednesday.

The magazine, published by the Council for Secular Humanism in suburban Amherst, includes four of the drawings that originally appeared in a Danish newspaper in September, including one depicting Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban with a lit fuse.

They say that the safety of their employees and customers is the reason for them doing this. But why stop with this one magazine? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books in your average Borders which contain ideas powerful enough to incite action. Who knows when one of them could strike! We have no way of even knowing ahead of time which books they are. Therefore the only safe thing to do is to shut them down, stop selling books. We must boycott all Borders stores until they end this threat to public security!

Inflation or Other Phenomena

I posted on this earlier, but now economist Don Boudreaux from Cafe Hayek has another article, this time published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, on inflation and living standards as measure by the Sears catalog. This little excerpt got me thinking:

One objection to drawing conclusions from this research is that many things that Americans buy are not sold in department stores. If the prices of these nondepartment-store items -- such as housing and higher education -- have risen faster than wage rates, then ordinary Americans might still be worse off.

In fact, the amount of time the ordinary American worker must work today to purchase a house, a car and a four-year college degree is greater than it was in 1975. But houses today are larger and much-better equipped than they were 30 years ago; automobiles are enormously improved and more durable; and the addition to lifetime earnings generated by a college education is significantly higher.

Even discounting the factors he mentions in the second paragraph, are rising housing and education prices really even a reflection of falling standards of living, even if they are "inflationary".? Rising housing prices is largely caused by the scarcity of real estate. There is no practical way of creating more real estate, so it will continue to become increasingly more expensive, especially in highly populated areas. This isn't a sign of falling living standards, but of rising living standards as people increasingly want to live in these areas.

Education, on the other hand, is basically the purchase of labor, in this case your professor. Monetary policy aside, inflation is reflected by productivity. If I have to work 1 hour in order to earn 10 widgets, and then next year, due to automation, I only have to work 30 minutes to earn those same 10 widgets, then you can say that there is deflation. The cost of those widgets has dropped in half. At the same time though, the effective cost of my labor, when measured in widgets, has doubled. So if it cost me 1000 widgets per semester to pay my professor before, his labor is now worth 2000 widgets. Is this a sign of inflation and falling living standards, or the simple fact that as productivity increases in non-labor intensive processes, the relative cost of labor will go up?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

They Have It a Little Backwards

It is the end of free speech at yet another American University, this time NYU. As reported by LGF a Muslim student group is protesting to keep an Objectivist group (Hey, I am on an Ayn Rand kick) from displaying the infamous Mohammed cartoons. LGF posted this ridiculous letter from the Muslim group, which I have excerpted here:

Tomorrow the Objectivist Club is sponsoring an event that will display a series of cartoons recently published in a Danish newspaper. These cartoons depict the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Islam in a highly offensive manner. These same cartoons unfortunately have lead to riots, protests, beatings, and deaths all around the world. We are asking all students to stand in solidarity with us as we seek to protest hatred and discrimination on OUR CAMPUS. On Wednesday we will be meeting at Kimmel at 5:30 PM in protest of the University’s decision to allow the cartoons to be displayed. Remember that this same type of manifestation of hatred has lead to the murder of many innocent people. We can look as far back as the 1930’s in the years prior to the Holocaust when Nazi Germany circulated hate-filled images of our Jewish brothers and sisters throughout society. Contemporary situations such as Rwanda have also caused bloody genocides. It is necessary for all of us to stand together and speak out against this, as hatred does not discriminate against any color, race, creed, or religion; all it does is hate.

They are leaving out a really big point, the cartoons didn't incite people to riot and attack Muslims, it was Muslims who were rioting. If the Nazis running hateful cartoons of Jews had caused the Jews to commit genocide against the Nazis, then he would have a point. Quite obviously it happened the other way around.

Euphemism O' The Day

From a WSJ article on the riots in France:

Taking shelter under a shop awning during a heavy downpour, a couple of French pensioners dressed in red jackets and wearing red stickers of the French Communist Party said they joined the march to protect the future of their 10 grandchildren.

Jacques Heller, 70, said he had some issues with the brutality of the old Soviet Union but also reminisced about the days when communism still "offered hope." His three children, he said, were not communists. Mr. Heller said he's not optimistic about his party ever winning power. Nonetheless, said his wife, Michelle, 68, a retired hospital worker, "we can't give up."

He had "some issues". Twenty million people died under Soviet communism and the most he could say was that he had issues. Gee, I wonder how many people they would have to murder to make him "slightly concerned"?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Atlas Shakes His Head in Disbelief

In Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged, the producers of the world go on strike in protest of being attacked for their work, and stop the "motor of the world". Now we have the opposite happening, students in France, who have never produced anything are rioting over the possibility that they might have to in the future. Now students in California, and elsewhere, are walking out of class in protest of the possibility that they might have to follow the law. What are they going to do if we don't meet their demands, contribute even less to society?

"If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater the effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders--what would you tell him to do?"

"I . . . don't know. What . . . could he do? What would you tell him?"

"To shrug."

Monday, March 27, 2006

A Classy Economist

Pop economist Steven Levitt may be getting all the press, but in my humble opinion nobody gets to the heart of basic economic issues like Thomas Sowell. The Weekend Edition of the WSJ has a great interview with him, for those of you with a subscription:

Similarly, Mr. Sowell says his interest in "international perspectives" -- most notably demonstrated in his lengthy trilogy on cultural history published in the 1990s -- initially came from reading Nathan Glazer and Daniel Patrick Moynihan's 1963 classic study, "Beyond the Melting Pot." "It was really the first book I read about different ethnic groups. There were many different patterns. And more than anything else, each group had its own pattern.

"The left likes to portray a group as sort of a creature of surrounding society. But that's not true. For example, back during the immigrant era, you had neighborhoods on the Lower East Side [of Manhattan] where Jews and Italians arrived at virtually identical times. Lived in the same neighborhoods. Kids sat side by side in the same schools. But totally different outcomes. Now, if you look back at the history of the Jews and the history of the Italians you can see why that would be. In the early 19th century, Russian officials report that even the poorest Jews find some way to get some books in their home, even though they're living in a society where over 90% of the people are illiterate.

"Conversely, in southern Italy, which is where most Italian-Americans originated, when they put in compulsory school-attendance laws, there were riots. There were schoolhouses burning down. So now you take these two kids and sit them side by side in a school. If you believe that environment means the immediate surroundings, they're in the same environment. But if you believe environment includes this cultural pattern that goes back centuries before they were born, then no, they're not in the same environment. They don't come into that school building with the same mindset. And they don't get the same results."

Friday, March 24, 2006

We Have Seen This All Before

Victor Davis Hanson, as always, provides the historical perspective.

Nothing in this war is much different from those of the past. We have fought suicide bombers in the Pacific. Intelligence failures doomed tens of thousands — not 2,300 — at the Bulge and Okinawa. We pacified the Philippines through counterinsurgency fighting. Failure to calibrate the extent of Al Zarqawi’s insurrection pales before the Chinese crossing of the Yalu.

Even our current clinical depression is typically American. In July 1864, Lincoln was hated and McClellan and the Copperheads who wished a cessation of war and bisection of country canonized. Truman left office with the nation’s anger that he had failed in Korea. As George Bush Sr. departed, the conventional wisdom was that the budding chaos and redrawing of the map of Eastern Europe would prompt decades of instability as former Communists could not simply be spoon fed democracy and capitalism. During Afghanistan by week five we were in a quagmire; the dust storm supposedly threatened our success in Iraq — in the manner that the explosion of the dome at Samarra marked the beginning of a hopeless civil war that “lost” Iraq.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Openness for Unions

I have always found it ironic that it is illegal for companies to work together to set prices, but unions are legally sanctioned by the government to do so. In any case I found this story in the Weekly Standard on new union reporting requirements interesting.

A few days spent perusing the spreadsheets of the 20 percent of unions that have already submitted their LM-2s for fiscal year 2005 showed that many unions have reported their affairs in detail--down to the $97,888 made by the enterprising Retiree Chapter Local 455 of the UAW in bingo income. Other numbers may raise eyebrows. Gerald B. Ellis, for example, made $116,703 in 2004 as a business manager at Local 627 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, a member of the AFL-CIO. Local 627 also buys $86,400 worth of legal services from the one-man law firm Gerald B. Ellis, Inc., nicely padding its business manager's income.

And how about the lavish destination meetings enjoyed by the AFL-CIO's executive council: As the private watchdog organization the Center for Union Facts reported recently after it followed the super-union's executive council to its retreat in California, the 46 members of the council stayed at the pricey Hotel del Coronado (check the Labor Department's website next year for dollar amounts) at a time when the Carpenters' Union was picketing that very hotel--hypocrisy one might expect of a politician (say, Nancy Pelosi, who won't allow workers at her Napa Valley hotel to unionize), but surely not of labor bosses, right?

Liberals Gone Wild!

Why is it all I hear about is how it is the Republicans are losing it?

State Senators Gone Wild.

A New York State Senator is accused of harassing a staffer in her Albany office.

According to the Albany Times Union, Queens Democrat Ada Smith allegedly threw coffee in the staffers face, and pulled her hair.

New York State Police have confirmed that there is investigation into the allegations. Since it is an on-going investigation he could not comment or release any details.

Unethical Treatment of Humans

Students from PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, drew an angry crowd on Sproul after displaying images that compared animal treatment to the lynching and enslavement of black Americans. About a dozen Berkeley students furiously engaged the PETA members, accusing the animal rights group of racism. The situation intensified when one member of the crowd threw ketchup and mustard on the PETA display and another tore down part of the exhibit.

H/T Michelle Malkin on that second one.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The News of Our Death Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

If you remember back in the 80's the story was how the rise of Japan would mean the demise of the US as a world economic power. Then they had a real estate crash, a stock market crash, a banking crisis, and a decade long recession. Now supposedly China plays the role of the great foreign threat. From that weird pink newspaper, the Financial Times:

The competitiveness of China’s manufacturing industries has suffered serious erosion over the past year, according to one of the world’s largest trade sourcing companies.

Hong Kong-based Li & Fung group, which manages a $7.1bn a year trading business, said price rises crept back into the Sino-US and EU supply chains last year, after at least six years of often “severe deflation”.

William Fung, Li & Fung managing director, reported an average 2-3 per cent increase in the once unbeatable China price its US and European clients were willing to pay. He pointed to a “double-digit” rise in Chinese labour costs, the revaluation of the renminbi and higher oil and energy costs for the shift.

Are You Ready To Rumble?!

Personally I think it is a stretch for Ward Churchill to even be considered an academic in the first place. He is a fake Indian, an academic fraud, and managed to turn a master's degree in communication from an experimental university into a full professorship in ethnic studies. It should be entertaining at least. Hopefully it will be broadcast on the web. H/T Michelle Malkin.

Author David Horowitz will debate the University of Colorado professor he listed among America's worst academics.

Horowitz and ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill said Tuesday in separate interviews that the idea came from Churchill.

Horowitz has called Churchill's views "absurd on their face" and listed him in a book on professors who he says allow their opinions to dominate their lectures.

But Horowitz also said in a talk at CU that Churchill should not be fired for expressing controversial views.

The debate is scheduled for April 6 at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Horowitz said. It will be sponsored by Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture and Young America's Foundation, which bills itself as a conservative group.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Column That Keeps On Giving

I have written probably half a dozen posts on Paul Krugman's column "French Family Values". But what can I say, it is the world's two easiest targets, liberal NY Times columnists, and the French.

From the original article:

But there are compensations for this lower level of consumption. Because French schools are good across the country, the French family doesn't have to worry as much about getting its children into a good school district.

From the Brussels Journal today:

Indeed, the French are reaping the harvest of their own stupid policies during the past decades. The same applies to today’s student dissatisfaction. In France a university degree does not guarantee success in life. More important than universities are the so-called grandes écoles, such as the ENA, the École nationale d’administration. The ruling élite (to which Prime Minister Villepin and President Chirac belong but not, significantly, their rival, the “pro-Anglo-Saxon” Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy) consists of so-called énarques or ENA alumni. The state run grandes écoles can only be entered after taking two years of “classes préparatoires” (or prépas). It is very difficult, and costs a fortune, to get admitted to the prépas, with the result that university is only a second choice for many students.

For the French state, too, universities are merely second choice. While it subsidizes the prépas with 13,760 euros per head per year, universities get only 6,700 euros per head per year. Universities are typically overcrowded institutions, housed in old, delapidated buildings. In general students are not even free to choose their university, but have to go to the one nearest to where they live. Almost half of the students fail to pass the first two of the six years, and leave the institution after two years without a degree, entering the job market without qualifications. Mia Doornaert, a Belgian journalist who has lived in France for many years, describes French universities as “parking lots” for youths, where they can be stored for two years, allowing the government to pretend that unemployment figures are actually lower than they really are.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Fair Trade Coffee?

I opined on this issue before, how fair trade coffee didn't seem fair to me. Now the always excellent Cafe Hayek comments on an article on this issue, in the New York Times amazingly. It seems like not only do customers get ripped off, but so do the farmers they are proposing to help. An Excerpt:

Fair Trade labels don't list the amount paid to farmers; that sum requires research. The amount can vary depending on the commodity. An analysis using information from TransFair shows that cocoa farmers get 3 cents of the $3.49 spent on a 3.5-ounce chocolate bar labeled "organic fair trade" sold at Target. Farmers receive 24 cents for a one-pound bag of fair trade sugar sold at Whole Foods for $3.79.

The coffee farmer who produced the one-pound bag of coffee purchased by Mr. Terman received $1.26, higher than the commodity rate of $1.10. But whether Mr. Terman paid $10 or $6 for that fair trade coffee, the farmer gets the same $1.26.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Krugman on McCain

John McCain gets what is probably his best edorsement for president, Paul Krugman attacks him:

The bottom line is that Mr. McCain isn't a moderate; he's a man of the hard right. How far right? A statistical analysis of Mr. McCain's recent voting record, available at, ranks him as the Senate's third most conservative member.

What about Mr. McCain's reputation as a maverick? This comes from the fact that every now and then he seems to declare his independence from the Bush administration, as he did in pushing through his anti-torture bill.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Guantánamo. President Bush, when signing the bill, appended a statement that in effect said that he was free to disregard the law whenever he chose. Mr. McCain protested, but there are apparently no hard feelings: at the recent Southern Republican Leadership Conference he effusively praised Mr. Bush.

If Krugman doesn't like him, all the more reason to vote for him.

A Tale of Two Justices

Justice Scalia:

BOSTON --U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia railed against the era of the "judge-moralist," saying judges are no better qualified than "Joe Sixpack" to decide moral questions such as abortion and gay marriage.

"Anyone who thinks the country's most prominent lawyers reflect the views of the people needs a reality check," he said during a speech to New England School of Law students and faculty at a Law Day banquet on Wednesday night.

The 70-year-old justice said the public, through elected Legislatures -- not the courts -- should decide watershed questions such as the legality of abortion.

Justice Ginsburg:

To a large extent, I believe, the critics in Congress and in the media misperceive how and why U.S. courts refer to foreign and international court decisions. We refer to decisions rendered abroad, it bears repetition, not as controlling authorities, but for their indication, in Judge Wald's words, of "common denominators of basic fairness governing relationships between the governors and the governed."

Need I say more?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Not the Beer!

While politicians have been whining about the price of oil, they have failed to see the real threat to our nation.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Brewmaster Neil Witte has an unusual job to do these days: combing through scrap metal.

"There's one!" he shouted on a recent afternoon, as he tugged a shiny, 30-pound cylinder from the mountain of stainless steel at a local junkyard. Last year, Mr. Witte recovered more than 100 kegs in this same lot that had been stolen from his employer, Boulevard Brewing Co. Around him were dozens of steel kegs stamped with the logos of Miller and Anheuser-Busch and various Mexican and European brewers. They all suffer from the problem of kegs with legs.

A global boom in the market price for commodities, including steel and aluminum, has sent scrap-metal prices soaring. And that has created a tempting target for criminals world-wide in everyday objects that contain metals -- from light poles along highways to lowly beer kegs.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Wesley Clark Indulges In a Little Revisionist History

Former NATO commander and Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark weighs in on the death of Slobodan Milosevic in today's WSJ:

It was another strategic miscalculation by Milosevic. NATO followed through in its threats, unleashing a 78-day, gradually intensifying air campaign and threatened ground intervention. Coupled with Russian diplomatic assistance and his indictment for war crimes, Milosevic was forced to pull his forces out of Kosovo.

I am not exactly sure how his indictment for war crimes contributed to pulling his forces out of Kosovo, but if you say so Wes...

But what is this "threatened ground intervention"? There wasn't a whole lot of threatening going on. In fact for most of the war Clinton went out of his way to make it clear he wouldn't use ground troops. It was only towards the end that NATO started to make vague comments about the use of troops in a "semipermissive environment". Now all of a sudden that is bold leadership.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

These People Need to Get Their Asses Kicked

This is just disgusting.

Five women sang and danced as they held up signs saying "thank God for dead soldiers" at the funeral of an army sergeant who was killed by an Iraqi bomb.

For them, it was the perfect way to spread God's word: America was being punished for tolerating homosexuality.

For the hundreds of flag waving bikers who came to this small town in Michigan Saturday to shield the soldier's family, it was disgusting.

"That could be me in that church," said Jackie Sandler whose son Keith is currently serving his second tour of duty in Iraq.

The fringe group of fire and brimstone Baptists from Kansas has been courting controversy for more than 15 years, traveling the country with their hateful signs and slogans.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

I Didn't Even Make the Top 746!

There are 9 Washington State billionares listed by Forbes this year. Unfortunately your humble blogger is not listed among them. I am still ticked off that People magazine keeps leaving me off the Sexiest Man Alive list too...

1. William Gates III, Washington, 50, $50, Microsoft
6. Paul Allen, Washington, 53, $22, Microsoft, investments
24. Steven Ballmer, Washington, 50, $13.6, Microsoft
147. Jeffrey Bezos, Washington, 42, $4.3, Amazon
365. Craig McCaw, Washington, 56, $2.1, McCaw Cellular
606. James Jannard, Washington, 56, $ 1.3, Oakley
746. John Edson, Washington, 73, $1, leisure craft
746. Charles Simonyi, Washington, 58, $1, Microsoft
746. John Stanton, Washington, 50, $1, wireless

On a related note, what is with Paul Allen? He was lucky enough to drop out of WSU (which I would generally suggest is a good idea anyway) to start Microsoft with Bill Gates, but since then he has been a crappy investor. OK, the Seahawks finally did make it to the Superbowl, but give me $22 billion and I can do better than that! From today's WSJ:

It's hard to pity Paul Allen? The Microsoft Corp. co-founder is worth $21 billion, owns a 414-foot yacht with its own yellow submarine and the chair Captain Kirk sat in on "Star Trek." Yet these expensive toys have cost little in comparison with the money Mr. Allen has blown in misconceived business ventures.

Since leaving Microsoft two decades ago, Mr. Allen has struggled to dispel the notion that he owes his wealth solely to his prep-school camaraderie with Bill Gates. During the dot-com mania he dropped billions into the Internet, tech and telecom sectors -- in firms ranging from Inc. to broadband group RCN Corp. -- with little to show for it.

Bye Bye Slobo

Former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic was found dead in his cell this morning, as reported by the AP. I don't think he will be missed. One thing I found interesting when I was in Bosnia was that many of the Serbs hated him, because they thought that he sold them out in the Dayton accords. Of course the Muslims and Croats hated him from the beginning. I am just amazed the neverending trial finally came to an end.

Just a little photomontage to remember him by.

The Crni Vrh mass grave site, where over 700 bodies were found.

The Potocari Cemetary.

I would have more tributes to his "achievements" but my harddrive crashed and I lost some pics.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

What Would We Do Without Studies?

From the AP:

Study Warns Women About Spring Break

CHICAGO - The American Medical Association is warning girls not to go wild during spring break. All but confirming what goes on in those "Girls Gone Wild" videos, 83 percent of college women and graduates surveyed by the AMA said spring break involves heavier-than-usual drinking, and 74 percent said the break results in increased sexual activity.

Update: Jay Leno must read my blog, because he mentioned this story the night before last, the joke went like this:

"The AMA published a report warning college women to avoid excessive drinking and promiscous sex during spring break. College men responded by telling the AMA to 'mind their own business!' "

I also got a credit on the Best of the Web for this. Another 2-3 seconds, out of my 15 minutes of fame, gone.

Inflation: Which Way Is It Going?

Paul Krugman, and other economists, often assert that real wages have been relatively stagnant over the last 25 years or so, due to inflation. I have taken the other approach, that inflation is actually overstated, due to the difficulty of measuring changes in the quality and assortment of consumer products over long periods of time. For an excellent explanation of this, check out Cafe Hayek.

Now I have been pointed to this rather creative article on MSN Money, arguing, among other things that inflation has been understated by 70% since the Carter years. Given the previous argument that wages as currently measured have been stagnant, this would then mean that our real wages, and thus standard of living, have decreased by over half over the last 25 years.

How this has happened without anyone noticing is beyond me. Everyone I know is living in bigger homes, driving bigger cars complete with ABS, power steering, heated seats, 17 speaker stereos with 6 disc CD changers. People eat out more often and are fatter than ever, hardly indicative of a severe fall in living standards. Laptops, cell phones, and I-Pods are smaller than they were 25 years ago, I guess that must indicate a fall in living standards! I suppose 25 years ago people used to pay 10 cents for a cup of coffee, and are now forced to pay $4.50 for a venti triple decaf non-fat mocha with caramel sauce at Starbucks, so this must be the hyperinflation he is talking about.

Amazing, simply amazing.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Quote O' the Day

From a debate on Al Jazeera, as transcribed on Michelle Malkin's blog.

"The Jews have come from the tragedy [of the Holocaust], and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling. Humanity owes most of the discoveries and science of the 19th and 20th centuries to Jewish scientists. Fifteen million people, scattered throughout the world, united and won their rights through work and knowledge. We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people. The Muslims turned three Buddha statues into rubble. We have not seen a single Buddhist burn down a mosque, kill a Muslim, or burn down an embassy. Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people, and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

So Much For Free Speech In Oregon

Fellow Pac-10 school Oregon State University is having a bit of a controversy. Three weeks ago a student published an article (available here) criticizing what he termed the double-standard of Islam, that Muslims insist on respect for their religion, and show none towards other religions. While the article was rather strongly worded, it seemed to me fairly well written and argued. Apparently this is too much for some people, now a Muslim student group, and others, at OSU are protesting this article as being unsensitive. One student even argued for more "sensitivity training", the modern left's Orwellian re-education camps.

In the quad, a group of graduate students stood in support of the Islamic students. Dave Markel said he thought the demonstration was a way to spin the negative reaction to the column in a positive way. “This is much better than continuing to sit in a cloud of hostility. This has opened up a lot of conversations in classes … this has affected the entire campus,” he said.

Cathlene McGraw, who works in the campus cultural centers encouraging diversity in the student body, said the Barometer should not have printed Blake’s column.

“Free speech is great,” she said, “but accountability also needs to be there. I don’t think they should have published it. It was not received the way they expected … it came off so hateful.”

McGraw said the Barometer staff might need more training in diversity, specifically relating to free speech and hate speech. Currently, Barometer staff members must complete “Difference, Power, and Discrimination” classes — required of all OSU undergraduates — within a year of joining the staff.

Barometer editor DD Bixby has not issued a public apology for statements made in Blake’s column. “We are very sorry that people were so hurt by this, but I am hopeful that good things can come from this,” she said. “We brought global issues to the steps of the university and made people face them.

“After this column and the reaction to it, I can see that Muslims feel they are the next group to be really hated in this country.”

Which basicallly makes the author's argument. In many Muslim countries you can get yourself killed for practicing another religion, but in the US, on perhaps the most liberal and "tolerant" institution available, the college campus, we have people demanding self-censorship, in the name of tolerance, from even asking questions about Islam. H/T LGF.

To make things even worse, it appears that the student newspaper, for fear of offending people, is now running stories about Muslims past Muslim students. Does this apply to all groups? Will they let veterans, for example, approve stories about the Iraq War?

BTW am I the only one who notices the irony of a newspaper article which calls for understanding of Islamic beliefs, which has a suggestive Victoria's Secret ad on the side?

Friday, March 03, 2006

None Dare Call It Treason

From an article on former President Carter, who apparently doesn't realize he is the FORMER president.

President Carter personally called Secretary of State Rice to try to convince her to reverse her U.N. ambassador’s position on changes to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, the former president recalled yesterday in a talk in which he also criticized President Bush’s Christian bona fides and misstated past American policies on Israel.

Mr. Carter said he made a personal promise to ambassadors from Egypt, Pakistan, and Cuba on the U.N. change issue that was undermined by America’s ambassador, John Bolton. “My hope is that when the vote is taken,” he told the Council on Foreign Relations, “the other members will outvote the United States.”

While other former presidents have tried to refrain from attacking the sitting chief executive, Mr. Carter’s attacks on President Bush have increased.The episode he recounted yesterday showed how he tried to undermine officials at lower levels in an effort to influence policy.

Now I am no lawyer, but I can read:

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 45 > § 953

§ 953. Private correspondence with foreign governments

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Well This Would Explain Some of Her Decisions

From an AP story on the Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court had put the Texas cases on the fast track, scheduling an unusually long two-hour afternoon session.

The subject matter was extremely technical, and near the end of the argument Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dozed in her chair. Justices David and Samuel Alito, who flank the 72-year-old, looked at her but did not give her a nudge.

All Power to the Soviets!!

Paul Krugman takes class envy to new heights, starting out writing an article on supposedly how getting a college degree isn't worth much anymore, and ending up with a rant about how this country has several thousand really rich people, who I guess are really evil and don't treat the help very well or something. This is a lame Times Select article, but a free partial link here.

A new research paper by Ian Dew-Becker and Robert Gordon of Northwestern University, "Where Did the Productivity Growth Go?," gives the details. Between 1972 and 2001 the wage and salary income of Americans at the 90th percentile of the income distribution rose only 34 percent, or about 1 percent per year. So being in the top 10 percent of the income distribution, like being a college graduate, wasn't a ticket to big income gains.

But income at the 99th percentile rose 87 percent; income at the 99.9th percentile rose 181 percent; and income at the 99.99th percentile rose 497 percent. No, that's not a misprint.

Just to give you a sense of who we're talking about: the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that this year the 99th percentile will correspond to an income of $402,306, and the 99.9th percentile to an income of $1,672,726. The center doesn't give a number for the 99.99th percentile, but it's probably well over $6 million a year.

By the time he was done I was about ready to storm the Winter Palace. There are 13,000 people in the US who are really rich! Off with their heads! Proletarii vsekh stran soyedinyaites!