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Archive for November, 2008

A Scandal on Multiple Levels

[ 0 ] November 30, 2008 |

I hope you’ve all read David Barstow’s very important (if depressing) story. It is, first of all, the tale of a truly shameless hack. But that’s not the most damaging thing; probably not many people have the integrity to turn down large amounts of money for undemanding work; it’s just that most of us aren’t in a position to be asked. The bigger story is NBC’s apparent belief that it should be able to put paid shills on to serve as objective analysts because, after all, the anchor and the shill have a “close friendship.” (Well, I’m convinced!)

But there’s an even deeper scandal here — the extent to which the McCaffreys and Williamses of the world form part of the military-welfare-queen complex. In a time period with immense strains on the public fisc, all military spending remains essentially beyond criticism. In this remains true even though as a description of the relationship between much of the spending and national security “diminishing returns” is a gross understatement.

So much for "Shared Governance!"

[ 0 ] November 30, 2008 |

Scott Jaschik has a fascinating and distressing article at Inside Higher Ed about the misdeeds at the College of DuPage, where the board of trustees recently proposed the adoption of policies that essentially mirror David Horowitz’s “Academic Bill of Rights.”

The proposed changes are a useful reminder that the essence of the ABOR has nothing to do with protecting students from the whims of a privileged, politicized minority caste; indeed, the trustees at DuPage are claiming (among other prerogatives) “exclusive power over the curriculum, the initial pay of individual faculty members, and all educational programs.” The proposals also include establishing exclusive trustee control over the selection and planning of events featuring outside speakers, and — for good measure — they also propose allowing the college president to have the final say over what appears in the student newspaper.

The whole piece is worth reading. I know a lot of decent, well-intentioned people who yammer with great sincerity about “shared governance,” as if the term hadn’t actually originated with people who couldn’t be trusted to share a plate of nachos. At many institutions* the phrase offers cover for administrators to go ahead and do whatever they wish. At least at DuPage, they’ve gone ahead and dropped the pretense.

* Not my own, of course, which is a true workers’ collective.

Civil War!!!!!!

[ 0 ] November 30, 2008 |

Oregon State represents Christianity, capitalism, and tradition. Oregon represents the creeping evils of secularism, miscegenation, and gay marriage.

Go Ducks!!!!!

The Successful Coup that Never Succeeded

[ 0 ] November 29, 2008 |

Glenn reminds us of the disgraceful behavior of the New York Times in the wake of the 2001 attempted coup against Hugo Chavez:

That was one of the most Orwellian editorials written in the last decade. The Times — in the very first line — mimicked the claim of the Bush administration that Chavez “resigned,” even though, several paragraphs later, they expressly acknowledged that Chavez “was compelled to resign by military commanders” (the definition of a “coup”). Further mimicking the administration, the Times perversely celebrated the coup as safeguarding “Venezuelan democracy” (“Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator”), even though the coup deposed someone whom the Times Editorial itself said “was elected president in 1998″ and — again using the Times’ own language — “handed power to” an unelected, pro-American “respected business leader, Pedro Carmona,” who quickly proceeded to dissolve the democratically elected National Assembly, the Supreme Court and other key institutions.

Worse still, the Times Editorial mindlessly spouted the administration’s claim that “Washington never publicly demonized Mr. Chávez” and “his removal was a purely Venezuelan affair.” Yet less than a week later, the Times itself was compelled to report that the Bush administration “acknowledged today that a senior administration official [Assistant Secretary of State Otto Reich] was in contact with Mr. Chávez’s successor on the very day he took over”‘ — a disclosure which, as the Times put it with great understatement, “raised questions as to whether Reich or other officials were stage-managing the takeover by Mr. Carmona.”

Glenn is correct to use the term “Orwellian”; I remember wondering at how the NYT uncritically accepted government claims about the coup, then three days later apparently forgot that it had done so.

…Trend has more.

Gorshkov Update

[ 0 ] November 29, 2008 |

The government of India has more important things on its plate right now, but if you’re interested in how the Admiral Gorshkov negotiations might play out, take a look at Galrahn’s discussion. He partially translates a Russian article on the subject, which points out that if the carrier doesn’t go to India, it’s not likely to go anywhere. The Russian Navy doesn’t want Gorshkov (and is apparently deeply ambivalent about the idea of building a carrier fleet in the short term), and the Chinese probably wouldn’t want it, either. Accordingly, the Russians should probably be careful about antagonizing their only potential customer.

Insane consumerism, campout edition

[ 0 ] November 28, 2008 |

I guess this kind of thing is what makes the world go around on some level.

And so the Black Friday lines begin. The streets of Boulder are fairly tame and the majority of store-fronts are dark on Thanksgiving evening. However, at this point in time, about 30 people have set up camp in front of Boulder’s new Best Buy.

They’re here for the Black Friday deals. Best Buy won’t open until 5 a.m., but these folks are braving the cold, and eventually sleep deprivation, to not miss out on the early bird specials. (Best Buy and other retailers will have a limited amount of “door-busting” items such as the new Guitar Hero for $80, a desktop computer for $300 and a laptop for $379.

Waiting in line or camping overnight is a tradition for some of these people in line. They put aside money all year, plan out their purchases weeks in advance by perusing the advertisement fliers leaked to Web sites like bfads.net, and then brave the cold and eventual sleep-deprivation.

I’d like to feel superior to these people (well OK I do), but then I remember I’ve done things like spend $700 to go to a Michigan-Ohio State game in which Michigan got 91 yards of total offense while the game was held in a freezing drizzle that was two degrees too warm to turn into snow, and I stayed for the whole thing. While wearing running shoes. (My toes were nearly amputated).

BTW when did Black Friday become an evergreen news story/free advertisement for rampant consumerism? Ten years ago? Longer? I don’t remember it being talked about much before then. Especially since the whole thing is crap even on the empirical level of it being the busiest shopping day of the year (there are always a couple of days before Christmas that are busier. Lots of men in this world after all).

Update: It’s funny until someone gets killed.

Thanksgiving diversions

[ 0 ] November 27, 2008 |

In case you tire of your friends and relatives today, you can always amuse yourself with TIDOS Yankee’s efforts to lift his self-esteem:

My typical day started by taking my older daughter to her elementary school, dropping my infant daughter off at her daycare, and then driving to work on a corporate campus in Research Triangle Park. In none of these locations is concealed carry permitted; if I’d been armed, I would have managed a trifecta of felonies before my first cup of coffee. The 637CT, which I’d planned to carry in the pocket holster with the intimidating Winchester Supreme SXT hollowpoints, stayed at home. Some experiment this was turning out to be!

It was a couple of days later that I finally had a chance to legally carry, when my wife dispatched me to the local pet store chain to pick up various kinds of critter food for the Owens family menagerie. As it turns out, a J-frame revolver with a full grip like that of the 637CT doesn’t fit real well in anything but the large side pockets of the cargo-style shorts I was wearing, so with every step, the 637CT slapped against my thigh. It was annoying, to put it mildly.

Or, even better, you get loaded and watch The Puppy Channel.

Free TV : Ustream

Thanksgiving Wingnuttery

[ 0 ] November 27, 2008 |

Mark Krikorian:

Good point — no amount of military-school hazing or even life-fire exercises could better train a soldier for combat than strolling in uniform through an Ivy League campus.

I’d take a bullet over a Yalie’s withering glance any day.

Hat tip to CT.

A Food Note

[ 0 ] November 27, 2008 |

Apparently, you should be grateful that turkey is the Thanksgiving staple, as opposed to testicles. Even in a goulash…

Horror

[ 0 ] November 27, 2008 |

Somehow, this doesn’t seem like the right time for a chipper Thanksgiving greeting…

Detective Work

[ 0 ] November 27, 2008 |

A friend fowards along this photo of her father, Walter Rule, on one of his first Navy postings. She wonders whether this is Honolulu or San Diego. Any thoughts?

The Only History is Confederate History

[ 0 ] November 26, 2008 |

Robert Stacy McCain unleashes some spittle-flecked outrage about something called the “Historic Victimhood Narrative” that is allegedly taught in American schools. For example, some history courses might suggest that race had something to do with the murder of Emmett Till. Why, they might even suggest that the acquittal of his murderers after a perfunctory show trial had something to do with the murder taking place in an apartheid police state! For shame — I can’t believe history has become so “politicized.”

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