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Sexism Of The Day

[ 5 ] December 12, 2007 |

Apparently those crazy women actually spend money when they’re engaged in corruption, whereas men engaged in corruption mostly just, you know, give the money they skim to starving Albanian orhpans and stuff. No man whole stole taxpayer money would buy, say, a “Rolls-Royce, a yacht and a 19th-century Louis-Philippe commode.” It makes perfect sense! (Via MY.)

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Who Cares?

[ 51 ] December 12, 2007 |

Writing about the “is sexual orientation genetic or is it a choice?” pointless dichotomy, M. Leblanc makes a point that isn’t made often enough:

Arguing that things are out of someone’s control, and thus beyond criticism or bigotry, is a seductive tactic because it mirrors the arguments that are used against race discrimination. But the problem is, it’s the wrong metric.

“Choice” or “environment” is the wrong way to determine what reasons are good reasons to hate others. Discriminating against or hating someone for being fat or gay makes you an asshole because there’s nothing wrong with being fat or gay. Not because it’s not a choice.

Right. From a liberal standpoint, the correct answer to the question of whether sexual orientation is voluntary or not is “who the hell cares?” To argue that gays and lesbians “have no choice” or whatever is to implicitly accept the frame of bigots; the underlying assumption seems to be that if people did choose to have sex people of the same gender then legal discrimination would be perfectly acceptable. But such discrimination should be opposed because it’s completely irrational. Whether someone has a strong genetic predisposition towards homosexuality or not shouldn’t affect whether the rights of gays and lesbians are protected.

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Bill Clinton Faces the Robot Menace

[ 9 ] December 12, 2007 |

Elementary chaos theory predicts that robots will eventually rise up and heckle their masters.

So this is really not surprising:

A University of Iowa professor dressed as a robot interrupted Bill Clinton at a campaign stop here late Monday, screaming for an apology before security escorted him from the building.

The professor, Kembrew McLeod, stood on a chair and screamed several statements, including: “Robots of the world want you to apologize.”

The audience erupted into loud boos.

McLeod, before security officers could reach him, tossed hundreds of cards into the audience of about 400 people in protest of statements the former president made in 1992 of Sister Souljah, a member of the musical group Public Enemy.

“I like to talk in a way that, you know, will draw attention to these serious issues,” McLeod said after the event. “And maybe the way that I draw attention to them is an absurd way but it was the only way that I could draw attention to the particular issue of Sister Souljah, which is an issue that’s been swept under the carpet.”

McCleod’s manifesto makes the uncontroversial observation that Clinton’s attack on Sister Souljah was an episode of bullshit campaign theater intended to draw racist white voters back to the Democratic side of the ledger. Far from being “swept under the carpet,” though, this point has been made about ten thousand times since 1992. And so like Siva, I can’t really fathom the purpose here, especially when there are at least a dozen worthier reasons to pester Clinton. If he’d had turned race-baiting into an everyday preoccupation over the next eight years, we might have an argument. As it turns out, the 1990s were a decidedly mixed bag for African Americans, and Clinton’s record on civil rights — limited in part by six years of reactionary, blow-job obsessed congressional opposition — appears strong only by comparison to the presidents bracketing him. Still, as Siva points out, if Clinton is going to apologize for anything, the Rwandan genocide would be a better place to start.

(Interestingly, I attended college with Kembrew McLeod in the early 1990s. His pranks back then were much more entertaining. The unsuccessful run for student body president, for example, was brilliant….)

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Are You Serious?

[ 0 ] December 12, 2007 |

So, I was all ready to write a serious post today applauding the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) for making the new, reduced crack sentencing guidelines retroactive. Between this and the Gall/Kimbrough decisions yesterday, it’s been an encouraging week for those of us who care about fairness in the criminal justice system. Serious stuff, indeed.

But then, after 9 hours of studying for my Fed Courts exam, I stumbled upon this gem: Just in time to stuff your daughter’s stocking, WalMart is selling these. In the juniors department.

Right. Who needs credit cards (and the financial independence they presumably stand for) when you’ve got a vagina?

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Us-A-What?

[ 3 ] December 11, 2007 |

The good news is that I have accepted offer on a co-op that I fell in love with immediately upon seeing it. The bad news is the immense blizzard of paperwork that is required for the approval process. At any rate, one of the documents required is a brief letter from the bank certifying that I have accounts, for how long, etc. The cost of this service? 30 dollars. I mean, it’s a great racket; what are you going to do, walk away from the purchase? Take your money elsewhere (assuming you can find one that forgoes this level of extortion) and have to deal with changing your direct deposit, lose the advantage of having had stable accounts, etc. ?

See also: the fees required to send out standardized test scores.

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Buh-Bye!

[ 1 ] December 11, 2007 |

SEIU tells union-bustin’ Chris Lehane that his services will no longer be necessary. Good. Now if only Democratic candidates will follow their lead…

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My Job Search

[ 0 ] December 11, 2007 |

Like Don Douglas, Robert Maranto, and so many other conservatives in academia, I too have suffered the heartbreak of discrimination in the job market. Prior to settling at the University of Kentucky, I was turned down for roughly 140 jobs over a three year period, my status as an angry left-wing polemicist notwithstanding. The following is a partial list, with suspected discriminatory reasons for non-employment:

University of Memphis (insufficient rhythm), University of Richmond (confessed that I bet on Syracuse in 1991 NCAA Tournament), University of Minnesota-Duluth (mocked snow in my cover letter), SUNY-Albany (not Albanian), Temple (couldn’t find Philadelphia on a map), Albright (too right wing), Georgia State University (too left wing), Austin College (thought it was “Boston” and expressed admiration for the clam chowder), UC-Berkeley (Ha!), Arkansas-Little Rock (favored school desegregation), NYU (there’s a “New” York?), Wabash (sang six lines of “Wabash Cannonball” during phone interview), Wake Forest (discriminated against because I’m gay), Vermont (anti-separatist attitude), Middlebury (discriminated against because I’m straight), American (anti-American attitudes), Elon (lost all the applications except mine, and still didn’t hire me [true story!]), Texas Tech (Texas has tech?), Swarthmore (discriminated against because I’m a lesbian), Wesleyan (discriminated against because I’m not sufficiently lesbian), SUNY-New Paltz (thought it was in New Mexico), Babson College (discriminated against because I’m pro-victory), Texas Christian (anti-Christian attitudes), Drew University (discriminated against because I’m pro-defeat), University of Georgia (allergic to dogs), Agnes Scott College (who was Agnes Scott?), Appalachian State University (declared in phone interview that they’d never beat a real football team) , Furman (asked if the school was named after Mark Fuhrman), Hamline (too transgendered), Kent State (made crack in phone interview about being tougher on students than the Ohio National Guard), Yeshiva (too Palestinian), Occidental (not Palestinian enough), George Washington (suspect views on American Revolution), University of Northern Iowa (insufficient enthusiasm for corn), Case Western Reserve University, Georgia Southern (too transgendered), Wisconsin-Madison (not transgendered enough), Puget Sound (called Tacoma “the asshole of western Washington), CUNY-Queens College (not bisexual enough), Kansas State (kept asking if Danny Manning frequented campus), Wayne State (made seemingly solid assumption that institution was named after Wayne Newton), Assumption (too bisexual), University of Illinois-Chicago (too white), Seattle University (not white enough), Rollins College (kept asking when I would get to meet Henry), Naval Postgraduate School (at the time, insufficiently anti-Air Force), UC-Santa Cruz (too pro-Governator), San Diego State (explained that I really wanted the job so I could wear shorts and a t-shirt every day), SMU (expressed too much support for death penalty… in football), Eastern Michigan (kept getting them confused with Central and Western Michigan), UW-Tacoma (too Republican), Ohio University (let JRD write a letter of recommendation for me), Canisius College (dissertation topic ran counter to the teachings of St. Canisius), Johns Hopkins (asked what the deal was with the multiple johns), Hood College (asked if they were afraid of being sunk by Bismarck College), Portland State University (insufficiently pro-heroin), Tufts (they were holding out for a better blogger), Hobart and William Smith (not Republican enough), Bucknell (kept expressing my admiration for Ithaca), Marietta (kept insisting that they should have held out for “Lockheed-Martin-Marietta”), Adrian College (not Methodist enough), Hawaii-Pacific (shouldn’t have told them that my dissertation was titled “Was Higgins REALLY Robin Masters?”), University of Guam (couldn’t bring self to actually send in completed application), Penn (kept calling Benjamin Franklin a lecher), SUNY-Geneseo (told them “9/11 Changed Everything” was dissertation title), Dickinson (over-praised US News and World Report), Vermont (not socialist enough), Georgia State (too socialist), Kansas State (kept asking why an institution named “Kansas State” was located in Manhattan), Northern Illinois (told department I thought Robert Zemeckis was over-rated), UMASS-Amherst (not anti-Confederate enough), James Madison at MSU (said in cover letter that John Jay and Alexander Hamilton were the “real Federalists”), CUNY-Brooklyn (tried to conduct entire interview in what I then believed was a “Brooklyn” accent), Hofstra (too many drugs), UC-Boulder (not enough drugs), Georgia (too anti-Confederate), Colorado State (expressed too much admiration for Fat Tire Brewery), George Washington (oh, I thought you said Gorge, Washington), Sacramento State (insufficiently pro-Governator), Penn State Erie Behrend College (kept asking “when do I meet Joe Paterno?”), Western Washington (asked “isn’t this just Eugene-North?”), Clemson (not pro-treason enough), West Florida (opined that they’d never be as good as South Florida), Maryville (too pro-treason), Rowan University (tried to conduct interview in what I then believed was a “Joisey” accent), York College of Pennsylvania (expressed pro-Athenian attitudes during interview), Alabama (kept asking when I got to meet Bear Bryant), UN-Reno (in interview, focused too much on the question of whether or not Reno really was “the biggest little city on earth”), George Mason (wrote “I mean, it’s not like the basketball team will ever reach the Final Four” in cover letter) , Canisius (not Catholic enough), Georgia Southern (too Canadian), St. John Fisher College (too Mormon), Trent University (not Canadian enough), and Utah Valley State College (not Mormon enough).

I think that my biggest problem was that so many of these schools discriminated on the basis of competence…

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The Big Con: Disability Edition

[ 2 ] December 11, 2007 |

Via Gary Farber, the disability-support infrastructure of the United States government seems to be breaking down:

More and more people have lost their homes, declared bankruptcy or even died while awaiting an appeals hearing, say lawyers representing claimants and officials of the Social Security Administration, which administers disability benefits for those judged unable to work or who face terminal illness.

The agency’s new plan to hire at least 150 new appeals judges to whittle down the backlog, which has soared to 755,000 from 311,000 in 2000, will require $100 million more than President Bush requested this year and still more in the future. The plan has been delayed by the standoff between Congress and the White House over domestic appropriations.

Let’s review: Modern conservatism is built around the idea that collective, government sponsored solutions to social problems can’t work, and operates by making certain that those solutions won’t work. It’s a well conceived strategy, especially when combined with the fiction that tax cuts enhance revenue. As the article points out, disability problems in the US population are only going to grow as the average age of American’s increases.

Also, consider a donation to Gary, who’s currently living the Big Con.

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I Guess I Can’t Rip On Jersey Anymore

[ 20 ] December 11, 2007 |

There’s word today that New Jersey is poised to repeal the death penalty in the state. The senate passed the bill, which will now go to the democrat-controlled house and then to Governor Corzine, a death penalty opponent, for his signature. There are currently 8 men on death row in New Jersey; should the bill pass, their sentences will be automatically commuted to life in prison. This effort has been on the move since January.

Next time I almost get hit by a car with New Jersey license plates while crossing the street, I might have to hold my tongue (and my gesticulations).

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Sentencing Round-Up

[ 5 ] December 10, 2007 |

Scott covered the important points in his post about the Supreme Court’s decision today in Gall and Kimbrough. Boiled down, the Court in these cases says that it meant what it said in Booker: the Sentencing Guidelines are just that — suggestions — and federal judges are not mandated to apply them. The decision today was in a crack sentencing case; it provides hope that more and more judges will be able to show their disdain for the crack/cocaine disparity. But as Hogan and I both noted in comments to Scott’s post, Gall and Kimbrough should not be understood as paving the way to the end of the war on (some classes of people who use some) drugs. The Crack/Cocaine disparity was legislatively created and will stick around until Congress dismantles it. Which doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon.

That said, it’s definitely a good sign that seven of the nine justices of the Supreme Court — including the Chief Justice and Justice Scalia — are not prepared to hold federal judges to Congress’s misguided guidelines.

More posts about Gall and Kimbrough from around the blogosphere can be found here, here, here and here.

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So Many Anecdotes!

[ 64 ] December 10, 2007 |

In response to Robert Maranto’s editorial, Donald Douglas of Long Beach City College spills his guts and exposes the leftist cesspool of higher education:

Maranto’s discussion rings very true in my own circumstances. I became a 9/11 Republican after my own participation on an Iraq panel on March 19, 2003. Since then, I’ve had open ideological battles with a number of my faculty colleagues. One radical feminist philosopher on my floor turns up her nose and looks askance when passing me in the hallway. This is a woman who I had previously lunched with on faculty professional development days.

Oh noes! The McCarthyism! It burns!

Hard as it may be to believe, there are times when adults — even those who share lunch once in a while — stop hanging out together. And yes, sometimes those personal ruptures occur because one person has exposed himself or herself as an idiot by supporting an ill-conceived war. But unless this “radical feminist” happens to sit on the writer’s tenure/review committee; serve as his dean or department chair; or functions in any other way that actually imperils his professional status or future, there’s no foul.

As for Douglas’ first point, I’ll simply note that he seems to have become a “9/11 Republican” in 2003. Um…. Sorry, I can’t find the words right now to make fun of that.

But it gets worse:

Occasionally I find misplaced sociology syllabi in the classrooms on campus, and works like The Power Elite – or others arguing the institutional racism line – form the core readings. They’re not balanced by more conservative voices.

Help me Rhonda! Clearly, there’s no possible reason that a sociologist might assign a book by C. Wright Mills, who happens merely to have been one of the 20th century’s greatest American sociologists. Have Students for Academic Freedom been informed of this unprecedented thought crime?

The last bit is truly priceless, though:

I participated in a recent campus forum on the Iraq war. I debated two Marxist professors who argued that President Bush was a “pathological liar” and that the Iraq war was a disastrous failure. I provided point-by-point rebuttals to their every claim, especially noting the dramatic successes of U.S. forces under the new war strategy of General David Petraeus.

Some members in the audience were smiling and shaking their heads in agreement as I confidently deflected the leftist hokum (some of the students had jaws agape when they heard my alternative version of events).

Jaws agape? I’ll bet!

. . . UPDATE: I fold! I fold! Donald Douglas has taken great offense with LGM’s “frat-boy, hate-addled readership” and finished me off with one of the greatest comments ever:

Who are you calling an idiot, sir? I don’t find that in the least funny. I do not know you, and you’re certainly not my friend. I can assure you that you’re barkng up the wrong tree if you think I’m just going take your abuse like some girly-man.

Not since Ann Althouse accused me of being a tiny penis has my manhood taken such a devastating hit. If anyone needs me, I’ll be under my bed drinking strawberry Yoohoo.

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Lesser Sentence For Crack Distribution Upheld

[ 8 ] December 10, 2007 |

I’m guessing Bean will have more to say about this, but the Supreme Court today held in a 7-2 decision that lower court judges are permitted not to apply federal sentencing guidelines (including, in this case, guidelines that mandate much harsher sentences for trafficking crack than powder cocaine) so long as the sentence is reasonable. In this case, Ginsburg wrote that considering the gross disparity of sentences for similar offenses was something judges could take into account. One of the dissents was (predictably) from Alito, the other, somewhat surprisingly given his record on sentencing cases, was from Thomas. If I understand Thomas’s dissent correctly, he objects to the Court’s decision in Booker — a decision that saved the federal sentencing guidelines from Sixth Amendment violations by reading them as advisory — but as long as it’s in force (and he recognizes it as valid under statutory stare decisis) the guidelines should be considered mandatory.

The majority makes the much more convincing case. If the guidelines being advisory means anything, it’s that federal judges should have some measure of discretion in applying them, and in this case there were perfectly rational reasons for a reduced sentence.

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