Saturday, June 08, 2002
AMERICA’S MOST WANTED COMES TO IOWA CITY!
I was in for a bit of a surprise while watching AMW this evening. It turns out that one of the fugitives profiled on AMW was recently captured in Iowa City! Anthony Carter, a guitar-playing, thumb-sucking murderer had apparently spent the last few weeks hanging out, playing his guitar in the "Pedestrian Mall" in downtown Iowa City. Colloquially known as the PED Mall, in the springtime it becomes a hang out for the homeless, pot-heads, minor drug dealers, and other ne’er-do-wells. The probable reason no one there suspected that Carter was a criminal before his AMW profile was because he fit right into his surroundings.
Years ago in a column for the Daily Iowan, I stated that PED stood for "Please Endure the Degenerates." How prescient I was!
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HARKIN BRINGS HOME THE BACON
Apparently Senator Harkin was successful last Thursday in killing an Amendment that would have cut funding for the National Animal Disease Center in Ames. As the Ames Tribune reports:
The National Animal Disease Center, the National Veterinary Services Laboratories and the Center for Veterinary Biologics will still receive $50 million from a $31.5 billion anti-terrorism bill passed by the Senate early Friday. The money goes toward a $430 million plan to modernize the three facilities on Dayton Road.
The Senate voted to table an amendment by Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, that would have killed the additional funding. He called it wasteful spending in the name of fighting terrorism….
The money is on top of $113 million the centers have received so far for the modernization project, which includes $14 million to build new labs for staff that were working out of a strip mall on Lincoln Way.
"It's of the utmost importance to homeland security," Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat, said on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon. "It's the most vulnerable part of the country in terms of terrorist threats with multiple affects."
However, a look at the Pig Book, a publication by the Citizens Against Government Waste, shows that the National Animal Disease Center began receiving federal funds back in FY 1999. It received its biggest chunk of cash to date, $40,000,000, in FY 2001, meaning that the money was in the works before 9/11.
Now that’s cynicism: Harkin using the War on Terrorism to bring home the pork. Yep, it’s an election year.
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Sorry, friends, but blogging will be light this weekend. I’m trying to jumpstart the last chapter on my dissertation. More on that in later blog.
Next week will be chock full of good stuff. Monday will be a bit of a surprise. Tuesday, I’ll have more on the most recent flap at ISU. Wednesday and Thursday will have a two-parter on the estate tax. Stay tuned.
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Friday, June 07, 2002
GET RID OF THE 35% RULE
The Daily Nonpareil has an editorial on the heels of the results of the Republican Primary in the 5th House District in Iowa. It contends that Iowa should dump the law that mandates a primary candidate must get 35% of the vote or a small number of delegates to a convention decide who is the nominee. I concur.
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SALIER SHOULD ENDORSE GANSKE
The following was in an article in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier:
Salier often branded Ganske as a "liberal" Republican out of touch with core GOP voters. The rivals were split sharply over several emotional issues -- gun control, family planning funding, tax reform and campaign finance reform.
Salier gathered roughly 80,000 votes statewide, winning Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Fayette, Floyd, Hancock, Hardin, Mitchell and Winnebago counties near his home base while also taking Linn, Lee, Jones and Allamakee counties in eastern Iowa, plus a few other counties.
"There was a canyon between us," Salier said Wednesday. "Will my supporters go and vote for him? How do I know? I'm not inside their heads. ... They'll have to make up their mind whether they want to hold their nose for him or not." Salier said he plans to campaign against Harkin, but he will not endorse Ganske.
You know, I'm just not feeling the love from Bill Salier. Yes, the primary was rough and tumble, but Salier seems to be taking it personally. He shouldn't. Instead, he needs to set aside his differences with Ganske, and endorse him in his race against Harkin. It is in his interest to do so, for two reasons.
First, Salier should endorse Ganske if he wishes to run for office in the future. If he does run in the future, he will need the support of the 59% of the Republicans who voted for Ganske in the primary. Those voters will remember Salier's lack of an endorsement for Ganske.
Furthermore, if Ganske loses a squeaker to Harkin in November, Salier might become the scapegoat. In other words, if Salier doesn't endorse Ganske it might cost Ganske some vital Republican votes. Even if it doesn't, but Ganske still loses, Salier might be perceived as costing him votes. That would also be damaging to Salier's future prospects.
So, it is time for Salier to swallow some pride and endorse Ganske, thereby giving Gankse the best chance to do what most Iowa Republicans want: defeat Tom Harkin.
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DOES PALM BEACH HAVE A SISTER COUNTY IN IOWA?
And you thought Florida had trouble counting its ballots!
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Turns out Little Green Footballs commented on the Mohammed Atta story before me. He has a similar take, although my analysis has more detail. Anyway, let me give credit where it is due. Here's the link.
Also on this story, Tom Tomorrow has an interesting angle. I readily admit he is not my favority blogger or cartoonist, but he made me think about something that I hadn't before. It definitely made me go hmmmm.....
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LOOKS LIKE HARKIN’S STAFF PART OF DNC EFFORT
If you want to keep up with what’s happening on the blogosphere (and the general silliness on CNN), there are few better places than Crooow Blog. I have only one question: Crooow, do you ever sleep?
Now he has a link to a Democratic National Committee press release by Terry McAuliffe (who else?) griping about much the same thing that Harkin’s staff was with regard to Bush’s visit to Iowa today. Hey Terry and Tom: We’re very sorry that George didn’t invite you to the dance. Would you like us to throw you a pity party?
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MULTICULTURALISM COMBINED WITH STUPIDITY
This story came via Andrew Sullivan. It is an ABC interview of Johnelle Bryant, a U.S. Department of Agriculture employee, who met with one of the 9/11 terrorists, Mohamed Atta. Apparently Atta came to her office to procure a loan from the Department of Agriculture for, among other things, fixing up a crop-duster. Ms. Bryant protests that she had no idea Atta had deadly intentions:
"How could I have known? I couldn't have known, prior to Sept. 11. I don't think anyone else would have either, if they'd been in my shoes that day," she says. "Should I have picked up the telephone and called someone? You can't ask me that more often than I have asked myself that … I don't know how I could possibly expect myself to have recognized what that man was. And yet sometimes I haven't forgiven myself."
But that is very unpersuasive when you read some of Ms. Bryant’s recollections of her meetings with Atta:
[Atta] also remarked about the lack of security in the building, pointing specifically to a safe behind Bryant's desk. "He asked me what would prevent him from going behind my desk and cutting my throat and making off with the millions of dollars in that safe," said Bryant, who explained that there was no money in the safe because loans are never given in cash, and also that she was trained in karate.
Before leaving Bryant's office, Atta became fixated with an aerial photo of Washington that was hanging on her office wall. "He just said that it was one of the prettiest, the best he'd ever seen of Washington," she said, remembering that he was impressed with the panoramic view that captured all the monuments and buildings in one photograph, pointing specifically to the Pentagon and the White House.
"He pulled out a wad of cash," she said, "and started throwing money on my desk. He wanted that picture really bad." Bryant indicated that the picture was not for sale, and he threw more money down.
"His look on his face became very bitter at that point," Bryant remembers. "I believe he said, 'How would America like it if another country destroyed that city and some of the monuments in it,' like the cities in his country had been destroyed?"
But that wasn't the only time she saw Atta. He returned again, slightly disguised with glasses. He claimed to be an accountant for Marwan Al-Shehhi, who was with him, and said he wanted $500,000 to buy land for a sugar-cane farm.
Let’s see here: Atta twice makes threats, and later shows up in a disguise. I’m not sure, but I think most people would have dialed 9-1-1 after any one of those encounters, let alone all three!
So why didn’t Ms. Bryant? The article reveals two reasons. First, Ms. Bryant clearly is not the sharpest tack in the poster-board:
Atta also talked about life in his country. "He mentioned al Qaeda, he mentioned Osama bin Laden," said Bryant. "I didn't know who Osama bin Laden was … He could have been a character on Star Wars for all I knew."
The article notes that Ms. Bryant first met with Atta in April or May 2000. This is less than two years after al-Qaeda bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tunisia. Less than two years after President Clinton responded by blowing up the Sudanese aspirin factory. Ms. Bryant’s TV viewing habits must have included only shows like “Entertainment Tonight,” and her reading habits consisted of solely the National Enquirer if the name "Osama bin-Laden" didn't ring any bells.
This passage reveals the second reason:
Bryant never thought to report her strange encounter because she thought she was just helping a new immigrant learn about the country.
"I felt that he was trying to make the cultural leap from the country that he came from, with all the violence, as compared to the United States," she says. "I was attempting, in every manner I could, to help him make his relocation into our country as easy for him as I could make it."
It appears that Ms. Bryant’s shallow gray matter was thoroughly infected with the ideology of multiculturalism. That is, she believed the multicultural tenets that all cultures are equal, and differences between those cultures aren’t good or bad, they are just different. In fact, Ms. Bryant represents the most extreme form of multicultural thinking: differences are okay even if they tend toward violence.
I’ll conclude this blog by saying that this is a wake-up call—assuming another is needed—to those who think that the bad ideas that fester in academia don’t have any real world consequences beyond the walls of the ivory tower.
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SENATOR HARKIN ALMOST PULLS A FAST ONE
I need to blog one more thing about the article in the previous post. Bush will be making his pitch on the estate tax at the World Pork Expo here in Iowa. It seems that the staff of Senator Tom Harkin (D) is in a bit of a snit:
Harkin is expected to show up for the president's remarks at the World Pork Expo at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, where Harkin has a booth. However, Harkin aides said Thursday night that White House officials told Harkin he could not appear with the president because he did not vote for the tax cut. White House officials confirmed that Harkin was not invited.
"Sen. Harkin didn't support tax relief for hard-working Iowa families," said Scott Stanzel, a White House spokesman.
Harkin aides questioned how Bush could refuse to invite Democrats to a nonpartisan event paid for with tax money. White House officials said they invited members of Congress who backed Bush on tax relief.
What a bunch disingenuous whining!
The real reason the good Senator and his aides are steamed is that they won’t be able to get any video clips of a smiling Harkin and President Bush standing next to each other. In other words, the won’t have really good material for TV ads showing that Harkin supports Bush on the War on Terror, or that Bush supports the “Harkin Farm Bill.” Nice try, Senator Harkin, but Bush isn’t going to let you ride his coattails into another six years in Congress.
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MAKE IT PERMANENT!
And now for some good news:
Bush plans to use Iowa visit to tout estate tax rollback
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ENTITLED TO PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
Governor Vilsack vetoed a bill that would have required state Medicaid recipients to pay more for prescription drugs. And how much more would the bill have required recipients to pay?
….part of the plan would have required Medicaid recipients to pay $1 to $2 more for brand-name prescription drugs and to report changes in income each month.
One to two dollars more? We can’t have that! Those folks are entitled.
In justifying his veto in the midst of a state budget crisis, Vilsack read straight from the Democrat playbook:
"I oppose the Republicans continuous assault on our senior citizens by attempting to raise prescription drug costs on Iowans in need," Vilsack said. "I have vetoed their attempt to double the co-payments on prescription drugs in the past, and I will do so again."
You’ve got to hand it to the man. What better way to obscure the fact that you’ve just made the state budget crisis worse than scaring seniors?
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PAGING WARD CONNERLY
Speaking of Iowa City, an article in the Cedar Rapids Gazette begins:
Although the Iowa City school district's minority student population is more than 20 percent, only 2 percent of the district's teachers are minorities.
The article then goes on to note:
The percentage of minority teachers has increased only slightly since 1985.
The Iowa City district for eight years has offered a scholarship to minority students at the University of Iowa to pursue teaching in Iowa City. The district pays for tuition and books if the student commits to teaching here.
This has education officials in Iowa City rather anxious. The article is replete hand-wringing comments typical of white-liberal guilt.
Too bad Iowa doesn’t have an initiative process. We could pass something similar to the California Civil Rights Initiative and do away with this nonsense for good.
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WOMEN MAKE MORE THAN MEN!
In commenting on recent Census figures, this morning’s editorial in the Iowa City Press-Citizen states:
The gender gap still exists with women making about $1.20 to every dollar a man makes in Johnson County.
Men are obviously being discriminated against! We need the government to enforce comparable worth!
But that’s not the only gem:
At the same time our state government passes English-only laws that alienate our newest workers to the state, we will be facing the largest proportion of immigrants in recent history.
Didn’t the editorialist realize that the second clause in that sentence negated the first? On the other hand, we’re talking about the Press-Citizen
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Thursday, June 06, 2002
GROSS WOULD HAVE LOST IF….
An editorial in the Burlington Hawkeye states:
Gross should have won the three–way race with Vander Plaats and Steve Sukup rather handily. As a former top aide to two Republican governors, Robert Ray and Terry Branstad, Gross had the backing of the party establishment.
The writer of that remark needs to bone up on some recent history. Candidates that are foisted on the Republican rank-n-file by the party establishment often lose, such as Bob Franks in New Jersey and Richard Riordan in California. It seems that the average Republican voter doesn’t appreciate the party elders trying to dictate what is best for him. Republicans are funny that way.
In fact, that is what probably would have happened to Doug Gross if either Steve Sukup or Bob Vander Plaats had not been in the race. Nevertheless, Gross still finds himself in a pickle. Given that almost 65% of Republican primary voters voted for someone other than Gross, Gross still has to appeal to the right. And he has to do it while running in a general election where he also has to appeal to the center.
To all the Republican muckety-mucks in Des Moines: Nice Going!
MIKE SWEET EMBARRASSES HIMSELF
Not that it is unusual. But this time he seems to have outdone himself. No commentary is necessary. I’ll just post some of the choicer parts of his column in the Hawkeye:
-If Bill Clinton or Al Gore were in office and running the government the way George W. Bush is, Republicans would be demanding another impeachment.
-Bush has spent years decrying global warming as a myth propagated by tree huggers to deny wealth to stockbrokers, oil barons, coal burning electric utilities and the manufacturers of gas–guzzling SUVs.
He refused to sign or even renegotiate the Kyoto treaty that seeks to reduce the carbon dioxide and other toxic emissions that are gradually suffocating the Earth.
-His contempt for bureaucracy is absurd given that he is the nation's chief bureaucrat.
-A president with an MBA should know that business, industry and individuals never do anything to affect their bottom lines unless forced to by enlightened government in the interests of the common good.
-The White House position is that Americans are entitled to use up the world's energy resources and destroy ourselves and the world in the process.
It makes the war on terror seem pointless.
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AMERICA IS TO BLAME AGAIN
The Sioux City Journal has an editorial decrying world hunger. And who do they hold accountable for the starving masses? Take a guess:
In order to end hunger, world leaders must make different political and economic choices, and individual consumers will have to make different choices too.
We often feel helpless when we think about world hunger but there is one thing that each of us can do: reduce or eliminate meat consumption in order to make more food available for the rest of the world. A 10 percent drop in U.S. meat consumption would make 12 million tons of grain available -- enough to feed the 60 million people who are starving to death each year.
Actually, hunger isn’t caused by American eating habits. It’s caused by tyrants and combatants in civil wars who use food as a political weapon. Time for someone at the SC Journal to get up to date on his or her reading.
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TWO NEW COOL SITES
The first is called Education Weak. It is run by Lisa Snell of the Reason Foundation. She focuses on failing public schools and the choice alternatives that are running rings around them. She seems like a very nice lady; which means you are not a very nice person if you don’t at least check it out.
The second has the coolest website name (next to Cornfield Commentary, of course): Indepundit. It appears that, among other things, the gent who runs the site is in the Naval Reserves. If you don’t at least visit his site once, it means you are not very patriotic. (Thanks to Daily Pundit for the link.)
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IOWAN ON THE CONGRESSIONAL HOT SEAT
You Go Girl!
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HEAVEN ON THE INTERNET
It is a veritable conservative paradise at National Review Online today. They put the smack-down on Cuba, Bono, Nutty Democrats, California Democrats, Harvard faculty, and The New Yorker. I haven’t enjoyed the web this much since last week sometime.
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TRES PRODUCERS 1, CORNFIELD COMMENTARY 0
Okay, okay, Eric. I give. You win. You dished it out better than me—this time. Oh well. Hey, the Giants are playing the Yankees this weekend! Maybe I can go pick on Blissful Ignorance…..
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IS THE DES MOINES REGISTER AGAINST MARRIAGE?
In an editorial this morning, the Des Moines Register bashes the Bush Administration proposal to include money for marriage promotion programs in the new Welfare Reform bill before Congress. The first paragraph reads:
If another reason is needed to oppose President Bush's push to allocate government money for marriage-minded initiatives for the poor, here's one to add to the list: They don't work. When combined with another Bush proposal to force welfare recipients to work more, new studies have found the stricter rules actually discouraged marriage. Iowa was one of the states participating in an extensive study demonstrating this.
There are numerous problems with theses studies, as noted recently in Kausfiles. Yet the New York Times article about the studies notes that the studies only found that welfare moms who go to work are less likely to get married. The studies did not, as the Register suggests, find that marriage promotion programs do not work. The reason for that is simple—such programs don’t yet exist. Thus, there is no data on whether marriage promotion programs would have a positive effect on marriage rates.
The Register’s real beef isn’t that such programs might not work. The real problem is something else, and the editorial writer goes to great lengths to divert readers' attention from it:
-The bottom line is the government has no business advocating specific lifestyles.
Would the Register make a similar argument regarding the government’s campaign to promote a no-smoking lifestyle? If so, they need to encourage the government to remove all of the JEL billboards in Iowa. But I doubt that we’ll see that editorial in the Register anytime soon.
The fact of the matter is that the government promotes all sorts of lifestyles all the time. The Register just doesn’t want the government to promote one particular lifestyle, marriage. But instead of coming right out and saying that, the Register tries to cover it up with specious reasoning.
-Pushing marriage stigmatizes single motherhood.
So? Much research suggests that single motherhood is linked to all sorts of social pathologies: delinquency, unemployment, crime. It’s not clear why stigmatizing a lifestyle that leads to such problems is a bad thing. Because it might hurt the feelings of those who engage in it?
It [the stigma] scapegoats single mothers as the reason for poverty, even though the idea that marriage is the panacea for poverty is unproven.
Wait a minute. The Register is willing to take a mere two studies as proof that marriage promotion programs don’t work, but states that the claim that marriage results in less poverty is "unproven," despite the numerous studies to the contrary? This is sloppy, bordering on the intellectually dishonest, on the part of the editorial writer. Perhaps that is because this editorial was not written on the basis of thought, but on the basis of emotion. This is best exemplified in the next two sentences:
-It's dangerous for both women and children when the government suggests a two-parent household is always better. Is it better if a woman is married to an abusive man?
First of all, it isn’t clear that the government is going to suggest that marriage is always better, rather than suggest it is usually better. Second, even if it were to do so, it is hardly dangerous if one considers the alternative. What is worse, promoting a lifestyle—marriage—that has a small risk of leading to abuse, or being inactive toward a lifestyle—single motherhood—that has a high risk of leading children into crime? Indeed, the Register's contention of danger is highly ad hominem, suggesting that the real concern isn’t that marriage promotion programs will prove ineffective:
If President Bush refuses to listen to the findings of these studies, the public will have to wonder about his real motivation for prodding the poor down the aisle.
Perhaps, as was apparent all along, the idea was more about furthering conservative values regarding marriage than a genuine effort to help those who need it most.
Ah, there’s the real problem: advancing the conservative agenda of marriage over single motherhood. The editorial writer doesn’t like that because such an agenda suggests the lifestyle of marriage is better than that of single motherhood. Apparently the writer doesn’t want to face the fact that there are good choices and bad ones. Rather, he or she would prefer to live in the dreamworld based on the belief that there are only lifestyle choices. That the writer can persist in such a belief despite the enormous evidence that children are better off in married households than single-parent households is a testament to the power of self-delusion.
VILSACK SCORES A TWO-FER
A news story in the Des Moines Register has the following from Governor Vilsack:
Vilsack said Gross should take responsibility for tax increases, increased debt and cuts to K-12 education that occurred during the administration of Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, whom Gross served as chief of staff for five years.
Although Doug Gross did return some fire, the Register also notes that
Gross said Wednesday that he hoped the campaign would not be negative. But if Wednesday's verbal jabs are any indication, voters can expect more attacks.
Guess what, Mr. Gross? It is going to be negative. Didn’t you learn that from the primary?
SOMETIMES THE BEST ONES COME FROM NON-PUNDITS
This gem of a zinger came from a caller on Fox and Friends this morning. The caller stated that the A.C.L.U. stands for "All Criminals Love Us." Boo-Yah!!
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Wednesday, June 05, 2002
DOES ALTERMAN LOVE CHOMSKY?
Did anyone notice what Eric Alterman said about Noam Chomsky today?
I think Noam Chomsky and Bill Bennett are two peas in a pod when it comes to politics—kind of like David Horowitz and David Horowitz. But one of them is on television virtually every minute of every day and the other one can’t get arrested, TV-wise, which is as good an indication of the right-wing bias of the punditocracy as any.
No, Mr. Alterman, it’s an indication of the bias against someone whose cheese slipped off his cracker long ago.
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HE DIDN’T BLOW IT!
The politician with my favorite name, Edgar Allen BLOW, squeaked out a win in the Democratic Primary for Des Moines County Supervisor by only 76 votes. A picture of Mr. Blow can be seen here. With a face and a name like that, how can you not vote for Blow come November? Insert your favorite pun here.
MORE ON THE GIANTS AND INDIANS
Eric Olsen has responded to my response to his response to my email. Turns out he’s relieved that I’m not a Twins fan; now he’s unhappy that I’m a Giants fan. He’s still upset about a little tiff some guy named Marishal had with a Dodgers’ catcher way back in ancient history. Speaking of the Dodgers, Eric, here is a little news that might make you happy: A gent from Iowa City with a 94 mph fastball was just drafted by the LA Pretty Boys. Hope that makes up for the fact that a Giant just moved into fourth on the all-time home run list. Heh, heh!
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POLITICAL CORRECTNESS RUNNING AMOK AT ISU JOURNALISM SCHOOL?
Earlier I posted a blog about a recent incident at Iowa State University as reported by the Ames Tribune. The summary is that Journalism Professor Tracey Owens Patton expelled a graduate student, Jay Gardner, from her class, “Ethnicity, Gender, and the Media.” She claims that he was being disruptive. He claims that she suppressed his free speech and unfairly removed him from the classroom.
From the article it is difficult to determine exactly what Gardner did that prompted Patton to boot him from the class. To begin with, there is this cryptic passage:
Patton, a black professor, claims Gardner, a white graduate student, sabotaged her teaching and the goals of a class and negatively impacted the other students.
Does that mean that Gardner was a raving lunatic who wouldn’t shut up in class? Or does it mean that he challenged some of Professor Patton’s left-wing ideas and she simply couldn’t deal with it? I suspect it is the latter, because of the next paragraph in the article:
She further claims statistics he cites in class can be found on white supremacist Web sites. She quotes a campus police detective as saying Gardner could be part of a white supremacy movement on campus.
Seems like the good professor is reaching here. My interpretation is that she kicked Gardner out for his right-wing views, not his classroom behavior. In order to justify her intolerance, she tries to tar him as a racist.
It appears very unlikely that Gardner is part of any white supremacy movement. As the article notes, “[Iowa State] campus police say they are not aware of any white supremacy movements on campus.” Second, the article also notes that Gardner earns his living by running a web site called All Things Spiritual. This web site has information on a diverse array of religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and even New Age. Would a white supremacist run such a website? Stranger things have happened, of course, but it seems very improbable.
What also raises eyebrows is the way Professor Patton is acting:
Patton has not returned numerous phone messages from The Tribune. A woman who answered Patton's university extension last week said Patton was not taking calls from reporters.
Patton is behaving as though she did something indefensible and doesn’t want to face the music. Or could she just be press-shy? Not likely. She has been previously interviewed for a newsletter for ISU. This was a puff-piece of Patton’s sociological analysis of the Ally McBeal show, not exactly a demanding encounter with the media. But she also participated in a panel discussion at ISU about 9/11—barely a week after September 11! Given the emotional charge that was surely running through ISU students at the time, Professor Patton’s participation in such a panel is not indicative of someone who is reluctant to deal with public exposure.
The likely problem is Professor Patton is intolerant of conservative views. The online information available about her seems to paint such a picture. Her analysis of Ally McBeal, at least as it is presented in the above link, is a typical left-wing grievance about racial and gender stereotypes on television. Her faculty profile states that her “research interests are intercultural cultural communication with a largely domestic focus that examines class, ethnicity, gender, media, policy, race, racism, sexism, and white supremacy.” In other words, she is well indoctrinated in the beliefs that dominate women’s and minorities’ studies programs.
Of course, it is still possible that Professor Patton was simply taking necessary disciplinary action against a genuinely disruptive student. However, it seems likely that this is simply another case of political correctness run amok: a conservative student expresses his opinion and is punished for it by a professor who views the world through a very narrow leftist prism.
. . .
Some analysis of the recent spat at ISU.
TOUR OF THE BLOGOSPHERE
-I made the mistake of emailing Eric Olsen of Tres Producers this morning about the the spanking the Cleveland Indians received last night at the hands of the Minnesota Twins. Eric now accuses me of—gasp—being a Twins fan! No, actually I’m a San Francisco Giants fan. I grew up in that area of the country, and I’ve never been able to transfer my loyalty to a Midwest team like the Twins or the Cubs. I have to admit, though, that Eric’s blog is pretty biting. I’ll have to watch myself, and be happy that I wasn’t blogging during the last Hawkeye basketball season.
-National Review Online has two very good columns today. The first is by Joel Mowbray about why the Palestinians should not have an election. I’ll just add one more reason: What if the Palestinians elect someone who even more of a raving fanatic than Arafat? The second is by Mackubin Thomas Owens trashing the sixties. Good stuff.
-Guess what Ralph Nader has his undies in a twist about now? Thanks to the Insolvent Republic of Blogistan.
-This one at Talking Points Memo, via Mickey Kaus. TPM raises an indelicate, but necessary, point about the Chandra Levy case. The Talking Points blogger, Joshua Micah Marshall, is what I like to see in the other side: A liberal with moxy.
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A STAUNCH SUPPLY-SIDER HEADED TO CONGRESS?
State Senator Steve King received more votes in the 5th District Primary than his three other Republican opponents. However, he received only 30%. Under Iowa law, a candidate must garner 35% of the vote, or the decision goes to a convention. However, the buzz before the election was that delegates to a convention would likely choose Steve King anyway. Now that Steve King received the most votes, the delegates have all the more reason to do so. The 5th District is so heavily Republican the winner of the GOP Primary is all but a shoo-in for the general election. Here’s hoping it is Steve King.
THE REGISTER IS ALL HOT
The Des Moines Register gets itself all worked up over Bush’s decision to take no action regarding global warming. But there is no need to comment on the editorial, especially after sentences like this:
Bush rejects any policies that would harm the U.S. economy in the short-term, saying, "In the real world, no one will forgo meeting basic family needs to protect the global commons." But basic family needs do not include consuming huge quantities of electricity for electronic toys and driving gas-guzzling SUVs.
I’ll just refer you to three pieces (1, 2, 3) that I wrote about global warming about two years ago.
THE GAZETTE IS NOT
Here’s one reason I often like the Cedar Rapids Gazette editorial page:
Yucca Mountain site deserves approval
David Yepsen has an interesting column on the challenges that the Iowa GOP faces in the general election.
. . .
I would have preferred Governor Sukup. But it looks like Gross will win the GOP nomination, if the current trend continues. It appears that Sukup and Vander Plaats split the remainder of the vote almost in half, which means that Vander Plaats did much better than expected. Run again for another office, Bob. And soon.
As for Gross, if he has more garbage in his past, he’d better sit down with a reporter from the Register or the Gazette and get it out in the open now, before Vilsack’s staff finds it and springs it on him in late October.
HOW TO WIN A PRIMARY AS A MODERATE 101
To all Republican moderates planning to run for office in the future. Do not take the campaign of John McCain or Richard Riordan as your model. (If you do, you’re an idiot and deserve to lose—neither McCain nor Riordan won their primary race.) Instead, look to Greg Ganske. Ganske won the Republican Senatorial Primary (thus far, Ganske 60%, Bill Salier 40%) in Iowa by following one rule: Appease the Republican base, don’t antagonize it. It’s a very simple rule. Here’s betting that in future primary races a lot of Republican moderates won’t follow it.
GETTING 135% OF THE VOTE
I was watching Channel 8 for some election news. The following results for the Democratic Primary in the 1st U.S. House District appeared on the screen:
Ann Hutchinson (D) 5,900 - 45%
Dave Nagle (D) 3,652 - 45%
Denny Heath (D) 343 - 45%
Did Miranda Khan, the news anchor, notice that the percentages weren’t correct and instead read the raw numbers? Nope. Without skipping a beat she said, "Hutchinson at 45%, Nagle at 45%, Heath at 45%." Guess you don’t have to know how to add to get a job reading the news.
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Tuesday, June 04, 2002
ONE IS SOFT AND FUZZY, THE OTHER ISN’T
Ed Boyd at zonitics has a hilarious comparison of Governor Grayout Davis and a particular type of vermin that is invading California. But Ed, I wonder, is the source of the invasion from outside the state, or from Sacramento?
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BIG BOUNCING BOOB WATCH
The Anna Nicole Smith reality show on E! may be the most anticipated new series of the coming season. James Hirsen of the Left Coast Report writes:
Apparently, the program will allow for some unusual audience participation. As the plus-size model hunts for a sperm donor, viewers will supposedly have the chance to choose the father of Smith's second child.
Smith told the World Entertainment News Network, "I want to have a child so bad. No fathers, it's just going to be one-night stands."
(If you think that I’m about to risk making a complete ass out of myself, you are right.)
Anna, my dear, I have just what you need! You are genetically well endowed in many areas, except one: brains. (Sorry, sweetie, but men don’t lust after you because of your understanding of fiscal policy.) I, however, work for a think-tank. It doesn’t get much brainier than that. So just think, with your looks, and my brains, your kids could grow up to become smart and good-looking! On the other hand, if they had my looks and your brains, they could turn out to be primordial ooze (that’s a type of slime, dear.) But what the heck! I’m more than willing to roll the dice if you are, honey-bunch! My email address is up toward the right.
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I love Tech Central Station.
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TOUR OF THE BLOGOSHPERE
Some funny stuff on the web today.
-HawkGirl found a core values statement of the Customs Service. She warns us, “Don't laugh. I think they're actually serious.”
-Protein Wisdom recounts an appearance on Politically Incorrect by anti-nuke activist Dr. Helen “Where did you read that? Reader’s Digest?” Caldicott. Turns out some of her statements were too loopy even for host Bill Maher.
-Happy Fun Pundit has this blog about being invited to join the AARP. Hilarious, as only HFP can be.
-If you’re in a more serious mood, InstaPundit and Volokh Conspiracy have some interesting pieces on Michael Bellesiles, the professor who wrote the book “The Arming of America,” which claimed that America’s gun culture (at least pre-Civil War) was largely a fiction. Too bad most of his data was also a fiction.
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MORE TROUBLE IN THE ISU JOURNALISM SCHOOL
The Ames Tribune is reporting that an African-American Professor in the Iowa State University School of Journalism booted a graduate student from her class for being disruptive. Among other things, the professor alleges that the student is part of a campus hate group. This is the same Journalism School that has already had intra-faculty racial tensions. Some of the details in the story are a little sketchy, so I’m trying to read between the lines. I’ll have some analysis later.
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HAS MY BROTHER GOT A DEAL FOR YOU!
My brother Doug, along with his soon-to-be wife, Melissa, have set up a user-group on Yahoo! allowing folks to keep track of their travels. Right now they are in South Korea attending the World Cup. I received this email this morning, which is quite interesting:
This morning, up at the crack, and off to the DMZ to dodge some bullets. This place was extremely cool, and we would highly recommend it.
Next, Doug demonstrates why, when it comes to the Hogberg family, I’m the one with the imagination:
One of the coolest things about is was that there was a North Korean tourist group there at the same time and we got to stare at each other across the border. I couldn’t help but wondering what they were thinking.
Gee, I don’t know, Doug. What is Korean for “Get me the !@?!@# out of this %$!??*@ place!”?
Anyway, if you're interested in the group, its at
Doug promises FREE BEER to the first 100 people who sign up!
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THEN AGAIN, MAYBE NOT
Well, it’s a start. Thanks to Ed Boyd for the link.
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BUSH GOES WOBBLY ON DOMESTIC POLICY
Yesterday the blogosphere, taking its lead from Rush Limbaugh, excoriated President Bush over the release of an EPA report that conceded human activity probably has something to do with global warming. The blizzard of indignation rained down: James Glassman, Crooow Blog, Craig Schamp, Cut on the Bias and others belted Bush for another sellout of conservatism. Lost in the outcry was any notice that Bush is promoting the welfare reform reauthorization.
Today, Andrew Sullivan has a different take on the matter that I’m inclined to agree with. If anything the Administration used the release of the report to further justify its decision to back out of the Kyoto Treaty.
So, did the blogosphere overreact? No, it’s more like a lot of pent up frustration—most of it justified, in my opinion—finally boiling over. James Glassman’s general point is correct; from campaign finance reform, to steel tariffs, to the farm bill, on the domestic agenda Bush has been jettisoning his conservative principles left and right (no pun intended.) It’s as though the Administration thinks the conservative movement has blinders on: We’ll only focus on what Bush does on the War on Terrorism and ignore what he does domestically. Sorry, but we won’t, and we shouldn’t.
No, we need to keep hammering Bush until he gets back on track domestically. In my not so humble opinion, here’s what he should do:
-Welfare Reform. Fortunately, Bush has been promoting this one. It is a good conservative measure with stricter work requirements and money for programs that promote marriage. Most of the Democrats in the House voted against the recent reauthorization. Bush could do worse than to hit them over the head with it.
-Estate Tax. Later this month, the Senate will vote to make the repeal of the death tax permanent. Bush needs to do two things: First promote this just about every time he gets to a microphone between now and when the Senate votes on it. Second, every time he talks about the estate tax, call on Congress to make the rest of the tax cut permanent.
-Cut Capital Gains Taxes. Bush should promote this as good for the economy, as a way to jumpstart the sluggish stock market. He could also point out that the last time this was tried—1997—it actually brought in more revenue to the Treasury.
-Cut Spending. The budget fight comes up in a few months. Bush should find a few of the most outdated, ineffective government programs and insist that Congress do away with them. This will not only please the smaller-government conservatives, but will also help him get the jump on the Democrats who will, no doubt, try to tar him with the budget deficit brush.
-Social Security. Go on the offensive with privatization. Congressional Republicans are already nervous about getting whacked with this by the Democrats. Bush should give them a lot of cover. He should mention that his plan for privatization is similar to most private retirement plans. He should also put Democrats on the defensive by saying that their plan (or lack of one) for Social Security will result in higher taxes or large benefit cuts.
-Guns in the Cockpit. Bush should overrule the Department of Transportation on this one. If Norman Mineta throws a hissy fit, fire him. The only people who will be upset with that will be the New York Times Op-Ed page. All the more reason to do it.
If Bush does even half of that, I’d be reasonably happy. How about the rest of the blogospehere?
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DES MOINES REGISTER STANDS UP FOR RELIGION
Wow! A Des Moines Register editorial I actually agree with! The Register defends students’ rights to engage in religious activity at school as longs as it is engaged in solely by the students, and not by school officials. Frankly, I think that school officials should have a bit more leeway than the courts presently give them. Nevertheless, the Register makes a useful distinction.
ANOTHER WAY TO BE SOFT ON CRIME
Okay, back to the usual. The Register also has an editorial on the conditions at Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison. In particular, the editorial is concerned about prisoners diagnosed as mentally ill:
Improving conditions, taking the burden off Cellhouse 220, and putting a higher priority on the treatment of mentally ill prisoners will be the result.
Because though everyone agrees those convicted of crimes should be appropriately sentenced, the 17.5 percent of prisoners diagnosed with mental illness have it doubly hard. Society's tough-on-crime mentality combined with a rampant disregard for mental illness leaves them both forgotten and often undertreated….
Providing counseling and medication is not being soft on crime. It's not using mental illness as an excuse for criminal behavior. It's not giving the incarcerated more than they should get. It's the state's responsibility to tend to the health needs of its prisoners. Fortunately, doing so can also save public money and prevent additional crime.
Hold on a minute! 17.5%? Doesn’t that seem a little high? I mean, that’s almost one in five. The Register appears to forget that we’re dealing with the criminal population here, a group that has learned to game the system. Surely faking mental illness is one ploy inmates use to get preferential treatment in prison, perhaps even more generous consideration from parole boards. Certainly, prisoners with a legitimate mental illness should receive treatment, but a healthy dose of skepticism is in order here.
BUT THEY ARE TOUGH ON CRIME IN JAPAN
This one via my brother Doug, who is currently attending the World Cup:
Ticketless Baby Refused Entry to World Cup Game
STOP THE MUD SLINGING, PLEASE
David Yepsen didn’t much care for the GOP primary campaign for governor:
Today's primary elections around Iowa cap a sophomoric campaign. There has been too little substance and too much negativity; too little specificity and too much trivia.
Iowa is not well-served by campaigns like these. We need a debate about our future, not an argument over who had what client a decade ago. Politicians wonder why they are unloved and why people are turned off by politics.
Why do candidates serve us such blather? Simple. Negative blather works. Voters respond to it. Not only do we have a failure of leadership here, but we also have a failure of followership. A candidate can run a week of television touting positions on the issues and nothing changes. That same candidate can run a week of television commercials attacking an opponent and the opponent's poll ratings will drop….
And don't forget: Sex sells. Any discussion of issues involving sex is going to get more attention from news organizations than, say, a discussion of tax policy. Spats over abortion, gay rights and old girlfriends will always get more airtime and ink than health care, taxes and old infrastructure.
Yepsen’s overall point is, in general, a valid one, but I think he goes too far in that last sentence. Why are abortion and gay rights less serious issues than health care and taxes?
Also, we need to be careful in making distinctions between serious issues and "mud slinging." Did Bill Clinton’s libertinism seem like mud slinging in 1992? Sure. But it led to lying under oath and impeachment. Issues don’t get more serious than those.
GO AHEAD, RAISE TAXES. YOU AREN’T UP FOR ELECTION.
From the Cedar Rapids Gazette this morning:
The State Appeal Board on Monday upheld the Cedar Rapids school district's budget and its 19 percent increase in the tax rate.
"The school district seems to have had little alternative after the state's 4.3 percent cut," Cynthia Eisenhauer, director of the Department of Management and a member of the three-member Appeal Board, said.
Couldn’t the school district look a little harder for areas to make cuts? Isn’t there unnecessary spending it could do without? Oh wait—that’s never an alternative when taxes can be raised.
And to top it off, there was this passage in the article:
Linda Kuster, director of communications, and Steve Graham, executive director of business services for the school district, both attended the Monday meeting in case there were any questions by appeal board members.
The State Appeal Board doesn’t even ask any questions when it is considering a substantial tax increase. Isn’t it amazing what government officials can get away with when they don’t have to face the voters?
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Monday, June 03, 2002
REGISTER STANDS UP FOR PINCIPLE—FOR HARKIN’S SAKE
Every time I think the Des Moines Register editorial page is about to score one for principle, it manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Today an editorial urged Tom Harkin to hold a committee vote on USDA nominee Thomas Dorr:
Harkin may have good reason to persist in raising questions about whether Dorr properly followed the rules in receiving crop-subsidy payments: Just because there's insufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation does not mean Dorr's skirts are clean. Harkin should not, however, use that as an excuse to hold the Dorr nomination in limbo.
That is what the Republicans did to Clinton administration nominees for everything from surgeon general to the federal courts. It was wrong when the Republicans ran the Senate, and it is wrong now that the Democrats are in control.
And just when you think that the Register is standing up for the integrity of the confirmation process, this final sentence crashes the principle party:
By delaying so long, Harkin gives credence to critics who say he's only playing political games.
Should Dorr be given a vote? Sure, but only because it would prevent Harkin’s opponents from getting any ammunition to use against him.
GEORGE LUCAS MEETS SIGMUND FREUD
This one via Midwest Conservative Journal, via Matt Welch. A psychotherapist has reviewed "Attack of the Clones" for the Los Angeles Times. It speak for itself. Frankly, I like my review better.
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WHAT ABOUT THAT OPHELIA COMPLEX?
Dennis E. Clayson looks over the list of honor students in his community and finds that more than 70% are girls.
KOOKS FOR CONGRESS
Kate Thompson of the Sioux City Journal has some interesting things to say about the race for the U.S. House seat in Iowa’s 5th District. Then she has to go and ruin it with some praise for the Green Candidate, Mike Palecek of Sheldon. In particular, she has read Palecek’s book which she finds to be
an imaginative novel about what might happen if a bunch of prisoners decided that George Bush Sr. should be "brought to justice" for his role in international politics. The prisoners see little difference between Bush Sr. and Augusto Pinochet who was detained overseas for his role in the Chilean coup of 1968.
I’ll take comfort in the fact that Palecek’s timing couldn’t be worse; if you don’t agree, see how much trouble Jihad Cindy is in.
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TOUR OF THE BLOGOSPHERE
-Some good stuff at Tech Central Station recently, including this one by Sonia Arrison on the future of e-government.
-Mickey Kaus is on fire today. Among other things, he dissects a recent report that claims welfare reform resulted in declining rate of marriage. Not surprisingly, Tom Tomorrow takes the report at face value.
-Andrew Sullivan has given a good smack to New York States Regents in their attempt to protect students from controversial literature. Protein Wisdom gives them a pretty good whacking too.
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CAN BLOGGERS CHANGE THE WORLD?
Steven Den Beste of USS Clueless didn’t think too much of my call to the blogosphere to begin a debate over the fundamentals of a prescription drug program. In a return email he writes:
Why do we need to "start a debate" about anything at all?
Let's keep some perspective here; we're not going to change the world. We're just a bunch of hacks posting stuff online.
Let me address Den Beste’s points from the easiest to the more difficult:
We’re just a bunch of hacks.
I don’t think the likes of Andrew Sullivan, Mickey Kaus, Glenn Reynolds, Virginia Postrel, Bill Quick and others are "hacks." They are better described as opinion makers, and if they were to start a debate over prescription drugs, there is a good chance the mainstream media would pay attention.
What about the rest of us like, well, me? Am I a "hack"? Of course I am. But I’m not doing this blog for the purpose of residing in hack-dom forever. My goal is to eventually become a serious pundit whose site has a few thousand hits a day. Are the odds against that happening? Sure they are. But this is America, where it is okay to dream big.
Why do we need to "start a debate" about anything at all?
Let’s narrow "anything at all" down to "prescription drugs". In the case of a prescription drug program, we should begin a debate because we—at least those bloggers who pay taxes—are going to pay for it. It’s our tax money and we should have our say. A debate on the blogosphere might derail such a program. If not, it might at least compel Congress to look for the least costly alternative.
Let's keep some perspective here; we're not going to change the world.
Perhaps it depends on what the definition of "change the world" is. It seems to me that bloggers have already changed the world in a small way. We’ve become an alternative media outlet that is shaking the traditional media from its comfortable perch. If by "change the world" Den Beste means that bloggers aren’t going to completely transform our society, I’d agree with that. But there is a lot of area between having no effect and having an earth-shattering effect.
Case in point, if this piece in the American Journalism Review is any indication, bloggers have already affected the debate over the War on Terrorism. Why couldn’t we have an effect on something far more mundane like a prescription drug program? I see no reason why we couldn’t if enough bloggers started blogging about it. Of course, we won’t have any effect if we never even try to "start a debate."
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SON OF DUKAKIS?
For a great picture of Governor Tom Vilsack, click on this link and scroll down.
COVERING THE ANATOMY
Rob Borsellino has a lot of very funny stuff in his column in the Des Moines Register today, including "Girls with Balls."
ELI LILLY CHECK YOUR MESSAGES
In an editorial today, the Des Moines Register does its best hatchet job on the pharmaceutical industry:
Companies have a right to make money, but it's hard to overlook the reality of the industry: extraordinarily high profits; more effort put into new versions of old drugs than into truly innovative medicines; legal ploys to stop drugs from becoming available in cheaper, generic forms; countless examples of questionable behavior in everything from conducting trials to paying doctors to prescribe their drugs; the fact that there are more pharmaceutical lobbyists in Washington than there are members of Congress.
All this while seniors struggle to pay for life-saving drugs.
So as Congress contemplates a prescription-drug benefit for Medicare, members should take an honest look at the drug industry. If elected officials aren't careful, a government-sponsored drug program could cost taxpayers a fortune in picking up the tab for overpriced drugs.
Conveniently the Register leaves out one very important aspect of the pharmaceutical industry: the cost in bringing drugs to market. On average, for every one drug that makes it through the testing process, there are nine others that do not. Thus, drug companies have to try to recover their huge research costs with the few drugs that do make it to the market.
Acknowledging that, however, would put a monkey wrench in the Register’s agenda. After all, it’s much easier to promote a government program for prescription drugs if one can depict drug companies as greedy, insensitive entities that are victimizing seniors.
DO CONSERVATIVES WANT TO BRING BACK THE BLACK PLAGUE TOO?
In the Omaha World-Herald, Tom Tepeen gripes about the recent Supreme Court decision circumscribing federal government power in favor of state governments. He ends with this sentence:
This is conservatism, all right, but it is coming close to being the conservatism of the nullifiers who, in their last big push for such states' rights, brought us the Civil War.
Perhaps I should take comfort in the fact that he didn’t compare us to the Third Reich.
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Sunday, June 02, 2002
YEPSEN GETS THE FARM BILL WRONG
David Yepsen is one of my favorite columnists, but he really missed the mark this morning. He argues that because of the subsidies, the media has largely ignored the good portions of the farm bill:
Not enough has been said about how it can help rebuild rural economies. There are rural venture-capital provisions in the bill, programs to help small businesses add value to farm products and economic-development loans and grants. There are rural telecommunications programs, renewable-energy incentives and federal purchasing preferences for "biobased" energy sources.
This bill isn't farm pork. It's a rural toolbox.
Call it what you want, but it is still wasteful spending. Bio-based fuels have not proven effective. Ethanol, for example, requires more energy to produce than it yields.
A little later, Yepsen states, "So let's be pragmatic."
Okay. The fact of the matter is agriculture is a shrinking sector of the economy. All the government money in the world isn’t going to change that. Subsidies, programs, and incentives amount to throwing government money down the drain.
Everyday on the way to work I pass lots of family farms. I hate the thought of seeing them disappear. But they are going the way of the horse and buggy. The current farm bill is, at best, simply going to delay the inevitable.
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PRESCRIPTION DRUGS: A CALL TO THE BLOGOSPHERE.
The Cedar Rapids Gazette has an editorial that endorses the effort by Iowa to pay for seniors’ prescription drugs.
Prescription drugs for seniors is one of those issues that liberals absolutely love in that the fundamentals are never really debated. That is, the politicians and pundits debate how we are going to pay for it, but not if we actually should pay for it. Consider the Gazette, which puts a brief discussion at the bottom of its editorial:
Why should Medicare cover prescription drugs? Because when Medicare first started in 1965, medicines didn't play the role in people's health that they do today. In 1992, the average senior took about 20 prescriptions annually, and in 2000 that number rose to 28.5 prescriptions per year, a 45 percent increase. That trend is likely to continue as researchers develop new drugs.
Note the leap in logic: Because a government program pays for traditional medical expenses, it should therefore pay for new medical expenses. It begs the question of why one group of people in our society, seniors, should have a claim on the earnings of other people, namely the taxpayers.
So, here is a call to the blogosphere. Since the political and media establishment seem content to ignore the fundamentals, let’s start a debate on whether the taxpayers should spend more money to fund the medical expenses of seniors. If the traditional channels won’t raise the issue, it is our responsibility to do it.
STEFFENS STICKS WITH SALIER
Jason Steffens of News for Christians posted a comment saying he is going to support Bill Salier for Senate in the GOP primary. Guess I didn’t persuade him. Oh well. He also provided a link to Salier’s answers to a Christian Coalition survey; a survey which, he coyly notes, Ganske did not fill out.
UPDATE ON THE GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY
The Quad City Times has a very good article on the last minute push by the GOP candidates for Iowa Governor. It includes more recent poll numbers.
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