Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Correction: Because of incorrect information provided by a watchdog organization, a front-page article on May 3 incorrectly reported Oregon's status on allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections if they will turn 18 by Election Day in November. Oregon lets 17-year-olds register, but they must be 18 when they cast a ballot in any election.What’s the difference between a watchdog organization and a special interest group?
Is it perhaps that (in the journalist's opinion) watchdog organizations are trying to do good? Perhaps even doing it for the children?
As of now I am declaring this lowly blog to be a watchdog organization.
BTW the May 3 article referred to is here.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Said State Rep Kevin J. Murphy:
"I'm thrilled that president Wilson has lent his support to calls for revoking President Mugabe's degree," he said. "The University of Massachusetts has always prided itself on being a forward-thinking member of the global community, and it is an honor to support Zimbabwe's people in any way we can."
All the corpses Mugabe has made since 1986 would thank you for your courageous support, Kevie-boy.
Trustee James J. Karam said that he supports stripping the degree and that universities should be cautious in awarding honorary degrees to international politicians. "Many times, today's patriot is tomorrow's terrorist," he said.
Or perhaps today’s facts are yesterday’s smears from conservative attack machines.
And as happens so often, the Globe story’s last paragraph is reserved for the mention of contrarian allegations:
But some observers say that Mugabe was guilty of human rights abuses throughout his time in power and that in 1986 he had a history of violence against his people.
Indeed! I'm truly shocked! How dare some observers say such a thing? To find out, let’s pull something out of the vast memory hole, shall we?
MUGABE VOWS TO ESTABLISH 1-PARTY RULE IN ZIMBABWE
The Boston Globe
Jul 7, 1985
HARARE, Zimbabwe - Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, more powerful than ever after a landslide election victory, vowed yesterday to create a one-party state in the next five years, and threatened tough action against minority whites and black opposition leaders who stood in his way.
He said that whites "who have not accepted the reality of a political order in which the Africans set the pace have to leave the country."
Mugabe told a news conference hours after election results were announced that he would not feel bound by the British-drafted constitution, which protects the rights of minority political parties in this former colony until 1990.
He accused black opposition parties of "organizing counterrevolutionary activities" and warned they would "have no one to blame but themselves when the hand of law and order exercises itself over them."
Mugabe said his winning 63 of 79 National Assembly seats contested during last week's elections, the first general elections since independence in 1980, was a mandate to "unite our people under one political umbrella."
"This is a mandate for us to unite our people." he said. "We believe in the inexorable law of unity. You must be united or else you stand divided and perish."
He said he would not be swayed from his goal of a single-party state by unfavorable reaction from the international community, which has given millions of dollars of aid to his government.
"The Western world . . . can go hang. The Western world can say what it wants," he said. "As long as we believe we are right, we will do what we have to do in the interests of our people."
Mugabe, whose major rival, Joshua Nkomo, made a sweep of 15 seats in troubled Matabeleland province, dividing the nation on tribal lines, was angered by whites who voted for conservative Ian Smith in separate elections on June 27 .
Smith won 15 of 20 seats that are reserved for whites until 1987 under the constitution drawn up at a peace conference in London in 1979. He was the last white prime minister of the country when it was called Rhodesia, a breakaway British colony.
Who could have imagined from reading this cheery report in 1985 that Mugabe would turn out to be an unworthy dictator rather than an African Messiah? Give him an honorary UMass degree! He hates Apartheid, doesn't he? That means that he’s on the right side of the most important issue. How bad could he be? Besides, he’s a member of a minority group!
Monday, May 12, 2008
A Globe front page story today headlined “The politics of commencement” notes that Catholic universities in the US are awarding far fewer honorary degrees to politicians. In classic Globe fashion, the story far underplays the important role of the US Catholic bishops, who have urged this change. Excerpts from the Globe story (emphasis mine):
The 4th paragraph:
After repeatedly getting criticized by conservative Catholics, and after years of pressure from the Vatican and some American bishops, Catholic colleges and universities are now shying away from politicians - especially those who, like Kennedy, Kerry, and Pelosi, support abortion rights - as commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients.
…and some American bishops? But reading much further down, the 14th paragraph reports:
In 2004, the presidential candidacy of Kerry, a Catholic Democrat who supports abortion rights, led to the creation of a task force of bishops examining how the church should relate to such politicians. That task force failed to settle the prickly question of who should decide whether such politicians should receive Communion, but it was clearer about commencement, declaring, "The Catholic community and the institutions which are a part of our family of faith should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles."
What are the facts? In fact the above statement (which is online in its entirety here) was ratified by a vote of the entire congregation of US Catholic bishops, not by some American bishops. Furthermore, this same statement should be known in the Globe newsroom. It was the reason that many Catholics (including Boston Cardinal O’Malley) chose not to attend a 2005 dinner ceremony where the Mayor of Boston was presented with an award by Catholic Charities, a story which the Globe put on its front page.
With superb irony, today’s Globe also carries a story about an attempt to rescind an honorary degree that UMass awarded in 1986 to a most unsavory politician, Robert Mugabe. At the time, according to the Globe story, UMass referred to Mugabe as a “champion of human rights”. Why?
The underlying reason Mugabe received honors from UMass and other schools was so that these institutions could publicly thumb their noses at the white minority South African regime, which supported the policy of Apartheid. In time, the much despised white South Africans enfranchised native Africans and thus relinquished their power democratically, showing themselves to be far more attuned with liberal democratic values than honorees such as Mugabe.
That universities would stain their record by honoring Mugabe is a better example of the “politics of commencement”, where moral posturing and political correctness can far outweigh common sense.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright called him out as a politician, a description that angered Obama as much as any other declaration by his former pastor because it exposed an unflattering truth. Obama held Wright close when it was politically advantageous and cut the controversial minister loose when it was politically advantageous...He argues that he's best suited to challenge Washington's political culture because he isn't steeped in it. Today, Clinton is scorned by Democratic insiders and McCain is more maverick than darling of the GOP.
Friday, May 09, 2008
I was struck by the stark contrast between how the airlines and the TSA manage their queues. Note the complete lack of queue at the airline check-in counter (left), and the usual long queue at the TSA checkpoint (right).
There were no innovations like touch-screen check-in kiosks on 9/11. In the 6+ years since then, most airlines have streamlined their own check-in processes so that they are faster and easier, not to mention more secure – even for we cattle who must fly in coach.
During the same 6 years the government, through the TSA, has done very little innovation. Though a high percentage of travelers are frequent (meaning weekly) flyers, the TSA security policies do not
discriminate differentiate among any classes of passengers. All are subjected to the same process, day after day. The unimaginative uniformity of the TSA’s policies continue to severely damage the airline’s business-critical customer experience, all the while the TSA goes on charging the airline’s customers a fee for its work, and thus contributing even further to the woes of the airline industry.
Many Democrats seem sure the government would do a much better job than this of managing all our health care policies. I’m sure it would be fairer in the same idiotic sense that TSA security policies are fair – meaning uniformly inconvenient and thus questionably effective.
This lunacy of TSA policy reminded me of Peggy Noonan’s remarks last week in The View From Gate 14:
America is in line at the airport. America has its shoes off, is carrying a rubberized bin, is going through a magnetometer. America is worried there is fungus on the floor after a million stockinged feet have walked on it. But America knows not to ask. America is guilty until proved innocent, and no one wants to draw undue attention. America left its ticket and passport in the jacket in the bin in the X-ray machine, and is admonished. America is embarrassed to have put one one-ounce moisturizer too many in the see-through bag. America is irritated that the TSA agent removed its mascara, opened it, put it to her nose, and smelled it. Why don't you put it up your nose and see if it explodes? America thinks.
And, as always: Why do we do this when you know I am not a terrorist, and you know I know you know I am not a terrorist? Why this costly and harassing kabuki when we both know the facts, and would agree that all this harassment is the government's way of showing "fairness," of showing that it will equally humiliate anyone in order to show its high-mindedness and sense of justice? Our politicians congratulate themselves on this as we stand in line.
All the frisking, beeping and patting down is demoralizing to our society. It breeds resentment, encourages a sense that the normal are not in control, that common sense is yesterday...
Thursday, May 08, 2008
He must be driving around 961 miles a week; that’s almost 50,000 miles a year. Wow. And it’s costing him around $11,000 to do that much driving. So basically the story from the Boston Globe is that consumers that drive over three times the yearly national average are facing a financial burden. Yep, sounds like NEWS to me.Is this what happens when professional journalists go trolling for victims to feature in their sob stories?
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Susan Milligan reports in today’s Globe:
Deep racial divisions emerged in yesterday's critical Democratic primaries, with African-American voters overwhelmingly supporting Senator Barack Obama and whites casting their votes solidly with Senator Hillary Clinton in both North Carolina and Indiana, according to exit polls.
Apparently Sunday morning isn’t the only segregated time in America. Election days are segregated, too. But though the voting in yesterday’s Democratic primaries was racially polarized, neither the Dems nor much of the press are too concerned or using words like “polarized”. Milligan finds a hopeful voice from a liberal think tank:
"I think this whole issue of elitism was sort of settled" with yesterday's contests, said Simon Rosenberg, president of NDN, a liberal think tank formerly known as the New Democrat Network.
Sort of settled, Simon? Sort of not. Simon sounds slightly bitter and defensive to me. Didn’t somebody recently say:
You go into these small liberal think tanks in Washington and, like a lot of struggling advocacies in the Northwest, their ideas have been ignored now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.
And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to hopes of gun control or secularism or antipathy toward questions they claim are sort of settled or pro-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
Monday, May 05, 2008
Friday, May 02, 2008
The impotent state of the Massachusetts GOP gets plenty of ink on the front page of today’s Boston Globe. But the story by Matt Viser seems contented with 1-party rule. Only in the 17th paragraph of the story does Viser write:
Critics say that having such one-party dominance on Beacon Hill results in more checks and fewer balances and limits creative tension in the political process.
More checks is apparently a used as a pun here, as in more government spending. How not funny.
I interpret Viser’s unnamed critics to mean people who vote Republican.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Hillary Clinton's campaign apparently believes that poet Maya Angelou can help her make inroads among African-Americans and the liberal intelligentsia - two groups in which rival Barack Obama dominates. Clinton's camp released an open letter from Angelou last week. Now she's featured in a 60-second TV ad the campaign announced yesterday will air in North Carolina…Heh.
In the context of the Globe’s writing, isn’t liberal intelligentsia a redundant term?