March 31, 2005
March 29, 2005
Liberal bias in college professors
"The study did not attempt to examine whether the political views of faculty members affect the content of their courses."
there still exists a credible problem of students being ostracized for their viewpoints.
These issues are addressed at AcademicBias.com. Run by Stuart Browning, Blaine Greenberg, and Evan Coyne Maloney (an aspiring documentary maker who is most well known for his website Brain Terminal), this site features a blog of specific instances of forced political beliefs and a short preview film (45 minutes long) called Brainwashing 101. Interestingly enough, he has posted a snippet of Mr. Kurtz's article on this website not two hours ago. The blog covers as many of these issues as can be covered. Highly suggested, though personally, I prefer Brain Terminal myself.
Some people like to call Maloney the conservative Michael Moore. This is not an accurate parallel. Moore tries to convince people through deceit and adjusted sound bytes. Maloney is honest, and will include the entire response from those he interviews, rather than only the small snippets that could be construed to mean something else.
Fortunately, there is little to be concerned about at the University of Virginia in terms of academic bias, but this blog shows that it does exist, and that the students need to be aware of it when they make decisions about what they are being taught.
March 28, 2005
Another bad poll, this one on wage gaps
Check this link for the first part of my answer.
Polls like this are unreliable. Rather than taking the average for each of the jobs seperately, they average the salaries for each race and gender only. This produces a flawed report in a number of ways.
- Some jobs do not have an equal between genders. For example, there is not a women's football league that is the equal to the NFL, skewing the men's average heavily. And while I will acknowledge that the NBA equivalent of the WNBA gives salaries far lower than their male peers, the WNBA does not produce the same ratings, merchandise sales, and tickets sold as the men. Essentially, they are less productive than their male counterparts, and like in any job, for that reason they do not deserve the same pay (just as a salesperson at a retail store who is effecient and good with customers deserves a higher salary than one who isn't).
- While discrimination is far lower than it used to be, many higher positions are still filled with white males, mostly as many have held these positions for many years (meaning no turnover for equally qualified people of any race), or the turnover has been to other whites who have been working their way through the system while minorities still have not acheived those positions at as high of numbers yet either. And while this may be due to racist tendencies in the past, immediate changes here are not possible as those formerly deprived of appropriate promotions would likely not be prepared for the responsibilities of such a large shift in position so quickly.
Do white males make more money? The polls are probably accurate in that way. However, their interpretation is poor. The media continues to show that they are unreliable with numbers. Be prepared anytime you see a poll to remain skeptical of the interpretation of the data or the data itself. It is far too easy to make a study say something that is not proven by it.
UPDATE 3/29 8:05 PM: I just recognized that I didn't address the issue that Miss Malking primarily covered. Women of minority status earn more each year. Likely cause? My guess is the rise of civil and women's rights at around the same period of time. While it would take some time for both to make significant gains, women of minority status had a distinct advantage of both movements in gaining employment or promotions. Coincidence? I think not.
Sadly, another earthquake in the Pacific, and more shameless bashing from the Left
Sadly, some people, out of either naivete or anger (but certainly foolishness), decide to politicize this event. And if only that was all they were doing. Confederate Yankee reports that the DU (Democratic Underground) has started a thread blaming the earthquake on none other than President Bush.
Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the DU, it is a leftist website with various stories (of course with a very liberal slant) and a message board (with a few reasonable posters, but mostly conspiracy theorists). Unlike most liberal boards which would usually just try to prove their point, the people on this board are angry and will make up theories just so they can find a way to pin the blame on conservatives, President Bush in particular. But I digress.
Taking a look at some of the posts made by the members of the DU, there were theories of nuclear testing, God expressing anger (very odd sentiment from some liberals, but not all that out there), science disproving the presence of God (amazing, both in the same thread), and even angry posters wondering why Bush didn't rush back immediately to sign a bill for aid to them (though, Congress would need to pass such a bill before the president could sign one). The members of this board hardly represent the entire Democratic party (particularly the moderate Democrats), but the more extreme elements are certainly present, even in the government. People like this unfairly lay blame on people not responsible for the ills of the world. This is politics at its worst.
This earthquake was yet another natural tragedy, but it was unavoidable, and blaming others for the disaster is counter-productive. It is times like this where unity is necessary. Everyone needs to come together in aiding the victims, not bickering over whose fault it is that it happened or that the victims don't have everything they need.
This is why I am not a soccer fan
Note: Expect some more of these. Sometimes, the link will just speak for itself.
Also, for this one in particular, don't give me the "Oh, it's Fox Sports, so it must be like Fox News" argument. This is a story from the AP, which is certainly liberally biased.
March 27, 2005
Is Black History Month racist? Is questioning it racist?
"Black History Month is a good idea ... but why are African-Americans the only ones honored with a month about their history?"
Apparently, this has brought rise to racial tensions, and thus requires training to make his opinions correct. At least, that is what I am assuming officials at Wheaton North High School near Chicago think.
I'm sure a number of students here at the University of Virginia remember the proposal a year and a half ago to require diversity training for all students. While this might sound like a decent idea at first, it is terribly ineffective and also goes very much against freedom of speech. To begin with, the only students who would have any interest in such a course likely are the ones who would need it least. Those who need it would likely remember what they were taught for the test, but never take it seriously. Another problem is that such a course would likely only teach one or a few approaches, all dictated by the instructor. Indoctrinating the students, rather than bringing about an open debate to bring many opinions, violates the First Amendment, as it forces one thought process on students (many of whom are in no need of such training). But I digress.
I'll address the first question of the subject first. Is Black History Month racist? Ever hear of White History Month? Yeah, neither have I. I agree with the student, awareness in history, particularly the history of one's own culture, is a good idea. But there does not exist an Asian History Month (or at least it isn't as publicized), or a Hispanic History Month, or an Arab History Month, and so on and so forth. Black History Month takes up constant ad time on TV, with no mention of people from other cultures (or when it is, it isn't always positive). So, is Black History Month racist? No, honestly, I can say it isn't. However, I do believe that the way it is presented is racist.
This brings up the next question. Is questioning it racist? Well, I sure hope not, as I already have. But on a more serious note, I can say absolutely not. There was a time where someone could say whatever they wanted (with exceptions to slanderous/libelous things) without fear of punishment. Today, it is only slanderous if it is racist, and it is only racist if it is against a black person, or a Hispanic in some cases. This is a double standard. It is also, in itself, racist against caucasians.
I hear a lot of people complaining about how there are still problems with racism as there were earlier in American history. I will not deny what they are saying, but the problem of so-called "reverse" racism (people, it is racism no matter who the target is) is also growing. It strikes me as just a bit hypocritical that the black community expects a complete end to racism, but a number of them (as well as some liberals of other races) are not as willing to end it on their side. I am not suggesting that whites give up on healing issues either; continuing to be racist is self-righteous. Issues that exist require cooperation from everyone, not just caucasians, and I would suggest that this student did what he believed would aid in that healing.
One more thing: I grow very tired of hearing extremist African-Americans complaining of "hundreds of years of oppression." Yes, slavery was a disgusting, heinous crime, but they were never enslaved, and today's caucasians were never slave owners. Today's blacks cannot know how they fully felt, and they cannot expect caucasians to be held responsible for the sins of their ancestors.
Anyone who buys this is wasting $8.95 + S&H
Sam Kimery and Joshua Montgomery have created a device that, when screwed into the back of the TV, blocks only the Fox News Channel. Don't ask how it works, I don't know, I would suggest asking them. There was a time where people would simply press a button on the remote control once more to skip past a channel. But now, you can do something that runs in a similar vein to "burning a draft card", as Kimery puts it.
Well, I don't know what these two could've been doing with their spare time, but almost anything else would've been more productive. They are hindering those who they claim to help in two ways.
(1) $10 may not be a whole lot in the long run, but it seems like a bit to me to block out one channel you could just as easily pass over. It doesn't take a whole lot of common sense to figure that out. And it is doubtful that a few purchases of this product will affect Fox News too much. Their ratings are based on who does watch, not those who don't. In other words, you've spent $10 to tell FNC you are not watching, rather than spending nothing to tell FNC you are not watching.
(2) If liberals believe so strongly that FNC is a right wing nuthouse, they are throwing out an opportunity to learn some of the arguments used by their political opponents. Learn the tactics of your opponent, and it is easier to show why their logic is flawed.
To anyone who does purchase this, I hope it goes well with your singing fish and 73 different knives that all cut through steel cans but apparently can't do a thing to a piece of steak.
March 26, 2005
Comparing Bush and Republicans to Nazis, all the cool ignoramuses are doing it!
It is a pitifully ignorant comparison. Let's start with Republicans in general. I've heard some people say that their "rabid patriotism" is similar to that in Germany in the 1940's. Hmm, they don't like that Republicans have faith in the people and government of America? Many countries have had periods where many of the people were unwaveringly patriotic, but few have led to Holocausts. Sadly, people take the most well known instances and assume that they must imply future problems.
Interestingly enough, there may be some hypocrisy in these accusations. Some extreme liberals will accuse Republicans of moving towards a Holocaust, but the Democrats are a lot closer to a eugenics program than most people are aware. With abortions and cases like that of Terry Schiavo, many Democrats say that these lives may not be wanted (by one party or another) and that it would be better for them to not be alive in the first place. Hmm, the Nazis didn't want Jews (as well as some Christians) either. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to call Democrats Nazis, but I think that parallels can be found for anything, even if you have to work hard to find them.
And then, there are the comparisons to Hitler of Bush. First off, whatever happened to the laws of slander and libel? These days, you can say whatever you want about anyone. I'm not one to hinder free speech, but it is a shame that people will place an inaccurate description on someone. Freedom of speech should not be misconstrued to say that lying is a right. People must be taken to task for their dishonesty.
Secondly, Bush, in most of his mannerisms, falls on the opposite side of Nazis, as Hanson notes at the end of his piece.
"The final irony? The president who is most slandered as Hitler will probably prove to be the most zealous advocate of democratic government abroad, the staunchest friend of beleaguered Israel, and the greatest promoter of global individual freedom in our recent memory. In turn, too many of the Left who used to talk about idealism and morality have so often shown themselves mean-spirited, cynical, and without faith in the spiritual power of democracy."
These comparisons are incredibly inaccurate and little more than personal attacks in an attempt to make Republicans bad, rather than improve the image of Democrats. I will remind Democrats of their folly in the last two presidential elections. They tried to paint Republicans as evil, but they came across as self-righteous. As long as leftists continue to hold the prominent voice in the Democratic party, Republicans will hold a larger percentage of the public offices than Democrats. Not that I'm complaining. Unlike the liberals, I recognize that moderate Democrats will provide a bigger challenge to Republicans, and might force many of them to reexamine everything they believe, perhaps even fight harder for those things that most need change. But make no mistake, Republicans are far from Nazis; if anything, we would be the first to stand up and condemn true Nazis for what they do and believe.
March 24, 2005
Brace yourselves for this one.
I don't like what President Bush is doing.
Whoa, where did that come from, I'm sure you must be wondering. Well, I like President Bush and many of his policies. There is one however, which I am greatly opposed to, and my sentiments are shared by conservative blogger Michelle Malkin.
There are immigration laws for many reasons. First, it allows for people who are trying to get in legally safe entrance. These people are dedicated to it, and for that reason, we could expect that many would be striving to become American citizens. They want the jobs available here just as much, if not more than, the illegal immigrants.
There are also some major security issues. It is true that the 19 responsible for 911 got in through legal procedures (though still using false passports and such). But with tighter security on legal procedures, terrorists will be more likely to use weakened borders to enter the country.
Miss Malkin points out many other problems.
- President Bush promised to strengthen border patrols before, but instead thinks that allowing people in illegally is a good idea. Please Mr. President, we don't need Vincente Fox that much.
- Social Security, already a huge issue, could be made worse. Nearly $350 billion (that's billion, with a B) could be siphoned off to illegals with false social security numbers over the next 20 years. So much for that estimate of it going bankrupt in 2041, now I have to wonder if my people in their 30s and 40s will see any Social Security money now.
- Jobs taken by illegals would no longer be restricted, given them all the full benefits and also encouraging many more illegal immigrants to come into the country.
She lists a few other issues as well, and many other bloggers have spoken out against this as well.
Some people get offended when illegal immigrants are called as such, but that is exactly what they are. They are, by all legal terms, felons who are cheating Americans out of what they have worked hard to earn. A message must be sent to the White House, as well as Congress, that this cannot be allowed, for, if nothing else, our security.
Jerry Kilgore starts his campaign.
I'd give more details, but I had to be up early that morning just to get there. I was a bit out of it when he spoke. I can remember though that he spoke primarily of getting better education for the students of Virginia, bringing them the best teachers and money to use towards educational tools. He also spoke against domestic violence, and reducing taxes, including the ill-conceived car tax, and increased spending and reform for transportation. Sounds good so far. It's just a shame that traitor VA Senator Potts has decided to run as an independant, but I hear that he is a liberal, so that might suggest he'll do more damage to Tim Kaine's campaign than Kilgore's, but let's hope that the (former) party association doesn't damage Kilgore's large lead over Kaine (I know, still in primaries, but there is little doubt that Kilgore and Kaine will receive the Republican and Democratic nominaitions).
Big problem in Social Security
Is moderate Islam the answer in the War on Terror?
Now, mind you, I do not agree with everything stated by this group, but they are a force that I believe is truly striving for resolution of the extremist viewpoints that exist in the theocratic states in the Middle East. While Nawash clarified that he has his issues with Israel, he believes that the PLO could do a lot more to resolving issues there. They stress not blaming Jews for their issues (as many, Muslims and non-Muslims alike do), and want to be able to peacefully coincide with the Israelis.
He made a few points in particular that I will briefly cover.
- He noted the history of Muslims being very progressive earlier than most societies, including viewing women as equals and allowing all Muslims to make personal decisions in their beliefs rather than being forced by the state. This has been replaced by extreme levels of control on the populace.
- A government should not be run by religion, be it Islamic, Christian, Jewish, or whatever. This is not to protect the government, but to protect the integrity of the religion. A religion could be grossly misinterpreted and forced on the people by this method, as it is in the Middle East.
- Because Muslims became defensive of the terrorists, rather than shunning them outright, the terrorists are seen as Muslim fanatics, rather than simply fanatics. He believes that Muslims need to completely and unequivocally declare the terrorists as outside the religion.
But, perhaps one of the most interesting ideas he gave involved the state of Israel-Palestine relations. They had for years been attempting to negotiate for individual states, and those talks recently broke down. Nawash believed that this was not the fault of either side, but just a bad strategy. He suggested creating states in the region, making one state, and forming a federal government, which would protect the rights of all living in the country. If both sides could put aside their differences, the people could live anywhere in the region peaceably. While I am a little skeptical of how well this would work, the proposal certainly fascinates me, and might at least deserve serious consideration from both nations.
Normally, I would not plug Muslim groups, but I believe this group is sincere, and if they are successful in their goals, we could potentially see a return of the secular governments from earlier in the 20th century, nations that may again be friends with the United States, and hopefully bring about an end to the widespread problem of terrorism.
March 23, 2005
Were all the lives worth it in Iraq? The numbers say maybe.
A number of people have stated that the war in Iraq is not worth it, that the number of people dead is just too high. Many estimates go into the tens of thousands, and some even to 100,000. One such estimate in particular was given by a study from Johns Hopkins University, and was reported by a number of news outlets, including AlterNet. This terrible news would likely turn everyone off to the War in Iraq and make the new democracy seem to have come at too high a cost.
Until you read this article. It also addresses this study. It confirms that the study found a mean estimated value of 98,000 dead Iraqi citizens. However, it points out part of the study that was left out of most reports.
We estimate there were 98,000 extra deaths (95% CI 8000-194 000) during the post-war period.
Now, I hardly expect that everyone knows exactly what this means, so I'll do a quick interpretation of the data. 95% means that there is a 95% chance that the number of deaths falls in the range following it. That range is 8000-194000 people. While this follows a normal curve, meaning that the chance of either 8000 or 194000 is far lower than being 98000, the likely value is far from 98000. Why is this you say? The standard deviation is extremely large (approximately 45000 people). Normally, the standard deviation should be close to the square root of the mean, suggesting a good standard deviation value would be approximately 315. Even giving a little (lot of, really) leniency, this is far from a value of 45000.
Just wait, it gets worse. While it may have been unintended, there were biases that shifted the numbers. Those conducting the polls were limited in where they could go. They also went to areas that generally were more populated; these areas of course were more likely to be hit because they would likely hold terrorists and insurgents. And when you consider that this poll did not include Fallujah (an area considered to be extremely hard hit), it could've been more inaccurate.
Interestingly enough, these numbers lead to a mortality rate of 7.9 per 1000. This might seem high, except most estimates place the mortality rates from 1985-2003 at around 6.5-8.1 people as well, showing that post-war Iraq has seen about the same level of danger as it had before then.
This study is not mathematically sound, and must be completely discounted. While it is extremely likely that the number of deaths is greater than 8000 as the study suggests, the number of deaths more likely falls lower than 90,000 people. Chris Suellentrop, the writer of this article, compares this study to others and comes to a more reliable range of 15,000-30,000 (unlike the JHU study also including during the war).
Note: I am not disparaging those who conducted the JHU study. They had a difficult job and did the best they could. They may have been a little irresponsible for not emphasizing the huge variation, but the bulk of the blame lies on the MSM (main-stream media; obviously, I don't take that literally, and get used to this acronoym, it is commonly accepted and I will likely use it often). The variation was clearly stated in the report, and it was "conveniently" left out by the MSM. For this reason, I push anyone reading this blog to remain skeptical of what they hear on the evening news; they may be well intentioned in what they are trying to communicate, but the information can often be inaccurate and sometimes even deceptive.
March 22, 2005
Quick points on Schiavo case
- Why aren't the Democrats questioning Michael Schiavo more seriously? They pride themselves on protecting those who feel they can't protect themselves, and take a very harsh stance on people who take advantage of others. Schiavo left his wife a decade ago for a new girlfriend, whom he has had two children with. Terry Schiavo's parents have offered to take full responsbility for her, so he can get a divorce from her and marry his new girlfriend. He has refused that. He has also refused Terry rehab from money earned in a case that has been left in a trust explicitly laid out for her. If she dies, this money goes to him. This hardly strikes me as actions of a caring husband.
- Democrats are accusing Republicans of taking advantage of this case politically, as a way to energize voters. Whether this is true or not, it might not be a bad thing. People should not just be allowed to die like this, and the American voters have a right to decision in this. While some have complained that the legislature has no place in this decision, the judiciary can do just about whatever they want without fear of of being ousted in the next election. This cannot continue, as the judiciary was not created to legislate.
- Pray for Terry and her family. This is a difficult situation, and it may not get any easier.
Update (1:30 AM): This rant covers much of what I have said, and more. Quite insightful, though a little rough language-wise.
March 21, 2005
Governor Warner, does he really know what "mainstream" is?
I was present for Governor Warner's appearance at the American Politics course at the University of Virginia. When I arrived, I understood that he might speak of his political viewpoints. However, one comment he made was completely asinine and I was (and still am) insulted by it. He mentioned Delegate Richard Black along with Lyndon LaRouche when referring to them as extremists. Delegate Black deserves nothing less than the utmost respect. I have spoken with him a few times and know he is very pro-family, which I believe is mainstream in the state of Virginia. He served as a Marine in the Vietnam War and flew nearly 270 missions. He also spoke up when a true extremist, Michael Moore, was scheduled to speak at George Mason Univeristy and recieve thousands of dollars in tax-payers money; thankfully, GMU decided to cancel Moore's appearance. I believe that Delegate Black is a class act and a strong moral character. To assert that he is an extremist suggests that the governor does not think that my opinion is important. It was only compounded when Governor Warner said at the end that people should not be shut out just because of their viewpoint. This proved to be a hypocritical statement after his earlier assertions. While I had no problem with the rest of his speech, I was thouroughly disgusted with at least part of it. I often hear Democrats saying they want to reach out to and unite with Republicans. It is only a shame that some prove that they don't believe what they say.
I also sent this to Professor Larry Sabato, explaining my displeasure. Here is his response.
Dear [CR UVa],
Thanks for this. I respect your viewpoint, but I also respect the Governor’s. He has as much right to make his views known as you do, and the Governor has worked with Delegate Black for four years. I can also tell you that many in Richmond, including quite a few Republican members of the General Assembly, agree with the Governor’s perspective on Mr. Black.
The point I would urge you to consider is that in this great big democracy of ours, not everyone has to agree on everything. We should judge people as a whole, and not cross them off our list for one misstep (if indeed one considers the Governor’s comment a misstep). From the environment to education, the Governor did a superb job in AP101, and I am delighted he came. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from the students in the class.
Having said that, I always respect a student or a citizen who stands up for what he believes. You’ve done that. Now we’ll move along to other topics come Wednesday!
Thanks again and best wishes,
I kind of expected a response like this, and I respect Mr. Sabato for standing up for the governor. I know that Mr. Sabato has a lot of faith in our system, and fears that negative energy towards the democracy will only hinder it. Still, Mr. Sabato has made a point in class to not disparage people; he will only say good things about politicians (though he has said a few times that he has nothing to say about Nixon, but I guess that one may be a little harder to argue). I do not think it would've been unreasonable for Mr. Sabato to expect similar actions from his guest speakers (he certainly expects it from his students). He has said it himself, politicians are not to be placed on pedestals, but are to serve the people; likewise, politicians are not above us, they should not be allowed double standards.
One more thing on it; Prof. Sabato mentions that "many in Richmond...agree with the Governor’s perspective on Mr. Black." Does that make it right? I seem to remember that there was a time when many in Richmond also thought that slavery was a good idea. Just some food for thought.
Two years in Iraq
Absolutely, undeniably wrong. While protesters still line the streets in some places, their numbers are dwindling. Why is this you might ask? They are starting to doubt their old opinion.
It becomes very obvious when one notices the news. In recent months, there were plenty of stories speaking of the deaths of innocent Iraqis and our military. However, the deaths from terrorist attacks in Iraq continue to drop; it doesn't help their argument that there were still more poeple dying under Saddam's regime each day then during the war.
The Iraqis also turned out in numbers (sadly) not seen in American elections. The purple finger is a sign of independence to them. The people of Iraq are excited to have such a bright future ahead of them as well.
It only gets better with success in Afghanistan, and democracy growing in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian leadership. The people of these countries can be secure in knowing that they will, no doubt, have the full support of the United States. That is, unless you happen to be one of the 7 people left protesting the war.
March 13, 2005
- #5 GT beats #1 Washington to make the Elite Eight.
- #6 Wisconsin beats #2 Connecticut to make the Elite Eight.
- #4 Syracuse beats #1 Duke to also make the Elite Eight.
No 13s beating a 4 (I'm probably going to regret that one later on), and ODU and New Mexico as 12s beating 5s. All 1s and 2s make the Sweet Sixteen. However, they drop fast after that. Five of them make the Elite Eight. Three of them make the Final Four, but only one of those is a number 1 seed, UNC. #2 Oklahoma St, #2 Wake Forest, and #3 Oklahoma also make the Final Four. Oklahoma State will beat Wake Forest and UNC will take down Oklahoma to set up the national championship, and Oklahoma State will be this year's Syracuse, winning it all as a non-#1 seed.
This is a tough bracket, in all ways. The committee had a tough time picking it, as it was not completed until 5:40 pm today, and we will have a tough time figuring it out, as many of the second and third round games will make for some compelling matchups.
For a little history, I have picked 10 of the last 16 Final Four teams (never less than two any year), but only 1 of the last 8 to make the championship, and no champions. Last year, I picked a 12 seed to make it to the Sweet Sixteen, beating a 5 and 4 seed along the way; they lost the following game, as I predicted. I won two pools two years ago, and, of course, it happened to be the only year that they were not for money ($5 buy-in). Last year was my worst year, having picked two Final Four teams, and neither of them being teams I selected to make the national championship.
This, however, is my year. As I said before, look for Oklahoma State to beat the University of North Carolina in the final game, 83-79.
March 11, 2005
A sad anniversary
Sadly, right after the attack a year ago, Spain elected a socialist government to power. This was, no doubt, the intention of al Qaeda. They hit right three days before the election, while there was a more conservative power in office, one that was in full support of the United States in their military actions. The socialist change also resulted in the removal of all Spanish troops from Iraq. Fortunately, the USA deiverged here, with the nation quickly getting behind President Bush, which allowed us to do what we needed to do to dissolve much of the Taliban and al Qaeda. But that work is not over; I would just hope that such a sobering anniversary may remind many in Spain that we must stand up to the terrorists and tell them that we will not accept them pushing us around.
March 08, 2005
Haven't heard much recently from the anti-war Democrats.
Regardless of your political affiliation, these scenes should strike a cord. Here in the US, we take our republic for granted. We should be more like the people who are just now learning what democracy is; appreciative of what we have and politically responsible, particularly in voting.
March 07, 2005
The media is reactionary even in Italy.
President Bush has made a point of not dealing with terrorists. This is generally understood by most; it only favors the terrorists. However, the Italian government felt that their reporter was important enough to not follow such a philosophy. So they dealt with the terrorists on their own. While they have every right to do so, they made the judgement that a cash-for-freedom deal was best. Because of this, they left the US completely in the dark, knowing that President Bush may have called for a block on such a move. At the point of her release, there were officials at the Baghdad airport who knew of her pending arrival; however, the information sent was minimal, and the troops knew nothing of the release.
Making matters worse, the van carrying Miss Sgrena did not slow down as they approaced a standard checkpoint; obviously, the troops cannot just let some unfamiliar vehicle move through, with the concern of terrorists, so they did what they thought they had to to preserve security. It is a great shame that she was injured and a bodyguard killed, but this could have been avoided had Italy been more honest with the White House. And though President Bush completely disagrees with dealing with terrorists, there would've been little he could've done to stop such a deal; he likely would've been inclined to do everything he could to make sure that they got back safe after the trade went through. Despite the certain protest from DC over such a move, if it had been completed, and the US had known about it, then Miss Sgrena likely would've gotten back fine.
In the end, the Italian government should not have gone behind the back of the United States. Working together, they could've freed the reporter and captured the terrorists, but instead, the terrorists now have money to buy weapons, the image of the United States military is tarnished, and two people have been greatly affected, all because Italy did not trust the US.
UPDATE (7:00 PM): Well, apparently, Miss Sgrena has a response. Not a huge surprise, considering that she writes for a communist paper, but she thinks that the military deliberately shot at her van because of their disapproval of Italy's dealing with the terrorists. I think she neglected the fact that, the military did not know that she or any US allies were in the vehicle. Again, if they had slowed down at the checkpoint as all vehicles were required to, it could've very quickly been resolved.
UPDATE 2 (9:30 PM): Fox News's John Gibson commented on this during the Big Story, and he pretty much sums up the whole situation pretty well.
March 05, 2005
Democracy in the Middle East
Good news, right? Thumbs up from DC and the international community?
Nope, and that is the appropriate response. Though Britain, the EU, and Russia are content with this move, the United States and Saudi Arabia are not satisfied. Why you might ask?
Lebanon is in the process of a revolution, overthrowing their oppressive, Syria-backed government to try to start a democracy (hmm, Lebanon joining in with Iraq and Afghanistan starting democracies. Anyone still think our actions in the Middle East are still quagmires?). What's more, Syria is not planning on a full pull-out, but rather just a redeployment near the border. This is unfair to the people of Lebanon. Unless Syria intends to help the Lebanese in setting up fair elections, there is no reason for their troops to remain in the country.
This is an attempt to bring about democracy. The people of Lebanon (and all countries for that matter) deserve the opportunity to choose the government they prefer.
There is also some concern as Syria has a history of supporting terrorism. This is as big a concern now as it was during the War in Iraq, when it was (and for some, still is) a concern that they may have hidden WMDs, and materials and information for creating such weapons for Saddam Hussein from the United States and their coalition of the willing. Syria, obviously, has denied such charges, but produced little to even attempt to disprove the allegations. The Syrian government appears to lack honesty, and this needs to be taken seriously.
This issue needs to be taken more seriously by the other nations. If they continue to look the other way, Lebanon's attempts at a democracy may fail if they are not swift or undeterred. Worse yet, this situation might become the next Tiannemen Square if Syria decides to redeploy back to Beirut.
March 03, 2005
StudCo is all over, I'll move on to focusing on bigger topics, like gun control.
There are plenty of people who own guns who use them appropriately. Let's vary the situation a little.
- Gun control allows only police and military to own guns, criminal obtained it illegally - It is likely that this criminal would've killed at least a few more, including his son, in the time before the cops could show up and stop him.
- Gun control has similar rules to Britain (no guns except in the military), criminal obtained it illegally - It just gets even harder to capture the criminal. Even with bullet-proof vests, many of the police officers trying to stop him get shot to death as well, and many more citizens are dead or injured as well. He isn't taken down until he finally runs out of ammo and people are able to get close enough to restrain him.
- Now let's say that gun control works just as well as those who support it hope. The criminal is without a gun. So what does he do? He finds another weapon. A sword, knife, bat, just about anything could be used as a weapon. Likely, just as many people end up hurt or dead in this situation as really occurred.
Those who spend the time learning how to properly own and operate a gun are valuable to our society. Mark Wilson truly was a hero. He not only risked his life at that moment, but knew from the beginning that such a responsibility might arise. Eliminating the ability to own arms will do nothing but prevent men like this from owning guns, and just make criminals ready to obtain such weapons illegally.
I should've remembered that StudCo elections always bring disappointment.
- Unfortunately, Sam White was among those unable to win his election. He had two main agendas; make StudCo votes transparent (which, fortunately, did pass in a referendum), and change student ID numbers from SSNs to something random. While I doubt this would affect me, or many other current UVa students, this must be changed for incoming students in the future. With identity theft a serious concern, the school owes its students nothing less.
- The consensus clause did not pass. This in itself is not too big a concern, but the fact that students want to look at changing the Single Sanction is. I still don't understand why they want to do something that could devalue every single UVa diploma, but it cannot be allowed. What makes matters worse is that the Cavalier Daily is under the assumption that the consensus clause was too complicated for UVa students (just like the media, underestimating their readers), so that vote should not be taken as seriously as the other. This is presumptious on their part, and that thought process should not continue. While a majority of the students may want to change the Single Sanction, it is clear that a majority also don't want a small plurality changing it.
Now, it is a little ironic though, that everyone against the consensus clause said the school NEVER gets a majority of its students to vote in the elections. But this year, record numbers turned out, and 53% of the students voted. It may be a moot point, but the opponents of the consensus clause appeared to underestimate their fellow Wahoos as well.
- The hate crimes initative passed, sadly. Double standards like the prosecution of so-called "hate" crimes should not be allowed. Not even bothering to look for the opposing "love" crimes, one has to wonder why some people seem to think that similar crimes must be different just because of a difference of race. What's really disappointing about it though is that most people do not feel like they can vote against it because that might imply they were racist. I'm not implying that people should go out and insult the next racial minority they find; if someone has committed a crime, though, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, regardless of motivation.
- Finally, the students wanted UVa to pursue a contract with Coke, rather than renew with Pepsi. Now that is just wrong. Pepsi is the superior brand. I know, not politically oriented. I don't care, I just want my Pepsi.
March 02, 2005
UVa StudCo elections
- Tom Gibson, a College Republican, which in itself should make him an appealing candidate. However, he was less than honest when dealing with the University Democrats for an endorsement. As a StudCo candidate, he has little to run on; does he really think playing such political games will make him more appealing?
- Greg Jackson supports the Hate Crime initiative. Not only is it a bad idea to create such a double standard, but this idea affects UJC, a seperate body. That's like Japan telling Mexico to change its Constitution; right now, they have no basis to do so.
- Jaquetta Upton started to look really good after these two. Then, I looked at her endorsements. University Democrats, Minority Rights Advocacy Coalition, National Organization of Women at UVA, Queer Student Union. Uh, no.
- Curran Jhanjee. I know a lot of people are big on his anti-establishment thing. And while I am all for small government, I want to know that whoever I'm voting for is not going to just waste a year.
So, what option does that leave me? Oh yeah, I can just leave that portion of the ballot blank. Now, this is something I first told myself I would never do, but I'd rather not have my vote associated with any of these people if they leave behind a legacy as meaningless or pathetic as the Lundy/Sullivan era.
That's not to say there weren't candidates worth voting for.
- Sam White, running for Executive VP, is looking to bring StudCo back to responsibility. He believes that their votes should be transparent and that student ID numbers should NOT be their SSNs. I'd say this would be a well placed vote.
- Ryan Taylor, whom I am unable to vote for as he is running for a position in the E-School. Unfortunately, I do not know what his platform is, but I know his character is exceptional, and I believe he would make a good leader.
And to go off on a small tangent, there is one referenda that I find very important. It might not need to pass, but it needs to be considered. The consensus clause was proposed to prevent changes to our Honor Code (which is a model to many other universities around the country) without a majority of the student body accepting them. While there is some concern that this clause might be applied to other referenda votes, it should be taken seriously. Simply enough, the Honor Code may be one of the biggest things to define the University of Virginia education; it should not be changed by 2000 (or perhaps less) of the nearly 20000 Wahoos.
All that said, if you haven't yet, vote. The polls close tomorrow (or I guess that is later today now), and, like the changes to the Honor Code, these candidates, as poor as they are, should not get through with such a small plurality.
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About CR UVa
Just a little about myself: I am a conservative, Christian male (don't read too much into that, I am not a complete stereotype). I currently attend the University of Virginia, where I am working on a degree in the sciences (yeah, very far from politics) and am an active member of the College Republicans. I don't believe my writing abilities compare to those of my peers in the blogging community, but I believe my opinions on political correctness, foreign policy, and other topics are relevant and deserve exposure. I look forward to contributing to the blogging community and perhaps even getting to know some of my fellow bloggers.
Note to anyone who has been to this blog before: I changed my Blogger ID the week of May 1st to protect my identity. If you have visited here before, I would request that you use my new ID when referring to me.
Note #2: This section was altered slightly on July 22nd, at a reader's recent suggestion. A few months of blogging has led me to recognize that my anonymity should remain so; the info about me is still accurate, but vague enough to not give me away. Also, I will not say anything under my pseudonym that I would not say outside of the blogosphere.