Sunday, October 31, 2004

The other election this week 

It is hard to believe there could be an election this week with greater importance than that in the United States, but the election in Ukraine could be. The current president, Leonid Kuchma, is terribly corrupt but faces a term limit and must leave office. He is trying to pick a successor akin to the selection of Putin in Russia. That man would be Viktor Yanukovych. The government has engaged in a dirty campaign against the popular opposition led by Viktor Yushchenko. Yushchenko was reportedly poisioned earlier this fall, his rallies have been disrupted, and voter fraud is already expected.

Bruce Bartlett wrote earlier this week about Yushchenko's wife Kateryna. When she left the U.S. to work for KPMG in Ukraine, she was country manager when I worked for the same firm as an advisor to Yushchenko's central bank. Bartlett's memory of Kathy is the same as mine. I worked as well with Yushchenko and his deputies at the National Bank of Ukraine, having the privilege on three separate occasions of dining with him, Kathy and a group of excellent banking advisors. I still have friends there, Ukrainian and ex-pats.

The most likely outcome for today's election is that there will be a run-off on Nov. 21 between Yanukovych and Yushchenko. The country is about the size of France in population and land mass. It suffered a hyperinflation in 1993 (ended in large part by Yushchenko's central banking) and a decade of misgoverning by the kleptocratic Kuchma. The people deserve a clean election, and the race deserves America's attention.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Boydulence squared 

Apparently our friend of the STrib editorial staff are doubly busy. Cheri Pierson Yecke reports that her piece in tomorrow's op-ed page on Kerry's education policy had its final paragraph edited (deleted sentences and word in italics).
During his 19 years in the Senate only three percent of the legislation sponsored by Kerry was education related, perhaps because he could not find positions he could consistently hold for any length of time.It is no wonder that his record on education has been called �a desert of ambiguity.� The American people deserve better.
That's relatively mild in comparison to the hatchet job done to Rudy Boschwitz. (The edited version is here.)

Friday, October 29, 2004

Action taken on pictures 

This morning I received a phone call from Lisa Foss, director of marketing and communications on this campus, with a request from President Saigo on behalf of the student who won as homecoming queen (stories here, here and here). In two of the stories I reproduced photos that had appeared either in the print or web editions of the St. Cloud Times (whom, I am told, will also be asked to take the photos down -- they are still on their website as of right now). I was asked to take these pictures down from the site for the safety of the student. This follows a public letter signed by the Saigo and all the vice presidents that included this statement:
Of greatest concern to all of us, however, is that the student himself has received threatening messages. This is alarming and unconscionable. His well-being and safety are our first concern in this situation.
As it would be mine as well. I had a comment last night on the last post I did on this story suggesting the man's sexuality. I don't consider it alarming or unconscionable, but it is beyond ignorant.

I've taken the pictures off this page (replaced with the text "PICTURE DELETED BY REQUEST 10-29-04"}. I will delete them from the site as soon as I have them backed up on a local server at home. I am doing this voluntarily -- the university realizes my compliance is not mandated, and at no time did I feel it was. I am tenured, and I sincerely doubt this was something for which the university could take action.

But I am also a member of this community, and a father of someone about the same age as this student. I believe it quite possible this student was used by the diversity warriors of this campus to make a statement, without taking to account that something might happen to this student. And it might. While I think our embrace of diversity on this campus has been dangerous, I certainly also understand the possibility of physical attacks against perceived homosexuals (even when the perception may be ridiculous).

Having done so, I predict, however, that this action will not likely cause any change in the student's situation. The student senate chose to make a statement, which our president and his VPs chose to support while he asked for the student's safety. Here's what President Saigo had to say:
At SCSU we value diversity and all voices, including marginalized ones. With regard to Homecoming 2004, we support the process by which the Homecoming Court was selected. The same process has been used for many years. We also support the students who were selected. Our Homecoming Court is beautiful in its diversity and strength of purpose. We stand behind the efforts of student government, faculty, staff, and students as we all work together to develop character, good citizenship, and the ability to consider issues and make decisions.

College campuses have long been social catalysts in the work of opening up and creating a fair society. They play a key role in supporting social justice, equality, and educational opportunity, even when traditions are challenged. This university will and should continue to stand behind change that will allow everyone to feel safe,
comfortable, welcome, and encouraged to achieve their potential.
Compare this to the student government's letter, and you can see they sing from the same hymnal. They believe in taking a stand for things, but not to be criticized for that stand. They expect that people will simply bow before their greater good. As Thomas Sowell called it, cosmic justice.

I do not apologize for the postings, as they were part of the news even in the queer community (who don't seem to have minded using the coronation for their purposes.) It would have been fine, I think, if the information had stayed there, but appearing on Fark and Colin Quinn turned up the heat to where they had put the student up to ridicule and perhaps worse. If the kid has been duped by the rest of the student government, I think that justifies removing the pictures. If he is a willing part of this I will have made a mistake, but I can live with that.

My regret is that this also lets off the hook the rest of the student senate, who have put a student in harm's way so that they could stand on their soapbox and proclaim to be breaking gender stereotypes. These scoundrels continue to pontificate that they are somehow brave without paying any price greater than the words I or someone else types. They get up in the face of alumni to show how enlightened they are (and how benighted the alums are), and then when criticism arises they hide behind the queen's evening gown. And President Saigo, who could have written a request for people to assure the student's safety without those two gratuitous paragraphs, once again has shown he cares more about being seen a champion of diversity education than of free speech.

Grade school economics 

My colleague and frequent reader/commenter Roger Lewis sends me this story which he reports happened yesterday. Roger lives in the St. Cloud area:
Yesterday my daughter-in-law was praising dear granddaughter on the pictures she
drew in class. Evidently, the pictures were in response to her second grade teacher�s question of �What should the government give us money for?�. The pictures included books, food, a house, a car, and a horse.

In as kind a grandfatherly voice as possible, I asked my granddaughter, �Annika, do you think the government should give us all money for houses, cars and horses?�

�Yes�, came the response.

I replied, �I think people should pay for their own things�.

�Well, maybe for the poor people� she wisely hedged. (Never said she was a dummy!)

�So, poor people should have houses, cars, and horses? Where do you think the government gets the money for the things they give the poor? That�s the money they take out of daddy�s paycheck, mommy�s paycheck, papa and nana�s paychecks. If the government didn�t take so much from us, maybe we could afford a house, another car, or a motorcycle�. (Forget the horse, too much upkeep for papa)

At this point my wife and daughter-in-law both stopped the economics lesson.
�She�s too young to understand this� they said.

Well, obviously someone thinks she�s smart enough to learn that the government is the source of all things grade school children need and want in life!
I haven't had to do this as much with the Littlest Scholar, who at the age of six had a snow fort and simulated a war between those who wanted to raise taxes and those who did not in the fort. And then mused, "Those people outside the fort? They're the French."

I swear I had nothing to do with it!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

41 blue balls, 32 red balls, and a lagging indicator 

The local SCSU Survey, run by three political science professors here including one regular reader of the Scholars, has issued its fall statewide survey. The headlines of the local paper and the campus paper trumpet the good (for them) news that Kerry is leading the poll 49-42. But looking at the survey itself indicates something a little curious. According to table 4, the sample was coded as 41% Democrat and 32% Republican with 12% considering themselves in the Independence Party. A Humphrey Institute poll released on the same day has 44%R and 42%D ... and shows Bush leading 47-44.

Steve Frank, one of the SCSU pollsters (and the regular reader, he says), says his poll "is not one of those quickie, overnight polls," and indeed they took the poll over a 7 day period 10/19-26(skipping Fridays and Saturdays.) Somehow that is supposed to be a better measure, yet Rasmussen's poll over 10/20-26, also has Bush up 3 here.

This poll is causing the RealClearPolitics number to show an average of Kerry 1.0%. Were the poll removed and the other three averaged, it would be Bush up 1%. I don't know what to think of the SCSU Survey, but I do have to wonder about a survey that has such a heavy weight of Democrats (and in a survey where the independent/Independence vote was 38-36 Kerry.)

UPDATE: You're welcome, Chumley. And this just in: Zogby now says Bush +1.

Housing directors have no sense of humor 

FIRE is supporting Timothy Garneau, who's living in his car near the University of New Hampshire after being tossed out of his dorm. What did he do? "Frustrated by students who would take the elevator rather than the stairs for short distances, he posted fliers in his dormitory joking that women could lose the �Freshman 15� and shorten elevator wait times by using the stairs," says FIRE's president David French. The flier is here. Students were offended and the flyers taken down in less than two hours.
When Garneau was approached by the Stoke Hall Director and accused of hanging the fliers, he initially denied responsibility, fearing that he would be punished harshly and embarrassed in front of his peers. However, Garneau soon admitted to posting the flier and was charged with offenses including: �acts of dishonesty�; violation of �affirmative action� policies; �harassment�; and �conduct which is disorderly, lewd.�

Within a week of the incident, and prior to his hearing, Garneau posted a written public apology for unintentionally offending others in his residential hall and apologized in person to students that he knew had complained.

At an October 8 hearing, the university found Garneau guilty of all charges. Despite
Garneau�s offers to voluntarily atone for his actions through community service, social awareness projects, and other activities, the university sentenced him to immediate expulsion from student housing and disciplinary probation extended through May 30, 2006. He was also required to meet with a counselor to discuss his �decisions, actions, and reflections� about the incident, to write a 3000-word reflection paper about the counseling session, and to submit an apology letter to the residents of Stoke Hall to be published in the hall�s newspaper.
Durham's a nice place with good housing near campus, so Garneau will have a home soon. But the outsized reaction to what could be no more than a minor infraction is noteworthy. If Garneau had only dressed up like a freshman with 15 extra pounds...

See how they run 

Scott Johnson (better known as The Big Trunk to you NARNers) notes that the Taxpayers League has made an impact in the national race by swaying voters in northern Minnesota.

As of October 21, the Rasmussen daily tracking poll showed the presidential race tied 47-47 in Minnesota. On that date the Taxpayers League began running a single radio advertisement on six stations in Duluth, three stations in Hibbing, two stations in Eveleth, two stations in Grand Rapids, one station in International Falls and one station in Ely � all in the Eighth District. The advertisement hammers Kerry on mining, logging, hunting and snowmobiles. The Taxpayers League plans to run the spot over 500 times on those stations by election day.

Tuesday's Star Tribune column by Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman on the snowmobile issue reflects the leverage the issue is providing the Bush campaign in northern Minnesota. Yesterday the Rasmussen tracking poll shows that President Bush has moved into a small lead in Minnesota, 48-45. Taxpayers League president David Strom tells me that the calls he has received from northern Minnesota television and radio stations in response to the organization's ad show that it has struck a nerve, as does the press conference called by the Democratic party to take issue with it. For want of a snowmobile, could the Democrats lose Minnesota? Stay tuned.

David notes on Our House blog notes that he's struck a nerve here in St. Cloud as well.

The St Cloud radio ad is having its intended effect--driving conversation in St Cloud
about the abusive tactics mayor John Ellenbecker is using to push his agenda. He
is trying to get over $100 million in new sales taxes passed, and is doing some
pretty slimy things to do so.

In particular, he threatened the St Cloud chamber with losing a $500,000 contract with the city unless they backed his tax increase.

Anyway, Ellenbecker is royally p****d off, and is making it known to just about everyone.

I'll say! The local paper carries a story where Ellenbecker and various and sundry petite poobahs call David bad names.

Mayor John Ellenbecker said Wednesday he believes the Taxpayers League of Minnesota ad defamed him. He wouldn't rule out seeking a criminal investigation.

"The implication there is that we're engaging in some sort of criminal activity," he said of the ad, which began airing Tuesday. "I find that to be very offensive."

The Taxpayers League ad asks voters to turn down a proposed extension of a half-cent local sales tax. If approved by voters and the Legislature, the tax would be in place for up to 17 years to pay for up to $111 million in building projects.

The ad claims Ellenbecker abused his authority and questions the legality of the proposal.

St. Cloud City Council members, St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce President Teresa Bohnen and St. Joseph Mayor Larry Hosch supported Ellenbecker Wednesday as he defended his actions and called the Taxpayers League "the single most destructive force in Minnesota politics today."

I've already noted the abusive side of Ellenbecker; we now find out he's a thin-skinned bully. Aside the merits of the tax proposal, which to readers outside of St. Cloud will be irrelevant (it's to fund a passel of public spending projects like roads, a new library and expanded civic center), the ferocity of attacks (and begrudging admiration) on the Taxpayers League indicates some real effectiveness. David, you can't buy advertising that good.

You win today... 

...and 86 years are washed away.

A ten year old boy watched Bob Gibson and Julian Javier defeat his beloved Jim Lonborg and the Red Sox. It was a coolish late afternoon -- Dad had let him stay home to watch Game 7 -- and the boy went outside, tears in his eyes. Grabbed his glove and ball, threw against the garage wall. Dad hated that, but did not complain that day. The boy threw, thinking he was Kemer Brett, and thought it would be him someday, and that the Sox would win. He had no idea of 1918, curses, or bambinos.

Eight years later. His best friend got married to provide his baby a father. Parents needed a night out, and the boy, now a young man of 18, agrees to watch their infant so they can have a night out. He turns on the game and watches Bernie Carbo with a pinch-hit three-run homer and a young catcher waving and jumping. The young man also jumps holding the baby. The best moment of his Red Sox life.

Through Buckyfuckindent and Yaz on third, Buckner and Mookie, and Aaron Boone and Grady No-Hook, he waited. He couldn't watch with others after '86. He waited.

Tonight he prepares a blog post, with the tears of the ten-year-old finally finishing their travel down the cheek, now into a beard. Though bursitis bites at the throwing shoulder, the man goes back outside, grabs his glove and ball, and throws against the garage door. His wife, trying to sleep, says nary a word. She knows.

Faith ... not restored.

Not rewarded.


And a smile...

...from God.

Thanks to everyone who's written me, who teased me about the silly article in the newspaper yesterday describing why I stopped watching with others, who linked to posts* about the ALCS comeback, and to you readers. I don't know if I will post much tomorrow.

To cousin Gary and Uncle Frank, who didn't live to see this, who watched with the boy in a den in Manchester or Dover, or listened on a transistor on a porch at the beach at Rye or Wallis Sands or York, year after year -- see you soon. Bring your gloves, and I'll tell you all about it.

* -- Especially Elder, though getting this song out of my head will require more brandy...and what's with the Gigl-ish footnoting here?

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

"Support the Court" 

That is the slogan on buttons on backpacks that carry also peace signs, KEdwards buttons and the other qaqaa that graces the students and faculty who insist that others know of their highmindedness. A crown graces the top, and 2004 below.

"Wow, that was fast," I thought. Because you know what this is about.

Today we received in the campus email a "letter of support" from the student government, soliciting signatures for the following. I will discuss it below, but in fairness to these students I am printing all but the last sentence here first. (The last sentence names the four members of the Royalty and congratulates them.)

Letter of Support for the 2004 SCSU Homecoming Royalty

We, the undersigned concerned students, faculty, and staff of St. Cloud State University feel the imperative need to express our support for the individuals that were elected by the students as the university�s 2004 Homecoming royalty. While we recognize a break with tradition in this matter, we do not feel that any negative attention given these elections is in any way justified. No attempt was made by any of the candidates or royalty to belittle the process or the proud traditions of Homecoming at SCSU. The election of [name deleted] as Homecoming Queen merely shows that his supporters do not feel the need to fit themselves within the contemporary stereotypes of gender roles. In addition, the election of a Homecoming Court comprised entirely of people of color is another proud first for our University.

Homecoming is about celebrating who we are as a campus and a community. We believe that this year�s candidates and royalty do just that. Furthermore, we deplore the manner in which this event has been handled and addressed by certain members of the university community. Closed-minded hate speech is not viable journalism, nor is it approropriate in addressing concerns to any member of the university community or any entities thereof. Furthermore, we find the racism and homophobia directed towards our Homecoming royalty deplorable. This kind of terror can never be tolerated in an institution of higher education or its community. We find any act of malice, hate or aggression against any member of our community despicable and unacceptable.

To those that would decry the actions of any of our Homecoming candidates on the grounds that it breaks with tradition, a simple question can be asked. Have we not broken with many traditions in the last 200 years that oppressed humanity? Social progress often requires people to challenge their own assumptions and to step outside of what they are comfortable with. This is an institution of higher education. We can ask only that those that feel uncomfortable in this situation use that as a learning experience.

In summary, these events offer St. Cloud State and its communities many great opportunities. They offer the opportunity to learn and to grow as a community. They offer many the opportunities to assess their own beliefs in contemporary gender norms and gender stereotypes as well as the opportunity to discuss this with others. Finally, this offers the St. Cloud community the opportunity to show that it can turn even a Homecoming coronation ceremony into a learning opportunity.

Thankfully, Blogger's snafu today kept me away for a few hours from writing about this. In that time I spoke with one of our commenters who is a colleague, who said "If they had said simply 'Hey it was a lark, we were just having fun, we meant no harm,' wouldn't this all go away?" Yes it would. I woudn't have even bothered blogging this.

But no, they did not do this. Their blend of sanctimony, shaming and opportunism strike me as so over-the-top that I wonder why I should respond to it. But then that's why we write, yes?

While we recognize a break with tradition in this matter, we do not feel that any negative attention given these elections is in any way justified. No attempt was made by any of the candidates or royalty to belittle the process or the proud traditions of Homecoming at SCSU.
That is utterly laughable. You have chosen to take a tradition and use it for your own political purposes, to promulgate an agenda that accuses those who disagree with you of meanness, and worse.
Homecoming is about celebrating who we are as a campus and a community.
By your own admission, it's about breaking stereotypes. The only thing I break as part of a celebration is champagne glasses in the hearth. You weren't doing this as fun, you weren't doing this as a way to honor alumni who came home to our campus. Which, you might recall, is why we call it homecoming.
Closed-minded hate speech ... opposed to open-minded hate speech like that your comrades practice... not viable journalism, nor is it approropriate in addressing concerns to any member of the university community or any entities thereof.
Gosh, I don't know. I had lots of hits yesterday, which sort of meets the market test of viable. And since when is it hateful to note that our homecoming queen...

...kinda looks like a guy?

(I suppose they could be talking about Fark. Well, Hal, welcome to the WORLDwide web, where some people have a different sense of humor than others. You put an evening gown on a man, some people are going to laugh. And probably will 200 years from now. Tough luck, pal, but nobody promised that breaking stereotypes was a free good.)
Furthermore, we find the racism and homophobia directed towards our Homecoming royalty deplorable. This kind of terror can never be tolerated in an institution of higher education or its community.
A rumor around campus is that the gentleman in question has received harrassing and threatening phone calls. If true, these indeed are deplorable. But the use of the word "terror" is more than over-the-top. Placed in context with the previous two sentences, it suggests that even this blog is an act of terror, placing on the same level as this.

It would be good if in your education, students, you would learn the differences.
To those that would decry the actions of any of our Homecoming candidates on the grounds that it breaks with tradition, a simple question can be asked. Have we not broken with many traditions in the last 200 years that oppressed humanity?
Utterly pompous. Think of the argument made here:
Which of these does not fit?
Social progress often requires people to challenge their own assumptions and to step outside of what they are comfortable with. This is an institution of higher education. We can ask only that those that feel uncomfortable in this situation use that as a learning experience.
Again, it's homecoming. Coming home. Alumni coming to campus for dinner Friday night, the campus and boosters and friends watching a man as queen march onto Husky Stadium's field at halftime Saturday afternoon. You want to have a lark? Fine -- this has often been called a party school, so many people will appreciate your humor. But that's not what you did. This is the message you want them to get? "We students of St. Cloud State want you to come home and challenge your assumptions and step outside of what you're comfortable with. No whining, now! Think of this as a learning experience! If you don't you might be a terrorist!

"No disrespect intended, though."

Thankfully students grow up some day. People will forget most of this -- indeed, from the top of the stadium many will not have known that the person in the dress with a crown was male. But a university that not only allows this but seems to encourage it may not help those students grow.

Posting has been delayed by Blogger foo 

Not much more to say,
Starting around midnight last night, we have had significant network problems that would have prevented some Blogger users from accessing the site. We continue to work on the problem and will update this blog with additional information.
If you're reading this, the problem has been temporarily solved. I've been trying to post items since 10am.

UPDATE: Posted 3:50pm. It was some major networking goof at Blogger. Hope it stays good the rest of the day, as it's time for a Queen update.

Teaching English in a political world 

For Prof. Clifton Snider, it apparently is about teaching how to write about things he approves of. One of his students at Cal State-Long Beach describes her experience writing about moral issues in his class.

The last three class meetings have been spent watching Fahrenheit 9/11 and writing on the moral issues that Michael Moore rises in the film. This assignment consisted of each student writing a paragraph on a single moral issue in the film, and then listing all the evidence that Michael Moore uses to prove it.

The moral issue I chose to write my paragraph about was "the controversial decision made by President Bush to lead the United States into a pre-emptive war against Saddam Hussein." I stated that in the "documentary" Michael Moore argued that President Bush made this decision in great haste and failed to investigate the true threat that Iraq posed to the United States. I then went on to describe the "evidence" that Michael Moore uses to prove his point as " a single advisor saying that he overheard President Bush" and "inserting a series of clips of President Bush on his Texas ranch". I wrote my paragraph very tongue in cheek and purposely ridiculed the insufficient evidence that Michael Moore used in his film. However, when I received my paragraph back, I found it marked up in red ink by Dr. Snider with comments like, " You miss the point of the film", or that advisor "was Richard Clark� a terrorist expert!" I was blown away by these comments. I didn�t realize that I was being graded on the way I interpreted the film! From what I understood about our in class paragraphs, Dr. Snider was only supposed to grade grammar, spelling, and mechanics, of which I had no corrected errors. Funny though that I still
received the lowest grade in the class on this assignment (after receiving all A�s on past assignments), while papers with numerous spelling errors and mechanical corrections but with an anti-Bush perspective received A�s.

Is this just a student whining? Goodness knows she wouldn't be the first. But when I looked at Prof. Snider's syllabus, there are a number of places where you can see a tendency. He doesn't tell the students that F-9/11 will be the film. He doesn't state, as the student asserts, that he will grade only on "grammar, spelling, and mechanics" yet if the grades are as she says it does look fishy.

Seeing the description at the end of her article, I also looked at Prof. Snider's instructions for the argument paper. He has amended the page (while it says last update was 10/17, a check of the page properties indicates that it was edited today.) I would show you more about it, but Prof. Snider claims the replication of his material in the student's article is illegal. I remind Prof. Snider that he works at a state university, and material created therein is property of the university, not him. He states that "the special nature of universities protects professors from being question[ed] about their lectures", but he fails to tell you that this quote is from the lecture notes of another professor at CSULB. Nice sourcing there, professor. I wonder if it would pass his requirements for unbiased information in his argument paper. And he even lifts this quote wrongly: It applies to the government prosecution of a professor's statements (in Sweezey), not to a student's rights within that class.

Anyway, we link, you decide.

UPDATE: As noted by a commenter, Mike Adams has been on the case. I should have guessed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Welcome NRO readers! 

Wow, that's cool! Thanks Scott and welcome to NRO readers. The homecoming story is here. Hope you look around and see more of what you like.

Lileks slaps me in my prog-rock 

I�m standing in the middle of the used CD store the other day. The clerk is playing �Yes,� a band whose name I always preferred to answer in the negative. �Roundabout� comes on. Haven�t heard this one in years, actually. Jon Anderson sings the famous line: �In around the lake / Mountains come out of the sky and they stand there.� As opposed to what? Doing the fargin' Macarena? Standing there is pretty much the job description for mountains.

{slinks off to post Close to the Edge t-shirt on eBay.* Suckers!}

*proceeds to Hummel Fund.

Somebody gets it 

After discussing the libertarian dilemma here and deciding to vote for Bush, I am gratified that a founder of the Libertarian Party agrees with me. John Hospers was the candidate for president from the LP in 1972.

The American electorate is not yet psychologically prepared for a completely libertarian society. A transition to such a society takes time and effort, and involves altering the mind-set of most Americans, who labor under a plethora of economic fallacies and political misconceptions. It will involve a near-total restructuring of the educational system, which today serves the liberal-left education bureaucracy and Democratic Party, not the student or parent. It will require a merciless and continuous expose of the bias in the mainstream media (the Internet, blogs, and talk radio have been extremely successful in this regard over the past few years). And it will require understanding the influence and importance of the Teresa Kerry-like Foundations who work in the shadows to undermine our constitutional system of checks and balances.

Most of all, it will require the American people -- including many libertarians � to realize the overwhelming dangerousness of the American Left � a Fifth Column comprised of the elements mentioned above, dedicated to achieving their goal of a totally internationally dominated America, and a true world-wide Fascism.

Thus far their long-term plans have been quite successful. A Kerry presidency will fully open their pipeline to infusions of taxpayer-funded cash and political pull. At least a continued Bush presidency would help to stem this tide, and along the way it might well succeed in preserving Western civilization against the fanatic Islamo-fascists who have the will, and may shortly have the weapons capability, to bring it to an end.

Other libertarians are also getting the idea, but some guys are getting pretty steamed.

Send in the cavalry 

Sometimes I have too many friends...

I posted a few weeks ago about the stick-up performed by our mayor John Ellenbecker on the Chamber of Commerce. Sunday the local Chamber president published a letter in support of the sales tax her group was bullied to support. (Both articles with Tuesday linkage.) Two notes: As I noted, there is probably only 1/3 who actively opposed the 17-year extension of the sales tax, as opposed to 40% who supported it. Also, in the interest of full disclosure I should reveal that I know the Chamber president and her husband, who is a colleague at SCSU, and I don't think of them as liberals.

Now it turns out my friend David Strom of the Taxpayers' League has decided to run an ad in the local radio market to suggest that voters reject the extension of the sales tax. Here's the ad (in .mp3) It is tough on Mayor Ellenbecker's role. But as I noted in the earlier post on this topic, the mayor is pretty well known for what I will call charitably a "forceful nature". He frequently posts in the local newspaper's chat areas (at least under his own name) and is quite blunt therein. He does not deny the threat made on the Chamber:
I understand their position of wanting to serve the desires of their membership, but at some point you have to serve in a leadership role.
My way or the highway. And the City has decided to run a set of six proposals, passage of any one of which will trigger the City to make a request to the Legislature to extend their sales tax. The local "no" campaign is running against the Chamber's $10,000 of tribute paid to Ellenbecker (which will be paid back when the City extends the Chamber's contract to run the Convention and Visitors Center) as well as a city payment of $25,000 for "informational materials". As a local opponent of the sales tax, I want to personally thank David and the League for trying to level the playing field.

Homecoming "queen" update 

Regarding our post on the male homecoming queen, Powerline adds a note from their correspondent in St. Cloud (they could correspond with me, couldn't they?)
By now, you've heard about the guy elected homecoming queen at St. Cloud State. My best friend's wife was quoted in the St. Cloud Times' Friday edition. This morning, the New York Times called and talked with her. The uproar over this event is huge and one can sense the uproar over this is changing votes daily. The bottom line to all this is that, based on this information, there isn't a snowball's prayer in hell that Kerry wins Minnesota.
The correspondent reports 20,000 Bush/Cheney signs have gone out of the Waite Park office, busting the record, and that they need more volunteers.

I have no idea if this will be true -- it strikes me as far-fetched that this thing is that big that it changes votes appreciably -- but there's little doubt that it's created an uproar.

And to heck with the New York Times. We made Fark!

Monday, October 25, 2004

So what did you think of the debate? 

If you're from St. Cloud, chances are the candidates you saw debating on KMSP last night are known quantities. I have met Kennedy a few times, and while I am not personally familiar with Wetterling I have seen her speak a couple of times over the last year. What I saw were the two people I know.

Jo's Attic notes that "speaking is not his thing" regarding Kennedy. We know that up here. If you had known Kennedy four years ago when he first ran for Congress, you would have noted that he sounds remarkably improved. Mark Kennedy four years ago probably would have been better off not appearing on television at all. I don't know if it's a speech impediment he had, but whatever it was you can barely notice it now. His closing statement was great; Kennedy has managed to practice well several talks he can give at the drop of a hat. But I've also sat in on Q&As with him, and he sounded there like he sounded last night. I have truly wondered if he can do this in a statewide race for the Senate against Dayton: Can he get up and give Dayton the dickens in a debate and win that election? Given the strides he's made up to now, I think it's possible, but what you saw last night was about as good as I think Mark Kennedy can be at least for now. Against Dayton, I think he'd be fine. Against someone with more spit-and-polish, he may suffer for the comparison. (I would demand someone identify for me who that someone else would be before starting any dismissal of Kennedy's possible Senate candidacy.)

As to Wetterling, she's been in front of cameras for years for her foundation. She didn't look at all rattled (certainly not like this poor lady did), and she stayed within her talking points pretty well. But when specific policies came up -- and I thought the questioners did a fine job -- she was at a loss. Kennedy is much better on specifics, and in a town-hall debate setting he would eat her lunch, as he did at FarmFest in August. But with two reporters and someone from the League of Women Voters covering more general areas, she was bound to appear better.

Still, Kennedy softened her up with shots on her tax cut rollback ("reducing tax benefits is the same as a tax increase" and "I won't raise taxes".) She's got a way to finesse the "fight 'em over here" comment to make Kennedy sound softer on terrorism than she does. She actually manages to sound to the right of Kerry on the GWOT, which says more about Kerry than her. I thought her closing statement was poorer than Kennedy's but that on debating points she did as well as Kennedy.

Given the poll results I posted earlier today, this probably doesn't matter much. I would be very surprised if Wetterling gets within ten points of Kennedy next week. But I think she's gotten enough exposure that her next run -- probably a state Senate seat -- will have a good chance of success. I more wonder if this is what she really wants to do with her life.

Meanwhile, has the campaign burnished Kennedy for a move-up run for the Senate? I think that's the bigger question here, and why the margin of victory matters. He needs this win to be as convincing as his 57-35 win over Janet Roberts in 2002. There's an incentive to run up the score: Anything under a 10% victory, and there will be questions whether he would stand up to scrutiny in the statewide race. And I think that's why they advertised so much, went negative, and called so much attention to Wetterling's PAC money.

And why the money and the candidate were recruited against him.

What about the patzers? 

Regarding my post earlier on an Elo rating for colleges, Douglas Bass has some additional notes. He concludes:
The amount of significant knowledge (as measured by patents, research grants, cited publications, awards, etc.) generated by a school only has a minor impact on these rankings. It also doesn't take into account that mediocre students want a college to go to as well. But this ranking might give a more accurate reflection as to the word on the street.
Do high school seniors -- even very talented ones -- care about the number of patents obtained by their professors, or the number of grants or refereed publications? Most of these students make visits and are sold enough to apply to the schools. If these things mattered, would this not be reflected in the choices students make?

And just as patzers like me can still carry a chess rating, so too could you extend the Elo rating scheme to schools for mediocre students.

Early voting for Badgers 

Time to Get On the Bus:
The presidential election is still two weeks away, but for University of Wisconsin senior Casey Welch it is all over, save for the shouting and campaigning.

Welch was one of many UW students to board a van bound for City Hall Monday to cast an early vote for the November election. For Welch, the decision to vote early came down to a desire to avoid potentially hours-long lines at the polls on Election Day.

Or is it all over but the shouting and campaigning? Instapundit's son reports from Madison
No one ever asked for my ID, and in fact, I asked two different people if they wanted to see my ID, and they said no. So, anyone who wanted to could go in and write down somebody else's name if they knew their address, and vote for them.
It's not just to avoid lines, I guess.
Sanger said she would like to have at least 1,000 students vote before the election. That way, she said, more students will be available on Election Day to help with get-out-the-vote activities in support of Kerry.
Question: Are there election judges for these early ballots?

To boldly go where no man has gone before 

On Thursday of Homecoming Week here at SCSU we were sent a note congratulating our Homecoming Royalty, crowned before " full house in Ritsche Auditorium" with 58 candidate who "went through interviews, participated in candidate games and received votes from the student body." We got names and nothing more; the name of the Homecoming Queen was Fue Khang of Minneapolis, representing the student senate.

It never dawned on me, or anyone else who read the article that did not have prior knowledge, that Khang is a man.


According to the Times report (Monday linkage)

About 750 of the university's 15,500 students voted, she said. Candidates are judged equally on how they do in interviews with university staff and in the student vote. Candidates also receive points for participating in games.

The judging formula that combines points from the interviews, vote and games is designed to make sure a candidate is serious and will represent the school well, said Jessica Ostman, director of university programming.

Ostman said it is uncommon for student groups to nominate a man.

Well, we certainly would hope so. So let's ask our student government why it would propose a man for queen.

His nomination was sincere, student government President Hal Kimball said.

Kimball said the student government does not support gender stereotypes.

"We don't like putting people in a box," Kimball said. "We don't discriminate. It's a beautiful world."

Yeah, man, beautiful. Just ask this mother of another candidate:

"It was such a disappointment," said Kim Ferber of St. Cloud, whose daughter Annie was a queen candidate. "I don't even want her going to the school if this is how it's going to be."
But Ms. Ferber, it's a beautiful world. And because nobody has filed a complaint with the University Programming Board, the decision stands.

I have no idea what Mr. Khang thought was to be proven by this. We already have a drag event on campus. Unless Khang is a transvestite, which you think someone would tell you in one of these stories, we don't know that this is anything more than a stunt, perhaps to mock the idea of a homecoming queen. At no point does anyone make this statement.

But more to the point: note the scoring of this. "The judging formula that combines points from the interviews, vote and games is designed to make sure a candidate is serious and will represent the school well" Could Khang have won this without the consent of the judges? Of course not. So how does one say Khang did anything wrong, if the judges of this event have allowed his participation and graded him ahead?

Given how student government -- and the university itself-- wishes to portray itself as progressive social justice warriors, you might as well suspect, as I do, that the school will be most pleased by this. A cross-dressing homecoming queen probably does "represent the school well". And so we'll advertise it here as well.

Come to SCSU: A school where anybody can be queen.

UPDATE: The University Chronicle story has a couple more choice quotes:

Khang said that this year, student government decided to run opposite with a
female nominated for king and a male nominated for queen.

"This is history in the making because this is the first time a guy was queen. I am very happy to represent student government," he said.

Some students were accepting of the turn of events."Well, there is no rule that said he couldn't run," said homecoming candidate Jennifer Gill, "So, do what you gotta do."

Other students were not so sure about it.Shelly Gerwing, a third-year student, thought it was sexist that three men and only one woman were crowned royalty. "I thought it was absolutely ridiculous that they let a man run," she said.

Not because a man was crowned queen, mind you, but that we didn't achieve gender balance. But that depends on the meaning of balance, perhaps?

Absera Abraham won the princess title. Abraham is also a member of the African
Student Association.

"It feels good (to be crowned princess) and it's a nice surprise," she said. "This is history in the making because all people of color won and we are only 4 percent of the student population."

No such thing as a left-wing authoritarian 

Mysterious Spitbull demands an explanation for an article by Ron Bailey at Reason describing a study which shows that conservatives have some real problems with authority. As John Ray points out, it's rather silly leftist projection. (He also has a review of one of the author's work here. Fisking before Fisk was fisked, as it were.) He also recalls an earlier bout of this stupidity that we blogged here as well.

But lefties can at least project something well. Calling Meg Ryan!

Things looking up for Kennedy: Big poll result and a surprise endorsement 

Two big pieces of good news for the 6th District incumbent Mark Kennedy in his race with Patty Wetterling. First, WCCO released about 30 minutes ago a poll showing him ahead of Wetterling by 52-34, with 14% undecided. It's a relatively small poll of 351 likely 6CD voters, a district which typically identifies as 4-3 Republican. The margin of error is 5.3%. The margin of the poll is quite close to the margin with which Kennedy defeated Janet Robert in 2002.

Second, in a relative surprise (to me), the St. Cloud Times endorses Kennedy. (I'll set up the link for Monday here.)

There are two ways to look at the race for the U.S. 6th District House seat between incumbent Mark Kennedy and challenger Patty Wetterling.

One is through partisan glasses. If you do that, you need only know that Kennedy is the Republican and Wetterling the Democrat.

The other way is by looking at who has more experience and knows the issues more thoroughly. Using those lenses, ask yourself which candidate will most effectively serve Central Minnesotans the next two years.

The answer is Mark Kennedy.

I didn't expect this, and I am pretty sure the Kennedy campaign didn't either. The Times has been big supporters of Wetterling and the Jacob's Hope Foundation over the years, and ran a big page one story marking the 15th anniversary of Jacob's abduction last Friday. But to their credit, they understood the difference between an advocate for a single issue (no matter how important an issue it is) and an effective legislator.

Wetterling clearly believes her strength rests in her ability to work across party and bureaucratic lines to get the job done. Indeed, her work on behalf of missing children and public safety is impressive and shows great potential.

But she's running against an incumbent who has compiled a strong record in serving Central Minnesota. Plus he can point to votes supporting more special-education funding, against oil drilling in sensitive areas, and even against Bush's No Child Left Behind Act.

Such actions, coupled with a social-issues platform that (sadly) better matches the majority of area voters, make Kennedy a strong incumbent.

That 'sadly' is a note to the editorial board's own preferences, but give them credit for recognizing that the market they sell into is socially more conservative than they are, and remembering whose paying for government. I suspect it pains them no more serious politician has come forward to challenge Kennedy, but none has emerged. The two Cities newspapers (and our silly student newspaper), of course, couldn't resist running to the Democrat (she crows for all three endorsements on her site), and yet the people who know Patty best have decided to back Kennedy.

The commenters in the Times chat area were pretty darn disappointed too.
The editorial board could also be working on the assumption that you don't fire the incumbent without cause. That's certainly reasonable, though a disappointment for me personally as someone who believes we desperately need an advocate for missing, exploited, and murdered children in Congress.
I'll update the Times link and kick this ahead to Monday in the morning. DONE (7am Monday)

Friday, October 22, 2004

Much radio = light blogging today 

I will have little here today as I am getting ready for the Hugh Hewitt Show tonight with the rest of the NARN gang, as well as dealing with some administrative deadlines here at the university. If I can get an economics post up early this PM I will, but if not I will do it tomorrow. (See, Hugh, I do work on weekends!)

Be sure to catch us 5-8pm CT on Hugh's show (streaming options here). And tomorrow, we're having a very special guest, John O'Neill of the SwiftVets, on the Northern Alliance's own show (12-3pm, AM1280 the Patriot, streams from here.) We're supposed to be on the Patriot II station on Sundays but I do not know the time (I'll fix this if I can find that out today.)

Thursday, October 21, 2004

"You have to be from here to understand" 

I was a jerk probably to about twenty people last night. I had several people call during the game; Elder and I were chatting in the comment box from my Game 7 mojo offering; Mrs and Littlest Scholar were keeping a respectful distance after I had had to watch the second and third innings from my church between running through Sunday's service with the worship and praise band. Why? Once again from the BSG:

We were doing our own celebrating at The Office, reacting like college kids in Cancun who just found out that Lindsay Lohan was entering a wet T-shirt contest that night. Exchanging high-fives and heterosexual man-hugs, I couldn't stop glancing at the TV. It's official, right? We definitely beat them, right?

"What's wrong with you?" Sully asked.

"Honestly? I keep waiting for them to announce that there's a Game 8." ...

To recap: Greatest comeback in sports history. First trip to the World Series in 18 years. First meaningful victory over the Yankees. All at the same time.

You have to be from here to understand. You just do. It wasn't just that the Yankees always win. It was everything else that came with it -- the petty barbs, the condescending remarks, the general sense of superiority from a fan base that derives a disproportionate amount of self-esteem from the success of their baseball team. I didn't care that they kept winning as much as they were a-holes about it. Not all of them. Most of them. In 96 hours, everything was erased. Everything. It was like pressing the re-start button on a video game.

And yeah, I know. We need to win the World Series to complete the dream. But you can win the World Series every year. You only have one chance to destroy the Yanks. As my friend Mike (a Tigers fan) wrote me last night, "Everyone outside of Yankee brats are celebrating quietly with you guys. It's like you killed Michael Myers, Jason, Freddie Kreueger and Hannibal Lecter in one night."

It was the choke of chokes, an unprecedented gag job. For once, finally, the Yankees have some baggage. Just like every other baseball team.

It's not Schadenfreude. It's a cosmic convergence. "1918? 2004!" is now the STFU every Sox fan can drop on a Yankee drone. And it's our gift to Twins fans, Tiger fans, and everyone else that roots for baseball.

So Elder, Atomizer? You want to ride the bus, or not?

Where's the man's priorities? 

David Post thinks John Kerry should have been at the Red Sox game.
...this is the most important thing going on at the moment; he's lived and worked in Massachusetts all his life; is he the only person in that category who wouldn't take free tickets to see these games? I honestly don't get it, and it does make me wonder about the guy. I know he's off rallying the faithful somewhere -- but if Kerry thinks (or his advisors think) that rallies in swing states, at which he outlines yet again his plans for social security reform or health care or whatever, win over more voters than having half of the country seeing him doing something that everyone can identify with -- i.e. rooting for the home team, engaged in an epic battle for its very soul -- I think they're very, very wrong.
Maybe he was upset that Manny Ortez was in a slump. BTW, in the Peter Gammons note (it's about a third of the way down the page) commenting on the gaffe, he tries to forecast:
No, that was Dave (Baby) Cortez and "The Happy Organ." A few years back Kerry went on a Boston station with Eddie Andelman and said "my favorite Red Sox player of all time is The Walking Man, Eddie Yost," who never played for the Red Sox. Kerry is going to sweep New England. He's going to get 70 percent of the vote in Massachusetts. He doesn't have to be a Red Sox fan, all he has to do is not be John Ashcroft.
Pee-tah, read the polls.

The John Smith Memorial Ream 

It's not too hard to get someone to give money to a school to name a building, or even a room in a building (like a computer lab). But what if you're short on office supplies but have many buildings? Some students at Northern Illinois have an idea:
If this university�s budget doesn�t have room to expand the funds it spends on paper, perhaps NIU administrators should be encouraging NIU alumni ... to make donations for paper - an education must - rather than $2.5 million toward an alumni center that students won�t step foot in until years down the line, when they are alumni.
Stephen notes, "The problem is that there are no naming opportunities for paper bins." We've been thinking that it would be cool to raise money for computer labs by having the computers come up with a screen thanking the sponsor every time a student walked in. But student labs are paid for out of student activity fees, a tax that few see as such and that goes unrecognized.

Some departments here are requiring students to purchase the "bubble sheets" for their exams in the first week of class in large lecture classes and turning them in to the department. The number required, we're told, exceeds the number of exams.

Affinity of the Forbesians, or, am I a trimmer? 

Mitch notes something that I've thought for some time.
...genuine conservatism is more progressive than the movements that have co-opted the term "progressive" in recent years.
Part of NARN's appeal is that there's substantial diversity of opinion within us, even though none of us would call ourselves "progressive" in the current use of the word. Mitch and I both supported Forbes in 2000, and I admit to not lifting a finger to help Bush in 2000. (I did vote for him, but it was more an anti-Gore vote in a state where I knew the outcome to be in some doubt -- were it not, I would have done what I had often done in the past and voted Libertarian.)

Mitch runs through Doug Bandow and by implication the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank, with dispatch.
Bush has a record in Iraq - imperfect, but at least an empirical record. Bush's detractors are still operating from the purely hypothetical - and mostly doing it badly.
My readers here know I occasionally post at Liberty and Power, but will note I haven't in a while. That's for a reason: The discussion of the war there and on most other libertarian sites has been really, really bad -- though for the last couple of days they've been having a good discussion of the wage gap to which I might contribute. But I simply did not wish to get in the way of their complaining about Bush. There were days I simply deleted the entries in my sitefeed.

Bandow, Cato, and the other libertarians are all drawn, I believe, to a thought expressed well by Leonard Read when he said "never vote for a trimmer!" A trimmer "is one who changes his opinions and policies to suit the occasion." In other words, John Kerry. I accept that, but my question is, on what basis does one call GWB a trimmer? Indeed, the criticism of Bush as "arrogant", "stubborn", "a man of conviction, but the wrong ones", is exactly the criticism that you can't work with GWB because he isn't a trimmer. As if trimming is a character desirable of presidents. And yet the very libertarians who would praise Read can't seem to support Bush (though at least one is understanding the moral contradictions of the Kerry campaign.)

As I've quoted before from Milton Friedman, there is no midpoint between right and wrong. I will have no truck with candidates who "embody the spirit of compromise."

Read's point is that voting for the lesser of two evils will encourage only bad candidates to run. If libertarians believe Bush does not represent their values, what is their responsibility? To Read, it's to abstain, but that is a strategy with long-run benefits -- better candidates more consistent in support of liberty would come forward only over time as the size of the disaffected, principled group grew larger. As Mitch points out, we have a short-run problem:
A gridlocked government is a good thing when there are no more pressing concerns. But we have those concerns today. The sooner we deal with them, the sooner we can return to a time and place where noodling about with abstractions like induced gridlock are tenable again.
We may believe, as many libertarians do, and with some merit, that U.S. foreign policy in the past has created useful recruiting propaganda for terrorists. But the antidote to that, when others are trying to kill you, is not to put the safety on your own weapon.
If they believe that the purpose of my life is to serve them, let them try to enforce their creed. If they believe that my mind is their property -- let them come and get it. -- Ragnar Danneskjold, in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.
UPDATE: Jon Henke has similar thoughts and decides to vote for None of the Above. I disagree, but it's a principled choice.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

You win today... 

and you see where you are?

Why, it's us!



Turn up your speakers!

Thanks to Elder and everyone for babysitting my neuroses tonight.

Four to go.

Prep work 

Weather forecast: check

Are they nervous?

They should be.

First meditation

Interlude: Those of us who follow the Sawx, the C's and the B's, and the Pats (though I confess to being a Giants fan from the Y.A. Tittle days) have long known of a guy called BSG, or Boston Sports Guy. He now has left Boston, taken his real name -- Bill Simmons -- and made a career for himself as a writer. But he is a true Sox fan, and his last two posts on ESPN's Page 2 are absolutely wonderful. About Schilling and last night's game:
Over the next few days, everyone will make a big deal about Schilling's Game 6, only some for the right reasons. We live in a sports world where every good moment gets beaten into the ground. It isn't enough for something to happen anymore. You have to vote. You have to watch two guys screaming on a split-screen. You have to read 400 columns, then columns by people reviewing those columns. You have to hear sports radio hosts screaming, and once the subject becomes exhausted, one of them takes a crazy angle on the topic just to keep the phone lines ringing for another hour. It keeps going and going, a vicious little snowball. When it runs out of steam, something else replaces it, and the whole cycle starts all over again.

I don't want the Schilling Game to fall into that. I don't want to hear someone claiming that he "wasn't that hurt," or that it "doesn't matter if they don't win Game 7," or even that Schilling was "milking the moment." You're not taking this away from me.
Someone asked me today if it would be better to lose tonight than to go to the World Series and lose there. I looked at that person dumbly. Lose? Lose?

The classic move would be for the Sox to come back, win three games in a row, then lose the climactic 7th game. But this isn't a classic Red Sox team. The old Red Sox would have blown Game 4 or Game 5, and they definitely would have choked in Game 6. With the old Red Sox, Bellhorn's homer gets ruled a double, A-Rod definitely gets called safe at first base, and Miguel Cairo clears the bases for the game-winner in the ninth.

Here's the point: Those things haven't been happening. Sometimes you pass a point where history becomes a factor -- like with the Patriots three years ago, when the diehards kept waiting for the Other Shoe to drop, and we were waiting and waiting, and suddenly Vinatieri's final kick split the uprights, the most liberating feeling you can imagine. That's the thing about baggage as a sports fan -- you can shed this stuff. You just need a few breaks. This Boston team is getting them.

OK. Meditation two.

Breathe in, breathe out.


Red Sox Fans for Globalization 

Oscar Chamberlain observes this article in the New York Times (free registration required) about how Curt Schilling got his shoe for Game 6 (which he ended up not wearing) and comments:
Is this Globalization or what? A company founded in Great Britain that does much of its marketing with American stars, has its shoe experts in Hong Kong redesign a shoe, which is then assembled in Canton.
Wonder where they bought the sutures holding his ankle together?

Macalester to end need-blind admissions? 

Douglas from Belief Seeking Understanding dropped a note to me this morning recommending I look at an article in the StarTribune on the possibility of Macalester College dropping its needs-blind admissions policy. Macalester wants to move from a model wherein financial aid is an entitlement to a model where the amount of financial aid for the college as a whole is capped. Douglas has dug around the college's Form 990 to consider how Macalester was in such dire financial straits. He wonders if any school can afford to do this? A quote from the STrib article would suggest not.

Lucie Lapovsky, the ex-president of Mercy College in New York and a specialist in the economics of higher education, said Macalester is among the "very, very few" schools that admit students without regard to finances and then make sure they can pay for college.

"It's incredibly costly," she said. "Only the very wealthy schools have the money to support this ... I think Mac is being very honest about this."

The number Douglas shows for the university's endowment is about $537 million. That's not necessarily that small -- Claremont McKenna, for example, has an endowment of about $325 million -- but it is supporting a rather substantial amount of expenditures, and the amount is being drawn down by the deficits Douglas cites. I suspect, more to the point, the school is following its peers in ending the practice, so as to have funds to buy better facilities and faculty.

Half empty or half full 

Study: College cost rises at slower rate (Newsday)

A College Education Gets Harder: Rising costs, fewer grants and loans add up to painful fiscal reality (Houston Chronicle)

Here's the press release they both used, with a link to the study itself.

Hearing and not listening 

I'm not surprised by the terrible experience Craig Westover had trying to get school officials to understand tuition tax credits on Monday. With a room full of teachers and administrators, systemic change was no on the menu. But this comment did surprise me.
This is the second time I�ve seen Commissioner Seagren speak, and both times I sensed she was working harder at not being former Commissioner Yecke than she was at setting any kind of an education agenda.
Despite the fact that "not being Yecke" is probably the only qualification for confirmation by the state Senate, this is a sign that Pawlenty administration may be trying too much for consensus and not enough for leadership.

Where are people going to go to get good ideas of what should be done in higher education? For starters, Yecke's still around.

"We won't tell you who to vote for, but..." 

In a letter from our union's government relations guy (read: lobbyist), we get some unsolicited advice and a little revision of history. First, the history:
Following the plane crash that killed Sen. Paul Wellstone, Minnesota went into a political convulsion. When the dust settled 10 days later, the political makeup of the legislature had shifted dramatically to the right. The newly elected conservatives stuck to their pledge to the Taxpayers League to not raise taxes. They would not even entertain proposals to raise the tobacco tax to the same level as Wisconsin�s rate.
Get that? We had a "convulsion". It was involuntary. Well, if you heard Rick Kahn's memorial/pep rally, your reaction probably was involuntary, though the convulsion was more akin to retching.

And isn't the whole purpose of federalism to allow states to determine their own tax levels? Since when does a legislature have an obligation to match the taxation levels of its neighbors?

So, we get this advice:
During my 32 years in and around state government, I have never met a candidate that didn�t say he/she supported higher education. The key test is whether the candidate will have the courage, like previous generations of legislators did, to raise the revenue necessary to support higher education. And don�t buy the line by a candidate that he/she will just cut somewhere else to fund higher education�the legislature is not going to throw patients out of nursing homes or cut special education funds so faculty can get pay increases, and the state is not going to save enough money by denying prisoners dessert (one of the bills last biennium) to prevent tuition increases to students and their parents.
At least he's honest -- he wants us to only vote for candidates who are willing to raise taxes. And they wonder why conservatives think this union doesn't represent them?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

You win today... 

... and you see where you are.

I mean, if it had ended tonight, wouldn't you have felt cheated?


Viva las cucarachas! 

The Elder sent me this comment this morning:
They live to fight another day. Like cockroaches those Sox are.

Another poster from a bulletin board:
Hey, so a team has never come back from a 3-0 deficit. Big deal? The Red Sox haven't won in 86 years, we're trying to accomplish the "impossible" anyways.
You win one, and you see where you are. Go 38! Go Sox!

It's happening at Tradesports too? 

I wrote last month that someone was "running the tape" on Kerry contracts during the RNC. Don Luskin now reports that a single trader is shorting large lots of Bush futures. He suggests the tactic is reminiscent of George Soros' speculative attacks on the British pound.

Quick curiosity 

Jonathan Dresner shows us the Ph.D. completion rates and time-to-degree measures for many Ph.D. history programs. Question: Wouldn't a lack of jobs in history increase the time-to-degree and completion rates, regardless of program quality? If I don't find a tenure-track job, what is the incentive for completing the degree?

Why undecideds are really important 

My colleague and survey analyst Professor Steve Frank sent me this prediction that, using the historical patterns of undecideds breaking against the incumbent, Kerry will win the race. Now before you get your shorts in a bunch, read what this professor has to say.

It is known to poll analysts that voters who are undecided usually end up voting against the incumbent. In particular, compared with their final poll numbers, incumbents get between 2% less and 1% more. In contrast, challengers do better on average by 3%. These figures are consistent with Cook's estimate that undecideds split at least 75% for the challenger. In today's summary of national polls, the average Bush-Kerry split is 48.5-45.5, which sums to 94%. Assuming 2% for Nader and other candidates, the remaining undecideds are 4%. Splitting these by Cook's rule gives 1% to Bush and 3% to Kerry, reducing the margin by 2%.

Therefore, for the main calculation I will assume that the undecided-voter shift is +2.0% towards Kerry, shift state polls by this amount (using the variable already provided in the script), and proceed with the calculation. Based on state polls in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, I estimate that the proportion of undecided voters in these states is similar to the national figures. Because national polls come more frequently, I will use them to calculate the shift. The size of this shift may change in the final days, and I will be monitoring this.

This new estimate is likely to be more accurate. However, it is also the first change to the calculation that is not neutral, it goes beyond the polling numbers themselves, and it is in a direction that is favorable to my candidate. For example, Florida, Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin are still toss-ups, but they are now above the 50% probability threshold for Kerry.

So what he's done has taken this 2% break-towards-the-challenger rule (assuming each state has a background level of undecideds of at least 4%), taken every poll that has Bush up by 1% or less, and assumed the undecideds will move that state into Kerry's side of the ledger. I've oversimplified this; Prof. Wang has a more detailed explanation, but I think my oversimplification gets to the logic of his exercise.

Unlike Prof. Wang, the adjustment moves in a direction unfavorable to my candidate, but I think it's an important point nevertheless: Those working towards a Bush victory have to create some reason for undecided voters not to break according to historical trends. Hooting and hollering over the latest polls should be guarded, and the sense of urgency towards getting your own voters out should not in any way diminish. It's kind of like managing against the Yankees -- going to the ninth with a one-run lead in Yankee Stadium may put you right where your opponent wants you. If you've got runners on in the top of the inning, score them.

Hugh may be right that polling in a post-9/11 world is entirely different, but if I'm Karl Rove I'm not moving all-in on that bet.

And if that won't sober you up, read Jim Lindgren.

New student methods for presidential elections 

Most readers know that I've long had libertarian tendencies. For some time I was the advisor to the College Libertarians group, which is currently defunct as best I can tell. But I must still be on some lists, because I received this delightful email today.
Dear Cultural/Activist/Political Student Orgs
I am not used to this kind of salutation. Indeed, any salutation containing a slash will usually get me to delete or throw away the letter at once. But this...
Including:African Student Association, All Tribes Council, Amnesty International, Arab Students for Peace, Asian Students in Action, Bangladesh Student Association, Bill of Rights Club, Campus Advocates Against Sexual Assault, Campus Green Party, China Club, Chinese Student Association, College Democrats, College Independents, College Libertarians, Council of African American Students, Democracy Matters, Earth Action Coalition, European Student Association, GLBT Alliance, Global Soc. For Advancement of Leadership, Habitat for Humanity, Peer Educators, Hmong Student Organization, Hong Kong Student Association, Indian Heritage Club, Indonesian Student Organization, International Students Association, Japan Club, Jewish Student Association, Jugglers Against Oppression, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Non-Violent Alternatives, Organization for the Prevention of AIDS in African, Outloud!, People Uniting for Peace, Residence Hall Association, Student Coalition Against Racism, Vegan/Vegitarian Club:
Now, how could one not find such a list interesting? We have all these clubs here, on a campus at which only 3000 students are resident, over 2000 of which are first-year students too busy finding out how late they can stay out with friends playing their XBoxes, and yet we have all these Cultural/Activist/Political Student orgs! Quite amazing. What would bring all these people together?
I am writing you to ask if your group would be interested in tabling at the �Rock the Vote 2004� Benefit Concert.
For those unfamiliar with the language, "tabling" = "set up an information table" rather than a tabling motion or hitting a guy with a table on your interactive XBox game.
We will have amazing folk/rock/punk musical acts...
...followed by a list of bands I never heard of. They must be amazing, and they haven't sold out to the man, either.
We will also have tabling student orgs, ...
Again with the tabling.
vendors and a silent auction.
Selling what? Voter recruitment items?
We all know that this election is crucial to the protection of civil rights for many oppressed communities.
They found us out; Bush fully intends to lock away everyone in a wheelchair after the election so that none of this Chistopher Reeve stuff happens again. Someone must have snuck out with the memo.
Our hope is to encourage voter turnout, promote education on the issues that affect marginalized communities, and foster coalition building between progressive student activist/political/cultural organizations.
Which is of course utter crap. If it was to just encourage voter turnout, why was one particular cultural/activist/student org left off the list? One that would have a serious interest in getting out the vote? (Three guess which one.*) And this activity is paid for by student activity fees, better known as a tax.

Again, this kind of crap is happening on every American campus; while students should most certainly be encouraged to vote, these GOTV events are thinly-disguised rallies for the leftists and Bolsheviks in our midst.

*--Its initials are "CR".

New campaign methods for student elections 

Honest Reporting discusses (third item) an article in Academe (gray boxed insert) on the difficulties of academia in the Palestinian state. One wonders how students study in a university where student government elections "featured exploding models of Israeli buses". (Hat tip: Jo's Attic.)

Picking a fight 

The American Association of University Women has announced a new study on the disposition of lawsuits for female faculty who are denied tenure and decide to fight the decision. Its press release carries the title, "Sex Discrimination in Academia Robs Female Professors of Careers, Students of Educators."

Research shows that in an academic setting, women earn less, hold lower-ranking positions, and are less likely to have tenure. Of the faculty at colleges and universities offering four-year degrees, only 27 percent of those awarded tenure are women. While women make up more than one-half of instructors and lecturers and nearly one-half of assistant professors, they represent only one-third of associate professors and a mere one-fifth of full professors.

Unfortunately, these battles are nearly impossible to win, since the odds are largely stacked against plaintiffs. Of the 19 AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund-supported cases described in the report, eight (42 percent) plaintiffs lost, seven (37 percent) settled, two (11 percent) won, and two cases are ongoing.

Further, according to the AAUW report, the costs of challenging sex discrimination � both financially and emotionally � are enormous. �Litigation expenses are huge in terms of both time and money, and the odds of women prevailing in court can seem insurmountable,� said Michele Warholic Wetherald, president of the AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund.

The AAUW has listed a set of recommendations for senior faculty and administrators as well as for junior female faculty. The latter list is actually good advice for any junior faculty regardless of sex.

What their report is less clear on is that the 19 cases are a subset of 60 cases that their legal fund has supported, according to this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscribers only). The report, CHE reports, includes a statement "Pinpointing sex discrimination amidst the tangled web of subjective judgments behind a tenure decision is a Herculean task." One wonders if some selection bias lies behind the inclusion of these 19 cases.

Yellow bikes redux 

J.V.C. drops me a note on the yellow flag experiment near his home in the DC area.
Around 100 of the $3 flags were stolen between the inception of the program and the time this story was written at the end of September, which is what, about a month? They keep replacing them, though...
Here's the story he sent as well. On the local campus, I haven't seen a yellow bike in weeks. SCSU readers, note any sightings in the comments, please?

Monday, October 18, 2004

You win today... 

...and you see where you are.

Big Papi says "and we'll see you tomorrow night!" Though it might rain in NYC, and that favors the Olde Towne Team.

Why I will vote for Bush 

Hugh Hewitt has another symposium. I don't write on the weekends, but a weekday one I will gladly support. He asks me to answer in 250 words the question in the title: Why will I vote for Bush. Here goes.

�I support President Bush for a simple reason. A victory for Kerry would be taken as a victory for the terrorists, by both the terrorists and the rest of the world. Economic issues pale in comparison with this overriding fact.� � James Buchanan, after signing this letter discussing the harmful Kerry economic policies.

This is just as well, because on economic issues I�ve had my differences with Bush. Tariffs and prescription drugs would be two such issues. Kerry and Bush actually agree on the economic issues that I disagree over, however, and on many others Kerry is egregiously wrong.

But Kerry�s foreign policy is far worse. He believes, as does the hard left of America, that Iraq is not part of the Global War on Terror. If 9/11 didn�t change him, would Zarqawi�s declaration of support for al-Qaeda? How can anyone believe that we should have foreign judges of our right to defend ourselves when our enemies buy the judges?

And when people use their opponent�s children as �fair game� in politics, what does this tell us about the character of a man? Does it tell us anything more than did a man who considered his fellow soldiers �fair game� in his anti-war activities? Does it tell us anything more than did going to Paris to negotiate privately with those who shot at his band of brothers and held some captive?

It tells me more than I want to know.

It tells me to stop squabbling over economics, and vote Bush.

You know it's homecoming when... 

...they start worrying about students and beer.

St. Cloud State University is cracking down on the off-campus behavior of its students.

The university plans to begin enforcing parts of its student code of conduct that focus on off-campus problems. The university is targeting off-campus parties, disruptive behavior and providing alcohol to minors.

The decision to target problem party houses builds on last year's decision to punish off-campus behavior.

Nathan Church, vice president for student life and development at St. Cloud State, said the university recently clarified its policy language to ban activities where alcohol is the center of the event or used in fund-raising.

Homecoming, of course, means parties and alumni, so cleaning up the neighborhood is always encouraged. According to this article in the St. Cloud Times (link dies Tuesday), students in "problem houses" will be required to perform community service.

Got one right 

The University Program Board on campus has decided to balance its two showings of Fahrenheit 9/11 with two showings of Fahrenhype 9/11. Now that wasn't so hard, was it?

Of course, Celsius 41.11 and Michael Moore Hates America are yet to appear. Peter Swanson says MMHA is pretty darn good, but not for the reasons you think.

UPDATE: The poor UPB has had to post the times three times to the campus, and on its last post it noted:
The UPB National Events Committee chose to show a second film this week FahrenHYPE 9/11, which several have e-mailed me asking what this movie is. This film is an independent Savage Pictures production that challenges the assertions of Michael Moore in his highly publisized film, Fahrenheit 9/11. As mentioned previously the committee decided to show the film in order to better represent a wider variety of views.
Made my day.

History profs have more fun 

I wonder how the tenure committee deals with this?
"I would like people to take Godzilla more seriously," said Bill Tsutsui, a history professor at the University of Kansas and author of the book Godzilla on My Mind, which discusses the history of the monster's movies.

From Dave Huber's note that the University of Kansas is holding a Godzilla conference.

Increasing demand + price ceilings = shortages 

I think we have a winner in the No S--- Sherlock Sweeps:

More than 30 Canadian internet pharmacies have decided not to accept bulk orders of prescription drugs from US states and municipalities.

...growing concern in Canada that growing exports to the US could lead to rising prices and shortages north of the border has prompted the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (Cipa), whose members include several of the biggest internet and mail-order drugstores, to act. �We don't want to give Americans the impression that we have unlimited supply for them to tap into on a commercial basis,� said David Mackay, the association's executive director. Americans, he added, �can't get everything from Canada. We can't be your complete drugstore�.

Prescription drug prices are significantly lower in Canada than the US, because of price controls and bulk buying by the 10 provinces. Individual Americans have crossed the border for years to buy cheap medicines, but the internet and spiralling healthcare costs in the US have led to a wider movement for states and cities to sourcethe drugs they need from Canada. Several states, such as Minnesota and New Hampshire, have set up websites directing residents to approved pharmacies in Canada. Cipa members would continue to service these customers, Mr Mackay said, but would not deal with states such as Illinois and Wisconsin that have proposed turning over their entire supply system to a Canadian internet pharmacy.

You could have seen this coming from a mile back. The Canadian system is simply too small; the whole purpose of the drug reimportation approach was to try to embarass U.S. pharmaceuticals for high margins in the U.S., when in fact those margins are supporting R&D costs exacerbated by FDA regulation. Canada and other countries have in essence free-ridden on the costs of R&D. (I hope Dave will post a comment on this.)

Politically this cuts both ways -- while the immediate harm is to Kedwards' plans for health care, it also is a blow to Governor Tim Pawlenty here, who has supported these plans. While Minnnesota appears to be grandfathered in, getting special treatment is likely to be something that won't play well should Pawlenty have plans beyond the governorship. I suspect it won't be long before Cipa reconsiders servicing the state contracts it has already agreed to.

Hat tip: Instapundit, who recommends as well Tom Maguire's note.

Remarkable disingenuity 

There is an utterly ridiculous argument being made by the local newspaper and the Wetterling campaign over the latter's acceptance of $80,000 of's contributions. In an analysis of this Kennedy ad (Windows Media Player file), Times reporter Larry Schumacher declares that these are not really MoveOn contributions. (Note that this is from the 10/16 newspaper, since my link up above will go dead tomorrow due to brain-dead archiving on the Times website.)

The ads do contain several errors and some distortions.

For example, did not donate any money to Wetterling's campaign, as the ads claim.

It told individuals visiting the group's Web site that Wetterling has its endorsement, and provided a link that allowed individuals to give her money -- about $80,000, by recent estimates.

MoveOn is bundling contributions, though, and using its website to support a particular candidate as a collecting agent. The site provides a service to the Wetterling campaign. MoveOn is supporting her. Schumacher is making a distinction that makes no difference; if my union provided envelopes to send money to the Kerry campaign, collected them and mailed them in, would this be any different? And would you call that a union contribution or a bunch of individual contributions?

The ads also mention roughly $50,000 that trial lawyers gave to Wetterling's campaign.

What they do not mention is that Kennedy has received more than $35,000 in donations from lawyers as well this election cycle.

There are many varieties of lawyers. There even many varieties of trial lawyers. But Wetterling's contributions are $14,500 from Robins, Kaplan (Mike Ciresi's firm) and $5,000 from the American Trial Lawyers Association. There are enough more in here to make one cast doubt on Schumacher's claim.

The Wetterling campaign is down to saying they don't support tax increases (just a rollback of tax cuts), and arguing that Kennedy appearing in a picture of Rudy Giuliani, a pro-abortion Republican (hello big tent!), means that Kennedy might be secretly pro-abortion too. Unlike Wetterling, Kennedy has a record to fall back on.

A little further from the mainstream 

The Institute for Humane Studies has long run a site called "Politopia". They are now offering a quiz for students to see which Presidential candidate suits them best. It's a little different from the World's Smallest Political Quiz, and includes a question of presidential preference. They end up with a map (rather than a line) showing where you place. My closest neighbor? Drew Carey.

Students get a pep rally 

After the NARN show Saturday I was invited to a reception for e-Pluribus, a new project from the Center for the American Experiement. It was enjoyable to meet so many wonderful young students excited about conservative ideas and politics. I met some students from several schools, including a good group from St. John's/St. Ben's; there were many from Luther College as well. I would estimate at least 100 students in the room.

Trunk and Rocket were there as well -- turns out Mr. and Mrs. Trunk were sponsors -- and we got to see Sean Hannity lead a pep rally. CAmExp events are usually more reserved, but as Hannity made clear, now is not the time for deep thought. The college kids I sat with were loving every Hannity schtick.

Healthy discussions 

After Dave sent me the post just below Mr. Ortiz, I remembered a request earlier in the day from a reporter for someone who's a health policy expert. I gave Dave and Larry each other's number, and the result was this article yesterday. Dave reports only one misquote:
$150 billion is today's total subsidy (lost FICA and income tax revenue) in our entire health care system; not the additional projected subsidy projected from last year's passage of Medicare reform/prescription drug legislation.
I love good analogies as teaching tools, and Dave's piece is a good one.

You win today... 

...and you see where you are.

The taller the mountain, the greater the reward.

Photo shamelessly taken from the Sons. Gotta be some reward to this season.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Health Insurance Economics 101 

In the last debate Bob Schiefer asked both Senator Kerry and President Bush about health insurance. King has provided this link for the candidates (and all of you readers who can open .doc attachments) to understand what many undergraduates at St. Cloud State University are now learning about this issue.

The economic complexities concerning health insurance become clear when we depersonalize the issues, and speak allegorically about cars rather than human bodies. Suddenly, when discussing "vehicle health insurance, carpool tunnel syndrome, and mechanical malpractice," nuances disappear. Students learn the power of special interest groups and why politicians try to make our desires become - first needs - and then rights.

Listen tomorrow! 

We'll have a great show on the Northern Alliance Radio Network for you tomorrow. Post-debate coverage continues in the Week in Review, and we'll interview a former Navy SEAL who is friends with Captain Ed and has written this letter that is powerful testimony to why we fight. I intend to vent just a little of my frustrations with academia during the third hour. Be sure to catch the show 12-3pm tomorrow on AM1280 the Patriot, or click here for the link to our Internet stream. See you Monday.

Belief Seeking Understanding turns one 

Happy blogiversary, Douglass!

Some economics notes this week -- silver and gold linings 

I had wondered when Greenspan would say this"
"So far this year, the rise in the value of imported oil -- essentially a tax on U.S. residents -- has amounted to about 3/4 percent of GDP," Greenspan said. Imports subtract from gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the economy, while exports add to it.
I have argued for awhile with some of my local colleagues that the effect isn't all that large. I run a model on the side for the national economy (I haven't done any updates publicly for a year as it's largely meant as a teaching tool for our masters students, not as a product I offer to anyone -- but in writing the QBR I want to peek at what that model says to me) and my forecast was shaved about 0.6%, partly because oil prices are part of the forecast, and I already was pointing towards $40 oil based on what had happened with gold prices. UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal says as well that $45 oil is already factored in:
The economists estimated that crude oil in the $40 to $49-a-barrel range shaves their GDP forecasts by just 0.1 percentage point. They said a rise into the $60-to-$69 band would lead them to mark their forecasts down by nearly one percentage point. Crude-oil prices have traded above $40 a barrel in New York since July.
So the thoughts that the rise in oil prices would harm Bush's election chances probably don't matter very much. Economic models are still predicting a rather resounding Bush victory. And don't listen to this bit of namby-pamby:
Mark Zandi, chief economist at the company, is skeptical. "The economy is losing momentum going into the election, there is a lot of angst among voters. The models may not be picking that up," he said.
Angst? Rubbish. That's a forecaster engaging in CYA. We all do it; we always want to shade our models towards the other guy's models to be sure we're not too much of an outlier. Another benefit of being an academic: I don't get fired for giving a bad forecast, because nobody is betting money on the basis of what I say.

At least, I hope not.

Of course people will take the statistics and try to scare us. They continue to paint the employment numbers as bad, and I even fell into it a little last week. Gene Epstein had a great column in Barrons this past week (subscribers only, sorry) in which he looks beneath this household/payroll employment survey imbalance and sees something more positive:

There is a cyclical pattern to the employment data economists have noticed but can't explain. In a boom, payroll employment rises faster than the payroll-equivalent number in the household survey. When the bust happens, the gap closes, as payroll employment falls faster. The cause, as I see it: the cyclical movement, at the margin, from cash jobs to paycheck jobs during the boom, followed by movement of paycheck back to cash during the bust. Cash-economy workers are lured, at the margin, into paycheck work by employers eager to hire, and then are forced to take cash work again when payrolls are cut. Nine-to-five paycheck workers who moonlight at second and third jobs probably do the same.

But while the household survey makes no distinction between cash and paycheck work -- a job is a job -- the establishment survey does. During the boom, the establishment survey starts counting jobs and workers it never knew existed; the vaunted universal count falls into the same trap. In the bust, both sets of books start losing these jobs, but the household survey is relatively unaffected.

Now, during the hiring frenzy of the late-'Nineties, you would have expected the same phenomenon, in spades. The payroll figure was nearly 2 million higher than the household figure; the two merged early this year. The fall in the household figure reflected what was really lost, not phantom losses.

In other words, rather than the household survey overstating current employment, perhaps the loss of payroll jobs (that the Kerry campaign continues to cite) was the result of an overstatement of paycheck jobs in the late 1990s, a statistical artifact. The Cleveland Fed article he cites contains this graph which shows how the adjusted figures (after accounting for differences in international migration patterns, for example) flatten out the size of the decline:

What Epstein proposes is that, in fact, the adjusted household survey line (the lowest of the three) is the correct picture. If so, employment has actually grown since the start of the recession. One fact worth noting: the 236,000 figure I gave last week has a standard error of 140,000. The estimate variances are quite wide (source: the memo obtained by the WSJ last week, available to subscribers here.)

Elsewhere, the retail sales figure came in quite nicely, though most of the surprise increase was due to auto sales in September being much better than expected. Ex-autos, the increase was 0.6% vs. 0.3% estimates. So consumer spending is looking stronger, even if the Michigan consumer confidence number doesn't. Elsewhere are some weaker signals: industrial production worse than expected, producer prices about in line. I'm guessing much of that is the hurricane. The trade deficit probably is going to drag on the third quarter GDP number, but if these consumer spending figures hold up I still think my call of 4.2% for third quarter GDP is good, and we're still looking like 3.75% for the year.

Those still interested in the electoral futures market: Bush is trading at Tradesports around $.55, down a dime from before the debates. My Kerry shorts are underwater, but I'm holding them for the duration at this point. The bleeding appears to have stopped on the Iowa market. And there's heavy positive Bush action on the Minnesota contract at Tradesports, at last.

In loco parentis -- a history 

...and its future, as suggested by David Weigel in Reason. Money quote:

Four decades after in loco parentis started to stagger, college students would be hard pressed to name their new personal liberties. Yes, they no longer fear "double secret probation." And when administrators crack down, they will almost always at least provide a reason. But today�s students may be punished just as hard as their predecessors -- often harder. They�ve discovered that social engineers have a hard time turning down the opportunity to control things.

The expanding control over college students has had repercussions in the rest of America. Campuses are proving grounds for make-nice public programs. They�ve provided laboratories to test speech codes and small, designated "free speech zones" for protests. (Such zones marginalize and effectively silence dissent, which is one reason they�ve been adopted by the major political parties for their national conventions.) The stiffening of campus law also illustrates the trend toward greater control of adults� personal behavior.

For just one example, consider this story at UMass.

Rabblerousing continues 

The campus Women's Center sponsors a weekly seminar on "women's issues". Here's their plug for this week. Women and the Draft:

The politics of gender, war and service

During debate over the Equal Rights Amendment during the 1970s and early 1980s, legislators in statehouses throughout the country heard about the potential consequences of passing the ERA, namely women being drafted into the military and forced into combat roles. Well, guess what? Although women have not yet had to register for the draft, they are serving in greater numbers in the military. Further, there is a proposal in Congress that would reinstate the draft, and that would include women, because the U.S. is running out of troops and other personnel to serve in wars. Take notice that there is still no constitutional amendment ensuring equality of rights under the law for women (aka: the Equal Rights Amendment). What are the current facts about the draft? What proposals are being discussed in Congress? And, what do the answers to these two questions mean for women and men?

Not like they really care about the facts, such as the fact that the proposal in Congress that would reinstate the draft died on a 402-2 vote. Or that the bill's author was a Democrat, as were the two who voted for the draft.

And note: since there were zero women in combat positions until 1991 (when they were permitted to fly combat missions), of course there are more women in the military. There are also more women in the civilian workforce than in 1970. Your point is?

So next Wednesday a women's center talk will be focused on spreading more rumors about a draft that has not been proposed by either candidate, but for whom one side is accusing the other of having a cunning plan.

The speaker by the way is from Mitch's favorite group.

He doesn't want to be me, either 

Stealthy Spitbull says "Lileks for King."

Thanks, but I'm already married.

My standard of living, as a non-blonde 

I remember David Strom remarking a few weeks ago on his show that his standard of living rises "when I get smarter more intelligent people to talk to each day". David was once an academic, and one of the things that has kept me being one was just this. My additional benefit is that by being a professor at a teaching university, the smart people I spend time with are often students. Energetic students with intelligence, making the trip from naive through unjaded (with an unfortunate terminus at cynical for most), who come and ask to learn things. A few keep learning after they graduate and stay in touch: They are the special few who've kept me from ever leaving academia and who nourish me still.

Like this letter I got from one female former student this morning. She is still in touch with me semi-regularly, and listens to our show. She had heard that we would have Ann Coulter on the program -- we will, currently scheduled for 10/30 but subject to change -- and said she was a Coulter fan "because she made it OK to be a blonde woman and intelligent." She explains:
On my college graduation day, I went to the breakfast sponsored by the College of Social Science. Before you or anyone else from the seminar class arrived, I was approached by a woman who judged me, the first and only time she encountered me, as incapable of earning a degree in economics, probably based on my appearance. This woman approached me and asked me if I had ever taken a class from her. Assuming she knew who I was from the economics department, I said, "No. You must be Dr. X ." And it was a reasonable guess based on her question, as I had never met Dr. X. (I've changed the name of this professor --kb) This woman was rather insulted, and said that she taught social work classes. ... I told her that I had never taken a social work class and I studied economics. She said, "Don't women like you find that a hard subject?" Since I really didn't want to ruin things, I said, "People were upset that Barbie said 'math is hard.' Just because something is hard does not mean that people do not find a subject necessary or enjoyable." I hoped that looking away from her would cause her to go away. Unfortunately I had no such luck. She asked another question, "Isn't it hard being in a male dominated field?" I really needed something to say that would make her disgusted enough with me to leave, and since she obviously did not consider me worthy of economics, I decided to play on her prejudice and confirm her beliefs. "I think that the marginal cost of being the gender minority is certainly worth the marginal benefit of being the gender minority." She got this blank look on her face. Apparently someone didn't either understand economics or sexist comments; so I explained, "As one of the few women, I did not have to compete for attention from straight men. If I were into social work, I'd have to compete for such attention." She became outraged at my comment, which I thought was pretty funny, and walked away. I'm assuming that this professor judged me incapable because I'm blonde. She said, "Women like you," and not "women." Either way, what she said was wrong, and similar to many comments that I've heard since high school.
It may be just the sin of high standards as well. "Women like you" could mean "women who can do math" making other women feel worse for their innumeracy. Truth is, I don't know what the professor meant. To say that to a student about to graduate in a few hours?

As if to prove her wrong, my student now works with government statistics daily. And writes.

I'm a lucky guy.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Becoming that which you despise 

We're now on our third week of a group of leftists on campus showing "documentaries" (quotes because I would think a documentary contained facts, and I don't believe these do), including sponsorship by an academic department (quotes optional). Scholar Dave posted on the campus discussion list a fake ad:

A Documentary Exposing John Kerry's Record of Betrayal


Video followed by panel discussion

Monday, November 1 @ 6 p.m. - Atwood Little Theater


I repeat, it's fake. Some said that would be fine to do. The defense was expressed most eloquently thus:

I have been biting my tongue very hard to refrain from expressing my political views in my classes. This has occasionally been tricky, as for example when I encouraged my students to vote and they asked me what I thought about the value of voting for third-party candidates. But somewhere I got the idea that my students might be unduly influenced by my view, given their undoubted awe of my wisdom and authority, and that I should therefore refrain from diluting the academic truths I impart to them with my subjective political opinions. Or maybe it was that in my paid capacity as a state employee I was a state resource and shouldn�t be used for political purposes.

However, I find the view expressed by some here persuasive: that diversity of opinion is indeed important at the university level, and that my expression of opinion will be balanced by other professors� expressions, and that students will be better served by getting several strongly expressed perspectives rather than having us speak from our ivory towers, as if above the political fray.

On the other hand, I do feel strongly that, if current politics were the topic of a class discussion that I as the instructor was facilitating, the discussion would almost certainly be more free and open if I refrained from injecting my viewpoint and maintained a relatively neutral stance.

As another admittedly liberal faculty member pointed out, though, that argument presupposes that faculty are relatively evenly distributed politically across the spectrum. Even that fellow agrees that this isn't so on most campuses, and certainly not at SCSU.
I might add it is not an easy life to be a political conservative on a typical U.S. campus. My own experience is that those of us considerably to the left of center have a much easier time of it.

My own intuition is to especially treasure our home grown conservatives and to admire their courage.

Hats off to you mean old fogies.
I see a new Scholars t-shirt. Calling Cafe Press!

Seriously, it's a good point. I treasure the many friends, including both the authors above, as committed leftists who engage in reasoned debate. Arguments sharpen the mind and steel the will. If the academic world consisted of folks like them and me, and even if there were more of them than me (chosen in objective fashion) I could turn this site to other things. But of course that isn't the case. What we see instead are people who insist that their job is to get people to think outside the box without respecting the box. Or even knowing themselves what is in the box.

Besides the failure to create a balance of voices in the faculty as a whole, there is the separate question of the propriety of using state money for this purpose. The ever-dependable Miss Median (new readers may go here to get the reference) tries this bit of piffle:
To say that everyone who expresses a viewpoint at a state university has to express "both" or "every" viewpoint is ludicrous. A campus should be an open forum for many viewpoints, and no one has prevented any unit from expressing their viewpoints through a film, a speaker, or other event (as a matter of fact, the students will present a political debate for homecoming week). Why any specific faculty member or department is obligated to present "all viewpoints" because state universities are partially supported (less and less each year) by the taxpayers (who are all of us), does not make any more sense then insisting that a columnist must argue both, or every, side of a debate in every column she or he writes !!
Nobody says the first sentence; we note only the point made in the first letter, that keeping your views in the background probably encourages students to speak more. This is probably more so in Lake Wobegone country than elsewhere, where embarassment is not acceptable. The students' homecoming debate indeed is a debate between a Republican and a Democrat, to be followed by a showing of F-9/11. Nobody asked the students their thoughts on having student activity fee dollars used on F-9/11, but I doubt it would raise too much of a stink. We already know what F-9/11 is.

Her answer completely evades Dave's original question which was whether this was an appropriate use of tax dollars. One of this site's purposes is to expose these types of things to the taxpaying public. Consider it done. If you are reading this and think it an outrage, tell your state legislator.

But the question isn't even about taxpayer dollars in my view. The question is how it is part of an academic department's mission to finance a series of movies committed to only one political view? In the case of Human Relations, the mission statement is clearly not about "respecting the box". Most departmental missions have an object of study that is value-free, though those choosing to discuss that object will bring their values to it. There are left- and right-wing economists, Democratic and Republican finance professors, etc. Running only one side of a debate is anathema to those missions. But not to a department which avows that it "provides education in self awareness and skills essential for living and working in a pluralistic, democratic society."

Those who wish to protest this activity, I think, have one of two choices: either to continue to fight to get any such missions written out as inconsistent with the university's goals, or creating countervailing departments that would naturally attract only right-wing academics, that might make an extra credit project out of seeing Stolen Honor this weekend. While I believe the first option is the better one, I despair of ever seeing it become reality. Becoming like those we oppose, sadly, may be the only course left.

Another blogospheric victory 

Craig Westover told me last night that he's been invited to speak at the Minnesota Public Radio event in St. Paul next Monday discussing school choice and Craig's idea for universal tuition tax credits. In a letter to me this morning he elaborates:

Because of the response, I've been given about 5 minutes on the program to introduce the idea for discussion. It's also motivated MPR to invite some charter school people to the discussion. I've attended some of these "open" sessions before, and they are eye-opening -- more for the way they reveal how people in power think, rather than what they think. We're messin' with kids minds here.

So how does a Tuition Tax Credit for K-12 work to close the achievement gap? It creates a stable supply of tuition money and therefore a demand by parents for places to use it. That in turn promotes more competition and niche marketing among existing schools and ultimately creation of new schools to serve underserved markets -- for example, targeting the low performing students.

One of my commenters suggests universal vouchers instead. Which would mess with kids' minds more?

Elo ratings for colleges 

If you don't play chess you probably don't know what Elo ratings are. They are used in games such as chess to rank players on the basis of their results playing each other, while recognizing that game outcomes contain a degree of randomness. Developed in the 1940s by the US Chess Federation, they're the number we chess players use when we play in handicapped tournaments. The world's #1 player -- though not current championship holder -- Garry Kasparov has an Elo score around 2800; I haven't played tournament chess in over 25 years, but when I did my score was never as high as 1800, meaning I was a decent club player at best.

Today's Chronicle of Higher Education carries an article (subscribers only) about a paper by four education researchers put out by the National Bureau for Economic Research. Here's a public abstract of the paper (the link to the paper is available therein if you're a subscriber, or you can buy a copy for $5.)
We show how to construct a ranking of U.S. undergraduate programs based on students' revealed preferences. We construct examples of national and regional rankings, using hand-collected data on 3,240 high- achieving students. Our statistical model extends models used for ranking players in tournaments, such as chess or tennis. When a student makes his matriculation decision among colleges that have admitted him, he chooses which college "wins" in head-to-head competition. The model exploits the information contained in thousands of these wins and losses. Our method produces a ranking that would be difficult for a college to manipulate. In contrast, it is easy to manipulate the matriculation rate and the admission rate, which are the common measures of preference that receive substantial weight in highly publicized college rating systems. If our ranking were used in place of these measures, the pressure on colleges to practice strategic admissions would be relieved.
It takes a good deal of time explaining Elo ratings, but their point for using it is probably more important. As the Chronicle article points out, schools can manipulate the traditional measures like matriculation rates and rejection rates by using recruiting tools such as early admissions programs or heavy recruitment of applications that are rejected.

Here are the top ten schools ranked by the authors' system, along with some Minnesota schools and their near peers, with their Elo score attached:

1 Harvard 2800
2 Yale 2738
3 Stanford 2694
4 Cal Tech 2632
5 MIT 2624
6 Princeton 2608
7 Brown 2433
8 Columbia 2392
9 Amherst 2363
10 Dartmouth 2357
33 Oberlin 2027
34 Carleton 2022
35 Vanderbilt 2016
51 Claremont 1936
52 Macalester 1926
53 Colgate 1925

To put those in perspective, a 2022 player playing a 1926 player would win approximately 60% of games played, so a Minnesota high school senior admitted to both Carleton and Macalester, given the same tuition rate and grants rate, probably chooses to attend Carleton 60% of the time. The authors controlled for distance from home, financial package, and whether or not the student had a family member attend that school.

Note the time 

The University News actually praises a real scholar, indeed our Scholar, Marie Kim. We're missing Marie's historical and legal views from SCSU Scholars this year while she's taking a Fulbright year in South Korea. The UNews also plugged the Quarterly Business Report last week, which I co-author. We greatly appreciate their efforts to highlight all corners of the university.

Growing up blogging 

During the first debate I had the pleasure, as I have before, of meeting Rocketman's smallest daughter, who is about the age of the Littlest Scholar. She had her own i-Book (a character trait she shares with Gnat, and something we should do for LS.) Since it was a blogger party, I asked her if she blogged. She said she did, and she told me the name of her blog.

Last night, Mrs. Rocket stops me and says her daughter had asked her to give her business card to me.

Now really, what more could you want in the blogosphere than the three daughters of some really bright parents? So here's a shout to kids who blog and even photoblog from Japan.

Oh what a night. 

Many thanks to Hugh for the kudos on the NARN event. We had an absolute blast. Mitch has played in many more and probably more successful bands than I have, but I do recall a night when we played a lakeside cabin party that had roughly 75 young people there. As the night went on people pulled up in boats at and near the dock, doubling the audience, and the energy feeds you. And a group like this just has us jazzed for a few more weeks. To give you how it went for me: I had walked in and saw about 200 people in the room and thought wow! It was already more than I thought it would be at 7:30pm. By ten to eight I was focused on the screen and didn't turn around until after the debate -- and saw they had removed the dividing wall between the two sides of the ballroom. Easily more than 700 were there.

If you were there and you're a reader, you cannot know how grateful I am. And for those who keep showing up for us time after time, like Jo, Steve, Tom, and the mighty mighty PMB, thanks so much for keeping us confident we're hitting the mark. (Thanks for the cigars too, Jo!)

Thanks also to Chumley, Lonesome and the Patriot staff, the downtown Hilton (the eats were great!), and Wade Investments for helping us make a bit of blog history happen.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

That's a 10-8 round on my scorecard. 

The stuff below is just a set of notes I took and just put for later use. I think the winner was Bush, by more than the second time. It was not a knockout, but in puglistic terms I thought Kerry was bloodied on the economics questions, and then shot himself in the foot with the faith question. He should have just passed on that one.

Minimum wages 

How many single mothers get the minimum wage? Not many.

Greenspan and social security 

Greenspan speech on Social Security at Jackson Hole, the Congressional testimony the following week, and the MSNBC report on his testimony to Congress on the need reform.

How did Bush have that VA funding number? 

Don't know, but it appears right.

Health price inflation -- a change in trend? 


Bush's Pell grant chart 

Here's the chart -- funding up 9%/yr. since 1999.

Kerry error #1 

How does a president remove pay as you go rules in Congress? The rules are congressional, not executive.

Live kinda blogging 

I'm not going to do the blow-by-blow tonight because what we're seeing here is pretty darn cool. We're in the ballroom at the downtown Hilton in Minneapolis, and we're having to add seats because there are so many people here. I'll try to get pictures up as soon as we can. Blogging will not be continuous but with single points as I think are appropriate. Please keep.

A few questions for tonight's debate 

...were this economist asking them.

For Pres. Bush:
For Sen. Kerry:

Probably none of these in the Economist poll 

A group of 368 economists have signed a letter that concludes that "John Kerry favors economic policies that, if implemented, would lead to bigger and more intrusive government and a lower standard of living for the American people." I am one of the signatories along with six Nobel Laureates in economics. The best quote accompanying the press release belongs to one of them:

"I support President Bush for a simple reason. A victory for Kerry would be taken as a victory for the terrorists, by both the terrorists and the rest of the world. Economic issues pale in comparison with this overriding fact."
- James M. Buchanan, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics and Philosophy
George Mason University and Virginia Tech University
Nobel Laureate

Come blog with me (this time in a disclosed location) 

I will be with Saint Paul, Mitch and Ed at a Northern Alliance listener appreciation event: Come liveblog the presidential debate with us! We'll bring the munchies, and there'll be a cash bar available. WiFi is on the premises, so bring your lappy and join the fun. Maybe we'll drive a little traffic your way. There's no radio show, just a chance to mingle and visit.

The event is at the downtown Hilton Minneapolis on Marquette and 10th. Festivities should start around 7:30pm, with the debate starting at 8.

Thanks to our friends at AM 1280 the Patriot for organizing this. If you're planning to come, please call the station at 651-289-4455 to let us know, so that we can make sure you've got enough eats. See you there!

Grade inflation 

Walter Williams writes about the Benedict College situation I discussed in August.
Can you think of a more effective way to discredit and cast doubt on the degrees of all students who graduate from Benedict? How would you like people to be certified in any activity that way � your doctor, your tax accountant, your mechanic or anybody upon whom you depend for reliable proficient service? The median SAT score of entering Benedict students is 803. But whatever handicaps they may have are disguised and exacerbated by the school's SEE policy.
That rasies a very good point, which could lead to Benedict attracting students with lower and lower SAT scores. But again, if there's a market for that kind of student wanting a college education, there's certainly no reason Benedict can't be in that business. Just don't pretend to be something you're not, even to your faculty.

There's a new site devoted to understanding the problem of grade inflation and suggesting use of numerical measures that cannot be inflated, like comparison to a peer group. But would that work at a place like Benedict?

The site also has this analogy:
Grade inflation is somewhat analogous to monetary inflation. The higher course grades go, the less they are worth. Society does adjust to periodic bouts of monetary inflation which simply continue without a forseeable upper limit. However, the GPA does have an upper limit, and that is 4.0.
But at some schools, an A+ is worth more than 4.0.

Economists are weird II 

Just as a matter of casual empiricism, I've l0ng believed that academic economists are more liberal generally than non-academic economists. The academic environment would be better suited for them, as this blog has tirelessly pointed out. So when loyal reader Duane Oyen wrote me about a poll by The Economist (in .pdf -- it might be for subscribers only, as I know this article is) that said, in his words, "70% of respondents consensus was that we should 'soak the rich' like Kerry wishes to do", I was pretty sure they had not asked, say, the policy panelists of the NABE, of which I'm one. (The NABE doesn't have too many academics, but some of us.) Sure enough:

The Economist polled 100 academic economists on the Bush record and the economic plans of Mr Bush and Mr Kerry; 56 responded.
While there isn't anything bad about a 56% response rate, there is probably some bias introduced by that as well. I note their last two questions asked.
10. If you had a chance to work in a policy job in Washington, would you take it?
YES -- 21, NO -- 33
11. For whom would you rather work?
MR. BUSH -- 3 MR. KERRY -- 17
This should have been a screaming red flag of a biased sample, and the Economist even says so, but doesn't give a fig.
Are our economists partisans? We chose their names, at random, from among the referees of the American Economic Review, one of the profession's more prestigious publications. Conservatives often moan that university professors are all left-wingers. Though most of our professors claim they are not interested in working in Washington, 80% of those who would accept a policy job would prefer to work for Mr Kerry. However, even if you allow for some partisanship, the results are fairly striking.
So when Duane asked...
Where do they get these unbalanced samples of unreconstructed Keynesians to answer the questions by urging that the government soak up all investment risk capital? Don't they ever survey economists who have tried to operate a business or invested in a start-up?

...the answer is "the editorial board of the AER," since they choose the referees. And where oh where do these people come from? Behold.
Bernanke, most people will recognize, is a Governor of the Federal Reserve. All except Rogerson are at elite institutions, and more likely than not to be liberal.

Economists are weird 

Reading Alex Tabarrok on Marginal Revolution (been there yet? you should) talking about Kydland and Prescott winning the Nobel, I found this quote about the time-inconsistency problem that simply floored me for its brilliance.

Thomas Schelling once described a similar idea this way: If you are kidnapped who do you want in charge of the negotiations, your loving wife or your nasty ex-wife? Easy, right? But suppose that the kidnappers know in advance who will be in charge of the negotiations - now who do you want? See? Sometimes, nasty people do good things.

If you need any further proof that economists are into weird things, you're not reading enough economics.

Not yellow bikes 

The Gold Bike program at Purdue has come up a cropper. Chumley has the details. I have not seen a yellow bike on campus here at SCSU for about a month, but nobody has alerted us to whether this is a sign of failure.

What to do about Minnesota's education gap? 

I had a couple, both well-educated, talk about what they were hearing on Minnesota Public Radio about the education gap here. It's large, they said, and they don't know what could be done to fix it since so much of it seems to be the parents. Craig Westover is suggesting universal tuition tax credits, and is encouraging people to vote for their choices for a discussion.
The key to the �Universal� Tuition Tax Credit concept is that it allows any taxpayer (individual or corporate, parent or grandparent, neighbor or friend) to contribute to the education of any K-12 child (relative, neighbor�s child or to a low-income student scholarship fund) at any Minnesota K-12 school (public or private).

The UTTC is a direct dollar-for-dollar tax credit against one�s Minnesota tax liability. The maximum allowed tax credit per student is 50 percent of the state per pupil cost for public education, so public schools retain funds even when students opt out.
A "classical liberal" solution!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Jack has the best lines 

I sent Scrappleface's humourous obit of Jacques Derrida, titled "Father of Deconstructionism Dies, If 'Death' Means Anything," to Scholar Jack this morning. His reply had me in stitches:
Derrida huh? I'm betting 'Death' means something to him now, and I suspect he's a bit chagrined.
If chagrined means anything...

Dance with who brung her 

Each campaign in the Minnesota Sixth District House race brought out new ads this week. Incumbent Mark Kennedy runs an ad in which he ties himself to Bush's pursuit of the GWOT. It's pretty straightforward (though someone needs to tell Mrs. Kennedy to hold her head still in looking at either her husband or the camera). Challenger Patty Wetterling has an ad in which others cite her devotion to child issues as showing her as "tireless" and suggesting she'll work for Minnesota families. How she'll do that, we can't see in that ad. Like the discussion yesterday, these ads are more about image and posture than about issues, though other Kennedy ads have more substantive discussion.

Wetterling is unhappy that Kennedy's ad might indicate she doesn't support the GWOT as played out in Afghanistan. But she took money from MoveOn, and I doubt they'll be happy that she's supporting the U.S. role there, and that she's only upset with the cost of Iraq rather than the conflict there. That article also says she's flipped her views on late-term abortions.

Wetterling retreated from previous statements that she and others made that she opposed second-trimester and late-term abortions.

"I did have concerns about late-term and second-trimester," she said Monday. "I always have concerns about these. But it's between the woman and her doctor."

Wetterling said she opposes mandatory parental notification before a minor obtains an abortion, as well as a ban on so-called partial-birth abortion that has no exception for the mother's health.

...At her campaign kickoff in May, she said she was pro-choice but that she opposed second-trimester and late-term abortions. That was how campaign staffers described her position as recently as last week.

My estimable NARN colleague Captain Ed considers Wetterling's campaign a failure.

Wetterling hasn't clearly articulated any policy stands, and even on the basic abortion issues has communicated confusion and a lack of thought and philosophy. For a woman her age to launch a Congressional run without having a well-thought-out answer to the basic questions of abortion demonstrates not only a lack of preparation but a lack of skill as well.

It's apparent that Wetterling is little more than a placeholder, a woman with name recognition that the Democrats hoped would have enough sympathy to derail Kennedy's re-election. Instead of providing the Democrats with solid name recognition of her own, however, she has served to remind us of all the vacillating qualities at the top of the Democratic ticket this November without any of the experience that John Kerry has, whether he runs on it or not. She is an empty suit, a cipher, another Chauncey Gardener in a Democratic ticket full of them.

I don't completely agree with that. You would have to recall that she was sought out by the national Democratic party leadership when 2002 replay Janet Roberts dropped out of the race just before the party's district nominating convention. She hadn't prepared for this. All the advice at the time was for her to bone up and get ready to debate issues and show she had broadened her knowledge. But perhaps she's made a calculated decision to simply be who she is, which is a children's advocate, because she doesn't have the resume to be anything else. Jacob's Hope is how she got here, and she may well have decided to dance with who brung her.

Comically classic 

Teachers are beginning to use comics to teach literature.

At Oneida High School in upstate New York, Diane Roy teaches the students who failed ninth-grade English the first time around. Last year, on the heels of "Hamlet," she presented her class with a graphic novel - essentially a variety of comic book....

Roy's experiment with the graphic novel as text struck gold when she assigned Art Spiegelman's "Maus," the story of his parents' experience in the Holocaust told as a cat and mouse allegory - a highly regarded work that won the Pulitzer Prize. From there, some students moved to graphic novels about Hitler, and finally made their way to traditional books about the Holocaust.

Each student was required to read five graphic novels. But "there wasn't a single student in this class of kids - nonreaders who don't enjoy reading - who didn't read double that number," Roy says. "They would read them overnight ... they were reading them at lunch, in the hallway."

Roy adapted her curriculum on graphic novels from a series developed for teachers by the New York City Comic Book Museum.

My Uncle Licky (a nickname, short for licorice) worked at the Dover News, a distributorship that put up comics in the magazine racks of small grocery stores in southeastern New Hampshire, southern Maine and northeast Massachusetts. When we'd visit Dover, where my parents were both born and raised and where most of my dad's family remained, I would always ask to go to with Uncle Licky to the News, wherein I could grab magazines and comics that were returned. All they had to do was cut off the cover and send it back to get credit from the publishers.

And it was there I discovered Classics Illustrated. My dad saw the interest and started buying up the older ones, two copies of everything, one for me and one to store. They'll be worth something some day, he said. He was right.

Most of my knowledge of classic literature when I arrived at college came from those comics and later from moving to Readers Digest condensed classics (and the Best Loved Books for Young Readers, which my parents bought for us to read). So if you're in New York (hi RP!) maybe you should check that museum out. Sounds like the kind of place Uncle Licky would have loved.

The rewards of blogging 

Arnold Kling wonders:
What can be done to raise the signal-to-noise ratio of economics journals? At one point, I suggested that blogs could provide a better filter than economics journals. That is, one could imagine bloggers combing through academic research papers and picking the most interesting ones, rather than having papers go to editors and referees of journals. I think that would be a better form of intermediation. However, there needs to be a reward system for the type of blogger who acts as a neutral referee-editor type.
The reward system for most bloggers (though I guess not Kling, who's done pretty well in his life) is readership. Most of what I get from this blog is a name for me, and hopefully a good name for my university. (Yes, I complain about the place, but I still work here and there are many good colleagues here. I want them to have a place with a good reputation even if that reputation spills over to the leftist loons in our midst.) I'm slightly less obscure now than I was when the blog was started. If I review articles and find them wanting and if I can drive traffic from other economists here to read my reviews, I get more prestige, more visits to guest-lecture, etc. If that's what I want out of the blog, that's one way to get it.

Question is, how big is that market?

Draw me a sentence 

Erin O'Connor leads me to this essay on diagramming sentences. I went to public school and learned diagramming in seventh grade with Mrs. Holloran. I don't know that I could still do it, but I found this site for someone that shows you how (and will sell you a book if you want to know much more.)

I am reading student papers of our seniors in their capstone class, and many of them could use a lesson like that. It seems trite to say that because we all do, but I believe you can't make an essay until you can write a paragraph, and you can't write a paragraph until you know how to write a sentence, and you can't write a sentence until you know the elements of grammar. And if you can diagram the previous sentence, you can do it all.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Saratoga Spring? He forgot Poland again! 

Mitch has this uproarious bit from Kerry's asking for his water in the NYT magazine interview (in which everyone is on him for the terrorism-as-law-enforcement comment).

A row of Evian water bottles had been thoughtfully placed on a nearby table. Kerry frowned.

''Can we get any of my water?'' he asked Stephanie Cutter, his communications director, who dutifully scurried from the room. I asked Kerry, out of sheer curiosity, what he didn't like about Evian.

''I hate that stuff,'' Kerry explained to me. ''They pack it full of minerals.''

''What kind of water do you drink?'' I asked, trying to make conversation.

''Plain old American water,'' he said.

''You mean tap water?''

''No,'' Kerry replied deliberately. He seemed now to sense some kind of trap. I was left to imagine what was going through his head. If I admit that I drink bottled water, then he might say I'm out of touch with ordinary voters. But doesn't demanding my own brand of water seem even more aristocratic? Then again, Evian is French -- important to stay away from anything even remotely French.

''There are all kinds of waters,'' he said finally. Pause. ''Saratoga Spring.'' This seemed to have exhausted his list. ''Sometimes I drink tap water,'' he added.

Saratoga Spring Water comes in an upscale blue bottle as well as a common plastic bottle (if you care about these things.) What surprises me is that nobody from Boston or New Hampshire (my birthplace) that I know drinks the stuff. I thought what he would say is Poland Spring, a local company up in Maine that advertises and sells heavily into the New England market and has for many years. You don't pick a New York product when a Maine product is at hand. Besides, isn't Kerry already winning New York?

Another letter, from someone who should know better 

The local paper carries a letter today complaining about the St. Cloud Times' coverage of two political ads. The letter is written by an economics professor at a nearby university. He thinks the criticism of challenger Patty Wetterling's ad (video here) is unfair.

Either people at the Times are capable of talking at a remarkably fast rate, or they have unrealistic expectations of the content that can be included in a 30-second political ad.

Further, Patty Wetterling states clearly in her ad that you can learn more about her positions at her Web site.

The ad, criticized by the Times for "skimping on substance", is the sort of getting-to-know-her type of ad a challenger new to politics would run. But Wetterling is not an unknown. Advertising that she cares about children in this district is like advertising that Barry Bonds has hit a few home runs. She has the children's resume down cold. You would think she'd want to broaden her appeal.

The letter then chides the newspaper for not reporting inaccuracies in Kennedy's ads.

Kennedy states that he somehow single-handedly created 1.7 million jobs.

Yet a Sept. 26 Times article stated that there are 1 million fewer jobs now than when Kennedy took office.

In the more recent article, the Times buried this fact at the very end.

In my mind, blatantly misrepresenting one's record is a bigger sin than failing to include an encyclopedic discussion on one's agenda in a half-minute campaign ad.

I'm not sure which ad the writer saw, because Kennedy has nine. The one I think the writer refers to has a line which says "I worked hard to help create jobs", while the graphic underneath flashes "1.7 million new jobs". To say that is "single-handedly" creating jobs is a real stretch and a sign of the letterwriter's folly. Go watch that ad (from the link above, click "Create Jobs"), and tell me what you see.

And then to assail the Times, hardly a friend of Kennedy's, for blatant misrepresentation is simply stupid.

Idiot student newspaper letter of the week 

I'm not going to dissect this one title "Hippies just trying to educate".
We were not protesting football or the people who were there but we were educating people on the mascot issue.
Glad you cleared that up. I was confused. Read the rest, but put down the coffee first.


Many people complain about how the newspapers misquote them. I typically don't have this issue because people are calling for rather arcane facts and will quote directly because they don't know what else to do with the quote. Monetary policy isn't the forte of many regional newspaper reporters. My wife woke up yesterday before me and had read the paper before I did. I knew this article (I'm using the Monday archived version, which won't work Tuesday) would come out with the debate scheduled for Congressman Mark Kennedy and challenger Patty Wetterling (which didn't happen anyway because Congress was still in session). The reporter, Larry Schumacher, spoke with me on the phone for about 45 minutes, and I was curious what he used from that discussion, which was mostly a backgrounder on economic policy of the Bush administration.

Both candidates' positions on the economy and taxes resemble those of President Bush and his Democratic challenger, John Kerry, said King Banaian, professor of economics at St. Cloud State.

Kennedy's argument on tax cuts helping a weak economy is strong, but he has no good answer on reining in the runaway deficit, he said.

Wetterling can rightly point to a lack of jobs, but whether any government policy can overcome businesses' reluctance to hire more workers is debatable, he said.

And her argument in favor of "fair trade" smacks of protectionism and ties to labor interests that Kennedy can use against her, Banaian said.

Ultimately, Banaian said he doesn't think concerns about the economy will drive this election, and Kennedy's tax votes will help him.

"The corridor between St. Cloud and Minneapolis-St. Paul has a lot of people who got out of the Cities," he said. "Why did they leave? They really wanted to be left alone. I think Kennedy's message will appeal to a lot of them."

Mrs. Scholar thought I had thrown Kennedy under the bus with the runaway deficit line. I said in reply that I had first made the remark about the deficit in response to a discussion about Bush's economic policy platform (wherein deficit reduction is a byproduct of other platform promises and put on the stock market decline and the war, as Bush did in the debate.) And the runaway adjective I'm pretty sure I did not use in that context.

Larry asked as well what I would advise Wetterling to debate with Kennedy if I was advising her. I thought about not answering him, but in my professional capacity it wasn't an unreasonable question to ask. And to me the only place to get at Kennedy was on the deficit question. But as I said in the quote, it's not going to matter for much.

One of the quotes he didn't take: It's a lousy election year to be a macroeconomist, because nobody cares about macro in this election. As my colleague Rich MacDonald said in the same article I'm quoted in, the data are quite muddled, but the economy is growing, the jobs data isn't that bad. It's just hard to get any exposure for that discussion when Iraq and the GWOT dominates every debate.

They say Wednesday will be different. We'll see.

Time to build Nobel winners 

Finn Kydland and Ed Prescott will share this year's Nobel Prize for their work on business cycles and time inconsistency. The Mises blog has some criticisms; it reminds me of once attending a Minnesota Economics Association meeting at which Prescott described their "time-to-build" model. I commented that the model looked Hayekian to me, insofar as capital seemed to have vintages (think of replacing a 1998 Pentium with a 2004 Pentium -- not the same thing at all). He was mildly annoyed, arguing that he could write the model down in a way that previous writers could not.

This makes this article look prescient.

UPDATE: Hope you didn't take this advice.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Overmanage, undermanage, doesn't average out 

Atomizer is ranting mightily about the Twins loss. I attended both games, and Saturday's game was a case where a guy whom I've said overmanages games, undermanaged his second game of the Series. I don't have a major problem with pulling Santana after five innings, as he was not nearly as sharp as he was during the regular season. He was quite slow between pitches. No, the problem was that Gardy let himself lose the lead with the second-best reliever he has on the mound. Grant Balfour, who had pitched well the previous two innings with a four-run lead, was pulled because, well, it's the eighth inning and it's Rincon's inning. Then, as everything collapses around Rincon, where's Nathan? Until the homerun, he's sitting down. I swear, it was the only f-bomb I dropped in two games, which most people will tell you is under my norm. When Sierra's own bomb went off to right-center, the whole stadium knew it was a matter of time.

In doing this Gardy replayed the error from last Wednesday, again pulling Balfour for Rincon on the basis of roles being assigned by inning rather than by who is performing. As Joe Sheehan at Baseball Prospectus pointed out, in that case it cost the Twins a quality righty for the 12th to protect Torii's homer instead of a tired Nathan.

Oh well, at least it sets up a new chapter in the epic struggle of the Red Sox. All roads to our own greatness pass through New York. Tom Maguire says bring it on. Careful what you wish for, pally.

UPDATE (10/11): Et tu, Saint Paul?

Friday, October 08, 2004

Everybody's working for the weekend 

Especially me. Monday seems so long ago. But we made it, and I've got Twins tix tonight and tomorrow, so you're going to get nothing more from me until Sunday. I've got two people taping the debate tonight, and I'll blog from the tape Sunday afternoon unless Boston or Minnesota are playing. I won't follow my fantasy football team this weekend, because I think we're screwed. Sean should be happy.

Meanwhile, be sure to check out the Northern Alliance Radio Network tomorrow (Saturday) between 12-3pm. John Miller from National Review Online will be our guest, discussing his book Our Oldest Enemy. Here's a clip of the book up on NRO today. Listen to us on AM1280 the Patriot, or online from here.

Go Sox! Go Twins!

The mayor's chamber-maids 

The local Chamber of Commerce was backed into a corner by Mayor John Ellenbecker and decided to support a 17-year extension of the half-cent sales tax in the St. Cloud area.

A poll of member businesses showed 69 percent of those who responded support keeping the sales tax in place. An identical percentage believe the local tax has had little or no impact on their businesses, chamber president Teresa Bohnen said.

"We wanted an accurate barometer of what our membership was thinking," she said. "We can be confident that this reflects the will of the chamber membership, and the board felt an overall statement of support for the ballot was needed."

Board members also voted to put up to $10,000 into an independent ad campaign to support the referendum. It will run in the two weeks before the vote, Bohnen said.

Last month, Ellenbecker contacted the chamber leadership to warn it that failure to support the referendum, which seeks money to expand the Civic Center, among other items, could jeopardize a $500,000 annual contract for chamber operation of the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The mayor of course, doesn't call it pressure at all. But of course it is. The city has placed six questions asking for extension authority, for six different projects. Approve any one and the city will go to the state legislature, which must sign off on any extension.

Ellenbecker said he didn't think the e-mail was inappropriate.

"I understand their position of wanting to serve the desires of their membership, but at some point you have to serve in a leadership role," he said.

One of our Quarterly Business Reports looked at this issue and showed that a full third of our survey respondents disliked the idea -- about the same as found in the Chamber's survey -- and another 20% were neither in favor or opposed. 42% were in favor. We called the view then as being divided. One wonders if the choice of being indifferent was available. One of the comments we got from a survey respondent then was
In favor because the tax is coming from outsiders visiting our community in
large part. Not in favor because of the decision-making process with local
buildings, i.e. Civic Center and library.
That is, there is probably support among the local businesses for a tax, but they don't like the current administration's use of the revenues.

So, one wonders, why a 17 year tax? Doesn't this seem extraordinarily long? The local signs in support of the sales tax extension say "Let's keep a good thing going." And going. And going.

Addendum on economic news today 

If you have a WSJ nearby today, find the Macro Investor column, wherein Steve Liesman reviews the economic performance as such:
The economy is growing strongly, while President Bush's economic ratings have been weak and growing weaker. This could be because corporations are getting a larger-than-normal share of the new wealth created by the economy. The job market remains weak, making it difficult for workers to reap their share of the economy's productivity (new wealth) gains.
That is actually about right; you can look at this table to get the details on the share of income to compensation of employees and profits, and here for productivity growth. Liesman wonders whether Bush is to blame for this pattern of distribution. His answer is an awful lot like mine: Economic policy matters far less for income distribution than people give credit (or blame) for:

Productivity is one of the strongest forces moving the economy, and it's also one of the forces over which the president has the least control. They don't, as far as I know, determine the rate of growth of a computer's clock speed.

It's also not up to a president how those productivity gains are doled out. That, in general, is determined in the marketplace between workers and employers. I spoke earlier this week with Kerry campaign advisor Robert Reich and not even he blamed the Bush administration for the disparity in income distribution. ...

Yet the president did propose a tax cut that lowered income taxes but rejected a tax cut that would have cut the payroll tax. That could have been more beneficial for job growth and helped workers reap more of the fruits of productivity gains.

What is far more important to consider is why companies, who have reaped all these profits, haven't spent more of them and hired more new workers? Is it concerns about the economic impact of the Iraq war and the growing costs of health care?

Or could it be concern about the differences in economic policy between the two candidates? The next two debates should tell the tale...

Less-than-stellar jobs report 

The jobs report came in at 96,000 new jobs in the payroll survey, which is below the street estimate of 144,000 I reported earlier in the week. Also, the revision I discussed at that time did come showing that the payroll data had to be revised upward since March 2003, but for 233,000 jobs instead of the 288,000 that had been suggested in a White House memo earlier. The revisions are usually upward and 233k isn't any big deal.

There's a lot of talk whether the hurricane made a difference. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says no:

BLS made additional data collection efforts for the hurricane-affected counties. Establishment survey response rates in September were within the normal range for these areas as well as for the U.S. as a whole.

For weather conditions to reduce the estimate of payroll employment, people have to be off work for an entire pay period and not be paid for the time missed. While some employed persons were off payrolls during the survey reference period because of the hurricane effects, some jobs were added as part of recovery efforts. It is not possible to quantify precisely the net impact of this unusual string of severe weather events on the payroll employment data for September. At the national level, the severe weather appears to have held down employment growth, but not enough to change materially the Bureau's assessment of the employment situation in September.

It might have created some jobs, but this is of course the "broken window" fallacy. It is unlikely that any employment gains from the clean-up efforts would be long-lived. And this isn't one hurricane but four. I am hard-pressed to believe that there was zero impact from the hurricanes. And the range of estimates on this report ran from -10k to +200k, which means to me that this report had much more uncertainty than a normal report. I know I have a few readers who work at BLS (they're former students) and I hope to get more on this point. If their estimate is correct, then GDP growth should come in fairly modest for the third quarter (a back-of-the-envelope calculation I just did on the back of an envelope would put us at about 3.75%, which is right where the NABE estimate is.)

In the CNN report one economist points out that usually hurricanes do have a negative impact on job growth.
"Although the BLS failed to provide an estimate of what the hurricane did to this report, my research does show that in nine out of the last 10 largest hurricanes, payrolls softened by an average of 120,000," said Anthony Chan, senior economist with JPMorgan Fleming Asset Management. He said he would expect a bounce back in hiring next month.

Unfortunately for George Bush, that report occurs three days after the election. But let's be realistic here. We have electoral uncertainty, $50+ oil and increased tensions in Iraq. And four hurricanes. If we manage to come in with growth near 4% with all that going on, the underlying economy probably is quite healthy. Next GDP report -- the first for the third quarter -- comes the Friday before the election (and if you're reading this then, that link will take you right to it).

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Expanding school choice 

I'm buried in papers to read, so meanwhile go and read Craig Westover, the new shining light of the Pioneer Press and a columnist who blogs, as he discusses school choice.�
School choice� as it exists today is school choice within the existing system augmented by charter schools and magnet schools, which are also part of the centralized system. What is needed is �school choice� that doesn�t financially penalize (with the double whammy of taxes and tuition) parents who want to remove their children from a system that changes �glacially� and place them in more innovative private schools. There no reason for public schools to proceed faster without competitive pressure.

The power of talk radio and simple words 

Our pal "Chumley Wonderbar" has his Warholian moment. After watching it, read this from the Commissioner. If it's a security election (I discussed this at length with a local reporter yesterday, saying this election has economists mostly on the sidelines), Hugh makes the case.
The presidential and congressional elections are, collectively, a referendum on how the United States is going to respond to terrorists and the nations that harbor, fund, or in any way cooperate with them.
The "Bush Doctrine" versus the "global test". Time to decide which side your on.

Shades of Aaron Boone 

Hey Elder?

Bartolo Colon. And yes, I stayed up for all of it.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Watch what you eat 

Wish I had more time today, but I have grading to do and have been either in meetings or interviewing about our new Quarterly Business Report non-stop since 9am. I'm going to go home now and get a healthy meal before going to a church function tonight. Wonder if I can get college credit for dinner?

Over the next three years, Berkeley�s 10,000 public school students will be
learning about nutritious food and healthy cooking � and getting class credit
for it just like for history and math classes.

For instance, kids might study organic farming as part of biology or write
recipes in English while growing � and eating � healthier meals.

Back tomorrow.

Where's the edge of academic freedom? 

I'd like to move away from the previous post to discuss academic freedom in a different way. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscriber link here) has an article today about the pressure groups trying to persuade Utah State University to censure or even fire Prof. David Hailey for arguing that the Rathergate memos were in fact typed on a typewriter. He is not saying they are real, just that they were most likely not done in word, as LGF and PowerLine first reported and as most experts now seem to agree.

Mr. Hailey has no direct experience in forensic textual analysis, but he has taught courses in textual design and digital archiving for many years. "I've been up to my eyeballs in text since 1966," he said in an interview on Monday.

A number of online critics, not all of whom say Mr. Hailey should be formally punished, have argued during the past several days that his report is sloppy and deceptive. Some critics have even campaigned against Mr. Hailey, sometimes in vitriolic terms. Kermit Hall, president of Utah State, estimated in an interview on Monday that he had received 25 e-mail messages condemning Mr. Hailey.

Mr. Hailey has denied a partisan motive. "The purpose of this report has never been to demonstrate that these memos are authentic," he said on Monday. "The purpose has always been simply to figure out what typeface was used. And then I also felt kind of bad about Dan Rather's situation ... Given the physical nature of these documents, there's no reason that [CBS officials] should have known that they were not authentic."

OK, he's acting within his area of expertise. He is being criticized for doing sloppy research, and perhaps even forging the documents. Forgery would be a case for dismissal, I think we agree. But short of that, pressuring him to be censured or fired is beyond the bounds, because he is working within his area of expertise.

Mr. Hailey said that university administrators have been "totally supportive."

"They see this as an issue of academic freedom and freedom of speech," he
said. "They looked at my stuff. It was not political. It was an area where I'm,
if not an expert, at least able to come up with an informed opinion."

Bringing this back to St. Cloud: Someone on the discuss list today asked about these limits as well. Someone in the discussion on the post below suggested the following:
I would say that if I used my position as a History professor to tell my students that history teaches us irrefutably that we should vote Democratic, I would be abusing my position and overstepping the authority of my discipline. If, however, I say that the overwhelming consensus of my discipline is that racism has been a central force in Americn history and has profound impacts on contemporary society, I am making an accurate statement with political implications. Where is the line between these two statements? If a faculty member is convinced that solid scholarly research proves that George W. Bush was dead wrong on issue X, and says so in a University-sponsored forum, is that acceptable?
I would have to answer he's right on the last question, though I sincerely doubt that there is an "overwhelming consensus" of historians that view racism as "a central force in American history". If it turned it he's right about that, too, then there's no issue in saying so, just as it is accurate for me to represent the overwhelming consensus of economists that free trade is beneficial to society. And on that basis I'd also have to answer that Prof. Hailey, though perhaps misguided and maybe incorrect, is entitled to express himself (again, absent the possibility that he forged his results, a possibility that remains only that at this time.)

Again, though, what makes that correct is that Hailey studies type fonts, or my colleague is a historian, speaking through their own expertises. It is difficult for me to accept that a department of multicultural education (whatever this means -- I confess to not fully understanding the term) is somehow qualified to give their professional imprimatur on a piece about media bias.

Who should pay for one-sided political events? 

University of Minnesota officials apparently believe that neither taxpayer-provided funds nor student tuition/fees should help pay for the planned appearance of Michael Moore on campus this Friday. So Moore is coming without receiving a fee, and local groups are raising funds and selling tickets to pay for the hall and other items for the security.

This story raises still more questions about the promotion and "sponsorship" of an "OutFOXED" political event by a St. Cloud State University Department. (SCSU receives a higher percentage of its annual operating budget from state taxpayers than does the Univeristy of Minnesota.)
  1. Are any funds of the HURL Department being used to sponsor this event?
  2. Is there not even one member of the HURL Department who might see departmental sponsorship of the "OutFOXed" event . . . and other advertised events . . . as being politically one-sided?
  3. If not, do we have an unhealthy lack of diversity of opinion in a sponsoring department that might be viewed by some as collectively locked together in "groupthink" - even to the extent of how grades should be awarded?
The problem isn't that one wishes to censor an event. Moore should be free to speak at the U; College Democrats can show Outfoxed in a public venue on campus. The question is one of propriety: whether tax dollars at a public university, funnelled by an academic department, may be used to bring to campus someone or some thing to campus with an overtly political agenda who is trying to sway an election?

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

I was busy catching the rest of the Twins game 

I missed the Hindrocket/Wonkette faceoff. Peter says a Swift Boat ad was running behind Wonkette while she was on the air. Funny! Some links to other reactions:

puts together the FactCheck entries rebutting the Halliburton charges.

InstaPundit has a round-up: All Cheney except for Jeff Jarvis, who nonetheless calls Edwards "the definition of smug". Jay Reding notes that "it's all about gravitas" and that battle was over before it began.

Missed opportunity: I agree with Chumley.
Cheney let Edwards get away with the insulting remarks about Tora Bora and "outsourcing" the job of killing OBL. Didn't they have a response prepared after Kerry said the same thing Thursday?
They have to find a way to shove that up the Dems' butt, ASAP. I think it damages until confronted.

Best for last:
As Cheney pummeled Edwards, I couldn't get Howard Cosell's shrill voice out of my head: "Will somebody stop this fight? His face is a bloody pulp!"
And down goes Edwards! Down goes Edwards!

I have tickets to the Twins Friday and Saturday, so I don't think I'm blogging the second presidential debate live, but I will have it taped. My intent is to do all four.

Live blog of VP debate 

I'm going to do it tonight from the house here in St. Cloud. Ed and Hugh are live-blogging, and I'll keep an eye open for the others. Just heard on Hugh's show that Rodney Dangerfield died today. I'm hoping that's a more salient piece of news than this debate. Honestly, why? Do we need to see this? Maybe someone will blow up tonight, but unlikely someone turns the election tonight. So why blog? Well, why not?

I'm also trying out Mozilla as a facility for liveblogging for the first time. Tabs should help.

7:40 -- Looks like Poliblogger is in on the liveblogging tonight. I only track him because he's in my fantasy football league. Speaking of which, Kerry Collins must die.

7:45 -- Also tracking the ballgame. Santana is through the first clean. No score after 1.

7:55 -- not much happening. How weird is it for Gwen Ifill to sit with her back to the audience alone on stage like that? Democrat friend wants to know if Cheney will go for the f-bomb. Naw, I say, save it for Leahy.

7:57 -- they're in place. Nothing unusual about the introduction. Cripes, MFYs have runners at the corners, one out.

8:00 -- Ifill looks tense. Nice to watch this with Pepper the cat. He's just mellowing next to me.

8:02 -- Nice smile, John-boy! First question to Cheney, on the report on connection between Zarqawi and Saddam. Cheney was ready. Iraq/AQ connection as likeliest source for WMDs for terrorists. Edwards comes out firing. Goes for the "death crescendo" argument (more in July than June, tec.) Cheney -- the point of Iraq isn't the number of our troops but democracy being installed in Iraq. Edwards -- no connection b/w Iraq and 9/11. Quotes supposed CIA report.

8:07 -- for Edwards -- would SH still be in power? There were no WMDs, he replies. Supports Afghanistan. Oh-ho! He's going to the question of OBL getting out of the caves in Afghanistan! Idiot. Cheney must get him now! Cheney says 9/11 no direct connection to Iraq. But that's where the technology was, so had to go get it. Goes to global test. Cheney says Kerry's position: Troops must not be deployed without UN approval. Record of thirty years can't be run away from, no sign of change.

8:11 -- goes after Edwards' record regarding Afghanistan. Why is he letting the OBL question go unchallenged? "Freedom is the best antidote to terror." Good line, but now Edwards goes back to the outsourcing of OBL. Edwards saying Afghanistan not safe. Cheney responds with El Salvador -- human drive for freedom. Edwards now runs to Iran/NK. VP to the

8:17 -- Ifill!!! Nice job. Asks what this global test means. Edwards continues to say BC are lying. "We need to be credible, others need to trust what we say. They will not follow us without that." Whatever happened to Lead, Follow or Get the Hell Out of the Way? Cheney calls out the $200 billion lie. Cites debt forgiveness by our allies. "Your facts are just wrong, Senator." "You're not credible on Iraq." Edwards. -- weenie trying to support Kerry. Not arguing points, just appealing to people. "Your rhnetoric would be more credible if there was a record to back it up." Nice. Big win Cheney on this one.

8:22 -- Poliblogger says Kerry instructed Edwards to be the attack dog. It's apparently so. Now Cheney is hitting them for being moved on the basis of Howard Dean's success. "If they won't stand up to Howard Dean, how do they stand up to Al Qaeda?" Boy he's got good notes. Edwards has no good answer here. OK, now one: No plan to win the peace = no money for body armor. Nice. Cheney whiffs on this -- you could have nailed them on the body armor as protest vote. Still saying there's no connection Saddam-AQ.

8:26 -- 1-0 Twins, good. Ifill asks whether the allies will follow them when France and Germany says no. Edwards runs away from the question. Says he'll speed things up. I wonder where I can buy some "Instant Democracy in a Box"? Now he's putting doubt into whether there will be an election. Never answers the quesiton on France and Germany's demurrer. "They don't have a plan, they have an echo." That's a good line IMO. Cheney replays the line about how you bring allies that you've besmirched. Edwards: 90% of casualties American. Cheney: You are demeaning the contributions of Iraqi provisional government forces.

8:32 -- I bet Saint Paul misses my cologne. Nice format, Hugh, but I can't scroll enough to find your latest points while I'm also blogging.

8:33 -- Edwards isn't answering the next question on the intelligence services. Cheney talks directly to the question. Citing Zarqawi's activities. Z in Baghdad before the war, and Baghdad after.

8:36 -- two harmless Halliburton references to here, but I think Edwards goes off on him here. Poliblogger citing Ifill's questions as being good. I agree, though I'm not as harsh on Lehrer as he is. Edwards: How many countries are we going to invade? (Enough to be safe is the right answer, Dick. Give it.) Yup, here he goes on Halliburton! What the hell does this have to do with the question? Cheney isn't going to get enough time on this, but cites FactCheck.

8:41 -- Glad she asks a question on Israel -- can't remember Lehrer doing this. Edwards tells a long story about being there when the Sbarro bombing happened, and he's not got much to say other than . WOWOWOW! Cheney says he hasn't met Edwards until tonight, so poor is his voting record. Cheney and Edwards agree on Israel, best I can tell.

8:47 -- Holy shit! Ifill: "I just asked you about Israel, but you didn't say much about it." Mark my words, that will cost Edwards and her. Holy cow.

8:48 -- goes to domestic issues. Cheney supports NCLB, says he wants to move it to secondary ed. Edwards says Cheney didn't answer Ifill's question about jobs,; Ifill's comment stung him bad and he knows it. Edwards is the one with a short list tonight. That question was a draw.

8:52 -- Edwards is wrong on not putting money aside. They had to buy down some debt with the surplus in 2001. Targeted tax cuts. = you get back some of your money if you spend it as we say. "Cut the deficit in half in four years". Growth would do most of that anyway, fool. Cheney says it's about who decides how to spend money. Uses the 900,000 small businesses factoid to slam the tax cut rollback for those over $200k income. Cheney -- extension of the tax cuts, Kerry and Edwards weren't there to vote.

8:56 -- Cheney on gay marriage. (Good question again. Tough, fair.) Cheney is quick: I'd rather it be decided by the states, but Bush has said the bill in Massachusetts has made it tough for other states to keep their rights. Edwards: Dividend tax rate lower than those for troops on the ground in Iraq. Boy does he go for the class warfare story!

9:01 -- Edwards clearly wants to have it both ways on gay marriage. That answer was muddled. Cheney lets him twist. Can't wait to see what Hugh does with this.

9:02 -- Medical insurance. Cheney wants tort reform. Doesn't take the bait to attack litigation and trial lawyers. Edwards is proposing what? A board to decide if you filed a proper suit? Now asks if Edwards feels attacked for being called a trial lawyer. Cheney is listening very hard to Edwards now. They seem to not be disagreeing much here. Cheney: Story of how many jobs lost due to health insurance costs. 17% increase in premiums due to law in 1997 voted for by Kerry. Hits Edwards for taking advantage of Subchapter S loophole to avoid paying Medicare.

9:10 -- To Cheney: What about AIDS in America? Cheney goes to AIDS programs overseas. Admits he didn't know Ifill's figures. Research and education -- fair answer. Edwards: I'll see your $15B for AIDS in Africa and raise you another $15B. Focuses on prevention.

9:14 -- To Edwards: Why you, rather than a woman VP candidate? "We tell the truth." "Long resume does not equal good judgment" -- clearly a canned line. Goes back to his foreign policy talking points. Cheney: stop putting your hands under the chin, it blocks the mike. Says his experience is an advantage, a buttress for Bush, and that he has no future political plans after this. Edwards rebuts with Kerry's record. Ifill's too free with this.

9:19 -- personal stories between Cheney and Edwards similar. Edwards tears page during Cheney talking. Not good. This question has let Cheney seem more human. Cites Kerry, Ifill cuts him off and says not to do that under her question. Edwards in clear attack mode, looks churlish to me here after Cheney tried to sound like he empathizes with Edwards' life story. I like how Cheney lets him ramble on and doesn't take bait.

9:22 -- Again Edwards does the joshing about can he/can't he say Kerry. Flip-flop -- gives Edwards permission to go back to the attack. Cheney: If there's a word to describe Kerry, consistent wouldn't be the word. OK, Ifill's given them a late question to hit all their talking points one more time. I didn't get this before, now I do. Do I hear that man tearing paper again? Edwards: one-third of our schools are failing under this administration. Kerry voted for NCLB, though. Edwards too. Maybe the schools were failing before, just nobody measured them?

9:28 -- electorate divided, how to bridge? Cheney: disappointing, first term had much more bipartisanship than now. Seems to be gone now, don';t know why. Maybe the change in majority/minority status difficult to adjust to. Tight balance in Senate a problem. Important to try to bridge. Nice answer given he's been attacked. (Nice, he mentions Zell Miller.) Edwards: Bush said he was a uniter, but now it's more divided, and it's BUSH'S FAULT!!!! Now he goes to health care -- he knows he screwed it up and didn't make a case before that they have a better plan. BORING. Eyes blinking hard. Cheney rebut: Medicare bill is the most important change. How can they say we did nothing? Kedwards voted against. Edwards rebut: Big biz prescription drugs.

9:33 -- Edwards close. Folksy story. Dad learning math on TV. Doing the Two Americas story. He's good at this, but getting to do that first is going to hurt because he needs to be the closer. "Give us the power to fight for you."

9:35 -- Cheney close. Wow, I could not type just then. Election is about a commander in chief in a unique time. There's only one guy with a plan. Excellent, forceful, confident.

Quick decision: Cheney wins big. Elder agrees, though he's watching the game, Santana still in control. Early spin looks like the Fox talking heads agree. Steven has this exactly right on the Edwards close: is Edwards on the Mill thing again. And again, as I have noted before on numerous occassions: why is the lesson that Edwards learns from his life story is that America needs more government? Isn�t the lesson that hard work (his own, his father�s) is rewarded in the United States?
Ceci's spinning hard on Fox right now, but it's not coming out very well. I don't see this as doing anything to hurt Bush/Cheney. Steven thinks Edwards looked vice-presidential, whatever the hell that means.

It's a VP debate, so I doubt there's much movement in the polls here. Right now, I'm moving to the ballgame.

This is utterly brilliant 

From Grant at Anthropology and Economics.

Innovators love innovating. They look at the �road closed� signs posted by culture and drive right through them. They like to crawl into the Platonic cave and say, �that can�t be right.�

Maybe, it�s the sheer excitement of going �where no man has gone before.� Maybe it�s a willful, contrarian, anarchic wish to defy convention. Maybe it�s the sheer pleasure of building a bridge as we go, in real time, with no net, with the clear knowledge that we have no knowledge. This is intellectual weightlessness. It�s an opportunity, for a brief moment, to escape the gravitational pull of culture. For a moment, we exist "out"�of culture, convention, the body, and our minds.

For innovators, this moment is its own reward. I figure this is why Xerox captured so little of the value they created. The egg heads were running the shop, and they were already very nicely compensated. They were the first ones to �think� a Graphical User Interface. Let someone else, at Apple and then still more belatedly, at Microsoft, figure out the details. Let some one else take it to market. And, yes, let someone else reap the �rewards.� The innovator has already taken his or her cut.

I have a test for my proposition. ...Let us canvas the winners of the Nobel prize and give them this choice. They must choose between the moment of their �innovation� and all the credit that came to them as a result of the innovation: riches, prestige and the Nobel prize itself. The additional condition: if they take the Nobel prize, they will be prevented from engaging in innovative thought ever again. We will put a Denver boot on their brain.

I am prepared to bet virtually every winner would turn down the prize for the chance to think again. For someone who has tasted the joys of making stuff up, anything else would be a torment and the end of the great joy of life. Most innovators would innovate for room and board. They are thrilled, and a little surprised, to discover that a university or a corporation is prepared actually to pay them.

�2.2% of the total surplus of the innovation? Great. Put it over there. Got a moment? See, I have this idea��

The betting on the Nobel 

In Frankfurt they're taking bets on the winner of the Nobel Prize in economics (for all the Nobels, actually). Ed Prescott and Robert Barro are the top getters right now, though Thomas Schelling seems to have some support as well. I was talking with a colleague at lunch, and we both think Gordon Tullock is deserving (as Tyler Cowen points out), but having given the prize only to James Buchanan already it's hard to think he'll get it for his public choice work. How come nobody is trading shares in Jagdish Bhagwati?

Dark horse but good choice: Oliver Williamson.

Campus intimidation 

This sucks:
Dear fellow student,

We are writing to ask for your support. Last week, Concordia University denied former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak permission to speak anywhere on campus - including the quiet, and more easily guarded, Loyola campus - hiding behind a "security risk assessment".

They claim that they cannot effectively secure their campuses. We say that it is their duty to protect their students and to allow freedom of speech to exist on their campuses.
This is at Concordia University, which suffered riots from its Palestinian students and supporters when Netanyahu spoke on their campus two years ago. Once bitten, twice shy. Segacs nails it:

That's victory to thuggery over reason. That's victory to - and no, I'm not exaggerating - terrorism over freedom. Because using violence or the threat of violence to shut down free speech is in fact a form of terrorism.

Above all, that's a lack of a free, open exchange of ideas, which is what education is supposed to be all about.

This isn't really about Barak who - despite his dovish politics, is going to be as demonized by SPHR and the Palestinian lobby as any Israeli. It has nothing to do with whether I liked Barak's policies or Netanyahu's or Ariel Sharon's or anyone else.

This is about a competition of ideas, and whether one set of ideas will be allowed to shut down and stifle another. It's about the future of Jewish students at university campuses all over North America, and whether they will have the right to bring in speakers or openly proclaim their views without fear of violence. It's about whether we - as a society - want to accept the notion that anyone can speak at a university campus... except an Israeli.

(Hat tip: Eugene Volokh.)

Reverse hostile environments? 

We talked briefly about this case last spring, wherein a Univ. of North Carolina student complained of harassment from an email from his professor for his openly Christian and anti-homosexual views expressed in class. David Bernstein reports that the U.S. Dept. of Education has sided with the student.
"The e-mail message not only subjected the student to intentional discrimination and harassment, but also discouraged the robust exchange of ideas that is intrinsic to higher education and is at the very heart of the Constitution's protection of free speech," Alice B. Wender, the Education Department's southern regional director of civil rights concluded in a letter to UNC Chancellor James Moeser on Wednesday.
Bernstein suggests that other Christian groups will use the ruling "as an invitation to use hostile environment law against such professors." I hope not. It's bad law, and it strikes me as hypocritical to use the same cudgel that others have used against conservatives. I'd rather see efforts made to restrict or eliminate the use of the law in academia as "discouraging the robust exchange of ideas that is intrinsic to higher education."

Economics illuminates Social Security 

Remember James Miller, the Smith College economist whose writings in more conservative publications jeopardized his tenure decision? He shows here how economics really can help explain complex things in everyday language. Social Security privatization helps increase capital formation, but does so only after the transition period (where we have to use other taxes to pay current beneficiaries) is completed. Well done, Professor! (Hat tip: Craig Newmark.)

Basic German Shepherd 

Erin O'Connor is wondering: "Are there private high schools in this country that explicitly operate according to a libertarian ethos?" This right after she posts this quote from William Godwin:

All education is despotism. It is perhaps impossible for the young to be conducted without introducing in many cases the tyranny implicit in obedience. Go there; do that; read; write; rise; lie down; will perhaps for ever be the language addressed to youth by age.

I recall reading someone referring to parenting a one-year-old as "basic German Shepherd", as in "stay", "sit" and "be quiet".

October jobs report with extra news? 

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the annual revision to the payroll jobs data could be revised upward between 288-384 thousand jobs between March 2003 and March 2004. (Here's the Reuters report, since the WSJ link is for subscribers only.) Even if jobs number comes at the low end of that estimate, it would close by about a third the gap between current job levels and those at the height of the expansion that ended at the beginning of the Bush Administration. The September payroll figures are forecasted to have grown 145,000 additional jobs.

These are not yet official numbers; we would have to see the BLS figures on Friday. But if these figures add up to a net addition of 450k or more, it would take a good bit of steam out of any argument John Kerry might make at the second debate on the jobless recovery. Bush will not have to rely on the household jobs data so much, which is currently showing 2.23 million jobs created since the start of his term.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Mixed economic news 

I didn't get to this over the weekend, but there's a nice post on AlphaPatriot that has some figures that suggests great economic news. InstaPundit has picked that story up, wondering why "this seems not to have gotten much attention".

I think that's because the data isn't at all going all in one direction.

There was a piece of good news Thursday when GDP was revised up by 0.5% for the second quarter. I've had a debate with an old friend for years whether the first number or the last number matters most for voter perceptions of GDP. I've argued it's the last for years, that people perceive the correct rate regardless of what is reported at first. But the lower number may help account for lower consumer confidence figures reported on Friday. That figure surprised many economists, where we expected it to rise rather than fall.

It seems to me highly unlikely that one can have high oil prices, four hurricanes wiping out wealth and disrupting production in the Southeast (which could account for the fact that factory orders fell slightly in September as well as inflating the jobless claims numbers). GDP numbers for 2004 are sliding a bit in sympathy, but the NABE report (that's the summary -- the full report I'm reading is for members only) shows growth of 3.7% for 2005, which would correlate to a jobs growth rate that averages 220,000 a month. So under the current expectations of the election, we're anticipating an additional 2.6 million jobs, consistent with the promises of both campaigns. The fade of growth in GDP for 2005 is largely due to the declining effect of the tax cuts passed a couple years ago.

Latest news also shows that the housing market is picking up as well, and the ISM figures, while down from the previous month, are a pressure index where any reading over 50 is positive for new orders going forward. The latest reading is 58.5. So some people will paint that as a bad thing rather than the good thing it is.

As we approach the next presidential debates, I'll try to get out some more information on the economic plans, the baseline forecasts, and any simulations for differences in policy. But it's late now and a long day ended. Off to popcorn.

OSU gets something right 

They might not be a national football title contender this year, but Ohio State has seen the light in allowing religious student groups on campus to make critical decisions about their organizations based on religion. Reports the Akron Beacon-Journal:

Religious organizations will be able to restrict membership according to "sincerely held religious beliefs," William Hall, vice president for student affairs, said Thursday.

The policy has been to require student groups to allow anyone to join regardless of age, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

The change means the Christian Legal Society, a small group associated with Ohio State's law school, can exclude gays and non-Christians. The group had been fighting the university's nondiscrimination policy.

Hall said he studied the issue for nearly a year and came to the conclusion that groups with sincere religious beliefs ought to be able to limit their membership to people with the same beliefs.

This sounds like common sense, but Univ. of North Carolina still doesn't get it.

The seven-year plan to be his own man 

You can rely on students around the presidential election to say some silly things. And you can rely on them to write. While picking on student letters to the editor is often like shooting fish from a barrel (and why shoot? Wouldn't real men use their hands?) there are times you just can resist. The Elder likes to read on NARN stupid letters to the editor in the Minneapolis papers, but I think he's got an early contender right here in St. Cloud.
If it is not evident to you by now, it should be. George W. Bush is unfit for command.
Ah, there's some fine looking rhetoric: "If you can't see what I see, you must be a dolt." Try stealing a line from something not being used against your own candidate.
I have held back for a time now from writing such a statement about the man in the oval office, but with the recent endorsement for Sen. John Kerry by John Eisenhower (son of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower) I am no longer able to hold back my suggestions for the young voters on campus.
Wow, yeah, you're right. I have been waiting all year for John Eisenhower's endorsement, which is clearly a watershed event in the fall campaign! It must have made all the papers, right? Well, at least the Manchester (NH) Union-Leader, a paper I used to deliver as a child. How could have I missed it?
Move in day was scary for me, there were just a few too many kids rushing out of mom and dad's SUV with W'04 stickers on them.
This is hysterical. What were you afraid of, young man? That they would kidnap you and take you to a Quonset hut in Crawford and deny you the chance to read John Eisenhower's long-awaited endorsement?
I would assume that by now, these kids can read, and I hope they will do so.
They've at least learned to distinguish the letter 'W', as opposed to the letter 'F' as in JoFoKerry. And they can read. They might even be able to watch videos.
Conservative youth to me is an oxymoron... opposed to liberal youth, who don't need the first two syllables...
...and unfortunately I foresee a return of them.
What's to foresee, if they're already here, if you're quivering in your apartment behind the macrame planter getting your mellow harshed?
The sons and daughters of the Reagan Youth have come to college, it is not too late for them to think for themselves.
Here it comes. Our youth have been brainwashed. They have no ability to think for themselves, they are automatons programmed by Mombot and Dadbot to vote to close the abortion clinics, carpetbomb from Syria to Pakistan, and turn all single mothers out of their homes and into the streets emblazoned by the scarlet 'A'. This will happen as soon as they get control of the Congress and the Presidency. Oh wait, that already happened.
We have come here to get an education, please take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.
And to you an education is what? To undo years of training by parents? This is the purpose of education, to turn kids against the values they grew up with? Examine them, sure. Critique them, absolutely. But taking advantage of my education made me even more right-libertarian than my parents. The role of education is to get youth to think, yes, and think for themselves, but not necessarily to get them to think opposite of mom and dad who have a bumper sticker you don't like.
I, like John Eisenhower, am encouraging people to avoid voting for a party just because our parents do.
That's far more ink than Eisenhower ever should get. There are no shortage of kids who vote differently than their parents (look at Ron Reagan, for example.) But voting like my parents, out of respect for my parents, might be a very respectful and proper thing to do in many traditional families. Why are the values my family passed on to me, or the values those parents with the W bumperstickers passed on to their children, subject to such scorn? And I wonder what this muttonhead would think of our friend Emma?
If you have watched the debates, you know damn well that Kerry is the better choice ...
Half of America disagrees with you. More than half if you know how to count correctly.
... and Bush failed to defend his failures of the past four years.
There are no failures to defend, except the failure to protect French profits and keep Saddam in power.
So I urge the younger students to be open minded, look into to the issues and think critically.
I have always thought thinking critically meant something different than agreeing with a dolt like this. I guess not. Thinking critically = thinking liberally, thinking in lockstep with the elitists who run our academic departments.
And last but not least, please vote this year, it may be your last chance.
HAHAHA! Yes, those people with the bad bumperstickers will not only take away free marijuana, they will even take away your right to vote!
Zachary Dorholt
Sixth-year student
Beautiful. We're getting lectured to by someone who cannot even finish his degree in five years. He must be busy working on his critical thinking. Or maybe he's taking extra advantage of his time getting an education.

UPDATE: Many thanks to Mitch and the Elder for links to this post. The GoStat meter is ringing off the chart this AM.

Those sneaks 

We had a big post-production meeting of NARN at Keegan's after the show Saturday. Many things were hashed out, and by 6:30pm I was ready to get home; in usual Minnesota fashion, it took twenty minutes to say goodbye. Apparently after I left those sneaky Spitbullers made an appearance. Somehow, I think my position on the show is now less secure.

They've already taken over as blog with the worst colors in the Alliance.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Rathergate fraud now corrupts academic integrity 

In case you missed it, here�s a link to the continuing saga of forgeries, forgeries of forgeries, and academic fraud committed at Utah State University by a professor who donated to Senator Kerry�s campaign. What should be just cause for dismissal of a tenured professor? Is this case worse than those of plagiarism that now seem so common among liberal professors at Harvard Law School?

Friday, October 01, 2004

I got this note from Jack 

...and while he doesn't write here very much, he's still very much a part of the blog's life. We were chatting about something I shared with him that he said reminded him of a piece from the introduction to Fagle's translation of The Iliad. True confession: I have not read it since college. One of the themes of the Iliad is the desire of the Trojans to pay ransom to their attackers. Troy pays and pays yet never seems to want for gold. And it never finds peace. Fagles wrote:

The repeated appeals to accept ransom are not only indicative of Troy's immense wealth, they are also a reminder of Trojan attitudes: they believe, typical of rich, civilized cities, that wealth can always buy a solution, and the illusion that civilized ways of warfare -- quarter for disarmed men or men who surrender, ransom and exchange of prisoners -- are laws as valid and universal as the laws under which their own civilization lives. Inside Troy the manners of civilized life are preserved; there are restraints on anger, there is courtesy to opponents, kindness to the weak -- things that have no place in the armed camp on the shore. ...

Unfortunately for Troy, the Trojans have the defects of their qualities: they are not so much at home in the grim business of war as their opponents.

Jack writes to me, "And wouldn't you love to read [this] to everybody in Italy and Spain. A four-thousand year old war is so very modern (and looking pertty good for Islam)."

Or to the candidates. Fagles quotes from Simone Weil's The Iliad or the Poem of Force that one's view of the epic depends on one's view of force.
The human soul, in this poem, is shown always in relation to force; swept away, blinded by the force it thinks it can direct, bent under the pressure of the force to which it is subjected. Those who had dreamed that force, thanks to progress, now belonged to the past, have seen the poem as a historic document; those who can see that force, today as in the past, is at the center of all human history, find in the Iliad its most beautiful, its purest mirror.
Do the candidates view the Iliad in the same way? Do appeals to "global tests" sound like the words of a man who thinks force is forever present in the world, that evil has not been consigned to history? What about the fellow whose policy prescription is "the best way to protect this homeland is to stay on the offense"? Or "But to say that there's only one focus on the war on terror doesn't really understand the nature of the war on terror."

A man with a tragic vision of the world says "You know my opinion on North Korea. I can't say it any more plainly."

I don't know if there are two Americas, but there surely are two candidates now.

I will add Fagles' Iliad to my nightstand. Thanks, Jack.

Friday morning quarterbacking, and a chess note 

Having thought about things driving back to St. Cloud, flipping on the replay of O'Reilly while clearing the email box and starting to think about my fantasy football lineup, and after the Bagelman's roundtable this AM:
  1. I was struck by O'Reilly asking Newt Gingrich what he would tell Kerry to do in the debate if he was advising Kerry. Gingrich said there were three points to be made by Kerry: the war in Iraq is distracting us from Iran and North Korea; that he could prosecute the war in Iraq smarter; and that we should use the U.N. to help. Those were exactly what Kerry did, and he did them well. My friends can caterwaul all they wish about sovereignty, and how Iraq is pivotal to the GWOT, but Kerry's job isn't to agree with Bush -- it's to provide an alternative. That he did. I do not believe it's a winner, but much of Kerry's base does and that's the hand Kerry has to play. He doesn't have another. So Jo may say Bush "squashed Kerry like a grape", but I think she'll concede that Kerry did not leave the stage looking like a man whose ass had been kicked. Kerry lost none of his base. His debate prep will not change for round 2.

  2. Mitch points out in his wrapup that wonks are likely to think Kerry won because he came across well. The Bagelmans crowd confirmed that impression for me, particularly a political scientist friend who happened by. She and a professional speaker both focused on Bush's clothing (not powerful enough, poor tie choice), speaking style (yeah, we know!), and his body lean ("he's short as it is!" -- I'm three inches shorter!)

  3. The bagel shop has two TVs showing Fox and CNN. CNN tv is closer -- flash poll says Kerry 53-Bush 37 for debate results. I express this as no surprise. Again, there's no Kerry supporter who watched the debate last night and thought "shoot, I'm voting for the wrong guy." But there will be Bush supporters that wish the President was a better debater, more polished, more articulate. I'd like to see a cross-tab of "who won the debate"/"who will you vote for". There will be a significant proportion of conservatives who think Kerry won on points but will still vote for Bush. Remember, when you play fantasy football, you can do well with a quarterback whose team loses a lot due to a bad defense. Your team's always behind, you're always passing, you rack up yards and a few TDs. (Hugh -- this is not an endorsement of the Browns.) Kerry will always score debate points, but elections ain't forensics. So on that the right-bloggers are correct that Bush did well by staying on his message.

  4. Kerry supporter observed Bush's fatigue in the middle of the debate, as I did. I said the debate should be 60 minutes rather than 90. He points out this was a topic on West Wing. I've never watched the show. I'm still puzzled why Lehrer didn't go farther afield on foreign policy. Was China mentioned once? Yes, but only in reference to North Korea. He waits for the last question to get to Russia. I'm biased as a guy who studies Eastern Europe, but I wanted much more. Nothing about Ukraine, whose major election occurs two days before ours. It has twice as many people as Iraq, and it could use a major infusion of democracy.

  5. I sent Rocketman an email last night about his chess analogy at the end of his liveblog. What I asked was, who does each candidate remind you of as a chess player, or alternatively, what openings would each play? The opening is often a look into the soul of a chess player, describing his style, his personality or his outlook on life. I joked to John that it looked like Bush was playing the French with the Black pieces. The French is a closed position, where what you are playing for is a positional advantage. Littlest Scholar has played it some, and I refer to her style as "the crab" for that reason; she's waiting for the other guy to make a mistake and keep a solid position herself, rather than playing boldly. Bobby Fischer was a Sicilian Defense guy, because it allows much more bold play on black, though it is a riskier defense. Bush likes to be a counterpuncher -- to push the chess analogy, he would play the Indian (which happens to be my favorite as well.) I think that is a mistake however. Bush said during the debate that "the best way to protect this homeland is to stay on the offense." Note to Bush: This is also the best way to protect your lead. Let the discussion roam as much as you can. Invite Kerry to make mistakes, as he is prone to do. Give 'im enough rope, and he'll look like this. Don't be a crab. Discourage Kerry's base, leave them every reason to stay home November 2. Be bold. Be strong.