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The Fragmenting Of America Continues

  posted by AVS @ 28.6.03


Oxford Prof Rejects Grad Student Applicant For Being Israeli
Oxford pathology professor Andrew Wilkie rejected an Israeli grad student's request to work under Dr. Wilkie while pursuing his Ph.D. -- for the sole reason that the student was Israeli, London's Daily Telegraph has reported. Dr. Wilkie's email rejecting Amit Duvshani's application read:

Thank you for contacting me, but I don't think this would work. I have a huge problem with the way that the Israelis take the moral high ground from their appalling treatment in the Holocaust, and then inflict gross human rights abuses on the Palestinians because they [the Palestinians] wish to live in their own country.

I am sure that you are perfectly nice at a personal level, but no way would I take on somebody who had served in the Israeli army. As you may be aware, I am not the only UK scientist with these views but I'm sure you will find another lab if you look around.

Appalling. It should be noted that Dr. Wilkie attempted to disguise his anti-Israeli position with the qualification that he was objecting to hiring an Israeli Army veteran specifically, not an Israeli in general. As Dr. Wilkie surely knows, that is a distinction without a difference, as Israel has compulsory, universal military service, and no one under age 18 will be applying for a Ph.D. program. Dr. Wilkie isn't the only one who uses Israel's universal military service as an excuse to do bad things to Israeli civilians. Hamas holds that anyone who has ever served in the Israeli military is a "combatant" and therefore a legitimate target for bombing.

This isn't the first time British academics have targeted Israelis for discrimination. The Telegraph notes:

A series of attempts have been made to isolate Israeli scholars in protest at their country's operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In Britain, calls for an academic boycott have been led by Steven Rose, an Open University professor.

Last year the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology was forced to hold an inquiry after The Sunday Telegraph revealed that Mona Baker, a professor, had sacked two Israeli academics from the editorial boards of two journals because of their nationality.

  posted by AVS @ 28.6.03


  posted by AVS @ 27.6.03


Rich Get Richer (By Creating More Wealth)
David Brooks has a good commentary on the New York Times story about the rich getting richer because of the Bush tax cuts:

I can hear liberal tongues clucking. The rich are getting richer and they are bearing less and less of the burden.

I guess I'd ask them to consider another way of looking at the situation: This story could equally be read as a tremendous vindication of Republican policies. The cut in the capital gains rate encouraged some extremely rich people to more aggressively invest in new companies and ideas. Those investments paid off. New companies were founded, new jobs were created, new products went on the market and new needs were filled. Meanwhile these investors reaped much larger profits than they would have otherwise. Their incomes skyrocketed and as a result they paid much more into the federal treasury. Twenty-two percent of $174 million is a lot more than 26 percent of $46 million. So the least fortunate, who are sometimes the beneficiaries of government programs, benefit too.

This story is phenomenally good news! Maybe the message should be "Rich Pay Much More In Taxes, Provide Many More Social Goods."

Not being an economist I can't really say which slant is more valid. I only want to remind people that two radically different narratives can emerge from the same data. That's why we all have to question our assumptions from time to time.

  posted by AVS @ 27.6.03

Lawrence v. Texas Already Has An Impact
Jefferson County, Missouri's prosecuting attorney has dropped gay sex charges against six men arrested last year during a raid on an adult video store. Said the attorney:

My goal was to stop sexual contact at this establishment. I never cared whether the contact was between homosexuals or heterosexuals. I personally think the Supreme Court did the right thing. But up until they reversed their own 1986 opinion, the law forbid (homosexual) contact. As prosecutors, we are charged with enforcing the law.

  posted by AVS @ 27.6.03

Quote Of The Week
There's a civil war going on in Liberia. In case you wondered what they were fighting over, there's this quote from a government soldier, which a friend of mine found in this AP story today: We are fighting to liberate Doala in general, the beer factory in particular.

  posted by AVS @ 27.6.03

Sodomy And Constitutional Rights
Sodomy laws are archaic, morally wrong, and have no place in modern society. So why, at least in my humble opinion, did virtually everyone involved in the Lawrence v. Texas case, in which the Supreme Court placed sodomy into the pantheon of protected rights, under the subhead of "privacy," have such bad arguments? Let's start with the state of Texas.

Texas claimed that its anti-homosexual-sodomy law (it banned oral and anal sex between men and men or women and women, but not between men and women) was designed to protect marriage and the family. Sodomy "has nothing to do with marriage or conception or parenthood and it is not on a par with these sacred choices," Texas argued. But as far as I've found, Texas never bothered to explain how banning homosexuals from having sex will in any way protect the family.

The only way the law could be conceived as protecting families is if one believes that homosexual sex is so tempting that without the law heterosexuals will switch over to the gay side in such great numbers as to put the institution of the traditional nuclear family in peril of extinction. One need not believe that homosexuality is genetically rooted to see how absurd this argument is. If laws against homosexuality are what keeps homosexuality in check, then why haven't the numbers of gays increased exponentially since the 1960s, when legislatures began removing anti-sodomy laws from the books?

So, Texas had a bad law that was badly conceived, and two men were arrested, jailed, and convicted for violating it. Naturally, they sue. Their attorney, who I'd say is a good bit smarter than justice Anthony Kennedy, argued that the law violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Justice O'Connor agreed with this. But for that clause to apply, it would have to be agreed that sodomy is a constitutionally protected subdivision of the right to privacy. This was not, and is not, clear using the 14th Amendment.

Justice Kennedy desperately wanted to strike down America's remaining sodomy laws, so he based the majority opinion in this case on the 14th Amendment's due process clause, which in no way applies. But Kennedy knew he couldn't strike down all sodomy laws -- only those banning homosexual sodomy -- by using the equal protection clause. So he tortured his logic until it confessed that yes, the due process clause does prohibit states from sodomy.

I'm not a lawyer or a legal scholar, so it's entirely possible (even probable) that my reasoning on the following points will be way off. Any of you attorneys or scholars out there are free to correct me, and I'll note it in a future post. But to me the logical place in the Constitution to look for protection from government violations of individual rights is not so much the 14th amendment, but the 9th. The 9th Amendment states: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." Clearly the Framers wanted to make sure that the federal government could be constrained from violating rights not named in the Bill of Rights. I think the plaintiffs' attorneys in the Lawrence case could have made a good argument, in addition to their equal protection claim, that the American people now accept that consentual, non-commercial adult sex in the confines of one's own home is a right "retained by the people" yet not enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

I know, I know, this opens the floodgates. But shall we ignore the 9th Amendment? Conservatives are fond of reminding liberals that the Bill of Rights is not an a la carte menu. It's a 10-course, price fixe meal. So you have to take the 2nd Amendment and the 10th Amendment along with the 1st and the 5th. Likewise, you have to take the 9th Amendment, too.

As for the decision itself, I'd love to dissect that point by point, but I haven't the time. So let me offer a quick summary. Kennedy was clearly wrong because the due process clause has no bearing on the case whatsoever. Substantive due process is bollucks. O'Connor waited to see what the majority would do, then voted with them, but for better reasons. Scalia convincingly picked apart Kennedy's intellectual house of cards. The problem I have with his dissent is twofold. His conclusion that homosexual sex can be outlawed because most people think it is immoral, while perfectly logical if one ignores the 9th Amendment, leaves the minority defenseless against any constraints of the majority which are not expressly forbidden in the Constitution, which is an outcome the 9th Amendment clearly presupposes and attempts to counter. Imagine Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and President Hillary Clinton, and you can get an idea of why this conclusion won't do. There are many economic liberties, for example, that are not enumerated in the constitution but are freedoms nonetheless and would be trampled under a far-left government. Does the Constitution not protect them? Plus, Scalia's pot-shots at the "homosexual agenda" followed by his self-defense that he has nothing against gay people were bizarre and spoke of ulterior motives. Thomas made the best argument of all. He said, simply:

I join Justice Scalia's dissenting opinion. I write separately to note that the law before the Court today "is ... uncommonly silly." Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U. S. 479, 527 (1965) (Stewart, J., dissenting). If I were a member of the Texas Legislature, I would vote to repeal it. Punishing someone for expressing his sexual preference through noncommercial consensual conduct with another adult does not appear to be a worthy way to expend valuable law enforcement resources.

Notwithstanding this, I recognize that as a member of this Court I am not empowered to help petitioners and others similarly situated. My duty, rather, is to "decide cases 'agreeably to the Constitution and laws of the United States.' " Id., at 530. And, just like Justice Stewart, I "can find [neither in the Bill of Rights nor any other part of the Constitution a] general right of privacy," ibid., or as the Court terms it today, the "liberty of the person both in its spatial and more transcendent dimensions," ante, at 1.

  posted by AVS @ 26.6.03


Sheila's New Home
The lovely and talented Sheila O'Malley has a new site for her terrific blog. Stop by and say hello.

  posted by AVS @ 26.6.03

George Galloway, The Press, And Reuters Hippies
Here's a good piece on where the George Galloway accusations stand now that the Christian Science Monitor's papers accusing Galloway of being in the pay of Saddam were revealed to be fakes. But the most interesting part of the piece is this bit:

EARLIER this month, Reuters, the once great but now ailing news and financial information service, had a designated Fast Day, not fast as in no food but as in fast forward to a better world. It was all very touchy-feely: Reuters staff around the world were requested to sign up to it, either by holding hands with colleagues, having a group hug or coming up with ways to make the world a better place. Not the normal activities of hard-bitten wire correspondents.

It’s typical of the crap that Tom Glocer (the newish American chief executive) has brought to the company, said one senior Reuters figure who, unsurprisingly, wished to remain nameless.

What the hell? No wonder Reuters has become such a joke of a news service.

  posted by AVS @ 26.6.03

It's About Time
Pulitzer board considers revoking Walter Duranty's Pulitzer prize, which he won in 1932 for his one-sided reporting on the Soviet Union in which he deliberately ignored the starvation of millions of Ukranians because he passionately believed in communism. Malcom Muggeridge called Duranty "the greatest liar of any journalist I have met in 50 years of journalism." History has backed Muggeridge's assessment. We'll see if the Pulitzer board concurs.

  posted by AVS @ 26.6.03

"It Ain't Right"
Yet again a North Carolina city forcibly annexes surrounding communities whose residents do not want to live in the city. North Carolina law allows cities to annex people without their permission. In this latest example, in Winston-Salem, a couple cried during the public meeting in which the annexation was approved, telling the council the move would cost them $17,000 in new taxes and fees and they didn't have the money. As the husband said, "It ain't right. It's not right at all."

  posted by AVS @ 26.6.03

Another Reason To Like John Malkovich
Here's what John Malkovich told London's Daily Telegraph when asked whether he was moving his family to Boston from their home in Provence, France because of Jacques Chirac's stance on the war in Iraq:

I never felt the slightest bit of discomfort in France being an American," he says.

"As to whether I'm annoyed by Chirac, it'll be easier to answer in two years. Any of the things that one was told would be found in Iraq, will they be found or not found? Will the country be demonstrably better or worse? Still, there are a million reasons to overthrow Saddam Hussein. I would have a hard time imagining that the world is a poorer place for him not being there."

It is pontificating journalists that rile him most. His particular target has been Robert Fisk, the America-bashing Independent correspondent, whom he said, during a Cambridge Union debate, that he'd like to shoot.

"How can you excuse a bunch of people being murdered [in the World Trade Centre] on the grounds of their so-called policy which they've neither made and didn't vote for and which presupposes that your objections to it are correct?"

When asked whether he was in favour of the war, though, he refuses to commit himself. "I don't like to answer that question unless I have an intelligence briefing every morning for two years.

  posted by AVS @ 24.6.03


Sing It His Way, Or Else
Apparently a man who was asked to sing Sinatra's My Way at a party was stabbed to death for singing My Way his own way and not Frank's way. And in an even bigger surprise, the Sinatra fan who was allegedly sent into a murderous rage by the off-key singing was neither Italian nor from New York City. I found this one on Jane's blog.

  posted by AVS @ 24.6.03

Special Forces To Fight Chicago Crime
Violent crime has become so bad in Chicago (six people were killed last weekend alone) that Mayor Daley has announced the deployment of elite police forces to the city's worst neighborhoods. So far this year 271 people have been murdered in Chicago, up 3 percent from last year and leading the nation, the Sun-Times reported today.

  posted by AVS @ 24.6.03

Georgia May Return To State-Sanctioned Racial Discrimination
In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision that public institutions of higher education can discriminate based on race as long as that discrimination is "narrowly tailored" to achieve diversity goals that include things other than race, University of Georgia President Michael Adams said UGA may reinstate a race-based affirmative action policy. The university was forced to abandon its points-based racial discrimination plan three years ago after a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional. Thank you, Sandra Day O'Connor.

  posted by AVS @ 24.6.03

The Iraqi National Museum Looting Hoax
Charles Krauthammer had a very good column the other week on the non-story of the looting of Iraq's National Museum, which actually lost 33 pieces to looters, not 170,000, as The New York Times had reported (and it wasn't even a Jayson Blair story). Writes Krauthammer:

What happened? The source of the lie, Donny George, director general of research and study of the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities, now says (Washington Post, June 9) that he originally told the media that "there were 170,000 pieces in the entire museum collection. Not 170,000 pieces stolen. No, no, no. That would be every single object we have!"

Of course, George saw the story of the stolen 170,000 museum pieces go around the world and said nothing -- indeed, two weeks later, he was in London calling the looting "the crime of the century." Why? Because George and the other museum officials who wept on camera were Baath Party appointees, and the media, Western and Arab, desperate to highlight the dark side of the liberation of Iraq, bought their deceptions without an ounce of skepticism.

It played on front pages everywhere and allowed for some deeply satisfying antiwar preening. For example, a couple of nonentities on a panel no one had ever heard of (the President's Cultural Property Advisory Committee) received major media play for their ostentatious resignations over the cultural rape of Baghdad.

Frank Rich best captured the spirit of antiwar vindication when he wrote (New York Times, April 27) that "the pillaging of the Baghdad museum has become more of a symbol of Baghdad's fall than the toppling of a less exalted artistic asset, the Saddam statue."

The narcissism, the sheer snobbery of this statement, is staggering. The toppling of Saddam Hussein freed 25 million people from 30 years of torture, murder, war, starvation and impoverishment at the hands of a psychopathic family that matched Stalin for cruelty but took far more pleasure in it. For Upper West Side liberalism, this matters less than the destruction of a museum.

Which didn't even happen!

  posted by AVS @ 23.6.03


Still Angry At Orwell
George Kerevan has an interesting piece on why the far left remains so angry at George Orwell for exposing the truth about communism that it still is trying to tarnish his name, as evidenced by a Guardian hit piece on Orwell in Saturday's edition. Kerevan writes:

Is this not all ancient history? No: Orwell’s warning that "totalitarian ideas have taken root in the minds of intellectuals everywhere" is still in force as long as there are those happily inventing utopias to impose on the rest of us.

Sadly true.

  posted by AVS @ 22.6.03


It's Funny, But Not As Intended
A guy crashes Prince William's 21st birthday party and expects to get off by calling himself a comedy terrorist. Trouble is, he's forgotten the first rule of comedy. They're supposed to laugh with you, not at you.

  posted by AVS @ 22.6.03

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