The Party of God (Or Not)

Religion shouldn’t play role in awards,” by Stu Whitney, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 29 April 2005, http://www.argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050429/COLUMNISTS05/504290334/1062/COLUMNISTS.

Stu Whitney and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA)” by Chad Schuldt, Clean Cut Kid, 13 May 2005, http://www.cleancutkid.com/2005/05/13/stu-whitney-and-the-fellowship-of-christian-athletes-fca/.

Dan M.” by Chad Schuldt, Clean Cut Kid, 13 May 2005, http://www.cleancutkid.com/2005/05/13/stu-whitney-and-the-fellowship-of-christian-athletes-fca/.

Remember how the South Dakota Democrat netroots found Religion?

medium_jesus_cares_for_the_poor_sioux_falls_sm.jpg

Neither do they

Speaking at the Elmen Center last spring, former University of Nebraska assistant football coach Ron Brown told about 400 high school students that homosexuality is a sin.

As some in the audience shifted uncomfortably, Brown went on to tell his young listeners that more than 43 million babies have been “executed” since abortion was made legal in America.

If the former coach was addressing a Christian youth rally, his fervor may have seemed fitting. But the majority of these students were from the Sioux Falls School District, and they were excused from class to attend a sports-based awards luncheon.The event, held for the 34th time Wednesday, is a local tradition known as the Honor Athlete Awards. Sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, it rewards college and high school students for excellence in athletic and academic achievement, as well as community involvement.

“It’s unique to have the FCA, the schools and the city all together,” says Hugh Venrick, who represents the chamber’s Sports and Recreation Committee. “To my knowledge, it’s the only event like this in the country.”But some of the FCA-picked speakers, especially Brown, have offered a message radical enough to make the event’s connection to the city and school district appear inappropriate.

We still separate church and state in this country – which means public schools should not be involved in the promotion of religious beliefs. Period.

and

I guess Whitney’s remarks are another example of Christians being “persecuted”, based on some of the letters that have found their way into the Argus opinion page. It always scares me to read letters from fundamentalist Christians because they represent fringe groups that are what is worst about what is not only my favorite religion, but the faith I try to teach my children. When I read what these fundamentalist wackos write, half the time I’m not sure how to react after I pick myself up off the floor.

My thinking lately is not only am I offended because these wackos have distorted my religion, but I have to wonder how much faith these fundamentalists really hold. And this probably applies less to this public-school sanctioned sports award banquet, but it does cut across all the wacky activity we have seen spring up in the past several years involving the crossing of religion with public schools and other government entities: Do these “Christians” have so little faith in the power of the message of Jesus Christ they feel it is necessary to subvertly use government to force religion on those who may or may not want to hear the message.

and, it gets even stranger

You are correct. Perhaps I should have been more clear: This event was not a school event – it was paid for with private funds.

So what’s the issue?

In South Dakota, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is up with 4H and the National Rifle Association as universally adored entities. FCA is also popular nationally. The insanity of attacking the FCA is beyond me. CCK Chad denies he is doing that — Chad is incoherent wrong.

This also highlights a real problem for Dems, both stateside and nationally. The national Democrats have stuck to a simple message – “No!” – on every issue. A fast decision cycle (OODA: Observe: “Bush is saying something.” Orient: “We oppose Bush.” Decide: “Say ‘No!'” Act: “No!”) and a coherent message are advantages of the Second Generation of Modern Politics (2GP) approach.

South Dakota netroots are trying for maneuver politics — Third Generation of Modern Politics (3GP). But without an idea of how to maneuver, and with no ideas of what to maneuver for, maneuvers become flip-flips. Pretend to be the party of God? Great idea! Criticize the too Godly? Great idea! See any problem with this incoherence? Absolutely not!

The South Dakota Democrats should do a Herseth — adopt Republican principles in a Republican state — or a Reid — at least act coherently. Currently the Sodakdem netroots are doing neither.

Update: Shout-out to Chad at CCK, for spotting a technical problem on this page.

Fisking Victor Davis Hanson on Tenure

Professors won’t like this: Death to lifetime contracts,” by Victor Hanson, Chicago Tribune, 13 May 2005 (from private email correspondence).

VDH says tenure is rubbish. Rubbish.

Tenure in our universities is simply unlike any other institution in American society.

And American Universities are unlike any other in the world — they are the best.

Take the case of Ward Churchill at the University of Colorado. Because of his inflammatory slander of the Sept. 11, 2001, victims, the public turned its attention to his status. We discovered that he did not have a PhD, created a Native-American identity and allegedly appropriated the intellectual property of others–but was promoted to a tenured full professorship, protected by a lifetime contract.

If he presented himself as having a doctorate he did not, that is fraud and criminal wrongdoing. That is not protected by tenure. It may be protected by a politically correct Board of Regents, but that’s a separate issue.

No equivalent for chief executive officers or for dishwashers exists. Politicians, lawyers and others who take unpopular stands also lack guaranteed jobs. Doctors do not enjoy them. They can lose their posts, despite 30 years of reputable work, because of a single missed diagnosis.

Professors, however, after an initial probationary period of six years, win the equivalent of lifelong employment from their peers. Why does this strange practice linger on?

The standard rationale is that the stuff of higher education is unfettered inquiry. Only by enjoying shelter from the storm of politics can professors be bold enough to take up the tough task of challenging young minds to question orthodoxy.

Not just “orthodoxy” — any politically correct viewpoint.

When I teach I have to hedge what I say, out of a rational fear of offending someone. When I wrote my thesis I had to be extremely careful in some sections, out of fear it would be misinterpreted. This hampers freedom of inquiry. Tenure is a great way around that trap.

McCarthyism is evoked as the only bleak alternative to tenure. Once untenured professors find themselves on the wrong side of popular majority opinions, politicized firings will supposedly follow.

Straw-Man. Less free inquiry follows. No need for hyperbole.

Why then does uniformity of belief characterize the current tenured faculty? Contemporary universities are among the most homogeneous of all American institutions, at least in attitudes toward controversial issues of race, gender, class and culture.

Because liberals have waged a successful fourth-generation campaign to seize the university, mainly through selective granting of tenure and other filtering mechanisms.

Faculty senate votes aren’t just at odds with American popular opinion; they often resemble more the 90 percent majorities that we see in illiberal Third World stacked plebiscites.

Would VDH rather have them be 90% political correct? That’s the alternative.

Sometime in the 1960s, many faculties felt the proper role of the university was to gravitate away from the Socratic method of disinterested inquiry, and instead to press for a preordained and “correct” worldview. Since America was supposedly guilty of being oppressive to those not white, conservative, male, capitalist, Christian and heterosexual, the university offered a rare counterpoint.

Tenure became part of protecting this strange culture in which the ends justified the means: Bias in the classroom was passed off as “balance” to an inherently prejudiced society. Academia came to resemble the medieval church that likewise believed its archaic protocols were free from review, given its vaunted mission of saving souls.

Agreed. But that’s less an argument to abolish tenure than a call for conservatives to take academia and enjoy that advantage for their movement.

Our universities are also two-tiered institutions of winners and losers. Despite the populist rhetoric of professors, exploitation occurs daily under their noses. Perennial part-time lecturers, many with the requisite PhDs, often teach the same classes as their tenured counterparts. Yet they receive about 25 percent of the compensation per course and without benefits.

Agreed. In many ways universities are hyper-capitalist, with very high reward for the winners. This system is serving us well.

Universities cannot remove expensive tenured “mistakes” or public embarrassments, but they can turn to cheaper and more fluid part-time teaching. Orwellian moments thus follow at annual department reviews of faculty and student appraisals. Untenured lecturers often outscore full professors in their evaluations, but they lack any institutional remedy to address that paradox.

Universities aren’t teaching mills. Teaching undergrads is an important part of professorship, but rarely the most important.

The weird disconnect extends within the careers of professors. For six years, stressed younger faculty pounce on every committee assignment possible. They try to publish anything they can think up, and defer daily to a tenured hierarchy.

These untenured scramble to pass muster from entrenched peers, whose evaluations can extend indefinitely their careers–on the promise that, if successful, they will never again have to submit to such scrutiny or to exhibit such zeal. “Post-tenure review” is an oxymoron, not a real audit.

This is similar to business consulting, where workers make their “mark” by age 30, after that becoming high-level executives or “rain makers” — or just retire.

Administrators are supposed to be diabolically punitive. Yet what we have seen from the contrite Larry Summers, president of Harvard University, suggests the very opposite. College presidents follow faculty consensus and apologize for rare deviation from it.

The purpose of modern Presidents is to raise money. That is why they are so weak. Does VDH want all faculty to be so exposed and spineless?

Reasonable people can debate what would be lost with the abolition of tenure. But the warning that, in our litigious society, professors would lack fair job protection is implausible.

Double misdirection.

First, Hanson presumes the continued existence of a “litigious society.” As the profusion of lawsuits is generally recognized as a drag on the US economy, it may be reformed away.

Second, the purpose of tenure is academic freedom, not “fair job protection.”

Renewable five-year agreements–outlining in detail teaching and scholarly expectations–would still protect free speech, without creating lifelong sinecures for those who fail their contractual obligations.

Again, misdirection. Academic freedom is not free speech. It is a much broader concept.

The cost of university tuition continues to creep higher than the rate of inflation. The percentage of cheaper classes taught by adjunct instructors is increasing as well. Yet the competence of recently graduated students is ever more in question.

Really? In math? Physics? Computer science? Chemistry?

Or in “soft” humanities majors that are impossible to objectively measure?

Students can achieve the education they desire. Some what knowledge. Some what to drink for four years. The free market accomodates both.

What is not scrutinized in this disturbing calculus is a mandarin class that says it is radically egalitarian, but in fact insists on an unusual privilege that most other Americans do not enjoy.

I never heard any academic describe academia as “radically egalitarian.”

In recompense, the university has not delivered a better-educated student, or a more intellectually diverse and independent-thinking faculty.

Instead it has accomplished precisely the opposite.

We have the best universities in the world. Hanson’s attack is based on politics, not academics. He should be brave enough to say so.

Ellsworth To Close Thanks To Daschle’s Leadership

The Limits of SysAdmin,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 7 May 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001757.html.

Ellsworth,” by Quentin Riggins, South Dakota Politics, 11 May 2005, http://southdakotapolitics.blogs.com/south_dakota_politics/2005/week19/index.html#a0004665723.

CCK and Liberals Against Terrorism, as well as AP through National Public Radio, and Kelo, and KSFY, are saying that Ellsworth AFB is going to close. I thank Bush, Rumsfeld, and Daschle for making this possible.

Noted geostrategist and Kerry vote TPM Barnett recently criticized blood pork Senators

The push to get out of Iraq is getting serious, as I don’t think Chairman Myers testimony on his way out the door was in the same backward-glancing manner of Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki last year on the question of troop levels in Iraq. I think Myers is voicing the same concern I hear when I visit military commands down in Florida: the sense that if the White House wants further actions in the Global War on Terror, it better figure out how to make the SysAdmin load lighter in Iraq.

Same basic logic drives the report of the Overseas Basing Commission: that sense of being so heavily concentrated in the Middle East when there’s still unfinished business of the most crucial sort in Northeast Asia. Expect the Pentagon to begin arguing for a diminished role in the region as it anticipates a build-up toward an inevitable showdown with North Korea.

Meanwhile, expect Congress to engage in all sorts of idiotic arguments to stave off base closings in their states and districts. Isn’t it amazing how congressmen and women who don’t know their elbows from their a–holes on defense get all uppity on the Pentagon’s judgement whenever their slices of the pork pie are put at risk? “Reality check” my ass.

I am truly happy that my former Senator, Tom Daschle, was not one of these men. The Ellsworth Air Force Base in Box Elder, South Dakota would not have closed without Daschle’s leadership

The liberal bloggers are aghast that someone would point out Senator Daschle’s and Senator Johnson’s role in the creation of the 2005 round of military base closures (Known as Base Realignment and Closure or BRAC). All of their foul-mouthed vitriol is much sound and fury; signifying nothing. The 2005 BRAC round did not just magically spring into existence. It took an act of Congress. That act of Congress occurred during the Daschle-led Senate’s debate in September, 2001, over the fiscal year 2002 defense authorization bill. The bill contained a provision authorizing another BRAC round in 2003 (in conference negotiations, the year was changed to 2005). The House DID NOT HAVE a BRAC provision in their version of the authorization bill, and in fact was adamantly opposed to the idea. When a group of senators tried to introduce an amendment to take the BRAC provision out of the defense authorization bill, Daschle marshalled the votes to defeat the amendment, and explicitly voted to defeat it, as did Senator Johnson. At every point where the 2005 BRAC round could easily have been prevented, Senate MAJORITY Leader Daschle did all he could to push it forward. He explicitly voted for a new BRAC round, and appointed Senate conferees who refused to back down from keeping the provision authorizing the 2005 BRAC round, despite heavy opposition to it from the House conferee

.

While Daschle played political games like everyone else, this rationalization of America’s defense would not have been possible without Senator Thomas Daschle’s leadership.

Thank you, Tom.