Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Earlier today, I sent you an email asking about two of Erik Paulsen's basic positions. As you'll recall, during the campaign last fall, the cornerstone of Paulsen's economic policy was his avid support of the proposed Balanced Budget Amendment.
Supporters of the Balanced Budget Amendment seek to make federal borrowing unconstitutional. Were I to support the Balanced Budget Amendment, I would want the Supreme Court to strike down any tax cut legislation which required deficit spending. (Were I to support a tax cut that required federal borrowing, I'd then be asking my colleagues to vote for legislation I believe ought to be prohibited by the US Constitution.)
I've frequently asked Rep. Paulsen to clarify his position on the Balanced Budget Amendment--but he won't answer. Does any Republican in CD3 know whether Rep. Paulsen has an answer, in response to his apparent fiscal incoherence? (I've asked Sheila Kihne--Eden Prairie's best-known Republican blogger--but she wasn't even aware Paulsen advocated the Balanced Budget Amendment during the campaign.)
On your blog today, you are promoting a new May 2 Tax Cut Rally. At said rally, will you be advocating deficit-financed tax cuts, or cuts paid for by current-year spending cuts? (Or does the rally address Minnesota tax policy only?)
Do you support the Balanced Budget Amendment, do you accept that federal borrowing ought to be an option--or do you prefer to have it both ways, like Rep. Erik Paulsen?
All the best,
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Also today, Kihne announces her enthusiasm for torture--which she believes advances her goal of 'annoy[ing] a liberal'. And she doesn't have any time for concerns involving due process. (Today's Catholic Church strongly opposes Kihne on her advocacy of torture.) Kihne's political style--unashamedly proclaiming adherence to stupid ideas, deep-sixing dissenting comments, disregarding intelligent challenges--is somewhat annoying. She has a point.
Yesterday Kihne slammed Obama for reading a speech--a standard practice used by every one of Obama's predecessors. When a commenter follows Kihne's lead, calling the President 'an idiot'--Kihne readily voiced approval, only to delete her endorsement a bit later.
Also yesterday, Kihne put up her oft-reprised self-worshipping I'm-rubber-you're-glue post, impugning liberal intentions and 'correcting' the public record by asserting her own sanctity. Her chorus of exurban boneheads lapped it up.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
The Minnesota Historical Society Press Book Club met there this evening:
Brian Szott, Curator of Art at the Minnesota Historical Society will present a gallery talk based on the MHS Press book, Minnesota Prints and Printmakers, 1900-1945 by Robert L Crump, the inspiration for the current exhibit of the same name in the Hill House gallery. Refreshments and a free tour of the Hill House will be offered following the lecture. [Links not in original.]
The talk was enjoyable; I'd never set foot in the massive house before. The refreshments--including sublime cookies from the St. Agnes Bakery--were much-appreciated by the fifty attendees, most of whom weren't with the book club. Here's Wikipedia on the old residence:
In 1891, after three years of building, construction was completed on a new Hill family home on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. Over 400 workers labored on the project. Built at a cost of $930,000 and with 36,000 square feet, the James J. Hill House was among the City's largest. As with his business dealings, Hill supervised the construction and design himself, hiring and firing several architects in the process. The house has many early electrical and mechanical systems that predate widespread adoption in modern domestic structures. After the death of Hill's wife in 1921, the house was donated to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. It was obtained by the Minnesota Historical Society in 1978 and today is operated as a museum and gallery. [Ditto.]
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
InterACT Performance Troupe for Sexual Assault Intervention came to the U of M this evening, as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Coffman Union's auditorium was about one-quarter full, with 100 or so students, as the Cal State Long Beach traveling political theater group put on its interactive performance. The evening began with a male student encouraging the crowd to get involved in sexual violence education and prevention; he says that one in four female students will be sexually assaulted during her undergraduate years.
Such statistics tell us little and are notoriously various: The 2007 Boynton Student Health Survey reports that 7.3% of U women students claim to have been sexually assaulted within the last twelve months while an Aurora Center handout tells us that '1,880 female students at the U of M experienced unwanted sexual contact in the past 12 months'. (The U has 51,240 students and defines sexual assault quite broadly.)
The acting troupe models pre-assault interactions among single-sex groupings of students. The young men are portrayed as living in an infantile dystopia of mindless macho play-acting. The female students evince pure Valley Girl non-consciousness. (No one seems insulted, for some reason.)
The U students are supposed to identify with the stupidity they see on stage and then participate in challenging the behavior. Perhaps events such as these do cause young men to reevaluate strategy, though I suspect (in reducing sexual assault) they're almost entirely worthless. A primary function of expertise is to provide society a means of telling itself 'we're doing something about Issue X'. And so the U flies an acting troupe of eight from California to come perform; student organizations happily shell out money so that they can burnish their progressive bona fides:
'Sponsors: The Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education together with McNamara Athletic Center & Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, Housing & Residential Life, The Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life, fraternities and sororities at the U of M, Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, The Women's Center, Disability Services, Boynton Health Service, University Counseling and Consulting Service, GLBTA Programs Office, Orientation & First Year Programs. Student Groups: Aurora, SHADE, SNAP, Boynton Health Advocates, QSCC, Disability Student Cultural Center, Women's Student Activist Collective, Hmong Student Group, Black Motivated Women and Active Minds. Grants: Student Activities -Student Services Fees Event with other grants pending.'
An average UMN female student who reports having been sexually assaulted during the previous twelve months gets about one-tenth of a GPA point less, overall, than those 92.7% of female students who don't report having been sexually assaulted during the previous year. [Page 26.]
Were someone to seek a more rational approach to the problem, the U ought to get a meaningful set of metrics--current statistics are all over the map. But people seem less interested in actually reducing the problem than in appearing to be on the politically-correct side. During the evening a dozen or so U students get volunteered to participate on stage, attempting to intervene with the in-character troupe members, in an effort to prevent a [fictional] sexual assault in the making. Plenty of female students unselfconsciously inform the audience that, while on-stage, they are playing male characters, interacting with the guys. The audience accepts this; one is reminded how unlikely the opposite would be.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Falang: Behind Bangkok's Smile (aka Bangkok Girl) was screened this evening at Macalester, under the sponsorship of Mac's Asian Student Alliance. In the fifty-minute indy documentary, the filmmaker shadows Sirirat Rapsithorn, a Bangkok bar girl, allowing her to tell her story to the camera. [Two additional interviews that didn't make the cut would have been out of place in the released version.] About two dozen students attended; afterwards Mac sociologist Deborah Smith was asked to facilitate a discussion (somewhat heavy on academic ideology for my tastes). Some weak points in the documentary were briefly noted. The narrator claims that shortly after he finished shooting [and left Thailand] his film's central, real-life character, Sirirat Rapsithorn--known as Pla--died. Like a number of his claims, I didn't believe this...and I'm not sure why.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Kenneth Miller spoke this evening at St. Kate's. He gives a very convincing pro-evolution, anti-intelligent design powerpoint presentation. (See him on the Colbert Report.) He's appeared as an expert witness in a number of our culture's periodic monkey trial reenactments. He has an energetic, not-overly-intellectual delivery. He's a friendly, elite-university biology professor who is concerned enough about the anti-science forces in American culture to devote much time to pushing back.
Miller displays the table which shows America second only to Turkey in the rejection of evolution, clearly surprising some. Many students at the women's college are taking notes during the first hour; most have left by the end of the Q&A.
Toward the end of his talk, Miller makes clear he's a Catholic and sees no contradiction between evolution and Christian belief. He criticizes Richard Dawkins a bit for Dawkins' supposed metaphysical leaps. But Miller doesn't defend Catholicism or religion--he simply separates the worlds of science and religion, essentially allowing people to believe whatever magical story adds the feeling of meaning to their lives. Pope Benedict XVI accepts the theory of evolution, though the Catholic Church's position on the subject has changed over the years.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
As candidate for President of the United States, Sen. John McCain depended heavily on his warrior and torture victim images to win public sympathy. McCain and his supporters repeatedly invoked a narrative of America's high ideals and the Asians' robotic, cruel reply. (McCain had only quite recently stopped using gooks to describe the Vietnamese.) McCain and his supporters knowingly marketed a fraudulent historical narrative urging Americans to indulge in uninformed, jingoist vanity. Two million Vietnamese civilians died during the Vietnam War. A Brezhnev-era writer for Pravda might have blushed.
American politicians visiting Vietnam should communicate to the Vietnamese that the US seeks an honorable relationship. We will stop lying about our role in the conflict--and call others to account when they do. We will no longer suggest that our side suffered the lion's share of the injustice.
A Senator walking around with John McCain in Vietnam should feel an obligation to make clear her rejection of John McCain's ludicrous moral score-keeping. Having never distanced myself an inch from John McCain's Vietnam storytelling, it would be the wrong time to broach the international adoptions issue.
Perhaps a start: 'We're aware that you suffered vastly more than we did during that awful war. We regret it.'
A famous photograph shows one of the last helicopters leaving Saigon, perched on a rooftop, as a trail of people climb a ladder to safety. That photo, for many years, was mislabeled as a shot of the embassy. But in fact it was a CIA safe house...