Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Who Wants This Person As President

Do we really need a morally defective degenerate that can't even pay their bills sitting in the White House?
It’s not just the size of Clinton’s debts that’s noteworthy. It’s also that her unpaid bills extend beyond the realm of high-priced consultants who typically let bills slide as part of the cost of doing business with powerful clientele whose success is linked to their own.

Some of Clinton’s biggest debts are to pollster and chief strategist Mark Penn, who’s owed $2.5 million; direct mail company MSHC Partners, which is owed $807,000; phone-banking firm Spoken Hub, which is waiting for $771,000; and ad maker Mandy Grunwald, who’s owed $467,000....

She owed Iowa’s Sioux City Art Center Board of Trustees $3,500 for catering and venue costs, New Hampshire’s Winnacunnet Cooperative School District $4,400 in event costs, Qwest $24,000 for phone service, various branches of the Iowa-based supermarket chain Hy-Vee $15,000 for food, beverages and catering, and $7,700 to Ohio and Massachusetts branches of the theatrical stage employees’ union, for equipment costs.

If Clinton can't even be responsible during her quest for office what chance do we have that she will respect law and contract once she is in?

Hattip: Dan Drezner guest blogging at The Atlantic

Politicians Defy All Reason

This article made me shake my head:
Police say Josef Fritzl left a lot of human wreckage in his wake: the daughter he imprisoned and raped for 24 years, the seven children he fathered with her and the wife whose life he shattered.

Yet, for an atrocity that has stunned the world, he may wind up serving just 15 years in prison if charged, tried and convicted.

Practically speaking, that may translate into a life sentence for Fritzl, 73. But his case has revived a debate over Europe's lenient penal system — and whether harsher, U.S.-style sentencing guidelines might help deter such heinous crimes.

Is there really any evidence that harsh prison sentences do much to deter crime? Now this isn't a statement on whether Europe should impose harsher penalties - but the assurance that it would deter crime is ludicrous.

The US is a nation, after all, that imposes the death penalty for heinous crimes, yet we seem to have more of them than most other western nations. We are a nation that will put people in jail for years, if not decades, for minor drug offenses, yet our jail are bursting with such people and adding more every day.

What longer sentences do accomplish is making sure that the individual doesn't commit more crimes, but trying to assert that harsh penalties deters crime goes beyond all reason.

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Speech on Campus

My deepest apologies for the lack of blogging - life really gets in the way sometimes. I'm WAY behind on my blog reading as well, which sucks because it is one of the few joys I get out of life these days.

This post, over at Coyote Blog, did remind me of a topic that I have been meaning to blog about though.

Right on the front page of the student portal at DePaul is a link that reads 'Speech-Expression Task Force.' So every time I go to check my grades or see if my transcripts have been transferred or try to sign up for classes next quarter (which is a blog post for another day) I see this trite 4 word phrase on the left hand of the screen taunting me.

Given my experiences so far with the University and my pre-conceptions about educational institutions generally I was terrified about what nuggets of "protections" this task force had come up with.

I finally worked up the courage to follow the link and found a set of "Guiding Principles" regarding speech and expression and that they were not intended to substitute of University policy. Not bad, but that also gives the University pretty wide leeway to interpret the guidelines, right? So what did the "Guiding Principles" have to say?

It was amazingly short and to the point.
Free speech and expression are central to the purpose of the university.
We aspire to be a community marked by compassion and mutual respect, in which we never lose sight of the potential effects, both beneficial and harmful, of our words and our expressive conduct. When such words or conduct harmfully affect the community or its members, we should respond by reflecting ever more seriously on our shared values of compassion and respect, and by fostering education about our enduring commitment to inclusiveness and reciprocal understanding. Ultimately, by remaining open to a broad range of ideas and opinions—even those that may appear to some detestable, uncomfortable, or false—we foster mutual understanding, test our beliefs, and create the best conditions for seeking knowledge. Intrinsic to our belief in the value of inclusive conversation is a commitment to the right of speakers to voice their viewpoints even at the risk of controversy, and a correlative respect for the right of listeners to respond with their own expression, or to choose to turn away.
Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. As a private institution DePaul would be well within their rights to restrict speech in any way that they saw fit. It says a lot that they have chosen not to and to acknowledge that all speech - even speech that some may find detestable - is an important part of the educational process.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

You Gotta Wonder

AP reports that the new Castro is opening things up, if only a little - but how does the reporter decide to close the story with?
"Everyone wants to spend money and that is what's happening," she said. "If everything they earned went to the state like it should, there wouldn't be as much corruption as there is."
Really?! Cuba is taking baby steps towards liberalization and you close the story with a snipe from someone who clearly doesn't understand reality?


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