Thursday, March 31, 2005

Extended open thread.

Throwing stuff in the car, then off to the airport and thence to NC. Amuse yourself in the meantime. If you're bored, let me recommend the fine folks over at First Draft.

It's over.

Attorney for Terri Schiavo's Husband Says She Has Died

Terri Schiavo, the severely brain-damaged woman who spent 15 years connected to a feeding tube in an epic legal and medical battle that went all the way to the White House and Congress, died Thursday, 13 days after the tube was removed. She was 41.

And I'm sure that, now that Schiavo is no longer an issue, those protestors will channel all of that excess "culture of life" energy into promoting, say, universal health care, right?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Sometimes, I really do crack me up.

Oh, man, this is going to piss off the wingnuts.

Following a link from Atrios, we have the Internet leaping to the defense of WV Democratic Senator Robert Byrd, raising $634,000 for his upcoming campaign in the space of 24 hours.

This will undoubtedly cause the inevitable grousing from the conservative nutbar fringe about liberals supporting Klan members, the lesson here being that it's only acceptable to be a raving, lunatic bigot if you're a Republican.

When you just have to appreciate the irony.

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, comparing his recent hospital stay due to pneumonia to Terri Schiavo:

FALWELL: [T]erri, who is not on life support, has never been on life support, she had a feeding tube in. A month ago, I had a feeding tube and I was on a ventilator, but I was not in a persistent vegetative state ...

Um ...

How to explain those leftist leanings on campus?

Can it really be true that there is an overabundance of leftist and liberal thought in academia these days? And what on earth could possibly explain that? Perhaps, oh, I don't know ... maybe, just maybe, liberals are simply smarter than conservatives? Could that possibly be it? Let's look at the empirical evidence, shall we?

In this corner, we have PZMyers and, in the other corner, there's his constant irritation, Paul @ Wizbang. I think it's safe to say that there's only one example of faculty-level thinking here, and it's not over at Wizbang.

Moving on, on the one hand we have Middle East authority and respected academic Juan Cole while, facing off against him, his nemesis, NRO's own Doughty Pantload. Can you guess which one is the professor and which one's Gilligan?

And, naturally, modesty forbids me from mentioning my own previous lifetime as a faculty member at a Canadian university while, yipping annoyingly at my ankles, we have ... oh, never mind.

: And over at Pharyngula, PZMyers weighs in. I'm not sure I agree with him completely, I'll ponder this at 35,000 feet and address it later.

Dontcha just hate it when a spy infiltrates the gathering?

"Feed Terri! Feed Terri! Feed ... Whaaaaaa?!"

(Thanks to Will Pitt and First-Draft for the link.)

And for more chuckles, TBogg is a must-read today.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Hello, North Carolina. David Horowitz is coming to town.

If you're a student at UNC, you might want to take a look at this:

A bill introduced in the state Senate promises guidelines for the college classroom to assure fair treatment for all students, regardless of their ideology.

At least, that's what supporters of the Academic Bill of Rights say.

Opponents of the bill -- versions of which have sparked outcry in a number of states -- say it is nothing more than an attempt by conservatives to monitor and manage what goes on in the classroom.

And, if you've managed to keep up with me thus far, you'll know that I'd dearly like to get more detail on this claim:

A brouhaha erupted on the Chapel Hill campus last year after an English instructor sent a scathing e-mail to an entire class reprimanding one student for expressing conservative beliefs about homosexuality.

Anyone from UNC want to expand on that story? Oh, and about that fairy tale that the Bill is meant to be applied in a fair, balanced and ideologically-neutral way? Bullshit. And more bullshit. And even more bullshit.

And, of course, don't forget your humble author's 3-part series exposing Horowitz and the SAF's bogus ideological neutrality here.

Mar 31 update: Not surprisingly, Google made short work of tracking down more details on this story. And upon a very quick read, I'd have to say that I'd side with the student on this one. It looks like the instructor over-reacted but this is just a first impression -- I'll need to read up on this more closely. But, as far as I can tell, the prof may have over-reached and got smacked. What's the problem here?

Really nasty bigotry, Canadian style.

And just in case we Canadians like to think of ourselves as somehow more tolerant, more noble and more open-minded, Greg over at Sinister Thoughts reminds us that, no, we poor schmucks also have our share of ignorant bigots.

And that site won a Weblog award. Jeezus.

More on the "Pharmacists for Life" fascists.

A nice followup to one of my pieces here, we now have Media Matters weighing in. And, oh my, PfL president Karen Brauer is a piece of work.

Welcome, Daily Kos readers.

Just noticed the link from the Kos comments section to an early David Horowitz posting of mine. Really, if you're going to do this right, you might as well get the full tour here. Enjoy, and there's stuff more recent than that as well.

Your morning reading.

I'm a bit busy this morning so mosey on over to Pharyngula and read PZ Myers' latest pieces, especially the one in which Dr. Ronald Cranford lays a savage beating on right-wing talk show host and insufferable windbag Joe Scarborough.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

More on "academic freedom" south of the border, and how David Horowitz really is a total sleazebag.

Luke, over at New Patriot, draws my attention to a couple academic freedom pieces by Juan Cole. The first is a morbidly amusing look at Florida Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-"I see dead people.") who, while pushing for Horowitz's Academic Bill of Rights in Florida, is pathetically ignoring his constituents.

But the better piece is this one, in which Cole describes being "Google smeared" by Horowitz and his right-wing nutbar colleagues:

It seems to me that David Horowitz and some far rightwing friends of his have hit upon a new way of discrediting a political opponent, which is the GoogleSmear. It is an easy maneuver for someone like Horowitz, who has extremely wealthy backers, to set up a web magazine that has a high profile and is indexed in google news. Then he just commissions persons to write up lies about people like me (leavened with innuendo and out-of-context quotes). Anyone googling me will likely come upon the smear profiles, and they can be passed around to journalists and politicians as though they were actual information.

And it's worth filing away just what kind of unethical lowlife Horowitz is for when I take Canada's own "academic freedom" wingnut Barbara Kay out to the woodshed one of these days, given her gushing admiration for Davey boy:

American conservatives are fighting back. The most dynamic amongst them is fiercely anti-Marxist crusader David Horowitz, founder of Horowitz has sponsored an Academic Bill of Rights to protect students from intellectual abuse by radical administrative "educrats" who have enshrined multiculturalist dogma in stifling speech codes at American colleges.

Oh, yes, there's going to be some serious guilt by association hitting the fan when I get around to laying a beating on Kay. Just give me time, you can't rush these things.

When legal technicalities attack.

(CC News) -- In a brief press conference after the day's courtroom proceedings, singer Michael Jackson's lawyers admitted that they had suffered a minor legal setback due to the fact that their client is, in fact, guilty as sin.

EXTRA! Michael Moore proven right! Freepers' heads explode!

Ooooooooh ... this has to be embarrassing over at Right-Wing Wanker Central -- the corroboration of filmmaker Michael Moore's claims that a number of Saudis got a "get out of the country free" card shortly after 9/11, a claim for which he was derided as a lunatic, barking moonbat by the wankersphere. And yet, lookee here:

The FBI played an active role in arranging chartered flights for dozens of well-connected Saudi nationals -- including relatives of Osama bin Laden -- after the 9/11 terror attacks.

The New York Times reported that the documents show Federal Bureau of Investigation agents gave personal airport escorts to two prominent Saudi families who fled the United States, while several other Saudis were allowed to leave the country without first being interviewed, citing newly-released US government records...

The Saudis' chartered flights -- arranged in the days after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks when most aircraft were still grounded -- long have been a topic of allegations related to close family ties and associates of US President George W. Bush and the Saudi royal family.

And I'm sure the apologies and retractions from the right-wing wankerhood should be arriving any minute now since, as we know, there's nothing Republican moonbats value more than accuracy and correcting the public record.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Just when you think you've reached the bottom of the barrel ...

... someone comes along and lifts up the barrel.

When intelligent, educated people attack.

Via Atrios, Bible-thumpers being really Freudian.

BREAKING NEWS: Massive earthquake near Sumatra in Indonesia.

Details here.

Yeah, those are the kinds of details that make a story.

From Editor & Publisher:

Stories on Schiavo Protestor Miss One Point: He's a Registered Sex Offender

As protests outside the hospice housing Terry Schiavo in her final days mounted last week, numerous newspaper reports, many based on an Associated Press account, mentioned or quoted 10-year-old Joshua Heldreth and/or his father, Scott Heldreth. Josh was one of several youngsters arrested for crossing police lines in Pinellas Park, Fla., in an effort to take water to Schiavo.

None of the stories revealed that Scott Heldreth, a religious activist and anti-abortion crusader, is a registered sex offender in Florida -- until The Charlotte Observer mentioned it on Sunday.

I'd love to have a snarky, appropriate punchline here but ... I got nothing.

You know, maybe that "shunning" thing is not such a bad idea after all.

Here we go again -- the right-to-life lunatics in the U.S. are once again cranking up their campaign to protect pharmacists who want to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control pills:

Some pharmacists across the country are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control and morning-after pills, saying that dispensing the medications violates their personal moral or religious beliefs.

The trend has opened a new front in the nation's battle over reproductive rights, sparking an intense debate over the competing rights of pharmacists to refuse to participate in something they consider repugnant and a woman's right to get medications her doctor has prescribed. It has also triggered pitched political battles in statehouses across the nation as politicians seek to pass laws either to protect pharmacists from being penalized -- or force them to carry out their duties.

A number of bloggers have suggested one way to react is to boycott the offending pharmacies and hit them where it hurts -- in the pocketbook. Oh, come now, you can do better than that. Don't boycott the store; boycott the pharmacist. Find out who these people are and shun them, socially, commercially, in every possible way:

"Gosh, I'm sorry, Mr. Smith, but I can't sell you any gas today. It's against my religious principles to do business with ignorant, closed-minded wingnuts."

"Gee, Mr. Smith, I'd really like to sell you those groceries, but the story policy is that we have the right to refuse service to bone-headed, fundamentalist crackpots."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Smith, but we don't have any seats at the moment. Those empty tables? They're all reserved for people who aren't intolerant, misogynistic cocksuckers. Maybe next week? Buh bye."

And, look, here's a good place to start: Karen L. Brauer, Pharmacists for Life president. Make it your personal challenge to make her life just a bit more miserable. Remember: every little bit helps.

BY THE WAY: Do I really need to point out that there is, in fact, a pharmacist's oath, which reads as follows:

At this time, I vow to devote my professional life to the service of all humankind through the profession of pharmacy.

I will consider the welfare of humanity and relief of human suffering my primary concerns.

I will apply my knowledge, experience, and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal drug therapy outcomes for the patients I serve.

I will keep abreast of developments and maintain professional competency in my profession of pharmacy.

I will maintain the highest principles of moral, ethical, and legal conduct.

I will embrace and advocate change in the profession of pharmacy that improves patient care.

I take these vows voluntarily with the full realization of the responsibility with which I am entrusted by the public

I guess the oath doesn't count if you have your fingers crossed or something.

Dear Iraqis: No democracy for you.

Eli over at LeftIBlog reminds us of the fairy tale that is Iraqi "democracy", given the raft of "laws" that were implemented by the United States' J. Paul Bremer just before he high-tailed his cowardly ass out of there.

And to get the full flavour of just how little control Iraqis have over their own country, let's hop in the wayback machine to June of 2004:

U.S. Edicts Curb Power Of Iraq's Leadership

U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer has issued a raft of edicts revising Iraq's legal code and has appointed at least two dozen Iraqis to government jobs with multi-year terms in an attempt to promote his concepts of governance long after the planned handover of political authority on Wednesday.

Some of the orders signed by Bremer, which will remain in effect unless overturned by Iraq's interim government, restrict the power of the interim government and impose U.S.-crafted rules for the country's democratic transition. Among the most controversial orders is the enactment of an elections law that gives a seven-member commission the power to disqualify political parties and any of the candidates they support.

The effect of other regulations could last much longer. Bremer has ordered that the national security adviser and the national intelligence chief chosen by the interim prime minister he selected, Ayad Allawi, be given five-year terms, imposing Allawi's choices on the elected government that is to take over next year.

Bremer also has appointed Iraqis handpicked by his aides to influential positions in the interim government. He has installed inspectors-general for five-year terms in every ministry. He has formed and filled commissions to regulate communications, public broadcasting and securities markets. He named a public-integrity commissioner who will have the power to refer corrupt government officials for prosecution.

Some Iraqi officials condemn Bremer's edicts and appointments as an effort to exert U.S. control over the country after the transfer of political authority. "They have established a system to meddle in our affairs," said Mahmoud Othman, a member of the Governing Council, a recently dissolved body that advised Bremer for the past year. "Iraqis should decide many of these issues."

Dear Iraq: Hope you enjoyed that "election". Welcome to reality.

When "culture of life" yahoos kill their loved ones.

OK, this is getting downright creepy. First it was Tom DeLay and the Franciscan brothers. Now, it turns out that Terri Schiavo's own weeping, traumatized, publicity-hungry father may have pulled the plug on his own mother.

A final request: When the time comes, keep these "every life is sacred" ghouls away from my feeding tube.

OK, that's a good start.

Sadly, it's only temporary.

(Thanks to TBogg for the shameless theft.)

Sunday, March 27, 2005

One good reason to keep that border right where it is.

And if you ever needed a compelling reason to believe that Canada should defend its sovereignty and protect its national identity from American influence, here you go. (Thanks to Atrios for the link.)

When you really want more of an intellectual challenge from your job.

This is pretty much the definition of "over-qualified".

Jeb Bush: Your law-and-order man.

From CNN online:

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said on Sunday there is nothing else he can do to save Terri Schiavo's life.

"I cannot violate a court order," Bush said after attending Easter Sunday church services. "I don't have powers from the United States Constitution or -- for that matter from the Florida Constitution -- that would allow me to intervene after a decision has been made."

To Terri Schiavo's parents -- who have said Bush should do more to help their daughter -- the governor said: "I can't. I'd love to, but I can't."

Ah ... so we just imagined all this, did we?

BONUS TRACK: Not surprisingly, Jebbie is denying the whole thing.

Dealing with creationists in one easy step.

In dealing with scientific creationists, there are generally two approaches. The first is to listen, be respectful and slowly and carefully explain why their views are utter rubbish. Then there's the PZ Myers approach.

Guess which strategy I prefer.

And the "I hate Jews more than you do!" award goes to ...

And over at Moonbat Central, our good buddy Dave Horowitz was handing out his award for who could be the most offensive "Joo hater", the competition being a toss-up between Alex Cockburn and Dennis Raimondo.

Oh, come on, Dave -- I cannot believe you never even considered this guy. If I were Turner, I'd be feeling a bit robbed right about now.

Who is "Peter Rempel" and how can he be such a moron?

Did you ever have one of those days where you're just not on top of your game intellectually? You're a bit fuzzy, it's hard to concentrate and, after a while, you start thinking, man, I am seriously dense today. We all have those days and, sometimes, it's hard not to think that maybe, just maybe, we're not as smart as we like to think.

Have no fear though because, no matter how bad a day you're having brain-wise, you can always be grateful that you're not as stultifyingly stupid as Peter Rempel. And who is Peter Rempel? Let me introduce you.

In my regular rounds of my Canuck blogger friends, I ended up here, where Jonathan pointed out how the Conservative Party of Canada just doesn't cotton to all that fancy-schmancy legal mumbo-jumbo in Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- I'm assuming they're just not fans of stuff with big words in it or something like that.

Anyway, I'm reading the comments and, from what I can tell, poor Jonathan has his own attack Shih Tzu -- his equivalent of the late, not so great "Dizzy Gillespie", some jaw-droppingly ignorant wanker named Peter Rempel. As evidence of the above, let me walk you through the salient portions of the comments section to show you what I mean. Early in the comments section, Rempel writes (and, I swear, I am not making this up):

Give me a f**king break. Would Canadians not have these rights without the Charter? Have you ever heard of the Bill of Rights? The common law?

Does the Charter guarantee rights of the kind you describe. Sure, but they're redundant, because everyone agrees on them anyway. The Charter is a useless scrap of parchment.

Now, see if you can follow the logic here. Rempel, in running down the Charter, appears first to admit that, yes, the Charter does guarantee some pretty important basic rights but he simultaneously claims that those very same rights are also guaranteed elsewhere, making the Charter redundant and a "useless scrap of parchment". Let's make sure we remember this precise claim for what is to follow, shall we?

Blogger Jonathan, being an order of magnitude smarter than Mr. Rempel and actually knowing what he is talking about, responds:

... Yes, the Charter is the only document which secures those rights as legally enforcable for Canadians. [Emphasis added.]

Ignore for the moment any corroborating evidence that Jonathan supplies, just focus on the fact that he is clearly disagreeing with Rempel. And Rempel's response in a subsequent comment, in which he first quotes Jonathan's claim:

"Yes, the Charter is the only document which secures those rights as legally enforcable for Canadians."

Yes.....big deal...

Sit back and savour the indescribable stupidity of Rempel's response. To recap:
  1. Rempel claims "A".
  2. Jonathan disputes "A".
  3. Rempel, in response, admits that "A" is, in fact, completely wrong but that it's no big deal.
Should you be surprised at this type of rhetoric? Not really. I sure as hell am not since, in fact, I wrote a piece almost two months ago on the trials and tribulations of arguing with the right-wing wankerhood. You can read it here and, in particular, let me draw your attention to what I proposed as the right-wing wanker's "four stages of debate":
  1. Unreasoning embrace of nonsensical position.
  2. Redefinition of basic terms to suit the argument.
  3. Unexpected change of subject to avoid impending defeat.
  4. Sudden admission of error, accompanied by insistence that this whole thing is no big deal.
That last point look familiar? Why, yes, yes it does, and to think I was prescient enough to have written it back in February.

Can I call it or what?

Your daily slap upside the head of the SAF.

(Additional Sunday afternoon thoughts added below.)

So, it's Sunday, which means it's time for another installment of "Just how biased or stupid are the folks at the Students for Academic Freedom?" Today's episode: How to encourage students to rat on their profs in a shamelessly dishonest and slanted way.

As Exhibit A, we have a link from the SAF's main page, entitled:

Is Your Professor Using the Classroom as a Platform for Political Agendas?

Learn How to Place an Ad in your College Newspaper.

at which point we follow the link here to find:

The 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure declared: "Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject." (This clause was reaffirmed in 1970.)

OK, that sounds reasonable -- I have no problem with that. But that doesn't seem to give the folks at the SAF the right to draw the following bizarre conclusion:

"If you are not taking a course whose subject is the war in Iraq, your professor should not be making statements about the war in class."

Do tell. So unless you're taking "War in Iraq 101", any comments on the Iraqi invasion are out of bounds? Is that it? What if the class is "Middle East Geopolitical Studies"? Or "Theory of Diplomacy"? Or perhaps "Principles of War Crimes, Past and Present"? Or maybe even "International Conflict Resolution"? Gosh, one would think that the "war in Iraq" would be eminently appropriate in any of those courses, wouldn't you? Well, you would unless you were a right-wing cheerleader at the SAF.

And how about this delightful continuation:

Or about George Bush, if the class is not on contemporary American presidents, presidential administration or some similar subject.

Really? So any non-presidential discussion of President Chimpy is out of bounds, even in courses such as, oh, "American Political Dynasties and Corruption," or "The Influence of the Religious Right on Modern Politics," or "The Modern American Empire and neo-Conservatism," or even "Neurology and Speech Pathology: Recognizing Symptoms of Early Dementia". All out of bounds, is that it?

And isn't it fascinating that, of all the people the SAF could have chosen as an example, it was Smirky. Not, say, Bill Clinton, or Michael Moore. Funny how that works, isn't it?

Please tell me none of this surprises you any more.

TYPICALLY PEDANTIC MEANDERING: I wasn't sure whether to add this part but I figure most of my readership (with a couple glaring exceptions) are clever enough to follow it, so let me explain a more subtle bit of dishonesty on the SAF's part.

Read carefully the cautions in that "Statement of Principles" above:

... [teachers] should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject.

Note well that the caution is against material that is both controversial and unrelated to the subject. Did you catch that? Not either controversial or unrelated, but both controversial and unrelated. And what does that mean?

Well, it means that, according to the Statement that the SAF is waving around so proudly, there is absolutely nothing untoward in talking about the invasion of Iraq in an unrelated class so long as those statements can be considered uncontroversial.

And what might be uncontroversial? I imagine it's safe to say that all of the following are pretty much no-brainers by now:
  1. that the U.S. clearly over-emphasized the dangers of (and the very existence of) Iraq's WMDs,
  2. that the U.S. imagined they would be greeted wildly and joyfully as liberators,
  3. that the U.S. believed that Iraqi oil would finance Iraq's own reconstruction,

and on and on. None of the above can be denied since they are all part of the public record and therefore uncontroversial, making them apparently acceptable for classroom discussion even in unrelated classes. But that's not how the SAF phrases it, as they write:

"If you are not taking a course whose subject is the war in Iraq, your professor should not be making statements about the war in class."

Poor SAF -- incapable of reading and parsing even simple English. It's no wonder they have such empathy with others who get failing grades.

CNN: Pull the plug already.

James Wolcott describes the terminal patient that CNN has become. Memo to CNN: There's room for only one raving, gibbering, right-wing news network in the U.S., and that position's already filled.

Apparently, it's bad only if OTHER people kill their family members.

(Via John at AmericaBlog.)

Oh, this is priceless. Just priceless. You couldn't have asked for a more embarrassing, ill-timed demonstration of GOP hypocrisy than this.

Apparently, GOP House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Unbounded Ethical Violations), the same Tom DeLay who is currently foaming at the mouth about having to save Terri Schiavo and the "culture of life" and anything else that can distract folks from what kind of bottom-dwelling lowlife he is ... well, apparently, this is the same Tom DeLay that killed his father. By pulling the plug on him. Is this just too delightful for words or what?

Following that link above from AmericaBlog, let's let the LA Times article give us the details (all emphasis enthusiastically added):

Family of the lawmaker involved in the Schiavo case decided in '88 to let his comatose father die.

CANYON LAKE, Texas — A family tragedy that unfolded in a Texas hospital during the fall of 1988 was a private ordeal — without judges, emergency sessions of Congress or the debate raging outside Terri Schiavo's Florida hospice.

The patient then was a 65-year-old drilling contractor, badly injured in a freak accident at his home. Among the family members keeping vigil at Brooke Army Medical Center was a grieving junior congressman — Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

More than 16 years ago, far from the political passions that have defined the Schiavo controversy, the DeLay family endured its own wrenching end-of-life crisis. The man in a coma, kept alive by intravenous lines and oxygen equipment, was DeLay's father, Charles Ray DeLay.

Then, freshly reelected to a third term in the House, the 41-year-old DeLay waited, all but helpless, for the verdict of doctors.

Today, as House Majority Leader, DeLay has teamed with his Senate counterpart, Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), to champion political intervention in the Schiavo case. They pushed emergency legislation through Congress to shift the legal case from Florida state courts to the federal judiciary.

And DeLay is among the strongest advocates of keeping the woman, who doctors say has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, connected to her feeding tube. DeLay has denounced Schiavo's husband, as well as judges, for committing what he calls "an act of barbarism" in removing the tube.

In 1988, however, there was no such fiery rhetoric as the congressman quietly joined the sad family consensus to let his father die.

"There was no point to even really talking about it," Maxine DeLay, the congressman's 81-year-old widowed mother, recalled in an interview last week. "There was no way [Charles] wanted to live like that. Tom knew — we all knew — his father wouldn't have wanted to live that way."

Doctors advised that he would "basically be a vegetable," said the congressman's aunt, JoAnne DeLay.

When his father's kidneys failed, the DeLay family decided against connecting him to a dialysis machine. "Extraordinary measures to prolong life were not initiated," said his medical report, citing "agreement with the family's wishes." His bedside chart carried the instruction: "Do not resuscitate."

On Dec. 14, 1988, the DeLay patriarch "expired with his family in attendance."

And, gosh, you might be thinking, wouldn't this make DeLay an unprincipled, opportunistic, hypocritical hack, preying on people's emotions purely for political gain? Of course not, since the two situations are entirely different, as DeLay's press reptile Dan Allen explains:

"The situation faced by the congressman's family was entirely different than Terri Schiavo's," said a spokesman for the majority leader, who declined requests for an interview.

"The only thing keeping her alive is the food and water we all need to survive. His father was on a ventilator and other machines to sustain him," said Dan Allen, DeLay's press aide.

("And besides," continued Allen, now on a roll, "her case is in Florida, and this one happened in Texas. And her last name is 'Schiavo', and his was 'DeLay'. See? Totally different.")

Right, then, completely different situation. No similarities. Luckily, the reporter is there to back up Allen's claims:

There were also these similarities: Both stricken patients were severely brain-damaged. Both were incapable of surviving without medical assistance. Both were said to have expressed a desire to be spared from being kept alive by artificial means. And neither of them had a living will.

All right, then, as we can see, there are no meaningful parallels to these incidents. No story here, sorry to have wasted your time. Carry on.

AFTERTHOUGHT: You really should read the entire LA Times article, particularly this part where the DeLay family takes legal action against the company that designed the couplings that the family suggest were the cause of the accident:

In 1990, the DeLays filed suit against Midcap Bearing Corp. of San Antonio and Lovejoy Inc. of Illinois, the distributor and maker of a coupling that the family said had failed and caused the tram to hurtle out of control.

The family's wrongful death lawsuit accused the companies of negligence and sought actual and punitive damages. Lawyers for the companies denied the allegations and countersued the surviving designer of the tram system, Jerry DeLay.

The case thrust Rep. DeLay into unfamiliar territory
— the front page of a civil complaint as a plaintiff. He is an outspoken defender of business against what he calls the crippling effects of "predatory, self-serving litigation."

See how that works? Apparently, "predatory, self-serving litigation" is in the eye of the beholder. Fancy that.

HEAD-SHAKING UPDATE: And the hypocrisy continues.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The GOP: The law-and-order party. You damn betcha.

Regardless of what else you might think about the Terri Schiavo circus, I think we can all agree that it's a relief that the Republicans are in charge.

Being the law and order party, at least they'll make damn sure that laws will be obeyed, troublemakers will be dealt with and, most importantly, judicial decisions will be followed to the letter, without question and ... uh oh ...

Oooooh ... I don't like the sound of that.

(Via Atrios)
First, there's this:

I advocate the use of force to rescue Terri Schiavo from being starved to death. I further advocate the killing of anyone who interferes with such rescue ... These cops are aiding, abetting and enabling the death of a completely innocent, totally helpless woman, Terri Schiavo, who is being systematically starved to death. They deserve to be shot in the head and killed! I'm keeping all these cop photos in case I decide to do something to them later on.

Followed shortly thereafter by:

Web Site Updates Temporarily offline. I am traveling to do something important.

All righty, then. All you protestors might want to take the day off, if you catch my drift.

: Steve Gilliard gets it just right, particularly here:

But Bush has never spread political risk. He has always heaped it on and expected to be rewarded in the end. There has never been a downside for this. But there is now. If Judge Greer or Michael Schiavo is harmed in any way, that turd is going to land right on the doors of the White House and Congress. They unleashed this madness and the idea that they could escape it is unlikely.

Yeah, that's about it, isn't it? Having yapped about this for days, howling things like, "We must do something to help Terri, it's our responsibility, we can't allow this to happen ...", the vile subhumans that are the Republicans have done everything in their power to crank up the right-wing nutballs and lunatics so that, if violence does erupt, it's perfectly fair to turn to those same Repubs and say, "Well, you asked for this. Now deal with it."

And, I could be wrong, but isn't there some kind of law in the U.S. against inciting violence or something? And wouldn't it be hilarious if, in the wake of such violence, all of the pompous, pretentious blowhards like President Chimpy and Tom "The Bugman" DeLay were indicted as co-conspirators? Man, that would just make my day.

When the mainstream media say really, really stupid things.

Like when WaPo's Jay Mathews has some suggestions about how to make biology classes more interesting.

Young Republicans: When "market-driven" meets hypocrisy, and hypocrisy wins.

I hate to keep harping on the spectacular hypocrisy of the right-wing Students for Academic Freedom ... well, OK, that's not technically true, I actually rather enjoy it, but don't let that colour your perception (wingnuts) of the fine work (moonbats) that these young folks do (raving loons).

The latest delightful and hypocritical screed comes via a link from their home page ("Bill Targets Political Bias") to a March 24 piece in the Bangor Daily News in which David Horowitz's "Academic Bill of Rights" is once again front and center, and the reporter describes a list of student expectations, including the following puzzler:

Fees - given to student government to pay for speakers - distributed "on a viewpoint-neutral basis" so those with varying political and religious perspectives can be heard.

Um ... hello? A "viewpoint-neutral basis"? Refresh my memory -- are the Republicans pushing this idea of viewpoint neutrality the same Republicans who are such giddy fans of the free market? Where everything is "market-driven" and where the majority rules? Where 51-48 was considered a clear and convincing mandate?

I mean, if we let the (student body) market decide, who's to say it's wrong or unfair if the majority of them insist that they'd rather hear, say, Michael Moore than David Horowitz? Even Jon Reisman, a professor at the University of Maine at Machias and self-confessed conservative, accidentally lets the cat out of the bag when he complains:

"We have to speak up more, but the culture is pretty negative," he said, recalling that when Hilary [sic] Clinton visited the University of Maine as first lady, "it was almost a coronation," in contrast to Laura Bush's visit, which elicited "a pretty cool reception."

And if the students happen to prefer Hillary Clinton to Laura Bush, well, the market has spoken, hasn't it? After all, you wouldn't ignore a clear "mandate" just because you didn't happen to agree with its conclusions, would you? I mean, that would be, you know, hypocritical.

Fighting fire with fire, and stupidity with cleverness.

I swear, if the Dems were any dumber, they'd need help getting dressed in the morning. How else to explain their complete lack of ingenuity and creativity in dealing with this recent controversy -- the bogus claim that Dr. William Hammesfahr, whe claims he can treat Terri Schiavo, was nominated for a Nobel Prize?

As you can see, that's not exactly, technically speaking, true since he was "nominated" only by House Rep. Mike Bilirakis (R-Really Stupid State) who, as the Media Matters piece above explains in excruciating detail, isn't even eligible to make that kind of nomination.

And how should the Dems respond? Well, rather than trying to refute this fairy tale every time it pops up (and a lot of good that would do), the Dems should respond in kind. Each of them should get a Democratic house rep to similarly "nominate" them, at which point they would be "Nobel Prize nominees" as well. And they should insist on being referred to as such in every interview from now on:

Host: This is John Gibson of Fox News, and I'm here with Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer who ..."
Boxer: "Excuse me, John, but that's Democratic Senator and Nobel Prize nominee Barbara Boxer."
Gibson: "Uh ... excuse me?"
Boxer: "Nobel Prize nominee. And, of course, with me is Representative and Nobel Prize nominee Henry Waxman. Oh, and Nobel Prize nominee and my Bichon Frise, "Cupcake". Say hello, Cupcake."
Cupcake: "Arf!"

Memo to Dems: This first piece of advice is free. The rest you have to pay for. I take small bills.

More Schiavo-inspired lunatic wingnuttery.

From CNN:

... FBI agents have arrested a North Carolina man on suspicion of soliciting offers over the internet to kill Michael Schiavo and [Judge George] Greer. Richard Alan Meywes of Fairview is accused of offering $250,000 for the killing of Schiavo and another $50,000 for the "the elimination of the judge who ruled against Terry."

I'm sorry ... do we file that under "compassionate conservatism" or "culture of life"?

Friday, March 25, 2005

Fort Worth Museum of Science and History to creationists: Bite me.

And sometimes, the good guys win one.

What he said.

The Gazetteer lays down some fine words.

Students for Academic Freedom: Dishonest or just plain stupid? We report, you decide.

(Saturday morning afterthoughts appended below.)

I really wanted to move on from this whole David Horowitz/Students for Academic Freedom thing (which, I realize, I have occasionally mistakenly referred to as "Students for Academic Fairness", an understandable error since both descriptions are equally bullshit), but a recent perusal of the SAF's web site has just pushed me over the edge. These people are either mind-numbingly dishonest or just jaw-droppingly stupid. Possibly both. Who knows? But ... onward.

As a quick recap, it all starts back here, in September of 2004, when Horowitz wrote about the now infamous case of the University of Northern Colorado student who was asked to explain why George Bush was a war criminal. Now, let's ignore everything else about this case, and concentrate on that exam question, shall we? There's no arguing that, in the beginning, Dave was presenting the question as having been phrased in this precise, exact, word-for-word way:

Among the evidence presented at this December hearing was testimony from a student at the University of Northern Colorado who told legislators that a required essay topic on her criminology mid-term exam was: “Explain why George Bush is a war criminal.”

Note well that Dave is not claiming that this was the flavour of the question, or that this was his interpretation of the question -- he is clearly (as you can see because of his surrounding quotes) presenting this as the actual verbatim wording of the question. And, no, I'm not interested in your alternative view on the subject, OK? I can easily provide another dozen examples where Dave makes the same claim so this issue is not open for debate.

Fast forward to March of 2005, to shortly after the shitstorm had started when Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik weighed in with some embarrassing revelations, among them:

Here is the question, as provided by Gloria Reynolds, a university spokeswoman:

The American government campaign to attack Iraq was in part based on the assumptions that the Iraqi government has “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” This was never proven prior to the U.S. police action/war and even President Bush, after the capture of Baghdad, stated, “we may never find such weapons.” Cohen’s research on deviance discussed this process of how the media and various moral entrepreneurs and government enforcers can conspire to create a panic. How does Cohen define this process? Explain it in-depth. Where does the social meaning of deviance come from? Argue that the attack on Iraq was deviance based on negotiable statuses. Make the argument that the military action of the U.S. attacking Iraq was criminal?

Hmmmm ... yes, yes, I believe I can see the subtle distinction here. Not hard to understand how someone could confuse those two questions -- if they've had their brain replaced by a cauliflower. Now on the defensive, Horowitz did what any honest, ethical public figure would do -- he tried to bullshit his way out of it:

... What follows is the actual text of the exam question (which was not supplied to us or the student) as reported by the university official. While reading it, bear in mind that this was not a final exam question in an International Studies course. It was an exam question in a Criminology course. The description of this course in the university catalogue is as follows: “Survey criminal behavior generally, including theories of causation, types of crime, extent of crime, law enforcement, criminal justice, punishment and treatment.”

Now read the exam question and see 1) whether it belongs on the final exam of a course of this description, and 2) whether it requires students to argue that the United States and its commander-in-chief are guilty of criminal behavior:

Note how Horowitz is suddenly shifting his attack, now arguing whether or not the question was appropriate for the course. But that's not the issue, is it, Dave? The issue is whether or not you lied about the precise wording of the question itself, so let's not get distracted by Dave waving bright, shiny things around, let's stay focused, as we read the wording of the question as Dave reproduces it in his own article:

The American government campaign to attack Iraq was in part based on the assumptions that the Iraqi government has ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction.’ This was never proven prior to the U.S. police action/war and even President Bush, after the capture of Baghdad, stated: ‘we may never find such weapons.’ Cohen’s research on deviance discussed this process of how the media and various moral entrepreneurs and government enforcers can conspire to create a panic. How does Cohen define this process? Explain it in depth. Where does the social meaning of deviance come from? Argue that the attack on Iraq was deviance based on negotiable statuses. Make the argument that the military action of the U.S. attacking Iraq was criminal.

at which point, Dave continues:

The way I parse this is, the Bush administration lied about the presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq and manipulated the public into a state of panic in order to attack Iraq unjustifiably. Explain why the U.S. (and obviously its President) is guilty of criminal behavior.

In other words, the exam question is pretty much how the student remembered it without the text in front of her, and how we reported it. It doesn’t matter to me whether this professor is a Republican or a vegetarian. This is a loaded question that seeks to enforce a student conclusion about an extremely controversial issue, which by the way is pretty remote from the subject matter that one would expect in a criminology course.

But, Dave, sweetie, nobody gives a shit about how you want to "parse" that question, what you think it might mean or whether it might be "loaded". All that matters is that it doesn't even vaguely resemble the 8-word version you'd been parading around for months and claiming was the exact text. And, I'm sorry, "the exam question is pretty much how the student remembered it without the text in front of her, and how we reported it"? What, this student is so unspeakably stupid that she somehow misremembers a lengthy and highly-nuanced essay question as "Explain why George Bush is a war criminal"? Yeah, that can happen. If you're a moron.

And how do we complete the cycle and bring the wingnuts at the SAF into it? Simple. In a March 21 article by National Campus Director Sara Dogan (not directly linkable on their web site due to their brain-damaged page design, but scroll down, it's entitled "More Academic Freedom Victories and Another Case of Media Misrepresentation"), Dogan writes fairly early:

... Meanwhile the media have launched yet another unjustified attack on our organization, claiming that we falsified the story of a University of Northern Colorado Student who failed her criminology exam after she refused to explain why George Bush is a war criminal.

Now, there's persistence, and then there's just being an asshole as Dogan is being by repeating a myth that has now been thoroughly discredited. But it gets better as, near the end of the article, Dogan actually addresses the controversy of the question text in the same sleazy manner as Horowitz did, beginning with:

UNC President Kay Norton has now released to the media the question which she claims was on the student’s exam. It is unclear how she was able to obtain this document, given that the professor had previously stated that all exam papers had been destroyed. Furthermore, though the text of the question differs from the version the student recalls, the intent is the same. It forces students to take a pre-determined stand on a highly controversial issue. This is indoctrination, not education, and confirms the student’s story rather than discredits it.

And, once again, Ms. Dogan, nobody out here gives a rat's ass what you think of the question or how you interpret its "intent" -- it's the wording that's the issue and nothing else. At which point, Dogan lapses into sheer lunacy:

The exam question released by UNC President Kay Norton reads:

The American government campaign to attack Iraq was in part based on the assumptions that the Iraqi government has ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction.’ This was never proven prior to the U.S. police action/war and even President Bush, after the capture of Baghdad, stated: ‘we may never find such weapons.’ Cohen’s research on deviance discussed this process of how the media and various moral entrepreneurs and government enforcers can conspire to create a panic. How does Cohen define this process? Explain it in depth. Where does the social meaning of deviance come from? Argue that the attack on Iraq was deviance based on negotiable statuses. Make the argument that the military action of the U.S. attacking Iraq was criminal.

The student has not once altered her story since it first came to our attention in the Fall of 2003. She maintains that the original exam question was phrased differently than the one now provided by the University and suspects that the question given to the media was a reconstruction of the original.

And since the student maintains that she is still incapable of telling us what the original question was, well, I guess we're all just screwed, aren't we? No way to resolve this, I guess. No possible way to figure out who's telling the truth, not even by ... oh, asking someone else who took the class perhaps, a strategy that seems to be utterly beyond the capabilities of the collective brainpower of the SAF. Instead, we get drivel like, "She maintains that the original exam question was phrased differently than the one now provided by the University ..."

Really, at this point, is there anything the SAF might say that would be worth listening to? And, God help us all, these people are college students. How is that even possible?

: I was a bit tired when I finished the above, and I don't think I hammered home that final point the way I wanted, so let me just add a touch-up to make sure everyone appreciates the insipid idiocy and dishonesty of the SAF's Sara Dogan above when, of the controversy over the wording of the question, she writes:

The student has not once altered her story since it first came to our attention in the Fall of 2003. She maintains that the original exam question was phrased differently than the one now provided by the University and suspects that the question given to the media was a reconstruction of the original.

So the student "has not altered her story", and yet the student admits she is incapable of verifying that the question was the way she originally reported it, and not the version as reported by the university. How exactly is that possible? It's not as if one is asking the student to recall any subtle or nuanced distinctions, is it? How unreasonable is it to expect the student to be able to choose between the short, punchy eight-word version that she (allegedly) initially provided, and the (by my count) 119-word version supplied by the university. Is the student so dense that she can't tell the difference? Is she confused by their breathtaking similarity? I can just imagine:

COP: All right, ma'am, we'd like to see if you can pick your assailant out of this lineup of two people. Was it the 7'2", 300-pound black basketball player on the left, or annoying little person Tattoo of Fantasy Island on the right? Take your time, now, be reeeeeeal sure about this ..."

Note how Dogan tried to confuse the issue by writing:

[The student] maintains that the original exam question was phrased differently than the one now provided by the University and suspects that the question given to the media was a reconstruction of the original.

But, once again, no one is asking the student to distinguish between two devilishly-similar wordings, or to say whether the longer version of the question is precisely the one that was on the exam. The question to the student is far simpler: Is this the question you remember answering? Yes or no? How difficult can this be? Well, for Dogan and the SAF, apparently, it's a real intellectual challenge and they are clearly not up to the task.

But, in the end, the final blame has to be dumped all over Horowitz for even letting this nag out of the starting gate. When he first chatted with the student and heard her story, the first words out of his mouth should have been, "Are you sure? Are you absolutely sure that that's the way the question was worded? "Explain why George Bush is a war criminal"? Not your interpretation of it, or your parsing of it, or what you think it meant. You're saying that that's the way it was presented verbatim? Is that what you're saying?"

And wouldn't that have saved all of us piles of time? Instead, we're treated to the spectacle of Dave and the Davettes, having been exposed for the liars they are and now backpedaling furiously while trying not to admit that they're backpedaling furiously. And, at this point, while it's not always nice to paint with a wide brush, I don't think it's unreasonable to now simply assume that anything new that comes out of the SAF is bullshit unless there's good reason to suspect otherwise.

Maybe, instead of inventing bogus persecution stories, those ambitious kiddies at the SAF can spend their time taking an extra course or two. Logic? Journalism? Perhaps even ethics and (God forbid) accountability? It couldn't hurt, could it?

Why "Media Matters" matters.

Over at CJRDaily, Brian Montopoli has a delightful piece on why David Brock's left-wing "Media Matters" web site makes its right wing alternatives look like, well ... raving, lunatic wingnuts.

Here's the crucial excerpt, right out of the first paragraph, comparing Media Matters to right-wing barf bucket Media Research Center:

Media Matters -- MRC's competitor on the left -- is, for example, a consistently useful resource, largely because the organization tends to limit its criticisms to specific instances of media malfeasance, and then supports those criticisms with documented facts and clear, transparent reasoning.

And that's what counts. It doesn't matter whether you agree with MM's ideological stance or not, what you just can't deny is that their pieces are focused and fastidiously documented. They supply names, places, dates and more than enough links so you don't have to take their word for anything. And, critically, as Montopoli points out, each article typically discusses a single event or incident. You won't find wide-ranging, scattershot accusations like "massive right-wing conspiracy" -- just meticulously-researched pieces.

Brent Bozell's Media Research Center, on the other hand ... well, there always has to be someone at the tail end of the bell curve, doesn't there?

Open thread.

Now's your chance.

Scientific American finally gets it.

So, those godless commies over at Scientific American have finally seen the light. It's about damn time that science was bold and open-minded enough to consider possibilities that aren't, well, you know ... science.

When fundamental beliefs run smack into one another.

Via a link from Atrios, and through Oliver Willis, we have this Newsday piece:

Man Tries to Steal Gun to 'Rescue Schiavo'

A man was arrested after trying to steal a weapon from a gun shop so he could "take some action and rescue Terri Schiavo," authorities said.

Michael W. Mitchell, of Rockford, Ill., entered Randall's Firearms Inc. in Seminole just before 6 p.m. Thursday with a box cutter and tried to steal a gun, said Marianne Pasha, a spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Mitchell, 50, told deputies he wanted to "take some action and rescue Terri Schiavo" after he visited the Pinellas Park hospice where she lives, Pasha said

Sorry, I'm confused ... what was all that "culture of life" stuff again?

I guess this is what they mean by "special" students.

Apparently, before yapping wingnut "Dizzy Gillespie" and his blog disappeared into the sunset, he amused himself by running around, sniping at me and begging people to read his blog, kind of like over here.

But it's not his self-congratulatory idiocy that's the high point of that page, it's the unrelated definition below it:

True Christian

You are humble, gracious, kind and extremely Christ-like. You believe in the bible as your law, but read it in its original language. Perhaps you're not a scholar, but you're not an armature either.

I'm guessing that "not a scholar" characterization is a bit of an understatement, at least in some cases.

And more improbable March Madness...

... as West Virginia moves on to the Elite Eight. Yeah, I'm sure you had them in your pool.

In medical intervention, as in comedy, timing is everything.

You really couldn't have asked for a better stage for the hypocrisy of the religious right to play itself out than this: "Pope 'abandons self to God's will'".

A cardinal who stood in for Pope John Paul II in a Holy Week ceremony at the Vatican said the ailing pontiff was "serenely abandoning" himself to God's will.

So ... he's prepared to let nature take its course and is resigning himself to whatever comes, medically speaking, is that it? No extraordinary efforts to prolong his life? It's all in God's hands, then, is it? Whoops, maybe not:

John Paul underwent a tracheotomy to relieve severe breathing problems on February 24.

Memo to Terri Schiavo-obsessed Catholics: You have got to be feeling just a bit conflicted at the moment, no? And here's your over-the-top, idiotic, Catholic hyperbole of the week:

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re said the 84-year-old pontiff linked his own suffering to that of Jesus Christ.

So, apparently, Jesus had access to the finest medical care in the world and a tracheotomy to assist him in breathing. Who knew?

Terri Schiavo: The lighter side.

Sometimes, you can only survive through humour.

Dave needs to hang out with a better class of friends.

Apparently, eeeeeeeveryone wants a piece of Dave Horowitz, including the folks over at I love the part where they talk about Dave's buddy, Steven Plaut, wanting a piece of Middle East expert Juan Cole. Man, you have to have some serious jewels to want to take on Cole in that field. (Thanks to commenter weech for the link.)

And lest you Canadians get too smug, it turns out we have our own version of lunatic dingbat David Horowitz, Barbara Kay. And, yes, she'll be getting the CC treatment shortly.

Republican congressional leaders to parents of Terri Schiavo: Psyche!

Oh, man, this is delicious. Just when you think they can't get any lower ...

David Horowitz and the Students for Academic Fairness: By the numbers.

If you were just a little overwhelmed by the recent three-part series regarding David Horowitz and the SAF and whether they really give a shit about academic bias against liberals, well, let's do a little summing up here, keeping one important point in mind. If you want to compare polar opposite examples Ahmad Al-Qloushi and Michael Wiesner, remember that liberal Wiesner's complaint involved alleged anti-liberal harassment that extended over a period of months, while conservative Al-Qloushi's whining was based primarily on getting an F on an essay that was a piece of crap that richly deserved it, then (allegedly) being told by his prof that he needed counselling.

In any case, regardless of how you spin it, it's overwhelmingly obvious that Wiesner's case is the more egregious claim of academic harassment and bullying. And in that light, what does Google tell us about who got the favoured treatment from Horowitz and the SAF? First, Web-wide Google searches (and, obviously, your results may vary):

"David Horowitz" "Michael Wiesner": 16 hits.
"David Horowitz" "Ahmad Al-Qloushi": 1,450 hits.

"Students for Academic Freedom" "Michael Wiesner": 4 hits.
"Students for Academic Freedom" "Ahmad Al-Qloushi": 116 hits.

And if one restricts the Google search strictly to the bounds of the respective web sites:

Horowitz's "Front Page Mag", "Michael Wiesner": 4 hits.
Horowitz's "Front Page Mag", "Ahmad Al-Qloushi": 14 hits.

SAF, "Michael Wiesner": 4 hits.
SAF, "Ahmad Al-Qloushi": 14 hits.

The numbers don't lie. Fair and balanced? I don't think so.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

David Horowitz and the SAF:Valiantly defending the left from ... oh, get real. Part 3.

Assuming that you're read the first two parts here and here, we can finally get to the bottom of this saga.

As we've already noticed, the initial response from the SAF was (how shall I put this diplomatically?) pretty well content-free but, in a stunning example of coincidence, the SAF has in fact (unintentionally, I'll bet) provided us with the perfect laboratory to test their claims. And it is a beaut.

Just consider the obvious head-to-head comparison: alleged persecuted conservative and Foothill College student Ahmad Al-Qloushi goes public with his complaint on Dec. 4, 2004, while alleged persecuted liberal and Foothill College student Michael Wiesner publishes his article on Dec. 15, 2004. You couldn't have designed a more perfectly-controlled experiment, and it remains only to see the difference in their treatment from Horowitz and the SAF. Enter Google.

First, let's see just how big Wiesner hit it in Google space, by searching on a combination of "Michael Wiesner" and "Foothill College". Ehhhhhhh ... not bad, but not overly impressive: 18 hits, most of them to other blogs or back to the SAF or Front Page. It's safe to say the SAF didn't do Wiesner any favours in terms of getting his story out there.

And Al-Qloushi? Jesus freaking Christ! 307 hits! Front Page Mag. The SAF. Yahoo. Campus Report Online. Media Matters. ABC News. The Washington Times, for Chrissake! And on and on and on. How the hell to explain this? It's not hard if you check the SAF's own "Foothill College" page, at which Ahmad is the "Special Guest Star" while Wiesner is "Second Tall Man at End of Bar".

Feast your eyes on the Ahmad adulation -- Ahmad is a "dissident Arab" who "gets the treatment", Ahmad is punished for "embracing the Constitution," Ahmad is smeared by being compared to Adolph Hitler, Ahmad is the subject of a Washington Times article, right-wing dingbat David Limbaugh rushes to Ahmad's defense, etc., etc. And Wiesner? Oh, look, there he is: "A liberal student speaks out at Foothill." Can you even stand the excitement?

And let's not forget, Wiesner's claims (remember those?) allegedly involved ongoing abuses and discrimination over a period of months. And Al-Qloushi's horror story? He got an F on an essay and, according to him, was told by the prof to see a shrink. Bummer. It just doesn't seem fair, does it? Ahmad hits the big time, while Wiesner makes a small splash and pretty much falls off of everyone's radar screen.

I just can't imagine why that would be. I mean, it's not like the SAF would show preferential treatment based on, oh, I don't know, ideological positions, would it? It's purely a mystery.

AFTERTHOUGHTS: I realize that I drifted a bit off-topic from David Horowitz to the SAF, but it isn't hard to bring the focus back to Davey boy. Once again, let's let Google do the talking. Horowitz's connection with Wiesner? And Horowitz's connection with Al-Qloushi? That pretty much sums it up, no?

David Horowitz: Champion of the downtrodden left, part 2.

First, you need to get prepared by reading part one, after which you should strap in 'cuz this is going to take a while and it's a pretty weird ride. I plan on having a beer as I type this. Deal with it.

When last we left our intrepid, muckraking investigative reporter (uh, that would be me), he had politely asked the SAF if they could, perhaps, supply a wee bit more corroborating evidence for David Horowitz's recent March 15 article in which Dave seemed to be suggesting that he's just as concerned about anti-liberal bias as the opposite. (And I think we've already established that he's really pretty obsessed with the latter.)

Just to refresh your memory, this is what Dave wrote:

At Foothills College in California, a pro-life professor compared women who have abortions to the deranged mother Andrea Yates who drowned her six children. The professor then gave D’s and F’s to students who expressed opinions in favor of abortion. Abortion is a matter that is both profoundly controversial and also emotional, and involves the deepest and most personal values. It is also a matter of opinion. It is not the task of a professor to provide his students with politically correct opinions.

Now, there are two things I want you to notice about the above:
  1. Dave clearly refers to "students" plural, explicitly suggesting that there were multiple victims, and
  2. As I mentioned before, Dave is merely describing an alleged incident of anti-liberal bias; he's not actually suggesting that he got involved or did anything about it to the extent of taking up the student's cause or anything like that.

Now, it's in the spirit of that second point that I emailed Sara Dogan of the SAF, asking simply whether she could provide some additional corroboration that Dave's story actually happened. I mean, let's face it, these days, Dave's credibility is not something you'd want to use as collateral for anything. What I got back shortly thereafter from Dogan was a short note with a URL, and this is where things get sadly predictable.

Dogan's initial response, in its entirety:

Here is an article from the student who reported the case: We are helping both liberal and conservative students at Foothill to organize a chapter to combat such abuses.

And note how, not surprisingly, she really wants to get the point across that, no, the SAF doesn't play favourites. But if it doesn't, it has a funny way of showing it.

In the first place, as you can see, the corroborating URL is (you guessed it) to an article on the SAF's own web site here. Not to sound overly cynical but, when I ask someone to provide corroborating evidence for one of their claims, I don't take it particularly seriously when they use themselves for corroboration. It kind of defeats the purpose, if you know what I mean. But let's just follow the trail, shall we? Trust me, it gets better.

It turns out that that article, written by alleged anti-liberal bias victim and Foothill College student Michael Wiesner, is identical to this one at Horowitz's own Front Page Mag site, so we'll just focus on Dave's copy. After all, it is Dave whose credibility is on the line here. And as we start to peruse Wiesner's article, what do we find? Oh, dear.

The article has four links, whose very purpose seem a bit mysterious. The first is to this other Front Page Mag article which, as far as I can tell, has absolutely nothing to do with Wiesner's case. It appears to be an example of alleged anti-conservative bias at Foothill College, so what its value is in Wiesner's case is not at all clear. And the fact that it's a link to yet another Front Page Mag article doesn't really break us out of the incestuous cycle of Front Page and the SAF. Sadly, though, it gets stranger.

Wiesner's second link (back to the SAF -- ye gods, do these folks read anything outside of their own echo chamber?) is all about former anti-wingnut bias poster child Ahmad Al-Qloushi, at which point you're asking yourself, so what? What does Al-Qloushi have to do with this? Does Wiesner have a story or doesn't he? Get on with it.

Partway down the article, finally, we get to Wiesner's own experience. Naturally, you should read the entire thing, but note carefully the following excerpt:

My story describes the denial of student rights and opinions, grade manipulation and favoritism. It also describes the six-month long battle I fought with Foothill College, and the College's attempt to silence myself, my views, and my retelling of what happened in within a Foothill College classroom.

In the Winter of 2002 I took an Ethics course taught by Professor Dave Peterson. Throughout the course, Professor Peterson was not only biased in his presentation of ethics, but also indoctrinated us with his conservative agenda, and was purposefully offensive toward liberal views and beliefs.

Excuse me? In the winter of 2002? And he's finally getting around to writing about it in December of 2004? Any reason for that, Mike? Ah, here it is, a little earlier in the piece:

I am writing this article because it happened to me, and I have been intimidated into silence about my ordeal for three years.

Uh huh. Now, one can accuse young liberals of many things, but I'm sure that being shrinking violets isn't one of them. The thought of someone being just too frightened to write about this for three years really does stretch credulity to the breaking point. And as for the last two links in the article, which you might be praying supply even a smidgen more proof for any of this? No such luck. The first is a thoroughly puzzling pointer to an "About Us" page about the college Board of Trustees, while the final link is (wait for it ... wait for it ... here it comes) to (yes!) an essay about the Academic Bill of Rights back at the SAF. And, I'm sorry, but all of that was supposed to put my doubts to rest? I don't think so, which means that it's time to put on the ol' deerstalker hat and do some sleuthing of our own.

Stay tuned for part 3, in which the SAF makes it clear it likes Ahmad more than Michael.

Taking "stupid" to a whole 'nother level.

After years of dealing with pompous, pretentious, unspeakably ignorant creationist dingbats, I really should be a bit inured to this sort of thing, but PZ Myers over at Pharyngula can't resist taking one out to the woodshed.

Remember the expression: "Too stupid to know how stupid he really is."

"85 dead insurgents"? Maybe ... maybe not.

Eli over at LeftIBlog has a slightly different spin on this story.

(Whoops, link fixed.)

David Horowitz: Staunch defender of the beleaguered liberal academic. Whaaaaaaa ... ?

So, I guess it's time to start digging through the mountain of submissions to the Canadian Cynic "David Horowitz IS fair and balanced, and you're just a mean man!" reader challenge, where we find ... oh, dear ... none. That's pretty disappointing, given the occasional commenter who insisted (standing there, arms akimbo, tapping his foot in obvious annoyance) that it wasn't about ideology. And yes, "Robbie" sweetie, I'm looking at you.

So, let me put you out of your misery and show you how real research is done. Did conservative uber-wingnut David Horowitz ever defend a liberal against conservative harassment? Ever. Ever, ever, ever. Ever. Well, according to this article published online while the shitstorm was raging around him, we can at least give Dave credit for acknowledging that such bias exists:

At Foothills [sic] College in California, a pro-life professor compared women who have abortions to the deranged mother Andrea Yates who drowned her six children. The professor then gave D’s and F’s to students who expressed opinions in favor of abortion. Abortion is a matter that is both profoundly controversial and also emotional, and involves the deepest and most personal values. It is also a matter of opinion. It is not the task of a professor to provide his students with politically correct opinions.

[CC note: Apparently, the correct name is "Foothill", not "Foothills" but numerous people (including me) have made that mistake, so I'm just trying to reduce future confusion.]

Wow. I think we can all agree that that's pretty appalling behaviour, so I'm assuming that our buddy Dave was all over that case like Michael Jackson on a 12-year old, right? Ehhhhhh ... not quite.

You'll notice that that article simply describes a case of anti-liberal bias -- it doesn't actually claim that Dave did anything about it. So let's let Google do the work to track down Horowitz's history with this incident, by searching on the combination of the phrases "Horowitz", "Foothills College" and "abortion". That should tell us everything we need to know, right? And what do we find?

Oooooh ... not so good. Only two hits from Horowitz's Front Page Rag site (I'll ignore the others for the moment), and both of them are simply links to the article above. So, according to Google, Horowitz's entire history with this alleged incident was to ... write about it after the fact in an attempt to look fair and balanced. Attaboy, Dave. Way to stick up for the little guy.

But perhaps we're being unfair. It can't hurt to give Dave the benefit of the doubt and actually do a Google search at his very own Front Page web site, for a combination of "Foothills College" and "abortion". Surely, we'll learn more about this egregious display of rampant conservative bullying and how Dave stepped in to save the day. And Google says ... oh, dear. One hit, and it's the same damned article, coming up over and over. This is so not good for Dave's reputation as a switch hitter. But wait! We're not quite done, and I am nothing if not fair.

Regular CC readers might recognize Foothill College as the site of one of Dave's poster children for academic, liberal bias, snivelling whiner and Young Republican Ahmad Al-Qloushi (described and eviscerated back here, remember?). And remember that Dave's adoring little gnomes, the Students for Academic Freedom, were all up in arms in defending Al-Qloushi. Perhaps, then, the SAF can fill us in on the details.

As a reference point, we can first see what the SAF had to say about Al-Qloushi via the appropriate Google search on their own site, where we find ... 14 hits. Yeah, I'd say that the SAF took that case pretty seriously. And the abortion case? Apparently, not so much. So, in the end, Dave and the Students for Academic Freedom can talk the talk, but they don't really walk the walk, do they?

Please tell me none of this surprises you.

BONUS TRACK: Just follow the link from CathieFromCanada. A bill that aims to stamp out "leftist totalitarianism." But in a fair and balanced and ideologically-neutral way, I'm sure.

SLIGHTLY EMBARRASSED UPDATE: I'm not sure how this didn't occur to me as I was Googling myself into a stupor but, given the appalling lack of corroboration for Horowitz's claim, it just occurred to wonder whether this incident even occurred. I mean, we've already established that Dave just plain makes up shit about left-wing bias in academia. What's stopping him from fabricating bias on the other side of the ideological spectrum, just so he can pretend being at least moderately fair and balanced? Wouldn't it be just a hoot if this story of Dave's was bogus as well?

To which end I have just e-mailed the SAF's national campus director Sara Dogan (, asking her for anything she can provide to corroborate Horowitz's claim. To wit, the surprisingly diplomatic and non-snarky request from yours truly:

In an article at your web site, "Why an Academic Bill of Rights is Necessary," David Horowitz describes a case of alleged conservative bias against pro-choice students:

"At Foothills College in California, a pro-life professor compared women who have abortions to the deranged mother Andrea Yates who drowned her six children. The professor then gave D’s and F’s to students who expressed opinions in favor of abortion. Abortion is a matter that is both profoundly controversial and also emotional, and involves the deepest and most personal values. It is also a matter of opinion. It is not the task of a professor to provide his students with politically correct opinions."

I have searched both the SAF site and Horowitz's Front Page Mag site, and have Googled on appropriate keywords, but I am unable to find any supporting proof for this claim.

Can you supply some links to corroborate Horowitz's claim that this incident actually happened? And what SAF did about it when it learned about it? Thanks.

I think we can safely say that this is a perfectly reasonable request, unusual only in that I manage to refrain from calling anyone an "asshole". Enjoy it while it lasts, and I will fer shure let you know what I hear.

All right, maybe sometimes ...

General Tommy Franks, US Central Command, speaking of civilians killed in the U.S. invasion of Iraq:

“We don’t do body counts.”

Yahoo News:

U.S. and Iraqi forces killed 85 militants at a suspected training camp along the marshy shores of a remote lake, one of the highest guerrilla death tolls of the two-year insurgency, officials said Wednesday.

So, apparently, they have the technology.