I’ll Make You An Offer…

April 8, 2008

karl rove nose

I got this email the other day, but I’m not sure how I ended up on their mailing list. Maybe it’s because I attend Christian U. Maybe it’s because I’m involved on campus. But they definitely didn’t screen their recipients very well:

Would you, or someone you know, like a successful career as a conservative activist?

Let me think about it.

. . .

Hmm.

. . .

No.

…Each fall, I carefully select the most promising young conservative activists to be field representatives for my [random Conservative Organization I’d prefer not to lend free publicity too]. Field representatives receive 2 weeks of intensive training at my headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, plus generous compensation that allows them to spend 3 months on the ground, honing their political skills and preparing for a lifetime of leadership.

Those selected will help conservative students break the left-wing monopoly on college campuses.

(Like my school, evidently.)

Currently, the [Conservative Org] has 1,015 active conservative student groups in our campus leadership program. Our fall 2008 field representatives will organize hundreds more. If you become a field representative, your journey will take you to colleges in one of at least 80 territories covering all 50 states. Once there, you will locate conservative students, help them organize, and connect them to the resources of the conservative movement. While your leadership abilities increase, you will raise up the next generation of conservative leaders….

The pay is generous. The experience is priceless. Through the generosity of our donors, field representatives receive $15,000 in salary and expense stipend for the three month program. Leadership Institute field representatives also receive a top-of-the-line laptop computer which they keep upon completion of my program.

[Globalizati], opportunities for full-time, paid jobs fighting for your beliefs do not come along very often.

So true, too bad this one doesn’t count either. This whole thing kind of scares me. Given the quality of a recently released conservatives-only publication I had the pleasure of reading, the idea that one can get full-time funding to advance those ideas is frightening.

Used to be you had to work a few years exploiting poor people before you got to move into conservative politics. I feel like this next generation of activists is missing out on this vital part of their conservative careers.


Iraq, Women, Democracy, and Liberty

April 8, 2008

(You can have any three of the nouns in the title, but only three, sorry.)

Over at Political Cartel, Karie has written about Iraqi Women’s Rights Falling By the Wayside. She has some astute observations about the paradox of majoritarianism and liberty for women:

Mature, responsible, hardworking women are told to wear headscarves, occasionally not allowed to drive their own cars, and given a 5 p.m. curfew. Their antagonists? Young, uneducated Iraqi men with weapons and no sense of decency. If an Iraqi man kills his wife or daughter because of suspected sexual promiscuity, he can be imprisoned for no more than three years. If a woman kills an adulterous man, she is tried for murder.

As if this weren’t bad enough, the worst part of it is that conditions for women have actually worsened under the surge. Under Saddam Hussein in the early 90s, “enforced secularism” was the law of the land, and women were largely free to go to college and marry who they liked. But now, under the surge, the US is letting things like gender issues slide for stability’s sake. . . It’s incredibly ironic that an American surge in the name of democracy should actually worsen democratic conditions.

The take-home point here is that majority rule and individual liberty are not necessarily compatible. Here’s what I said in the comments section:

This may have an interesting parallel to Turkish society, where secularism (and women’s rights) must be enforced by a somewhat autocratic state (or at least a democracy with a strongly-involved military). Like Iraq and some other areas of the world, it’s arguable that more democracy will lead to less rights for women. Which really sucks.

It also poses an interesting hypothetical–which do we value more: Democracy, or liberty? In some places they seem to go together and even compliment each other, whereas in others they can conflict.

And David Manes followed up:

Liberty is an end in and of itself; democracy is just a means to achieving other ends. If democracy isn’t taking a society to better places (tolerance, prosperity, human rights, etc.) then it is useless. There is nothing magical about simple majoritarianism if it becomes oppressive.

And (master of hegemonic discourse) Steve Denney:

I think Americans, especially, see [liberty and democracy] as commensurate, which is a false perception. Americans think that Democracy will bring about liberty — a non sequitor, because democracy can bring about the proscription of certain liberties, regardless of the ramifications or the consequences.

When we talk about democracy, I think we’re usually referring to “liberal democracies” like the US, Canada, much of Western Europe, etc. Iran is also a democracy, but it’s a theocratic one. It’s quite arguable that the majority really is getting its way in Iran (to the detriment of those who disagree). Turkey is a democracy of sorts as well, but with a sort of military-enforced secularism that likely goes against the mainstream of public opinion and helps to shape public opinion too. Iran is probably closer to democracy, but I’d take living in Turkey any day, because it is a lot closer to liberty. Of course, it’d be great if we could have both.


Case Studies in Ignorance

April 7, 2008

#2 article on the Chicago Tribune’s website:

Did you hear about the state legislator who last week blasted a Lutheran minister during a committee hearing for spewing dangerous religious superstitions, and then attempted to order the minister out of the witness chair on the grounds that his Christian beliefs are “destroying what this state was built upon”?

Of course you didn’t, because it didn’t happen and would never happen. Not to a Christian, not to a Jew, not to a Muslim or to anyone who subscribes to any faith.

OK, so that’s a bit of an overstatement. Something like that would happen, but it would definitely cause outrage from many, many areas.

Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) interrupted atheist activist Rob Sherman during his testimony. . .and told him, “What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous . . . it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! . . This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God. Get out of that seat . . . You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.”

For the record, Rep. Davis attends Trinity United Church of Christ, the same place Obama attends. Someone please remind me why Obama (an otherwise an excellent candidate) should go to this church, or how he ever saw political benefit from being a member there?


Deep Existential Torment is Sexy

April 7, 2008

torment existential

More and more philosophy majors these days. This article proposes that, somewhat paradoxically, tougher economic times are pushing people to ever more general (and arguably less marketable) college majors. The first paragraph made me laugh, as they describe the oh-so-unexpected shift of a pre-med freshwoman to a pre-law senior. Must’ve been Organic Chem.

The money quote is at the end though:

Jenna Schaal-O’Connor, a 20-year-old sophomore who is majoring in cognitive science and linguistics, said philosophy had other perks. She said she found many male philosophy majors interesting and sensitive.

“That whole deep existential torment,” she said. “It’s good for getting girlfriends.”


Mark Penn is Out

April 7, 2008

Finally. I’m surprised he was able to hang on this long–at some point any staffer getting bad press becomes a net negative for a campaign, and I thought Penn became that a long time ago.


Thank you, Mr. Registrar (T-Minus 38 Days)

April 2, 2008

registrar registrar's office

There are now only 38 days between today and graduation day. Hurrah! I think I’ll be making intermittent countdown posts chronicling my last days here at Christian U (CU), my school. Because I go to college in my hometown, it’s difficult to separate my childhood and high school years from the time I spent in college, so the whole graduating-and-moving-away thing that I will be experiencing after college is really the first time I’ll have lived anywhere but this small town in Arkansas.

Anyway, as one step on the highway toward a diploma, I recently communicated with the registrar at CU. This is the person who checks to make sure you’ve taken every class you need before you graduate. Thankfully, I evidently took the right classes in my 10 semesters, so I get to graduate “on time” (ha).

I think being a registrar is probably a pretty thankless job. From the university side you’ve got pressure to check everything off and make sure everyone takes exactly what they’re required to take. But whenever you stop a student from graduating because they forgot to take that 1 hour kinesiology activity credit, that’s gotta piss people off.

So here’s to you Mr. Registrar, thanks for letting me out.


Top 10 Creationist Studies of All Time

April 1, 2008

Impressive.


Extraordinary

April 1, 2008

You have to listen til at least 1:10. Just trust me, it’s incredible.