Sunday, January 29, 2006

Evidently the Supreme Court Changes America's Values

Spoken from the popular Illinois Democratic Senator:

We need to recognize, because Judge Alito will be confirmed, that, if we're going to oppose a nominee that we've got to persuade the American people that, in fact, their values are at stake.

Since when did the Supreme Court change people's values and dictate what the American public see as right and wrong. Obviously, the Supreme Court and the Judiciary is behind discriminating against black people, disposing of fetuses, selling assault weapons, taking people's homes, sodomizing others, and denying certain people civil rights. What's really behind the shit that goes on in our country is not the courts but rather people, sinful people. Laws don't dictate values, morality does....but this is why liberals often determine their sense of right and wrong based on what's legal rather than by what is moral.

**Additions 1/30/06
First, to see another's intellectual support for the last fairly controversial statement please read the Prager's article.
Second, I did not mean to make such a bold statement without additional proof and I thought Prager's article was enough. I'll explain further... I did not mean to label "liberals" or "democrats" as immoral people at all but rather that coastal far left (probably 20-30%) in this country tends to derive their sense of right/wrong from themselves (personal experience/feelings), the law, and science rather than a religious or philisophical text. I know that there are a number of Democrats and left leaning individuals who believe in God or are principled/moral people. In fact, there's a strong contingent of the evangelical left at my church (Blackhawk E-Free) and I respect their political ideals (though on a number of fronts I won't agree with them mostly due to my economic/philisophical beliefs). But let's face the facts, there's a huge divide morally in this country which is mostly set along geographical/political lines. Here's a hypothetical study, many of the sort which have been done before revolving around morality. You ask a sample size of 100 people questions revolving around moral relativism, moral absolutism, God, etc. and go to the bluest of places (Portland, Berkely, Madison, West Manhattan, DC, Boston, Miami) and then to the reddest of places (Atlanta, Dallas, Salt Lake City, suburban Milwaukee, Tulsa) and see how their answers vary. You will find that on average that not only do people's views on politics and religion change but their morality is often based on entirely different things. The blue places will have a much more relativist stance with their beliefs not derived from God but rather from personal experience and society. The red places will have a much more absolutist stance with their beliefs more likely to stem from Biblical principles.
So indeed, you can be very liberal, Christian, and believe that the government should be a strong economic distributive force and be very permissive in terms of marriage, drugs, abortion, speech, etc. This is okay from my perspective if one can rationalize their political beliefs strongly and many people can. But obviously if they are a strong Christian (ie take the bible's teachings seriously) and if they are very politically liberal, then they are justifying the government not taking action on the basis of morality which brings me to my last and final point: Most people in the United States want the government to legislate their morality--both on the left and right. Generally, the left wants the government to impose state health care which they see as a public good and personal right. They like freedom in terms of drug use because they do not see drugs as immoral. They don't want religious thought in public schools or the public square because they'd rather see our society be extremely secular than faith based. On the other side, the right wants to see drug use curtailed because they see it as a sinful act. They don't want gays to be able to marry or even have civil union rights because they see gay relationships as immoral. They want abortion to be banned because they see a human being at conception. My point here is that people want to legislate their morality on others but even when the Supreme Court makes a decision, does it really change people's values on a subject? Not really because often the laws and statutes don't reflect the whole range of perspectives. I believe that the majority of this country derives their morality from something much deeper in the way of religion, philosophies, and social norms rather than the Supreme Court. So when Obama made this false statement, I wanted to share my opinion. I did not mean to label certain groups but the generalizations are clear and I feel I've backed them up fully now.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Thank You Grandma: A Little History Lesson

Forwarded a great email by my grandma. It rings with truth.

Beer, The Wheel And General History

Humans existed as members of small bands of nomadic hunter/gatherers.
They lived on deer in the mountains during the summer & would go to the
coast and live on fish and lobster in winter.

The two most important events in all of history were the invention of
beer and the invention of the wheel. The wheel was invented to get man
to the beer. These were the foundation of modern civilization and
together were the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into two
distinct subgroups: Liberals and Conservatives.

Once beer was discovered it required grain and that was the beginning of
agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented
yet, so while our early human ancestors were sitting around waiting for
them to be invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That's how
villages were formed.

Some men spent their days tracking and killing animals to BBQ at night
while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known
as the "Conservative movement."

Other men who were weaker and less skilled at hunting learned to live
off the conservatives by showing up for the nightly BBQs and doing the
sewing, fetching and hair dressing. This was the beginning of "the
Liberal movement". Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into
women. The rest became known as 'girliemen.'

Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the domestication of cats,
the invention of group therapy and group hugs, and the concept of
Democratic voting to decide how to divide the meat and beer that
conservatives provided.

Over the years conservatives came to be symbolized by the largest, most
powerful land animal on earth, the elephant. Liberals are symbolized by
the jackass.

Modern liberals like imported beer (with lime added), but most prefer
white wine or imported bottled water. They eat raw fish but like their
beef well done. Sushi, tofu, and French food are standard liberal fare.

Another interesting evolutionary side note: most of their women have
higher testosterone levels than their men. Most social workers, personal

injury attorneys, journalists, dreamers in
Hollywood and group
therapists are liberals. Liberals invented the designated hitter rule
because it wasn't "fair" to make the pitcher also bat.

Conservatives drink domestic beer. They eat red meat and still provide
for their women. Conservatives are big-game hunters, rodeo cowboys,
lumberjacks, construction workers, firemen, medical doctors, police
officers, corporate executives, Marines, athletes and generally anyone
who works productively. Conservatives who own companies hire other
conservatives who want to work for a living.

Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to "govern" the producers
and decide what to do with their production. Liberals believe Europeans
are more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals
remained in
Europe when conservatives were coming to America. They crept
in after the Wild West was tame and created a business of trying to get
MORE for nothing.

It should be noted that a Liberal may have a momentary urge to respond
to the above, before simply giggling and forwarding it. A Conservative
will be so convinced of the absolute truth of this history that it will
be forwarded immediately to other "true believers."

Friday, January 20, 2006

BadgerZach Wrong on Lenten Booklets and Religion

In the CapitalTimes yesterday, UWRCF made the frontcover with their lawsuit against SSFC. The issue of student government funding religious organizations is clearly a touchy issue as "the separation of church and state" loomed largely in the back of my mind when first hearing the UWRCF's eligibility. The fact is though from the 2000 Southworth Supreme Court Case, no group may be turned down for funding whether religous or not and the viewpoint of the group should not be taken into consideration. Members of SSFC love to make a big deal about not funding church services but seem to like funding other religous ceremonies like pow-wows. This fact is neither here or nor there however. Following the precedent of Southworth, SSFC can fund religious activities and indeed we funded UWRCF's youth group service (Alpha-Omega similar to Campus Crusade's Primetime), bible studies, and other clearly religious events. The committee did make a few mistakes, particularly on the Lenten Booklets and rent. I don't think the committee was consistent on rent but it is a complex issue....let's go to Lenten booklets. Here's what BadgerZach had to say in the Capital Times:

It's a slippery slope for the Student Judiciary to rule that we have to pay for Lenten booklets that are handed out at a religious ceremony.

I agree that it is a slippery slope for the SJ to rule that the commitee have to pay for Lenten booklets. But the fact is that we funded every other speech literature that was put out. I voted "yes" to the cut because I was under the impression that it was simply a handout that the Catholic church put out in their building, written by outside Catholics. I did not know that the devotions of the Lenten booklets were written by students and passed out around campus (Moral Majority referred to my comments to Tim Kruse in this op-ed). These two facts makes it similar to other types of speech literature like "The Voice" by JCC or Mecha's newsletter. Committee members should not discriminate on the type of literature that is being passed out. Inconsistent are we BadgerZach....

They're pulling the religious card, and I don't think that's necessarily right.

Yes, UWRCF is pulling the religious card and very good reasons. Who grilled them continuously about prosletyzing, religous worship, etc. in both the eligibilty process and budgets??? The whole committee but to point out 2 members who were excessively critical....BadgerZach and Sree Atluru. UWRCF took an excessive amount of questioning and cuts because many members of the committee are anti-religion and the traditional spenders were unwilling to stand up for them. The fact is that a lot of the line items wouldn't have been cut or would have been up for much more discussion had it not been UWRCF.

I hope that ASM Student Council can correct SSFC's ill-advised decisions and restore the funding that's consistent. I am pessimistic however because the committee made a series of great cuts that may be harder to get through Council and UWRCF's budget may end up being too large for my tastes. We'll have to see....

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Corruption of CFACT and Peter McCabe

On a liberal campus, there are few conservative groups to counteract leftist propaganda and thought. Nearly 6 years ago, CFACT (Collegiates for a Constructive Tomorrow) first put its footprint on the University of Wisconsin Campus. With its main objective to promote nuclear power and free-market environmentalism, a clearly right of center organization now had an opportunity to influence the campus on junk science and excessive environmental regulation. Where I stand environmentally is definitely a mixed-bag but I do stand with CFACT in being an advocate of nuclear power, consumers making environmental decisions, and other particular points. So why would I vote to minimally fund an organization that I somewhat agree with and speak critically of their organization? A number of reasons but it starts with their lack of activity and the corruption of their leaders and in particular, Peter McCabe. The corruption of this organization must be brought to light and with this post hopefully the blinds will open slightly.

Exhibit A: Peter McCabe and also Lindsey Ourada

A wealthy coasty from the Northeast, Peter McCabe is welcome as are all out of state students as they clearly add to the geographical diversity of the campus but also the diversity of experiences and dialogue. What isn’t welcome is the manipulative and selfish persona that many people also in the College Republicans and across campus have come to know. While Peter McCabe may fight for personal property rights on the environmental front, from personal experience I have seen that he does not value physical goods that belong to other people. Last summer at a party, he thought it was okay to take a grill that an owner had on his deck and keep it for his personal gain. Peter McCabe has a history of not only stealing goods from individuals, he seems to also like to steal from UW's students. He wants not only a $35,000 position for himself in the following year but how about also 4 positions for buddies and a trip to Mexico, all paid for by students. His character can also be evaluated on the front that he does everything in his power to dramatize events and take down people that stand up for what is right. The way he has unfairly attacked Kellie Sanders (who has been found not guilty) and is trying to impeach the entire SSFC committee (minus Goessl and Frey) also shows the lack of values integrity and virtue. The fact that him and Lindsey Ourada, both former SSFC members, gave us clearly a sub par budget filled with excessively high numbers, vague descriptions, and ridiculous requests and then proceed to not explain their budget, ridicule the committee, and then sue a number of members shows that both of CFACT’s core campus leaders are dishonest and greedy.

Exhibit B: History

The history of CFACT on UW’s campus is not one of major difference or activity. For instance, the few speakers that CFACT have only attracted at most 50 to 80 people, far lower than their projections of 1,300 for their major speaker series. The main essence of their group rests on their internship program but my question is how much do the interns really do? Former interns have said that they only did about 2 hours of work for an entire semester and got 3 credits for it. Is this an honest internship program and do these interns really deserve credit for the little work they put in? This is clearly working the system for personal gain on both CFACT and students. Obviously a certain fraternity got word of this great deal and signed on in droves (how else do you that their internship program expanded dramatically to around 60 or so students). I don’t know all the facts but further research and investigation needs to be done to see what CFACT’s intern program is really all about. Most likely the program is only about free credits. When CFACT came in asking for money for internship events, the only previous event that Lindsey Ourada could verify is a dunk tank, a dunk tank that they used to dunk hippies in. Sounds pretty hilarious until one realizes this is what CFACT is asking $10,000 for. So from the facts that CFACT has given the SSFC Committee and from other insider sources, CFACT has had very little if almost no impact on campus for the last 5 years.

Exhibit C: CFACT’s 2006-2007 Budget

CFACT came in within a dishonest budget and here are some of the highlights:

--$7,500 for a trip for 7 to Mexico

--$100,000 for 4 speaker honorarium (Yes, they expect to get 1,300 people at each event)

--$10,000 for dunk tanks

--$160,000 for 5 professional staff positions (Yes, I guess college student organizations need to have professional staff…. and not only do they need a professional staff person, they need 5.)

Let’s also add little/no job descriptions, lack of hiring policy, identical speaker descriptions, a blank request form, no description of the Mexico trip, no end of the year report, etc. This was not a budget worthy of anything but the minimum. Also, let’s add to the fact that CFACT is a contract group, giving McCabe and the leadership almost complete control of the money. No way! Try again next year CFACT when you can actually give the committee a detailed plan and strong justification for use of SEG fees.

If I were a national CFACT executive, I would make sure that I put in place honest and hardworking leadership for each chapter. Has the CFACT leadership placed strong student individuals in place, obviously not. If CFACT wants to compete with WISPIRG in the marketplace of ideas, they better earn their keep through strong programs. Their current and historic state says otherwise.

**Update 1/27/06** Additional/New Information on CFACT
--After meeting w/ numerous CFACT leaders I want to alter some of the statements I made in the above post.
1. Indirectly attacking Peter McCabe's geographical history and sociological background was unfair and fairly unobjective of me.
2. The lack of hiring policy is due to CFACT's contract group status (ie they are not required to have one).
3. The end of the year report for CFACT was lost by SSFC leadership and CFACT did provide one.
4. Pete McCabe and Lindsay Ourada do not desire positions with CFACT next year, with McCabe planning to enter armed service duty and Ourada teaching. The professional staff requests thus are not directly self serving.
5. CFACT has put in more safeguards and requirements in their internship program (specifically attendance rules). I still am not convinced that the CFACT internship program is very educational, hands-on, or demanding.
6. Their projection of 1300 for their internship events was based on a CFACT-sponsored speech that John Stoessl gave at UNC. This projection was not explained at all though in CFACT's hearing and still in my mind is not a fair or scientific number.
7. I respect CFACT's staff for challenging the campus with new ideas and their responsiveness to a number of my questions. I still however have issues with their budget, motives, and honesty during the SSFC process.
8. I believe I was too critical of Pete McCabe's character and I owe him an apology. I still do not agree with a number of things he has done but I might have been slightly judgemental/untactful in my analysis.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

My Budget Philosophy

Previous posts have indicated my displeasure surrounding SSFC and in general their lack of fiscal philosophy and consistency. I’ve dedicated a lot of time thinking about what exactly I stand for and what others seem to stand for on the committee. The way I view SEG fees and the way others view SEG fees collided on numerous occasions last fall. This trend of philosophical and political clash will probably continue. For both my sanity and others that are involved or have been involved in this controversial process, I need to lay out where I stand in terms what should most likely be funded and what most likely should not be funded.

1. Social Events should not be funded.

If you’re just a common joe on UW’s campus your social life consists probably of a couple things. One, going out on either Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night (or a combination of the prior nights) to a house party, frat party, or bar and allocating a number of your hard earned or parent earned dollars for both refreshments and cover charges. Second, you may go see a movie, concert or Badger sports game that also hits your wallet. Third, you may be part of a student organization and after the game or the meeting you guys get some food/drinks paid by either your yearly dues or your pocketbook.

Now get this, MCSC wants to throw a ball with food and dance paid for. Oh yeah, and also Campus Woman’s Center wants to throw a “Woman’s Concert” down outside the Union. What if you’d rather join another student organization such as the Real Estate Club and go to their due-paid socials or what if you’d rather go see a Phish concert instead of the “Woman’s Concert”. There are no educational components to these and other events that student organizations demand funding for. How about allowing students to choose what they do in their social time rather than having them inadvertently paying for special events? Allowing SEG fees to go to events of strictly a social nature is inexcusable and says a lot about what ASM’s and UW’s priorities are. But see how the SJ ruled on Monkeyhoes and that is the current state of the system.

2. No handout that is not primarily educational should be funded.

Non-educational Handouts are a much smaller expense than social events or salaries for most student organizations but they are all the more an unreasonable expense. Take condoms for example. A number of student organizations budget for this line item (LBGTCC, SOL, CWC) when there are clearly condoms available a block away at Walgreen’s. Another example of a noneducational handout are pens. Both ASM and CWC asked for these in order to advertise but what really do these do to advertise. Are people really going to be interested in your organization by seeing your name on pens? The main function of a pen is to write and clearly there are a number of stores selling pens on/near campus. If anybody really needs condoms or pens, they will go purchase them at a store. If SSFC members don’t feel like the market is adequate in terms of providing these items, they need to take an economics course, get their hands out of students’ pockets, and get a brain. Handouts that are educational should be deemed adequate because literature is often as effective as a program in presenting a message or information. No matter what the message is and whether religious or not, it deserves equality in funding.

3. Student salaries should be only for a selected few that go above a certain amount of hours (10-12 hours) of volunteering. This measure goes mainly for activist organizations.

I’ve talked about this subject with a number of other SSFC members and 4 of us do understand that activism work should be primarily of a volunteering nature. Whether you’re working at a church in children’s ministry, get petition signatures to save the rainforest in Brazil, running a meeting of a student organization, or putting on a program to support “your” cause, aren’t you doing more of an act of service rather than an act of compensation. Sure full-time church workers, environmental activists, and non-profit personnel do get paid (often much lower salaries than the private sector) but should students working 10-20 hours get paid for activism. Surely not. I can understand compensating a couple leaders who are supervising a large staff and have to put in extra hours. But again, we are talking about registered student organizations…. This year many people on the committee think it is fine to have large staffs for activist organizations (and I use activist in a neutral stance). There are many organizations and SSFC members who see paying student employees as vital to the programs of these organizations. But again if you do not have student volunteers putting on a specific program, should it really be put on at all. Because in reality, if students demand a educational or recreational service won’t the college or the private sector put it on? Again I’m not calling for the abolishment of student salaries or stipends as a whole but the labor budgets of many organizations are preposterous and unnecessary. If the organization is vital to the direct educational (GUTS) or transportation (SAFE) needs of the students, then it should be funded. Exempting a few organizations from harsh cuts, activist salary funding needs to be reformed dramatically.

4. No funding to programs or line items that do not fit the main mission of a particular group.

This was one of my main pet-peeves on the committee when SSFC failed to reject funding requests that did not fit the mission or main objective a group. MCSC is probably the biggest offender of any group. They asked to put on programs/trips that were strictly labor, tuition, and share-governance related and SSFC I believe did not vote to cut any of these programs. Therefore, a group that centers on diversity/multiculturalism is granted money to spend on items that aren’t central to what their group is about. So…essentially it doesn’t matter what type of group you are. You can put on a program about anything and get funding for it. I fought against funding these types of items all year. Sadly, few others really agreed or understood my rationalization.

5. Trying to limit Food/Drink to a bare minimum unless it is essential to the educational or cultural aspects of the event.

One area the committee was tough on all year was food/drink and I have to commend most of the moderates for signing on to these line item cuts. We still funded to food/drink to a small degree (especially if its part of the educational/cultural part of the program) which I guess philosophically I have a problem with. I do agree though with the statements Saar and Kiernoziak made about food and what its purpose really should be.

These are obviously starting points and there are obviously all sorts of different cuts that need to be made to different line items. I try to stick to these criteria but I am not ideological to the core on these rules. It will take a lot of convincing however for me to abandon these principles in any particular situation. Any other ASM or SSFC current or former member, please add other principles that should be added. Thanks.