Shakespeare becomes a casualty in war on multiculturalism

From the LA Times:

No longer can the students discuss Chicano perspectives on history. And no longer can Martinez teach Mexican American studies.

After the Tucson Unified School District board voted late Tuesday to suspend the controversial classes to avoid losing more than $14 million in state aid, the students’ world shifted.

Course titles and curriculums changed immediately. Chicano history became American history. Chicano literature became English literature.

State law bans classes that are primarily designed for a particular ethnic group or that “promote resentment toward a race or class of people.” Last week, state Supt. of Public Instruction John Huppenthal ruled the Tucson program in violation. The board chose not to contest his decision in court.

Proponents say the classes push Latinos to excel and teach a long-neglected slice of America’s cultural heritage — Latino perspectives on literature, history and social justice.

But its critics, led by Huppenthal, say framing historical events in racial terms “to create a sense of solidarity” promotes groupthink and victimhood.

Teaching history without the history of ethnic groups is unavoidable. Teaching history without the history of victimization is unavoidable. Teaching history without the history of victimization of ethnic groups is certainly unavoidable, given that large swaths of history are comprised almost entirely of some form of ethnic and/or racial oppression (a history that continues to be written to this day). In fact, teaching history as such is to alter the past itself.

Saxby Chambliss bails on PIPA

PIPA opponents have been claiming that co-sponsors are jumping ship on the controversial legislation, and there certainly has been some senators bailing after the internet protest on Wednesday. The latest appears to be Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss, who sent out this press release earlier today:

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) released the following statement today regarding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) decision to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act:

“It was always clear that the PROTECT I.P. Act needed to be perfected, and that legitimate concerns needed to be addressed before this bill could move forward. Given this and my constituents concerns, it was my intention to vote against cloture of this bill. With the majority leader’s decision to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act, I am withdrawing my co-sponsorship to await the resolution of the outstanding issues. However, I still believe that online theft is a serious issue, and that Congress does need to make certain that our laws adequately protect the interests of rights holders. When $58 billion in economic output is lost to the U.S. economy annually due to copyright theft of movies, music, packaged software and video games, and about one-quarter of all internet traffic is copyright infringing, there is a real problem that needs to be dealt with. I have complete faith that we will be able to work out a compromise in the future that addresses this problem, while still promoting free and open access to the internet.”

Welcome news, so say the least. Yesterday, Chambliss was singing a much different tune however.

High School Team Name “Cougars” Deemed Offensive

After years of hearing backlash against team names like Redskins and Braves, which opponents claimed demaned Native Americans, I thought we had kind of moved past this.  I really, really should know better by now.

Sensitivity and political correctness regarding the names of athletic teams has officially reached a ridiculous peak.

KSTU-TV in Utah reports that a new high school’s hope to call its team the Cougars was rejected because … wait for it … the Victorian-minded members of the school board thought it would be offensive to some middle-aged women.

Cougar, of course, has become a working term for older women who chase considerably younger men. But long before that usage inspired Courteney Cox’s Cougar Town TV show the noble cougar served as a mascot for Washington State and the University of Houston.

First of all, most of the “cougars” I know are rather proud of the term, though I suppose there are some who aren’t.  However, no one is painting a 40 year old woman in a slinky black dress holding a martini on a football helmet here. We’re talking about a large feline.

In this nation, people have a right to say they are offended by the name of a team, just like we have the right to mock them for that opinion if we so wish.  However, people don’t have a right to not be offended, especially when it’s pretty damn clear that no one was referring to them in the first place.

War on drugs a problem for pro golfer

Last week, the PGA Tour played the Sony Open in Hawaii.  In the midst of what was an otherwise uneventful week of rich golfers enjoying immaculate surroundings while playing for millions of dollars was Matt Every.  Every played well the first three days which brought him into the media tent and to an on-air interview with The Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman.

Every was arrested in 2010 for possession of marijuana.  The charges were eventually dropped and the case dismissed.  Apparently, this was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time with regard to law enforcement.

While the PGA Tour has a drug testing policy in place and Every has not failed that we know of, and while he was undoubtedly found to have not broken any laws by officials of the courts, Every was suspended for 3 months from the PGA Tour for “conduct unbecoming.” Every had not won enough money up to that point in 2010 to secure his “card” (PGA Tour players keep their playing privileges by finishing in the top 125 on an annual money winnings list), so essentially, he was kicked off the PGA Tour.

In 2011, Every played well enough on the Nationwide Tour (a development tour that awards 25 PGA Tour cards every year to the top finishers) to regain playing privileges on the PGA Tour in 2012.  He was in the midst of capitalizing on that opportunity by possibly winning the tournament (a two year exemption and about a million bucks) or at least having a high finish – going a long way towards the money list for 2012 when all of the commotion occurred.

Stephanie Wei from takes us through the interview with Tilghman:

Meet the corporatist left

While thousands of left-leaning folks took to the street last year to decry corporatism via the Occupy movement, many have managed to miss the corporatism of the left.

MapLight has conducted an analysis of campaign contributions from key industry groups to members of the U.S. Senate (July 1, 2005 - June 30, 2011) and found that:

  • Entertainment interest groups that support these bills gave 7.2 times as much ($14,423,991) to members of the U.S. Senate as Internet interest groups that oppose these bills ($2,011,332).
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has received 4.8 times as much from entertainment interest groups that support these bills ($571,500) as from Internet interest groups that oppose these bills ($118,050).

Now, is’nt that just fascinating?

The Hill names House GOP members that fight for limited government

It’s no secret that House Republican leadership, who often have to be prodded to stand on principle, has had issues with some members of their caucus. While they are often portrayed negatively by the media, many of us view them as the conscience of the Republican Party at a time when it would be easy to just “make a deal” with the White House and avoid big political fights.

The Hill recently went through a series of votes on key issues — ranging from the renewal of the PATRIOT Act to the government shutdown— and named off the dozen members who have consistantly stood for limited government values:

House Republican leaders had an extremely difficult time uniting their members in 2011, but some were far more exasperating than most.

But surprisingly, the most consistent GOP defectors during the last year were not freshmen, according to an analysis conducted by The Hill.

Veteran rank-and-file Republicans, not members of the historic class of 2010, have proven to be a greater challenge to keep in line.

The Hill’s review found that only two of the 12 biggest defectors in the House Republican Conference are freshmen: Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.) and Jeff Duncan (S.C.).

The other 10 are Reps. Ron Paul (Texas), Timothy Johnson (Ill.), Connie Mack (Fla.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Tom Graves (Ga.), Paul Broun (Ga.), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Steve King (Iowa), Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Joe Wilson (S.C.). All 12 legislators consistently opposed their leaders at key moments during the House GOP’s first year back in the majority since 2006.

Mitch Daniels will counter Obama’s State of the Union address

Next Tuesday evening, President Barack Obama will deliver his fourth State of the Union address — and hopefully, his last. While we don’t yet know the themes and issues that Obama will discuss, we got a hint of what is to come in the Republican response as House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels will counter Obama’s address:

In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) praised Daniels as “a fierce advocate for smaller, less costly and more accountable government” and said that he “has the record to prove it.”

“For making tough choices and keeping his promises, Mitch Daniels is the right choice at the right time to deliver the Republican response to President Obama’s address,” Boehner added.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called Daniels “an eloquent spokesman for limited government” and said that he “knows that President Obama’s three-year experiment in big government has made our economy worse and our future more uncertain, and he knows that Americans want a government that’s simpler, streamlined and secure.”

“He is a forceful advocate of pro-growth policies like fundamental tax reform, regulatory reform and energy security,” McConnell said. “And he is the right choice to explain the challenges we face and to outline a hopeful, common-sense vision for moving America forward by growing the economy, not the national debt.”

Citizens United and SOPA/PIPA

You know, letting corporations donate to political campaigns and have free speech rights will destroy the country. Giving corporations the right to speech, like us, is a monumental threat to democracy. They would make us all beholden to the 1%. They would buy campaigns, transform this country into a plutocracy or, worse yet, a full blown corporatocracy. Who knows what terrible things they could do to our country. Why, with their money and resources, they would be able to warp and corrupt public opinion, and turn them against the government. They might even lead a campaign to stop online censorship!

I find it somewhat amusing that the progressives who railed against Citizens United so furiously are now finding themselves the beneficiaries of that decision. Citizens United allowed corporations and such organizations as unions to spend money on political campaigns, though they could not be donated to political parties or candidates, and had to be spent separately. What else was the SOPA Strike Wednesday but a political campaign, with Hollywood on one end trying to use the political system to do away with due process in order to reap more profits, and tech companies and grassroots citizen-activists on the other trying to prevent such a mockery of law? I’m not a legal expert, but it would appear to me that if Citizens United hadn’t been decided the way it were, and the McCain-Feingold Act was still in place, this campaign might not have gotten off the ground, or if it did, it might not have been as wildly successful as it was.

PIPA vote postponed

Politico is reporting that, in light of Wednesday’s massive protest against the Senates Protect IP Act, or PIPA, vote on that bill will be postponed.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has postponed a procedural vote scheduled for Tuesday on the PROTECT IP Act, although he held out a glimmer of hope for a compromise in an online piracy push that many were proclaiming dead.

“In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT IP Act,” Reid said in a statement.

Of course, it ain’t over yet folks.  Politico also reports that talks between to the entertainment industry and it’s senators and the tech industry and their senators are still ongoing.  The website reports:

“We made good progress through the discussions we’ve held in recent days, and I am optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks,” Reid said.

“There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved,” he added. “Counterfeiting and piracy cost the American economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year, with the movie industry alone supporting over 2.2 million jobs. We must take action to stop these illegal practices.”

Translation: We’re still going to try and screw freedom over…we just have to come up with a new way of doing it.

A Powerful Argument for Minarchism, Built on the Foundation of Peace

[In the voice of that narrator guy from Law & Order:]

In the libertarian movement, there are two separate but equally important groups: the minarchists who support a minimal state, and the anarchists would believe in no state at all.

These are their stories.


Such could be the introduction to any documentary about modern libertarianism. It’s quite true: there has been a raging argument between those who want a minimal state that does only a few bare functions (law enforcement, defense, prisons, perhaps roads and fire departments) and those who want absolutely no state whatsoever. It lead to a split in the Libertarian Party in the 80s, after Ed Clark received 1% of the presidential vote in 1980, when anarchists felt the party wasn’t being radical enough. You see the argument vocalized on anarchist websites, such as this writer at Strike the Root who declares that minarchists are “the enemy.” It isn’t helped that it anarchism does seem logical, from a certain standpoint: how can you be for liberty yet still want a state? That’s a contradiction!

Fortunately, a very powerful argument for libertarian minarchism has emerged, one that is built on the foundation of peace.

Stephen Pinker just wrote the book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, and gave an interview to reason about it. In his interview, he points out some very fascinating facts about why violence has gone down. The first point is that the free market (aka “capitalism”) leads to peace:


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