Odd, isn't it, how the settled issues keep getting so untidied?
I've been pounding my own rhetorical plastic bucket lately over the anti-intellectualism rampant in this university town and state capital. My Isthmus opinion piece, "Madison libs have no interest in opposing viewpoints" (unless it is to boycott them), has drawn more than the usual share of online comments and letters to the editor. (Pick up Thursday's Isthmus.)
As if on cue, one lazy reader proved my point by demanding that I link him up with the "one" blog that "that explicates each of your points from the second paragraph." (That paragraph itemized a litany of eight unexamined progressive shibboleths.) Cliff's Notes, only, for that boulevardier.
This week a conservative think tank roiled the stagnant waters of complacent academia by suggesting that the University of Wisconsin's Madison campus was guilty of systemic and egregious reverse discrimination. Color-blind the UW is not, says the Center for Equal Opportunity.
The Center, using what it says are statistics supplied by the UW only after a protracted court battle, alleges severe discrimination based on race and ethnicity in undergraduate and law school admissions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with African Americans and Latinos given preference over whites and Asians.
Panic and general hilarity ensues
This affront to all that is sacred provoked panic among UW administrators. My young Republican friend, the irreverent Jeff Waksman, recounts:
Vice Provost Damon A. Williams sent out a frantic campus-wide message about a vague "troubling communication ... that involves a threat." He called an "urgent meeting" at the "last minute" to determine a University-wide response.
Vice Provost Lori Berquam declared the attack on the University "aggressive and right wing." Vice Provost Williams spoke to the Daily Cardinal "with tears in his eyes," telling them "I was so upset that our students are going to have to wake up this morning and deal with this."
The University leadership has agreed on a top-to-bottom united fight against this existential threat, including sit-ins, drum circles and potentially fleeing to Illinois again.
Well, maybe not the Clock Tower Inn in Rockford, but cue the mindlessness.
Chanting "power to the people" and "we're more than our scores," more than 100 future Democratic state legislators on Tuesday broke into the DoubleTree Hotel just off campus on West Johnson St. -- private property, mind you -- to take over the conservative organization's press conference.
Madison police were called to the hotel but did not try to disperse the group. The hotel manager claims some of his hotel employees were tossed to the ground as the young scholars stormed in.
Is this multiple choice?
Republicans are very much for providing opportunity. But at what point should the innocent be made to pay for the sins of previous generations? When do we truly become a color-blind society? Affirmative action forever -- or time-limited? Not easy questions but fair questions, nonetheless.
Alas and alack, too many of our young scholars and their tenured profs do not like questions for which they have no easy answers.
Much easier to lay siege to the Capitol and blow horns.
I'll say it again: UW-Madison is an institution that devotes thousands of faculty hours compiling statistics-laden action plans in the pursuit of that holy grail of diversity in such ephemera as gender, race, and ethnicity -- but not in the one important a research and teaching institution: intellectual diversity.
Tommy Thompson = true conservative
I would have signed the manifesto urging the Club for Growth to lay off Tommy G. Thompson but was not asked due, the signatories told me, to my prior employment with the great man. So I'll say it here:
Tommy Thompson virtually invented school choice. Tommy Thompson jump-started welfare reform. Tommy Thompson cut taxes for the middle class. Tommy Thompson vetoed millions of dollars in spending enacted by Democrat-majority legislatures. Tommy Thompson was the original jobs, jobs, jobs governor.
The likes of John Nichols, Ed Garvey, Bill Lueders, Rebecca Young et al. hated the man's politics -- for good reason. Tommy Thompson revivified the conservative movement here in Wisconsin. He was the hope and he delivered the change. He was and is as sunny as Ronald Reagan, as policy wonkish as Paul Ryan, as Wisconsin as a Packer Sunday afternoon.
Tommy Thompson brought the T.T. to the tea party.
Upside down priorities
"Cuomo Fails Public Schools" -- Headline in The Nation, 9-26-11.
That would be the New York governor, a good Democrat by birth, marriage and inclination from that New York state of mind. Notice how upside down is that sentiment. Shouldn't the concern be whether we fail the students? Aren't they what it's all about, not the institution?
Speaking of New York
There is no way to spin Tuesday's Republican triumph of taking Anthony Weiner's old congressional district, with a 3-1 edge in Democratic registrations. So the pressure on Barack Obama, whose disapproval rating just hit 55%, will increase from the Garvey-Nichols-Kucinich wing of the party.
Zero job growth, flat-lined take-home pay, the highest level of federal debt (67% of GDP) since WWII -- yeah, that will make "People feel betrayed, disappointed, furious, disgusted, hopeless," according to a source quoted by Politico.
Tune in Thursday
Watch and discuss Speaker Boehner's address on jobs -- "Liberating America's Economy" -- at noon September 15 by clicking here.
Tune in Friday
Catch the Squire's high wire act on Wisconsin Public Radio's Week in Review, from 8 to 9 a.m. Friday. That's 970 on the AM dial here in Madison-land. Elsewhere, check yer local listings.