Archive | October 17, 2009

Peter Berkowitz on Academics and Free Speech

Peter Berkowitz takes up the argument over Yale and, by extension, the rest of the American academy, concerning Yale University Press’s shameful censorship of a book on the Muhammed cartoons – with his usual careful argumentation and coherence.  Kudos to Peter; here in the WSJ. […]

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Gardasil Vaccinations for Boys?

If the boys don’t stand to benefit from the vaccine, then are we making boys into The Island? Well, that’s an awfully inflammatory way to start out, I grant you.  Here’s another inflammatory way to start out … would forcing boys to be vaccinated against their will but without any medical benefit to them, with the benefits accruing instead to girls, violate Roe v Wade? Our boy-bodies, ourboyselves?  For that matter, should pre-teen girls be forced to be Nudgily inoculated because their parents systematically underestimate the extent to which they will engage in sexual activity and have a tendency to acquire the disease?  Something here to offend almost everyone in this debate, if one takes it very far down to fundamentals.

Update: Thanks, Glenn, for the Instalanche! While I am thinking of this, please note that I am not the Dr. Kenneth Anderson, MD, Harvard Medical School, who is a real expert on vaccines and viruses and appears to have done some interviews and other media stuff on Gardasil.  I gather from a couple of comments that I have either tried some readers’ patience or else exceeded their attention spans.  There is not a lot of careful organization of this post, because I inserted paragraphs in between editing something unrelated; this is not my day job.  However, to the extent there is a structure, it is this:

  • (a) Opening that you might find clever or not, but is designed to raise at least three multiple, indeed really different, ways in which mandatory vaccinations of either all girls, or all boys, or all girls and boys, with Gardasil could raise liberty and rights issues.
  • (b) A short mention of what Gardasil is and why it was controversial back in 2006 when it was introduced, for those who haven’t closely followed
  • […]

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Blogger polls: political benefits of health care bills and Nobel prize, alienation of independents?

This week´s National Journal poll of leading political bloggers had three questions. In the first, Left bloggers were asked “on health care reform, what outcome would most benefit Democrats in the 2010 midterms?” Right bloggers were asked the same question about Republicans. Nobody picked the Baucus bill as likely to lead to the best political outcome for one party or the other. The vast majority on the Left said that something like the House Committee bills would most benefit Democrats. A slender majority on the Right said that the passing nothing would most benefit Republicans.  I disagreed, and wrote, “The worse the better, from a purely political viewpoint; so passage of something like HR 3200 would be best for Republicans in 2010. But for the physical and fiscal health of the American people, the alternative approaches proposed by Cato and the Independence Institute would be far better.”

The second question asked Left bloggers how worried they are that Democrats are alienating independents. Right bloggers were asked the same question about Republicans. The Left was more worried about this than the Right. This made sense to me, as I wrote “”The national Democrats are alienating independents so fast that the Republicans can’t keep up.”

The final question aksed “On balance, does winning the Nobel Peace Prize help or hurt President Obama’s image at home?” Almost all the Left thought it helped, and most all the Right thought it hurt. I agreed with the latter: “Even the strong Obama supporters who I’ve talked to think the prize was ridiculous. For swing voters, it highlights Obama’s rhetoric/achievement gap. The principle that good intentions and sincere effort are good enough for a Nobel prize suggests that Sarah Palin’s autobiography should win her the Nobel Prize in Literature.” […]

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Does Limbaugh Have a Libel Suit Against CNN?

CNN (among other news outlets) attributed racially inflammatory quotes to Rush Limbaugh that the talk radio host never said.  These quotes fanned the flames of opposition to his participation in a bid to purchase the St. Louis Rams, and Limbaugh was subsequently dropped from the group of prospective owners.  CNN’s Rick Sanchez has apologized and, perhaps legally relevant, confirms that CNN made no effort to confirm the quotes attributed to Limbaugh.  Is this sufficient to establish “reckless disregard” for a libel suit? […]

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Asian-American Applicants and Competing Rationales for Affirmative Action in Higher Education

The Daily Princetonian has an article on possible discrimination against Asian-American applicants:

Asian applicants may face discrimination in the admission process at many elite universities, according to data from a recent study conducted by sociology professor Thomas Espenshade GS ’72.

According to the data, not all races are considered equal in the college admissions game. Of students applying to private colleges in 1997, African-American applicants with SAT scores of 1150 had the same chances of being accepted as white applicants with 1460s and Asian applicants with perfect 1600s.

The results of the study come three years after Jian Li, a rejected Princeton applicant, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. He alleged in the complaint that he had been discriminated against based on his race when he was denied admission to the University.

Espenshade noted that he did not initially use the word “discrimination” when discussing the results of his study. Though he found a 140-point SAT score discrepancy between accepted white and Asian students, he did not have access to what he called “soft variables,” like extracurriculars and teacher recommendations.

This is not a new issue. Almost twenty years ago, I attended a high school with a large Asian-American population, and many of my Asian classmates worried even back then that their racial background would be a disadvantage in competing for admission to elite universities. Back in the 1990s, a University of California official famously remarked that a race-blind admissions policy at his institution would be unacceptable because it would lead to a student body dominated by Asians [unfortunately, I cannot find an online link to this quote; if readers can find it, please e-mail me]. An admissions policy that seeks to ensure that each racial or ethnic group is represented in rough […]

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A Massive Dollop of Corporate Welfare for the New York Yankees

Matt Welch, editor in chief of Reason, takes up an issue that I have written about on numerous occasions: the inexcusable gargantuan public subsidies for the New York Yankees’ new stadium:

This year the Yankees moved into a new stadium. According to baseball economist Neil deMause of the excellent Field of Schemes website, the facility cost a stunning $1.56 billion, and the total project (including replacing 22-acres of parkland that had been destroyed by the construction) totaled $2.31 billion [pdf]. Both figures are all-time records in the history of sports stadia. “Of that,” deMause estimates, “the public—city, state, and federal taxpayers—are now covering just shy of $1.2 billion, by far the largest stadium subsidy ever…..”

To sum up: The most successful, most opulent, and most hated baseball franchise in North America, widely known as “the Evil Empire,” receives an unprecedented amount of government giveaways in a time of recession and government budget-squeezes, with which it increases its already sizeable revenue advantage, partly by charging ticket prices that only the rich can afford. With all that dough safely pocketed, the team then shells out $423 million in free agent contracts for just three players, who help vault them back into the League Championship Series for the first time since 2004.

For my own earlier posts on the Yankee Stadium subsidies, see here, here, here, here, and here.

As a fan of the rival Boston Red Sox, I am definitely biased against the Evil Empire of the Bronx. However, as I pointed out in my very first post on this subject, I am just as vehemently opposed to similar subsidies for Boston teams. For example, I was against various proposals to use public funds to build the Red Sox a new stadium that were […]

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