Tuesday, October 31, 2006

54th AD Blockbuster: Leschke Treasurer Resigns

Robin Makar announced today that she has resigned as campaign treasurer for Julie Pung-Leschke. The Oshkosh Northwestern quotes her as saying, "I'm not resigning to try to hurt Julie, I'm resigning to make a statement about how nasty this process is. I think voters deserve better than that."

Makar, who has been active in opposition to the marriage amendment referendum question that will appear on the November ballot, apparently decided to resign publicly after a group called Wisconsin Family Action mentioned the amendment in a postcard attack ad against Democrat Gordon Hintz. Makar's opposition to the amendment has been in the open (she spoke publicly against it at a UW Oshkosh rally); I was shocked she was able to stay in the Pung-Leschke campaign as long as she did.

The treasurer resigning from the campaign does not change the fact that an awful lot of money is being spent by outside special interests on Leschke's behalf, much of it primarily attacks against Hintz. The Hintz campaign estimates that $130,000 in special interest money has been spent on Leschke's behalf, including:

*Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce: $20,000 in cable TV.
*Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce: $20,000 in radio.
*Wisconsin Home Owners Alliance: $20,000 in TV.
*Wisconsin Home Owners Alliance: $28,000 for 4 district wide mailings.
*All Children Matter (a pro school voucher group based in Michigan): $21,000 for 3 district wide mailings (2 negative, 1 positive).
*Wisconsin Right to Life: $14,000 for 2 district-wide mailings.
*Wisconsin Family Action, Inc.: $7,000 for 1 district-wide mailing.

According to the Hintz campaign: "These totals are estimates based on average rates for TV time political purchases, printing, and mailing costs. Since these groups do not have to disclose their financing, we are not able to know the exact amount being spent."

Senators Ellis (R) and Erpenbach (D) today announced that they would be sponsoring reform legislation to curb the influence of special interest groups that have hijacked campaigns. According to Wispolitics.com:

“Our elections are being hijacked,” Ellis said. “The public is being shoved aside by a few special interests who flood the airwaves with garbage and negative ads. As a result, campaigns become negative and personal. They avoid discussion of the issue that matter to most voters. Even worse, they threaten to turn off voters and endanger democracy.”

“Our bill will once again put the public interest front and center,” said Erpenbach.

Finally, a Sales Tax Vote

After years of posturing, passing the buck, and public relations fiascos, the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors last night finally took a vote on whether or not to enact a half percent increase in the county sales tax. They voted down the tax by a 10-27 vote. County Executive Mark Harris deserves much credit for submitting only one budget--a budget that included the sales tax--thus forcing the Board to go on record with a vote.

Voting against a tax increase is easy--what's difficult is finding $775,000 in cuts. As the budget deliberations proceed and Board members find that their pet county projects are headed for the chopping block, all of a sudden Harris' tax proposal may not sound like such a bad idea. Don't be surprised if it is reconsidered.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Still Cheesy After All These Years

According to Business Week Online:

"If you still think of Wisconsin as the state that churns out all that bland, industrially produced cheddar and mozzarella, you're not up on your cheeseology. In the last decade the Dairy State has become home to dozens of small producers whose innovative, handmade cheeses are racking up prestigious awards and wowing cheesemongers around the country."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Rae Vogeler For US Senate Ad



They got the idea from Bob Dylan, of course:

Saturday, October 28, 2006

McCabe Interview

My interview with Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign can be found here. It's a very good summary of all that's ailing Wisconsin politics these days.

Friday, October 27, 2006

McCabe on Radio Commentary TONIGHT

Mike McCabe, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign and one of the most valuable players in the movement to bring some sanity to Wisconsin politics, is my guest tonight live on Radio Commentary from 6:15 - 7:00 p.m. on WRST-FM 90.3. The show can be webstreamed live off of the WRST website. I'll place the interview online sometime over the weekend.

Kudos To The Campus Greens

As any rational person not walking in fear of Representative Steve Nass could have predicted, the appearance of Kevin Barrett at UW Oshkosh last night was somewhat anti-climactic. That should not be surprising, because when you take the McCarthyite paranoia and scapegoating out of the equation, you're left simply with a movie and a speech on a controversial topic. I actually felt sorry for the college Republicans; they were placed in the absurd position of having to stand against academic freedom and free speech--two of the most conservative values around when the word "conservative" has some real meaning. If Al Gore were president today and during 9/11, these same students and their mentors would be shouting from the rooftops about the absurdity of the 9/11 Commission Report. Barrett would be their hero.

Kudos to the campus Greens for seeing that this entire isssue is not about personality cults, partisan politics, or university public relations. They understand that legislative attempts to micromanage the university curriculum and the out of classroom statements of teachers ultimately threatens us all. They understand that the search for Truth on ANY topic becomes impossible when administrators and faculty allow themselves to be bullied and intimidated by politicians, the press, or other special interests. To think that the legislature will "leave us alone" or treat us better after Barrett is undermined and/or booted out of the System is horribly naive. Today it's Barrett, tomorrow it will be someone else (perhaps a stem cell researcher, evolutionary biologist, or prison reform advocate).

So thank you campus Greens for showing the administration and faculty that it is still possible to act with courage and integrity on a college campus.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Video The Vote!!!

First check out what Cheryl Hentz has to say about the latest Diebold source code leak.

Scientists Endorse Tom Sawyer

Too Bad there isn't a Huck Finn in the race. Anyone know if Gordon Hintz can play Tom Sawyer on air guitar?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

RNC Injects Racist Appeal In TN Senate Race

How desperate are the Republicans to hold on to the US Senate? Consider the tight race between Democrat Harold Ford and Republican Bob Corker to replace Bill Frist in Tennessee. Ford is an African-American. The Republican National Committee is running an inane ad produced by an outside group that includes racist innuendo about a black man and white woman. Not only has the NAACP denounced the ad, but so has the Corker campaign, calling it "tacky, over the top and is not reflective of the kind of campaign we are running."

A racist appeal in the closing days of a tight Senate race calls to mind Jesse Helms' racist "white hands" ad run against Democrat Harvey Gantt in 1990.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Iraq: The Real Story

Excellent film made by Sean Smith, award winning war photographer for the UK Guardian. According to the Guardian, Smith "spent nearly six weeks with the 101st Division of the US army in Iraq. Watch his haunting observational film that explodes the myth around the claims that the Iraqis are preparing to take control of their own country."

Howard the Debate Ducker

I don't think a debate between Howard Dean and RNC Chair Ken Mehlman would be too exciting, but Dean thinks it would be a "gladiatorial contest for the sake of entertainment." Translation: Kenny might provoke me into raising my voice and you right wing cable goons will make "Dean goes nuts again" the dominant story heading into November 7.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Barack Obama Inc.

Illinois Senator Barack Obama, the only African-American in the US Senate and the latest Democratic Party "rock star," is clearly positioning himself for a spot on the 2008 presidential ticket. Ken Silverstein's "Barack Obama, Inc.: The Birth of a Washington Machine," the cover story in the November issue of Harper's(not online yet), is required reading for anyone interested in how even a decent guy like Obama gets caught up in the "web of institutionalized influence trading that afflicts official Washington"--making it highly unlikely that he would be able to put a reform program in place even if he were to get elected to the highest office in the land.

Obama indicated to Silverstein a keen awareness of the culture of official Washington (which, by the way, is the same culture of official Madison that gives us corporate shills like Coke Doyle and Pepsi Green as allegedly serious candidates for governor) and how it renders reformers impotent, yet Silverstein wonders if reform is now possible. He writes: "The question . . . is just how effective --let alone reformist--Obama's approach can be in a Washington grown hostile to reform and those who advocate it. After a quarter century when the Democratic Party to which he belongs has moved steadily to the right, and the political system in general has become thoroughly dominated by the corporate perspective, the first requirement of electoral success is now the ability to raise staggering sums of money. For Barack Obama, this means that mounting a successful career, especially one that may include a run for the presidency, cannot even be attempted without the kind of compromising and horse trading that may, in fact, render him impotent." Silverstein then shows how on a range of policy issues Obama has sided with his campaign contributors--even when it meant ending up voting with the Republicans on the class action suit "reform" bill, ethanol subsidies, and other measures.

Silverstein shows how Obama is not a sell-out as much as a product of the times: "I recall a remark made by Studs Terkel in 1980, about the liberal Republican John Anderson, who was running as an independent against Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. 'People are so tired of dealing with two-foot midgets, you give them someone two foot four and and they start proclaiming him a giant.' In the unstinting and unanimous adulation of Barack Obama today, one wonders if a similar dynamic might be at work. If so, his is less a midgetry of character than one dictated by changing context. Gone are the days when . . . the US Senate could comfortably house such men as Fred Harris (from Oklahoma, of all places), who called for the breakup of the oil, steel, and auto industries; as Wisconsin's William Proxmire . . . a crusader against big banks who neither spent nor raised campaign money; as South Dakota's George McGovern, who favored huge cuts in defense spending and a guranteed income for all Americans; as Frank Church of Idaho, who led important investigations into CIA and FBI abuses."

What we're left with, then, is an extreme form of lesser-evil politics. I don't think we're going to see real change until the Obamas of the Democrats become part of an organized effort to leave the Party, much like the Progressive revolt in the Wisconsin of the 1930s. Don't look for that to happen anytime soon.

Eisman Shines On WPR

Green Party candidate for governor Nelson Eisman was on WPR this morning, answering the same questions posed to Coke Doyle and Pepsi Green during their alleged "debate" on Friday. The interview with Eisman can be found here.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Radio Interviews With Hintz, Leschke

Friday night on WRST-FM's "Wild Eyed Radio," District 54 Assembly candidates Gordon Hintz (Democrat) and Julie Pung-Leschke (Republican) were interviewed. The interview with Hintz was conducted by Wild Eyed host Drew VanWyk and can be found here. I interviewed Pung-Leschke during the "Radio Commentary" segment of Wild Eyed. That interview can be found here.

I have to give Julie credit for her performance during the interview. Whereas Drew asks Gordon mostly softball questions, I ended up in a debate with Julie. Moreover, during our interview there were some good phone calls, but also a few worthless ones that sounded like Hintz supporters who need to get a life. Listen for yourself and make your own judgements. Overall I'd say Julie held her own.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Finally, a good use for school textbooks

Most students hate textbooks, but Republican candidate for Oklahoma State Superintendent of Schools Bill Crozier has found an extra-curricular use for them: shields to defend against bullets fired in the classroom. Read about it here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Maguire on Academic Freedom

The other night at UW Oshkosh, a panel of professors gave their opinions on "Academic Freedom as a Form of Free Speech." Miles Maguire, a journalism professor on the campus, delivered what I thought was a brilliant statement on the topic. Acting very much like a crap detector in the tradition of the great H.L. Mencken cited in his text, Maguire exposes how the campus administration's treatment of the Kevin Barrett event has had bad consequences for academic freedom on our campus. He says in part:

The question that we have to ask ourselves is whether we believe in academic freedom in fact or merely as a convenient way of shielding ourselves from criticism.

The test has to be whether we conduct ourselves in a way that is consistent with the claims and the statements about academic freedom that our found in the institutions’ governing documents.

If we look in Chapter One of the Faculty Handbook, we see this statement:

“To be free, a university must encourage a full examination of all viewpoints, but to remain free, the institution must avoid actions which advocate a particular viewpoint.”

I don’t see how what we are doing on this panel, and the one two weeks ago on “Why People Believe Weird Things” can be squared with that statement.

Rather than encourage a full examination of Kevin Barrett’s point of view, it seems to me that we are trying to overshadow and crowd out his appearance on campus. And in doing that we are advocating a particular viewpoint about his legitimacy.

With Miles' permission, I reproduce his entire statement here.

WPR/St. Norbert Poll Results

The latest WPR/St. Nortbert College poll has Jim "Coke" Doyle leading Mark "Pepsi" Green by a 51-38 margin. Since neither Coke nor Pepsi and their establishment sponsors would let Nelson "Clean Water" Eisman in the debates, he polls at only 1%.

The attorney general race seems closer than it should be, with Falk ahead of Van Hollen by a 44-38 margin with 12% unsure and 7% claiming to support another candidate (McGruff the crime dog, perhaps?).

On the referendum questions, bringing the death penalty back is currently favored by a 50-45 margin. The "yes" vote on the marriage amendment is ahead 51-44.

I think it's significant that the poll does not reach cell phone users, meaning that there is probably not an accurate read for the 18-40 year old age group. True, that group will probably not vote in high numbers anyway, but on the death penalty and marriage amendment they could be the swing.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Yesterday, all Paul's troubles seemed so far away

This just in here at the T2T celebrity gossip desk: Sir Paul McCartney's estranged wife Heather Mills is accusing the former Beatle of a range of domestic abuses which include lunging at and cutting her with a snapped-off wine glass.

Moon Rocks


Click Here for a Jason Moon Peace Day folk concert. Click here for a radio interview I did with Jason some time back.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Modern Political Debate

Andrew Sullivan on his blog today says this today about a Monty Python bit: "If you've ever despaired at a blizzard of inane, contradictory sound-bites that passes for political debate on cable news, then this classic Monty Python sketch is for you. It's two and a half minutes in the argument clinic. As fresh as the day it was first broadcast":

Monday, October 16, 2006

John Kerry in '08?

John Kerry says he deserves a second chance in 2008. This raises a very profound philosophical question: if a swift boat sinks in the delta and there is no one around to hear it-does it make a sound?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Stephanie Barnard on Radio Commentary

My Radio Commentary interview with Advance-Titan Managing Editor Stephanie Barnard can be found here. Near the end of the interview we talk about Wisconsin State Statutes Chapter 36, the statutes that supposedly govern the functioning of the UW System.

Friday, October 13, 2006

More Garbage From "All Children Matter"

Click here for a sample of the garbage "All Children Matter" are sending in State Representative John Lehman's district. Citizens in the district have filed a complaint alleging the flier is in violation of Wisconsin law. The formal complaint can be found here.

People for the American Way have put together a profile of ACM. That profile can be found here. They have also profiled founder Dick DeVos.

I hope the Oshkosh Northwestern does some investigating to see what ties, if any, exist between the Leschke for Assembly campaign and ACM. They should also investigate ties between Democrat Hintz and whatever interest groups are operating on his behalf.

"All Children Matter" Send Direct Mail For Leschke

Earlier this week, the Winnebago County Republican Party attacked 54th District Assembly Democratic candidate Gordon Hintz for holding a fundraiser in Milwaukee and taking almost 30% of his individual campaign contributions from people who live outside of Wisconsin. Such criticisms might actually have some merit if the Republicans stood for meaningful reforms of campaign financing in the state. They don't. (Democrats are better on the issue, but as the party in the minority it's easy to be for reform. If the Dems really believed in reform, they would have ran a primary challenger against Jim Doyle--he being one of the biggest obstacles to reform during his first 3 years in office.).

It's ironic that the Winnebago Republicans would be complaining about Hintz's out of state supporters at the same time their candidate Julie Pung Leschke is receiving major help from out of state interests. The other day a mailing arrived on Leschke's behalf from "All Children Matter," a Michigan based group focused mostly on the issue of public school choice. They say that Julie supports "empowering parents with more high-quality educational options" (translation: use more tax dollars to support private schools in Milwaukee so that fewer dollars are available for public schools across the state, including Oshkosh).

Here's what the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign said about "All Children Matter's" role in the 2004 Wisconsin elections:

All Children Matter is a right-wing group formed in Spring 2003 based in Michigan advocating school choice in the form of private school voucher programs and charter schools. Milwaukee school choice advocates, George and Susan Mitchell, represent the group in Wisconsin (see Alliance for Choices in Education). This group reportedly sought to influence about 16 state legislative races. WDC confirms the following efforts. The group ran issue ad campaigns by direct mail in the 22nd, 30th and 32nd Senate districts. The mail pieces supported Republican Senate candidate Dan Kapanke (SD 32) and attacked Democratic incumbent Senators Robert Wirch (SD 22) and Dave Hansen (SD 30). They attacked Wirch and Hansen for their lack of support of a property tax freeze and made a veiled and unsubstantiated charge that they would send tax dollars to schools in Milwaukee at the expense of schools in their own districts. In a separate mailing, ACM quoted a Green Bay Press-Gazette article from November 2002 that called for Hansen's resignation for being a part of "politics as usual in Madison." There were reports of similar activity attacking the opponents of Republican incumbents Senator Sheila Harsdorf (SD 10) and Representatives Mark Pettis (AD 28) and Eugene Hahn (AD 47).

This group is headed by Michigan multimillionaire Dick DeVos, whose family is connected to Amway Corporation. DeVos' wife Betsy served for several years as the chair of the Michigan Republican Party. Her brother, Erik Prince, is the founder and owner of Blackwater Security Consulting, the private tactical training facility providing security forces in Baghdad. School choice advocate George Mitchell represents the group in Wisconsin, and has said ACM spent more than $500,000 to influence state legislative elections in 2004.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What Was Debbie Reynolds Thinking?

The legendary Debbie Reynolds is scheduled to visit the Oshkosh Grand Opera House in May. I think I would go just to see if she's still performing "If I had a hammer." Let's just say her version speaks for itself!

2010

The U.S. Army top brass is saying that current troop levels in Iraq may have to stay in place until 2010(!). This comes after a newly released Johns Hopkins study that found:

  • Estimated 654,965 additional deaths in Iraq between March 2003 and July 2006
  • Majority of the additional deaths (91.8 percent) caused by violence

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Chalk and Awe

Wisconsin Republican state assemblyman Frank Lasee, until now most known in the state as the chief sponsor of TABOR legislation, now argues that we can make kids safer in schools by arming teachers. After this ridiculous proposal received national ridicule and resulted in two candidates signing up to challenge Lasee as write in candidates in November, he now claims he was talking about placing guns in safe box in school. Yeah, right.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

David Korten At UW Oshkosh


David Korten, one of the most insightful contemporary writers dealing with topics related to corporate power, empire, and what he refers to as "Earth Community," will be speaking at UW Oshkosh on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. (Reeve Union 307). I became aware of Korten about 10 years ago, when he wrote the classic When Corporations Rule the World. An especially interesting part of that book is Korten's personal journey from conservative, big business boosterism to becoming a truth teller about what's ailing the globe.

On Wednesday Korten will probably talk about themes coming from his latest book, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community. A good introduction to it can be found in this article from Yes Magazine.

This event has not been labeled "weird," and none of the self-appointed guardians of what is scholarly have tried to discourage people from attending it. So you can come without having to feel you are listening to something out of the pages of the National Enquirer.

A reception will be held before Korten's speech from 6-7 p.m.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Harris Right to Force Sales Tax Decision

Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris has been taking quite the bashing in the Oshkosh Northwestern lately, with his proposal to raise the sales tax getting him labeled as "missing in action" and "the ultimate one-term Winnebago County Executive." The editorialists are upset that Harris will submit only one budget to the county board this year--a budget that includes the sales tax increase. If the board does not want the tax increase, they will have to find the cuts necessary to balance the budget.

I have mixed feelings on the sales tax, but I think Harris deserves much credit for the approach he is taking. The editorialists are confusing the job of an elected county executive like Harris with a hired city manager like Oshkosh's Dick Wollangk. The latter, being a hired hand, can submit a dozen budgets if the Common Council requests that he do so. If he refuses to do it, they can fire him.

The elected county executive, by contrast, is a politician charged with submitting a balanced budget. Whereas the city manager serves the common council that hired him, the county executive serves the people who elected him. Harris has calculated that the best way to serve the people of the county is to raise the sales tax. Maybe it's a bad idea, maybe not--but at least Harris is willing to take the political heat from the chamber of commerce and their point men on the Northwestern editorial board.

More important, in presenting the board with just the sales tax budget, Harris is forcing them to make a decision on the sales tax. We have had too many years of smoke and mirrors budgeting, putting off difficult decisions, and grandstanding about making cuts that never materialize. Harris is essentially telling the county board to "put up or shut up." He has demononstrated a willingnes to take heat for making a difficult policy decision--let's see if they are willing to do the same.

Listen to Harris talk about the sales tax budget on Radio Commentary.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Joe Ferlo on Radio Commentary

Joe Ferlo, Executive Director of the Oshkosh Grand Opera House, appeared on the Friday Radio Commentary. The interview can be found here. Due to technical difficulties, the last two minutes of the interview did not make the tape. In those last two minutes we basically urged people to visit the Grand's website: www.grandoperahouse.org

We spend some time on the program talking about the "Shakespeare on the Fox" programming taking place at the Grand, including the October 15th performance of Trial of the Happy Dagger Company.

Friday, October 06, 2006

County Board Should Censure Diebold Flaks and Investigate Sale

According to a story in the October 3rd Oshkosh Northwestern, Winnebago County Clerk Sue Ertmer knew back in June that the Diebold touch screen machines she pleaded with the Board of Supervisors to purchase would not be compatible with existing equipment in time for the September primary. This in spite of the fact that her main argument in favor of Diebold at the time was that it was the only touch screen technology available that was compatible with the optical scan machines being used.

The vote to approve the Diebold machines was close. Had Ertmer and State Elections Board Director Kevin Kennedy told the truth during the public "hearing" (which was really a Diebold sales pitch) in June, the resolution to purchase Diebold touch screens would have almost certainly failed. Perhaps then the Board would have acted on Dr. Ann Frisch's idea--which is sill needed--to establish an independent citizens' commission to study voting procedures in the county.

Today Supervisor Jef Hall will ask the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee to send a resolution to the full board to deny payment to Diebold until we get what we paid for. It's a no-brainer resolution that I hope passes unanimously. The Northwestern editorialized on it today.

Denying payment to Diebold is not enough. Because they chose to flak for Diebold instead of properly informing the county board and citizens about true nature of the equipment being sold, Ertmer and Kennedy have seriously undermined the trust that needs to exist between their offices and our elected officials. The Board of Supervisors should pass a resolution of censure of Ertmer and Kennedy for purposely misleading them in June.

Additionally, it is time for the supervisors to establish a committee to investigate the procedures used to purchase voting equipment in the county. What role do the supervisors have in such purchases? Who lobbies the county clerk and the municipal clerks? Does the open meetings law apply to clerks' deliberations about voting equipment? If not, why not? These and many other questions need to be asked and answered to insure the integrity of our election procedures in Winnebago County.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

9/11 Dialectics + Barrett Responds to the Northwestern

If anything good can come out of the Kevin Barrett situation, it's that the press and more academics may finally start to take a serious look at the 9/11 Commission Report. I think the outrage in certain quarters (including comfortable academics) to what Barrett and other conspiracy theorists are doing has to do with what the late, great philosopher Bertrand Russell identified as Americans' hostility to dialectical thinking. I cannot find the exact source, but I remember in college reading an interview with Russell in which he said words to the effect that Americans (especially its leadership) believe that democracy is good and communism is evil, but they refuse to entertain even for debate purposes the opposite: democracy is evil and communism is good. To even entertain the "communism is good" position for debate purposes, in the 1950s, could get you in trouble.

Today we see a similar hostitily to dialectics. The government says, "al Qaeda operatives under orders from Osama bin Laden were responsible for the terrorist attacks on 9/11." The opposite proposition is then: "United States government operatives were responsible for the terrorist attacks on 9/11." Greek and Roman philosophers understood that only in the clash of opposites could the truth or probable truth emerge, and they were wise enough to understand that merely listening to advocates of the "shocking" side (i.e. the US government committed the atrocities) did not mean that you agreed with or sympathized with that side. I think they would see the way the Barrett situation has been handled as very weird indeed.

The hostility toward even entertaining the thought of US government involvement in 9/11 would make more sense to me personally if there existed a credible investigation of the events of that terrible day. Unfortunately such an investigation does not exist. Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean, the co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission, have themselves admitted that the Commission was not able to answer many questions related to that day due to Bush Administration and intelligence agency stonewalling, and they understand that conspiracy theories are the inevitable result of the incomplete study that resulted. The Barretts of the world will languish in obscurity when we finally get a serious, independent investigation of that day.

Forgetting about the Barrett situation for a moment, I do think it's time for responsible academics to help our society transcend the gut level resistance to dialectical thinking. Such resistance is not rational, scientific, or responsible. Rather, the resistance reflects fear of unscrupulous "legislators breathing down our necks" who have no problem equating our investigation of a troubling proposition with our actually advocating it. That's just McCarthyism 101 folks.

Now here's Barrett's response to the Northwestern followed by his statement about the trouble UW Madison students are having in trying to find faculty to defend the 9/11 Commission Report. I think "sifting and winnowing" should be replaced with "avoiding and caving" (as in avoiding controversy and caving in to pressure from onerous UW critics).

Kevin Barrett responds to Oshkosh Northwestern editorial

To the Oshkosh Northwestern,

Thank you for your editorial "A teachable moment on a terrible theory." I agree that academics who disagree with my analysis of 9/11 ought to scrutinize my statements, research the evidence I cite, and then--IF they still disagree with me--attempt to refute my views in a public debate.

9/11 skeptics, including dozens of former high-level military, intelligence, and executive branch officials--see patriotsquestion911.com--have been seeking honest debate for years. But
nobody will debate us. As you wrote:

"Unfortunately, those who might consider Barrett unqualified or dead wrong on 9/11 seem more inclined to let him control the discussion...Academia seems hesitant to dissect and destroy his theory." That is because no sane person trained in critical thinking who has researched the issue will dare to defend that monumental fraud known as the 9/11 Commission Report. Indeed, those who chose to do so would be setting themselves to be held in public contempt, and possibly even face future prosecution, as accessories to mass murder and high treason.

Please wake up to your journalistic responsibilities, investigate 9/11 for yourselves, tell the American people the truth, and help us get our democracy back.

Sincerely,

Kevin Barrett

It appears that Kevin Barrett and Jim Fetzer will debate two empty chairs Thursday, October 5th, 2006 at 6 p.m. at the Curti Lounge, 5243 Humanities, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The History Students' Association tried to find one or more U.W.-Madison professors willing to defend the 9/11 Commission Report in a debate with Barrett and Fetzer, to no avail.

The fact that not a single U.W.-Madison professor is willing to defend the 9/11 Commission Report in public speaks volumes.

Ironically, the Oshkosh Northwestern just ran an editorial bemoaning the fact that no academics are willing to debate Barrett.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Climate of Fear

Something to think about as McCarthyite tactics aim to suppress and/or stigmatize dissent.

Take Back The Night: 6 p.m. Opera House Square

Announcement from Shelly Rutz of the UW Oshkosh Counseling Center:

TAKE BACK THE NIGHT
Please join CARE and MenCARE as they

March for Those

No Longer Able to March for Themselves !

This year’s march is dedicated to those who have lost their lives due to domestic abuse/sexual assault

Wednesday, October 4, 2006 – 6:00 P.M.
Gather at Oshkosh Opera House Square (Across from the Grand Opera House)

Did you know?

Domestic violence is a serious issue that concerns all of us. Here are some general facts:

  • Approximately 1.5 million women are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.
  • 3 million children in the United States are exposed to domestic violence in their homes.
  • Approximately 90% - 95% of domestic violence victims are women.
  • 25,021 incidents of domestic abuse were reported in Wisconsin in 2000.
  • 49 people were killed in Wisconsin domestic homicides in 2002.
  • All statistics were found at: www.wcadv.org/?go=gethelp/faqs
Even though you may personally not be suffering from relationship violence, chances are that you have known someone or will know someone who is. The best thing we can do as responsible individuals is educate ourselves on the subject of domestic violence. Education allows us to know the signs, what to do, and where to go for help when confronted with a domestic abuse situation. The knowledge we gain puts us into a position to empower ourselves, help others, and put an end to domestic violence.

Domestic abuse is a systematic process of humiliating, demeaning, and controlling another person through behaviors that cause fear and intimidation. Domestic abuse occurs between current or former intimate partners. Abuse often begins with verbal and/or emotional and may escalate to include physical and/or sexual abuse. Abuse is about power and control. Here are some behaviors that abusers may use to gain power and control over their victims:

INTIMIDATION: Frightens you with looks, actions and gestures. Smashes things and destroys your property. Abuses pets. Displays weapons.

ECONOMIC ABUSE: Prevents your getting or keeping a job. Gives you an allowance or makes you ask for money. Doesn't allow you to know about or have access to family income.

COERCION AND THREATS: Threatens to harm you. Threatens to leave, commit suicide or report you to welfare. Makes you drop charges or do illegal things.

MALE PRIVILEGE: Acts like the master and treats you like a servant. Makes all the big decisions. Defines and enforces men's and women's roles.

USES THE CHILDREN: Makes you feel guilty about the children and relays messages through them. Uses visitation to harass you. Threatens to take the children by charging you with neglect and abuse.

EMOTIONAL ABUSE: Calls you names privately or in public. Puts you down and makes you feel bad about yourself. Tries to make you think you're crazy. Tries to make you feel guilty.

ISOLATION: Controls what you do, who you see and talk to, what you read and where you go. Limits your outside involvement and uses jealousy as justification.

DENIAL & BLAME: Makes light of the abuse and doesn't take your concern seriously. Denies abuse occurred. Shifts responsibility for the abuse by blaming you.

Domestic Abuse Intervention Project. Duluth, MN. http://www.acadv.org/pcwheel.html

IF YOU NEED HELP CALL LOCAL RESOURCES!
IN OSHKOSH:

  • Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services 235-5998
  • The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Counseling Center 424-2061
  • Campus Violence Prevention Project (CVPP)- Victim Advocate 424-3127
  • CARE/MenCARE (Campus for Awareness and Relationship Education) 424-2061
  • The Crisis Hotline 233-7707
  • University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Police 424-1212
  • UW Oshkosh Student Health Center 424-2424
  • Hospital Emergency Room (920) 223-2000 or 911
Remember, we can help fight domestic violence by educating ourselves on the subject. Great things happen when we all work together to stop domestic violence. If you are interested in an additional way to help stop domestic violence, please consider volunteering your time at the Christine Ann Center or with CARE/MENCARE on the UW Oshkosh Campus.

Special thanks to: Tina Kriesel and Jennifer Ellner, who compiled the following information for a UW Oshkosh course concerning domestic violence. It is presented here for your additional information and as part of a community service project for their class.

Check out:www.uwosh.edu/couns_center/care/resourcelist

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Discover Your Inner Joe McCarthy

Monday, October 02, 2006

On the Barrett Visit, Part II; or: Academic Freedom and Appeasement in the Valley

My October contribution to The Valley Scene is a lengthy piece on the Kevin Barrett situation. The piece can be found here. You may like the piece or think it weird, but whatever the case, please THINK FOR YOURSELF.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Barrett Delegitimization Overkill?

We know that the UW Board of Regents, the System administration, and the administrators of individual campuses (along with an embarrassing share of faculty) walk in fear of offending the Republican legislature. It is therefore no surprise that an active attempt has been made to delegitimize the October 26th visit of Kevin Barrett to the UW Oshkosh campus. But how much is too much? Take a look at what will be happening at UW Oshkosh in direct response to the Barrett invitation:
  • October 3: Faculty panel discussion of "Why People Believe Weird Things" (6:30 p.m. Foundation Center)
  • October 17: Faculty panel on "Academic Freedom as a Form of Free Speech" (6:30 p.m. Foundation Center)
  • November 6: "Memories of 9/11 Panel" (7 - 9 p.m. Reeve Union Ballroom). This panel features former UW Oshkosh Religious Studies faculty member Ed Linenthal, Jeff Kaplan of Religious Studies, Iraq War veteran Matthew Young, Simon Sibelman of Foreign Languages and Literatures, and Salman Aziz of the Fox Valley Islamic Society. According to the University press release: " . . . the UW-Oshkosh student winner of the first $1,000 Chancellor’s 9/11 Memorial Prize will be announced at the event." The entries for this award are due in the Provost's office by November 3rd by 4:30 p.m., and apparently will be judged over the weekend by a panel of faculty, students, and administrators.
  • November 7: Speech by author Michael Shermer on "Why People Believe Weird Things" (8 p.m. Reeve Union Ballroom).
The university press release also says "Campus Greens, a recognized UW-Oshkosh student organization, has scheduled a visit by Barrett and a showing of the controversial film 'Loose Change 2.' In response to that, [chancellor] Wells said other events would be scheduled so that UW-Oshkosh students could 'assess critically his views.'"

The aforementioned events feature some thought provoking individuals and, because the chancellor has organized them, they will be well attended. If all it takes is a Barrett visit to produce well attended academic panels, maybe the campus Greens should ask him to make more than one visit.

I think all that's missing for these events is a theme song to be played at the beginning of each. I nominate Motorhead's "Overkill."

10/2 Update: Barrett spoke at UW Madison on Sunday and, in what must be a surprise to UW administrators, there were no protestors and the world didn't end!