Thursday, May 15, 2008

Washington University and anti-intellectualism

Back in the late '70's, I went to Washington University in St. Louis for a year. Seeing that campus for the first time, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I was a kid from Texas, from a family with its share of problems. Now I was going to be a student at one of the finest schools in the country. Had it not been for a generous financial package, I would have missed a peak educational experience, and I remain grateful to them for giving me an opportunity to splash in the pool of Big Ideas.

Now comes the announcement that they are giving an honorary degree to Phyllis Schafly. PHYLLIS SCHAFLY?! This is a travesty. And it makes about as much sense as Columbia giving one to Ahmadinejad.

I'm more than just disgusted. I really feel stabbed in the heart. Wash U used to repudiate anti-intellectualism. Now they want to give one of its most vigorous, vicious proponents its highest honor. It cannot be the school I thought it was.

Update: Cathy G. at Crooked Timber has a great blog on the subject here.

Today, the St. Louis Post reported that hundreds protested Schlafly's award by turning their backs. Just like most of those Wash U graduates will when they get those fundraising calls.

Equality under the law

The California courts today ruled that the current ban on same-sex marriage in that state was discriminatory, and that such couples had the right to marry. We're hearing gloom and doom from all the obvious quarters (Family Research Council, Traditional Values Coalition, blah, blah, blah), but it's really a good news-bad news deal. The good news is obvious: gay people should have the right to marry, period. The bad news is likely to come in states like mine, where the wingers will gin up the troops and demand passage of a statewide ban on civil unions and domestic partnerships (there's already a marriage ban).

Here in sweet Larryville, we have a domestic partnership registry, and ordinances that ban discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation. But the wingers have tried to pass state laws that supercede our local ordinances in the past, and this is just going to get their shorts in a knot again. I'm really worried.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This is what passes for news these days

So John Edwards endorses Barack Obama. In other news, water still wet. I mean, why is this worth a big ol' headline? I loved John Edwards as a presidential candidate, but this looks pretty craven, especially since it appeared that his position on universal health care was closer to Hillary's, and that Obama blew it in their initial talks about an endorsement by being glib, aloof, and dismissive. He seems to be coming in at the last minute, when it's obvious that Obama can win-has won!- the nomination without him. What gives?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jon Stewart interview with Douglas Feith

Poor Douglas Feith. The eyes in my village were on him last night, and not in a good way. The former undersecretary of Defense under Rumsfeld has written a book (War and Decision, Harper Collins, 2008). And he obviously wanted to sell a few, badly, because he made one of the best book tour stops in the country last night: The Daily Show.

I wonder if he ever watched The Daily Show before going on. I wonder if he thought Jon Stewart would be polite and cordial (which he is with just about every guest he has on, except those who support the war).* I wonder if he fired his publicist this morning. Because Jon Stewart is everything Tim Russert ought to be, but isn't. The guy just had no place to hide: on the rationale for the war, on the underselling of the risks by this miserable administration, on the war's execution, Feith just could not stop it from coming. See for yourself, here and here.

*According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, the Daily Show is very balanced in its guest bookings, with equal numbers of conservatives and liberals. John McCain has been the most frequent guest. See:,8599,1738670,00.html

Happy Birthday, Governor Sebelius!

This blog starts, appropriately enough, on the 60th birthday of our governor, Kathleen Sebelius. Here's what Kansas would be like without her: We would have (1) two coal-fired power plants sending carbon dioxide and mercury emissions throughout the state; (2) an Attorney General who spent ALL HIS TIME trying to shut down two facilities in the state where abortions are performed, and zero time on issues like consumer protection, domestic violence, etc.; (3) a school board that thinks we should be teaching our kids "intelligent design" theory; (4) a billion dollar deficit, or more; (5) no one, but NO ONE, trying to implement a health care plan that covers all of the state's citizens.

Lots of people talk about her as a possible VP candidate on the Obama ticket. Put me in the doubtful column, because she has no foreign policy experience. On the other hand, she was an early supporter, and with her exec experience, she's likely in line for a cabinet post.

She's spending her birthday in Kansas City, boogying to the tunes of Long Tall Marcia Ball, the Queen of the Mardi Gras. Boogy on, Kathleen!