November 27, 2012

University of Iowa's intolerant liberal law faculty

"Athens of the Midwest" is how many deep thinking liberals in America's heartland describe Iowa City. If they mean the Athens that forced Socrates to drink hemlock because of his unorthodox ideas, they may have a point.


By David Paulin 

"Athens of the Midwest" is how many deep thinking liberals in America's heartland describe Iowa City -- the artsy and liberal college town that's home to the University of Iowa. But as many conservatives might have guessed, some of Iowa City's most self-important elites -- the powers that be in the University of Iowa's law school -- have much in common with those intolerant ancient Athenians who tried and executed Socrates because they didn't like his politics.

As Exhibit One, consider a recent court case that's been drawing belated attention over the weekend in some corners of the Internet. The issues were summed up in an editorial last month in the Des Moines Register, appropriately titled: "U of I needs to respect diversity of thought, too." Here's an excerpt: 

The University of Iowa College of Law dodged a potential employment discrimination verdict in a case tried in Davenport last week. But the case could still come back to haunt the university.
 Regardless of the outcome, this case raises questions about the hiring policies at the University of Iowa College of Law, and perhaps in the university as a whole. The U of I respects the goal of diversity for race, religion and gender, but it should show the same respect for diversity of political thought.
 This case involves a lawsuit filed by Teresa Wagner against the law school after she was turned down for a faculty position in the legal analysis, writing and research program. Wagner is a Republican who has worked for anti-abortion organizations. She alleged that she was passed over the position not because she lacked the qualifications but because she was blackballed by liberal members of the law school faculty.

The law school denied politics were involved in the decision not to hire her. The university claimed Wagner was turned down because she had performed poorly in an interview.
 After a weeklong trial, the jury ruled in favor of the school on the allegation that Wagner's political beliefs were a "motivating factor" in her rejection. But the jury of 12 deadlocked on a separate question whether Wagner was treated differently than other job applicants because of her political beliefs. If the school did that, that would violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
It's possible these questions will be rehashed in court as Wagner has asked for a new trial. U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt will rule on that later.
Well, let's be clear about one thing: such intolerance is not confined only to the legal windbags at Iowa's law faculty. As evidence, consider Exhibit Two: the experience that historian Mark Moyar, a Harvard and Cambridge grad, had during his unsuccessful application five years ago for a professorship at the University of Iowa's history department. Moyar at the time was the Kim T. Adamson Chair at the U.S. Marine Corps University and had authored respected revisionist histories of the Vietnam War. In an article in National Review, "Diversity is for Democrats" Moyar observed that Iowa's history faculty wasn't much interested in listening to ideas that contradicted their own - ideas that presumably were all the more rankling (one can assume) because they came from a conservative middle-aged white guy.
The University of Iowa College of Law
To create greater diversity of ideas, Moyar offered this advice:
Students, parents, alumni, taxpayers, and politicians should pressure the University of Iowa's administration to enforce the university's non-discrimination policies, and to create new faculty positions for conservatives beyond the reach of other professors' tentacles, as other schools have started doing. They should demand that the university use its lecture series to bring in conservative speakers, not just liberals and radicals. In the meantime, students must realize that the university is not a free market of ideas, but a one-party state that strives to convert the impressionable and unwary by hiding half of the political spectrum.
Regarding Iowa Law: In one respect, it's ironic that its faculty members are overwhelmingly liberal and, by inference, Obama fans. Because in the miserable economy that Obama owns, less-than-top-tier law schools like Iowa's don't cut it anymore. To be sure, I know one grad of Iowa Law, a former next-door neighbor and occasional boyhood chum, who became a successful corporate lawyer and partner in a prestigious firm. Today he's a judge in Iowa. And a high school classmate from Illinois who graduated from Iowa Law is now a partner in a top Chicago firm. Lucky for them, they graduated from Iowa Law in the 1980s - during the go-go economy of President Ronald Reagan.

Unfortunately, the days are gone when nearly all top and grads of Iowa Law reached such stellar heights. And disgruntled recent grads are, increasingly, finding that out the hard way. That's reflected in a blog called "third tier reality." It warns potential Iowa Law students to stay away - unless somebody else pays for their exorbitant tuition and, most importantly, that they have a job lined up through the help of friends or family connections. Or maybe, I might add, if they know Obama.

Ironic, isn't it? Iowa's law faculty and the political and economic ideology they embrace (and political leaders they support) may be the cause of their own irrelevance.

Full disclosure: Back in my younger and more vulnerable college days, when I was a Democratic, I took a class in "international law" at the University of Iowa College of Law. Despite my political immaturity and open-mindedness, I was nevertheless troubled by my professor's high-minded talk about how a U.N.-like body would ensure world peace and social justice - even though thug states would, in the professor's vision, have as much say as Western democracies in that body. Raising my concerns, the white-haired prof, Burns H. Weston, seemed peeved and snapped: "So what? What's your point?" And then there were Prof. Weston's idiotic discussions about terrorism, the implication being that one man's terrorist was another man's freedom fighter; that if we were a victim of terrorism, it must be because of something that we did to them.

Nor did I ever quite understand that lecture about the "sources" of international law. According to him, they included the scholarly writings of law professors, including himself. "Can I make international law?" he asked with a big smile and twinkling eyes - and of course the answer was supposed to be "yes."

Not long ago, I learned that this left-wing blowhard -- the son of an official in FDR's administration -- was a 9/11 "truther" whose members believe that the Bush administration had some complicity in 9/11 and its "cover-up." It was all a pretext to go to war.

Well, I'm really not surprised given the ideological indoctrination that took place that class, which included no diversity of ideas that might have been taught by allowing a visiting speaker into the class -- one like, say, John Bolton, the former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. under George W. Bush.

Hey, Iowa Law, can I get my tuition back for that course?"

 Hat tip: TaxProf Blog and Memeorandum

Originally published at American Thinker blog, albeit with some minor additions due to a few other things that came to mind.

November 5, 2012

Mitt's unwitting campaigner in Florida: Hugo Chávez

By David Paulin

Yes, the Romney campaign has enlisted the help of Venezuela's leftist president in the pivotal swing state of Florida. Hugo Chávez figures prominently in a 30-second Spanish-language television ad being run by the Romney campaign. It starts with a narrator asking: "Who supports Barack Obama?" 

Next comes the answer: a television clip of Venezuela's anti-American president. "If I were American, I'd vote for Obama," he says.

Later in the ad, Chávez says: "If Obama were from Barlovento, he'd vote for Chávez." (Barlovento is a Venezuelan town whose population is overwhelmingly black.)

Chávez, who has made anti-Americanism a cornerstone of his foreign policy, endorsed Obama last September in an interview on Venezuelan television.  

In the same ad, the narrator points out that Fidel Castro's daughter Mariela Castro also supports Obama. "I would vote for President Obama," she says.  
Finally, the narrator points out that the "Environmental Protection Agency sent out e-mails for Hispanic Heritage month with a photo of Che Guevara." It's all true, of course, and the Obama campaign is furious, and an article in the Miami Herald - a paper that just endorsed Obama - called it an example of unseemly negative campaigning.

But it's sure to energize Cuban-Americans to get to the polls. They comprise a third of Florida's Hispanics, vote overwhelmingly Republican, and they're no fans of Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, nor Che Guevara. The ads comes as a new poll, whose results were published on Saturday by the Miami Herald, gives Romney a 51 to 45 percent lead over Obama. 

Citing a survey from Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, the Herald said Governor Romney's strengths include "independent voters and more crossover support from Democrats relative to the Republicans who back Obama."Other polls, to be sure, are predicting a tighter race, the Herald noted - a fact that must be a relief to the Herald's editorial board and the paper's left-leaning reporters and columnists.  

Oh, and don't forget to take a look at that television ad in which Hugo Chávez has been transformed into a Republican campaign stooge. Even if you don't understand Spanish, you'll catch the drift of things - and smile.

Originally published at The American Thinker blog

Obama and the 'Repo Games' Voters

By David Paulin  

Originally published at The American Thinker

Here's a brain teaser for you: what weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of lead?  If you're still thinking, you've got something in common with more than a few of the contestants on a reality-television show called Repo Games.  In case you've missed it, the Spike TV series follows veteran "repo men" Tom DeTone and Josh Lewis, who double as engaging game show hosts.  Showing up to repossess a vehicle, they offer the debtor a way out as cameras roll: answer three out of five trivia questions correctly, and the vehicle loan will be paid off.  Otherwise, the vehicle will be towed away.

"F--k you!  You're not taking my car" is how more than a few contestants respond, before being coaxed into playing "Repo Games."  Others initially threaten violence -- flailing arms, screaming profanities, and even producing kitchen knives and pots to ward off the repo man.  One hot-tempered man with a pickup menacingly pointed an assault rifle at DeTone.

"I'm a crazy mother-----r.  Somebody will get hurt!" he warned.  Later, DeTone recalled seeing his life flash before his eyes.

Interestingly, some contestants who you'd assume would be winners are utter losers, as was reflected in a segment in which a fourth-grade teacher was asked: "What South American country has over 2,700 miles of coast but is only 150 miles wide?"

"Cuba?" she replied , tentatively.  She flubbed the other two questions, too.
Repo Games isn't all about laughing at dumb and ill-mannered people, however.  It also lets viewers root for contestants who seem nice and perhaps have had some bad luck (and there are of course lots of those types of folks in the miserable economy).  Some of the more sympathetic contestants are single moms.  You also can't help but feel sorry for the contestant who loses a Corvette or BMW parked in the driveway of his nice-looking home.

As for that silly question: what weighs more -- a pound of feathers or a pound of lead?  Yes, it was asked of a "Repo Games" contestant.  He said he didn't know.

Ultimately, it's the numerous stupid and vulgar contestants who are the most memorable -- and in the segments featuring them, Repo Games inadvertently veers from goofy entertainment into trenchant social commentary.  Indeed, in the low-income neighborhoods seen in many Repo Games segments, the residents are what socialist writer Michael Harrington sympathetically called inhabitants of the "other America" -- poor America.  This is where food stamps and welfare have hit record levels over the past four years, reflecting stubbornly high unemployment rates and the Obama administration's efforts (including through radio ads) to get as many people on the dole as possible.  Yet, as Repo Games reveals, these folks are definitely not poor in the conventional meaning of the word.  Their neighborhoods in fact seem rather nice -- suggesting they don't, as liberals would suggest, suffer from a deficit of social justice.

And besides living in decent houses and apartments, they own late-model cars -- albeit on which they're not making regular payments.

The poverty in which these folks exist needs to be viewed from a certain perspective -- something a Heritage Foundation report did not long ago when observing that "most of the persons whom the government defines as 'in poverty' are not poor in any ordinary sense of the term. The overwhelming majority of the poor have air conditioning, cable TV, and a host of other modern amenities. They are well housed, have an adequate and reasonably steady supply of food, and have met their other basic needs, including medical care."

From another perspective, the real problem many of these folks have is not poverty, but a deficit of middle-class values and social skills.

Consider, for instance, the volatile reactions many contestants display after being told their car is being repossessed.  Flailing arms, vulgarities, and threats of violence -- it's the same manic behavior found in high-crime areas where mundane disputes quickly escalate into physical violence.  This is related to a lack of interpersonal skills and self-control -- an inability to negotiate a nonviolent solution after (in their minds) being "disrespected."  This behavior is constantly on display on Repo Games.

Intriguingly, once the repo man calms down these contestants, they seem like perfectly nice people, albeit without the social skills and manners that exist among the middle class -- a term that in this sense describes certain cultural values and manners rather than a particular income bracket.
In Las Vegas, the Repo Games crew may have thought they were in a decent neighborhood, but it's where they had their most dangerous encounter: a middle-school special-education teacher started firing a handgun in their direction.  He was reportedly upset that a Repo Games vehicle had parked on the street outside his house.  Police charged him with attempted murder.

Bad behavior aside, there's that interesting sense of entitlement that more than a few contestants reveal with their initial remarks: "F--k you, you're not taking my car!"

Presumably, most of the contestants on Repo Games are Democrats and ardent Obama supporters, though one shouldn't presume they bother to vote -- and why should they?  Entitlements are now written in stone, and they're unlikely to change much with a Democrat or Republican in the White House.

It's hardly a coincidence that Repo Games, now going strong in its second season, also comes amid a terrible economy in which the mortgage crisis has festered -- as the Obama administration has bent over backwards to enable people to remain in houses they never should have purchased.
All in all, the Obama years have been profitable for the car repossession business -- and for Repo Games.