Blogs > Cliopatria > Here and There, In Absentia

Jan 8, 2005 12:08 am

Here and There, In Absentia

Chris Sullentrop of Slate does a well-deserved critique of Alberto Gonzalez’s performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It certainly wasn’t a good news day for the administration: how can providing government funds to a sympathetic columnist for the purposes of promoting his commentary about government programs not produce a major scandal?

Perhaps the day’s biggest political news, however, came from Michigan, where the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative has assembled more than half a million signatures (well over the required amount) to place a referendum on the 2006 Michigan ballot that would prohibit the University of Michigan and other state universities, the state, and all other state entities from discriminating or granting preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. A group called Citizens for a United Michigan has organized against the measure, which it claims, according to its website, would “be divisive and have a number of consequences.” Those certainly are compelling arguments to vote no.

In light of Manan’s post from a couple of days ago regarding the peculiar hiring criteria at Geneva College—which is asking applicants to “articulate a personal faith commitment to Jesus Christ and be supportive of a Reformed worldview” while also providing “a statement of faith, and a statement of the relationship between Christianity and History”—perhaps the movement toward celebrating religious institutions needs to be reconsidered. For every one Yeshiva, are there ten Geneva Colleges in the ranks of religious colleges? By the way, it doesn’t surprise me, as the Journal article points out, that a pro-Israel, politically conscious student body would take issue with the version of the recent past presented by someone like Yeshiva faculty member Ellen Schrecker.

Bad news for those of us who long ago gave up reading newspapers in anything but their on-line form: the New York Times is studying the question of whether to impose subscription fees for the Times on the web.

The former “diversity manager” of Eugene, Oregon, has has resigned her position, stating that community denial around issues of racism accounted for her decision. One of her supporters asserts that Eugene “is as racist, it is as hostile, it is as unwelcoming for people of color as anywhere else.” Eugene has to be among the top ten most progressive cities in the country: such statements lead me to wonder exactly how “diversity managers” define a “welcoming” environment for people of color.

Finally, an uplifting story from the tsunami disaster: in Kenya, the tsunami separated a one year-old baby hippopotamus from his parents. He couldn’t be re-released into the wild, since, as an orphan, he apparently would be vulnerable to attack. So he was placed in a wildlife preserve in Kenya, Haller Park. With no adult hippos, he has been inseparable from an adopted “mother”—a 120-year-old male giant tortoise. Photos are here.

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Robert KC Johnson - 1/8/2005

This measure could also have a big effect on Senator Dennie Stabenow's reelection. Stabenow ran perhaps the savviest campaign of any Senate candidate in 2000, husbanding her $$ until right at the end, when she narrowly bested incumbent Spencer Abraham, 50-49. I'd assume she'll come out against the referendum, which isn't going to help her with moderate voters any.

Jeff Vanke - 1/8/2005

Kerry won Michigan's 17 votes by 3.4%. The initiative will only hurt the state's Dems, I think, no matter how they handle it; I can't imagine the question is framed to cushion their damage.

There are ways to preserve affirmative action by making it more socio-economic; I think I read that some level of New Jersey government or education is doing this. Opinion polls shows the majority of Americans going either way on affirmative action, depending how the question is framed.