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February 21, 2004
Weddings of Mass Destruction

Documentary cartoonist Don Asmussen sketches scenes at ground zero of the War on Gay Marriage.

Posted by Greg Beato at 09:20 AM
February 18, 2004
Hard To Swallow

Hurt by charges that it has turned Iraq into the world's most profitable restaurant, Halliburton agreed on Monday to stop billing the U.S. Department of Defense for the food preparation services it's been providing until it can figure out exactly how much it had overcharged before the government started complaining.

Says the Guardian: "According to a Pentagon email quoted in the Wall Street Journal, in one camp alone last July, KBR billed for an average 42,000 meals a day but served only 14,000. In a seven-month period, alleged overcharging in that camp totalled $16m."

Halliburton says it's just an honest mistake. In the fogs of open-ended occupation, it's hard to predict exactly how much dirty salad and rotting meat to prepare on any given day. So instead of charging for what it actually prepared, Halliburton subsidiary KBR apparently charged for what it thought it might prepare, if the troops were all compulsive overeaters.

On the other hand, just imagine how much a company with no experience overcharging the government might have overcharged in this situation. Clearly, the Pentagon made the right decision to go with an expert.

Posted by Greg Beato at 11:33 PM
Scandaless Behavior

Is John Kerry the first politician ever to go AWOL from his own sex scandal? Partisan midwives still think they can breathe life into the Eggman's stillborn scoop, and you know, if the rumoured TV interview ever surfaces, maybe things will get interesting. Right now, though, this story has the legs of a crippled dachsund.

But I hope it doesn't disappear entirely, because Drudge got the info from somewhere - he's too lazy and unimaginative to make all this stuff up - and it'd be interesting, if not exactly edifying, to find out where.

In the meantime, it's been fun to watch conservative cry "Double standard!" How come the mainstream press is laying off the Kerry story, they charge, while pissing and shitting all over the completely convincing record of Lt. Bush's magazine-reading days?

Guys, relax. It's 2004 still; the Bush AWOL story had to wait a long, long time for its moment in the sun. If it's 2008, or maybe 2012, and President Kerry is stumping for reelection on the basis of his homeland fidelity record, and the press still isn't giving the non-intern story any attention, then you can cry "Double Standard!"

Not that I'm against a good sex scandal, which is ultimately why I don't understand all the hand-wringing over gay marriage - shouldn't everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, have the freedom to commit adultery? Also, even if gay marriage does end up destroying the institution that has held this great nation together for over two hundred years, look at the bright side: we'll always have "The Bachelor," "Newlyweds," and "Til Death Do Us Part" reruns!

Finally, a word of caution to liberals jumping on the rumours that William Bennett used to visit a brawny Vegas dominatrix: in the unlikely event that this suspiciously apt story turns out to be true, it wouldn't necessarily mean that Bennett has committed adultery. After all, a lot of S&M is completely devoid of explicit sexual behavior. For some people, it's just Dr. Laura with costumes and foot-licking, and where's the sin in that?

Posted by Greg Beato at 07:55 AM
February 17, 2004
Churls Gone Wild!

Rhetorical cross-dresser Dennis Prager slips into a thong and tells us what today's feminist sluts are thinking:

Thus, many women are now saying: "I am a woman. And I will declare it in one of the only ways left to me -- I will show you my female body."

Posted by Greg Beato at 11:49 AM
February 16, 2004

To celebrate Black History Month, Jonah Goldberg gives a shout-out to legacy admissions:

First of all, the ones who benefit most from legacy policies are the schools and the other non-rich students. The parents of legacies tend to be the biggest financial supporters of schools. If, all of the sudden, these boosters can't get their kids accepted, a major revenue stream will dry up or at least shrink. Millionaires, after all, are less likely to build libraries for schools that reject their kids. That means tuition will go up, disproportionately hurting poor and minority kids.

Alas, this "reasoning" only "works" if you find phrases like "tend to be" or "at least" particularly convincing. Goldberg works fast, I know, but can't he throw in one or two actual facts to support his contentions? After all, middle-class families have been sending kids to college for several generations now, so the notion that legacies are uniformly rich is hardly the slam-dunk that Goldberg presents it as. And even if they are rich, are they uniformly generous? Maybe they are, but based on Goldberg's essay, who knows?

In any case, Goldberg mentions that Texas A&M admitted 312 white students in 2003 who wouldn't have been admitted if it weren't for their legacy status.

Currently, Texas A&M's annual budget is approximately $808 million a year.

Goldberg calls the donations from the parents of legacy students "a major revenue stream," but how major are we talking here? If there are around 300 legacy admissions a year, that means there are around 1200 legacy students enrolled at the school at any one time. To account for, say, 5% of Texas A&M's annual budget, or $40 million, the parents of those 1200 legacy students would each have to contribute approximately $33,000 a year, or $130,000 over the course of their child's enrollment at the school.

Are the parents of every single legacy admission contributing an average of $130,000 to Texas A&M in addition to the tuition they pay?

1) I doubt it.

2) Even if they are, is 5% of the budget "major"?

My guess is that Goldberg confines his argument to vague abstractions mostly because he's lazy, but his vagueness is also nice insurance against whatever it is that actual facts might reveal...

OK, that was just for starters. The thing I find most interesting about Goldberg's argument is how it totally disregards the specific individuals (the bulk of whom are probably white, I'm guessing) who don't get into the college of their choice because the legacy admissions take their places.

Watching the affirmative action debate play out, one argument I often see is that affirmative action is wrong because it sacrifices the interests of individuals in favor of the interests of a group. No one thinks the idea of increasing African-American and Latino enrollment is bad in itself, of course, but at the expense of kids who worked hard to qualify for admission to a particular school? Why make them pay for cultural inequities which they've played no part in?

In Goldberg's defense of legacy policies, non-legacies are treated in the same way that white kids are treated when affirmative action's in effect, but with none of the hand-wringing. 312 kids don't get in because they're not legacies? So what, it's for the greater good of the institution...

Somehow, I guess, it's just harder to think in terms of the big picture on those occasions when the big-picture policy favors minorities.

Finally, what about the fact that legacy policies have a racial component? This is especially true at Texas A&M, where blacks weren't admitted until 1963, and where black enrollment remains quite low. Because of these facts, only six black students benefited from Texas A&M's legacy program in 2003, compared to the 312 white ones who did.

While Goldberg acknowledges the existence of this argument at the beginning of his essay, he seems to completely forget it by the end of it, where he reaches the following conclusion:

If schools want to have preferences for short people, gays or nerds that may be good or bad policy, but it's not "institutional racism." Assigning points based upon skin color is. At least in my book.

Right, but assigning points based on whether or not previous generations of your family got into Texas A&M when having the wrong skin color kept you unequivocally out, that's not institutional racism. Instead, it's just an arbitrary policy, like giving a break to short people...

Posted by Greg Beato at 09:02 PM
You Can Call Me Alzheimers...

From the NY Post:

Retired Brig. Gen. William Turnipseed, the 187th's Tactical Reconnaissance Group's former commander, recanted his statement that he couldn't remember if Bush reported for duty, now saying his memory is faulty because he's in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease.

Turnipseed, of course, originally told the Boston Globe that he was "dead certain" that Bush had never showed up for Guard duty in Alambama in 1972. And Turnipseed made that declaration almost four years ago. So the obvious question is: exactly how long do the beginning stages of Alzheimer's last?

Posted by Greg Beato at 11:05 AM
The Uniforms Always Made Me Suspicious... columnist Hans Zeiger is the latest conservative commentator to identify yet another new threat to homeland security: the Girl Scouts.

One thing that's got him particularly unsettled:

In the summer of 2001, Mountain Meadow Girl Scout Camp in New Jersey was advertised as a "feminist camping experience [for] children of lesbian, gay, transgender ... and other progressive families." Children ages nine to fifteen were required to fill out an application asking name, birth date, medications, and "Gender of camper: male/female/other (please explain)."

For the record, there's no such thing as "Mountain Meadow Girl Scout Camp."

There is something called "Mountain Meadow Camp," however. According to its website, Mountain Meadow is a volunteer group that has been organizing an annual two-week summer camp for the children of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or queer parents since 1991.

In 2001, it rented a campground owned by the Girl Scouts of South Jersey Pines for two weeks to put on its own camp. "Mountain Meadow Summer Camp rents the campground from the South Jersey Pines Girl Scouts," explained Girl Scouts representative Linda Coppinger. "We have no affiliation with the organization."

Only a college student, Hans Zeiger is already producing near-professional-caliber distortions. Fox News, NRO, Newsmax - keep an eye on this kid!

Posted by Greg Beato at 08:58 AM