The Columbia Critic

A place to debate anything we want to. We'll talk Columbia campus issues. We'll talk up the homosexual problem. We'll talk China. And we'll talk without resorting to partisan rhetoric. We may be left. We may be right. But we aren't going to be quoting any party line. We're leading the discussion. But feel free to chime in. Hannity and Colmes this is not.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Why Mitt Romney isn't the savior of health care

From John Kitzhaber MD, and former governor of Oregon:

Implications of the Massachusetts Plan

The Massachusetts plan for universal coverage – recently signed into law – signals a new urgency in addressing the growing crisis in the U.S. health care system and highlights the policy vacuum on this issue in our nation’s capital. I applaud the Massachusetts governor and legislature for their courage and innovation; yet the plan itself is based on a false assumption. Like the Oregon Health Plan – enacted when I was senate president and implemented while I was governor – it treats only a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself.

Certainly ensuring everyone has timely access to needed medical care must be a key objective of any serious reform effort – and expanding coverage was a central component of our efforts in Oregon. But I have come to believe that universal coverage by itself will not solve our health care crisis. For example, everyone over the age of 65 is already covered by the Medicare program, yet the result of this universal coverage is an unfunded entitlement in excess of $65 trillion that casts a dark shadow over our nation’s fiscal future.

The uninsured are the symptom of a much deeper problem. The problem is our federal eligibility and financing structure for health care. This structure reflects the realities of the mid-20th century, not the realities of today, resulting in an increasingly inequitable and unsustainable set of public subsidies. The problem is embedded in the way we define a health care “benefit” and in the payment models and financial incentives through which this health care is delivered.

Achieving universal coverage without examining what is covered and how services are delivered will do little to stem escalating medical costs, make health care more affordable or mitigate the growing disadvantage faced by U.S. businesses competing in a global economy against firms not burdened by the spiraling cost of providing health care to their employees.

Click on the title of the post for the rest of Kitzhaber's essay. He decided recently not to run for governor (a non-consecutive third term), but instead found the Archimedes Movement, which seeks to reform how America deals with health care. Listen to the guy, he's one of the nation's political and medical experts on the subject.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Can't handle the truth

In light of recent conversations, I was reminded of a certain Marine Corps Colonel and a scrawny Navy lawyer conversing in "A Few Good Men"
Sure he deserved to go to jail. But he was right about one thing:

COL Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee (Tom Cruise): I think I'm entitled to them.
COL Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I want the truth!
COL Jessep: You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives...You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.
We use words like honor, code, loyalty...we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to!

Yes he was a schmuck. And over the top. But he makes some valid points nontheless.

Children of the Segregated Corn

Children of The Segregated Corn
By Brian Wagner
April 21, 2006

Omaha, Nebraska. The name evokes corn, corn, and people who work with corn, the so-called cornhuskers. But now we have a new word to roll around with our tongue when talking about the city: segregation.

Senator Ernie Chambers, Nebraska’s only black state senator, has been described as “the angriest black man in Nebraska.” Think Al Sharpton with credibility. And now Chambers is channeling a bit of Malcolm X in the heartland. Chambers was the only Democrat involved in the recent passage of LB1024, a bill that thwarted the Omaha school district’s “One City, One School District” plan to integrate the mixed-race, urban schools with the white, middle-class, suburban schools. The goal of that plan was to create equality in funding and opportunity. The Republicans, responding to legitimate suburban complaints, came up with a defensible plan to maintain district borders while enforcing a common tax levy among a “learning community” of 11 school districts. The goal was to address questions of equity without raising fears of forced integration.

But Chambers decided that to truly serve fellow blacks, he should segregate them, or as he put it, create an area “over which we [blacks] would have control.” With a two-page amendment, he proposed to radically alter a moderate Republican bill to mandate three separate school districts: One majority-white, one majority-black, and one majority-Hispanic.

Anyone have a problem with this? The Republicans surely didn’t see anything wrong with it, giving Chambers 30 votes to pass the amended bill 31-16 in the Senate. Nebraska’s governor, Dave Heineman, didn’t see anything wrong with the bill, signing it immediately during the middle of a competitive Republican primary election.

Luckily for the future of race relations, some people are not happy, including one of Nebraska’s largest employers. David Sokol, CEO of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, raised his voice to object meekly. “This is going to make our state a laughingstock,” he said quietly from his pulpit of power, “and it’s going to increase racial tensions and segregation.” Warren Buffett, Nebraska’s richest man, also registered his complaints. If money truly could talk, Sokol and Buffett would have blown out Chambers’ eardrums.

The bill’s supporters claim that, since the law doesn’t go into effect until 2008, it will send a message to the Omaha school district, encouraging more responsible and popular education policies.

Chambers even hopes it will send a message about the inequality of the system. But this is no “message”: a “message” is Charlie Rangel making a point about the military by introducing a draft bill with no chance of succeeding. The governor signing a bill to segregate racial groups is not a message; it is either racism, ignorance or stupidity, or a blender-full of the three elements.

It can be argued that the amended bill is not one which promotes segregation, because the bill isn’t specifically grouping minorities. Instead, it targets geographic areas that happen to be dominated by one racial group. Yet this is nothing more than an argument in semantics, as it accepts the separation of races in housing as a condition that justifies the separation of races in schooling. It goes without saying that race relations today operate on a different level than they did a century ago. But Chambers’ folly proves that many people refuse to accept the idea that a segregated city, whether divided geographically or educationally, is socially unhealthy and unacceptable.

The current debate on illegal immigrants has the American blood of many an individual boiling, but in the end, unless we plan to put out a new sign on the Statue of Liberty proclaiming, “Send me your bankers, your wealthy, your elite. Please keep the rest,” this current vacillation between the notions that ours should be an integrated nation or that ours should be a white nation filled with many oddly colored individuals needs to stop. Let us be clear when we talk about Omaha. Economic disparities between races poison relationships and lives, and further segregation, advanced by those such as Mr. Chambers, does nothing except relieve prosperous groups of the responsibility of compromising and cooperating.

You know, maybe I am wrong to be alarmed by this. Perhaps “separate but equal” does work. The practice of legislated segregation would be so much easier to discuss if there were a court case that could speak more clearly as to whether or not “separate but equal” is a justifiable concept. Maybe we’ll have an answer to that question someday. Until then, I’m going to stick with my guns on Nebraska LB1024—segregation, even cloaked in political-speak, is unhealthy and unacceptable.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Military academy attracts new 'greatest generation'

Interesting article that mentions Columbia and PrezBo's tacit rejection of ROTC:

Military academy attracts new 'greatest generation'

By Thomas Bray
Detroit News

Military recruiting may be having its difficulties because of Iraq, but from where Lt. Gen. William J. Lennox Jr., the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, sits, things have seldom looked better.

Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, Lennox told me recently following a West Point alumni meeting the night before in Birmingham, "we were taking just about everybody who met the qualifications." After Sept. 11, applications soared to about 13,000 for the 1,200 available spots in the freshman class. That number has settled back to around 10,000, but it's still a remarkable testament to the desire of today's youth to serve their country.

Lennox, who graduated from West Point in 1971, says in the old days parents leaned on their kids to go a military academy. Now the kids are surprising their Vietnam-era parents by desiring to join the military. And they exhibit the sort of values that TV newsman Tom Brokaw talked about in his wildly popular book about the World War II generation.

"I saw Tom Brokaw not long ago," Lennox says, "and I told him he ought to think about a book titled 'The New Greatest Generation.'"

One of Lennox's few disappointments has been a decline in black enrollment to around 5 percent from 8 percent, well below the target of making the officer corps look like the enlisted ranks. But he suspects there is a silver lining: The decline may reflect the Supreme Court's 2004 decision upholding the limited use of affirmative action for diversity at the University of Michigan.

"Minority kids have so many options now," he says. "We have to compete with the Ivies."

It may also reflect another fact: Even though U-M lawyers cited the use of affirmative action at the military academies to justify their own use of such policies, there are some differences in how they are applied.

A "significant number" of minority applicants to West Point, for example, first attend a "prep" academy at Ft. Monmouth, N.J., where about 220 students of all races are administered a heavy dose of remedial academic work that they must successfully master. Most have also demonstrated strong leadership skills -- 60 percent were team captains in high school, for example.

West Point supplies about 18 percent of the Army's officers. About 62 percent of the rest come from ROTC programs, which have been making something of a comeback on college campuses. Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, formerly president of U-M, joined his faculty and administrators in voting against the return of ROTC there -- despite a student poll in 2003 showing that a majority wanted the option.

Vietnam-era academics are still suspicious of what they see as a "warrior culture," and they object to the military's don't-ask, don't-tell policy on gays. But the liberal editor of the New Republic magazine recently took Bollinger and Columbia to task: "[W]hen you treat [the military] like a pariah -- while still insisting that it protect you -- you have broken the contract that binds a democratic military and a democratic people."

Besides, just who is it that's out of touch with the American mainstream -- our civilian campuses or the military? "Our students take an oath to defend the Constitution," notes Lennox, who will be retiring soon. "Exactly how is that out of touch with American values?"

Thomas Bray is a News columnist. Reach him at (313) 222-2544 and

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Military, War and ROTC

So I know this may generate a stir. Especially from fellow critic collegues.

But this is the nature of debate.

I have grown up with a certain admiration at the military and particulary its elite units. I once wanted to be part of it. But what I saw as its innate attraction was the power that it exerted. The ability to command through force, an incredible force, an over-zealous, dominating force. I thought it was extremely attractive, I still do. Granted, my exclusion derives for another reason. I do not hate the military because of its policies against homosexuals; I find this exclusion to be unnecessary and in a way it makes the military laughable and ancient, but it does not make me believe it should not exist.

Whatever attraction I have toward the military, it sings to the darkest edge of my nature. I like most people have the ability to shut away compassion, to mechanize my soul and to perform acts of rage, "defense" and violence. When I think of the military, I think of violence. And yes, if I were part of it I think I could do well for my part. Integral to any military institution in this day and age is the use of force - even if such force leads to death. Which means military prowess is a tacit approval of murder (even if you wish to call it "justifiable murder"). The rise of standing military units in the 17th Century has brought the world an increasing rate of war and violence; a military industrial complex that scares me dearly. The fact that in jingoist dialogue we develop an other, that we reduce people to subhuman status, that we call others evil for the sake of being more "comfortable" with killing them is abhorrent. It serves nothing but to perpetuate binaries and in a way war. Why have a military if you do not expect to use it?

The military lives in a certain moral vacuum: we choose to pretend that it is a justifiable act to kill so long as it is in the name of protection. As a commentator recently stated: even if you believed in just-war theory, the qualifications for there to ever be a just-war are so high that notwithstanding the most extreme case any war serves no purpose but to destroy, to denigrate our institutions and our moral understanding.

I am against war because inside me I know what kind of power war attracts. It attracts in me everything I would go at great lengths to supress. For the sanity and safety of the world: we will not be truly safe until military existence is void. Perhaps this is a dream, but who said we should not strive for it? Our goal should be to Demobilize ourselves militarily, exert more support economically and develop our world as a unit that may disagree, but respects each other sufficiently to never even consider excessive force. I'd rather see us work to this. Because so long as we live in a vacuum (worrying solely about protection, which at times could be used as a euphemism, as we've seen, for pre-emption) where we have refused to call war immoral.

Why should we have no ROTC? Because we should not support war. This is not a political move, not a liberal or conservative determination, but it harks back to the one thing that matters - our conscience. Like releasing ourselves from the grips of oil, it will be tough; people will be afraid, and think "how could you even say such a thing, people will kill Americans and we will not be able to respond!?" This is a normal fear, but it is the fear that comes with any great changes. It will be trying, and we will be pushed to the brink to maintain our faith in demilitarization. But consider the fallout: no standing army, less opportunity for great wars, less opportunity for murder, greater concentration on unity, compassion and free market development. Of course any change of such magnitude must come gradually, but with constant assurance that it will create a better more moral world. If someone defies the global decree - we can villify him, destroy him in the public sphere(in images, words and in the realm of economics the traitors will not be allowed to stand) and we can do so without war. Lest I remind you that moral superiority, as Jesus/Buddha and others spoke, is found in believing ardently in goodness (what we believe is right, just and moral) and not responding even in the most severe of circumstances.

But with what conscience can anyone tacitly support the institution of war and its ancilliary body: the military. Only in a moral vacuum can we even remotely call war "ok," or "moral enough."

I believe I say this as a good citizen of my country, but I believe I say this mostly as a citizen of my world.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006


"Malhotra says her Christian faith compels her to speak out against homosexuality. But the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she's a senior, bans speech that puts down others because of their sexual orientation. Malhotra sees that as an unacceptable infringement on her right to religious expression. So she's demanding that Georgia Tech revoke its tolerance policy. With her lawsuit, the 22-year-old student joins a growing campaign to force public schools, state colleges and private workplaces to eliminate policies protecting gays and lesbians from harassment. The religious right aims to overturn a broad range of common tolerance programs: diversity training that promotes acceptance of gays and lesbians, speech codes that ban harsh words against homosexuality, anti-discrimination policies that require college clubs to open their membership to all."

"Think how marginalized racists are," said Baylor, who directs the Christian Legal Society's Center for Law and Religious Freedom. "If we don't address this now, it will only get worse."

You have got to be kidding me. I was going to write something substantive about this but... I think the comments speak for themselves. The American progressive spirit is under attack by the resurgence of youthful religious faith. We are now trying to fight for our right to be hateful to our fellow man, perhaps someone once said,

""You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

Oh. Jesus and St. Paul. Like whoah. The religious advocating hate. Blows me. Blows you.

Friday, April 07, 2006

West End closing reported across the nation

Apparently, being the home of Kerouac and Ginsberg still means something to the Associated Press...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The West End falls to Communism

and i'm not happy about it. see link.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Qaddafi Comes to Columbia

Interesting article regarding Columbia's willingness to invite dictators and questionable regimes to speak on their beliefs and to engage in intellectual debate. As an intellectual I am somewhat torn on issues like this. I am a full believer in freedom of speech, particularly on University and College campuses, and I believe that information and ideas in and of themselves can almost never be "dangerous," only the actions that result. I understand as well, to a degree, the desire by members of the academy to get inside the heads, or so it seems, of dictators and politically corrupt regimes. They are necessarily investigating dangerous territory much in the same way that psychologists, sociologists, and criminalogists wish to get inside the heads of criminals and psychopaths. You can't fix it if you don't know what's broke.
At the same time, however, there is this prevailing notion that I have, and I'm sure many agree, that mass murderers and hatemongerers, such as Qaddafi who has been responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands, who wholly supports terrorist organizations and the downfall of the United States, and who believes that there is no state with a democracy on this entire Earth except for Libya, should not be given the opportunity to spread their hatred and their lies in the context of an academic discussion at an intellectual powerhouse such as Columbia, especially under the farcical guise of "examining prospects for democracy."
In choosing to teleconference with Qaddafi, though, rather than bring him here for a personal visit, Columbia may have actually been wrong. For we lost a great have him imprisoned.

Dangerous Professor Invites Dangerous Dictator

By: Christopher Flickinger
Posted 03/27/06
04:03 PM

One of David Horowitz's "most dangerous professors" brings one of the world's most dangerous minds to campus.

Columbia University's Lisa Anderson, dean of the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), co-sponsored an event on campus last week where Libyan dictator Mu'ammar al-Qaddafi shared his views of democracy via teleconference.

According to a school press release the two-day "academic conference" included U.S. and Libyan scholars and examined prospects for Democracy.

Fact Check: Qaddafi is a dictator whose country is one of six states that sponsor terrorism according to the U.S. State Department.

But, Columbia didn't let that little fact get in the way of its democracy conference. In fact, it welcomed Qaddafi's perspective on the subject, and boy did he deliver.

According to the Star Online, Qaddafi flaunted, "Libya's political system as superior to 'farcical' and 'fake' parliamentary and representative democracies in the West.." and said "There is no state with a democracy except Libya on the whole planet."

And while we're living in this fantasy world, here are a few more random statements that hold just as much merit as Mr. Qaddafi's comments on democracy:

* 9/11 was an elaborate conspiracy orchestrated by the Bush administration.

* The Titanic is docked in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

* Saddam Hussein is the world’s foremost humanitarian.

* Hillary Clinton really just wants to be a house wife.

* The Earth is flat.

All of these statements are on par with Qaddafi's comment, "There is no state with a democracy except Libya on the whole planet."

Human Events U has been in contact with Chris Kulawik, president of the Columbia College Conservatives. He is outraged that the school gives credence to a man like Qaddafi.

"This is a man with a hand in the murder of all those aboard the Lockerbie flight, a purported bankroller for Black September and a Hamas supporter among other infamous deeds. Libya is on the same short list as Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria; …If Columbia is so susceptible as to host this farce, what's next? Is Castro to speak on the right of dissidents? The Mullahs on religious tolerance? The Chinese Premier on free speech in Tibet? Sadly, you just don't know."

Bottom line: Here's one of "America's most dangerous professors" welcoming one of the world's most dangerous dictators into the land of academia.

Monday, April 03, 2006

West End to close, and April Fools' Day remembered...

Columbia's beloved West End will close in the very near future, to be replaced by a Cuban chain restaurant. Could this be motivated by the previous week's 200 person riot? To the Cubans who are destroying the american college bar feel that has plagued and characterized the West End, i say go to hell. The West End, no matter who owns it, should never change. Every campus needs its West End.

Also, in memory of the Saturday that made for a poor April Fools' Day, here is the Spectator's sensational staff editorial from April 1, 2004, when I served on the editorial board. It got carried all over the nation by righteous conservatives and shocked liberals. Oh, we had fun...

"STAFF EDITORIAL: Re-Elect Bush in 2004
The president has done an exemplary job in office.

April 01, 2004
Correction appended

As we approach the presidential election of 2004, Americans will be forced to make a crucial choice that will decide the future of our nation: accept the Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, or return the Republican incumbent, President George W. Bush, to office. We believe that it is necessary for our nation to stay the successful course, and thus we are proud to endorse President Bush for re-election this November.

We understand that this endorsement may come as somewhat of a surprise; this is an extremely liberal campus--the majority of this editorial board even identifies itself as aligned with the Democratic party. However, the world is a more dangerous place today than it was four years ago.

When faced with terror and tragedy, the president rose above the partisan fray and led a united nation in invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq that scattered al-Qaeda, removed cruel dictators from power, freed millions from tyranny, and set them on a path that we are convinced will lead to the establishment of peaceful democracy in those nations. Bush is a proven leader in a time of trial.

Senator Kerry, on the other hand, has shown little that suggest that he will continue to stand up to terrorists and rogue nations if elected to the presidency. Kerry seems willing to allow U.S. foreign policy to be dictated by the United Nations, even if it means acting in a manner contrary to our own vital interests. As president, such a policy would prove an unnecessary peril in an already dangerous world.

On the domestic front, Bush has also pushed through several policies that, although unorthodox and heavily criticized by many students, have done much to strengthen us as a nation.

While some students may protest the imprisonment of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, we believe that this was a necessary step to prevent them from carrying out further attacks on our people.

Others claim that the USA PATRIOT Act has infringed upon the rights of American citizens, but, we ask, what use is our freedom if it costs us our lives? President Bush has shown a bold unwillingness to allow the Constitution to become a suicide pact.

We also cite Bush's efforts to halt the moral decay that characterized the Clinton Administration. The Bush White House has been refreshingly free of sex scandals, and we hope that his abstinence-only sexual education policies result in a decline in the promiscuity that has frequently plagued this campus.

While we recognize that many students are opposed to Bush's proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, we believe that the American people should be allowed to at least consider this promising idea and determine for themselves what should be recognized as a true marriage. Under a Kerry administration, such an honest discussion would certainly be silenced.

President Bush has also exercised a common-sense approach to the environment that refuses to put the needs of animals over those of people.

In the next election we can either return to the policies of moral degradation and negligence of foreign threats that have endangered our nation in the past, or we can follow bold new policies and build a better tomorrow. When you go to the polls this November, keep this choice in mind, and vote to re-elect President Bush.


The April 1 staff editorial contained several errors, including the headline, subheadline, and all 555 words of body text."