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|Needless Commentary from Small-Town America|
The Weblog at The View from the Core - Thu. 09/29/05 07:40:25 AM
A handful of interesting, informative, and insightful articles.
News, editorials, columns, essays, et al.
Ivory Cower: University presidents have lost their dignity. by Victor Davis Hanson @ OpinionJournal (ht):
Whether or not you agreed with them, university presidents used to be dignified figures on the American scene. They often were distinguished scholars, capable of bringing their own brand of independent thinking to bear on the operation and reform of their institutions. Above all, they took seriously the university's mission to seek and transmit the Truth, and thereby to strengthen the free society that made such inquiry possible.
But it has been a long time since Woodrow Wilson (at Princeton), Robert Hutchins (at Chicago) or James Bryant Conant (at Harvard) set the tone for American campuses. Over the past year, four university presidents have been in the news from Harvard; the University of California, Santa Cruz; the University of Colorado; and the University of California, Berkeley. In each case, the curtains have briefly parted, allowing the public to glimpse the campus wizards working the levers behind the scenes, and confirming that something has gone terribly wrong at our best public and private universities.
Hypocrisy, faddishness, arrogance and intellectual cowardice are among the ailments of the American university today, and it is hard to say whether even a great president could save higher education from its now institutionalized vices. Amid the variety of scandals afflicting the campuses, the one constant is how the rhetoric of "diversity" trumps almost all other considerations and how race and gender can be manipulated by either the college president or the faculty in ways that have nothing to do with educating America's youth, but everything to do with personal aggrandizement in an increasingly archaic and unexamined enclave....
Katrina Takes a Toll on Truth, News Accuracy: Rumors supplanted accurate information and media magnified the problem. by Susannah Rosenblatt and James Rainey @ The Los Angeles Times:
Maj. Ed Bush recalled how he stood in the bed of a pickup truck in the days after Hurricane Katrina, struggling to help the crowd outside the Louisiana Superdome separate fact from fiction. Armed only with a megaphone and scant information, he might have been shouting into, well, a hurricane.
The National Guard spokesman's accounts about rescue efforts, water supplies and first aid all but disappeared amid the roar of a 24-hour rumor mill at New Orleans' main evacuation shelter. Then a frenzied media recycled and amplified many of the unverified reports.
"It just morphed into this mythical place where the most unthinkable deeds were being done," Bush said Monday of the Superdome.
His assessment is one of several in recent days to conclude that newspapers and television exaggerated criminal behavior in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, particularly at the overcrowded Superdome and Convention Center....
Rumors of deaths greatly exaggerated: Widely reported attacks false or unsubstantiated by Brian Thevenot and Gordon Russell @ The Times-Picayune (ht):
After five days managing near-riots, medical horrors and unspeakable living conditions inside the Superdome, Louisiana National Guard Col. Thomas Beron prepared to hand over the dead to representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Following days of internationally reported killings, rapes and gang violence inside the Dome, the doctor from FEMA Beron doesn't remember his name came prepared for a grisly scene: He brought a refrigerated 18-wheeler and three doctors to process bodies.
"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalls the doctor saying.
The real total was six, Beron said....
A Swamp of Corruption: In Katrina's wake, Louisiana's political culture needs a cleanup too. by John Fund @ OpinionJournal (ht):
.... No state turns out better demagogues than Louisiana the state that Huey Long ruled with an near-fascistic fist and that inspired the new Sean Penn version of All the King's Men that hits movie theaters this November. While the Bush administration and Congress aren't in danger of being fried as witches, they better figure out that they and the taxpayers are about to be fleeced like sheep as they ship south $62 billion in emergency aid with few controls or safeguards.
More will be coming. Last week, Louisiana's two senators didn't even blink when they asked the feds for an ultimate total of $250 billion in assistance just for their state. "We recognize that it's a very high number," Sen. Mary Landrieu admitted. "But this is an unprecedented national tragedy and needs an unprecedented national response."
Even if the total ends up far short of that figure, the opportunity for fraud and waste will be unprecedented. "We're getting a lot of calls" on emergency aid abuses, reports Gen. Richard Skinner, the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general. Last week, police officers found a treasure trove of food, drinks, chainsaws and roof tarps in the home of Cedric Floyd, chief administrative officer for the Jefferson Parish suburb of Kenner. Mr. Floyd is one of several city workers who will likely be charged with pilfering....
The Buck Still Hasn't Stopped: The Volcker report on Oil-for-Food is sadly incomplete. by Claudia Rosett @ The Weekly Standard (ht):
On September 7, Paul Volcker's inquiry into the Oil-for-Food program issued its "definitive report" on the biggest relief program also the biggest scandal in the history of the United Nations. The investigation alone cost $34 million, took over 16 months, and employed some 75 staff from 28 countries. Running to four volumes and totaling 847 pages, the report is hefty. But definitive it is not.
Volcker's report is at best a beginning, and a skewed and incomplete one at that. To be fair, credit is due to some of the investigators on Volcker's staff, who have conducted many interviews and toiled down many byways of the U.N. paper trail to produce such items as footnote 64, page 27, Volume III. Here we find that "kickbacks were levied on all or nearly all contracts" among the thousands of U.N.-approved deals done by Saddam Hussein, as the program, during its final years, hit its full multibillion annual stride. The investigators have also painstakingly documented such findings as the one on page 124 of Volume III. Here we find that, during Oil-for-Food, Secretary General Kofi Annan, his deputy secretary-general, Louise Fréchette, and his chief of staff, Iqbal Riza, "were all informed of the issue of kickbacks, but remained passive." ....
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