February 28, 2005

Index Funds - An Ongoing Study

A few weeks ago, I posited that the popularity of Index Funds could be increasing the volatility of the markets.

This is a testable hypothesis to a point. We can at least see a correlation, and see if volatility has grown with Index Fund investment.

Since it looks like I'll have a little extra time on my hands for the next few weeks, I'm going to go ahead and use public information sources, pull down the prices for the Dow Jones Industrials since 1/1/1970, and see if any of this works.

Obviously, this is a multi-step process, so I invite the readers of this blog to check the math, check the methodology, and work on this along with me.

Posted by joshuasharf at 03:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Franchise Failure

Dane over at Business Opportunities Weblog quotes Steve Strauss on franchise survival rates:

The good news is that the likelihood of you failing as a franchisee is fairly remote According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), roughly 30% of all non-franchise businesses fail within the first year, but that number falls to 5% when discussing franchises.

Strauss then goes on to discuss reasons franchises fail.

It's a good piece, with two quibbles. According to a 1998 study for Sloan Management Review, about 15% of franchises fail in their first year, and by the third year, they match that 30% failure rate. It may be that franchises have refined their systems since then, but 95% sounds pretty good, 85% less so, and a longer-term view is much less rosy then either.

Secondly, Strauss fails to warn potential franchisees that franchisors will sometimes buy back successful operations an have the company run them directly. This not only breaks faith with the franchisee, who's buying a revenue stream as much as a process and name. It also suggests that the franchisor's attentions aren't where they need to be: in brand-building, marketing, and chain-growing.

Posted by joshuasharf at 11:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CU Exit Strategy

I laid off the Ward Churchill blogging last week, mostly because it looked like the week's big story, the Great Hawaiian I'm Not an Indian Admission, blew over the day after. Then, of course, it turns out he forged a painting and took a swing at a reporter who asked him about it.

This week, it's the return of the inmates, as CU professors demand an end to the investigation, and the administration begins making noises about a settlement. This is what an "exit strategy" brings you, and it ain't pretty.

Meanwhile Jim "Strawman" Spencer is hard at work turning Churchill into a mildly outspoken martyr who just got in over his head. Sure, the department's tenuring of someone as blatantly unqualified as Churchill is rare. But it could only have happened in a series of departments so beset by groupthink that nobody bothered to challenge what was happening.

Spencer also joins the profs in trying to limit the issue to free speech. I don't care even for that case in this event, but the fact is that Churchill now stands accused of offending academia even on its own, more insular, terms. He has, evidently, deliberately distorted the plain meaning of texts, made stuff up, stolen other stuff, lied about himself, his past, his ethnicity, bullied students and newspapers who dared to ask questions.

The professors call this a "distraction." I'm sure it is.

Last word goes to reader Merlin Klotz:

The position of academics who suggest that "it is going to be extremely difficult, if academic freedom is on the block, for us to hire and keep good faculty members" rings hollow if good faculty members are reduced to only those that support multiple forms of academic fraud. On the contrary, the very best in faculty candidates would be embarrassed to be associated with an institution that supports in its very principles the standards of ethics and truth set by Mr. Churchill.

Posted by joshuasharf at 11:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Carnival of the Capitalists

Congrats to the Coyote Blog, located just south and west of here, for all the hard work.

Posted by joshuasharf at 10:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Paden for Golden

Pending signature validation, Friend of the Alliance, and foot doctor extraordinaire Barbara Paden is now officially a candidate for the vacant Golden City Council Seat.

This means that her campaign is taking contributions, for one thing.

Barbara was a blogger before she was a candidate, so her campaign blog should be good reading in its own right, as opposed to most politicans' blogs. That alone is reason to help out.

Posted by joshuasharf at 09:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 27, 2005

Sporadic Oscar Bloggng

  • I don't know if this was a retread from the Super Bowl, but the Budweiser ad spoofing the Coors ad was pretty good, too.
  • I can't tell you how delighted I am to hear Che Guevara get a kind introduction and applause. Just delighted.
  • The Carson tribute was very, very funny. Reminded me of just how talented Carson was. He did a much better job of it than Whoopie.
  • The President of the Academy usually comes out with some self-important comment. This time, it was nice to see him honoring the troops, and hoping that their movies bring them home for an hour, not that they demoralize them.
  • Didn't the two guys who won for best adaptation make you happy they won?
  • Why is Sideshow Bob singing the song from "Shrek II"?
  • Is is just me, or could this very melodic song from "The Chorus" be improved with more action from, er, the Chorus?
  • I did like the Pepsi commercial based on "Spartacus." Kind of hoping they'll do some more.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 07:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
  • February 25, 2005

    Vox Bloguli - Go Reed. Thomas Reed

    Welcome Hugh Hewitt readers!

    Hugh's offering a choice in response to Sen. Harry Reid's threat of judicial obstructionism. McClellan vs. Grant. Look, if your option is a general who treats victories like defeats (and pulls back) or one who defeats like victories (and advances), hey, whiskey for everyone! The analogy works in another way: Lincoln, seeing McClellan's inaction, famously asked him, "if you're not going to use the Army, do you mind if I borrow it for a while?" There's a reason you fight to win elections - to make judicious use of the institutions you win control of.

    That said, I've alluded to a far closer analogy before. In Barbara Tuchman's wonderful survey of Europe and the US before WWI, The Proud Tower, she devotes a few pages to Republican Speaker of the House Thomas Reed, and his decision to overturn the "silent quorum." This was a means by which members could have a quorum for debate, and then prevent a vote by refusing to answer the roll. Since the Republican majority was so slim, it was difficult to assure an absolute majority of members would be present to vote, and the "silent quorum" was killing the House's ability to transact business.

    Reed simply decided to end the practice. On the first quorum call, concerning the seating of two new House members, he ordered the clerk to mark as "present" a House member who didn't answer. When the representative objected, Reed boomed out, "the Speaker is merely noting that the Representative is present. Does he wish to dispute the fact?"

    The floor of the House erupted. Realizing that he was risking renewed civil hostilities, Reed agreed to several days' debate on the question, and eventually he prevailed.

    One interesting twist to the story. Reed was able to summon up the moral courage to win by deciding that he'd simply retire if he lost. He was an unmatched debater, and would have returned to Maine and resumed his successful law practice. Likewise, Sen. Frist is not running for re-election in 2006, so he has almost nothing to lose by standing up for the right to vote on judges.

    Harry Reid, you're no Thomas Reed.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 02:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    The Counter-Reformation

    If Hugh Hewitt is right, and blogging represents the Reformation, then the counter-Reformation can't be far behind.

    Today saw the publication of three pieces of literature, ranging from analysis to polemic, that will be brought together in the new storyline of a vast Republican media conspiracy.

    First, Anne Lewis at the DSSC seizes on Ken Mehlman of the RNC comment that "we don't have to pay for our grassroots," a reference to the paid help that the Dems' GOTV effort relied on. First on Lewis's list: the South Dakota Alliance, and Jon Lauck. Lauck did indeed receive money from the Thune campaign, disclosed this fact, and went on to cover the campaign and the Argus-Leader's distortions in great depth and with great insight. He had a point of view, he was not a shill. This doesn't prevent Lewis from claiming that he never told anyone about his payment.

    Then, Jan Frel at Personal Democracy posts a long piece claiming to uncover the real strategy of the South Dakota Alliance. That strategy was to "get inside the heads" of the Argus-Leader's staff covering the campaign.

    Actually, the strategy was to force the A-L to straighten up and fly right, something blogs have been all about for a while now. Dan Gillmor, formerly of the San Jose Mercury News who now blogs about the media, treats this as a startling revelation. But Frel notes that the Alliance made this goal public in a Platform.

    Gannon-Guckert also makes an appearance in Frel's article.

    And today, Jay Rosen puts the Gannon-Guckert kerfuffle into a larger context, what he sees as the Administration's efforts to discredit the print MSM. Let me be clear: I think Rosen is acting in good faith, and is putting together some pieces that should be aired. Rosen's a smart guy, and should be taken seriously, and argued with seriously. At the same time, this is a storyline that will be quickly twisted into the larger "conservative-media-as-paid-tools" storyline.

    That storyline is the counterattack.

    It matters not that the South Dakota Alliance, or Powerline, or the Swifties operated from facts. Or that the CBS memos were fake-but-untrue, or that Eason Jordan had a history of questionable statements and ethics, or that (to address Jay Rosen's point) the mainstream press long ago abandoned professionalism for politics.

    What matters is that the Administration and the campaign found a way to get around the filter.

    It's a political counterattack, not a reasoned one, so it relies on ignoring facts and smearing all opponents with the same brush. The hope is to create an image in the public mind, not to win debating points. It's to change the image of bloggers and those who support them, from public heroes (which was always over-stated, anyway) to being something slightly disreputable, and suspect.

    It's part of the game of discrediting conservative journalism, in an attempt to re-establish the MSM as the only source of critical analysis of the administration.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 11:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    We Put the "W" in Qwality

    Well, you have to give them credit for trying, even if they can't get any other kind of credit.

    Qwest has revised its offer, speeding the cash payout to MCI, and offering to make good any losses if Qwest stock drops before the deal is done. Moreover, consumer groups are claiming that the Verizon deal is anti-competitive.

    Color me unimpressed.

    The latest word is that MCI's board will stand by Verizon, even as it fulfills its fiduciary responsibility to play wastepaper basketball with each individual sheet of Qwest's new offer. Owning 5% of something is better than owning 40% of nothing The board has obviously made its decision, but the whole deal will still need to pass shareholder muster.

    First, the consumer groups. Consumer groups take a notably static view of the world. Their cry of "anti-competitive" is only true if you assume that there are no other competing technologies. I can see why the Post would pick up the refrain to boost the hometown boys, especially given the jobs at stake, but with cable companies, satellite companies, VOIP, all out there, the idea that anyone's market position is unassailable or even particularly stable is short-sighted. The only thing they can do is to sow uncertainty in MCI shareholders that the Verizon deal would get regulatory approval.

    As for the deal itself, it contains a "put," in effect, an offer to make good any losses if Qwest stock drops below $4.15 a share before the deal is sealed. Which is all well and good. Put options are frequently included in buyouts, to reassure the buyers that they're getting something worthwhile. (This reinforces my interpretation that Qwest is not so much acquiring MCI, as offering a minority stake of itself for sale.)

    The problem is, all Qwest has to offer is more shares, i.e., a bigger piece of a smaller pie. It's a meaningless offer, and everyone knows it.

    The wildcard remains the shareholders, who include a growing number of hedge funds moving in to make a quick profit on a hoped-for bidding war (paid subscription required). They're expecting Verizon to up its offer, and will be putting pressure on MCI's board to make them do so.

    Two problems with this. First, the broader market isn't buying, with MCI stock down from its premium over Verizon's offer. It's still trading a little higher than Verizon would pay, but much lower than Qwest's offer. And they can't all get out at that price, either. Second, MCI released its quarterlies, showing yet another operating loss. This means that MCI lost money for both the 2nd and 4th quarters, and will be down for the year. The early efforts by interested investors to promote MCI as a cash cow rather than a cash hoard don't hold up to scrutiny.

    If the shareholders, including the short-term hedge funds, were to stampede shareholders into rejecting Verizon's offer, they'll get what they deserve.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 10:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Ethel Merman

    For those of you who happened to be listening yesterday, yes, that was me on Hugh's story recounting the story of Donald O'Connor's Merman-induced hearing loss.

    Naturally, as soon as I hung up, I remembered that the show was "Call Me Madam," and the look on O'Connor's face as she slams his head down on her shoulder and starts to sing is priceless.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 24, 2005

    "What's Wifi?"

    In a debate on Senate Bill SB05-152, which would prevent municipalities from directly building telecom networks and competing with private companies, committee chairman Sen. Deanna Hanna was heard to ask one opponent of the bill, "What's Wifi?" Way to do your homework, Senator.

    Glenn Fleishmann has written eloquently and persuasively about the need to keep open the option of municipal wifi networks, and the attempts by various state legislatures to foreclose the option.

    My own inclination is that governments shouldn't be competing against private industry where it's at all avoidable. The inherent regulatory conflicts of interest are too obvious. DU Professor Ron Rizzuto reiterated his study that municipal telecom networks almost never pay for themselves, but that the temptation to mix in funds from, say, the electric utility, is too tempting. In the long run, such services tend to benefit from relaxed treatment, and deliver substandard service at a high, hidden cost.

    That said, a blanket ban on municipal or county telecom networks is probably a mistake. The argument comes down to what a utility is, and what the government's role in providing that utility should be. I do believe that wifi will quickly become a utility, just as cellphone service has in the last decade or so. Such a utility could be quite profitable in a large city like Denver or Boulder. But small towns and rural areas might want access, as well. There, the co-op model already provides electricity and water, and in some cases phone service, without competing with an non-existent incumbent.

    In the end, my main goal is to get all the phone poles torn down, and have us all using VOIP, anyway, so whatever speeds that transition has my ear. Locking out an option on principle rather than experience seems a little hasty.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 10:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Sen. Roseanna-Roseanna Deanna Hanna

    In a surprise slap to their usually reliable allies the Progressives, the Denver Post this morning editorializes against yesterday's state Senate Business, Labor, and Technology Committee vote to pass the Keep Jobs in America Act along to the full Senate. I don't think they're necessarily reading this blog, but it's encouraging that they do repeat a number of the arguments made and referred to here. Heh.

    As noted before, the Act would have all sorts of consequences for the state's budget and ability to function, without materially affecting the US or world economies. I wonder if sponsor Sen. Hanna also thinks that declaring Boulder a nuclear-free zone would dissuade the incoming missiles...

    Posted by joshuasharf at 10:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 23, 2005


    By a quirk of fate, DU College Republicans meet right after my risk management class in the same room. It turns out that a bunch of them went to CPAC, and I got a chance to see what about the conference a set of enthusiastic, starstruck Republican undergrads found most interesting.

    The five students who attended were Charlie Smith, Conor McGahey, Melanie Harmon, Dan Cutts, and Nichole Walker (who wasn't in school, but in the hospital instead).

    The biggest hits were Newt, Ann Coulter, Wayne LaPierre, and Ken Mehlman. Mehlman pointed out that the Dems met all of their vote goals - they just got outvoted. The Republicans, having more real estate to work with, were able to get 1 or 2 more votes per precinct and out-gain the Dems enough for a decisive win.

    I asked them about their impressions for '08, and all four of them pointed to George "The Future Is Now" Allen. Allen's speech was apparently very successful, very forward-looking and optimistic. And while he's a Senator now, he has been governor of Virginia, which gives him an executive mentality lacking in most legislators. Plus, he went to a very good school.

    Sounded like they have a terrific time, and came back charged up and ready to continue the fight.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 07:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Foot in the Door

    Friend of the Alliance, Barbara Paden, AKA Girl in Right, is just a few signatures short of a ballot line.

    No, really. She's trying to make the leap from the commentariat to the secretariat, running for a vacant seat on the Golden City Council, and she needs just a few more signatures to guarantee a line.

    If you live in Golden, and are eligible to vote, and are registered to vote, and aren't a felon, and don't expect to get paid for your signature, please stop by, or contact her campaign (303-525-1503), and she'll make arrangements to collect your signature.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 03:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 22, 2005

    Sort of Like Spam, But Without the Bitter Aftertaste

    For those of you who would like to receive new postings by email, there's a subscription form over on the left-hand side (scroll down a little). Just enter your email address, and new postings will be mailed to you as they appear. You won't get offers from jailed Nigerian businessmen and what happens at View, stays at View, so your email address stops here.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 10:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    President Hoffman Speaks

    Just came from a Republican House caucus meeting, where CU Regent Tom Lucero and CU President Betsy Hoffman both spoke. Both knew there was press in the room, so both knew their talks were on the record.

    Probably the most interesting moment came when one representative asked about the man/woman imbalance at college, with almost all schools having many more women undergrads than men. Hoffman replied that CU has a 51/49 male-to-female ratio, so they hadn't entered that world yet. "And," she continued, "in a school with a stronger science and math component, you're less likely to see that sort of imbalance."

    She did not offer to explain, nor was she asked, why that might be the case. Nevertheless, she's not the only one to notice.

    Hoffman also spoke about the Ward Churchill affair, going over the very strong tenure procedures that exist at the school, and once again proving that the problem is almost never one of process, and almost always one of judgment.

    President Hoffman did spend a fair amount of time reminding us of CU's contributions to the state as a research institution, both in space and in medical research. Example: I remember having a discussion recently where the subject of blindness cause by macular degeneration came up, and I winced at the mention. CU has a drug - Macugen - poised for final FDA approval which will help reverse its effects and become the leading treatment.

    In all the controversy - and it's been considerable this year - it's easy to lose sight of exactly why we do care about the school.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 02:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 21, 2005

    Media Bias Down Under

    For those of us who think that media bias is even primarily an American phenomenon, I'd recommend to you Australian Gerard Henderson's Media Watch postings. Henderson is executive Director of the Sydney Institute, where he writes a weekly column. He also seems to appear in The Age with some regularity.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 10:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Not Paying Attention

    The brilliant Mark Steyn's latest devastating column centers on Arthur Miller's inflated reputation, and the uses to which it has been put:

    Miller was the most useful of the useful idiots. It was a marvelous inspiration to recast the communist "hysteria" of the 1950s as the Salem witch trials of the 1690s. Many people have pointed out the obvious flaw with "The Crucible" — that there were no witches, whereas there were certainly communists. For one thing, they were gobbling up a lot of real estate: they seized Poland in 1945, Bulgaria in '46, Hungary and Romania in '47, Czechoslovakia in '48, China in '49; they very nearly grabbed Greece and Italy; they were the main influence on the nationalist movements of Africa and Asia. Imagine the Massachusetts witch trials if the witches were running Virginia, New York and New Hampshire, and you might have a working allegory.

    As it is, Miller's play is an early example of the distinguishing characteristic of the modern Western left: its hermetically sealed parochialism. His genius was to give his fellow lefties what has become their most cherished article of faith — that any kind of urgent national defense is, by definition, paranoid and hysterical. It was untrue in the '50s, and it's untrue today. Indeed, the hysteria about hysteria — the "criminalization" of "dissent" — is far more hysterical than the hysteria about Reds.

    "The Crucible" will survive because it is the modular furniture of left-wing agitprop: whatever the cause du jour, you can attach it to and it functions no better or worse than to anything else, mainly because it is perfectly pitched to the narcissism of the left.

    Steyn is the theater critic for the New Criterion, and reason enough to subscribe.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 09:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Baby You Can Drive My Car

    Now, let's see. I work during the week. I can't go test-drive cars on Saturday. It's illegal for a dealership to sell me a car on Sunday. Read that again. Walking through a large parking lot tell me nothing - < DeNiro as Capone Voice >nothing < /DeNiro as Capone Voice > - about the car. Which means that I have to take time off work to go buy a car, if I want to see it by anything brighter than the light of the silvery moon. What's more, if I owned a car dealership, I'd need to be closed both Saturday and Sunday.

    Let's keep it that way.

    Others said most dealerships don't want to open Sundays because it gives employees the day off and levels the competition if all lots are closed. Others said it gives consumers a day to look at cars without salespeople hovering over them.

    This doesn't have anything to do with employees' religious observance. I realize that most car salesmen could use all the time in church they can get, but my guess is that this isn't where most of the are going. It has to do with car companies keeping their costs down, helped out by the government. While a specific car may be something of an impulse buy, my guess is that most people and business that are going to buy cars are going to buy them anyway. So the dealerships know they can stay closed and still make the same number of sales.

    We have a chain of hobby stores here called "Hobby Lobby." You know, they sell frames and mirrors and cardboard and ribbons and buttons and bows. They're closed on Sunday. Michael's, the national chain, isn't. Hobby Lobby believes in this enough to take the hit. Why does Freeway Ford get a free pass?

    I want to see people in church on Sunday, too, but if they're in church, they're not out buying the cars, either. Seriously, if an auto dealership advertised itself as "Sundays-off, Family-friendly," and if that mattered to people, which it clearly does, then they could make a point of shopping there.

    Tell you what. Give 'em Wednesday off, and don't open until noon on Sundays. Or, if you're close on Saturdays, you don't have to be closed on Sundays.

    Either that, or get The Progressives to propose a bill requiring that employers give employees time off to go buy a car. Heh.

    UPDATE: Bill Scanlon of the Rocky replies to an email, "Rep. Weissman pushed it, knowing it would fail, but wanting to see how much support it would have. He said he though he had 29 votes. The voice vote seemed to indicate that he had about that many, although a later formal vote indicated that he only had 13."

    So this was clearly bipartisan nannying.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 10:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 20, 2005

    No, Real Prawns Aren't Kosher

    But don't let that stop you from visiting the Carnival of the Capitalists.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 10:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    A Poll Too Late

    About a week ago, the Washington Post reported on how The Commute is faring in my old hometown. ("Painful Commutes Don't Stop Drivers", and accompanying poll.) If anything, things seem to have deteriorated even further since I left, and the traffic was one of the aggravating factors in my leaving.

    Unfortunately, I seem to be a carrier, because the Denver area seems destined to repeat DC's mistakes. I wish this article and survey had been available last year when our friends at the Independence Institute were trying to persuade us that FasTracks was a mistake.

    The one thing they seem most unwilling to do is give up their cars, so they accept long and frustrating commutes as the price for other lifestyle choices.


    "There's nothing we can do to fix it," said Dan Tangherlini, the District's transportation director. "There are things we can do to try to influence it. But it is a little frustrating when most people sit around and agree that people are making all the wrong choices and yet more and more people are doing it."

    Naturally, the people are making "all the wrong choices." Yes, I agree. Foremost among those wrong choices was an expensive below-ground subway system that was obsolete as soon as it was approved. It's completely unequipped to handle cross-county commuting, and it ends in what are now the inner suburbs. It picked winners and losers, can't possibly have nearly enough spokes or parking to be near enough people to be worthwhile or convenient.

    Blaming people because they'd rather sit in their own private car, listening to what they please, rather than sweat it out, lurching along with a few dozen co-commters in tunnels where they can't call to say they'll be late? Yes, that's the worst of the bureaucratic mentality at work. Everyone is just making that "wrong choice" that they'd rather have flexibility and comfort, even at the price of a long, unpredictable commute. That's not a "wrong choice," that's a "trade-off."

    Sadly, even Washingonians don't seem to have learned the lesson:

    Solid majorities of area residents polled support a variety of big-ticket items to help ease traffic congestion, from extending Metro to Dulles International Airport to building an intercounty connector in the Maryland suburbs. Half would even be willing to pay higher gasoline taxes to fund transportation projects, compared with a third nationally.

    I suspect the same flawed logic is at work here as built Metro in the first place, and that led to FasTracks: we'll build this, and that will get everyone else off my road.

    Look, Maryland has been a terrible roadblock back there. A lot of DC's congestion is through truck traffic that has no place to go but the Beltway. DC won't finish I-95 through the city; and Maryland has blocked both eastern bypasses (to permit I-95 traffic to flow around the city), and western bypasses (to let other I-95 traffic connect with I-70 or I-270). Next time a shipment of nails from Birmingham bound for Camden spills and turns Northern Virginia into a parking lot for 10 hours, send your complaints to Annapolis.

    One big reason that drives are longer here is that traffic tie-ups are far more frequent. Nearly 6 in 10 commuters say they get tangled up in traffic jams at least once a week. And more than 1 in 4 -- 28 percent -- said they encounter serious tie-ups every day, compared with 9 percent of commuters nationally.

    Inconsistency is a classic symptom of a system operating near the edge.

    "Sometimes it's just plain scary," said Danitza Valdivia, 31, a project assistant who lives in Northwest Washington and works near MCI Center -- a four-mile commute as the crow flies that takes her a half-hour to negotiate. "I get to work and have to take a coffee break before I start my workday."

    The last few times I've gone back to DC, it's been Highway Culture Shock. I had forgotten how erratic the drivers are there. Of course, this doesn't get them more than a few car lengths during the course of an hour, and is probably responsible for a fair number of the accidents and tie-ups.

    There's no question that traffic here is worse, and the drivers more aggressive than they were eight years ago when I moved here. Still, people assimilate. It's rare to get beeped at for not jack-rabbiting off a green light, for instance.

    Still, it's still a manageable problem. C-470/E-470 is helping, and plans to widen US-36 between Denver and Boulder are an absolute must.

    People are not going to get out of their cars, by and large.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 03:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    About Wikipedia

    Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that operates like a moderated blog. It believes that it has both technical and social means to control trolls, cranks, and partisans, and still publish a high-quality product.

    About.com relies on a centralized set of experts to edit its articles, mimicking a traditional encyclopedia, but on line.

    Guess which one the New York Times bought for $410 million?

    Typically, the Times report of the purchase doesn't even mention Wikipedia. It's couched entirely in terms of the added revenue stream, which is probably true. Until the Times editors get their glummies into About.com, and the Wikipedians start fact-checking the thing.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 10:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 18, 2005

    Mental Ward

    From today's Rocky, more interviews with the foxes guarding the henhouse a few years back:

    The idea of placing Churchill in communications came from then-Dean of Arts and Sciences Charles Middleton, the former department chairman, John Bowers, recalled Thursday.

    Bowers said Middleton didn't mention Churchill's ethnicity.

    "It didn't need to be said," recalled Bowers, who has since retired and lives in Oregon.

    "I understood it that way, but it wasn't just that I understood it that way from the dean. I mean, it pervaded the whole organization, and still does, I believe.

    Does anyone still not get the idea of groupthink? There didn't have to be a conspiracy. All they needed was complete uniformity of opinion on the matter of genetic diversity.

    "And I agree with that. I'm not saying that critically," he added.

    No doubt. Nothing reinforces the true believer's faith like contrary evidence.

    "We were always trying to add diversity to the faculty," Middleton said. "But the qualifications for faculty appointments always govern the parameters within which we can consider somebody."

    Granting tenure to new hires is not precluded by university rules, Middleton said.

    We followed the rules! Yes, of course you followed the rules. Nobody's saying you didn't sign all the right papers. They're saying that you got to the point where an ideological commitment to ethnic bean-counting led to a complete suspension of judgment.

    And there were a few other faculty members who, like Churchill, lacked a doctorate.

    Yes, I'm sure there were. I'm sure that there were exceptional intellects who lacked this or that qualification. They're expected to make up for their weaknesses with other strengths. We tolerate all sorts of weaknesses in people we admire because we value other strengths, but you don't pattern yourself after those weaknesses. Churchill is like the football player who's slow and makes up for it by being small. And even now, the coach can't admit he can't remember just what he was thinking when he put him on the squad.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 01:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    "...What is Your Qwest?"

    "What is your name?"
    "Richard Notebaert."
    "What is your Qwest?"
    "Um, a technically bankrupt phone company."
    "What is your favorite telecom?"
    "Local or long-distance?"

    After listening to Qwest's conference call, let's just say that Notebaert didn't sound too happy. When a guy starts talking about "keeping options open," and "seeing how the deal plays out," it's pretty clear there's no Plan B. They're going straight to Plan 9.

    I've written about this non-deal before, here, here and here, so there's little point in repeating the details. What's astonishing is that Qwest isn't giving up.

    Qwest's letter to MCI is somewhere between the sad and pathetic (click below to Read the Whole Thing). It sounds as though Qwest is being manipulated by a couple of large MCI shareholders who want a higher premium from Verizon. Some of them were arguing that MCI had a fine cash stream, when in fact it does not, and Leon Cooperman has been out there pushing MCI hard.

    In fact, Notebaert really has very little left to bid with. Any more cash is essentially coming from MCI's own account, and defeating the purpose of the merger - cash for Qwest. Any more stock, and it becomes unclear just who's buying whom. So what's he going to offer? Mountain view property in Elbert County?

    The only card Notebaert has to play is the MCI board's fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders, so that's the case he's trying to build. If the shareholders see through it, there's always a slight chance that the SEC, FTC, or Czar Spitzer might think otherwise.

    It remains to be seen how far Qwest is willing to push this, but if they want to spend time negotiating deals, they have some bondholders who are probably folding their arms and tapping their feet impatiently right about now.

    On second thought, maybe it's more like the Black Knight.

    February 17, 2005

    The Board of Directors
    MCI, Inc.
    Attention: Chairman, Board of Directors
    22001 Loudoun County Parkway
    Ashburn, VA 20147

    Dear Mr. Katzenbach:

    I am writing this letter to request information from you regarding Qwest's proposal to acquire MCI.

    On February 11, Qwest submitted a written proposal to acquire MCI. On February 13, Qwest reconfirmed the terms of our proposal in writing to MCI's Board.

    We are aware that MCI has signed an agreement to be acquired by Verizon Communications Inc. As of the writing of this letter, we have just received a copy of this agreement and we are in the process of evaluating it. Published reports, including public disclosures by MCI's President and CEO, indicate that the consideration to MCI shareholders in the Verizon proposal is substantially less than the consideration Qwest offered to MCI shareholders. In addition to the superior merger consideration offered by Qwest to your shareholders compared to the Verizon offer, we would like to remind you that Qwest's proposal is superior to the Verizon proposal because our regulatory approval process is likely to be completed at least six months more quickly and the value to the MCI shareholders from participation in approximately 40% of the synergies in a Qwest transaction will substantially exceed the value of synergies that would be received by MCI Shareholders in a Verizon deal.

    To date, we have not received any response from MCI or its advisors on the terms of our February 11 proposal, as reconfirmed on February 13. If we had received this response, we may have been already able to communicate to you a modified offer that would be beneficial to MCI shareholders. In addition, we were provided limited access to due diligence information regarding MCI, which we have been informed was substantially less than the access provided to other parties.

    In addition, we would like to advise you that once we have completed our review of the Verizon merger agreement, we do intend to submit a modified offer to acquire MCI and we would expect MCI and its advisors to engage us in a meaningful dialog regarding the merits of our offer and we would further expect access to due diligence information consistent with that offered other parties.

    Sincerely yours,

    Richard C. Notebaert
    Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

    Posted by joshuasharf at 10:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 17, 2005


    The Blink review is up. It's a good book. But then, I only read good books.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 11:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    McMad Revisited

    A couple of weeks ago, I had a very nice, very long conversation with Ms. Adams, who appears in the prior posting about McMad and its fight against McDonald's. I came away with the impression that the Rocky had made a couple of mistakes in its reporting. I also see why the neighbors might be a little hacked off at the company. They do have some legitimate complaints. At the same time, they're burying those complaints under a mound of inflated rhetoric, which doesn't bear up under scrutiny.

    First, what the Rocky missed. They claimed that the demos were going on outside the vacant buildings - they're not. The protesters demonstrate outside the existing Glencoe St. McD's. This makes much more sense.

    Secondly, the claims that seem valid. I can believe that this may not be the best intersection for a drive-thru. Krameria doesn't have a left-turn signal, there's an offset when crossing Colfax, and the Neighbors claim to have a study showing that this intersection is the most dangerous between Monaco and Colorado. (This may well be true; an email request to the group for the numbers went unanswered.) There is a garbage problem from the Good Times across the street, and Ms. Adams front yard will, evidently, have a front-row seat for the traffic exiting onto Leyden.

    All of these problems (except for the offset) could be easily fixed by the city. However, there are no plans to put in a left-hand turn signal, nor will the city allow them to put in a "porkchop " to turn the traffic away from the side-streets and back onto Colfax. Between a company they believe has been duplicitous and hostile, and a government that seems utterly unresponsive, I'd be frustrated, too.

    (Aside: there are other, unverified claims that they make against McDonald's, the developer, and the franchisee. I haven't spoken to them yet, and I don't wish to repeat them until I do. I mention them here to explain the neighbors' sense of being locked in an iron box, but I don't wish to give them substance without at least giving the other guys a chance to talk. What can I say? I'm busy.)

    That said, I think the neighbors' frustration has led them to make claims that are simply wild and unrealistic, in order to garner support from a broader community. For instance, the area that they wish to turn into a Town Center, on the Stapleton or Lowry model is roughly 9 square blocks. Putting a McDonald's on the fringe barely affects the rest of it. Small businesses could easily be lured in, just like the coexist with Panera and Starbucks in other developments. The only signal it sends is, "open for business."

    Also, Ms. Adams believes that overlooking a drive-thru from the adjacent apartments is worse that overlooking a parking lot. Except that now, while the parking lot entrance is on the side-street, the actual drive-thru lane is away from the apartments, on the Colfax side of the restaurant.

    Ms. Adams also said something about this being "the worst possible business" to put there. Well, I can think of two or three other businesses that Colfax has plenty of that would be worse. Just ask Denny Naegle. She's worried about her daughter playing in the front yard with all the traffic. Fair enough. I'd be more worried about some of the role models for young ladies inhabiting this street out in Aurora.

    I also haven't been in touch with Ms. Johnson, but it seems passing strange that a City Councilman can't prevail on the traffic department to bend a few rules and upgrade the intersection. For instance The Grid is hardly sacred.

    ...where traffic patterns are painful to your gears.
    The Lowery development leaves you close to tears!
    There are even places where it completely disappears,
    Why, in Congress Park they haven't used it for years.

    And what's so hard about putting in a left-turn light? It's not as though the traffc engineers in this town know anything about synchronizing the lights, anyway. People would hardly notice.

    It seems to me that the bad guy here - to the extent that there is one - isn't the landowner or the restauranteur, but a city government that could solve the problem in one afternoon but chooses not to.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 07:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


    Many thanks to local DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen franchisee Skip Carson for taking an hour out of a very busy day to talk to our DU group about the challenges of franchising. We're analyzing the problem for a local firm looking to expand, and Skip's business has enough similarities to make it a good model to look to. If you need a kitchen or bath remodeled, keep him in mind. (This ad is completely unsolicited and unpaid-for.)

    Posted by joshuasharf at 02:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Stain Remover

    KNUS-710 is running ads for something called "zero-rez," which always sounds to me like a promo for Ward Churchill's ancestral homeland...

    Speaking of which, the Rocky has now apparently decided to treat Ward Churchill like my dog treated the only rabbit he ever caught. In rapid succession, then, there were abundant warning signs. Anyone who can make Vernon Bellecourt sound like a reasonable man has pretty much pegged the lunacy meter. Note to MSM: be careful with this guy; he's been voted "Most Likely to Overstate his Claims" several times. There's a lot of internal politics we don't quite get here.

    In the meantime, none of the parties involved can seem to remember exactly what process led them to suspend all judgment in giving this guy tenure. I applaud the academy's willingness to make exceptions for exceptional people lacking credentials. But if you're not going to focus on inputs, you'd better take a long, hard look at the outputs before you do that.

    And former Senator Ben Campbell is upset that the position didn't go to a real Indian instead. I'm more upset that it didn't go to a real scholar.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 16, 2005

    Update on HIV Bill

    Senator Windels has apparently decided (or been advised) that her bill, as written, isn't going to work.

    The Judiciary Committee has held it over indefinitely.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 01:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Stop the Branding, Get Back to Teaching

    Cold Spring Shops has an excellent post on the rot in academic scholarship. I would just repeat that the faculty has managed to free itself from any meaningful oversight. We can talk about fixing the tenure process all we want, but I have an increasingly uncomfortable feeling that the problem is tenure itself.

    The venerable Harvey Mansfield has a masterpiece on fixing the curriculum up at the Claremont Review of Books.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 01:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    MSM - Not Dead Yet

    The Rocky - including reporter Charlie Brennan, who I thought shied away from asking some tough questions early in this story - is all over CU this morning like a cheap suit.

    A fuller accounting of how Churchill got tenure in the first place is available, as well as some rumblings of a lawsuit that Owens had thought might be in the offing. And now the CU Foundation is resisting an audit, practically begging the legislature to pry open their books.

    A couple of quick points. First, this is what we want and expect from the MSM. They have the resources to do the job right if they want. Frequently, if the subject isn't themselves, they want.

    Second, note to the CU Foundation: this might not be the best time in the world to pick a fight over independence. When the secret fraternity greeting is "Drinks and Hookers for Everyone!" and the secret handshake is clinking glasses, I'd say you're better off at least looking contrite. Ron Tupa is a left-leaning legislator with ambitions for higher office. He's your friend, not your enemy.

    For discussion: what outside force will cause academia to reform?

    Posted by joshuasharf at 01:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Not Gonna Play That Game

    At first, I thought, "oooh goody. Hate mail."

    Then I saw that Deb Frisch, an adjuct lecturer at the University of Arizona, has apparently decided to declare guerilla cyber-war on Professor Bainbridge. The brain balks, unable to exaggerate the mismatch.

    The professor can take care of himself. Ms. Frisch has commented here recently, and, as is my habit on this blog, in the comments section, I've cheerfully ignored her. But if she has a problem with some third party, she's got her own blog.

    I'm not going to allow my site to be used as a proxy for this sort of thing. People like this tend to be like burrs. Ms. Frisch has the singular distinction of being the only non-poker, non-porn-based individual banned from trackbacks and comments.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 07:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 15, 2005

    Congressional Legislative Blogging

    The only reason the last two posts were possible at all is because the Colorado General Assembly posts bills and their Financial Impact Assessments online as soon as each is available.

    Mark Tapscott, Director of The Heritage Foundation's Center for Media and Public Policy, wrote to suggest a similar project at the Congressional level, allowing bloggers to subject legislation to the same dissection that we do everything else.

    Bring. It. On.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 11:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Hanna Barbarians

    The self-proclaimed Progressives (I like Bainbridge's point that they're Leftists hijacking the word "progressive") are throwing their - weight - behind a bill to require all contractors to the state to perform their work in the US. SB-05-023 is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Deanna Hanna (D-Westminster).

    The bill provides for a pre-contract certification, penalties if any of the work is shifted overseas, the right for the state the sue, and a 3-year lockout from future contracts if any work is offshored.

    There are plenty of good macroeconomic reasons for offshoring work:

    In July, economist Martin N. Baily, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Clinton, looked at who benefits from outsourcing. He found that... on balance, the U.S. economy gains $1.12 to $1.14 for every $1 invested in outsourcing.

    In August, economist Charles Schultze, chairman of the CEA under President Carter, looked at the number of jobs lost to outsourcing. He found that between the end of 2000 and the end of 2003, at most 215,000 jobs service sector jobs were lost.

    ... U.S. imports of computing services -- the most controversial area of outsourcing -- came to just 0.4 percent of the gross domestic product in 2003.

    (Hat Tip: EconLog)

    And plenty of reasons to think that the only "deflation" is of leftist economic trial balloons.

    More importantly, it's terrible budget sense. It all seems so reasonable. But for a gang that got elected promising to be fiscal conservatives, this ain't cheap.

    Every bill has to have a Fiscal Impact Summary, describing, well, fiscal impact. This one doesn't even bother to estimate the costs, because they can't:

    This bill may increase expenditures for a number of state agencies that contract for services with companies that perform services from sites located outside the United States. In most cases, the increases are not quantifiable, but stem from either (1) the limitation of vendor competition, or (2)
    the elimination of potential vendors altogether. The following are examples of projects when departments would have incurred higher costs because of this bill's vendor limitations. These examples are not intended to be comprehensive but rather to provide anecdotal evidence for the types of state expenditure increases that would be incurred.

    Here's anecdotal evidence:

    Department of Personnel and Administration. The bill would affect the Division of Information Technology. Currently, the state's main central processing unit is made by IBM, whose primary support service headquarters is located in Asia. This bill would prohibit the state from obtaining any technical support with regard to the CPU. The division also utilizes two important software packages that are produced in London and Israel, respectively. This bill would affect the division's ability to both utilize and receive technical service on these packages.

    Look, it's not like this kind of this hasn't been tried before. It's been very costly. And just remember whose capital it is that's going to fund this.

    I will give them points for proper use of the term "paleocon," something that frequently eludes the Left, which suggests that maybe these guys are coachable, even if they do choose to associate themselves with the conservative economic illiterates.

    Say it with me: Progressively More Expensive. Progressively More Intrusive. Progressively More Restrictive.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 06:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Oh, And About That Cigarette...

    The health mullahs move forward. Having spent the better part of a century trying to get the government out of the bedroom, the Progressives (sic), are now using "health concerns" wedge their way back into it. Tomorrow, Sue Windels's bill to make having AIDS and having sex a crime comes up for a hearing in the Judiciary Committee.

    Michael had noted this before, as well as suggesting a possible disparate impact objection.

    After the bill defines "sexual intercourse," it goes on to make an exception if the infected tells the soon-to-be-infected beforehand. Romantic as that sounds, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before strict liability forces bars to keep a small quiet table in the corner reserved for the notary public.

    And then there's this debate going on over at Legal Affairs (hat tip: the Instapundit).

    Say it with me: Progressively more expensive. Progressively more intrusive. Progressively more restrictive.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 06:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    "Hi, Are You Registered to Vote..."

    Evidently, the LPR is beginning to fulfill its mission. A Friend of the Alliance is now seeking to be a Friend of the People. Girl in Right, who hails from the Golden State but now lives in Golden, CO, is preparing a run for City Council.

    Golden, for those of you who don't know, was the first territorial capital of Colorado, and is now an adjuct to the Colorado Mills Mall...

    Hat Tip: Clay

    Posted by joshuasharf at 03:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


    I couldn't agree more.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 02:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    The Liberal Case for Sacking Churchill

    Paul Campos makes the liberal case for sacking Ward Churchill:

    Churchill thus represents the reductio ad absurdum of the contemporary university's willingness to subordinate all other values to affirmative action. When such a grotesque fraud - a white man pretending to be an Indian, an intellectual charlatan spewing polemical garbage festooned with phony footnotes, a shameless demagogue fabricating imaginary historical incidents to justify his pathological hatreds, an apparent plagiarist who steals and distorts the work of real scholars - manages to scam his way into a full professorship at what is still a serious research university, we know the practice of affirmative action has hit rock bottom. Or at least we can hope so.


    Affirmative action is based, in part, on the idea that it will help us understand the viewpoints of the conquered as well as those of the conqueror, of the weak as well as the strong, of those far from power as well as those who wield it.

    Too often, these sentiments are abused by those who sacrifice intellectual integrity while engaging in the most extreme forms of preferential hiring. Ward Churchill's career provides a lurid illustration of what can happen - indeed, of what we know will happen - when academic standards are prostituted in the name of increasing diversity.

    If only the MSM could be as self-critical about its privileges.

    I would disagree that affirmative action is necessary for alternate viewpoints to be heard. Whites can teach effectively about Indian history, and (actual) Indians about the westward expansion, for that matter. Campos believes that intellectual diversity is what matters, but he wants to hold onto the idea that affirmative action can promote, rather than stunt it.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 12:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Light Blogging Today

    Busy, busy, busy. This evening, I hope to have a review of Blink up. In the meantime, go read the rest of the Alliance.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 14, 2005

    Double-Dipping II

    I asked State Treasurer Mike Coffman why leaving early and collecting PERA benefits made a difference to the state. It seemed to me that if you weren't accumulating seniority, you might start getting benefits early, but they'd be lower than if you waited.

    Turns out there are two cases where that's not true. A friend of mine pointed out that after 25 years, PERA benefits don't increase. Which means that someone double-dipping really is costing the system money.

    In the case Coffman cited to me, under PERA, you can buy years of benefits ahead of time. The problem is that until recently, the discount rate used to estimate the pre-payment was so high that it didn't cover the costs. If I pre-pay assuming that the government will make 8%, but it can only return 5%, the pension plan will be on the hook for the extra 3% in a defined-benefit plan.

    I should also point out that Coffman has bond immunized College Invest, a pre-paid college tuition plan that had fallen short of its projected needs. By buying bonds to match known outgoing cash flows, Coffman has made sure that the system can cover those flows. Presumably the fund managers will still have to work at rebalancing from time to time, but that's a much easier job that playing catch-up.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 10:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    The Iraq-Vietnam Parallels Continue to Mount

    I did notice this somewhat rueful quote from GM's President concerning the Fiat debacle:

    "To be honest, when you do deals, you don't do the deal you want to, you do the deal you can do."

    Aha! The President of GM is quoting (sort of) the Secretary of Defense. Remember, McNamara was President of Ford before leading into Vietnam as...Secretary of Defense!

    It's just too spooky for words. Don't tell the RMPN.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 06:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    GM Buckles

    It looks as though GM has decided to go ahead and meet Fiat's demand for protection money to avoid a protracted legal battle. Analysts had estimated that Fiat would want about $2 Billion to make it to the next fill-up, and lo and behold! that's what they got.

    GM can pay the cash, although unhappily, and the bond market analysts, those little engines of profit themselves, didn't seem to like the effect on the balance sheet. GM is hovering just above junk status, for the moment. Any new long-term debt is going to cost almost 2.5% more than comparable Treasuries. Ouch!

    This whole thing was a disaster beginning to end, despite GM's attempts to put a happy face on it. The spent money to get in, lost money on they way, and got maneuvered into almost doubling their loss to get out.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 06:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    LPR Report

    Clay has a superb report from the Leadership Program of the Rockies retreat. A terrific lineup. The LPR people did a dynamite job of pulling in the top-rank talent from across the country, the people really contributing ideas.

    I've only met Jim Spencer once, and he was pleasant enough, but I think the group was much better-served by having Littwin there. Even though they're both Virginians, and Tidewater Virginians, at that.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 04:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Brand U - II

    You know your brand has a problem when it starts showing up in Scrappleface.

    "Venezuela, an oil-rich land of 25 million citizens, has suffered for years under the vagaries of democracy and capitalism," said an unnamed professor at the University of Colorado (C.U.), "but Mr. Chavez has ushered in a new golden age of Venezuelan glory...

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Wholesale Blogging

    This week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up.

    Stop reading about politics for a moment. Go there. Change your paradigm.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Verizon and MCI

    First it was Charles and Camilla, now it's Verizon and MCI.

    Look, nobody believes in "synergy" except the people trying to sell it. There are a million reasons why mergers fail, and only a few ways to make them succeed. Marrying a company with no cash flow to a company with no cash isn't a recipe for success.

    MCI chose some cash, and shares in a large, successful company, to little cash and shares in a company it was supposed to save. What would you have done?

    Posted by joshuasharf at 06:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Back In Action

    Capt. David Rozelle has a Bronze Star with a "V" for Valor, four Army Commendation Medals and three Army Achievement Medals.

    He's also got a Purple Heart.

    Capt. David Rozelle has a prosthetic leg, after losing the real one to a roadside bomb in Iraq. Now, sans foot, he's being cleared to go back to Iraq for another 6-month tour, after which he'll return to Washington. He'll be working at the new amputee center at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

    Rozelle has written a book, Back In Action, about the injury and his recovery. There's some concern he may have been too successful...

    In the book, Rozelle deals honestly with the period he spent feeling sorry for himself. He writes of kicking an addiction to morphine that accompanied the amputation and a bout of drinking too much that came with the recovery. Those struggles, along with much of the daily pain, are hidden when he tucks his uniform over his prosthetic.

    When people see all that he's achieved - a book deal, a new job, national television exposure - he said they sometimes ignore what he overcomes each day.

    "People have actually asked me now, 'Isn't your life better now than before you were injured?' "

    He paused. "Just because someone makes the most of something that doesn't mean it's . . . "

    He stopped again, allowing his anger to subside.

    "I wake up every morning without a foot."

    Now that's courage.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 06:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 13, 2005

    Conservative Humor

    The folks over at Division of Labour have uncovered this case of academic freedom as applied to conservatives in Colorado:

    When considering how to handle the Weird Churchill matter, it might be instructive to see how the Colorado public university system dealt with a similar matter in 1997. Luis Chavez, an Hispanic faculty member at Pikes Peak Community College, wrote a satirical proposal for an academic program “Gringo American Studies.” Citing court papers, the Rocky Mountain News reported that the proposal "parodied academic minority studies programs and addressed racial/ethnic issues by applying the minority studies format to a study of 'Gringo American' culture."

    Apparently the administrators at PP CC didn’t think it was too funny and penalized Mr. Chavez for his attempt at humor (or was it for attacking ethnic studies?) by suspending him without pay for 15 days. I guess freedom of expression doesn’t count for much in Colorado if you are on the wrong side of the issue.

    Astonishingly, the chair of the history department, Katherine Sturdevant, came to his defense. She called it legitimate political satire. For this and apparently some other matters she had been outspoken on, Ms. Sturdevant was removed as chair. Ms. Studevant sued the college for violating her rights to free expression. The case was settled out of court with her reinstatement as chair.

    I could find no statement from the AAUP on this incident.

    Via No Left Turns.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 10:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


    Unlike HTML, which is all about the display, XML is all about the data. The tags don't tell your browser anything, but they do describe the data they enclose.

    Since the data for each industry is different, companies have been busy developing trade standards for data. I've spent time writing code to parse the data for natural gas transport, for instance.

    Now, financial data is getting the same treatment, and the general consensus is that it's the software industry's response to Sarbox. The SEC has announced a program allowing companies to file their 10-Ks' financial data in XBRL. In a BusinessWeek issue about web services, XBRL got an article all its own.

    A local company, Rivet Software (profiled here), is releasing their Microsoft Office plugin that lets you take financials in Word or Excel and transform them into XBRL. It works with balance sheets, income statements, cash flows, shareholders' equity, and footnotes.

    In fact, even without Sarbox, XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) would probably have come of age. To give one example, financial analysts use anomalies in ratios and ratio trends to spot potential fraud. Being able to import data from many companies in the same industry at once from the SEC site will make spotting outliers a lot easier.

    That said, it may be that the benefit of XBRL to internal processes is being oversold a little. Companies do their mangerial accounting very differently from their financial accounting, because the metrics they're using are different. Activity-based costing, for instance, it completely different from GAAP. Also, "internal processes" can mean just about anything that ends up hitting the financial statements. The processes vary wildly across indutries and even companies. XBRL just isn't built to handle individual receipts and inventory flows.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 12, 2005


    One of the few advantages of the whole sorry Ward Churchill episode is that it's given me a chance to sneak in a few Stan Freberg lines. Freberg was one of the great comedic radio talents of the 60s. His "Green Christmas" got at last a few DJs fired, but it was iconoclastic, not filthy.

    I have to say my humor was really shaped by a generation or two before my own. Aside from Freberg, that Nichols and May sketch still doubles me over.

    And I went to go see Victor Borge in concert four separate times. I don't think I heard a single joke he hadn't been telling since 1950, but when you tell a joke for that long, you've pretty much got the timing down.

    Bob Newhart's another guy who's still funny, even today. His deadpan came naturally - he started out as an accountant. I once saw him accept a Mark Twain Humorist award at the Kennedy Center, and he had people laughing with an accounting joke.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 09:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Summers V. Churchill

    Some comment has been made of the differing reactions by academia and faculty to the Lawrence Summers case and Ward Churchill's. Reader Eric Johnson, an attorney who's also a CU Law School alum, sent this off to the AAUP:

    Does it not bother you at all when considerations of academic
    freedom supercede any expectation of academic integrity? There is
    absolutely no point in maintaining any program of higher education that
    sacrifices rigorous scholarship in favor of advancing the mystical
    imagination of a demagogue. If Ward Churchill's was a rare example of
    academic malfeasance, one might be inclined to pardon the academy's
    perfidious support of the unjustifiable. Unfortunately, Ward Churchill
    is just the latest (and probably the dumbest) in a long line of
    professorial charlatans.

    By the way, where was the AAUP when Lawrence Summers was being
    castigated for his measured and reasonable exercise of academic freedom?
    Were the pleas for restraint muted in humble deference to the
    ideological superiority of his attackers?

    You are the only one who can be relied upon to protect your own
    credibility. Honor and nuture what little you have left.

    and got this rather snippy response from Ruth Flower of the AAUP:

    We did talk about intervening on behalf of Summer's academic freedom; but no one was firing him or disciplining him, or threatening to kill him. People were just disagreeing with him. If that's all that was happening in Ward Churchill's case, there wouldn't be a problem, would there.

    Leave aside for a moment the spectacle of a woman professor objecting to supposed sexual stereotyping by threatening to faint. I spoke to a CU professor about the two, and when I brought up Churchill, in very measured tones, I was assured that nobody else on campus agreed with him. When I brought up Summers, I got a slightly snappish, "Oh right, he said women can't do math," which isn't at all what he said, and if she could do math, she would know that.

    Still, there's a lot to unpack here. Johnson points out that she didn't address at all the questions of Churchill's blatant dishonesty. While their initial statement on the matter came when the only thing at issue was his politics, since then, enough has been uncovered for the AAUP to at least release a statement admitting that those would be ligitimate grounds for dismissal. They could add all the "due process" and "if proven" clauses they wanted.

    Moreover, one of the tenets that the AAUP has agreed to is that professors shouldn't introduce extraneous, irrelevant political material into their classrooms. Given the nature of Ethnic Studies, I suppose they'd claim that the orbit of the moon was relevant, but any sensible reading of that clause would put Churchill well over the line.

    I do think that the whole death threats thing is a little overblown. Churchill himself has never complained about them, at least in part because his students were making them up. But really, professors have been saying stupid things for decades, and truly outrageous things since 9/11, and the only ones getting killed are by the Islamofascists.

    Remember that Churchill and Summers were both administrators, and Churchill has had to give up his administrative position. In that sense, academic is being consistent. However, it's obvious where their heart is.

    Other than that, there seems to be an assumption that tenured professors can humiliate and embarass their universities with abandon, all the while commanding $95,000 salaries, and trading on the names of those very universities to get book deals and speaking engagements. I'm sorry, I simply don't see where academic freedom plays a role in destroying the institutions that nurture you.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 09:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Hey, I Knew Thomas Jefferson...

    Jim Hu over at Blogs for Industry has been busy checking out Churchill's resume, and finds that he is claiming to have received a university Thomas Jefferson Award for Civic Contributions. The university seems to think otherwise.

    As a grad of Mr. Jefferson's University, I have some problems with taking his name in vain like this. Obviously, I'd also have problems if it were true, but that's another matter...

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 11, 2005

    Dems Fundraising

    Earlier in the week, the RNC sent out a fundraising missive aimed at Senate Minoority Leader Harry Reid.

    The whole week, probably counting on the laziness of their target audience, the Dems have been sending out fundraising email accusing the Republicans of "personal attacks." Today, Harry Reid himself signs one of these letters:

    All this week, you've been hearing about how the Republicans are launching cheap personal attacks against me despite George Bush's hollow promises of bipartisanship. Don't worry about me. In case you didn't know it, I'm a former boxer, and I am prepared to fight back--hard--against the dishonest attacks and stand up for our core Democratic values.

    The whole thing is about Reid's voting record, his obstruction of judges, and his public statements not matching with that voting record. Remembering how George Mitchell looked conciliatory while torpedoing Bush 41, this White House seems determined not to let Reid repeat that success.

    There is one rather curious paragraph about Reid's fairly well-appointed living quarters, contrasted with his emphasis on his simple rural roots. It seems odd for Republicans to be begrudging a guy his success. But it certainly doesn't come close to the expertise with which the Democrats wield with weapon time after time.

    I'm just not sure that harking back to small-town simplicity brings to mind whining about someone publicizing your legislative record. For a boxer, that seems awfully wimpy.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 11:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    The Bombthrower

    According to a report in the February 2, 2005 Boulder Daily Camera, Churchill told the Denver Post in 1987 that it isn't just verbal bombthrowing he's got experience with.

    He became affiliated with activist groups upon his return to Illinois and began teaching the radical Weather Underground how to make bombs, the Post story said. He started working for the American Indian Movement in 1972.

    This is apparently a reference to the same 1987 Post article that both reader (and CU Law alum) Eric Johnson, and JW have asked me about. (Hat tip to the Camera, which sent me the KHOW link.)

    A couple of things stand out from the original article, among them his apparent disgust at his students inadvertantly blowing themselves up. It would seem he wasn't much of a teacher then, either.

    While I guess we shouldn't be too shocked at former radicals, even violent ones, showing up on campus, we may also take this with a grain of salt. For Churchill, this kind of involvement just proves his leftist bona fides, so he's got a clear incentive to embellish. And a proven talent for it.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 11:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 10, 2005

    The WaPo Still Doesn't Get It

    Years into the Age of the Blog, and the Washington Post still doesn't know the difference between a blog and a disucssion board.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 11:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    The Old Dominion Moves Forward

    The folks over at Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and by extension, the self-named Progressives, see a grave threat to our religious liberties in HJ 537. Go read the press release or the reference to it. They're the same. I'll wait.

    Scary stuff, huh? Well, now, that's why I linked to the actual bill, rather than to a press release from a activist group. Here's the bill as voted on. The existing Article I Section 16 is in regular text, the proposed insertion is in italics:

    That religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other. No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

    To secure further the people’s right to acknowledge God according to the dictates of conscience, neither the Commonwealth nor its political subdivisions shall establish any official religion, but the people’s right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage, and traditions on public property, including public schools, shall not be infringed; however, the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions, including public school divisions, shall not compose school prayers, nor require any person to join in prayer or other religious activity.

    And the General Assembly shall not prescribe any religious test whatever, or confer any peculiar privileges or advantages on any sect or denomination, or pass any law requiring or authorizing any religious society, or the people of any district within this Commonwealth, to levy on themselves or others, any tax for the erection or repair of any house of public worship, or for the support of any church or ministry; but it shall be left free to every person to select his religious instructor, and to make or his support such private contract as he shall please.

    Read that last sentence in the insertion again. Ah, I see where they're coming from. It's plain to see that the next step is to give the Episcopal Bishop of Richmond a seat on the Virginia Supreme Court. Then he'll get to see what Christian forbearance and charity really mean. It takes the skills and subtlety of a post-modern "critic" who doesn't believe that that the actual words in the actual text have any meaning. That's how you see that "not requiring" really means "kick out all the Methodists."

    I'm pretty sure that most Christians in this country aren't oppressed - you have to travel to Saudi Arabia or Bethlehem or China for that. Still, it's good to see that public property doesn't have to be atheist property.

    For the record, here's the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, drafted by Jefferson, which bears some resemblence to the section in question.

    UPDATE: Yes, this piece was edited slightly for style, but not for content.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 07:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


    One of the news stations was reporting earlier that Governor Owens was toying out loud with having the legislature rewrite the tenure rules. This is kind of a big stick, but I suspect it's one that's better mentioned than used. Kind of like Bill Cosby's dad's "The Belt."

    I do think the tenure system has gotten completely out of hand, and needs to be reformed. I also think that there's about zero chance that the nation's faculties will do this themselves. So in the end, the only enforcement that the Adult Supervision has is the legislature. Eventually, when Amendment 23 and TABOR squeeze out public higher education funding, even that stick may be gone.

    Still, I think it's better to allow the market a chance to work. Moving ahead solo is just going to make it hard to recruit faculty. I also have little confidence in the ability of the legislature to craft laws that will actually work, and that the faclty won't be able to undermine through inaction or outright sabotage. If enough brands get damaged by maniacs like Churchill, there's a chance reform might happen.

    This, like any good Reformation, is a long-term project.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 07:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Qwest & MCI & Verizon & Bell South

    "This is MCI. We're out in merger talks right now, but if you'd please leave your name and phone number, we'll get back to you. Or you can read about it in the paper. < BEEP >"

    < teenaged pimple-faced boy voice >
    "Uh, hi? MCI? This is Qwest. Are you there? If you're there, could you pick up? Please? It's really important... Uh, thanks."
    < /teenaged pimple-faced boy voice >

    And so it goes. Look, there's a reason Qwest finds itself listening to the 101 Strings Play the Beatles every time the call about the merger. MCI shareholders believe they're entitled to a premium, even a small one, for the company. After all, they've got this great network, don't they?

    Here's the problem: Qwest isn't interested in the network, they want the cash. Qwest has its own state-of-the-art fiber optic network that's sitting there like a desert highway in a car commercial. But they don't have the money to operate it, or do much else. Remember, Qwest owes more than it's worth.

    Qwest wants MCI's cash, and they figure that if they pay MCI $6.3 Billion in stock for $5.5 Billion in cash and a rolodex from heaven, that's more than fair. In effect, Qwest is trying to sell a minority share itself to MCI for financing. They'll move MCI's customers from MCI's Route 66 onto Qwest's I-40. After all, Qwest also bought out US West for a huge premium, and then they had to write down the value of that network, plus eliminate about $40 billion in goodwill. They're determined not to make that mistake again.

    There are still lots of reasons why this might go through, and other reasons why it might not. Verizon might or might not get into the game, and MCI might be looking at the best offer it's going to get. And MCI also might decide that Verizon stock will be worth more (read: something) than Qwest stock a couple of years down the line. MCI might look at those pending Qwest shareholder lawsuits and get the willies. Also, it turns out that as part of a fraud settlement, MCI proimised the state of Oklahoma that it would put 1600 new jobs in the state over the next 10 years. Who knows what else MCI had to promise various state attorneys general?

    What's interesting here in the consolidation is that it's virtually entirely a result of lousy regulation made worse by the FCC. (If Michael Powell is at fault, it's only because he lost the battle; I seem to recall he was on the right side.) The 1996 telecom law was supposed to give Baby Bells and long-distance carriers a chance to adjust, forcing them to sell their network bandwidth at a discount to each other for a while. Networks that each had paid to build. So the law privatized the costs and socialized the benefits. Nifty idea, huh?

    Last year, the FCC reworked the regulations. At the time, it looked like they might get rid of all the restrictions, and just let the companies go at it. Instead, they lifted half the rules - they let the Baby Bells charge market rates, but made the long-distance guys keep selling their bandwidth at a discount.

    The result, as we now see, is that the long-distance guys have no cash flow, and figure they'd better get out while they still have something worth selling. The bidders are all Baby Bells (SBC, Qwest, presumptively Verizon; Bell South is sitting this one out, but you'll notice they're the ones with the option here), and the sellers are all long-distance carriers (AT&T, MCI).

    These last few years should make case studies in Harvard's business and government schools.

    This isn't entirely bad - cable companies are getting into the business even as the old giants bow out, and with the exception of Qwest-MCI, the buyers seem to have a long-term strategy in mind. And nobody made Qwest hire a guy (Nacchio, not Notebaert) who didn't really care what business he was in. But people who are complaining about less competition and more consolidation need to think next time before arbitrarity deciding to transfer wealth from one company to another.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 06:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 09, 2005

    Ethical Schools

    This, from Treasurer Mike Coffman:

    State Capitol-State Treasurer Mike Coffman on Monday requested that Michael McArdle, Director of the Division of Labor for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, investigate two potential violations of Colorado's Independent Contractor regulations.

    The request stems from recent reports that in both Delta and Adams counties the school superintendent officially retired, started drawing his pension from the state's Public Employee's Retirement Association (PERA) and then came back to work the next day performing the same work. These individuals did this by creating "consulting" firms, which then contracted with the district to provide the services of a superintendent. As "independent" contractors, these superintendents proceeded to draw both their pension as a retiree and a full salary as a contractor.

    This is a problem. This is a problem because 1) these people are, to all intents and purposes, still employees doing their old jobs, 2) they're collecting both salary and pension while working. I overheard a conversation back in January to this effect, from people who seemed to be discussing it approvingly. It seemed - not right - then, and I glad to see that someone is looking into it.

    Coffman does make two points, though, that I'm not sure I understand. He claims that the counties are 1) avoiding paying payroll taxes and 2) avoiding paying into PERA. My understanding is that PERA benefits might not be due at this point, but that the employee technically wouldn't be accruing any more of them. Also, if the county isn't paying payroll taxes, then someone must be, probably the employee's S-corp that he's set up. So I'm uncertain how the state, or even the other counties, lose out here.

    That said, it certainly doesn't smell good.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 11:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Statehouse Stasists

    In a move all but guaranteed to get them into Virginia Postrel's next book, Democrats in the state Senate are pushing a bill to require businesses to give employees time off to attend their children's school events.

    The law:

    • Requires up to 5 hours a month, 40 hours a year
    • Permits businesses to limit absences to 2 1/2 hour shifts
    • Exempts farm workers, private domestics, independent contractors
    • Exempts emergency and health care workers
    • Allows businesses to requires parents to get a note from their principal
    • Actually lists a variety of "school activities"
    • Exempts companies with fewer than 10 employees
    • Only applies to times when 10 people or more are actually working

    Talk about micromanaging! When a law has this many exceptions, caveats, details, and exemptions, it's a pretty good sign that it's a pretty bad idea. It's a simple idea. So simple, in fact, that most adults can probably be relied on to figure out the details for themselves.

    UPDATE: A couple of requests to explain myself. Here's the problem. Look at the number of caveats applied to this very simple notion. The legislature is clearly trying to capture all the contingencies that might affect the appropriateness of the law. But I can think of 5 or 10 more without breaking a sweat, and I'll bet you can, too. And I can think of social trends that could make the law either intrusive or unnecessary.

    The problem with passing a law to deal with micro-issues like this is that it's entirely too easy to make a mistake, and the only way to undo it is to amend the law or repeal it. If you're looking for an imperfect solution, there are far more flexible and responsive ways to get there.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 07:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 08, 2005

    Joe McCarthy Moment

    Tonight was Ward Churchill's Joe McCarthy moment. (What was that? French Horns.)

    CBS had a live feed that worked about as well as their news department ever does, and KOA carried it. I hope other stations around the country picked it up. I hope as many people as possible heard this man's ravings. I hope they have it on MP3. He came across as even more condescending, self-righteously indignant, and arrogant than even the worst of his writings could convey. Anyone with even an ounce of faith in the American people knew in a heartbeat that Wardo was Toasto. It's why the First Amendment guarantees freedom of bleat, and also why we shouldn't be paying for any more of his.

    By the end, in response to a Columbus "You over here on a Fulbright?" Day Parade question, he was blathering about how human rights and international treaties and the 9th Amendment mean he gets to put a fist in your mouth if he likes it.

    There were some humorless comments about how it was obvious that he didn't mean janitors or firefighters or babies or innocent bystanders or anyone other than Cantor-Fitzgerald bondtraders when he was talking about "little Eichmanns" and how some people have suggested it wasn't a very good metaphor but he disagreed because you could go out and find your own but this one was his and he thought it was obvious what "Eichmann" stood for but he guesses now that some people, like, just don't get it. Well, we’re all a little hostile now and then; some of us can sublimate, others can’t adjust. You know how it is...

    I was in the car, and I did hear the start of the talk. He said, and I'm paraphrasing a little, but not much, that "I do not work for the state of Colorado. I do not work for the Board of Regents, at least not in the way that they think I do." And he went on to explain that his academic work is subordinate to his politics.

    The good part is that now everyone knows just what he means, and just how ugly it is.

    The bad part is that not enough people understand how pervasive it is.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 09:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    The Startup State

    American City Business Journals has issued their rankings of the best small-, medium-, and large-sized cities (Links to Excel Spreadsheets) for small business (fewer than 100 employees). Colorado placed one city in each city size, making it only one of three states to do so (Florida and California were the others). Denver (8), Ft. Collins (6), and Edwards (7) made the cut in their respective categories.

    • Colorado Springs came in at #23 in the large-city survey of 91 areas
    • Durango and Silverthorne also made the Top 25 small cities.
    • Blue, blue Boulder and Pueblo both failed to crack the Top 200 in the 284-city mid-size city survey

    Denver did well in the number and density of small businesses, which offset a so-so showing in payroll growth. The data are from 2002.

    From Jeff Cornwall via Business Opportunities.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 04:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    "Sorely Lacking in ... Scholarly Integrity"

    Source: American Indian Quarterly; Winter96, Vol. 20 Issue 1, p109, 10p
    Reviews & Products: INDIANS Are Us? (Book)
    ISSN: 0095-182X
    * * *


    Indians Are Us? is a collection of commentaries on American Indian political and social affairs, written in the truculent tone that readers have come to expect from writer Ward Churchill. Like its predecessors, Fantasies of the Master Race and Struggle for the Land, this latest Churchill project consists largely of polemical pieces hastily compiled from obscure leftist publications.

    Through the course of all his writings, Churchill gradually has emerged as a spokesman of sorts for those persons derisively referred to as Indian "wannabees"-individuals with no American Indian ancestry or tribal affiliation who nonetheless hold themselves out to the public as "Indians" by aggressively inserting themselves into the political affairs of real Indian people. Churchill's appeal among the "wannabees" lies both in the boldness with which he expresses contempt for Indian tribes, and in the scholarly facade he gives his anti-tribal propositions; indeed, many Churchill fans appear to have been won over by the mere fact that Churchill's books contain an abundance of endnotes. By researching those copious endnotes, however, the discerning reader will discover that, notwithstanding all the provocative sound and fury rumbling through his essays, Churchill's analysis overall is sorely lacking in historical/factual veracity and scholarly integrity.

    In Indians Are Us? this problem is best illustrated in Churchill's recurring denunciations of the right of Indian tribes to determine their own members. Tribal self-determination is, of course, an inherent attribute of tribal sovereignty, cherished and fiercely guarded by Indian people against all efforts to deprive tribes of this fundamental right. What is intriguing about Churchill's assault on tribal self-determination is that Churchill launches his attack, ironically, under the guise of championing Indian rights, invoking, in the process, an altogether remarkable revisionist depiction of the history of relations between Indian tribes and the United States government. Thus, in his essay "Nobody's Pet Poodle," Churchill characterizes Indian tribes in the following disparaging manner:

    These entities' membership rolls originated in the prevailing federal racial criteria of the late 19th century. The initial U.S. motive in quantifying the number of Indians by blood was to minimize the number of land parcels it would have to assign native people under provision of the 1887 Dawes Act .... Tribal rolls have typically been maintained in this reductionist fashion ever since .... [p. 92]

    This peculiar wholesale condemning of Indian tribes by reference to the universally hated 1887 General Allotment Act (or Dawes Act) -- assigning blame, as it were, to the victims of nineteenth century federal Indian policy -- derives from Churchill's insistence that the General Allotment Act imposed an eligibility "standard" of"one-half or more degree of Indian blood" (p. 62) on Indians seeking land parcels under the Act. According to Churchill, this insidious "standard" was then imitated by-tribes, in puppet-like fashion, in formal enrollment procedures "as a matter of U.S. policy implementation" (p. 333). And so, according to Churchill, Indian tribes today deserve to be violently opposed for implementing tribal citizenship standards that, in Churchill's scheme, are nothing more than a mirror-image of the oppressive General Allotment Act's "formal eugenics code" (p. 333).

    The main flaw in this federal/tribal conspiracy theory is that it rests on -- and propagates -- demonstrably false information concerning the contents and impact of the General Allotment Act. Contrary to Churchill's claims, the General Allotment Act did not require Indians to be "one-half or more degree of Indian blood" in order to be eligible for land allotments. Churchill's asserted General Allotment Act "standard" does not exist anywhere in the text of the Act. This, in turn, explains why Churchill never once provides a citation to any provision of the General Allotment Act (25 U.S.C. subsection 331 et seq.) wherein that dubious "standard" can be found.

    While the General Allotment Act itself simply does not define "Indians" (i.e., those whom the Act renders "eligible" for land allotments), a provision of the Code of Federal Regulations implementing the Act specifies that such eligibility depends on whether the applicant is a recognized member of an Indian tribe or is entitled to be so recognized.

    Such qualifications may be shown by the laws and usages of the tribe. [C.F.R. subsection 2531.1(a)] Thus, the General Allotment Act's "standard" is not the "formal eugenics code" asserted by Ward Churchill. Rather, that Act -- like nearly all federal legislation in both historic and modern times -- defers to membership in an Indian tribe as the core criterion for triggering the law's applicability to individuals.

    As disturbing as Churchill's use of invented historical information to cast aspersions on Indian tribes plainly is, his additional attempts to "validate" this false propaganda by misrepresenting the views of fellow writers is even more disconcerting. In attempting to prop up his insupportable claims about the nonexistent "eugenics code" of the General Allotment Act, Churchill invokes two sentences from historian Patricia Nelson Limerick's acclaimed book The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West. Churchill writes:

    As the noted western historian, Patricia Nelson Limerick, has observed: "Set the blood-quantum at one-quarter, hold to it as a rigid definition of Indianness, let intermarriage proceed...and eventually Indians will be defined out of existence. When that happens, the federal government will finally be freed from its persistent 'Indian problem.'" [p. 42]

    Churchill then interjects:

    Ultimately, there is precious little difference, other than matters of style, between this and what was once called the "Final Solution of the Jewish Problem." [p. 42]

    By placing the quotation from Patricia Nelson Limerick in the midst of his incendiary pronouncements about the "genocidal potential" of the "Indian identification criteria" purportedly contained in the General Allotment Act (and allegedly mimicked by tribes), Churchill makes it appear as though Limerick herself is likewise bemoaning this asserted federal "usurpation" of tribal enrollment under the 1887 legislation.

    In reality, however, Limerick is not commenting on the General Allotment Act at all. Rather, she is describing a 1986 proposal of the Reagan Administration to reduce overall federal spending by restricting eligibility for Indian Health Service benefits to Indian tribal members with "at least one-quarter Indian blood" (Limerick, p. 338). As Limerick explains in the very paragraph from which Churchill extracts the two quoted sentences, tribal leaders universally opposed and successfully rebuffed the Reagan proposal precisely because it "threatened to crack the bedrock of tribal self-determination" by making "Indianness a racial definition rather than a category of political nationality" (Limerick, p. 338).

    Obviously, these remarks would make no sense at all if Limerick herself were to maintain -- as Churchill insinuates she does -- that this "bedrock of tribal sovereignty" had been successfully "cracked," and "Indianness" successfully subverted, a full century earlier, through tribes' wholesale adoption of the 1887 General Allotment Act's dreaded "eugenics formulation." Thus, Churchill's out-of-context manipulation of the quotation from Patricia Nelson Limerick can be viewed as nothing other than a deliberate attempt to mislead his readers.

    Equally astonishing is Churchill's misrepresentation of Russell Thornton's painstaking scholarship. Once again, to artificially validate his own hostility toward tribal membership procedures, Churchill (p. 93) asserts the following: "Cherokee demographer Russell Thornton estimates that, given continued imposition of purely racial definitions, Native America as a whole will have disappeared by the year 2080." Churchill then cites to nine pages from Thornton's definitive American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History Since 1492.

    Nowhere in those nine pages, however, does Russell Thornton make an assertion even remotely resembling the grim, sensational forecast that Churchill attributes to him. In fact, Thornton is decidedly optimistic about the future of Indian tribes throughout the chapter containing those nine pages. The chapter begins, "Since around the turn of the twentieth century American Indians have made a remarkable population recovery as a result of their greatly improved demographic situation" (Thornton, p. 159). Under a heading entitled "A Look to the Future," Thornton points out that "American Indians are thriving today demographically" (Thornton, p. 182) . Thornton continues:

    If this rate of growth from 1970 to 1980 continues to the year 2000, the size of the American Indian population then will surpass 4 million .... But, it will likely not continue .... One projection is that the American Indian population will not increase to around 4 million until the year 2020... It is also projected, however, that the American Indian population will increase to almost 16 million by the year 2080 .... [Thornton, p. 182]

    Clearly, Russell Thornton's comments concerning various estimates of the future population of American Indians all point to an anticipated increase in that population in the twenty-first century. Nevertheless, Ward Churchill, for his own purposes, cites Russell Thornton as authority for an antithetical proposition never put forward by Thornton and implicitly repudiated, in fact, in Thornton's text-i.e., that the American Indian population is in danger of suffering a dramatic decrease in the twenty-first century. A more perverse rendering of the plain meaning of an author's text would be difficult to imagine.

    There is no escaping the conclusion that in Indians Are Us? Ward Churchill misrepresents the writings of both Russell Thornton and Patricia Nelson Limerick in order to create a false appearance that these acclaimed scholars corroborate and partake of Churchill's hostility toward Indian tribes. In reality, neither Thornton nor Limerick has ever maintained a disrespectful attitude toward Indian tribes in general or toward the enrollment methods employed by tribes in particular. Indeed, the anti-tribal posturing that Churchill cunningly assigns to Thornton and Limerick is decisively negated by both authors in those very same passages, no less, to which Churchill cites! Numerous other problems plague Ward Churchill's treatment of historical and political issues in Indians Are Us? -- so many problems, in fact, that readers would be well advised to independently investigate the veracity of any inflammatory/defamatory assertion made by Churchill before relying on it or repeating it. Several red flags can be briefly noted:

    In the book's "Acknowledgments," Churchill engages in scurrilous name-calling of prominent, widely respected Indian leaders. Among the Indian rights advocates and grassroots community organizers mocked and maligned by Churchill are U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Washington lobbyist Suzan Shown Harjo, and American Indian Movement leaders Vernon Bellecourt, Carole Standing Elk, and Fern Mathias.
    In "Let's Spread the 'Fun' Around," Churchill unleashes a torrent of pointedly offensive racist, sexist, and ethnically derogatory epithets ("Niggers," "Spics," "Kikes," etc.), on the pretense of encouraging non-Indians to be sensitive to Indian people's objections to sports teams' exploitation of Indian identity and culture.
    In "Nobody's Pet Poodle," Churchill calumniates Indian rights advocates who successfully lobbied Congress to enact the 1990 Indian Arts and Crafts Act, a piece of anti-fraud legislation widely praised by Indian leaders and detested by Churchill. In the course of his tirade, Churchill compares Indians to dogs, suggesting that like poodles and Afghan hounds, tribal members "also sport their pedigree papers" (p. 90, emphasis in original).
    In "Another Dry White Season" and "P is for Plagiarism," Churchill launches outlandish raids on the reputations of writers Jerry Mander and Jack Weatherford, both of them respected scholars of high integrity who are among the strongest and most dependable of Indian people's non-Indian supporters. Sideswipes at other writers who support Indian causes are scattered throughout the book.
    A few other noteworthy problems in Indians Are Us.? require more in-depth attention. One such problem is Churchill's reprinting of distorted versions of the "Declaration of War Against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality" and the "Alert Concerning the Abuse and Exploitation of Lakota Sacred Traditions." In their original forms, the "Declaration of War" and the "Alert" are important documents in the grassroots campaign of Indian people to stop the exploitation of Indian spirituality and culture; these documents were developed by the nonprofit organization Center for the SPIRIT (Support and Protection of Indian Religions and Indigenous Traditions) on behalf of and in consultation with a coalition of traditional Lakota spiritual leaders and community advocates from the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. As co-founder and executive director of Center for the SPIRIT, I personally assumed the responsibility of drafting in their entirety both of the "Declaration of War" and the "Alert," under the guidance and direction of the traditional Lakota coalition from Pine Ridge.

    The original "Declaration of War" was adopted unanimously as a resolution by both the National Congress of American Indians, representing more than one hundred fifty Indian nations, and by the Lakota Summit, representing all forty Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota nations and bands in the United States and Canada. Thus, as originally conceived, drafted, and adopted, the "Declaration of War" articulates the overwhelming consensus of Indian tribes that the commercial abuse and exploitation of Lakota ceremonies by non-Indians no longer will be tolerated.

    Ward Churchill neither requested nor was granted Center for the SPIRIT's permission to reprint either the "Declaration of War" or the "Alert." However, that considerable impropriety alone pales by comparison with a much more serious transgression, namely, Churchill's decision to strategically alter the "Declaration of War," distorting it to conform to his own anti-tribal bias.

    Thus, the original "Declaration of War" expresses indignation toward non-Indians who have formed "imitation 'tribes'" (emphasis added) like the so-called "Bear Tribe" and the "Deer Tribe Metis Medicine Society," whose non-Indian "members" systematically exploit the spiritual traditions of Indian tribes for profit; Churchill's version of the resolution, on the other hand, omits the crucial word "imitation," making it appear as though the resolution were expressing resentment toward Indian tribes themselves, as such. Likewise, Churchill's version omits an entire "whereas" provision of the true resolution, wherein emphasis had been placed on the fact that the exploitation of Lakota traditions "has reached epidemic proportions in urban areas throughout the country." Presumably, this provision was deleted because it detracted from the false inference advanced by Churchill's version of the resolution, viz., that the exploitation of Lakota traditions emanates primarily from Indian tribes themselves, as such.

    In short, Churchill's ersatz version of the "Declaration of War" is a strategically manipulated and subtly distorted device, which could be used to undermine rather than support Indian tribes in their efforts to safeguard their sacred traditions and culture. Yet another noteworthy problem in Indians Are Us? is Churchill's harangue in "Naming Our Destiny" against popular use of the word "tribe." "[T]o be addressed as 'tribal,'" Churchill insists, "is to be demeaned in a most extraordinarily vicious way" (p. 295). The persuasiveness of Churchill's case against the word "tribe" is decisively undercut, however, by Churchill's reliance on his contrived, indefensible position concerning the nonexistent "eugenics code" of the 1887 General Allotment Act, as critiqued previously in this essay. And so, Churchill's argument that "the preoccupation with 'blood lines' connoted by the term 'tribe'" (p. 296) is rooted in "a system of identifying Indians in accordance with a formal eugenics code dubbed 'blood quantum' which is still in effect at the present time" (p. 333) is as fallacious and unavailing as the tribal sovereignty-bashing conspiracy theory on which that argument entirely depends.

    In a section of "Naming Our Destiny" entitled "'Tribes' versus 'Peoples,'" Churchill endeavors further to rationalize his antipathy for the word "tribe" by invoking "the definitive Oxford English Dictionary," which in one obscure definition, according to Churchill, defines "tribe" as a group in the classification of plants, animals, etc., used as superior and sometimes inferior to a family; also, loosely, any group or series of animals. [p. 294] Churchill then excerpts definitions for the word "people" from the Oxford dictionary and, curiously, from a 1949 edition of Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, to decree that the word "people" in all ways is preferable to the word "tribe," since "tribe" embodies an "expressly animalistic emphasis . . . . . . . . . . . . It follows that when indigenous peoples are passed off as tribes . . . they are effectively cast as being subhuman" (p. 298).

    Of course, Churchill never explains why he so fervently insists on vesting in English dictionaries the ironclad authority to dispose of an issue of self-naming that for Indian people is a matter exclusively for the tribes themselves to decide. Be that as it may, it is instructive to examine a few of the wobbles in the eccentric spin of Churchill's treatment of language.

    First, Churchill's disdain for the word "tribe," by his own avowed reasoning, should extend with equal force to the word "family," since each of these terms may denote a general category in the classification of plants, animals, and other living organisms, within the science of taxonomy. Likewise, since the word "community" may denote any interacting population of life forms (human and/or nonhuman) in the language of scientific ecology, Churchill logically should be just as disgusted by any reference to human beings per se as constituting a "community." Clearly, if a person actually were to be repulsed and enraged whenever words like "family," "community" and "tribe" were used in ordinary conversation-and merely because these terms, like most words, have multiple, divergent meanings-then such a person would be in need of psychological treatment for what would amount to a debilitating disorder in interpersonal communication.

    Second, Churchill summons forth his sundry dictionary definitions in a noticeably lopsided manner. For instance, Churchill chooses not to divulge the fact that Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary lists a definition for the word "peoples" that has as much "animalistic emphasis" as Churchill's comparably obscure definition for the word "tribe." This omission is especially noteworthy because Churchill admits that he in fact consulted this very same dictionary-Webster's Ninth-in order to "cross-reference the 'old' definitions obtained [in the 1949 Webster's] with those in newer iterations of the same dictionary, to see whether there have been changes" (pp. 332-333). According to a definition in Webster's Ninth suppressed by Churchill, "peoples" may be defined as "lower animals usu. of a specified kind or situation... 'squirrels and chipmunks: the little furry [peoples].'" In addition, Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language calls to mind yet another amusing "nonhuman" meaning for the word "peoples." According to this particular Webster's (not concededly referenced by Churchill), the word "peoples" may denote "supernatural beings that are thought of as similar to humans in many respects... 'kobolds, trolls, and such [peoples] are not to be trusted.'" Thus, it appears that Churchill's pedantic argument against the word "tribe" rests not on any objective analysis of dictionary definitions at all, but rather on a highly manipulative process of selectively disclosing those definitions that would appear consistent with Churchill's antitribal thesis, while carefully concealing those definitions that would seem to contradict that thesis. So much for the manifest silliness of competing (and, in Churchill's case, cheating) in a game of Trivial Pursuit with "definitive" dictionaries to ascertain by what name Indian tribes will be permitted to identify themselves.

    But beyond all the tedious game-playing and semantic trickery in "Naming Our Destiny," there remains unresolved a very serious implied question: By what mechanism does an abstraction like "Indian self-determination" get transformed into real selfempowerment for Indian people?

    As demonstrated in this essay, Ward Churchill expends a great deal of effort in Indians?Ire Us? espousing the counter-intuitive thesis that Indian tribes themselves are an obstacle in the struggle for Indian self-empowerment, and should be aggressively disavowed and devalued, therefore, in all political discussions bearing on Indian self-determination. Of course, the very fact that Churchill strives to "prove" his case against Indian tribes by falsifying the historical record, misstating the views of fellow scholars, issuing distorted versions of public documents, and shrewdly manipulating language is enough to dissuade any sensible reader from taking Churchill's anti-tribal propaganda seriously. Still, the goal of clarifying and affirming the integral role of Indian tribes in the dynamic of Indian selfempowerment is extremely important and challenging -- much more so than is the relatively easier task of dismissing Ward Churchill's obfuscation of this profound topic.

    For there can be little doubt that for most Americans, Indian tribes will always be an enigma. After all, Indian tribes are organized around distinctive values that in many ways are incompatible with and even diametrically opposed to the values that inform the political nation-states of the modern West, including, most emphatically, the United States. These unique tribal values -- an emphasis on the well-being of the entire tribal community rather than the self-interest of the individual; on a nature -- centered spirituality rather than an acquisitive materialism; on an ethic that treats one's homeland and the earth itself as a mysterious, living, dignified presence rather than as a lifeless repository of exploitable resources -- are what constitute the very core and substance of Indian tribes.

    Tribal sovereignty, in turn, is the collective endeavor of all the members of an Indian tribe to maintain, nourish, and reinforce that fragile, living constellation of tribal values which comprises the tribe itself, rooted in a unique, spiritual relationship with the land that has been passed down from generation to generation, since time immemorial, through closely guarded tribal kinship systems. Tribal members carry on this heroic task of exercising tribal sovereignty --that is, of safeguarding the survival of the tribe itself, as such --under the most difficult of circumstances because of the enormous pressure to conform to an alien and often hostile system of values that constantly is being exerted by a dominant, non-Indian society ill-equipped to comprehend, let alone appreciate, the beauty and significance of the values inhering in Indian tribes.

    Genuine self-empowerment for Indian people, therefore, is inextricably attached to the dignity accorded Indian tribes themselves as such, for real Indian self-empowerment is made manifest only when Indian tribes are granted their due respect as sovereign nations, with an inherent, inalienable right of tribal self-determination. Any attempt to dislodge the principle of Indian self-determination from the sovereignty inhering in Indian tribes as such is, in reality, an attempt to tear asunder and destroy the unique tribal values that make up the very essence of Indian people's continuing existence as Indians.

    The inherent right of Indian tribes to determine their own members is, of course, the most critical factor in the process whereby Indian self-determination is transformed into Indian self-empowerment, for if non-Indians can succeed in usurping this fundamental tribal prerogative and themselves seize control of the right to ascertain who is and who is not an Indian, then by their sheer numbers these non-Indians will quickly overwhelm whatever tenuous political power real Indian people have retained in American society. In this disastrous scenario, non-Indians will rapidly supplant tribal values with their own invasive non-Indian values, in accordance with dominant societal norms permitting and even encouraging individuals to accrue political power by any artifice whatsoever -- including that of opportunistically and capriciously defining themselves to be "Indians."

    Just such a blueprint for disrupting Indian political affairs and disempowering Indian people would appear to underlie the architecture of anti-tribal propaganda in Indians Are Us? -- a kind of Trojan horse wheeled to the gate of an unsuspecting American public, cleverly disguised in what Ward Churchill calls "a language of American Indian liberation" (p. 291).

    In view of America's entrenched ignorance of the legal and political concerns of Indian tribes, the publication of a grossly misleading and misinforming book like Indians Are Us? constitutes a regrettable setback in Indian people's struggle for social justice. There is no doubt, of course, that many of the topics ostensibly covered in Churchill's book deserve serious public attention: the trivializing of Indian identity by sports teams; the exploitation of Indian spirituality by the men's movement and the New Age movement; the propagation of degrading Indian stereotypes by the entertainment media; the targeting of Indian political activities by clandestine military operations. All these problems must be squarely confronted if grave injustices suffered by Indian people are ever to be acknowledged and remedied.

    However, Indian people stand to benefit only if these momentous issues are addressed with an unsparing honesty that openly concedes the extent to which Indian tribes as sovereign nations have been and continue to be brutally defamed, demeaned, discredited, undermined, and otherwise victimized by those whose overt and/or covert political agendas necessitate the subversion and ultimate destruction of Indian tribes. With its pervasive hostility toward Indian tribes and its constant twisting of historical facts crucial to an intelligent assessment of tribes' legal and political needs, Indians Are Us? compounds and exacerbates what are already formidable popular misconceptions concerning Indian law, policy, and history.

    The renowned scholar of Indian law Felix Cohen wisely warns us that "confusion and ignorance in fields of law are allies of despotism." As Cohen well understood, and as history abundantly testifies, there is no political arena in which confusion and ignorance take a more terrible toll than in the oppression bearing on American Indian people's five-centuries-long struggle for basic human rights. With this essential realization in mind, supporters of Indian rights should insist that any serious discussion of Indian issues be, at the very least, compassionate and respectful toward Indian tribes, as well as fundamentally truthful in recounting the brutal treatment that tribes have been forced to endure historically. By this minimum standard of integrity, Indians Are Us? is a bitter disappointment indeed.




    Posted by joshuasharf at 01:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Martyrdom Lost

    Churchill's critics have always been at risk of turning him into a martyr. As long as his scholarship was beyond reproach, Churchill could later claim to have been drummed out for speaking truth to power, or some such nonsense.

    Paul Campos, himself a law professor at CU, has done some spadework on that front this morning ("Truth Tricky for Churchill"):

    Academic freedom must be protected, which is why I'm continuing to write about this matter. A version of academic freedom that protects Churchill from appropriate sanctions isn't sustainable either as a political or an ethical matter....

    To the extent that Churchill was hired because he claimed to be a Native American, he would seem to be guilty of academic fraud. But the situation is worse than this.

    Campos goes on to cite Thomas Brown at Lamar University who claims (and documents) that Churchill made up an 1837 smallpox attack by the US Army in order to defend himself in court, in regards to yet another Columbus Day Parade episode. (Note to Ward: it's now 1493. It's a round, round world.)

    Make no mistake. Brown is documenting actual academic fraud, passively aided and abetted by a politically monolithic academic community that wants to believe.

    Campos also cites University of New Mexico law prof John P. LaValle. LaValle also considered Churchill guilty of academic fraud. His most well-known journal article, "The General Allotment Act "Eligibility" Hoax," is not on line. It did appear in Wicazo Sa Review, a university-published journal, although not a peer-reviewed one.

    I was able to find an earlier book review from American Indian Quarterly, (Winter96), which is peer-reviewed. Since it's not online, I'll quote from it here. In it, LaValle shows that Churchill simply makes up claims concerning the General Allotment Act, and quotes other researchers out of context and out of century.

    Suffice it to say that while the True Believers won't be impressed, there's plenty of evidence that Churchill is little more than a bully, good with insults, but with the facts, not so much.

    UPDATE: Instead of including the article in an Extended Entry, I've made it a separate blog posting. Should I receive any complaints from the copyright holders, I'll go ahead and email a copy to anyone who's interested.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    The AAUP on Tenure

    Both tenure and the exclusion of extramural statements appear to have gone through mission creep of a sort, with the AAUP becoming both progressively more strident in defense of professors' privileges. Such a development isn't unique: trial lawyers give hundreds of millions of dollars ever elections cycle in order to preserve the Right to Sue as We Know It.

    Kudos to the Greeley Tribune ("Challenge the Value of Tenure") for looking into the sources and roots of tenure as we know it. While professors may look nervously at that cup of hemlock every time the tenure system is questioned, in fact the current system has its basis in a 1940 American Association of University Professors Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, itself a restatement of a 1925 Statement:

    College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution

    Which leads to this interpretation in the same document:

    If the administration of a college or university feels that a teacher has not observed the admonitions of paragraph (c) of the section on Academic Freedom and believes that the extramural utterances of the teacher have been such as to raise grave doubts concerning the teacher’s fitness for his or her position, it may proceed to file charges under paragraph 4 of the section on Academic Tenure.

    Clearly, extramural

    By 1964, Committee A (on Academic Freedom) had this to say about extramural utterances:

    The controlling principle is that a faculty member’s expression of opinion as a citizen cannot constitute grounds for dismissal unless it clearly demonstrates the faculty member’s unfitness for his or her position. Extramural utterances rarely bear upon the faculty member’s fitness for the position. Moreover, a final decision should take into account the faculty member’s entire record as a teacher and scholar."

    So, in 24 years, "grave doubts about" has become "clearly demonstrates." Now, the AAUP has issued its own statement about Mr. Churchill:

    Should serious questions arise about Professor Churchill’s fitness to continue at the University of Colorado—the only acceptable basis for terminating a continuing or tenured faculty appointment—those questions should be judged by a faculty committee that affords the essential safeguards of due process, as required by the university’s and the Board of Regents’ official policies.

    Far enough, except that the context and wording appear to suggest that external statements can't themselves be the source of such concern - clear contrary to the plain meaning of academic freedom in the above-cited docs.

    Clearly, both the 1940 Statement and the 1970 Interpretations clearly contemplate the notion that a professor's extramural statements can be used as evidence of unfitness to teach. If such statements were always exempt from scrutiny, neither section (c), nor Paragraph 3, nor the subsequent statement from 1970 would have been included. Instead, they would have been silent on the matter, or they would have included a statement specifically excluding extramural statements from consideration.

    I'm sure there's a tremendous amount of case law, or the academic procedural equivalent thereof, that I just don't have time to troll through right now. My uninformed guess is that most of it comes down on the side of leniency. But it's also clear that the AAUP, like any organization, has defended and extended its privileges, and a re-examination is long past due.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 06:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 07, 2005

    AT&T, RIP

    Rome has fallen, defeated by its offspring. It may be a few years before the symbols of Empire are sent east for good, but for now, the barbarians are inside the walls, doing their will.

    I've always had a hard time romanticizing even the great corporations, but if ever there were a Rome, it was AT&T. It grew up like Rome, squashing competitors in their cradles. At one point, it was the biggest company in the world. And it owned virtually the entire phone system, from your mouthpiece to your friend's earpiece. You didn't own your phone, you leased it. But the system, rollerskates and all, worked.

    Then, it kinda stopped working so well. AT&T got a little fat, and a little arrogant, and sometime in the 50s, people started referring to "the damn phone company," and it wasn't so much fun to walk over to your neighbors' to call when your service went out. Nichols & May did a side-splitting, roll-on-the-floor-laughing sketch about trying to get a number from Information, and losing your dime(!) in the process. (It occurs to me now that this comedy sketch is probably completely incomprehensible to anyone born after 1985.)

    My mom starting running the scissors through the old computer punchcard bill you had to return with your check, just to make the people at the damn Phone Company enter the numbers by hand.

    It didn't help. As AT&T entered the Late Imperial Phase, it started to get more rigid, more arrogant. It tried to protect what it couldn't, and then it actually felt a little relieved when the Baby Bells broke away (or were broken away, really). After all, hadn't long distance subsidized local service for years?

    They never did find a model that worked, even as they entered new markets. They even went through a little Justinian revival, reconnecting with local phone service via cable until some judge put an end to that, too. But really, if AT&T wasn't AT&T any more, what was the point, anyway?

    It's finally over. And yet, in another way, it's only starting.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 11:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Somebody Please Call the CU CRs

    ...so that they can distribute copies of Iowahawk's latest tomorrow night outside Glenn Miller Hall?


    Mystic flute and chime music; soft focus lens shot of a young Chutch standing in candlelit sweat lodge of his Tribal Master, Marcuse

    MARCUSE: Are you ready for your final test, Angry Turtleneck?

    YOUNG CHUTCH: I am ready, master.

    MARCUSE: Then try to snatch the grant proposal from my hand.

    Chutch deftly grabs the binder from the wizened master.

    MARCUSE: With this ankh medallion I now grant you the ultimate power, Angry Turtleneck -- a Master's degree from Sangamon State University. I pray you will use it wisely.

    And it only gets better...

    Posted by joshuasharf at 09:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Motivational Tool

    MarkWest stock apparently hit $50 a few days ago, and the President & CEO sent each employee a crisp brand-new $50 bill and a short note of appreciation to mark the occasion.

    My first reaction: "Hey, that's pretty neat." Most employees probably didn't even notice the stock price that day, but it's nice that senior management did.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 10:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Carnival of the Capitalists

    Business! Finance! Marketing! Economics! Everything the slave of the Mighty Engine of Profit needs to know is right here! OK, maybe not everything, but it's a great place to start.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 09:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 06, 2005

    Archimedean Finance

    "Give me a lever and a place to stand, and I will move the world." -Archimedes

    Well, right now Mr. Notebart is looking for a lever, and I'm not sure they have a place to stand. Qwest (Q) is in talks to buy MCI (MCIP), formerly WorldCom, formerly MCI. The problem is, they don't actually have anything to buy WorldCom with.

    As of last week, MCI had a market cap of $6.7 billion. As of the end of the third quarter, their cash balance was $5.6 billion. After going through scandal-induced bankruptcy, the company is relatively lean on the debt side. MCI's problem is that they can't make any money. Even as the sector was booming these last couple of years, the company has hemmhoraged cash, even from its operations.

    Qwest has the opposite problem. Qwest is like that Monopoly(tm) player who's mortgaged everything to keep the roofing in shape on the Park Place/Boardwark hotels, and then sees everyone draw "Move Directly to Go!" cards. They have a little cash, so they can stay in the game. But they overpaid massively for US West and had to write off $30 million of goodwill in 2002. Goodwill is an asset. Which means that simultaneously, $30 million of shareholder equity disappeared. Poof. Gone. Ex-equity. Equity-no-more.

    Which is a problem if it isn't there. That's right. Right now, Qwest owes more than the company is worth - it has negative equity. It's got negative book value, and you can't calculate half the valuation ratios because they make the not-altogether-unreasonable assumption that the company is actually worth something, at least on paper.

    Their operations are showing a slight inflow, and they're not bleeding cash like MCI, which is how they've managed to avoid the big Chapter 11 in the Sky so far. Certainly, nobody's going to be lending them any money on their own.

    So MCI may want Qwest, because it can't make any money, and it needs someone who can. Qwest wants MCI because it has cash, only it doesn't have any way of paying for it.

    Enter the LBO - Leveraged Buyout. These were wildly popular in the 80s, until people started going to jail for being a little too creative on the financing end, and just for being so successful which we had a recession. Basically, the company borrows against the acquisition they'll be making, and the benefits they'll get from it.

    This never works. Well, hardly ever. The problem here is that Qwest is going to be taking on not only cash, but also money-losing operations. They might be able to structure a deal, but my guess is that these are a couple of fish waiting to be eaten.

    The other speculation is that MCI is trying to play Qwest off against other companies. Again, the problem here is Qwest's state-of-the-art fiber optic network. Those other companies, Verizon has been most prominently mentioned, will only rush to bid if they think they won't have a shot at both of them later. Qwest's network means that if it does wait, Verizon can pick up both companies, and Qwest won't be just dead weight.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 11:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Tenure Update

    Jim Hu down at Blogs for Industry is doing yeoman work trying to compare Ward Churchill's pre-tenure output to those of his peers-at-the-time in the Communication Department. Churchill's CV isn't on line, so for a guy whose field is Communications, he seems pretty tight-lipped about a number of issues.

    Anyway, it looks like it might be a closer thing than I had previously thought - that maybe Churchill's number of pre-tenure refereed publications isn't quite so out of line. Nevertheless, it does seem to be the lowest among those being compared. And he still doesn't have a Ph.D. at the time.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Memory vs. History

    In 1982, Yosef Yerushalmi was invited to speak at the University of Washington's annual Samuel and Althea Strom Lecture Series on Jewish Studies. His lectures were collected and published in a book, Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory. It in absolutely indispensible reading for anyone who wants to understand the traditional and modern Jewish views of history.

    Yerushalmi's point was that after the destruction of the Second Temple, Jews stopped writing history. The history they did have, they committed to memory. Thereafter, anything that happened, locally or nationally, would be seen as a reflection or repetition of what had gone before. Jews would retain a very keen sense of the meaning of history, but historiography as a serious pursuit would all but end until the Enlightenment. New interpretations of history would be either undiscovered or rejected.

    I think something similar has happened with today's left with regard to Iraq. I see little historical analysis, and little attempt to understand Iraq on its own terms, in relation to its own history over the last century. I do see a great deal of argument-by-analogy to Vietnam. The Vietnamese elections went well, too! We had an insurgency in Vietnam, too! Fallujah is Tet! And so on. The meaning of History is clear (US Military Bad!) and room for new interpretation just doesn't exist.

    It's a blinkered way of looking at things, and it bears more than a passing resemblance to a religious, rather than a rational, view of the world. There may be some similarities between Vietnam and Iraq - it would be surprising if occupations didn't resemble each other in some superficial ways. But harping on those surface similarities doesn't leave any room for real understanding. And throwing around the year 1920 like a Red Sox fan who still hasn't gotten over the Curse reveals more poverty of knowledge than depth.

    Moreoever, as in rabbinic Judaism, such an understanding of history tends to lead towards passivity and prevents the emergence of a positive program. After all, if history ends in failure, trying to push it forward can only end in catastrophe.

    In early 2003, my friend Mike Eisenstadt, and fellow at the Washington Institute for Near-East Studies, co-edited and contributed to a volume looking at Iraq in light of the British experience there. U.S. Policy in Post-Saddam Iraq: Lessons from the British Experience actually looks at Iraqi history. It examines the context and causes of the mostly-Shiite 1920 rebellion, and Britain's attempts to rule the country by proxy through a gloss of democracy that excluded more than it included.

    In fact, it's remarkable how many mistakes we've avoided making, or at least have reversed, if you go by Mike's suggestions.

    I've disagreed with Mike a lot over the years, especially regarding Israel and its relations with the Palestinians and other Arabs. But this is a well-thought out piece of work, especially for people looking for analysis instead of polemic.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 03:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Brand U

    Sometimes, the timing is just too good.

    I was leaving the Job Fair on Friday, looking for companies interested in hiring a soon-to-be-minted MBA/MS Finance degree-holder, interested in investment analysis (buy-side), able to do his own applications programming and with a background in math and physics (ahem). I ran into a classmate of mine who asked me to fill out a survey relating to DU's new branding initiative.'

    So it goes.

    The more I think about it, the more Twitchell's article makes sense. So what does it mean?

    To summarize, Twitchell is claiming that colleges and universities simply aren't in the business that we assume they're in. We assume that they are in the education business. They assume they're in the alumni-producing business. We would like to see the outputs. They would like us to see the inputs.

    Well, there are some things we can do, even with the inputs. If you use a brand-name analysis, it's clear that CU's brand name has been so thoroughly tarnished by serial football-related, financial-related, and now idicocy-related scandals, that it feels it has to do something to redeem itself. That something may very well be to throw Ward Churchill under the bus, and I can't say I object.

    As an aside, to those who wish to preserve the tenure system as-is, on the grounds that conservatives would fare worse under a system that punished unpopular speech, I can only reply that the current situation of 95% Democratic affiliation in the social sciences and liberal arts occurred entirely under the current tenure system. The tolerance of speech codes, newspaper-stealings and -burnings, ripping down of Republican or conservative group flyers, leftist anti-semitism, and outright violence against pro-Israel, millitary recruiters, and conservative speakers, has all happened under a rubric of preserving students' rights. Perhaps there are still enough administrators and faculty committed to process over ideology that conservatives have time to organize and use those rules to restore a semblance of balance, but that would have to be proven.

    In any event, the university's willingness to consider dealing with Churchill suggests that sustained, combined pressure by alumni, parents, and parents of in-state high school seniors could, over time, have an effect. The information about a school's speech codes and campus atmosphere is out there now for a certain amount of comparison-shopping. That I want my child exposed to liberal politics doesn't mean that I want them bombarded and surrounded by them.

    What isn't available, unfortunately, are the outputs. GMAT, LSAT, GRE, and MCAT scores. Admissions to grad schools, where the outputs are measured and reported. Starting salaries. And so on.

    Here again, I think there's room for innovation. When Bill James got frustrated with the Elias Sports Bureau's disdain for releasing simple statistics, he started a fan-based project to collect and report pitch-by-pitch statistics on every major-league game in the country. It was so successful that Elias eventually had to relent, and begin publishing the stats that the seamheads wanted for their analyses.

    Something similar could happen here. Alumni, who have access to the alumni lists, will want to know how much those degrees really are worth. Eventually, someone will put together some comprehensive surveys of the test scores and starting salaries of the alumni from a few hundred universities, and begin publishing annual lists. Schools will complain they're not accurate, at which point they'll be challenged to produce their own statistics. Given the current climate of distrust of anyone who has information but won't release it, it won't take long for a few school, aware that they're being under-rated by this report, to start putting out and trading on their own data. At that point, the wall crumbles for all but a few schools.

    I'm sure that even now, someone is setting up a survey...

    Posted by joshuasharf at 02:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


    Yesterday, I got up early to walk the dog. With shul starting at 8:45, although I'm rarely never on time for that, a 45 minute walk, plus time for feeding him, plus a little light breakfast and a scan of the paper means getting up at 7:00 even on a Saturday.

    Denver's in a peculiar place, and frequently has morning cloud-cover when the surrounding area is clear, and vice-versa. Yesterday, I could just make out some clear sky over Kansas. And wouldn't you know it, the sun managed to thread the needle just right for about 15 minutes.

    With the mountains to the west, all the viewplanes are directed that way, so you pretty much have to find a hill or a 6th-floor apartment or the far side of a lake to get a good sunrise view, but still. Blazing orange, and then ripples of purple and pink all the way west. Still a grey background, but there were enough little tendrils reaching down to catch some sun, too.

    As I've said before: you always hear about the sunsets, nobody ever advertises the sunrises.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 12:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 04, 2005

    What That Piece Means

    What does the piece below mean? Shabbat's coming on hard, so this is a first take:

    1 - The measure to make spending by state university foundations in Colorado transparent is tremendously important, but probably not enough to solve the problem
    2 - Those of us who expect the Ward Churchills of the world to be dealt with have no chance. Schools, at the undergraduate level, just don't seem to think of themselves as being in that business.
    3 - The fracturing of the common civilization we care about, and I remember when E.D. Hirsch published Cultural Literacy, is now a self-perpetuating problem

    There's more. Give me time. Like a day or so.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 05:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Economics of Higher Ed

    Via EconLog, a great discussion of Brand State U:

    At the turn of the 20th century, one percent of high school graduates attended college; that figure is now close to 70 percent. This is an industry that produces a yearly revenue flow more than six times the revenue generated by the steel industry. Woe to the state without a special funding program (with the word merit in it) that assures middle-class kids who graduate in the upper half of their high school class a pass to State U. College has become what high school used to be, and thanks to grade inflation, it’s almost impossible to flunk out.


    The most far-reaching changes in postsecondary education are not seen on the playing fields or in the classroom or even in the admissions office. They’re inside the administration, in an area murkily called development....

    Development is both PR and fundraising, the intersection of getting the brand out and the contributions in, and daily it becomes more crucial. That’s because schools like mine have four basic revenue streams: student tuition, research funding, public (state) support, and private giving. The least important is tuition; the most prestigious is external research dollars; the most fickle is state support; and the most remunerative is what passes through the development office.

    Not only do schools have marketing departments, look at the product and the value they're marketing:

    The elite schools have to produce an entering class that’s not just the best and brightest they can gather, but one that will dem­on­strate an unbridgeable quality gap between themselves and other schools. They need this entering class because it’s precisely what they will sell to the next crop of consumers. It’s the annuity that gives them financial security. In other words, what makes Higher Ed, Inc., unlike other American industries is that its consumer value is based almost entirely on who is consuming the product. At the point of admissions, the goal is not money. The goal is to publicize who’s getting in. That’s the product. Who sits next to you in class generates value.

    There's also a hilarious talk about the numbing sameness of diversity, although it's not really the heart of the piece"

    Here’s what Nicolaus Mills, an American studies professor at Sarah Lawrence College, found a decade ago, just as the viewbook was starting to become standardized. Every school had the same sort of glossy photographs proving the same claim of diversity:

    “Diversity is the hallmark of the Harvard/Radcliffe experience,” the first sentence in the Harvard University register declares. “Diversity is the virtual core of University life,” the University of Michigan bulletin announces. “Diversity is rooted deeply in the liberal arts tradition and is key to our educational philosophy,” Connecticut College insists. “Duke’s 5,800 undergraduates come from regions which are truly diverse,” the Duke University bulletin declares. “Stanford values a class that is both ethnically and economically diverse,” the Stanford University bulletin notes. Brown University says, “When asked to describe the undergraduate life at The College—and particularly their first strongest impression of Brown as freshmen—students consistently bring up the same topic: the diversity of the student body.”

    In this kind of marketing, Higher Ed, Inc., is like the crowd in Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Graham Chapman as Brian, the man mistaken for the Messiah, exhorts a crowd of devotees: “Don’t follow me! Don’t follow anyone! Think for yourselves! You are all individuals!” To which the crowd replies in perfect unison, “Yes, Master, we are all individuals. We are all individuals. We are all individuals.”

    To borrow a phrase, Read the Whole Things.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 05:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Ayn Rand the Writer

    Bryan Caplan is defending Ayn Rand on literary grounds. It's a novel approach, so to speak. I've never been a big fan of the "I don't owe nuttin' to nobody" core of objectivism (sorry, Persephone), although she ably defended the individual ego at a time when the intelletual world seemed gripped by various collectivist or aggregationist ideas of one sort or another.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 02:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Hear for Yourself

    Via reader Gregg Howard.

    The publisher Alternative Tentacles has a website peddling CDs of Ward Churchill's 2003 appearance in Oakland, CA. The CD is called "Pacifism as Pathology," which is a cute way of saying that the "Peace" movement isn't made up of peaceful people.

    In "Solidarity", Churchill exhorts his listeners (to a smattering of applause) to follow-up on the 9/11 attacks.

    In "Exemption is Over", Churchill calls the attacks "correct," and coolly assesses the replaceability of the Cantor-Fitzgerald bond traders, all of whom were wiped out on that day.

    Anyone who saw the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald interviewed after the attacks, and saw the way he choked up talking about those men and women, knows that he cared about them as people. Which is more than you can say for Mr. Churchill.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 02:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


    Apropos a comment on the Oh That Liberal Media posting I made several days ago, I did another search for refereed publications by Mr. Churchill. It turns out that in 1980, an article did appear in a University of Iowa collection; Mr. Churchill also did present a paper in 1989 at a conference here at CU, and edited a two volumes of scholarly papers on indiginous affair for a publisher based in Copenhagen. My thanks to the commentor for pointing me to WorldCat.

    I'm unsure if the paper at the Denver conference would technically count as a peer-reviewed publication, but it's certainly at a major state university.

    Still, six publications at age 43, even accounting for losing a year or two to Vietnam, is not an exceptionally large number. Remember, the lack of a PhD is a handicap to be overcome, so one should expect more, not fewer, than the pre-tenure average.

    UPDATE: Blogs for Industry has listed four pre-tenure works by Mr. Churchill. He received tenure in 1991, so no matter how productive he's been since then, only pre-1992 publications could possibly have been taken into consideration for that decision

    Marxism and Native Americans, Agents of Repression, and COINTELPRO papers were published not by a university press, but by a self-proclaimed radical publisher, South End Press. Critical issues in native North America I counted as a refereed pre-tenure publication; it's listed as the Copenhagen-based publication.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 03, 2005

    On the Scent

    Welcome Instapundit Visitors! There's a lot about Ward of the State U, but a lot else, as well. Take a look around.

    You have no idea how much I wanted to title this "On the warpath," but keep reading and you'll see what happens to people who the Oneida think are mocking them...

    Indian Country Today is now on the story, and let's just say the wannabe Mr. Churchill isn't making any friends among the more authentic Indians:

    The Oneida Indian Nation, which has historic ties to nearby Hamilton, issued the following statement:

    ''It's disturbing that anyone would use such hateful speech, and do so while claiming to be an American Indian when there is significant evidence that he is not. Professor Churchill caused many in the media to falsely believe an American Indian scholar could besmirch the lives of those who died on 9/11. Because of this, he owes every American Indian an apology.

    ''Likewise it is sad that he would perpetrate this apparent hoax on Hamilton College, an institution founded to help educate Indian students.'' (Hamilton was founded by Samuel Kirkland, 18th century missionary to the Oneidas, and the famous Oneida Chief Schenandoah is buried on its grounds. The Oneida Nation owns Four Directions Media, publisher of Indian Country Today.)

    Oh, that's good, Ward. Pick a fight with a tribe that buys ink by the barrel.

    ...Churchill has long been a divisive and somewhat feared figure in Indian country, especially among his former colleagues in the American Indian Movement. Some prominent activists involved in earlier confrontations have devoted a great deal of energy to investigating his claim to be an American Indian himself and have found no evidence to support it.


    According to Jodi Rave, a well-known Native journalist and member of the Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara Three Affiliated Tribes, Churchill was enrolled as an ''associate member'' of the Keetoowah by a former chairman who was later impeached. The one other known member of the same program, since discontinued, was President Bill Clinton. Rave said that she made this discovery as a student in a journalism class at the University of Colorado. She was also in a class taught by Churchill. When her article came out, she said, he dropped her grade from an A to a C minus.

    Suzan Shown Harjo, a columnist for ICT who has tracked Churchill's career, said that aside from the in-laws of his late Indian wife, he has not been able to produce any relatives from any Indian tribe.

    So let's get this straight. Churchill loves the American Indian so much he wants to be one, then pretends to be one, and may now actually himself believe that he is Indian. He uses this status to preach hatred, pretending to speak for American Indians as an Indian. Prior to that, he deceived literally dozens of people into thinking that he was not only an Indian scholar, but an scholar Indian, while taking revenge on actual Indians who questioned his bona fides.

    You know, I take it all back. This guy may just be dumb enough to be an academic.

    UPDATE: A lot of original material from AIM is online. Hat tip: American Digest.

    UPDATE 2: Looks as though the school administration may be playing the role of Adult Supervision:

    University of Colorado administrators Thursday took the first steps toward a possible dismissal of a professor who likened World Trade Center victims to a notorious Nazi.

    Interim Chancellor Phil DiStefano ordered a 30-day review of Ward Churchill's speeches and writings to determine if the professor overstepped his boundaries of academic freedom and whether that should be grounds for dismissal.

    Also Thursday, the Board of Regents issued an apology for Churchill's remarks at a meeting and voted to support the university's review of Churchill.

    Churchill's assertions aside, tenure is not kryptonite-proof. There is a process for revoking it, and it's not at all clear that once an investigation is started, it has to stick to his 9/11 drippings. Thirty days can be a long, long time.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 02:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Grounds for Dismissal

    The Indian Country Today article noted below casts severe doubt on Ward Churchill's Indian ancestry. Further reason for doubt comes from the Denver Post ("CU prof affirms Indian heritage; Tribe says he's not full member"). In today's Rocky, Stuart Steers raises some more questions ("http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_3519179,00.html"), and hints and something much, much darker - deliberate grade retribution against a student:

    In his books and articles, Churchill has described himself as a member of the Keetoowah Cherokee tribe in Oklahoma. In past interviews, he's claimed to be one-sixteenth Cherokee.

    But the Keetoowah say that's not true.

    Attempts to contact Churchill for comment Wednesday on his background were unsuccessful. But Churchill's claim to American Indian roots has been challenged repeatedly by people in that community.

    One Montana woman has an especially personal tale of confronting Churchill on his claim to American Indian heritage. She was taking one of Churchill's classes at CU in 1994 when she wrote an article for the Colorado Daily newspaper, saying there was no evidence he had any American Indian background.

    "For so long it was whispered on campus that he really isn't an Indian," said Jodi Rave, who studied journalism at CU. "Here you had the director of the Indian studies program and he's not an Indian."

    Rave is a Mandan-Hidatsa Indian originally from North Dakota. Today, she is a reporter and columnist with the Missoulian newspaper in Missoula, Mont. She was recently a fellow in the prestigious Nieman program for journalists at Harvard University.

    In one of her journalism classes at CU, Rave was assigned to write a profile, and she decided to profile Churchill.

    "To have somebody of that stature masquerading as an Indian was intriguing to me," Rave said. "On two separate days I asked him questions. I was up-front in asking him questions (about his background)."

    Rave says she discovered that Churchill had enrolled in the Keetoowah tribe under a program initiated by a former tribal chairman that let almost anyone sign up. She says the Keetoowah later discontinued that program and disenrolled the people who had joined under it.

    When her article came out, Rave says Churchill was furious and insisted that he did have American Indian lineage.

    "He called me and said, 'Jodi Rave, this is your professor and I need to talk to you right away.' He was surprised I had a story published that called into question his identity."

    He also defended his American Indian background and said her story was unfair.

    Rave said she was enrolled in one of Churchill's classes when the article came out, and her grade went from an A to a C-minus.

    If true, this behavior is one of the grossest abuses of power short of criminal behavior that a professor can exercise. I don't believe that there's a member of the "appalled" faculty who wouldn't recognize it as a severe violation of the academy's rules - the same rules that Churchill is hiding behind to save himself.

    If this is true, if Churchill is fraudulently posing as an Indian to boost his academic credibility, which "scholarship" in any case seems to be an adjunct to his political activity, and is then using his position as professor to bully students who question it, the question is no longer whether CU can fire him. It's how they can avoid firing him.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 12:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Tribal Input

    Indian Country Today is an unabashedly liberal and pro-Indian newspaper. They support sovereignty, repurchase of land to expand tribal sovereignty, have editorialized in appreciation of Bill Moyers, endorsed John Kerry and Tom Daschle, and have no love for their image of Christian conservatives.

    Interestingly, it disapproves of the tactics of local Coloradoans in opposing Columbus Day, while approving of the basic message and beating up on our favority columnist, David Harsanyi. The column blamed Vernon Bellecourt for the tenor of the protests, prompting a reply to the effect that "Bellecourt wasn't here; we did this all on our own." Apparently Bellecourt has got a somewhat Jesse-Jacksonish reputation in American Indian circles.

    Which brings us to their appraisal of Ward Churchill. Basically, they throw Mr. Churchill under the bus in a way that puts the CU faculty to shame, although they also defend his keeping his job on First Amendment grounds:

    The nature of Churchill's decidedly offensive remarks, however, forces us to critique in general the injurious approach to scholarship and basic human decency. We defend the right to broadcast and publish, but propose it is reprehensible to excoriate innocent human beings who have suffered great loss by rubbing salt in deep wounds simply to prove a political point and simply to strike (one more time) a political posture on behalf of the far left and under the guise of American Indian sentiment. Wrapped intimately with American Indian themes in his writings and lectures, and shielded apparently by his own American Indian Movement (AIM) security team, Churchill projects the image of the quintessential American Indian activist and/or warrior - angry, defiant, insulting, forceful and accusatory. Churchill sometimes captures the historical truth of a thing, but only to load it like deadly ammunition into his ideological machine gun...

    Being in the crucible of hostility is not new to the chip-on-the-shoulder professor, who has become a celebrity for jumping into the polemic melee over issues big and small, internal and external to the Native world. Even in the question of personal identity, the professor's position is controversial. Churchill's Indian status is not verifiable in the usual ways of checking into tribal membership. We are expansive here from a national position on recognized and non-recognized tribes, southern nations and global indigenous people, but the question of relations and proper belonging in the tribal circles in the United States and Canada is generally verifiable for Indian observers and such appears to be completely lacking in Churchill's case. He has claimed membership in the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee, but reliable representatives from the tribe deny Churchill is or ever was, or has blood relatives on their rolls. He was granted an ''associate certificate'' by a former leader of the tribe (later impeached) for services supposedly rendered, not due to blood relations - but even the tribe declines to exactly identify what that means...

    In the Native Studies field, Churchill has been one of those scholar-spokesmen who lead with the idea that Indian peoples are best served by constantly pushing the button of contradiction and the memory of every ill that has ever been inflicted against the tribes. To endlessly cite the misdeeds of the American Empire - while layering the legend of Nazi Germany over it - has the constant method of the Churchill scholarship...

    There's more.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 11:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    WaPo Reporter Gives Mea Culpa

    Powerline notes the following paragraph in my friend Peter Baker's SOTU report this morning:

    The emotional highpoint of last night's event came near the end when Bush introduced the parents of a U.S. Marine from Texas, Sgt. Byron Norwood, who was killed in the assault on Fallujah, Iraq. As Norwood's mother tearfully hugged another woman in the gallery, the assembled senators and representatives responded with a sustained ovation, and Bush's face appeared creased with emotion.

    Peter's online taking questions now, and admits he just didn't know who the other woman was:

    Let me use this opportunity to offer a mea culpa on a similar point. Certainly the most moving moment in last night's speech was when the president introduced the parents of a Marine slain in Iraq. The mother of the Marine teared up and hugged the woman in front of her in the gallery, an Iraqi woman whose father had been killed by Saddam Hussein's regime. In our story this morning, we said the Marine's mother hugged "another woman" without identifying her as Iraqi. Some people this morning have rightly criticized the lapse.

    That's my fault. I saw the moment but did not realize who she was hugging and so failed to make that point in the story. It was no conspiracy, as some readers this morning have suggested, but the product of trying to write a big piece right on deadline as our presses are beginning to roll. Anyone who has been in a newsroom on the night of a State of the Union realizes what a juggling act it is to simply get a coherent story written, edited and sent to the printer in such a short amount of time while keeping half an eye on the television screen. That's an explanation, not an excuse. I screwed up. Fortunately, the moment was fully described in another front page piece by Dan Balz and in a Style column by Tom Shales.

    UPDATE: Look, Peter said what he said, and you can accept the explanation or say that he should have been paying better attention. I'm sure he'd also say that it was a long story he wrote, and people are paying attention to one detail. Peronally, I think that's a valuable change of perspective for a reporter covering the President. At the same time, he hasn't dissembled, made excuses about viewing angles, notes, or anything else; he's been a stand-up guy and admitted he made a dumb mistake. Let's keep some perspective.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 10:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 02, 2005

    Ward Churchill, The Man, The Fraud?

    This morning, Stuart Steers over at the Rocky has an interesting piece questioning whether Mr. Churchill is half the blood he claims to be:

    In past interviews, Churchill has said he is largely of English and Swiss-German descent but is one-sixteenth Cherokee. His critics within the American Indian community don't believe it.

    "He hides behind dark glasses and a beaded headband, but he's an academic fraud," said Vernon Bellecourt, an American Indian Movement activist in Minneapolis who has had a long-running dispute with Churchill.

    Churchill has claimed to be a member of the Keetoowah band of Cherokee, but Harjo says that tribe at one time was issuing "associate membership" cards to anyone who asked for one, even designating former President Clinton as a member.

    I've got a question into Mr. Steers asking if he's asked about Churchill's "not in dispute" service record. An FOIA request

    In a separate action, not surprisingly, the university faculty is appalled:

    "The lifeblood of any strong university is its diversity of ideas which allows for the environment necessary to educate and train young learners and advance the boundaries of knowledge," said a statement released Tuesday by university spokesman Peter Caughey. "Debate is a fundamental characteristic of a university."

    Posted by joshuasharf at 09:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 01, 2005

    Judging Financial Impact

    By law, any piece of proposed legislation must be assessed for the future financial impact on the state, looking at project effects on both taxes and spending. Like this assessment of this seemingly innocuous bill, for instance.

    Now, Representative McCluskey and Senator Lamborn are proposing that Colorado adopt Dynamic Modeling to assess these effects for tax policy changes at the request of the Assembly leadership. This made quit a stir when the national Republicans started using it for changes at the Federal level a few years ago.

    It makes sense. While models are inexact, the fact is that by projecting out straight-line, you're already using a model, just a lousy one. People do adjust their behavior based on tax incentives; the entire tussle over securitizing the tobacco revenue stream is predicated on this fact.

    Democrats tend to dislike this sort of analysis, because it inevitably shows that higher tax rates depress business activity, and therefore revenue, in the long run. Again, beyond a certain point, this is a fact. Even the Tsar is having to sell his plan by using language like, "lowering the income tax rate and keeping the extra money it generates" (emphasis added).

    One peculiarity is the limitation to 10 bills a year. There's no specific mention as to whether or not the leadership will have to throw a red flag, or if they'll be assessed a timeout.

    So far the bill is still in committee. I'll try to find out more about its status.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 07:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Ward of the State U - VII

    Now, the government weighs in. I'm glad there are adults around.

    From the Governor:

    No one wants to infringe on Mr. Churchill's right to express himself. But we are not compelled to accept his pro-terrorist views as state taxpayer subsidy nor under the banner of the University of Colorado. Ward Churchill besmirches the University and the excellent teaching, writing, and research of its faculty.

    Ideas have consequences, and words have meaning. If there is one lesson that we hope that all Coloradans take from this sad case - and especially our students - it is that civility and appropriate conduct are important. Mr. Churchill's views are not simply anti-American, they are at odds with simple decency, and antagonistic to the belifs and conduct of civilized people around the world...

    His resignation as chairman of the Ethnic Studies Department was a good first step. We hope that he will follow this step by resigning his position on the faculty of the University of Colorado.

    And State Representative Ted Harvey has used to occasion to commemorate, rather than insult, the September 11 victims. It doesn't actually call for Churchill's head on a pike, but it does point out that this is a guy completely out of touch with the rest of the state.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 12:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Ward of the State U - VI

    Well, maybe we've got some momentum here...

    The New York state college whose invitation to CU professor Ward Churchill touched off a firestorm of controversy cancelled his talk this morning over security concerns.

    Hamilton College told the professor it is concerned that Clinton, N.Y., police might not be able to provide adequate security for the ethnic studies professor at the panel discussion scheduled Thursday because of the number of death threats made against him in response to his essay that argued the 9/11 attacks were justified and compared victims to Adolf Eichmann, the chief operative in Hitler's extermination of the Jews during World War II.

    "Considerable threats of violence have been directed at the college and members of the panel," said Hamilton president Joan Hinde Stewart. "I have made the decision to cancel the event in the interest of protecting those at risk."

    Having denied him a platform, perhaps we can now deny him a lectern. Evidently, Mr. Churchill is getting a lesson, rather than teaching one, on the Limits of Dissent.

    That said, this "threats of violence" thing sounds more than a little like a fig-leaf. Throughout the post-9/11 era, it's been the radical left, and the pro-terror groups, that have a penchant for violent demonstrations.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 11:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Light Blogging Today

    Although I do want to get that McMad update up there.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


    Did someone say something about professors' salaries? I won't generalize, because not everyone has tenure, and not everyone has been around as long as Churchill has been soiling the hallowed halls, but this little tidbit jumped out at me:

    His salary will drop to $94,242 from $114,032, said Pauline Hale, a CU spokeswoman.

    You know, that's a pretty good number for someone who's braying about people serving the engine of profit.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack