aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Justices back Texas in dispute with Bush
A friend wonders, is it April fools day?
President Bush overstepped his authority when he ordered a Texas court to grant a new hearing to a Mexican on death row for rape and murder, the Supreme Court said Tuesday.
In a case that mixes presidential power, international relations and the death penalty, the court sided with Texas 6-3.
Bush was in the unusual position of siding with death row prisoner Jose Ernesto Medellin, a Mexican citizen whom police prevented from consulting with Mexican diplomats, as provided by international treaty.
An international court ruled in 2004 that the convictions of Medellin and 50 other Mexicans on death row around the United States violated the 1963 Vienna Convention, which provides that people arrested abroad should have access to their home country’s consular officials. The International Court of Justice, also known as the world court, said the Mexican prisoners should have new court hearings to determine whether the violation affected their cases.
Bush, who oversaw 152 executions as Texas governor, disagreed with the decision. But he said it must be carried out by state courts because the United States had agreed to abide by the world court’s rulings in such cases. The administration argued that the president’s declaration is reason enough for Texas to grant Medellin a new hearing.
Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, disagreed. Roberts said the international court decision cannot be forced upon the states.
‘Cuz that’s what reporters do, Tweety!
Since I already quoted The Chris Matthews Show once, I figure why not go for the gusto and point to my favorite exchange.
Tweety ends his show with a BIG QUESTION. This week it was “Deep down, do you think the Clintons believe it’s over?” Here’s York Magazine’s John Heilemann:
Mr. HEILEMANN: I think, though, she’s starting to see some of the writing on the wall a little bit, and I think one thing that’s happening internally is that some of her top people are starting to say to her, `We won’t stick with you, we won’t keep working for this campaign if it’s going to destroy Barack Obama in the end.’
Mr. HEILEMANN: And she’s starting to hear that from her people and it’s starting to make her kind of start to see it.
MATTHEWS: How do I know that?
Mr. HEILEMANN: [incredulously] How do I know that????
MATTHEWS: [obliviously] Yeah.
Mr. HEILEMANN: [duh!] Reporting.
Mr. PAGE: Look out!
MATTHEWS: What a great rejoinder. And a happy Easter to you, buddy.
I’ll assume Heilemann will be invited back on the show despite the smackdown. It was a good one.
The Professorial Salary Illusion
I’m not alone in noting that while tech sector, notably Google, copies the academy—calling its corporate headquarters a “campus” and famously allowing its engineers ”20-percent time” during which they’re free to work on whatever they’re passionate about—universities are enduring budget cuts, increasing the administrative load on faculty (full-time administrators now outnumber full-time faculty), and legislators questioning the concept of academic freedom.
Meanwhile, pay rates have never been among the draws to teaching. Siva notes:
[P]eople outside academia assume that because we have advanced degrees we make what other professionals make. I frequently stun my professional friends (even those without advanced degrees) with the low salaries in our profession. I usually have to do this when explaining why tenure is so important to me: freedom to write and speak as I wish is how I get paid.
Pamela Johnston writes as she wishes today in the Chronicle’s, “First Person,” in which academics share their personal experiences:
During a Democratic presidential debate earlier this year, the moderator, Charles Gibson of ABC News, inadvertently brought down the house when he suggested that a two-professor family might generate an annual income approaching $200,000.
The debate was hosted by St. Anselm College, a small, church-affiliated, liberal-arts institution that sounds a lot like the university where I am a faculty member. It didn’t surprise me to discover—as bloggers and reporters followed up on Gibson’s gaffe—that according to data from the American Association of University Professors, the average salary of an assistant professor at St. Anselm is $49,600. The only way a two-professor family at the college might even approach $200,000 in annual income is if they were both full professors, for whom the average salary in 2006-7 was $77,000.
I wasn’t surprised by Gibson’s assumption, either. Most of my own friends, neighbors, and family members initially believed that all college professors earned substantial salaries. When I try to explain why professors at small, private universities—where tuition costs tend to be high—usually earn significantly less than faculty members at more-affordable public universities, people shake their heads at the absurdity of academe.
My salary makes even less sense when people realize that my years of education don’t really factor into the compensation I earn. Many university professors make less money than public-school teachers, most of whom haven’t earned doctoral degrees. (Those in K-12 education who have earned Ph.D.’s have usually moved out of teaching and into administration.)
In the district where my children are enrolled, for example, a new teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no full-time experience will earn a base salary just slightly lower than what I earn after nearly seven years of full-time teaching, three years of full-time administrative work in academic affairs, two master’s degrees, and a Ph.D.
I’m not suggesting that public-school teachers should be paid less; I’m proud that teachers in my district earn a salary that shows how much the residents of our community respect the important service they provide.
But it seems absurd that after only a year of full-time experience, those who started teaching with a bachelor’s degree this year—some of whom were students in my classroom just a year ago—will be making more money than I do now. In our neighboring school district, new teachers began their careers this year at a salary that exceeds mine. They are also guaranteed a standard raise for every year of experience they accumulate, which is not the case in higher education.
Many people don’t know those figures. So the response I receive when I tell a new acquaintance that I’m a professor is invariably positive. Being a professor is apparently uncommon enough, and seems important enough, to merit admiration.
When “unlimited” ain’t unlimited
I really hate this kind of scam. And (if/when true) it is a scam! The company may not intend it to be but the customer is the real victim of some marketers’ language—whether sloppy or slick.
A year ago we praised Yahoo! for taking the bold step of offering its email customers unlimited storage space. It was a great concept, but Lee Gomes at the Wall Street Journal recently discovered that we should all start putting scare quotes around “unlimited.” It seems that if you leave too many messages in your Yahoo! Mail inbox, you start running into problems. Gomes got a mysterious error message, followed by several years worth of email disappearing. Yahoo! says it can get the messages back in a few hours (presumably restoring them from backup tapes). But this is still pretty embarrassing for Yahoo!, and it’s unfortunately all too common in the tech world. Companies love to advertise unlimited service when their systems aren’t actually set up for “unlimited” usage. Yahoo! shouldn’t advertise an unlimited service unless it’s actually unlimited, and somebody should have given some thought to what happens when people store a ton of messages in their inbox. Maybe there’s something to be said for Google and Microsoft’s approach: instead of claiming that your service is unlimited, pick limits that are high enough (2 GB in Microsoft’s case, 6 and constantly growing in Google’s) that most users will never have to worry about them, but still give the IT guys a specific number to aim for.
The state of the GOP in the states
We know how McCain’s doing. But how’s the GOP doing in the states? Politico:
At a time when the GOP presidential nominee will need more assistance than ever, a number of state Republican parties are struggling through troubled times, suffering from internal strife, poor fundraising, onerous debt, scandal or voting trends that are conspiring to relegate the local branches of the party to near-irrelevance.
In some of the largest, smallest, reddest and bluest states in the nation, many state Republican organizations are still reeling in the aftermath of the devastating 2006 election cycle, raising questions about how much grassroots help the state parties will be able to deliver to presumptive GOP nominee John McCain.
The state party woes are especially ill-timed since McCain will face a Democratic nominee who may be considerably better funded and organized, and since Republicans will be facing an energized Democratic party that is shattering primary election turnout records.
“If you go back to 2006 most people would agree that not only did we lose our brand, that we damaged our brand significantly,” Anuzis said. “We are clearly rebuilding.”
The story begins with the dire straights of NY & CA (NY Dems are within two seats of taking a state majority for the first time since 1934, and Schwarzenegger says CA is “dying at the box office") then moves on to Alaska, Arkansas, New Hampshire and Kansas.
There have been better times to be a Republican:
“After twelve years of being in power, you tend to get fat and lazy, and in some cases arrogant with respect to your positions,” said Saul Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan Republican party. “There is no doubt that we have had people who have gotten caught up in both illegal activities and immoral activities and none of that helps the party as a whole.
What was that about lipstick and pigs?
Kevin Drum is among those noting that McCain’s got a lot of credibility in the bank:
Let’s recap. Foreign policy cred lets him get away with wild howlers on foreign policy. Fiscal integrity cred lets him get away with outlandishly irresponsible economic plans. Anti-lobbyist cred lets him get away with pandering to lobbyists. Campaign finance reform cred lets him get away with gaming the campaign finance system. Straight talking cred lets him get away with brutally slandering Mitt Romney in the closing days of the Republican primary. Maverick uprightness cred allows him to get away with begging for endorsements from extremist religious leaders like John Hagee. “Man of conviction” cred allows him to get away with transparent flip-flopping so egregious it would make any other politician a laughingstock. Anti-torture cred allows him to get away with supporting torture as long as only the CIA does it.
Remind me again: where does all this cred come from? And what window do Democrats go to to get the same treatment the press gives McCain?
Apparently, Democrats are able to go to the internet bank that is the people. Much as I hate to quote the TELL ME SOMETHING I DON’T KNOW segment from The Chris Matthews Show, here goes:
MATTHEWS: Norah, TELL ME SOMETHING I DON’T KNOW.
Ms. O’DONNELL: John McCain’s campaign announced that they raised $11 million in February. Barack Obama raised 55 million in February. Hillary Clinton
raised 35 million in February. That’s mean the Democrats outraised John McCain nine to one.
MATTHEWS: And that augurs well for them in the future.
Tweety has spoken. McCain will be pitching Viagra by January. And these women don’t doubt it.