July 22, 2006

Southern Baptist fundamentalism drives away colleges and universities

Kentucky’s Georgetown College is the latest to bolt , in this case over a demand by the head of the Kentucky Baptist Convention that it hire a biblical literalist in the religion department.

Kentucky may not quite be Alabama, but it’s not the most liberal area of the country, and is probably about dead-center among areas with a fairly large Southern Baptist Convention presence. And, Georgetown College is not a major university, unlike former SBC-affiliated

Here’s the bottom line, in many ways:
David W. Key, director of Baptist Studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory, put it more starkly. “The real underlying issue is that fundamentalism in the Southern Baptist form is incompatible with higher education,’’ Professor Key said. “In fundamentalism, you have all the truths. In education, you’re searching for truths.’”

Related issues include Georgetown wanting to establish a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, and the requirements of that group re academic freedom.

But, it’s more than academic freedom, it’s political freedom in general.
“We don’t want to cut our ties,’’ said R. Alton Lacey, president of Missouri Baptist University, which has been fighting the Missouri Baptist Convention in court since 2002 over who controls the university’s board. “We just don’t want the conventions politicizing our boards.’’

Of course, anybody who’s been involved with collegiate instruction or governance knows that academic politics can get pretty fierce and draw out the long knives, whether at state colleges, state universities, secular colleges and universities, or affiliated or nonaffiliated religious schools.

July 21, 2006

East and West Baghdad? Nice idea; not at all realistic

If it sounds like the Cold War, circa 1950s and later, at least one unnamed Iraqi official is talking up the division of Baghdad as part of solving, or at least putting a lid on, the growing Iraqi civil war.
“There is serious talk of Baghdad being divided into east and west,” said (a senior Iraqi government official), who has long been a proponent of the present government's objectives. “We are extremely worried.”

While it might seem a realistic solution, implementing it sounds highly unrealistic. Baghdad 2006 is NOT Berlin 1961. The Berlin Wall was built entirely inside East German territory; we made some fuss, but let it go when all basic transit rights to/from West Berlin/West Germany were left unchecked.

Building a wall in the midst of sectarian violence is another thing. The only way it could possibly be done is if U.S. troops patrolled the wall construction area, meter by meter, with massive force, while it was being built.

Plus, the analogy fails in another way. The U.S. and U.S.S.R. were relatively sane countries on both sides, with a vested interest in preserving civilization.

In Baghdad right now, there’s little civilization to be preserved, little interest in doing so, probably little agreement between the most fervent Shi’a and Sunni on what is most worthy of protecting — beyond basic security — and so forth.

July 19, 2006

Armando corporate shill watch

So, Wal-Mart has hired former Sierra president and “death of environmentalism” prophet Adam Werbach as a consultant despite pleas that he not lend his name to WallyWorld’s attempted greenwashing of his image.

I guess the real phrase should have been, “the death of Adam Werbach’s principles.” Didn’t he claim that environmentalism needed to be part of a broader coalition? And now, he’s going to work for the same Wally-World that will continue to trash unions, continue to battle claims of discrimination, and so forth.

On one hand, the greening of Wally-World appears to be working. Environmental Defense is planning on opening an office in the vicinity of Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

On the other hand, the idea that his will be a “boost to employee morale,” if seriously believed by Wal-Mart — a boost while not addressing those other issues — is off-putting to say the least.

Armando, did you get a retainer for this idea?

British Open preview blogging

A lot of speculation says that Phil Mickelson can’t win the British, by pointing at his previous results and his American-geared style of play. However, Royal Liverpool is closer in design to American courses than most of those on the regular Open rota. Plus, the weather forecast seems to call for fairly light winds, overall, through the four days.

So, no matter what you think about Phil the person (and I’m of a mind with people like David Duval, who, without naming names, seemed to say earlier this week that Phil is a big, fat phony), this could be his year for the Open. At least, it could be more his year than any year before.

Tiger Woods, meanwhile, has the rap that he can’t win outside of St. Andrews. And, looking at his Open record, the rap is well-deserved.

That said, many of the arguments in favor of Phil favor him, too.

Meanwhile, putting together a quietly strong year, Vijay Singh has one win and 10 Top 10s on the PGA Tour this year. Could this finally be his year to overcome indifferent play at previous Opens? He has incentive, of course; a third different major and fourth overall at his age would raise him another level among golfers of all time. And, this year, with a second win and a major, it would make Player of the Year a horserace.

Luke Donald’s my favorite among the British/Irish contingent. Before last year, Monty didn’t do that well in the Open; in fact, outside of Lawrie’s win at Carnoustie, that’s been the theme for many a year for golfers from the isles.

Internationally, besides Vijay, look out for Ernie Els. He’s played the Open fairly well several years in a row. I’m sure he’d love to add another title to his list.

July 18, 2006

Media consolidation gets worrisome

Any time I hear the phrase “Carlyle Group buying newspapers” I want to reach for Nazi playright Hanns Jost’s “every time I hear the word culture” gun.

Bush personally obstructs justice

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales admitted in Senate questioning that President Bush personally blocked Justice Department lawyers from investigating the legality of National Security Agency warrantless eavesdropping on Americans.

Hey, Nancy Pelosi, you want to rethink that “no impeachment” pledge if you become Speaker?

July 16, 2006

Russia and WTO membership -- why is it still outside?

I have never understood why we continually block Russian entry to the World Trade Organization.

Their human rights record? Then why is China in, and why was it admitted several years ago?

Problems with copyright issues and pirated goods? Please. Beijing is the rankest of offenders.

Russian agricultural barriers? Japan has been in the WTO for how long?