Tag Archive | "Opinion"

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A Senior’s swan song

Posted on 30 April 2008 by Robert Fafinski

It seemed like just yesterday I was a nasty kid with long, curly hair moving into O’Donnell Hall whose biggest concern was sneaking beer past the RAs. And now, heading into the Marine Corps as a Second Lieutenant, I can’t help but see all the changes my fellow seniors have gone through without thinking how much time has actually passed. Through all this time and growth we’ve had at Marquette, the only constant is that sometimes we love Marquette and sometimes we hate it.

For example, we hated the utter disconnect between the Marquette administration and the students regarding the Warrior-Gold-Golden Eagle debacle. We students hated that we got made fun of by our friends at other schools for the administration’s stupidity. Anyone who lived on campus during that time knows that the vaaaast majority of student and alumni wanted the Warrior nickname back; we respect that tradition. But Marquette was held hostage by liberals and acted with an utter disregard for common sense. And the final word on that argument is this: obviously the Warrior nickname was a positive, not racist, name for athletic teams. Why would you name something you respect and revere – a university’s nickname – using a tone meant to degrade (racism)?

But, on the flipside, there were always moments like the Marquette-Notre Dame game in January 2006 when Steve Novak hit the baseline buzzer-beater to win. And then walking out of the Bradley Center to party and realizing we were in the middle of a blizzard… At moments like that, we love Marquette and don’t care if we’re the Warrior-Gold-Golden Eagles or the Chimpanzees.

Another thing people tell me they hate about Marquette is the obvious liberal bias. From the speakers Marquette selects, to the opening of a Center for Peacemaking to the hiring of a Diversity provost, conservative students are often left in the dark, wondering if it’s even possible to be Catholic and conservative. And this is, largely, Marquette’s fault. When was the last time anybody from Marquette mentioned school choice, which should be our school’s number one social justice issue.

But, I think that the truth is this: Marquette students are mostly conservative and our conservatism is at odds with the intolerant climate of liberal academia. But we know that this exists and largely ignore it. I mean, how bad is a diversity forum if less than a dozen people show up? Overall, I think we should love the good things about Marquette and fight the bad things.

And to all my Marine Corps buddies on campus… Wow, from the craziness that was Spring Break 2008 in the Wisconsin Dells to the insanity that was our Bulldog workouts, it’s been fun. You all are some of the best, smartest guys I’ve ever met. America’s lucky to have you to defend her and I consider myself lucky to be able to serve in the Marine Corps with you.

So Marquette, after all the hate mail I’ve gotten over the last three years of having this column, it comes down to this: the United States has plenty of good universities, what it doesn’t have enough of are good universities that are truly Catholic. Don’t be afraid to be Catholic and have opinions not generally accepted in academia.

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Wanted: politicians with cajones

Posted on 30 April 2008 by Adam Covach

It is time you learned something about politicians: they are a smart breed. Every single one of them, even the ones usually referred to in the media as “idiots.” There is no way a common idiot can master the arts of both double-speak and selective truth telling to such a degree that they can influence the majority of the voters in their respective districts, states, or nations to get elected.

They usually don’t tell you what you need to hear, but instead convey what they want you to hear. These words have the magical ability to stir people up into an absolute flurry of passion that causes voters to open up their wallet or give up their time. However before you follow the battle cries of believable change (with no definite course of action) or join the revolution (what are we revolting against, by the way?), step back and do what most Americans fail to do on a daily basis – think.

In my opinion, two of the most hot button issues that should have been handled ten years ago are those of social security and our country’s health care. We hear promises that they shall be fixed but are given no results. Bias aside, I absolutely applaud President Bush for making an effort to try and fix social security. It does not matter if you appreciate the idea of privatized social security or not, he is the first politician in a long time who gave a concerted effort to reform this ailing system. His proposals caused a national stir with fierce proponents of both sides coming out of the wood work. But in the end, it did not matter. Senators and representatives alike bickered the bill apart and nothing happened.

Health care is in the same boat. Something needs to be done, but the realist in me knows nothing will be accomplished. As long as someone is willing to pay the bills (Uncle Sam or insurance companies), prices will continue to increase. This is great as long as you are either willing to live in poverty or are lucky enough to have full coverage through your job. The only people who get screwed are those who unfortunately fall into neither category.

People see the flaws. And the sad part is, anyone who tries to do anything about them is annihilated by either the media or the opposing party, often unable to win reelection afterwards. This brings me back to my original point of politicians being smart. Most of them know not to come anywhere near these issues if they want to keep their jobs. It is not that they do not have plans or proposals. No, any politician worth his salt has his own ideas for fixing these problems. Rather, these ideas are kept top secret, because they are waiting.“For what?” you might ask. It is simple really – for something to break. In this world, timing is everything. The day social security collapses, AARP and our generation will be willing to do pretty much anything to save the system. When it costs over a thousand dollars for a physical, socialized health care suddenly does not sound so bad, even if we all know it is a giant mistake.

This electoral season, don’t get carried away by rhetoric. Look for the few gems who will stand for what they believe in, even if they know it is hopeless. To President Bush, for standing by his social security plan, policies on Iraq and tax breaks, I salute you. To Ted Kennedy and John McCain for proposing a viable solution to immigration, I give you applause. Pray this electoral season God gives us brave men and women willing to take chances like these men have in the past few years, even if it is a long shot. Only then will true change occur.

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Let me smoke in peace and private

Posted on 30 April 2008 by Jack Jostes

A private business owner should maintain the right to make decisions for his/her own establishment, and consumers should make their personal decision as to whether they will enter.Governor Doyle’s proposed statewide smoking ban would strip business owners of their ability to decide whether or not they can permit smoking. This is a gross infringement on personal freedom.Yes, secondhand smoke is dangerous for everyone, and smoking should not be permitted in public places. But a bar is NOT a public place — it is private, and you choose to enter a bar. If a bar has smoking and you don’t like smoke, stop whining and go somewhere else. Done.

Uhle’s Pipe Shop owner, Jeff Steinbock, believes there are ulterior motives aside from the obvious health aspects.“The anti-smoking industry, and it is an industry, not a movement, is trying to take away owners right to make a decision,” he said. “Pharmaceutical companies are lobbying the government, because they will make money off of products people buy to try to quit smoking, such as gum, patches, etc.”

Ever come across an anti-smoking ad sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation? The RWJF “focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country,” according to their website, RWJF.org. Robert Wood Johnson is the founder of Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson is the manufacturer of pharmaceutical nicotine products, Nicoderm and Nicoderm CQ, through its subsidiary ALZA.No wonder the RWJF spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year so colleges and not-for-profit organizations like the American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, and American Heart Association can produce gross exaggerations about the effects of smoking. Then smokers can go to tobacco-less nicotine products, made by Johnson & Johnson.According to the history section of the RWJF website, “The philanthropy we practice seeks to be transformative—to change society and the lives of all Americans for the better.” Yeah — change the life of your bank account for the better.

Large amounts of methane gas are harmful to the environment. What’s next? A fart ban, and coinciding Johnson & Johnson Farts-Begone-Patches?

Don’t buy into the anti-smoking propaganda. Don’t let a smoking ban ruin local business and steal our ability to make personal choices.

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Listen to the man: Petraeus is on to something

Posted on 16 April 2008 by Robert Christensen

Last week, General Petraeus testified before the Senate about the current state of the Iraq War and provided his recommendations for the future. But before he had even arrived on Capitol Hill, Democrats were spreading negative messages about his report. Nancy Pelosi stated, “We don’t want to hear any glorification of what happened in Basra. We have to know the real ground truths of what is happening there, not put a shine on events.”

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama alongside many other Democrats, are committed to the idea that Iraq has always been a complete failure and have established themselves as candidates who will immediately pull out all troops to end American bloodshed. Because of this extreme stance, they are unable to accept any sort of successes that we have had in the region, but are actively looking and hoping for our failure in Iraq.

This is extremely frustrating for those who have seen significant gains over the past six months, with the number of deaths due to ethno sectarian violence falling significantly since last September. General Petraeus also cited other examples of progress in the region stating, “Iraqi forces have grown significantly since September, and over 540,000 individuals now serve in the Iraqi Security Forces. These units are bearing an increasing share of the burden, as evidenced by the fact that Iraqi security force losses have recently been three times our own.”

Ambassador Crocker went on to illustrate other gains when he stated, contrary to Pelosi’s beliefs, that “the Iraqi decision to combat these groups in Basra has major significance. First a Shia majority government has demonstrated its commitment to taking on criminals and extremists. Second, Iraqi security forces led these operations.”

Petraeus emphasized other positive events like the Iraq’s increasing revenue from oil as a sign of improvement. But while these gains have been significant, there is also much work to be done. In order for these gains to be truly realized, they must be sustained. Petraeus recommends continuing the surge drawdown until July, when he would undertake a 45-day evaluation, during which he would determine what further courses of action would be needed.

Iraq is an incredibly difficult situation, arguably one which the country should or should not have gotten involved in. But since we are involved, we have the duty as well as the opportunity to improve this region and make the rest of world safer. Iraq is the defining issue of our time; we should not simply cut our losses and give up, nor should we remain there indefinitely. We should constantly analyze the changing situation there, and determine how to continuously give more and more responsibility to the Iraqis. This has already begun and will continue to do so. But to make a rash decision, to end our involvement and give up, would be an utter disaster. Presidential candidate John McCain said it best: “To promise a withdrawal of our forces regardless of the consequences would constitute a failure of political and moral leadership.”

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MU as a tourist attraction, let’s get on that Catholic art

Posted on 10 October 2007 by Daniel Suhr

From time to time, students come upon an elderly couple or a gaggle of little old ladies strolling campus, and more than once I have offered directions to help them navigate from Gesu Church to the Joan of Arc Chapel. They are, in a term, “Catholic tourists,” people who like to look at churches. As Marquette ponders the future of the Haggerty Art Museum here on campus, as the founding director retires and a new man steps into his place, I suggest that Marquette work to capture more of the “Catholic tourist” market.

The new director of the Haggerty, Wally Mason, is reportedly an expert on “cutting-edge, contemporary art.” Frankly, I hope this interest does not dominate the Haggerty.

If you like contemporary art, you can go down the street to the Milwaukee Art Museum, which has a wide-ranging collection. You can go to the galleries of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in the Third Ward, which often features contemporary art. In other words, there are already plenty of contemporary art offerings in Milwaukee. So my suggestion is, let’s find our own niche in the Milwaukee area and even the Midwest. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s art columnist is right to say that “[t]he Haggerty is primed to redefine itself with a shift in leadership.”

Let’s take advantage of this unique moment and make something of it. Let us also find a niche that meshes well with our Marquette mission. Everything at this University should be mission-driven, including our art museum. As the Second Vatican Council and Pope Paul VI noted in the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy, art can play a special role in “turning men’s minds devoutly toward God.” There is a whole universe of religious and sacred art out there: let’s bring it here.

Moreover, many Marquette professors and students are researching religious people or eras marked by particular pieces of art or subjects of art.

Members of the Jesuit order often pursue art as a way to glorify God, and yes, even to prophetically advance social justice. Marquette could provide a valuable forum for Jesuit painters to receive the recognition for their work. When the “Saint Peter and the Vatican: the Legacy of the Popes” exhibit came to the Milwaukee Public Museum, parishes and schools from Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin organized buses to bring thousands of pilgrims to see the various pieces of sacred art and church history on display.

With the grandeur of Gesu, the unique beauty of Joan of Arc Chapel and the Basilica of Holy Hill Marian shrine just up the freeway, Marquette could become a Midwestern mecca for Catholic tourists. There is no reason the Haggerty Art Museum could not tap into that market in a very unique and special way, a way that complements our mission and identity.

In other words, we could become a relic road trip destination. How cool would that be?

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Why we should bomb New Orleans

Posted on 25 April 2007 by Josiah Garetson

Over a year and a half after Hurricane Katrina leveled the Gulf Coast region from New Orleans to Alabama, the cleanup effort and rebuilding process remains as daunting as ever. Nearly 250 students from Marquette and over one million students from around the nation gave up their spring breaks to help with Hurricane Relief. I was one of those students.

It may seem strange that the Gulf would still need volunteers this long after the hurricanes, but the fact is the devastation is as prolific now as it ever was. Instead of flooded cities, there are abandoned cities. Once thriving neighborhoods are now rust-stained graveyards of crumbling brick.

The first question is, why after this long, has the region not recovered? The media has all but given up on covering the story, but it is a story that nonetheless needs to be told. It is a story of mismanaged government finances, a lack of will and creativity and an economic disaster.

The first part of the equation is government financing. When the hurricane first hit New Orleans, the federal government pledged over one hundred billion dollars to rebuild the city. Most of that was dribbled through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and was wasted on useless projects. Massive amounts of government aid have done and will do nothing, though. Private sector volunteering has done much more good than the billions spent by Congress, but there is no unified coordination overseeing that work.

Economies are built from the ground up through supply and demand based private enterprise. Government intervention only creates dead weight loss in the economy. Ideally, a city grows naturally by following that model. But that entire process was short circuited by the hurricane.

Take New Orleans as the example. After Katrina hit, 90 percent of the population left the city. Today, only half have returned. That number is far lower in poorer neighborhoods. Developers aren’t rebuilding because there is no demand for new houses. And people are not coming back because there are no houses.

The houses that still exist in certain areas of the city are unlivable. Even if someone wanted to return to their own home, there is nothing left. The problem is that the population residing in “temporary housing” in Houston or in other shelter cities, still have to pay property tax and even mortgages on homes that may or may not be still standing.

A poignant moment for me came during a tour of New Orleans. We stopped at a corner with four houses. One of them was destroyed. The other was gutted, but no one had returned to fix it. Another was demolished. The fourth had a FEMA trailer sitting in front of it, the owner of the house trying to rebuild his life.

The picture highlights the lack of planning put forth by the city. New Orleans cannot survive if only one in four houses is rebuilt. It’s just not feasible, restoring all the electricity and water services

for such small density residential areas.

What the city should do is take extreme measures and bomb abandoned neighborhoods. Invoke eminent domain, pay the former residents fair market value by taking out federally subsidized loans and demolish miles and miles of New Orleans. Reduce the destroyed areas to flat land and start fresh. Make it a fireworks show even. Give it a catchy name like “New Orleans: Phoenix from the flood.” It’s a

developers dream come true.

This plan would free former residents from the burden of property taxes and mortgages. It puts choice back in the hands of the people, and allows for brand new low and medium density residential

neighborhoods. It would also create jobs.

Is this plan absurd? Of course. Will it ever happen? Of course not. It’s too politically incorrect and far too controversial. But it’s the kind of creative problem solving and solution finding not going on in the government. This is where you can help. Go on a mission trip this summer to the gulf coast with MARDI GRAS. Make a difference where the government has failed. This is your country too. Take responsibility for it.

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Find common ground on Catholic veto

Posted on 27 September 2006 by Daniel Suhr

Likely no issue is more controversial among the chattering class than when university leadership ought to exercise what I call “the Catholic veto.”

“The Catholic veto” is when senior administration decides an event, speaker, student group etc. is so offensive to Marquette’s character as a Catholic Jesuit institution that he, she, they or it should not be allowed on campus.

For instance, two years ago the Office of Student Development (OSD) denied an application for a student chapter of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay marriage advocacy group. However, OSD did permit a Gay-Straight Alliance student group on campus, despite a 1992 statement from Cardinal Pio Laghi, then prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education, explicitly opposing the creation of such groups.

This brings us to the present question of whether or not University President the Rev. Robert Wild, S.J., should have exercised “the Catholic veto” on the Les Aspin Center for Government, which honored U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., with its prestigious Democracy Award at a luncheon last week.

Opponents of the award recipient cite Rep. Lewis’ 100 percent pro-abortion voting record in the House and outspoken advocacy for gay marriage. One must ask how the award can be reconciled with the following excerpt from the U.S. Bishops’ instruction: “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions (emphasis in original).”

Others counter that the Les Aspin Center (and the Catholic Church more broadly) must be bipartisan in who it honors to maintain credibility and relevance. Strict rules for suitability obstruct dialogue, they argue. It should be no surprise that I adopt the former position and not the latter.

Dialogue and awards are two separate things, and two different standards ought to apply. Conversations like the October 2005 event with area Catholic leaders and Wisconsin elected officials are entirely appropriate— praiseworthy in fact. But prestigious university awards are different from academic lectures and dialogue sessions. Moreover, such awards can maintain a bipartisan nature by honoring moderate Democrats like former U.S. Rep. Jerry Kleczka or pro-life Democrats like Ambassador Tony Hall.

Looking forward, there is no doubt that deciding when to use “the Catholic veto” will often spark disagreements. Everyone involved in the debate says they are committed to dialogue. But no one seems to acknowledge that true dialogue requires both parties be consulted before decisions are made.

Right now, conservative and orthodox voices are forced to be critical and negative because we learn of the decisions after they have already been made and the invitations have been extended. A better model would be for university leadership to seek out respected, thoughtful members of the Marquette community who are known to be politically conservative and theologically orthodox and engage them in conversation about these issues. Otherwise, the status quo of confrontation will continue as both sides seek to faithfully express their deeply-held convictions.

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Illegal immigration argument flawed with hypocrisy

Posted on 27 April 2006 by Brent Downs

Today, the issue of illegal immigration has become a hot debate topic passionately analyzed by many people, especially our political leaders. Organizations both for and against it have commanded the attention of policy makers from both sides of the aisle.

In this debate it is particularly amusing to see liberals arguing in favor of illegal immigration. In doing so, they are often arguing against themselves.

Today many people complain about U.S. jobs being shipped overseas to places like China. Many believe signing the North American Free Trade Agreement was a mistake because it assisted in sending manufacturing jobs here over to Mexico. They correctly realize that in a market economy, businesses will tend to choose the lower priced labor if they are given the choice.

However, illegal immigrants come into our country and take jobs that pay less than the minimum wage. Many claim the country’s economy needs these low-paid workers, but this is a false assumption. Illegal immigration advocates will point out that the U.S. depends on illegal immigrants to do certain jobs, such as picking lettuce. But do they honestly think that if there were no illegal immigrants in the country there would not be any lettuce in stores? Of course not. Lettuce would be more expensive because of the increased labor costs of legal labor, but it wouldn’t disappear. It boils down to a supply and demand issue.

For a group of people who profess to be outraged that jobs are moved overseas because of lower wages, they shouldn’t be supporting the illegal allowance of people into our borders when it takes away jobs from Americans in their own country and immigrants who entered legally.

Another closely related issue supported by illegal immigration advocates is an increase of the minimum wage. Many on the left adore the idea of government-mandated wage rates to support their subjective view of a “just living standard.” By contending that our country needs cheap migrant workers, they are in essence arguing some jobs are not worth the minimum wage.

These advocates consistently argue illegal immigrants bring untold benefits to the American economy. But how can they, in good conscious, argue it is good and acceptable to allow illegal immigrants into the country to work at the same wages that they have declared a disgrace? They simultaneously have condemned international trade in which citizens of third world countries toil in poverty for wages they consider cruel and immoral.

It is especially ironic for liberals to fight for government-funded entitlements for illegal aliens, when they have essentially admitted that illegal immigrants provide much needed cheap labor for the American economy. Not only is it incongruous for the government to be giving money to people who have no legal right to be in the country, but doing so decreases the benefits of the cheap labor these workers are supposed to bring.

The irrationality of these positions makes it clear that principled arguments do not stand behind them. It is important to note that the Hispanic vote will become increasingly important in the coming years. Rather than acting on principle, liberals are acting on a desire to court and win their votes.

Conservatives are unable to escape from this problem as well. Given the fact an uncontrolled border is dangerous to this country, it is essential for the problem to be effectively addressed. In many cases, people who exploit illegal immigrants know far too well that they can not turn to government officials. It makes sense to develop a guest worker program that would keep track of and monitor employment opportunities. However, neither party will take any action because both are simply too afraid of losing Hispanic votes.

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