Chapman’s News & Ideas

Canon White & Tough Dealings in Iraq

photoCanon Andrew White, the Anglican “Vicar of Baghdad”, has seen his congregation shrink from 6000 to 160 since the Iraq War began in 2003. The Christian population of Baghdad “will never come back,” he fears, many of them now in camps in Northern Iraq’s Kurdish areas. Some Christians have made it to America.

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The Spectacle of a Political Committee Pulling its Campaign Spots

The very public decision of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to pulls its TV ads in Kentucky in support of Democrat Alice Lundergran Grimes’ campaign–because they now expect her to lose–is an example of the increasingly callous abuse of parties and candidates by pollsters and consultants. It stimulates the “horse race” coverage of elections and demoralizes the party faithful. And the cynical spectacle is not only limited to Kentucky.

Publicly pulling a fund-raising group’s financial support is also a cruel trick to play on candidates. Various political operatives help persuade a candidate to run, then feel no embarrassment later for undercutting the candidate publicly in the often-crucial weeks of a campaign. The candidate not only loses monetary backing, but he or she also is damaged by the “loser” label applied in the media by erstwhile friends.

Alice Lundergran Grimes is a good example. She is no match for the experience and political acumen of Sen. Mitch McConnell, whom she seeks to replace. But she also seems to have a surplus of humility in the presence of campaign consultants who no doubt have told her not to mention whom she voted for in the presidential races of 2008 and 2012. Several other candidates on the Democratic ticket nationally are taking the same strange stand and you can almost hear their advisors insisting that such a position is necessary in a country where President Obama is increasingly unpopular. Surely someone with common sense–including the candidates themselves–would have figured out that the ploy would backfire and that voters would decide that someone who refused to answer such an obvious question is not ready for the big time.

So taking such bad advice hurts the candidate. Then the fundraising pros take the money away–because the candidate is weaker now. Read More ›

Someone at Harvard Gets It

Was it really sixty some years ago that Harvard stood up against Sen. Joe McCarthy and and his exaggerated charges of communism on campuses? Today, Harvard has swung far to the other end of the ideological spectrum. For example, it has new policies that encourage tendentious prosecution of males who have sex with females without getting adequate permission. The whole idea is ludicrous. It’s hard enough to get students to use birth control, let alone to abstain. But to arrange some sort of sex contract? Get serious. (Some are suggesting that the new rules are such a turn-off that rampant sex on campus will have cold water thrown on it, so to speak. Not altogether a bad thing. But threatening prosecution for sex acts after the fact is a strange way to achieve moral reform.)

Some Harvard Law professors have, indeed, become serious and are objecting to Harvard’s new standards as extra-legal and ethically unsound. Their arguments make sense and, one hopes, will have influence on faculty at other universities.

But, meanwhile, why do universities think it is their business to adjudicate rape charges in the first place? We have good civil/criminal laws on the subject. A charge of rape is far too serious to be handled by appointed university boards–especially since many of them are kangaroo courts. Call the police, people! Read More ›

Venezuela’s Economic Crisis; Political Crisis to Follow?

Leftist Venezuela is joining leftist Argentina in a downward economic spiral brought on largely by the government. Economic mismanagement does tend to lead to economic distress, then to social and political turmoil. Two Harvard professors expect a Venezuela default on its debts.

Unlike Argentina, Venezuela is oil rich. But free-spenders have boosted inflation to about 65 percent. The government-run oil industry pumps two million barrels a day. But its spending habit needs world prices of $200 per barrel, while actual prices are declining toward the low 80’s.

The weakening global economy, combined with U.S. fracking and other oil development, are responsible for the falling oil prices. North Dakota and Texas will slow production, most likely, as will sheikdoms in the Middle East. Iran and Nigeria will feel the pain. But the countries that will hurt the most include Russia, whose economy is dominated by fossil fuels, and Venezuela, a nation that is falling deeper and deeper into the inflation trap and experiencing consumer scarcities brought on by government price controls and reckless spending. Read More ›

Detective Columbo of Chemistry: “I Don’t Understand Evolution”

A renowned chemist says he doesn’t “understand” evolution. What he means, he subsequently makes clear, is that Darwin’s theory doesn’t make sense to him. His humility, like that of Lt. Columbo in the famous TV detective series, covers a tough, analytical mind.

Dr. Tour

Dr. Tour

Dr. James Tour of Rice University, regarded as one of America’s 50 top scientists, is quoted by Christian News about his innocent-sounding discussions with fellow scientists in private. “‘Let me tell you what goes on in the back rooms of science—with National Academy members, with Nobel Prize winners,’ Tour stated. ‘I have sat with them, and when I get them alone, not in public—because it’s a scary thing, if you say what I just said—I say, ‘Do you understand all of this, where all of this came from, and how this happens?’

“The answer he inevitably receives, Tour explained, is: ‘no.’

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There’s No Place Like Home for Philanthropy

Charity Begins at Home might be the model of the concept of community foundations, as Rep. Hans Zeiger (Puyallup, WA) describes in Philanthropy Today. The thing about localized giving is that the donors tend to be less romantic and more practical. Local needs are obvious, as are the results of local charity. On the other hand, the “needs” of one’s alma mater or various grand foundation programs are more abstract. The odd thing is that big national foundations are among those sponsoring the emphasis on localism. Speaking of a paper prepared for a conference the Aspen Institute, Zeiger writes, “…(T)he Lumina Foundation and the Ford Foundation have undertaken recent new place-based initiatives. The California Endowment, the Kellogg Foundation, and the Read More ›

Putin Clowns Around

It is going to take Russia a long time to get over Vladimir Putin. Because the U.S.put sanctions on many of Putin’s cronies after Russia ran a thinly disguised invasion of Ukraine, Putin retaliated by, among other things, sending inspectors out to find health and safety problems at ………MacDonald’s restaurants. Now, having effectively closed them, his minions are going after the Ronald MacDonald House charity, speculating that its is of money laundering.

Now, it is sad that satire of the Leader is not allowed in Putin’s Russia, for this sort of antic would be a ripe target. But it is more pathetic than sad that the U.S. lacks satirists to take on this subject. Regardless, the attack on on Ronald MacDonald House is laughable.

Unfortunately, the laugh is on ordinary Russians that benefit from Ronald MacDonald House services to families of sick and injured children in hospitals. They are the victims of Mr. Putin’s strange anger. Read More ›

Politics of Education Necessary for Reform

Discovery Institute’s site on our new book on education is up online now: Every School, by Donald P. Nielsen. Don is a successful technology businessman whose volunteer service included the Seattle School Board, where he was President. From that experience and a great deal of study and travel, he has learned enough about what makes reform possible and has encapsulated it in what amounts to a very readable manual for executives, legislators and community leaders. Here is how to get to the new site and, while you are there, listen to my brief interview of Don about this book.

Bruce-&-DonWhat is crucial is to get broad political involvement in reform where it really counts, which, Don found out, is mainly at the state level, rather than at the local or national levels. Every School is published by Discovery Press, and you can be sure we will promote it as much as possible.

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Gilder’s Golden Rhapsody to Bitcoin

Discovery Sr. Fellow George Gilder, whose Knowledge and Power books continues its slow, but steady burn, thinks he has finished a first draft of Bitcoin and Gold, the working title of his next trade book. But already he is the darling of the Bitcoin fan club. He spoke on “Bitcoin and Gold” to an tech investor audience at a Coinagenda conference in Las Vegas last week and is scheduled to do more. He also is doing a monograph just on the gold subject. Earlier in Las Vegas, at this year’s FreedomFest, Gilder told Reason TV the highlights of his enthusiasm. Look here.