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Archive for October, 2006

Political Smackdown!

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Got those midterm election blues? Overwhelmed by the partisan bickering of petty political hacks? Ask your doctor about the Oregon Commentators Political Smackdown Issue, now available at this fine blog, and coming to boxes around campus next Thursday. In it you’ll find all the OC humor and analysis you’ve come to expect with a healthy dollop of pro-wrestling attitude, and the perfect cure for your apathy… at least untill you’re done reading, after that it’s up to you. Candyass.

As always, please enjoy the Commentator responsibly.

Let’s Get Something Straight

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

My mother just received a menacing call from a woman, asking for “the Niedermeyer who works for the Commentator.” This charming female then issued a long stream of invective and obscenity directed at myself with no actual criticism or complaint. This is completely unacceptable to me. If you have somthing to say about what you read in the Commentator or on this blog, please post it on this blog or send it to ocomment[at]uoregon.edu. If your message absoloutly has to be delivered verbally, look up my number on the student directory or thefacebook.com, but do not– I repeat, do not– call my family about me or my work for the Commentator, as any such further menacing will be an invitation to criminal prosecution. I understand that my contributions and editorial stance may be controversial at times, and I accept responsibility for that, but my family has no control over my actions in regard to this publication. Therefore, please direct your criticism, hate and rage to me and me only.

Thank you.

ASUO Senate Has Blessedly Short Meeting

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

Five weeks into the term, and the Student Senate has finally passed its first bill of the year. Championed by Senate President Hamilton and Vice President Rosenberg, Senate Bill 1 instituted an indexing system for Senate business, allowing easy referencing and access to Senate business. Senator Hamilton introduced the bill, saying that to her knowledge, the ASUO was one of the only University student governments in the country without such a system. The measure includes the addition of a Director of Information position, with the responsibility for filing the index, and making it available over the internet. Curiously, Senators Hamilton and Rosenberg will not be funding the new position through the PFC, but will rather pay the new Director of Information out of their own stipends. Although this is an admirable gesture of fiscal responsibility, and commitment to much-needed organization, there were a few glitches in the explanation of how this feature would work. “It’s like paying my housekeeper $25 an hour to type my schoolwork” explained Hamilton, “Wait, I guess that’s a bad example.” On Hamilton’s assurance of its legality the bill passed by a wide margin, although nominations for the position are still a week off.

In other news, Senator Guzman mentioned that 45 representatives of the UO would be attending the upcoming Northwest Student Leadership Conference. Oh yeah, and they will all be doing so on the incidental fee’s dime. 45 people… boy, we are going to have leadership just coming out of our ears, won’t we? Apparently we need it, because Senator Hamilton had to chide her colleagues into actually meeting once a week as committees. A number of committees have outstanding business, including the new surplus spending rules which are languishing in the rules committee.

The best news from yesterdays meeting was how short it was. This won’t last, as budget season is about to shift into full swing, ensuring several hours of restful slumber for this reporter, and a good half of the Senate in the upcoming Wednesdays. Speaking of the snoozing Senate, the undeclared seat (11) is still open, so I encourage anyone who wants to wake the senate up a little, but still doesn’t have a clue about their academic path to apply for it. God knows they need the help. (Disclaimer: The Surgeon General does not recommend ASUO Senate service for: people with heart conditions or high blood pressure, women who are pregnant, or people with faith in democracy, as exposure to the elevated excitement levels may cause serious health problems, and/or complete disillusionment.)

The People vs. Tyler Graf

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

Tired of Tyler Graf’s highly offensive and controversial ODE columns ruining everything that Ailee Slater helped build over the past few years? Well, there’s finally a Facebook group you can join to help get this “hegemonic heterosexist” fired from the respected op/ed institution that is Page 2 of the Emerald. (Current member count: 3. Come on people!) Here’s the money quote:

His editorials are useless, and should only be used to line wastepaper baskets or litterboxes. Basically, he has been convicted of multiple counts of douchebagery.

“Douchebagery”! How do you respond to that charge, Mr. Graf?

Only two questions are left:

  • Will a mere Facebook group be effective enough? The ODE braintrust might respond better to, say, an online petition.
  • Who should the Emerald replace Graf with? My early choice is Mr. Jonah Darwish. Darwish, the third member of the Fire Graf group, lists the following interests in his Facebook profile:

    Herb. Also, my dreads, my guitar, hippie babes, tye-dye, the Saturday Market, my hack, Ultimate, scoring free bagels, mellow conversation, mate (it’s like this Argentinian tea), the outdoors, Holy Cow, and veganism.

    Think of the potential columns!

Reefer Madness

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

I love the Emerald, and not just because they took Tgraf off our hands. Seriously, their news rules. Like this baby, appearing in todays issue, in which we learn of a sudden increase in on-campus toking. At first I thought this was just another “DPS much more effective since getting the power to issue citations” pieces that have appeared recently in the ‘Ol Dirty, but oh no. Instead, we are taken inside the seamy world of marijuana smokers, and the valiant defence waged by DPS against this menace.

It turns out, that DPS’s new power is not responsible for the spike in “pot busts,” it’s fact that more people are smoking marijuana more than ever before. With 46 “busts” already this term, DPS Top “Cop” Tom Hicks admitted a crisis, saying “The marijuana use is off the charts.” Apparently, DPS logs tell the Emerald that most of the reported use happens at Hayward Field and Hamilton Complex. It’s hard to tell if this is a joke or not… let me just say, surely this is not where the majority of this behavior actually happens.

One of the best insights into the clouded mind of the marijuana smoker comes from the enigmatically identified “University Officials.” “If toking up with friends becomes habitual in high school, the behavior tends to continue into college, where students live without parents’ noses sniffing in their business,” said the incognito administrator(s), who may well have followed up with “that’s where we come in.”

Several University officials actually went on the record, and upon reading the story probably wished they hadn’t. “Tobacco-fighting efforts geared toward teens may now be escalating teen pot smoking” is what Director of Student Life. Laura Blake Jones, reportedly said, apparently with no accompanying evidence. Michael Eyster, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs is quoted as saying that he doesn’t know if the movie “Animal House,” which depicts rambunctious college behavior partially filmed on the University campus, influenced students’ perceptions of the University’s party scene, but that some students begin fall term expecting lax rules toward drinking and drugs. Stunning analysis of the situation, sir.
There is one silver lining to this thick, pungent cloud… basic constitutional rights still apply to all students! Eyster confirmed that 4th amendment rights can not be violated, even if you are smoking a big fatty in your dorm room. You don’t have to break the seal on your hotbox just for the DPS officer at the door, according to Eyster, but they’ll still find your records and slap you on the wrist over at Student Judicial Affairs. Also, acccording Student Affairs, Residence Hall Assistants (RA’s) cannot confiscate your weed, no matter how much of a power trip they happen to be on… so next time your RA shakes you down, tell him where to stick it, and tell him Sudsy sent ya.

ASUO Senate Ponders What To Waste $1 Million On

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

In today’s ODE there’s a story about the $1 million in surplus incidental fees that the Senate now has in its possession. There’s probably plenty to talk about throughout the article, but I’d like to focus on a quote near the end:

[Sen. Jonathan] Rosenberg said the committee wants students to know about the funds.

“It’s not that we have a lot of money as the Student Senate,” he said. “We have a lot of money as students. The Student Senate, more than anything, wants student input on how to spend this money.”

I rarely attempt to speak on behalf of the majority of the UO student population, but in this case I will:

We want our money back.

If there currently isn’t a mechanism by which to reimburse students, then find a way to make it happen. Yes, even if it requires a constitutional amendment or referendum. If you ask the students of the UO directly what they’d like done, a vast majority will tell you that they’d just like their money back.

We don’t want it spent on bike racks or park benches memorializing the incredible sacrifices made by the brave men and women of the 2006-2007 ASUO Senate. We don’t want Pegasus Pizza and Track Town to feed every student union member for a year. We just want some of what you’ve taken from us given back.

And the thing is, the people who would benefit most from getting ~$50 back are those who have trouble affording tuition, books, food, rent, and all of the other expenses associated with going to college. The Senate would actually be helping people who need help.

So please, for the sake of the University and your own consciences, give a refund back to us students.

The Libertarian Party: Drugs, Cleavage, and Election Day Failure

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

So in case anyone hasn’t been following the Alabama Governor’s race…

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Loretta Nall, the Libertarian Party’s write-in candidate for governor of Alabama, is campaigning on her cleavage and hoping that voters will eventually focus on her platform.

“It started out as a joke, but it blew up into something huge,” said Nall, a 32-year-old with dyed blond hair.

Her campaign is offering T-shirts and marijuana stash boxes adorned with a photo of her with a plunging neckline and the words: “More of these boobs.” Below that are pictures of other candidates for governor – including Republican incumbent Bob Riley and Democratic Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley – and the words: “And less of these boobs.”

The rest of the AP story can be found here. Ms. Nall’s website, which has already given me at least one seizure, is here.

Oh and by the way, she doesn’t wear panties.

Upgrade Your Web Browser, Cletus

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

Mozilla Firefox, the only web browser you should be using on Windows, has hit version 2.0. Get the Windows version here and Mac version here. The new feature most users will actually care about is in-line spell checking, but there are a significant number of small-yet-welcome additions and changes.

And for those who don’t value computer security, Microsoft has recently released Internet Explorer 7. IE 7 features such groundbreaking innovations as tabbed browsing (ooh!), RSS feed support (aah!), and a built-in search box (¡increíble!).

M. Dennis Moore, Back Again!

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

Remember our good friend, Mr. M. Dennis Moore? Well he’s back, and this time he has three statements “in favor” of Measure 43 in the 2006 Oregon Voters’ Pamphlet. Are they crude? Well, yeah:

Every act of masturbation kills up to 500 million unborn lives. Every sperm is sacred! Just like abortion, masturbation murders soulless cells. There should be parental notification prior to masturbation.

Are they a juvenile abuse of the voters guide? Probably:

Behold! Electoral theology prepares the way for a state god! We’ve got the beaver for a state animal. Wouldn’t it be cool to elect our very own Oregon state god?

But are they hilarious in a crude, juvenile way? Hell yes:

The Bible says that children who fail to honor their parents should be stoned to death (Exodus 21:17). Implementing biblical law as Oregon public policy could effectively eliminate teenage abortion, appendectomy, shaving, and sperm-murder.

His emphasis, not mine. Anyway, consider this another insightful abortion debate open thread!

Where Are the Negative Ads?

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

Anyone who’s been watching television in Oregon recently has probably seen some of the many negative campaign ads being aired. What’s strange, however, is that neither Ted Kulongoski nor Vicki Walker have posted negative ads on their websites. For instance, there’s no sign Kulongoski’s ‘Leadership’ ad in the Ted TV section of his website, despite the fact that it’s been on TV constantly over the past week or two. The same applies to Walker, whose ad linking Torrey to President Bush is nowhere to be found on her campaign website. The targeted Republicans are less shy in making their attack ads available. Torrey’s website proudly displays anti-Walker ads, and Saxton has made Kulongoski’s record as Governor the primary focus of his campaign.

Interestingly, congressman and garden gnome stand-in Peter DeFazio breaks with his fellow incumbent Democrats and actually makes anti-Feldkamp available on his website. And Feldkamp, of course, has made the “DeFazio Bobble Head” the subject of two of his three ads, all of which are available online.

And no Commentator post on this subject would be complete without the obligatory link to Reason’s excellent piece on why Attack Ads Are Good for You, in which David Mark provides an argument as to why every candidate should feature their attack ads front-and-center.

The Frohnmayer Fandango

Saturday, October 21st, 2006

The Emerald reports that ethical complaints has been brought by Economics professor William Harbaugh against University president Dave (Das Frohn) Frohnmayer. The complaints (online thanks to Willamette Week) were filed with the Oregon Bar Association, and the Oregon Government Standards and Practices Commission, which are now investigating Frohnmayer, according to a number of news outlets. The Emeralds Parker Howell has spilled seven (online) pages worth of ink on the undeniably convoluted affair, a feat we will not attempt to duplicate… Here are the basics:

In 2005 Frohnmayer sold his home on Baker Boulevard for $405,000, and purchased a house on Spyglass Drive using a 1031 in-kind property exchange, allowing him to avoid paying taxes on the Baker revenue untill the Spyglass property is sold. This was possible because both homes were leased out as a source of income, due to the fact that the Frohnmayers are contractually obligated to live in McMorran house, the White House of the UO. The ethical problems are as follows.
1-Frohnmayer did not disclose the sale on his annual financial report because he felt that as his private residence, the Baker house sale fit the exemption on disclosure of transactions involving private residences. This becomes problematic because the McMorran house is his official residence, he is registered to vote there, his resume lists it, etc. Therefore, the deal involved investment property and should have been disclosed.
2- The Spyglass house was sold to the Frohnmayers by the Williams family of the recently purchased by the university Williams Bakery. Harbaughs complaint raises the spectre of a conflict of interest there, although the Williams’ have since claimed to have had no financial interest in the Bakery sale.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the whole affair, is that Harbaugh claims to have brought the complaint due to Johnson Halls feet-dragging over affirmative action policy records Harbaugh wanted to challenge the campus diversity plan. “I concluded that this was a pattern of refusing to provide basic information about public issues, so that’s when I filed the complaint” was Harbaughs explanation in the Emerald. I have an immense amount of respect for Frohnmayer, and this is the first ethical complaint brought against him in his long, distinguished career. Overlooking the disclosure seems to have been a pretty clear mistake, but hardly an earth-shattering one. Rumors of conflict of interest swirl around nearly every land purchase the University makes, and the Williams bakery angle in this whole affair simply fuels the appearance of cronyism. Although none of this will destroy Das Frohns formidable career, it is a smudge on an otherwise spotless resume.

To Commentariat past and present:

Friday, October 20th, 2006

Come celebrate your publisher’s 22nd birthday! I will be hosting you all at my house with some papa murphy’s and exotic beverages. 465 E14th – call me or Ted for directions. Come about 8pm.

ASUO Breaking News 10/18

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Executive Clarifies Position On OMB Funding
In a memo sent to ASUO Senators and campus media outlets, the Executive stated that “while we regret not informing the leadership of the Marching Band, we stand by our belief that the incidental fee is not the appropriate source of OMB funding.” The memo went on to outline the history of OMB funding, pointing out that the band was originally funded by the Athletic Department, before a budget crisis forced the ASUO to bail it out. The argument goes that now students need help, and the AD is one of the most profitable in the nation, so the OMB should once again be funded by Athletic Department dollars. This makes quite a bit of sense, but let us hope that this move is not simply the lip service to fiscal responsibility that allows better connected student groups to get away with unaccountable spending. One hopes that in the future, the Executive will be a little more open and forthcoming about such projects, to avoid situations such as this where affected groups and media are left to speculate about the effects of poorly articulated policy.

Student Retreat Policy Cut
This one is well covered in ‘Ol Dirty. Clearly the “smooth, cocky motherfuckers” scenario of a few years back has slipped gently from the institutional memory of the ASUO. Why the Executive would want to put itself at risk of another scandal, just to eliminate “extra paperwork” is beyond me. Hell, I hate red tape as much as the next guy, but when you are funding college kids’ retreats to places with hot tubs etc, you damn well have to plan on the majority breaking substance abuse policies, and at least a few getting caught. This one will come back to haunt you…

ASUO Senate Meetings are Boring
Or maybe slightly less so in the future… releases of food funds under $300 dollars no longer have to be voted on by the Senate. To paraphrase the two best arguments for this move, Senate meetings will be shorter, and they really weren’t providing any oversight anyway. The senate also approved guidelines for spending the surplus funds (i.e. the money that should really be refunded to students.) As one Senator put it, “We have sooo much money… I mean, last year it was a lot, but this year it’s even more…” Apparently the surplus this year is $240,000, compared to a $70,000 average surplus. The guidelines include requirement for a 2/3rds vote on any spending, and a requirement for fundraising efforts for groups making requests. No attempt was made to actually reduce the incidental fee.

Other highlights of last nights Senate meeting: The use of the phrase “stranger-danger,” Senator Daniels rocking the Sudsy Tee (big ups!), the revelation that the PFC has yet to meet in full committee, the spirited game of “musical committee seats,” the line “we are here to make the important decisions,” and the undisputed election of Senator McKenzie for Senate treasurer due to the fact that his opponent found a (real?) job.

And then they came for the Dave Barry quotes…

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

Reason’s Hit and Run has a post up about how a “patently offensive” Dave Barry quote is no longer allowed on a PhD student’s office door at Marquette University. No surprises there: it’s a University. And as everyone who’s been following the Commentator for a past few years knows, words (and jokes in particular) are a potentially hurtful force in academia that must be vetted by secretly appointed committees before being uttered, posted, printed, or (if it were only possible,) thought.

But what I find funny is that the man leading the crusade against the posting of the heretical Barry quote, Philosophy Department Chair James B. South, is on the editorial board of Slayage: The International Online Journal of Buffy Studies. He even teaches a course for the honors program on Buffy. And people dare call Philosophy a “soft science”!

Anyway, the blasphemous Barry quote is after the jump. You know, to protect your tiny little brains from being polluted.

(more…)

‘Prohibition II’

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

I’ve really been out of the loop lately on national news, but the recent effective ban on online poker is the latest in a long list of despicable, bipartisan actions on the part of the 109th Congress and President Bush. Anyway, I’ll allow a far better writer than myself explain what a horrendous piece of legislation this is. From old school (read: actual) conservative George F. Will:

It is an iron law: When government uses laws, tariffs and regulations to restrict the choices of Americans, ostensibly for their own good, someone is going to make money from the paternalism. One of the big winners from the government’s action against online gambling will be the state governments that are America’s most relentless promoters of gambling. Forty-eight states (all but Hawaii and Utah) have some form of legalized gambling. Forty-two states have lottery monopolies. Thirty-four states rake in part of the take from casino gambling, slot machines or video poker.

The new law actually legalizes online betting on horse racing, Internet state lotteries and some fantasy sports. The horse-racing industry is a powerful interest. The solidarity of the political class prevents the federal officials from interfering with state officials’ lucrative gambling. And woe unto the politicians who get between a sports fan and his fun.

[...]

Prohibition I was a porous wall between Americans and their martinis, giving rise to bad gin supplied by bad people. Prohibition II will provoke imaginative evasions as the market supplies what gamblers will demand—payment methods beyond the reach of Congress.

But governments and sundry busybodies seem affronted by the Internet, as they are by any unregulated sphere of life. The speech police are itching to bring bloggers under campaign-finance laws that control the quantity, content and timing of political discourse. And now, by banning a particular behavior—the entertainment some people choose, using their own money—government has advanced its mother-hen agenda of putting a saddle and bridle on the Internet.

And now the superb Radley Balko on potential political fallout:

At risk of falling victim to the pundit’s fallacy, I think this is going to come back to bite Frist and the GOP. Think about it. Over the last week, some 10-15 million Americans who play online poker logged on to their favorite poker sites, only to get a message telling them that, thanks to the U.S. Congress, they’re no longer allowed to play. The GOP just politicized a rather large group of people who heretofore were rather apolitical. And they skew rather wealthy.

Of course, we run into the same old problem: Are the Democrats any better? They ought to be. If they were smart, they’d carry this issue into the home stretch, holding it out as an example of a Republican Party that doesn’t give a damn about indidual rights, and has nothing but contempt for the “leaves us alone” crowd. And they’d position themselves as an alternative, at least when it comes to matters of “what you do in your own home is your own business.” It’s a winner. The people who passionately believe in an online gambling ban weren’t going to vote for them any way. And in any case, it’s a rather small group of people to begin with. Most conservatives are opposed to this bill.

Here are a list of House votes on the bill. The Oregon representatives who voted aye were Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Darlene Hooley, Greg Walden, and David Wu. Vote accordingly.