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The Best Post in the World: Daniel Larison

The best post in the world today is Daniel Larison, dismantling Ross Douthat. Douthat has whined in the times that the film The Green Zone condemns the Iraq occupation without appropriate "nuance." That's right. You read that correctly. Take it away, Dr. Larison:

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The Business of Universities

A lot of people who talk about reforming American universities like to say that they should be "run like a business." Those people seldom explain what they mean by that, because they take their "like a business" phrase as self-evident and self-explanatory. But American universities, even if they're non-profits, already run like businesses. In fact, they are businesses. The only question is what kind of businesses they should be.

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"Down the Republicans' Throats"

It's clearly an orchestrated Republican talking point that health care reform is being "rammed" (or jammed, or crammed) "down our throats." That talking point is silly and deceptive. (After bills passed the House and passed the Senate with a 60-vote majority, the vote to make the details of those bills match is undemocratic?) But I also admit, I find it hilarious.

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Eric Massa: Trial by Combat

After days of mounting sexual harasment revelations, Eric Massa has gone old school. As in 12th-century old school. First he was denying that he had any ethics problems, then he was admitting minor ethics problems, then he was resigning over those totally minor ethics problems, then he went on the attack. Those totally-no-big-deal ethics questions he was quitting Congress over? They were trumped up by the House Democratic leadership!

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Against the Crocodile: Amy Bishop, Joseph Stack, and the Press

Reading some of the news coverage about the murderers Amy Bishop and Joe Stack over the last two weeks, and some of the responses to them by internet commenters, I've had the nauseating feeling that Bishop and Stack have gotten what they want. Not what they purport to want, of course, not a promotion or a revolution, but the things that their violence was actually aimed at getting them. I've had a hard time putting my objection into clear words, so I'm going to resort to a story from history:

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Bipartisanship as Theater

So President Obama's health care summit didn't go anywhere it wasn't expected to go. The Democrats made noises about bipartisan compromise and asked for Republican input. The Republicans demanded the whole bill (or more accurately both the bills) be scrapped entirely. The Democrats got no concessions. No reasonable person would have expected anything else at this point. And Barack Obama, who is a fairly reasonable person, must have expected to play out much the way it did.

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Andrew Joseph Stack: Pauper with a Private Plane

So, Andrew Joseph Stack was angry at the IRS for his financial problems. So he got in his plane....

Stop. Stop it. Stop right there.

Do people in the media ever listen to themselves?

We have a person who, aside from being a murderer, feels he's being unjustly treated by the taxman. And that person, who considers his woes so unbearable that he's willing to take human life, has at least one personal aircraft. I know what you're thinking: The poor man. It's like something out of Steinbeck.

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Amy Bishop, Collegiality, and Debates About Tenure

Amy Bishop's murder of three colleagues, and attempt to murder three others, looks to be even less about tenure than I originally claimed ... but it's still university tenure that people want to talk about. It's become clear that Bishop would eventually have been fired under almost any conceivable system of review, and that Bishop would almost undoubtedly have responded violently to some other setback sooner or later.

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My Favorite Al Haig Story

My mother met Al Haig back in 1988, when he was under the impression that he was running for President. (Long before I was Doctor Cleveland I was the Granite State Kid, and in New Hampshire you can personally meet all the candidates, even the ones that other people won't remember were in the primaries.) Mom actually met nearly every primary candidate that year, Democratic and Republican, in a series of events sponsored by a local newspaper.

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Not About Tenure. Seriously.

Friday, at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, a biology professor named Amy Bishop murdered three of her colleagues and wounded three others. Two of the people she wounded are still in critical condition, and I offer my sincere hopes for their complete and swift recovery. The murderer had been denied tenure in the department, and media coverage has centered on the question of tenure. Tenure, that strange and exotic academic rite, is obviously the hook for this story, and the resulting coverage is appalling.


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Personal Information


Doctor Cleveland is a transparent pseudonym for Shakespeare scholar Jim Marino, who blogs about politics, education, literature, and the arts. His personal obsessions include live theater, Red Sox baseball, and powerful black coffee. He teaches college, somewhere along America's glorious North Coast. He has also been known to write about Shakespeare and early modern theater.

While he blogs about the general academic life, he does not discuss his current institution, its students, or its employees on the blog. Nor does he use any university resources to blog. Opinions expressed on the blog are not those of his employer, and do not reflect the content of his classes.


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