The idea of anti-Asian bias in college admissions is gaining further traction in mainstream media. This article in the Boston Globe perpetuates the rather simplistic idea that equates higher mean SAT scores for Asian applicants with an “Asian Ceiling” that discriminates against Asian American students.
The article draws on Espenshade’s study, which I reviewed last year, and which can lead to an oversimplification (dare I say “white-washing) of the situation. At least my friend Oiyan Poon gets it right:
“When you look at the private Ivy Leagues, some of them are looking at Asian-American applicants with a different eye than they are white applicants,’’ says Oiyan Poon, the 2007 president of the University of California Students Association. “I do strongly believe in diversity, but I don’t agree with increasing white numbers over historically oppressed populations like Asian-Americans, a group that has been denied civil rights and property rights.’’ But Poon, now a research associate at the University of Massachusetts Boston, warns that there are downsides to having huge numbers of Asian-Americans on a campus.
In California, where passage of a 1996 referendum banned government institutions from discriminating on the basis of race, Asians make up about 40 percent of public university students, though they account for only 13 percent of residents. “Some Asian-American students feel that they lost something by going to school at a place where almost half of their classmates look like themselves – a campus like UCLA. The students said they didn’t feel as well prepared in intercultural skills for the real world.’’
Oh yeah, and is anyone else creeped out that there was a seminar at a national college admissions conference that was titled, in all earnestness, “Too Asian?”
KEITH OLBERMANN: In 30 seconds, what do we do to fix it [our political system]?
MARKOS MOULITSAS: Well, our system is broken. Mostly the Senate. In 30 seconds I can do it quicker: kill the filibuster. And that’s something I hope Democrats start looking into.
Oh, has it only been a five years since Democrats were decrying the Republican threat of invoking the “nuclear option” in response to Bush’s Supreme Court nominations? Now, all of a sudden, Democratic pundits are the ones criticizing the use of the filibuster.
Daily Kos afficionados might applaud Moulitsas’ comment. And yes, I support healthcare reform, and am frustrated by the slow lingering death of the various healthcare reform proposals in Congress — many of them being stymied by Republicans. And yes, it seems unfair that 40 committed senators (or 41, as the case may be) can stop 60 senators in their tracks with one well-placed filibuster.
But, it’s incredibly short-sided for Moulitsas and other left-wingers to blame the failure of healthcare reform on the mere existence of the filibuster rule.
The filibuster has always existed as a desperate measure intended to help avoid a simple “majority rules” mentality in the Senate. Having a majority of votes in the Senate grants the ruling party a significant advantage over the minority party, yet the purpose of the Senate — more so than the House — is to ensure careful debate over any and all pieces of legislation. Without the filibuster, the party that holds the most votes could simply force through whatever piece of legislation they would like, and the representatives of the minority party are little more than seat-warmers. The filbuster exists in case the members of the majority party lose their mind, and want to push through a bill without any adequate debate from the members of the minority party; in other words, the filibuster exists to ensure that the little guy can be heard.
Yet, a cloture vote — which requires 60 votes to end a filibuster — is not the only way to end a filibuster. Indeed, some of the most famous filibusters in history ended because the guy talking for 22 hours straight got sleepy or needed to pee — a person simply can’t stand and talk in one place for more than 24 hours.
If we want to pass healthcare reform (or any piece of critical legislation), we need only look to history. Strom Thurmond’s filibuster of the Civil Rights Act didn’t prevent its passage in 1965. Senator Huey Long’s 15 hour filibuster of the Glass-Steagall Banking Act didn’t stop banking reform.
So, I say this: if Republicans want to filibuster healthcare reform, let them. Let the Republicans draw straws to pick a representative amongst them to pee in Gatorade bottles and down throat lozenges to speak for 20 hours on why Americans don’t need healthcare. If they have a point — which they don’t — than voters across the country will be able to hear it for themselves.
But when it’s clear that the Republicans don’t have a point, let’s see whether voters will vote in favour of the party that wants to ensure that the sick get the live-saving treatment they deserve, or whether they will vote back into office the guys who actually gridlocked Washington for 24 hours trying to stop doctors from treating patients.
But let’s end this dumb talk over getting rid of the filibuster. It comes off as petty and myopic. Moulitsas’ comment comes from the same partisan bickering that has characterized the last two decades in Washington. I guarantee that if a Republican majority were elected to Congress tomorrow, we would find Moulitsas on Rachel Maddow tomorrow night defending the filibuster as a noble and time-honoured political tradition.
As you can see from the Pubmed abstract, the 1998 Wakefield et al. paper attracted heavy criticism and comment, sparking a heated debate in the published literature. Walker-Smith’s lab (out of which the original 1998 paper was published) issued a partial retraction in 2004, clarifying that the original paper was not intended to demonstrate a causal link between measles vaccine and autism. Furthermore, manypapers published by other investigators subsequent to Wakefield et al. demonstrated findings contradicting Wakefield’s initial causal conclusion — yet, in the popular media, Wakefield et al’s paper became a fundamental piece of “evidence” in the growing anti-vaccination hysteria that has taken the country by storm over the last decade.
Following the judgment of the UK General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Panel on Jan 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al1 are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation.2 In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were “consecutively referred” and that investigations were “approved” by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.
Basically, here’s what happened — recently, the UK General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Panel met to discuss and review the investigative and ethical practices of the original 1998 Wakefield et al. paper. The panel found that, contrary to earlier reports, the study used shady and unethical practices for recruiting patients and collecting data, including Wakefield paying children for their blood samples at his son’s birthday party.
For those of you who don’t know, all human studies (like all animal studies) undergo a rigorous review prior to implementation to ensure that patient safety and scientific rigor are maintained. Very rarely does an investigator implement such poor scientific method that they invalidate their own findings, yet it turns out that Wakefield was one of these scientists.
Hopefully, this full retraction will begin to dismantle the rampant anti-vaccination hysteria we’ve seen in association with flu vaccines, chicken pox vaccines, and the latest H1N1 vaccine. I find parents’ fear of vaccination to be anti-intellectual at its core; they fear what they don’t understand.
But let’s get it straight: vaccines don’t hurt you, they help you. Vaccines can save your child’s life, and they sure as heck won’t give your kid autism. Go get your kid vaccinated already; when your kid gets sick, it’s already too late.
I’m a huge believer of mass action. One of the major purposes of this blog was to try and encourage myself, and my readers, to stayinvolved — to be more than just an armchair activist. I’m one of those bright-eyed, bushy-tailed true believers who thinks we’re here on this planet to make a difference (yeah, I know, cue the beads, braids, and Beatles music). Writing, for me, is a daily act of raising awareness, stimulating discussion, and (hopefully) changing minds, but nothing beats hitting the streets, participating in a letter-writing or phone-banking campaign, or donating money.
Sure, each individual action seems tiny and pointless, but if a whole bunch of people do just a little bit… whoa!
A couple of days ago, I encouragedreaders to help in the relief efforts in Haiti in the wake of a massive earthquake that demolished Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas. One of the primary options was to donate via text message — sending the word “HAITI” to 90999 on your cellphone would send a $10 donation to the Red Cross International Relief Fund (appearing on your next monthly phone bill).
$10 million dollars. Pardon my French, but holy fuckin’ shit.
Or, put another way — naive romantic idealists: 1, skeptics and cynics: 0.
Here’s my re-post of how you can help raise the next $10 million:
Donate $10 to the American Red Cross International Relief Fund. You can donate online, or specify your donation to the disaster relief in Haiti by texting “HAITI” to 90999 on your cell phone. If you choose the texting option, you are making a one-time donation via mGive.com, which directs 100% of your donation to the American Red Cross. The amount will appear on your next cellphone bill. If you would like to publicize this option on your blog, feel free to use this button I made for my site.
I’ve heard through Facebook that Partners in Health has less overhead than the American Red Cross, so if you’re worried about how much of your donated money goes to Haiti versus to administrative efforts, try donating to PIH.
The New York Times has also compiled a list of organizations participating in relief efforts in Haiti.