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June 12, 2006 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-06-12

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4

4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, June 12, 2006
Ulie diwa n t g

FROM THE DAILY

JEREMY DAVIDSON
Editor in Chief

IMRAN SYED
Editorial Page Editor

JEFFREY BLOOMER
Managing Editor

Coulter's wayward church
Author's remarks inflammatory, but hardly alone

EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890.
420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other
signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their author.
Editorial Board Members: Amanda Andrade, Emily Beam,
Jared Goldberg, Theresa Kennelly, Christopher Zbrozek
FROM THE DAILY
Funding guaranteed
K46 initiative logical for state's ailing economy

T f you had one guess as to who wrote a
new book titled "Godless: The Church
of Liberalism," what would that guess
be? Yep - it's that hostile and embittered
poster girl of everything that is wrong with
present-day political dialogue, Ann Coulter.
Her latest addition to the literary hotspot
that has become the "liberals-hate-our-
freedom" section of your local bookstore
will no doubt build upon divisive, polar-
izing and irrational storylines outlined in
previous books from the far right. But as if
questioning the patriotism of fellow Ameri-
cans based on their political ideology isn't
enough, Coulter goes the extra mile in her
new book by actually decrying widows of
the men who died on Sept. 11, criticizing
them for taking advantage of their hus-
bands' deaths.
In an interview with Matt Lauer on The
Today Show, Coulter, the barefaced, angry
neo-con commentator we're sad to report is
an alum of the University's School of Law,
pulled no punches and actually went even fur-
ther in her criticisms of the widows. Discuss-
ing a passage from her book that brands them
"self-obsessed" women "lionized on TV and
in articles about them, reveling in their status
as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzies,'
it failed to dawn on poor Ms. Coulter that
perhaps, just perhaps, a person has the right
to speak out about the deaths of their loved
ones. You'd think she would get that, given
that even her usual brothers in inimical arms,
like MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough, refuse
to stand by her on this one.

The expected firestorm surrounding Ms.
Coulter's incendiary comments aside, the
rhetoric the author employs goes to the root
of the problem with our current debate-sti-
fling political atmosphere, which is fed by
demagogues on both sides of the political
spectrum. While this sort of hyperbolic tan-
trum has become customary for a shock art-
ist as experienced as Ms. Coulter, the real
question we should ask in the wake of her
rant and its subsequent controversy is how it
applies to many issues in the political forum
today. By relying on extreme and polarizing
rhetoric to get a point of view across, many
public figures have contributed to a political
climate where there is no room for healthy
debate about real issues. An onslaught of
partisanship and party-line attacks take its
place, while the initial starting point for the
discussion gets lost in the mix. Debate on
the core issues that shape the political sphere
today is essential, and such divisive, fanatic
dialogue has no place in this discussion.
As outraged reports on Coulter's attacks
pervade the national media, perhaps it's
time we take a step back and simply address
her comments for what they are: belliger-
ent, unfounded and extreme. Politicians
and onlookers of every political persuasion
would do well to learn from her flagrant
example, and remember that as citizens
of an open-forum democracy, we have a
responsibility, not just a right, to debate
fairly and critically about the issues that
define our political atmosphere.
Is that really all that "godless"?

6
I
6

For all the recent chatter about
Michigan's urgent need for a brain-
based economy, little of it has trans-
lated into policy changes. But now,
finally, that may be changing. A proposal to
guarantee at least inflationary increases in
funding for Michigan's school districts, com-
munity colleges and public universities will
likely appear on the ballot next fall. Yet far
from backing a proposal that promises to pre-
vent the state from cutting funding from the
public universities, the Presidents Council,
State Universities of Michigan recently with-
drew from the group pushing the initiative. It
is true that the K-16 initiative could further
complicate the state's budget process and
threaten funding for other state programs.
But it is also true that the state desperately
needs to increase its commitment to educa-
tion, particularly higher education - and the
K-16 initiative may be the only way to ensure
that investment occurs.
The K-16 Coalition for Michigan's Future
has presented the legislature with hundreds
of thousands of signatures petitioning for
mandatory funding increases for the state's
public schools to ensure that education
funding keeps up with inflation. While the
legislature has 40 days to act on the initia-
tive before it is automatically placed on the
November ballot, Republican leaders have
indicated that they have no intention to bring
the proposal to a floor vote.
With the ongoing demise of Michigan's
manufacturing base an unavoidable real-
ity, the state needs to build a better educated
workforce able to attract and work in the
knowledge-based jobs of the 21st century if
it hopes to return to prosperity. Yet the state
government, faced with a structural budget
deficit and unwilling to increase taxes, has
instead failed to adequately fund the state's
schools. The budget woes have been particu-
larly harsh on its public universities, which
are only now seeing small nominal boosts in
funding after years of cuts.
Opponents of the K-16 initiative have
focused their arguments largely on K-12
schools, claiming that those schools have
been funded well enough. They invariably
decline to address the positive effect the ini-
tiative would have on funding for the state's
universities, which have been forced to raise

tuition drastically in recent years due to the
lack of sufficient state support. Indeed, a
recent Detroit News article reported that
Michigan families shell out twice as much of
their income for state university tuition than
those fortunate enough to live in states with
adequate university funding.
It is against this background that the curi-
ous announcement came last month that the
Presidents Council, which represents the
leadership of the state's 15 public universities,
has withdrawn entirely from the K-16 Coali-
tion for Michigan's Future. While the Coun-
cil will not oppose the K-16 initiative, it will
not support it either. Mike Boulus, the execu-
tive director of the Presidents Council, told
the Gongwer News Service that the initiative
would threaten the state's general fund by
taking more of it out of lawmakers' control.
Abstruse concerns over the integrity of leg-
islative control of the general fund seem out
of place given the dire situation facing Mich-
igan's economy and schools. It is true that a
petition drive supporting a legislative initiative
to require mandatory increases to education
funding is a blunt and dangerous instrument.
In a republican government, the people's rep-
resentatives should generally be trusted to
handle their constituents' business responsibly.
Yet Michigan's legislature, paralyzed by par-
tisan politics and bickering over insignificant
issues, has been unable to address the state's
structural budget crisis effectively.
The passage of the K-16 initiative could con-
ceivably make that crisis worse. Faced with
a requirement to keep school funding in line
with inflation, legislators - particularly those
afflicted with the unfortunate conviction that
just one more tax cut will restore Michigan to a
lost golden age - will be tempted to slash other
necessary programsratherthanraisetherevenue
needed to fulfill the state's many obligations.
That's a risk, however, that Michigan
may have to take. Past appeals to get the
legislature to enact adequate funding for
education on its own have fallen on deaf
ears. Any reasonable assessment of what
the state needs to do to revive itself points
to the central importance of improving
education. The grassroots K-16 initiative
may not be the best public policy ever cre-
ated, but it's far better than anything that's
come out of Lansing in recent memory.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Daily's editors should use
torture to ensure accuracy
To THE DAILY:
In John Stiglich's column The Politics of Tor-
ture (06/05/2006), he argues that, despite Sen.
John McCain's (R-Ari.) arguments against tor-
ture, McCain himself broke when tortured in
Vietnam and is therefore himself a powerful
argument in favor of torture. Anyone who took
the time to read McCain's article in Newsweek
would know that McCain did break and sign
a document stating that he was an "air pirate"
and had no right to be in Vietnam. However,
when asked to provide the names of people in
his squadron - the type of useful information
Stiglich asserts could be obtained by torture -
McCain gave his interrogators the names of the
Green Bay Packers' offensive line. The example
Stiglich provides explicitly disproves his own
argument. In the future, the Daily editorial staff
should consider employing some torturous tech-
niques to ensure that the information Stiglich
provides in his columns is both pertinent and
accurate. Might I suggest waterboarding?
Andy Braaksma
LSA senior
Sports editors prove specter
of sexism still alive at 'U'
TO THE DAILY:
I'm disappointed by The Michigan Daily. On
the final page of last week's edition was Daily

Sports' Point/Counterpoint - Michigan sports
year in review (06/05/2006). While I'm not a
huge sports fan, I thought this section would
be a fun read.
What did I learn? Sexism reigns supreme,
even here in the 21st century. Of the five teams
discussed, only one was 'a women's team
- softball. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but
there are many women's sports here at the Uni-
versity that are talented and nationally recog-
nized. What about women's gymnastics? Or
how about women's tennis? Let's not forget
women's basketball, which struggled this year
given the inexperience of a very young team,
but I think we can look forward to better things
in the near future as they learn to play together.
Can you think of any others? I can. Women's
soccer, volleyball, cheerleading, field hockey,
etc. Surely, among all these sports that include
women, there was something interesting to
report about their seasons of competition?
Somehow, I suppose, I'm not surprised.
But I still feel disheartened. The University
is supposed to be a progressive place, where
the finest minds come together and embrace
new and exciting ideas and concepts. Instead,
it appears many are still bogged down in
outdated ideas about what makes for good
entertainment or sport spectacle. The female
athletes at the University certainly deserve
more than a grudging footnote in an over-
view of the year's athletic accomplishments.
They work hard, practice, make sacrifices and
struggle to balance school and sport as much
as any male athlete.
Keri Allen
Rackham

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