Sunday, November 13, 2005

I *like* Coit tower

[I]f I'm the president of the United States, ... I say, "Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds. Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead."

And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead."

Bill O'Rielly

My cubicle at work happens to have a great view of Coit Tower and I’m sure that if it blew up I’d have a great view of that too. But I think it’s fair to say it wouldn’t be in favor of any terrorist attack on San Francisco for all the normal reasons and for the reason that my great view of Coit tower is from a building next to the Transamerica Pyramid.

But I didn’t post so I could reiterate my disapproval of terrorism, nor to recap what a jack-ass Bill O’Rielly is, instead I wanted to talk about opposition to military recruitment. The official rational (and the legal basis upon which military recruitment can be limited in schools) is that schools don’t have to allow groups which discriminate on campus and that the Army discriminates unfairly against homosexuals. But lets be honest, this is probably only part of the story.

Personally, I favor allowing military recruitment on campus. But there is a fair amount of hostility toward recruitment from certain (small) sectors on the left. I’m no expert but I assume the bulk of these bans are on college campuses and are supported mostly by wide-eyed college activists. College is wonderful time to experiment. For most politically minded kids, experimenting leads to good old-fashioned idealism; the idea that one cannot possibly contribute to anything which is not 100% pure. This goes for lefties and righties alike though for obvious reasons there are more lefty kids on campus.

Usually idealism just leads to wasting one’s time. I remember learning about how the students of UC Berkeley NOW were going to protest a statue honoring women. According to them, the statue (which was a collage of various women throughout history) objectified women. Similarly, some college Republicans will patiently explain whenever you care to hear how Social Security, Medicare, and the Department of Education, are all actually unconstitutional.

I guess in the eyes of idealists, military recruitment is doubly splotched: one for discriminating, two for having done some not so good things in the past (even if they were under orders). This last one is particularly precient now as the Iraq war wasn’t such a good idea and the more soldiers we recruit for it, the worse it gets. I think it accounts for the banning of recruitment in ideological cities like San Francisco.

There are some other arguments I hear against recruitment. Some say it’s unfair to the poor since it sends them out to die while the rich stay behind. I don’t think that argument is operative since the average soldier is actually wealthier than the average American (probably due to the entry tests which filter out those who went to schools in poor areas).

This post is too long. In conclusion: O’Reilly is an idiot. Anti-recruitment people should get of their high-horse.

Update: BAD (and Rebecca outside the blog) explains that the "ban" isn't a band so much as a statement of intent to ban. I think the arguments still apply since it's still clear that many don't look on recruiting favorably.


While there are some who oppose any military people coming to any campus (high school or college) for any recruiting related purpose (including job fairs, information tables, etc.), the opposition in SF (and I assume in other cities) is much narrower in scope.

It began with parents, high school administrators and teachers who objected to the provision in the No Child Left Behind Act that required any school that accepted federal funds to make available to military officials the age and contact information on its students. Military recruiters have been using this info to make personal contacts (phone calls and personal visits) with underage students in an attempt to get them to sign papers agreeing to enlist upon graduation; often without involving the parents in the discussion.

Parents who have discovered and reported on such contacts, have objected to what they see as efforts to manipulate their naive children into enlistment by making promises that can't or won't be kept without any chance for them to counter the manipulation.
"I think it accounts for the banning of recruitment in ideological cities like San Francisco."

You realize that this didn't happen, right? Essentially, SF said "we would ban recruitment, if only there weren't consequences." So it probably did a good job of excluding the practical issues thinker mentioned.
Beetle wrote,"You realize that this didn't happen, right? Essentially, SF said "we would ban recruitment, if only there weren't consequences." "

San Francisco did pass Proposition I last Tuesday. I think that means the voters thereby urged the School Board to end co-operation with the military and risk the loss of federal funds, as a strict implementation of that provision of the No Child Left Behind act seems to threaten.

"Proposition I. No Military Recruiters in Public Schools, Scholarships for Education and Job Training -- City and County of San Francisco (Simple Majority)
Pass: 100,776 / 59.26% Yes votes ...... 69,284 / 40.74% No votes"

While I guess this is not an outright ban on recruiting, here is what the League of Women Voters of San Francisco had to say about the proposition in its Pros and Cons analysis of it:



Declaration of Policy
Placed on the Ballot by Initiative Petition


The San Francisco Unified School District operates the City’s public schools, and receives federal money to support their operation (the District estimates it will receive federal funding for 2005-2006 in the amount of $17.2 million). By accepting federal money, the District must permit U.S. military recruiters access to its schools. Colleges and universities that receive federal funds are subject to similar requirements.

Proposition I is a Declaration of Policy that the people of San Francisco would oppose the federal government’s use of public schools to recruit students for service in the military. It is also a declaration that San Francisco should consider funding scholarships for higher education and job training that could provide an alternative to military service.

Because Proposition I is a Declaration of Policy, it is intended only to provide policy guidance to lawmakers. It would have no binding effect on the policies and procedures of the Unified School District.

The Controller states: “Should the proposed policy statement be approved by the voters, in my opinion, it would not affect the cost of government.”


1. Many members of the armed forces never receive the
education and training that military recruiters promise them.

2. Many members of the armed forces have been killed in Iraq, in a war opposed by many Americans.

3. The armed forces discriminate against gays and lesbians, which is contrary to San Francisco city policy.


1. Proposition I if accepted and implemented, would cost San Francisco millions of dollars in federal funds, which would have to be replaced by local taxes.

2. Students should be informed of all their employment and educational options.

3. It is unpatriotic to undermine America’s armed forces.
You're really reaching to think that the government was urged to risk loss of federal funds. If the city was willing to do it, they would've already done it without this "policy statement." Since doing such a thing actually could be done through the ballot process, it's telling to note that it wasn't.

More simply, a ban that does not ban is not a ban.

Even The Chron agrees.
Perhaps you're right Beetle, and this policy statement will create no change. On the other hand, if its proponents now begin to lobby the School District, and the District takes the expressed wishes of the voters into account, the District might come up with a creative implementation. Should you wonder why go to the ballot when they could (and probably did) lobby anyway, I would say that with nearly 60% of the electorate having spoken, the lobbying stands a much better chance of being effective.
I think TS's explanation makes more sense. The Prop I folks were the anti-war nuts, not the "I don't want my kids lied to and hurt" folks, even if there is some overlap. Further, SF has been seeking creative ways around the issue without losing funding. It's not a matter of justification or lobbying, since the SF government is more ideologically liberal than its average citizens.
Kind of like the ASUC being more ideologically liberal than the student body as a whole. The ASUC only has one registered Republican senator but conservatives may number about 20% of the campus.
The ASUC elections are as fair as possible and I think it's fair to say that if 20% of the campus was conservative then they must not be very impressed with the Young Republicans. Either that or campus conservatives are a particularly apathetic lot when it comes to voting.
Most conservatives are apathetic or have friends in Student Action (and occasionally CalSERVE). For example, I helped manage Manny's campaign for President and supported him for his senate race instead of voting for the "BCR" candidate.

On the original note, I consider myself antiwar if you read the article I wrote, and easily supporting bringing the troops home NOW. I, however, support letting the military recruit on campus. However, when I debated someone who wanetd military recruiters off campus, the minute they started debating their face was bright red in a frenzy abotu how I don't understand why only the poorest of the poor Americans were being "drafted", how I was heartless and how if I let the military recruit on campus, I was supporting imperalism, blah blah blah. These people turn others away from their causes rather than toward them.
"The ASUC only has one registered Republican senator but conservatives may number about 20% of the campus."

Who's that?
I assume it's Melissa Jones (Berkeley College Republicans). She was first runner up for senate and I assume someone must have stepped down by now.
No, Senator Billy Wang is a registered Republican. Melissa Joens is next ont he list.
Here are some statistics about the ASUC senate 2005-2006 if anyone is interested.

1 Arab Man
0 Arab Women
4 Chinese Men
0 Chinese Women
1 Filipino Man
2 Filipino Woman
2 Korean Man
0 Korean Women
4 Jewish Man
0 Jewish Women
1 Indian Man
1 Indian Woman
1 Latino Man
1 Latina Woman
0 Black Men
1 Black Woman
0 Caucasian Men
1 Caucasian Woman

“Continent-of-Ethnic Origin”
European-American: 5 (20%, underrepresented, Berkeley ~ 30%)
Asian-American: 12 (60%, overrepresented, Berkeley ~ 40%)
Latino-American: 2 (10%, underrepresented, Berkeley ~ 14%)
African American: 1 (5%, overrepresented, Berkeley ~ 3%)

Men: 15 (75%, overrepresented, Berkeley ~ 45%)
Women: 5 (20%, underrepresented, Berkeley ~ 55%)

19 Democrats/Independents (95%, overrepresented, Berkeley ~ 80%)
1 Republican (5%, underrepresented, Berkeley ~ 20%)

19 Straight (N/A, probably overrepresented)
1 Bisexual (N/A, probably underrepresented)

So Republicans, women, caucasians, Latinos, the LGBT crowd are all politically apathetic. Strangely, Asians are the least apathetic, and are the most diverse as most women who won were Asian. They also contained the only Republican. Also black men and caucasian men are equally underrepresented in this sample.
edit: women, 6 men 14
We had a saying in physics lab: "If you don't have error bounds on your numbers, they don't mean anything". You should account for the fact that you have a small sample size, one election. Now, if you showed that these results were persistan over multipl elections, than you'd have something. Not a lot, but something.

The previous three years worth of election data is available on the asuc election website.
Over the years, the maximum number of Republicans on the senate was 2 or maybe 3. This is underrepresented. I'll check the rest of the data later.
To prove underrepresentedness you should also account for the fact that the number of self identified conservatives on campus has varied over the years.

Also of course, it's interesting that you should conflate conservative with Republican when many conservatives jump down my throat for doing the same thing.
I'm sorry I'm probably one that might jump down your throat for that. I assumed that most conservatives at Cal are neocons except me, hov, SB, maybe RepBast and a few others.
A very vocal minority.
What would Brent Kastenbaum count as, last year? White? Latino? Black?
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