Monday, September 08, 2014

An honest man upsets an entire university establishment

Wallace Hall Was Right About UT All Along.  He exposed comfortable little rackets that had built up

Maybe the University of Texas at Austin and its many passionate defenders had reason to beware of Wallace Hall when Governor Rick Perry appointed him to the UT System board of regents in 2011. Perry was pushing some plan he got from a rich oilman to eliminate research as a criterion for granting professorial tenure, an idea scathingly denounced by detractors as tantamount to book-burning.
But having a good motivation only makes this story worse. When Hall began to criticize the way UT-Austin was run on strictly administrative grounds, he was roundly denounced as a sort of fifth-columnist for Perry's assault on tenure. Later when he accused the university of corruption, he was hunted like a witch.

A campaign launched against Hall included impeachment proceedings in the Legislature and a criminal complaint brought to the Travis County district attorney. Even the establishment press turned on Hall, whose greatest sin was doing what the press is supposed to do -- ask questions that make powerful people uncomfortable. An unbroken chorus of editorial page shrieking from Texas' biggest newspapers denounced Hall and called for his resignation.

The dramatic denouement is threefold: Hall has been vindicated of charges he abused his role as a regent. The charges of mismanagement and corruption he brought against UT are all being re-investigated because now people are admitting he was on to something. And finally, Hall's biggest accusers are starting to look like the biggest rats, the ones who had the most to hide.

In fact it's hard to recall a case in Texas history where a person so roundly denounced has been so completely vindicated, not counting Sam Houston's problems with drink.

When he shows up for an interview at a bagel shop in North Dallas, Hall does not look like a pariah, like Sam Houston or like a guy who has been staying up nights. He's 52 with a full mop of sandy hair, looks 42, rides up on a big BMW motorcycle in casual clothes and, generally, once he's got his coffee, is cool as a cucumber.

A CEO and investor, St. Mark's and UT-Austin graduate, Hall has two sons and a daughter at UT-Austin. He first professes his love of the university, then says his first collision with peers on the board of regents was over something that just seemed to him like common sense.

When Hall was early on the board, the university revealed to regents there were problems with a large private endowment used to provide off-the-books six-figure "forgivable loans" to certain faculty members, out of sight of the university's formal compensation system.
Hall wanted to know how big the forgivable loans were and who decided who got them. He wanted to know whose money it was. He was concerned there had to be legal issues with payments to public employees that were not visible to the public.

University of Texas President William Powers painted the law school slush fund as a problem only because it had caused "discord" within the faculty. He vowed to have a certain in-house lawyer get it straightened up. Hall, who thought the matter was more serious and called for a more arms-length investigation and analysis, thought Powers' approach was too defensive. In particular, Hall didn't want it left to the investigator Powers had assigned.

"I had issues with that," Hall says. "I felt that was a bad, bad deal. The man's a lawyer. He lives in Austin. The people in the foundation are his mentors, some of the best lawyers in the state. They're wealthy. He's not going to be in the [university] system forever. He's going to be looking for a job one day."

But Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and other members of the board of regents did not share Hall's concerns. "I was overruled," Hall says. "That's when I first felt like, one, there's a problem at UT, and, two, the system has set up a scheme that gives the opportunity for a less than robust investigation."

Since then, the university's own in-house investigation, which cleared the law school of any real wrongdoing, has been discredited and deep-sixed. The in-house lawyer who did it is no longer on the payroll. The matter has been turned over to the Texas attorney general for a fresh investigation.

The head of the law school has resigned. The president of the university has resigned. Cigarroa has resigned.

Next, Hall questioned claims the university was making about how much money it raised every year. He thought the university was puffing its numbers by counting gifts of software for much more than the software really was worth, making it look as if Powers was doing a better job of fundraising than he really was.

When Hall traveled to Washington, D.C., to consult with the national body that sets rules for this sort of thing, he was accused of ratting out the university -- a charge that became part of the basis for subsequent impeachment proceedings. But Hall was right. The university had to mark down its endowment by $215 million.

The really big trouble began in 2013 when Hall said he discovered a back-door black market trade in law school admissions, by which people in positions to do favors for the university, especially key legislators, were able to get their own notably unqualified kids and the notably unqualified kids of friends into UT Law School.

UT Law School is supposed to be competitive on a level with Harvard Law and the University of Michigan Law School. When word broke that unqualified candidates were able to get in with help from key legislators, the key legislators went ballistic, immediately calling for Hall's impeachment and removal from office, even though only two elected officials, a governor and a judge, have ever been impeached and removed from office in the history of Texas.

The loudest voice in the Legislature calling for Hall's head, Waxahachie House Republican Jim Pitts, turned out to be the father of a young man whose admission to the law school was at the center of the controversy. Pitts has since announced he will not seek re-election.

Two months ago the head of the university's admissions department resigned abruptly, days after an internal whistle-blower emerged on the admissions issue. The admissions question has been turned over to a major international private investigations agency.

A special committee created for the express purpose of impeaching Hall made the mistake of hiring an honest law firm to investigate charges that Hall had broken the law or violated the oath and terms of his office. The firm brought back a report saying he had broken no laws and was carrying out his duties as a regent.

The impeachment committee, undaunted, paid half a million dollars for a second opinion, buying itself a second report that also found Hall innocent of violations of law but said he should be impeached anyway for snitching. Ultimately the committee was unable to find grounds for impeachment -- apparently snitching is not really against the law -- but the committee voted anyway to censure Hall for what amounted to disloyalty and bad manners.

The committee's final resolution read like they were banishing him from membership in the Kappa Alpha House. The committee solemnly found Hall guilty of acting in a "manner that detracts from, rather than enhances the public image of UT Austin" and in "a manner that does not nurture" UT Austin. No mention was made of the committee members whose kids slipped into UT Law School through the back door.

Four months ago allegations against Hall were presented to the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney's Office, the same body that recently won indictments of Governor Rick Perry. At that time a spokesman said the unit would know within a week whether any criminal charges would be brought. The matter is still hanging over Hall, and the unit had not yet made up its mind, according to a spokesperson.

And maybe all of that is Austin politics. But what is to be said for the Texas press and its handling of the Wallace Hall story? Every major newspaper in the state has either called for Hall's head at one point or questioned his integrity, most of them basing their complaints on an allegation that Hall asked for too much information from the university -- in other words, that he did too much reporting.


Back To School…Or Dropping Out, In the Case Of America’s Cultural Marxist-Controlled Colleges

After Labor Day, it’s not just K-12 kids who are headed back to school and the new anti-America: So are college students—but not, after trying it for a couple of years, me.

I’ve dropped out and have no intention of finishing my bachelor’s degree.

Dropping out is a very personal decision. Below is why I did it, take from it what you will. But in no way should this be considered a sort of Dissident Right version of Timothy Leary’s call to “Turn on, tune in, drop out.”

Furthermore, if you are going to college for something that is actually practical (a blue-collar trade, something in STEM, etc.) I would say you should stick with it. Those degrees are valuable—and barely have a political culture to them, much less a Leftist one.

However, my interests have always been lofty and impractical: history, political science, philosophy, and sociology. And as everyone knows, those fields of study are now almost universally under the iron grip of what we call “Cultural Marxism.”

Therein lies part of the trouble—everyone knows those majors are completely and utterly dominated by Leftist professors, administrators, and for the most part, students. What’s more, everyone knows that Right wingers never stop complaining about it.

There has been plenty of writing on the topic here on and on other Dissident Right websites as well. Beyond us, even Conservatism Inc covers this subject with a great deal of vigor and reasonable competency. David Horowitz has a book about it, Dinesh D’Souza has one as well, over 60 years ago William F. Buckley wrote a book about it, over 25 years ago Allan Bloom wrote a book on it…the list goes on and on. Not to mention the regular articles on this topic at National Review, Breitbart, etc.

Even people with only a superficial interest in politics are aware of this gripe. To complain about it is to become an instant cliché—the lone Republican on campus who just cannot catch a break.

And no one likes a complainer. In my experience, just about everyone is more annoyed than interested when anyone on the Right brings up the topic of liberal bias in education. People are generally attracted to strength, and when we just whine about the injustice of college Leftism, no one can be bothered to feel pity for us.

College is liberal the way Canada is cold, or off-brand Cola is bad—it just is, everyone knows it, and there is no sense in complaining about it, because it is not going to change. There are simply not enough of “us” to somehow start taking over this or that philosophy or poli-sci department at any state university.

Additionally, no student is going to convince a professor who is interested in Mary Daly, the crazy feminist philosopher who refused to allow men into her classes, also to be interested in an American patriot and cultural conservative like the late Sam Francis. Trust me: trying that does not work, and you just look like a jerk.

“So why not just shut-up and keep your head down?” some of you are surely asking. This is where dropping out gets personal. If you can shut-up, and are willing to do it for four years or more, go for it, I guess. But I am not built that way.

If Margaret Mead is being discussed in class, I am going to bring up Lothrop Stoddard, and then I will get into trouble and be that guy. Grinning and bearing it was indeed something I tried, but hearing people say vile, untrue, and triumphalist things over and over again without reacting eventually began to sit heavy on my state of well-being.

“Why not go to one of those explicitly conservative colleges?” a lot more of you are asking.

I go back and forth on that idea, and see two big problems.

First, almost all of them are very Christian—and I am a Derbyshire-style atheist.
Being the lone atheist at a small Christian college sounds unpleasant for everyone involved.

Second, I have my doubts any of those colleges are really interested in having a true Dissident Right student.
Colleges like Hillsdale are already frequently in hot water for this or that not perfectly Politically Correct thing they have done.

(For example, the kerfuffle when Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale, said that the bureaucrats who came to the college to see if they had enough minorities, something Hillsdale resolutely refuses to keep records on, had to look at student faces and count the “dark ones.” Mich. college president calls minorities ‘dark ones’, by Lori Higgins, Detroit Free Press August 1, 2013).

 I suspect that many of these superficially conservative colleges would take the opportunity to triangulate against me in true Conservatism Inc./ Beltway Right style in the hope of impressing their Leftist enemies by making my life difficult.

Sound far-fetched? Imagine if Matt Heimbach had tried to start his much-denounced “White Student Union” at King’s College or Liberty University instead of at an undistinguished state university. The Main Stream Media would have had an even bigger field day about the WSU than it did, and a “conservative” private college would probably have done anything to save face.

To put it in sound-bite terms:

The point of going to a conservative college would be to openly voice my opinions among the like-minded—there is no conservative college where having been published by American Renaissance would be considered impressive.

Here of course it is worth mentioning that picking up stakes and trying one college after another (I have already attended two) is very costly. For those of you above 35, it’s important to realize that college has quietly become significantly more expensive, less obviously beneficial, and more Left-y than it was when you matriculated, back in the days when Madonna was young, sexy and had an American accent.

But listen to me complaining about the lack of colleges that I would find amenable to my special needs. Who cares? My views: If your college does not suit you, is expensive, and the benefits it will bring you later seem to be in doubt—then drop out and find something better to do.

We of the Right are supposed to be independent and self-sufficient, right?

I have known a few different people who got degrees in laughable “identity” majors like Women’s Studies and then became professional complainers about their unemployment thereafter. No-one reading this would offer them much pity—but is a paleocon who gets a Ph.D. in history and is then upset that no college wants to hire a professor with “racist” ideas any better?

Obviously we all have more sympathy for the latter. But said history student did no better in planning life based on realistic expectations.

Of course, this is a tragedy in terms of scholarship. But it simply part of an inevitable macrocultural retreat and regrouping that F. Roger Devlin brilliantly described in his 2011 H.L. Mencken Club lecture Higher Education: The Impossibility Of Reform.

Also, if we can agree that the state of college is horrible—low standards, enforced multi-culturalism, fluff degrees—then how important can it be to attend?  Is it really a great plan for me to go $20,000 in debt at a college that requires me to take three “ethnic studies” classes in order to get a degree in journalism just to find myself “Derbyshired” in five years at whatever job I got?

Remember too, that academic tenure is not what is used to be—meaning the next Paul Gottfried or Kevin MacDonald will be hard pressed to find refuge in academia. For that matter, I don’t think that Tom Woods, who after Columbia and Harvard could only get teaching work at a minor New York college but found a base in think tanks and rapidly apotheosized into a New York Times best-selling author, would even get his foot on the first rung of the Ivy League ladder nowadays.

There will be those who will read this and be saddened by it. But I assure you that leaving is the happy part. It may have been sad when the academy was lost. But leaving it to self-perpetuate into irrelevancy is quite satisfying.

And money can certainly be made without a degree. The credentialism bubble is bursting anyway—Robert B. Reich (Dartmouth, Oxford, Yale, Clinton Administration Secretary of Labor) says so! Reich specifically cites the unacceptable cost-benefit prospect. (Back to college, the only gateway to the middle class, Baltimore Sun, September 3, 2014).

I am told—it was before my time!—that during the Vietnam War protesters would chant: “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came?”

Well perhaps we should say: “Suppose they gave “LBGT Studies” degrees—and everybody went off and got a job instead?”


UK: Liberal idiocy exposed by a schoolboy

Nick Clegg left squirming over free school meals by 9-year-old boy

Rohan, a nine-year-old boy from South East London, leaves Nick Clegg squirming over the Liberal Democrat's flagship school meals policy

Nick Clegg has been confronted over his flagship £1billion school meals scheme by a nine-year-old boy who told him that they are "unhealthy" and "very expensive".

Rohan, who said he was ringing from school, phoned Mr Clegg's programme on LBC radio and suggested that the scheme is wasting money on many parents who can afford to buy their own meals.

Mr Clegg, with a hint of desperation, resorted to telling the phone the boy "you probably need to go back to class" and suggested he had been coached by an adult.

There were also questions about how a nine-year-old boy could have such a detailed grasp of policy.

However, a spokesman for LBC Radio said: "The production team spoke to the boy and his mum, and we were confident the caller was genuine.”

Every child aged five to seven in English state schools will be eligible for a free meal for the first time as part of sweeping reforms spearheaded by Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister.

The £1 billion programme has been introduced following claims that a cooked meal can have significant health and educational benefits for children in the first few years of school.

However Rohan, who said he was calling from his school in south London, started off by complaining that his own school meals were "unhealthy".

"I was wondering why you had decided to introduce free school meals, which is a very expensive product, when at my school they are quite unhealthy and the evidence shows they don't make children achieve or behave better," he said.

Mr Clegg replied: "The evidence shows that it is in fact extremely helpful.

"So in the schools where this has been introduced in the past ... not only does it save mums and dads money – about £400 a year to pay for the lunchtime costs – not only is it good for your health ...

"I'm sure this is not the case for you, Rohan, but quite a lot of children go to school with lunch boxes that don't have healthy food in them – I don't know, a slice of white bread and a fizzy drink. It's better to have a proper cooked hot healthy meal with vegetables and so on ...

"It's good, isn't it – it's nice when the class eats together."

A seemingly disconcerted Mr Clegg, inadvertently referring to the schoolboy as "Ryan", then attempted to move the discussion on by asking: "What kind of lunch do you eat?"

But Rohan insisted: "I do think it's important to eat well, but a lot of schools, I think, a lot of the parents could already afford to pay for those meals. So I was wondering whether perhaps you could just target it to the areas where parents can't afford to pay for the meals better."

Mr Clegg said: "Actually the children who benefit most are the children who are poor, who are not wealthy ... "

However, Rohan broke in to suggest they would "already be entitled to free school meals".

And when the Lib Dem leader argued that in many areas poorer children were not entitled to free school meals, his inquisitor responded: "Couldn't you just target it to their areas, rather than doing it for the whole country where a lot of people could afford it?"

A chastened Mr Clegg – whose own middle son, Alberto, is nine years old – seized on a sound in the background, commenting "I've just heard your class bell go."

He added: "You really should go into politics – you're one of the most articulate nine-year-olds I've ever come across."

But Rohan refused to let him off the hook, saying: "Just one more thing ... at my old school we have to use the gym for school meals which meant that my younger sister can't do string group and a lot of people at my old school would be missing their lessons in the gym."

Mr Clegg shot back: "But they all have to eat lunch anyway, don't they?"

Rohan responded: "But they wouldn't be using the gym."

Children under eight are to receive free school meals, under plans unveiled by Nick Clegg

The Deputy Prime Minister pointed out that he did not know the circumstances at Rohan's school, but insisted it was not a widespread problem – only to be told: "I think probably quite a lot of schools with this space problem ... My old school is ready, but there are effects for the school that aren't as good as we might want."

Mr Clegg, who ruefully remarked that Rohan sounded "quite exceptional in so many respects", suggested that he might want to go away and read the detailed evidence.

But that only prompted the schoolboy to deploy figures.

"Surely, couldn't you spend some of that money on another project?" he asked.

"Because I have seen the evidence and it wasn't very big, the percentage point increase – it was only 1.9 in one of the trials. And also it was bigger for Key Stage 2 than Key Stage 1."

The Lib Dem leader described him as a "very impressive boy", and raised suspicions that he had been primed by an adult.

"You clearly have someone working with you on this ... which is excellent, excellent," he said.

However, Rohan quickly dismissed the idea. "I did it on my own at home," he said.

Seemingly eager to wrap things up, Mr Clegg said: "You probably need to go back to class."

Rohan, who did not give his surname, said his favourite subjects were maths and science. He disclosed that his lunch yesterday was: "Brown bread sandwiches with minestrone soup, with beans in it and some vegetables, and the salad on the side."


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