Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Irony 501, Remedial Logic 101

Sr. Theresa Torres teaches in the Sociology Department at UMKC, and her column about Funkhouser and Semler manages to combine a graduate level of irony and a remedial level of logic. While decrying the harmful impact of inflammatory language, she violates Godwin's Law, and draws a comparison between those she presumes to lecture and the Nazis. Yes, indeed, she criticizes inflammatory language with a Nazi comparison. Wow. The nuns who taught me would have rapped my knuckles with a ruler for such a gaffe.

She then actually argues that Funkhouser should back down on his principles if they prove costly. Wow. The nuns who taught me would have sent me to Sr. Anita's office if I had made such an unprincipled, immoral argument.

I share her wish that Semler would resign, but I think that she should stick to sociology, and leave the logic to her superiors.

(Here's a link to the article as it appeared in the paper. The original link leads you to the Prime Buzz Blog, which is free again.)

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19 Comments:

Blogger Heidi said...

If the Mayor had actually clearly communicated why Semler was the best choice in the first place instead of taking the "because I said so" approach, perhaps I would see what those "principles" he's so fervently upholding are. Pretty much has looked like stubborness instead of any kind of dedication to free speech.

Aside from the whole Minuteman issue, I'm disappointed in the Mayor for sticking by someone who lied about her involvement with the group. (Saying she was not active while planning a rally.) He should have asked her to step down based on principles--the need for openness, honesty, trust--then.

9/26/2007 7:57 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Agreed - I wish he had accepted her resignation. I also think she has gone out of her way to make the situation worse, through accepting media opportunities to talk about immigration instead of parks.

As far as explaining why she was a good choice, I don't think he ought to have to give a detailed explanation of every appointment to every board. And the free speech issues arose after people started making a huge deal out of a parks board appointment . . .

9/26/2007 8:03 AM  
Anonymous the nitwit said...

Dan said: "I don't think he ought to have to give a detailed explanation of every appointment to every board."

You're absolutely right. But, when he subverts his own application process to reward a campaign volunteer with an appointment, who then misled him about her affiliation with a controversial group, and he clumsily admits that his staff performed a rather ham-fisted vetting, well then, I'm sorry, but Funky, you gotta little 'splainin' to do.

And now we're seeing the same bizarre drawn out missteps emerging in the sudden and mysterious departure of the City's CFO and over the Citadel deal. Funk said, "I'm not prepared to talk about that at this time." Well guess what, buddy, you're the mayor now, so you'd better be ready to talk about whatever issues blow up and when a top city official gets canned, then you need to give the public an explanation.

9/26/2007 8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're confusing the issue, Nitwit. Heidi asked for an explanation "in the first place", and Dan correctly pointed out that wasn't reasonable. Now you want an explanation in the second place, which I think Dan (I'm sure he'll correct me if I'm wrong) agrees is lacking. She ought to be gone, and no explaining is going to change that.

As for the personnel matter, Funk handled that as well as it could be handled. Cauthen fired somebody for the crime of integrity, and Mark was wise to avoid throwing gas on that fire - at least for the moment. Mark is doing great work amidst sniping to try to get Cauthen's contract renegotiated.

9/26/2007 9:41 AM  
Anonymous the nitwit said...

But anonymous, there isn't any evidence that Semler was the best choice in the first place. She was given the post because Gloria liked her from the campaign, and not because of any qualifications. That he ignored his much ballyhooed application process is all the more reason why the public deserved an explanation in the first place.

As for Cauthen and the Citadel, Funk's refusal to comment says a lot. The guy ran on "back to basics," and these are two "back to basics" issues. Does the Citadel project equate to what he envisions for future development, yes or no? And the city's top financial officer gets axed and all he can say is "It's a personnel issue." Come on. He ought to be up to speed and ready to say something on either of those matters. Right now he looks like he's hiding behind Cauthen. While that's an improvement over his tendency to hide behind Gloria, it's still hardly leadership.

9/26/2007 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think he ought to have to give a detailed explanation of every appointment to every board.

Isn't that the same argument George Bush uses for his appointments?

9/26/2007 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, anonymous 11:43 - it is not the same thing at all.

(This has been another edition of simple answers to incredibly stupid questions.)

9/26/2007 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nitwit -

First off, the application process was a supplement to the traditional appointment process - it was never described as a replacement. So stop spreading that misinformation.

Second, the mayor is not obligated to appoint the person you deem best. It's one of the "joys" of being mayor. Do you honestly think that Barnes, Cleaver, or any other mayor appointed only the best choice? Because, if you do, you make me laugh.

Finally, you're dead wrong about the propriety of commenting on Cauthen's firing of a good and ethical employee. It is a personnel issue, and he should not comment at this time. If he had commented, it would have been wildly improper, and all the defenders of Cauthen would have criticized Funk for undercutting him. And they might have had a point.

9/26/2007 12:59 PM  
Anonymous the nitwit said...

actually, anonymous 12:52, the other anonymous is exactly right. It's identical to Bush's excuse. The only difference is that you like Funk and you don't like Bush.

And exactly who is spreading misinformation here? Funk and Co. talked up the importance of the application process and said that they were going to get regular citizens involved. Instead, they turned around and did the old-school thing and put political cronies like Semler on the board. It sucks for Funk that that's true, but there's no denying that it is.

As for "best," that's obviously a subjective word, but Semler wasn't appointed for any reason other than the fact that Gloria wanted to reward her for working on the campaign. Do you honestly doubt that for a minute? If you do, you make me laugh.

And you couldn't be more wrong on the "propriety" of Funk's silence on the fired CFO. He doesn't have to say he thinks it's right or wrong, he doesn't have to say it's gonna cost Cauthen his job. But if Cauthen fired someone who you clearly hold in such high esteem for what you say are questionable reasons, then you ought to be miffed at Funk for giving the appearance of supporting Cauthen's decision to fire her. Funk could at least say, my office is reviewing the matter, we're sorry she's no longer with the city, etc.

The "personnel" issue is a canard and a dodge. She wasn't some random city employee, she was a top level administrator. As such, she was at the very least a quasi-public figure, and her sudden, mysterious and unannounced departure (even city council members didn't know she'd been fired) raises a lot of questions and a lot of eyebrows.

Plus, it's not as if Funk has been equally mum about Cauthen's contract process, and that's just as much of a "personnel" issue as anything else could be. So why can he talk about that, but not the other?

9/26/2007 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nitwit -

You earn your name.

Nobody asks Bush for explanations of appointments he is allowed to make on his own, and, when they have to go through the Senate, he gives plenty of explanation. And what makes you think I don't like Bush? He's not perfect, but he's better than Kerry or Gore. Good name, though.

Alright, now, you accuse me of spreading misinformation, but you ignore the truth. TRUTH - the application was a supplement, not a replacement. TRUTH - Regular people did get appointed, in addition to some who worked on his campaign. MISINFORMATION - that there is anything wrong or inconsistent with that. Nice name, though.

As for the "best" issue, nobody is arguing that she was the "best" choice. She wasn't. But no Mayor in history has ever appointed only the "best" choices. That's a ridiculous expectation, and it was never promised to you. So get over it if you don't like one of his choices - maybe you should have run (heck, maybe you did . . .). I suspected that Semler got appointed because of her work on the campaign, because she is from the Northland, and because she is involved in some kind of Rose Society. Good enough reasons for me, and they would be good enough for anyone, if it weren't for her beliefs about immigration. Do you deny that?

As for the personnel issue "canard", all I can say is that you are wildly ignorant of what is acceptable. It is fine to discuss the fact that you want to renegotiate someone's contract. It is not okay to discuss the circumstances of someone's termination. You can whine all you like about it, but that's the truth. Also, I suspect that he didn't know any more about it than the reporter - Cauthen is not known for sharing information that could place him in a bad light.

I won't tie this one to your name. You don't know the law, and you don't know the facts. That just means you're ignorant, not necessarily a nitwit.

9/26/2007 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody asks Bush for explanations of appointments he is allowed to make on his own

What moon do you live on? Me and millions of other Americans ask Bush about appointments all the time.

9/26/2007 4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really? Did you ask him about each and every appointment that shows up in the Plum book? I don't believe you. What did you ask him about when he appointed Thure Cerling to the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board?

9/26/2007 4:18 PM  
Anonymous the nitwit said...

Anonymous, you certainly are good at twisting the facts, I'll give you that. Funk rolled out his application process as a Godsend that signaled a revolutionary break from the political spoils system of the past. Instead, we've seen essentially the same thing -- political pals get the appointments.

As for knowing the law, you're absolutely 100% undeniably wrong. Funk doesn't have to discuss the specifics of her termination but he most certainly can comment on it and he can recognize when pressed on an issue like this that it deserves scrutiny. And again, this wasn't the firing of a clerical worker from the 15th floor of city hall. This was the city's top financial officer.

You're an absolute kook if you think the public doesn't deserve some explanation about that one. And you're a classic kool-aid drinker if you think Funk is showing leadership by hiding behind the "it's a personnel matter" excuse. Eventually the facts will come out, and I'm willing to bet that once again Funk will probably look clueless.

As for my name, as soon as you can be bothered to string together enough letters to identify yourself as anything, then I suggest you direct your barbs inward.

9/26/2007 4:42 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

We'll get our explanation, Nitwit, and I'll bet it has nothing to do with Funk.

9/26/2007 6:51 PM  
Anonymous the nitwit said...

Dan, I'm not saying her firing had anything to do with Funk. I'm just saying it will once again make Funk look clueless. Seriously, how does the city's top manager get fired without the Mayor or anyone on the city council being in the loop? Again, she wasn't just some employee, she was a top-level city executive. That just shouldn't happen.

Meanwhile, Yael is reporting on yet another "backdoor" appointment by Funk, which Yael says doesn't match "the 'transparent' process Funkhouser promised." But hey, at least our mayor is standing on principle when it comes to supporting members of hate groups.

9/26/2007 7:04 PM  
Anonymous the nitwit said...

Correction. I referred to Hinsvark as the "city's top manager." That should be the "city's top financial manager."

9/26/2007 7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually I did ask Bush about Thure E. Cerling. So take that and lick your ass with it. Here is what Bush replied back to me with:

Dr. Cerling is Distinguished Professor of Geology and Geophysics and Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Utah. He brings to the Board expertise in terrestrial geochemistry. His research interests are in the study of geochemistry processes occuring at or near the Earth's surface and in the geological record of ecological change.

Dr. Cerling was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 2001. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Geological Society of America. He has been a visiting professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Yale University; the University of Lausanne in Switzerland; the California Institute of Technology; and at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

Dr. Cerling has served on numerous boards, panels, and committees, including the National Research Council-National Academy of Sciences Board of Earth Sciences and Resources, Geochemical Society Board of Directors, and the Nuclear Waste Group of the International Union of Geological Sciences. He also served on the Governor’s Nuclear Waste Task Force, State of Utah, in 1981-83. In 1998, he received the University of Utah Distinguished Research Award.

In 1972, Dr. Cerling earned a bachelor of science degree in geology and chemistry from Iowa State University. In 1973, he received a master of science degree in geology from Iowa State University. In 1977, he was awarded a Ph.D. in geology by the University of California-Berkeley. From 1977 to 1979, Dr. Cerling worked as a research scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In 1979, he joined the faculty of the University of Utah.

9/26/2007 10:57 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Nitwit -

How does the CFO get fired without the Mayor knowing all about it? How is he kept outside the loop? Those are great questions for Wayne Cauthen to answer, and I hope he does.

9/27/2007 6:06 AM  
Anonymous travelingal said...

Some of you people are a bit crazy. WTF kind of qualifications does a person need to have to serve on the friggin Parks Board? A Ph.D in botany? I don't believe for one minute that anyone would have cared if she hadn't graduated high school IF she hadn't been a member of the Minutemen.

If personal interests or organizations are a cause for disqualification, then it better be investigated and uniformly applied for everyone.

9/28/2007 4:53 PM  

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