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Using Synonyms for Race, College Strives for Diversity
The New York Times ^ | 12/07/2002 (for editions of 12/08/2002) | Jacques Steinberg

Posted on 12/07/2002 11:27:11 AM PST by GeneD

HOUSTON, Dec. 6 — When a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled in 1996 that the University of Texas Law School could not legally consider race in admitting students, lawyers at Rice University, a highly selective private college here, reluctantly decided that the ruling applied to it, too.

Almost overnight, the admissions officers at Rice stopped saying aloud the words "black," "African-American," "Latino," "Hispanic" or even "minority" in their deliberations. The next year, the proportion of black students admitted in the freshman class fell by half; the proportion of Hispanics fell by nearly a third.

The university feared that openly defying the federal court could cost it $45 million annually in federal aid, about 15 percent of its budget.

But like other colleges, Rice says it remains fiercely committed to having a diverse student body, so in the years since, it has developed creative, even sly ways to meet that goal and still obey the court. Thus the admissions committee, with an undisguised wink, has encouraged applicants to discuss "cultural traditions" in their essays, asked if they spoke English as a second language and taken note, albeit silently, of those identified as presidents of their black student associations.

Those efforts, along with stepped-up recruiting at high schools with traditionally high minority populations, yielded a freshman class last year with a near-record composition of blacks and Hispanics. Of the 700 freshmen, 7 percent are black, 11 percent Hispanic.

The experience of Rice provides a preview of the subtle ways that life would most likely change inside the admissions offices of colleges like Yale, Princeton and Stanford should the Supreme Court decide to impose strict restrictions on affirmative action. Those restrictions could be issued next year, when, the court said this week, it intends to consider two cases challenging racial preferences in admissions at the University of Michigan.

At issue is the court's 1978 Bakke decision, which has been widely interpreted as permitting public and private colleges to consider an applicant's race a "plus" in assembling a class.

Public universities — including those in Texas, Florida and California — have responded to lower-court decisions and other efforts to roll back Bakke by automatically accepting a set percentage of students ranked at the top of each public high school in their states. Because some of those high schools have heavy minority populations, a minority presence in the university system is assured.

But private colleges like Rice have long shunned such formulas as too mechanical and impersonal and have instead adopted a more nuanced approach that colleges elsewhere see as a blueprint, should they face a prohibition like that imposed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction is Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

"You can no longer say to the committee, `This is a great African-American from New York,' " said Julie M. Browning, the dean for undergraduate enrollment at Rice. "You have to drop a lot of language associated with affirmative action."

Instead, Ms. Browning said, the admissions team at Rice has developed a whole new vocabulary — including the overarching goal of achieving "cultural inclusiveness" in the student body — to justify its admissions decisions.

That new lexicon was evident this morning as the seven-member admissions committee met under a vaulted stucco ceiling here to winnow the list of nearly 500 students who have applied for early admission to the Class of 2007.

One of the first candidates under consideration had an obviously Hispanic last name, but no one on the committee mentioned it. Though other colleges affix color-coded stickers to the folders of minority applicants, Rice blots out students' answers to questions on their application about race or ethnicity. (Office assistants who are sworn to secrecy first record the answers for later use to make a statistical profile of applicants.)

While there were obvious clues that this applicant was Hispanic — a recommendation from a teacher noted his "desire to represent his Hispanic heritage" — the members of the committee found other ways to support his case, including his good grades in hard courses.

"He is first-generation college," said Jamila Mensa, the admissions officer charged with making the presentation. "The teacher described him as altruistic."

Another committee member, noting problems in the student's family, used admissions' shorthand to describe the candidate as "an overcome," and later said, "I just like the `overcome' here."

In the committee's opinion, these qualities helped the student rise above an SAT score more than 150 points below the 1400-point median at Rice in recent years. After just a few minutes of discussion, he was unanimously admitted.

For opponents of affirmative action, who have long argued that colleges have different standards for white and nonwhite applicants, the vote on this student would have provided little comfort. In response to a reporter's question, university officials refused to release statistics that they have gathered comparing the SAT scores of minority applicants accepted to Rice to those of nonminority applicants. They said only that the scores of minorities are generally lower nationally, and in the Rice pool as well.

Partly by engaging in delicate minuets like those danced by the committee this morning, Rice has faced no legal challenges in the six years since the lower court ruled in the case known as Hopwood v. Texas.

"You can't be using race or ethnicity as a factor in admission," said Richard Zansitis, the university's general counsel, in explaining the ground rules of Hopwood, which could serve the Supreme Court as a blueprint. "On the other hand, if a student has shown leadership — it may be in the black students association, it could be the chess club — that's something to look for in assessing that student as an individual. Whether it's leadership in an ethnic or racial organization is irrelevant."

The timing of the Hopwood decision was especially inopportune for Rice, which generally receives about 7,000 applications for a freshman class of about 700. Founded by a wealthy cotton trader in the early 1900's as an exclusively white institution, the university went to court in 1965 to change its charter so that minority students would be welcome to study on its campus of gingerbread buildings.

By 1996, the proportion of blacks (7.7 percent) and Hispanics (11 percent) in the freshman class was among the highest of any top college in the nation. Six years later, the Class of 2006, which arrived on campus this fall, was 7.1 percent black and 11 percent Hispanic. The percentage of Asian-Americans was 16 percent.

Over that period, the university increased its canvassing of high schools with many minority students — including Eleanor Roosevelt in Greenbelt, Md., and Central High School in Philadelphia — and tripled its budget for flying minority students to campus for recruiting visits, which Hopwood permits. (None of the voting members of the committee are permitted to meet those recruits.)

Some minority students at Rice said that the university's abandonment of affirmative action, at least in its classical definition, has made them feel an enhanced sense of pride at getting in.

Vanessa Costilla, 18, a freshman from Anton, Tex., who is Mexican-American, said her admission to Rice probably meant more than her admission to two Northeastern colleges, Smith and Wellesley, which still give a lift to minority applicants.

"I don't think that just because I was Hispanic-American I got into Rice," said Ms. Costilla, the valedictorian of her 25-member high school class and president of "everything except the Future Farmers of America."

"I got in," she added, "because I earned it."

But Kristin Dukes, 19, a sophomore from Greenville, Tex., who is black, said that many of her classmates were unaware of the university's admissions policies.

"At Rice, probably in the back of their minds, kids are still thinking I was privileged to get in because of the color of my skin," said Ms. Dukes, a psychology major. "Just because they have new standards at the university doesn't mean the students at the university feel the same way."


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: affirmativeaction; racialquotas; riceuniversity; universities

1 posted on 12/07/2002 11:27:11 AM PST by GeneD
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To: GeneD
Jesse Jackson's son Yusef Jackson may own a beer distributorship and countless other assets, but the odds are he got into U.Va. Law as a "disadvantaged" applicant. Linda Chavez recently exposed the followng about U.Va. Law's admissions policies:


http://www.ceousa.org/html/update/update.html

"A detailed, 50-page study released by the Center for Equal Opportunity concludes that racial discrimination is widespread in Virginia law school admissions. The report focuses on the three Virginia public law schools -- the University of Virginia, William & Mary, and George Mason University -- and reveals odds favoring black applicants as high as 731 to 1. To put it in other terms: A student with an LSAT score of 160 and an undergraduate GPA of 3.25 had a 95 percent chance of admission into U.Va. if he or she was black, but only a 3 percent chance of admission if white, Hispanic or Asian."

2 posted on 12/07/2002 11:34:41 AM PST by End The Hypocrisy
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To: GeneD
What if a guy's paternal grandmother is real black, his paternal grandfather is Native American, and the maternal grandfather is Irish, and the maternal grandmother is Hispanic. Do you get to pick which race you want to belong to then? It's getting real mixed up folks.
3 posted on 12/07/2002 11:36:55 AM PST by rovenstinez
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To: GeneD
The Federal Government has no authority or business funding Universities so that method of coercion should be eliminated. After that Private Universities should be allowed to make admission decisions on any basis they want to dream up, Public Universities should admit all applicants that meet what ever minimum academic standards they establish in order to limit enrollment without discriminating on the basis of race.
4 posted on 12/07/2002 11:40:27 AM PST by Fish out of Water
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To: GeneD
But Kristin Dukes, 19, a sophomore from Greenville, Tex., who is black, said that many of her classmates were unaware of the university's admissions policies.

"At Rice, probably in the back of their minds, kids are still thinking I was privileged to get in because of the color of my skin," said Ms. Dukes, a psychology major. "Just because they have new standards at the university doesn't mean the students at the university feel the same way."

And at the end of this whole article about how affirmative action lives, the reporter quotes two minority girls talking about how "proud" they are of getting in without a bonus for their race. What a joke!

5 posted on 12/07/2002 11:44:24 AM PST by xm177e2
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To: Fish out of Water
Screw that. Public Universities should be eliminated altogether. Government has no business buying property that could be put to better use by either a private person or company. Do you have any idea what kind of difference it would make in the real world if the thousands of tenured liberals employed by public universites had to earn a living on the basis of their productivity? I laugh just thinking about it.

"Have doctorate in Women's Studies. Will work for food."

ROFLMAO.
6 posted on 12/07/2002 11:48:46 AM PST by LibertarianInExile
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To: GeneD
Teddy Kennedy presumably got into U.Va. law school thanks to a powerfully-written essay about how he had "overcome" the blow to his self-esteem suffered when he was expelled from Yale.
7 posted on 12/07/2002 11:52:55 AM PST by Verginius Rufus
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To: LibertarianInExile
True but the US Constitution tried to tie the hands of the Feds to prevent such interference but States where left free to determine their own course.
8 posted on 12/07/2002 11:55:09 AM PST by Fish out of Water
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To: GeneD
If universities want to be diverse they should start permitting mentally handicapped folks to be in the student body.

Yes, I know they are already represented on the faculty and in the administrative offices... ;-)
9 posted on 12/07/2002 11:57:58 AM PST by cgbg
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To: Fish out of Water
Granted. But the feds have little or nothing to do with private universities like Rice, except student loans and research subsidies. Rice could admit students on the basis of their ability to walk and chew bubble gum, as far as I'm concerned. I would be less likely to hire a black Rice grad knowing what I know about Rice's admissions, just as I have less respect for a white UC Berkeley grad vs. an Asian one.

And that's the real problem: college admissions and degrees, state or otherwise, are a joke. Private schools are the only ones that are primarily affected by it, because if their graduates' education and/or ratings by employers suck, their grads make less money and alumni don't have money to donate. State universities keep on stamping those diplomas out regardless, because the states think it's worth paying for diploma mills.

Nevertheless, state and federal subsidy pays off not on the basis of sucking up to affirmative action, but first and foremost, on the basis of what politicians like. Witness Phil Gramm's Texas A&M payoff, buried in the Homeland Security Act, further evidence that Gramm is just another pork-barreling traitor in disguise, no matter what the neocons try to spout about Senator Enron being a "fiscal conservative."

I think ultimately the solution to problems with education involve ending affirmative action; however, I think we gotta get rid of all subsidies for schools before we bother with that. It's a matter of prioritizing what is the bigger problem with our country, and to me, eliminating all nationally subsidized research and education are way up on the list before discriminating against those who want it.
10 posted on 12/07/2002 12:17:58 PM PST by LibertarianInExile
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To: LibertarianInExile
The university feared that openly defying the federal court could cost it $45 million annually in federal aid, about 15 percent of its budget.

This type of coercion makes things worse all the way around.

11 posted on 12/07/2002 12:25:17 PM PST by Fish out of Water
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To: Fish out of Water
Yes, but private universities receive federal research dollars (via grants from establishments like NIH to individual faculty members to support their research) and therein lies the impossibility of separating public from private -- at least from a governmental support point of view.
12 posted on 12/07/2002 12:29:37 PM PST by Endeavor
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To: Endeavor
What is NIH and where in the Constitution is authority for such government action?
13 posted on 12/07/2002 12:33:18 PM PST by Fish out of Water
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To: LibertarianInExile
"Eliminating all nationally subsidized research. . ." is a particularly uninformed approach. Brilliant work, both in the basic sciences and in application science is performed by University researchers. That research is enhanced, in fact, is only possible, through government induced grants via funding agencies such as NIH, DOE, etc. Otherwise it would not occur, or would be funded by biased third parties with their own particular axe to grind.
14 posted on 12/07/2002 12:36:42 PM PST by Endeavor
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To: Fish out of Water
National Institutes of Health. Do your own homework, and try being a little more informed. I'm not "yo mama."
15 posted on 12/07/2002 12:38:08 PM PST by Endeavor
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To: Endeavor
Why should I care about keeping track of government Acronyms and when are you going to answer the rest of my question?
16 posted on 12/07/2002 12:42:01 PM PST by Fish out of Water
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To: GeneD
I thought courts dropped anvils on organizations that defied court rulings like this. Why have they been allowed to get away with it? If SCOTUS stikes-down affirmative action next year, what's to stop the quota mongers from simply side-stepping their decision in just this way?
17 posted on 12/07/2002 12:55:23 PM PST by pabianice
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To: Verginius Rufus
Teddy Kennedy presumably got into U.Va. law school thanks to a powerfully-written essay about how he had "overcome" the blow to his self-esteem suffered when he was expelled from Yale.

I thought he got an athletic scholorship to be on the swim team.

18 posted on 12/07/2002 12:56:11 PM PST by Blue Screen of Death
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To: Fish out of Water
When hell freezes over, dimbulb.
19 posted on 12/07/2002 1:15:19 PM PST by Endeavor
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To: Endeavor
When hell freezes over, dimbulb.

If you are incapable of supporting your challenge of my statement you should try doing something productive instead of wasting other peoples time with your nonsense.

20 posted on 12/07/2002 1:20:04 PM PST by Fish out of Water
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To: Fish out of Water
Oh really? Who died and made you God?
21 posted on 12/07/2002 1:32:50 PM PST by Endeavor
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To: GeneD
(Office assistants who are sworn to secrecy first record the answers for later use to make a statistical profile of applicants.)

I wonder if the assistant's names are something like, Susie Brown, Nancy Black and Marsha White?

22 posted on 12/07/2002 1:33:56 PM PST by Old Professer
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To: pabianice
I thought courts dropped anvils on organizations that defied court rulings like this. Why have they been allowed to get away with it? If SCOTUS stikes-down affirmative action next year, what's to stop the quota mongers from simply side-stepping their decision in just this way?

That is exactly the reason for writing this article, to serve as a blueprint in the event of a ruling to strike. The author clearly implies this here:

The experience of Rice provides a preview of the subtle ways that life would most likely change inside the admissions offices of colleges like Yale, Princeton and Stanford should the Supreme Court decide to impose strict restrictions on affirmative action. Those restrictions could be issued next year, when, the court said this week, it intends to consider two cases challenging racial preferences in admissions at the University of Michigan.

23 posted on 12/07/2002 1:43:34 PM PST by Old Professer
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To: Endeavor
What makes you think that government funding of research makes it any less biased, and less likely of there being an axe to grind somewhere? Please. There is more worthless 'research' promulgated by government than there is research with a real payoff for humanity. Everyone knows it. Congress hands out pork to universities like candy at Halloween.

FYI, research is not only possible without government subsidy, without government subsidy, it's a damn sight more likely it would occur in areas where it would be profitable to study, as opposed to what some politician would like to see 'studied' by his favorite hometown school and his ol' buddy professors.

Because something is good and productive does not mean that that government has any reason to be involved in it somehow. Don't assume government subsidy makes anything better. If anything, this whole thread should demonstrate to you how much getting Uncle Sam in the mix makes things worse.
24 posted on 12/08/2002 5:59:46 AM PST by LibertarianInExile
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To: Endeavor
What makes you think that government funding of research makes it any less biased, and less likely of there being an axe to grind somewhere? Please. There is more worthless 'research' promulgated by government than there is research with a real payoff for humanity. Everyone knows it. Congress hands out pork to universities like candy at Halloween.

FYI, research is not only possible without government subsidy, without government subsidy, it's a damn sight more likely it would occur in areas where it would be profitable to study, as opposed to what some politician would like to see 'studied' by his favorite hometown school and his ol' buddy professors.

Because something is good and productive does not mean that that government has any reason to be involved in it somehow. Don't assume government subsidy makes anything better. If anything, this whole thread should demonstrate to you how much getting Uncle Sam in the mix makes things worse.
25 posted on 12/08/2002 6:13:06 AM PST by LibertarianInExile
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To: LibertarianInExile
Government funded research is key because it funds both basic and application science. My congressman doesn't have a damn thing to do with whether one of my researchers gets a grant from NIH or DOE or NSF. Nor does he/she direct, via some pork program, my scientists research interest areas. My scientists determine their research areas and apply for govt funded grants in the area of their research.

FYI, I'm totally aware that research is possible w/o govt funding. That usually means it is funded from SOMEWHERE, such as private corporations, private non-profits or private individuals. Each of those groups have their biases which can weigh much more heavily on the money usage than does govt funded grants.

I'm not assuming government funding makes "anything" better. I know that government funding is not only essential for good science to get done, but is also smart - If my govt is going to use my tax dollars to fund research, then I want that research to be in areas of both pure and application science - we get incredible discoveries from both.

No one is saying here, least of all me, that govt funding of research is the only way to do it. Quite frankly, in my opinion, the future of science funding is partnerships w/industry. There are inherent problems with that approach but there are inherent positives too.

26 posted on 12/08/2002 8:37:56 AM PST by Endeavor
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To: Endeavor
You ARE assuming government funding makes something better. You say it's essential for good "pure" science to get done. Seems to me you assume that no one would do it or pay for it if it weren't for good old Uncle Sam and my taxes. And if your assumption is true, if good "pure" science must have government funding to get done, it's simply amazing that history progressed at all before government.

"Aiiigh! Fire burn...Unk need grant."

But I think the most important part of your comments are where you say "If my govt is going to use my tax dollars to fund research..."

The answer to that logic is simple. Defuse the conditional. Your government and mine SHOULD NOT use your tax dollars or mine to fund ANY research.

The problem is that even though expending my tax dollars on NIH or DOE or any other research may produce productive, useful, wonderful incredible discoveries, it doesn't make those expenditures "necessary and proper." It doesn't make them pass constitutional muster. What is productive, useful, and wonderful is up to me to judge, and you taking my money to spend on programs you consider productive and I care not a whit about is just as evil as me taking your money to spend on booze.
27 posted on 12/08/2002 9:13:12 AM PST by LibertarianInExile
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To: LibertarianInExile
There is a relatively new website, www.noindoctrination.com that is very revealing as to what the professors are getting away with in college these days. Students are posting evaluations of bias in lecture, class content, and curriculum by class and prof.names. It makes for very interesting reading confirmimg our worst suspicions about what goes on behind closed doors in our Universities now.
28 posted on 12/08/2002 9:29:58 AM PST by Desparado
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To: GeneD
So they want "diversity". Fine. Expel all of the white kids. Job done.

That is all that "diversity" means. It means "No white folks wanted here". That is the entire meaning of "diversity". It makes a great code word for "complete genocide of all of those evil, dirty, rotten white people".

Diversity. Coming to every first world country on the planet, and to your neighborhood real soon now. Don't complain or else we'll call you "racist".
29 posted on 12/08/2002 9:32:46 AM PST by Billy_bob_bob
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To: LibertarianInExile
Read what I wrote - "I'm not assuming government funding makes "anything" better." Emphasis on the word "anything." Maybe you should take a short course in reading.

Govt doesn't have to fund research. You won't benefit from medical discoveries because they won't happen anywhere near the rate they do now. We won't have a clue about atomic subparts and won't be able to devise a Star Wars system.

Yes, we can go back to the Cro Magnon era you seem to favor. I'd prefer not to and am glad that part of my tax dollars go to fund research that is saving lives, making new discoveries which give us more of a clue about the role of genes in disease, and subatomic particles.

And it looks like, Cro Magnon, you're in the minority (thank God) so you get to live vicariously (and benefit directly) from medical and engineering advancements that would otherwise not have happened if we were left to YOUR own devices.
30 posted on 12/08/2002 9:34:51 AM PST by Endeavor
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To: Desparado
SORRY!! That address is www.noindoctrination.org
31 posted on 12/08/2002 9:35:29 AM PST by Desparado
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To: Endeavor
I read everything you wrote. Which is why I know full well that you SAY that you don't assume that government funding makes "anything" better. But to explain it again: you do in fact make that assumption. You do in fact assume government funding DOES make "anything" better. You assume that it specifically makes research better. This was the point of the word change. Maybe you should take a long course in logic and a longer one in manners.

Liberals are happy to know that there are plenty just like you, that think the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Health and Human Services, and all the rest are vital and necessary--individually. That's how big government gets to be big government. You think your stuff is important and productive, farmers think their stuff is important and productive, and we all get the bill because you're all too busy being important and productive to realize that you're spending OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY.

So as long as it doesn't affect your favorite budget or your government funding, you're conservative. As long as you get the taxes as your paycheck or grant funding, it's okay that the money comes from others. Papering it over with words like "saves lives" and "engineering advancements," peppering me with insults like "Cro-Magnon," and attempting to guilt people into thinking you are some one-person crusade for humanity, that all might make you feel better about the fact you're cashing a check drawn on other people's money, but it doesn't stop you from being a hypocrite.

In deciding that you'll spend my money more wisely than I would, you have accepted the liberal viewpoint that us dumb unwashed "Cro-Magnons" simply won't spend our money in the sensible way it should be spent. So you'll just have to do it for me, to larn me `bout them atomic subparts and Star Wars and health research, and if I'm lucky, maybe someday after hicks like me get all book smarted up you'll teach me. And if I don't grow up, well, you'll just use the government to make sure I pay up, anyway.

Go take your silver pieces and watch O'Reilly. You can imagine you're a conservative again.
32 posted on 12/08/2002 10:16:39 AM PST by LibertarianInExile
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To: LibertarianInExile
Maybe you've missed the concept of representative government. If you don't like where your representatives allocate your tax dollars, deal with them. Otherwise, stop whining.
33 posted on 12/08/2002 10:44:27 AM PST by Endeavor
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To: Endeavor
Oh, I vote absentee, and I'd be willing to bet I've been far more active in representative government than you have, but that's not the problem. The problem is your attempt to sideline the debate, telling me to "stop whining" so that you avoid facing the real issue, which is that you're so happy taking a check and expanding government's intrusion that you forget that you're plain wrong for doing so.

So, you see, I didn't miss the concept of representative government. I just didn't forget that the folks who established our representative government for us intended that government to be for, of, and by the people, not some collective wallet for the fleecing by well-intentioned but smugly self-righteous people like you.
34 posted on 12/08/2002 11:02:04 AM PST by LibertarianInExile
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