Tag Archives: Rice

Cleveland Sewall, and a Backpage shoutout from the Rice University historian

In the buildup to Rice University’s centennial, the wonderful historian Melissa Kean is keeping a blog about the history of that dear university. The other week, she dedicated a short entry to my own personal favorite character of Rice history: Cleveland Sewall

*cue the Cleveland Sewall theme song*

Cleveland Sewall has young bachelor friends.

Cleveland Sewall, not the marrying kind.

Its 1927, and what do you say?

He’s on the Rice board and he’s a really big donor!

Now, Kean could only find two images of the dear Mr. Sewall. First, this entry in the 1912 Makers of Houston:

I say!

However, most people who know about Cleveland know him from his portrait in his namesake Sewall Hall. And what a portrait it is.

 

Yip yip yip yip yip! Quiet, Muffy! Captain Baker is going to tell us about his time in the navy.

With a rainbow suit, yippy dog, perfect glasses and keen smirk, it is easy to see how this otherwise ignored character can become such a fantastic focus for the student body.

Indeed, as Kean points out, he has been quite the subject of a few Backpages:

Something about the combination of the striped jacket and the little dog seems to call out for Backpage hilarity for some reason.

And certainly, there were Backpages. Like the time I called for him to be elected Homecoming Queen. (pdf: Cleveland Sewall backpage)

But that is not all. Sewall was also featured in some great Dan cartoons. I think these really established the character of Cleveland Sewall beyondthe mere inside jokes we had about Sewall:

 

I think this was the first drawing of Cleveland Sewall

 

 

 

Those old-timey bikes with the big wheel in front is always hilarious

 

Even beyond the Thresher cartoons, Cleveland Sewall had developed further as a character beyond his mere historical existence. Back in junior or senior year, I wrote an outline for a Rice musical. Each scene would be a different decade of the history of Rice. For the 1920s, it would be a musical confrontation between Cleveland Sewall and James Baker.

I hadn’t read that thing in a while, so reading it now to find the Cleveland Sewall sketch has reminded me how utterly awful the end result was. Oh god, that thing I wrote was terrible. It is just a bunch of really bad gay jokes. Maybe I thought it was funny in my head at the time, but now… weeow! No.

Anyways, here it is:

[Scene 2. 1927, Rice board room]

James Baker: Big, imposing stuckup man.

Benjamin Botts Rice: Young, naïve.

Emanuel Raphael: Here

Cleveland Sewall: Paul Lynde. He wears a rainbow suit, see his picture in sewall hall.

Muffy: Sewall’s little white dog.

Baker: Welcome gentlemen to the meeting of the rice institute board of trustees. I am Captain James Baker. And I am very glad to announce that several local philanthropists have pledged $1200 to found a scholarship for our architecture students to travel to Europe. Yes, I know it’s a lot. Now let’s call role. Baker, heh, here. Benjamin Botts Rice.

Rice: Here

Baker: Emanuel Raphael

Raphel: Ahem, here

Baker: and the rest

Rest: here

Baker: And, the man who is making this all possible, William Cleveland Sewall. …. Cleveland Sewell…. [frustrated] Is Cleveland here!

Sewall: Well, if you’re going to take that kind of tone, I don’t know why I come to these meeting at all.

[song! Cleveland Sewall, has young bachelor friends. Cleveland Sewall, not the marrying kind. Its 1927 and what do you say? He’s on the Rice board and he’s really really [

sewall breaks in: Shut up!]

Baker: Ahem, yes. Now I want to thank you very much for giving this money.

Sewall: Of course Jimmy Boy! Anything to help out this university and its wonderful young boys.

Muffy: yip yip yip

Sewall: quiet muffy.

Baker: Cleveland, do you have to bring that dog with you?

Sewall: you mean my muffy? I don’t know. Do you have to bring that kind attitude with you? Maybe I don’t want to give Rice my money…. I’m sorry I don’t mean that. Why do I say such hurtful things…. I’m sorry, what were we walking about.

Baker: [increasingly frustrated] Ahem, your scholarship, Cleveland. Where should these young students travel.

Sewall: Well I remember when I was young, I spent some time in paire. Let’s just say I loved exploring the Eiffel tower. So big and hard, it really had an effect on me.

Rice: What about exploring the arc de triumph?

Sewall: No!

Muffy: Yip yip yip

Sewall: Yes muffy. Daddy only liked the Eiffel tower, not the smelly arc de triumph like that stupid Rice boy wants.

Baker: Yes, Paris would be a great idea. I would also recommend going to Rome

Sewall: Oooh! Nothing like those muscly roman gods to help our young rice boys.

Raphel: Ahem, are we sure Rome is OK? I mean, I don’t know…

Baker: Now Emanuel, I have 20/20 hindsight on rome.

[Sewall giggles]

Baker: And we certainly can’t turn our rears to those great men of civilization.

Sewall: Well maybe you can’t.

Baker: I know that the streets of Rome can be intimidating, but our students must suck it up and take it like men

sewall: I agree

Baker: No ifs ands or buts

Sewall: That’s the kind of talk I like

Baker: Besides, it is certainly better than gay Parie.

[Everyone looks at Sewall]

Sewall: … What?

Baker: Now what sort of students do we want receiving this scholarship.

Sewall: I say we give it to strapping young men. Of course I would have to interview them personally.

Muffy: yip yip yip

Sewall: Yes Muffy. Here is a snackypoo.

Baker: Well Cleveland, it takes a sort of personal strength and perseverance to travel abroad.

Sewall: Oh I don’t know, I’ve traveled as a broad with only my mothers dress and some powder make up, and let’s just say that I made some sailor boys raise there masts. Toot toot.

Muffy: yip yip yip

Sewall: Yes muffy, you’re such a bitch.

[begin rising in clamor, with two men arguing and muffy getting louder]

Baker: Now see here Cleveland! The Navy has a proud tradition of turning boys into men.

Sewall: And so do I!

Muffy: yip yip yip

Baker: I will not have you drag the name of the U.S. navy into the mud

Sewall: Ooh, sounds kinky. Do the young Rice boys do that and can I watch?

Baker: I am a captain in the naval forces. I have defeated threats and pirates on the seven seas.

Muffy: yip yip yip

Sewall: Well some people think I’m a kind of pirate. But I hope you don’t fire your big manly cannon at me.

Baker: You may think this is a joke Cleveland. But I assure you, climbing a ship’s mast is one of the most dangerous things a man can ever do.

Sewall: Well, I guess I’ll just have to make our boys face that danger head first

Baker: You do not know the danger making port in an unfamiliar territory

Sewall: Oh, I don’t know. I’ve had lots of fun dropping anchor in the south seas. Especially the massage parlors.

Baker: Cleveland Sewall, if you will not be quiet and I’m going to have to ask you to leave.

Muffy yip yip yip

Sewall: SHUT UP MUFFY!

[all silent]

Baker: Cleveland, what is your problem. Something is wrong without you. Why can you not take these matters seriously.

Sewall: You’re right. Something is wrong with me.

Ever since I was a little boy

I knew something was a askew

All my friends would  play and fight

But I was not like them or you

They would mope and be all sad

Try to be just like their dad

But my mother she would always say

Don’t be mad, be happy, be gay!

Ready girls?

Gayer than springtime in gay ol parie

[yes he’s so gay]

Gayer than all of those good broadway shows

[oh don’t you know]

Gayer than crème brule served up on doiles

[oh yes he’s gay]

Gayer than anyone you ever did know

[muffy: yip yip!]

Raphel: So did you take her advice?

Sewall: Did I taker her advice?! Listen to the fucking song!

So I got my best suit and I went on the town

[all over town]

Tried to trun those young boys frowns upsidedown

[he made them smile]

It was the best night that I ever had

[oh tons of fun]

Must have fun gay fun with every young lad

Sewall: But I wasn’t done there, oh no! I had to travel the world and teach everyone how to have a gay time.

Traveled the south seas with strapping young men

[oh such young men]

Stroked the highest peak of Himalayas

[they were so big]

Went to all the Turkish bathouses then

[what did you do?]

I turned around and I did it again!

He taught men around the world to be gay

Not to frown, but to brighten their day

Kings, royalty and presidents

Here are some now, I present

King franz: gay

Lord Raulf: Faygela

Ambassador Tojo: Gayasan

Warrior Kugo: [clickclickclic, with lip wrist]

Everybody now!

Gayer than unicorns riding rainbows

Gayer than snapping and responding with sass

Gayer than wide stances in airport bathrooms

Gayer than taking it all up your ..

Sewall: Little miss muffet, sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey

Along came a spider, sat down beside her, and told miss muffet I’m gay!

Sewall: So you see, Jimmy boy, that’s why I am how I am. Do you understand now?

Baker: I, I think I understand now Cleveland. I you know what? I’m sick and tired of being so uptight and angry all the time, like I have some stick up my ass. Do you think you could teach me how to be gay?

Sewal: Oh James, I thought you would never ask.

[embrace]

Baker: But Cleveland, is there anything that makes you not feel gay?

[butler walks in]

Butler: Mr. Sewall, your wife is on the phone

Sewall: Oh that old bag!

[closing music]

Anyways, that was pretty terrible and I don’t know what possessed me to write it at the time. But that is everything I can find, and is probably in existence, about Cleveland Sewall. And most of it is made up.

A paper I wrote for law school about KTRU and Internet Radio

For my Entertainment and Media Law class at Cardozo, I wrote a paper about the legal ramifications of Rice University selling the KTRU license and transmitter. I think it was an A- paper, which I suppose is pretty good. (The professors never responded with a direct grade for the paper, only for the overall class.) Anyways, here in the paper, in which I quote myself (pdf: Mintz KTRU legal) :

I. Introduction and History

A. Selling College Radio Stations

On December 5, 2010, the New York Times ran an article titled “Waning Support for College Radio Sets Off a Debate.”1 The article brought to national attention the problem of universities selling their college radio stations, notably addressing the recent controversies surrounding the sale of Rice University’s KTRU and Vanderbilt University’s WRVU. Since the article was published, Vanderbilt has not solidified any sale of its station. However, Rice University has continued with a sale marred by secrecy and controversy, and is currently waiting for the FCC to approve the license transfer that would allow the University of Houston to take over the frequency, turning KTRU into a classical music KUHC and the University of Houston’s current station KUHF into a 24-hour NPR station.2

Opponents of the sale have provided many reasons for their anger about and opposition to the sale. On the student and alumni side, Rice University has not provided any formal study justifying the sale and sold the station without discussion with the students and alumni who created and managed the station.3 The resulting sale will eliminate a source of media and broadcast education for students and will destroy a link with the surrounding city, local art establishment, and minority community, all contrary to the university’s previously stated goals.4

From the perspective of non-student or alumni opponents to the sale, removing KTRU from the airwaves would eliminate a unique, and award winning, source of music that cannot be found elsewhere in the local radio market.5 Furthermore, the secrecy of the deal was in potential violation of Texas’ Open Meetings Act.6

B. How Has the FCC Looked At Selling Radio Stations?

While monetary concerns, misleading university administrators, and musical aesthetics may make for good protest rhetoric, they do not make a cohesive legal argument against the sale of the KTRU frequency. In fact, in its Opposition to the Petition to Deny, Rice University specifically latched onto this framing of arguments against the transfer as programming-related arguments.7 From this perspective the Commission’s precedent is established: “the Commission does not scrutinize or regulate programming, nor does it take potential changes in programming formats into consideration in review assignment application.” 8

In the past the courts have scrutinized programming out of concern of preserving unique content on the airwaves. In Citizens Committee to Keep Progressive Rock v. F.C.C., the D.C. Circuit stated that it was “in the public interest, as that was conceived of by a Congress representative of all the people, for all major aspects of contemporary culture to be accommodated by the commonly-owned public resources whenever that is ethnically and economically feasible.” 9 While the court refused to distinguish between types of music — “one man’s Bread is the next man’s Bach” — it held that it was “in the public’s best interest to have all segments represented.”10 However, since 1977 the FCC has established that it would allow market forces to determine the broadcast station’s format.11 Furthermore, deregulation of the airwaves at the end of the Carter Administration and beginning of the Reagan Administration eliminated the 1971 Ascertainment Primer and the Renewal Primer that the court relied upon in Citizens Committee, creating less stringent requirements for license applications and renewals.12

While the FCC no longer concerns itself with the content of broadcasts, there is still the question of whether the specter of localism should influence the FCC’s approval of the KTRU sale. In this paper, I will address the concerns of localism as they apply in FCC regulations, and specifically look at Rice University’s recommendation in its Opposition to Petition to Deny that Internet radio over cellular phones serve as an adequate substitute for FM radio.13

II. Localism on the Radio

A. How Does Localism Apply?

1. Localism and KTRU

The Commission has in the past recognized localism as an important part of its charge. In its recent Report on Localism, the FCC has called the concept of localism “a cornerstone of broadcast regulation.” 14 As Friends of KTRU pointed out in its Petition to Deny, this localism mandate extends not just to the availability of a radio signal in a local community, but rather to the ability of that community to transmit issues of local importance over the airwaves and provide “their own media for local expression.”15 Indeed, the Commission has held that “broadcasters are obligated to operate their stations to serve the public interest — specifically, to air programming responsive to the needs and issues of the people in their communities of license.16 From the perspective of FCC rhetoric, KTRU supporters are in a proper position to argue that transferring the license would result in an important loss of local music and media. KTRU programs such as the Local Show, MK Ultra, Vinyl Frontier, Genetic Memory, and the Revelry Report showcase local artists and discuss issues specific to the Houston music community that cannot be found elsewhere on the local airwaves.17 Furthermore, KTRU also provides minority-oriented programing, such as Navrang, which focuses on music from the Indian subcontinent, and Africana, which focuses on music from the African diaspora. In a city where the Nigerian ex-patriot population totals more than 80,000 and more than 4 percent of the entire city population was born in Asia, these shows provide for the local community in ways that other FM stations do not.18 As the Commission instructs, “[t]he principle of localism requires broadcasters to take into account all significant groups within their communities when developing balanced, community-responsive programming, including those groups with specialized needs and interests.”19 These niche shows, with their local DJs, certainly are community-responsive. On the other hand, not one single program will be added to the station after the sale that will be specific to the local Houston community, only adding syndicated and national shows like BBC World News, the Diane Rehm Show, Fresh Air With Terry Gross, BBC World Have Your Say, Talk of the Nation, The World, Beutche Welle Newslink Plus, Tell Me More, and The Story.20 Given the comparison between the station offerings before and after the sale, it seems like the transfer could be denied on localism grounds. However, the Commission has not always applied its ideals of localism in a strict manner.

2. Localism as applied by the FCC and Media Bureau

While rhetoric and written policy by the Commission has emphasized the importance of localism in broadcasting, this importance has not always transferred into enforceable rules. For example, in the case of the assignment of a license of a noncommercial educational station WQEX(TV), a coalition of public-interest groups petitioned to deny the application on the ground that proposed assignee’s broadcasts “would consist almost entirely of sales presentations, with little or no noncommercial local content.” 21 However, the Commission refused to consider the argument, explaining that “the courts and Commission have repeatedly rejected arguments that would require intrusion into the format choices of broadcast licensees.”22 While WQEX concerned application of television license, the FCC Media Bureau has applied similar rationale to FM radio licenses. In the case of C-SPAN’s application for assignment of an FM radio license, some listeners objected to assigning the license because it would change “WDCU(FM)’s current jazz format to a format dedicated primarily to public affairs and news programming.” 23 Other objectors argued that the grant of application was not in the public interest “because C-SPAN’s proposed national programming does not the problems, needs and interests of the [local community].24 However, the Media Bureau letter rebutted these arguments, stating that the Commission “‘has had the appropriately limited role of facilitating the development of the public broadcasting system rather than determining the content of its programming,’” and that under well-established precedent, rather than having to actually demonstrate how it responds to the community needs, “an applicant is required to provide only a brief narrative description of its proposed community issue-responsive service.”25 In the end, the Commission approved the license. Indeed, in a this case concerning sacrificing a music station for news, with similar arguments about localism and public interest, the FCC has made its position clear, leaving KTRU supporters with little legal recourse. However, comparing application in cases with FCC rhetoric still provides a mixed message.

3. FCC Report and Rhetoric on Localism

The FCC’s 2008 Report On Broadcast Localism And Notice Of Proposed Rulemaking spends several dozen pages lamenting the problem of a lack of localism in the broadcast spectrum. Specifically, it identified the problem of broadcasters failing to serve the interests of local communities in developing and promoting local artists and in fostering musical genres.26 The report also addressed the issue of licensees grossly overstating the amount of locally oriented news programming that they offer by including commercials, weather, sports, entertainment, video news releases, and redundancy, with locally produced public affairs programming almost entirely absent.27 Furthermore, the report found that significant groups within communities were not being taken into account by broadcasters when attempting to apply the principle of localism.28

FCC Commissioners have personally expressed concern about trends against localism in the broadcast marketplace. In an address to the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps lamented the “homogenization and monotonous nationalized music at the expense of local and regional talent,” and proposed a system where a certain percent of programming is locally or independently produced.29 Former FCC Commissioner Rachelle Chong even used her Twitter feed to state support for KTRU and concern about the sale.30 So while past cases may not give much hope to KTRU supporters, FCC reports and statements from past and current commissioners may put enough pressure on the Media Bureau to take a hard look at localism concerns in the license transfer. However, in its Opposition to Petition to Deny, Rice University offered an alternative to assuage concerns about losing a unique and local source on the radio: Internet radio.

B. Is Internet Radio An Adequate Replacement for FM Radio?

In its Petition to Deny, KTRU stated that Web radio is not an adequate alternative to FM broadcast because it is not available in the car. Rice contends that this “ignores the increasing available of Web radio via cell phone.” 31 However, there are technological, monetary, and legal concerns as to whether Web radio over cell phones can replace FM radio for listeners.

1. Technological and Monetary Concerns

As of a Nov. 2010 report by Canalys, the most popular smartphone in the United States is the Apple iPhone, which has a 26.2 percent share of the U.S. market.32 The iPhone is currently available only on the AT&T network.33 AT&T’s high use, DataPro plan provides 2GB of data for $25 per month, and $10 for every additional 1GB.34 The average radio stream is 128 kilobits per second, equaling 16 kilobytes per second, equaling 57.6 megabytes per hour. By this math, it would take approximately 34.7 hours of listening to the radio per month to exceed the set data allotment by AT&T and incur additional charges. Merely a bit more than one hour of radio via an iPhone per day would use more data than what AT&T foresees in its highest use plan. In a city where the average commute is around 28 minutes, it is not difficult to imagine someone spending more than 34.7 hours listening to the radio in the car over the period of a month.35 Therefore, in addition to the one-time cost of purchasing an iPhone 4 for $199, or iPhone 3GS for $99, a regular KTRU listener would spend $25 per month to listen in the car, and an avid listener would spend $35 or more per month, meaning $300 or $420 per year. At the high end, this would require the average American to spend 15 percent more on entertainment than the current average annual expenditure of $2,698.36 This additional spending may be cost restrictive for many listeners. On the other hand, one can buy an FM radio for the one-time cost of $9.99.37 While Rice University may have an optimistic view about the ability of Web radio over cell phones to replace FM radio, crunching the numbers reveals that the hardware investment and price of use may make access overly cost restrictive for former KTRU fans. Unless the university is willing to help pay for listeners’ new cell phone bills, it may have an ill-informed perspective on current Internet costs and availability.

2. Legal Concerns

Even if there were not a monetary restriction on the ability of Web radio to replace FM radio, there is still a concern as to whether the FCC could justify eliminating a local source in the FM spectrum because it is otherwise available in the Internet. The Federal Communications Law Journal argues that inherent scarcity of the electromagnetic spectrum mandates that public interest obligations still remain enforced, stating that “despite the motley of other media outlets available-Internet radio, satellite radio, cable and digital television, and the like-the reason underlying such obligations in the first place is still present: electromagnetic spectrum is still scarce.”38 However, unlike various other media sources, radio’s pervasiveness in combination with its scarcity necessitates regulation. Furthermore, a strictly enforced market-based approach will only lead to, and arguably has led to, the creation of technology haves and have nots.39 Indeed, the cost restrictiveness of Web radio emphasizes the public interest charge of the FCC.

However, the FCC has addressed new technology supplanting old broadcasting in the realm of television. Currently, cable systems must carry the signals of local commercial and noncommercial broadcast stations in their local markets, while satellite carriage of local broadcasts is only required in Alaska and Hawaii.40 The FCC has expressed concern that in a small group of cases, the system used to define local broadcast stations results in the required carriage of the broadcast signal of an out-of-state station rather than an in-state station, potentially weakening localism.41 This concern demonstrates that the underpinnings of the must- carry requirements is the protection of localism. If Web radio, or satellite radio, were to serve as an adequate alternative to FM radio, the FCC should first create similar must-carry regulations for telecom providers and satellite radio companies to ensure that localism is not weakened. However, these regulations do not yet exist. Without guarantees of a must-carry provision, the same sort that were imposed on the cable industry as it replaced broadcast television, alternate radio sources cannot serve as a proper guarantors of localism.

III. Conclusion

The rise of Internet music and the perceived declining importance of radio, combined with an economic downturn, has led many universities to sell their college radio stations. The plight of Rice University’s KTRU has risen to prominence as fans and staff of the student-created and student-run, award-winning station have moved from usual campus protests to legal appeals in an attempt to stop the sale of the station. While FCC publications and commissioners’ rhetoric have emphasized the importance of localism, legal precedent does not give KTRU supporters much in the way of support. However, Rice University’s recommendation that the Internet serve as a proper alternative does not stand up to scrutiny. Monetary restrictions and lacking must- carry requirements prevent the Web from serving as a proper replacement for FM radio.

1 John Vorwald, Waning Support for College Radio Sets Off a Debate, THE NEW YORK TIMES, Dec. 5, 2010, available at http://www.nytimes.coml2010/12/06Ibusiness/medial06stations.html.

2 Chris Gray, KTRU Sale Now Totally In FCC’s Hands, HOUSTON PRESS, Dec. 20, 2010, available at http://blogs.houstonpress.com/rocks/2010/12/ktru_sale_now_totally_in_fccs.php.

Save KTRU made it to the New York Times, BURN DOWN BLOG, Dec. 5, 2010, available at https://burndownblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/save-ktru-made-it-to-the-new-york-times/

BURN DOWN RICE!: Selling KTRU violates V2C, BURN DOWN BLOG, Aug. 17, 2010, available at https://burndownblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/17/burn-down-rice-selling-ktru- violates-the-v2c/

Ibid.

6 Steve Miller, KTRU radio station not named in generic Regents meeting agenda; descriptions must be specific under Open Meetings Act, TEXAS WATCHDOG, Aug. 19, 2010, available at http:// http://www.texaswatchdog.org/2010/08/-generic-agenda-item-for-regents-meeting-did-not-name-ktru/ 1282261406.column

7 Rice Opposition at 2.

Application for Assignment of License of WQXR-FM, Letter, 24 FCC Rcd 11761, 11762 (2009).

Citizens Committee to Keep Progressive Rock v. F.C.C., 478 F.2d 926, 929 (D.C. Cir., 1973).

10 Ibid. at 929.

11 Changes in Entertainment Formats of Broadcast Stations, Memorandum Opinion and Order, Docket No. 20682, 60 FCC 2d 858, 863 (1976).

12 In the Matter of Deregulation of Radio, Report and Order, Docket No. 79-219, 84 F.C.C.2d 968, 971 (1981).

13 Rice Opposition at 7.

14 Report on Localism and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 23 FCC Rcd 1234 ¶ 5 (2008).

15 Petition, citing Utica Observer-Dispatch, Inc., 11 F.C.C. 383, 391-92 (1946).

16 Report on Localism and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 23 FCC Rcd 1234 ¶ 6

17 Petition at 10.

18 Ibid. at 11; Reply to Oppositions at 10.

19 Report on Localism and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 23 FCC Rcd 1234 ¶ 69.

20 Petition at 12-13.

21 Application of WQED Pittsburgh (Assignor) and Cornerstone Television, Inc. (Assignee) for Consent to the Assignment of LIcense of Noncommercial Educational Station WQEX(TV), Memorandum Opinion and Order, 15 FCC Rcd 202, 231 ¶57 (1999), vacated in part on other grounds by 15 FCC Rcd 2534 (2000).

22 Ibid. at 232 ¶ 57.

23 Application for Assignment of License of WDCU(FM), Letter, 12 FCC Rcd 15242, 15244 (1997).

24 Ibid. at 15244.

25 Ibid. at 15244-15245, citing Revision of Programming Policies and Reporting Requirements Related to Public Broadcasting Licensees, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 87 FCC 2d 716, 732 (1981); Report and Order, 98 FCC 2d 746 (1984); Request for Declaratory Ruling Concerning Programming Information in Broadcast Applications for Construction Permits, Transfers and Assignments, 3 FCC Rcd 5467, 5467-5468 (1988).

26 Report on Localism and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 23 FCC Rcd 1234 ¶ 35.

27 Ibid. at ¶ 37.

28 Ibid. at ¶ 69.

29 FCC’s Copps Proposes Public Value Test for License Renewal, RADIO, Dec. 3, 2010, available at http://www.radiomagonline.com/fcc/fcc-copps-public-value-test-license-renewal-1203/ index.html.

30 Growing opposition to the KTRU sale OR Know Your FCC Commissioners,BURN DOWN BLOG, Nov. 15, 2010, available at https://burndownblog.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/growing- opposition-to-the-ktru-sale/.

31 Rice opposition at 7.

32 Tim Stevens, Canalys: iPhone becomes most popular smartphone in the US, Android continues as most popular OS, ENGADGET, Nov. 1, 2010, available at http://www.engadget.com/ 2010/11/01/canalys-iphone-becomes-most-popular-smartphone-in-the-us-andro/.

33 http://www.att.com/wireless/iphone/ (iPhone is configured to work only with the wireless services provided by AT&T.)

34 http://www.att.com/shop/wireless/plans/data-plans.jsp.

35 Stephen Ohlemacher, Believe it or not, average communting time drops, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, Aug. 30, 2006, available at http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nation/ 4152068.html.

36 How The Average U.S. Consumer Spends Their Paycheck, VISUAL ECONOMICS, available at http://www.visualeconomics.com/how-the-average-us-consumer-spends-their-paycheck.

37 http://www.amazon.com/Sony-ICF-S10MK2-Pocket-Radio-Silver/dp/B00020S7XK

38 Deliberative Democracy on the Air: Reinvigorate Localism – Resuscitate Radio’s Subversive Past, 63 Fed. Comm. L.J. 141, 188.

39 Ibid. at 190. 40 Report on Localism and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 23 FCC Rcd 1234 ¶ 47, 48. 41 Ibid. at ¶ 49.

 

Rice and UH were using Facebook to research KTRU’s station manager

“Who is Nick Schlossman?”

This one question is a nice little microcosm of the problems surrounding the KTRU sale. Schlossman filed the KTRU Open Record Request (disclosure: which I first drafted) with the University of Houston. UH forwarded this info to Rice University VP of Public Affairs Linda Thrane, to let her know that soon the UH-Rice communications concerning the KTRU sale would be opened to the public.

Her response: Who is Nicholas Schlossman?

UH Director of Media Relations provided what little info he could garnish from an unfriended Facebook page.

Perhaps if the Rice administrators had any connections with their students and campus, they would know who Schlossman was. They would know that he was a student at Jones College. They would know that he was a Rice Thresher copy editor. And most importantly, they would know that he was the KTRU Station Manager for two consecutive years. From Spring 2007 until Spring 2009, Schlossman was THE station manager for 91.7 FM KTRU Rice Radio.

Judging by Texas Watchdog and my own work, Rice initiated selling KTRU before Spring 2009. It is a testament to Rice’s failure of due diligence that it contemplated selling the station without even knowing who the station manager was. (pdf: Rice didnt know ktru station manager)

Rice VP of Public Relations did not know who the KTRU station manager was.

Certainly if Rice had spent some serious amount of time studying KTRU, they would have known who the station manager was. If Rice had actually determined whether the sale of the station would result in the positive outweighing the negative, then it would have at some point learned who Schlossman was.

After all, the station manager dictated how the station operated, what the station played, and overall station policy. If Rice thought that KTRU could be better used, then certainly it should have considered meeting with the station manager, if not talk to him directly. But instead, in the wake of the public outrage surrounding the KTRU sale, the man actually in control of the station was a complete mystery to Rice’s Vice President of Public Relations.

Maybe Rice simply didn’t care about station manger because it is a student position. Maybe Rice thought the station manager was irrelevant because the administrators honestly didn’t care about KTRU’s content. But in the end, Rice should have at least known the station manager as part of due diligence.

Until now, I assumed that Rice had files and communications explaining its justification of and rationality behind the KTRU sale. Unfortunately, I thought, these files would be hidden to records requests because Rice is a private university. However, this little revelation, this ignorance, this “Who is Nick Schlossman,” makes one doubt whether Rice properly researched and justified the KTRU sale.

If Rice is going to sell one of its most public and most well-known assets, it should know every little thing about it. But instead, Rice seems like one of those poor schmucks who sells an autographed baseball, thinking that Babe Ruth is a girl.

I assumed that Rice had some sort of plan that it didn’t want to release because it would reveal financial information, or demonstrate that Rice wanted to sell KTRU long before the public date, or show utter disregard for students. But in the end, maybe Rice just never did its research.

Rice University should hold itself to the same strict academic standards required of its students. If it cannot justify this sale, then the sale should not go through. And right now, Rice does not even know the base KTRU facts, so it resorts to the University of Houston doing Facebook research.

Rice didn't know its basic facts in the KTRU sale

When did Rice first try to sell KTRU?

The blanket tax vote helped cause the sale?

After the Houston Press first reported the KTRU sale (via a leak from a KUHF staffer), President David Leebron offered a litany of arguments explaining why the sale was necessary. One of his arguments, in very diplomatic terms, was that the two votes rejecting an increase in the KTRU blanket tax demonstrated that students did not care about the station, and thus helping initiate the sale. As the President stated in his e-mail explanation to the Rice community:

It is not irrelevant in this context that the students have voted down KTRU blanket tax increases.  These votes have indeed indicated the need to expand our resources for student opportunities in other areas.

One can offer the rebuttal that the blanket tax votes did not reflect an opinion that KTRU should be sold, but rather that it merely did not need any more money. This could even be interpreted as showing that students believed KTRU was already doing a magnificent job, and did not require a funding bump to be a an impressive station.

Furthermore, the second of the two votes garnered 55 percent of student vote, demonstrating a majority of student support. However, blanket tax increases require a supermajority.

But those arguments aside, Rice did state that the votes indicated a need to “expand resources,” meaning sell KTRU. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

But I use a logical fallacy for a reason. Did the votes actually cause the sale?

The blanket tax vote only encouraged an ongoing sale?

After he sent out that first KTRU sale e-mail, President Leebron changed his language. In a Thresher interview, he stated that the votes did not cause or influence the sale, but merely reaffirmed an already ongoing sale process:

“Leebron said that rather than informing the decision to sell the station, however, this merely confirmed the impressions of the individuals dealing with the sale.”

In an e-mail to the public, Rice blames the students’ votes as one of the originating causes of the sale. In an interview with the students, Rice states that the sale was already ongoing when the votes were happening.

So which is it? Did the votes confirm previous suspicions or did they inform new ones? Why the change in rhetoric?

With the release of the Open Records Requests by Texas Watchdog and KTRU, one would think that sale opponents (and other interested parties) would be able to pinpoint when Rice first contemplated selling KTRU. But it is more difficult than you would think.

Rice initiated the sale before both votes?

According to Texas Watchdog, Rice contemplated selling KTRU in 2008, before the first vote:

“E-mails show the purchase of KTRU and its transmitter had been considered at least since early 2009. Rice had wanted to put the radio station up for sale in 2008, but it was delayed, according to the missives.”

By Texas Watchdog’s reporting, Rice’s first attempts to sell the radio station came before the KTRU votes. This would mean that one of Rice’s first justifications for selling KTRU, in the form of President Leebron’s mass e-mail, was inherently misleading. The votes did not influence the sale. The sale was already happening and most likely would continue. Would Rice have changed course if the votes had passed?

One could argue that if Rice had been straightforward about its KTRU schemes, then students would have recognized the importance of the vote. With these hypothetical circumstances, Rice could point to the votes as a true referendum on KTRU. But, under this timeline, Rice kept the sale plans secret from students.

Rice initiated the sale after the first vote?

However, the earliest e-mail that I can find in either the KTRU or Texas Watchdog files only dates to May 29, 2009.

PRC, which was paid by Rice to facilitate the sale, confirming the confidentiality agreement

This date still places the sale between the 2009 KTRU vote and the 2010 KTRU vote. If this records the first serious attempt of Rice selling KTRU, then Rice’s first explanation is perhaps justifiable. The failed first vote encouraged the sale.

However, given the amount of time it takes to arrange the sale of a radio station, how university bureaucracy works, Texas Watchdog’s own conclusions, and President Leebron’s explanation in the Thresher interview, one can fairly assume that Rice began the sale process before both blanket tax votes.

Rice is not subject to Open Record Requests

Then why did Rice blame the votes in that first e-mail? Was it attempting to blame the students? Was Rice just throwing out every argument it could think of to justify the sale? Why the change in rhetoric?

Rice knows when it first contemplated selling KTRU, but you most likely will not. The open record requests from KTRU and Texas Watchdog can only reach records held by the University of Houston, because it is a public university. Rice is a private university, and its own records and communications can be kept private. Plans to sell KTRU may have been going on for years.

Throughout KTRU Outdoor Shows and Battles of the Bands, awards and celebrations and concerts, the offices of the Allen Center may have already been riddled with schemes to sell KTRU in complete secrecy.

And among those records and e-mails are probably the real reasons why Rice is selling KTRU. At least I hope so. It would be very sad if Rice were selling KTRU without a proper vetting and cost-benefit analysis. But so far, none has been made available to the public.

Rice should take the higher ground and release all of its information about the KTRU sale. If the sale is truly justified, then the facts should speak for themselves. Let Rice justify this sale, just as Rice students must justify their arguments in classes. If the university cannot do that, then this course of events will be tainted through Rice’s history as one of its lowest hours, unable to even meet the same standards it holds for its students.

Growing opposition to the KTRU sale OR Know Your FCC Commissioners

 

Rachelle Chong: The Newest Face of the Save KTRU Movement?

Over the past week, there has been a spike in attention to the KTRU sale. This newfound spirit in opposition to the sale corresponds with Texas Watchdog’s release of their Open Records Request info. (KTRU has its own Open Records Request, which I wrote the first draft of.)

The info that Texas Watchdog was able to get from the University of Houston has revealed many interesting tidbits, such as the fact that it was a KTRU staffer who leaked the story, that Rice considered lying to KTRU to get info about the station, that UH and Rice actively kept KTRU references out of public meeting minutes, that there was outspoken questioning of the sale on the UH finance and administration committee that was not covered by any media outlet, that Rice had been planning a sale since about 2 years ago, and so forth.

I hope to comment on some of this later in the week.

However, one of the more interesting developments in the KTRU saga has been a newfound voice of support for keeping KTRU on the airwaves: Rachelle Chong

A former FCC commissioner cares!

Now, what makes her Tweet more important than, say, me, Evan tweeting? Well, you see Ms. Chong has some experience with the FCC — in that she was an FCC commissioner.

President Bill Clinton appointed Chong to the Federal Communications Commission, where she was the first Asian American to serve as an FCC commissioner. She is currently a Commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates private utilities in California, including telecommunications.

The fact that someone with direct experience serving as an FCC commissioner shows that KTRU has a chance. Someone whose job it was to regulate license transfers expressly opposes the KTRU sale. She can be outspoken on the matter because she no longer sits on the commission. However, there is no reason to believe that current members, with similar legal training and background, do not have the same view as her towards the KTRU sale — they probably just know better than to comment on a pending matter.

In fact, the biographies of current members give reason to hope.

Julius Genchowski has the sort of background that may be sympathetic to the KTRU sale

Current Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Julius Genachowski, for example, was an Editor of the Columbia Daily Spectator. This sort of personal involvement in student media hints that he has the background to appreciate the unique broadcasting ability that KTRU has to offer, and may encourage him to take a second look at the transfer.

Copps has explicitly questioned consolidation at the expense of localism. This is good for KTRU.

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps doesn’t have student media experience — at least not listed on his Wikipedia entry. However, he does have a strong opposition to media consolidation. In fact, he has explicitly raised the spectre of “public interest” when it comes to media transfer and consolidation.

“What public interest, what new competition, is enabled by encouraging the newspaper monopoly and the broadcasting oligopoly to combine? This decision further allows the already massive television networks to buy up even more local TV stations, so that they control up to an unbelievable 80 or 90 percent of the national television audience.

Where are the blessings of localism, diversity and competition here? I see centralization, not localism; I see uniformity, not diversity; I see monopoly and oligopoly, not competition.”

Phrases like “public interest” and “blessings of localism” are the sort of key words that will be the spearhead of a pro-KTRU legal argument. With a well-written motion to deny, Copps may see the KTRU sale as a line in the sand, a place where he could stop a purely local and unique station from becoming one of syndicated news reports and rehashed classical that gets played anyways. Maybe you should write a few letters of support for KTRU to demonstrate to Mr. Copps just how important this is. And you can do that by clicking this link right here that these words are part of.

Robert McDowell is a Republican with a soft spot for the arts.

Robert McDowell may not seem like the sort of FCC commissioner who would be sympathetic to KTRU. After all, he has spent time scaring up the ghosts of a return of the Fairness Doctrine, and that sort of paranoid attitude towards media regulation does not make him seem like the sort of guy who would stop a license transfer.

However, McDowell’s testimony in his nomination hearing before Senate painted a picture of a much more balanced thinker.

But the most interesting part of McDowell’s personal history is his former position as Chariman of the Board of the McLean Project for the Arts. The MPA has the self-proclaimed mission of:

“exhibit[ing] the work of emerging and established artists from the mid-Atlantic region; [promoting] public awareness and understanding of the concepts of contemporary art; and [offering] instruction and education in the visual arts.”

Compare this to the KTRU Mission:

“The mission of KTRU as a student organization and a 50,000 watt radio station is to educate the station membership, the greater Houston community, and the students of Rice University through its progressive and eclectic programming in the spirit of the station’s non-commercial, educational license. Musically, KTRU programming will endeavor to solely feature genres and/or artists who are unexposed, or unavailable on, the Houston commercial radio dial.”

Both organizations share a dedication to public education about the arts, and bring attention to emerging and established local artists. McDowell’s experience with the MPA may give him the background and understanding necessary to sympathize with KTRU’s legal appeals and encourage him to recognize that at times, the FCC does need to operate a stronger hand on license transfers. Indeed, it is not a Democratic or Republican position, but a position of promoting local arts for the public interest.

Mignon Clyburn has experience on a family-founded newspaper, the sort of experience that creates a gut reaction against media consolidation.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn is used to regulating utilities. She previously served as the chair of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners Washington Action Committee and is also a former chair of the Southeastern Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. However, most importantly, she spent 14 years as the publisher and general manager of The Coastal Times.

The Coastal Times had a circulation of only about 5,500 (smaller than the Rice Thresher), but her experience on the paper has given her a great respect for the First Amendment, and an attitude that is much more willing than past “prudish” FCC members to stand up for speech.

Meredith Baker (daughter-in-law of James Baker III) attended the University of Houston for law school and opposes regulation even when the goal is fostering competition. She will likely be the greatest opponent to saving KTRU.

Meredith Baker went to UH Law and opposes Net Neutrality, a sign that she is deeply opposed to any sort of FCC interference. Screw that.

 

So there are your FCC commissioners. Things may seem tough and the KTRU sale may appear inevitable. However, a quick look at your actual FCC commissioners demonstrates that the situation is not as bleak as one may think. Several members have backgrounds in local media, and some have even explicitly questioned the trend of media consolidation at the expense of local programming and uniqueness. You can help them remember the importance of local media programming and the true meaning of public interest by writing the FCC and signing onto the KTRU letter. Your voice is especially important if you live within the KTRU broadcast zone. So speak up. All you have to do to save KTRU (or at least force Rice to appeal to the D.C. Circuit) is count to three.

One

Two

Three commissioners.

And KTRU is saved.

Burn Down KTRU Blogger’s Guilt; a guest post from Julia

I have been encouraged to write a line by line response to President Leebron’s interview in the Rice Thresher. It is difficult to keep writing against someone whom, in the end, I respect and owe a great deal. I thought that I was doing a pretty good job treating the KTRU issue like any other cause, but it is different when the people on the opposing side know who you are. And for the first few days, I forgot that I knew who they are.

It is quite trying to balance a deep and heartfelt opposition to the KTRU sale with my personal support for the people who engineered and support the sale.

Reading the comments, not just on this blog but elsewhere as well, some people seem to blur the line, following their support for the Rice administration and therefore supporting the sale. Other people have followed their opposition to the KTRU sale and therefore personally opposed Rice administrators.

I find myself supporting calls for Student Association and Faculty Senate to stand against selling KTRU, against the administrative process that led to the sale, and even against the administrators themselves, yet support those very same administrators.

During my time at Rice, I found my greatest supporters and defenders not among students, but among faculty and administrators. I feel like this blog is just a continuation of what I used to do, but considering the differing responses from former fans, something must have changed.

I do not mean to attack, and I do not mean to hurt. I am just trying to save KTRU. But when I do hurt, that is my failure. Looking back at a personal history, it is an issue with which I have some difficulty.

I dunno, I guess I’ll just keep writing until the KTRU saga is over, and then back to talking about Mad Men.

Anyways, I feel pretty awful, so maybe I’ll have something tomorrow. Until then, here is a guest post from Julia talking about the President’s House vs. KTRU comparison (That’s right, I do guest posts. Want to do one? Just ask. It is pretty open):

The Weiss House represents a tradition at the university, like the hedges and the architectural codes. The tradition is one born in the old south, one that William Marsh Rice would probably be proud of, to control the environment around Rice’s campus and bring a certain atmosphere to the university. Not tangible, but probably part of the reason that Rice keeps getting best quality of life.

Now, is the weiss house a necessary part of that tradition? No. It is not used by the campus community at large.  [insert more arguments here]

Likewise, KTRU is part of another tradition. Another atmospheric ethereal unquantifiable bit of stuff that makes Rice what it is. But it is a different tradition. One that, along with the residential college system, promotes the development of individual identity and empowerment for students at the cusp of defining themselves as adults. It gives students a power and a voice, just as the architectural codes give them comfort and familiarity.

The question we must ask is, now that we have argued against the necessity of the weiss house to the architectural womb of rice, where shall we fall on the necessity of ktru as part of Rice’s role in kicking its growing students out of the nest and into the real world as strong, unique, capable individuals?

It is certainly a unique outlet for student expression, one that cannot be captured by blogs or participation in residential college cabinets, newspapers, or student government. Sure, the students who found their niches there could turn to the other creative public outlets rice offers, which have grown over the past few years, with the addition of more literary magazines and such. However, artistic and political voices cannot always be translated from one medium to another. You cannot dance the “I Have a Dream” speech, nor can you write the Mona Lisa. Which is not to say that KTRU djs are creating timeless masterpieces of human endeavor in their daily work, but depriving them of the opportunity to do so is a detriment to the student body of Rice University.

Fin.

You can post that if you want; i have no outlet of my own in which to do so

Burn Down David Brooks: 10 Politicians Braver than Lindsey Graham

Today, in one of their sometimes entertaining and sometimes enlightening dialogues that plays like a network commercial designed to fill space between New York Times articles but you just know ends with them doin’ it (or at least Brooks trying and Collins turning him down), Gail Collins and David Brooks discussed immigration reform. In this, Brooks refers to Sen. Lindsey Graham as “the bravest politician in the country, bar none.”

This political discussion is a deviation from his traditional wanna-be philosophy grad student TA columns  that set him apart from other middling, sane Republicans whom he joins in his “you ever notice how people in red states drive like this, but people in blue states drive like this” even though he’s never actually lived in a red state. However, it maintains that same essence of his usual work of not being traditionally disprovable, yet eliciting a stream of contrary arguments.

Thus, here is my list of 10 politicians braver than Lindsay Graham, which I compiled while in the bathroom after copyright class.

1. Oliver Queen

Its like if Batman were liberal

Political position

Mayor of Star City

Who is he?

Oliver Queen, aka the Green Arrow, is a superhero. Much like Batman he has no real powers, but some awesome technology and a lot of money. Unlike Batman, he is not a cryptofascist, but rather a traditional liberal. He began expressing his political opinions as a newspaper columnist. In 1979 he ran for Mayor of Star City but lost. However, he runs again after the events of Infinite Crisis and is elected mayor .

Why is he braver?

Because without any superpowers, he routinely fights and defeats people with superpowers, such as a giant, radioactive, North Korean robot. Also, he stands up to Superman and Batman, ensuring that the Justice League not only protects the planet and universe from the biggest crises, but looks after the weak and downtrodden on earth.

So when is the last time Lindsey Graham stood up to a giant, radioactive, North Korean robot?

2. Congressman John Lewis

He represents Hotlanta

Political Position

Representative from Georgia’s 5th Congressional District

Who is he?

Quoteth Wikipedia: John Robert Lewis (born February 21, 1940) is an American politician and was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. He was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and played a key role in the struggle to end segregation. Lewis, a member of the Democratic Party, has represented Georgia’s 5th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives since 1987. The district encompasses almost all of Atlanta.

Why is he braver?

Lewis helped organize non-violent sit-ins, boycotts and protests during the civil rights movement. Specifically, during the Selma to Montgomery marches, police attacked him and beat him in public, leaving scars that you can still see today.

At the 1963 March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a Dream” speech, Lewis’s own speech included the line “Which side is the government on?” (though that line was cut so as to work with the Kennedy Administration).

However, despite being beaten by government officials and questioning they’re dedication to civil rights and being silenced, he did not fight or resort to violence, but joined the system that seemed to attack him at every turn and tried to change it from the inside.

Perhaps his most amazing moment, Lewis received and accepted an apology on live, national TV from a former Klansman who had personally attacked and beaten him.

3. George Washington

Political Position

Really?

Who is he?

Really???

Why is he braver?

I’d like to point to one specific event to illustrate Washington’s bravery. In 1791, congress imposed an excise tax on Whiskey. Considering that they had just fought a war over taxing things, many people refused to pay. While the tax protestors were called to appear before U.S. district court, most didn’t and instead rioted, resulting in the Whiskey Rebellion. As Commander-in-Chief, Washington led a ragtag militia group into the rebelling areas of the country. There was no large standing army at the time and Washington very well may have been marching into a trap of armed tax-dodgers.

Now that takes balls. But what Washington did next was even ballsier. Instead of fighting, Washington addressed those who refused to pay by giving a speech. Before staring, he pulled out his reading glasses so he could read his notes, commenting: “My eyes grow weary in service to my nation.”

The crowd broke down in tears and the violent rebellion disbanded without a shot being fired. Imagine if Abraham Lincoln subdued the Confederacy merely with the opening lines of a speech. That’s basically what Washington did.

Now, the facts of the case are somewhat hazy. But there was a Whiskey Rebellion and Washington did march in with a tiny army and ended the rebellion without a single shot. But it doesn’t matter whether the story is true, Judge Blogreader. Its a good story.

4. Unnamed President in the X-Men cartoon

I'm sure there is some sort of Gender Studies paper to be written about how the woman president doesn't have a name.

Political Position

President in Marvel Universe Earth-92131

Who is she?

Though unnamed, she served President before the election of anti-mutant Senator Robert Kelly to the office of President.

Why is she braver?

During her time as President, the United States began to confront the reality of mutants, for better or worse. On the worse side, the Mutant Control Agency came to be as a private, yet government-supported, organization created with the supposed purpose of voluntary mutants registration. However, this registration information was actually given to the Sentinel program, which then hunted and captured the mutants.

Upon learning about this program, the Unnamed President immediately shut down the program.

In the face of a rising class of superhumans, a growing and at times justifiable fear among the populace, and political pressure, the Unnamed President accepted the help of the X-Men, even though they had just attacked the government installation that housed the Mutant Control Agency, and shut down the discriminatory program.

She did not give in to fear. She did not give in to cowardice. She did not give in to bigotry. Brave.

5. Arnold Vinick

Baaaaaa, bum bum bummmmmm. baa baa bummmmmmm, ba bum ba bummm (da na na na).....

Political Position

Republican Senator from California

Who is he?

On the West Wing, Vinick ran for President and was defeated by the Democratic candidate Matt Santos. Also, I think he served as a surgeon during the Korean War. Then someone killed a chicken, but it was actually a baby.

Why is he braver

I’ll point to one specific moment that was especially brave. In the West Wing episode King Corn, all the candidates are arranged to speak before the Iowa Corn Growers. While nearly all candidates are told to support ethanol, and nearly all oppose it, only Vinick has the guts to tell the corn growers than ethanol is a bad idea. I can’t find a video online, but its a great scene.

6. Christian X of Denmark

I remember a time when royalty had mustaches. Also, I wonder if he's related to Malcolm X.

Political Position

King of Denmark from 1912-1947 and the King of Iceland from 1918-1944.

Who is he?

As King of Denmark, engaged in conflict with the cabinet concerning reunification of Denmark and other territories after the Treaty of Versailles. Also, he had a mustache and apparently was a jerk.

Why is he braver

While his brother the King of Norway went into exile during Nazi occupation, he remained in the capital as a sign of support to those opposing the Nazis. During this time, he used his powers of being a jerk to fight the Nazis.

For example, on the King’s 72nd birthday Adolf Hitler apparently sent him a really long birthday telegram. The King merely replied with a “My best thanks, the King.” In response, Hitler recalled the ambassador from Cophenhagen and expelled the Danish ambassador.

Furthermore, during the Nazi occupation the King would routinely go on daily horse rides around Copenhagen, without any guard. Supposedly, while on these rides, he would wear the same Star of David that Jews were forced to wear. Brave.

Again, it doesn’t matter whether the story is true (I’m recounting it from having read Number The Stars in 5th grade), its a good story.

7. John F. Kennedy

Ich Bin Ein Rich Playboy

Political Position

Friend of Frank Sinatra, also President or something

Who is he?

JFK originally starred in a TV show about him and his brother as children before one of them would later become president. Kennedy was inspired by the plot and entered politics, laying out his plan for his administration in the feature length film JFK, which led to the spinoff film Thirteen Days. To ensure his continuation after his planned assassination, he had himself cloned. His clone would later go on to date the clone of Cleopatra in the illustrated documentary Clone High.

Why is he braver

While JFK served on PT-109, the boat was attacked by a destroyer and literally cut in half. To seek help, Kennedy swam between tiny islands, carrying people who were injured or couldn’t swim well, all the while fighting off crocodiles and sharks.

To summarize: JFK is brave because he fought a shark.

Again: Kennedy fought a shark and won!

Once more: The President of the United States fought a shark and won.

I believe it looked a little something like this

Or this!

8. Sean McBeath

More Sean McStupid. amirite?

Political Position

President of Martel College

Who is he

Sean is tall and worked for the Thresher but then didn’t but then did and also was President of Martel College or something.

Why is he braver

As part of its traditional letters asking for $$$ donations, the Rice annual fund sent out letters apparently on behalf of the college presidents, including their signatures. However, Sean did not cooperate and instead the Rice Annual Fund used a fake, machine-generated version of Sean’s signature without his permission. Sean, and the Thresher, stood up to the administration, which falsely used Sean’s signature and likeness for monetary gain.

Other college presidents had their signatures faked, too. But only Sean stood up for himself. Brave!

9. Brady Tyson

Political Position

Editor-in-Chief of the Rice Thresher

Who is he?

I don’t know too much about him

Why is he braver

In the Sept. 16, 1948 issue of the Rice Thresher, Tyson wrote the following editor to Strom Thurmond:

The Honorable J. Strom Thurmond:

In the opinion of many of us the recent contest in Harris county was marred by the injection of the racial question into the campaign. Full-page ads that mentioned States’ Rights only as a shield to prevent Federal legislation against segregation were used. Inflammatory points were arefully enumerated. The ads threatened “Negroes in your churches, in your schools, in your colleges, in your swimming pools, in your beauty shops,” unless Thurmond and Wright were supported.

Such support can only eventually hurt the cause of the States’ Rights Democrats. The Christian sense of the people of the South, will, at last, become disgusted by such a hate campaign and will react against the States’ Rights Democratic party. If such a campaign is pursued it will only mean that in the eyes of the people of America those of us who stand for States’ Rights must stand also for segregation; whereas I believe the facts to be that many of us who support the States’ Rights ticket are convinced that segregation is morally wrong, and as such must be eventually eliminated thru education and a return to the principles of Christian brotherhood.

Very truly,

BRADY TYSON

Editor The Thresher

This letter got picked up by national news. At a time when Houston, not to mention Rice, still discriminated against blacks, this guy had the balls to call out Thurmond on his unabashed racism.

Thurmond wrote back:

To the Editor:

While the segregation issue is of vital importance to the South, anyone who is familiar with the States’ Rights issue know that it is not the fundamental question which has aroused the patriotism of Southern leaders. The matter of segregation is merely one of the many fields in which the State is supreme under our United States Constitution. Among other questions are those of police power, control of the ballot, and regulation of all internal matters.

Opinions as to segregation vary in the South as elsewhere. I, myself, believe that sep-aration of the races is necessary in my own State for the welfare of both white and colored. But I am firmly convinced that this question is one for decision by the people of the separate states, and not Constitutionally under the authority of the Federal Government.

I hope this answers your questions.

If you publish my reply, please be kind enough to convey to the people of Houston my sincere appreciation for the confidence they showed in the cause of the States’ Rights Democrats in their Harris County referendum on August 28th.

With kindest regards and best wishes,

Very truly,

J. STROM THURMOND

Governor

Tyson, you’ve got balls.

Also, I’d like to give an honorable mention to some random Thresher EIC from the 1920s who wrote in the Thresher a defense of integration both nationally and on campus. I don’t have the actual article on hand, so I can’t write about it. I do recall that most of the letters in response were basically “WOULD YOU LET A NEGRO DATE YOUR SISTER WAWAWA?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!”

10. Vaclav Havel/Nelson Mandela/whatever

Whatever, you know the deal with these guys. Thats 10.

Burn Down Comics about Politicians, specifically James Baker

Apparently, Rice guy and Student Association Election loser Ruchir Shah makes comics about historical figures.

The Baker Institute is supposed to look like a Mosque. James Baker is a Muslim.

There is no Golden Age Obama, he’s clearly a Silver Age character
I don’t know what the plot to the James Baker comic is, but it has to involve the time he was abducted by Sentinals operated by a rogue political force within the Kremlin, but he escaped on board an SR-71 Blackbird, but the extreme heat and exposure to cosmic radiation imbued him to the Phoenix Force, and he had to destroy himself to both save the Earth from his massive power and heal the M’Kraan Crystal. However, it turns out that James Baker was actually a clone and the real James Baker secretly escaped from capture when he was rescued by Rice President Eric Rupp and his International Rescue Committee. In thanks for Rupp’s brave actions, Baker founded the Baker Institute for Public Policy and School for Youth Gifted at Resume Padding and gave Rupp the M’Kraan Crystal, which currently sits within a granite block in the Herring Hall courtyard.

Burn Down Dan Patrick

I like my new glasses more than my old glasses

Hey, it looks like everyone’s old friend State Senator Dan Patrick is being made a silly in the national media Wonkette for making a conservative spinoff of the Texas Republican Party.

Some Republican legislators in the sovereign nation of Texas have formed a new supergroup called the Independent Conservative Republicans of Texas, yee-haw, to help teabagger activists ruin things and also distance themselves from the radical feminist welfare moms who have taken over the regular Texas GOP. The ICRT just launched its new website, which is very brown (!) and has Founding Father pictures and Ronald Reagan junk all over it, what did you expect. There’s also stuff like “core principals” (hate homos/love fetuses/amen).

This all differs from the Texas GOP *how*? The founder of this exciting new organization, State Senator Dan Patrick of Houston, told the Star Telegram that Real Patriotic Conservatives need a place to go that doesn’t have what’s his name, the strip-club what-up guy, Michael Steele.

“I don’t want those folks to represent who we are,” Patrick said.

A fun-fact about Dan Patrick is that he once asked a doctor to neuter him live on the radio. For better teabagging, he did this.

Read more at Wonkette: http://wonkette.com/414811/texas-republicans-make-up-new-more-republican-group#ixzz0l5WH692y

Pfsh, this is old news! I was making fun of Dan Patrick in the national media Rice Thresher before it was cool!

Patrick goes beyond the talk radio stereotype of the millionaire egocentric self-promoter who repeats the xenophobic talking points that allow white, middle-age males to think they are an oppressed minority.

http://the.ricethresher.org/opinion/2007/01/12/dan_patrick_texas_senator

I did it before it was cool

That column even got posted on FreeRepublic.com by someone with a Right_at_RiceU handle, and I learned some very important things about me, Evan:

Montrose = gay

I’ve actually run into this Mintz loser at local political events where both sides are represented. He is everything you would expect from a Rice Undergrad who hangs out on Montrose regularly. Dan is on the opposite side of everything this loser sees as Utopia, thus this pathetic column that he probably wrote in November and had to wait for the Legislative Session to begin before he could publish it.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1766709/posts

Wow, BUSHdude2000 was like a psychic or something. I did hang out on Montrose regularly. Admittedly, its really more of Lower Westheimer, but that doesn’t shout BUTTSEKS like Montrose does.

However, the real story is further in the comments:

“Craddick’s strong-arm tactics of forcing votes and shutting out any minority opinion have finally caught up with him. Now Republicans and Democrats alike are uniting to elect a Speaker who will give every member a full and equal voice.”

So, “Evan Mintz” thinks someone other than Tom Craddick is Speaker??

In his parallel-but-confused universe, perhaps…

This is funny, because I was right. Or basically, anyone who observed Texas Politics and then said what was probably going to happen was right. Craddick lost the speaker election, pushed out by Democrats and various Republicans, giving us Moderate-for-Texas Republican Speaker Joe Straus, whose name sounds Jewish.

And this is where the story loops around to the actual point at the beginning. The purpose of Patrick’s party isn’t to reject black people like RNC Chair Michael Steele, its to reject Jewish-sounding people like Speaker Straus.

Specifically, the points of the group are vague to the point of a nonsensical political dogwhistle:

-Stand for conservative principals and to put people before Party.

-Fiscally accountable, limit the size of government, and fight for free market principles.

-Protect our borders and to support a strong military.

-Protect life, support strong family values, and uphold the Judeo-Christian beliefs our nation was founded upon.

-Honor the Constitution and protect the sovereign rights of Texas.

http://www.texastribune.org/blogs/post/2010/apr/12/trib-blog-republicans-respond-tea-party/

The real story is in the membership. You see, the group is by invitation only, and they haven’t invited every Republican member of the Texas House and Senate. As Jason Embry, with the Austin American-Statesman points out:

With a handful of exceptions, the House members who joined Patrick’s group are not heavy-lifters under GOP Speaker Joe Straus. And most of the key lawmakers who helped elect Straus — Reps. Jim Pitts, Dan Branch, Burt Solomons, Charlie Geren, Jim Keffer, among others — aren’t on the list. Neither is Straus.

http://www.burntorangereport.com/diary/10240/speakers-race-44-texas-house-republicans-basically-pledge-against-joe-strauss

This isn’t an anti-Steele thing. This isn’t even a super-conservative thing. This is an anti-Straus thing. Its the He-Conservatives No Strauses club (we can have one). Membership only available by superawesome invitation, with conservative levels to be measured by Patrick’s own Conservameter.

It even seems like its going to go beyond Strauss. Patrick wants to cull his own party of signs of moderation. He isn’t going to limit this plan to merely Speakers elections, but to general elections as well:

“If you’re a Republican and you can’t stand for those five core principles and you’re not proud to stand for those core principles, then we’ve got a problem,” Patrick said

Patrick seems to want to run out moderate Republicans, or at least moderate for Texas, and replace them with the crazies he knows and loves. In his own words, he wants to “get that message out, to connect with Tea Party”. But Tea Party isn’t exactly going to go over well in the long run. As I wrapped up in that column a few years ago:

In the end, Patrick will probably end up learning a lesson in political enemy-making not from Republicans or Democrats, but from his own constituents. In only a few years, the rising Hispanic middle class may start to call Patrick’s suburban district their home. And I am sure they would rather tune their political radios to someone who did not make his career blaming Hispanic immigrants for the collapse of civilization.

And the Tea Party’s (semi?)-racist pushing and shoving will only make the unelection line go faster.

Burn Down Logizomai?

I just learned that my (probably) best column ever (Lakewood: All the fire without the brimstone) is going to be used in an upcoming book titled “Logizomai: A Reasonable Faith in an Unreasonable World.

I was superexcited.

Was

Until I realized that the so called book was a basically a collection of blog entries by some online ranter so unoriginal and cliche as to rebuff arguments for gay rights with bestiality comparisons.

Really? Bestiality? I think thats a Blue-3 to a Blue-2 on a Derozier Political Argument Grid. If you’re arguing that, its a sign that you’re not even trying to listen to the other side. (Key word: Consent).

I’d link to his blog where he comments on my column, but I’m not sure about sending the millions and millions of hits a link from this blog would certainly provide. But that’s a risk I’ll have to take. LINK

He also writes about politics and religion and such. I don’t want to ruin it all so SPOILER ALERT: Evolution is bad.

Anyways, here is a direct clip of my article

I successfully used this column as a pickup line at Rice. That's how good it was.

Anyways, the book is being published by Wipf and Stock Publishers, so look for it in at your local Church gift shop.

And yeah, rereading what he wrote about my column makes me realize that he didn’t really get it. But whatever, I loves the attention. Professional punditry, here I come!