FUBAR

So much for academic freedom

Southern California political, media and legal circles have been in a dither over the selection of liberal law professor Erwin Chemerinsky as dean of UC Irvine’s new law school, his de-selection after protests by conservative groups and his re-selection on Monday.

Setting aside the demonstrable fact that California needs another public law school like it needs another drought, it has been an unseemly situation at best, raising all sorts of questions about academic freedom.

Statistically speaking

The always-interesting “Almanac Issue” of The Chronicle of Higher Education arrived this week. Its 96 pages contain a fascinating array of significant and obscure statistics about the current state of higher education in our country. For instance, did you know that in 2005-06 the University of Southern California enrolled 6,881 foreign students, who comprised 21 percent of its student body?

Or that 4.2 percent of all college presidents who are not members of religious orders have never married? You could look it up.

The issue here is black and white

I saw two football games this weekend, one live and one on TV, that each reminded me of what a complex issue affirmative action always is.

The TV game featured the San Diego Chargers, and I was shocked to learn that San Diego’s new coach is Norv Turner. Turner has compiled a poor record in a decade-long stint as an NFL head coach, but he keeps getting hired for some incomprehensible reason (San Diego is his third head coaching position).

A big-bucks divorce case

The divorce case titled Scaife v. Scaife has wound its way through the courts under a blanket of secrecy as both sides struggle over a storied Pittsburgh fortune surpassing $1.4 billion and a temporary monthly alimony payment bigger than the life savings of most people.

Right-wingers sued by one of their own

Larry Klayman, once a hero of conservatives for persistently taking Bill Clinton to court, sued former aides and financial backers of President Bush on Monday for using the name “Freedom’s Watch” to mount a multimillion-dollar campaign in support of the war in Iraq.

Iraq tells Blackwater to get out

The Iraqi government announced Monday it was ordering Blackwater USA, the security firm that protects U.S. diplomats, to leave the country after what it said was the fatal shooting of eight Iraqi civilians following a car bomb attack against a State Department convoy.

The order by the Interior Ministry, if carried out, would deal a severe blow to U.S. government operations in Iraq by stripping diplomats, engineers, reconstruction officials and others of their security protection.

A lost year that cost us dearly

Army Gen. David Petraeus’ report on Iraq, having been leaked to the press for days before his appearance on Capitol Hill, contained no surprises. The surge’s several tactical successes in the Sunni regions are disconnected from any strategic progress in either strengthening the central government or stemming the opportunistic meddling by neighbors. Iraq is slowly separating into its three constituent parts (Kurdish, Shia and Sunni), with Baghdad becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Protestors demand end to Iraq war

Thousands of angry protestors including the families of dead US soldiers marched in Washington Saturday demanding an end to the war in Iraq, the return of US troops, and the impeachment of President George W. Bush.

A crowd of protesters some 4,000 to 6,000 strong gathered outside the White House before marching under a clear sky to the US Capitol building. Many waved placards that read “Support our troops, stop the war,” and “Impeach Bush.”

At the CIA, everything old is new again

The CIA Friday named as head of its espionage service a former senior official who quit three years ago amid a staff rebellion against the agency’s former director.

CIA director Michael Hayden announced the appointment of Michael Sulick as head of the National Clandestine Service, hailing him as a “proven leader who understands our agency and the intelligence community.”

Sulick was associate deputy director for operations when he resigned in August 2004 after a clash with then-director Porter Goss’s chief of staff over the treatment of another agency employee.

Troops will stay in Iraq for years

The US military will be tied down in Iraq with 100,000 troops at least through the presidency of George W. Bush, and a modest size residual force will be there for years to come.

And that is a best-case scenario, as articulated by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Friday after Bush announced plans for more modest troop cuts by mid-July.

“One of the sad aspects of war is there is no script,” Gates told reporters. “That history hasn’t been written yet. And the enemy has a vote.”