30 April 2008

Time to Revisit Education

Time to bang the school choice drum again.

Not that we ever stopped.

And the more we think about it and read about it, the more convinced we are that Teachers' Unions (not CEO's or oil companies--today's "Robber Barons) are the bad guys. Seriously. Education spending has increased exponentially even under a Republican president and grad rates and test scores continue to plummet.

Don't confuse this with an out and out bash on teachers. We know lots of good teachers who work hard to teach their students. This is an attack on teachers' unions. Their priority is not students, it's self-perpetuation. We'd appreciate an economic evaluation from one of our econ student readers on the implications of a union in an industry with a government guaranteed & run monopoly. Seems like a recipe for disaster to us.

Anywho, read the first article by traditional conservative George Will on the failure of public education:

Education Lessons We Left Behind

This next article talks about something we first addressed back in January--the potential urban appeal of choice and school vouchers. Refresher:
Public education overwhelmingly fails minority students. Given the opportunity, minority parents--especially African-Americans--have taken their child and voucher and gone to better schools. With the Democrats and adversarial teachers' unions joined at the hip, this is an opportunity where Republicans are uniquely positioned to capitalize. What's more, it would not be a case of pander-politics. Conservatives already believe in vouchers and school choice, they simply need to explain how they benefit minority students.
This might be our favorite public policy topic.

McCain's School Choice Opportunity

No, the author of this article does not cite us.

Public education? Less government, please.
Free market! Free market! Free market!


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29 April 2008

Wright Fallout

Yesterday we wrote, "The Obama campaign might want to do a little investigative work to see if Rev. Wright is on the Clinton campaign payroll." Hmmm.

Today, per Drudge, these are the headlines:

Is Jeremiah Wright a colossal disaster for Barack Obama or a press trick?
Press Club president responds: Reynolds pitched Rev. Wright two years ago
Gingrich: Wright May Be Deliberately Trying to Hurt Obama

The implication of the first two is that the Clinton camp had something to do with Wright's appearance before the National Press club--something we joked about yesterday. The last article, by Newt Gingrich, speculates about Wright's motives, something we also wondered at.

Regardless of where you stand (non-issue, important issue), our overriding point from yesterday stands: Rev. Wright's insistence on publicly defending himself thrusts the issue Wright back into the news-cycle and does damage to the Obama campaign. Formally denounced or not, anytime anyone who is vaguely familiar with Rev. Wright hears his name uttered on the news or sees it in the newspaper, they will automatically associate it with Barack Obama.

And really, there's no blaming Republicans generally or the McCain campaign specifically for this one. All of this is a product of the long, drawn out Democratic campaign and the Clinton attack machine.

A couple of weeks ago we listened in on an off-the-record conference call with the the McCain communications people. There was of interesting stuff, but the one we keep thinking about was the rumor out of the Clinton camp: somebody attached to Team Clinton told a friend in Team McCain that they had 2 more bombs to drop on Obama. We don't know if arranging a press conference for Jeremiah Wright was one of the two, but judging from the fallout, bravo, if it were.

Nice to see the old lady hasn't lost her touch.

*UPDATE 30 April 6:19pm MST: James Taranto on one Obama supporter's attempt to use Romney and Mormonism to obfuscate the Wright thing.

Uh, Melissa Harris-Lacewell*? Please do not try again.

*the name of the aforementioned Obama supporter.


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28 April 2008

Rev. Wright Won't Go Away

(For the record, Obama agreed that the Wright issue is a legitimate one.)

No doubt about it, Rev. Wright is not on Barack Obama's team.

If he were, or if there were any coordination between the two, he wouldn't have done the Bill Moyers interview and he wouldn't have appeared before the National Press Club.

Seriously, there is no scenario under which these things could have played out well for Barack Obama. Rev. Wright might have been able to repair, somewhat, his own reputation. But forcing himself back into the news does Obama no favors.

It doesn't help Barack's image as a uniter, not a divider, that Wright characterized attacks on his sermons "not an attack on Jeremiah Wright; it is an attack on the black church." We don't believe that Rev. Wright is representative of black churches everywhere. You better believe that Barack Obama doesn't want to turn this into a black vs. white issue.

It doesn't help that he said in his National Press Club appearance that Obama would say whatever he had to say to get elected:
Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls, Huffington, whoever's doing the polls. Preachers say what they say because they're pastors. They have a different person to whom they're accountable.

As I said, whether he gets elected or not, I'm still going to have to be answerable to God November 5th and January 21st. That's what I mean. I do what pastors do. He does what politicians do.

Just Another San Francisco Democrat.

It doesn't help that Wright didn't back away one whit from his belief that 9/11 happened because of terrorist sins in America's past.

It doesn't help that Wright didn't back away from his comparison of U.S. Marines to the Roman soldiers who killed Jesus.

One other note: Lots of applause and laughter for Wright's comments from the fawning press corps. Of course, that shouldn't surprise anyone.

If Rev. Wright really wanted Barack Obama to be the next President, he would have kept his mouth shut. Defending his previous statements in these two forums just forces an issue damaging to Barack Obama, back into the news cycle.

Look, the Rev. Wright, Barack Obama link isn't going to affect the votes of die hard, left wing Democrats. It's not going to affect the votes of die hard, left wing Republicans. It will, however, affect so called moderate voters--especially the ones for whom Obama's "post-partisan" politics held appeal.

It's a damaging story arc because it exactly contradicts the PR image Barack Obama and his team have worked so hard to create.

The Obama campaign might want to do a little investigative work to see if Rev. Wright is on the Clinton campaign payroll.


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25 April 2008

Petraeus, Odierno & Chiarelli

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Great news from Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates yesterday. General David Petraeus has been nominated to command U.S. Central Command and Lt. General Raymond Odierno was nominated to take Petraeus' spot in Iraq.

This is great news for America and great news for Iraq and Afghanistan. From the Wall Street Journal:
This means that both men will be able to build on the Iraq success of the last year, without losing time as new commanders learn the ropes. It also means that General Petraeus won't face a superior at Centcom agitating that he withdraw troops before Iraqis are ready to handle their own security. That was the case with former Centcom chief, Admiral William Fallon, who recently resigned with a well-deserved White House push. As a theater commander with a direct line to the Defense Secretary and President, General Petraeus also won't have to answer to service chiefs jealous of his success and resources.
We've followed Petraeus since he first commanded the 101st in the early stages of the Iraq War. He is honorable and competent. Lt. General Raymond Odierno is cut from the same cloth. These promotions and the success of these men and our military are evidence, once again, not only of the superiority of our armed forces, but also that the U.S. Military is collectively the greatest meritocracy in the world.

However, the job isn't quite done yet and these nominations will have to face the Democratic (big d) circus in Congress. Ralph Peters in the NY Post described it well and posed the appropriate questions:
It's now up to Congress to respond to Gates' request that these nominations be approved by Memorial Day. Will the partisans on Capitol Hill create another spectacle, or will they do the right thing? Will election-year politics undercut our soldiers yet again?
It's another of our elitist audacious hopes for this country that the adults will be in charge (not Harry Reid, who's nuts) when these promotions come up and that these men will be confirmed and in position to fill their respective commands ASAP.

*UPDATE 30 April 5:38pm MST: Capt. Pete Hesgeth on Generals Petraeus and Odierno: Cleaning Up Mesopotamia


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24 April 2008

More Elitist Drivel

We've been meaning to plug this blog for awhile (and probably already have, though we haven't searched the archives) and now seems as good a time as any.

Libertas, "a forum for conservative thought on film," (are there any others?) reviews Morgan Spurlock's latest documentary about why the Muslim world hates us. We don't know anyone who has seen it, and after reading this review and finding that Spurlock's take is beyond predictable, we think we'll pass too. There's so much of this trash out there, no one can be expected to see it all.

From the review:
Throughout his travels in the Middle East; from Morocco, to Egypt, to the West Bank, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Afghanistan and finally Pakistan, Spurlock stands quietly by and accepts without protest every evil spouted from the mouth of Arabs and Muslims about America. That‘s not creating an understanding. In fact, it’s just the opposite. What Spurlock’s doing in agreeing through his silence, and at times, verbally, is confirming everything that fuels the irrational hatred too many Arabs carry for our country.

I’m not insane, and therefore never expected Spurlock to explain that (however misguided he may feel Bush was) our mission in Iraq is to liberate 25 million people “like them” from tyranny and that we‘re doing so at a heartbreaking cost in both treasure and blood. It’s not even surprising he refused to defend our efforts in Afghanistan. But is the left so far gone that the Arab claim that, “America’s trying to eradicate Islam,” now goes unchallenged? Is there nothing anyone can say anymore that will bring the liberal to the defense of America?
We, too, have often asked ourself that last question.

Dave Berg's National Review review of Stein's Expelled.

If you're looking for a good documentary, try out Ben Stein's latest. Libertas has the review here.

Tired of reading from the 4th best conservative college blogger in the country? Why not take a look at #1 Dartblog's write-up on the recent debate between Dinesh D'Souza and atheist Walter Sinnot-Armstrong. They debated the question, "Can we be good without God?"
D’Souza argued that Christians are still held responsible for the Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials (though he pointed out that recent studies showed that the death toll for those events was grossly overestimated), and that atheism was a central tenet to the doctrines of Marx, Stalin, Mao, and Hitler. He said that “the removal of God and search for a Godless society has led to an ocean of blood”. Referring to Pol Pot as a “mid-level atheist” who only managed to kill two million people, he proceeded to list the impressive string of well known atheists in our lifetimes who slaughtered their citizens. (emphasis in original)
We're still waiting for a Muslim Enlightenment. In the meantime, we'll continue to support efforts to shape Iraq into a democratic country. If it does join Germany and Japan, it will become just the 2nd democracy (extra credit to those who can name the other) in the middle east and perhaps moderates there will lead the aforementioned Muslim Enlightenment.

That's our audacious hope.

*UPDATE 2:37am MST: Okay, this next link isn't elitist drivel, in fact, it strikes us as being quite populist--populist in the sense that harping on CEO pay is a popular thing to do. Of course, that's the definition of populist politics, that they be popular (at least at the moment).

We don't necessarily agree with what buruboi has to say (this is a Pendulum Politics link), but this won't be the first time we disagree with something to which we link AND we think he is fair, or at least, mostly fair in his treatment of the topic. Anyway, read it because it's good writing and because it's an informed perspective.

BT, flame away.


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22 April 2008

Pennsylvania Aftermath

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What to make of tonight's results? Everyone we read and listened to in the days leading up to Pennsylvania said that Hillary needed to win by 10 points to stay in the race. Not only could she stay in the race with such a difference, it would help her make the case to superdelegates that she was the only candidate who had a chance against McCain in big swing states. With a good showing in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, she seems to be right.

And this raises an honest and legitimate question: is Barack just a regional--southern--candidate? If the Democrats had a Republican (read: American), winner-take-all style election, this thing would be over already and Hillary would have won it.

Is there an argument to be made that Hillary is a candidate who can win the general election, while Barack is not? Do any of you buy that argument? If not, how do you explain her performance in all these key states? Will you just overlook it?

In 2004, Howard Dean and his group of netroots, young supporters were pushed aside by establishment Democrats in favor of John Kerry, because he was more electable. Or, at least, they thought so. If they do the same with Hillary, we suspect that because of Barack's broad popularity--particularly among African-Americans--that it could very well tear the Democrats apart.

Poll numbers seem to indicate that neither group would support the other in a general election. We suspect this is more true of Barack supporters than it would be of Hillary, but we don't know. Based on purely anecdotal evidence from our friends who also happen to be Barack supporters, we could see larger numbers of Obamamaniacs voting for McCain in the general election if Hillary is the Democratic candidate.

Given that many of Hillary's supporters are moderate, blue collar, social conservative voters (Pennsylvania, Ohio) the same may be true of her backers.

And all of this leads us to strongly disagree with some of the comments after the last post. This election is infinitely interesting--made more so because of the Democratic primary.

With Hillary's impressive win in Pennsylvania, it looks like we'll continue to enjoy it for a few more weeks.


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21 April 2008

Pennsylvania Day-Eve, &c.

Because we traveled to sunny Southern California last weekend, we weren't able to do our regular reading. This meant, much to our dismay, that we read USA Today. We used to enjoy reading USA Today. It had all these cool features and graphics and stats on the sports page--it was certainly better than our hometown sports page.

Then came the internet.

And our reading taste matured, a little.

After awhile, we realized that USA Today is horrible reporting, horrible writing for the liberal semi-literate. We read, for example, their reportage on the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania and could not believe the amount of editorializing in what was supposed to be a just the facts, please, ma'am article. Mostly it was about the plight of Democrats who can't decide which minority they feel more strongly about giving a chance--a woman or a black man.

Polls still show that both camps will be extremely bitter if the other side wins. What does that bitterness get them? John McCain. Awesome.

Then there's Buzz. Liberal Rev. Buzz Thomas thinks we should all do our religious duty and quit having so many children. It seems the Holy Algorian Environmental Apocalyptic is not satisfied with its denunciation of our (collectively speaking) carbon producin' ways, they're now calling out our kids. This op-ed piece is so ridiculous, we regret even linking to it.

Back to Pennsylvania.

We think tomorrow holds bad news for Obama supporters. No, we're pretty sure he's still going to win. The McCain people we talked to last week are all gearing up for Obama like it's a foregone conclusion. But they, and we, will be more than happy to see Hillary do well in Pennsylvania and continue the fight. The more she bruises him, the less saintly he looks.

And because Hillary is doing the dirty work, McCain and the Republicans won't be the ones blamed for spoiling everyone's Barackian day-dreams. Killing the messenger and all that. Even if the messenger (Hillary) is right about Obama.

With Hillary providing the smack in the face, McCain ought to be able illustrate the extreme left liberal nature of Obama's positions. America is a center-right country, after all, and that's pretty much what McCain is--center-right.

Which brings us to our point about McCain: we've gone from reluctant support of John McCain, to downright admiration for the man (Obama supporter's note: not veneration or adoration). One of the things we appreciate most is McCain's ability to identify talented people and put them in the right spots. We believe that a President McCain will be able to focus on a few of his favorite things--foreign policy, military--and leave the rest to a capable cabinet. Because he's loyal, he'll support them and stand up to the Democrat bullies in Congress. He won't try and micromanage everything.

Hillary would micromanage everything. And if you thought Bush was a "for us or against us" President, wait until you see Hillary.

Obama would community organize everything. That's no way to run a Presidency. What do community organizers do, anyway?

*UPDATE 10:55pm MST: Be sure and check out Emmitt Smith's mock draft. Lots of laughs.

Also, Mark Steyn's weekly installment. He is the best and this week's column is particularly good.


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17 April 2008

Dem Debate

We've scanned the web to get a general sense (salute) of last night's Democratic debate and have been surprised to find that we disagree with most people--at least, according to the Drudge Report poll.

We thought Hillary was sharp, composed, articulate, funny at times, and generally, good. Obama was less impressive than usual. And we don't mean, less impressive according to the standard he set for himself. He seemed less articulate and more convoluted in his logic than we have seen him in the past. We were especially bothered by his default tack: lecturing.

George Stephanopoulos was good. Charlie Gibson was also good. We were shocked, shocked that these two guys actually put hard questions to the two candidates. This was a sharp departure from the love-fest nature of past Dem debates.

On Monday was we drove somewhere, we listened to the Sean Hannity show on the radio. We don't listen to Hannity very often, but when he has an interesting guest, we like to tune in. And on Monday, he talked to Karl Rove and George Stephanopoulos. Sean wanted to know why the press hadn't asked Obama about William Ayers. We won't get into the nitty gritty of the relationship, suffice it to say that Obama's relationship with this admitted terrorist is troubling.

Stephanopoulos has taken a lot of flak today for posing that, and other questions, to Obama. What do these people think? That McCain or anyone else is going to let Obama slide on these things in the general election? The only reason Obama has been as successful as he has been so far is because the press has treated him differently to how they have treated Hillary Clinton.

And this may be the wonderful irony of this election. Because of the press' love for Obama, they may in fact be doing him a disservice by not giving his record the vetting and scrutiny it might normally get during this stage of the campaign. As a result, things are going to come out in the general election--Chicago machine--that will seem like they are being sprung on or swift-boated on the Obama campaign. The truth? The press won't have done it's job so it will take that long to be found out by bloggers or some other source.

This is the double edge of the fawning press sword. Sure, he gets good, free, propaganda from the MSM, but because they don't ask the tough questions he doesn't have to sort through any of the tough things in his past. And we suspect this stuff will come back to bite him.

We first read Stephanopoulos' book, All Too Human, back in 2002. It was fascinating for a number of reasons: it was a window into Clinton's presidency and showed the man to be a flawed genius; it talked extensively about the policy development and rivalries among the Clinton staff; it illuminated interesting points in American history. Now, Stephanopoulos' book suffers from all the same problems common to memoirs: it is hugely tainted by the bias of the author.

It has but one source.

Still, Stephanopoulos seemed pretty fair in the book. He didn't point a finger at everyone else and exculpate himself. He certainly showed himself to be a smart, fair, and idealistic young Democrat. We obviously don't agree with his politics, but his book presented him as fairly reasonable.

And after last night's debate, he gained a whole lot more credibility in our eyes. He asked tough questions of both Hillary and Barack--questions no one else seems to be asking. Partisan supporters of both camps certainly didn't like Stephanopoulos' questions, but we sure did.


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16 April 2008

Just Another San Francisco Democrat

McCain's strategists couldn't have written this any better. Before they could even start to go after Obama, they needed him to look like every other politician. They needed him to be de-canonized and join the rest of us on planet earth.

Thanks to some guy with a recorder and Hillary's constant attacks, Obama is starting to rejoin our (planet earth's) orbit.

We won't get into the meat of Obama's recent comments and analyze them the way others have. Suffice it to say that they reveal Obama to be just like every other elitist Democrat Presidential candidate this country has seen for the last 30 years.

Obama is completely unlike average Americans. And we don't just mean redstate Americans. And we don't mean because he is black. He's unlike the rest of us in the same way that Ted Kennedy is unlike the rest of us.

He's an elitist, Chicago-machine politician, who believes in the failed policies of LBJ's Great Society.

Unfortunately for Hillary and because the MSM continues to give Obama a free pass, the sheen is just now coming off of his campaign. Fortunately for America, there are still 200 days to find out exactly what he is about. We suspect that as the general election approaches, voters will become progressively less and less enamored with Obama.


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15 April 2008

College Blog Follow-up

In the aftermath of the college blog contest, we hoped for a greater level of connectivity between the contestant blogs--a sort of federation of conservative college bloggers. We may not all support the same issues or candidates in exactly the same way, but we hoped that there could be a sort of collaborative effort.

To that end, we weekly linked to our competitors' blogs. To their credit, a few of them linked to the rest of us a time or two. We sent emails to the judges asking for links not only to our blog, but to all the blogs, and a couple three of them obliged. Most recently, Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit.com posted a link. Thanks, Glenn.

We've made a joke of the fact that we got 4th place in the contest (only the top 3 spots are known). When the contest was first announced, we wrote an email to the contest administrators suggesting that perhaps they could get the judges to give each of the bloggers a little post-contest evaluation. We all know the top 3 are the bestest ever, but what about the rest of us? We wanted to know what we could do to improve.

Fortunately, though none of that end of it has materialized, a number of you have written in comments or sent us emails or even talked to us over the phone and in person about some of the things you'd like to see done on this site. You've made suggestions and critiques to help make this place better. And you know what? We really do appreciate it. It's easy to get tunnel vision and think everything is copacetic.

Your critiques have helped make us much more aware of this blog's deficiencies and given us a clearer vision of what we can do to make this website the best it can possibly be (again, given obvious limitations). Thanks for that.


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10 April 2008

Total Eclipse Of The Heart

Saturday, 12 April, 8:30pm-1:00am
Noah's in Lindon

Over a month ago, longtime reader of the blog Voice of Raisin (or whatever he was calling himself at that point) suggested we get behind a few causes. He's right, in that particular sense, that we rarely endorse a specific cause. Typically this blog argues for big ideas and large policy. In relatively few instances do we call for reader support of a small-scale cause.

Part of this is due to the fact that there seem to be as many causes as there are people. And causes are the cool thing to do in college. But we think we've hit on a good one. It's good because it's easy and close to home.

A couple of months ago, a friend of ours, Derek Gosman, was involved in a skiing accident. He fell hard and got busted up pretty bad--broken ribs, a femur, and a coma. His recovery has been nothing short of miraculous. But his recovery was aided by lots of highly specialized medical care and this type of medical care is very expensive. After a couple of months spent in hospitals and physical therapy (ongoing) and other recovery facilities, they have racked up large medical bills.

In order to help the family cover these expenses, Derek's employer, Eclipse, and a number of other good hearted businesses and individuals in the Utah County have teamed up to throw a benefit concert and party to help raise money to cover the costs.

Total Eclipse of the Heart
Facebook event link

Local band the D-Loreans will play, some DJ will spin, prizes will be raffled and hopefully a butt-load of money will be raised.

This is where you come in. If you can, come, and buy raffle tickets. Even if you can't come, donate whatever you can. And spread the word.


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09 April 2008

We Got 4th Place!!!1!!!1!!!ONE!!!

Congratulations to Dartblog for winning the America's Future Foundation inaugural college blogger contest. Thank you to AFF and all the judges involved. We remain gratified, if no richer(!), by our inclusion in this prestigious libertarian/conservative blog contest.

One last time, a plug for our fellow former America's Future Foundation College Blog competitors: Finally, thank you friends of Lybberty, for all your support and encouragement. We know it sounds trite, but we couldn't have gotten this far without you.


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08 April 2008

Barack Hussein Obama Part Deux

We're still catching flak for using Obama's middle name, which is, of course, fine. You only have to have been reading for the last couple of months to understand why we do it--and it has nothing to do with making political hay. For those who have forgotten or simply didn't know, please see this post:

Barack Hussein [bad satire] Obama

We think we pretty well made all the relevant points in that post and repeating them here would only serve to belabor the issue. Heaven knows we do enough of that with everything else; we'll give you a break this time.

One point: does anyone know anyone for whom Obama's middle name is an election deal-breaker?

Seriously?

Personally, we know no one so stupid and, as Critical Badger explained in their comments, there are plenty of other reasons to dislike Obama.


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Politicians As Usual

Before and after skiing today we've been watching General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker on the television. Good stuff. Senator Obama just finished asking his "questions" of these two good men.

A few thoughts:

- these hearings, and especially Hillary and Barack's performance in them, show that winning a primary election is more important to them than what is going on in Iraq. Hillary last September and Barack today both tried harder to score political points than have a constructive conversation about the future of Iraq. Could anyone say the same of John McCain? We didn't think so.

This is just one more sign that Obama is cut from the same cloth as every other smooth-talking politician.

- The way Hillary spoke to Gen. Petraeus last September ("willing suspension of disbelief") and Obama's anti-war lecturing (the war was a "blunder") reflect the type of adversarial relationship the left (and dominant) wing has had with the military since Vietnam. Their badgering and abuse of General Petraeus is shameful. They use him as a cut-out for President Bush--the rightful recipient of their ranting and raving.

We know grandstanding is a Senate tradition, we just wish these two Presidential candidates would forbear when speaking to a man who is clearly doing his best to serve his country.


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07 April 2008

Programming Note

We thought we'd find out the results of the College Blogger Contest today, but we didn't. After calling up America's Future Foundation, we were informed one of the judges was a little tardy returning their ballot. We were promised the results would come tomorrow (Tuesday).

We'll be sure and post whatever we find out on the blog ASAP.

News will probably come as we're on our way up Little Cottonwood Canyon for a day of skiing the fresh pow at Alta. The way we look at it, it's a win/win proposition. Even if we don't win the contest, as we suspect, we still get to ski the good snow at the center of the skiing universe.

Thanks again to all of you who have emailed and commented and generally done all you could to make this blog the best it can be (considering the limits of its author). We really do appreciate you and hope you'll continue visiting us here at OL&L to contribute to our ongoing conversational dialectic. We probably won't keep up the same pace we set during the competition 8+ significant posts per week, though you can expect a post for every business day. We started doing a word count for the posts written during the course of the competition. We haven't finished, but it's going to be thousands and thousands of words. And all of them written by us and edited by our brother.

We're also planning making a few OL&L t-shirts for all of our fans to wear to the gym(and for the haters to use to wash their cars). Friend of the blog, Craig Collette, made up a few pleasing-to-the-eye designs which we'll post to the blog later this week for y'all to vote.

Stay tuned. (that should be the our programming motto)


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06 April 2008

Sunday Night Links

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(from Drudge: we'd be cool with a VP Rice.)
(ps. at least then the Dems couldn't call us racists.)
(pps. they definitely couldn't call us racist: we like Condi AND we're a member of the NAACP.)

***

Tomorrow, sometime, America's Future Foundation will announce the winner of their inaugural college blogger contest. Our gut feeling is not good.

While we all wait, here are a few links to a few good articles:

- Robert Paarlberg in The New York Post on the charity efforts to feed Africans.

- In the Wall Street Journal, and discussing another issue affecting families--our theme of the week--is Donna Freitas. She talks about the "hook-up" culture that dominates college campuses across the country and the damage it inflicts. (hat tip: S. Lybbert)

- Your weekly dose of Mark Steyn.

- Michael Barone provides electoral analysis of the Democrat civil war. So far the bloodletting in this dust-up has been limited to resignations or, in some cases (gasp), forced resignations. If someone actually dies we'll capitalize "civil war."

- Over at Pendulum Politics, RD surveys national news, buruboi takes a look at religion in election years, and also the limits of rationality.

- Finally, the article of the week which also contains the quote of the week. Drum roll, please..... This week's winner, George Will with "McCain's Housing Restraint." And from that article, this gem on liberal Democrats and the "housing crisis:"
The market, which bewilders and annoys liberals by correcting excesses without the supervision of liberals, is doing that as housing prices fall far enough to stimulate demand.
Cross your fingers and toes, everybody. Thanks a bunch for your comments and support.


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05 April 2008

Consource & Heller

Alright all you Constitutionally-inclined readers, here's the Heller update for which you've all been waiting. Most of it is straight from our monthly ConSource update email. ConSource, you'll recall, is the effort to collect, digitize and make available all the primary source documents related to the creation of the Constitution. For the last 2+ years we've "consulted" for our friend Matt Berry, one of ConSource's founders.

***

On March 18, 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Heller v. District of Columbia, otherwise known as the D.C. gun ban case. Though the Second Amendment has been a source of much debate, there has not been a significant Supreme Court case on the subject in over 70 years. More, Heller provides the Court its first opportunity to decide whether the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms.

Most importantly for the project, documents found on ConSource have played a role in the case. Because the Court is reviewing an issue of first impression, both sides have turned to sources from the Framing to decipher the intent of the Second Amendment's obscure wording: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. References and debates pre-dating the Second Amendment are found in the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, State Ratification Debates, and the Legislative History of the Bill of Rights, all available at www.ConSource.org. Links to the documents on ConSource detailing the history of the Second Amendment's creation and reviewed by the parties in Heller are provided at the bottom of this e-mail. To highlight the part of the document that relates to either clause in the Second Amendment, please use the Constitutional Index found on the right-hand side of each document's webpage.

To read a blog written by Judge Paul Cassel on the Volokh Conspiracy about ConSource'’s role in Heller, please click here.

(ed. note: Spikers, we know Volokh is a UCLA guy, hopefully, as an SC guy, you can look past that.)

Related Second Amendment Documents on ConSource.org

The United States Constitution:

Bill of Rights, Amendments I-X

Federalist Papers:


Federalist 4

Federalist 29

Anti-Federalist and Pro-Federalist Papers:

The Dissent of the Minority of the Pennsylvania Convention
(December 18, 1787)

Ratification Debates:

Journal Notes of the Virginia Ratification Convention Proceedings
(June 27, 1788)

Journal Notes of the Massachusetts Ratification Convention Proceedings, A.M. (February 6, 1788)

Alexander J. Dallas’ Notes of the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention P.M. (December 12, 1787)

Legislative History of the Bill of Rights:


Bill of Rights’ Drafts and Votes

Madison's Resolution for Amendments to the Constitution (June 8, 1789)

House Committee Report (July 28, 1789)

Amendments Proposed by the Virginia Convention (June 27, 1789)

Articles of Amendments, As Agreed to by the Senate (September 14, 1789)

Amendments to the Constitution
(September 28, 1789)

Debates in the House of Representatives

The Congressional Register (August 17, 1789)

The Congressional Register (August 21, 1789)

Newspaper Report of the House of Representatives Debates on August 20, 1789 (August 22, 1789)

Letters of the Framers:

John Randolph to St. George Tucker (September 11, 1789)

George Mason to John Lamb
(June 09, 1788)

Jeremy Belknap to Paine Wingate (May 29, 1789

Fisher Ames to Thomas Dwight (June 11, 1789)

Fisher Ames to George R. Minot (June 12, 1789)

***

This case is a perfect example of the usefulness of ConSource. If you are so able, we recommend you make a donation to ConSource to help support their efforts.


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04 April 2008

A Friend Of The NAACP

For those of you not fortunate enough to be members of the NAACP (don't you care for the plight of African-Americans in this country?!), we post the following email we received this morning. It's appropriate because we want to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated 40 years ago today (and like Lincoln, left this world before he could finish his work).
Dear Friend,

Today, on the 40th anniversary of his assassination in Memphis, the NAACP honors the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Forty years after his death, America has seen some progress in equality: educational opportunities have increased and workplaces and political leadership are more diverse. But when you consider these facts, it is very clear that we still have a long way to go.

- African Americans represent just 12% of the overall population, yet almost 30% of those arrested are African American. (link) And once arrested, African Americans are three times more likely to be incarcerated than whites. (link)

- The average net worth of white families is $70,000, compared to just $6,000 for African-American families. (link)

- African-American women are 10% less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than white women, but 36% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. (link)

Dr. King's involvement with the NAACP dates back to his work in Alabama in the 1950's, and the NAACP honored Dr. King with its most prestigious prize, the Spingarn Award. We were proud to work side by side with Dr. King, and to carry on our work today on behalf of all people of color.

Dr. King pushed America to fulfill its promise of equal rights for all. Today we should all honor his life and legacy by recommitting ourselves to keeping the dream alive.

Sincerely,
Dennis Courtland Hayes_Interim President
A couple of thoughts:

- Unlike the NAACP, when we see these statistics, we don't automatically assume the root cause is racism or that the solution is greater equality. We've said it before and we repeat it again here: we value liberty over equality.

As we first pointed out in our MLK day post, the NAACP uses "adverse impact" to explain these differences. We repost Justice Thomas' deconstruction of this flawed logic. He uses the difference between white and black results on the bar exam as his example. From his book, My Grandfather's Son (OL&L Book of the Year 2007):
In the seventies you rarely had to look very far to find a theory, or a black person on whom it was being tried out. Like every other black law student, I was uncomfortably aware that blacks failed to pass the bar exams at a much higher rate than whites, and that the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund had filed lawsuits alleging that the exams they took were racially discriminatory. Lani Guinier, one of my classmates, was involved with the Legal Defense Fund, so I asked her to supply me with information about the extent of the problem and the strategy that the Legal Defense Fund was pursuing. At first I assumed that the disproportionate black failure rate was conclusive evidence of racial discrimination, but the more closely I looked at the facts, the more apparent it became that I was wrong. At that time each question on the bar exam was graded separately by a different scorer and each completed exam identified solely by number, thus making it impossible for the graders to tell which examinees, if any, were black. Some claimed that blacks wrote in "black English" and thus could be identified from the syntax of their responses, but in addition to finding that unlikely, I didn't think it unfair to expect lawyers representing their clients in a court of law to be able to write in standard English. In any case, the inability of a black law student to write and speak English properly wasn't evidence of discrimination by the graders--it was an indictment of the quality of the education he had received. This left only one argument, the Legal Defense Fund's "adverse impact" theory, which held that if a neutral examination produced disparate results among the races, then it could be considered discriminatory. But I didn't buy that, either, knowing that no measurement of any part of our lives ever produced identical results for all racial or ethnic groups. To argue otherwise, I thought, diverted attention from the real culprits, the people who were responsible for the useless education these young people had received.

The problem with my analysis, of course, was that it was of no help to those black students who had already finished school and now found themselves unable to pass the bar exam. But the adverse impact theory had its own built-in problem, which was that its advocates appeared to be suggesting, knowingly or not, that blacks could never catch up with whites. Neither alternative was attractive to me, and I had no easy solution of my own to offer, but at least I'd thought the problem through for myself instead of jumping to a quick and easy conclusion that might be emotionally satisfying but failed to fit the facts. This, I decided, was the right way to approach any problem that excited my passions, and if it led me to disagree with the solutions that were generally accepted, or to advocate positions that would make me unpopular--especially when it came to matters of race--then so be it.
- What's really unfortunate about these African-American crime statistics is that most of these crimes are being perpetrated against African-Americans. It's not unfortunate in the sense that we'd like to see them equally spread out against whites, Asian-Americans, Mexican-Americans, etc. It's unfortunate in the sense that it represents self-destructive behavior.

We think it's a product of, like Wilson pointed out in that article we linked to but no one read, the dissolution of the black family. A dissolution that began with slavery and continued with the destructive results of liberal social policy in Johnson's Great Society. As Wilson notes, what's truly amazing is the resurgence of the African-American family despite the odds.

- 'The family' is the theme. African-American families with mother and father, according to research done by Thomas Sowell (which we are unable to locate now, but with which we will update this post later) compare favorably in terms of income, etc., to white families. The problem with this statistic is how the NAACP defines family.

*UPDATE 4:22pm MST: From Juan Williams' column in today's Wall Street Journal on Barack Obama:
He has stopped all mention of government's inability to create strong black families, while the black community accepts a 70% out-of-wedlock birth rate. Half of black and Hispanic children drop out of high school, but he no longer touches on the need for parents to convey a love of learning to their children. There is no mention in his speeches of the history of expensive but ineffective government programs that encourage dependency. He fails to point out the failures of too many poverty programs, given the 25% poverty rate in black America. (emphasis added)
Remember earlier in the column when we said "the family is the theme?"

**Update 5 April 4:26am MST: From McCain's speech honoring Dr. King:
Dr. King stirred the conscience of our nation to ensure that the self-evident truths of human freedom held true for all Americans. The power of his work and vision was not ended forty years ago in Memphis. Across the world, men and women are living Dr. King's dream as they strive to extend the blessings of human liberty and human rights to all. Today, we mark a tragic day in our nation's history while honoring the work of a man who was the voice for our nation's highest ideals.

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03 April 2008

Family Policy

Image link

Buroboi asks, and we deliver. This post is about government policy that could be used to help families in America. Lest we be accused of plagiarizing the ideas, let us say up front: we've read most if not all of these somewhere else. That said, we've been unable to locate exactly where we read everything first so as to give proper credit. We're pretty sure some of it came from the pens of Ramesh Ponnuru and Jim Manzi.

And again, our caveat: these policy ideas should not be confused for a complete solution. We reaffirm our general agreement with buroboi and Decker by saying that there needs to be a cultural sea change with respect to marriage. We maintain that, however difficult, a legal prong to our family pitchfork is necessary. If we can get Constitutional protection of marriage, we'll take it.

- Child Tax Credit: As it stands, families can receive up to $1000 per child in tax credit. This is limited by income and marital status. We would do two things: at least double the tax credit to $2000 and raise the limit from $110,000 to at least $200,000. Our goal, simply put, is to subsidize the production of children. If that sounds overly economic, so be it. We want to reduce the financial costs of bearing and raising children.

- Eliminate the marriage penalty: Because of our progressive tax scheme, married couples filing together often occasion higher taxes than if they were single, filing separately. Our goal should be to eliminate any financial incentive that encourages people to remain unmarried. At a minimum, we should create tax policy that is neutral with respect to marriage.

- Marriage Tax Credit: There are obvious rule of law problems with this one. Some people can't or won't get married and thus, will never qualify for this tax credit. But families are a net benefit to society and it is in society's and our government's interest to promote them. Some sort of tax credit for married couples would accomplish this.

- Family Insurance Tax Credit: Our final suggestion is part of John McCain's health insurance proposal. We've written about health care before, here & here. Currently, because government taxes wages, but not health care provided by employers, they are essentially subsidizing the HMO's everyone hates. This is also why wages haven't risen the way everyone thought they should: your wages are being paid out in increased health care costs.

John McCain and his team of policy experts have proposed, and we endorse, eliminating the tax exception on company health benefits and providing each individual and family a large tax credit so that they can purchase their own insurance independent of their employer. If we remember correctly, he proposed $5000 per couple.

We understand that rising health care costs put stress on families. We aren't unsympathetic to these problems. We just disagree with Obama and HillaryCare. To employ a little demagoguery, we don't want the DMZ administering universal health care.

Separating insurance from employment would give families greater choice, not only in selecting their insurance, but in picking a job. With no fear of losing insurance, working family members would be free to take the job for which they are best suited and best compensated--regardless of "benefits." This would reduce or eliminate one more family stressor.

- Conclusion: This is by no means a finished (or, as you can tell, polished) product. As Mark Steyn concluded in a column on the family last October:
In the space of 40 years, the middle class abolished “living in sin” and embraced “long-term partners,” and the working class stopped worrying about “broken homes” and accepted the sociological designation of “alternative families.” And reversing it will take a lot more than targeted tax breaks and entitlements: It’s the stupidity, economists.
These policy recommendations are simply the easiest solutions to suggest and the easiest to quantify. There must be legal and cultural prongs to our American Gothic family pitchfork.

*UPDATE 4 April 12:13pm MST: For more on expanding the child tax credit, see this now-found article by Ramesh Ponnuru. Really, really good stuff.


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02 April 2008

Family Follow-Up

Yesterday's post prompted some very thoughtful discussion. We appreciate your comments whether you agree with our point or not.

We hope that you will not get distracted, as in times past, by our examples. Of course gay marriage is an issue that affects the family, but it is by no means the only or even the biggest issue--it's part of a larger cultural problem afflicting marriage. The larger cultural problem surrounding marriage is that marriage and family is no longer a big deal. And we don't mean this in the Anchorman sense.

Marriage and families are started on a whim. We keep referring to Wilson because he's awesome, and his point about the diminution of the family bears repeating--especially for those of you who haven't done your homework. Speaking of marriage, Wilson wrote
we have learned how it (marriage) can be undercut by people who think that their lives will be fuller, their opportunities greater, and their burdens fewer if they are allowed to treat sex as recreation, children as toys, and income as an obligation of government rather than a result of work.
We probably should have had said that "relationships and children" are had on a whim. Meaning, people get together, live together, whatever and have unwanted children with little or no thought to the consequences.

We can think of few more selfish acts.

Then, they either get married or put the child up for adoption or abort the baby, etc., etc.--nearly all of these, certainly the most common, are complete abrogations of their filial responsibilities.

As "rights" have increased in this country, so too have the methods for escaping what should be the responsibilities that automatically accompany them. It's easy to point to women and the right to choose, but where are the prospective fathers? Don't they care at all for their children? Historically, men have always been able to avoid their paternal responsibility because they can just up and leave. Rarely could a woman could do the same with her pregnancy. Abortion, in some women's minds, has leveled the playing field--as though sex and children were some sort of tit-for-tat game.

Spikers is right in the sense that it would probably take a Constitutional Amendment to legally protect marriage in this country. As difficult as that may be, it doesn't mean that it's not a battle worth fighting.

An equally difficult battle, but one which we can fight every day, is the larger cultural battle that buruboi referred to in their comments:
we, those who believe that functioning families are integral to society, should pursue cultural standards that protect the traditional and intrinsic values of marriage. That means cultivating sensible cultural norms that motivate people to realize the right, responsibility, privilege, commitment, and even sanctity of marriage and family (i.e. the Mormon community). This can be effectively accomplished, I think, without instituting legal parameters defining what constitutes marriage.
We would expand the thrust of their comments to include not just marriage, but also the family. Regrettably, there are cultural assaults on more than just marriage and motherhood and fatherhood. In Wilson's articles, the impact of culture on the family is a constant theme. We agree with him and buruboi in believing that there needs to be a cultural sea change with respect to marriage and the family.

For this reason, we oppose abortion and pop cultural attacks on the family and gay marriage and all that stuff because it all affects the family. And for us, the family isn't just this nebulous thing that needs saving just because of political-religious mores. For us, it makes good policy sense. As we mentioned in yesterday's post, strengthen the family and you strengthen America. Want to combat crime or illiteracy or, pretty much anything? Do whatever you can to encourage the necessary policy and legal and cultural changes to help America's families.

*UPDATE 3 April 12:20am MST: Obama's Abortion Extremism, by Michael Gerson


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01 April 2008

Conservatism & The Family

We've been thinking about the American family for quite a while now. First came the Peggy Noonan quote (see below) and then we had a conversation with one of our former professors. This isn't our first word on the family, nor will it be our last. We can't even make this a coherent essay on the topic like we might normally prefer. Please excuse the disjointed nature of this post.

The moral traditionalist wing of conservatism and the Republican party has long waged political battle with so-called progressives over issues related to the family. They understood, and we with them, that families are the very building blocks of a successful society. Every measurable statistic related to an individual's potential success and happy life improves significantly when they come from a home with a mother and a father.

We mention this with caution, as we have a number of friends who come from homes without either a mother or a father. This does not, of course, make it any less of a family. In many instances they, and others across this country, have overcome the odds to be successful, productive members of society. But those who have done so without the support of a traditional family are the exception.

We first wrote about family-related issues when a former BYU professor wrote an open letter in the Salt Lake Tribune encouraging the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to be more allowing of homosexual unions. (here and here)

Then, a couple of weeks ago, in a column about Obama and Clinton, Peggy Noonan mentioned by the by that the great divide in America was not between the haves and the have nots or even between black and white or brown and white, but between those who have functioning families and those who do not. Or, as she put it, "the great divide in modern America, whether or not you had a functioning family." We think she's right.

What's fascinating is that the Left, (for whom it is now chic to refer to oneself as "progressive") which loves to solve societal problems with the latest, greatest gimmicky idea--it takes a village!--ignores the very simplest solution: strengthen the family. This, despite the fact that empirical evidence shows that everything they'd like to improve with their village!, from test scores to jail rates to literacy (really, the list could go on indefinitely) improves when an individual comes from a functioning family. There is nothing more or less complicated to it than that.

It would seem prudent, therefore, that we do what we can to shore up the American family. What the heck is a no-fault divorce, anyway? Marriage for life has ceased to be the norm. Heck, two marriages are quickly ceasing to be the norm. We conservatives almost nominated a man on his third marriage. And much of the multiple marriages and single parent families can be traced back to the easing of divorce laws in the '60's. As James Q. Wilson pointed out, it's easier to get out of a marriage than it is to get out of a mortgage.

(though it would seem many now might wish it were the other way around)

As anyone who has taken intro to economics will tell you: lower the cost of something and demand will rise. As marriage has devolved from lifelong union to a union of convenience, fewer and fewer people get married and fewer and fewer children come from 2-parent homes.

To come at this from another angle, if you want to invest in America's human capital, do what you can to strengthen marriages. Our friends in the teaching profession often talk to us about how they are unable to "reach" certain students or have the impact they'd like because the students' parents are not involved. We still think that vouchers and more school choice could help alleviate that problem, but they do nothing to address the core issue--the breakdown of the family.

And this isn't something we can go about haphazardly. When we first debated gay marriage on this blog, those in favor said, 'where is the empirical evidence that gay marriage doesn't equal successful home?' We pointed to a number of studies coming out of the United Kingdom and the nordic countries, but, unfortunately, we can't prove it conclusively one way or the other.

But we can't prove it now the same way those who were against the loosening of divorce laws in the '60's couldn't prove the disastrous effect that would have on families either. That is to say, progressives are convinced that whatever the latest idea to come down is better than whatever we have now. The case for and from moral traditionalists and conservatism, broadly speaking, is that things are the way they are now because over the centuries of human experience, it has proven to work.

We know that families with a mother and a father have a far greater chance of creating successful happy offspring than any other organization developed. Why experiment with something so essential, something so integral to civilization as the family? The burden of proof in favor of something new, of change for change's sake or because it is being trumped up as a right(!), lies not with conservatives to defend what is, but with progressives to convince that what they have, whether gay marriage or polygamy or some sort of arrangement with them and their vacuum cleaner or a communal village pitch-in effort, can match the success of the family.

Because marriage in this country is not a right, it's a privilege and a responsibility. Furthermore, it's one which should be closely guarded and fortified and strengthened and whatever other verb we've used in this post. We will continue to argue in favor of the family on principle and because it makes good policy sense.

Wherever you may be reading this, we invite you to take up the cause of defending marriage. There are many ways you can do this: vote for and helping to elect people for whom family is important; vote in favor of initiatives that define marriage as between a man and a woman; write letters to the editor of your local newspaper... the list goes on.

For further reading on this topic, see the following from James Q. Wilson:

Why We Don't Marry
The Ties That Do Not Bind: The Decline Of Marriage And Loyalty
The Family Way
Welfare Reform And Character Development
No Easy Answers
James Q. Wilson Interview


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This Is Irony

Unlike most of the things people think are ironic, but which are usually just coincidental. (But hey, we can't blame them. Most people learned about irony from Alanis Morissette. Alanis Morissette!

It's an AP story, but we first saw it in the Seattle Times.

Plagiarism spotted in honor-code draft
"parts of the Texas draft match word for word the online version of Brigham Young University's code."
Apparently, it was the BYU Honor Code section on plagiarism that was plagiarized.

Come on, UTSA students, get your own Honor Code


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