Education's Inconvenient Truths

There’s a new movie out—a documentary—entitled Waiting for Superman. It’s an indictment of what some people call public education. The more accurate name for it is government-controlled education. I haven’t seen this documentary yet, but the director, Davis Guggenheim, is a liberal who directed Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, which will never qualify as one of my favorite movies. This time, though, he has some genuine inconvenient truths regarding the educational establishment. Apparently, there are some liberals who are scared about the quality of education the current generation is receiving. Will this film wake up the general public?

Now we come to the real problem—the teachers’ unions. They have a stranglehold on the educational profession. Part of the problem is the circle-the-wagons mentality that wants to hold on to tenure and make quality secondary. The other part of the problem is the ideology to which the unions are wedded:

As I noted in a previous post about the NEA, the resolutions it passes every year at its annual convention are the essence of radicalism: the focus is on every progressive icon—racism, feminism, environmentalism, homophobia, etc.

When you combine a radical ideology with a mania for job security, you don’t want anything to interfere with your near-monopoly, no matter how poorly it’s performing:

We keep tinkering around with the externals rather than rooting out the false ideologies. We continue to trust government and the teachers’ unions rather than allowing the free market to determine educational success. I remember when Bill Clinton made a big deal about wanting to put an extra 100,000 teachers in the classrooms. What does that really solve if you don’t deal with the more fundamental problems?

And woe to any students who might really want to learn:

Unless we attack this problem at the root, we’ll never find a real solution.

The Economy and November

Yesterday, I let the cartoons do most of the talking, specifically on the really ludicrous statements coming from this White House regarding the “recovery.” While I don’t want to overwhelm you with cartoon after cartoon, there are just so many flooding the Internet right now on that specific topic. Take this one, for instance:

Note the calm demeanor of the president, while Uncle Sam is rattled—literally. Then there’s this one:

The image here is a president who is clearly out of touch and more focused on his free time. I’m hoping that the patient [the American economy] isn’t really quite as far gone as depicted.

This out-of-touchness [may I coin a term?] has given Democrats the jitters. They’re getting scared as the midterm elections approach. One of the best columns I’ve read on the current state of the Democrats in light of the upcoming elections comes from Jonah Goldberg. You can find his cogent analysis here. Goldberg recounts a conversation one Democrat congressman had with the president, reminding him of how the Republicans took over Congress back in 1994 due to unpopular policies being pushed by Bill Clinton:

Convinced that his popularity was eternal, Obama responded by saying, yes, but there’s a “big difference” between 1994 and 2010, and that big difference is, “you’ve got me.”

The funny thing is, Obama might have been right. Because things might be much worse for Democrats in 2010 than they were in 1994 — and the big difference might well be Barack Obama.

You need to read the entire article. It’s well worth it.

Meanwhile, there is a sense of doom hanging over the Democrats:

Those who feel that doomsday is approaching may be correct. Personally, I hope they are. The nation will be the beneficiary.

Today’s Surprise: I Recommend My Own Books

In the nearly two years that I’ve written this daily blog, I’ve never, to the best of my recollection (how’s that for a lawyerly term that gets me off the hook if I’m wrong?), advertised for books I’ve authored. Today, though, I would beg your indulgence, since I’ve just had a new edition of one of my books come off the presses.

I first wrote If the Foundations Are Destroyed in 1994. This is now the fourth edition of it, complete with a new cover. Why might you want it? The subtitle, Biblical Principles and Civil Government, tells you what it’s all about. I go through what I consider to be Biblical principles and how they apply to government. These form the basis of all my analyses of current government policies. So if you are a regular reader of this blog, this book will provide a window into why I believe as I do.

I have excerpted some of these concepts on the blog already as an overview. If you are interested in a preview, just click on the “Biblical Principles” category in the right sidebar. To learn more about the book and to order it, go to:

http://ponderingprinciples.com/books/itfad/.

While I’m at it, let me talk briefly about the other two books I’ve written.

I did my doctoral dissertation on Noah Webster. While writing it, I had in mind that I wanted to make it into a publishable book. That’s not always easy with a doctoral dissertation, but I made every effort to ensure the writing style was accessible to a general audience as well as scholars. I hope I succeeded.

Webster was the schoolmaster to early America. His speller and dictionary could be found in nearly all American homes. The subtitle, A Spiritual Biography, lets you know that my goal in this book was to chart the course of Webster’s thinking and worldview. At age 50, he experienced a conversion to orthodox Christian faith. How did that affect his scholarly work? The book compares the pre-conversion Webster with the post-conversion man, while offering along the way an accounting of his contributions to American life and culture. To find out more and order this book go to:

http://ponderingprinciples.com/books/webster/.

In 2001, I completed a study of the Clinton impeachment. My approach was different than any of the other books on the impeachment written at that time. I wrote it from the perspective of the thirteen congressmen—they were called House Managers—who went to the Senate to argue for Clinton’s removal from office. I personally interviewed all thirteen of the Managers in their Capitol Hill offices; this book provides their story on why they thought it was essential to go forward with these impeachment proceedings in spite of public opposition. It’s a study in character and the significance of the rule of law in society.

At the time of its publication, it was a main selection for the Conservative Book Club. Well-known author and editor of World magazine, Marvin Olasky, wrote the foreword for me. This is the only one of my books that is currently out of print (which I hope can be changed someday), but it is still available for those who are interested. For one of the limited number of new copies that still exist, you can order from this page:

http://ponderingprinciples.com/books/misimp/.

If you don’t mind getting a used copy, check out Amazon.

I don’t offer these with any expectation of becoming fabulously wealthy. My primary concern is to disseminate valuable information. I’ve promoted books by a number of authors over the past two years. I just wanted to make sure you are aware of mine as well. I hope some of you decide to add one or more of these to your library.

Prosecuting Arizona

Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made some news. In an interview with Ecuadorean television, she informed the world that the Justice Department was planning to take Arizona to court over its illegal immigration bill.

Let’s look at this development from a couple of different angles. First is the appropriateness of the Secretary of State being the bearer of this news. Her job is international affairs, not domestic. What does this mean? One of two things, either one not good. Either she spoke out of turn, which shows an administration in some state of disarray, or she was tasked deliberately to be the point person on this, which shows an administration in some state of disarray. Wait a minute—the two are the same, aren’t they?

Of course Attorney General Eric Holder is the one who should have been given the task. He’s the one responsible for deciding what types of things should be subject to federal prosecution. His track record is interesting: thugs standing outside a polling place in Philadelphia intimidating voters did not deserve prosecution, in his view; Arizona’s attempt to bring illegal immigration under control does.

Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona never was told about this. In fact, as of today, it’s still not official—Secretary Clinton’s announcement was a trifle premature (unless it was meant as a trial balloon to see how it goes over in public opinion). Brewer has said Arizona will fight this in the federal courts and win. She’s standing tall.

Politically, what does the administration have to gain by pushing for this? A majority of American citizens are in agreement with what Arizona has done. One commentator speculated that since President Obama’s not going to win over those voters anyway, this lawsuit will be a way to galvanize his base going into the November elections. That may be true, but how telling is that as to the nature of our politics at this time?

The last time I checked, illegal immigration was . . . well . . . illegal. The law that makes it so is from the federal government, not Arizona.

Arizona has done nothing more than try to enforce what is already federal law, and for that it is being prosecuted? Take note: this is the nature of the administration currently running our government.

The Real Threat?

I would find it even more amusing that the mainstream media and their philosophical allies are  disappointed the Times Square bomber isn’t a member of the Tea Party if it weren’t so disturbing. They don’t see the real threat right in front of them.

Their whole scenario just blew up before they could indoctrinate their subjects fellow citizens.

Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano is on the case.

Reinforcements are always available in the person of a certain ex-president.

I repeat: it would be amusing if it weren’t so disturbing.

He's Back

Bill Clinton apparently hasn’t changed his mind. The Oklahoma City bombing was 15 years ago yesterday. At that time, President Clinton blamed talk radio [read: Rush Limbaugh] for the atmosphere that created the bombing.

It was ludicrous then; it remains so today. Why? Rush was in no way associated, in person or in philosophy, with Timothy McVeigh. But Clinton made the connection anyway. It served his political purposes.

This week he has spoken up again, now claiming that the Tea Party movement’s rhetoric is fashioning a climate for another Oklahoma City tragedy. Careful what you say, Mr. Ex-President. By the same logic, couldn’t your words be used as a rationale for someone who is on the edge—wondering whether to go forward with a mad scheme?

What are the Tea Partiers saying that’s so harmful? They are merely criticizing the government [a praiseworthy activity when a Republican is in office] and calling the nation back to its founding principles.

Since when is it inflammatory to say we should follow the Constitution? Where’s the “danger” in reminding citizens that the Tenth Amendment declares that if the Constitution doesn’t give a certain authority to the federal government . . . it doesn’t have that authority. Instead, the authority goes back to the states and/or the people. Those words were written by historic flamethrowers such as James Madison. Strange . . . I thought he was supposed to be an admirable example.

Let’s compare a minute. When’s the last time you heard George W. Bush or his father, George H. W. Bush, make statements along the same line as Bill Clinton? When’s the last time either of the Bushes intruded themselves into a current public policy debate?

Yet Clinton [and Carter would have to be inserted here as well] is constantly offering his views and trying to frame the debate. Is that the place of an ex-president [emphasis on ex]?

I believe this cartoon captures quite accurately the substance of his advice—as well as its value.

The Debt Legacy

The Founders of America were always talking about posterity. They wanted to be certain that they created a government and a society that would bequeath liberty and virtue to their children and their children’s children to untold generations.

I still hear talk of doing things “for the children.” Bill Clinton was a master of using the children to promote his policies. But if the policies we follow are going to bind future generations to a massive debt, it becomes obvious some politicians are making “the children” props for their schemes.

I encourage you to go to the following site for a does of reality—http://www.usdebtclock.org/—and see just what we are placing on our children. As of the moment I am writing this blog post, the United States is $12,672,000,000,000+ in debt. That works out to $41,016 per person, $115,491 per taxpayer. The largest budget item is Medicare/Medicaid, coming in at more than $765 billion; the interest—just the interest—on the national debt is fast approaching $200 billion.

Kids, this is your legacy.

Congratulations.

Speaking of congratulations, did you read about one individual who is absolutely thrilled by passage of the healthcare bill?

When Fidel Castro is on your side, you’ve already lost. You would think that would make some Democratic politicians pause. I predict, though, that they will not stop their march into madness.

Ah, yes, a way to get more votes. That’s all that counts, right?