The progressive theories which shattered America's academic dominance rejected the millennia-old wisdom that knowledge stimulates understanding, which reciprocally enables the absorption of further knowledge and stimulates further understanding. The paradigm of progressive education is not the ethical transmission of accumulated knowledge from one generation to the next, but an abstract and subjective exercise in revolutionizing how students learn and think in a politically correct environment unpolluted by institutional trivia and socio-historic debris.
As several media sources have noted by now, Barney Frank has admitted that he helped his boyfriend get a job at Fannie Mae, the federally backed mortgage giant, which Frank, as a Congressman, would help to regulate. A decade later, Frank would argue against the Republicans who were worried that Fannie Mae and its sister organization were making too many risky mortgates. Frank suggested that it was prudent to roll the dice, and not crack down on risky mortgages.
Frank complans that:
"If it is (a conflict of interest), then much of Washington is involved (in conflicts)," Frank told the Herald last night. "It is a common thing in Washington for members of Congress to have spouses work for the federal government. There is no rule against it at all.
There is, of course a difference between having a family member or close friend who works somewhere in the federal government, and getting an organization over whom one has power to hire a friend. As the Boston Globe notes, at the time Frank called Fannie Mae and asked them to hire his boyfriend, he was in a position directly to help or harm Fannie Mae.
But it can be difficult to determine who is, and who is not, in a position of influence. And Frank's larger point is correct. Nowadays, it seems that most of our important politicians have spouses and other close relatives who are in the same business, or who stand to benefit from their actions. That was always the case to a certain degree--just look a the Kennedys and Fitzgeralds in Massachusetts, among other cases. But the rise of the two career couple has drawn the circle tighter.
That being the case, I suggest we regulate such nepotism (and its close associated) much more heavily. Given the rise of the two-career couple, such regulation may very well reduce the importance of Washington, DC in American life, by making it a harder city for political couples to live in. It just might return some political influence from the ceter to the periphery, rendering our government closer to the people. Even if it won't make much of a difference in that regard, it would be good for the rule of law, by reducing the importance of special connections among parts of government.
From The New York Times:
House Republicans will seek to reset the economic-policy debate Thursday, offering a broad plan to boost jobs and growth by easing tax and regulatory burdens.
The plan includes a 25% top tax rate on corporations and individuals, compared with the current 35%, as well as higher domestic-energy production, new curbs on government regulations and overhauls of U.S. patent and visa systems to help entrepreneurs and high-tech firms.
Reflecting the GOP consensus that tax increases won't be a part of any eventual budget deal this year, the plan calls for "significant spending cuts" to rein in government deficits.
34 years ago today, in a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars hit the silver screen.
Just for perspective, I was 3 months old.
Quote of the Day
You may have heard it before, but it bears repeating.
The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent Terrorist threats and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated", or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since "The Blitz" in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.
The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the Reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.
The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.
Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."
The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose."
Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.
The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.
Australia , meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be right, Mate." Two more escalation levels remain: "Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!" and "The Barbie is canceled." So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.
- John Cleese, British writer, actor and tall person
1. People are panicking for the wrong reasons. The public retreat from the Republicans came before the Ryan budget dominated the political debate and the most recent Mediscare. As Henry Olsen pointed out, the Republicans did quite badly in the Wisconsin judicial election that was won by the right-of-center David Prosser (the judicial election happened the same week that Ryan rolled out his budget, but it wasn't an issue in that election.). Prosser only won because he did unusually well among African Americans (compared to Scott Walker in last November's election), and African American turnout was low for the election. The fact that it was a formally nonpartisan election probably helped Prosser because he was less associated with the toxic Republican brand. Republican candidates won't have that option in 2012, and Obama being on the ballot should boost the African American turnout. The most ominous sign from Wisconsin and New York is the shrinking Republican margins among white voters. Republicans won white voters by huge margins in 2010, but those margins have receded - and it isn't just Mediscare. There are long-term problems of coalition formation here.
2. Note to future Republican candidates: don't let the Democrats of the hook. Elections need to be choices between different approaches, not referendums on the Republican approach. Don't complain that the Democrats don't have a plan. This is a case where nothing beats something. The Democrats are the party that has already cut Medicare by hundreds of billions for current seniors. The President has proposed a further cut of over a trillion dollars in Medicare to current seniors to be enforced by a bureaucrats. And the deficit isn't sustainable even with those cuts The Democrats are the party of centralized benefit cuts, middle-class tax increases, and fewer jobs.
4. There is a chance for the Republicans to have a really stupid internal debate about where we go from here. One lousy argument will be to retreat to Newt Gingrich nonsense about cutting waste and promising a "national conversation" as a debt crisis comes ever closer. Another (better, but still misguided) approach will be to turn the Ryan budget into some kind of Republican orthodoxy. I want to see Republican politicians and candidates offer their own policies on entitlements and health care policy and those who do so should be welcomed if they pass two basic tests. First, the policies should realistically address our fiscal problems. Second, the policies should have some hope of competing for public support (this last is more subjective of course.) Newt Gingrich's waste cutting strategy and Gary Johnson's proposal to immediately cut Medicare by over 40% and block grant the program each fail in a different way.
5. Someone needs to tell Newt Gingrich that we are already having a national conversation on entitlements. This is what such a conversation looks like. This is, more or less, what such a conversation was always going to look like. Plans are going to be articulated and compete in the political marketplace. Conservatives should be open to constructive criticism of Ryan's plans, but should not despair. The first step is the arduous and thankless task of public education. I'm sure glad Paul Ryan is still out there fighting. We need more Paul Ryans (with slightly different plans.)
6. Okay, maybe a little despair is in order. I don't think that any of the current Republican presidential candidates are going to be much help in winning the public argument on entitlement reform. I hope I'm wrong, but the biggest cause for Republican concern has little to do with the incompetence of the New York Republican Party. But even if I'm right, politics won't stop in November 2012. The Democrats didn't just start fighting for Obamacare in January of 2009. It was a long march. Good for them. We should have equal persistence. Or as Reihan Salam wrote:
The whole brouhaha is a reminder of the need for the right to think long-term. The health reform debate played out as it did because social policy scholars like Jacob Hacker thought deeply about the defeat of Clinton's Health Security proposal and they designed a new approach designed to survive the rough-and-tumble of the political process. To win these fights, policymakers need a half-a-loaf strategy, i.e., fallback options for when they run into resistance. The defeat of the public option was, for health policy advocates on the left, a relatively minor loss, as the likely trajectory of health costs in a tightly centralized system built around subsidizing coverage with a high actuarial value all but guarantees the need for aggressive cost containment measures in the future. Win now, or win later
7. The alternative is for the American center-right to become like the Greek center-right and offer policies that nibble around the edges of the economy's problems and hope to have a share of power until the smash comes. Our smash would end up looking different from Greece's for lots of reasons (this is probably an optimistic scenario), but the alternative to some kind of serious reformism is going to be some kind of ugly.
8. Dave Weigel has the rundown on the role of Republican incompetence and infighting in losing NY-26.
And it'll get better from there. (I'll post the whole thing after it's all over.)The international diplomacy of climate change is the most implausible and unpromising initiative since the disarmament talks of the 1930s, and for many of the same reasons. . . the Kyoto Protocol and its progeny are the climate diplomacy equivalent of the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 that promised to end war (a treaty that is still on the books, by the way), and finally, future historians are going to look back on this whole period as the climate policy equivalent of wage and price controls to fight inflation in the 1970s.
The politics of the Ryan roll-out did not boost my confidence in the possibility of its success. Talk about the importance of "beginning a debate" is really an invitation to demagoguery, as was the case in the 26th. Churchill said that in wartime truth needed a bodyguard of lies. In this war the other side had the lies, while Ryan had a kind of inconvenient truth. Simply unveiling a controversial budget plan and expecting reasonable debate to ensue is an act of self-immolation.
- Justin Paulette, May 25, 2011
Refine & Enlarge
Continuing my video trend today, here's the Israeli Prime Minister on sean Hannity's show earlier today. Excellent commentary from Netanyahu.
Refine & Enlarge
Oh those Canadians.
Kathy Witterick, 38, and David Stocker, 39, are raising their third child, Storm, to be free of societal norms regarding gender. Is Storm male or female? The parents won't say, so no one knows except Storm's older brothers, Jazz and Kio, as well as a close family friend and two midwives who helped deliver the baby.
Luck Storm, Jazz and Kio to have life-partner parents who aren't constrained by silly "social norm" ... like biology. Practitioners of that pseudo-science called psychology "saw several advantages to the atypical scenario, including true self-determination for Storm."
A pro-family group summed up the situation rather succinctly by noting: "The vast majority of people have enough common sense to recognize that this is lunacy."
The French have made a bid to replace their fallen countryman at the IMF with another of their own. Nothing to see here, according to the French, just move right along.
While many in the EU (particularly France) reflect on this international incident as merely an opportunity to criticize the American justice system, some American writers are contemplating the event as a social commentary on the state of modern Europe. According to Ross Douthat at the NY Times:
In the hands of the right screenwriter, Strauss-Kahn's arrest could be the central thread in one of those sprawling, complex, kaleidoscope-of-globalization movies that aspire to Oscar glory. Think "Traffic" or "Syriana," "Crash" or "Babel": the kind of movie that leapfrogs around the planet, shifting from place to place and perspective to perspective in an effort to bring an entire Big Issue into focus.
Instead of the war on drugs or race relations in Los Angeles, though, the subject of this movie would be the potential collapse of the European Union.
no creative mind could have dreamed up an allegation better calculated to vindicate the perception that today's Eurocrats are just a version of the old European aristocracy -- exercising droit du seigneur in high-priced hotel rooms while they wait to catch a first-class flight to Paris.
Pawlenty has announced - a day ahead of schedule - that he's in the race for the presidency. His announcement video takes direct aim at Obama, declaring that he - unlike Obama - will tell you the truth and face America's hard decisions with courage. It's effective. His story is compelling. And with Daniel's departure, he's the conservative heir. Pawlenty is the man to watch.
Daniels is out. I guess I'm for Pawlenty (very provisionally.) Mostly I'm going to be watching a lot of Twilight Zone reruns.
USA Today reports on the state of our economic recovery as compared to other recessions in our nation's history. As the chart below displays (by showing recovery rates 22 months after each recession formally ended), this "recovery" is the worst in history.
Several factors, no doubt, contribute to our present misfortune. But one cannot ignore Obama's egregious and unparalleled stimulus spending. Government spending is pretty much inversely proportional to job growth. This is partly because a great deal of stimulus cash was funneled to Democratic constituencies or immediately circulated into government coffers to pay off state debts, rather than being applied to private contracts which might have "stimulated" the economy. However, the overarching explanation is that Keynesian economics is bunk and uncontrolled government spending ruins economies.
While true believers will argue ad infinitum that external factor explains Obamanomic's failure to launch, the experiment cannot be said to have failed for lack of trying. Obama has spent with reckless abandon and promised to keep the tap flowing. It's hard to imagine anyone seriously arguing that we should (or could) have spent more money than we have. And the result it evident.
Albert Einstein's famous quote seems to apply. "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." An Obama victory in 2012 would reveal either that American's have no knowledge of the facts or that they meet the criteria of Einstein's definition.