Tonight we have the old nature vs. nurture argument presented as a reason for lousy schools, various stories about how totally down the toilet our economy is going, some ethical issues in D.C. (duh!), and a sad story about more Haitians drowning in their attempts to reach the U.S.
Be sure to read the essay on a possible reason for the Air Force One fly-by over New York City. If it sounds paranoid, it’s because we live in paranoid times. It’s a top-down problem which the One was supposed to solve but seems to have made worse.
Hat tips to Fjordman, Heroyalwhyness, JD, and Net Right Nation. Hope I didn’t miss anyone.
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Middle-class children are more likely to be clever than those from poorer families because they have ‘better genes’, former Ofsted chief Chris Woodhead said yesterday.
He suggested that grammar school pupils were more likely to be middle-class because ‘the genes are likely to be better if your parents are teachers, academics, lawyers, whatever, and the nurture is likely to be better’
In an interview with the Guardian, he argued that Labour had betrayed a generation by refusing to accept that some children were not suited to formal secondary education.
Ministers should accept that some youngsters are simply born ‘not very bright’ and allow them to pursue practical training instead of forcing them into the classroom.
Hogswallop. Our country, and I am sure Britain as well, is full of bright, productive people who came from impoverished backgrounds. This dude needs to accept the glaring failures of government schools which are more concerned with being politically correct than they are in educating children.
Overloaded boat sinks off Florida, killing 10
A boat overloaded with around 30 people, possibly Haitians being smuggled to the U.S. from their desperately poor country, sank off the Florida coast early Wednesday, dropping the occupants into the sea. The Coast Guard rescued 17 and was searching for others but said at least 10 died, including one child.
“The boat was obviously overloaded,” Coast Guard Capt. James Fitton said. “It’s a tragedy that someone would be so callous with human life.”
The economic conditions in Haiti are deplorable, and I don’t see them getting any better any time soon,” said Andy Gomez, a University of Miami expert on Caribbean migration. “And the Haitian-American community has developed a pretty good network here in the last five or 10 years, just as the Cuban-Americans have done, so there’s more of a reason to come.”
Four tropical storms and hurricanes battered the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country during last year’s harvest season, killing 793 people, crippling agriculture and causing $1 billion in damage to irrigation, bridges and roads.
Some of the survivors ought to tell our President that they were willing to risk death to come to a country he feels compelled to apologize for.
Who Gets the Prize?
President Barack Obama is considering a list of more than six contenders for the Supreme Court that is dominated by women and Hispanics, one that includes judges and leaders from own his administration who have never donned a judicial robe.
The president is widely expected to choose a woman for a Supreme Court that has nine members but only one female justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He is also under pressure from some Latino officials to name the nation’s first Hispanic justice. Moreno and Sotomayor are Hispanic.
Whomever he picks will be one of those “Living Constitution” types who reflect Obama’s transnationalism and the continuing drift away from our founding documents by the elitist law schools. It’s a shame
Pope’s Would-be Assassin Wants to Convert to Christianity
The man who shot Pope John Paul II says he would like to convert to Christianity at a baptism ceremony at the Vatican soon after his release from prison in January, his lawyer said Wednesday.
Over the years, Mehmet Ali Agca has made frequent claims that he is the Messiah or Jesus Christ, raising questions about his mental health and leading to speculation that he had converted to Christianity.
Agca shot and seriously wounded John Paul in St. Peter’s Square 28 years ago, on May 13, 1981. The late pope met with Agca in an Italian prison in 1983 and forgave him.
Agca is currently serving a prison term for killing Turkish journalist Abdi Ipekci. The gunman is due to be released on Jan. 18, 2010.
Definitely a head case. The man thinks he should be baptized in the Vatican. Good luck with that.
The Visual Subtext of the Statue of Liberty Fly-by Photo
By Victor J. Massad
One image alone was released from the expensive photo op that terrified New Yorkers last month. Out of God only knows how many images taken during the mission, only one was chosen. It speaks powerfully to the American public — in symbolic language.
The ominous and imposing aircraft dominates the scene in such a way that, in gestalt parlance, no one could mistake the figure for the ground. The figure is an aircraft that serves as Air Force One, representing the Messianic omnipotence of the Obama presidency. Below it, part of the background — a small and less relevant thing in comparison to the aircraft — stands the Statue of Liberty, representing the individual freedoms that Americans have come to treasure and enjoy.
The message and its purpose could not be clearer: we must reset our priorities. Now that the democracy is at last headed by this magnificent and elegant man, we must put the federal government and its needs ahead of our paltry individual freedoms. Of what value, after all, is the property Americans have spent their lifetimes to acquire, or one’s right to defend oneself with a firearm, or even the privilege of living in an upwardly mobile society that used to be the envy of the rest of the world, in comparison to the Leader’s magnificently powerful icon, glistening like a phoenix in the sun?
The question is whether, in the absence of any mainstream reporting as to the symbolic purpose of the photo, its wide dissemination will actually have the originally-intended effect? In psychology, this is referred to as the “peripheral route to persuasion.” It refers to the phenomenon whereby an audience is more affected by symbols in a message than by the logic of the message itself. It is most effective when the audience is passive, such as the state of mind of the average television viewer. It is a technique that is commonly used in advertising (for example, when the man running on the beach throwing a Frisbee to his dog is shown as the announcer recites a drug’s perilous side effects).
In the case of “Air Farce One” the President’s communications people may have reversed their former position to withhold the photo from public release under the logic that the peripheral persuasiveness of the photograph would ultimately prevail over the cognitive reasoning that the thing was a waste of taxpayer money. And, given this president’s success with peripheral persuasion, they may very well be right. The passive and apolitical television viewer will likely see the photo, take in its symbolic value, and go away thinking the whole thing was nothing more than another Washington gotcha game.[…]
definitely read it all…as good an explanation as any for a bizarre incident.
Speeding Towards the Financial Crash
by Ed Morrisey
Two related stories signaled investors today to push the dollar lower in overseas trading last night. First, former GAO chief David Walker notes a bond warning from Moody’s that US Treasury bonds may lose their top rating – and that could cost us dearly:
Long before the current financial crisis, nearly two years ago, a little-noticed cloud darkened the horizon for the US government. It was ignored. But now that shadow, in the form of a warning from a top credit rating agency that the nation risked losing its triple A rating if it did not start putting its finances in order, is coming back to haunt us.
That warning from Moody’s focused on the exploding healthcare and Social Security costs that threaten to engulf the federal government in debt over coming decades. The facts show we’re in even worse shape now, and there are signs that confidence in America’s ability to control its finances is eroding.
Prices have risen on credit default insurance on US government bonds, meaning it costs investors more to protect their investment in Treasury bonds against default than before the crisis hit. It even, briefly, cost more to buy protection on US government debt than on debt issued by McDonald’s. Another warning sign has come from across the Pacific, where the Chinese premier and the head of the People’s Bank of China have expressed concern about America’s longer-term credit worthiness and the value of the dollar.
Why does McDonald’s make a better risk? McDonald’s doesn’t run massive deficits. And the Chinese are right to be worried about their investments, as the AP reports on how much worse those deficits will become, and much sooner than the political class admitted […]
in other words, if you’re less than sixty years old, don’t plan on getting any of that money back they stole from you for Social Security. The current thieves will have long left office by then, and Pelosi will be sitting back taking it easy at her winery
If you attack President Barack Obama’s policies, are you attacking America?
According to today’s left, the answer is yes: Barack Obama is America. And opposition to Barack Obama or any of his policies is, therefore, by definition, anti-American. Just listen to alleged comedienne Wanda Sykes at the White House Correspondents Dinner this past week: “Rush Limbaugh said he hopes this administration fails. … He just wants the country to fail. To me, that’s treason. He’s not saying anything differently than what Osama bin Laden is saying.”
This is not a sentiment mouthed merely by the uncouth followers of the Obama administration. It is a sentiment repeatedly expressed by Obama himself. In his inaugural address, he averred, “The ground has shifted” beneath his critics. In his December 2008 meeting with governors, he informed them, “We are not going to be hampered by ideology.” While the Obama administration attacks the Bush administration daily, the Obama administration tolerates no backtalk from outgoing Bush officials; former Vice President Dick Cheney, who recently defended the Bush administration’s interrogation policies, was chided by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs for expressing ideas “the last election rejected.” Debate must end; dissent must stop.
Every tyranny begins with a few simple steps. First, the budding tyranny takes far-reaching control of the economy in the name of the people – what syndicated radio host Jerry Doyle has called “economic fascism.” Often, such economic fascism begins with talk about speculators. “Until we apply terror to speculators – shooting on the spot – we won’t get anywhere,” Lenin said in 1918. Hitler directed the Nazi electoral platform against “Jewish speculators” in 1928. Today, Obama derides investors in Chrysler as “a small group of speculators,” bluntly stating, “I don’t stand with them.”
the petty tyranny of this administration is even reflected in the daily Press Briefings. Today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was acting like a martinet — grabbing cell phones from reporters. I wonder how long it will take them to turn on him?
Health Care Hardball
The Chicago approach to governing” is what Republican senator Judd Gregg calls the White House’s tactics on health-care reform: “You’re talking about running over the minority, putting them in cement, and throwing them in the Chicago River.” Gregg is referring to the administration’s plan to use reconciliation, an obscure parliamentary procedure, to pass health-care legislation this year. He isn’t alone; Republicans are up in arms over reconciliation. But the White House itself should be worried about the plan, which could result in reforms far more radical than it envisions.
Reconciliation, employed just a couple of dozen times since 1980, was created in the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. It limits debates and amendments and prevents filibustering, meaning that Senate Democrats would need to muster just 50 votes, not the usual filibuster-proof 60, to pass health-care legislation. Some question the fairness of such a move, since reconciliation was originally intended for budgetary issues. That’s partly why Senator Robert Byrd opposed President Clinton, back in 1993, when Clinton flirted with the idea of using reconciliation to pass health reform.
Fair or not, Congress made reconciliation part of the final budget bill that was approved in late April. The White House has been key in pushing the idea. From a distance, this may seem to be overkill. The president’s approval ratings remain robust, his opponents disorganized. With Senator Arlen Specter’s defection, the Democratic Party is on the cusp of having 60 seats in the Senate. Democrats, in other words, would seem to need no Republican help in reforming American health care. So why all the talk about reconciliation?
Perhaps because the White House’s health-care agenda is too radical to appeal to moderate Democrats. Take the idea of a public health plan modeled on Medicare and open to all. Since public programs have a competitive advantage over private plans-they employ wage and price controls, leading to artificially low premiums-many people, perhaps tens of millions, would doubtless opt for a Medicare-style plan over their usual private insurance. Needless to say, this proposal has already sparked sharp resistance from some Republicans, but when specific legislation (along with a big price tag) comes forward, it’s likely that opposition will grow, not shrink, with the addition of more conservative Senate Democrats like Bill Nelson and budget committee chairman Kent Conrad. The usual 60 votes needed to pass legislation in the Senate may not be so easy for the White House to obtain. And thus the administration’s embrace of reconciliation.
The catch, though, is that without the support of Republicans and, potentially, of moderate Democrats, the White House will depend heavily on liberal Democrats like John Conyers, a congressman from Michigan, who are well to the left of the administration on health care. In the last Congress, Conyers proposed a bill that would create a Canadian-style socialized health-care system; it won the support of almost 90 House Democrats. Without the need for Republican and moderate Democratic support when their legislation reaches the Senate, these representatives will have a free hand to write a bill that even the White House could find too radical.
Senate Republicans have a choice. They can try to stay relevant by compromising, or they can play their own hardball-avoiding any White House talks so long as reconciliation is on the table. That tactic is risky, since it depends on a White House rift with liberal Democrats, but it has one advantage: it could save American health care from Conyers and his allies.
(David Gratzer, a physician, is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute)
this doctor explains to the Republicans the necessity for growing a spine. I hope they’re listening
John Murtha opponent says aide threatened him
The Republican who challenged Rep. John Murtha in 2008 says a top aide to the embattled Pennsylvania Democrat threatened to have him recalled to active duty in the U.S. Army so he could be court-martialed for engaging in politics while serving in the armed forces.
Bill Russell – who challenged Murtha in 2008 and intends to do so again in 2010 – said Murtha chief of staff John Hugya made the threat during a National Rifle Association event in mid-March.
Ret. Col. Gregory Ritch, a former Army Reserve officer who served as Russell’s commanding officer, said he heard Hugya make a similar threat in January.
“[Hugya] said, ‘When the [new] secretary of the Army comes in, we’re going to call his ass back to active duty and we’re going to prosecute him under the [Uniform Code of Military Justice],’“ Ritch said Hugya told him during their January conversation.
Ritch said he reported the incident to a military lawyer at that time, although he didn’t think Hugya was serious until Russell informed him of the second threat in March.
Russell was on active duty for part of the campaign – from April 2008 to June 2008 – but then retired and was no longer in the Army Reserves during the remainder of the race.
Ethics experts said the comments attributed to Hugya – while unseemly – don’t present a clear-cut ethics violation.
Russell said Hugya approached him at an NRA event in March and said, “I got something for you. What are you going to do when we get the new secretary of the Army seated and have your ass recalled to active duty for that s– you pulled last summer?”
Russell said that he and Hugya then engaged in a nasty exchange over comments Murtha made in 2005 about the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians by U.S. Marines. Murtha, himself a former Marine colonel, alleged that the Marines had killed the civilians “in cold blood,” a claim that infuriated current and former Marines […]
the emphasis is mine. Murtha is a good example of a Dem bottom-feeder. His hand is plunged into the pork barrel up to his shoulder. But will his constituents care about his or his aides’ ethics if he keeps money coming into the district?
From the Washington Examiner:
There is a cleverly constructed sentence in the AP report about the 2009 budget deficit being $89 billion higher than expected, which will raise the projected annual deficit to $1.8 trillion, or nearly four times as much as the previous record. Here’s how AP explained it: “The unprecedented red ink flows from the deep recession, the Wall Street bailout, the cost of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill, as well as a structural imbalance between what the government spends and what it takes in (emphasis added).” In sports journalism, such a sentence is called covering for the home team, which in this case includes the present and previous White House occupants and the present majority in Congress.
The two key words in that sentence are “structural imbalance.” Sounds like something beyond the ability of mere mortals to change, doesn’t it? Part of the natural order, kind of like the swine flu. It just happens.
Out in the real world beyond Washington, “structural imbalance” means: Washington politicians are on a spending rampage the likes of which has never before been seen anywhere in human history. The spenders include President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, plus a supporting cast of bureaucrats like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his predecessor, Henry Paulson, and the Democratic majorities in the Senate and House (joined by a few Senate Republicans). These officials are terminally afflicted with what Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, calls “federal spending disease” (FSD) an incurable addiction in which the sufferer is utterly unable to stop spending other people’s money. An intervention by voters is the only effective treatment.
Remember that phrase: Federal Spending Disease. It’s akin to swine flu because those who are afflicted with it are definitely porkers. These people don’t have the disease, they’re carriers. In other words, their FDS is going to kill the rest of us.
States to feds: Stay in D.C.!
A movement to reclaim for states all rights not specifically designated to the federal government in the U.S. Constitution is exploding across the nation, with 35 states already acting or at least considering such proposals – and one state lawmaker estimating the nation as a whole could save $11 trillion in coming years if it would succeed.
…according to the Tenth Amendment Center such provisions have been launched in at least 35 states. They all address the Tenth Amendment that says: “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
South Carolina’s S. 424 is an example. It is titled: “To affirm South Carolina’s sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution over all powers not enumerated and granted to the federal government by the United States Constitution…”
The political class is clueless about this. We went (as part of a group) to see our Congressman, a very nice man in a beautifully tailored suit, to discuss the Tea Party movement. He couldn’t comprehend that it was not about Republicans or Democrats. We repeatedly said it was a national response to the malady of our bloated federal government. He thinks, despite our explanations, that the 10th Amendment movement – which he’d never heard of, even though his own state legislature is pondering a resolution – is “really about secession”. The very notion seemed to frighten him past being able to think about it, but that’s just my opinion. The real news just never gets through the D.C. Bubble.