Exercises in Libertarian Uselessness

So apparently Ron Paul’s putting out his very own homeschooling curriculum, with the help of noted hack Tom Woods. Rather than reiterating my innate distrust of getting an education from anything either man is attached to (though parents really should ask themselves how much isolationism and secession apologetics they want for their kids), I’ll just stick to why this won’t be part of any successful ‘revolution”: the children of parents who not only home-school but are clued in to conservative or libertarian circles enough to even consider something like this are already going to get a classical education and comprehension of center-right philosophy one way or the other, and giving them more of the same just packaged differently or more conveniently isn’t going to transform the next generation. The far hard task – and the one nobody in any faction of the Right seems willing to tackle – is how to reform public education and reach the students still ensnared in it.

New Prager University Video: How Teachers Unions Hurt Schools

The latest from Prager University:

Did you go to public school? Do you have a child, relative, or friend in public school? The answer is most likely “yes”. Public schools matter to everyone. They are the main educator of America’s children. So when groups that have a huge affect on education aren’t primarily interested in, well, education, there’s a problem. Those groups are teachers unions.

In our newest free, 5-minute video, Stanford Professor of Political Science Dr. Terry Moe explains why teachers unions are hurting America’s children, and what we can do about this. Here’s Prof. Moe’s book on the topic.

What Aren’t Your Kids Learning About America?

Conservative critics of left-wing bias in public education have noshortageofhorrorstoriesto make their point, such as Tanya Dixon-Neely, the North Carolina teacher who is keeping her job despite getting caught on tape in May berating a student for criticizing Barack Obama and telling the class they could get arrested for bad-mouthing their presidents.
But the more pervasive danger to future generations’ political understanding is subtler than outright indoctrination. Even when teachers aren’t out to push an agenda, social studies courses tend to take a superficial approach that may relay key historical events adequately, but provides only the most superficial understanding of the theories and values behind them, if at all.
Don’t believe me? Here are a few simple questions you can ask your kids to judge for yourself just how well served they’ve been in their Social Studies classes:
1.) Who was John Locke, and what did he contribute to the Founding? Despite dying seventy-two years before the Declaration of Independence, the great English philosopher could be thought of as the first Founder, since his writings established the natural right and social compact theories at the Declaration’s heart. Thomas Jefferson’s formulation that “ all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” and “that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” is basically the Cliff Notes version of Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government, which proposed consent as government’s only moral justification because nobody has a divine claim over anyone else, protecting individual rights as government’s just purpose, and developed a rational basis for objectively defining what is and is not a right.
2.) What is the significance of the Federalist Papers? Written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay to persuade the new nation to adopt the Constitution, there is no more authoritative guide to our government—and yet, to most students, it’s a footnote at best. They’re denied some of the Founders’ most important lessons, like Federalist 10on the dangers of faction (groups “ actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to…the permanent and aggregate interests of the community”), Federalist 45 on the difference between federal and state roles (“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite”), Federalist 51 on human nature’s implications for politics (“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary”), or the papers’ extensive analysis of the vital difference between direct democracy and the constitutional republic America was designed as. The Federalist Papers reveal that there’s careful thought and important purpose behind every aspect of our Constitution, yet the average high-schooler is likely to graduate with the impression that constitutional mechanics like the Electoral College, separation of powers, and bicameralism were either mere products of sectional compromise or the outdated fallacies of old, white elites.
3.) How did the Founders treat slavery? Conventional wisdom paints the Founders as simply hypocrites who proclaimed liberty for themselves while denying it to blacks. But while the stain of slavery on our history is real, our forefathers’ indifference on the subject is not. Slaveholders held enough power to keep the practice alive, but the Founders overwhelmingly opposed and condemned it. Consider the Three-Fifths Compromise. Everybody knows the constitutional provision that counts slaves as three-fifths of a whole person for purposes of apportioning House seats, but how many know that it was the slaveholders who wanted their slaves to be counted fully, so they could reap the benefits of additional Congressmen who would vote with pro-slavery interests, like the preservation of slavery, fugitive slave laws, and support for slavery in the territories? By counting them as three-fifths, the framers of the Constitution gave slave states lessinfluence over Congress than counting slaves fully would have, without completely alienating their willingness to ratify the Constitution. In fact, the compromise actually gave states an incentive to free their slaves: if their slaves became free men, they’d get more representatives.
Public schools may teach kids the whos, whats, wheres, and whens of American history and politics, but not the whys—an inexcusable inadequacy that denies them what they need most to become civic-minded adults, and demands much greater attention in America’s education debate.

Scott Walker Stands Victorious as Wisconsin Embodies the Best of Democracy

They tried fleeing the state to indefinitely halt the legislative process. It failed. They poured all the hate they could into their demonstrations and propaganda. It failed. They tried intimidating legislators. It failed. They tried pressuring businesses into supporting them. It failed. They tried persecuting a judge. It failed. They tried demonizingRepublican financial contributors. It failed. They tried smearing the governor’s professional ethics and personal morality. It failed. They tried lying to the public about budgets and benefits. It failed. They tried flouting the law by judicial fiat. It failed. They had teachers commit fraud and indoctrinate their students. It failed. They tried hiding data that undermined their case. It failed. They even managed to get Voter ID out of the way to simplify election fraud. That failed. In total, they cost taxpayers over $9 million.

The motley alliance of union thugs, partisan sycophants, education establishment snobs, left-wing fanatics, and brainwashed college kids that came together to preserve government-employee unions’ stranglehold over Wisconsin took the best shot they had against Governor Scott Walker.

Well, their best just. Wasn’t. Good. Enough.

After more than a year of liberals justifying demagoguery and mob agitation with insipid chants of “this is what democracy looks like,” the state of Wisconsin reaffirmed its trust in Walker in a glorious display of actual democracy—not the shout-down-the-Special-Olympics kind, but the cast-votes-and-count-‘em-up kind.

Though the sore losers will never, ever admit it, June 5, 2012 may go down in history as the day Wisconsin proved America’s slide into fiscal ruin isn’t inevitable, that special interest groups aren’t invincible, and that greed and misinformation don’t have absolute dominion over the public consciousness.

Above all, Wisconsin proved that courage is still viable in American politics—that principled action to serve the long-term interests of the whole over the selfish desires of the loudest or the most well-connected doesn’t have to be a political death sentence.

Granted, the Wisconsin Left has by no means been destroyed (nor has the moderate wing of the GOP). The Democrats and their supporters won’t grow morally from the experience, and the unions are still a force to be reckoned with. But their veneer of invincibility is gone, and it’s never coming back. The conventional wisdom of American politics is being rewritten as we speak.

As conservatives go forward with their economic and social agendas, we also need to take measures to make sure the Left can’t put Wisconsin through this insanity again. In particular, we need to fight to reinstate Voter ID, reform the recall process so it can’t be exploited to punish policy decisions, and do somethingabout classroom indoctrination.

Be proud, Wisconsin. You showed America what democracy looks like at its best.

Wisconsin Schools Are Doing Great. GOP Messaging? Not So Much

Today, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker released the following graph, based on data that the kind souls at the Wisconsin Education Association Council tried to hide from the public, on the condition of our state’s public schools:
Reforms Working.png
In all four categories – teacher layoffs, class size, retention of extracurricular activities, and retention of fine arts and vocational programs – the teachers union’s own data shows that a higher percentage of school districts are doing well (in two cases, a drastically higher percentage) under Walker’s much-demonized collective bargaining reforms than not only the average for the previous decade, but for that category’s best year in the previous decade.
Add that to what we’ve known for over a year about the benefits teachers will still enjoy under Act 10, not to mention the recent revelation that Wisconsin taxpayers still pay them more than do taxpayers of the surrounding states, and the whole point of the recall collapses. But a narrow majority of voters still say they’d vote Walker out of office.
How can that be? Simple: because the Republicans are doing a lousy job of informing the people. The Left is relentlessly pushing Big Union’s lies through the schools, through the press, and through thuggery, and what advertising the Walker Campaign and the GOP have done in response barely even begins to compensate for the dishonesty.
Why isn’t the above chart in full-page newspaper ads across the state? Why aren’t the success stories from around the state on television every night? Why aren’t graphic comparisons of public and private-sector benefits on billboards throughout Wisconsin? I fear our party leaders are putting far too much faith in talk radio and social media to do the educational heavy lifting for them, content that they can get away with simply fundraising, rallying the faithful, and preaching to the choir.
That’s a recipe for disaster. The people we need to reach, the people who will make the difference come Election Day, aren’t listening to Charlie Sykes or Mark Belling. They don’t have Twitter feeds for conservative reports to show up in. They aren’t glued to the blogosphere. The only way Republicans can get the truth to them is by taking it to where they’re going to be: the commercial breaks of American Idol, the pages of their local paper, the airwaves of their favorite music stations, the billboards along the highways they take to work.
Comforting though it might be for conservatives to think otherwise, talk radio is not equal time. The blogosphere hasn’t created a fundamentally more informed populace. And Scott Walker’s personal goodness will not be enough to save his job in independent voters’ eyes. If we lose this thing, Wisconsin’s Republican elite will have nobody to blame but themselves.

New at Live Action – The True Moral of the Sandra Fluke Saga

My latest Live Action post:

Judging by the explosive reaction to last week’s post about 30-year-old Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke’s congressional testimony on contraceptive coverage, it seems lots of people want to talk about the story. Fortunately, there’s more to discuss.

First, we have some investigative work by Mytheos Holt at the Blaze, who found a Washington Post story which suggests Fluke not only knew Georgetown didn’t cover birth control for students, but decided to enroll there specifically so she could make it a cause célèbre :

Fluke came to Georgetown University interested in contraceptive coverage: She researched the Jesuit college’s health plans for students before enrolling, and found that birth control was not included. “I decided I was absolutely not willing to compromise the quality of my education in exchange for my health care,” says Fluke, who has spent the past three years lobbying the administration to change its policy on the issue. The issue got the university president’s office last spring, where Georgetown declined to change its policy.

In other words, Sandra Fluke is no mild-mannered student blindsided by prudish administrators, but a radical who always intended to transform Georgetown’s values through any means necessary.

Read the rest at Live Action.

Rick Santorum Is Losing Me

In January, I enthusiastically endorsed Rick Santorum for President, having been convinced that he finally demonstrated the political acumen to complement his philosophical integrity. For a while, Santorum’s performance seemed to affirm my decision—he effortlessly assumed the role of adult in the room during the Florida CNN debate, and his strength in the polls remains far stronger than most would have predicted just a few months ago.

Unfortunately, a handful of incidents over the past two weeks have forced me to reconsider. First came his lackluster performance in the Arizona CNN debate, during which he rationalized his support of No Child Left Behind thusly:
I have to admit, I voted for that, it was against the principles I believed in, but you know, when you’re part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team, for the leader, and I made a mistake. You know, politics is a team sport, folks, and sometimes you’ve got to rally together and do something, and in this case I thought testing and finding out how bad the problem was wasn’t a bad idea. 
Voting against your own principles because your team leader wanted you to? That’s not only about as un-Tea Party as you can get, it also stands in stark contrast to Santorum’s own one-word description of his candidacy that very night: “courage.”

Next, Santorum came under fire for saying that John F. Kennedy’s famous Address to Protestant Ministers made him want to “throw up”:
I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.  The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country. This is the First Amendment.  The First Amendment says the free exercise of religion.  That means bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith, into the public square.  Kennedy for the first time articulated the vision saying, no, “faith is not allowed in the public square.  I will keep it separate.” Go on and read the speech “I will have nothing to do with faith.  I won’t consult with people of faith.”  It was an absolutist doctrine that was foreign at the time of 1960.
Don’t get me wrong; I understand as well as anyone the truth and importance of Santorum’s underlying point, that the Left has twisted the Establishment Clause to obscure and erase America’s Judeo-Christian foundations. We need a candidate and a president who will make that case to the American people. But we don’t need a candidate who makes it so easy for the Left to caricature that case. While some of JFK’s rhetoric could be interpreted as Santorum describes it, it’s hardly an obvious or indisputable inference—I suspect most Americans would read it as simply meaning he wouldn’t discriminate against Protestants or take his marching orders from the Vatican. What’s more, how much mileage do you think the Democrats will get out of ads which present Santorum as a wild-eyed theocrat who “wants to throw up” when he hears passages like:
I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.
Or:
I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end; where all men and all churches are treated as equal; where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice; where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind; and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.
And most recently, he and Mitt Romney have been fighting over a robocall which asks Democrats to vote for Santorum in the Michigan primary. While Romney’s reaction is overblown and hypocritical, the fact remains that it contradicts Santorum’s own stated disdain for Democrats influencing Republican primaries, and its message was worse:
Romney supported the bailouts for his Wall Street billionaire buddies, but opposed the auto bailouts. That was a slap in the face to every Michigan worker, and we’re not gonna let Romney get away with it.
Not only is Santorum resorting to the very same class warfare he so admirably resisted not so long ago, but it raises the question: how can it be a “slap in the face” for Romney to oppose the auto bailout, but not for Santorum himself to do so? Attempting to give voters a false impression that you supported something you actually oppose isn’t exactly confidence-inspiring. (And for what it’s worth, one need not support either bailout to recognize substantive differences between them.)  

I’m not saying I won’t still vote for Rick Santorum in the Wisconsin primary. Many of his biggest assets—his unquestionable sincerity on social issues, his foreign policy expertise, and his relative purity on the crucial issue of government-run healthcare—remain unshakeable. Mitt Romney’s shortcomings (the latest example being this clumsy attempt to neutralize his wealth as a campaign issue) remain substantial. But I am saying I’m no longer certain he’s a stronger general election candidate than Romney, and so I must revert from identifying as a Santorum supporter to being undecided between Santorum and Romney.

Both men are far superior to Newt Gingrich (and Ron Paul, whose name shouldn’t even be spoken in the same breath as Gingrich’s). Both men have checkered pasts but are running on strong, unambiguous full-spectrum conservative platforms. Both men have denigrated themselves with petty, misleading infighting. Both men have displayed the capacity to change their tune for political expediency. Both men have shown promise in their ability to make the case against Barack Obama, but both men have also proven themselves to be disturbingly gaffe-prone.

I like and admire Rick Santorum. But I’m simply no longer confident enough in him to guarantee that he’ll get my primary vote. He and Mitt Romney have between now and April 3 to convince me they can get their act together and run a serious, focused, and reasonably caricature-proof campaign. May the best man win.