Sunday, May 26, 2019

Colleges are taking it on the chin lately

The bad news for higher education keeps piling up. Recent scandals involving parents bribing people to help get their otherwise-unqualified kids into elite schools and the new story of sexual impropriety at Ohio State University add to the list.  

Such things as challenges to free speech on campus and the imposition of politically correct mandates that run contrary to common sense have dramatically changed things for higher education.

The traditional role of colleges to help students mature into rational and knowledgeable adults that are prepared to deal with the stresses of life is no longer a given.

Once a place for young people to prepare for a career in an idea-rich forum that challenges them to consider new and different perspectives, many campuses have developed “safe spaces” where students can seek refuge from reality, sometimes when instructors provide them with “trigger warnings” in advance of possible “troubling” topics in the classroom.

The complete shutting out of certain unpopular ways of thinking about things often occurs when the dominant left-liberal philosophy of many campuses is threatened by the presence of a conservative or religious speaker. These existential threats turn otherwise normal calm, rational people in their late teens and 20s into mobs protesting these speakers, sometimes violently, even if they are not required to go and hear what they have to say.

These highly negative attributes are not present in all institutions of higher learning, of course, and perhaps one or more of your former schools has avoided this plague. But the trend is extensive, and is growing, and threatens to debase the once-proud custom of a college education.

More and different criticisms of higher education appear in Dr. Walter Williams’ column from last week referencing a new book titled “Restoring the Promise” by Richard Vedder, Ohio University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics.

Williams, himself a professor of economics, in fact the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, cites Vedder’s view that our universities "are vastly too expensive, often costing twice as much per student compared with institutions in other industrialized democracies," and that while exceptions exist, students "on average are learning relatively little, spend little time in academic preparation and in some disciplines are indoctrinated by highly subjective ideology."

The latter point supports the idea that too often college students are taught not “how” to think, but “what” to think.

Other points Williams makes from Vedder and other sources include:
** There is a mismatch between student occupational expectations after graduation, and labor market realities. College graduates often find themselves employed as baristas, retail clerks and taxi drivers.
** Data from the New York Federal Reserve Banks and the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that each dollar of federal aid increases tuition by 60 cents.
** Very little improvement in critical reasoning skills occurs in college, and college graduates are less literate than they once were. Areas of exception to this trend are engineering, nursing, architecture and accounting.
** Vedder says that student ineptitude is not surprising since they spend little time in classrooms and studying, and cites weak preparation in high school as another reason. In 2010 and 2013 NAEP test scores, 37 percent of 12th-graders were proficient in reading, 25 percent in math, 12 percent in history, 20 percent in geography and 24 percent in civics.

It seems that the “every child should go to college” craze is blessedly over and the college bubble I have quietly predicted for a few years appears to be upon us. 

After high school, kids must focus on how they are going to make a living for themselves, and perhaps a family. The basic K-12 educational curriculum ought to provide them a good background to do that.

Many good paying jobs may require post-secondary training, but not a 4-year college degree, or more, therefore many, perhaps most, high school graduates should not seek a college degree.

Williams concludes his column with this: “Vedder ends ‘Restoring the Promise’ with a number of proposals with which I agree:"
“--College administrative staff often exceeds the teaching staff. Vedder says, ‘I doubt there is a major campus in America where you couldn't eliminate very conservatively 10 percent of the administrative payroll (in dollar terms) without materially impacting academic performance.’"

“--Reevaluate academic tenure. Tenure is an employment benefit that has costs, and faculty members should be forced to make tradeoffs between it and other forms of university compensation."
“--Colleges of education, with their overall poor academic quality, are an embarrassment on most campuses and should be eliminated."
“--End speech codes on college campuses by using the University of Chicago Principles on free speech."
“--Require a core curriculum that incorporates civic and cultural literacy."
“--The most important measure of academic reforms is to make university governing boards independent and meaningful. In my opinion, most academic governing boards are little more than yes men for the president and provost.”

At this point it is difficult to tell if this will get straightened out, and what higher education will look like if it does. Certainly, it will be a difficult period for colleges.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A Constitutional crisis? Another Democrat talking point gets life

So, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Chair of the House Judiciary Committee thinks we have entered into a Constitutional crisis because Attorney General William Barr has refused to turn over a completely un-redacted copy of Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s report.

Barr has, however, provided a copy for key members of Congress that is almost un-redacted. Out of the well-over 400 pages in the report only two entire lines of text are redacted, and seven lines are partially redacted. This version of the report is far better than the heavily redacted version previously made available, but only three members of Congress have chosen to review it, and – surprise, surprise, surprise – none of the three is a Democrat.

And, the redactions that remain are still in place because of a federal circuit court ruling to the effect that grand jury materials cannot be made public. The reason is that making public grand jury testimony about people who were investigated but not indicted would potentially unfairly harm those whose names appeared, even though they were not indicted for any criminal wrongdoing.

But that’s not a good enough reason for Nadler and his Democrat comrades.

It appears, therefore, that if there is unconstitutional behavior, it is the behavior of Nadler himself, who is attempting to punish the AG for refusing to break the law just to help Nadler and the Democrats create another smoke screen. He led the Judiciary Committee in holding Barr in contempt of Congress, although the entire body of the House has not yet voted to do so.

The following explanation appeared in National Review last month. “At issue was this question: Does a federal court have the authority to order disclosure of grand-jury materials if the judge decides that the interests of justice warrant doing so; or is the judge limited to the exceptions to grand-jury secrecy that are spelled out in Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure? The D.C. Circuit’s McKeever ruling holds that the text of Rule 6(e) controls. Consequently, judges have no authority to authorize disclosure outside the rule.” And if a judge may not do so, obviously the AG may not.

Surely Nadler, who is rumored to be a lawyer and is chair of the Judiciary Committee, knows that Barr cannot release a clean report. And wouldn’t he, and several more of his Democrat fellow travelers, benefit from the lightly redacted version that Barr provided. One would certainly think so.

All of these shenanigans are a strong indication that this entire episode is just more political swampiness by a desperate Democrat faction in Congress.

After all, Barr said in testimony before the Committee that he intends to look into several of the irregularities by the FBI and DOJ, and if Nadler himself is not at risk, quite a few public servants who share the anti-Trump obsession surely are.

Law professor Jonathan Turley, described by as “left-leaning,” has a reputation for ignoring political considerations when addressing constitutional issues.

About the topic of Barr’s refusal to respond to the subpoena, Turley said, “The problem is that the contempt action against Barr is long on action and short on contempt. Indeed, with a superficial charge, the House could seriously undermine its credibility in the ongoing conflicts with the White House.”

He went on to say, “As someone who has represented the House of Representatives, my concern is that this one violates a legal version of the Hippocratic oath to ‘first do no harm.’ This could do great harm, not to Barr, but to the House. It is the weakest possible case to bring against the administration, and likely to be an example of a bad case making bad law for the House ... Barr promised to release as much of the report as possible, and he has delivered.”

Nadler and his fellow OCD-plagued anti-Trumpers are uninterested in what destruction they may impose on the country in their frenzied efforts to harm Donald Trump.

“The end justifies the means” is the current ruling motto of Democrats, and some misguided Republicans. “Trump must be defeated, removed from office, even prosecuted” seems to be the operative theme. It doesn’t matter whose life is unfairly ruined, or how many people they trash in the process.

Being morally upstanding and behaving with integrity are lost virtues among Congressional Democrats, as they climb lower and lower in their efforts to remove Trump from office.

While the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was going on in strict secrecy, at the end of the proceedings a Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, "Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" Franklin responded immediately, "A republic, if you can keep it."

We must give Congressional Democrats their due for being transparent: They are clearly showing, for all to see, that they care little for the law or for honorable behavior. Nothing is as important than doing in Donald Trump, and it seems nothing will be allowed to stand in their way. And the republic that Franklin celebrated and warned about is under attack from within.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Activities in “The Swamp” reach disgusting and treasonous levels

“The Swamp.” That is how Donald Trump identifies the Washington bureaucratic morass. The Swamp, or however one identifies it, is the stuff of legend.

It has a life and a mind of its own, with bureaucrats who have made a career of federal employment sometimes indulging in activities other than serving the needs of the citizenry, which is their duty.

Sometimes that extraneous work involves merely not doing what should be done, and sometimes it involves doing what should not be done. Not every federal employee has the integrity, honesty and the devotion to duty that is expected of those serving the American people.

The misbehavior may be merely shirking one’s duty, such as sloppy work habits, or doing things other than what the job entails. Or it may be using the powers of the IRS improperly against certain types of organizations, as we saw with Lois Learner at the helm of the department responsible for granting non-profit status that purposefully denied approval or delayed action on legitimate applications of conservative organizations.

Or it may be a coordinated effort to affect the outcome of a presidential election, and following that failure, trying to sabotage that darned business guy outsider who beat the odds and won despite The Swamp’s substantial meddling.

That is what was long suspected, but was well covered up by Swamp-creatures, and ignored by the liberal media, but is now emerging for all to see. In contrast to the left’s preferred narrative, Donald Trump’s allegations of “spying” and “wire-tapping” have been proven correct, with the evidence of our government listening in on the calls of a Trump associate who lived in Trump Tower in 2016, and other things of a similar nature.

Let’s shift our attention to London, weeks before the election, when Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos sat with a comely young lady going by the name of Azra Turk in a bar. Using her womanly wiles to best advantage for a while, she then asked Papadopoulos if the campaign was working with Russia.

The New York Times, no supporter of Donald Trump, reported last week, “The woman had set up the meeting to discuss foreign policy issues. But she was actually a government investigator posing as a research assistant, according to people familiar with the operation. The F.B.I. sent her to London as part of the counterintelligence inquiry opened that summer to better understand the Trump campaign’s links to Russia.”

“The decision to use Ms. Turk in the operation aimed at a presidential campaign official shows the level of alarm inside the F.B.I.,” The Times story continued, “during a frantic period when the bureau was trying to determine the scope of Russia’s attempts to disrupt the 2016 election, but could also give ammunition to Mr. Trump and his allies for their spying claims.”

The question that jumps immediately out is, was the “level of alarm inside the F.B.I.” a legitimate criminal or counterintelligence concern, or was it just politics? Where was the concern about Russian involvement in Hillary Clinton’s campaign?

We know the Russians meddled in the election, but years and millions of dollars of investigations produced no evidence of Trump/Russian campaign involvement. Russian meddling appears to have been a convenient excuse for FBI and Department of Justice meddling in the Trump campaign.

Further evidence of government malfeasance involves the email correspondence by high officials at the FBI clearly leading to the belief that political considerations were, indeed, the motivation.

FBI Agent Peter Strozk and his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, exchanged a series of emails that had nothing to do with legitimate agency business, but were focused on their dislike for Donald Trump, and efforts to stop him from winning the election. Then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and then-FBI Director James Comey are other names associated with the monkeyshines of the FBI.

The questionable Carter Steele dossier, financed indirectly by the Clinton campaign, and used to trick the FISA Court into issuing warrants to spy on various elements and persons associated with the Trump campaign, is a major element in this sordid story.

The FBI agents, who signed off on and presented the dossier to the FISA Court as a legitimate document supporting the permissions they were seeking, knew the dossier was, at best, questionable, and at worst, fraudulent. Nevertheless, it successfully won warrants that were used against American citizens.

The United States is often referred to as “a nation of laws,” and for the most part that is true. But there is another comment that is not so positive, that also applies: laws are not applied evenly; we have a two-tiered system, where people in positions of power often escape accountability that the rest of us are held to.

Donald Trump did not benefit from that second tier, but so far Hillary Clinton has.

While Congressional Democrats are busy cooking up new investigations of Trump, members of his family and his administration, looking for “anything,” Congressional Republicans are preparing to investigate the investigators.

They will work to get to the bottom of the now well-known malfeasance that took place in the upper echelons of the FBI, DOJ and in FISA Court proceedings.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Biden is correct: We are in a battle for the soul of America

Former Vice President Joe Biden, in his video declaring his candidacy for the Democrat nomination for president, actually identified a very real problem. In his breathy, half-whispering plea for support, he noted that the soul of America is up for grabs.

Uncle Joe has had a few memorable lines over the years, but none so profound and important as that concerning America’s soul. 

However, he did recently say this in answer to a reporter’s question. “America’s coming back like it used to be.” Sounds a lot like “Make America Great Again,” doesn’t it?

For us seasoned citizens who know and love America’s foundational principles, the crazy, un-American things that have become major talking points of the left has transformed the DNC into the gift that keeps on giving. 

The Democrat’s wild ideas comprise the best collection of crazy ideas yet developed by American politicos, and it is a work in progress.

*** Bernie Sanders thinks that people in prison for felonies – including murder, rape, terrorism, etc. – should not only get their rights back that they forfeited when they committed the crime, but should retain those rights, including the right to vote, even as they are still paying their voluminous debt to society in prison.

*** U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) has proposed a student loan forgiveness plan that could benefit tens of millions of Americans, and also to provide “free college” for all. She must be unaware of what the growth of student financial aid has done to help increase the cost of a college education. 

According to, the price of private non-profit colleges and public two-year schools has doubled, and the cost of public four-year institutions has tripled over the last few decades. Universal “free college” would cost the nation $1.25 trillion over just the next decade.

*** Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (CA) thinks the voting age, now 18 years-old, needs to be lowered to 16 “to capture kids when they’re in high school.” What would prompt her to want to give people, who are still in school, just old enough to drive, but not to buy alcohol or serve in their country’s military, the right to vote? Perhaps it’s because about half of the current crop of adolescents — those no-longer children but not-quite adults — say they would prefer living in a socialist country, according to a Harris Poll.

And why do they believe this? They have not learned American History or Civics while in school. But they should vote?

*** Did you know that in February all six of the then-declared candidates for the Democrat nomination for president voted against the Born Alive Protection Act that would protect the life of newborns? From National Review: “All six of the Democratic senators currently running for the 2020 presidential nomination voted against the bill: Cory Booker (N.J.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kamala Harris (CA), Amy Klobuchar (MN), and Elizabeth Warren (MA), along with Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont.”

*** Robert Francis O’Rourke (Texas), who answers to the name of “Beto,” claimed that if the American people are not able to view the Mueller report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, it could mean the end of the country.

“This is an unprecedented attack on this country and on our democracy, and we are owed the facts. And if we do not receive them, 243 years in, there’s nothing that guarantees us a 244th.”

“For this democracy to succeed, people must put our country before their party, the next election, the approval of the president. What matters now is the future of the United States,” he said. Well, he got one thing right.

*** Illinois Rep. Dianne Pappas, a Democrat from Itasca, believes castrating men would help the problem of abortion. She made the suggestion not once, but twice, in recent meetings. If men were unable to “cause” pregnancy, there would be fewer abortions. Really?

*** Other similarly crazy ideas include, but are not limited to: a “living wage” government job for everyone; trashing the protections for small states from the tyranny of a big-state majority by eliminating the Electoral College; doing away with coal, oil and natural gas use within 10 years; open borders, sanctuary jurisdictions and federal aid for illegals.

We all know that America is not perfect, and the perpetually disaffected among us constantly remind us of what they think is wrong with it. But America has a long world-leading list of accomplishments, including being the most-free nation on Earth. Ever.

What made America great the first time largely consisted of not doing crazy things like the current bevy of Democrat “progressives” want to do.

The American Family Association recently sent out a mailing that included its president’s “6 reasons why America is worth saving.” Among Tim Wildman’s 6 reasons are that “The U.S. is the most generous and merciful nation ever;” “Peaceful change is always possible because it is build into our system;” and that “Americans are free to pursue their economic dreams.”

America’s soul is not at risk, so long as we stick to the things that made it great, and reject these crazy so-called “progressive” ideas.