Category Archives: Education

Weather Channel Founder, John Coleman: Global Warming ‘Greatest Scam in History’

It is the greatest scam in history. I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming; It is a SCAM. Some dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long term scientific data to create an illusion of rapid global warming. Other scientists of the same environmental whacko type jumped into the circle to support and broaden the “research” to further enhance the totally slanted, bogus global warming claims. Their friends in government steered huge research grants their way to keep the movement going. Soon they claimed to be a consensus.

Environmental extremists, notable politicians among them, then teamed up with movie, media and other liberal, environmentalist journalists to create this wild “scientific” scenario of the civilization threatening environmental consequences from Global Warming unless we adhere to their radical agenda. Now their ridiculous manipulated science has been accepted as fact and become a cornerstone issue for CNN, CBS, NBC, the Democratic Political Party, the Governor of California, school teachers and, in many cases, well informed but very gullible environmentally conscientious citizens. Only one reporter at ABC has been allowed to counter the Global Warming frenzy with one 15 minute documentary segment.

I do not oppose environmentalism. I do not oppose the political positions of either party. However, Global Warming, i.e. Climate Change, is not about environmentalism or politics. It is not a religion. It is not something you “believe in.” It is science; the science of meteorology. This is my field of life-long expertise. And I am telling you Global Warming is a non-event, a manufactured crisis and a total scam. I say this knowing you probably won’t believe a me, a mere TV weatherman, challenging a Nobel Prize, Academy Award and Emmy Award winning former Vice President of United States. So be it.

I have read dozens of scientific papers. I have talked with numerous scientists. I have studied. I have thought about it. I know I am correct. There is no run away climate change. The impact of humans on climate is not catastrophic. Our planet is not in peril. I am incensed by the incredible media glamour, the politically correct silliness and rude dismissal of counter arguments by the high priest of Global Warming.

In time, a decade or two, the outrageous scam will be obvious. As the temperature rises, polar ice cap melting, coastal flooding and super storm pattern all fail to occur as predicted everyone will come to realize we have been duped. The sky is not falling. And, natural cycles and drifts in climate are as much if not more responsible for any climate changes underway. I strongly believe that the next twenty years are equally as likely to see a cooling trend as they are to see a warming trend.

Who should we believe: John Coleman, meteorologist and the founder of the Weather Channel or Al Gore, political hack? And to think that I thought the debate on global warming was over!

Hat Tip: News Busters

Utah shuts out school choice

The bad news from last night…Utah rejected school vouchers:

Voters decisively rejected the will of the Utah Legislature and governor Tuesday, defeating what would have been the nation’s most comprehensive education voucher program in a referendum blowout.
[…]
More than 60 percent of voters were rejecting vouchers, with about 95 percent of the precincts reporting, according to unofficial results. The referendum failed in every county, including the conservative bastion of Utah County.

Voucher supporter Overstock.com chief executive Patrick Byrne – who bankrolled the voucher effort – called the referendum a “statewide IQ test” that Utahns failed.

“They don’t care enough about their kids. They care an awful lot about this system, this bureaucracy, but they don’t care enough about their kids to think outside the box,” Byrne said.

The opposition to the vouchers spent $4.4 million to defeat the referendum. Fund came from the NEA and other terrorist organizations teachers unions around the nation.

Another Argument In Favor Of Separating Education And The State

This time from Portland, Maine:

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — After an outbreak of pregnancies among middle school girls, education officials in this city have decided to allow a school health center to make birth control pills available to girls as young as 11.

King Middle School will become the first middle school in Maine to make a full range of contraception available, including birth control pills and patches. Condoms have been available at King’s health center since 2000.

Students need parental permission to access the school’s health center. But treatment is confidential under state law, which allows the students to decide whether to inform their parents about the services they receive.

This isn’t about birth control or contraceptives, it’s about the fact that the school system has decided to take upon itself a job that, rightfully, belongs in the hands of parents. And, unless, parents can afford to send their children to private school, they have no choice but to accept policies like this even if they disagree with them.

The solution, it seems, is obvious. Get government out of the eduction business, let parents choose where they send their children to school. And stop this insane practice of turning teachers and school nurses into replacements for a Mom and a Dad.

State Rep To Students — That’s Not My Porn!

Considering this happened to seniors in high school, I don’t think anyone was surprised… I’m sure they’ve all seen it before. The guys have invariably all searched for it on their own computers, and the girls have those anatomical features, so I’m sure they’ve seen them. I think the only surprise would have been if the pictures were of someone in the class (which would have been hilarious, IMHO)… So don’t expect me to call for this guy to be tarred and feathered.

But this reminds me greatly of the “series of tubes” incident. If this guy’s not smart enough to understand that you should figure out what’s on a flash drive BEFORE you arrive at the school, he probably shouldn’t be writing legislation…

State rep gives students revealing presentation

Seniors in government class at Norwalk High School might have thought they were in anatomy class Tuesday when a topless photo popped up during a PowerPoint presentation.

State Rep. Matt Barrett, D-Amherst, was speaking to a class when he plugged a flash drive, a portable memory storage device, into the teacher’s computer. A dialogue box and a topless photo popped up on screen, he said.

“I was shocked,” he said. “I didn’t know where it was coming from — if it was coming from the flash drive or what.”

After the class, Barrett, the teacher, the principal, the district’s technology director and Superintendent Wayne Babcanec met to discuss the incident. They found an entire directory of inappropriate photos on the flash drive, which Barrett received from a legislative liaison from the state library.

They called the Norwalk Police Department and the Ohio Highway Patrol to look into it as well.

“There is no specific individual we’re looking at. At this time, we’re trying to figure out what is on the jump drive and how it got there,” said Lt. Tony Bradshaw of the Ohio Highway Patrol.

Well, don’t worry… Now that the “authorities” are involved, they’re going to make sure a silly situation becomes absurd. The Highway Patrol is going to spend your tax dollars to find out exactly why and how 25 (or so) students, mostly 17 and 18 years old who have worse on their own computers, got a 3-second glimpse of some mammary glands. Well, they won’t likely find out. And even if they do, they probably have no recourse to prosecute. So it’s an expensive exercise in futility, which will likely result in hundreds of man-hours and thousands of tax dollars spent resulting in a case closed without resolution.

But all that doesn’t bother me. I’m not in Ohio, those aren’t my tax dollars, so I’ll just enjoy the schadenfreude while it lasts!

School Choice For Me, But Not For Thee

That, it appears, is the attitude shared by a sizable plurality of Senators and Members of Congress who choose to send their children to private schools rather than public schools:

Many Members of Congress value the opportunity to choose a safe and effective school for their own children, yet many of these same Members consis­tently oppose school choice legislation that would give the same opportunity to other families. For example, Senators Edward Kennedy (D–MA) and Hil­lary Clinton (D–NY) have been outspoken opponents of school choice initiatives even though both have sent their children to private schools.

Since 2000, The Heritage Foundation has con­ducted several surveys of Members of Congress to determine how many Senators and Representatives practice school choice by sending their children to private school. In 2007, The Heritage Foundation updated this survey and found that 37 percent of Representatives and 45 percent of Senators in the 110th Congress sent their children to private schools—almost four times the rate of the general population.

Based on the survey results, if all of the Members who exercised school choice for their own children had supported school choice in policy, every major legislative effort in recent years to give parents school choice would have passed. Congress should support policies that give all families the opportunity to choose the best school options for their children.

I don’t begrudge the efforts of Congressman and Senators who want to do better for the children, and who wish to give them an education better than what’s offered in a public school. The question is why they, and the rich people they often talk about taxing to death, should be the only ones able to do make this choice.

Rudy Giuliani Gets It Mostly Wrong On Education

Rudy Giuliani says he believes in school choice, but it’s not the kind of school choice you might think:

MERRIMACK, N.H. (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani on Friday argued for taxpayer-funded vouchers for private elementary and secondary schools, saying school choice works for the nation’s colleges and universities.

People come from all over the world to attend college in the United States, Giuliani said at a town hall meeting in Merrimack, N.H.

“How is it that we have the best higher education in the world and a weaker K-through-12 system?” Giuliani said. “What’s the difference? Why does one operate so well and the other not nearly as well? American higher education is based on a quintessential American principle – choice.”

As mayor of New York, Giuliani backed vouchers for private and parochial schools in the face of opposition from his own schools chancellor.

“I’d give parents control over their children’s education,” Giuliani told the audience of about 150 people at a solar power products plant. “We’ve got to have competition operating. If we don’t do that, our education system is going to deteriorate.”

As Andrew Coulson points out at Cato@Liberty, Giuliani’s approach completely misses the point of what a true pro-choice position on education should be:

Real consumer choice and competition among schools aren’t just good ideas — they’re essential if we are ever going to see the kind of progress and innovation in education that we’ve seen in every other field over the past few centuries. But if Rudy is saying he’d back a federal school choice program, he’s got the right idea at the wrong level of government.

As someone who touts the merits of limited government, Giuliani should heed the Tenth Amendment, which reserves to the states and the people powers that they have not delegated to Washington in the Constitution. Last time I checked, neither the word “education” nor the word “school” appears anywhere in that document.

What Giuliani is saying is really no different from what any other Republican has said about education for the past 30 years or more. Heck 27 years ago, Ronald Reagan campaigned on the idea of eliminating the Department of Education.

And what have we gotten ?

Not less Federal involvement in education, but more, as epitomized by the George Bush-Ted Kennedy love child known as the No Child Left Behind Act.

Not a smaller Department of Education, but a larger one.

And, in the end, have we gotten better schools ? Of course not.

For more than 200 years, the government kept its nose out of education, and for good reason; (1) the Constitution gives Congress absolutely no authority over the subject, and (2) it’s impossible for Congressman and bureaucrats sitting in Washington, D.C. to design an education system that is going to work for every school in every town in America.

One can debate whether government should be involved in education at all, and I certainly think that the government monopoly on education should be eliminated, but to the extent it should exist, that involvement belongs at the local level.

Mr. Giuliani, read the Constitution.

Fred Thompson — Federalist?

I’m pulling for Ron Paul, but I have to have a question in the back of my mind. If Ron Paul doesn’t get the nomination, should I vote Republican or Libertarian in 2008? The question comes down to this: “Is there anyone other than Ron Paul in the Republican field that I want to vote for, instead of just voting against Democrats?”

Since I live in California, the question is largely academic. California isn’t in danger of being a close state in the general election, so I have to vote for principle. I’ve already ruled out Giuliani, McCain, and I’m already leaning against Romney. But I know very little about Fred Thompson.

I received an email from Jon Henke, one of the bloggers from QandO, who is a Fred Thompson supporter. The email contained the last two paragraphs of this post, making me think that perhaps Fred Thompson believed in the same strain of federalism that I do:

A good first step would be to codify the Executive Order on Federalism first signed by President Ronald Reagan. That Executive Order, first revoked by President Clinton, then modified to the point of uselessness, required agencies to respect the principle of the Tenth Amendment when formulating policies and implementing the laws passed by Congress. It preserved the division of responsibilities between the states and the federal government envisioned by the Framers of the Constitution. It was a fine idea that should never have been revoked. The next president should put it right back in effect, and see to it that the rightful authority of state and local governments is respected.

It is not enough to say that we are “for” federalism, because in today’s world it is not always clear what that means. What we are “for” is liberty for our citizens. Federalism divides power between the states and government in Washington. It is a tool to promote freedom. How we draw the line between federal and state roles in this century, and how we stay true to the principles of federalism for the purpose of protecting economic and individual freedom are questions we must answer. Our challenge – meaning the federal government, the states, our communities and constituents – is to answer these questions together.

Sounds pretty good, no? But when I read the whole think, I started to backtrack on that…

First, he points out that federalism creates 50 little “laboratories” across America, where different ideas can be tested out. Unfortunately, he first points out how wonderful it was that we could take those different ideas and start standardizing them across our entire nation:

A good example of this early in my Senate service was welfare reform. We were warned that terrible things would happen if we went forward with a bill – a fundamental commitment would be abandoned and, among state governments, a “race to the bottom” would begin.

But key to our approach were elements of welfare reform that had proved successful in various states, such as Colorado, Michigan and Wisconsin. The result was a law that allowed us to better meet our commitments to our fellow citizens. It was one of the great political successes of the 1990’s, because Washington – for once – had the good sense to learn from state and local authorities and empower them in return.

I’ll give him half a pass on this one. After all, one can make the argument that the welfare reform bill was an improvement over what existed, and federalism did assist to make that more efficient. However, Thompson doesn’t make the argument that welfare should be a state matter from the beginning, he argues that the federal government learned from federalism. Allowing states to compete ensures continually improving efficiency of future programs, codifying the results of past competition and keeping power in federal hands doesn’t prepare for the future.

But another point is just inexcusable. He again suggests that federalism might help efficiency of the federal government, but then states that the funding must remain in Washington’s hands. How does the guy who fondly references Ronald Reagan’s executive order leave out the fact that Reagan campaigned on the promise to abolish the federal Department of Education, and then suggest that the feds have a responsibility to fund education?

Perhaps the clearest example of federal over-involvement in state and local responsibilities is public education. It’s the classic case of how the federal government buys authority over state and local matters with tax-payer money and ends up squandering both the authority and the money while imposing additional burdens on states.

It is appropriate for the federal government to provide funding and set goals for the state to meet in exchange for that funding. However, it is not a good idea for the federal government to specifically set forth the means to be used in order to reach those goals. Adherence to this principle would make for fewer bureaucracies, fewer regulations, and less expense, while promoting educational achievement. There are bills pending in Congress that would move us in this direction, and I hope Congress gives them the attention they deserve.

It is appropriate for the feds to provide funding? I thought he was a federalist, and a Constitutionalist. Sure, Thompson can read the Tenth Amendment, but apparently he’s reading between the lines of Article I, Section 8 if he believes that the federal government has a role in local education, whether funding or control. I would remind him that with funding comes control, and that’s one of the biggest reason to sever the funding link, not try to ignore the fact that one follows the other.

Fred Thompson appears to be a federalist in the same way that George W. Bush appears to be a conservative: when it’s politically expedient.

Supreme Court Rules Against Bong Hits 4 Jesus Student

The Supreme Court declined the opportunity to strike a blow for the rights of students, instead choosing to uphold a Principal’s decision to suspend a student for displaying what was clearly a nonsensical sign:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court tightened limits on student speech Monday, ruling against a high school student and his 14-foot-long “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banner.

Schools may prohibit student expression that can be interpreted as advocating drug use, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court in a 5-4 ruling.

Joseph Frederick unfurled his homemade sign on a winter morning in 2002, as the Olympic torch made its way through Juneau, Alaska, en route to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Frederick said the banner was a nonsensical message that he first saw on a snowboard. He intended the banner to proclaim his right to say anything at all.

His principal, Deborah Morse, said the phrase was a pro-drug message that had no place at a school-sanctioned event. Frederick denied that he was advocating for drug use.

“The message on Frederick’s banner is cryptic,” Roberts said. “But Principal Morse thought the banner would be interpreted by those viewing it as promoting illegal drug use, and that interpretation is plainly a reasonable one.”

Morse suspended the student, prompting a federal civil rights lawsuit.

In other words, the actual content of the message doesn’t matter so long as someone in authority thinks that it advocates something that violates school rules. More disturbing, though, is the fact that the Court does not seem to even address the fact that this happened outside the school, a fact which law professor Ann Althouse emphasized when she wrote about this case in January:

This case is about something that happened on the street and not in a classroom. The banner was, of course, silent, and the occasion was a parade. It’s quite different from disruptive speech during a lesson. Scalia offered a distinction between “disruptive” and “undermining.” The school’s real objection is that a pro-drug message undermines the message it endorses. That is, they don’t want disagreement and debate. They still convey their anti-drug message all the time, and this student isn’t interrupting them or even distracting anyone from hearing that message. He’s just delivering a counter-message on another occasion, and they object to the argument. That should be held to violate the First Amendment.

Unfortunately, Professor Althouse’s views are not shared by the five Justices in the majority.

Update: KipEsquire has two interesting observations:

Best as I can tell after a quick skim, the majority opinion and concurrences completely ignore the pesky little fact that Frederick was over 18 at the time of the incident. Therefore, any portion of the decision or concurrences that rely on Tinker’s* (or any other case’s) distinction between the rights of students and the rights of adults is per se invalid as applied to Frederick, who was an adult at the time.

The gist of Roberts’ opinion seems to be that “fighting drug use” is a sufficiently compelling governmental interest to censor free speech (again, of an adult student not in attendance at the time, off school grounds and displaying what could possibly be deemed a political message).

Or, as Kip puts it, the Court has effectively decided that the War On Drugs trumps the First Amendment.

Despots Say the Darndest Things

While most of us learn from the words of those who we admire, it is also possible to learn from those we detest. Here is a collection of quotes from some of the vilest despots in human history. From these quotes, perhaps we can gain some insights from their thought processes. You may also find the words of some of these despots eerily similar to those of some who are running for president or seeking other high office. Others seem to expose the motives behind those who seek to regulate the media, guns, education, and etc. I encourage anyone who reads this post to respond with a quote from an American politician whose quote has a similar meaning of those here (or exposes their motives).

Education/Indoctrination

“Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.”
Vladimir Lenin

“Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.”
Joseph Stalin

“He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”
Adolf Hitler

“The universities are available only to those who share my revolutionary beliefs.”
Fidel Castro

Censorship

“Ideas are far more powerful than guns. We don’t allow our enemies to have guns, why should we allow them to have ideas?”
Joseph Stalin

“When one makes a Revolution, one cannot mark time; one must always go forward – or go back. He who now talks about the “freedom of the press” goes backward, and halts our headlong course towards Socialism.”
Vladimir Lenin

Propaganda

“By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise.”
Adolf Hitler

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”
Vladimir Lenin

Political Strategy

“There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel.”
Vladimir Lenin

“How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.”
Adolf Hitler

“Democracy is the road to socialism.”
Karl Marx

“Democracy is indispensable to socialism.”
Vladimir Lenin

Individualism vs. Collectivism

“The day of individual happiness has passed.”
Adolf Hitler

“All our lives we fought against exalting the individual, against the elevation of the single person, and long ago we were over and done with the business of a hero, and here it comes up again: the glorification of one personality. This is not good at all. I am just like everybody else.”
Vladimir Lenin

Guns

“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
Mao Tse-Tung

“We don’t let them have ideas. Why would we let them have guns?”
Joseph Stalin

“One man with a gun can control 100 without one.”
Vladimir Lenin

“The only real power comes out of a long rifle.”
Joseph Stalin

Life, Liberty, and Property

“I think that a man should not live beyond the age when he begins to deteriorate, when the flame that lighted the brightest moment of his life has weakened.”
Fidel Castro

“It is true that liberty is precious – so precious that it must be rationed.”
Vladimir Lenin

“We must confront the privileged elite who have destroyed a large part of the world.”
Hugo Chavez

Religious Zealot Fails To Remove Harry Potter From Schools

In Georgia, a holier than thou Christian by the name of Laura Malloy has tried, and failed, for the 5th time to remove Harry Potter from Gwinnett County government school library shelves. Malloy says the books cause children to embrace witchcraft:

A judge gave Laura Mallory 64 minutes Tuesday to argue why the Harry Potter books should be removed from school library shelves.

She didn’t convince him.

Superior Court Judge Ronnie Batchelor instead upheld a decision by the Gwinnett County public schools to reject Mallory’s request and keep the popular J.K. Rowling series in school libraries.

The hearing Tuesday marked the fifth defeat for the Loganville woman, who has children in the Gwinnett schools and who launched her anti-Potter crusade in 2005.

Mallory said she is considering filing “a brand-new case” in federal court and hiring a lawyer to represent her.

“One day, the truth about this is going to come out,” she said.

School system spokeswoman Sloan Roach said the Gwinnett school board is prepared for that possibility. “Obviously, we hope this is the end of it,” Roach said.

As for the argument that the Harry Potter books have gotten children interested in reading:

Supporters of Rowling’s books say the popular stories about boy wizard Potter encourage children to read. Mallory responded that wasn’t sufficient reason to allow the books to remain in school libraries. “I’m sure there are teenagers who read pornography, but that doesn’t make it right,” she said.

So Harry Potter is now equal to Playboy or Hustler…I’m not seeing the similarities.

Why does Ms. (since I know this probably irritates her) Mallory hate Harry Potter so much:

Mallory restated many of her previous complaints about the Harry Potter series. She argued the books lure children into practicing witchcraft. Mallory said the school board’s decision to offer the books in taxpayer-funded libraries violates the U.S. Constitution because, she claims, they promote the Wiccan religion. Mallory also argued the books are too violent for children.

Mallory has acknowledged that she hasn’t read any of the Harry Potter books in their entirety, but Tuesday she recited excerpts of at least three of the books to illustrate her points.

Mallory, sometimes breaking into tears, read testimony from a teenager who said reading the books led her to contemplate suicide. Quoting a counselor who testified at a previous hearing, Mallory said the Potter movies and books led one boy into high-risk behaviors, such as dangerous motorcycle stunts and bungee jumping.

So is Mallory bring this case because she’s a type that believes in separate church and state? Not quite:

“I have a dream that God will be welcomed back into our schools,” Mallory said.

So she wants to get rid of a book series that she alleges (with little merit if she knew anything about the Wiccan sect) promotes a religion in order to get her religious viewpoints in the government schools. What does the Bible say about hypocrites again?

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Chavez To Begin Indoctrination Socialist Formation Classes

You know, ever since I started working from home, I’ve found myself to be much more productive. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that I no longer spend time in meetings. Does Hugo Chavez realize the damage he’ll do to productivity by sending people to socialism classes for four hours a week?

Venezuela’s government will require workers to spend four hours a week in “socialist formation” classes, and is mandating employers form “Bolivarian Work Councils” to run courses on the job, El Universal reported, citing Labor and Social Security Minister Jose Ramon Rivero.

The classes will first be held only in public sector jobs, beginning with a pilot program at the nation’s Labor Ministry, and will later spread to private businesses, after President Hugo Chavez decrees a law outlining re-education guidelines and rules, the newspaper said.

Topics to be addressed in the four-hour classes include Venezuelan history and “basic tools for analyzing reality, the environment, the role of the state and socialist scheme,” to speed the transition from capitalism to socialism, Rivero said, according to the newspaper.

Chavez has asked that socialist education, the so-called “Third Motor” of his Bolivarian revolution, be carried out beyond schools, in factories, workshops, offices and fields, the newspaper reported.

Notably missing from his list of things to teach are logical fallacies and economics, but then, those two things would make his citizens subjects realize that Chavez was trying to dupe them and that socialism won’t work. Incentives matter, Hugo.

But alas, as much as those of us anti-socialists argue, nobody is listening. So we’ll just have to wait for the inevitable Venezuelan collapse to make our point for us. At which time the socialists will just say “Well, Chavez didn’t do it right…” Same story, different day.

Hat Tip: Lance @ A Second Hand Conjecture (also see his interview with Manny Lopez, a reporter who regularly visits Venezuela)

Have We Created A Nation Of Wimps ?

Stephen and Mike have both written excellent posts this week which basically ask why someone at Virginia Tech didn’t try to stop Cho Seung Hui during his killing rampage. Mark Steyn has an interesting piece at National Review Online where he basically argues that part of the problem is that we’ve created a nation of wimps:

I haven’t weighed in yet on Virginia Tech — mainly because, in a saner world, it would not be the kind of incident one needed to have a partisan opinion on. But I was giving a couple of speeches in Minnesota yesterday and I was asked about it and found myself more and more disturbed by the tone of the coverage. I’m not sure I’m ready to go the full Derb but I think he’s closer to the reality of the situation than most. On Monday night, Geraldo was all over Fox News saying we have to accept that, in this horrible world we live in, our “children” need to be “protected.”

They’re not “children.” The students at Virginia Tech were grown women and — if you’ll forgive the expression — men. They would be regarded as adults by any other society in the history of our planet. Granted, we live in a selectively infantilized culture where twentysomethings are “children” if they’re serving in the Third Infantry Division in Ramadi but grown-ups making rational choices if they drop to the broadloom in President Clinton’s Oval Office. Nonetheless, it’s deeply damaging to portray fit fully formed adults as children who need to be protected. We should be raising them to understand that there will be moments in life when you need to protect yourself — and, in a “horrible” world, there may come moments when you have to choose between protecting yourself or others. It is a poor reflection on us that, in those first critical seconds where one has to make a decision, only an elderly Holocaust survivor, Professor Librescu, understood instinctively the obligation to act.

(…)

We do our children a disservice to raise them to entrust all to officialdom’s security blanket. Geraldo-like “protection” is a delusion: when something goes awry — whether on a September morning flight out of Logan or on a peaceful college campus — the state won’t be there to protect you.

Steyn does have a point here. Up until Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field, the government told citizens to remain passive during a hijacking and not to try to be a hero. The terrorists used that ingrained passivity to  great effect on 9/11, allowing them to cause more death and destruction than all the airline hijackes in history put together.

In the case of Virginia Tech, the students had an overwhelming strength of numbers against one madman with a gun. Surely, you might think, enough people acting together could’ve done something. And yet, apparently, nobody even tried.

Now let me say I find it difficult to write this now, only four days after the massacre. First of all, we really don’t know enough about what happened in Norris Hall to know if there was even time for Cho to be stopped. Second, there is a part of me that feels like even questioning the fact that nobody acted is treading far closer to blaming the victim than I am comfortable being. Third, even if they didn’t try to stop their killer, none of those people deserved to die.

And, yet, it’s clear that nobody even tried anything and I think that maybe Steyn does have a point and that we need to think carefully about whether our continued belief in a state that will protect you from cradle to grave is really preparing students and young adults for the harsh reality of the world.

In Defense of Self-Defense, part II

This started as a comment in response to Stephen’s post, but I decided it was big enough to warrant its own post. In the comment section to the afore mentioned post, there’s a discussion going on about exactly what, if anything, the VT students could have done to act in their own self defense.

First, I’d like to say that I feel that Stephen is right on about being bombarded with anti self-defense messages, ranging from being taught to “turn the other cheek” in preschool to the advice we get from law enforcement to simply give muggers and carjackers whatever they want. A lot of people in this country lack the capacity for any kind of violence, even in self defense.

That said, here’s a few thoughts I have on the matter…

The first thing is that the shock factor is the biggest one thing to overcome in a situation like this. The only way to overcome that is to think about it ahead of time. Run through scenarios in your head, always be prepared to take action…sort of what I described here.

As for options, I’ll simply discuss non-carrying options, because I think introducing a carrying student into the scenario simplifies things considerably. In any case, I was thinking about this in my night class tonight. It takes place in a relatively small classroom (20-30 people) in an engineering building with long straight hallways.

First, a caveat…the following makes the assumption that it would be, at most, one or two people acting at once. The likelihood of several people taking action is, at this point in time, highly unlikely due to the culture of non-violence that Stephen discussed.

If all the gunman does is stick his head in a room, shoots through one or two magazines, and then leaves, your only realistic option would be to wait for a mag change and then be prepared to close the distance between you and him quickly, preferebly throwing stuff, making noise, trying to appear as aggressive as possible. However, as tarran points out, if he is managing his ammunition and mag changes appropriately, the opportunity for this would be so slim as to be impossible.

If he does enter the classroom, your options improve slightly, as it gives you more angles at which to approach the gunman and a shorter distance to cover. However, the advantage is still definitely with the shooter.

The only way the advantage lies with the unarmed student(s) is if you are alert enough to realize that a shooting is going on prior to the gunman entering the room and you barricade the door. If the gunman does somehow manage to get through the barricade, 2-3 people (at least) should be waiting beside the door ready to jump him when he comes through. In this case the unarmed students have both surprise and numbers on their side.

Now, if we move out of a classroom and into a lecture hall, but still assume a very small number of people will be reacting offensively to the shooting (2 or 3 at most), the options improve slightly again for the unarmed student(s) but are still not good. Once the shooting starts most people will engage their flight response. You can use that to your advantage by staying with the crowd as long as possible before breaking out to attack the shooter. Once you break out, the above stated actions such as throwing objects, yelling, and appearing as aggressive as possible still apply.

The above discussion was all based on the premise that, at most, 2 or 3 people would be reacting aggressively to counter the gunman. This is pretty realistic given the culture of anti self-defense that Stephen discussed in his post. However, what if we were able to change that culture? Would things be any different?

Most definitely. First, we would be a lot more accepting of common sense defense measures to violence such as this. Schools have fire alarm systems, but God forbid we allow armed guards into the school or armed students onto the campus. We have fire drills, why not have intruder drills that actually involve pro-active action instead of turning off the ligths and hiding under desks waiting for someone else to take care of the problem? As Stephen says, establish the mentality that almost anything can be used as a weapon. Teach that if the entire class begins throwing things and charges the shooter, he can’t get you all and in fact is probably going to react with some surprise and alarm to actually see a large group of people fighting back. Most importantly, make people face the fact that, like fire, violence happens. Simply pretending it doesn’t exist is a recipe for disaster. If we get people to face that one fact, it would do more for decreasing crime and increasing overall safety in this country than increasing our police forces ten fold. If a gunman was able to get through our increased precautionary measures, he would face a much more menacing pack instead of a herd.

You’ll notice I left one scenario out of my discussion. I didn’t discuss if/how someone could chase down and ambush the shooter after he has left the immediate area. The reason is that the chances of anyone doing this unarmed are extremely slim. It would take a true sheepdog to undertake action of that magnitude. The likelihood of such an action succeeding is dependent on a lot of things, several of them intangibles, and has moved from simple self-defense to offensive assault. I’d like to say I’d be able to do such a thing, but I don’t think anyone can say until they’re put into that situation.

All we can do is prepare ourselves physically and mentally and hope we never have to face that moment of truth, but be prepared to do so in an instant.

In Defense of Self-Defense

So much has already been written here at The Liberty Papers about the Virginia Tech massacre and how gun control laws may have contributed leaving law abiding citizens defenseless. The fact that this disturbed individual was the only person on campus with a firearm is completely inexcusable and unacceptable. While I wholeheartedly agree with my co-contributors on the gun issue, I think there is something more that needs to be considered…

Consider this:

-There was 1 gunman with 2 semi-automatic handguns.

-Assuming that each clip had 10 rounds, the gunman would have started with only 20 rounds.

-According to reports, a total of 33 people were killed (including the gunman) and 20 or so others were injured (some with multiple gunshot wounds). This means that at some point, the gunman would have had to reload to continue his rampage.

-Though the students and faculty were unarmed, they easily had an advantage in numbers.

Why is this important? This is important because despite several opportunities to prevent the gunman from continuing his suicide mission, no one (apparently) tried to stop him. Please don’t misunderstand; I’m not trying to blame the victims of this tragedy for not “doing more” (It’s difficult to know for sure how one would react in the same situation until one is in that situation). I think the problem is much deeper. The problem as I see it is there seems to be a lack of the basic survival instincts of self preservation.

The two most common survival responses to threatening situations is fight or flight. Those who were fortunate enough to get away unharmed wisely used their flight instinct and got the hell out of there. But those who were cornered and had nowhere to run failed to use the fight response. I cannot help but wonder why this is, but I have a theory. My theory: our culture has ingrained in us this notion that violence is always wrong, even in a self-defense situation.

I am not too much older than these students so I have some idea of the anti self-defense messages they have been taught since preschool. They have been taught this bogus philosophy of “turn the other cheek” or “violence hasn’t ever solved anything.” If your government school student gets attacked on the playground and does anything to defend himself, he is treated the same as the aggressor thanks to these idiotic “zero tolerance” policies.

As these students graduate high school and enter college, they are bombarded with the bumper sticker logic of the “peace at any price” Left. As Doug pointed out, some of these peace protesters have adopted the philosophy of Ghandi; a man who once criticized the Jews for fighting back against the Nazis! These students also likely have paid at least some attention to how the world treats international bullies like Kim Jong Il and other despots. They no doubt saw the world wide condemnation of Israel last summer for using “disproportionate response” against Hezbollah (who were the aggressors). Given all of this, its not too hard to imagine why the students failed to defend themselves.

What would have happened if these students would have been taught that it is perfectly okay to defend themselves? What if Virginia Tech encouraged students to take self defense classes? I am not a self-defense expert by any stretch but it seems to me that certain measures could have been taken to stop the massacre from continuing. The most obvious defense measure would be to run around. A moving target is much more difficult to hit than one that is stationary. Given that the gunman was at a disadvantage as far as numbers are concerned, if even two or three people rushed him, he would likely have been taken down and disarmed. If even one person were able to take him to the ground, the crowd would have likely jumped in to help.

The reason I’m pointing these things out is because this will not be the last time; that’s for certain. There is nothing we can do about what already happened but we can hopefully learn from what happened in this tragedy. Its incumbent upon all of us to think about self-defense before something like this happens again. Wherever we are whether at work, at school, or anywhere else, we should take inventory of objects that can be used as a weapon (almost anything can be a weapon). We should also know where exits are and think of ways to flee a bad situation. We must never assume that the police will be there in time to save us; we must not be afraid to act. Most importantly, realize that you have an absolute right to use deadly force if your life or anyone else’s life is in clear and present danger. Period.

Sex Education: Another Government Program That Doesn’t Work

A new study shows that the abstinence-based sex education programs championed by the Bush Administration and social conservatives don’t work after all:

A long-awaited national study has concluded that abstinence-only sex education, a cornerstone of the Bush administration’s social agenda, does not keep teenagers from having sex. Neither does it increase or decrease the likelihood that if they do have sex, they will use a condom.

Authorized by Congress in 1997, the study followed 2000 children from elementary or middle school into high school. The children lived in four communities — two urban, two rural. All of the children received the family life services available in their community, in addition, slightly more than half of them also received abstinence-only education.

By the end of the study, when the average child was just shy of 17, half of both groups had remained abstinent. The sexually active teenagers had sex the first time at about age 15. Less than a quarter of them, in both groups, reported using a condom every time they had sex. More than a third of both groups had two or more partners.

Rather than turning this into a debate on condoms vs. abstinence, here’s a thought.

Why is the government involved in this at all ? Shouldn’t social conservatives, who at least in their rhetoric place the integrity of the family unit above all else but God himself, be arguing against the government teaching children about sex and morality at all ?

While that would seem to be the logical thing for them to do, they obviously find it easier to try to seize the levers of state to shape children in their image, rather than allowing parents to raise their children as they see fit.

Instead of spending taxpayer dollars to teach children about a subject on which there is clearly much cultural conflict, why not leave it up to parents to decide what to teach their children ?

Here’s how Andrew Sullivan puts it:

My own somewhat fuzzy view of the issue (developed at greater length here and here and here) is that except in areas where pervasive family breakdown requires educators to act in loco parentis more than one would like them to, public schools should take an, ah, stripped-down an approach to teaching sex, and mainly leave the whole “condoms or abstinence” issue to parents and kids to sort out on their own.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Is this a function of government?

Throw this one in the What the #$%*? file, it seems that Michigan House Democrats have passed an earmark that would provide every school aged child with an iPod:

Facing a budget deficit that has passed the $1 billion mark, House Democrats Thursday offered a spending plan that would buy a MP3 player or iPod for every school child in Michigan.

No cost estimate was attached to their hare-brained idea to “invest” in education. Details, we are promised, will follow.

“Tell mommy and daddy to vote Democrat, Johnny. We bought you an iPod.”

NTU has more:

They want taxpayers to pay for an iPod for every school child in the state. Did you hear a record-scratching noise when you read that? Did your jaw drop to the floor? Did you explode with vulgar swear words? If you didn’t, let me repeat that one more time, this time I’ll yell it…

THEY WANT TAXPAYERS TO PAY FOR AN IPOD FOR EVERY SCHOOL CHILD IN THE STATE!!!

Michigan, a state that already spends more than $10,000 per pupil to educate its children, wants to fund the extravagance of an iPod as well. Because, you know, it would improve their, uhh, education…or something. Knowing government inefficiency, they’d probably spend an average of $1,000 a piece and only half the kids would get them.

Republicans Turning Against No Child Left Behind

The Washington Post reports today that Republicans in Congress are turning against the crown jewel of President Bush’s education policy, the No Child Left Behind Act:

More than 50 GOP members of the House and Senate — including the House’s second-ranking Republican — will introduce legislation today that could severely undercut President Bush’s signature domestic achievement, the No Child Left Behind Act, by allowing states to opt out of its testing mandates.

For a White House fighting off attacks on its war policy and dealing with a burgeoning scandal at the Justice Department, the GOP dissidents’ move is a fresh blow on a new front. Among the co-sponsors of the legislation are House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a key supporter of the measure in 2001, and John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Bush’s most reliable defender in the Senate. Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the House GOP’s chief deputy whip and a supporter in 2001, has also signed on.

Burson Snyder, a spokesman for Blunt, said that after several meetings with school administrators and teachers in southwest Missouri, the House Republican leader turned against the measure he helped pass. Blunt was convinced that the burdens and red tape of the No Child Left Behind Act are unacceptably onerous, Snyder said.

Some Republicans said yesterday that a backlash against the law was inevitable. Many voters in affluent suburban and exurban districts — GOP strongholds — think their schools have been adversely affected by the law. Once-innovative public schools have increasingly become captive to federal testing mandates, jettisoning education programs not covered by those tests, siphoning funds from programs for the talented and gifted, and discouraging creativity, critics say.

One Republican, Peter Hokstra of Michigan has authored a bill that would allow any state to opt out of NCLB by referendum or executive action:

“President Bush and I just see education fundamentally differently,” said Hoekstra, a longtime opponent of the law. “The president believes in empowering bureaucrats in Washington, and I believe in local and parental control.”

Unfortunately, neither of the bills being proposed to modify NCLB contain any of the ideas that Republicans used to put forward on education. There are no vouchers. School choice isn’t being mentioned. And let’s not even talk about testing teachers to ensure that they actually understand the subject they’re teaching.

Unfortunately, we’ve come a long way from the days when Ronald Reagan talked about abolishing the Department of Education. -

Bill Gates Sees The Problem; Not The Solution

Bill Gates says our schools are failing:

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates told Congress on Wednesday that overhauls of the nation’s schools and immigration laws are urgently needed to keep jobs from going overseas. “The U.S. cannot maintain its economic leadership unless our work force consists of people who have the knowledge and skills needed to drive innovation,” Gates told the Senate committee that oversees labor and education issues.

Gates, whose charitable foundation has given away more than $3 billion since 1999 for educational programs and scholarships, noted that about 30 percent of U.S. ninth-graders fail to graduate on time. “As a nation, we should start with this goal: Every child in the United States graduating from high school,” he said.

Another recent federal study found 40 percent of high school seniors failed to perform at the basic level on a national math test. On a national science test, half of 12th-graders didn’t show basic skills.

30% failure rate? If most companies put out products with a 30% failure rate, they’d not only go out of business, they might get sued. I don’t trust anything important to a company that can’t actually meet its own goals (graduation) more than 70% of the time. Would you buy a car that had a 30% chance to have its engine fail within 4 years? No? Then why would you send your kids to an educational system with that failure rate?

And that’s just graduation. 40% can’t pass basic proficiency in math, 50% can’t pass basic proficiency in science!

Testifying before Congress, he looked around at the men and women who have destroyed our educational system. And what did he do? Talked to them like they’d actually fix it! He threw his weight behind their proposals:

“We simply cannot sustain an economy based on innovation unless our citizens are educated in math, science and engineering,” Gates said.

Legislation moving through the Senate, backed by Democratic and Republican leaders, seeks to get more people to become math and science teachers and would improve training for them. The bill also seeks to get more highly trained teachers in poor schools and would offer grants to states to better align their teaching with what kids should know to succeed at a job or in college.

Aha! More money! More central control! That’ll do it!

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