All posts by Wintery Knight

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Porkulus-2 bill would destroy school choice in Washington D.C.

I already blogged about the new 410 billion dollar omnibus bill here, but on John Boehner’s blog, I found out more about it. It’s not just that it contains 9000 earmarks, as Michelle Malkin noted. On John Boehner’s blog, he argues that the bill also contains a hidden provision that would destroy the voucher program in Washington, D.C..

This post states:

Congressional Democrats are scheming to deny low-income parents and students in the nation’s capital a popular school choice program by inserting a provision mandating Congress renew the program before more money is spent on it.  While this may sound innocuous enough, it would serve as a death blow to the groundbreaking D.C. school choice program – a goal Congressional Democrats have sought since taking control of Congress in 2007.

The post also links to a video produced by the Heritage Foundation that shows some of the affected students pleasing with Obama to let them attend private schools using vouchers, instead of attending defective public schools.

You may have heard that Washington, D.C. spends the most amount of money per pupil, but gets the least return on their investment. Andrew Coulson of the libertarian Cato Institute calculates the cost per student per year as $24,600. That is not a typo. The Washington Times notes that the voucher system cost only $7500 per year, and produced far better results than the government-run, union-staffed public schools.

The Opportunity Scholarship Program that Congress established allows more than 1,900 low-income D.C. children to receive vouchers so they can attend the private school of their parents’ choosing. The scholarships are good for up to $7,500. So, the best bet is obvious: a $7,500 voucher that caters to children – not a one-size-fits-all $24,600 per-pupil plan. The former has measurable academic success and incredible parental demand; the latter consistently places children at the bottom rungs of the academic ladder. In fact, D.C. ranked the lowest in math and reading, according to results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests released in September.

The Boston Globe summarizes the numbers on reading and math here:

According to the authoritative National Assessment of Education Progress, only one in seven fourth-graders is ranked at grade-level (“proficient”) or better in reading and math. Among eighth-graders, only one in eight is proficient in reading; only one in 12 can handle eighth-grade math.

John Boehner is quote in his blog post as follows:

The D.C. school choice program has provided hope for thousands of low-income children in the District of Columbia since it was established, and has been demonstrating results when it comes to parental satisfaction and increased parental involvement.  Eliminating this program would represent an irresponsible and shameful act on the part of the Democratic leadership in Congress, and the children of the District of Columbia deserve better.

If the Barack Obama is willing to take away school-choice from the poorest students in the nation in order to satisfy the teachers unions that got him elected, then what hope do the rest of us have of keeping our liberty?

Vladimir Putin tells America that socialism doesn’t work

Found this transcript of Putin’s remarks in the Wall Street Journal. The story was linked over on John Lott’s blog.

Putin opposes protectionism:

We must not revert to isolationism and unrestrained economic egotism. The leaders of the world’s largest economies agreed during the November 2008 G20 summit not to create barriers hindering global trade and capital flows. Russia shares these principles.

Putin opposes state intervention in the economy:

Excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state’s omnipotence is another possible mistake.

True, the state’s increased role in times of crisis is a natural reaction to market setbacks. Instead of streamlining market mechanisms, some are tempted to expand state economic intervention to the greatest possible extent.

Putin opposes big government:

The concentration of surplus assets in the hands of the state is a negative aspect of anti-crisis measures in virtually every nation.

In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state’s role absolute. In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly.

Putin opposes wealth redistribution and welfare:

Nor should we turn a blind eye to the fact that the spirit of free enterprise, including the principle of personal responsibility of businesspeople, investors and shareholders for their decisions, is being eroded in the last few months. There is no reason to believe that we can achieve better results by shifting responsibility onto the state.

Putin opposes bailouts and deficit spending:

And one more point: anti-crisis measures should not escalate into financial populism and a refusal to implement responsible macroeconomic policies. The unjustified swelling of the budgetary deficit and the accumulation of public debts are just as destructive as adventurous stock-jobbing.

Putin goes on to give recommendations on how to solve the problem.

I can’t believe that America and the USSR have switched places. What is the world coming to? Obama has unilaterally plunged us into bankruptcy and angered the entire world with his naive protectionism. How could we have been so ignorant as to have elected someone with no knowledge of economics whatsoever? During an economic crisis!

Bobby Jindal responds to Obama’s SOTU speech

Bobby Jindal gave the response to Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech last night. I am a huge Bobby Jindal supporter, so I was alarmed by Ace’s negative reaction here.

Awful. He walked out like an earnest dork and has a weird inflection, trying to sound upbeat and sunny when it’s clearly not his natural metier. It sounds false, and he looks false.

I don’t care how much of a star Jindal is, America doesn’t elect somewhat-off dorks as president.

But GatewayPundit liked the speech.

Governor Bobby Jindal was fantastic tonight. He delivered the Republican rebuttal to the Democrat’s irresponsible spending plan.

Democrats place their hope in government.
We place our hope in you the American people.

“We Believe Americans Can Do Anything.”
This was a terrific speech.
Jindal has a tremendous amount of charisma.

GatewayPundit also posted the transcript at that same link.

You can watch Bobby’s response here at HotAir.com, (12 minutes). My favorite part is when he says “who among us would ask our children for a loan?”.

Who among us would ask our children for a loan, so we could spend money we do not have, on things we do not need? That is precisely what the Democrats in Congress just did. It’s irresponsible. And it’s no way to strengthen our economy, create jobs or build a prosperous future for our children.

Basically he hammered the point that Democrats are for taking your money and solving someone’s else’s problems with it. They do not trust you to solve problems yourself. He was able to illustrate Republican priorities by talking about his reforms in Louisiana.

In Louisiana, we took a different approach. Since I became governor, we cut more than 250 earmarks from our state budget. And to create jobs for our citizens, we cut taxes six times — including the largest income tax cut in the history of our state.

In my home state, there used to be saying: At any given time, half of Louisiana is under water — and the other half is under indictment.

No one says that anymore. Last year, we passed some of the strongest ethics laws in the nation — and today, Louisiana has turned her back on the corruption of the past. We need to bring transparency to Washington, DC — so we can rid our Capitol of corruption and ensure we never see the passage of another trillion dollar spending bill that Congress has not even read and the American people haven’t even seen.

I really would appreciate it if you guys can watch this and let me know what you think of his speech! (Leave a comment) I think that the speech seemed a little plain, but remember, everybody is watching this response, not just people like us with a big interest in policies. Hey – I’m a Fred Thompson guy – what do I care about a person’s charisma? I only care about policies. Policies that increase liberty, prosperity and security.

One more opinion. Michelle Malkin said the delivery was fine. And I say the content was great!

Tom Price, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Commitee responds to Obama here, (5 minutes). He is really being clear about the differences between fiscal conservatism and socialism.

Jim Demint’s 2 minute take on Obama’s SOTU address is here.

UPDATE: Jindal does much better in this interview with Meredith Viera on NBC Today.

First report from William Lane Craig’s Quebec speaking tour

William Lane Craig completed his tour in Quebec, Canada on 2/13/09. One of the Quebecois students named Martin wrote to Dr. Craig, challenging him on many aspects of his presentation. Quebec is widely regarded as the most secular and progressive of the Canadian provinces, so I was delighted to hear from this student, but I don’t think Dr. Craig spent enough time replying to him, so I will help.

First, if you need a refresher on Craig’s standard 20 minute opening speech, look here (opening speech from the Craig-Pigliucci debate, audio from the Craig-Stenger debate, video from the Craig-Dacey debate). Bill usually argues for God from the origin of the universe, the fine-tuning of the universe for permitting life of any kind, objective moral values, the resurrection of Jesus as a historically-testable miracle claim, and the immediate personal experience of God.

The student Martin starts off by complaining that atheism is an adequate foundation for rational moral behavior. He writes:

…you know as well as I do that any thinking person, atheist or no, understands why rape isn’t acceptable in modern society. Being an atheist isn’t being a hedonist, and I feel that it’s pathetic I need to remind you of this.

Notice that Martin links the moral rules to the time and place in which he lives. Rape isn’t really wrong for all times and places, it’s wrong for us in this society in this time.

First of all, on atheism morality is an illusion. In an accidental universe, the only morality that exists is when societies make them up. In that sense, morality is similar to the fashion of clothing – it is purely convention. It varies by time and place. It is completely arbitrary. Let me explain some of the problems with briefly here, but a longer treatment is here.

On atheism, there is no non-physical soul, and no free will. There are therefore no moral choices nor is there moral responsibility. On atheism moral behavior is ultimately futile, as humans are all going to die individually and collectively in the heat death of the universe: it does not matter if you are moral or not, on atheism. On atheism, there is no standard by which to judge individual moral progress, or the evil in other cultures, such as widow-burning or slavery.

When an atheist speaks about morality, is isn’t talking about the way humans everywhere ought to be, he is talking about social conventions. When an atheist acts morally, he is simply imitating the fashions of the people around him – either to please himself by feeling moral, or to please other people. If they can escape the social consequences, it would be irrational for them to do the right them if it gives them no pleasure.

By the way, it’s not just me who says this. Richard Taylor, an atheist who once debated against William Lane Craig, says this:

The idea of political or legal obligation is clear enough… Similarly, the idea of an obligation higher than this, referred to as moral obligation, is clear enough, provided reference to some lawgiver higher…than those of the state is understood. In other words, our moral obligations can…be understood as those that are imposed by God…. But what if this higher-than-human lawgiver is no longer taken into account? Does the concept of moral obligation…still make sense? …The concept of moral obligation [is] unintelligible apart from the idea of God. The words remain but their meaning is gone. (Richard Taylor, Ethics, Faith, and Reason (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1985), p. 83-84)

Next, Martin argues that the anthropic principle is an adequate refutation of the fine-tuning of the physical constants of the universe for life. The anthropic principle is the idea that the presence of intelligent life causes the constants to be fine-tuned 14 billion years ago. He writes:

Impressing a room full of vaguely interested people with figures about the extremely rare conditions that allow life to exist is all well and good – handwaving away the entire anthropic principle with a single bad analogy is not.

Regarding Martin’s claim about fine-tuning being explained by the anthropic principle, let me say this. First, the fine-tuning is real. If you change the constants of physics in the big bang, the universe will not support life of any kind. Consider another Martin, Martin Rees, an atheist and the British Astronomer Royal. In his book “Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape The Universe”, he discusses 6 finely-tuned numbers.

Rees writes here:

These six numbers constitute a ‘recipe’ for a universe. Moreover, the outcome is sensitive to their values: if any one of them were to be ‘untuned’, there would be no stars and no life. Is this tuning just a brute fact, a coincidence? Or is it the providence of a benign Creator?

It is impossible for humans, who just appeared relatively recently, to have any causal impact on the selection of these physical constants 14 billion years ago. I discuss two known responses to the fine-tuning problem, (unobservable multiverse and non-existent observer), here.

James Inhofe says that the Fairness Doctrine will affect Christian radio

On his official blog, Senator James Inhofe links to an article from the Culture and Media Institute.  The article states that the Fairness Doctrine could affect Christian radio as well as conservative radio.

But, the return would also harm religious speech according to a senior Republican senator, James Inhofe, Okla., and the senior vice president of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), Craig Parshall. Both are warning religious broadcasting is facing a threat.

According to Parshall, there are about 2400 full power radio stations with a Christian format in the United States. About 40 percent of people who regularly listen do so specifically so they can listen to “teaching, preaching and talk” formats, he said. Christian radio and television have a total reach of 75 million he claimed.

Inhofe is quoted in the article as follows:

Those warning shots from the left have raised the possibility of the Fairness Doctrine’s reinstitution, one that Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., says Christian radio isn’t immune to. According to the senior senator from Oklahoma, if the federal government had to enforce a “Fairness Doctrine,” in whatever form it may take in the legislative process, it could open the door to lawsuits by advocacy groups, like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

“Religious messages are, often times, inherently political,” Inhofe said to the Culture & Media Institute. “Even when they are not, they could be considered controversial, and under the Fairness Doctrine as it once existed, controversial issues of public importance must be presented in an equitable and balanced manner. I am concerned that the ACLU and other liberal organizations will use this logic to file lawsuits against anyone who presents a message that they deem to be controversial. Though I believe these lawsuits would ultimately fail on First Amendment grounds, the chilling effect that the mere threat of a lawsuit will have on religious broadcasters could be substantial.”

Another concerned Republican is Cathy McMorris Rodgers. She is cited as follows:

“Over the last 20 years, conservative talk radio has done such an incredible job as far as getting out the message,” McMorris Rodgers said. “And although, ‘Fairness Doctrine’ may sound good, it’s just a clever title to say, ‘We’re going to shutdown conservative talk radio, and we’re going to potentially really hammer Christian radio, Christian television, and it’s very important to not allow this to move forward.”

Congressman Mike Pence also weights in:

“The American people cherish freedom, that’s why President Reagan repealed the so-called ‘Fairness Doctrine’ back in 1987,” Pence said. “This Depression-era government regulation would actually regulate the content of America’s airwaves and represents an existential threat to talk radio—and in particular—Christian talk radio.”

The article ends by discussing a legal case in which a Christian radio station was actually shut down by the FCC, because of the Fairness Doctrine. This happened in 1969, but the Fairness Doctrine was repealed in 1987.
Jim Demint’s Broadcaster Freedom Act of 2009 is co-sponsored by some of my favorite conservatives, like Tom Coburn and James Inhofe.