Secretary of Education rescinds previously awarded D.C. vouchers

Fox News reports on it here: (H/T The Cato Institute)

The Heritage Foundation has a lot more.

Let’s start with a personal experience from one of the 200 low-income households affected.

Put yourself in the shoes of LaTasha Bennett. A single mother living in Washington, D.C., Ms. Bennett is able to send her child to a private school thanks to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. Hoping to enroll her daughter in the same private school, Ms. Bennett applied for and recently received a voucher from the Washington Scholarship Fund.

But last week, Ms. Bennett and hundreds of other D.C. parents received a form letter from the U.S. Department of Education informing them that their children wouldn’t be receiving a scholarship.

And more:

Secretary Duncan’s decision to take scholarship money away from low-income families came just days after the Department of Education released a study showing that students participating in the Opportunity Scholarship program had statistically significant better reading scores than students who applied to the program but were not offered a scholarship. The students that were in the program the longest showed notable improvement reading at levels approximately 1.5 to 2 full school years ahead of the sample group.

The data is in. School choice works. And it significantly lower costs. Opportunity Scholarships offered through the program are worth $7,500. Since the participating private schools cannot charge scholarship students more than the amount of their scholarships, that amount is still less than half of the $15,315 that D.C. taxpayers spent per pupil in the 2004–05 school year.

And what about the educations of Barack Obama and Arne Duncan?

Growing up in Hawaii, President Obama attended a private school. Growing up first in Chicago, and now in Washington, Obama’s two daughters attended and still attend a private school. Growing up in Chicago, Secretary Duncan attended a private school. And when he moved to D.C. Secretary Duncan chose to live in Arlington, where good schools for his children are assumed.

But maybe they were just pretty typical progressives, living in an emotional fantasy-land, with no access to facts?

The Wall Street Journal reports: (H/T The Heritage Foundation)

Voucher recipients were tested last spring. The scores were analyzed in the late summer and early fall, and in November preliminary results were presented to a team of advisers who work with the Education Department to produce the annual evaluation. Since Education officials are intimately involved in this process, they had to know what was in this evaluation even as Democrats passed (and Mr. Obama signed) language that ends the program after next year.

Mr. Duncan’s office spurned our repeated calls and emails asking what and when he and his aides knew about these results. We do know the Administration prohibited anyone involved with the evaluation from discussing it publicly. You’d think we were talking about nuclear secrets, not about a taxpayer-funded pilot program.

And the Denver Post’s David Harsanyi reports: (H/T The Heritage Foundation)

When I had the chance to ask Duncan — at a meeting of the Denver Post editorial board on Tuesday — whether he was alerted to this study before Congress eradicated the D.C. program, he offered an unequivocal “no.” He then called the WSJ editorial “fundamentally dishonest” and maintained that no one had even tried to contact him, despite the newspaper’s contention that it did, repeatedly.

When I called the Wall Street Journal, I discovered a different — that is, meticulously sourced and exceedingly convincing — story, including documented e-mail conversations between the author and higher-ups in Duncan’s office. The voucher study — which showed progress compounding yearly — had been around since November and its existence is mandated by law. So at best, Duncan was willfully ignorant.

And why are we surprised? Teacher’s unions funded Obama’s election campaign, not children and parents. The purpose of schools, according to socialists, is to indoctrinate the youth with socialism, moral relativism, secularism, and the religion of global warming. The purpose of schools is not to provide them with an education, so that they can get a job and avoid dependence on the government!

Further study

The Heartland Institute’s series of podcasts on vouchers and school choice.

It’s official: Obama’s socialism will lead to fascism

Homeland Security's new enemy!
Homeland Security's worst enemy! (H/T Nice Deb)

Looks like Obama suspended the war on terror abroad… only to start it up again… at home!

What is fascism and how is it caused?

Fascism is the political system that results when the state imposes its values on its citizens and represses individual values. The traditional view of free-market capitalist conservatives is that socialist efforts to “fix” financial inequalities by redistributing wealth in a planned economy inevitably ends in fascism. This is despite the fact that fascism is never the desired or intended result of well-meaning socialists.

This thesis is presented in a famous book called “The Road to Serfdom“, written by Nobel prize winning economist F.A. Hayek. This is the book that guided champions of free-market capitalism and individual liberty such as Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and today, Stephen Harper.

What the Department of Homeland Security wrote

Let’s take a look at the latest report from Barack Obama’s Department of Homeland Security.

Michelle Malkin has the complete story here. (H/T The Western Experience)

Yesterday, Roger Hedgecock and the Liberty Papers posted an unclassified DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis report titled:

Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.

The “report” (PDF file here) was one of the most embarrassingly shoddy pieces of propaganda I’d ever read out of DHS. I couldn’t believe it was real.

…I spent the day chasing down DHS spokespeople…[and] the press office got back to me and verified that the document is indeed for real.

Below, Michelle has the actual quotes from the DHS report.

Here are some questions for you:
Are you for federalism? Are you for limited government? Are you for immigration law enforcement? Are you pro-life?

If you answered “yes”, then the Obama regime thinks that you are a potential terrorist:

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

Here are some more questions for you:
Are you a free-market capitalist? Are you in favor of personal responsibility? Are you for legal firearm ownership?

If you answered “yes”, then the Obama regime thinks that you are a potential terrorist:

Rightwing extremists are harnessing this historical election as a recruitment tool. Many rightwing extremists are antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues, including immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use. Rightwing extremists are increasingly galvanized by these concerns and leverage them as drivers for recruitment. From the 2008 election timeframe to the present, rightwing extremists have capitalized on related racial and political prejudices in expanded propaganda campaigns, thereby reaching out to a wider audience of potential sympathizers.

And there’s more in the report:

Over the past five years, various rightwing extremists, including militias and white supremacists, have adopted the immigration issue as a call to action, rallying point, and recruiting tool. Debates over appropriate immigration levels and enforcement policy generally fall within the realm of protected political speech under the First Amendment, but in some cases, anti-immigration or strident pro-enforcement fervor has been directed against specific groups and has the potential to turn violent.

And more:

DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat. These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the capabilities of extremists—including lone wolves or small terrorist cells—to carry out violence. The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.

And more:

DHS/I&A will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months to ascertain with greater regional specificity the rise in rightwing extremist activity in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the political, economic, and social factors that drive rightwing extremist radicalization.

The Anchoress, unlike me, is more calm and circumspect. But, with her characteristic perceptiveness, she adds this warning:

Dissent – normal, healthy political dissent – which was “patriotic” just six months ago, and expressed without encumbrance throughout our history (until now) seems to be under attack….

As some of us have noted, everything that was projected on to the Bush administration is finding real expression in the Obama administration. I’m still waiting for the part where those who predicted that “Bush will declare martial law and never allow another election” pooh-pooh the right who say it of Obama. You know it will happen.

So, you see…we’re in a bad place, in these United States.

So let’s be clear. In my opinion, the United States is now on the road to fascism. Every single person who voted for Obama put us on that road to fascism. The United States of the Founding Fathers has been obliterated by the government-run schools, the leftist media, and our own invincible hedonism. Our liberty, and the liberty of nations struggling against socialism, (i.e. – fascism), worldwide, is now in jeopardy.

To end on a positive note, Open Market has something hopeful to say about possible remedies:

Government agencies that investigate people for their “politically incorrect” views can be held liable for violating the First Amendment, as happened in White v. Lee (2000), where a federal appeals court held that federal fair-housing officials could be sued individually for punitive damages for investigating citizens who spoke out against a group home for the disabled (in that case, mentally-ill substance-abusers).

Let’s hope that Bush appointed enough strict constructionist judges, he was pretty good at doing that.

Further study

Nice Deb is making light of the story here by comparing Democrats like Obama’s friend Bill Ayers, (a non-terrorist who just tried to blow some innocent people up), with authentic terrorists like little Republican girls who still believe in the Constitution.

Here are books on liberty that people today don’t read, but they should. They really should. Because God knows, those secularist socialists in the government, and the people who voted them in, sure haven’t. Atheistic communism lead to the deaths of 100 million people in the 20th century alone. Is that what we have to look forward to in this country? Ideas have consequences.

An abridged version of The Road to Serfdom is here.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin’s syndicated column is here.

Early, independent sources for the empty tomb

Bill Craig’s “Question of the Week” feature at Reasonable Faith recently addressed the problem of the number and dating of the earliest independent sources for the burial and empty tomb stories. I found that my own views were somewhat mistaken, so I thought we would all benefit from a closer look.

Let’s take a look at the independent sources for the empty tomb story.

1) The portion of Mark that recounts the burial is an early source

Mark is the earliest gospel, but even he relies on an earlier source for a portion of his gospel.

The burial account is part of Mark’s source material for the story of Jesus’ Passion. This is a very early source which is probably based on eyewitness testimony and dates to within several years of Jesus’ crucifixion.

…The empty tomb story is syntactically tied to the burial story; indeed, they are just one story. 

Bill talks about the dating and significance of this early source:

…Whereas most of Mark’s Gospel consists of short anecdotal stories strung like pearls on a string, when we get to the final week of Jesus’ life we encounter a continuous narrative of events from the Jewish plot during the Feast of Unleavened Bread through Jesus’ burial and empty tomb.

…According to James D. G. Dunn, “The most obvious explanation of this feature is that the framework was early on fixed within the tradition process and remained so throughout the transition to written Gospels. This suggests in turn a tradition rooted in the memory of the participants and put into that framework by them” (J. D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered, 2003, pp. 765-6.)

The dominant view among NT scholars is therefore that the Passion narratives are early and based on eyewitness testimony (Mark Allen Powell, JAAR 68 [2000]: 171). Indeed, according to Richard Bauckham, many scholars date Mark’s Passion narrative no later than the 40s (recall that Jesus died in A.D. 30) (Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, 2006, p. 243)….

Wow, this independent source is almost as good as 1 Corinthians 15:3-7! What else is a good source?

2) Matthew has an independent source for the empty tomb story

Craig writes:

As for the other Gospels, that Matthew has an independent tradition of the empty tomb is evident not only from the non-Matthean vocabulary (e.g., the words translated “on the next day,” “the preparation day,” “deceiver,” “guard [of soldiers],” “to make secure,” “to seal”; the expression “on the third day” is also non-Matthean, for he everywhere else uses “after three days;” the expression “chief priests and Pharisees” never appears in Mark or Luke and is also unusual for Matthew), but also from Matt. 28.15: “this story has been spread among Jews till this day,” indicative of a tradition history of disputes with Jewish non-Christians.

This one was new to me.

3) A source used by Luke and John for the empty tomb story

The inspection of the empty tomb by Peter implies the empty tomb. Craig writes:

Luke and John have the non-Markan story of Peter and another disciple inspecting the tomb, which, given John’s independence of Luke, indicates a separate tradition behind the story. Moreover, we have already seen that John’s independence of Mark shows that he has a separate source for the empty tomb.

This one was also new to me.

4) The early sermons in Acts support the empty tomb

Acts was written by Luke. Craig writes:

The early sermons in Acts are likely not created by Luke out of whole cloth but represent early apostolic preaching. We find the empty tomb implied in the contrast between David’s tomb and Jesus’: “David died and was buried and his tomb is with us to this day.” But “this Jesus God has raised up” (2:29-32; cf. 13.36-7).

This one I had heard about before, from Gary Habermas.

5) The creed recited by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 is an early source

This passage does not explicitly mention the empty tomb, but it does imply the empty tomb. We moderns are not free to re-invent the meaning of the word resurrection. Ancient Jewish theologians who believed in the resurrection had a definite definition of the word: the word means that the body is gone from the tomb.

Craig writes:

…the old tradition handed on by Paul to the Corinthian church, which is among the earliest traditions identifiable in the NT, refers to Jesus’ burial in the second line of the tradition. That this is the same event as the burial described in the Gospels becomes evident by comparing Paul’s tradition with the Passion narratives on the one hand and the sermons in the Acts of the Apostles on the other. The four-line tradition handed on by Paul is a summary of the central events of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial by Joseph of Arimathea, the discovery of his empty tomb, and his appearances to the disciples.

This creed has been dated to within 5 years of the crucifixion, as I mentioned before.

Further study

A scholarly-level article where Craig makes the case for the empty tomb is found here. Atheist commenters: be sure and read this article before commenting.

I’ll be posting a follow-up later this week on the empty tomb, but I wanted to write about the sources separately.

Licona vs Ehrman debate DVD is now available to order!

From the Apologetics Book Store web site.  (H/T Mike Licona)

Details:

UPDATED: APRIL 11, 2009

DVDs of my recent debate with Bart Ehrman are now available for purchase for $10 at http://theapologeticsbookstore.com/licona-ehrman-debate.aspx.

A review of the debate is linked here.

I like these two new guys, Mike Licona and Tony Costa, a lot. I think we are in good shape on the resurrection debate front, going forward. If we could only find a few good philosophical debaters. Anyone know of any?

At last some honesty on global warming alarmism

You may have read something about the NYT article a while back that discussed the brilliant scientist Freeman Dyson and his opposition to global warming.

Excerpt from the NYT article:

Dyson may be an Obama-loving, Bush-loathing liberal who has spent his life opposing American wars and fighting for the protection of natural resources, but he brooks no ideology and has a withering aversion to scientific consensus.

…IT WAS FOUR YEARS AGO that Dyson began publicly stating his doubts about climate change. Speaking at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston University, Dyson announced that “all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated.” Since then he has only heated up his misgivings, declaring in a 2007 interview with Salon.com that “the fact that the climate is getting warmer doesn’t scare me at all” and writing in an essay for The New York Review of Books, the left-leaning publication that is to gravitas what the Beagle was to Darwin, that climate change has become an “obsession” — the primary article of faith for “a worldwide secular religion” known as environmentalism.

Among those he considers true believers, Dyson has been particularly dismissive of Al Gore, whom Dyson calls climate change’s “chief propagandist,” and James Hansen, the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and an adviser to Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Dyson accuses them of relying too heavily on computer-generated climate models that foresee a Grand Guignol of imminent world devastation as icecaps melt, oceans rise and storms and plagues sweep the earth, and he blames the pair’s “lousy science” for “distracting public attention” from “more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet.”

Well, the NYT got a fascinating letter to the editor in response to their profile of Dyson. The letter came from a graduate student at Harvard named Monika Kopacz.

The letter is excerpted in First Things (H/T The Weekly Standard):

It is no secret that a lot of climate-change research is subject to opinion, that climate models sometimes disagree even on the signs of the future changes (e.g. drier vs. wetter future climate). The problem is, only sensational exaggeration makes the kind of story that will get politicians’ — and readers’ — attention. So, yes, climate scientists might exaggerate, but in today’s world, this is the only way to assure any political action and thus more federal financing to reduce the scientific uncertainty.

Remember, in 1975, the leftist magazine Newsweek propped up the global cooling as the crisis-du-jour.

Excerpt from an article from the Business and Media Institute:

It took 31 years, but Newsweek magazine admitted it was incorrect about climate change. In a nearly 1,000-word correction, Senior Editor Jerry Adler finally agreed that a 1975 piece on global cooling “was so spectacularly wrong about the near-term future.”

Even then, Adler wasn’t quite willing to blame Newsweek for the incredible failure. “In fact, the story wasn’t ‘wrong’ in the journalistic sense of ‘inaccurate,’” he claimed. “Some scientists indeed thought the Earth might be cooling in the 1970s, and some laymen – even one as sophisticated and well-educated as Isaac Asimov – saw potentially dire implications for climate and food production,” Adler added.

Journalists, lacking marketable skills, support socialism. They believe that their word-smithing skills are more worthy than the practical skills of engineers and entrepreneurs. Socialism is their way of regaining the accolades they lost once they left the safe confines of the public school classroom.

Any myth that will allow the government to seize control of the free-market must be supported, regardless of the evidence. And the same thing applies to Darwinism. Only in this case, the target is not the free market, but the church. And the goal is not redistribution of wealth, but autonomy from moral judgments and moral constraints.

For more on scientific opposition politics masquerading as science, see here.

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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