Monday, August 20, 2012

New Prager University Video: The Moral Case for the British Empire


Is there a moral case to be made for the British Empire? To even ask the question at your typical university would be to invite derision. That's a shame because the British Empire's legacy is one Western Civilization should be proud of. We'd be living in a much less free and prosperous world without it. Historian HW Crocker III explains why in this eye-opening Prager University course.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What Aren't Your Kids Learning About America?


Conservative critics of left-wing bias in public education have no shortage of horror stories to make their point, such as Tanya Dixon-Neely, the North Carolina teacher who is keeping her job despite getting caught on tape in May berating a student for criticizing Barack Obama and telling the class they could get arrested for bad-mouthing their presidents.

But the more pervasive danger to future generations’ political understanding is subtler than outright indoctrination. Even when teachers aren’t out to push an agenda, social studies courses tend to take a superficial approach that may relay key historical events adequately, but provides only the most superficial understanding of the theories and values behind them, if at all.

Don’t believe me? Here are a few simple questions you can ask your kids to judge for yourself just how well served they’ve been in their Social Studies classes:

1.) Who was John Locke, and what did he contribute to the Founding? Despite dying seventy-two years before the Declaration of Independence, the great English philosopher could be thought of as the first Founder, since his writings established the natural right and social compact theories at the Declaration’s heart. Thomas Jefferson’s formulation that “ all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” and “that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” is basically the Cliff Notes version of Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government, which proposed consent as government’s only moral justification because nobody has a divine claim over anyone else, protecting individual rights as government’s just purpose, and developed a rational basis for objectively defining what is and is not a right.

2.) What is the significance of the Federalist Papers? Written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay to persuade the new nation to adopt the Constitution, there is no more authoritative guide to our government—and yet, to most students, it’s a footnote at best. They’re denied some of the Founders’ most important lessons, like Federalist 10 on the dangers of faction (groups “ actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to…the permanent and aggregate interests of the community”), Federalist 45 on the difference between federal and state roles (“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite”), Federalist 51 on human nature’s implications for politics (“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary”), or the papers’ extensive analysis of the vital difference between direct democracy and the constitutional republic America was designed as. The Federalist Papers reveal that there’s careful thought and important purpose behind every aspect of our Constitution, yet the average high-schooler is likely to graduate with the impression that constitutional mechanics like the Electoral College, separation of powers, and bicameralism were either mere products of sectional compromise or the outdated fallacies of old, white elites.

3.) How did the Founders treat slavery? Conventional wisdom paints the Founders as simply hypocrites who proclaimed liberty for themselves while denying it to blacks. But while the stain of slavery on our history is real, our forefathers’ indifference on the subject is not. Slaveholders held enough power to keep the practice alive, but the Founders overwhelmingly opposed and condemned it. Consider the Three-Fifths Compromise. Everybody knows the constitutional provision that counts slaves as three-fifths of a whole person for purposes of apportioning House seats, but how many know that it was the slaveholders who wanted their slaves to be counted fully, so they could reap the benefits of additional Congressmen who would vote with pro-slavery interests, like the preservation of slavery, fugitive slave laws, and support for slavery in the territories? By counting them as three-fifths, the framers of the Constitution gave slave states less influence over Congress than counting slaves fully would have, without completely alienating their willingness to ratify the Constitution. In fact, the compromise actually gave states an incentive to free their slaves: if their slaves became free men, they’d get more representatives.

Public schools may teach kids the whos, whats, wheres, and whens of American history and politics, but not the whys—an inexcusable inadequacy that denies them what they need most to become civic-minded adults, and demands much greater attention in America’s education debate.

Monday, August 6, 2012

New Prager University Video: Proving Media Bias

Check out the latest video from Dennis Prager's fantastic Prager University series. Here, UCLA Political Science Professor  Tim Groseclose (author of Left Turn: How Liberal Media Distorts the American Mind) "explains his peer-reviewed study, which quantifies how slanted America's news media really is. He says that if it were not for the media’s significant leftward bias, Americans would almost certainly vote more conservative."


The Historical Malpractice of Equating Gay Marriage and Interracial Marriage


All liberal rhetoric has two basic goals: pander to some class-, sex-, or race-based voting bloc, and defame whoever disagrees with liberals. Nowhere is this more evident than in the same-sex marriage debate.

Perhaps in response to African-American pastors’ backlash against President Barack Obama’s endorsement of redefining marriage, the Left has resurrected the argument that opposing same-sex marriage is no different than forbidding interracial marriage, making today’s conservatives no better than yesterday’s racists. Today we remember with shame our ancestors who senselessly kept white and black lovers apart, the argument goes; how are those trying to prevent gay marriage any better?

It’s a powerful question—to those who don’t know anything about either the marriage debate or the history of anti-miscegenation (interracial marriage) laws. Fortunately, a little knowledge is more than enough to expose this attack for the cheap demagoguery it is.

For starters, race is a superficial characteristic having nothing to do with marriage’s meaning, while gender has everything to do with it. Men and women uniquely complement one another both as lovers and as parents, because theirs is the only pairing that naturally creates children and gives children what they need for a well-rounded upbringing. Children need role models of both genders in order to understand themselves and relate to the opposite sex. They need one parent to reinforce their sex’s strengths and another to temper its weaknesses. They need a mother’s disposition to nurture and a father’s emphasis on discipline. Numerous studies confirm this. Moms and dads come in all skin colors, but only women can be mothers, and only men fathers, which gives traditional marriage a clear rationale: binding together naturally procreative couples for the sake of their potential children.

Conversely, anti-miscegenation wasn’t motivated at all by substantive concerns about marriage’s function; it was merely one front in a much broader campaign to keep the black population oppressed and the white gene pool pure.

Marriage defenders’ motives couldn’t possibly be further from those of segregationists, and neither could the impact of their policies on the group in question. Defining marriage as a man-woman union simply means the state won’t issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That’s it. No prohibition whatsoever on cohabitation, sex, benefits (which can be addressed without redefining marriage), contracts, or even wedding ceremonies. The central motivation of marriage redefiners isn’t to correct a tangible injustice, but to win government endorsement for gay relationships—in other words, they’re driven by the subjective value they place in marriage’s symbolism.

The effects of the anti-miscegenation laws that once plagued interracial couples, on the other hand, were all too tangible. While some states simply denied their relationships formal recognition but otherwise left them alone, many criminalized—and punished—cohabitation, sex, and the performing of wedding ceremonies between whites and non-whites. Indeed, consider the incident that sparked Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court decision that struck down anti-miscegenation. Richard and Mildred Loving married in the District of Columbia, moved to Virginia, and were indicted. The judge gave them a choice: spend a year in prison, or get out of Virginia.

Jail time? Forced eviction from a state? Where in any of the thirty-eight states that reject same-sex marriage do gay couples face anything of the kind?

The comparison between same-sex and interracial marriage is historical malpractice of the worst order, a malicious lie that not only derails an important cultural conversation but also insults those who faced true bigotry in this country. This superficially clever smear might be a hit among clueless college kids receptive to whatever boosts their own sense of superiority, but liberals may see it backfire among voters with longer memories.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Vital Healthcare Roadmap for Mitt Romney

Though constitutionally indefensible, Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision to save ObamaCare might prove to be a blessing in disguise. By guaranteeing that the intensely unpopular law stays relevant through November, the ruling could ultimately save the Constitution by securing Barack Obama’s electoral defeat.

That is, if Mitt Romney seizes the opportunity.

Therein lies the problem: so far, Team Romney has played it dangerously safe, campaigning on a one-note economic message that has frustrated many of his supporters into asking him, as the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol did on July 5, “to get off autopilot and actually think about the race he’s running.”

The problem is amplified on healthcare. Throughout the primary, conservative activists excoriated Romney for the mandate-based plan he enacted in Massachusetts, decrying it as statism and fearing it would make Romney a hypocrite in attacking ObamaCare, leaving the campaign terrified of getting specific enough to invite comparisons of the two laws.

But that caution isn’t just excessive—it’s suicidal. As dissatisfied as voters are with the status quo, they know there’s more to it than the economy. And the case against the dangers of Obama’s second term is fatally incomplete without ObamaCare.

Contrary to the wisdom of overpaid GOP strategists, Mitt Romney can forcefully, comprehensively make that case—and contrary to the hysterics of the Anybody-But-Mitt crowd, he can do it without flip-flopping on RomneyCare.

First, stress that ObamaCare is full of outrages that have no parallel in RomneyCare. For instance, the Congressional Research Service says it’s impossible to count how many new agencies and boards the law creates, making their potential harm unknowable and their accountability impossible. Hammer the scandalous irresponsibility of Democrats inflicting on us something none of them even read, much less understand. Note that the Congressional Budget Office now says the whole shebang is now projected to cost anywhere from $1.76 trillion to $2.6 trillion over the next decade—considerably higher than its original $900 billion price tag. Think that’ll help our $15+ trillion debt, America?

Second, sound the alarm on how ObamaCare will worsen healthcare. Trumpet the results of surveys like the one Jackson Healthcare released in June, which found that 70% of doctors don’t think it’ll control costs, 61% doubt it’ll improve the quality of care, and 66% expect it to take decisions out of physicians’ hands; or the one the Doctor Patient Medical Association released in July finding that ObamaCare has led 83% of American doctors to consider quitting. Point out that it makes completely dropping insurance the most affordable option for many employers. Explain how it makes insurance costlier to micromanage what services plans must cover.

Third, debunk the lie that Romney and Obama’s healthcare records are equivalent. For example, Romney’s proposal would only have required Massachusetts residents to purchase basic catastrophic insurance, to offset the cost of their federally-guaranteed right to emergency care, and would not have included any employer mandate—vastly different from ObamaCare’s much broader (and therefore far pricier) mandate, which imposes on employer and employee alike broader plans covering things like birth control, maternity care, and drug abuse treatment. It was Massachusetts’ 85% Democrat legislature, overriding Romney’s vetoes, which pushed RomneyCare leftward on these points (Romney also unsuccessfully vetoed the final bill’s coverage for non-citizens and a new bureaucracy it created, the Public Health Council).

Finally, point out the biggest difference of all: while Romney was merely out to insure the uninsured, Obama sees ObamaCare as one step on the longer road to a full-blown single-payer system. Demand the president explain what he meant when he said, “I don’t think we’re going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. There’s going to be potentially some transition process.” Ask how that squares with “if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”

Rather than a liability, the true story of RomneyCare contrasts sharply with ObamaCare and illustrates the formidable expertise Mitt Romney would bring to healthcare reform as president. But only Romney can tell it.
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