Betsy DeVos Causes Stupidity (Part I)

Specifically, a remarkably silly and ahistorical tweet from my state's junior Senator, Maggie Hassan:

If you want to gain a full appreciation for the Founders' vision for the Federal government's proper role in education, I've compiled the references to that issue appearing in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution:


Yes, that would be zero.

Well, what about the Federalist Papers? Ah, there's one, in Federalist No. 62, discussing the US citizenship-duration requirement for Representatives and Senators (seven years and nine years, respectively):

The propriety of these distinctions is explained by the nature of the senatorial trust, which, requiring greater extent of information and tability of character, requires at the same time that the senator should have reached a period of life most likely to supply these advantages; and which, participating immediately in transactions with foreign nations, ought to be exercised by none who are not thoroughly weaned from the prepossessions and habits incident to foreign birth and education.

Irrelevant aside: today's diversity-mongers would plotz at that xenophobic attitude! But in any case, hardly supportive of Maggie's point.

But let us give Senator Hassan's tweet every chance. What, specifically, about Jefferson? Maggie's chosen quote is from a letter TJ sent to George Wythe [from] Paris, August 13, 1786. He's referring to his proposed (but unpassed) bill to the Virginia legislature; his scheme is described and analyzed here (from an admittedly libertarian perspective). One of numerous facts inconvenient to Maggie's implied thesis:

Jefferson’s plan […] called for a highly decentralized system in which small wards (“districts of five or six miles square”) would establish and control their own schools. Jefferson feared centralized authority, so he did not want even a state government to “take this business [of elementary education] into its own hands.” In his “Plan for Elementary Schools” (1817), Jefferson warned that if a governor and state officials were to control the district schools, “they would be badly managed, depraved by abuses,” and would soon exhaust the available funds.

Bottom line: if Maggie Hassan really wanted an education system in line with the Founders' views, then (among other things) she'd immediately sign on to the proposal to abolish the Department of Education. And I'd vote for her re-election in 2022.

But I'm confident that neither of those things is going to happen.

Last Modified 2018-12-25 10:39 AM EST

URLs du Jour


Proverbs 29:10:

The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity and seek to kill the upright.

I guess the Proverbist was watching Senate confirmation hearings.

  • Why I read Ann Althouse's blog, and maybe you should too: She takes apart a news article reporting Apple CEO Tim Cook's views on "fake news". A British news report is quoted:

    Cook also called for governments to lead information campaigns to crack down on fake news in an interview with a British national newspaper.

    As Ann points out, an awful sentence. And (worse) after quite a bit of Googling, I can't find any source that tells me what Cook actually said on this precise point.

    I encourage you to RTWT. A comment I left there:

    Trivia: for what Ministry did Winston Smith work in Nineteen Eighty-Four?

    [Today's Getty image: a statesman peruses his own government's effort to crack down on fake news.]

  • Hey, kids, what time is it? Veronique de Rugy knows: "It’s Time to Permanently Abolish the DOE Green-Energy Loan Programs".

    Politicians, of course, love these loans because they are able to use them to reward interest groups while hiding the costs of this government-granted privilege. Congress can authorize billions of dollars in guaranteed or direct loans with minimal visible impact on the federal budget because of the way the government accounts for loan programs. Moreover, unlike the Solyndra case, most failures take years to play out, or never happen at all because the company wasn’t an overly risky bet in the first place and had plenty of access to capital — such as in the case of 90 percent of the 1705 loan-program recipients. Loan programs allow politicians to collect the rewards of granting a loan to a special interest while skirting political blame years later when or if the project defaults. It’s like buying a house on credit without having a trace of the transaction on your credit report.

    It would be nice if this went away, along the lines Ms de Rugy describes. But there's every reason to be pessimistic: the Crony Party encompasses a large fraction of both Democrats and Republicans, and five days out of seven, President Trump.

  • I was a fan of the late D. Keith Mano. National Review resurrects one of his 1987 articles, where he reports on a group of independent student journalists at Columbia.

    You can still get a good education at Columbia — yes, and Soviet fishing trawlers still do fish. Nonetheless, in that maison tolérée of academic leftism, where political truth is found torso-murdered daily, one student publication had a shocking headline — Divest now in the USSR. This at Columbia, where all right-brain functions are lobotomized during freshman week: first major university to divest from South Africa. They call that one student publication The Federalist Paper (after Columbia alumni Hamilton and Jay) and Vol. I, No. I came out last October. Came out written in elegant, witty, temperate diction, with a fine sense of place and moral errand. FP’s molto is Veritas Non Erubiscit (Truth Doesn’t Blush). And, to quote the first Statement of Purpose, “it will not be shouted down.”

    Making this relevant: one of the students is Neil Gorsuch.

    Yes, D. Keith Mano arises from the grave to report on our Supreme Court nominee.

    Gallows humor, but Mr. Mano might have appreciated it.

  • Slashdot reports a ZDnet story: College Network Attacked With Its Own Insecure IoT Devices.

    An attacker compromised over 5,000 IoT devices on a campus network -- including vending machines and light sensors -- and then used them to attack that same network.

    Eek! The campus is not disclosed, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't the University Near Here. I think I would have heard about that. And maybe I'm behind the times, but a campus with 5000 IoT devices? Isn't that a huge number?

  • At City Journal, Heather MacDonald examines UC Berkeley's descent "From Culture to Cupcakes".

    UC Berkeley’s Division of Equity and Inclusion has hung vertical banners across the main campus reminding students of the contemporary university’s paramount mission: assigning guilt and innocence within the ruthlessly competitive hierarchy of victimhood. Each banner shows a photo of a student or a member of the student-services bureaucracy, beside a purported quotation from that student or bureaucrat. No rolling cadences here, no mythical imagery, no exhortations to intellectual conquest. Instead, just whining or penitential snippets from the academic lexicon of identity politics.

    I suppose you can still get a good education at UC Berkeley, but as with most schools, you have to navigate through a lot of claptrap.

  • Sharp-eyed Clayton Cramer notes a news story out of not-so-gay Paris, which is spending $22 million to erect a "protective barrier" around the Eiffel Tower in order to more effectively keep out terrorists. Key quote from deputy mayor Jean-François Martins:

    “It’s not a wall, it’s an aesthetic perimeter.”

    Donald Trump, take a hint.

  • Your Tweet du Jour, from the immortal Frank J.:

Last Modified 2018-12-25 10:39 AM EST