David Rodeback's Blog

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Saturday, February 3, 2007
The Week's Excellent Readings

Ronald Reagan, teacher pay, liberals going ballistic over a book, Mr. Justice Clarence Thomas as influential and independent, cheerleaders, writing unrightable wrongs . . .


Dinesh D'Souza describes the hysteria his new book has stirred up and summarizes the book's arguments. (Do you know another interpretation of 9/11 that fits the facts more completely?

Peggy Noonan remembers Ronald Reagan on the occasion of his birthday (early next week). One excerpt:

When he ran against Ford, it wasn't personal. And when he almost picked Ford as his vice president, that wasn't personal either. It was more like this: This is America. We have been arguing about everything for 200 years. It's what we do. It's our glory.

Our politics then were grimmer yet had a lighter touch. The Soviets could nuke us tomorrow; let's have a hellacious brawl. It was a serious time, but I don't think we were in general so somber, so locked in. The 11th commandment meant the fight should never be mean, low or unnecessarily injurious to the person, or the party. But a fight could be waged--should be waged--over big, big things.

Meanwhile, Eastern Europe honors President Reagan, too, writes Mark M. Alexander.

The troop surge in Iraq, having just begun, is already showing some results, writes Jack Kelly.

Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters have some hard data showing that public school teachers actually are paid better than most professionals. (Talk about putting a target on your rhetorical chest . . .) They also note:

Evidence suggests that the way we pay teachers is more important than simply what they take home. Currently salaries are determined almost entirely by seniority--the number of years in the classroom--and the number of advanced degrees accumulated. Neither has much to do with student improvement.

There is evidence that providing bonuses to teachers who improve the performance of their students does raise academic proficiency.

Jan Crawford Greenburg gives a fascinating account of US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's independence and influence on the Court.

Jack Kelly puts global warming in perspective.

Jeff Jacoby applies basic economics to the matter of rising health care costs and President Bush's proposal. (Imagine that!) One excerpt:

Why does it matter whether Americans pay for medical care directly or let insurers cover their bills? Because thrift and price awareness usually go out the window when we're spending other people's money. Under the present setup, most Americans have little incentive to be economical consumers of health care. As a result, health care expenditures -- and insurance premiums -- have been racing ahead at three and four times the rate of inflation.

W. Thomas Smith, Jr., combats Democratic claims about the war with actual numbers about reenlistment, etc.


Paul Greenberg takes a bit of a historical look at oil, Iraq, journalism, and such.

Mark Steyn speaks mostly of American, British, and Soviet government, making an unflattering comparison involving the US Senate and suggesting that we're concentrating on the wrong battles. He doesn't exactly say "fiddling while Rome burns," but the idea is there.

The civilized world faces profound challenges that threaten the global order. But most advanced democracies now run two-party systems in which both parties sell themselves to the electorate on the basis of unaffordable entitlements whose costs can be kicked down the road, even though the road is a short cul-de-sac and the kicked cans are already piled sky-high. That's the real energy crisis.

Dinesh D'Souza looks back a few decades to the time when radical Islam first began to gain credibility in the Muslim world.

Paul Greenberg writes of new strategy in Iraq and the absolute need to avoid losing the war here at home -- determined as the majority party seems to be to do precisely that.

Suzanne Fields surveys a variety of views of Iraq among actual and possible presidential candidates -- well, two views, at least.

For a play-by-play of the latest round of bipartisan politicking over the war, read Robert Novak.

Michael Barone writes of elected representatives who think pigs can fly, or at least hope they can, or at least think they should.

So the upshot of the resolution is that we should keep doing for some undetermined period of time pretty much what we have been doing, though it hasn't been working, and we should not do the different things that Petraeus thinks have a chance -- he's not guaranteeing success -- of working.

What the resolution tells us is that most members of Congress, echoing what they think is the view of most voters, yearn to return to the holiday from history that we thought we were enjoying between the fall of the Berlin Wall and Sept. 11, 2001. And that they have no idea at all of how to get there.

According to Diana West, the ostriches are out in force in Washington.

National Issues

George Will explains the unconstitutionality (and the familiarity) of the latest House Democrat effort to create voting representatives from entities other than states.

Debra J. Saunders has a thoughtful and slightly different view of immigration reform.

Last week, Mallard Fillmore started a series purported to draft conservative columnist (and frequent name on this weekly list) Walter Williams as a presidential candidate.

Tom Purcell summons the shade of Rodney Dangerfield to converse with the President. The results tickle. One sample:

Democrats are out to get you, Mr. President. If you went to a prize fight, a session of Congress would break out.

Peter A. Brown looks ahead to possible tactical approaches to (allegedly) human-caused global warming.

John Fund reports details of the little-noticed Sandy Berger scandal, which involves the theft and apparent destruction of classified documents from the National Archives related to the Clinton Administration's anti-terror efforts. He wonders why it was not investigated conscientiously.

I almost didn't include Rich Galen's account of John Kerry and Al Gore going abroad and telling outright lies, because it's really not news, nor is it out of character. But perhaps a reminder won't hurt.

Walter Williams looks at a recent Andrew P. Napolitano speech on property rights after Kelo.

Robert Novak tells of pollster Frank Luntz making his case that Republican leadership is dangerously out of touch with the American people.

Douglas MacKinnon describes why two recent events bode well for a Republican victory in the 2008 presidential race.

Michael Johnson presents his list of the most crucial court cases of 2006.

Culture, Broadly Defined

Thomas Sowell finds larger lessons than one prosecutor's vileness in the Duke "rape" case. Two excerpts:

All it takes is something that invokes the new holy trinity of the intelligentsia -- "race, class and gender." The story of a black woman gang-raped by white men fit the theme so compellingly that much of the media had no time to waste trying to find out if it was true before going ballistic.

The biggest losers from the current Duke "rape" case include not only the three students accused but also the black community, which has once more followed a demagogue who knew how to exploit their emotions for his own benefit. . . .

The unraveling Duke "rape" case should be a wake-up call, both for blacks and for liberals, on how easy it is for their emotions to be manipulated by even a third-rate demagogue with a flimsy fraud. The time is long overdue for some of those who consider themselves "thinking people" to start doing some thinking.

Paul Petersen sees Hollywood (from the inside!) as a cancer. Dakota Fanning's recent role is a case in point. Here's a good excerpt:

I once told Melissa Gilbert, then President of Screen Actors Guild, who was beset on all sides by the politics of Left versus Far Left within the theatrical unions, that "creepy things were hiding beneath the rocks of Hollywood."

She looked at me with those Laura Ingall eyes flashing and said, "The hell they're hiding, Paul. They're on top of those rocks sunning themselves."

Dennis Prager uses new mandates about cheerleaders, of all things, as a stepping stone to a discussion of right, left, law, and liberty. Here are his first two paragraphs:

High school cheerleaders must now cheer for girls' teams as often as for boys' teams thanks to federal education officials' interpretations of Title IX, the civil rights law that mandates equal playing fields for both sexes. According to The New York Times, almost no one directly involved wants this -- not the cheerleaders, not the fans, not the boys' teams, and not even the girls' teams. But it doesn't matter: The law coerces cheerleaders to cheer at girls' games.

Of all the myths that surround Left-Right differences, one of the greatest is that the Left values liberty more than the Right. Regarding a small handful of behaviors -- abortion is the best example -- this is true. But overwhelmingly, the further left one goes on the political spectrum, the greater the advocacy of more state control of people's lives.

Burt Prelutsky sets out to right the unrightable writing wrong, or something like that. This article, while perhaps deserving a PG rating (not for language) partakes of the spirit of a Seinfeld episode. It has physics, law, time management, an editor, and more physics all rolled into one weird hole -- er, whole. You should read it because it's not about anything significant.


Burt Prelutsky compares the historical prices of oil, cars, movies, and other things, just for perspective.

Paul Jacob's latest essay on the minimum wage discusses both the basics and the Nancy Pelosi / Starkist Tuna / American Somoa connection. (A link to this article at Townhall.com contains the memorable, delicious phrase, "speaking math to power.")

Bill Murchison holds forth on the recent news (news?!?) that private industry is more efficient than government. The context is Katrina recovery.

Scott Rosenberg offers a brief essay on the inherent difficulties of software development.


Marjorie Cortez explains why school superintendents should not be elected. (She opposed a bill before the Utah Legislature which proposes to subject them to election.)

American Fork and Environs

Caleb Warnock reports on a brewing conflict between the Sierra Club and the proposed Mountain View Highway.

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