Pundit Wire

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Former Vice President Dick Cheney Speaks At Luncheon On Long Island…when Dick Cheney reappeared to defend the practice of torture, it was the worst specter of Christmas past.

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The news summer from hell and the end of optimism

globe By this point in the summer, a sane person could reasonably conclude that the world is going nuts.  Spiraling out of control, descending into darkness, making optimism a delusional last recourse – that kind of feeling.

“What fresh hell is this?” – the question Dorothy Parker asked when her doorbell rang – now applies to the news.  If you’re staying informed, you’re licking the razor.  Unfortunately, not following what’s happening in the world isn’t really an option.  These horrors seize our lizard brains; we’re hard-wired to pay attention to danger.

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More Alice Deals? There’s a better deal

Image-for-Alice-Deal-School The concern over why we’ve fallen behind other countries seems reasonable. How can U.S. students test behind those from 33 countries? Behind Croatia!

But that’s not because all American schools fail. It mostly reflects the dismal results by Hispanic/Latino and African-American students — especially African-Americans, whose results in that test would have put them 54th. White kids (15th) and Asian-Americans (4th) do fine. Overall, American white kids finish ahead of Germany and Australia. Not a disaster.

African-American scores are, though. And in Washington, with the biggest white/black achievement gap of any city in the country, you’d think we could find solutions.

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Also posted in Education, General, U.S. | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

In Defense of Student Commencement Protesters

graduation Has America entered a Bizarro world in which money equals speech but speech itself gets labeled intimidation?

That’s not a far-fetched conclusion to draw in a political culture that has unleashed campaign spending and given it First Amendment protection while at the same time branding the supposed free speech of college students as bullying, tyranny, censorship, and intolerance.

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“Freedom for the thought that we hate”

westboro Nil nisi bonum de mortuis. “Speak only good of the dead.” Generally, that’s a sound maxim. But what if the dead person is the Reverend Fred Phelps, who died last week at the age of 85?

Never heard of Rev. Phelps? His Westboro Baptist Church has a website where you can read all about him.

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That’s blasphemy!

ingersol The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an agency charged by Congress with monitoring liberty of conscience around the world, has just issued a report on prosecutions for blasphemy in other countries.

Predictably, the leading offenders are Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Iran, Bangladesh, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Pakistan is cited as “the most egregious example … where blasphemy charges are common and numerous individuals are in prison, with a high number sentenced to death or life terms.”

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Vladimir Putin, Crimea and ‘Double Standards’

putin On 18 March Russia’s President Vladimir Putin delivered a major speech to Russia’s political elite aimed at explaining Russia’s policy towards Crimea and Ukraine. Plenty of commentators have analysed it (and attacked it mercilessly) on points of substance. See for example this brisk piece for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty…

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Jury Duty–Again

the jury Every two years, regular as clockwork, I get a summons in my mailbox ordering me to report for jury duty. Every time it arrives, I groan.

Being summoned for jury duty is the closest I will ever get to being drafted into the army, and the two experiences are much alike. One is reduced to a number and ordered to report to an inconvenient location at an inconveniently early hour. One is searched, processed, relieved of sharp objects, confined to a holding room, indoctrinated and sworn.

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