Pundit Wire

Doubting Data and the Debate on Education

Heiwa_elementary_school_18America’s war between the progressives and populists is well into its second century with no resolution in sight.  Despite changes in rhetoric and technology, the basic tension about who can be most trusted to decide what’s best for us — the experts or we voters — shows no sign of abating.

Public education has always been central to the American vision and an important part of this debate.  That’s what inspired the Scopes Monkey Trial and more recent controversies about creationism. And there’s been a endless debate about whether American education is good enough and, if not, what need be done to make it better.

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The National Academy of Sugar

Fale_-_Barcellona_-_194You might think an outfit calling itself an academy would be, you know, academic. But as Jon Stewart put it, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is as much an academy as the “Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product” called Kraft Singles is cheese.

The last time the academy was in the news, it was for taking an undisclosed amount of money from Kraft in exchange for giving Kraft permission to put the academy’s “Kids Eat Right” logo on Kraft Singles. When nailed for this, the academy denied that this amounted to putting a stamp of approval on Singles. What it really was, they claimed, was an ad for the academy’s Kids Eat Right initiative. If this were true, it would be the first time in the history of the world that an advertiser received money for placing an ad, instead of paying for it.

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Is Speechwriting Spiritual Death?

Bette_Davis_-_portraitSome years ago, a speechwriter friend of mine sent me an obituary on ghostwriter Sandford Doty.

I had never heard of Doty but, as it turned out, I had heard of his work. He had ghosted the memoirs of such luminaries as Robert Merrill, Judy Garland, Bette Davis and Helen Hayes.

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Ruthless

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 1.48.16 PMIn her August 16 column in the Washington Post, Ruth Marcus paraphrases Carly Fiorina from 2008, saying something positive about Hillary Clinton… But then in addition I see quotation marks and the words, punctiliously noted from seven years ago, “That’s off the record.”

Wow, reminds me of the Wild West days of Spanish journalism of the early 1990s, when scribes would quote embassy officials of various countries, “…and he said, off the record [sic], ‘yes no maybe…’” I remember helping one journalist find someone to quote back then, and then never being forgiven (me!) because of the offending violation of basic rules of decency.

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Bulldoze the Lincoln Memorial?

Lincoln MemorialThe state Democratic parties of Iowa, Georgia, Connecticut and Missouri have recently voted to remove the names of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson from their traditional Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners. The reason is that Jefferson and Jackson were both white males who owned slaves.

As Andy McGuire, Iowa Democratic chairwoman declared: “It is important to change the name of the dinner to align with the values of our modern-day Democratic Party: inclusiveness, diversity and equality.”
The Democratic parties of at least five other states are considering the same change.

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Slim Twice Good for Enhanced Health

red-cross-29930_640In the quest to control American medical costs, slim is in from several perspectives.

Lowering our obesity rate would make us healthier and reduce anticipated medical expenses and suffering  — and we seem to be progressing toward that goal.

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Trumpery

Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore_3_(cropped)The American Heritage Dictionary defines “trumpery” as follows:
1. Showy but worthless finery; bric-a-brac.
2. Nonsense; rubbish.
3. Deception; trickery; fraud.

In all, not a bad word to describe Donald Trump’s campaign for president.

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Republicans have the best bullies

mk_trump_72015_539_332_c1It’s too soon to know how badly Donald Trump damaged himself by belittling John McCain’s war record on July 18 in Iowa. After all, George W. Bush wasn’t hurt in the 2000 South Carolina primary when his operatives rumored that McCain had an illegitimate black child, nor was W hurt in the 2004 election when his Swift Boat surrogates defamed John Kerry’s war record, nor was McCain’s campaign for the 2008 Republican nomination derailed by his reputation as a bully and hothead.

Trump himself has until now been helped, not harmed, by insulting his GOP rivals as losers, clowns, dummies and lightweights. But his McCain slam gives other candidates an opening to mime indignation. For them, it can’t come a moment too soon, because Trump was on the verge of owning the machismo brand.
Photo by L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via Reuters

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