The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary
Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences [that is, scandals, stumbling blocks] will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
[Jefferson] thought that Americans had a unique opportunity to preserve free institutions if they were wise and virtuous. He did not believe that Americans were a Chosen People with a divine mission to spread freedom to all mankind. That idea was invented by the New Englanders who hated him and whom he despised.
During the 1990’s, in Rockford, Illinois, an appointed federal magistrate usurped the authority to decide what schools should be opened or closed or built, how much tax money should be spent on which programs in which schools, and how many white children could be admitted to the gifted programs. I was among those who condemned the magistrate’s power-grab as both unconstitutional and immoral, and, although the local powers-that-be–including the newspaper and big business interests–condemned the magistrate’s critics as racists, a federal judge ruled in our favor.
All my philosemitic friends love this joke, so I’m going to tell it without fear of infamy. The fact is, this is only my second joke in 156 posts, and I have a good sense that by now the gentle reader may well be more tired of my own humor than of other people’s.
The most significant conclusions of the National Education Goals Panel was the familiar complaint: Further study is needed. More data needs to be collected in every area… and most of the panel members agreed that the main emphasis in the ongoing crusade to improve our schools should be on assembling data and devising new instruments for testing and measuring progress. This has been the burden of that same old song that was sung before John Dewey had ever corrupted the first mind of a student.
In American political parlance, an October Surprise is something launched to affect an election just before voters go to the polls, this year on November 6. There also are run-ups to the October Surprises, such as Vyshinsky’s – I mean Mueller’s – witch hunts against President Trump’s associates, which have had nothing to do with Mueller’s portfolio to look into non-existent Russian rigging of the 2016 election.
The flaws in such [conservative] strategies are pretty obvious. Most obvious is that they are rooted only in nostalgia or folklore, not in the realities of power or the realities of human nature. This leads to the second flaw: They simply don’t work. They never have, they never will.