The Bookworm Beat 7-7-15 — the “some things never get old” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265None of these links have current dates because they’ve been sitting on my spindle for a while, but each addresses a current issue, and it would be criminal if I didn’t share them with you:

Nevada puts education power back in parents’ hands

People who oppose the power of the teachers’ unions and who believe in parents’ rights to educate their children as they, not the government, see fit, should keep an eye on Nevada, which makes it possible for all Nevadans to opt out of the public school system:

With a landmark stroke of his pen, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval recently signed legislation establishing the nation’s first statewide school-choice education-savings-account program available to all parents, regardless of their income level. With new studies showing widespread underperformance among middle-class children across the country, other states should implement similar programs immediately.

Under Nevada’s new program, for parents earning above the low-income level, the state will deposit funds, totaling 90 percent of the average statewide support per pupil, or roughly $5,100, into education savings accounts (ESAs). For parents earning below the low-income level or who have children with special needs, the state will deposit 100 percent of the average statewide support per pupil, around $5,700, into parents’ ESAs. Parents can then withdraw funds from their ESAs to pay for a variety of educational services such as private-school tuition, distance-learning online programs, and tutoring.

I certainly would have kept my kids in Montessori forever if I hadn’t realized that it wasn’t sustainable to spend the same amount for elementary school that I’d be spending for a half year of each child’s college education. At a true Montessori school, children learn how to learn and they also come to love learning. In public school, of course, they’re stuffed with information like geese, study only as much as they need to in order to get whatever grade on the test that they desire, forget what they learned as quickly as possible, and come to hate learning.

The ACLU — a loathsome and hypocritical organization

The ACLU’s devotion to civil liberties has always had a Leftist slant to it, but it’s gone off the rails recently. With the Supreme Court’s announcement that people have a civil right to have the U.S. government bless their love, it recently announced that it will no longer support the freedom of religion element of the First Amendment. Apparently imaginary civil rights trump actual ones.

What a lot of people might have missed, though, is that the ACLU not too long ago stood accused of spying on capitol hill staffers, something that’s pretty unsavory too, not to mention inconsistent with its purported defense of individual freedoms:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) embeds tracking software in its emails to monitor the online activity of Capitol Hill staffers, an aide told The Daily Caller after receiving a warning sent to congressional offices.

The nonprofit civil liberties group uses a software system called “Capwiz” to insert cookies onto the computers of Capitol Hill staffers who click on links in the emails, multiple Capitol Hill offices recently discovered.

Ironically, the ACLU actually puts surveillance software into its emails campaigning against government surveillance.

Read more here.

Political correctness and the death of liberalism

Have you ever read a Daniel Greenfield column that disappointed you? I haven’t. Here’s a good one about the fact that political correctness represents the death rattle of true liberalism:

When a majority of self-described liberals support abrogating the First Amendment, then the term has no real meaning. It certainly no longer represents, what Jonathan Chait, a self-described liberal who wrote a critique of political correctness, described as, “A classic Enlightenment political tradition that cherishes individuals rights [sic], freedom of expression.”

Even the complaints about political correctness from those like Chait have less to do with universal principles than with white leftists defending their positions against the racial attacks of identity politics. Or as Chait says of political correctness, “Its most frequent victims turn out to be liberals themselves.”

There isn’t a conflict between liberals and leftists over political correctness. Instead there’s a conflict between older white establishment leftists and younger minority social justice activists over their relative power and positions within the left. This conflict is being fought using the rules of identity politics which are deliberately structured to delegitimize and silence white men.

It’s an interesting article and, as I said, well worth your time.

Mark Steyn looks at how other scientists view Michael Mann

Mark Steyn has a book to sell and it sounds like a damn good book. I’ll let him describe it in his own words:

Mark Steyn book

“A Disgrace To The Profession”
The World’s Scientists, In Their Own Words, On Michael E Mann, His Hockey Stick And Their Damage To Science
Volume I

Compiled and edited by Mark Steyn

Do I expect you to publicly denounce the hockey stick as obvious drivel? Well, yes.
Jonathan Jones, Professor of Atomic and Laser Physics, University of Oxford

Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Stefan Rahmstorf should be barred …because the scientific assessments in which they may take part are not credible anymore.
Eduardo Zorita, Senior Scientist at Germany’s Institute for Coastal Research

Did Mann et al get it wrong? Yes, Mann et al got it wrong.
Simon Tett, Professor of Climate Science, University of Edinburgh

The defamation suit against Steyn by Michael E Mann, inventor of the global-warming “hockey stick”, is about to enter its fourth year at the DC Superior Court – which means Mark has a lot of case research lying around and he can’t wait forever for the trial to start. So he figured he’d put some of it in a new book, now available for pre-order exclusively from SteynOnline.

In the fall of 2014, not a single amicus brief was filed on Dr Mann’s behalf, not one. He claims he’s “taking a stand for science”, but evidently science is disinclined to take a stand for him.

That got Mark curious as to what actual scientists think of Mann, his famous hockey stick, and his other work. So he started looking – and the result is a rollicking collection of insights into Big Climate’s chief enforcer by scientists from around the world, from Harvard to Helsinki, Prague to Princeton, with commentary from Steyn telling the story of the rise to global celebrity of one Mann and his stick.

Advance praise for Steyn’s new book!

“Most people would refrain from adding fuel to the fire if being sued by someone for attacking them. Steyn, however, is not most people.”
Daily Kos

“I’m thinking this is not going to be a very big book. Certainly not a very good one.”
Greg Mann-Laden, Science Blogs

“Mark Steyn’s genius legal gambit… Who’s to say what’s right or wrong, when your IQ could easily be the losing team’s score in a baseball game?”
Barry Bickmore, Climate Asylum

“A Disgrace To The Profession”: The World’s Scientists In Their Own Words On Michael E Mann, His Hockey Stick, And Their Damage To Science – Volume I will be published later this year, but you can make sure you’re the first on your block with must-read book by pre-ordering your copy now exclusively from the SteynOnline bookstore for shipping this summer. And as always Mark will be happy to autograph it personally for you or your warm-mongering loved one.

Please note: This is a pre-order for the paperback edition of the book. An eBook edition will be released later this summer, and will be available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters-Indigo, etc, but is not available for pre-order from SteynOnline.

You can find the link to order here.

Rand Paul suggests blowing up the tax code

I’d readily vote for Rand Paul over either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders (who should be laughed off the hustings considering the fact that he’s advocating the same policies that have driven Greece to bankruptcy), but he’s not my preferred candidate. Having said that, I think he’s made a very important statement about our tax laws, which is that we need to jettison them and go to a low flat tax:

So on Thursday I am announcing an over $2 trillion tax cut that would repeal the entire IRS tax code—more than 70,000 pages—and replace it with a low, broad-based tax of 14.5% on individuals and businesses. I would eliminate nearly every special-interest loophole. The plan also eliminates the payroll tax on workers and several federal taxes outright, including gift and estate taxes, telephone taxes, and all duties and tariffs. I call this “The Fair and Flat Tax.”


Here’s why we have to start over with the tax code. From 2001 until 2010, there were at least 4,430 changes to tax laws—an average of one “fix” a day—always promising more fairness, more simplicity or more growth stimulants. And every year the Internal Revenue Code grows absurdly more incomprehensible, as if it were designed as a jobs program for accountants, IRS agents and tax attorneys.

Polls show that “fairness” is a top goal for Americans in our tax system. I envision a traditionally All-American solution: Everyone plays by the same rules. This means no one of privilege, wealth or with an arsenal of lobbyists can game the system to pay a lower rate than working Americans.

Most important, a smart tax system must turbocharge the economy and pull America out of the slow-growth rut of the past decade. We are already at least $2 trillion behind where we should be with a normal recovery; the growth gap widens every month. Even Mr. Obama’s economic advisers tell him that the U.S. corporate tax code, which has the highest rates in the world (35%), is an economic drag. When an iconic American company like Burger King wants to renounce its citizenship for Canada because that country’s tax rates are so much lower, there’s a fundamental problem.

Read the whole thing. We as voters need to get serious about a tax overhaul, or we’ll be stuck forever with the current monstrous and still growing code we have now, and a scarily powerful IRS.

Upper class British environmentalists denude landscape

Because fossil fuels are evil in a corporate America imperialist kind of way, the smart environmentalist’s money is on the old-fashioned, pre-industrial wood burning stove. Hah!

If these people weren’t so utterly stupid, they’d know that the reason England is a green and pleasant land, rather than a forest primeval is because wood burning stoves of old denuded the landscape. That’s why we ended up with those picturesque half-timber house that dotted the late medieval countryside — the Brits had run out of wood for full timber houses:

Little Moreton Hall

Having forgotten their history, the environmental loonies in England are condemned to repeat it:

One gloomy day in March 2012, Pip Pountney, recently retired from Warwick University, went for a walk in Ryton Wood near Coventry with Ann Wilson, a former textile chemist.

Ryton’s 216 acres are described by its owners, the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, as ‘one of the largest semi-natural ancient woodlands in Warwickshire’. A Site of Special Scientific Interest, it has long been famous for its bluebells, which flourished every spring beneath a canopy of English oaks.

But what ex-teacher Pountney and Wilson saw looked to them like utter desolation. They came across a stand where about 50 mature oaks, some 300 years old, had been felled the previous winter. Their trunks lay in ragged piles, some sawn into roundels.

The oaks’ fate, the Trust has confirmed, was to be burnt: as ‘sustainable’ heating fuel in log-burning stoves – a market which is expanding rapidly. According to trade group HETUS, almost 200,000 such stoves are installed every year – a five-fold increase since 2007.

Logs, however, feed only a part of Britain’s expanding appetite for ‘green’ wood-sourced energy. Adding to demand is the even faster-growing market for heating and hot-water systems fuelled by wood chips and pellets – which is heavily subsidised by taxpayers.

Read more about the latest attack on England’s current incarnation as a green and pleasant land, and its effort to turn it into a desert, here.

Judicial activism

Since we’re still reeling from the Supreme Court’s judicial activism, one that threw out the First Amendment (it threw out the freedom of religion part, with the Left piling on to deliver the death blow to free speech) and said that the law is whatever President Obama says it is, now is as good a time as any to read The Constitution: An Introduction. In a very nice review at City Journal, written all the way back in June, Adam Freedman has this to say about it:

The meaning of the United States Constitution is “fixed by the original meaning of its words,” according to the authors of a highly engaging new book titled, simply, The Constitution: An Introduction. That proposition—music to the ears of originalists like Justice Antonin Scalia—underlies the book’s central theme: defending the Constitution’s text against those politicians and judges who “seek to rewrite [its] terms in the service of what are thought to be desirable policies.”

My daughter calls. It’s time for some Mom/Daughter time watching Say Yes to the Dress. I am a lucky Mom to have kids who want to spend their down time with me. More later.