Fourteen Tips About Life, Your Choice

Thursday, February 13, AD 2014


One of the more annoying features of modern life is the superstition that people are immune from stupidity.  This translates into the belief, I might call it an article of faith, that people should be free to do whatever idiotic thing they please and suffer no ill consequences therefrom.  Alas, life does not  work that way.  The piper always has to be paid sooner or later.

Walter Russell Mead explains this basic fact of life to the college bound who wish to ruin their lives quickly:

First, enroll in a college that you cannot afford, and rely on large student loans to make up the difference.

Second, spend the next four years having as good a time as possible: hang out, hook up, and above all, take plenty of “awesome” courses.

Third, find teachers and role models who will encourage you to develop an attitude of enlightened contempt for ordinary American middle class life, the world of business, and such bourgeois virtues as self-reliance, thrift, accountability and self-discipline.  Specialize in sarcasm and snark.

Fourth, avoid all courses with tough requirements, taking only the minimum required number of classes in science, math and foreign languages.

Fifth, never think about acquiring marketable skills.

Sixth, when you graduate and discover that you have to repay the loans and cannot get a job that pays enough to live comfortably while servicing your debts, be surprised.  Blame society.  Demand that the government or your parents or evil corporations bail you out.

Seventh, expect anyone (except for other clueless losers who’ve been as stupid and wasteful as you) to sympathize with your plight, or to treat you with anything but an infuriating mixture of sorrow, pity and contempt.

Go here to read the rest.

On the other hand, for those who might not be eager to ruin their lives, here are seven tips, college bound or not, that might help during their journey through this Vale of Tears:

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13 Responses to Fourteen Tips About Life, Your Choice

  • #8 Humility is not a trendy hot drink.
    If you don’t practice it now you will
    wish you had in years to come.

    Hope you don’t mind the addition Mr. McClarey.

  • Not at all Philip. I hope other commenters will throw in their tips.

  • #9 Do not lie, cheat, or steal. (Optional) Nor tolerate those that do.
    #10 Keep yourself clean, sane and whole for whatever adventure/opportunity/peril life might bring you.
    #11 Pray for your classmates, fellow employees, profs, . . .

  • 9. Sex is not the same as love.

    10. Pleasure does not equal happiness.

  • 9) Successful people always have one thing is common: they show up

  • When I went back to school (my local University) a couple of years ago.. the catalog (online variety only) was full of these “awesome” courses. My degree requirements included a certain number of these “awesome” courses… I took one. Gritted my teeth the whole time and ended up with an “awesome” headache. It wasn’t a hard course by a long-shot (college courses are sooooo much easier now, than 25 years ago… *sigh*) but I still feel gypped. Ended up switching to a minor in a more technical field, just to avoid any more “awesome” classes than absolutely necessary.

  • 10) The internet isn’t real. Snark can pass for good judgment.
    11) Snow on the road is real. Either you have the ability to handle it or you’re going to get stuck in a ditch.
    12) There are more things in life that are like snow on the road than are like the internet.

  • 18. Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment.
    19. Before you speak, consider whether the silence you break is more valuable than your words.
    20. Never get into a stink-up with a skunk.

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  • CrankyinAZ, I hear you. One of my mandatory subjects at Uni was feng shui. I had to endure a weekly lesson that involved my lecturer walking into corners of a room closing his eyes and clapping the “evil spirits” away. He was a feng shui practitioner also- so there were idiots out there voluntarily giving this man their money in exchange for hooplah!

    Needless to say there was alot of muffled giggles in the room during these lectures.

    And the same lecturer would occasionally call on us to meditate a state of being that would conjur up creativity. It was a torturous 2hours. Particularly since I knew how much this unit subject was going to cost!

  • Ez: I guess your feng shui practitioner never heard of blessing all people at all times.

  • True Mary. The blessings came when his consultancy fees were paid. Go figure.

Few Things Are More Pathetic Than a Dumb Prosecutor

Thursday, June 7, AD 2012

One of the professional requirements of being an attorney, especially an attorney engaging in litigation, is developing a tough hide when it comes to criticism.  Most of my brethren and sistren of the bar develop such hides.  Alas, some do not:

Alan M. Dershowitz’s Perspective: State Attorney Angela Corey, the prosecutor in the George Zimmerman case, recently called the Dean of Harvard Law School to complain about my criticism of some of her actions.
She was transferred to the Office of Communications and proceeded to engage in a 40-minute rant, during which she threatened to sue Harvard Law School, to try to get me disciplined by the Bar Association and to file charges against me for libel and slander.


She said that because I work for Harvard and am identified as a professor she had the right to sue Harvard.
When the communications official explained to her that I have a right to express my opinion as “a matter of academic freedom,” and that Harvard has no control over what I say, she did not seem to understand.
She persisted in her nonstop whining, claiming that she is prohibited from responding to my attacks by the rules of professional responsibility — without mentioning that she has repeatedly held her own press conferences and made public statements throughout her career.
Her beef was that I criticized her for filing a misleading affidavit that willfully omitted all information about the injuries Zimmerman had sustained during the “struggle” it described. She denied that she had any obligation to include in the affidavit truthful material that was favorable to the defense.
She insisted that she is entitled to submit what, in effect, were half truths in an affidavit of probable cause, so long as she subsequently provides the defense with exculpatory evidence.
She should go back to law school, where she will learn that it is never appropriate to submit an affidavit that contains a half truth, because a half truth is regarded by the law as a lie, and anyone who submits an affidavit swears to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Before she submitted the probable cause affidavit, Corey was fully aware that Zimmerman had sustained serious injuries to the front and back of his head. The affidavit said that her investigators “reviewed” reports, statements and “photographs” that purportedly “detail[ed] the following.”

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11 Responses to Few Things Are More Pathetic Than a Dumb Prosecutor

  • Everything about this case, including Mr. Zimmerman’s behavior, is awfully strange.

  • This case makes me angry because people have no sympathy for the Night guard who was probably attacked by Treyvon who was roaming around at night with a hood over his head. On top of that people claim the Night guard was racist when the Night guard was a mixed man and people blame him for the attack when if he truly wanted to kill Martin right away but it is obvious that Zimmerman had blood on the back of his head, he also was the one to call the cops.

  • If he truly wanted to kill Treyvon right away he would have but he had a bloody back of the head.

  • I get the sense that she’s another Nifong. In fact, the type of publicity surrounding this case isn’t too far from the Duke Lacrosse one.

  • Although I don’t think that Zimmerman is guilty of murder and i think this prosecution looks like a Nifong style witch hunt, Zimmerman’s behavior after the fact is strange to say the least.

  • Mommy, Alan is telling me what I’m doing. Make him stop. It’s Not Fair.

  • I get the sense that she’s another Nifong. In fact, the type of publicity surrounding this case isn’t too far from the Duke Lacrosse one.

    You know, Michael Nifong was evaluated by predecessor and former supervisor as a professional of the most common-and-garden sort and this dame has been practicing law for 30 years or so. Why do I get the impression that Tom McKenna is blowing smoke when he goes on about the rarity of these types?

  • Angela Corey should pay closer attention to the Duke case. After 20 Jan 2013 she will be in a precarious position for lawsuit activity against her. Perhaps she plans to resign.

  • If this transpired as it seems, why is this prosecutor not being charged with some crime?

    As regards to what transpired. If someone is beating me up, pounding my face and head into the ground and I cannot stop him otherwise; I believe even lethal force is justified.

    I am tired of it being offered as justification that Zimmerman, somehow, deserved to be beaten to a pulp. How is such behavior justified by merely being followed? Even if there was some kind of verbal confrontation, how does a savage beating become justified?
    Even if epithets of some kind were exchanged, even unilaterally, it DOES NOT JUSTIFY AGGRAVATED ASSAULT or some other felonious attack!

    This case needs to be thrown out. It is a travesty of justice. It is in itself, possibly, a racist attempt to scapegoat and convict the victim of an assault, based upon what evidence I have seen in print.

    It is horrendous that someone died. But If I am beating someone to a pulp, the other person is entitled to self defense. If I will not stop beating them, I must be stopped, however that must occur. If the law says otherwise, the law is criminal, itself.

    But the real point of this post brings me back to questioning whether laws even matter any longer in what used to be the United States of America, if this kind of legal lynching
    mentality by a prosecutor is not met by a heavy handed response from law enforcement regarding a rogue of their own, in their midst. Otherwise, this appears to be institutionalized criminal behavior within the law enforcement community.

    Perhaps it is time for a special prosecutor or a civil rights inquiry, on behalf of Mr. Zimmerman, or both.

  • For those who consider Zimmerman’s behavior ‘strange’: we can only wonder how any of us would act in his situation.
    He survived an encounter that could have been fatal. He shot another man. He has seen prominent thugs offer a bounty for his head, and the President chose to stoke the racial angle rather than encourage calm. He saw innocents terrorized out of their home because the mob mistook them for him. The system he supported through his neighborhood watch role has turned on him viciously.
    So, stress and a need for self-preservation (given that so many were acting against it) may produce decisions we would never have to face.

Dumb Idea of the Day Courtesy of Ezra Klein

Wednesday, May 18, AD 2011

Ezra Klein, the founder of journolist, proves yet again why whatever the Washington Post is paying him is much too much:

Here’s your out-of-the-box policy idea for the day:

America should implement weighted voting to make voting more objective and fair, and give the young more power, because the consequences of political decisions will affect them the longest. Weighted voting would restore power to twenty and thirty year olds, where it resided before the advent of medical science. With the aid of computers, it would be easy to give everyone a Voting Score, just like we all have a credit score.

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37 Responses to Dumb Idea of the Day Courtesy of Ezra Klein

  • Under this scheme it wouldn’t be long before the young atheists, full of Obamania, would be able to vote euthanasia for anyone 60 years of age or older. Wasn’t there a science fiction film somewhat along such lines where those too old to live any longer had to commit suicide? Blade Runner, perhaps? I forget. I’m too old. 😉

  • Thanks, Donald. Obviously with such a defective memory I am too old to live any longer. Under this weighted voting scheme the young should vote suicide for me.


  • They would have to catch us first Paul. Never underestimate experience and guile!

  • I actually agree though I would use different criteria. Those who pay the most taxes would actually get more of a vote. This because they have more skin in the game and should have more say what is done with the money.

    Add to this that young people should not be able to vote until they have paid off any student loans and start paying taxes.

    This I think is fine. 🙂

  • Criteria for voting:

    Your govt loans are paid off.
    You’re not on govt assistance (e.g., welfare)
    You’re a tax payer.
    You have served your country (Military, Police, Fire Figher, Peace Corps, etc.)

    Perhaps those criteria are too harsh. But implementing them would eliminate the rise of a whole class of people enslaved to the teat of the public treasury who then vote for the continuation of bread and circuses.

  • Imagine the hue and cry were a conservative to suggest that useless, unproductive wastrels who live off taxes not be permitted to vote themselves pay raises . . .

    Seems “they” want the “preferential option” for the poor, undocmented migrants, et al but not old people who worked all their lives, raised families, paid taxes, . . .

    This maroon will get a pass on hate speech against old people.

    Will his next hare-brained/liberal/eugenics “solution” include old, useless people put down on ice floes?

  • If young people were more likely to vote Republican, the article would be making the opposite argument. I don’t buy that Klein really believes this on principle. It’s the same reason liberals support amnesty for illegal immigrants. Just politics.

  • I do have to give Mr. Klein a minor one hand clap for intellectual consistency. Before the “advent of medical science” a fairly large percentage of twenty and thirty year olds would not have made it out of infancy in any case. I assume perhaps this might be one reason why Mr. Klein is an advocate of abortion, to help redress this artificial swelling of the ranks of young voters! 🙂

  • Paul;

    I think the age was either 30 or 40 in Logan’s Run. I am sure the government will choose a rational way to decide who gets to live or die like in the show. The old people got a chance to continue living if they could get to a glowing orb before being killed by a lazer. That is fair – if they were healthy enough to fight their way to the orb it can be surmised they wouldn’t be too much of a drain on society. We all know how decreped and useless the 30-40 and older crowd is. Good riddance. Now if we could just get rid of the genetically inferior, mentally challenged, poor, racially challenged, sexually perverted, etc – maybe some type of breeding program for the people with good genes like Lebensborn. Oh for the golden age of eugenics and Margaret Sanger. Could someone please make a “modest proposal” to take care of this crisis?

    T. Shaw
    As I understand it, liberals/Democrats/progressives want “preferential” treatment for a select few groups because they have been opressed, disenfranchised, etc. It does not suprise me that he would make this kind of proposal. Undermine/destroy the system for short term political gain -the bread and butter of liberals/Democrats/progressives.

    Mr. George Orwell works are more prophetic than most realize and provide true insight into the liberal/Democrat/progressives mind and tactics.

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy): Robert Heinlein’s SF novel “Starship Troopers” limited the voting franchise to veterans (although that book didn’t include the additional restrictions that Paul Primavera suggests).

  • The big screen remake of the book was a disappointment. I believe only veterans could be “citizens” and only citizens had the right to vote. A short but fun/interesting read. Contrast it against the 1974 book The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. Very different ideas on government and the military. Good reference Mrs. McClarey.

  • Except for the atheism rampant in his books “Time Enough for Love”, “Stranger in a Strange Land”, etc., I loved Robert Heinlein’s works. He is my all-time favorite sic-fi writer. In his protagonists he assumed that intelligent people would want to be responsible and accountable for their actions. His views on sex relations were always quite amoral, however. And his character Lazarus Long had great disdain for religious people.

  • I think all Klein has managed to accomplish is to prove that people under the age of 15 shouldn’t be given columns in major newspapers.

  • Heinlein had a very unhealthy obsession with incest as demonstrated through the actions of Lazarus Long. The older Heinlein got, the nuttier he got, or, perhaps, the freer he felt to voice sentiments that in a morally saner time would have got him horse whipped.

  • While we’re on the franchise, how about an upper age limit?

    Given demographic trends all 1st world countries will soon become gentrotocracies.
    For a fanciful look at the future see Christopher Buckley’s “Boomsday”.

  • (Don’s wife Cathy again:) RE: Heinlein’s books, I first read his juveniles (what the librarians call YA books now) when I was about 11 or so — and I continue to think his juveniles are better-written (largely because the restrictions of writing for a younger audience forced him to leave out most of the amoral sex).

  • I am continually unimpressed by Young Master Klein and am amazed at his prominence at the WaPo, given his lack of expertise in economics, the constitution or much of anything else. What on earth are his qualifications that make him a “required” read or any sort of “authority,” by any one on the left or right?

  • Having a close relative who voted Democrat in 2000 & 2004 for no other reason than “Bush’s eyes are too close, thats why I don’t trust the man.”, is one reason I wish there were some kind of intelligence test for voters. But we’ve been down that road already haven’t we, with the Jim Crow laws of earlier times?

    So I guess the system remains imperfect, so much so that Winston Churchill once opined that democracy was like a raft, you knew it wouldn’t sink but your feet were always getting wet!

    As for Klein, he should do comedy with the talent he has for it.

  • Our society has supported through its laws and taxpayer support the killing of 50 million innocent babies for the offense of being “unwanted” or inconvenient. Our children have watched slack-jawed as their parents chose to kill their brothers and sisters as being unaffordable or too much trouble.

    Now, we are shocked that these same children might think that we too are “unwanted”, inconvenient, unaffordable or too much trouble?

    Remember the old adage about Charity beginning in the home?

  • Logan’s run: 30 was the cut-off. The whole concept of “Renewal” was that the lucky ones would get to live again, not continue to live. It was a way to limit the population of the domed city with limited resources.

    Starship Troopers: In order to become a citizen, one had to go through Federal Service. Only citizens could vote, hold elected office, and be given preference for having children. Federal Service was not restricted to military service; there were other areas where a young person could qualify such as the sciences and exploration. One of the constants of Federal Service, though, was that you risked your life.

  • In case some readers here understand Mr. Klein’s critique of the current system of electing the president . . .

    The National Popular Vote bill would make every vote, everywhere be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Elections wouldn’t be about winning states. Every vote, everywhere would be counted for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast. States have the responsibility to make their voters relevant in every presidential election.

    The bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states. In the 2012 election, pundits and campaign operatives already agree that, at most, only 14 states and their voters will matter under the current winner-take-all laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) used by 48 of the 50 states. Candidates will not care about at least 72% of the voters- voters-in 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX. 2012 campaigning would be even more obscenely exclusive than 2008 and 2004. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

    Since World War II, a shift of a handful of votes in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the 13 presidential elections. Near misses are now frequently common. There have been 6 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections. 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore’s lead of 537,179 popular votes nationwide. A shift of 60,000 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 Million votes.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes–enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). The bill would thus guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    The Electoral College that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support is strong among Republican voters, Democratic voters, and independent voters, as well as every demographic group surveyed in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%,, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and border states: AR – 80%,, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%.

    The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers, in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in AR, CT, DE, DC, ME, MI, NV, NM, NY, NC, and OR, and both houses in CA, CO, HI, IL, NJ, MD, MA, RI, VT, and WA. The bill has been enacted by DC (3), HI (4), IL (19), NJ (14), MD (11), MA (10), VT (3), and WA (13). These 8 jurisdictions possess 77 electoral votes — 29% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

  • IXLR8 has made a most astute observation. We have sown the whirlwind.

    “Be not deceived. God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap.”

    This is otherwise know as Newton’s Third Law of Motion, albeit applied on a sociological scale.

    Buckle up, folks. Times are going to get interesting.

  • Andrew;

    Thank you for the clarifications/corrections re Logan’s Run and Starship Trooper. I was going from my faulty over 30 +/- yr old memory.

    Rhetorical questions: Is not Earth doomed because of its limited resources and over population? Does not the left say we have to control the growth of the population to protect our planet? If people will not voluntarily control the growth of the population, what alternatives are there?

  • I looked at the charts in the accompanying article.

    Not an exact correlation, the groups with the most political knowledge and the groups with highest particapltion are both around the 50%-70% range. Basically he wants to disenfranchise the most knowledgeable voters.

    I think th real question should be why does he think his favored programs have the best chance of passing if the least knowledgeable voters are give extra weight.

  • oldgulph:

    I would suggest you ponder the 2000 election.

    And extremely close election on the National level. But only one state was considered for recount. I think the confusion and worse that would go with a nationwide recount would have been a disaster with everyone acting with good intentions.

    A point about the electoral collage is that it segments the vote so that when there is a problem it is relatively local.

    There may be better ways of doing that but an unsegmented national election is an invitation for a nation wide Florida 2000 every presidential election.

  • The possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote.

    The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system so frequently creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes.

    A nationwide recount would not happen. We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and recount. The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires.

    * Given that there is a recount only once in about 160 statewide elections, and given there is a presidential election once every four years, one would expect a recount about once in 640 years under the National Popular Vote approach. The actual probability of a close national election would be even less than that because recounts are less likely with larger pools of votes.

    ? The average change in the margin of victory as a result of a statewide recount was a mere 296 votes in a 10-year study of 2,884 elections.

    ? Only about a quarter of all recounts change the outcome.

    ? No recount would have been warranted in any of the nation’s 56 previous presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count.

  • oldgulph,

    Given how unusual it is for one candidate to win the nationwide popular vote and another to win the electoral vote, it’s not easy to see why it would necessarily make things all that different.

    If we had a situation where one candidate won the electoral and another the popular often, that would be one thing. But instead, we find that is pretty unusual. It happened exactly once in the last 100 years.

  • The movement toward a national popular vote stubbornly ignores the constitution and the “confederation” of states that form the US of A. We are a union of states. Each state has a say in the presidential election, not each individual. In fact, if one looks at much federal case law, one would see that the SCOTUS has historically considered that individuals have rights with the federal government only through their state governments. That’s at issue in the challenges to healthcare law. The states have a right to determine whether individuals must buy insurance; the fed does not. [That is Romney’s correct federalism argument, but it doesn’t defend the poor economics of it all.] The People are represented before/in the federal government through the Congress, elected by the People of each State. Electoral votes and House members per state are proportionate to State population. There is no inappropriate weighting of votes here.

    We are not a direct democracy as far as the federal government is concerned. I would think it unjust, if my state went for Candidate A, but Candidate B obtained the most votes nationwide, and my state’s electoral votes went to Candidate B. My vote and those of my fellow State residents were disregarded. We vote for president as a State, not as individuals.

    We are a union of states. Period. Learn it, live it, love it….That’s for you too Young Mr. Klein.

  • Because of the state-by-state winner-take-all electoral votes laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) in 48 states, a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in 4 of the nation’s 56 (1 in 14) presidential elections. The precariousness of the current state-by-state winner-take-all system is highlighted by the fact that a shift of a handful of votes in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the 13 presidential elections since World War II. Near misses are now frequently common. There have been 6 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008). 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore’s lead of 537,179 popular votes nationwide. A shift of 60,000 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 million votes.

  • Most voters don’t care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was directly counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans consider the idea of the candidate with the most popular votes being declared a loser detestable. We don’t allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

    In the 3 state examples of polling 800 voters each with a second question that specifically emphasized that their state’s electoral votes would be awarded to the winner of the national popular vote in all 50 states, not necessarily their state’s winner, there was only a 4-8% decrease of support.

    Question 1: “How do you think we should elect the President: Should it be the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states, or the current Electoral College system?”

    Question 2: “Do you think it more important that a state’s electoral votes be cast for the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in that state, or is it more important to guarantee that the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states becomes president?”

    Support for a National Popular Vote

    South Dakota — 75% for Question 1, 67% for Question 2.

    Connecticut — 74% for Question 1, 68% for Question 2.

    Utah — 70% for Question 1, 66% for Question 2.

  • Given how unusual it is for one candidate to win the nationwide popular vote and another to win the electoral vote,

    This happened in 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000. I may be mistaken on this point, but I believe it has been the convention to add the ballots cast for ‘uncommitted’ Democratic slates of electors in 1960 to John Kennedy’s totals; the ‘uncommitted’ slates split their electoral votes between Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Harry Byrd, Sr. That would be five occasions in a set of 44 federal elections which included popular voting for presidential electors. Not that unusual.

    Of course, there are a number of qualifications one might offer regarding each of these cases.

  • I get that it’s happened four times, but three of those four are more than a century ago. One can take that as a complete accident, but it could also be that in our modern media world it’s simply unlikely to happen.

    The near misses can be taken one of two ways: either that it’s always almost happening, or that even in pretty close races the electoral and popular votes usually end up on the same side.

    I mean, really: Is the claim seriously that somehow if we didn’t have state by state races one candidate or another would do better nationally? I don’t see it. We already have massive amounts of national coverage, even if candidates are on the ground more in certain states. I’m sure it would change dynamics a bit if the race was nationwide, but I don’t see that it would be a clearly positive change, just different.

    I tend to think the whole thing is mostly just a reflection of people’s tendency to forget the federal republic structure of our country and want to see it as a single, strong nation state. A tendency I have pretty mixed feelings about.

  • The future belongs to the youth.

  • I tend to think the whole thing is mostly just a reflection of people’s tendency to forget the federal republic structure of our country and want to see it as a single, strong nation state. A tendency I have pretty mixed feelings about.

    As long as we are speculating about people’s esoteric motors, I will offer that I suspect defenses of the electoral college are fairly reflexive, a viewing the Constitution not as a positive law with the usual run of assets and liabilities a law has, but rather as Mr. Madison’s sublime and elegant work of art. It is a piece of ornamentation that has not worked as intended since 1796.

    One difficulty you have with excising the electoral college is that it would be necessary to set national standards for suffrage as well as a erecting a federal agency to administer elections. This is America, not France; energetic and capable civil administration is not what we do here. The utility of certain constitutional conventions on apportionment and tabulation is that the stupidity is confined to smaller jurisdictions (as was the case in 2000, to our benefit).

  • Since World War II, a shift of only a few thousand votes in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the 13 (31%) presidential elections.

    When every vote is equal everywhere, 2/3rds of the states and people would no longer be merely spectators to the presidential elections, and policies important to a handful of battleground states would not be prioritized when it comes to governing.

    The National Popular Vote bill is a state-based approach. It preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections. It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College.

    The U.S. Constitution specifically permits diversity of election laws among the states because it explicitly gives the states control over the conduct of presidential elections (article II) .

  • It gets very annoying that one can hardly read anything on the web about elections anymore without finding the National Popular Vote trolls to have invaded, saying the same things over and over again (I mean this quite literally; you can see it if you google oldgulph’s first few paragraphs from the first comment). It’s rarely actually relevant to the discussion at hand, and it’s always the same old lies. It is blatantly incorrect to claim that every vote everywhere would count the same because states have signficant differences in laws governing who can vote, how they can vote, and how votes are to be counted; for instance, some states allow, and some deny, votes to felons, different states have different policies on mail-in ballots, and so forth. It is blatantly incorrect to claim that elections wouldn’t be about winning states, because this is not an artifact of the Electoral College but of the convenience of states as a unit for campaigning; one sees this, for instance, in federal parliamentary systems, like Canada, where campaigning is often explicitly about winning provinces (particularly swingable provinces like Ontario) even though the unit of election is the riding. And so on and so forth. Even the name is a lie — you can’t have a national popular vote unless you have a national standard of what counts as a vote which under the current Constitutional system, which leaves such standards to the state, is impossible. Claims are never presented as elements a real argument in political philosophy or constitutional theory but as a series of advertisements.

    If oldgulph really wants to have a serious discussion in political philosophy, the question that he or she should answer is simply this: What are the weaknesses and potential failings of an NPV system? It’s not even conceivably possible to have a voting system without disadvantages; and it is not rational to accept a voting system without going into it knowing what those disadvantages are. This is the line between kooks and reasonable people in political theory: reasonable people recognize that there are costs to every system, and take those into account; the kooks always present utopia as if it were a political plan of action.

A Stumbling Block to School Administrators

Tuesday, December 15, AD 2009

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  As someone who received an undergraduate degree in the teaching of social studies, I am never very surprised when a school administration decides to engage in an act of public stupidity, however, this incident is in a class all by itself.

A second grade student at the Maxham Elementary School in Taunton, People’s Republic of Massachusetts, was sent home from school after drawing a picture of Jesus on the cross.  The student made the drawing in response to a class assignment that the students draw something that reminded them of Christmas.  Apparently the student’s dullard teacher decided that the drawing of the cross was too violent.  The school administration, in a move which hearkens back to the old Soviet Union placing dissidents in psych wards, decreed that not only would the child be sent home, but that he would have to undergo a psych evaluation.

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17 Responses to A Stumbling Block to School Administrators

  • That’s “The Peoples Republic of Taxachusetts.” Otherwise known as “the Pay State.”

  • Well it’s kind of a happy ending.

    He still had to get a psychiatric evaluation and be approved that he was “sane”.

    He did just that and “passed”.

    He then was so traumatized by the entire incident he didn’t want to return to the same school so the father is petitioning (I think he got approval) for his son to transfer.

    This is very scary. For a school administrator to cater to hate-mongering of an innocent depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion makes my blood boil.

  • I would NEVER take my child to a psychologist over this, but I learned my lesson the hard way. When my son (who was then seven) was having trouble in class, the school wouldn’t do anything until we had a complete evaluation to make sure he didn’t have psychological or emotional problems. My husband and I went for OUR evaluation with the school psychologist (“case history” stuff before he was scheduled for a trip) and were so unimpressed with her that we cancelled his eval and went to our pediatrician instead. Our son didn’t even know anything was going on. Then, when things got really ridiculous (I was observing in the classroom and the teacher was incompetent) I threatened to take him out of school and he was moved immediately. His problems were solved. I learned then not to do ANYTHING the school said (not the lesson they intended to teach) but instead to insist on my child’s rights under the law. And they wonder why parents are antagonistic! Could an 8-year-old be traumatized over this incident? You bet, depending on the kid and on how it was handled. The parents should have had a nice, calm, conversation with the principal and the teacher. And then if that didn’t work, they should simply have said that he would be back in class the next day or the school would hear from their lawyer the next day.

    All schools freak out over violence. When my son was eight he used to draw soldiers, bloody knives, spaceships shooting each other, etc. on his papers. The teachers told us that was “unacceptable” and so just told him that the school was silly about things like that, so he would have to draw those things at home. Don’t ALL little boys draw that stuff? Likewise, same year, he got a discipline point for reading an “inappropriate” book in class. When I asked the teacher what it was, she said it was a book about the Battle of Gettysburg and it had photographs of dead soldiers in it. I told her that he got it from the SCHOOL LIBRARY, so she took the discipline point away — but he still couldn’t read the book in class.

    They are all terrified of boys becoming violent. My kids are now in Catholic school, but they can’t bring in toy guns — even neon-colored plastic squirt guns — for skits and things.

  • It seems like there are plenty of news stories everyday of the public schools doing something not terribly intelligent….

    This has especially been on my mind with kids right around the corner. What a faddish wastebasket of wishful thinking many schools are… about the Kansas City case (and New Jersey, for that matter, following the court cases of the 80s) for example.

    What folly!

    What is needed is not more money but better moral foundations.

  • This is the logical result of all those “zero tolerance” anti-violence, anti-sexual harassment, and drug abuse policies that became so popular after Columbine.

    Zero tolerance policies forbidding absolutely ANY word, image, object or action that even hints at violence allow school administrators to APPEAR to be doing something about youth violence, without the bother of actually having to get to know students personally, judge each case individually, or risk being accused of racism or discrimination if the child/youth involved happens to be of a protected minority group.

    The result is that little kids get busted for drawing crucifixes, kissing girl classmates on Valentine’s Day, etc. while outside (or even inside), gang violence, suicide, drug abuse, etc. continue unabated.

    The main reason schools are “terrified of boys becoming violent” is because so many of them HAVE NO FATHERS and therefore no idea how to be real men, except by being the kind of macho jerks they see on TV or in movies.

  • Zero tolerance usually means zero brains. It allows administrators to mindlessly follow policy rather than to make real decisions, which of course is what they are supposed to be doing. True profiles in uselessness.

    I agree that public schools usually have no clue as to how to handle boys who act, well, like boys. A perfect example is a timeout. Most of the time a timeout will simply make an energetic boy bored and hostile. Much better to give him a task to accomplish, especially if it is something physical. Of course this is just common sense knowledge of the differences between girls and boys, something that seems to be verboten in public schools, but which is obvious to most parents who have spent time rearing both boys and girls.

  • I’m not a “rogue parent” at my daughters’ virtual school (where my wife is also a teacher). My emails to their former teacher (who was not accommodating my eldest’s disability) are now being quoted regularly at meetings as signs of a parent to watch out for. The latest suggestion was that parents who challenge “school policy” (which is defined as the whim the principal, a Charlestonian elitist who goes way back with Mark Sanford) could be charged with educational neglect.

  • Well … if you believe every dad trying to horn in on America’s reality tv culture …

  • Having dealt with public schools Todd both as an attorney and as a parent, I readily confess that I am more inclined to believe parents over administrators until the opposite is proven.

  • Well … if you believe every dad trying to horn in on America’s reality tv culture …

    Heard that before.

  • What Mr. McClarey said on Paul Zummo’s Cranky Conservative bears repeating: “The forces of open minded tolerance so often are represented by narrow minded bigots.”

    Quite frankly, I’m surprised “Christmas” was even mentioned, much less had an assignment attached to it.

  • “I readily confess that I am more inclined to believe parents over administrators …”

    It would seem there’s a good bit more to the story than was posted here. What’s still standing today is a he-said/they-said tussle that’s more than two weeks old. The news reports I’ve seen is that the drawing was not the one that got the young lad noticed, that there’s a history with the boy and his family, and that nobody was expelled from school. It would seem enough doubt has been thrown into this story to cause prudent observers to withhold judgment. Clearly, Donald shows us why he stayed at the attorneys’ tables and never ascended to the judiciary bench.

    In my long experience in parishes and schools, I often find that two sides in a dispute often are talking past each other and not even in agreement on the point(s) in question. It’s usually adequate enough to make the communication connection and allow diplomacy to smooth kinks in the relationship.

    What Art seems to be getting at is this: one must agree with him not only on the major points, but on every small detail of politics in situations like these. No room for dissent from the jots and tittles of the Catholic blogetariat.

    I would hold it is possible to be right (pointing out a grave moral or administrative error, for example) but to go about it in the wrong way (producing a forged document, or making oneself a threat–even just a perceived one–to a school administration). Prudence would dictate leaving the judgment to the Judge, and taking necessary precautions for one’s own children, or one’s own morality, depending on the circumstances.

  • “Clearly, Donald shows us why he stayed at the attorneys’ tables and never ascended to the judiciary bench.”

    Actually Todd, that is by choice. The legal profession is not one where all attorneys wish to be judges. Some, as in my case, make it very clear to judges who indicate that we would make a good judge that we do not wish to have to wear a black robe on the job.

    The school administration, after coming under intense media scrutiny yesterday, has a different story from the parent. That is as surprising as the sun coming up in the east or bureaucrats dodging responsibility. This incident in June 2008 indicates to me that bozos are in charge of the Taunton school system and that the parent is probably more accurate:

    “This is not the first time in recent years that a Taunton student has been sent home over a drawing. In June 2008, a fifth-grade student was suspended from Mulcahey Middle School for a day after creating a stick figure drawing that appeared to depict him shooting his teacher and a classmate.

    The Mulcahey teacher also contacted the police to take out charges in the 2008 incident.”

  • I’ve also read that there was a gun incident in that school district not too long ago. Parents themselves insist that schools be hypervigilant when it comes to the safety of their children. A one-day suspension for a blatant act of insubordination to a teacher … I’m sure you saw enough contempt of court citations in your years in the courtroom. Authority figures take authority very seriously.

    According to you, the school administration was a loser no matter what they did. If they were totally wrong, they could confess or clam up or lie. If they had justification for criticizing the lad, they could either remain silent on the matter and let the conservatives spin it, or they could offer a public rebuttal. By your statement, whether they lied or told the truth, your reaction would be the same.

    The caveat emptor in this case: if something sounds too good to be ideologically true, it probably is. Given how this story is unravelling for the father, I’d say there are a number of media and blog outlets with egg on their faces today.

  • What Art seems to be getting at is this: one must agree with him not only on the major points, but on every small detail of politics in situations like these. No room for dissent from the jots and tittles of the Catholic blogetariat.

    News to me.

    I’ve also read that there was a gun incident in that school district not too long ago.

    So we call the cops over some other kid’s droodles.

  • Part of feminizing men is to make all violence bad because boys tend to violence. Ladies, before you get upset with me, there is nothing wrong with the feminine – I love and respect my beautiful bride and the Blessed Virgin Mary – but women should be women and men should be men – equal in dignity yet different.

    Violence is not necessarily bad, or good. It just is. Drawing a picture of Christ crucified is a picture of violence – what could be more violent than Diecide?
    Mel Gibson’s movie was also violent – too violent for some tastes. Was this bad violence? I don’t think so, the worst evil was also the greatest good. There is nothing wrong with depicting Christ crucified, in fact there is everything right with it, as violent as it is. All men should wish to be Christ on His Cross.

    Boys are violent – boys like guns, swords, fights, tanks, knights, cavalry, shields, war games, etc. and that is as it should be. Our job as a society, and by logical extension our school systems, is to direct and temper that violence – not emasculate it.

    Thank God that the generation born in the 1920s was violent. They went overseas and did some violence to the Nazis – and I am pretty sure we’re all happy with how that turned out.

  • “Our job as a society, and by logical extension our school systems, is to direct and temper that violence – not emasculate it.”

    Which is exactly what a society in which vast numbers of young boys are raised without stable father figures fails to do. Even among animals like elephants, the presence of older males keeps fighting among the younger ones from getting out of hand.

    Was the World War II generation really any more “violent” than we are? I’m not so sure. Yes, boys played with guns, collected toy soldiers, and played cops, robbers, cowboys and Indians and other politically incorrect games. However if you take a look at the movies from that era, even the toughest tough guys like Bogart, Cagney, et al. used far less firepower and killed far fewer bad guys in 10 movies than, say, Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger did in just one.

    Also, Knight, I think you overlook the fact that there are times when women can or must become “violent” in a “good” sense, particularly when defending their children from harm. Again, even among animals, a mother defending her young from real or percieved threat is often far more dangerous than the male.