The Locker Room

August 3, 2006

So What's Republican?

Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 10:02 PM

My old boss Bob Novak raises the question as the Beltway goes mad.

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Young Hickory & Realpolitik

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 9:21 PM

We know of John's admiration for James K. Polk, the one-term president and UNC alumnus who brought us Texas, California, and much of the far western United States.

In Bill Bennett's new book, America: The Last Best Hope, Volume I (Nelson Current, 2006), the former Reagan cabinet secretary offers the following assessment of "Young Hickory."

James Knox Polk received few thanks for adding vast territories to the American republic. He is the American Bismarck. Just as the "Iron Chancellor" is credited with creating the greater German empire in the 1860s and 1870s, James Knox Polk had three great objects in mind: the harbors of San Diego, San Francisco, and Puget Sound. Like Bismarck, Polk was willing to go to war to achieve his objects. But unlike Bismarck, Polk could rely on the sweep of thousands of settlers to achieve most of his goals without fighting. While the Mexicans in Mexico bravely resisted American invaders, the huge Southwest was seized almost bloodlessly.

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Re: More on loons

Posted by Jon Sanders at 5:00 PM

That is haunting, Jon, but beautiful — unlike this loon call, which tries to sound haunting, but is merely screechy, especially at the end.

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More on loons

Posted by Jon Ham at 4:44 PM

Someone asked what a loon's call sounded like. Here it is. Quite haunting. 

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Susan Dudley nominated

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 4:15 PM

There is some good news out of the Bush Administration. The President has nominated Susan Dudley, Director of Regulatory Studies at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, to be the new Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget. Susan is a solid thinker, fine economist and a free market environmentalist. She is also friends with several of us here at the JLF. Last year Susan made a trip to Raleigh where she gave talks to students at NCSU and to our own Shaftsbury Society. Go here to learn more about Susan's background and let's all hope and pray that she survives what will certainly be a tough confirmation hearing. 

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Houses Changing Hands

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 4:06 PM

The Nelson Report says a Mystery Pollster analysis of a recent NPR survey of likely voters in 50 districts across the country (40 held by Republicans) "means  all of the Republican seats are statistically in play, by any known historic standard, while none of the Dems are...for now."

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Re: Rowdy Russians

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:11 PM


When the Russian apparatchik says the paratroopers have protected the people during "internecine conflict," isn't he really saying that the paratroopers have helped the Russian state crack down on its people?

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Playing it straight is a challenge

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 3:05 PM

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is a good professional organization. It helps practitioners to improve their skills. Sometimes, however, its writers slip into advocacy instead of education. Consider this online piece on the communication challenge of climate change. The author starts reasonably enough with a sentence on "conflicting views." He even writes:

[M]any observers, including Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, question the scientific absolutes of the global warming theory and emphasize that severe economic fallout could accompany forced climate change controls.

 But the only link in the article is to The author also laments:

Even though many state governments have enacted regulations, it looks like Congress will not be ready to pass mandatory GHG regulations this year considering dedicated opposition in the House, the Senate and the current Administration. (The 2006 elections, though, may shift priorities.)

Then he finally remembers that PR is a business with paying clients, not journalism with free rein to embed opinions in straight pieces.

As PR practitioners, are we ready to help corporations show the world how they are striving to be good corporate citizens and tackle the climate change challenge?

The answer from a business point of view, of course, is simple — if our clients want us to move in that direction, we will.

Why not prepare corporate and other clients to defend their views, whatever they may be instead of nudging the client to support feel-good government intervention that may harm the client and the economy?

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Private Schools Really Are Better

Posted by John Hood at 2:59 PM

Critics of the Bush administration had a field day, or two, or three a while back when the U.S. Department of Education released a long-delayed report that purported to show private schools did not outperform public schools when students’ background characteristics were taken into account. Essentially, the report’s authors concluded, higher test scores among private-school students reflect the fact that they are wealthier and healthier on average than their public-school counterparts, not because of any intrinsic advantages of private education. See, the Bush-bashers said, this dishonest administration tries to bury any unpleasant news that doesn’t comport with its ideological presuppositions. Bush lied, schoolchildren cried, or something like that.

Another possibility, however, was simply that Education officials had concerns about the methodology of the study. Now, thanks to the indefatigable education researcher Paul Peterson at Harvard University, we have reason to believe such concerns were legitimate. Looking at the same National Assessment of Educational Progress testing data that the original researchers used, Peterson discovered that they made questionable choices about how to adjust for student characteristics. The use of Title 1, a federal program aimed at disadvantaged students, as a proxy for family poverty was poor choice. It ends up overestimating low-income kids in public schools and underestimating them in private schools.

The bottom line, Peterson found, was that more-sensible adjustments for student characteristics left private schools outperforming public schools in 11 of the 12 outcomes measured. Because the results of several experimental studies — in which low-income students were randomly selected from an applicant pool to attend private schools with vouchers — also showed a clear and significant private-school advantage, Peterson’s findings are very credible. You can read more here and here.

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These guys party hard

Posted by Jon Ham at 2:55 PM

I arrived in Moscow on my first visit on Aug. 1, 1990. The next day, on Arbat Street, I witnessed dozens of men in blue-and-white-striped t-shirts and blue berets staggering, throwing up, flinging vodka on passers by, and pawing men and women on the sidewalks. I found out later it was Paratroopers Day, Aug. 2. I figured the intensity of their celebration had something to do with them just having returned from Afghanistan. But, apparently not, according to The Moscow Times:

Thousands of former paratroopers took to the streets, splashed in the fountains and showed off their combat skills in brawls with one another and unfortunate melon vendors.

The annual holiday honoring the paratroopers is regularly disparaged by violence as thousands of members of the elite fighting force flood the streets and parks in striped T-shirts and blue berets, drinking and carousing.

Colonel General Alexander Kolmakov, head of the airborne troops, called on paratroopers to celebrate in a civilized fashion, RIA-Novosti reported.

"Our people sincerely love the airborne units, who more than once have saved the country from internecine conflicts," Kolmakov said. "I would not want this day to be marred by rowdy and indecent behavior."

Too late, Comrade General.

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Easley signs innocence bill

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:49 PM

With the governor's signature, North Carolina will become the first state in the nation to establish an Innocence Inquiry Commission.

It's an idea pushed heavily by retired N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake Jr. The innocence commission is also a topic of discussion for this weekend's Carolina Journal Radio.

A chief supporter -- Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland -- tells CJ Radio:

It's a really important bill to create a failsafe in our system for one of the few times that happen where we end up convicting the wrong person, and the real murderer or the real rapist is free at large. And so for society's protection -- as well as to get it right and not have an innocent person in jail -- this commission can get to the core of who's really guilty and who's really innocent quicker.

Rep. Joe Kiser, R-Lincoln, a former sheriff, disagrees:

I think it just creates a new layer of the judiciary, and I believe our court systems are working fine. And all the names mentioned on the floor [during legislative debate] of people who were innocent were found innocent through the regular court system. If it's not broken, don't fix it. And I don't believe our judiciary is broken. 

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re: Viva

Posted by Jon Ham at 2:44 PM

I just knew Sanders would be unable to leave that alone.

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Re: Viva

Posted by Jon Sanders at 2:41 PM

... listen to the lonesome call of loons ...

"9/11 was an inside job!"
"Kennedy was assassinated by Zionists!"
"Eisenhower signed a treaty with space aliens!"
"Go see 'An Inconvenient Truth!'"
"Everyone should bike to work!"
"Let's nationalize health care!"

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Viva global warming

Posted by Jon Ham at 2:24 PM

I stumbled on absolute proof of global warming last week. I was in northern Vermont sitting in a rowboat on a lake that once was a glacier. Frankly, without global warming I never would have been able to sit on a lake in the great north woods and listen to the lonesome call of loons as the sun set over the old-growth forests.

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re: Two more serious signs

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 2:12 PM

Jon--It is perfect. If especially hot temperatures in one part of the world are balance out by especially cold temperatures in another and the average global temperature stays the same, this unchanged average temperature becomes evidence of global warming. Rising average temps, falliing average temps, and temps staying the same, all evidence of global warming. As you said, nothing can falsify the hypotheisis.

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Fidel: Keepin' it in the Family!

Posted by Michael Moore at 1:22 PM

I love Cuba....Bless their Heart.  

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The State Board of Education and Charter Schools

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 1:02 PM

The State Board of Education (SBE) approved six new charter schools today, but the process was noteworthy because it was unorthodox.

Two SBE members, John Tate and Michelle Howard-Vital did not like the list of charter schools recommended for approval by the Charter School Advisory Committee (CSAC), the committee responsible for evaluating charter school applications. They decided to do something about it. Tate has been openly campaigning for the KIPP: Charlotte Charter School for the last two months, even forcing a closed session after he excused himself in the middle of a SBE meeting to confer with a group of KIPP advocates. Howard-Vital advocated for the Wilmington Preparatory Academy Charter School at yesterday’s meeting. Neither school was on CSAC’s list of schools recommend for approval, but both received State Board of Education approval today, along with four other charter schools that were on the list.

First, it is clear that the Charter School Advisory Committee is irrelevant, because all one needs is friends in high places to get an application approved. More importantly, this posturing would have been unnecessary if the charter school cap exceeded 100 schools. Then, the SBE could have just approved all nine of the charter schools that both applied and qualified for open slots.

On the bright side, this episode suggests that some members of the State Board of Education are passionate advocates of charter schools. If only Tate and Howard-Vital would redirect that passion to try to lift the charter school cap, our schools would all be better off.

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This is the way UNC administrative top-heaviness ends

Posted by Jon Sanders at 12:42 AM

... not with a whimper but a bang.

UNC President Erskine Bowles announced that he will cut the UNC General Administration budget by 10 percent, including 15.5 jobs, "four vice presidents' jobs and six at the level of associate vice president or director," according to The News & Observer. It's "only the beginning," the N&O reports. "Several months ago, Bowles created a committee on efficiency and effectiveness that is reviewing campus operations and will make recommendations in October."

Here's a Way to go, President Bowles! — and a note of cautious optimism in anticipation of that report.

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Munger looks at the politics of the minimum wage

Posted by George Leef at 12:12 AM

Our friend Mike Munger, writing at DivisionofLabour, wonders why the pro-minimum wage crowd doesn't come out in favor of indexing it ... and then provides a pretty compelling answer:

The question: why not index the minimum wage, maybe with some lag or going up by regular amounts every two years, based on the CPI?

The answer: Politicians wouldn't be able to claim credit for an index, a one-time solution that actually fixes the minimum wage in real terms. This way, without indexation, they (the supporters) get to look like big heroes.

And, the more the increases get dragged out, and the bigger the consequent increase (which really only restores the minimum wage to its previous real value), the bigger the heroism.

The challenge: if liberals really want to solve the minimum wage problem, they should be explicitly advocating indexation. Instead, these periodic increases simply ensure that the minimum wage will always be a good campaign issue, and fund-raising device.

In short, the minimum wage combined with secular inflation is a nearly perfect job security device for liberal members of Congress: we will fight for a wage increase, for YOU! But we will not fight for indexation, which would make you outgrow your need for us. We need to be needed.

Excellent public choice analysis, Mike. Even when pols want us to think they are looking out for the interests of "the little guy," they're actually looking out for themselves.

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Two more serious signs of global warming — and we are, in fact, doomed

Posted by Jon Sanders at 11:47 AM

Remember that "global warming" theory explains every weather anomaly, including rare coldness. Nothing can falsify the theory, nothing; it's that unquestionable! So please brace yourselves at the latest portents of our impending doom, which is not a matter of if, but when:

1. Rare Antarctic clouds that can occur only during the extremest of cold air aloft, per Reuters: "Rare, mother-of-pearl colored clouds caused by extreme weather conditions above Antarctica are a possible indication of global warming, Australian scientists said on Tuesday. ... Nacreous clouds can only form in temperatures lower than minus 80 degrees Celsius (minus 112 Fahrenheit)."

2. Rare snowfall in South Africa, per AFP: "Snow fell on South Africa's biggest city Johannesburg for the first time in 25 years as icy temperatures gripped vast swathes of the country."

Consider those in conjunction with the current heat wave, which is just a foretaste of what we're all going to suffer in the future, USA Today reports in a lather. And NBC tells us "in the coming decades 100 degrees may be the new summertime norm."

Also, please do not think that NBC, USA Today et al. are engaged in more "ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST" rhetoric — they are, but don't think it, and if you do, by all means don't say it out loud!

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The High School Problem

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 11:39 AM

DPI released the preliminary 2005-2006 performance composites for high schools a short while ago. The performance composite calculates the school-wide passing rate for all end-of-course tests, such as Algebra I, English I, and U.S. History.

At least 95 high schools have performance composites below 70 percent. With the exception of new high schools, all of the schools on the list were in the same boat last year. A number of high schools are still under review, so there will be many more added to the list.

I have no doubt that this will prompt Judge Manning to get back on the warpath, while the State Board of Education will be back on the defensive.

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Re: Not as dumb

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:32 AM


If Paris ever saw the picture of Hayek in your office, we all know what she'd say:

"That's hot."

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Interesting weather. . .

Posted by Chad Adams at 11:29 AM

So, I'm watching the temperature and ozone forecasts, brutal summer, stay indoors.  Remarkably, we haven't hit the century mark yet despite it being forecasts on both Tuesday and Wednesday.  We've also been taught to fear code yellow and orange ozone days, mainly because the air is so much better that CODE RED isn't happening.

Then I looking, somewhat mystified, as tropical storm Chris begins disintegrating over Puerto Rico.  But wait, this was supposed to be one of the WORST Hurricane years ever!!  (And it yet could be, we're only 63 days into it without a hurricane yet.)  But forecasters told us how favorable the environment was for development.  Today, the Atlantic forecast has been downgraded.

And it's snowing in South Africa for the first time in 25 years!

But alas, I digress.  Weather forecasters, only expected to really project out 24-48 hours have missed their mark, but not by much.  Hurrican forecasters, supposed to fairly accurate for a year, have (at least so far) missed so badly that they're now downgrading what they've predicted, even with searing East Coast heat.  During this, we are still expected to believe that the global warming activists are so accurate that we should accept their forecasts without scepticism at the planet level?

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re: Not as dumb

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 11:20 AM

I thought Paris' answer would be that she "simply loved reading Mises and Hayek."

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Wonder why a lack of teachers?

Posted by Lindalyn Kakadelis at 11:18 AM

Did the heat produce a lack of clear thinking when Mecklenburg's Superintendent Gorman asked for the board's support in forcing teachers into lower performing schools? It is very hard to force teachers to a certain school, when you don't have teachers! Seems mandatory teacher reassignments will not happen this year, and I doubt if they will happen at all. Wonder if Gorman read the Locker Room last week?

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Not as dumb as she looks (and acts and sounds)

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:08 AM

Paris Hilton says she rakes in about $200 million in a year -- despite the complete absence of a marketable skill.

Before you scratch your head in amazement, consider this:

"I went to Austria recently and got paid [$]1 million ... just to wave at a crowd of people there. I had to say 'hi' and tell them why I loved Austria so much," she said.

Asked why she loved Austria so much, she said: "Because they pay me [$]1 million to wave at crowds!"

Shrewd ... very shrewd.

HT: K-Lo at The Corner, who focused attention on Paris' political savvy.

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Along the lines of the Well DUH Research

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:14 AM

There is Well DUH reporting; for example, today's AP story:

Heavy people may collapse more in heat

ATLANTA - Obese people face a higher risk of passing out — or worse — during heat waves, some health experts say.

Layers of fat make it extra difficult for a body to dissipate heat, or to move to a cool location.

But at least federal research grant money isn't involved.

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McCain, Rudy, Newt, and ... Sam?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 09:45 AM

The Weekly Standard offers a glowing profile of Kansas senator and potential 2008 presidential candidate Sam Brownback. 

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On "whiteness studies"

Posted by George Leef at 08:29 AM

I argue here that it's educational malpractice.

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Nature's Air Conditioning: Cool Breeze on Jordan Lake

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:46 AM

"About two hours ago, we got a nice breeze off the lake," said Willard. "It was the coolest I've been in a long time. I'm waiting for that breeze again."

No, this is not from The Onion. Read more about the amazing cool breeze here.

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