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Scene above:  Constitution Island, where Revolutionary War forts still exist, as photographed from Trophy Point, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York
 

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NOVEMBER 9,  2021

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – OVERNIGHT:

STATE OF OUR SCHOOLS – COLLAPSING.  FROM FOX:   Seattle Public Schools says that classes are canceled for this Friday due to a shortage of teachers.  In a letter sent to parents, SPS said there will be no in-person or remote instruction on November 11 or 12 as part of its effort to "ensure the highest quality environment for student learning."  Schools were already scheduled to be closed on Thursday due to Veteran’s Day.  The district told Fox News that, as of last week, more than 600 educators had requested a substitute and additional requests came in this week. It said teachers and staff have historically requested off the day after Veterans Day but because of current circumstances, the district does not have the capacity to "ensure student safety and high-quality learning."  "This is a change from the 2021-2022 calendar of school year dates approved last spring, and we recognize the late notice creates challenging circumstances for many families," SPS said.  The district said the lost time will be added to the end of the 2021-2022 school year. The answer is school choice.  If schools had to compete with each other for students, the quality of education would be better, attitudes would be better, and the children would gain.  Wouldn't that be news!

November 9, 2021       Permalink

 

DID WE MISS SDOMETHING?  APPARENTLY, YES – OVERNIGHT.  Where are the election-night reports from Pennsylvania, one of our most politically powerful states?  Salena Zito, one of the nation's best reporters, fills us in on some remarkable developments.  From the Washington Examiner: 

ERIE, Pennsylvania — Voters in the Keystone State, as in Virginia, took Tuesday's election as an opportunity to rebut Democrats' overreach. Driven by the loudest voices in their national party toward issues of social justice, "intersectionality" and "climate justice," Democrats suffered for ignoring everyday issues such as inflation, crime and education.

With mail-in ballots still pending, Republicans are poised to sweep all four of Pennsylvania's statewide judicial elections. They also made gains in municipal races.

In the collar counties surrounding Philadelphia, voters echoed the same dissatisfaction with Democrats that was displayed in the surprising results in neighboring New Jersey. This corrected some of the suburban losses that Republicans had experienced in Philly during the Trump years. In Bucks County, where Republicans have struggled to hold any local elected office in the last four years, they kept the district attorney's office in their column and picked up offices for sheriff and prothonotary. In Chester, where Republicans became extinct in row offices four years ago, the races were still too close to call.

Here in Erie, a critically important bellwether county for next year's high-profile races for state governorship and the U.S. House and Senate, voters chose the Republican candidate for county executive in a seat that has been held by Republicans only twice since 1978.

Down in southwestern Pennsylvania, which has been trending rightward since Democrats started shedding working-class voters in favor of an elite ascendant coalition around 2010, Republicans swept most row offices in the collar counties that surround Allegheny County and Pittsburgh.

Republicans were smart on candidate recruitment and localized rather than national messaging. In places where they had lost elections in recent cycles (Bucks County especially), Republicans dusted off some of their old-fashioned blocking and tackling moves and won races.

Pennsylvania has been inching toward the GOP since former Vice President Al Gore carried it by 4 points in 2000 — 3.5 points ahead of his national popular vote margin. For former President Barack Obama, Pennsylvania was only 1 point friendlier than his national margin in 2012. For Trump's victory in 2016, the commonwealth finished just under 3 points more Republican than the national result. In 2020, although President Joe Biden won, the margin in Pennsylvania was just over 3 points more Republican than Biden's national victory margin. That last result produced unexpected gains for Republicans in the state Legislature in a year where Democrats had hoped to take over both houses.
Former GOP state party Chairman Rob Gleason said Tuesday's results come as more good news for Republicans, not just ahead of next year's big races, but also thinking further ahead for 2024. "It is also good news for the conservative movement to continue to build the party from the most granular level up in local seats that have daily impact on their lives," said Gleason of the all-important party-building.

"Republicans made gains in races that a year or two ago they may have had no business running and won. That's big," Gleason added.

COMMENT:  Now Republicans will have to show that they are deserving of the trust they won last Tuesday.  They are in the best position they've ever been in, the beneficiaries of an increasingly unpopular and possibly dangerous Democratic Party.  Don't blow it, guys.  Build on Tuesday night.  Already Republican leaders are talking about a bill of rights for American parents.  That's exactly the way to go.  Address the American people and their needs, not the American left and its fantasies.

We are pleased with Pennsylvania.  It points us to the future.

November 9, 2021       Permalink


 

 

 

 

 

 

NOVEMBER 8,  2021

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – OVERNIGHT:

MORE GRIMNESS FOR DEMS – FROM POWERLINE:   My friend who reads the New York Times alerted me to this article about rural America’s continued movement away from the Democratic party. I’m glad he did. The article is well worth reading.  The most noteworthy thing about the Times’s piece is the numbers it presents from Virginia:  "In 2008, there were only four small Virginia counties where Republicans won 70% or more of the vote in that year’s presidential race. Nowhere was the party above 75%. This year, Youngkin was above 70% in 45 counties — and he surpassed 80% in 15 of them."  Virginia has 95 counties. The Times doesn’t say how many of them are rural, but judging from the breakdown in this map it looks like Youngkin was above 70 percent in just about all of them.  The Times notes that Youngkin “was outpacing former President Donald Trump’s 2020 showing in even the reddest counties.”   It may be only this week that the full extent of the Democratic disaster is starting to be felt.  The Democratic Party is on political life support, with no apparent way of getting off it.

November 8, 2021       Permalink

 

SOMETIMES THE NEWS IS GOOD, SOMETIMES VERY GOOD; THIS IS VERY GOOD – OVERNIGHT:  It is a pleasure to read of the founding of a new university in the United States, one based on the traditional values that once made American universities great.  The names associated with the venture are solid.  I have high hopes.  From City Journal: 

A few years ago, I’m told, the president of Dartmouth College remarked to a professor that “we have to get out of the knowledge game.” Mission accomplished. The self-destruction of the American academy—its repudiation of education, the core business of universities since their inception a millennium ago—is well under way. But American higher education got some rare good news today, with the establishment of the University of Austin (UATX).

Pano Kanelos, who formerly headed St. John’s College in Annapolis, will be the university’s president. Kanelos maintains that all education is either liberal or illiberal; if it is illiberal, it isn’t even education. Plato’s Republic makes this clear. Before we are educated, Plato famously teaches, we resemble prisoners chained to the bottom of a cave, watching shadows play across a wall. We trust the shadows and the stories they tell because they are the only things we know. We have no idea that they are cast by unseen puppeteers competing for power and wealth, much less that higher realms of truth and existence lie above and beyond us.

Education—from the Latin educare, to lead out or bring up—liberates us from the shackles of ignorance and leads us into the light and warmth of reality. It makes us capable, as St. John Henry Newman wrote in The Idea of a University, of forming an “instinctive just estimate of things as they pass before us.” But today’s universities are hell-bent on leading students down, not up. Everything is domination and servitude, power and oppression: the cave is all that exists. In the dim and pervasive light of critical theory and intersectionality, everything appears small and flat and gray. Heroism is toxic masculinity; mathematics and English are instruments of racial oppression. Interpretive charity and intellectual humility, once cardinal academic virtues, are now as dispensable as Greek and Latin are for classics majors at Princeton, or Shakespeare and Chaucer for English majors at Yale.

Enter UATX. As our elite universities sink into the muck of activism, demand increases for genuine teaching and learning—and the supply is growing of good professors who have left or been pushed out of dying institutions. Many, including me, have argued that the time is ripe to start a new university. The master plan for UATX describes it as “committed to open inquiry, freedom of conscience, and civil discourse” and “fiercely independent—financially, intellectually, and politically.” It draws inspiration from Yale’s 1974 Woodward Report, with its defense of “the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.”

Talk is cheap, but Kanelos’s plan is serious. UATX is backed by distinguished and independent minds. Kanelos’s founding team includes historian Niall Ferguson, journalist Bari Weiss, evolutionary biologist Heather Heying, and investor Joe Lonsdale. The advisory board includes Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Arthur Brooks, Steven Pinker, Nadine Strossen, Glenn Loury, Jonathan Haidt, David Mamet, Wilfred McClay, and Leon Kass, among other big names. Ten founding faculty fellows “will actively participate in curricular and institutional planning and design,” the first three—Hirsi Ali and philosophers Peter Boghossian and Kathleen Stock—having already been named. This group is long on courage: Hirsi Ali lives under threat of death from Islamists, while Weiss, Heying, Boghossian, and Stock resigned from positions at the New York Times, Evergreen State College, Portland State University, and the University of Sussex, respectively, after weathering sustained and vicious attacks by their colleagues and students.

COMMENT:  Wonderful, wonderful.  Of course, be prepared for incoming fire from the political left, declaring that the above names are merely front operators for fascism, or, even worse, democracy. 

The college that Pano Kanelos headed, St. John's of Annapolis, is one of the last remaining true liberal arts schools in the country, centered on the Great Books and great ideas.  It is out of favor with the educational establishment, which is a compliment to it. 

We welcome the University of Austin.  We know how tough the climb will be.  But these are people of excellence, and we have to believe that they will succeed.

November 8, 2021       Permalink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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