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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Tara Ross, the nationally recognized author of Why We Need the Electoral College. On the eve of the 2020 election, they discuss the critical and controversial role of the Electoral College in determining which candidate will become the next President of the United States. Tara explains how the Electoral College functions, why the Framers established it, and why this key feature of the U.S. Constitution and electoral system has become such a lightning rod. They explore its historical role in balancing power between small and large states, encouraging candidates to build wide coalitions across numerous states and regions, and checking the excesses of popular passions. They also discuss the role of the Electoral College in helping to isolate closely contested elections to specific states, such as in Florida in 2000; and Tara shares thoughts on the current political landscape.
Stories of the Week: Results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show troubling declines in grade 12 reading performance – will the results reinforce arguments to end testing? Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced she will no longer enforce the prohibition against religious organizations applying for federal funding for charter schools – opening charters to criticisms that opponents have long leveled, that these schools are not truly public.
This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Andrew Burstein, the Charles P. Manship Professor of History at Louisiana State University, and author of The Original Knickerbocker: The Life of Washington Irving, and with Nancy Isenberg, The Problem of Democracy: The Presidents Adams Confront the Cult of Personality. As we near Halloween, Professor Burstein explains why Irving’s short stories and tales, with their distinctive blend of imagination and nostalgia, continue to delight audiences young and old, and how the Headless Horseman from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” became one of literature’s most infamous ghosts. In addition to being the U.S. ambassador to Spain and becoming an international celebrity, they discuss how Irving Americanized the Christmas holiday, including its central figure, St. Nicholas, and influenced Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Lastly, as the nation prepares for a contentious election, they turn to Professor Burstein’s biographies of the two Adamses, Jefferson, Madison, and Jackson. They discuss the devolution of the American presidency into a cult of personality, and whether this departs from the Founding Fathers’ vision and expectations for the chief executive. Professor Burstein concludes with a reading from his Irving biography.
Stories of the Week: In New York City, Mayor DeBlasio is demanding that Success Academies charter public schools pay $500,000 so that students can continue using school district athletic fields they have been practicing on for years. The 2020 American Federation for Children has published its 2020 school choice guidebook, providing state-by-state information and analyses on educational options such as voucher, ESA, and tax credit scholarship programs across the country.
Any conservatives worth their salt know about the despicable behavior of Joe Biden over the last 50 years: he has lied, touched women inappropriately, misused the power of his office, railroaded Justice Clarence Thomas in his Congressional hearings, and attacked voters. Under the spotlight of the 2020 campaign, his flaws are even more obvious, particularly his verbal gaffes, confusion and other attributes of potential dementia, as described in Brian Watt’s excellent post.
But in our discussions of Joe Biden, I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable, not about criticisms of Joe Biden from the past, but the efforts to humiliate, ridicule, and shame him for his actions and behaviors during the campaign. Especially notable are shows like “The Next Revolution” on Fox News, which had a segment (preceded by a cartoon of Biden dressed as a clown) with a series of his gaffes. I dislike Joe Biden, but this segment made me very uncomfortable.
In the discussion of Biden on Brian Watt’s post, a number of people also seemed to be gleeful, assuming (I suppose) that Biden was getting what he deserved. Many people were bothered by the apparent effort by Biden’s family and handlers to put Joe through the grueling process of a campaign to be president. People can speculate on their reasons, but most of them are not beneficial to Biden himself, to the Democrat Party (unless they think they can control him if he’s elected) or to the country.
This morning I saw an op-ed piece that finally drove me over the top. Here is one statement from Kathleen Parker from her piece :
Whatever her ultimate motive, Haley clearly decided that stepping on Tillerson and Kelly was in her political interest. There can have been no other reason to drag these two honorable, accomplished men through the mud for, by her own account, trying to mitigate some of Trump’s more-destructive impulses.
From The New York Times, a devastating critique of where the President’s re-election chances stand now that the Democrats are more emboldened in Congress:
At midterm, the once-dazzling political momentum… has stalled. In the year ahead, the President faces what his allies and advisers see as the most critical tests of his Presidency both at home and abroad.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are glad to see some liberals embracing the conclusion that the executive branch – and the presidency in particular – has accumulated far more power than our founders intended. They just wonder whether lefties will still have these concerns once one of their own is in the White House. They also regret the news that the “Weekly Standard” will soon cease publication. And they’re a bit bewildered as President Trump’s personal attorney-turned-adversary, Michael Cohen, tells ABC News that he hopes his legacy will be that he helped to unify the nation.
I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday. Book Review ‘The Presidents and the Pastime’ perfect summer read By MARK LARDAS […]
The electors kept the faith:
Electoral College members across the nation voted to affirm President-elect Donald Trump’s victory on Monday, as liberal attempts to sway Republican electors to abandon Trump fizzled.
Republican electors stayed loyal to their candidate, keeping Trump well above the 270 electoral vote threshold needed to secure the nomination.
One need not look further than Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the top of the GOP candidate heap to know that Americans have become disillusioned with the political establishment. James Piereson takes a look at previous political ‘revolutions’ that have already taken place in this country. Piereson tells us that another is on its way. His latest book, Shattered Consensus, is a masterwork of historical and political analysis and should not be missed. On a positive note, Piereson is not another crying out from the wilderness that America will fall. On the contrary, he believes that any current political turmoil is a precursor to another period of growth for the nation.
Donald Trump doesn’t care about selecting conservative nominees to the Supreme Court. That’s right the one argument that gets posited in favor of Donald Trump for conservatives is false. Ben Shapiro, the editor of the Daily Wire typed up a very comprehensive and accurate article of why Donald Trump will not select conservative nominees for the […]
If Hillary wins, what do we call Bill? “First Spouse” is ugly and banal, and we can’t call him “First Gentleman” because he is in no way a gentleman. First Rake, perhaps? First Gigolo? First Predator? Preview Open
Given a Clinton vs Trump contest, would it be better for the U.S. for conservatives to hold our noses and vote for billionaire and former NY mayor Michael Bloomberg? Granted his pro-choice, pro-ssm, anti-second amendment, and nanny-state policies would be a turnoff, but couldn’t a Republican congress thwart him with those issues? Although his Supreme […]
To Whom It May Concern: Although it seems like Mr. Barack Obama has worked as my president for much longer than seven years, I am thrilled to hear that he is pursuing a new position. You will be very lucky if you can get him to work for you. As a voter, citizen and taxpayer, […]
Partisans are likely to focus on these stats in Paul Krugman’s latest column: Since 1947, “the economy grew, on average, 4.35 percent per year [under Democrats]; under Republicans, only 2.54 percent.”
To his credit, Krugman does not make strong claims about the superiority of Democratic economic management (though he does mock current GOP policy proposals). Neither does the 2014 study, from where those numbers come, “Presidents and the U.S. Economy: An Econometric Exploration.” The study’s authors, Alan Blinder and Mark Watson, sort of give it the old ¯\_(ツ)_/¯:
Democrats would no doubt like to attribute the large D-R growth gap to macroeconomic policy choices, but the data do not support such a claim. If anything, and we would not make too much of small differences, both fiscal and monetary policy actions seem to be a bit more stabilizing when a Republican is president — even though Federal Reserve chairmen appointed by Democrats preside over faster growth than Federal Reserve chairmen appointed by Republicans by a wide margin.
We’ve come to think of compromise as splitting the baby. Comprehensive immigration reform, for example, is a particularly good example of this sort of bad compromise: Republicans agree to an amnesty now, Democrats pretend they’ll do a better job of enforcing immigration laws in the future, and we pretend to believe them. I agree that’s awful, and we can’t do that sort of thing anymore.
What I propose is more like a trade: we get something we want, they get something they want, both at the same time.
What’s the one fact about the political situation in America that we do not emphasize enough — think through enough — try hard enough to confront? I’m sure you have your own views on that, likely better than mine, and I encourage you to publish them. My own view is that there is not one politician playing Churchill.
Do you know the phrase, America will do the right thing once it’s tried everything else? Well, America is trying lots of things and must come to the right thing, but who will do it? Who is the politician who will lead public opinion and possibly the government when necessity will be upon you?
Churchill said, upon assuming the commanding authority, that he finally felt at peace — the hour was late, but the man had come. He described not his unique competence, but his unique reputation: He had been out of power so long that no rumor or fear of partisanship could arise; he had been confirmed in so many dire predictions that no doubt as to his knowledge could arise. He was innocent of the misdeeds and could be thought to excel in facing up to events and facing down the terrible threat.