Politics: August 2014 Archives

Just a quick update between sessions at Americans for Prosperity's Defending the American Dream 2014 Summit in Dallas.

Yesterday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Dr. Ben Carson, and Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn addressed the conference. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Jeb Hensarling are on tap for this afternoon.

Last night, Oklahoma's 200-strong delegation heard from Attorney General Scott Pruitt and Labor Commissoiner Mark Costello. Both spoke about federal incursions upon state and private action in violation of federal law and the Constitution. Pruitt discussed the work of his office's federalism unit, particularly as it applies to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's decision to revoke Oklahoma's "No Child Left Behind" waiver because the state repealed Common Core and the IRS's settlement with the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which may change the way the IRS evaluates whether a pastor's speech violates a church's tax-exempt status. Costello spoke of the US Department of Labor's push to criminalize family farmworkers and force privately-held companies to publish safety records online, and the EPA's regional haze regulations.

Time to head to another meeting. More later.

afp_dad14_logo.jpgIn a few hours, Americans for Prosperity's 2014 Defending the American Dream Summit will be underway. Over the next two days, attendees will be hearing from headline speakers like Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, and Dr. Ben Carson. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt will be on a panel discussing the legal status of Obamacare -- the differences between the law Congress passed and the deviation the Obama administration is implementing.

The summit is sold out, but you can watch the general sessions online between 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm Central each day. Twitter is the best place to follow events as they unfold; keep an eye on the #Dream14 hashtag.

The Left has a tendency to suppress facts either because they believe it will embolden their ideological enemies, or they are concerned that the facts will lead people to unauthorized conclusions.

Here are a couple of recent examples. I will add more as I come across them.

The National Post reported recently on a study by neuroscientists that shows rote memorization lays an important foundation for higher-order reasoning in children:

In effect, as young math students memorize the basics, their brains reorganize to accommodate the greater demands of more complex math. It is a gradual process, like "overlapping waves," the researchers write, but it clearly shows that, for the growing child's brain, rote memorization is a key step along the way to efficient mathematical reasoning.

The news story's writer framed this as a finding that was "sure to inflame the math wars" between "fundamentalists" and their "popular and progressive" opponents.

As a scientific justification of rote learning, the study seems likely to further polarize the controversy over math teaching styles, in which arithmetical fundamentalists are squared off against the popular and progressive forces of "discovery-based" learning, in which students are encouraged to find their own ways to the right answer.

By illustrating the benefit of repetition and memory, and showing how it serves as a stepping stone to mature calculation, the research is likely to embolden the fundamentalists, who have only recently started to win back lost ground.

Jenks middle school principal Rob Miller has a popular blog where he evangelizes for the idea that the billions we spend on education shouldn't go to teaching actual content. Here he is talking about the Howe school district in LeFlore County, which got a failing grade from the State Department of Education because of its students' poor test scores, despite having all sorts of cool classroom technology:

But what happens if bringing back more traditional teaching strategies actually brings their scores up? This will simply empower the naysayers and it will be very difficult to return to the district's original vision for 21st century teaching and learning-processes that create globally competent critical thinkers instead of just good test takers.

God forbid we should empower the naysayers! You can't be a "globally competent critical thinker" unless you've mastered fundamental facts about math, geography, history, grammar, and logic. Those are the building blocks for competent critical thinking, but Principal Miller and the Howe school leadership seem to want to skip right by the "boring" basics in favor of gee-whiz technology.

Whoever wins the August 26 runoff for District Attorney in Tulsa County, I'm pretty sure we'll be better off than Austin, Texas, which is stuck with Democratic DA Rosemary Lehmberg, who was arrested in April 2013 for Driving While Intoxicated with a .239 blood alcohol level. Lehmberg disgracefully treated the law enforcement personnel who arrested and processed her. Sentenced to 45 days in jail, Lehmberg refused to step down, displaying a Clintonesque "brazen it out" approach to the consequences of her disregard for the law. Lehmberg identifies herself as a homosexual.

The night of her arrest, Lehmberg was driving in a bike lane, braking erratically, and swerving into the oncoming traffic lane, prompting a driver to call 9-1-1. Lehmberg pulled into a church parking lot, where a sheriff's deputy was parked and writing reports.

He described Lehmberg as "disheveled" and "disorganized," testifying that she grabbed at him and his flashlight. Malinger said Lehmberg told him she had not been drinking.

The DA had a bottle of vodka under her purse in the passenger seat, Malinger said.

Surveillance footage from the church parking lot showed Lehmberg fail field sobriety tests and put into handcuffs.

Deputy John Ribsam was in the patrol unit that took Lehmberg to central booking at Travis County Jail. Lehmbeg told him from the back seat she had two vodka sodas, he said. Ribsam testified Lehmberg "ordered him" to take off her hand cuffs because she was the DA, cussing at him to remove them.

As the District Attorney for the county that contains the state capitol, Lehmberg oversees the state's Public Integrity Unit, handling the prosecution of elected officials accused of corruption. After Lehmberg refused to resign, Texas Gov. Rick Perry used his line item veto to deny funding for the unit, on the grounds that someone publicly displaying such a lack of integrity should not be prosecuting other officials on public integrity charges. For this veto, Perry has now been indicted by a grand jury for abuse of his office.

Here are several videos showing Lehmberg's behavior when she was arrested and booked for DWI.

During her ride to jail, she told the driver, "You have just ruined my career.... My career is over." She's still in office and still empowered to go after Rick Perry and other Republicans. I guess she underestimated the willingness of Austinites to stand by a lesbian Democratic elected official, no matter how badly behaved.

When they meet next year, Texas legislators may want to consider whether they should continue to give the voters of Texas's most left-wing county the power to wage political war by prosecution against the conservatives their constitutents elect to serve in the State Capitol.


Andrew McCarthy says the Perry indictment is "politics as combat," similar to what was done to Tom DeLay (whose conviction was ultimately tossed out by a higher court), but Democrats no longer feel compelled to accuse a Republican official of an actual crime. Exercising legitimate executive authority -- vetoing a bill -- becomes a crime.

In the American Spectator, Dallas-based columnist William Murchison writes about the criminalization of political disagreement:

We may imagine if we like that a grand jury in one of America's most liberal counties concluded, without bias or rancor, that one of America's best-known conservative politicians illegally vetoed funding for that same county's "public integrity" unit, presided over by a DA convicted of drunk driving. It was illegal for the governor to use his legal power? That seems essentially the narrative the jury bought from [Special Prosecutor] McCrum.

Austin, where conservatives feel like Southern Baptist missionaries in western Iraq, doesn't cotton to a Republican governor who doesn't cotton to the hand-tooled, leather-bound liberal agenda. Nor can the capital city be described as grateful to Perry for his part over the last decade in keeping Texas safe from liberal policies. Democrats hold not one single statewide office in Texas. You can see from any political perspective how the very mention of Perry's name in Austin might bring on dyspepsia, if not angina.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from August 2014.

Politics: February 2014 is the previous archive.

Politics: September 2014 is the next archive.

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