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Special Report

Charter Schools: The New White Ruling Class?

By 5.21.15

Raleigh, N.C.

Bereft of arguments to discredit charter schools on their merits, education bureaucrats are resorting to one of their favorite go-to arguments in a jam—accuse the opposition of racism and re-segregation.

Although this renewed offensive is unfolding on a national scale, North Carolina has become an epicenter for the conflict, as school-choice advocates and education establishment interests cross swords. The battle came to a head recently when a Duke University study claimed that charter schools don’t live up to their promise of attracting and retaining minority students.

The Hillary Watch

Two Kinds of Bribes

By 5.21.15

Francis Bacon, the essayist, great philosopher, and Lord Chancellor of England under King James I, when impeached by the House of Commons for taking bribes as a judge, confessed to his crimes but offered this mitigating explanation: “Yes, I took bribes, but I didn’t let them influence my decision.” 

Now I suppose there might be a society in which it is customary for both plaintiff and defendant to make “gifts” to the judge; and if the gifts are of equal value, the judge will have no choice but to make a judgment based on the merits of the case. In that situation, would we really want to say that the gifts constitute a bribe?

I ask this question, not as a merely academic exercise, but as a practical suggestion to our very likely next President of the United States, Hillary Clinton. She might wish to say, “Yes, I took bribes — but they weren’t really bribes because they didn’t influence my decisions. The only thing that ever did, or ever will, influence my decisions is my concern for the well-being of the American people — especially the little people, who unlike Bill and me are not rich.”

Economics

California Gasoline Prices: The Damage Done

By 5.21.15

Currently the average price of regular gasoline in California is $3.81 per gallon. That is $1.11 above the national average ($2.70). What are the reasons for this 40 percent higher price? There’s a witch’s brew of factors, but in a nutshell it boils down to the fact that California’s Democrat politicians have taken on the responsibility of saving the planet. That, of course, is a quixotic endeavor. Californians are wasting billions of dollars and getting nothing in return.

Individually California consumers spend about sixteen dollars more than necessary each time they fill their gas tanks or about $600 a year on average. Collectively California consumers purchase 14 billion gallons of gasoline each year. In other words, we’re spending $15 billion a year more than what we would if gasoline prices equaled the national average. The benefit-cost ratio of those expenditures is as close to zero as you can get.

Fuel costs are a major budget item for many California businesses. High gasoline and diesel prices have impacts beyond what can be seen at the pump.

Buy the Book

Kirsten Powers’ Profile in Courage

By 5.21.15

This is a book that had to be written — by a liberal. It won’t help Kirsten Powers for a conservative to say this, either. But in writing The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech Ms. Powers has done a service to liberals — if they even understand her significant contribution, which is doubtful. She is a profile in courage for simply writing the book — which in itself is a sad comment on the state of free speech in America. Once upon a time in America there would never have been a need for this book. The very fact that Powers felt the need — correctly so — to write it speaks volumes.

A Further Perspective

Megyn Kelly Asked the Wrong Question

By 5.21.15

For more than a week now, political pundits have been obsessing over how Jeb Bush answered one question from Megyn Kelly. More precisely, they’ve been obsessing over how Jeb Bush answered a question that Megyn Kelly didn’t ask.

Kelly asked, “Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion [of Iraq]?” But Bush answered the question, “Based on what your brother and other political leaders thought they knew at the time, would you have sought the invasion of Iraq?”

Politicians frequently answer questions they aren’t asked in order to avoid the questions they actually are; however, in this case Bush appeared to genuinely misunderstand the question. Oddly, there was no follow-up from Megyn Kelly pointing out to Governor Bush that he’d answered the wrong question, which may have cleared things up right there.

My Very Own Raccoon Woodstock

By 5.21.15

If you are ever the victim of a home invasion, here’s some advice: don’t kill the intruder unless he or she is a human being. If the intruder is an animal — in particular an animal with more than two but fewer than six legs — odds are that anything you do to protect your family and property will be against the law.

That is the best this writer has been able to figure out while trying to rid a suburban home of some squatters from the natural world.

The skein of local, state, and federal laws governing removal and disposal of wild creatures is, like most legal code, beyond the grasp of the non-specialist. And my little patch of heaven in the Washington Beltway is a way station for a variety of snakes, deer, opossums, and other critters with an apparent instinct for working the law to their own advantage. Most importantly, it’s a pit stop for a great number of raccoons, those furry Hamburglar lookalikes celebrated in stories, songs, and hats.

The Hillary Watch

Hillary’s Holdout Is Halted

By 5.20.15

On Monday, the State Department said it might take until January 2016 for the agency to release to the public Hillary Clinton’s official secretary of state emails. Yesterday, a federal judge slapped down that plan and gave State a week to provide a plan for the ongoing “rolling” release of those emails — which Hillary’s staff gave to the government on paper, not in electronic form, in a dozen large boxes, creating a long, boring job for a handful of workers at Foggy Bottom.

Later on Tuesday, amidst the latest news of the simmering email scandal, Fox News reporter Ed Henry shouted his frustration at Mrs. Clinton not having taken a question from a reporter for nearly a month. Mr. Henry later explained that “We had been through one of these campaign events after another, getting monotonous, one city after another. Roundtables. All candidates, Democrats and Republicans, are able to do their talking points, but we’ve gone 27, 28 days without a question. That’s why I just jumped in.”

Political Hay

Not Smart to Make the NSA Go Dark

By 5.20.15

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., isn’t worried that, absent a Senate vote, key provisions of the Patriot Act are slated to sunset May 31. The GOP presidential hopeful told Meet the Press Sunday that a federal appeals court found the data-gathering authorized under the Patriot Act’s Section 215 is unconstitutional, “so really, it ought to stop.” He continued: “I don’t want to replace it with another system. I really think that we could get along with the Constitution just fine.”

Paul spoke to the same effect during a recent trip to San Francisco. He even has threatened a filibuster, if needed, to make the Patriot Act’s data collection program go dark.

The Energy Spectator

Russia Pushes Western Anti-Fracking Movement

By 5.20.15

Few things scare Vladimir Putin, the Russian head of state who routinely poses with his shirt off, flies airplanes to douse the fires threatening the lives of millions of Russians, shoots Siberian tigers with tranquilizer guns, and still finds time to steal Super Bowl rings. However, there is one thing the leader of Russia, an 8th degree black belt, actually fears: hydraulic fracturing.

The Hillary Watch

It Takes a Pillage

By 5.20.15

John sells his soul to the Devil. The price is fifty thousand dollars a week for the next four weeks. The first week the Devil shows up two days late and John complains.

The response is flippant.  “Hey, I’m the Devil.  I don’t do punctuality.”

The second week he shows up with only forty-nine thousand and John gets back to griping.  The response:  “I am the Devil.  I don’t do accuracy.”  The third week he comes with cash that is all crumpled and sticky. “I am the Devil. I don’t do cleanliness.”

When the final week rolls around the Devil gets his act together.  He shows up on time with a crisp $100,000 bill.  He hands it to John and asks for change.

“Sorry,” John replies, pocketing the bill.  “I am a sellout.  I don’t do honesty.”

Poor Devil, his technique is so outdated.  He needs to learn from the real masters, the Clintons. Listen closely to the defense offered up by Hillary for all the cash swallowed up by the family “foundation” and you will see how souls can be corrupted without paying a penny. In fact they will pay you for the honor.

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