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Brent Scowcroft, RIP

August 7, 2020

The death of Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft closes an interesting chapter in American foreign policy that featured the success of a Republican “war Party” over the ministrations of a realist foreign policy.

On one side was Brent Scowcroft, Henry Kissinger and President George H. W. Bush and on the other Michael Gerson, Paul Wolfowitz and President George W. Bush.

There are limits placed on great powers and when violated reality imposes penalties.

Committed to a modern form of Wilsonian democratic idealism, George W. Bush burst those limits to a breaking point and destroyed the balance of power in the Middle East by invading Iraq.

Brent Scowcroft, a national security professional who respected those limits, spoke openly against that invasion. Always counseling restraint, Scowcroft guided our defense of Kuwait by repelling Saddam Hussein even while allowing him to limp back to Iraq.

For all his evil intent, Iraq under Saddam was a useful counter to Iran. After the loss of 130,000 civilian lives at a cost of $3 trillion, for all his unnecessary bluster, President Trump has honored his commitment to reduce our troop levels in that region.

Unfortunately, none as sagacious an advisor as Brent Scowcroft has taken his place.

After Biden?

August 7, 2020

After Biden?

Crippled by a Pandemic and an economy careening into depression, all eyes are on Congressional negotiations. Virtually unnoticed are lines of families waiting for food, millions unable to make rent and vast dislocations in the familiar ways Americans make do in a service economy.

Public schools organized to function under familiar conditions attempt to grapple with unknown consequences of a virus that infects even the young.

Revenue from taxation that supports functioning of the fifty States is drying up and economic activity is slowing.

If Donald Trump’s luck holds out, Joe Biden will win election but then face historic economic decline seen only twice in more than a hundred years.

After America’s entry into World War I ate up 65,000 combatants, the flu epidemic followed and the Great Depression changed how government was organized and tempered the optimism of Americans.

The coalition moving Biden to victory has no reality-based skills and is likely to drive Americans to look for relief in extra-Constitutional ways that Biden and his Vice President will not surmount.

The question now is “after Biden, what?”

 

 

 

Smaller is better

August 5, 2020

Smaller is Better

In grades 1-8, I attended a Lutheran parish school composed of three rooms, three teachers and a principal.

If we had been hit by a viral pandemic, we could have continued with minor disruptions. After all, that is how we adjusted to chicken pox, measles and mumps.

Four years later, my high school in a different city and state graduated 1,125 students.  Had we been hit by a viral pandemic; continued instruction would have been severely disrupted.

We might have continued with online classes, but only if a system for online instruction had been developed and tested several years before.

That is the dilemma facing public education in the United States today and there are only two solutions:

  • Reduce the size of each school for grades 1-8 to 250 students and assign 1 teacher per 25 students. That means a return to the neighborhood school and the end of busing!
  • Immediately develop and test online courses for grades 9-12 and continue in-class instruction until results for online courses are satisfactory.

That runs counter to how we have organized public education into large and extensive buildings with multiple classrooms.

In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, from here until this virus is beaten, smaller is better.

 

The President Attacks Higher ED

August 1, 2020

President Trump’s limited administrative ability was displayed in a report in NewsMax on July 23.

An alert Tauren Dyson reports that the President Tweeted thirteen days earlier that Leftist domination of American colleges calls into question the legitimacy of their tax exempt status.

Most American colleges are incorporated as non-profit colleges and are granted tax exemption as 501(c)(3) organizations by the Internal Revenue Service. If they desire to engage in political advocacy, they must make a (c)(4) registration and donations to the (c)(4) are not tax exempt.

When I was President of a for-profit university, I published in the Yorktown Patriot a blistering, unsigned, attack on U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, (D-IL), for leading President Obama’s attacks on for-profit education. A staff member for the Senator called to ask who the author of that attack was.

If my university were a tax exempt non-profit, Sen. Durbin could have sought removal of that tax exemption.

So, President Trump is not the first politician to seek retaliation by revoking a tax exemption.

But our President Trunp believes that he can run the U.S. government as if it were a business.

The government of the United States is not a business; it is an administrative state that reflects the interests of the civil servants in government agencies who head them. “They” will not comply with policies of elected officials unless the President “knocks heads.”

In order to do that, the President must have a personnel policy that selects qualified executives.  President Trump’s personnel policy is non-existent and most appointments he has made are uninformed on a good day and terrible most other days.

That explains why his Education Department is engaged in protecting the Education Establishment.

The President controls the U.S. Department of Education through his appointees. If he had any prior government experience, he would know that he can direct that Department to move against the politicization of higher education by asking Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, her Deputy, former General Mitchell Zais or his Deputy, Diane Auer Jones, to rescind recognition of accreditation agencies that do not maintain a “Standard” of non-partisan activity.

Why hasn’t his White House staff recommended that in addition to requesting Treasury action, the President should call for the Education Department to act in tandem with Treasury?

More important is the question why his appointees, DeVos, Zais and Auer Jones. are complicit in protecting the higher education Cartel?

Another opportunity to reform higher education has been lost.