American Elephants

What Did the Founders Mean By Advice and Consent?” by The Elephant's Child

“The Constitution of the United States of America, Article.II., Section . 2. …(First part makes the President Commander in Chief, require reports from officers in executive departments, and power to grant pardons)…He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors,other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law…”

Here’s my question: What did the founders intend by “Advice and Consent of the Senate?” Republicans in the Senate usually seem to think that a president should have whoever he has picked unless — what? Granted, the Republicans are in the minority, but does the two-thirds requirement not apply to appointments? Democrats filibustered Robert Bork, not because he was unqualified— for he was undoubtedly one of the most qualified men ever appointed— but because he was conservative. Same thing when George W. Bush appointed John Bolton Ambassador to the U.N. Bush reappointed him during a recess, and he was a wonderfully effective ambassador.

So why have Republicans in the Senate consented to the appointment of President Obama’s nominees? Worst bunch of nominees I can remember, singularly unqualified, of radical leanings, (which is why they were appointed), and sure to damage the country.  It’s hard to pick out just one or two who should be filibustered., or who is the worst.  Rand Paul’s filibuster was greatly admired, but essentially just getting the Attorney General to back down in his language, and trivial in the long run.

I understand that Republicans are a minority of 47 to the Democrats’ 53, with two Independents. Were the Founders serious about Advice and Consent? Did they not expect it to be taken seriously and used to rid us of poor nominees?


The K-12 Implosion: by The Elephant's Child

This video is based on Instapundit Glenn Reynolds Encounter broadside by the same name. Our schools are not doing a good job. That is hardly news, it’s been going on for years, but it seems to be getting worse. We know we don’t fare well in international comparisons. Our schools are far more concerned with absurd political correctness than with drilling the basics of reading and math into small heads.

Private schools seem to do a better job — but think about it— if they don’t, families won’t pay the tuition. And teachers’ unions, proclaiming “it’s for the children,” fight tooth and nail to prevent any real innovation. As one national head of the teacher’s union remarked, ‘when the kids start paying dues, we’ll be for the kids.’ (paraphrased)

So why can’t we learn from the countries who are doing so much better than we are? Why has the left been so intent on dumbing down the schools? Why do they get so excited over a kid eating his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun (when he was trying to make it into a mountain)? It’s because our public schools have become a giant bureaucracy. There are more administrators than teachers. There are more rules than there are children. We put too much emphasis on the wrong things. The left keeps trying to indoctrinate our kids. Teachers who enter the field full of passion lose the passion all too soon. Parents who home school are getting better results than the public schools. Kids are graduating from high school who cannot read.

School choice seems to be the best answer we currently have — just get them out of the public schools. Then what? See Glenn Reynolds’ The Higher Education Bubble as well.

ADDENDUM: How about this one? “In Corpus Christi Texas, Kara Sands noticed a question on her son’s fifth-grade test “Why might the United States be the target of terrorism?” Possible answers were: (A) Other people just don’t like Americans (B) Decisions we made in the United States have had negative effects on people elsewhere (C) Terrorists hate everyone, (D) None of the above.  The “correct” answer was (B) although any other choice might have been closer to the truth.  What happened next?

A Big Victory for School Choice, and For the Kids. by The Elephant's Child

Indiana has had one of the country’s largest and most inclusive school voucher programs. Naturally, the teachers’ unions objected. The Indiana Supreme Court ruled unanimously yesterday in Meredith v. Pence that the Choice Scholarship Program (CSP) is constitutional. This is a great victory for the families currently participating in the program and for the 600,000 children who are now eligible to receive scholarships to attend a private school that meets their unique learning needs. The court sided 5-0 with educational freedom. The Institute for Justice notes that:

the unions’ legal claims focused on two types of constitutional provisions that are common in most other state constitutions: 1) provisions requiring that states provide a “general and uniform” system of public education; and 2) provisions forbidding state support of religion.

The court answered the provision prohibiting state support of religion:

the unions’ legal claims focused on two types of constitutional provisions that are common in most other state constitutions: 1) provisions requiring that states provide a “general and uniform” system of public education; and 2) provisions forbidding state support of religion.

The Indiana ruling ends the challenge to the voucher program in the state, but also is an important victory for school choice, and “solidifies the growing body of case law supporting school choice and exposes the flaws in the teachers’ unions’ favorite legal claims.

The court’s declaration the CSP reflects “the private, independent choice of the parents’ perfectly encapsulates the concept of school choice. It builds on the notion that public education doesn’t have to mean government-run schools. School choice is about funding children, not institutions, and allowing children to take their share of funding to an educational environment that meets their unique learning needs.

History, Told by a Participant. An Explanation of the Cold War. by The Elephant's Child

Here is a fascinating take on Grenada, Poland and the Pope — and the history of the Cold War. This is from a lecture Herbert Meyer recently gave to the Young Americans Foundation on the occasion of the 100th birthday of William Casey, Ronald Reagan’s extraordinary CIA director. I was so interested in this (he’s a good storyteller) that I wish I had been there to hear the whole speech. And the next segment is equally good.  So who is Herb Meyer?

Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. In these positions, he managed production of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimates and other top-secret projections for the President and his national security advisers. Mr. Meyer is widely credited with being the first U.S. Government official to forecast the Soviet Union’s collapse — a forecast for which he later was awarded the U.S. National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, which is the Intelligence Community’s highest honor.

Steven Hayward has posted these three videos over at Powerline, and his comments are certainly worth reading in their entirety. We are so apt to have little knowledge or understanding of fairly recent history, because we have always to a certain extent been low-information voters. I don’t use the term in a pejorative way. We are all busy our lives and work and activities and keeping up with news, politics and world affairs is why we elect representatives to do it for us, as they make the laws that will govern our lives. (Our hope is that they will do a better job of it than we do. Uh huh). But how many, even of those who lived through it, have any real understanding of the Cold War?  Steven Hayward said:


Bill Casey

American Cold War policy might be said to have begun with the famous “Long Telegram” from George (“Mr. X”) Kennan, and then NSC 68, the equally important strategy document written largely by Paul Nitze.  Both of these documents routinely find their way into nearly every history of the Cold War that has ever been published.

But a third document deserves to take its place next to Kennan’s “Sources of Soviet Conduct” and Nitze’s NSC 68: Herbert Meyer’s November 1983 memo to Casey (and Reagan) on “Why the World Is So Dangerous.” ¹ It was in this remarkable document that Meyer predicted that the United States under Reagan was on its way to winning the Cold War, and why.  His analysis of what was going to happen in the USSR (before Gorbachev, remember) was dead on.  The memo was later leaked in an attempt to embarrass Casey and Meyer (and Reagan, of course), but we can see who ended up embarrassed.  The CIA bureaucracy sniped at Meyer, but Casey told Meyer: “Not to worry.  You have two important fans and allies.  Me, and the president.”

Meyer’s description of Casey explaining why being a member of the Soviet Politburo in the 1980s was “not a lot of fun.”

¹ Herb Meyer’s memo is hard to read. It says “OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible.” Which is an understatement. But it’s kind of interesting to take run-together words apart and translate where they are missing.  Worthwhile anyway.

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