Friday, August 5, 2011

Plains Pops: Political Apostate Edition

Diane Ravitch, an education historian who worked served in the George H. W. Bush administration and worked for the creation of national standards that may have become the basis for NCLB is now a vocal NCLB and RTTT opponent.  Apparently, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan learned how deal with political opponents in Chicago where he served before taking his current post.  I suppose he could be communing with the ghost of Richard Nixon.  From this Mike Klonsky post,
Suggestion for journalists, especially ed writers: Ask Secretary Duncan or his press guys Cunningham or Hamilton about DOE staffers assigned to the secret Ravitch Group. Word from dept. insiders is that such a group has been meeting regularly.
Is Duncan really spending badly-needed  (especially after the Obama/Boehner debt deal) funds to have this relatively large group of DOE staffers strategize how to undercut criticism from Diane Ravitch?
Are they really so worried about DR's criticisms of DOE policy that they're spending their time trying to dig up personal dirt on Diane to feed Ravitch debators and detractors like Michelle Rhee, David Brooks and Jonathan Alter their lines? Maybe even ask some of the folks over there at Politico or Dropout Nation. They might know something.
Maybe the situation doesn't rise to an "Enemies List" or Nixon's plumbers, but it does fit a disturbing pattern.

Another political apostate David Frum, a former George Bush speech writer, asked a provocative rhetorical question a couple of days ago.
In February 1982, Susan Sontag made a fierce challenge to a left-wing audience gathered at New York’s Town Hall:
Imagine, if you will, someone who read only the Reader’s Digest between 1950 and 1970, and someone in the same period who read only The Nation or The New Statesman. Which reader would have been better informed about the realities of Communism? The answer, I think, should give us pause. Can it be that our enemies were right? . . . .
If I can’t follow where most of my friends have gone, it is because I keep hearing Susan Sontag’s question in my ears. Or rather, a revised and updated version of that question:
Imagine, if you will, someone who read only the Wall Street Journal editorial page between 2000 and 2011, and someone in the same period who read only the collected columns of Paul Krugman. Which reader would have been better informed about the realities of the current economic crisis? The answer, I think, should give us pause. Can it be that our enemies were right? [emphasis in original]
Today, Michael Gerson, another former George W. Bush speech writer and policy adviser, observes that "Two parties pray to the same God, but different economists," a provocative column in the Washington Post examines the positions of the politically liberal A Circle of Protection and the conservative Christians for a Sustainable Economy (CASE).  Gerseth asserts that both groups provide valid correctives to the logical extremes of the other, but he comes to a decidedly un-Republican conclusion.
The arguments of the Circle and CASE both have merit. But the Circle’s approach is more urgent. Public spending on poverty and global health programs is a sliver of discretionary spending and essentially irrelevant to America’s long-term debt. A political argument giving equal weight to cuts in poverty programs and reductions in entitlement spending is uninformed about the nature of the budget crisis, which is largely a health-entitlement crisis. A simplistic philosophy of “shared sacrifice,” focused mainly on cuts in discretionary spending, requires disproportionate sacrifices of the most vulnerable. If religious people do not make this case, it is difficult to determine what distinctive message they offer.
If Bill Kristol starts advocating cutting back on military adventuring, I know the following will soon occur.

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