Category Archives: Education

Nancy MacLean

Is she the new Michael Bellesiles?

It’s very important to the Left to try to make the case that conservatives are racist, even with fake history, not only to smear them, but to cover up their own long history of racism, which continues even to this day.

[Wednesday-morning update]

Well, this is brutal, but fair:

Once I realized that this was the approach, the larger point became clear: Democracy in Chains is a work of speculative historical fiction. There is considerable research underpinning the speculation, and since MacLean is careful about footnoting only things that actually did happen she cannot be charged with fabricating facts. But most of the book, and all of its substantive conclusions, are idiosyncratic interpretations of the facts that she selects from a much larger record, as is common in the speculative-history genre. There is nothing wrong about speculation, of course, but there is nothing persuasive about it either, in terms of drawing reliable conclusions about history.

The reason that Democracy in Chains is remarkable is that it is such a great story. The evil mastermind of the secretive “Public Choice” movement, James M. Buchanan, was the winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. MacLean is able to decode the true meaning of his mostly rather bland, academic-ese writings, after which Buchanan achieves the status of a Bond villain. Buchanan sought nothing less than to bring down the America we all love, and replace it with a plutocracy. The account is rendered plausible by MacLean’s excellence as a writer.

The problem with history, of course, is that many narratives about a few cherry-picked events and documents are “plausible.” The task of the historian is to try to distinguish among plausible accounts “through careful sifting of evidence and respectful encounters with opposing points of view.” There is none of that here. Even a casual familiarity with the basic facts of James Buchanan’s life and scholarship, and of the growth and success of the Public Choice movement, reveal far simpler, and more plausible, explanations.

…MacLean’s thesis really does read like a plot line that Ian Fleming rejected for a Bond novel: “No, that’s nuts. Let’s go back to the idea where a nuclear missile blows up the moon and changes the orbit of the Earth, causing earthquakes that allow recovery of hidden oil reserves and diamonds. That’s more plausible.” Nevertheless, the narrative thread connecting the documents and discussions that MacLean has selected from the much larger and more equivocal record does indeed have this structure, and that is what we are evaluating.

It’s long, but worth the read, if you want to actually understand Buchanan, public choice and libertarianism.

Our Failed Political Class And “Elites”

Some links and thoughts from Instapundit:

We need to take a serious look at how we select these people. Our current method is not working.

Well, it’s working for them. For now.

[Update a few minutes later]

OK, Bob Mueller is looking worse and worse:

Four top lawyers hired by Mueller have contributed tens of thousands of dollars over the years to the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates, including former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump’s 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton.

One of the hires, Jeannie Rhee, also worked as a lawyer for the Clinton Foundation and helped persuade a federal judge to block a conservative activist’s attempts to force Bill and Hillary Clinton to answer questions under oath about operations of the family-run charity.

Campaign-finance reports show that Rhee gave Clinton the maximum contributions of $2,700 in 2015 and again last year to support her presidential campaign. She also donated $2,300 to Obama in 2008 and $2,500 in 2011. While still at the Justice Department, she gave $250 to the Democratic National Committee Services Corp.

Rhee also has contributed to a trio of Democratic senators: Mark Udall of New Mexico, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

Congress should ask him to testify about this.

The Campus Sex Police

Trump’s budget cuts funding for it. Good, except it will probably be restored by Congress. Devos needs to put the right people in place, and issue new guidance.

[Update a while later]

Related, sort of. Students are largely not learning to think in college. Because it’s more important to the universities to indoctrinate them, while taking their money and blighting their futures.

Public Speaking

This looks like a very useful development. I find this a strange attitude:

Let’s just remember that bilingual speakers are by definition fluent in two languages yet are too often deemed uneducated or undeserving of opportunity simply for sounding not quite like the people we see on TV.

As someone really only fluent in one language, I’m always impressed by people who are bi- or multi-lingual, even if they have an accent.

When I Learned To Read

the second time:

I do not remember what books she gave me, except that they were thick hardcovers. I believe one might have been a Thomas Hardy. It makes no difference. My English teacher was right, and I was wrong. Some books are better than others. And as a teen I had no way of judging for myself.

Without that bet, I would still have read serious literature when I had to, but I’m not sure how much I would have read because I chose to. Mrs. Dickey had taught me that there are things one ought to read. I put away the books of sports records and pulpy sci-fi. By the time I finished high school, I had read all of Shakespeare, the sonnets included.

When I started college, although I began as a physics major, with lots of work in math and computer science — you can’t entirely ungeek the geek — I was drawn increasingly to literature. In those days you could still find a jampacked course on Western Civilization and read the great books. (Dante haunts me still.) I devoured Greek drama, medieval philosophy, Russian absurdist stories, and the novels of Updike and Baldwin. In my spare time I prowled the stacks of the campus library, in search of authors of whom I had never heard. I was an addict whose craving could never be satisfied. I was finally in the oasis after a lifetime in the desert.

I read a lot of SF when I was a kid, but I read a lot of other things, too. You can’t be a good writer if you haven’t read a lot (I’ve always wondered where Mark Twain got access to his education).

[Update]

Sorry, link fixed…