The new children's movie Gnomeo & Juliet is of course an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic work, Romeo & Juliet. In this new world, the bickering enemies are red and blue garden gnomes. The blue garden belongs to the Montagues of 2B and the red Capulets live next door, at not 2B.
These are times that try nations' budgets. Even President Obama is talking seriously about budget cutting — not as seriously as the Republicans claim they are, but hey, give the guy credit. He has proposed trimming $100 billion from this year's spending level to produce a 2012 budget of a mere $3.7 trillion. He proposes reducing the deficit by $544 billion, so that next year' s budget will produce only $1.1 trillion in red ink. And the long-term budget projections are for an additional $7 trillion in public debt (now at more than $14 trillion) over the next 10 years. There, now. How's that for frugality? Eat your heart out, Calvin Coolidge.
Most Americans remember Newt Gingrich as being the former Speaker of the House who led America into the glories of conservative victory, and who guided the Republican Party to electoral success in its 1994 “Revolution,” which resulted in the economic boon of the Internet era of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Most do not associate Newt, however, with his true record, which speaks volumes about his underlying ideology and motivations. This ideology is especially evident in his 2007 book A Contract with the Earth, which he coauthored with environmentalist Terry Maple.
Most Americans assume that we've always had public schools, that they came with the Constitution and are an indispensable part of our democratic system. But nothing could be farther from the truth, as I discovered when I wrote my book, Is Public Education Necessary?, published in 1981.
Many say that objection to homosexual group GOProud’s participation in the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) convention is much ado about nothing. And while these critics aren’t necessarily proud of GOProud, they often say that the conservative ranks shouldn’t be creating unnecessary division. I would agree — but necessary division is a different matter.
We’ve spent a lot of time recently bashing “the worst President who ever lived.” (That’s the description of the current occupant of the White House by many of my readers.) Instead, this week let’s do something different. Let’s turn our attention to the President whose birthday is February 12 — the Great Emancipator, who is generally acclaimed as the greatest American President of them all. But was he, really?
Fifty-six years ago, in 1955 to be exact, the most significant book about American education was published and, with very good reason, caused quite a stir. It was written by Rudolf Flesch, who had come to America to escape the Nazis in Vienna, became highly fluent in English and got a Ph.D in English at Columbia University. The book was entitled Why Johnny Can’t Read. It became a best-seller and rankled the entire education establishment. In it Flesch explained why so many children in American schools were having such a difficult time learning to read. He wrote:
I recently had the pleasure of perusing a number of old magazines from the mid-nineteenth century to about 1918. They included such great monthly periodicals as Scribner’s, Harper’s, McClure’s, and others. All of them had well-written articles on a wide variety of subjects, reflecting the eclectic tastes of their readers. American readers wanted more than just entertainment. There was a voracious hunger for knowledge, and these magazines provided it, along with wonderful illustrations.
You Can Still Trust the Communists to Be Communists (Socialists and Progressives Too), by Fred C. Schwarz & David A. Noebel, Christian Anti-Communism Crusade: Manitou Springs, Colo., 2010, 370 pages, hardcover.