Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Sunday, May 30, 2010

One Community, Two Schools, Two Outcomes

The United States is blessed with a huge number of schools, but not all students will leave their schools with a good education. That road to education is filled with any number of variables, and it's wise of compare schools and their success rates, especially when those schools are in the same or similar neighborhoods. Miriam Jordan writes in today's Wall Street Journal about one of those comparisons. She traces the divergent high school experiences of two students, both from the same poor Hispanic neighborhood in Oklahoma City. One student is bound for the University of Oklahoma; the other has no plans for the immediate future. The big difference in the lives of these students is the high school they attended. This article leaves no doubt that a few wise choices in any community school system can just about guarantee a positive outcome for students.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Will History Repeat Itself?

Classicist and military historian, Victor Davis Hanson, raises this interesting question in reference to Germany, a nation unified for twenty years and recognized as the economic engine of a struggling European Union. This is where we are today in Hanson's view:

. . . instead of the old deadly inter-European rivalry, for a while a continental culture did indeed emerge. Prosperous Europeans from the Mediterranean to the Baltic embraced socialism, utopianism abroad, childlessness, agnosticism, and a fashionable anti-Americanism, ensuring no more 19th-century nationalism or 20th-century wars. At least all that was what we were lectured about for the last twenty years by European chauvinists and dreamy American liberals.
Above, he alludes to a future when the fluffy world of cultural equivalence bumps into economic reality. The outcome may not be very pretty for the world community as it moves away from the super power dominance of the United States. History types will enjoy this post. Those who don't often dwell with the great chains of circumstance may want to take heed.

My thanks to George Moneo at Babalu for the tip.

Late Friday Afternoon Holiday Weekend White House Bad News Dump

Friends, it's another bad news dump at the White House. It's a tried and true technique fondly used by every administration. This time it's the Sestak "they offered me a job to drop out of the campaign" story. OTR really doesn't know if this one has legs, but there's plenty of smoke in the air, especially after Obama's luncheon with Clinton yesterday. I wonder what they talked about? Of course, you have heard today's early news that Clinton made the offer to Sestak.

UPDATE: The word "cover up" is getting louder. Maybe Karl Rove had this nailed earlier in the day.

Tough week at the White House, I'd say. Between Setstak, the stock market sell off, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the 1200 unarmed National Guard troops on the U.S. - Mexico border for "drug interdiction," a long weekend seems more than overdue. Unfortunately, for the Hope and Change believers, these stories will not go away. This administration reminds me of standing in a room full of ping pong balls mounted on mouse traps about three seconds after someone tossed the first ball. In other words, there's a lot more chaos on the way.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bob Dylan's Birthday

My birthday list - for blogging purposes - has about 150 entries but Dylan isn't one of them. It's the voice. And, yes, he is a popular culture icon who certainly deserves some notice on the day he turns 69. Thanks to Scott Johnson (Powerline), today's event has come to OTR's attention, and he is happy to pass it on to his few and far between readers. As always, Johnson does have a nice write-up that you can read here.

Furthermore, Johnson has provided us with a link to an important revelation as well. It is the reference to John Husock's 2005 City Journal article on Pete Seeger. As I have stated before on this blog, I believe many people underestimate to profound significance that popular culture has on the course of American history and the American experience. Husock's article could be the best defense of the study of popular culture that I have ever encountered. It is a superb demonstration of the nexus of music, political philosophy, behavioral science, and the course of history. If you like what you're hearing, it is a "must read."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Extremism Defined

Sometimes the smaller stories one finds well off the front page really provide us with meaningful definitions of the complex world around us. William Katz (Urgent Agenda) posted one of those stories today about a United Nations effort to bring happiness to children living in Gaza. The old adage, "no good deed goes unpunished," comes to mind. The story also opens a perceptive psychological window on extreme behavior and the challenge it presents to the West.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Senate Toss-Up In The Making?

Here is an updated assessment of the 2010 Senate elections by Larry Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.

The illustration: Senator Jack S. Phogbound, from the pen of the great American cartoonist, Al Capp (1909-1979)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lena Horne (1917-2010)

An American treasure passed away yesterday, leaving us to mourn and the heavens rejoicing with her song. On stage and in real life, Lena Horne was class personified. Read the details of her near seventy year career here in her NYT obituary. In 1941, "Stormy Weather," the song that became her signature also propelled her on the road to international stardom. She was quality personified. See and hear for yourself:

Oh that we could have singers - and songwriters - of that quality today.

UPDATE: Just found this two-part profile posted on YouTube a few days ago. Well worth you time.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The U.S. Constitution: A Historic Beacon For New Generations

I think all of us would accept the premise that the earth and the world upon it belong to living generations. It is a vast engine and the only permanence it brings is complex interaction accompanied by change. The Founding Fathers recognized this and made accommodations for it in their new republic. As such, the United States abides by the rule of law derived from its constitution as interpreted by the senior jurists of its highest court. The latest issue (May 17) of National Review is dedicated to the U.S. Constitution, its evolution over the past two centuries, and recommendations on restoring and ensuring its traditionalism. I think it's another landmark for the magazine and deserving of your attention. Unfortunately, it's not available free on line - got to pay those bills - although some articles may appear at NRO in the future. You can review the contents and purchase the May 17 issue here for $5. Better yet, head to your local library for a free read. If your politics is right of center and political history is an interest, this issue is an essential. I think we'll be hearing more about its contents for months to come. Once again, National Review proves it is an exceptional source for thoughtful interpretation of the American experience.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sugar: Symbolic Industry Of Cuba In Shambles

Sugar production throughout the Caribbean has dropped in the last few years, but the industry in Cuba appears to be a disaster. It's the worst harvest in 105 years. Though there are plenty of factors driving the market, a report by Cuban officials places much of the blame on internal issues. Babalu's Val Prieto has a comment and link here.