Tag Archives: Democratic Party (United States)

Why Are Republicans Backing Betsy DeVos?

English: The Lyndon B. Johnson Building, headq...
The Lyndon B. Johnson Building, headquarters of the United States Department of Education in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

US president Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, faces a great deal of opposition to her confirmation. Most of that opposition comes from Democratic politicians and Democratic organizations. But if both parties stuck to their stated principles and goals, the Senate would vote 100-0 against her nomination.

Democratic opposition is easy to understand. The Department of Education is a major power center for the party. It employs 4,400 bureaucrats and disposes of a $68 billion budget. That budget is deceptively small. Although federal funds represent only about 8% of national government education spending, those funds come with strings attached allowing DoE (and by extension the National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union and a key Democratic constituency) to exert considerable control over every school district in America.

DeVos supports for-profit charter schools which compete with failing regular government schools for tax dollars. She also supports “voucher” programs which allow parents to use tax dollars to send their children to private schools. To groups like NEA, her nomination is the equivalent of waving a crucifix at a vampire. No wonder the Democrats hate her.

Republicans, on the other hand, have been promising to eliminate the Department of Education since 1980, the year it commenced operations. Somehow, though, they never seem to get around to it, even when they have complete control of the federal government and can do anything they like.

Republicans controlled the House, the Senate and the White House for four years during the administration of George W. Bush, and at the end of that the Department of Education still existed.

Now they control the House, the Senate and the White House again, and instead of consigning DoE to the dustbin of history as promised, they’re entertaining  the nomination of a new secretary to head the department.

The truth is that Republicans like the idea of federal meddling in education (something authorized nowhere in the US Constitution) as much as Democrats do. Their preferred form of interference is, if anything, even more pernicious than the NEA’s “keep our tax-funded combination daycare centers/juvenile prisons just like they are, only more money, please” model.

“Voucher” programs and “charter schools” and other Republican schemes don’t get the government out of your childrens’ education. They just extend government regulation into “private” education and direct tax dollars to companies operated by Republican politicians’ cronies instead of to labor unions operated by Democratic politicians’ cronies.

What, did you think a voucher would let you send your kid to a school that doesn’t meet government educrats’ “standards” and “guidelines?” Silly parent! Real private schools are for rich folks like Betsy DeVos!

There’s only one way to make American education great again: Complete separation of school and state.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Politics as Usual: Hillary Clinton “Takes Responsibility”

Hillary Clinton in Hampton, NH
Hillary Clinton in Hampton, NH (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In politics, words tend to take on double meanings — one for politicians, another for the rest of us. Nowhere is this more true than with respect to the word “responsibility.”

The latest example: Hillary Clinton’s latest statement on her illegal use of a private email server for US State Department business when she headed that department. “I take responsibility for that decision,” Clinton says, betwixt and between claims that she didn’t break the law, that if she did break the law it’s no big deal, and that it really was just a matter of not making “the best choice.”

Here’s how “responsibility” works:

If you or I “take responsibility” for a purchase, we pay the bill or bad things happen. Maybe we get sued. At the very least, our credit ratings take a hit.

If you or I “take responsibility” for a crime, we go to court, plead guilty, and get sentenced by a judge.

When a politician “takes responsibility” for something, he or she is saying something very different: “OK, I ‘took responsibility’ — now let’s move along,  forget all about it, and never, ever, ever suggest that I should face any actual consequences for my actions.”

For example, in 1993 US Attorney General Janet Reno and US President Bill Clinton took turns “taking responsibility” for the FBI’s massacre of 76 men, women and children at a church facility outside of Waco, Texas.

Neither Reno nor Clinton resigned from office in disgrace. In fact, Clinton finished his term and was re-elected, while Reno went on to become the second longest-serving Attorney General in US history.

Neither Reno nor Clinton faced criminal charges or impeachment over the affair. Clinton was later impeached for lying about an affair with an intern. But arson resulting in 76 deaths? Hey, no big deal. They “took responsibility,” right?

So here, 22 years later, comes that other Clinton. She wants to become — in fact, she she considers herself entitled to become — President of the United States. Pursuant to which she has graciously, if belatedly, agreed to mouth the words “I take responsibility,” as part of a script in which your role and mine is to reward that statement by shutting up and getting out of her way.

Well, maybe. Then again, maybe the rest of us bit part actors will flub our lines in USA Network’s presentation of “The Hillary Clinton Story.”

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


In 2016, Let’s Have Real Presidential Debates

RGBStock.com Vote Pencil

Every four years, the Commission on Presidential Debates puts on a series of campaign commercials disguised as presidential and vice-presidential debates.

The CPD is, in theory, a non-profit organization “established in 1987 to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners.”

But the CPD is really just a scam the Republican and Democratic Parties use to funnel illegally large “in kind” campaign donations, in the form of tens of millions of dollars’ worth of free media exposure, exclusively to their own candidates.

A real non-partisan, non-profit debate organization would use objective criteria for deciding which candidates may participate in debates. The CPD continuously refines its criteria with an eye toward ensuring  that no third party or independent candidates qualify for a microphone at a CPD “debate.”

Billionaire independent/Reform Party candidate Ross Perot managed to jump through their hoops in 1992, afterward polling 19% in the general election. CPD excluded him in 1996, cutting his vote percentage down to 8%. Since then, CPD has successfully excluded additional candidates from their Democrat/Republican campaign infomercials.

Libertarians aren’t fans of laws limiting the people’s ability to give their money — as much of it as they want — to the candidates they support. But if there are going to be such rules, they should apply across the board.

That’s why the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, both parties’ 2012 presidential and vice-presidential candidates, and 2012 Justice Party presidential nominee Rocky Anderson are suing CPD. The Our America Initiative, headed up by 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson, is coordinating the legal challenge.

The relief the plaintiffs seek is simple: That if the CPD is going to pretend to be a non-profit, non-partisan debate organization, it be required to start acting like one. Instead of giving the Republicans and Democrats a free series of campaign infomercials, CPD  must put on real debates,  open to all candidates who are legally qualified for the office they seek and whose names appear on enough state ballots for them to hypothetically win the election.

Would victory in this suit make a real difference for third party and independent candidates? Absolutely. Exposure in the debates might or might not put Libertarians or Greens over the top, but it would at least expose the American public to the real panoply of choices instead of to one pre-selected pair.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.