Monday, March 19, 2007

The Daily Top Five: March 19, 2007

1. This is actually from yesterday, but the Washington Post carried a profile of the attorney who argued and won the overturning of the DC gun ban law. Interestingly enough, he has never owned a gun and doesn't believe he ever will. Robert A. Levy is a former investment banker turned lawyer/Cato Institute fellow whose suit was entirely his project with the help of a public interest lawyer.
It was his idea, his project, his philosophical mission to mount a legal challenge to the city's "draconian" gun restrictions, which are among the toughest in the nation. The statute offends his libertarian principles, Levy said. And it is entirely his money behind the lawsuit that led a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to strike down the statute this month, a ruling that stunned D.C. officials and gun-control advocates. The city said it will appeal the decision.

Levy, who moved to Florida two years ago, explained in an interview why he initiated the case, with Cato's blessing; why he has rejected offers of financial help, insisting on footing the bills himself; how he and a co-counsel searched for and vetted potential plaintiffs, finally settling on a diverse group of six people; and why he thinks letting D.C. residents keep loaded guns in their homes would not make the city a more dangerous place.

"By the way, I'm not a member of any of those pro-gun groups," he said. "I don't travel in those circles. My interest is in vindicating the Constitution."
Interesting profile.

2. Betsy Newmark has an interesting story out of Washington State about ACORN and more potential voter regristration fraud. Following in the steps of the U.S. Attorney firings, there have been charges that the dismissals were related to failure to investigate voter fraud. If King County is pursuing an investigation, why didn't the U.S. Attorney? One wonders if the firing can still be considered "poitically motivated?"

3. The story of the movement of the American college to the left and toward a liberal indoctrination is the subject of a number of pieces over the weekend. Philip Mella talks about the matter in this post, in which he writes:
Therefore, when a student, whether it's one who is merely challenging assumptions or is wont to question conclusions, raises fundamental counterarguments, it's the rough equivalent of the heresy that led hundreds of Christians to the stake or gallows. There is, without question, an almost sacrosanct prohibition against questioning the most untouchable tenants of modern liberalism as well as the curious blueprint that underlies its intellectually arrogant assumptions.

Fortunately, we are now witnessing a kind of rebellion, led by the likes of intellectual pioneers such as Mr. Horowitz, and many parents of conservative children who learn about the Inquisition-like atmosphere of many college classrooms, have become instant activists to the cause. In time we can only pray that true intellectual diversity supplants the ersatz model currently entrenched, that is nothing more than a faithful simulacrum of the modern liberal sensibility, because then we can be nominally assured that our children are being exposed to the great ideas and theories that formed our rich Western legacy of thought.
Also this weekend, Sean Hannity's America carried a brief interview with Evan Coyne Maloney, the independent filmmaker behind "Indoctrination U." Hot Air has the link and the trailer to the movie can be seen here.

Michale Barone, as always brilliant, has a contribution on the score here, asking, Why do educated people always Blame America first?
Where does this default assumption come from? And why is it so prevalent among our affluent educated class (which, after all, would seem to overlap considerably with the people being complained about?). It comes, I think, from our schools and, especially, from our colleges and universities. The first are staffed by liberals long accustomed to see America as full of problems needing solving; the latter have been packed full of the people cultural critic Roger Kimball calls "tenured radicals," people who see this country and its people as the source of all evil in the world.
Barone concludes:
"There is something profoundly wrong when opposition to the war in Iraq seems to inspire greater passion than opposition to Islamist extremism," Sen. Joseph Lieberman said in a speech last week. What is profoundly wrong is that too many of us are operating off the default assumption and have lost sight of who our real enemies are.

4. One big event in Washington over the weekend, which may have been limited by the weather, was the anti-war march. The counter-demonstration, called a Gathering of Eagles was well-documented and better documented by several dozen bloggers. Michelle Malkin has the best composite coverage. Michelle also has a video report here and Hot Air's Vent coverage here.

5. Kevin Drum discusses Megan McCardle's plea for teachers' unions to join the voucher movement.
Now, I'll confess that my support for unions isn't the most full-throated you're going to find. Personally, I have a lot of sympathy for unionization efforts in low-wage service industries, a little bit less for old-line manufacturing unions, and less still for public sector unions. But even so, I find this remarkable.

Double spending per student, for all I care. Sure, sure, this is hyperbole, but even so it represents a pretty straightforward admission of what many of us have always suspected: voucher proposals are really just a stalking horse to bust teachers unions. It implicitly assumes that the biggest contributor to poor public education in America -- so big that it's worth literally anything to get rid of them -- is the existence of grievance procedures and seniority.
I tend to think that the adults in the education business, and particularly unions, are teh biggest obstacle to improving our schools and it has little to do with contracts. The problem with teacher unions is that they claim in the rhetoric to care about the kids, but then craft silly rules that stand in the way of real educaitonal progress. I love teachers, but hate the union that stands in the way. When teachers' unions stick to workplace protections, I am fine with them. But when their hidebound ways mean that kids suffer or that common sense is abandoned, that is when I have issues.

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