Responding to Annoying Liberal Remarks on Facebook, X – The "Santorum Is Right" Edition

Actually, it’s not just the liberals who are being idiots this time; some of my conservative friends, sadly, are also jumping on Santorum for his recent negative remarks regarding the all-encompassing push to get everyone into college. An example:

Hey Santorum, I’m a Republican, and I went to college, a great one, and I got my degree, and got a job. Just like you did. Stop being a moron and just quit the race already.

I went to college, too – a public Ivy, actually – and I graduated summa cum laude with highest honors. Indeed, I enjoyed college so much that I eventually want to go back to study mathematics and theology — and to get teaching certificates in both math and science. But what’s your point here? Why are you behaving as if Santorum attacked you personally? He’s not saying that your college experience was completely worthless. He’s challenging the prevalent belief that college should be universal — and by the way, he’s absolutely right.

My day job involves a fair amount of college admissions counseling, so I know at a very intimate level how damaging all this pro-college propaganda can be. Repeatedly, I have seen C-students with below-average SAT scores collapse under the pressure and check out. Repeatedly, I have seen B-students with average SAT scores flame out in AP (or IB) courses that were forced upon them by over-zealous guidance counselors trying to burnish their students’ college resumes. If it weren’t for the college rat race, I wouldn’t have my current job, but I’d gladly give it up if it meant these students could actually be happy for once in their young lives.

A few weeks ago, a new client at work – a fifteen-year-old sophomore getting middling grades – confided in me that he really wanted to take a class on welding. The admission was furtive and ashamed — almost as if he thought himself a loser for even entertaining such a notion. When I responded enthusiastically — when I validated his desire and delivered a Mike Rowe-style speech on how the skilled trades are awesome and how we need to open more schools to train mechanics, construction workers, and – yes – welders — a weight was immediately lifted from his shoulders. At the end of our session, he remarked, “I was afraid you’d be mean, but you’re actually really nice. I’m going to enjoy coming here.”

Not everyone has the motivation or the aptitude to make it through college — but because everyone from Obama on down is beating the college drum, there are a lot of teens out there who believe they must go or else face social stigmatization and an uncertain employment future. This is sad, unfair, and exactly as “snobbish” as Santorum makes it out to be. Kids desperately need to have access to alternatives. They need to be told that going to trade school is okay. They need to be told that apprenticeships are perfectly respectable. They need to be told that enlisting in the military is a great idea. And they also need to have a K-12 education that goes beyond mere babysitting so that when they graduate, they won’t necessarily need to go to college to become “educated”. In my ideal world, kids would be equipped to educate themselves by the time they earn their high school diploma.

Recently, I’ve been reading Daniel J. Flynn’s Blue Collar Intellectuals (a book I highly recommend, by the way), and what I find most striking about the individuals Flynn profiles is the fact that they managed to pen brilliant, incisive works despite, in many cases, their failure to follow the “college track.” (See also: Eric Hoffer’s life as a hobo and longshoreman.) At mid-century, people with high school – or sometimes even grade school – educations were entirely capable of commenting intelligently upon the issues of the day. In fact, as Flynn reveals, in the post-WWII era, there was an explosion of interest in the “great books” that reached far down into the working classes. But how could this be if many of these people didn’t even go to college? The answer is simple: Back then, the lower education system was better. Robert Heinlein had to learn the times tables to 15 X 15 when he was a boy. Sub Spike, our father, was expected to memorize poetry and calculate square roots by hand. The traditional model still reigned supreme despite Dewey’s best efforts.

But I’m digressing a bit. Suffice it to say that I don’t believe you need to go to college to be educated. Indeed, many people go to college, get their credential, and emerge just as ignorant as they were when they went in. And no — Santorum is not “anti-smart folks,” and he’s not proposing that we allow people to languish in dead-end jobs at McDonald’s. Please get a grip and realize that there are – and should be – many tracks to middle class success.

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I Think John Hinderaker (@ Powerline) Says It Best:

So Herman Cain is out; no surprise there. There is, I think, a moral to be drawn from his demise. Cain was a hit with Republican voters because of his relentless focus on the economy. He didn’t get personal in his attacks on the Obama administration, but focused on how to create jobs and spur economic growth. His 9-9-9 plan may or may not have been the best solution, but it was a creative and credible contribution to the debate.

That’s certainly one reason why SABR Matt and I were initially interested in Cain. I think, though, that his outsider status also had something to do with his meteoric rise. Speaking for myself, I’m sick of the GOP establishment, and I’m sick of the career politicians who people its ranks. They don’t keep their promises most of the time, and they have no cajones when it comes to the media.

Actually, with regards to the aforementioned establishment, my attitude right now can best be summed up this way:

YOU GUYS ARE WUSSES,
AND YOUR ESTABLISHMENT DESERVES TO DIE.

Harsh words, I know, but think about it: People have been cataloging the waste and duplication that exists at every level of the government for years, yet the GOP has utterly failed to tell the crybaby left to piss off and actually trim the fat. At best, it’s made tiny cuts with a pair of rusty kiddy scissors. At worst, it’s resorted to BS accounting tricks to maintain the mere appearance of fiscal responsibility. And here’s what even more galling: The GOP has allowed the Democrats and their shills in the mainstream media to maintain 100% control over how the debate in re: government spending is framed. It has allowed the Democrats’ blatant and craven appeals to emotion to win the day time and time again. And that makes me angry. That makes me very angry. As far as I’m concerned, whenever the Democrats cry “Think of the children!” the GOP should come back with a logical assault so devastating that the Democrats can only whimper impotently in response. To quote from Conan the Barbarian:

“Conan! What is best in life?”
“To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.”

(Metaphorically, of course.)

But that’s enough ranting for now. Let’s get back to Hinderaker’s post (the entirety of which can be found here):

Whether the accusations were true or not (and it is hard to believe that there was no fire anywhere in all that smoke), Cain’s effectiveness as a candidate was destroyed.

What happened to Herman Cain is what the Democrats intend to do to whoever the Republican nominee turns out to be. They know they can’t win a debate on the economy or on President Obama’s record, so they will do everything they can to distract the voters’ attention from those matters, which should be decisive, and instead turn the focus to the GOP candidate and his or her alleged foibles. If Republican voters allow that to happen by nominating a candidate with baggage that permits the Democrats to turn him into the next Herman Cain, it is all too likely that President Obama will be re-elected, with consequences that can hardly be overestimated.

This is all true. My only question is, can we come up with a “baggage-free” candidate who is also capable of standing up to Obama and enduring the hurricane-force media headwinds? I worry, given the incompetence of the GOP, that we cannot. And that means our nation is hosed.

A Response to SABR Matt’s Comments In Re: Perry & Creationism

First, let me just state for the record what I believe about evolution and the planet’s age:

1) The case for microevolution is air tight. The case for macroevolution, while relatively strong, still needs work. Do I think evolution is the most likely explanation for why living things look and behave the way they do? Yes. However, I really don’t care for the strident dogmatism that often characterizes evolutionist rhetoric. (And I also don’t appreciate the evolutionists’ tendency to apply evolution to the fields of philosophy and ethics. Said luminaries are addicted to the naturalist fallacy; consequently, they draw many erroneous conclusions.)

2) The scientific evidence indicates that the Earth is roughly five billion years old. Young Earth creationists make their mistake because they fail to consider the audience for which Genesis was originally written. The ancients, you see, weren’t going to understand God if He started talking about the Big Bang and other scientific particulars through his inspired writers. On the other hand, the ancients would understand, “And God said, ‘Let there be light.'” (And by the way, God creates the world in six days in Genesis because the number seven indicated a covenant in the minds of the ancients. In other words, the inspired sacred writer here is telling his audience that God made the universe and did so as a covenant to mankind. He’s not saying that God literally made everything in a week.)

Okay — now that my personal beliefs are very clear, allow me to present my defense of Rick Perry. I’ll start by discussing a historical incident whose relevance to my argument will become clear momentarily. During the campaign of 1960, the Kennedy campaign received letters from American voters expressing concern about Kennedy’s Catholicism. At the time, many American Protestants were under the impression that Kennedy would obey the Holy Father first and the Constitution second. Indeed, in September of that year, ministers from the National Conference of Citizens for Religious Freedom issued a statement that openly questioned Kennedy’s patriotism on the basis of his faith.

Of course, the aforementioned anxiety was entirely false-to-facts — a product of lingering anti-Catholic bigotry. From the very beginning, Catholics have participated in the political life of our nation as wholly loyal Americans. In fact, the Declaration of Independence had one Catholic signer – Charles Carroll of Maryland – and the Constitution had three. Granted, those aren’t large numbers, but at the time, Catholics were a rare breed in the former British colonies.

What does all of that have to do with Perry? Well, it is my judgment that the concern over Perry’s beliefs in re: evolution is a reflection of a similar sort of bigotry — though this time, the bigotry is urban-centered and anti-evangelical. Now, before you get angry, Matt, I don’t think you personally are prejudiced. I do think, though, that a lot of people are, especially in the mainstream media — and the mainstream media is the primary source of information for most people who occupy the political middle.

The key passage from Matt’s article, in my opinion, is this one:

The odd thing is…the Texas teachers angrily replied to Perry’s comments, saying that creationism was mentioned as an alternative theory only in Biblical History and literature classes…not in any of the science classes in Texas. So…it’s not like Perry pushed a hard creationist-favoring agenda.

Maybe Rick Perry is a Young Earth creationist. But the evidence Matt provides here would seem to indicate that he doesn’t impose his evangelical beliefs on others – that he listens to the voters. That renders said beliefs just as irrelevant as was JFK’s Catholicism.

The upshot? I think it’s rash to disqualify Perry because of what he does or doesn’t believe with respect to evolution and the age of the Earth. I think we should wait and see how the Perry campaign responds to the criticism of Perry’s supposedly “anti-science” stance before we declare him utterly unelectable. If the Perry campaign can counter the media bigots’ anti-evangelical narrative and simultaneously reassure the middle that a theocracy is certainly not in the offing, then a Perry-led GOP ticket will still be in very good shape.

And by the way, a side note: A politician’s beliefs vis-a-vis evolution definitely wouldn’t be an issue if scientists were funded by private patrons. I’m just saying…