Why George Will is an idiot

Given his erudite vocabulary and impressive (for a pundit) knowledge of history, George Will gets way more credit than he deserves.  He can be just as much a hack as, say, Bill O'Reilly.  Today's column on school vouchers provides an example.  I'm not going to get into the politics of school vouchers, but rather Will's intentionally deceptive and logically bogus rhetoric.  Will starts off:

In today's political taxonomy, “progressives” are rebranded liberals
dodging the damage they did to their old label [emphasis mine]. Perhaps their most
injurious idea — injurious to themselves and public schools — was the
forced busing of (mostly other people's) children to engineer “racial
balance” in public schools. Soon, liberals will need a third label if
people notice what “progressives” are up to in Utah.

I'm going to leave school vouchers aside and just point out how ridicilous this assertion is.  The “L” word has become a political slander because the right-wing politicians and media have made such an effort to do exactly that over recent decades by singling out the least popular of Liberal aims and using such examples to tar the term.  George Bush's famously negative 1988 campaign brought this to an art form.  Of course, too many liberals (i.e., Michael Dukakis gets a big share of the blame from me) are complicit in this for running away from the term instead of standing up for the great tradition that liberalism represents in America.  Here's Walter Cronkite on John Kerry in 2004:

What are you
ashamed of? Are you afflicted with the Dukakis syndrome — that loss of
nerve that has allowed conservatives both to define and to demonize
liberalism for the past decade and more? You remember, of course, that
it was during the 1988 presidential campaign that George Bush I
attacked Democrat Michael Dukakis both for opposing the Vietnam War and
for stating he was a card-carrying member of the American Civil
Liberties Union. Both proved, Bush said, that Dukakis was a liberal.
Dukakis responded to that as an attack on his patriotism. He defended
neither liberalism nor the ACLU.


Dukakis might have responded by saying: “I am surprised, Mr. Bush, that
you are not a member of the ACLU. We do not have to agree on all the
positions that the ACLU may take on this issue or that, but we should
applaud its effort to protect the rights of Americans, even those
charged with heinous crimes.” Dukakis might have defended liberalism as
the legacy of FDR and Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy — none of whom
were anything like 100 percent liberals but all of whom advanced the
cause of a truly liberal democracy. But by ducking the issue, Dukakis
opened the way for the far right to make “L” for liberal a scarlet
letter with which to brand all who oppose them. In the course of that
1988 exchange, Bush offered a telling observation, saying, in effect,
that liberals don't like being called liberal. You seem to have
reaffirmed that analysis.

To get back to Will, he ends his column with about “school choice” with,”
What will defenders of that idea — former liberals, now known as progressives — call themselves next? Surely not “pro-choice.”  Its hard to imagine a much more simplistic argument than trying to conflate school vouchers with legalized abortion (regardless of the merits involved), yet Will is quite happy to do so to continue his slander on “liberal.” 

Get a grip

It wasn't that long ago that I wrote about parents' irrational fear of childhood predators.  Childhood definitely seems to bring out irrational fear in many parents.  That's one thing– it's another when a government, in this case that of Anderson, SC, decides to waste resources and tax dollars on the matter:

Scores of sex offenders in Anderson, South Carolina, will be corralled
for Halloween tonight in a move authorities say is needed to keep kids
safe as they trick or treat.

“At 5 p.m., we are going to require all of our
probation/parole/pardon sex offenders to report to the office and
they'll remain here from 5 to 10:30 p.m,” agent Gerald Black, with the
South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon, told CNN
affiliate WYFF.

Authorities in Roanoke, Virginia, will do the
same. “You have a safer public. We have all the offenders in this area
that are on probation or parole in one location. We know where they
are,” Randy Phillips with the Department of Corrections told CNN
affiliate WSLS…

About 2,000 registered sex offenders in Maryland will be required to post “No Candy” signs on their doors on Halloween night.

Michigan and Wisconsin are among states urging parents to check the
state's public sex offender registry before venturing out in search of
treats.

So, there you've got the irrational fear, the irrational response, and the reality?

Rebecca Brunger, an Alaska probation officer, told the Anchorage
Daily News her state doesn't put any extra restrictions on sex
offenders on Halloween as there's never been a case there of a
trick-or-treater being molested by a registered offender.

Idaho
defense attorney Tim Gresback told the Spokesman-Review, in Spokane,
Washington, that extra Halloween restrictions on sex offenders are
unnecessary.

“Here we're creating a new police action squad to
go out and address a problem that has never manifested itself in the
community,” Gresback told the newspaper. He said in 20 years he'd never
run across a case of a sex offender attacking a child on Halloween.

My guess is that kids are in dramatically greater danger of being struck by a car, or heck, even attacked by other trick-or-treaters, than being the victim of an adult predator.

Fully Myelinated hits the big time

That's right.  This very blog has been featured in none other than “The Bulletin,” the newsletter for NCSU faculty and staff.  You can read my scintillating interview about the blog here.

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