Last week saw not one but three conservative victories in the culture wars. The most stunning was the elected Texas School Board’s vote to make more than 100 amendments to the state’s social studies textbooks. Next came the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to deny an effort to remove declare unconstitutional the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” on U.S. currency. Third was in the political arena, but amounted to a conservative cultural victory when the aura of corruption began floating above the Democrats’ Congressional cohort.
In Austin, in its once-a-decade review of textbooks, the board (10 Republicans, 5 Democrats) took up the 120-page curriculum standards that cover history, sociology and economics courses in elementary and high schools. It had been developed by a teachers’ panel.
Dr. Don McLeroy said of the conservative group on the board, “We are adding balance,” and add it they did. The new text books will mention the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and ‘90s, along with the fact that Republican votes in Congress played a pivotal role in the adoption of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Dr. McLeroy told the New York Times, “I think it’s going to surprise some students.”
Another amendment calls for students to study “the unintended consequences” of sweeping Great Society legislation. And, it will add the teachings of free-market economists Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman to the current textbook list of Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes. and “economist” Karl Marx.
In a section on teenage suicide, dating violence, drug use, eating disorders and sexuality, teachers will now be required to teach their young charges about the importance of personal responsibility when considering choices about such matters.
And, Left-leaning academic historians everywhere will gnash their teeth over the decision to discuss favorably the concept of American Exceptionalism.
Large as Texas is, the influence of the new textbooks will be felt much further. Because of the huge volume of Texas’s textbook purchases, more than 40 states are expected to adopt the same ones.
Meanwhile, half a continent away, in San Francisco, the Ninth Circuit Court, usually the nation’s most liberal, in a 2-1 decision, rejected two legal challenges by professional atheist Michael Newdow. He argued that the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” violate the idea of separation of church and state and infringe on his religious beliefs.
Mr. Newdow heads something called the First Atheist Church of True Science. He seems to speak for the tiny segment of the population that believes in atheism and wants the rest of us to bend to his preferences rather than personally opting out of such things as the Pledge of the Allegiance.
Judge Carlos Bea, writing for the majority, noted “the Pledge of Allegiance serves to unite our vast nation through the proud recitation of some of the ideals upon which our Republic was founded.”
In the minority was Judge Stephen Reinhardt who, in 1992 was part of a court panel that ruled in Newdow’s favor. That case went on the U.S. Supreme Court, which said Newdow lacked “standing” to bring the case (he did not have custody of his daughter on whose behalf he claimed to be bringing the case. Indeed, the later said she had no objection to the Pledge.)
And, back across the county again, the Democrats in Congress added to their problems with the “stepping aside” of House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, whose various fiscal shenanigans seem to have been under consideration by the Ethics Committee forever. The committee simply sat on charges that he had underpaid income taxes and failed to report income–among other things.
Then along came first-term Representative Eric Massa who announced he would not run for reelection because of his health. That was Friday a week ago. Over the weekend he announced he would resign his seat Monday afternoon. He did. It seems he had been accused of sexual harassment by a male employment and the House Ethics Committee was looking into it.
By resigning, the investigation automatically stopped. Then he was interviewed and held a news conference. Explanations seemed to change by the hour: Yes, he had “groped” a male employee; he was forced out because he was going to vote “no” on Obamacare; Rahm Emanuel had threatened him in the shower room the House Gym. It was Congressional theater at its best.
As it quieted down out came the information that Speaker Pelosi had known about the harassment charges weeks ago and did nothing about them.
Just as the collective stench of corruption floated over the Republicans in 2006 — after several messy cases — so it seems to be settling over the Democratic Congress, combining with widespread voter disgust at its inability to come to grips with the issues people tell the pollsters they care about most: jobs, the debt, terrorism.