District of Columbia
Back when I first heard about the proposed New York soda ban, I couldn’t believe anyone would suggest something that ridiculous. Seriously? A city putting limits to sizes on sugary drinks? They couldn’t be serious.
But they were serious. Then it was approved by New York’s Board of Health. Seriously. You can’t buy a 20-ounce Coke in New York City.
Now people in Washington D.C. are trying to get the soda ban in place there, as well. Apparently stupidity is contagious.
The issue came up at a debate for council seat candidates. Two current council members said they would support a ban like New York put in place. That got councilwoman Mary Cheh giddy with excitement. It was Cheh who tried unsuccessfully to put a larger tax on sugary drinks, so the thought that she could control what you drink in Washington – or at least how much of it you drink – is music to her ears.
And Cheh even knows that her position on this issue is going to bring criticism from, you know, people who have a brain. She said, “I know ‘nanny state’ and all that, but it’s appropriate for government to intervene at times to make sure that the choices that are presented are healthy for us.”
Her statement isn’t even kind of correct. It’s not ever appropriate for government to intervene to save you from yourself.
After waking up this morning, I saw on Twitter that Occupy DC was commemorating its one year anniversary by marching down K Street and protesting big banks, such as Bank of America and others. After knocking out some work, I decided to head over to Freedom Plaza, just a couple of blocks over from the White House, to see what was going on.
After observing for a few minutes, seeing next to nothing. A group of maybe 15 activists were discussing techniques to throw off police during a group protest. It was mildly entertaining, but also pointless.
As I was about to leave, a small group of activists sat down to discuss the finer points of anarchist activism, such as “collective housing” and dumpster diving. The sound isn’t that great in the video, but you can hear some of the points being made by protesters, such as their aversion to private property. This woman leading the talk explains, “Collective housing is a very important environment to survive, organize, and support each other. This is why we’re not pro-private property, because we think we need to share. If we don’t share, it means nothing”:
In 2009, Democrats quietly issued the death certificate for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program by slashing its budget on the way to phasing it out altogether. It is unheard of for Democrats to be so enthusiastic about cutting funding for anything other than the military, so this must have been a drastic case indeed to convince them that the program needed to go. So what was it that led to the decision to end the program? Was it because it was too expensive? Not by a long shot, and besides, when was the last time you’ve heard a Democrat argue for ending a program just because it costs too much? Was it because of underperformance? No, it actually performed quite well. If you guessed it was because Obama and the Democrats fell prostrate to their masters in the teachers unions, now you are making some progress.
The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was founded in 2004 and became wildly successful. The program provided $7500 scholarships to students so that they could attend private schools. For students of the D.C. Public School system, which is at the very top of the national list of worst-performing public schools, and in one of the most violent districts in the nation, this was a lifeline out of poverty, and a path to a brighter future. The scholarships allowed students, nearly all from low-income families, and the vast majority of them being minority children, to escape the prison system for children known as the D.C. Public Schools. The fact that minority children could take these scholarships and go to private schools was quite a bargain, considering that the public school system in D.C. was spending $18,000 per child per year, and still managing to turn out some the worst academically achieving children in the country. To give you an idea of how bad it was in the DCPSS, only 14% of 8th-graders attain proficiency at reading on their grade level.
Written by Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Last month, D.C. attorney general Irvin Nathan announced that he would not be prosecuting David Gregory for displaying an empty ammunition magazine on his national TV show Meet the Press—even though NBC knew ahead of time that this action would violate D.C. law. In a letter to NBC, Nathan admonished Gregory for knowingly flouting the law, but said he decided to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” and not pursue a criminal case. “Prosecution would not promote public safety in the District of Columbia, nor serve the best interests of the people,” Nathan wrote.
In the Washington Post story about this episode, I was quoted as calling Nathan’s decision “a wise use of prosecutorial discretion” but that the episode “illustrates the absurdity of some of these gun laws.” My position apparently paralleled that of the NRA—even though Gregory had waved the illegal magazine in front of the group’s executive VP, Wayne LaPierre—but “thousands of gun advocates” signed a White House petition calling for Gregory’s arrest because he ought to be treated the same as anyone else.
Written by Tim Lynch, Director of the Project on Criminal Justice at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
During his news conference yesterday, President Obama said he was interested in more firearms research and warned that those who opposed his legislative agenda might try to “gin up fear.” Those are interesting claims. Let’s take a brief look at some recent history here in the District of Columbia.
In 2007, when a federal appellate court ruled that DC’s strict gun control laws were unconstitutional, then-Mayor Adrian Fenty told reporters he was “outraged.” The idea that DC residents could keep a gun in their home for self-defense, he feared, would bring more crime and violence. Mayor Fenty and the city’s lawyers appealed the Heller case to the Supreme Court, but lost.
It’s been several years since that landmark legal battle – so what happened?
In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, a former DC prosecutor wrote:
If you’re Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich, you’re taking a hard look this morning at whether or not you should stay in the race for the Republican nomination. Last night, Mitt Romney had a very good showing in three primaries — Maryland, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, taking some 90% of the delegates on the table.
- Romney: 49%
- Santorum: 29%
- Gingrich: 11%
- Paul: 10%
- Romney: 43%
- Santorum: 38%
- Paul: 12%
- Gingrich: 6%
- Romney: 70%
- Paul: 12%
- Gingrich: 11%
As it stands now, Romney has 655 delegates, more than half of the 1,144 needed to secure the nomination. Santorum is far behind with 278 delegates. Gingrich has 135. And Ron Paul, who has had a better showing that four years ago, only has 51.
It’s becoming more apparent that Romney isn’t going to be stopped at this point. And The Hill reports this morning that Santorum may go ahead and withdraw from the race before Pennsylvania, his home state, heads to the polls on April 24th. It would be a face saving move. He wouldn’t risk losing his home state to Romney, where he only holds a small lead, and he wouldn’t harm his chances in 2016 — assuming Romney doesn’t win in the fall.
Well, DC, you did the impossible. You got dumber. From Fox News:
Lawmakers in the nation’s capital have floated a plan to require high school students to apply to college or trade school — even if the students have no interest in attending.
The proposal is a bid to ensure students in the troubled Washington, D.C., school system at least have the know-how to navigate the admissions process.
D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown, who introduced the bill, said the proposal would establish a “mandatory workshop” to teach teenagers how to apply for aid and admission. It would then require everybody to apply to at least one post-secondary school before graduation.
“I believe that every child should have the opportunity, even if they don’t go, to at least apply to a college,” he said as he introduced the bill Wednesday.
Okay, maybe I shouldn’t take it out on all of DC. But Mr. Brown, you sir, are a moron.
In a time where the value of college is plummeting while the cost of said college education and the unemployment rate among recent college graduates is increasing, such a suggestion is mind boggingly boneheaded. Apparently, Brown forgot that most colleges charge around $50-$75 for an application, in effect making this dumb idea a tax on poor students and their families, and a gimme to already well off educational institutions—who are then going to just throw the applications in the trash anyways. (If you haven’t heard, DC public schools are horrendous.) Oh, no wait, he didn’t forget, as the article adds “Brown said he would work with the school system to make sure students have the ‘resources’ to apply,” or in other words, make this dumb idea a tax on poor students and their families in DC.
I was looking through archived e-mails and came across this. It’s fitting considering that it’s near Christmas and Congress is still in session:
There will be no Nativity Scene in Washington this year!?
The Supreme Court has ruled that there cannot be a Nativity Scene in the United States’ Capital this Christmas season.
This isn’t for any religious reason.
They simply have not been able to find Three Wise Men in the Nation’s Capitol.
A search for a Virgin continues.
There was no problem, however, finding enough asses to fill the stable.
In discussing education on The Today Show, President Barack Obama said the reason he sends his kids to a private school is because the government schools in the District of Columbia aren’t all that good:
President Obama said Monday that his daughters could not get the same level of education from D.C. public schools that they receive at the elite private school they attend.
“I’ll be blunt with you: The answer is no right now,” the president replied. The D.C. public schools, he said “are struggling.”
Obama added that the city’s schools “have made some important strides over the last several years to move in the direction of reform. There are some terrific individual schools in the D.C. system.”
Because he is the president, Obama said, if he wanted to get his daughters into one of those public schools, “we could probably maneuver to do it.” But Obama said the “broader problem” is that parents without “a bunch of connections” don’t have such options.
Obama is exercising choice to send his kids to a better school. Good for him. The problem is he, while making the case for school choice, is denying those parents the ability to send their kids to a better school through the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which work and are popular, as he has supported the end expiration of these vouchers.