The Locker Room

November 8, 2010

My Second (Delightful) Weekend in Hell

Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 3:56 PM

I was really glad to be able to make a return trip to hell this past weekend, thanks to a one-day visit by the theatrical production of The Screwtape Letters.

I've now seen this production in two different theaters in two different cities and with two different lead actors. Steven Hauck, Max McLean's understudy, took the stage the first time I experienced C.S. Lewis's peek into the philosophy and practice of successful mortal temptation.

I think Screwtape plays better in a venue much smaller than the Memorial Auditorium, but Max McLean's Screwtape (as did Hauck's) really, really enjoys his job, as any good senior Tempter should, and literally makes no bones about adding failed junior devils to the infernal feasting below.

C.S. Lewis's works seem to be growing in popular interest, partly no doubt due to productions like these that make the texts extremely accessible —and entertaining. According to the producers at Fellowship for the Performing Arts, The Great Divorce is slated to be its next C.S. Lewis production. Looking forward to that as well.

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Money more important than life

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 1:43 PM

Barry Saunders explains that government control over what a thinking adult eats is justifiable because it increases government spending (although government spending is good), but government limits on abortion are bad - apparently because it only involves an unborn person's life.

Sounds like one of Roy's "You might be a progressive if..." post

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The constitutionality of ObamaCare

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:40 PM

Roughly eight months after President Obama signed federal health care reform legislation into law, the legislation faces a number of court challenges.

Daren Bakst outlined those challenges during a presentation today to the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society. In the video clip below, Bakst discusses the next steps in the current court cases challenging ObamaCare.

2:10 p.m. update: Click play below to watch the full 55:13 presentation.

You'll find other John Locke Foundation video presentations here.

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Madison's Federalist #10

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 11:55 AM

Yesterday was the 223rd anniversary of the publication of James Madison's Federalist #10, perhaps his most important contribution to the Federalist Papers.

My friends at What Would the Founders Think? link to an interesting and brief discussion at Today's History Lesson of the background of the Federalist Papers and the importance of Federalist #10.  

In the weeks following the Philadelphia Convention, James Madison (like Hamilton) looked around and saw newspapers churning out anti-Constitutional articles one after another.  Some of Madison’s comrades, from his very own state of Virginia, were pushing hard against ratification.  Men like George Mason and Patrick Henry, good men to be sure, saw the Constitution not as a natural fix to the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, but as a direct threat to the freedom of every American.

...We read The Federalist Papers now and are impressed with their thoroughness and scope.  But we overlook the fact that these three men rarely had time for editing and word-smithing.  Madison reported that the time crunch was such that the documents barely had time to be reread by the author himself, to say nothing of passing them between the men.

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UNC system's new enrollment policy just a "Potemkin Village"

Posted by George Leef at 11:09 AM

So argues the Pope Centers Jay Schalin in this piece we have released today.

UNC purports to aim at controlling growth in the numbers of students by holding schools accountable for results on retention and graduation measures. Jay notes, however, "with millions of dollars at stake in trying to meet (those) standards, administrators will be tempted to lower students' workloads and increase grade inflation in order to meet their goals."

That's a good guess. We see the same thing happening in K-12 all the time.

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Bureucrats, breast cancer, and certificates of need

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 11:03 AM

Sara Burrows today explains how a women's cancer center in Asheville cannot purchase an MRI scanner because of the state's certificate-of-need (CON) law.

Upon reading the story, Joey Stansbury of Raleigh shared his story showing the value of competition.

At the end of November I have surgery scheduled to repair a hernia.

The first doctor I went to was not impressive in patient relations. No big deal as he was recommended by my doctor’s office. However he only performed the surgery at Rex. Rex is absurdly expensive for what is a minor surgery. I called the doctor’s office and told them it was ridiculous. They didn’t care. So I fired them basically.

Now I went doctor shopping. Found a better doctor (better referral) who is actually cheaper for the surgery and shopped around to every surgery center in the triangle area and got quotes. I brought down the quoted cost of the surgery by about $3500 as well.

Roy Cordato explained the economics of CON. Repeal is one step the state can take to increase access and lower medical costs. The October 18 Health Care Update also addressed CON. To keep up-to-date on health care and other policy areas in North Carolina, subscribe to the research newsletters.

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Are "Diversity essays" a First Amendment case waiting to happen?

Posted by Amanda Vuke at 10:23 AM

Glenn Ricketts and Peter Wood over at the National Association of Scholars think so. They were arguing that over a year ago. Why? In part because

We learn to go through the motions, appease the bureaucratic bullies that need to be appeased, and make up the stories necessary to pass gates like this [college and graduate school applications]. ... They teach the would-be student to whom and to what to bow. They enunciate the doctrines towards which the privately dissenting must be hypocritical and that the rest learn to accept as the piety of the age.

And because

It’s a silly idea, and it is profoundly at odds with intellectual freedom, freedom of conscience, and the real purposes of education.

The article has been published twice. First under the name "Diversi-Oaths: Creedal Admissions in the American University" and second under the name "College Application Essays: Going Beyond 'How Would You Contribute to Diversity?'"

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Barone examines the 2010 election's impact on redistricting

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:03 AM

Michael Barone's latest number-crunching exercise for the Washington Examiner yields some good news for Republicans:

Republicans snatched control of about 20 legislative houses from Democrats. And by margins that hardly any political insiders expected. Republicans needed five seats for a majority in the Pennsylvania House and won 15; they needed four seats in the Ohio House and got 13; they needed 13 in the Michigan House and got 20; they needed two in the Wisconsin Senate and four in the Wisconsin House and gained four and 14; they needed five in the North Carolina Senate and nine in the North Carolina House and gained 11 and 15.

All those gains are hugely significant in redistricting. When the 2010 Census results are announced next month, the 435 House seats will be reapportioned to the states, and state officials will draw new district lines in each state. A nonpartisan commissions authorized by voters this year will do the job in (Democratic) California, but in most states it's up to legislators and governors (although North Carolina's governor cannot veto redistricting bills).

Republicans look to have a bigger advantage in this redistricting cycle they've ever had before. It appears that in the states that will have more than five districts (you can make only limited partisan difference in smaller states) Republicans will control redistricting in 13 states with a total of 165 House districts and Democrats will have control in only four states with a total of 40 districts. You can add Minnesota (seven or eight districts) to the first list if the final count gives Republicans the governorship and New York (27 or 28 districts) to the second list if the final count gives Democrats the state Senate.

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Democrats read the tea leaves more effectively than Joe Klein

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:49 AM

Joe Klein seems a bit baffled by Democrats’ recent election strategy, as he shares in his most recent TIME column:
[T]he Democratic performance this year was one of the more mystifying, and craven, in memory. Usually, a political party loses when it has failed to do its job. These Democrats lost because they succeeded in doing what they've been promising for decades. They enacted their fantasies, starting with health care reform, and then ran away from their successes. Why on earth would a political party enact major pieces of legislation and then refuse to take credit for them?

Perhaps because they know the public doesn’t really like these ideas? Perhaps because Democrats know they often need to hide their true intentions to secure enough votes to win?

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Boehner and Foxx

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:48 AM

You might find much of interest in TIME’s new profile of the man likely to be elected the next speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, including the discussion of how tears welled up on election night as Rep. John Boehner described the importance of “economic freedom, individual liberty, and personal responsibility.”

North Carolinians also might find the following passage particularly enlightening:

He lets members say their piece but not endlessly. At one meeting with his lieutenants, Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina laid into him for failing to attack Democrats over some procedural shenanigans on the Rules Committee. Boehner finally interrupted: "When your opponents are committing suicide, Ginny, get out of their way."

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Ryan’s role

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:46 AM

If you read the print version of Bloomberg Businessweek, I’m guessing you were as surprised as I was to see a photo of David Price included among the new U.S. House’s power brokers.

Alas for supporters of North Carolina’s Democratic 4th District congressman, the photo is an error. The magazine mistook Price for Kentucky Republican Hal Rogers, a contender for the top job on the House’s budget-writing Appropriations Committee.

That goof aside, one of the most interesting elements of the article on top House Republicans was the section on Paul Ryan:

Paul Ryan's most controversial proposal is to give workers under 55 the option of investing a third of their Social Security taxes in personal retirement accounts. They would be managed by the Social Security Administration, and the government would guarantee that nobody loses money. The Wisconsin lawmaker wants to place firm limits on discretionary and mandatory spending, and enforce the limits with automatic spending reductions in programs with the highest spending growth.

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The electoral impact on redistricting

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:45 AM

One of the most important tasks the new General Assembly will face in 2011 involves redrawing legislative and congressional district maps through the process known as redistricting.

The latest Bloomberg Businessweek notes the impact of this week’s election on more than just North Carolina:

Republicans will have unilateral control of about 190 U.S. House districts as a result of the Nov. 2 election, according to Tim Storey, an analyst with the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. "Republicans won a commanding advantage in the redistricting process," he says.

Over the next several years, 15 to 25 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are more likely to remain Republican or switch from Democratic after redistricting as a result of the party's victories in the states, says Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican State Leadership Committee. "We're going to end up protecting a lot as opposed to carving new ones," he predicted in a conference call with reporters.

The GOP will control 25 legislatures, including Ohio, North Carolina, and Minnesota, boosting its power in statehouses by the most since 1928, the National Conference of State Legislatures says.

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He wrote this before the election

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:44 AM

Interest in repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution might seem particularly strong at this moment among conservatives, with Republicans continuing to face minority status in the next U.S. Senate.

But George Mason law professor Todd Zywicki wrote the following words for National Review before the election, when it appeared that the GOP might be able to capture a slight majority in Congress’ upper chamber:

The Constitution did not create a direct democracy; it established a constitutional republic. Its goal was to preserve liberty, not to maximize popular sovereignty. To this end, the Framers provided that the power of various political actors would derive from different sources. While House members were to be elected directly by the people, the president would be elected by the Electoral College. The people would have no direct influence on the selection of judges, who would be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate to serve for life or “during good behavior.” And senators would be elected by state legislatures.

Empowering state legislatures to elect senators was considered both good politics and good constitutional design. At the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, the proposal was ratified with minimal discussion and recognized as the approach “most congenial” to public opinion. Direct election was proposed by Pennsylvania’s James Wilson but defeated ten to one in a straw poll. More important than public opinion, however, was that limitations on direct popular sovereignty are an important aspect of a constitutional republic’s superiority to a direct democracy. As Madison observes in Federalist 51, “A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”

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The wonders of public radio

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:43 AM

If you agreed with John Hood’s recent recommendations about the future of taxpayer funding for public broadcasting outlets, you might enjoy the following snippet from James Lileks’ latest National Review column.

Lileks puts forth the novel idea of forcing public broadcasters to seek advertisers:

Granted, the very idea, of crass splashy ads crashing into the well-tempered palaver makes public-radio advocates rar back like Dracula confronted with the cross. Public radio is known for its seamless tone, its even temper. Mournful interstitial banjo music leads into a reasoned but rueful account of Sudanese atrocities, followed by gently effervescent baroque quartets that yield to a station ID with a hopeful flute fillip. Somewhere on Olympus, Daniel Schorr nods in approval. Commercials would spoil it.

But many shows already have a commercial, fore and aft. “This program on the folk music of Depression-era transgendered African-American pigeon fanciers has been brought to you by a large corporation whose board vainly believes this will engender good will, and a grant by the Gotrocks Foundation: spending its largess in a fashion that would give its capitalistic benefactor a coronary for over 30 years.” The corporation grants are a particularly pathetic piece of danegeld; British Petroleum could sponsor every single public-radio show, and no listener would conclude, “Well, I hated you for killing the earth, but you sponsored that show on the impact of lead-based makeup in Renaissance commedia dell’arte, so we’re even.”

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:35 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Sara Burrows' report on the impact of North Carolina's certificate-of-need law in restricting supply of medical services.

John Hood's Daily Journal reminds us that private markets handle most U.S. transportation needs.

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