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  • #16
    Re: WI General Discussion

    The politics and history of the United States of America has always interested me greatly. Nevertheless I have always failed to do some serious research about its past. Could anyone point me in the right direction for good books regarding the evolution of the USA since its early days up until present day? Not only am I in great need of "general history", I am especially interested in the presidents and their policies. So, any help?

    Thanks a lot.


    • #17
      Re: WI General Discussion

      Originally posted by Urizen
      The politics and history of the United States of America has always interested me greatly. Nevertheless I have always failed to do some serious research about its past. Could anyone point me in the right direction for good books regarding the evolution of the USA since its early days up until present day? Not only am I in great need of "general history", I am especially interested in the presidents and their policies. So, any help?

      Thanks a lot.
      A good place to start, IMO, would be "A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn...

      But I would wait and see what other people have to say before reading anything


      • #18
        Re: WI General Discussion

        I've been doing a lot of reading lately concerning China. After watching more and more of my former company's manufacturing positions being lost to China, the subject is now personal because my name just got added to the list a few weeks ago. The CEOs, with their 500,000 dollar houses, claim that these measures are necessary to compete- that our customers demand that we lower our costs by manufacturing our products in China- which they have slowly been doing. Basically, the CEOs are selling out everybody beneath them, cashing in, and taking early retirement.

        So I have been reading and have come to the conclusion that I HATE China just as much as I wish death upon the bloated CEOs that are exploiting them.

        China values men much more than women. Because of their single-child law, many Chinese families abort their females. The men now outnumber the women 4 to 1 and many have nowhere to go but the military.

        China assimilating the rest of the world through capitalism is already in full force, but with all those men, how long before they invade Russia? Communists my ass. Fuck China. My hate doesn't come because I lost my good job to them- I'll be fine. It's their hypocrisy in calling themselves communists in combination with their ruthless attitude toward women. I say again, fuck China.
        Read my essay on why, for the past 10 years wrestling sucks.


        • #19
          Re: WI General Discussion

          Republicans want share of California electoral votes
          Story Highlights
          • Proposal would change winner-take-all system for electoral votes in 2008 race
          • Strategists: Formula based on congressional districts would help GOP win votes
          • Republicans say idea aims to attract presidential campaigns to California
          • Democrats accuse initiative's supporters of trying to grab their votes

          (CNN) -- A GOP-inspired effort to tinker with the Electoral College machinery in California is raising alarm bells among Democrats who fear it could doom the party's chances of winning the White House in 2008.

          Democrats have come to rely on California's block of 55 electoral votes -- the largest haul available in any state -- as part of their arithmetic to win the presidency with a majority in the Electoral College.

          A group called Californians for Equal Representation has submitted a ballot initiative to state Attorney General Jerry Brown that would change the current statewide winner-take-all system to a formula based on congressional districts.

          Republicans say the idea is aimed at attracting presidential candidates to campaign in California, which they rarely do because the statewide vote traditionally leans Democratic. Opponents call the proposal an attempt to grab Democratic votes.

          Under the proposal, the winning candidate in each of the state's 53 congressional districts would get one electoral vote, with two votes going to the statewide winner.

          Supporters want to put the proposal on the ballot for next June's state primary, which would put the change into effect for the 2008 election.

          Do to so, supporters will have to collect about 434,000 petition signatures from registered voters by November 13, according to the secretary of state's office.

          In the 2006 election, Californians elected 34 Democrats and 19 Republicans to the House.

          Had the proposed system been in effect in 2004, President Bush would have captured 22 of California's electoral votes. The extra electoral votes would have eliminated Bush's need to carry the pivotal state of Ohio to win re-election.

          "This would all but guarantee that the Republican nominee would get 20 extra Electoral College votes, which could certainly impact the outcome of the election," said Allan Hoffenblum, a Republican strategist.

          And that is exactly what has Democrats crying foul.

          "The Republicans are doing this in California because they want a chunk of our vote," said Darry Sragow, a Democratic strategist.

          The ballot initiative was submitted by Thomas Hiltachk, a Sacramento election lawyer who is also general counsel for Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

          The purpose of the change is to make California more relevant in presidential elections by forcing candidates to campaign in the state, according to the initiative.

          "Because this is a reliable Democratic state, none of the presidential candidates -- Republican or Democrat -- ever shows up in California," Hoffenblum said.

          On the other side of the divide, Democrats argue that California shouldn't make such a change when the vast majority of other states still operate under a winner-take-all system.

          "This is very fair if it's universal around the country," Sragow said. "It is patently absurd it if only takes place in certain states."

          Under the Constitution, each state gets a number of electoral votes equal to its representation in Congress, including both representatives and senators. Currently, 48 states award all of their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the largest number of votes.

          Two states -- Nebraska and Maine -- have adopted the system that is being proposed for California, assigning their electoral votes based on who wins individual congressional districts, with the statewide winner getting the two votes derived from senators. But this has not generated controversy because both states have just a handful of votes, and the results have never resulted in splitting them between candidates.

          Ironically, while Democrats are up in arms in California over the idea of changing the Electoral College rules, their compatriots in Republican-leaning North Carolina have floated the idea of adopting the Nebraska-Maine system for their state.

          However, national Democratic leaders have tried to discourage that effort, because of concerns it would be difficult to support such a change in North Carolina, where it would help the party, while opposing it in California.

          The change also would help Democrats much less in North Carolina than it would hurt in California. In 2004, the Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. John Kerry, would have garnered three more votes in North Carolina, while losing 22 in California.

          The disputed 2000 election, in which Bush won the electoral vote while losing the popular vote, has generated a flurry of proposals to abolish or alter the Electoral College, both at the federal and state level.

          In 2006, Colorado voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have divided up the electoral vote pie in proportion to each candidates' share of the popular vote.

          A group called National Popular Vote also is lobbying state legislatures to adopt a system where all of a state's electoral votes would be pledged to the winner of the national popular vote -- an idea which, if adopted by states holding a majority of electoral votes, would ensure that the popular vote winner always became president.

          While National Popular Vote says its plan has been introduced in 47 states, Maryland is the only one so far to pass it. And the change won't go into effect in Maryland until it gains approval in enough states to ensure that the popular vote winner would take the White House.

          Nominee: PW's Most Knowledgeable Poster, 2006
          Co-winner: PW's Most Knowledgeable Nerd, 2006


          • #20
            Re: WI General Discussion

            Interesting proposal. I wasn't aware that it was up to the states to decide how the electoral votes are used. However, in the end, it's up to the electors themselves to decide to vote the way the people voted.


            • #21
              Re: WI General Discussion

              Iraq fraud whistleblowers vilified
              Cases show fraud exposers have been vilified, fired, or detained for weeks
              The Associated Press
              Updated: 11:57 a.m. PT Aug 25, 2007

              One after another, the men and women who have stepped forward to report corruption in the massive effort to rebuild Iraq have been vilified, fired and demoted.

              Or worse.

              For daring to report illegal arms sales, Navy veteran Donald Vance says he was imprisoned by the American military in a security compound outside Baghdad and subjected to harsh interrogation methods.

              There were times, huddled on the floor in solitary confinement with that head-banging music blaring dawn to dusk and interrogators yelling the same questions over and over, that Vance began to wish he had just kept his mouth shut.

              He had thought he was doing a good and noble thing when he started telling the FBI about the guns and the land mines and the rocket-launchers — all of them being sold for cash, no receipts necessary, he said. He told a federal agent the buyers were Iraqi insurgents, American soldiers, State Department workers, and Iraqi embassy and ministry employees.

              The seller, he claimed, was the Iraqi-owned company he worked for, Shield Group Security Co.

              “It was a Wal-Mart for guns,” he says. “It was all illegal and everyone knew it.”

              So Vance says he blew the whistle, supplying photos and documents and other intelligence to an FBI agent in his hometown of Chicago because he didn’t know whom to trust in Iraq.

              For his trouble, he says, he got 97 days in Camp Cropper, an American military prison outside Baghdad that once held Saddam Hussein, and he was classified a security detainee.

              Also held was colleague Nathan Ertel, who helped Vance gather evidence documenting the sales, according to a federal lawsuit both have filed in Chicago, alleging they were illegally imprisoned and subjected to physical and mental interrogation tactics “reserved for terrorists and so-called enemy combatants.”

              No noble outcomes
              Corruption has long plagued Iraq reconstruction. Hundreds of projects may never be finished, including repairs to the country’s oil pipelines and electricity system. Congress gave more than $30 billion to rebuild Iraq, and at least $8.8 billion of it has disappeared, according to a government reconstruction audit.

              Despite this staggering mess, there are no noble outcomes for those who have blown the whistle, according to a review of such cases by The Associated Press.

              “If you do it, you will be destroyed,” said William Weaver, professor of political science at the University of Texas-El Paso and senior advisor to the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition.

              “Reconstruction is so rife with corruption. Sometimes people ask me, ‘Should I do this?’ And my answer is no. If they’re married, they’ll lose their family. They will lose their jobs. They will lose everything,” Weaver said.

              They have been fired or demoted, shunned by colleagues, and denied government support in whistleblower lawsuits filed against contracting firms.

              “The only way we can find out what is going on is for someone to come forward and let us know,” said Beth Daley of the Project on Government Oversight, an independent, nonprofit group that investigates corruption. “But when they do, the weight of the government comes down on them. The message is, ’Don’t blow the whistle or we’ll make your life hell.’

              “It’s heartbreaking,” Daley said. “There is an even greater need for whistleblowers now. But they are made into public martyrs. It’s a disgrace. Their lives get ruined.”

              One whistleblower demoted
              Bunnatine “Bunny” Greenhouse knows this only too well. As the highest-ranking civilian contracting officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, she testified before a congressional committee in 2005 that she found widespread fraud in multibillion-dollar rebuilding contracts awarded to former Halliburton subsidiary KBR.

              Soon after, Greenhouse was demoted. She now sits in a tiny cubicle in a different department with very little to do and no decision-making authority, at the end of an otherwise exemplary 20-year career.

              People she has known for years no longer speak to her.

              “It’s just amazing how we say we want to remove fraud from our government, then we gag people who are just trying to stand up and do the right thing,” she says.

              In her demotion, her supervisors said she was performing poorly. “They just wanted to get rid of me,” she says softly. The Army Corps of Engineers denies her claims.

              “You just don’t have happy endings,” said Weaver. “She was a wonderful example of a federal employee. They just completely creamed her. In the end, no one followed up, no one cared.”

              No regrets
              But Greenhouse regrets nothing. “I have the courage to say what needs to be said. I paid the price,” she says.

              Then there is Robert Isakson, who filed a whistleblower suit against contractor Custer Battles in 2004, alleging the company — with which he was briefly associated — bilked the U.S. government out of tens of millions of dollars by filing fake invoices and padding other bills for reconstruction work.

              He and his co-plaintiff, William Baldwin, a former employee fired by the firm, doggedly pursued the suit for two years, gathering evidence on their own and flying overseas to obtain more information from witnesses. Eventually, a federal jury agreed with them and awarded a $10 million judgment against the now-defunct firm, which had denied all wrongdoing.

              It was the first civil verdict for Iraq reconstruction fraud.

              But in 2006, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III overturned the jury award. He said Isakson and Baldwin failed to prove that the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S.-backed occupier of Iraq for 14 months, was part of the U.S. government.

              Not a single Iraq whistleblower suit has gone to trial since.

              “It’s a sad, heartbreaking comment on the system,” said Isakson, a former FBI agent who owns an international contracting company based in Alabama. “I tried to help the government, and the government didn’t seem to care.”

              U.S. shows little support?
              One way to blow the whistle is to file a “qui tam” lawsuit (taken from the Latin phrase “he who sues for the king, as well as for himself”) under the federal False Claims Act.

              Signed by Abraham Lincoln in response to military contractors selling defective products to the Union Army, the act allows private citizens to sue on the government’s behalf.

              The government has the option to sign on, with all plaintiffs receiving a percentage of monetary damages, which are tripled in these suits.

              It can be a straightforward and effective way to recoup federal funds lost to fraud. In the past, the Justice Department has joined several such cases and won. They included instances of Medicare and Medicaid overbilling, and padded invoices from domestic contractors.

              But the government has not joined a single quit tam suit alleging Iraq reconstruction abuse, estimated in the tens of millions. At least a dozen have been filed since 2004.

              “It taints these cases,” said attorney Alan Grayson, who filed the Custer Battles suit and several others like it. “If the government won’t sign on, then it can’t be a very good case — that’s the effect it has on judges.”

              The Justice Department declined comment.

              Placed under guard, kept in seclusion
              Most of the lawsuits are brought by former employees of giant firms. Some plaintiffs have testified before members of Congress, providing examples of fraud they say they witnessed and the retaliation they experienced after speaking up.

              Julie McBride testified last year that as a “morale, welfare and recreation coordinator” at Camp Fallujah, she saw KBR exaggerate costs by double- and triple-counting the number of soldiers who used recreational facilities.

              She also said the company took supplies destined for a Super Bowl party for U.S. troops and instead used them to stage a celebration for themselves.

              “After I voiced my concerns about what I believed to be accounting fraud, Halliburton placed me under guard and kept me in seclusion,” she told the committee. “My property was searched, and I was specifically told that I was not allowed to speak to any member of the U.S. military. I remained under guard until I was flown out of the country.”

              Halliburton and KBR denied her testimony.

              She also has filed a whistleblower suit. The Justice Department has said it would not join the action. But last month, a federal judge refused a motion by KBR to dismiss the lawsuit.

              'I thought I was among friends'
              Donald Vance, the contractor and Navy veteran detained in Iraq after he blew the whistle on his company’s weapons sales, says he has stopped talking to the federal government.

              Navy Capt. John Fleming, a spokesman for U.S. detention operations in Iraq, confirmed the detentions but said he could provide no further details because of the lawsuit.

              According to their suit, Vance and Ertel gathered photographs and documents, which Vance fed to Chicago FBI agent Travis Carlisle for six months beginning in October 2005. Carlisle, reached by phone at Chicago’s FBI field office, declined comment. An agency spokesman also would not comment.

              The Iraqi company has since disbanded, according the suit.

              Vance said things went terribly wrong in April 2006, when he and Ertel were stripped of their security passes and confined to the company compound.

              Panicking, Vance said, he called the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, where hostage experts got on the phone and told him “you’re about to be kidnapped. Lock yourself in a room with all the weapons you can get your hands on.”’

              The military sent a Special Forces team to rescue them, Vance said, and the two men showed the soldiers where the weapons caches were stored. At the embassy, the men were debriefed and allowed to sleep for a few hours. “I thought I was among friends,” Vance said.

              An unspoken Baghdad rule
              The men said they were cuffed and hooded and driven to Camp Cropper, where Vance was held for nearly three months and his colleague for a little more than a month. Eventually, their jailers said they were being held as security internees because their employer was suspected of selling weapons to terrorists and insurgents, the lawsuit said.

              The prisoners said they repeatedly told interrogators to contact Carlisle in Chicago. “One set of interrogators told us that Travis Carlisle doesn’t exist. Then some others would say, ’He says he doesn’t know who you are,”’ Vance said.

              Released first was Ertel, who has returned to work in Iraq for a different company. Vance said he has never learned why he was held longer. His own interrogations, he said, seemed focused on why he reported his information to someone outside Iraq.

              And then one day, without explanation, he was released.

              “They drove me to Baghdad International Airport and dumped me,” he said.

              When he got home, he decided to never call the FBI again. He called a lawyer, instead.

              “There’s an unspoken rule in Baghdad,” he said. “Don’t snitch on people and don’t burn bridges.”

              For doing both, Vance said, he paid with 97 days of his life.

              © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

              Nominee: PW's Most Knowledgeable Poster, 2006
              Co-winner: PW's Most Knowledgeable Nerd, 2006


              • #22
                Re: WI General Discussion

                If American businesses can go to other countries in order to get cheaper labor, then Americans damn well deserve the right to get cheaper drugs from other countries.


                • #23
                  Re: WI General Discussion

                  Personally I'm fine with splitting up electoral votes on the basis of how many votes someone got in a state. This will force candidates to think beyond the major cities like many do in a state like California. Right now in Cali all a candidate has to do is win over the people in the cities, whom often lean more left then right, to get all the electoral votes for the state. By splitting the votes up, it will require candidates to appeal more to those outside the main cities as well as those in them.


                  • #24
                    Re: WI General Discussion

                    Originally posted by Kaysa
                    If American businesses can go to other countries in order to get cheaper labor, then Americans damn well deserve the right to get cheaper drugs from other countries.
                    This is not just an American problem, industries all over the western world is moving eastward for cheap labour in India and China. Atleast companies dealing with natural recourses can't flag out to other countries, and the U.S has tons of natural recourses that has not been fully utulized yet Oil,minerals,fishing,carpenting etc. So the future might not be as dark as we think.

                    Another method of securing jobs and work, is for the people who run this country to buy up Private owned companies to secure thier presence in the USA. Tough this would be very expensive... But in the long run worth it IMO.


                    • #25
                      Re: WI General Discussion

                      Originally posted by Razor_Blade
                      Another method of securing jobs and work, is for the people who run this country to buy up Private owned companies to secure thier presence in the USA. Tough this would be very expensive... But in the long run worth it IMO.
                      Could you be more specific when you mean "the people". Do you mean our elite, or middle class? What? And how would this do anything?


                      • #26
                        Re: WI General Discussion

                        Originally posted by Kaysa
                        Could you be more specific when you mean "the people". Do you mean our elite, or middle class? What? And how would this do anything?
                        I mean the people in the white house.. In otherwords the the U.S. Government. It should buy up stocks and shares in in big american companies to ensure that they will not flag out to other countries.

                        Norway has allready done stuff like this (See the ormen lange/gas to the UK thingy that airs now and then on Discovery Channel.) The Norwegian state owns as much as 64% of the share holding in StatoilHydro wich is/will be the biggest offshore oil and gas company in the world.


                        • #27
                          Re: WI General Discussion

                          I almost never label anything "communist" but the government buying up controlling shares of businesses in the private sector runs pretty close to me.

                          I can't see Americans going for it.

                          Nominee: PW's Most Knowledgeable Poster, 2006
                          Co-winner: PW's Most Knowledgeable Nerd, 2006


                          • #28
                            Re: WI General Discussion

                            ^Bah, it wouldn't help America's case anyway. Communism has been proven as a failure anyway, so it's not even an option. Plus, USA's territory isn't giving enough natural ressources such as oil, steel or wood. Therefore, there's an obligation for United States to open the borders and deal with other countries.


                            • #29
                              Re: WI General Discussion


                              Alex the African Grey Parrot Dies at 31, Brain Of 5 Year-Old Child
                              Alex, the world renowned African Grey parrot made famous by the ground-breaking cognition and communication research conducted by Brandeis scientist Irene Pepperberg, Ph.D., died at the age of 31 on September 6, 2007.

                              Dr. Pepperberg’s pioneering research resulted in Alex learning elements of English speech to identify 50 different objects, 7 colors, 5 shapes, quantities up to and including 6 and a zero-like concept.

                              He used phrases such as “I want X” and “Wanna go Y”, where X and Y were appropriate object and location labels. He acquired concepts of categories, bigger and smaller, same-different, and absence.

                              Alex combined his labels to identify, request, refuse, and categorize more than 100 different items demonstrating a level and scope of cognitive abilities never expected in an avian species. Pepperberg says that Alex showed the emotional equivalent of a 2 year-old child and intellectual equivalent of a 5 year-old.

                              Her research with Alex shattered the generally held notion that parrots are only capable of mindless vocal mimicry. In 1973, Dr. Pepperberg was working on her doctoral thesis in theoretical chemistry at Harvard University when she watched Nova programs on signing chimps, dolphin communication and, most notably, on why birds sing.

                              She realized that the fields of avian cognition and communication were not only of personal interest to her but relatively uncharted territory. When she finished her thesis, she left the field of chemistry to pursue a new direction—to explore the avian brain. She decided to conduct her research with an African Grey parrot.

                              In order to assure she was working with a bird representative of its species, she asked the shop owner to randomly choose any African Grey from his collection.

                              It was Alex. And so the one-year old Alex, his name an acronym for the research project, Avian Learning EXperiment, became an integral part of Pepperberg’s life and the pioneering studies she was about to embark upon.

                              Over the course of 30 years of research, Dr. Pepperberg and Alex revolutionized the notions of how birds think and communicate. What Alex taught Dr.

                              Pepperberg about cognition and communication has been applied to therapies to help children with learning disabilities.

                              Alex’s learning process is based on the rival-model technique in which two humans demonstrate to the bird what is to be learned. Dr. Pepperberg will continue her innovative research program with Griffin and Arthur, two other young African Grey parrots who have been a part of the ongoing research program.

                              Alex has left a significant legacy—not only have he and Dr. Pepperberg and their landmark experiments in modern comparative psychology changed our views of the capabilities of avian minds, but they have forever changed our perception of the term “bird brains.”

                              source: Brandeis University.

                              Nominee: PW's Most Knowledgeable Poster, 2006
                              Co-winner: PW's Most Knowledgeable Nerd, 2006


                              • #30
                                Re: WI General Discussion

                                I just wanted to know and get a discussion going on people's thoughts of federal education and its powers versus local control; as well as debate the idea of eliminating federal education altogether.

                                I am personally for full local control over schools. That means that the federal government relinquishes all control over the public school systems of this country and moves all of its powers and spending back over to states and most importantly, local school districts. Over the years federal education and education spending on the federal level has gotten us nothing more then failing results, difficult and sometimes unachievable standards, bloated bureaucracies that oversee ineffective programs (like NCLB Act) and have ballooned our national budget only adding at times to a deficit. Schools are no doubt best run when local people, who know what is best for their area and situation, run and over see schools. When money can be spent on what is need most in a district or state as opposed to meeting tooth and nail some pretentious or ridiculous federal guidelines. Ronald Reagan was 100% right about eliminating the Department of Education. Eliminating that department is truly the only way to raise standards of schools and fully return local control to all the states and school districts of America.


                                Elimination Lost: What happened to abolishing the Department of Education?

                                by Veronique de Rugy & Marie Gryphon

                                February 11, 2004

                                Veronique De Rugy is a fiscal-policy analyst and Marie Gryphon is an education-policy analyst with the Cato Institute.

                                Massive political realignments are often underreported because political insiders have no incentive to discuss them. When one political party co-opts a policy supported by the other, the outmaneuvered party can't acknowledge that its opponents are doing what it has pledged to do for years. The ascendant party gags disappointed loyalists by promising that any political capital gained will be spent on their causes. But that promise is rarely kept.

                                Witness the realignment dynamic in George W. Bush's education policy.

                                As recently as 1996, the Republican party sought to abolish the Department of Education as an inappropriate intrusion into state, local and family affairs. The GOP platform that year was clear: "The Federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in school curricula or to control jobs in the market place. This is why we will abolish the Department of Education."

                                While the Republican congresses of the mid-1990s are most famous for their efforts to eliminate the department, their goal was not a new one. Conservatives had talked about eliminating the department since its creation by President Carter. President Reagan made a campaign pledge to eliminate it, and renewed his promise in his first State of the Union address in January 1982: "The budget plan I submit to you on Feb. 8 will realize major savings by dismantling the Department of Education."

                                Unfortunately, President Reagan was unable to achieve his goal because of solid opposition by the Democratic House. President Bush has done far worse, and with far less excuse. In his State of the Union address last month, the president touted huge federal education-spending increases — the largest under any president since Lyndon B. Johnson — as an accomplishment of his presidency.

                                Not that education spending has been out of line with other current White House policies. President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have increased total federal spending by at least $533 billion in just three years. This fiscally irresponsible pattern is set by the White House, which often requests spending increases but seldom proposes offsetting cuts. Today, Republicans do not talk about eliminating individual programs, much less entire agencies.

                                The Department of Education itself has grown by 69.6 percent between 2002 and 2004: from $46,282 million in FY2002 to $60,600 million in FY2004. This is a remarkable increase from a party so recently committed to devolving control over education — and the silence of loyalists on this issue is still more remarkable.

                                The No Child Left Behind Act has made federal education-spending increases a domestic priority. Conservatives claim that runaway spending is the political price of an important reform effort. But we have seen billions spent and little reform to show for it.

                                The centerpiece of the act, the part for which all the money was supposedly paid, are the provisions that demand alternative educational opportunities for children trapped in failing schools. If the Act had indeed secured their escape, it might have been a fair ransom.

                                But the private-school-choice provisions of the act, which would have provided families with real power, were a casualty of political compromise. And the so-called "public-school choice" components have been eviscerated or ignored with impunity by state bureaucracies. In Chicago last year, for example, about 3,000 transfer slots were offered to the 125,000 children trapped in Chicago's failing schools. Moreover, the transfers were to schools only marginally better than the failing ones.

                                Shoved further to the left by the president's remarkable spendthriftiness on the department, Democrats now complain that the increases should be larger. Though unprecedented in scope, the budget remains smaller than promised, opponents claim, in a deal that should make Senator Edward Kennedy proud.

                                Thus, the education debate this election year is not whether the federal government should be micromanaging K-12 at unprecedented expense and with dubious results, but whether or not doubling the federal role in less than a decade is good enough. This is a coup for Democrats on par with Republicans' welfare reform victory of 1996.

                                Just as British Prime Minister Tony Blair achieved Labor hegemony through policies virtually indistinguishable from those of his opponents, the Bush administration now seeks to solidify Republican control by promoting policies — unconstitutional, to boot — that should make their loyalists blush.

                                Small government conservatives should carefully separate the political victories of this administration from its actual victories. In federal education policy, they have suffered a defeat.

                                This article originally appeared in NRO on February 11, 2004.