Wait and See

November 25, 2016

I've said many times that it was pointless to argue about potential Trump Cabinet picks before they were officially picked. Well, President-elect Trump has now named Betsy DeVos to head the Department of Education, so let the arguments begin.

DeVos is a major GOP donor; a strong advocate for voucher programs and charter schools; and the chairwoman of the American Federation for Children, an organization that crusades for allowing parents to use public school money to send their kids to private schools of their choice. So you’d expect her selection to draw howls from Democrats who are joined at the hip with public school teachers’ unions. But some conservatives also oppose DeVos because of her previous championing of the controversial Common Core education initiative. She now says she opposes it, but some on the right don’t believe her. To be fair, many Republicans supported Common Core initially as just a basic national standard for education, but turned on it when they saw the heavy-handed way it was being implemented as a federal takeover of schools.

I expect that we will discover her true opinion on Common Core once she’s on the job, and until then, the criticism will have little effect. Congress usually lets a new President have the Cabinet he wants, unless someone is manifestly unqualified. And whether you agree with Trump’s pick of Betsy DeVos or not, it’s obvious she could easily ace any standardized test of expertise in America’s education system.

Read more.

Rest In Peace

November 12, 2016

Sad to report that one of Hollywood’s most popular leading men, Robert Vaughn, has died at 83. He’s best remembered as the star of the iconic ‘60s spy series, “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” which is enjoying a revival thanks to the vogue for cool midcentury pop culture. But he also appeared in countless other classic movies and TV shows, including one of the most-watched movies of all time, “The Magnificent Seven.” Vaughn once revealed that the cast assumed it would be “the bomb of all time,” and they spent much of the location shoot in Mexico drinking margaritas, smoking marijuana and sitting on the toilet with food poisoning. Well, magnificence sometimes arises from humble sources.

And in case you’re wondering: yes, Vaughn’s partner on “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” David McCallum (“Illya Kuryakin”) is alive and well and still acting. You can see him just about every week as medical examiner as Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on “NCIS.” Apparently, he only takes roles with weird names on shows with acronyms in the title.