- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 27, 2006

Plame game

“Now that Joseph and Valerie Wilson’s fantasies of having been persecuted by high officials in the administration have been so thoroughly dispelled by Robert Novak (and now that it seems the prosecutor has determined that there was no breach of the relevant laws to begin with), we may return to the more important original question. Was there good reason to suppose that Iraqi envoys visited Niger in search of ‘yellowcake’ uranium ore? …

“In February 1999 one of Saddam Hussein’s chief nuclear goons paid a visit to Niger, but his identity was not noticed by Joseph Wilson, nor emphasized in his ‘report’ to the CIA, nor mentioned at all in his later memoir. …

“[T]he facts are still the facts, and it is high time that they received one-millionth of the attention that the ‘Plamegate’ farce has garnered.”

—Christopher Hitchens, writing on “Case Closed,” Tuesday in Slate at www.slate.com

Teaching vs. tests

“Test scores are the last refuge of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). They have to be, because so little else about the act is attractive.

“NCLB takes a giant step toward nationalizing elementary and secondary education, a disaster for federalism. …

“NCLB has not had a significant impact on overall test scores and has not narrowed the racial and socioeconomic achievement gap.

“Is it too early to tell? As a parent who has had children in public schools since NCLB began, I don’t think so. The Frederick County, Md., schools our children have attended have turned themselves inside out to try to produce the right test results, with dismaying effects on the content of classroom instruction and devastating effects on teacher morale. We actually lost our best English teacher to the effects of high-stakes testing. ‘I want to teach my students how to write,’ he said, ‘not teach them how to pass a test that says they can write.’ He quit.”

—Charles Murray, writing on “By the numbers,” Tuesday in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

‘Good intentions’

“In many ways, the political power of conservatives in America today is at its height. Republicans — the moderates in their ranks reduced to insignificance — control the White House, both houses of Congress, and have a majority on the Supreme Court. Compared with just a decade ago, conservative influence in the media has grown by leaps and bounds as well, both in ‘traditional’ venues such as television (with the advent of Fox News) and in new ones such as blogs.

“Yet American conservatism today also seems more divided than ever. Today, there is intense criticism of the Bush administration from neoconservatives who believe that the administration’s foreign policy toward North Korea, Iran, and Syria is so dovish as to amount to appeasement. … Meanwhile … veteran conservative pundit George F. Will castigates both the neoconservatives who arrogantly push the administration toward more misadventures abroad and the administration itself for naive rhetoric about democracy’s spread. …

“Unlike many Bush critics on the left, I don’t believe that this administration is made up of villains who want to rape the Constitution, slaughter and torture brown-skinned people in the Middle East, and reduce the American people to a mass of compliant sheep. It seems likely to me that Bush and many of those around him are motivated by good intentions. … But these good intentions have been coupled with an arrogance of power that may yet take us down the proverbial road to hell.”

—Cathy Young, writing on “A chasm in conservatism,” Sunday in the Boston Globe

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