Hollywood hypocrisy. Actor Matt Damon not only speaks out in favor of public education, he lambasts those who criticize it. In 2011, on a video that went viral, he railed at a reporter from the libertarian publication Reason for questioning the effectiveness of public schools. But this week comes word that his own children go to private schools. During an interview with a British newspaper to promote his new movie, Damon said American schools were not “progressive” enough for him. The uber-wealthy star (he has a net worth reported to be near $100 million) can afford private school. I wonder if Damon is “progressive” enough to allow poor people to have some of the same choices he has by advocating for school vouchers or tax credits?
Prison reform. Almost 2 million Americans are in prison. We spend about $60 billion a year to keep them there. These numbers alone should get our attention and make prison reform a high priority, writes National Review’s Rich Lowry. Reform is especially important since 95 percent of prisoners will eventually get out of prison and become once again a part of society. Unfortunately, according to Lowry, prison stays are too often a “graduate seminar in crime.” So how do we reform the prison-industrial complex? Lowry says it will take conservative values. He cites an initiative by the Texas Public Policy Foundation called “Right on Crime” as providing good guidance for reform. He and other conservative advocates for prison reform want prisoners to work, both to learn the value of hard work but also to gain valuable skills. (Labor unions, by the way, resist this idea, fearing competition.) Greater contact with families and more faith-based programs will also help. “There should be maximum openness to faith-based programs, such as those run by the splendid Christian organization Prison Fellowship,” writes Lowry.
CNN voodoo. CNN is hoping a little more “eye of newt” and a little less “hair of wolf” will create the right potion to attract viewers to the once dominant but now declining news channel. This week CNN announced Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room is cutting back to 90 minutes, and a newly revamped Crossfire will take up the lost time. The new program will include Newt Gingrich and conservative firecracker S.E. Cupp. Also getting the ax is Anderson Cooper 360's 10 p.m. rerun of its original 8 p.m. airing. Cooper will now host AC360 Later at 10 p.m. It’s part of an ongoing shakeup at CNN. Situation Room had already lost an hour back in February, when it was cut from three to two hours to make room for The Lead with Jake Tapper.
Romney redux. Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney spoke at a New Hampshire fundraiser this week. Those in attendance got another dose of his weak medicine. He warned congressional Republicans against forcing a government shutdown in their attempts to stop Obamacare. Romney might as well have been reading from President Barack Obama’s teleprompter when he said, “What would come next when soldiers aren’t paid, when seniors fear for their Medicare and Social Security, and when the FBI is off duty?” First of all, none of these doomsday consequences would come to pass during a government shutdown of non-essential services. The last time the government “shut down,” I was amazed at how little was actually shut down. Secondly, even if he’s right, and the consequences are draconian, you lose your leverage if your opponent thinks you’re not serious. Romney’s signal to the Democrats that Republicans won’t actually make good on this threat undermines the efforts of conservatives such as Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, who want Republicans to vote against any spending bill that includes funding for Obamacare. Of course, given what we now know about Romney, none of this is a surprise.