George W. Bush

George W. Bush gave a commencement address Saturday at Southern Methodist University in Texas, a speech that included a few jokes as well as some spiritual words of inspiration for the class of 2015.

“Moses recognized the call to serve something greater than himself. He answered the call, led his people, and history was made,” the former U.S. president said. “You, too, will be called at some point. The question … is: Will you be optimistic and hopeful, or pessimistic and cynical? Here are three reasons why you should be optimistic and hopeful.”

Reason No. 1? The more than 2,000 graduates attended a “great” university (wife and former First Lady Laura Bush’s alma mater; she currently serves as a SMU trustee).

“Secondly, you are blessed to live in the greatest nation – ever,” said Bush, prompting applause. “Here you can strive and succeed as far as you dare to dream.”

He encouraged student to serve others through volunteering and other selfless acts.

Quoting a World War II speech by Winston Churchill, Bush said: “These are not dark days. These are great days. The greatest our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.”

His third reason? A loving God.

“And finally, you can be hopeful because there is a loving god,” he said. “Whether you agree with that statement is your choice, it is not your government’s choice. It is essential to this nation’s future that we remember that the freedom to worship who we want, and how we want—or not worship at all—is a core belief of our founding.”

“I have made my choice,” he went on. “I believe that the Almighty’s grace and unconditional love will sustain you. I believe it will bring you joy amidst the trials of life. It will enable you to better see the beauty around you. It will provide a solid foundation amidst a rapidly changing, somewhat impersonal, technologically driven world. It will show you how to love your neighbor, forgive more easily, and approach success with humility—and failure without fear.”

“It will inspire you to honor your parents and eventually be a better spouse and parent yourself. It will help you fully grasp the value of life—all life. It will remind you that money, power, and fame are false idols. And I hope and believe that God’s love will inspire you to serve others.”

The Hill notes his reference to religious liberty comes as controversy over religious liberty laws have roiled the country.

But Bush’s speech also included several light-hearted moments, including this quip: “And as I like to tell the C students, you too can be president.” The joke prompted huge applause and cheers.

Another joke was this one: “So I got a call from my landlord – [campus President] Gerald Turner. … I was relieved to hear President Turner ask if I believed in free speech. I said yeah. He said, ‘Perfect. Here’s your chance to give one.'”

Bush received standing ovations both when he took the podium and at the conclusion of his speech.

Read a full transcript here.

IMAGE: SMU acreenshot

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The guy has been out of office for almost six years, yet the silliness towards former President George W. Bush persists.

In this case, students at McKinley Middle School in Washington DC were given a Venn diagram assignment where they were to “compare the similarities and differences between the president and the dictator, ‘two men of power who abused their power in various ways.'”

The assignment’s instructions read:

Now that we have read about two men of power who abused their power in various ways, we will compare and contrast them and their actions. Please refer to your texts “Fighting Hitler — a Holocaust story” and “Bush: Iraq War Justified Despite No WMD” to compare and contrast former President George W. Bush and Hitler. We will use this in class tomorrow for an activity!

A photo of the assignment was posted to Twitter:

DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said that such an assignment is “not supposed to be part of the D.C. education experience.”

A district spokeswoman elaborated, saying it was “poor judgement on the teacher’s part,” and that students will get an apology for the assignment. Letters will be sent home to parents, too, explaining “the incident.”

Read the full article here.

h/t to The Corner.

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IMAGE: Dirk Grund/Flickr

There is a motto at Ohio State University emblazed on its crest: “Disciplina in civitatem.” Translation: Education for Citizenship.

Unfortunately, the school does not live up to its creed.

James Madison once remarked that if a people wish to rule themselves, they must be educated; and here, amongst the tall trees and balmy summers, the snow and frigid winters, Ohio State students strive toward enriching their minds in the hopes of enriching their pocketbooks and communities.

There is, however, a systemic failure on this campus, and that is the school cannot provide an adequate education, cannot put forth to a student – in other than the technical disciplines – an education that is able to prepare them for citizenship.

As I transfer out of Ohio State, I look back on some of my humanities and social science classes over the last two years with some measure of disappointment and frustration.

Take my “History of American Capitalism” class, one in which I was spoken over as soon as I began to correct the instructor that it was in fact not George W. Bush that repealed Glass-Steagall, but his predecessor, Bill Clinton.

Needless to say, my papers submitted containing accurate histories of this country’s capitalism were similarly dismissed with red pen strokes. After the first occurrence, I sat with the TA and explained how I was not, in fact, wrong in my historical points. The points docked, were never replaced. I stopped looking at my grades after that meeting.

Now perhaps this seems trivial, and the manner in which students were expected to regurgitate an inaccurate quarter-long history of our country may seem insignificant.

But in the words of financial analyst and military consultant on financial warfare James Rickard, author of Currency Wars: “The oldest propaganda technique is to repeat a lie emphatically and often until it is taken for the truth… In fact, the financial crisis might not have happened at all but for the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall law.”

So, an accurate History of American Capitalism in this country – out the window; it was, after all, during the Republican primaries, so truth could take a backseat to political purposes.

In another class, my comparison of President Bush to Lao Tzu’s comments on the greatness of simple men were similarly not appreciated by my Asian philosophy professor, even though they were made largely tongue in cheek.

My German II class, which I have previously written on, was one in which learning the language was often not the primary focus.

The class delved into instruction now and again, but it quickly became apparent I was the lone conservative in a classroom in which learning German took a backseat to discussions on the prowess of Barack Obama, American narcissism, the virtues of socialism, the sad plight of Chicago’s teachers, and why the U.S. military is the reason the American education system is broken, just to name a few tangents I endured last fall.

I did not begin these discussions; I did, however, participate in them, to the great chagrin of all present. We learned how the cost of one fighter jet could fix the entire education system (as one of my classmates righteously proclaimed), and that the protesting teachers in Chicago were actually victims, according to my good professor.

Talk of the right diet for all Americans? Well, that lead to a question of whether or not a vegan had peed in my coffee. And, of course, who could forget our great Vice President Joe Biden serving as the topic of the first ten minutes of a less than hour-long class, when he became our professor’s new favorite politician.

During the 2012 presidential election, as documented by The College Fix last fall, OSU became our president’s playground. Anytime he needed a backdrop of screaming and adoring members of the youngest voting bloc, the campus practically shut down for him. Inside the classroom, students were told how great he is, then given the chance to scream like he was The Beatles reincarnated.

(In an interesting coincidence, Ohio State received the largest increase, by percentage, of Pell Grants in 2013.)

I have spent two years here. I came hoping to learn one thing, and instead learned another. This public university’s loyalty to the causes supported and promulgated by Democrats and socialists has not been lost on Obama, who dropped in on the Columbus campus about a half-dozen times in the span of roughly two years.

So it’s no surprise that Obama, in his speech to the graduating class of 2013 earlier this month, warned students to reject those who warn about government tyranny, and to be good citizens. And he thanked them for their service.

“And as citizens, we understand that it’s not about what America can do for us, it’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but absolutely necessary work of self-government,” Obama had said. “And class of 2013, you have to be involved in that process.”

I, however, refuse to be a party to it anymore. If this is Ohio State’s “Education for Citizenship” – count me out.

Fix contributor Patrick Seaworth was a student at Ohio State University. He has since transferred to The King’s College, a private Christian college in Manhattan.

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After weeks of intense and sometimes personal attacks on Robert Zoellick and his political reputation by Swarthmore College students, the former president of the World Bank and U.S. trade representative announced he will decline the college’s invitation to give one of its commencement addresses.

Zoellick, who earned his bachelor’s degree with academic honors from Swarthmore in 1975, said in an email to the college’s president that returning to his alma mater for this June’s graduation ceremony – in which he was also slated to receive an honorary degree – was more controversial than it was worth.

Students in recent weeks have called him an architect of the Iraq War, claimed he characterizes Arabs as evil, criticized his stance on free trade, and even called him a war criminal.

Moreover, there were rumors that students would disrupt Zoellick’s graduation speech. Administrators also did little to quell student unrest over his scheduled appearance, nor did they dispute malicious accusations made against his record.

It was all too much for Zoellick.

“I don’t want to disrupt what should be a special day for the graduates, their families, and friends,” Zoellick stated. “Nor do I have an interest in participating in an unnecessarily controversial event.”

Swarthmore President Rebecca Chopp cited students’ protests over Zoellick’s slated appearance as the reason for his cancellation.

“In light of the discussions that have been taking place in the student press over the last week or so, in which the selection of Mr. Zoellick has been the subject of debate, he has informed us that he will neither accept the degree nor participate in the ceremony,” she said in a campuswide email sent Friday.

In the wake of the news, many students on campus Monday and Tuesday said amongst themselves that they are disappointed a vocal and misguided minority ruined an opportunity to hear Zoellick speak, as his views run contrary to much of the day-to-day campus discourse.

Most of the campus controversy had begun with student complaints over Zoellick’s role as an advisor to Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. Some students also shared concern that Zoellick signed a 1998 letter on behalf of the neoconservative Project for a New American Century in favor of “removing Saddam’s regime from power.”

For that 1998 letter and an article Zoellick wrote titled “A Republican Foreign Policy,” which appeared in Foreign Affairs in 2000, some students smeared Zoellick in campus publications as a “war criminal,” the “chief architect of the Iraq War,” and a man with a “Manichean” view of world power—claims reiterated on Facebook through a student-initiated forum to reconsider Zoellick’s honorary degree.

But the outspoken protestors may have been in the minority.

In a March 28 editorial in the Phoenix, Swarthmore’s weekly student newspaper, junior Tyler Becker argued that “boiling down Zoellick’s impressive public service career to the Iraq War is not only a gross mischaracterization, it’s factually wrong.”

Sam Sussman, a senior and coeditor of the progressive campus magazine Left of Liberal, also pushed back against Zoellick’s detractors.

Sussman said in an email that “after Mr. Zoellick’s less researched critics rightfully retreated from their incorrect accusation that he was ‘an architect’ of the Iraq War, they turned to the more nebulous — and equally erroneous — claim that he ‘characterizes Arabs as evil.’ ”

In an apparent concession that they had exaggerated facts connecting Zoellick to the Iraq War, student activists pivoted to other critiques of Zoellick’s record, namely his position as former U.S. trade representative and his support of free trade agreements.

Swarthmore senior Will Lawrence, who emerged as one of Zoellick’s most vocal critics last month, cited Zoellick’s affiliation with Goldman Sachs and advocacy for free trade in Latin America as reasons to oppose his honorary degree, for example.

Regardless of factual merit, controversy simmered in the campus newspapers for weeks, while the school’s administration and faculty failed to come to Zoellick’s defense.

Indeed, when students against Zoellick’s pending appearance organized a meeting to discuss his record further, campus administrators even sent Alina Wong, Dean of the Sophomore Class and Director of the Intercultural Center, to mediate the conversation.

By the time the meeting took place, the issue seemed to be quieting down, with only about 20 students in attendance. But by then, the campus was firmly polarized on the issue.

A minority of dissenters continued to frame Zolleick as an unacceptable commencement speaker in campus news media. This vocal minority also failed to quell rumors that they might resort to disrupting Zoellick’s portion of the graduation ceremony, though others suggest that they were only planning to protest Zoellick’s presence before his speech, not during the actual event.

Fix contributor Danielle Charette is a student at Swarthmore College.

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IMAGE: World Bank Photo Collection/Flickr

A new study published by a University of California sociology professor links the risk of suicide with gun ownership rates and people who voted for George W. Bush.

“States with the highest rates of gun ownership — for example, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Alabama, and West Virginia — also tended to have the highest suicide rates. These states were also carried overwhelmingly by George Bush in the 2000 presidential election.”

That’s how campus officials summed up the recently published study by the professor, who teaches at UC Riverside in Southern California.

The professor also argued stricter gun control laws would reduce suicide rates, but that won’t happen because too many Americans believe they have the right to bear arms.

“Although policies aimed at seriously regulating firearm ownership would reduce individual suicides, such policies are likely to fail not because they do not work, but because many Americans remain opposed to meaningful gun control, arguing that they have a constitutional right to bear arms,” sociology professor Augustine Kposowa was paraphrased as saying by UCR Today, an official campus publication.

“Even modest efforts to reform gun laws are typically met with vehement opposition,” Kposowa said. “There are also millions of Americans who continue to believe that keeping a gun at home protects them against intruders, even though research shows that when a gun is used in the home, it is often against household members in the commission of homicides or suicides. … Adding to the widespread misinformation about guns is that powerful pro-gun lobby groups, especially the National Rifle Association, seem to have a stranglehold on legislators and U.S. policy, and a politician who calls for gun control may be targeted for removal from office in a future election by a gun lobby.”

Read more.

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When I enrolled in German II at Ohio State University in the fall, I expected to learn the intermediate measures of the German language. As it turns out, that was hoping for too much.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. The class delved into instruction now and again, but it quickly became apparent I was the lone conservative in a classroom in which learning German took a backseat to discussions on the prowess of Barack Obama, American narcissism, the virtues of socialism, the sad plight of Chicago’s teachers, and why the U.S. military is the reason the American education system is broken, just to name a few tangents I endured over the fall semester.

I made the early mistake of participating in a classroom discussion on the Chicago teachers union protests shortly after the course launched. I pointed out to my esteemed professor – who felt compelled to defend the poor, embattled Chicago Teaches Union instead of focusing on teaching us how to conjugate verbs in German – that the average teacher in Chicago makes more than $80,000 a year. My professor reminded me that was just the average. So I reminded her the average taxpayer with a college degree makes roughly $48,000. It was all downhill from there.

In another example of a classroom lecture way off the beaten path, my medically based opposition to veganism as a broadly prescribed diet for the American public led to a peer asking me: “What, did a vegan pee in your coffee?” Where veganism fits within the German II syllabus I still have yet to ascertain. 

As an aside, as the son of two Air Force veterans, I felt compelled to inform that same classmate that her zealous belief that the cost of one F-22 Raptor could fix the entire education system was something drawn from a leftwing fairytale.

But the professor, far from discouraging this manner of conversation for the sake of an education in German, prodded these classroom digressions on. She even came up with plenty of her own.

Keep in mind much of this course unfolded during the height of the presidential election season, so perhaps it’s no surprise that at one point our professor asked us to compare our intelligence to that of President Obama. Yes, you read that correctly. Our educator made it a habit of seeking to reinforce the infallibility of our Commander in Chief’s wide-ranging vision for America.

For a bit of extra fun, we were asked to compare the intelligence of George W. Bush with Angela Merkel’s. To our professor’s credit, we were asked to do so in German.

Tax rates were another hot topic of discussion. Not so much that the German citizen faces incredibly high tax rates, but rather that Germany’s high tax rate allows for an orderly state, the kind of order that places young children into differing schools based on perceived capability. Taxation that gives free healthcare, welcomed by a collective refrain along the lines of: “If only we had a freer President to give us free healthcare.” Germany, a country that “actually does something with their tax dollars” in the words of one classmate.

Obama’s sound bite during the third presidential debate about horses and bayonets allowed for yet more American criticism in German II. The German state, that peaceful nation, was applauded for being a country in which the flying of its national flag is still taboo. Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden’s laughing fits during his debate made him my professor’s new favorite politician, as she informed us the next day.

To be fair, German II is not only meant to teach students how to engage in lengthy discussions in the foreign language, but it also aims to teach “cultural knowledge for effective communication,” according to the university’s course description.

As such, Germans were praised not just for their high taxes, their highly structured state, and their oh-so-rich history (Nazism was largely avoided), but also for their advanced civil culture, which includes a hatred of what we in America would refer to as patriotism, which they see as simple-minded jingoism.

We were taught the German state is not yet perfect, though. They have yet to remove their broadly evident racism toward Turkish workers who, invited in following the conclusion of World War II to aide in the rebuilding effort, have yet to leave Germany. 

Now whether or not the average German hates the values of the American Right is something that would be difficult for me to ascertain, as asking that question would require the use of the entire semester on a topic the course was intended to cover, rather than the “Dinner for Schmucks” I attended four times per week.

Fix contributor Patrick Seaworth is a student at Ohio State University.