The 19th-century novelist Horatio Alger had one vein of narrative skill, and he mined it deeply. Alger specialized in stories about young boys who escaped poverty through hard work and/or good character. His fourth book, Ragged Dick, exemplifies the form. At the outset of the novel, Dick is a 14 year-old bootblack living on the streets. Various middle- and upper-class characters note his refusal to steal, supporting him in small ways until he has occasion to rescue a drowning child. The child’s grateful father gives Dick a suit and a job in his firm. Now a respectable member of middle-class society, Dick changes his name to Richard Hunter, Esq., and lives (mostly) happily through six sequels.
Despite its manifest limitations, Combat! blog strives to appear fair and reasonable. Our discussions here may be colored by liberal bias, occasional smug atheism and captions about seagulls swooping at Anne Coulter’s vagina, but we try to maintain at least a pose of circumspection. Nobody wants to read blog posts by a person who already knows what he thinks about everything. That being said: today I read about Rick Perry’s declaration that President Obama “grew up in a privileged way” and that “that mentality of ‘I’m the smartest guy in the room and therefore it couldn’t be my fault’ is really hurting America.” And I thought to myself, you craven little ponce. Only for once, I was thinking that about someone else. So today’s Combat! blog post is basically just a rant. Rick Perry is a mediocre man and a bidder for the admiration of the crowd. His campaign for the presidency is important only insofar as it warns us against the legions of men exactly like him who will come after, and who will also be too dishonest and stupid to do us any good.
Quick—what’s the most federally-funded institute of higher education in the nation? Don’t think about the headline of today’s post; just say UCLA or Ohio State or something. Actually, the answer may surprise you: it’s Liberty University, the “Christian evangelical university” founded by television pastor and former fraud indictee Jerry Falwell. Liberty* is a larger recipient of federal student aid dollars than any college or university in the country, in large part due to its online program, which enrolled 53,000 students last year. Along with the 12,000 students at its residential campus, those young scholars gave Liberty $445 million in taxpayer dollars—$25 million more than last year’s federal allocation to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The news is counterintuitive, given the Falwell family’s ultraconservative and explicitly anti-federal politics. Maybe that’s why, for at least part of last week, Liberty University blocked campus internet access to the Lynchburg News and Advance, the paper that originally ran the story. Or God did it—whatever.