The Follies (of the Right)

The Follies (of the Right)

- in Fitzsimon File

As shocking as it may seem, Raleigh's leading market fundamentalist think tank is sponsoring yet another event for the global warming deniers. A September luncheon will feature Dr. Roy Spencer from the University of Alabama in Huntsville explaining why all the fuss about global warming is unjustified.

Spencer is associated with the Marshall Institute, a Washington think tank funded by the usual right wing cast of characters and corporate interests like Exxon Mobil. As Media Matters pointed out a few years ago "the nonpartisan Congressional Quarterly calls the Marshall Institute a Washington-based think tank supported by industry and conservative foundations that focuses primarily on trying to debunk global warming as a threat."

Spencer is a frequent guest on the denier circuit and has of course spun his faux science on the Rush Limbaugh show. And it is not just global warming that Spencer denies. He is also a supporter of intelligent design, a discredited theory that its adherents present to challenge evolution.

There appears to be no truth to the speculation that Spencer will return to Raleigh this winter to present his scientific evidence that the sun actually revolves around the earth.

Speaking of the folks on the Right, George Leef with the Pope Center to Dismantle Public Higher Education is very excited about an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal complaining about the government addressing the housing crisis and blaming the government for the problem in the first place.

Better to let the magic, mystical, marvelous market sort everything out of course. In his glowing review of the Journal's take on housing Leef praises the drafters of the Constitution for limiting the role of the federal government in areas he doesn't think it belongs in and he starts his list with education.

That ought to confirm that an important goal of folks like Leef is to end public education. As if to make sure we know it, Leef also recently pointed out to his readers a column by Libertarian Vin Suprynowicz in which he calls public schools "ignorance factories."

Let's hope state policymakers and legislative candidates keep all that in mind the next time they receive some information about reforming public education from the market fundamentalists. They don't want to reform it. They want to destroy it. At least Leef is up front about it.

The Pope empire is less unified on one aspect of the immigration debate that has many politicians cowering in fear on the advice of their political consultants, access to higher education for undocumented students.

The Pope Civitas Institute has emerged as a leading voice for denying a community college education to kids who were brought here by their parents and succeeded in public schools, even if the students can pay out-of-state tuition, which is more than it cost the state to educate them.

But late last year, Jane Shaw, the head of the Pope Center that also employs George Leef, wrote a column saying that undocumented students should be allowed to enroll in state community colleges. That can't make too many of the ideologues on the right happy.

Neither can a thoughtful guest column in the Burlington Times this week by Marilyn Tyler of Burlington about the recent arrest of a popular librarian who now faces a prison term and deportation.

Tyler ends her column with a quote that is worth remembering.

"America's immigration system is outdated, unsuited to the needs of our economy and to the values of our country. We should not be content with laws that punish hardworking people who want only to provide for their families, and deny businesses willing workers, and invite chaos at our border."

President George W. Bush said that in his State of the Union address in 2005. It brings to mind a quote from Ronald Reagan, the most revered modern president by the folks on the right. In the second debate with Democrat Walter Mondale in 1984 presidential campaign, Reagan was asked about illegal immigration and his answer included this.

"I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and who have lived here even though sometime back they may have entered illegally."  

Reagan is mentioned often by the folks on the right in all sorts of contexts to support various policy proposals, but don't spend any time looking for the quote on immigration in any of the propaganda. It appears to have been conveniently been forgotten.  

About the author

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina.