Every now and then, we here at Bayard & Holmes are reassured that not all of the political crack heads in the democratic world reside in the US Congress or the White House.
As part of its counter-terrorism and security efforts, the UK has already enacted its “Prevent” program. Under the dictates of Prevent, 44,000 UK health care workers underwent one day of training to teach them to recognize potential terrorists. Now, patients from cradle to grave who enter UK health care facilities are having their terrorist potential evaluated. Fortunately for the Western world, a 9-yr-old extremist has already been identified and “deprogrammed,” thanks to this new human intelligence branch.
Armed and dangerous potential terrorist. Note the glee on this future terrorist’s face as he contemplates his innocent target.
In a follow up to this, the UK is currently considering a bill that would require all teachers to report children as young as toddlers as “potential terrorists.” One assumes the teachers would also be given one day of training to enable them to distinguish child terrors from child terrorists. (See UK Could Require Teachers to Report Would-Be Terrorists.)
Since both of us raised kids who periodically terrorized us during their adolescence years, we have a few suggestions for the UK to beef up their Counter-Toddler-Terrorist initiative:
Install CCTVs in each nursery school disposable diaper bin to monitor the true down and dirty activity of the UK’s Most Dangerous Babies. This is a critical task, which should only be trusted to the UK’s most prominent statesmen. Therefore, the top thousand Home Ministry officials will be vested with the duty of monitoring these CCTVs from their laptops 24/7.
Each toddler will be given an iPad and taught to Google search. GCHQ, the UK’s equivalent of the US’s NSA, will monitor the children and detain any of them who search on “Winnie the Pooh-Bomber” or “Blow Up Paddington Station Bear.”
All baby monitors will be tuned to the same channel and will be monitored at GCHQ 24/7. Any children babbling “Allahu Akbar” when they should be napping will be immediately detained.
Some suspiciously unpatriotic individuals in the UK are not taking the Home Office plans seriously, making comments like, “I knew those bastards were daffy!” To inspire those wafflers into the right attitude to maintain the UK’s safety from those who would overrun her and destroy her principles, “God save the Queen” will be replaced by the inspiring Nazi war hymn “Horst Wessel.” A few words of the lyrics will be changed to lend a uniquely British flavor to the song. Heil Home Minister! UK Ueber Alles!
As a mother who sat her kids in a roasting pan and pulled them around the living room, I can’t honestly think this was anything but a good time for a baby. She appears to be secure and not getting any rug burns. But one question does come to mind . . . Was she the something “new” or the something “borrowed”?
Big thanks to historical mystery author K.B. Owen for pointing me to this gem.
Blogs and Articles in No Particular Order
Peace Day and the Fallen Project. A group in Normandy remembers D-Day with a beautiful tribute. They draw 9,000 figures in the sand on the beach to represent the 9,000 that died during the Allied Invasion of Nazi-Occupied France.
Just released! Holmes and I used our special connections (a telephone call to each other for a snark session) to uncover the White House plans for dealing with the new $85 billion budget cuts. This is what we discovered.
image from wikimedia, public domain
The TSA has drafted a new, more cost-effective security procedure. Instead of TSA agents conducting pat-downs at airport security, the TSA now asks that passengers please grope the person in the security line immediately behind them before they board any planes. If anyone has religious or common sense objections to that procedure, they will instead be allowed to grope themselves, but only if a TSA agent is watching.
In light of education cuts, education in America will now be Pay Per View through Amazon. Since my teens assure me that fifty percent of their classmates only show up at school to do their drug deals and practice sex ed techniques in dark library corners, this should reduce education expenses by fifty percent. It will also have the complimentary effect of reducing local police budgets, as our officers will no longer be called on to arrest 5-yr-olds who threaten to shoot bubbles at their classmates.
To address the impending nationwide reduction of firefighters, President Obama today signed 52 executive orders banning lighters, matches, and Beyoncé videos. He also appointed a cattle woman from Chicago named Mrs. O’Leary as his new Fire Tzar to establish yet another over-paid bureaucracy devoted to studying the source of fire violence.
Holmes and I, shocked and awed by this approach to governmental thrift, have already drafted a letter to Congress proposing that America recoup that $85 billion cut by discontinuing the tens of billions we give in foreign aid to countries that hate us and harbor people who try to kill us. We would also downsize Michelle Obama’s lavish, non-stop, taxpayer-funded vacation to two weeks a year, which is what the few taxpayers left in America have to enjoy. We would suggest that, like America’s shrinking middle class, Michelle spend that two weeks cleaning out the basement and having a garage sale, but since we taxpayers own her furniture and china, we don’t want to give her that idea.
What are your thrifty suggestions for trimming our expenses?
Fall. The time when the years of bottles, diapers, potty training, play dates, eaten refrigerator magnets and beans up noses culminate in that most memorable of days, the First Day of Kindergarten. The day when mothers finally get to have a hot meal and possibly a drink for the first time since before pregnancy. Who care’s that it isn’t even noon?
Photo by Patsy Lynch, FEMA Photo Library, Wikimedia Commons
My son was terrified as I half drug him into the boutique charter school I had carefully vetted in my search for the foundation that would prevent him from making permanent, adult-sized dents in my couch at the age of eighteen. Back then, he still wanted to marry me when he grew up, and he thought digging in the back yard was the perfect career. With a quick hug and my best motherly assurances, I dashed away before he could see the tears streaming down my cheeks.
I spent the next two and a half hours imagining him singing with his class, frolicking at recess, and laughing with new friends. Then I rushed to pick him up, and this is what I found.
“I HATE THIS SCHOOL! THESE TEACHERS ARE MEAN, MEAN, MEAN, AND I’M NEVER COMING BACK AGAIN!”
My perfect angel was slouched in the hallway, already banished from the classroom and its bounty. Thus began our journey.
In the past eleven years, I have learned many lessons.
The fancy charter school in the next town over is not necessarily better than the unremarkable school up the street.
Children really ARE just like their parents.
All teachers say they want volunteers.
Some teachers actually do want volunteers.
Most teachers say they want volunteers because it’s District policy, but they actually pray in their hearts that they will never, ever have to talk to a parent outside of parent/teacher conferences because parents really ARE just like their children.
If I don’t believe everything my children say about their teachers, perhaps their teachers won’t believe everything my children say about me.
Photo of Schulers Donuts by Cindy Funk, Wikimedia Commons
And MOST importantly, exercise liberal Donut Diplomacy. Nothing receives a higher Good Will Return Quotient than a dozen donuts strategically delivered to the office staff periodically throughout the year. Trust me. The good will of the office staff is invaluable at blasting away the inevitable obstacles in the journey, and if there are enough donuts to share with the faculty and administrators, the Good Will Benefits compound exponentially.
My son and I visited colleges this summer. Turns out he is a born engineer, and he’s still out to proove digging is a career.
Today, he and I drove his terrified baby sister to her first day of high school. Our Last First Day on our family’s public school journey. He had some advice for her.
Don’t be narcissistic. You’ll stand out in a bad way.
If you’re going to play volleyball when high school boys are watching, no little shorts for you. You’ll have to find a way to play it in a burka.
Get a thicker skin. When you’re swimming with sharks, don’t bleed.
Together, we booted her out of the car with our love and the comforting lie that the three pounds she gained this week in her “salty meats therapy session” (aka compulsive salami consumption brought on by starting-high-school anxiety) didn’t really create a muffin top.
On this Last First Day, I do my children the now rare favor of picking up their belongings and planning a special dinner for them. But only after I duct tape the refrigerator door shut on the salami and fight off the weakness in my heart that says a couple of adult-sized dents in my couch might not be so bad.
What have your First Days been like? What are the lessons you’ve learned in your educational journeys?
My son is a geek. . . . It’s ok. I’m not insulting him. He’s very comfortable with the fact that he is a geek. He knows that geeks, especially those of the engineering variety, have high potential for good lives if they survive high school, and, at 6’7” tall and 260 lbs, he’s having no trouble surviving high school.
I recently had the opportunity to observe a huddle of 16-yr-old boys in their natural habitat (my family room), and as I watched them suck down copious amounts of food while never missing a kill with their gaming controls, I learned things I never would have guessed about boys back when I was a 16-yr-old girl.
The first thing is that 16-yr-old boys – at least the geeky engineering kind – are not ready to date. They didn’t speak much about girls, but what they did say let me know that the trashy girls are creepy to them, and, while they enjoy looking at all the girls and talking with the nice girls, they don’t see themselves as really having a place in their lives for girlfriends at this time. However, if the Victoria’s Secret supermodels wanted to take them in hand and teach them a few things, they would certainly love to be led.
They also have some eclectic tastes in music and amusements. Things like Jump, Jump, Jump Like a Kangaroo. It’s just a fun song, and kind of cool. I don’t think I knew what a diggeridoo was until I was at least twenty-five.
Then there’s Nyan Cat, the pop tart with a cat’s head that flies and p**ps rainbows. And the answer to it, Fiesta Dog. A flying taco with a dog’s head that lopes across the sky leavinga sparkly trail of blue stripes.
And let’s not miss the background music to one of their games. This is a piece by Cage the Elephant called Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked. Just in case you’re wondering, Cage the Elephant is a seemingly drunk garage band that somehow wandered into a recording studio, and no one caught them in time to prevent them from making a CD. I actually like a couple of their songs, and the rest of the CD I use to threaten the kids into silence on long road trips.
So back to the party. Excited utterances filled the air that night as the young men were consumed by the games as completely as they were, themselves, consuming our food.
“Screw you, Skippy the Turtle, you camping b*****d.” Apparently, “camping” in a combat video game is fun when you’re doing it, and annoying when anyone else does it.
“I hate these hacking noobs. We’re out of here.” Yes. People actually hack in and cheat in these games.
“Dude. Use the Wunder Waffle.” The Wunder Waffle (a.k.a. Wunderwaffe) is a gun used in Call of Duty that can shoot 15 zombies at a time.
And as for the Yo Mama jokes, I’m pleased to say I only knew about them because one young man is particularly loud, and his voice drifted up to the second floor now and then. The boys were all smiles and polite words when I was hanging out in the kitchen within their sight.
And while I was in the kitchen, I was deeply rewarded as a parent to see what sort of young man my son is becoming, and what wonderful company he keeps. They cleaned up their trash, kept each other in line, and respected our property. Also, there were five of them and only four game controls, but I constantly heard things like, “Two more matches, and we play R’s game,” and, “Here. You take this for a while.” On top of that, and warming my heart, they were all unfailingly courteous with Little Sister.
I confess I used to believe that teens had exactly no redeeming qualities, but now, 18 Cokes, 12 Pepsis, 2 ½ large pizzas, 16 breadsticks, ½ a cake, 2 boxes of Oreos, 1 bag of corn chips, 1 bag of potato chips, 1 pint of dip, 27 sausages, 11 turnovers, ½ gallon of lemonade, 28 honey BBQ boneless wings, and ½ box of Oats ‘n Crème cookies later, I revel in the privilege of getting to know and hang out with such fine human beings.
Young people these days. They’re just not as bad as they’re cracked up to be.
Do you have experience with teens? What do you see of Teen World?
All the best to all of you for avoiding hacking noobs, and watch out for Skippy the Turtle.
I don’t know about you folks, but I’m pretty disappointed in the self-serving, corporate-driven hairballs our political parties are coughing up for us these days. It’s always been my contention that, if you’re going to complain about how someone does their job, then you’d better be ready to get off your duff and do it yourself. So I will. Yes. I’m running for president.
Know up front that I refuse to affiliate with any political party. Ultimately, they are all more loyal to themselves than to the American people. The only party I will be a part of as your president is the Inaugural Ball. And since I am a dancer, I would be happy to provide the entertainment for that event in order to save you, the taxpayers, money.
As for my campaign, I am not asking for your money. I’m guessing in this economy, you need it. So how will I run? Social media. If Facebook and Twitter can make Betty White an icon among today’s teenagers, it can get me to the White House.
Know that as your president, I would not expect any remuneration beyond actual college expenses for my two children. . . . Oh, wait. The annual $180k that the president makes would be less than that. NVM. I will happily accept the lesser amount.
Also, as your president I won’t spend your millions on my family vacations, and I will continue to shop the sales at Eddie Bauer and Dillard’s. I won’t even take the silver and furniture from the White House with me when I leave. That’s been done.
Along those lines, I will also not redecorate the White House with your money. (Unless I find some gaudy animal print lurking in an obscure corner. That will have to go.) However, I will certainly fumigate all locations where our current president smokes while tacitly approving schemes to ban the asthma inhalers people need to stay in the same room with him.
The pillars of my platform are encouragement of personal responsibility, the rooting out of corruption, and a good smack upside the head for all whiners who won’t shut up and get busy making this world a better place.
So let’s get the touchy stuff out of the way, shall we?
One branch of my family ran another branch of my family down the Trail of Tears, and a third branch married them when they got to the end. That makes my race American. Check my census form. You’ll find it written there.
. . . Really?
Baseball. Baseball is a forward-looking religion with no dogma and lots of hope. We adherents know that, with the last swing of the bat at the end of the season, spring training is just around the corner. People of all faiths are welcome at baseball games, as long as they behave and treat their neighbors with respect. If they don’t behave, they will be relocated near the bullpen to be used as targets for pitcher warmups.
The Cathedral of My Religion, image from Wikimedia Commons by “The Silent Wind of Doom.”
Yes. I have one. It is extensive and colorful. I learned a great deal because the person who is the same at 50 as they are at 20 has wasted 30 years. I’ve made exceptional use of my time. So you media folks just come to me. I’ll give it to you straight. And remember, great things grow in dirt and manure.
As an added bonus, unlike the current leading candidates, I am happy to release all of my tax returns, my school records, and my legal birth certificate, along with all of my fake ID’s from my youth.
Yes. I have one of those, too. It ranges from small towns to urban centers, and from the bread and cheese line to law school. In other words, I’ve got both papers and street cred. I’d say “I feel your pain,” but that one’s been done, too.
I am not for sale to banks. I do not borrow money from the Chinese to give to my enemies. My retirement plan is not a Ponzi scheme, and to the best of my knowledge, I have successfully prevented trespassers from living in my home. That puts me ahead of our collective government right there. And no. I have never been president of my local PTA. However, I do manage a successful kingdom on a virtual reality game.
My stand on abortion:
I fully support retroactive abortion for all jihadis and skumbag phone solicitors. (I favor rehabilitation for any honest phone solicitors who are just trying to make a living like the rest of us.)
My stand on gun control:
I am 100% in favor of controlling guns. Aim and make every shot count.
As for my cabinet appointments, I don’t give a rat’s touchas about anyone’s race, religion, species, etc. I only care if they are best qualified for the job. I will not sell out my country by pandering to special snowflake organizations and appointing their love children to positions of influence.
I will appoint my writing partner, Intelligence Operative Holmes, Secretary of Defense. He has the experience and the moxie for the job, and he, like me, loves America more than he loves corporations, power, or money.
George Stephanopoulos, image from Wikimedia Commons by Tulane Public Relations
Since Holmes can’t be identified, I will recruit George Stephanopoulos to sit in his chair at all meetings. That’s because George has experience, and he’s hot. Seriously. It makes no sense to me, either, he just is. And if Stephanopoulos is not available, I will simply stand up a cardboard cutout of George Washington. Never hurts to have a little Founding Father action in the government process. Holmes will still be in the meetings, but no one will know if he is the guy in the general’s chair or the guy serving the sandwiches.
Yes. Sandwiches. Refer back to my stand on expenses. They can be paninis, but no steak and lobster bisque at the taxpayers’ expense unless we are hosting foreign dignitaries.
All internal disputes will be settled with dancing competitions so if you’re interested in applying to be my vice president, start practicing your moves. Carrie Ann Inaba will screen all applicants. But please understand, my first choice for vice president is General Colin Powell. Do not take that as an evaluation of either your dancing skills or his.
While I am president, Congress shall make no law that it does not, itself, live by. “Leaders” who are not subject to the laws they make are not leaders, they are rulers. There is no place for rulers in America. Any Representative or Senator who demonstrates behavioral issues will be sent to The Slapping Medicine Man.
As your president, my first and only loyalty will be to you, my fellow Americans. I have no other mission or interest but to strengthen this country and her people. So let’s all come together and prove that America really is still a country by the people, and for the people, and that our presidency does not simply go to the highest bidder. Tweet, blog, Facebook. Hey. It happened for Betty White.
You will find my stand on the issues below. I now open the floor to your comments and questions. One at a time, please. No pushing or name calling, and don’t say anything you can’t say in front of your mother. (My policy for press conferences.)
Piper for President — Doesn’t Take Crap. Doesn’t Dish it Out.
My Stand on the Issues
For decades, America has been Simba the Lion masquerading as Pumbaa the Warthog in an effort to “win hearts and minds.” No one respects a lion pretending to be a warthog. I say we’re in it to win it, or we stay home. The hearts and minds will follow. America is a lion with claws and teeth and courage. It is not a dancing, singing, farting warthog.
Middle East Policy
I have excellent reason to believe that the majority of the problems in the Middle East are caused by gender disparity. Since the Middle East has a dearth of women and an overabundance of men, and Latin American countries have more women than men, I would recruit Latinas to relocate. They would have an excellent mellowing influence, and they would foster some fantastic fusion restaurants. See How Latinas Can End Jihad.
As much as is possible, I will replace welfare programs with work programs, because imitating a kennel dog waiting for its dinner develops bad habits and is damaging to the soul. I have been unemployed, and I have received government cheese. While it’s the tastiest cheese ever, handouts are far more depressing and demoralizing than honest work of any kind.
Tax cuts and cookies for corporations that keep their jobs in America. No tax cuts or cookies for corporations that only keep their paperwork in America.
Image from Wikimedia Commons by Thamizhpparithi Maari.
I will dismantle the Department of Education. Instead, I will use the nearly $100 billion it wastes every year to build more schools, hire more teachers, and provide an Educational Exchange program for troubled youths. In this exchange program, any “troubled youth” who would rather be a thug gangbanger than take advantage of the privilege of going to school would be sent to a third world country in exchange for a disadvantaged child who only dreams of getting an education instead of walking five miles every day for a bucket of water.
America is our home. I will show the utmost hospitality to those who ring our bell and are willing to wipe the dirt off their feet before they enter. Trespassers will not be welcomed with open arms and open wallets. However, they are welcome and encouraged to apply for the Educational Exchange program.
I will rewrite Obamacare in a way that serves the public rather than special interest groups and insurance and pharmaceutical giants. I will also set up a hotline for reporting each and every fraud that is perpetuated by a medical culture that thinks it has won the lottery every time someone with insurance walks through the doors of an Emergency Room.
After six months of listening to so many dire predictions of “stalemate,” events in Libya have entered a period of rapid change. The rebel council now controls most of the coastal cities. Uncle Momo’s second wife, his daughter, and two sons are in Algeria. Momo is clearly on the run.
We humans are predictable on some issues. Change, even when it involves the fall of an international terrorist, is scary, and it’s easy to find the dark lining to any silver cloud. Political commentators dread having to say something like, “Hell if I know.” White House spokesmen (all of them) do their best to create an image of an omniscient, god-like President with everything from his sock drawer to distant galaxies well under control.
When news consumers watch a news program they usually want something more assuring than, “This is Joe Hairstyle reporting live from a hash party at the Rixos Hotel. We’re having a heck of a time here, and we have no idea how any of this will end up. We’re asking our listeners at home to accurately predict the future and fax us a brief outline. Please FedEx us some decent scotch. The first viewer at home who faxes us the right information will receive an extra, extra small ‘I Love Meganetwork’ yellow T shirt. And now back to you Susie….” That just wouldn’t work. In spite of any hopeful view that Joe Hairstyle might secretly harbor concerning the future of Libya, he has to stay with “safe bets” to keep his bosses and the advertisers happy.
The safe bets on Libya are easy enough to formulate. For one thing, when a journalist spends a few days wandering by piles of freshly killed people and spends his nights listening to constant gunfire, punctuated by the occasional NATO bomb, it can become difficult to imagine anything positive coming out of a very grim reality. A glance at the history tells him (or her, but don’t make me explain that again) that “happiness” would possibly be an unrecognizable stranger in Libya.
Libya is in the Sahara. Libyans live next door to the Sudan, Chad, Niger, Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt. Their history is unhappy, and they appear to be “Islamic” in some fashion. The last 1300 years of history have left most of us not expecting anything like a reasonable neighbor from Islamic nations. When we add all of that up, it’s easy to devise negative predictions for Libya. All of those negative predictions might be right, but other possibilities are conceivable.
There is another side to Libya. Yes, Libya along with other Islamic nations, and along with the United States, Canada, France, and the UK, has spawned radicals that joined Al-Qaeda. But the vast majority of unemployed young males in Libya did not take the opportunity to join Al-Qaeda or any other terrorist group. Al-Qaeda is there, and so are lots of other folks. So far, the sum of the available information indicates that Libya, as a society, is more similar to Miami than it is to Pakistan or Afghanistan, and that it will not embrace any form of radicalism.
The devil, even the vile Momo devil, should be given his due. Between his spasms of exhibitionist hysterics and insane, ridiculous pronouncements, Uncle Momo and his loyal servants did succeed in vastly improving health care and education. Momo forgot what his mother told him. Be careful what you wish for. Your wish may come true. It’s easier now to bump into an illiterate in Detroit than it is in Libya.
Education changes people, and often it changes them for the better. Even stilted, highly controlled education makes people aware of the horizon beyond their own personal misery. In professional education in Libya, the emphasis was on improving science and medicine. Law schools and political science professors might have been required to spew nonsense to their students, but it does not appear that science departments were required to do the same.
In addition to Libya’s vastly improved domestic education system, thousands of Libyans have attended schools abroad. Qaddafi wanted to build a technologically independent nation that did not need to beg Moscow, Washington, or anyone else for it’s weapons of mass destruction, it’s oil drills, or it’s air-conditioning, so he embraced education. His motives may have been partially cynical, but the results have been a more educated, more urbanized, and more cosmopolitan Libya. This is not your grandpa’s Bedouin tribe wandering through the Sahara.
Thirty years ago that might not have mattered much. The fact that Czechs, Poles, Frenchmen, Belgians, Norwegians, Danes, and the Dutch were all experiencing improving health care, better education, and fairly progressive societies did not prevent them from being overrun by the Nazis. All of those benefits did not prevent the Soviets from enslaving Eastern Europe after the Nazis were defeated. But there is no Nazi or Stalinist lookalike nation ready to step in and force Libya to accept its agenda. There are plenty of nations with outlooks that resemble that of Hitler, Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot but they are not in a position to force their will on Libya.
Lots of terrible things might happen in Libya, but good intelligence work isn’t just about finding the negative possibilities or reporting what we think the leaders want to hear. The president wakes up knowing that Libya is a mess and doesn’t need the CIA or the NSA to tell him that. Good intelligence work delivers concise, accurate, and occasionally actionable information to the nation’s decision makers.
Effective Diplomacy is not about sitting at a pool somewhere sipping margaritas and waiting for an ideal ally to fall from the sky bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and petroleum. Effective diplomacy requires that we accurately assess the possibilities and move efficiently to influence and accept influence from potential allies while forging mutually beneficial relationships.
Effective statesmanship is not about accepting the worst possible outcomes and fretting over the future. Statesmanship is about identifying and accepting problems, creating opportunities to overcome them, and creating a better future than the future that would otherwise occur.
What would a cable TV news network have said of those frightened and mostly untrained rag tag rebels when they lacked the good sense to step out of the way of the mighty British Army at Lexington and Concord in 1776? We likely would have been treated to explanations of why the obviously dangerous and unruly New England farmers would never be able to force the British Army out of America. It would have been a reasonable prediction. It would have been the safe bet. For five years it would have looked like the right bet. In the end, it would have been the wrong bet.
Many terrible consequences might come out of the rebellion in Libya. A few likely will. But the good may come to outweigh the bad. I refuse to bet against the Libyan people. When the last of the bodies have been buried, they will continue along the difficult path of creating a better nation out of the destruction and chaos that we see there now.
Sure, I could be wrong. But somebody will be right, and for the sake of the Libyan people and for the world, I hope that I am right, and that their courage and sacrifice is rewarded with a better life.
Can you think of other times when the safe bet was the wrong bet?
United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently declared that the Detroit, Michigan school system is a national disgrace. He is right. Some politically sensitive types in Detroit were offended by this. They should, instead, be offended by their educational system.
When Duncan was selected as Secretary of Education, I wondered how qualified he was. After all, he had been a professional basketball player in Australia for ten years. He also has a sociology degree from Harvard. Red flag to me. Most of the sociologists who I have met in government are anxious to quote statistics and salivate at the possibility of discovering more statistics. When I ask them for an action plan, they give me a blank stare. In fact, they often act as though they have been shot by a poison dart whenever action is required.
Another red flag to me was the fact that Duncan came from the hideously corrupt political system in Chicago. After a closer look, though, it became evident that, as the CEO of the Chicago school system, Duncan had played a part in significantly increasing test results for students in Chicago. Obviously, the hard work of the kids, the parents, and the teachers made it happen, but until Duncan showed up, the Chicago schools were well on their way to hell with no redemption in sight.
The improvement in Chicago test scores was on both the national standard testing for all grades and on the ACT. Also, the number of Chicago youngsters graduating increased, as did the number of Chicago youngsters entering colleges. These were real results. Duncan obviously wasn’t the typical school superintendent claiming victory after leaving a school system in shambles.
Ok. So red flags aside, and without knowing about or giving a damn about his politics, the guy won a major battle in one of this nation’s most important wars, and he showed up sober to fight that battle where the enemy held the high ground and outnumbered him badly. I’ll give credit where it’s due. Given Secretary Duncan’s history of success and the pathetic results produced by the Detroit school system, I take his statement about Detroit seriously.
Now that we have identified a priority target, what shall our tactical plan be? I am a bit out of my league here. This is a battle that I am willing to fight passionately, but I lack the best weapons and training to ensure victory. I’m willing to listen and learn.
As someone who is not a trained teacher, though, even I can easily identify a few facets of the problem in Detroit. Some of the issues are external to the schools. Detroit is a failed, Rust Belt city with chronic, long-term high unemployment, high crime rates, and no signs of recovery. OK, we know the battleground now. Do we evacuate the children to refugee camps in Canada, or do we make a stand and fight? It looks like we are going to stay and fight.
We are dealing with children who live in fear of violence and economic uncertainty. Many of the children have no real parent, or an undereducated parent working overtime at a back-breaking job. Ok, that’s most of what we need to know about the innocent hostages in question. So we need a solution that can rescue the greatest number of kids. Is it “fair” that you and I need to rescue them instead of their parents doing it? Hell, no. But you don’t want to share your national budget, your health care system, your economy, or your streets with uneducated children. Even if you don’t care about them, if you care about you at all, take a look at what’s going on.
Who is the enemy? Who is the hostage taker? Is he from Yemen, Pakistan, or southern Egypt? No, he is from America. He/she is the heartless politico who makes millions of dollars vanish from the Detroit school system each year. He/she is the lazy, self-protecting, responsibility-avoiding slime bag who collects a salary and produces no work in his or her day.
You know what they look like. You have met a few of them in your child’s school or in the company or government agency where you work. They tend to be highly informed about the latest nuance in political correctness, and at the moment they are very busy explaining why everyone needs to join their new initiative on “Azerbaijani cultural sensitivity” or “preventing sexual harassment amongst preschoolers by dangerous four-year-old boys,” or they are busy organizing this year’s Save the Whales Day. At least the kids have fun at the Save the Whales Day, and the whales suffer no impact one way or the other. But this type of useless schmuck “administrator” is not only wasting a salary slot that could go to a live employee, they are preventing sentient beings from running the schools.
Now let’s see how education in Detroit matters to the big picture.
One of the few signs of hope in the stone-age environment in Afghanistan is that, in some locations, children are starting to attend something like real schools. Based on UNICEF numbers, 18% of reading-age girls in Afghanistan can now read. This heartbreaking number is actually good news. A few years ago, the number would have been about .5%. Approximately 49% of reading-age Afghani males can read. This number is also an improvement as compared to 10 years ago.
Literacy matters to national security in any nation, both internally and externally. Better education makes for a stronger economy and fewer criminals on the home front, and when countries become more educated, their citizens are less willing to join any jihad activities. In short, a well-informed nation is less likely to tolerate living under anything like Al-Qaeda or the Taliban.
Here’s a real shocker for you. Almost all mobsters and other types of gang members do poorly on any test that measures thinking skills, reading, math, or problem solving. You’re not really shocked at that, are you? Few people abandon real jobs to become foot soldiers for the mob or meth dealers for the local crack King/Queen. By having educated citizens, we have fewer criminals. When other nations have educated citizens, the risk of their citizens joining criminal enterprises like Al-Qaeda decreases. Education is obviously not the only factor in deciding an individual’s path or a nation’s path but it is one of the big ones.
The current estimate for functional literacy of adults in Detroit is 53%. Unlike in Afghanistan, the numbers are not improving. If Detroit does not change directions, we will soon end up searching for volunteer teachers from Afghanistan to teach kids and adults in Detroit to read. When you find yourself asking the question, “How can those people in Someplaceville elect that piece of garbage for a fill in the blank?” a large part of the answer is ignorance. Ignorance is a dangerous enemy of progress, justice, and democracy. Ignorance is the best friend of human suffering.
The anti-West factions in the Chinese oligarchy don’t care much about literacy in Afghanistan, but they and other enemies, such as Al-Qaeda, are happy to see decay in education in the United States. Al-Qaeda and other organized crime groups know that people who cannot read are more easily scammed into supporting their criminal agendas, and they are more easily victimized by those criminal agendas.
The combined adult literacy rate in Pakistan is 58%. People in Pakistan can read better than people in Detroit. Yes, Pakistan. That country in turmoil with no real education system where Al-Qaeda is trying to gain control of the government. The government that Al-Qaeda currently has to pay lease rates for. Perhaps Pakistani immigrant applicants should be required to teach reading in Detroit schools for six months before gaining full visas.
The battle in Detroit and in other school systems in Western civilization matters. I’m ready to put my boots on and go fight. I recognize some of the weapons available to us. There are some exceptional, highly motivated teachers. There are some passable teachers who aren’t going to join any “special ops” efforts, but they are fighting on our side, and they can contribute. There are some administrators who are not avoiding the fight, but not enough of them, and there are some parents who have the motive and means to help their children. We are not without resources.
So how do we win this battle? That’s a real question for you, readers. Tell me, because I am desperate for the answer, and because your future depends on it.