Daily Archives: September 2, 2009
In all honesty, I don’t have a big problem with Obama’s impending speech, primarily for tactical reasons. If he gives the speech that the right is worrying about (i.e. indoctrination towards his policy preferences such as universal health care, cap and trade, etc.) then his political world will crumble. Obama is smart enough to realize this. And I, as I expect are most American parents, am vigilant enough not to let such a message get too far with my kids. However, it’s the fact that any of us have to be on guard to such a speech that makes it creepy. Well, that and the President’s track record of seeking to use children to advance his own goals.
However, there is a current of thought that thinks it’s hypocritical to challenge Obama’s address to the nation’s children while ignoring others:
All this over a video address to kids telling them to stay in school.
I’ve got to wonder how these people felt twenty years ago when a Republican did it:
President Bush pleaded with young people around the nation today to stop using drugs and ”not to look the other way” when others do.
In a 15-minute nationally televised plea from the White House library, the President presented the latest round of an anti-drug campaign that began a week ago with another nationally broadcast message announcing a $7.9 billion package.
In the speech, Mr. Bush said that saying no to drugs ”won’t make you a nerd.”
”Presidents don’t often get the chance to talk directly to students,” Mr. Bush said. ”So today, for each of you sitting in a classroom or assembly hall, this message goes straight to you.
”Most of you are doing the right thing. But for those of you who let drugs make their decisions for them, you can almost hear the doors slamming shut.”
Equating drugs with death and displaying the badge of a slain 22-year-old rookie policeman, Mr. Bush said, ”I keep this badge in a drawer in my desk to remind me of that.”
Yea, I’m guessing they were pretty quiet back then when Bush 41 was advancing his ideological agenda and fighting the War On (Some) Drugs.
While I understand Doug’s disaffection with the Republican Party and its die-hard adherents (with good reason), I really don’t understand this line of attack. Is it really the same thing for a president to encourage kids to stay off of drugs as it is for a president to encourage school children to contemplate the many ways that they can fulfill the government’s wishes?
When Bush 41 was delivering his speech to the nation’s youth, he was at least spreading a message that had individual importance. There’s no question that avoiding recreational drugs is healthy way to live one’s life. It doesn’t justify the War on (Some) Drugs, but it’s not necessarily a message advocating fealty to government authority. In fact, the quotes above speak more to individual responsibility rather than respecting the president’s wishes: i.e eschewing drugs won’t make you a nerd, don’t let drugs make your decision for you, etc.
Again, I’m not trying to condone the destructive policy pursued by the federal government with respect to certain drugs. But when a president encourages our children to stay off them, I’m hard pressed to see that as some sort of intrusion into the realm of the parent or individual, much less a blatant call for nation’s kids to ponder what it is they can do to further the president’s goals.
Therein lies the rub.
President Obama has already shown that he’s not above using children to advance his political agenda, so it’s not surprising that those opposed to his aims would be a bit skeptical of his speech. Adding to the wariness is the fact that he only seems to make these speeches when he needs help with bolstering his political capital (e.g. the “race speech” after Jeremiah Wright blew up in his face). After the battering his health
care insurance reform plans took in August, it almost seems too convenient that he would suddenly want to address all the school kids in the nation, right about when he’s planning to try and save the one program he truly wants to enact.
On top of all these legitimate worries is the fact that Obama’s administration has prepared lesson plans for the kiddies to absorb in the afterglow. Surely it’s not the first time that a president has done so, but have any other post-speech plans been so blatantly pro-subservience? I mean, look at these suggested lessons:
What do you think the President wants us to do?
Does the speech make you want to do anything?
Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?
What, no questions such as “do you agree with the President’s position? Why/Why not?” Or how about, “Why should you do anything the President says?”, or “What are the pros and cons of the President’s proposals?”
Some of these wouldn’t make any sense if all Obama is going to do is encourage kids to stay in school and try theor best. But, then again, neither do the administration’s lesson plans. Nor the fact that Obama intends to do a live address rather than a taped PSA of some sort. All of which, again, provides plenty of reason to be skeptical of Obama’s speech.
In light of all the above, and regardless of whether anyone is being hypocritical or not, shouldn’t we all be a bit skeptical when the President of the United States decides to address our children when, at the same time, he is politically vulnerable and seeking some means of righting his listing ship? Maybe Republicans who are complaining now should have had more to say 20 years ago (if they were even politically aware back then), but that doesn’t mean they are wrong now. Charging hypocrisy does not negate the potential ill that may result from being less vigilant to government indoctrination. It only make that ill more possible
Is anyone else even slightly creeped out by this upcoming presidential address to our kids and grandkids?
Maybe its just me but there’s something just not quite right about it all. Oh, I suspect he’ll be very careful about what he has to say and probably keep it pretty general in tone and nature. But there’s just something about a politician addressing young children without an alternate or dissenting voice that smacks of, oh I don’t know, some novel I read years and years ago.
In fact, I’m pretty sure they made a movie of that book.
You know, it’s one thing for a teacher to use a politician’s words or deeds in class as an example of some point they’re trying to make in a lesson. But it is quite another to have a captive audience with no choice as to whether they listen or watch sitting in front of TVs because a politician decided that would be a good idea.
Maybe it’s my cynical nature that’s coming to the fore. Who knows, this may be nothing but a “hey youngsters, good luck in school and try to do your best” speech. But then I wonder why, if that’s so, he assumes the right to make such a speech best left to moms and dads. Of course he did tell us this week to make sure we wash our hands, sneeze in our sleeve and stay home if we’re sick. So addressing real children after treating us all like children isn’t a real stretch.
The real reason there’s a growing creep factor to all of this is that not only does he presume to have the right to address our kids, his speech has a lesson plan. It’s one thing to have a politician give a speech and everyone go, “ok, that’s nice” and get back to work. But it is entirely creepy when that politician has a lesson plan sent out to accompany the speech. For the pre-K to 6th grade group the plan suggests pre-speech questions like: “Why is it important that we listen to the President and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?”
Now that doesn’t tend to border on indoctrination or anything does it? “Obey you young skulls full of mush. Elected officials are good. Listen to them. Question authority? Not till you get to the 7th grade.”
7th – 12th graders get a little more sophisticated lesson plan than do the little guys. And guess who it is all about?
Short readings. Notable quotes excerpted (and posted in large print on board) from President Obama’s speeches about education. Teacher might ask students to think alone, compare ideas with a partner, and share their collaborations with the class (Think/Pair/Share) about the following: What are our interpretations of these excerpts? Based on these excerpts, what can we infer the President believes is important to be successful educationally?
Yeah, you see, this seems to be more than “hey youngsters, good luck in school and try to do your best”, doesn’t it?
After the speech, the 7-12 crew will have a “guided discussion” in which questions like, “What is President Obama inspiring you to do? What is he challenging you to do?”, will be pondered.
And the poor little tykes in preK to 6 (preK?)? Well they get the full cult of personality treatment:
Students could discuss their responses to the following questions:
What do you think the President wants us to do?
Does the speech make you want to do anything?
Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?
What would you like to tell the President?
Boy, you know what I’d like to tell the President if I was in one of those classes?
Leave our freakin’ kids alone. And don’t ever assume you have either the right or privilege of addressing them about anything ever again without our permission.
But, you know, that’d probably be some sort of overreaction or something. After all, I’m sure his intentions are sweet and pure and good and he only want’s to be our national daddy. And anyway, I don’t even have a lesson plan.
Iran, as we all know, is a theocracy. That means Islamic law and thus Islamic clerics, have great influence. One of the clerics which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regularly consults, has recently laid out the Iranian version of “enhanced interrogation techniques”. It is rather revealing, both about the mentality of those that we’re fighting (and make no mistake, we’re engaged in a war with Iran, even if only through surrogates) and the religion they claim.
It appears, at least in the version of Shi’a Islam this cleric claims, that the use of rape, torture and drugs are perfectly permissible for use against enemies of that state – after ritual washing and proper prayers, of course.
“Can an interrogator rape the prisoner in order to obtain a confession?” was the follow-up question posed to the Islamic cleric.
Mesbah-Yazdi answered: “The necessary precaution is for the interrogator to perform a ritual washing first and say prayers while raping the prisoner. If the prisoner is female, it is permissible to rape through the vagina or anus. It is better not to have a witness present. If it is a male prisoner, then it’s acceptable for someone else to watch while the rape is committed.”
Lovely – religiously sanctioned rape and sodomy. And, of course in the case of Iran, that means state sanctioned rape.
These questions were apparently raised after allegations of rape surfaced in connection with election protesters the regime had jailed. Oh, and you’ll love this little disclaimer:
This reply, and reports of the rape of teen male prisoners in Iranian jails, may have prompted the following question: “Is the rape of men and young boys considered sodomy?”
Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi: “No, because it is not consensual. Of course, if the prisoner is aroused and enjoys the rape, then caution must be taken not to repeat the rape.”
Because we certainly wouldn’t want anyone enjoying it – no word about what they’re supposed to do if the rapist enjoys it. Rinse and repeat, I suppose.
As for women?
A related issue, in the eyes of the questioners, was the rape of virgin female prisoners. In this instance, Mesbah-Yazdi went beyond the permissibility issue and described the Allah-sanctioned rewards accorded the rapist-in-the-name-of-Islam:
“If the judgment for the [female] prisoner is execution, then rape before execution brings the interrogator a spiritual reward equivalent to making the mandated Haj pilgrimage [to Mecca], but if there is no execution decreed, then the reward would be equivalent to making a pilgrimage to [the Shi'ite holy city of] Karbala.”
What a job description – a “rapist-in-the-name-of-Islam” who, while committing what any other civilized country would consider a heinous crime punishable by life behind bars is promised “Allah sanctioned” pilgrimage equivalents, depending on the status of his helpless prisoner. Always a nice bonus to get your Haj credits while performing such a valuable service for the state.
As we rip ourselves apart debating the cruelty of blowing second-hand cigar smoke in the face of a detainee caught trying to kill Americans, consider what our adversaries gladly reveal about their own moral code. That’s not to condone or rationalize torture by our side. It is instead to provide a reality check for those who need it.
Iranians love to tell the world how they are one of the world’s oldest civilizations and will expound at length about the contributions their civilization has made to the rest of the world. While it’s true that Persia has indeed make a number of outstanding contributions over the centuries, modern Iran is a religiously warped and perverted state which apparently regularly churns out religious leaders such as this whack job. The problem is he’s not hidden away in some mental hospital jibbering only to some health care professional who shakes his head in amazement before quietly closing the door of his cell and leaving him there alone until the next session.
Instead he’s an adviser to the President of the country and what he says is being acted upon throughout the prisons and jails of Iran. What a miserable, awful place. It is hard to imagine living in a country in which religious leaders not only condone but encourage and incentivize the behavior you read about above, isn’t it?
For you lovers of the state, this is a cautionary tale – anything can be made legal, as demonstrated above. And, as a wise man once said, “the state is coercion”. The combination, unfortunately, can, and does, bring exactly what Iran now suffers.
At least in the domestic realm. Those are the latest poll results tracking the president’s job performance approval by CNN/Opinion Research Corp.
Obama retains majority support on foreign affairs at this point (although I don’t expect that to remain favorable for long), but a majority of independents, the key to his electoral victory last year, are not at all impressed with this performance domestically:
Fifty-three percent of independents questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday say they disapprove of how Obama’s handling his duties in the White House, with 43 percent in approval. That result marks the first time in a CNN poll that a majority of independents give the president’s performance a thumbs-down.
Here’s the key line in the article:
“Obama won a majority of the vote among independents last year, and that helped put him in the White House,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Losing their support makes it more difficult for Obama to govern from the center.”
So that leads the question, “how does Obama recapture this key electoral demographic”? The obvious answer is by moving toward the center. But if he does that he’ll have to scrap the more controversial parts of his health
care insurance reform bill and there’ll be hell to pay with his base.
But it is even more complicated than that.
Is the fight over health care responsible for the downturn in Obama’s numbers?
“Yes, in part, but his standing on some other issues has taken an even bigger tumble,” adds Holland. “Among all Americans, his rating on health care has dropped 13 points since March. Compare that to his 16 point drop on the deficit and 17 point dip on taxes and it looks like there is growing discontent with Obama’s overall domestic agenda — not just his health care policy.”
Again, emphasis on the point the left seems incapable of grasping – independents disapprove of the whole domestic agenda – health
care insurance reform is only the flash point.
So coming up with a new bill aimed at the health care issue, even if more acceptable than what is presently being proposed isn’t going to necessarily change the approval rating or bring independents back into the Obama (and Democratic) fold.
As an aside, this is interesting as well:
The survey also indicates that 37 percent of Americans think the media has treated Obama fairly, down 18 points from February. One in four say the media has been too critical of the president, up seven points from February and 36 percent say the media has not been critical enough, up 10 points.
If you add the 37% who think the media has treated Obama fairly, with the 18% who’ve dropped out of that category you just about have the percentage of the vote which elected Obama. My guess is that 37% that think he been treated fairly are mostly the independents he and the Democrats have been losing over the past few months.
Back to the topic – it is fish or cut bait time for Obama and the health care debate is where he’ll finally have to show his true colors. Is he going to try to woo the independents back by proposing moderate reforms and attempting to move back toward the center? Or will he double down, push the controversial portions of the legislation his base demands and all but declare his liberal colors? He’s not going to be able to please both his base and independents. So he’s going to have to make a decision and make it soon – look for his “major speech” on health care to be that decision point.
Robert Reich has to be the poster boy for why liberals are only about 20% of our population. If it weren’t for the quiet backwaters of academia where, apparently they’re pretty much left alone to survive and breed, they wouldn’t have much of a chance of making it anywhere else.
What we learned in August is something we’ve long known but keep forgetting: The most important difference between America’s Democratic left and Republican right is that the left has ideas and the right has discipline. Obama and progressive supporters of health care were outmaneuvered in August — not because the right had any better idea for solving the health care mess but because the rights’ attack on the Democrats’ idea was far more disciplined than was the Democrats’ ability to sell it.
A) my 5 year old grandson has ideas. But when they involve matches and curtains, we have a tendency to step in and prevent him from bringing his ideas to fruition. Call that “discipline” if you wish, but just because a group has ideas doesn’t mean they’re worth 2 cents. And in the case of health
care insurance reform, they’re worth a negative 1.5 trillion dollars we can’t afford and would put government intrusion and control and new and unprecedented levels.
B) as usual you see a liberal who believes that the message isnt the problem, but the obfuscation of the right that prevented the message from being properly received. Really? It appeared that the audiences of the townhall meetings attacking the plan had actually read more of the proposed legislation than those on stage trying to defend it. They knew what the “message” was and rejected it.
C) and most important – this isn’t just about health care. This is about TARP, porkulus, “stimulus”, GM, the financial system, cap-and-trade and 9 trillion dollar deficits. Those are all ideas that have been proposed or passed by this Congress or administration. The “idea” that has traction is that these are all bad ‘ideas’. However, the left seems not to understand that point and we continue to hear tone-deaf analysis such as Reich’s contending that they only need to sharpen up their “message” a bit and impose a little discipline and all will be well.
Reich then gets into bit of classic cognitive dissonance and projection:
You want to know why the left has ideas and the right has discipline? Because people who like ideas and dislike authority tend to identify with the Democratic left, while people who feel threatened by new ideas and more comfortable in a disciplined and ordered world tend to identify with the Republican right. Democrats and progressives let a thousand flowers bloom. Republicans and the right issue directives. This has been the yin and yang of American politics and culture. But it means that the Democratic left’s new ideas often fall victim to its own notorious lack of organization and to the right’s highly-organized fear mongering.
How can you not laugh outloud at someone who will claim, in the shadow of the biggest attempted takeover of the private sector by government since WWII that those who “dislike authority tend to identify with the Democratic left”.
Given OFA and the unions and the predominant collectivist mentality of the left, that’s laughable on its face.
Also lost in Mr. Reich’s fantasy analysis is the fact that the idea laden left is losing independent support at a rate unseen in decades. It isn’t just the right rejecting these “ideas”, it is the center and even center left.
All of this leaves Reich to conclude:
August is coming to a close, and congressional recess is about over. History is not destiny, and Democrats and progressives can yet enact meaningful health care reform — with a public option. But to do so, we’ll need to be far more disciplined about it. All of us, from Obama on down.
This is what you end up with when you start from a false premise. Believing that all you have to do is impose a little discipline (to those authority hating but collectivist lefties) and sharpen your messaging, and your ideas about how to burn the house down will be accepted with open arms.