Education and the Jihad

People seem surprised that the English-accented beheader previously dubbed “Jihadi John” is an educated guy, a computer-programming major from a British university. You, long-time readers of the Gormogons, are of course not in the least.

First, you know the Muslim Brotherhood was largely a movement of disaffected university types.

Second, you know that Islamism is a modern ideology rooted in the Western philosophical tradition.

Third, you know who goes in for ideologies that sacralize violence as a means of self-realization? Smart People®. Like Rousseau, Robespierre, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Saloth Sar, and on and on down Hell’s Honor Roll…

Cleaning the Machine

The Chicago primaries were yesterday, with a couple of interesting outcomes. One is fascinating the nation, justifiably. The other is no less important, but is missing from most radar screens.

First and foremost, incumbent mayor Rahm Emanuel—chief of staff under Obama for a long time and most visible proponent of the no-crisis-going-to-waste philosophy that dictated the President’s first term—spent millions of dollars in ads touting his expertise in politics. He didn’t win.

Emanuel didn’t lose, either: he failed to get 50% of the vote due to the surprising number of challengers that came from his own party. As a result, the top two finishers will have a special runoff election—Mr. Emanuel, with 45% of the vote, and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

Emanuel is a national celebrity of course, and is still close to President Obama. Emanuel received millions in donations from big business (they like this propensity to use lower taxes as an incentive to move business into Chicago), and is tied to many of Chicago’s elite.

Absolutely all of this was used by Mr. Garcia in his campaign; apparently, enough Chicagoans agreed. By most accounts, Mr. Garcia is a frivolous candidate: he’s openly tied to labor and socialist groups, has not indicated any ability to understand the city’s complex finances, and seems to think he can win by promoting large tax increases. Nevertheless, this got Garcia a third of the votes and he acknowledged this in his speech to his supporters last night when he said Chicago voters are simply sick and tired.

So here are your two takeaways.

Obviously, this is another body blow to the Obama legacy. Most Chicagoans—even those who nominally support their home town hero—realize Obama has been a bust. Every effort in which Obama engaged to bring attention to the city has failed. From the 2016 Olympics to the inane NATO conference, the President seems to be unable to do anything to help Chicago; there is a good chance his library will be located elsewhere.

Mayor Emanuel is such a legacy, and the City is tired of him. Emanuel never fit into Chicago politics—he was seen as a Springfield man long before he became branded as a Washington man. His cold, analytical, and tactical style of leadership alienated him as someone who didn’t really care about the City (which is not true). But compared to the egregious, affable mayors in Chicago’s past, and the Obama-style leadership rubbed everyone the wrong way.

President Obama is allegedly obsessed over what history will make of him. The answer is clear in last night’s rebuke of Rahm Emanuel. There is every good chance Emanuel will win election, but as Mr. Garcia’s flag flies higher in the next month, it could well be a 55%-45% result, with Mr. Emanuel winding up without a job. Emanuel’s own speech to his supporters seemed tired, lost, and frankly defeatist.

The Czar has repeated time and again—and only a few of you seem to listen—that neither President Obama nor Rahm Emanuel are part of the Chicago machine. Obama is exceptionally disconnected from Chicago politics, even though most of America dismisses him as a Chicago politician.

Trust us, Obama’s not the office photocopier, but the guy who makes personal copies on it as often as he can. He’s a pain to the machine, if anything.

The machine is done with him and Emanuel. But here’s the second takeaway that isn’t getting much attention: the Chicago machine is cleaning itself.

In other primary elections around the City, incumbent members of the machine and new grist for its mill either failed to win or are headed for runoffs themselves. Even a Daley relative couldn’t walk into the job. Ten years ago, everyone of these putzes would have been either elected or re-elected without a campaign. The Machine would have taken care of it.

But last night, many politicians—some of whom have last names that have been in Chicago politics for decades—were not handed easy wins. The voters actually seem to be irritated with the state of the City, and are making it known.

And what a great thing that would be for the future of Chicago.

Cave Canem

Here’s Miss P, the 139th winner of the Best in Show competition. Her proper name, of course, is Miss Urine. You know why. Actually, this might not even be her. Who can tell.

Did you watch the AKC dog show last night? The Czar and his family did! This was the 139th annual dog show, based on the age of the judges. What a great event to watch, as a bunch of matronly plus-sized women, twerps dressed like it’s 1940, and whackjobs less smart than their dogs parade the canines up and down so that a judge can pick the ones New York City audiences like best.

Seriously. Each judge has to look at every dog and determine if it comes closest to its official standard. This is why some dogs never win and some dogs almost always win. For example, here’s a portion of the standard for the Tibetan Lower Highlands Water Spaniel:

The dog's eyes shall be no more than 3.5" apart at pupil center, with any spotting on the forehead forming an isosceles triangle. No hair on the muzzle or withers shall exceed 3.5" in length, with the angle of the fetlock forming a 60° bend when the dog is at attention. No horizontal element of the dog's surface anatomy shall exceed a 1:2 ratio relative to its vertical component, unless there shall be an offset between the two not to exceed 45° between the two.

And here’s the entire specification for the perennial favorite, the Toy Poodle:

A dog.

That’s why the poodle keeps winning. In fact, the entire history of AKC victors can be broken down like this.

DogShowPie

Isn’t that sad? It’s also the truth. So when you see a dog you recognize and like—a boxer, because maybe you had one—you already know it’s going to lose to a yap dog like a Toy or some trendy dog like the Havanese. And it sure won’t be some new breed, like the Slighter Bernese Wetland Spaniel.

And what the heck. The Czar remembers when the AKC recognizing a new breed of dog was earth-shattering news. Now, they add like 18 every year. By 2024, the Czar estimtes, the AKC dog show will consist of 4,823 breeds and take three weeks to judge. Never before has the AKC been accommodating to dog breeders who write a standard for a pooch that was, just last week, a mutt. “Hey, isn’t that a cross between a pointer and a Lab? My brother just got one at the pound for $150.” “No, uh, that’s my Lower Welsh Toller Hound, and it cost me $3,500.” Okay. Right.

The worst part about the dog show is now that the beagle has won, everybody will be running out to buy over-priced and over-bred beagles. Well, if you’re looking to upgrade your dog, allow the Czar to review with you the most popular options.

Dogs are a lot of fun to have around, but not always. When you’re done using your dog, consider a convenient storage case. This one, in fleece, offers the dog plenty of rugged protection. Avoid the foam ones, as they start to smell bad from the cheap, Chinese rubber, and your dog can get pretty hot in there if you’re away for a long weekend. Many of them feature convenient carrying handles and USB charging ports, for those dogs who run on battery. Metric sizes available, too.

 

Does your dog hate deep water? All the hipsters are getting dog snorkels these days. Available in a wide variety of sizes, your mutt diver can plumb untold depths as he or she explores the submarine life. Imagine the look on your best friend’s face when he finds the elusive clown fish, or a school of tetras. Watch him bark at a stone fish! Although, really, he shouldn’t bark because if he does, the snorkel will come off and he’ll find himself in deep water.

Just like no uptown apartment is without bistro lights, your dog needs to get his party on. Low voltage bistro lights, available in a variety of colors, can flash or glow steady to show your dog is ready for the fun times. LED strands are a lot more expensive, but last a lot longer. Possibly longer than your dog will.

Why should your dog have to lay on the floor when he’s taking it easy? This dog hammock is perfect for indoor or outdoor lounging. Soft padding is ideal for your weary hound, and the washable padding is an extra treat for you! Of course, there’s the added entertainment of watching your four-legged acrobat try to get into a swinging hammock. You think it’s hard for you? It might be best if you just picked up the dog and put him in there for the time being. Three sizes available.

If you are the overly paranoid type, consider a dog gas mask. Last year alone, over ten million dogs survived chemical weapons attacks from friends and neighbors, often right in their own home! With an active charcoal filter and adjustable strap system, your dog will never have to breathe foul odors. Let’s be honest, if you have a dog that decided to spend the day rolling in its own vomit, you might be better off putting this thing on yourself. Yes, the straps are that adjustable. Yes, the Czar has tried. Yes, dogs do this sort of thing, and yes, dogs are generally the source of the worst odors you find in any room. Yes, the Czar is familiar with ‘Puter.

 

You can hardly visit a dog park these days without noticing the large number of dogs that have their very own archbishop. As dogs weaken in their faiths, thanks to an increasingly lay society, it can be vital to bolster their religious convictions by giving them their very own archbishop. If you’re especially proud of your dog, may we recommend their very own Pope? The one featured here, raised in a papal mill, is a West Highland White well-suited for Roman Catholic temperament. Other denominations can benefit from an Archbishop of Corgi, an Anglican West Minister, or a Parson Russell. And you knew that last one was coming, didn’t you?

Mailbag Catch Up

Operative BJ worries:

Your Magnificence,

This lowly one comes before you to ask a simple question: should Americans be required to have a single federal government-issued identification number that, when stolen or misused, can destroy their lives?

The federal government uses your Social Security Number as the primary index for all of the information on you. Your SSN is issued to you once, usually early in life when your parents file their first federal income tax form on which you may be claimed as a dependent. The way SSNs are assigned means that there are far less than the 999 million possible numbers available: they are assigned by geographical and then sub-geographical regions. The IRS, who assigns SSNs, claims that reassignment (or reuse) of SSNs won’t be necessary for at least another century.

The benefit of a unique SSN, as well as its primary danger, is that it provides a single, immutable, and trackable way to identify a single American citizen – which is why the SSN is the most valued of all online information, and why internet thieves are so determined to get yours too.

Considering the number of organizations using your SSN to identify you, even when they have no legitimate need for your SSN, could the security of your SSN ever be guaranteed? And if the SSN is a single identifier that, when stolen, can destroy lives, shouldn’t we limit the number of organizations using that number to those with a legitimate need for it? Shouldn’t we require that the SSN be used only by the federal government for official purposes, and not merely because it is a “convenient” number?

Operative BJ,

No.

The benefit of the SSN is that it is a unique identifier. There is no such unique identifier, outside of biometrics which can be spoofed, that will defy the exact type of identity fraud you suggest. Your choices are either no identification or a universal ID, which can result in fraud. The responsibility to protect your identification is yours, and yours alone—through vigilance, monitoring, and follow up. Just as you lock your doors at night, or keep your car windows rolled up when parked, or keep your computer locked and password protected when you’re not using it, you safeguard your SSN.

And anyone can quibble about third parties or unnecessary sharing of that data, but the exact same bit is true about your mortgage, car payments, bank accounts, and more. Most people have very little idea how much seemingly private information is available through easy or public means; just as you can’t guarantee a burglar won’t let himself into your house by watching you leave in the morning, you can at least make yourself a harder target.

Also, BJ asks:

Will someone please b*tch slap Al Gore?

Done.

Your Czarness:

I’m taking a brief pause from banging my head against the wall of the Doublewide. I know I shouldn’t do it [not the head-banging, been doing that for ….years]. No, I made a grave error in judgment—I am referring to our President speaking from the White House.

And I can’t take it any more.

The Chancellor of Germany is referred to as “Angela.” Repeatedly. Not “Chancellor Merkel,” as would befit a visiting head of state, but “Angela,” as though she’s just a buddy who dropped by for a cup of coffee.

Now, “Angela” had just arrived in DC from Kiev and Minsk. And she wasn’t there to enjoy the lovely February weather. No, there’s been some unpleasantness in eastern Ukraine, and perhaps the President of these United States might be interested in making sure that Russia doesn’t revert to pre-1989 form.

But Obama seems not to want to talk about such unpleasantness. No, his first order of business is to congratulate Merkel on being re-elected for a 3rd term. Envious perhaps?

And his second subject is…wait for it…The …World…Cup. Hey, I bet you Castle Dwellers forgot, but several months back, in Brazil, there was big-time soccer [“football” in Europeisch]. And Germany done won that sucker. Applause, applause, applause. Woo-hoo.

But the President, being a totally serious dude, put “Angela” on notice that the US did well too, and he expects continuous improvement. That’s right. Look out for the US team next World Cup.

Estimates count the dead civilians at about 5300. The ruined wreckage of the Donetsk airport is a lovely example of what results when Putin casts his lonely eye in your general, territorial direction.

And Obama opens a serious meeting with smack-talk about soccer. If that doesn’t make Vlad-the-Bad quake in his boots, I don’t know what would.

“International community working together….”blah, blah, blah…”extraordinary patience…” “We are not looking for Russia to fail.” [Dude?]

Funny, all the journalists’ questions, so far, have dealt with Ukraine. Like they knew something was up over there.

Returning to my regularly-scheduled head-banging, I remain,

Yours from the Doublewide,
JAB

PS: Compliments to a reporter from the German Press Agency whose question(s) included: “What extra efforts could the Nobel Laureate President contribute to peace?”

Ouch. That might leave a mark on a man with a degree of self-awareness. But no worries here.

Barack Obama used to be—not so much recently—touted as the smartest president ever. As you know, JAB, the Czar has met most of the Presidents and found many of them to be stunning intellects. Hoover, incidentally, was the last one who impressed the Czar as quite intelligent. The Czar has not met President Obama, but he has met someone who displays the exact same level of intelligence, understanding, vision, graps, and foresight as the President continually displays: Eddie Torowski.

No, you probably don’t know Eddie. But you may know someone like him. Eddie is equally deserving of a Nobel peace prize, and is the same brilliant individual as Obama. The Czar did not appreciate this until about 2009 when he got to comparing the two.

Previously, the Czar always thought Eddie was a bit of a goofball. Eddie didn’t take stuff seriously, acted like he was everyone’s friend, but was always trying to sell you something dumb. He skimmed through school on a bunch of Cs that he insisted were really As and Bs; he was also adamant that many teachers conspired to hold him back and sabotaged his efforts to make the Dean’s List each year. He never really worked anywhere for very long, and rarely applied himself. He was eager to show up at parties, quoting from trendy books and alt literature in an effort to win respect from the almost-intellectuals.

Prior to learning that these are hallmarks of incredibly smart people like the President, the Czar mistakenly thought Eddie was just a lightweight who pretended to be someone better than the fizzler he really was. Eddie is assistant manager at a tire store, or something, and not the CEO of a major automotive company as he evidently deserves.

Surviving Cold Weather with the Media’s Help

With Boston buried under thirty-feet of snow and volcanic ash, and New York not far behind, the Czar has already spotted the increasingly useless media interrupting soft-promos for shows on their respective networks and Democratic-party talking points with bizarre attempts to be helpful.

The media want you to know that they are pathetic little babies who can’t survive for very long outside an air-conditioned, well-lit studio.

How about the Czar beats them to the punch? And believe us, we’d very much like to punch them. Yes, the Czar has actually seen these recommendations on the main stream media.

Tips to Survive Cold Winter Weather

Dress warmly. Most people exposed to the cold find that warm clothing seems to mitigate the cold though some non-intuitive, slightly magical process.

Drink plenty of fluids. Nearly all cold fatalities are caused by total dehydration, and not some obvious form of exposure.

Be careful of ice. Media types are amazed that ice seems to increase the local gravity in the area and encourage people to fall down.

Limit your time outside. This is astonishingly good advice from your media betters. Being outdoors is one of the leading causes of exposure.

Watch your extremities! Media types have recently discovered that gloves are good at protecting your finger tips. And for goodness sake, don’t wear open toed sandals outside.

Dress in layers. Consider a pasta layer, followed by a soup layer, and even a nice mulch to finish. Add butter for a nice finish.

If you become stranded and elect to stay in your car, do not leave it. Yes, the Czar spotted this obvious piece of binary realization. If you don’t leave your car, stay in it. Alternatively, if you elect to leave your car, feel free to exit it. Apparently Schrödinger disagrees.

Papal Interpretations

Pope FrancisI find it interesting how broadly the Pope’s statements get interpreted, bent, twisted and otherwise spun.  There have been instances surrounding his statements on gay marriage and now there is a thread starting with his latest comments on the acceptance of children.

Let’s start with what the Pontiff actually said:

“The virtuous link between generations is a guarantee of the future, and it is a guarantee of a very human story. A society of children who do not honor their parents is a society without honor, when you do not honor your parents you lose your honor! It is a society destined to fill itself with arid and greedy young.

However, even a society with a greedy generation, that doesn’t want to surround itself with children, that considers them above all worrisome, a weight, a risk, is a depressed society.

Just think of the many societies we know here in Europe.  They are depressed societies because they don’t want children, they don’t have children.  The birth rate doesn’t even reach 1%, why? Everyone should think about that and answer it personally.

If a generous family of children is viewed as if it were a burden, there is something wrong! As the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Blessed Pope Paul VI teaches, but having more children cannot be automatically viewed as an irresponsible choice. The choice to not have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: It is enriched, not impoverished! Children learn to take charge of their family, they mature in the sharing of sacrifices, and they grow in appreciation of its gifts. The experience of joyful fraternity animates the respect and care of parents, who are due our gratitude.
Many of you, here, have children.  And we are all children. Let’s do something, it won’t take long.  Let each one of us think, privately, about your children – if you have them – and about our parents, and let us thank God for the gift of them…[followed by a lengthy pause]

May the Lord bless our parents and your children.”

This has been turned into reporting like:

Pope Francis has condemned couples who deliberately choose not to have children, labelling their decision as “selfish”, just weeks after insisting that Catholics do not need to “breed like rabbits”.”

“Pope Francis said that couples who opt not to have children are being “selfish” as he spoke of a “greedy generation” that’s choosing not to procreate.”

and Facebook posts of people that are disappointed with his statements.  My guess is that these people didn’t read or listen to the Pontiff’s actual words and instead are taking the media’s interpretations.

Re-read the Holy Father’s statements.  They are powerful.  They support and defend the institution of the family.  If someone views children as a burden, aren’t they being selfish about how they live and view their lives?  Yes, he allows for the responsible development of a family in his recalling of Pope Paul VI’s Humanæ Vitæ.  The Pope is stating facts.  Societies that have low birth rates are depressed.  And societies that welcome children are enriched and grow and prosper.

May the Lord, indeed, bless our parents and children.  And bless those that have trouble seeing this.

Listen to the Damn Monolith

Apparently, the 2016 NASA budget involves sending a probe to the Galilean moon of Europa. Because of its frozen oceans, it has been speculated that organic material maybe present, and by extension, the conditions for (unintelligent) life to exist, and by further extension, new Democrat voters.

President Obama didn’t get the memo from the Monolith, the alien technology that drove Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 series:

7gSB5gka1gpo0uddqOdWS8hfo1_1280

 

In all seriousness, it sounds like a cool project, however Dr. J. pines for the day when we, again,  are the leaders in manned space travel. We need a visionary President and a visionary NASA chief.

New York’s Teachers Need To Quit Whining And Do Their Jobs

‘Puter read with interest this letter to the editor, published in the Albany Times-Union yesterday. In it, seven past New York State Teachers of the Year address Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed education reforms.

One would think that New York State Teachers of the Year would be selected from among the best teachers in the state, based on objective and subjective standards, such as proven ability to improve students’ learning and engagement with the entire school community. One would be wrong. Despite lip service otherwise, New York State Teachers of the Year are chosen primarily by New York State United Teachers, New York’s largest public school teachers union. That is, no teacher is put forth without support of the teacher’s local union and NYSUT at the state level.

Thus, it’s no surprise that the seven assembled Teachers of the Year despise Cuomo’s efforts to instill any level of accountability on teachers for their students’ educational achievements.

The teachers choose not to directly address the core issue, preferring instead to deal in the language of emotion and grievance. We learn these brave, heroic teachers, standing up to The Man in Albany are caring, loving people.

We have given our hearts and souls to this noble profession. We have pursued intellectual rigor. We have fed students who were hungry. We have celebrated at student weddings and wept at student funerals. Education is our life.

Truly, these are noble public servants, wanting nothing more than the best for your children. These angels on Earth have no ulterior motives, certainly not ghastly money and benefits. It is impossible that these gentle souls would harm even a fly.

For this, you have made us the enemy. This is personal.

What an unexpected twist, from saints among us to union thugs, all in the space of one, brief, introductory paragraph. New York’s best and brightest (union approved) teachers have had enough of Cuomo calling them to account for students’ substandard performance, and will stop at nothing to prevent imposition of even the mildest accountability.

Surely, Cuomo must have abducted and waterboarded teachers to earn such venom and enmity. Certainly the (union approved) teachers have an evidence based argument to back their claims of unfair treatment. Not so much.

Let’s take a look at the union’s grievances, measuring them against reality as it exists outside their narrow “teacher first” worldview.

Union Point 1: “Under your leadership, schools have endured the Gap Elimination Adjustment and the tax cap, which have caused layoffs and draconian budget cuts across the state. Classes are larger and support services are fewer, particularly for our neediest students.”

‘Puter Responds: Here’s a relatively neutral explanation of New York’s Gap Elimination Adjustment. Basically, New York overspent for years, and in the 2009-10 fiscal year, the bill came due. Then Governor Paterson and the legislature took $1.5 billion out of state education funds. Rather than negotiating with teachers unions to deal proactively with the shortfall, local school boards (bought and paid for by local teachers unions) punted, alleging the mean old state forced them to increase property taxes to make up the shortfall in funds.

And this rapid increase in local school taxes on properties leads us directly to New York’s property tax cap. Because local districts chose to ignore their past profligacy and continued to spend like mad, Cuomo pressed the legislature to enact a tax cap. Under this cap, local school districts can only increase property taxes to the lower of (1) two percent or (2) the rate of inflation. School districts can increase taxes by more than this limit, but only if a 60% supermajority of voters so authorizes. Interestingly, the tax cap excludes increases related to a district’s pension fund contributions, which for Fall 2015 will be 17.53% of all teachers’ salaries. As you may suspect, teachers’ salaries are the number one expenditure of the vast majority of school districts, effectively rendering the cap meaningless.

So, finally forced to live within their means, school districts had difficult decisions to make. Since teachers unions refused to negotiate an across the board reduction in salaries and benefits, school districts were forced to make some layoffs. Of course, layoffs are done on a seniority basis, so school districts were unable to keep better teachers with lower seniority than worse teachers. But schools in New York are a union shop, so teachers come before kids. Teachers, having escaped much if not all of the 2008 economic collapse’s fallout, have the temerity to complain to the taxpayers footing their bills, many of whom suffered layoffs in 2008’s aftermath.

As to increased class sizes, the average classroom in New York City is 26.4 students. Having 26.4 kids in a classroom is more work, but it is hardly the abuse alleged by New York’s finest teachers ever. Admittedly, it would be better to have a lower class size, but education like every other endeavor of the state must bend to fiscal reality. My mother, in her 1951 first grade classroom had 60 kids. That’s right, sixty kids in one classroom. Does 26.4 kids seem like such a hardship?

New York spends buckets and buckets of money on special education. In ‘Puter’s tiny school district, special education students comprise roughly 14% of the student population. These students receive approximately 43% of all budget dollars. The time has long since come for special education to be cut back to a reasonable level. No one is talking about a return to the days of “out of sight, out of mind” for kids with special needs. However, at a certain point, it is unfair and unjust for special education not to feel pain equally with general education.

The union advocates’ argument boils down to: “Ignore that we overspent for decades. Pay up, or we’ll take it out on your kids, especially the retarded ones.”

Union Point 2: “We have also endured a difficult rollout of the Common Core Standards. A reasonable implementation would have started the new standards in kindergarten and advanced those standards one grade at a time. Instead, the new standards were rushed into all grades at once, without any time to see if they were developmentally appropriate or useful.”

‘Puter Responds: Conveniently omitted from this union-approved narrative is the following fact. When New York decided to implement the Common Core, New York’s teachers unions refused to give any input, preferring instead to stamp their feet and insist it would never be passed.

Union Point 3: “Then our students were given new tests — of questionable validity — before they had a chance to develop the skills necessary to be successful.”

‘Puter Responds: It’s unclear what the union approved narrative is on this point. Are the tests of questionable validity because they’re showing New York’s students are unprepared to meet the requirements of their grade level? Are the tests of questionable validity because they provide a basis for the long held suspicion that many teachers weren’t getting their jobs done? Or are the tests of questionable validity because they don’t accurately gauge student performance against stated objectives?

Union Point 4: “Now you are doubling down on test scores as a proxy for teacher effectiveness. The state has focused on test scores for years and this approach has proven to be fraught with peril. Testing scandals erupted. Teachers who questioned the validity of tests were given gag orders. Parents in wealthier districts hired test-prep tutors, which exacerbated the achievement gap between rich and poor.”

‘Puter Responds: ‘Puter’s school district is run by a superintendent who is (in ‘Puter’s opinion) a petty, vindictive man, more interested in self-aggrandizement than the best interest of his charges. Don’t get ‘Puter started on this advocate of 1960s SDS style radicalism. Just this morning, ‘Puter received an email from the district, stating that parents have a right to opt their children out of required testing. This is patently false, and could jeopardize both federal Title I funding and teacher evaluations which depend (40%) on student test results. Leaving aside the colossally irresponsible behavior of ‘Puter’s local district’s “leadership,” let’s examine

The union front men (front persons?) claim testing is “fraught with peril.” Hardly. What’s fraught with peril is the admitted inability of teachers to comply with basic ethical precepts, which resulted in widespread cheating rather than widespread harder work in order to achieve better results. And why were the teachers cheating? In many cases, it’s because teachers would receive more pay for higher scores. Money before kids is the union’s motto. Remember, it’s not the kids who are cheating on the tests, it’s the teachers. You know, like the ones we’re supposed to take at face value here.

Teachers like to claim “rich” parents flee the public schools and/or bad school districts, leaving them with the intellectual dregs. Here’s a couple of things to consider. It’s a parent’s right to send their kids to private schools if they so choose, and so doing doesn’t reduce their school tax bill. Further, this notion that the wealthy are obligated to hamstring their children to make poor kids feel better is just the sort of socialistic horseshit that make taxpayers, many parents and not a few teachers loathe unions. ‘Puter agrees there are many causes for the achievement gap between rich and poor students, from home life, to poverty generally, to health, to hunger to neighborhood crime. But the one factor teachers unions never mention also matters: teacher quality.

Union Point 5: “Your other proposals are also unlikely to succeed. Merit pay, charter schools and increased scrutiny of teachers won’t work because they fundamentally misdiagnose the problem. It’s not that teachers or schools are horrible. Rather, the problem is that students with an achievement gap also have an income gap, a health-care gap, a housing gap, a family gap and a safety gap, just to name a few. If we truly want to improve educational outcomes, these are the real issues that must be addressed.”

‘Puter Responds: This point is nothing more than a list of union bugaboos. ERMAGERD! DEY TERK R JERBS!!!1!eleventy!!! Merit pay doesn’t currently work because unions hate it and use peer pressure and bullying within districts to discourage good teachers from participating in the programs. ‘Puter has seen it with his own two bleary eyes, so don’t dare deny it.

‘Puter doesn’t deny there are all kinds of issues that affect student performance. Unfortunately for these union mouthpieces, the only issue affecting student performance they don’t address is the only one that doesn’t have a multibillion of dollars per year program dedicated to it: teacher quality. And why isn’t teacher quality the subject of government monitoring? Because until now, unions have fought tooth and nail to prevent state governments from even mentioning the possibility that crappy teachers just may have something to do with crappy student achievement.

Income gap? Perhaps these teachers have never heard of New York’s massive welfare bureaucracy, everything from tax credits, to food assistance, to free phones to basically free cash handouts to be spent at the recipients’ whims. Housing assistance? New York City has the largest housing assistance program known to man. It’s called rent control. Not to mention homeless people in New York City get housed in apartments nicer than those of many of the working poor.

New York State alone spends approximately $28.2 billion per year on social welfare programs. In 2013 the federal government spent $182 billion on cash assistance, $459 billion in medical assistance, $109 billion on food assistance, $56 billion on housing assistance, $6 billion on energy assistance, $60 billion on education assistance, $8 billion on training assistance, $15 billion in random services, $22 billion in child care and development services, and $8 billion in community development services. That’s a total of $2.2 trillion each year, or roughly two-thirds of all federal expenditures.

There is no shortage of funds expended in an attempt to right the wrongs of which these union spokesmodels complain. Whether or not these programs do any good is another question, but we cannot ask that question lest we be branded bigots, racists or haters, in many cases by unionized bureaucrats trying to keep their cushy, overcompensated, no-fire jobs.

Sound familiar, teachers?

Union Point 6: “Instead, let’s talk about ways to help the kids who are struggling. Let’s talk about addressing the concentration of poverty in our cities. Let’s talk about creating a culture of family so that our weakest students feel emotionally connected to their schools. Let’s talk about fostering collaboration between teachers, administrators and elected officials. It is by working together, not competing for test scores, that we will advance our cause.”

‘Puter Responds: Really? There’s been no talk about addressing the concentration of poverty in the cities? There’s been no talk about failed families and culture? Horse manure. That’s all the Warren Democrats have talked about for the past four years. Heck, even conservatives talk about the worrying cultural breakdowns caused by poverty, or vice versa if you prefer. ‘Puter also cross-references his lengthy discussion in response to Union Point 5, above.

‘Puter notes with amusement the teachers’ willingness to substitute the warm teat of public education for an actual two parent household. ‘Puter doesn’t want his child to feel “emotionally connected to [his] school.” ‘Puter wants his child’s school to do its job and provide him an education. School is not a proper object of affection. These poor, put-upon teachers may want to spend less time worrying about emotional connections and collaborations, and more time worrying about educating their charges.

Again, ‘Puter would note that despite the union propagandists’ calls to engage in collaboration, history shows teachers unions are not interested in collaboration. Teachers unions refused to negotiate on teacher evaluations and Common Core implementation, instead taking their ball and going home. Now they are outraged – outraged! – New York implemented the Common Core and teacher evaluations without them. Teachers unions are the boy who murders his parents then begs the court’s mercy as he is an orphan. You’ve dug your own grave, now lie in it.

So many of the concerns raised by the teachers have nothing – nothing – to do with education. Education started to go to hell when governments (often at the behest of public employee unions) took on more and more tasks that are properly the job of parents. Schools now feed children, provide medical services to children, provide psychological services to children and provide guidance to children. How about we just get back to providing an education to children? Perhaps then our precious snowflake teachers union members wouldn’t feel quite so put upon.

Union’s Conclusion: “None of these suggestions are easily measured with a No. 2 pencil, but they would work. On behalf of teachers across the state, we say these are our kids, we love them, and this is personal.”

‘Puter’s Conclusion: The teachers union, through its sympathetic mouthpieces, has not offered any solutions. In fact, teachers unions have stood, and are currently standing, foursquare in the schoolhouse door preventing implementation of solutions to the detriment of students across the state.

Teachers ‘Puter knows complain they are not treated as professionals. ‘Puter would simply point them to this letter, written by willing union representatives. This letter is so transparently one-sided, so devoid of solutions and so ignorant of the realities facing those who pay your salaries and send you their kids for education, is it any wonder?

Is it any wonder teachers are not considered professionals when they hide their bad apples behind antiquated union work rules designed for 1930s steel mills?

Is it any wonder teachers are not considered professionals when their pay is in no meaningful way tied to the outcome they’re hired to achieve?

Teachers are paid like General Motors line workers. Teachers follow overweening, outmoded work rules like General Motors line workers. We’re going to treat you like General Motors line workers, including objectively measuring your output.

If teachers don’t like it, they need to man up and offer meaningful proposals for assessing teachers’ job performance including consequences up to and including automatic dismissal for those who cannot meet the standards.

Until teachers do so, please spare ‘Puter your weepy, self-righteous, self-serving letters to the editor.

You’re damned right it’s personal.

P.S. Those kids aren’t your kids. Those kids are our kids.

Obama Hates America

‘Puter’s boss is one of the sharpest men (in all senses) ‘Puter has ever known. He is savvy, tough, sharp-elbowed, thorough, driven and demanding. He is also introspective, merciful and kind. ‘Puter’s boss is also a registered Democrat.*

Imagine ‘Puter’s surprise when in 2008, his boss offered this simple statement: “Obama hates America.”

As our loyal minions know, there is no love lost in Castle Gormogon for Obama. To a Gormogon, we all dislike Obama’s policies and prescriptions for America. But ‘Puter’d never believed Obama hated America. That is, ‘Puter never believed it until this year.

Obama was raised in the fever swamps of a radical, left wing family. Obama’s father was a post-colonial Kenyan Marxist, unrepentantly arguing for redistribution of income and Whitey T. Mann’s guilt for every minority’s difficult, real or imagined. Obama’s mother was a flaky hippie, weaned on the post-modernist horseshit of the 1960s.

Obama grew up in squishy liberal Hawaii, attending rich kid Punahou School (tuition a mere $20,700 per year for kindergarten). ‘Puter’s fairly certain Obama didn’t receive the same classical liberal arts education ‘Puter received from the Jesuits. From there, Obama smoked a lot of weed at Occidental College (not exactly a bastion of conservativism) before transferring to hard Left Columbia University.** And, of course, Obama made his obligatory stop at Harvard Law School, America’s second oldest, a routine jumping off point for politicians.

Obama is the product of his environment. A half-Black liberal, steeped in Marxist ideology (post colonialism, critical race theory and liberation theology to name a few), carefully taught to be bitter about the riches America’s given him. Obama is certainly well educated, as believing Marxist fairy tales about the miracles of socialism, social justice and wealth redistribution is considered well educated these days.

Obama doesn’t like to admit it, but he knows (as does every American) that his melanin content bought him special favors in the academy and in society. Anyone remember then Senator Biden complimenting Obama for being clean and articulate? The Left just loves a good house Negro.***

Obama then moved to Chicago, got involved in Chicago politics, and associated with a rogues’ gallery of the Left. From 1960s Weather Underground murderous bombers Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn to backwards assed militant racist “pastor” Jeremiah Wright, Obama rode circuit.

From there, Obama moved into community organizing, then straight into politics. We’re familiar now with Obama’s meteoric rise from do-nothing state senator, to do nothing United States Senator, to Constitution shredding president. It’s a remarkable achievement for a man whose single claim to fame is giving a rousing speech to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. But it’s not surprising as Democrats (and, sadly, many Independents and Republicans) are incapable of seeing what is rather than what they wish were.

So what is Obama? He’s the product of his environment. He’s a hard-Left, neo-Marxist, America-hating, asshat. And, like so many on the Left, he’s a smirking, bullying, chicken shit. Strong words, ‘Puter knows, but ‘Puter can defend them.

Obama believes America is today and has at all times been a force for evil in the world. All Obama’s foreign policy actions are consistent with this belief.

  • Early in his first term, Obama went to Cairo University in Egypt to speak. Obama spoke for over an hour, running down America and enabling Islamic fundamentalism. Obama claimed it is not Islam that causes terrorism, but rather unaffiliated “violent extremists.” Obama also alleged America and Islam “share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.” Islam sure is tolerant of women, gays and Jews, of that ‘Puter is certain.
  • Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize, again for his amazing ability to … well, to be the first Black president, ‘Puter guesses. In his speech, Obama validated other nations’ “reflexive suspicion of America” and to call for America’s unilateral disarmament. Sure, Obama didn’t say unilateral disarmament, but what do you think he meant by “all nations – strong and weak alike – must adhere to standards that govern the use of force.” Obama wants Gulliver America tied down by hateful and puny world Lilliputians.
  • Obama throughout the course of his presidency has been dedicated to shutting down the Guantanamo Bay detention center housing some of the world’s worst terrorists. Obama has released 115 terrorists, and 6.8% of them (an al Jazeera estimate, so it’s light) returned to the battlefield. Obama releases prisoners over the objections of military and national security professionals.
  • Obama precipitously pulled all United States troops out of Iraq on an artificial schedule, more interested in his political standing than the hard fought and blood bought freedoms of the Iraqi people. We’re dealing today with the logical consequences of his fickle, anti-American decisions as the vacuum gave ISIS space to grow.
  • Obama drew a line in the sand on Syria, insisting America would impose dire consequences on Syria if it used chemical weapons on the Syrian rebels. Syria did once, and Obama ignored it. Then Syria gassed its people again, but this time there was irrefutable proof. Obama again did nothing. Assad, emboldened by Obama’s cowardice, has since slaughtered tens of thousands of Syrians and made hundreds of thousands more refugees.
  • Obama (with the able assistance of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) declared a “reset” with Russia early in his first term. From this, Vladimir Putin correctly deduced that Obama was an empty suit, naïve in world affairs and unable to see plain facts. Emboldened by Obama’s childishly simplistic world view, Putin moved into Georgia, then Crimea and now Eastern Ukraine, basically telling Obama he’s a do-nothing bitch. Score one for Vlad the Invader.

Obama believes White Americans are racist. Many of his domestic actions are consistent with this belief. ‘Puter’s waiting for Obama to condemn Oreos since institutional racism makes Americans like the white, creamy center more than the more prevalent and deserving chocolaty wafers.

  • Obama inserted himself into the arrest of a Black Harvard University professor by a White Cambridge police officer. Professor Henry Louis Gates got mouthy with Sgt. James Crowley, wouldn’t stop, and was arrested. Obama determined this was a matter worthy of the most powerful man in the world’s undivided attention, and called the infamous Beer Summit. ‘Puter guesses the correct response isn’t “boy, I’m glad no one got hurt in this cop’s reasonable misunderstanding and the professor’s understandably angry response.” ‘Puter guesses “let’s pillory the White cop for his reasonable actions” is cool, too.
  • In 2013, America was shocked to learn Obama’s son had been gunned down by a Florida vigilante. Wait. No. That was Trayvon Martin. America was shocked to learn Obama thought this local issue required a federal response and a presidential address. Mind you, Florida had already arrested the shooter and charged him. But Obama thought America needed a lesson on the travails of being Black in America, regardless of the case’s facts. Our prissy Lecturer in Chief strikes again.
  • Most recently, Obama sent his race-baiting Attorney General Eric Holder to Ferguson, Missouri after supporters of Michael Brown glorified his memory by peacefully rioting, torching and looting Ferguson’s business district for two weeks or so. This, over a young man who robbed a convenience store and assaulted a clerk while stoned out of his gourd immediately prior to bull rushing a cop who stopped him for walking down the middle of a busy road. Not to be outdone, Obama’s fellow traveler Bill de Blasio allowed ignorant OWS leftovers to shut down many of New York City’s major thoroughfares while calling for retaliatory killing of cops. Days later, a deranged Black man obliged the protestors, executing two cops sitting in their squad care. In Obama’s intellectual circles, racism’s fine so long as it’s directed at the right (meaning White) people.

Obama thinks capitalism is evil and will ruin the world. All his economic actions are consistent with this belief, calculated to destroy the greatest economy the world has known. Ignorance of private sector economics and ivory tower induced hubris are a toxic combination.

  • Obama used the 2008 financial crisis to get Congress to pass an $800 billion stimulus. Obama promised to use the stimulus funds for infrastructure improvements. Instead, Obama found there were no shovel ready projects as he had insisted due to the tangled web of archaic and arcane federal and state regulations. Rather than use his executive power to cut the red tape, Obama instead say to Hell with it and showered cash on his base.
  • Do you remember Cash for Clunkers, Obama’s plan to rescue the auto industry? Obama gave out tax credits to everyone buying a new car, alleging that doing so would revive the moribund US auto industry. Not so, say economists who’ve reviewed the program. All Obama’s program did was push demand forward, not increase demand over the long term.
  • The GM bankruptcy showed Obama’s true colors. Pressured by Obama’s lackeys, the bankruptcy court crammed down bondholders so pension holders could keep their exorbitant benefits, all in violation of federal law. No one has yet answered for this crime.
  • ObamaCare made every employer reluctant to hire, as no one is certain what the regulations are going to look like, still. Obama knows the impact of a fully implemented ObamaCare will be so negative, he’s put off most of the painful tax increases until after he leaves office. What a brave soul.
  • Standard & Poor’s correctly downgraded the United States’ bond rating as America racked up ever more debt (currently north of $18 trillion), saying unless America’s entitlement programs changed, there’s not enough money to pay America’s debts going forward. For telling the truth, Obama unleashed federal regulators and the Justice Department on Standard & Poor’s. In the last few days, word has leaked Standard & Poor’s reached settlement with the government, agreeing to pay $1.4 billion in fines.
  • JPMorgan’s chairman Jamie Dimon – a lifelong Democrat and vocal Obama supporter – was a darling of the Obama administration. In fact, in the depths of the 2008 fiscal crisis, federal regulators came to Mr. Dimon and begged him to purchase Washington Mutual, a dead-man-walking massive consumer mortgage lender. In return for saving the economy’s ass, Obama’s regulators promptly charged JPMorgan with violations related to the origination of mortgages. Fine, you thing, right? Wrong. Obama’s goon squad charged JPMorgan for loans originated by Washington Mutual, the failed bank. That’s a great way to encourage public-private cooperation in time of national crisis.

‘Puter could, but won’t, go on and on about Obama’s deeply flawed policies and beliefs. And, taken single, that’s all any of ‘Puter’s above examples are: proof of a man with no practical experience, in over his head, applying the wrongheaded socialist policies he deeply believes. But at some point, the overwhelming number of these examples indicates something more than a small man with deeply flawed beliefs. At some point the sheer weight of evidence, across all areas of policy, becomes proof of a deeper pathology.

At some point we all, like ‘Puter’s boss, have to admit the obvious: Obama hates America.

* ‘Puter’s boss isn’t what most of us think of as Democrat these days. ‘Puter’s boss is the youngest kid in his extended family (he’s 48), and his father and uncles on both sides were all WWII veterans. He’s a (John) Kennedy Democrat, strong on national defense, fiscally responsible, but with a bit of a New Deal collectivist streak at times. Racist, he is not.

** This is the “university” permitting a lying sack of dung woman who falsely accused a man of rape to torment him across campus with her “senior art project.” The evil woman’s project consists of carrying a mattress around campus claiming she has been raped by the young man, even though the man has been cleared by both the university and the local constabulary. ‘Puter’d say it’s a good thing for the “woman” to carry around a bed, since she’s obviously so familiar with f*cking people over. Were ‘Puter the young man or his parents, he’d sue the snot out of both the psycho female and the university.

*** Yes, there are dumb-assed racists on the Right, too, but this is ‘Puter’s post so shut up. The Right hews far closer these days to Martin Luther King, Jr’s ideal of judging a man on the content of his character, not the color of his skin.