America in Paralysis

The President of the United States wants to give a motivational speech directed at school kids. Our own export, Arnie Duncan, has facilitated this action.  Obama hopes to speak to the value of persistence and hard work- the value of education.  To allow schools to justify the use of time, the Department of Education comes up with a study guide, to remind kids that Obama is their president, too.  OK- maybe the act of creating activities to involve kids in government is over reaching- no good deed goes unpunished. The furor this broadcast, available but not mandated, has caused is hilarious. And sad.  It speaks volumes about fear of change.  


It has given John Kass another opportunity to sputter and write another lame-ass column.  Well, at least it isn't beer can chicken.  

It has given a range of haters the chance to sputter about fascism, socialism, brainwashing.  I cannot wait to see what hilarious spin Glenn Beck puts on this.  He even has charts these days.  To see the wheels come off his bus has been an added bonus to the tragic loss of rationality in today's sound-bite cable news "analyses".  He cannot even spell.  Oh- maybe he has a learning disability he can write a book about, which will become a best seller by virtue of the plethora of monosyllabic bottom feeders that need a hero.  Nice pick. He cannot even keep his stories straight from week to week.
It has given a range of citizens, most of whom never read the text of the speech, a chance to call schools and rage.  If there was always that level of interest in kids' education, the President wouldn't have to give a pep talk.  
Once the rabble rousers familiarized themselves with the text, and saw its value and positive message, they had to go to Plan B- attacking the study guide, because it encouraged kids to write to the President.  Every teacher knows the value of getting kids engaged enough to write.  The President encouraged this straight-from-the lesson-plan activity, and now he is a Communist.  I give up.
Could it be that the kids who most need to succeed (and have the fewest tools in their tool box to do it) might benefit by a pep talk from a man who worked his ass off in every educational setting he encountered?  What in the world has happened to us that ANYONE would fear such encouragement.  Kids can be inspired, engaged and amused. But trust me, kids  are not robots who can be programmed by a TV broadcast.  If they were, someone would have figured out a way to get them all perfect SATs via electronic programming.  Kids should be honored that their job-education- is important to the President.    Their success will enrich  the future for all of us.  Their failure adds to the rotting social miasma of crime and dependance.  You can be a Republican, a progressive, a libertarian- but don't you want a little hope in the future? Isn't anyone tired of the fractious, senseless parsing of even the smallest gesture?
Schools can say no.  Kids can watch at home, via C-Span.  It is utterly ironic to me that having the President of the United States highlight the value of education has been demonized. I am discouraged, and I am not easily discouraged.  

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  • Excellent commentary.

  • Janet,
    What children will actually learn from this address will be taught at the family dinner the language their parents use to characterize the President of the United States...and not in the viewing of the address itself.

  • In reply to dogstar7:

    I completely believe this- and wish there were more families actually eating and discussing. Those that do this will not ever have to worry about "programming"

  • Kids all across this nation should be honored the President of The United States of America is "visitng" their classroom. Presidents and First Ladys have been doing so for a long time. Presient Bush was actually in a classroom reading to children when he was told of an airplane that sturck a large office building in New York City.

    Kids in inner city schools, where the tools of learning may not be cutting edge, can see a role model on their screen and just maybe make choices to aspire to be him.

    Though most likely the only thing President Obama and I could ever possibly agree on is the weather or something else equally as mundane, I welcome him into my child's classroom. I also look forward to hear what my son (8 years old) picks up from the speech. And then I will look forward to (after reading the speech also, of course) telling him that in this country it is okay to disagree with the President if he chooses to. Or 100% support him.

    Don't be discouraged, Janet. Cynicism is a dangerous cancer that aggressively spreads. Look in the eyes of any child after he / she hears the speech. There WILL be hope in those eyes.

  • In reply to bradensdad:

    Yours is a thoughtful and wonderful letter. If your son does see the speech (Illinois is listed as unlikely to make time for it- ironic in a state where we encourage a day off for Pulaski day, and have a mile long list of subjects that various legislators have ordered to be taught)- please let me know what he says, and you discuss.

  • In reply to JanetDahl:

    We live in the middle of Missouri now, and as far as I can tell, it was optional as to weather the speech was allowed in the schools.

    Braden's 3rd grade clasa was not privileged to hear it. I do not know at this time if it was a teacher, school, or district decision. Answers have been hard to come by in the two years we have been in this disttict. I wish I made better choices in my life to be able to afford to send him to a private school.

    But I digress.

    We watched the speech on YouTube yesterday evening. Braden fidgeted a lot (he was still excited from his hockey practice) but listened and came away with the message "do well in school" to which he replied "Duh!" He was also touched the President of the United States of America took time out of his day to speak to him.

    Obama succeeded on two points. He gave a positive message, and he humilated those who compared him to such luminaries as Chavez, Castro, Hitler, Ardminajad (spelling is close enough), and that gargoyle-looking fellow from North Korea.

    Reading between the lines, there were a few things that irked me heavily, but this isn't the proper forum. Bottom line, he touched and maybe motivated lots of childrens' minds.

  • In reply to bradensdad:

    I am glad you still love me- despite our difference here. I repeat- Glenn Beck is an idiot with a pulpit- the most dangerous type of idiot. He spews lies as truth with the skill of a broadcaster, and his nonsense is adopted. You have made the American Dream come true for your son- as did my husband- a high school dropout/GED guy. You should believe in the power of young minds to discern the proper message.

  • Hi Janet
    As a small business owner and the proud father of a college Grad.
    I find this speech by the President to be Offensive. As an American
    citizen I do not agree with any of his views,I feel he is grabbing at straws to get children to be on his side to push parents in the direction he wants the people to go. Janet you know all too well Chicago political way of doing things arm twisting included!!!! I grew up there and my parents where very involved in the Machine, and that is why I feel the President is doing arm twisting by going to the kids to push his Ideas through and get parents on board with his plan. Sorry Janet this is one time Glen Beck has it right about
    the president. I only have a High School education but I was blessed by god enough to give my son the chance to do more than I have in life, we as parents should always want our kids to pass us up in life. But I am afraid this present goverment we have is going backwards. Wee still love ya though have a great day

  • In reply to Jgeissmann:

    I think that you are bring Machine Dreams to an innocent occurrence. Kids need to know that the route to success is education- and lots of hard work. Who better to tell them that than our President ? There is no political content in his speech. No conspiracy. You made the American Dream a reality for your son- lots of kids do not have 2 parents sweating and encouraging. The power of a dream can sometimes come from a stranger- or a political opponent. If he ignites a few young minds, or reminds kids that shortcuts can get them lost- it is a good educational tool. Come on- believe!

    And Glenn Beck is the idiot who takes a kernel of reality and distorts it, and wraps it in so much nonsense that it is nothing but a distortion. And he has the nerve to call it truth. The most dangerous programmer is one who starts from a lie. He amuses me in his infantile desperation. Obama, prejudiced? Obama anti-semite? Our current government. fascist? Oh, boy. He is mad as hell, and he isn't going to take it anymore. Remember in Network, when the broadcaster inflamed the masses with crap, and loved the power of inflammation? He is Glenn Beck. He should be stifled, or held to a higher standard if his station wants to call itself a News Outlet. We are all disgraced by the likes of him.

  • In reply to Jgeissmann:

    Great commentary, Janet. Let's face it. The President could be giving a speech about cute puppies and the Glenn Beck followers would go crazy. ("Hitler liked puppies too!!") There is a panic in the country right now that I can't understand. Not everyone will agree with the President's policies. I certainly don't. But substantive debate has been replaced by the touting of conspiracy theories and fear mongering. People are showing up to town hall meetings armed, and I just saw an awful video of a disable woman being shouted down as she was talking about how she might lose her home because of her medical bills. What is happening to us as a people? Thanks for keeping the debate elevated. Oh, and I miss hearing Steve on the radio.

  • In reply to Jgeissmann:

    Hello Janet:
    I must say for someone who accuses those who believe our country is headed toward socialism or fascism as being "haters" you seem to spew a lot of hate yourself. Hate for those who disagree with you. I am not a big fan of Glenn Beck and am not here to support him. However, I fought to defend his right to believe and say what he says. There are a whole lot of us out here who hate what we see happening to our country, but that does not mean we should be labeled "haters". You seem to hate Glenn Beck and John Kass, what should we call you? Becks commentary is spin... what is yours?

    Of course you have not been "brain washed" because your truth is the righteous truth. Your truth appears to be "lame ass" to me... I must be brain washed. Those of us who disagree with this President (and for me the one before him as well)are not only hateful, we are "rabble rousers"... are you referring to A: a disorganized or disorderly crowd of people : or b : the lowest class of people... you have certainly "roused" me. I guess I should label you a "righteous rouser."
    How is it that you can be so certain of what or how much we rabble rousers read ("most of whom never read the text of the speech"). This rabble rouser reads 2 to 3 hours a days of current events and history.
    You are naive to think that it is the "encouragement to excel in education" that we rabble rousers fear. I will be so bold as to say that most of us have taken the time to educate ourselves on the truth of what socialism and fascism look like and this president reeks of socialism.

    So children can not be programmed. What age were you when you received your programming. How naive. Programming dear has nothing to do with whether you can pass a SAT exam. I would suggest you Google MK-Ultra. Or read the book "The Marketing of Evil". I would also suggest you study Lenin, Mao Se Tung and Hitler but don't rely on the university text books in your research... they are all written to keep you in the dark closet you presently reside. I am confident most of the citizens of those socialist/communist/fascist countries felt much like yourself before the evil tyrants enslaved them.
    What Devine link is it you have that gives you the confidence to suggest there is "no conspiracy". I will not be so judgmental as to label you an "idiot", as you did Mr. Beck. You are obviously a smart lady and I am confident your intentions are good... what I would caution you to remember is: "The most dangerous programmer is one who starts from a lie"... but believes it to be true. In the case of this president

  • In reply to TANATS:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. I must disagree, however-I am not an idiot. I am not a hater. I believe Mr. Kass is redundant, but given the demands of writing his column, I can understand it. I just do not enjoy it. I cannot shift on Beck, though I'll say I am totally ambivalent about him as a person-hate him, no. I DO hate the muckraking type of broadcasting he does. I resent that he can distort all reality, and then say, "I never claim to be a journalist, I am an entertainer."

    I am not naive, and do not begin to think I understand the nuance of all political actions. I DO understand education, as I have a degree in it, and taught for almost 7 years. I worked on a school board for 8 years. I think we are in a grim, dimmed intellectual box if a President's encouragement to students is seen through the prism of conspiracy. Life is complicated enough without adding that bleak notion to a simple address. I chose not to live that way.

    My last degree was in law, and though I chose a different path in my life, I believe my mind is trained to question, search and analyze. I concede that I have political leanings, and I try hard to read counter-points. I am involved in the municipal level of government, and I recognize that things are not always as simple as they seem. Like you, I am an information junkie, combing many papers and web sites daily. I will not traffic in the sites you mentioned. My brother in law, also a veteran who was physically demolished by his service in Vietnam (liver transplant) has directed me there, and I demur. I choose to enjoy him as a man, despite our differences.

    I will not look at life via paranoia, despair and conspiracy. I will get up every day, do my duty as a citizen to inform myself, and live without self-inflicted doubt and terror. The beauty of this great country is that there are prodigious checks and balances. Assigning malevolent motivation to the simplest actions is a huge detour on the road to fulfillment. You would call me a Pollyanna- but the old adage works for me- it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. Even my husband might describe that as "lame ass", but I'll take it.

    Ps= Beck's charts are badly organized, occasionally misspelled. If he wants to use a chalkboard, he needs technique. I think HE is programming- trying to take his viewers back to their days in school, where knowledge was being proffered. Kids in class will raise their hands and question- even correct a spelling error. Beck's audience is not so interactive. And he is, as you say, spinning, not teaching any truth. :-)

  • In reply to TANATS:

    Hello Janet:
    Thank you for your response. We are definitely on two different paths in search of the same truth. Or are we? Dare I assume you believe in absolute truth or are you among the growing politically correct that believe truth is relative and ethics are situational?
    Just to correct you on a couple of things. I was not directing you to any web sites. As I am sure you know, Google is a search engine. The Marketing of Evil is a well researched book describing how America has been transformed from a strong Judeo-Christian culture into a divided, confused, and contentious society hostile to its own core values. Specifically it speaks to the powerful psychological tools of modern marketing and how they are used to manipulate our children (program) to not only purchase the latest products but to rebel against parent authority.
    I don

  • In reply to TANATS:

    OK- This IS my brother-in-law, right? God Bless You.

  • In reply to JanetDahl:

    Hello Janet:
    Your brother-in-law sounds like a great man! Ok.... I have been busted. You are a smart girl. I figured it would take a couple of more exchanges before you figured it out or I let you in on my true indentity. Does this mean I am not qualified for a response to my questions and statements. In that no one in the family will ever converse with me regarding my beliefs I felt this stealth opportunity would provide me with a platform otherwise not available. I do wish it would have lasted a couple more rounds. :-)
    God Bless

  • In reply to TANATS:


  • In reply to TANATS:

    I read what was purported to be the speech. It doesn't seem to have any overt political overtones. It also doesn't have anything that kids haven't heard from their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, teachers, principals, co-workers, friends, employers, etc.

    It seems to me that, for kids say beyond the 3rd or 4th grade, it would be better for them to listen to a a policy speech from the President, then discuss the merits of the proposed policy and how well the President did in making the case for the policy.

    I grew up in a very political family. I wore my "Nixon's the One" button to 1st grade in 1968. I watched Fahey Flynn and Joel Daly during dinner. I watched presidential speeches, if they weren't on past my bed time.

    If parents want their kids to listen to the President, they have Fox, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, and the network evening news programs. Do we really need to take time from the school day to listen to the President?

    My problem is whether younger kids will "get" this speech. My son is 6 and isn't much for listening to people talk, unless there is action, or the dialogue is done in funny voices. This is why he liked "Cars" better than "Ratatouille." Is he going to understand the idea that education can advance one well beyound the life of one's parents? Is he even going to pay attention?

  • In reply to ckfred:

    I am not as upset about the loss of time, because I think it is a worthwhile message- but I certainly appreciate what you observe about the attention spans of kids, and the difficulty of sculpting a message that resonates across diverse age groups. I think those of us who are engaged in politics/world and national issues ARE likely to constantly amplify the need for hard work and persistence. But with so many families time stretched or uninvolved- it can't hurt to have a successful outsider say it. I wouldn't mind Bill Gates or Steve Jobs recount how many hours they spent before they mastered computers- So much information comes passively and easily today, via electronics, that the value of extended commitment is a good one. But I suppose that would be seen as capitalist propaganda. I have taught where every parent shows up for their kids- and where few do. The value of all this outside encouragement is chiefly for the benefit of those who DO NOT hear it at home, but it spills over and reinforces what we, as parents say. In the end, I think that local schools, with good leadership, will determine whether it is the best practice for their population. That is how it should be....local control.

  • In reply to ckfred:

    Janet Said:
    "And Glenn Beck is the idiot who takes a kernel of reality and distorts it, and wraps it in so much nonsense that it is nothing but a distortion."

    Two words VAN JONES

    Thank God for the "idiot" Glenn Beck, who single-handed got this radical/extremist/communist OUT OF THE WHITE HOUSE. If it was all distorted reality, why would he be pressured to resign, and do so?

    Picking on his spelling????? The lack of maturity shown in such drivel speaks volumes on your character. I find it amazing that someone who has spent so much of her life in the Chicago area, actually drank the kool aid when it came to "The One".

  • In reply to Dinodb:

    Regarding the spelling and chalkboard-I am a former teacher, and old habits die hard.

    You have used too many hot buttons for me to respond to. I have not had any kool aid, but I have not consumed hemlock either.

    Glenn Beck is all yours.

    Van Jones may not be your cup of tea, but I think you have over-reached on your character assassination.

  • In reply to ckfred:

    I haven't read his 'address' to the school children. It is my understanding that he altered his original intent to the one he did give/ plans to give. The original intent was a lot more political and less educational. Again, that's what I read. READ, in a newspaper. I was troubled. Our president has unprecidented access to media. He's on TV all the time. Our news media trips all over itself co-operating and not asking tough questions like they did with the last president. It seemed like President Obama was addressing the nation weekly for a while there.

    What troubled me? I don't like political indoctrination. Our children get quite enough of it already. They can all tell you how global warming is caused by Mankinds misuse of fossil fuels and the resultant CO2. Which is the biggest swindle ever put over on this country and the people of the world. And to put an opinion with support from actual untainted science gets you treated like you are some stooge of the oil companies. In short, you are treated like a 'heretic'. And this administration is very deep into selling that pile of excrement as well as any number of other things. In the news a few months ago former Chicago Treasure John Coleman testified before congress on how Global WArming science was flawed, because the way that scientific studies were funded gave the conclusion as part of the thesis of the study. He said that most science done was bad science. Our government's offical response to his testimony was. "that's his opinion, the perponderance of scientific study says otherwise."

    That's the science czar talking. He might want to try LISTENING instead of just spouting the 'TRUTH'.

    So excuse me if I think its not a good idea for political indoctrination. This would have been just as bad of an idea if it was a Republican president wanting to speak directly to the children.

    As for your problem with Kass' columns. I don't get it. I found his take on this business quite funny. Particularly the don't tell your parents, just call me part. It was over the top and an intent to make light of the whole situation.

    I mean really Janet, you are an intellegent human being. Stop acting like you are 'drinking the Koolaid'. Not every idea put forth is a good one.

    For Climate Science you need to find the BBC special on Global warming, the one that calls it a myth. The BBC has effectively buried it, there was a regime change over there as well. Apparently opposing viewpoints that are well stated will not be tolerated. In this country climate panic will be used to control us and tax us. Presumably to pay for all of this other stuff we didn't vote on. Carbon Dioxide, does not, in fact cause global warming, its the other way around. Find the special, watch it, have your eyes opened. Ask yourself the question. Why is it that science opinion is being stifled on these matters? You cannot raise any questions that disagree with the dogma being poured into our children. Shouldn't we be teaching them to question things?

    So, in my opinion we already have indoctrinated them quite enough, thank you. And no, I don't listen to right wing 'shills' any more then I listen to left wing shills. One of them is in the Senate now... sigh. Which means I don't watch Fox on Cable OR Nightline on ABC. Most broadcast outlets have a decided Democratic bias. I used to rely on newspapers for balance but newspapers are disappearing before my very eyes. If you want to weep for something weep for the fact that there is no forum for honest discourse left and we are teaching TRUTH with capital letters to our children instead of TOOLS for which they can discern their own.

    Then again, this is entirely too serious for the 'return of the Stever!' Have a great day Janet.

  • In reply to TANATS:

    Janet - the Chicago export's name is spelled Arne Duncan, not "Arnie", although it is pronounced that way.

  • In reply to Kelleyil09:

    Thank you so much! You are right- I had a brain bubble.

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