Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Council Spoke and I Finally Took Notes

Watcher's CouncilWould you believe the dog ate my Watcher’s post from last week? Of course, we don’t have a dog, but there is this cat, Lulu…oh, never mind. I’m just four days late. Okay?

I’m so glad the Education Wonks placed first in the December 16th voting. That there is one scary post. Here’s the meat:
     Today was the 64th Anniversary of the Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor. Not surprisingly, my students, being 12 and 13 years old, don't know much about who attacked who or why…
I was surprised how little they knew about the attacks of September 11th, 2001…
Among the 34 students present, most of the kids recognized the name of Osama Bin Laden, but none could connect him in any way with the attacks on New York and Washington. Come to think of it, none of the students even knew that there had been an attack on the nation's capital.
Not one single kid could connect Bin Laden with the attack. None recognized the term Al-Qaida.
Only one student even knew that there had been a "plane crash in New York City."
Jesus, Mary and Joseph! This level of ignorance among twelve year olds is evil. It is malignant. It needs to be addressed more than we need drug programs, or safe sex education, or any of the ancillary time-wasters these kids are already exposed to. While I don’t agree entirely with E.W.’s conclusion — I mean his idea is necessary but not sufficient to address this kind of memory hole problem — he offers a good place to start:
     I think that kids are often good barometers of what's going-on in our larger culture, and in our opinion, the kids' regrettable lack of knowledge about the war serves to demonstrate how the administration has failed to involve the people of our country in supporting the war-effort. This may explain why support for the Iraq War has dropped so precipitously.
I will never understand why Bush and Co. are not now, and never have been, on the offensive all the time, 24/7. So much for the genius of Rove.

New World Man is hilarious this time. I have to admit I voted for both these posts — something I don’t usually say out loud. But each in his own way was sooo good. It’s no wonder my post just dropped off the list this week. It really didn’t deserve a vote compared to these guys. New World Man’s George W begins with this intro:
    During World War II, the British government commissioned a film adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry V, hoping to stoke Britons' patriotic fires and remind them that few nations have overcome long odds at war like theirs. Henry V is the tale of the king who rose from low expectations to heroically seek and win the throne of France (briefly, as it turned out; his son squandered it), in the name of God and England, in a stunning battle at Agincourt in which his forces were hopelessly outnumbered and underarmed.
Today, of course, a moviemaker approached by a Republican administration to try and help the war effort would fall laughing hysterically out of his leaky motorboat. What if modern Hollywood remade Henry V today as George W?
And then he opens his play with a chorus and Whoopi Goldberg. There are characters named The Archbishop of Cheney and the Bishop of Rumsfeld…they scheme about methods for carrying that lightweight idiot, you-know-who. I won’t give away anymore juicy parts except for this: “As the end credits roll Kanye West sings an ironic gangsta rap version of Non Nobis, Domine.” Damn. I wish I had thought of this.

The non-Council winner is an open letter posted by Silent Running. If you’re not familiar with this blogger from Down Under, he’s more than worth a visit. Sharp, smart and funny. Try his podcasts, too --reminiscent of, but with more gravitas, The Goon Show. This letter, about a miscarriage of justice here in the US, will never compete with Tookie, which is sad beyond saying. SW begins to set out his case with his own biases from the get-go:
     Right up front, it’s fair to say that I’m a supporter of Capital Punishment. For some things, I think the appropriate response is to pull someone’s ticket for riding on the planet. There are many areas of debate on the matter, such as what constitutes action heinous enough to gain someone ultimate outcast status, and about the processes used to determine when it should be applied.
But in this case, probably brought to wider attention because it does involve a sentence of death, the death penalty isn’t the issue. The main issue is that Cory Maye ended up in jail at all. There is an expression “there but for the grace of god go I” - and it is really hard to read the particulars of this case without having that thought, or one which expresses the same sentiment, cross your mind.
He then goes on to outline the case of Cory Maye’s travails and his eventual placement in a cell on Death Row.

Silent Running wants him out of there. Given what he reports of this case, he’s right to enjoin us in this crusade:
     So, an effort must begin to take the decision away from those, that by all appearances, have utterly botched it so badly to this point. It’s time that some of the governmental checks and balances mechanisms grind into action.
He follows with a letter to the Governor of Mississippi, outlining the specifics of the case and closing with this:
     Aside from simply bringing the disturbing aspects of the Corey Maye case to your attention, Governor Barbour, I’d like to make the following recommendation, and make the request that you, and your office, act upon it with all due diligence. I would recommend that as Governor, you direct that a fresh, thorough, and as completely unbiased an investigation possible into all of the aspects of this case be conducted immediately. I further request that should that investigation reveal that there is substance to this apparently gross miscarriage of justice, that you bring any and all powers available to your office to bear to rectify the situation as expeditiously as possible. I’m making this request of you, in your capacity as Chief Executive of the State of Mississippi, as events to date, as I understand them, give me little reason to assume that the Judicial Branch of the Government of the State of Mississippi is capable of resolving this situation either expeditiously, or correctly.
Fortunately, Silent Running’s effort got a tap from Instapundit. Perhaps, when the hectic Christmas is over, you will consider the fate of Corey Maye and send your own letter — Silent Running has supplied the address and the details. As I ask this of you, I think of Mr. Maye right at this moment. What is he doing as he prepares to die, leaving a child behind? What is his Christmas like this year?

There were two second place winners. I’ll deal with the happy one first. If you haven’t made Florida Cracker a regular stop, you ought to. She is so, so…Florida. And so cracker. She’s all those girls I grew up with (only younger). In this post, she’s talking about a government program I actually approve of, one that she calls “LIVING TRIBUTE”:
     Did you know that every puppy in the Transportation Safety Administration's explosives detection program is named for a victim of 9-11? The dogs are born at Lackland Air Force Base, then fostered for their first 14 months by local families.
This program is an old one:
Canine Program The Explosives Detection Canine Team Program, of which these dogs are members, came into being by order of President Nixon on March 9, 1972; the day that K9 Brandy found a bomb inside a bathroom wall on a TWA flight 12 minutes before it was set to explode.
While I don’t usually put up pictures from winning posts, you must see this one. There are more pups on her post, and some stories behind their names.

Baldilocks tied for second place. That woman sure can cut to the bone. This time, her post is not so easy, and for a number of reasons — the first being the subject matter: Tookie Williams’ controversial execution. The second reason being that I am personally embarrassed by the ignorance of her interlocutor, since this boy is a student at my son’s school, the College of William and Mary. Baldilocks puts it this way:
     Sometimes it’s of use to respond to one’s more problematic commenters, if only to make a point or ten.
And she then proceeds to “respond” to Jeremy, her commenter. She responds him a new orifice, one that he desperately needs. Here is his whine, from her comment section:
     how come you all seem to be picking on tookie. about his impending execution when no one that has posted anything on this page was not in the court room when his trial took place you didn't here the evidence. so dont comment about it. As for his impending execution I hope Gov. Arnold gives him clemency because even if tookie did those murders. I believe and so do thousands around the world believe that stanley "tookie" williams has done more good then bad. It is possible that he commited those murders and killed four people. But he has saved thousands check that millions from making those same mistakes that he made and probable has saved many lives in the process. Oh and another thing people talking about killing tookie because he may be a murderer. How about we kill the actual murderers like charles manson and stop protecting him behind laws. Oh yeah he's white.
from a 19 year old white william and mary student
Baldilocks lets him have it:
     Frankly, Jeremy, unlike you, I acknowledge that you are free to comment all you want from your dorm room or the library at William and Mary--as is your right---about anything and everything. But frankly, sir, I find your academically and experientially unlearned opinion wanting and, conversely, I am free to tell you why I think so.
(As an aside, were I one of the faculty at William and Mary, I’d give you an ‘F’ simply for staining that august institution’s reputation by displaying your poor writing skills; it wouldn’t matter what subject it was. Were I one of your parents, I’d demand a refund for your tuition. However, I’m glad that you are only nineteen because you will have time to improve all of the writing-skill deficiencies displayed above.)
I agree with her on all levels, except I think he’s waaay too old to improve his writing skills or his critical faculties at this point.

In fact, I’m going to send a copy of her post to Vice President for Student Affairs Sam Sadler at the College and ask why children like this are being admitted to the College. It’s a demanding place — Freshman year is called Boot Camp for a good reason. A boy with this level of skills belongs somewhere else, anywhere else, but not in an academic setting. People wonder why the suicide rates at colleges are rising? This boy’s performance is certainly one reason. He’s in over his head and he obviously can’t swim. It’s pathetic.

By the way, I showed this to my son and asked how a kid like this survives in such an environment. He told me that Jeremy’s probably in a program called “Literary and Cultural Studies.” I think it’s the moral equivalent of what we used to call a major in basket-weaving. With his skill level, college must be a living hell. Baldilocks’ recommendation that his parents demand their money back is a good one. And after they get it back, they should have a good long talk with whichever high school guidance counselor suggested he go to college. The whole thing is a corrupt racket.

All of the rest of December 16th’s posts are over at the Watcher’s Place. I recommend at least checking out the idea about getting rid of journalists in order to save journalism. What a nifty thought! Then we can go for the lawyers. And then the politicians. And then the lobbyists. Oh, wait. If we get the politicians first, that will take care of the lobbyists. Two buzzards with one rock.