American Elephants

Rowan Atkinson With an Invisible Drum Kit by The Elephant's Child
September 4, 2013, 9:32 pm
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A Total Absence of Easy Answers Anywhere by The Elephant's Child

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has narrowly agreed to Obama’s request for approval of his show of force against Syria, and it will go on to the full Senate.  The President, in Stockholm, said that he didn’t draw a red line against the use of nerve gas — the world did, or our nation did — just don’t blame him. It is not his credibility that is at stake, it is America’s and Congress’s credibility, and the international community’s credibility. Besides he has the authority to act on his own anyway.

It seems to be the case that Mr. Obama was trying to set a trap for Republicans. If they said no, which he was sure they would, then they could be blamed for everything. He has never really been interested in foreign policy, and wanted only to diminish Americas posture in the world, because he thought we were something of an international bully. On the other hand, he takes great pleasure in reminding everyone that he is the leader of the free world, the commander-in chief of all he surveys, he just doesn’t want to do anything about it that could be blamed on him.

Secretary Kerry insists that it is Assad who used poison gas, but Secretary Kerry has untruthfully testified before and his credibility is at stake. It is a real conundrum for members of Congress, right and left. Obama has dithered and waffled, refused to make decisions, and insisted that it doesn’t make any difference when he chooses to act because the military told him it didn’t matter. The military, on the other had said simply that they would be ready to act.

So we have to do something, but just what the something is — is not defined. We were supposedly giving weapons to the Free Syrian Army, but that never happened. Is the Foreign Relation Committee getting better answers?

If the President is not serious, Republicans are. Some are deeply concerned that he is making a major mistake and want to discourage him. Others will support him because they do not want to diminish America’s authority when their president has made such public demands. It is not in the country’s best interest, or the world’s, to have an irreparably damaged U.S. President only a little more than eight months into his second term. Making the president look bad may be appealing to those who oppose his policies, but is it wise to do so on the world stage?

Republicans oppose ObamaCare, not because it is Obama’s initiative, but because it will collapse of its own error, doing irreparable damage to the country as it does. They oppose his demand for more spending, and increasing the national debt not to oppose his initiatives, but to keep him from further damaging the country.

On his brief visit to Sweden, it would be wise if Mr. Obama were to take notice of the Swedish economy. Sweden has long been a shining goal for the left as a typical European welfare state. In the past two decades, however, the country has transformed itself from a stagnant welfare state into a vibrant modern economy that has significantly advanced economic freedom — in contrast to Mr. Obama’s America where economic freedom has been declining at an alarming rate. (click to enlarge)

economic freedom in Sweden

Sweden has cut their spending as a portion of gross domestic product by about 20%, while America’s has increased by about 10%. Their corporate tax rate was 60 percent, and they have cut that to 26.3 percent. Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has reduced the corporate rate further to 22 percent, and pointed out that corporate income tax is probably the most damaging of all. Sweden has survived the global downturn quite nicely. The U.S. would do well to follow their example. Don’t hold your breath.

The Newest Fix For K-12 Education by The Elephant's Child

I am troubled by our K-12 education system. I don’t think the teacher’s unions have the welfare of the kids in mind, but just good pay for teachers and more union dues for political purposes. I don’t like the administration’s “Common Core” national curriculum, but believe that better education comes from intense competition among schools and school districts.

Political correctness, the self-esteem movement, and diversity, are noxious ideas that have done enormous damage to our kids. It’s well known that our kids are confident, have high self-esteem, and don’t know anything about math and history, or how to write a paper. And it’s unsurprising that home-schooled kids do better than public school grads.

One of the major problems with education is that everybody has participated in it, and thus has a better idea about how to fix education. I plead guilty.

This article just appeared in our local paper:

The School District will launch a new social and emotional learning curriculum in grades three through five to help children work well together.

Called the RULER approach — an acronym for Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing and Regulation emotion —the curriculum teaches skills to promote effective personal, social and workplace success. The idea is based on decades of research from Yale University.

Research shows that emotional literacy skills support academic success and promote school engagement, school officials say. Data also shows that students who recognize and regulate their emotions are more focused on instruction and invested in their learning. Those social and emotional skills create a foundation for taking academic risks. Over the school year, students and staff will learn four “anchor tools” to develop skills:

  • Emotional Literacy Charter: Students create and sign charters t o describe how they want to feel in class, what needs to happen to support those feelings and guidelines for handling uncomfortable conflict.
  • Mood Meter: Students learn to use a tool for recognizing and labeling their feelings.
  • Meta-Moments: Students learn strategies for expanding the “space in time” between an emotional trigger and a response.
  • Blueprint: Used to problem-solve conflicts and disagreements, with students and adults considering each other’s (sic) feelings and perspectives to identify healthy solutions.

The RULER approach will be built into lessons throughout the school year. While the RULER approach will be introduced to students in grades three through five this year, school  staff and administrators across the district also have been trained to use the tools.

I’m inclined to say I think it’s spinach and I say the hell with it.


Old but famous cartoon from the New Yorker, probably in the 1930s.

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