Friday, September 4, 2009

Are We F#$@ing Crazy?

I just read a news report that there is some kind of national frenzy over a planned speech by President Obama to our nation's schoolchildren next week.

Apparently there is fear that he will indoctrinate the children of this great country to his socialist agenda. Someone must have found a copy of the speech, and it must go something like this:

"Good morning children. I am your President, but you can call me Supreme Leader. Starting immediately I want you, the children of the nation, to start a communal sharing of all of your worldly goods. At lunch time, you will be asked to place your lunchbox in the center of the cafeteria and government workers will distribute the food equally among you all. You will be checked each day for money, and any cash found on your person will be confiscated, taxed, and the redistributed to the whole student body. Then we will give you all abortions and kill your grandparents in death panels. Go put on your new Red school uniforms and remember that disobedience means death in a labor camp."

This is especially dangerous in public schools, which are effectively socialist institutions already (socialized education), so the last thing those children need is self-realization of this fact, because then they will be able to skip school every day out of basic patriotic duty.

On the other hand, he might just encourage them to study hard. That in and of itself may be OK, but I'm not risking the chance that he'll turn our kids into little fetus-killing socialists in 20 minutes flat. That is his goal, you know.


TLH said...

And I sincerely hope he succeeds!

Seriously, I'm still laughing. Great post, Rick!

Rick Daley said...

TLH- This is one of the dumbest acts of political posturing I have ever seen. At least it eeked a new post out of me. I think that's the only positive outcome from this petty bickering.

Vodka Logic said...

I still they are entitled to a choice to watch or not.

But point taken.


Vodka Logic said...

that was supposed to say I still think.. apparently I can't ...

L. T. Host said...

I have a LOT to say about the state of our nation and some of the crazies therein. But then I start to get angry, and I don't like being angry, so I'll resist the urge. Besides, it sounds like everyone here would agree with me anyway.

How are the WIPs, Rick?

Amy said...

Glad you're posting about this. I have been all day on various sites. It's insanity and mob mentality and it's frightening to me. Let's try to remember that Reagan did the same thing, as well as George H.W. Bush. The crazies have conveniently forgotton about those addresses.

And, do you remember why Reagan spoke to the kids? To impart to them wisdom about the importance of physical fitness. That address kicked off the FEDERALLY MANDATED, President's Physical Fitness Program in the 80's. I don't remember any bizarre behavior surrounding that event.

It's crazy, it's insane and it's mind-blowing. Hey, crazy lady screaming at the town hall meeting...I want MY freakin' country back!

Christine H said...

C'mon, you know what it was really about right? Don't tell me you think it's just the speech?

It's not the speech.

It's the lesson plans that go along with it, which were put out by the NEA and posted on the Internet. They were actually already implemented this past week in schools that are in session. Our district doesn't start until Tuesday, but our friends' started this past week.

Their daughter was assigned to write an essay on "How President Obama Inspires Me." The assumption here is that he is such an inspiring person that a child would have no choice but to look up to him. Younger children were told to think of "ways that they could help the President" achieve his goals, which presumably were supposed to be in the speech.

My friend's daugher, who is in 8th grade, I think, wrote in her essay that the President doesn't inspire her because she disagrees with him on a lot of issues. Fortunately, she didn't get in trouble with her teacher.

Parents are upset about the assumption that was made that children should look up to and be inspired by a particular president, let alone be challenged to "help him" achieve any particular goals. It smacked too much of indoctrination and the cult of personality which has already surrounded this so-called "Messiah" president.

They also feel that the President should be trying to help children, not the other way around.

I think if George W. Bush had done something similar, the outcry would have been the same. But he didn't. He just gave an appropriate address without any attempts at indoctrination.

The questions for the lessons have since been changed on the website, and the White House has agreed to release the video on Monday for parents to preview. They would not do so before, which made many people suspicious of what he was trying to hide.

The screaming and ranting on both sides was pretty ridiculous, but so was the lesson plan.

Christine H said...

Oh, and, unfortunately the timing this week also coincided with the "Pledge to Obama" YouTube video which was shown in some schools. It is not put out by the White House, but shows lots of celebrities pledging to do various things to support the environment, help their neighbors, etc.

It starts out with a quote about how being the President is the loneliest job in the world. As if we're supposed to feel sorry for him?

It ended with these celebrities pledging to "keep the 200-year-old promise to end slavery" (huh?), to "be of service to Barack Obama," and "to be a servant to our president," then asking students repeatedly, "What's your pledge?" "What's your pledge?" "What's your pledge?"

You can actually see this amazing piece of propaganda here:

A lot of people thought that this was sanctioned by Obama, and that the speech on Tuesday would be in a similar vein. So this really backfired on him, as opposed to helping him.

That's why everyone was so up in arms.

Not The Rockefellers said...

The next thing you know there will be an attack ad of some running chick coming in and throwing an Apple at the huge HD flat broadcasting in the auditorium shattering it into a million pieces

Wait...hasn't that been done?

Wherever you stand on this
It would still be a cool ad.
As it was for Apple in 1984.

Great post Rick, as usual :)

Peace - Rene

Rick Daley said...

I agree that the White House should not have authority to mandate a lesson plan for any teacher, unless its through the signing of a bill that has passed both houses of congress.

Are the lesson plans merely a suggestion, or are they forced? And if they are forced, by whom and to what penalty for noncompliance?

The quote I saw on the lesson plan included:
"write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president."

This does not say anything about "achieve his goals" and if anyone has something verifiable that does say that, please email it to me, I would like to read the full text.

As it is though, helping the president can be very general. Plant a tree for the environment. Pick up litter. Study hard. Run for your own elected position. Join the military. It doesn't have to be a far-left granola crunching hippie movement. Or a Black Panther movement. Or whatever other level of mass hysteria that the country wants to assign to it.

Did "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" die with JFK? I always thought that was very patriotic.

Now for the other lesson plan item I know about, discuss what "the president wants us to do" I do think it's ambiguous, not knowing what he will ask of them in his speech. But discussing it vs. assuming he will have the pledge their loyalty is a very large and irrational leap.

Discussion should include dissenting opinions and contrary viewpoints. If a teach stifles them, then hold issue with the teacher for suppressing free speech and free thought. Don't point blame at the person that asked for the discussion.

Christine H said...

Rick, as a statistician part of my job was to help design questionnaires. The way that things are worded can definitely imply what the expected outcome should be. You are a writer... you understand this!

The lesson plans have been changed on the website, so I don't have the exact wording of what it used to be. The reporting that I saw on the news said something about children helping him achieve his goals, but I don't recall it exactly.

It's not irrational to assume a pledge of loyalty, if such an explicit pledge was floated by this other video just a week prior to the speech. Were these celebrities unofficially responding to some Democratic or White House pressure or request? Don't laugh... anyone who has seen the inner workings of politics knows that there is a LOT of string-pulling behind the scenes, and not just in the movies.

In both parties.

Ginger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Daley said...

I think it's fruitless to speculate on the wording and changes to it without proof of the original content. At this point, it seems it is all speculation. Could say this, might say word can change the meaning entirely.

I haven't seen the video, so I can't comment on it. I know there's a link to it a couple comment above, but I really don't care to buy into the BS propaganda. I'll wait for to do a write up.

I do think that Obama asking the students to pledge to anything other than the standard pledge of allegiance would be political suicide, unless they made a pledge to themselves to succeed at school or something very generic like that. I think he's smarter than that.

Christine H said...

As far as the lesson plans, they have been put out through the NEA, a hugely powerful organization. If you've ever been part of a union, you know how difficult it is to hold to personal principles when your job is at stake. A teacher usually doesn't dare defy his/her principal if told to implement a particular curriculum.

Fortunately, the outcry has been such that many school districts are now making the viewing of the video optional, or choosing to forgo it because it would be a major interruption in the school day, particularly at a time when many children are at lunch or recess.

In any case, it's been cleaned up and no doubt the speech has also been changed, so we will never know what it originally was intended to be. I suspect this is a lot of hype over some badly worded lesson plans that were created by overly enthusiastic liberal educators.

But you really can't blame people for being upset, either. So many things have changed so drastically in the past year or so. I don't quite recognize my country any more, although it started before the election, and am just grateful that my son is young enough that perhaps by the time he is old enough to know what is going on, the pendulum will have swung back towards the middle.

Christine H said...

Rick, the link is the ACTUAL VIDEO on MSN which was shown in the schools last week, starring the celebrities. It's not any commentary. It's the video itself. You can watch it yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Christine H said...

(It wasn't on YouTube, it was on MSN. My mistake in the previous post up there.)

Laura Martone said...

I agree with Vodka - there should still be a choice... I can't say I'm thrilled with political propaganda on either side. Sometimes, I find it harder to discuss than religion. Somehow, people are more accepting that I'm an atheist than that I'm not affiliated with either major political party.

But it was nonetheless a hilarious post, as always!

Laura Martone said...

Oh, wow, I must've had the comment page up for a while... I completely missed the debate between Rick and Christine. While I tend to avoid drawing conclusions before knowing all the facts, I'm disgusted with the current administration and have very little faith in their intentions... so I'm going to have to side with Christine here. I, too, long for the day when "the pendulum will have swung back towards the middle." (Especially in our education system - as I recall from my days at Northwestern, colleges have become hard places for middle-of-the-road students.)

Michelle said...

Our school district sent text messages and recorded phone messages to parents, letting them know they were sending home notes that could be signed for their children to "opt out" of watching this address. I'd like to know how much time, money, and energy was spent on making sure every single parent was aware that not watching the speech was an option.

Barack Obama is a parent of young children. Shouldn't he as a parent want to inspire children to be citizens who strive to make the world a better place, and as a president even more so?

beth said...

OMG you have no idea. *beats head against the wall* I've already started hearing complaints from my students and their parents.

Michelle said...

Why do they need to call the school? If they disagree with what Obama says, talk to the kids about their difference of opinion. That would be the most productive way to show them how this country is supposed to work.

Laurel said...

I'm with "the crazies" on this one. And BTW, I was not a fan of the George H W Bush speech in schools, either. Any place where attendance is mandatory should not air a political speech, except maybe as a government or civics assignment and then any assignment should involve critical thinking and analysis, not "how can I help the president achieve his goals."

So no, I haven't conveniently forgotten that Republican presidents have done this. I don't remember any of them putting lesson plan proposals through the NEA, however.

But then, I agree with Laura. Everybody gets mad at me because I don't affiliate with either major party. If I did maybe only half of everybody would be mad.

What can I say? I think they all suck. And apparently they want our kids to be on board with their suckiness.

Christina Farley said...

Well, it did work for the Soviets when they invaded Korea after World War II. They had big movie nights and fed the people. The movies were all about how great communism was. The people believed him. And now we have North Korea. So maybe Obama is onto something here.

Scott said...

There's a lot of right wing wackos out there, I mean people that would re-crucify Jesus if he came back to life as a Democrat.

Speaking of Jesus, how's the story coming along?

Sharon said...

Well, I'm not a writer.. I have enjoyed reading everyone's posts though.. As a mom now of 3 teenage boys- I recall their days in elementary school (which is where this is supposed to broadcast- not middle or high school). Those are days of friends, recess, lunch.. so when that the president talks to them, will they first: remember what he says... second: be able to do anything that he asks them to do (other than homework,etc).. They won't be voting for another 10 years, and I'm sure they won't have an impact on who their parents vote for in the next few elections...
I can't see a few minutes of listening to someone/aka The President- to be that harmful. and yes, they should show respect to him for that very reason-I'm personally not a fan of his, but -he is our president.. Kinda the same as with teachers and principals-have had many encounters over the last 15 years with those I dislike, and those that disliked my children--and to think they had to listen to them and show them respect too...
What the children will hear is blah blah those that come home with controversy, it will be because the parents already have told them to..
Great post Rick!

Rick Daley said...

Lot's of interesting points of view, thanks Laura, Laurel, and Sharon for sharing.

Scott, your post cracked me up. The truth behind your hypothetical is unfortunate.

I'm about 15,000 words in on EARTH'S END. I don't think I'll keep posting here, but I've toyed with the idea of starting a new blog dedicated to it. But then again, I may just make the world wait for further word on its unavoidable demise.

Me.... said...

Will u marry me?

Me.... said...

Applause, applause, applause...

Rick Daley said...

Me- Sorry, I'm spoken for. The Hot One (my wife) would be quite upset if I jumped ship.

Bane of Anubis said...

I'm with Laura - one of those middle of the roaders who finds the current sensationalism appalling (not sure how long it's lasted - maybe it's always been there and I've only become cognizant of it in the past decade)...

I do think the uproar is a bit ridiculous, but I'm sure the lefties would be decrying this were there a rightie president. And though there's no conspicuous agenda, as someone who lived inside the beltway for ten years, I can tell you that there's always an agenda (though I doubt it's as nefarious as the righties make it out to be).

Ultimately, I don't think it'll matter too much what the Prez says... As Sharon pointed out, the younguns probably won't remember. The older kids probably already have their minds made up and Obama will either be preaching to the choir or further pissing people off with his "socialist" agenda.

Laura Martone said...

Yahoo! I love it when at least a few people are willing to hang out in the middle of the road with me. Let's hope that we don't get hit by the crazies coming or going!

('Cause, Scott, I hate to burst your Jesus-lynchin' bubble, but there are crazies on both sides of the aisle!)

Rick Daley said...

I'm right there in the middle with Bane and Laura. The best part of being independent is that we can refuse anyone's cup of kool-aid.

I think this current debate is an excellent example of the core breakdown in our political culture. It is so spiteful and hateful and it has a complete disregard for rational thought. The media is rife with propaganda from both sides. You can turn on a TV channel and know for certain if it will be left or right. The BS that gets circulated through email is taken to heart and forwarded on even though it is 99% fact-free garbage. Politics has been reduced to a suck-ass version of The Jerry Springer Show. Next we just need a town hall where someone whips a chair and breaks Glen Beck's nose and the circle will be complete.

I think the backlash against the speech is a higher degree of political grandstanding than the speech itself. For parents to pull their kids from the class say to me that they feel watching it and discussing it would be harmful to their children; why else deny them?

So a man saying "Study hard. Help your neighbors. Take care of the environment. Help me make this a great country and world." This is all bad stuff, something that our children should not be exposed to.

Bane you hit the nail on the head when you said that if the righties did the exact same thing (and I mean word for word) then the lefties would cry foul. It's our political nature. Hate every aspect of the opposing party no matter what; you are with us or against us. Objections are levied before a proposal is made.

It's just wrong.

Kristi said...

Rick - hilarious post. The comments were more entertaining than any I've read in a while - thanks for that. :)

Laurel said...

That's just the thing...I'm not middle of the road. I know what I think and pretty much down the line I'm a classic 60's liberal. I don't want government intrusion in my personal or financial life. If I want to marry a chick the Feds shouldn't care. If I want to leave my estate to my kids or a tax exempt foundation for the preservation of migratory butterflies, the Feds shouldn't care about that either. And most of all, if your name is George Bush, Barack Obama, or US Congress, you should still be subject to the Constitution. None of those entities seemed at all concerned with aforementioned Constitution. Patriot Act? Search and Seizure laws? IRS, DEA, BATF and innocent until proven guilty? Or how about the state of Washington trying to archive fingerprints of people who haven't even been charged with a crime? I think the ACLU shut that down but I'm not sure. Creepy, regardless.

I agree with pretty much everything Rick says about the grandstanding on both sides. It weakens your argument, whatever that may be. You sound like a nutjob if you react negatively to anything and everything your "opposition" proposes.

Politics are like sports. People pick a team and side with it. I don't currently have a team that represents me. I'm pretty sure, though, that a lot of other folks out there are "fans in waiting," just like me.

A Presidential speech directly to schoolchildren whose presence in school is required by truancy laws smacks of "Youth for Hitler," as far as I'm concerned...whether it was Bush the elder or Barack the current. I'm less worried about the content of the speech than the requirement that a child watch it, depending on the school district. I don't relish the notion of homeschooling my children purely to prevent political influence from the party currently in power, whichever it may be.

Amy said...

I almost don't want to leave another comment, but every time someone references, "Hitler Youth," I want to scream. Some people are behaving as though we've all been asked to wear patches on our sleeves and that people are being herded into ovens.

Listen, as I stated in my comment before, when President Reagan spoke to the youth, it was the beginning of a FEDERALLY MANDATED physical fitness program in the schools. We weren't labeled "The Reagan Youth" OR the "Hitler Youth" then.

The study materials accompanying the address are NOT mandatory. Teachers may or may not use them at their discretion.

I don't know where the fear comes from. If you think that any of the speech is of concern to you, allow your child to watch it and then discuss it with them. Aren't parents supposed to have a role in their child's education, too?

I just read the latest statistics on literacy. Since Bush signed the "No Child Left Behind" bill in 2002, we now have the largest number of functionally illiterate 4th and 5th graders in the history of our nation.

Yes, parents. Let's not let this evil mixed race president who was raised in very modest circumstances by a single mother and his grandparents, and who made it to Harvard (not with his father's help, AND made good grades), and who worked as a community organizer in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Illinois before becoming a Senator and then the President of the United States...let's not let him speak to our children about the importance and value of getting a good education. He'll poison their minds with such nonsense!

Left and right isn't even an issue here. It's flat out fear of difference. We're supposed to have moved on from rascim in this country and we know we can't get away with being afraid of a black man anymore, so now we have to use other excuses for why we fear. Socialism! Hitler! Communism! Dictatorship! Yet, there is NO evidence whatsoever that this man is anything other than a politician, a father, and a husband.

Rick Daley said...

Laurel, you just invoked Godwin's Law. GRanted, this is not a usenet gorup discussion, but it applies nontheless.

I know that the comparison to Hitler Youth did not start with your comment, I've seen a photoshop job with Hitler's image replaced with Obama's and the rest of the kids and Nazi symbolism preserved.

Truth is, this doesn't smack of it. It is not similar at any level. Even a vague comparison is far-reaching.

Some things to be aware of regarding the Hitler Youth program:

- It was a paramilitary organization.
- They were intended to be "Aryan Supermen" and were indoctrinated in anti-semetism.
- Many group activities resembled military training. They were taught skills with weapons and fighting tactics
- They did not discourage rough treatment of younger kids by older kids. The objective was to weed out the weaker kids and harden the acceptable ones
- They put more emphasis on physical training than athletic study

Does Obama speaking for 20 minutes, even considering the audience is semi-captive (or completely captive), really compare?

For another exercise, go to Google. Click on images. Type in "holocaust" and search. Look at the pictures and tell me if you honestly think Obama's path leads to that.

Scott said...

I think, as in anything, choice matters. The students should have a choice of whether to watch the speech or not. Schools should set up certain classrooms as viewing stations and let the students who want to watch 'watch' and those who don't 'don't'.

You see, whenever there's something I don't want to watch on tv, I just change the channel. Woo-hoo!

I didn't watch one single presidential debate, though I did go to the fact check sites afterward to see who told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, oh, and to see who stretched the truth to the point of it snapping like a twig behind Hawkeye's feet as he crept through the forest to save the damsel in distress.

Oh, I have no plans to watch that speech either. I just think people should have the choice to make up their own minds. Personally, I have better things to do than watch the President speak. I can just get the cliff notes the next day.


Weronika Janczuk said...

*places hand over mouth in order to avoid drawing attention to hysterical laughter*

Thanks for this, Rick.

Martha W said...

Scott: "I think, as in anything, choice matters. The students should have a choice of whether to watch the speech or not. Schools should set up certain classrooms as viewing stations and let the students who want to watch 'watch' and those who don't 'don't'."

See... this is where I have a problem. Why are we, as parents, giving children adult attributes? Choice comes after learning responsiblity (some adults never get this either but, hey, what are ya gonna do?) Children have to learn first, and learning from the President is not a bad thing. I remember listening to Presidential addresses and watching space shuttles launch in school. That's where I learned about those things. Kids of all ages should learn about our government - how will they ever figure out how to be and think for themselves if we don't allow them to be exposed to other's viewpoints? We don't care if they watch The Simpsons or South Park, but God forbid they listen to the President? How does that make sense?

Martha W said...

Here's the link for his speech... OMG! He's telling students to work hard and be responsible! Quick! Where are my picket signs!!


Rick Daley said...


Thanks for the link. I just read the speech and I think it's awesome that he cares enough about this nation's children to try and motivate them to study hard and succeed.

Laurel said...


Please read my entire comment before assuming I'm a racist.

I don't care if you have an R or a D or an I after your name. I don't care if you are green with purple polka dots. I DO care if you're the president and you expect your speech to be aired in school where attendance is compulsory, regardless of content of said speech. Which is why I didn't like it when Bush the Elder did it, either. He was a white guy, by the way.

And actually, there are a lot of comparisons between facism under Hitler and the Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama administrations that hold true. Government control of privately held industry being foremost. That doesn't make any of these leaders the same as Hitler by any stretch but some of the political tools in play should give pause.

If you think Obama's great, that's fine as long as you understand and support what he's doing. I don't. This is not a big change for me since I thought the last guy sucked. Please see previous. In my estimation, they all suck. That doesn't make me racist. It makes me a misanthrope, except there is no subcategory that applies specifically to politicians.

Political discourse should be intellectual, logical, and based on fact and history, not name calling.

Martha W said...


I just had to get this out there... you made me go to!

I consider myself fairly educated but when I read your post - BAM! What the hell was a misanthrope?! *grin* off to the dictionary I went and *bigger grin*, oh hater of humankind - I learned something new! Thank you!

Laura Martone said...

For the record, I love the word "misanthrope" and, unfortunately, I seem to be one much of the time... especially on the highway, or while listening to politicians speak.