Monday, December 13, 2004

Your Tax Dollars at Work

It is astonishing that teachers would put children in this position but apparently Washington has somewhat looser requirements for those exercising responsibility and oversight of children than one might have hoped:

UNIVERSITY PLACE, WA - A 'Fear Factor' type assembly at Narrows View Intermediate left some with a bitter taste in their mouths. A family watches and squirms knowing what their daughter went through. They consider it hazing.

"She must have been under a tremendous amount of pressure," says the girl's dad who does not want the family identified.

There were three teams, each made up of a teacher and two students doing stunts similar to the popular television show "Fear Factor."

In fact, a consent form went home to parents. It said, "Your child will not be forced to do anything they don't want to do... One team member will bowl twice to knock over all the pins. However many pins are left standing will be the number of meal worms the contestant must eat..."

Since "the contestant," not the whole team, would incur the penalty, the parents we talked to signed the form.

In home video given to KOMO 4 News the teacher bowled. Instead of just her eating the meal worms, like the permission slip stated, the school counselor and that same teacher tried to make all the team members eat the meal worms.

One girl in the video is visibly uncomfortable - and even clenches her hands together and shakes her head no. But the teacher tugs at the girls hands repeatedly. Long enough for the entire assembly to start chanting. The girl says because she didn't want to eat a worm the entire 6th grade class got disqualified from the games. She felt a horrible pressure.

In the end, the counselor gives her a 'high five', but it was too late -- other students attacked. "He was calling me a swear word, a wimp and everyone else too and made me feel really awful," says the sixth grader.

The family is shocked. They say adults should not let a child be ridiculed. The girl told KOMO 4 News that even though she was teased - she's glad that she stood her ground.

University Place School District Superintendent Patti Banks gave this statement: "My staff has not yet had an opportunity to investigate the incident, and so I'm not able to make a comment at this time."

Indeed. We look forward to hearing the official administrative explication of the underlying pedagogical theory being applied here. We're sure there is one. By the way, if this occurred at an assembly, where were the building principals?

Historical Miracle and Media Indifference

The incomparable Charles Krauthammer at the Washington Post notes the MSM's utter lack of enthusiasm for giving President Bush credit for the successes occurring in Afghanistan. Indeed, the only time we hear mention of Afghanistan in the media is when there are casualties to report or when we're informed of the difficulties Hamid Karzai faces in governing this wild land. Afghanistan is a miracle, says Krauthammer, and the media can only manage a disinterested yawn:

"Miracle begets yawn" has been the American reaction to the inauguration of Hamid Karzai as president of Afghanistan. Before our astonishing success in Afghanistan goes completely down the memory hole, let's recall some very recent history. For almost a decade before Sept. 11, we did absolutely nothing about Afghanistan. A few cruise missiles hurled into empty tents, followed by expressions of satisfaction about the "message" we had sent. It was, in fact, a message of utter passivity and unseriousness.

Then comes our Pearl Harbor, and the sleeping giant awakens. Within 100 days, al Qaeda is routed and the Taliban overthrown. Then the first election in Afghanistan's history. Now the inauguration of a deeply respected democrat who, upon being sworn in as the legitimate president of his country, thanks America for its liberation.

This in Afghanistan, which only three years ago was not just hostile but untouchable. What do liberals have to say about this singular achievement by the Bush administration? That Afghanistan is growing poppies.

Good grief. This is news? "Afghanistan grows poppies" is the sun rising in the east. "Afghanistan inaugurates democratically elected president" is the sun rising in the west. Afghanistan has always grown poppies. What is President Bush supposed to do? Send 100,000 GIs to eradicate the crop and incite a popular rebellion?

What has happened in Afghanistan is nothing short of a miracle. Who is responsible for it? The New York Times gives the major credit to "the Afghan people" with their "courage and commitment." Courage and commitment there was, but the courage and commitment were curiously imperceptible until this administration conceived a radical war plan, executed it brilliantly, liberated the country and created from scratch the structures of democracy.

Don't expect the MSM to give Bush any credit for anything. When the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union broke up it was all because of Michal Gorbachev, we were told. Ronald Reagan was relegated to the role of bystander even though the collapse of communism occurred largely due to Reagan's courage and leadership and to a lesser extent because of the courage and efforts of people like Lech Walesa and Pope John Paul II. To ignore Reagan's role in the collapse of the Soviet Union or George Bush's role in the Afghan success while crediting the Afghan people is like ignoring the role of George Washington in defeating the British while crediting the troops in the Continental Army.

Suicide Murderers

The Strategy Page has an interesting feature on suicide bombers in Iraq:

Most of the suicide bombers in Iraq are foreigners. The volunteers are numerous, but they come prepared to die. The Sunni Arab Iraqi antigovernment organizations that come across these foreigners, pass them on to al Qaeda groups, who get the volunteer ready for the mission. Sunni Arab groups have been helping with getting cars (bought or stolen) and equipping them with bombs (usually artillery and mortar shells wired to explode when the driver pushes a button.) But most of the suicide car bombs have been al Qaeda operations.

Few Iraqis have volunteered to be suicide bombers, but the concept is popular in other Arab countries, where Palestinian suicide bombers have been turned into folk heroes. Many of the volunteers don't want to kill Iraqis. These are often told to go home. Others are convinced that they will be killing Kurds (who aren't Arabs, and are ethnically related to Iranians, who are much hated by Arabs) or Shia Arabs (al Qaeda is a Sunni movement that preaches death to Shia for not being Sunni enough.) Some of the suicide volunteers, the ones who aren't too bright to begin with, are simply deceived and sent out on their mission. It's not like the guy is likely to come back and complain that he was tricked.

The foreign volunteers are eager to kill coalition, especially American, troops. Some of the suicide car bombers are still directed against American troops, and sometimes they succeed. But most of the time they either can't get into position, or American troops shoot them. So the volunteers are given secondary targets, and these are the ones that are usually hit. The volunteers drive off with a non-suicidal guide/minder, who plays navigator until they are within sight of a target. The guide then arms the explosives, bales, and the volunteers drives off to do his best.

There have been 100-150 suicide car bomb attacks so far, with many more aborted, or the drivers arrested or killed before they could set off their explosives. Over 500 people, mostly Iraqis, have been killed by suicide bomb attacks so far. The attacks have made al Qaeda, foreign volunteers, and Sunni Arab rebels very unpopular with most Iraqis. This is what al Qaeda wants (the better to start a Sunni/Shia civil war), although it is not exactly working out according to plan.

Over a third of the Iraqi dead are Sunni Arabs, and Shia Arabs and Kurds are increasing their own security (with volunteer guards, or simply more civilians willing to point out attackers to police or coalition troops.). This forces the suicide bombers to increasingly hit targets in Sunni Arab neighborhoods. This is one of the reasons there have been so many attacks on police stations in Sunni Arab areas. While this demoralizes the police, it infuriates the Sunni Arabs because of all the Sunni Arabs killed in these attacks.

Seven suicide car workshops were found in Fallujah, and several more have been found in and around Baghdad. There are obviously more out there, and they will only be found when enough Sunni Arabs get fed up with the bombings and let the police know where the workshops are.