Friday, December 8, 2006

Jeanne Kirkpatrick (1926-2006)

Former U.N. ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick passed away Thursday at 80 years of age. Throughout her professional life she set an example of intellectual rigor and ideological strength that probably did as much, or more, for the image of women in positions of statecraft as did anything accomplished by any other woman in the twentieth century with the exception of Margaret Thatcher. Even so, she was largely ignored by most mainstream feminist groups because she was too conservative to catch their notice or merit their praise.

There is an obit of Ms Kirkpatrick here and much comment about her life and service to her country at The Corner.

Why Parents Home School

And public school educators wonder why parents would ever want to pay the extra tuition to send their kids to private schools, or invest the enormous effort it takes to home school their kids. Why knock yourself out, they wonder, when there are professionally trained educators waiting and eager to teach your children the really important things.

As long as there are stories like this, though, public schools will continue to lose the esteem of most Americans:

Sixth-graders at a Queens school were getting quite an education - in homosexuality, French kissing and cursing - thanks to three books widely available in classroom libraries. But after numerous complaints from parents at Public School 150 in Sunnyside, the books - a profanity-laced poetry book, short stories about homosexuality and a novel called "First French Kiss" - were pulled from the shelves last week.

Several parents learned of the racy books after overhearing their kids snickering about the sexual themes. The poem "I Hate School" in a book called "You Hear Me?" includes the rhyme, "F--- this s---, up the a--. I don't think I'll ever pass."

Another poem compares eating an orange to having sex, while several passages repeatedly use vulgar slang for genitalia. And the book "Am I Blue?" is an anthology of stories about gay teenagers that parents found too adult-themed for 11- and 12-year-olds. Parent Gladys Martinez wrote a letter to her son's teacher after hearing him talk about "First French Kiss," which chronicles a teen's bumbling first makeout session in a closet.

"I mean, he shouldn't be sheltered from the world, but if he's going to learn that stuff, it shouldn't be at school," Martinez said.

"You Hear Me?" was suggested for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders by the Columbia University Teachers College's Reading and Writing Project because it is the only anthology with poems written by minority teenagers, said Lucy Calkins, its founding director.

"It's a tricky balance to walk so we are putting books in their hands that they'll want to read," said Calkins, who had not seen the language in the book.

A tricky balance? The school officials can't find books that children will want to read unless they're laced with vulgarity? What does that say about the homes these kids come from? What does it say about the state of minority teenagers that the only poetry they can write is filled with vulgarity? What does it say about the school officials' familiarity with childrens' literature? What does it say about those who publish this stuff for sixth graders?

No answers educators can give to these questions are going to do much to instill confidence in their judgment on the part of parents who really care about the environment schools are creating for their children.

Thanks to Michelle for the tip.

The Iraq Surrender Group

According to those who've read the document in its entirety, the Iraqi Study Group's report never once mentions the possibility of an American victory in Iraq. It seems as if the report is entirely about how we can skeedaddle out of Iraq with a minimum loss of honor and dignity.

Lisa Benson succinctly states her opinion of James Baker, Lee Hamilton and the rest of the committee and their report in the following fashion:

Am I mistaken or am I correct that there is not one person on the committee who is actually an expert on the military, Iraq, Islam, or the Middle East? One member of the committee was Vernon Jordan whose major claim to expertise is that he's Bill Clinton's golfing buddy. There was also Sandra Day O'Connor, who recently retired from the cocoon of the Supreme Court, Leon Panetta was Pres. Clinton's chief of staff, and most of the rest of them were politicians. Only William Perry, a former CIA chief, Lawrence Eagleberger and James Baker, former secretaries of state, served in any capacity which remotely qualifies them to make recommendations that have military and strategic implications. They probably could have appointed five people out of the phone book who would have been as qualified for the task as most of the members of this committee.

Moreover, when the committee went to Iraq to gather data for their recommendations they reportedly never wandered outside Baghdad's Green Zone. It certainly causes us to wonder how they could get a feel for what's going on in the country without having actually visited the country. If all they were going to do was hide out in their hotel they could have just stayed in Washington and interviewed the bigwigs in Baghdad by conference call.

The People Don't Want It

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson demands that we forget about a border fence, insisting that the people don't want it. But what "people" is he talking about? Certainly not the American people. It turns out that he's apparently referring to the wishes of the Mexicans who live along the border and make their living off the trade brought their way by those preparing to cross into the United States:

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson says a fence at the Mexican border authorized by Congress this fall "gets in the way" of U.S.-Mexico relations, and he wants the new Democratic Congress to reverse the legislation.

"The fence is very unpopular on the border in Texas and New Mexico, in Chihuahua," Richardson, a Democrat, said after meeting Wednesday with leaders from the Mexican state of Chihuahua. "So one of the most significant and constructive acts the U.S. Congress should take is to get rid of it."

Richardson said he will call on Congress not to build the fence during an address Thursday. He also will press lawmakers to approve a bill that secures the border and provides a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Gov. Richardson, who is planning on a run for the presidency, believes that the way to win the office is to appease the Mexicans who demand the right to dump their poor and oppressed in our lap and leave us to support them. Viewpoint prognosticates that Richardson's candidacy has just gotten terminally ill and will soon wind up looking like that unfortunate Russian spy who irritated Vladimir Putin.

Jack Cafferty at CNN pretty much takes Richardson apart one limb at a time on Wolf Blitzer's The Situation Room.