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Smiley Faces

What makes schoolchildren special? Also: Lighting a fire under Fred. Coming to terms with President-select Hillary. Rush audience too small. Plus more.

10.8.07

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SPECIAL DELIVERY
Re: Lawrence Henry's "A Special Kind of Me":

What a down-to-earth treat, reading Lawrence Henry's views on the "Special Me" poem. Probably the treacly poetess meant "unique," but thank God she didn't use it, or it would have been prefaced by "very" or "extremely," as unique is never quite unique enough to stand alone these days. I will never hear "special" again without thinking of Dana Carvey's SNL "church lady" -- "isn't that spesshhull?"

My 5-year-old grandson is in kindergarten and after six weeks I am still baffled at the low level of expectations his teacher has -- as indicated by her mania for star stickers, "Great Job" remarks and Smiley Faces. So, together we de-construct his class work and decide if a star sticker was truly warranted. One such starred paper asked the children to color the scene that most nearly described where they lived. One was a big city with tall buildings, a bus and a taxi in the street. The other a pastoral setting. My grandson colored the city scene. He lives in Half Moon Bay where if there is anything taller than his two-story house, I have not seen it. I asked him why he colored what looked like New York City. He said "Curious George lives there." I said "Yes, but you are not Curious George. You did not read the instructions and you should not have received a star." Apparently his teacher didn't read them, either.

I was struck by Mr. Henry's sane approach to helping his sons rein in emotions. My middle grandson always got mad when I beat him at Scrabble. I just told him, "Look, I play to win -- whether you are thirteen or thirty-five. You want to win? Expand your vocabulary."

Long ago we had a saying -- now gone out of vogue, because of the need to make children feel "special." It was "Prepare your child for the road and you will not be forever preparing the road for your child." Worked for my sons. Seems to be working with my grandsons.

I was gratified and a little amused that one grandson recently chose for his "quote" under his Year Book picture, "Global Warming is a sham." I just hope there are no environmentalists on his water polo team, as it seems to be the only sport where you are entitled to drown your opponent. This is the second to "letter" in swim and water polo. I asked the first, who is 6'4" and excels in other sports, why he chose water sports. He said "You don't sweat and there are no floor burns." He is the one who, at sixteen, endeared himself to all at Thanksgiving as each guest gave thanks, by saying with a happy grin, "I'm thankful for the internal combustion engine." Irreverent, but heartfelt. We had just given him his grandpa's well-preserved 1977 El Camino.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

Regarding Mr. Henry comments on "A Special Kind of Me," the world, for adults as well as children, is full of battles to win, lose or ignore. No one has time to fight every slight, wrong and miscarriage of justice. The problem with tilting with windmills is not the flight of fancy, but the waste of time and energy that could be better spent fighting real giants. The attack on a silly school poem is not worthy of any AmSpec writer.

If Mr. Henry was attacking school curriculum that indoctrinates our youth to political ideologies (usually of the left variety) or arguing for vouchers for school choice, I would be waving my flag right along with him, but to take a youngster's poem to task is killing flies with B-52 bombers. While schools do teach some pabulum, "A Special Kind of Me" is not harmful in the least. Most children need a little slap on the back as they travel the road from inferiority to mastery (to use the renowned psychologist Alfred Alder's phrase). Children learn quickly enough that if we are all special, then being special is nothing special. A poem of encouragement at a tender age is not the stone on the tracks that will derail the train that is taking a youth into the world of being a competent, productive and well adjusted (and hopefully libertarian) adult.

As a teacher of fifteen years, all in the inner city, I can assure Mr. Henry, with little fear of contradiction, that if his children are occasionally bratty or undisciplined, the blame does not lie with any poem or even "mush minded" curriculum. The cure for any ideological insanity that is taught by school is solid "home schooling," as my students call it. The students who excel, no matter what their economic background, are the who have caring parents at home. I have often had to teach curriculum that did not sit well with me ideologically, and I offered my own caveats when teaching my charges. Not all other teachers catch the left leaning odor or disagree with the ideology; some may simply ignore philosophical differences they have with the lessons. When my child, who is asked nightly what she has learned at school today, tells me she has learned something in which I find a hidden (again, often left leaning, agenda), we discuss the lessons, the overt and the hidden, until she understands what we believe is right and wrong. Until she stands solidly on her own two feet as a freethinking adult, my wife and I are here to shelter her from the storm of ignorance, ideology and hidden agendas of the NEA.

Mr. Henry is clearly involved in his children's upbringing. While no parent can afford to let down his guard when his children are at stake, it wise parents who know the difference between a fool's wind and a true hurricane.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester (City School District), New York

Sorry to say, you have hit the nail on the head. Kids now do not learn how to lose, ribbons are given for every place, no one wins. Everyone is perfect and then they have to get out in the REAL WORLD and they cannot handle it.

Life is NOT easy and the sooner kids learn that the easier the rest of their life will be. You do not get everything you want and NO you cannot have that, needs to be words they learn.
-- Elaine Kyle

Dear Mr. Henry -- if your younger son is inclined in this way, you might look into participating next year in The Treble Chorus of New England, an excellent group that practices each week in a church in Andover and gives several local performances per year (tuxes for the boys, demure dresses for the girls) and goes on a concert tour in the summer. Everyone in the chorus is special -- meaning, they can sing reasonably well, adhere to the choral leaders' discipline, take it all seriously, commit to the practice schedule, etc.
-- Dave Light
Maynard, Massachusetts

I've got one of those "special" kids -- starting his first year at an elite university who is suddenly and brutally learning that he really isn't a "special kid" at all! It's hard to watch, but a good lesson for him to learn. By the way, we are now home-schooling the younger one.
-- Sherry Mayer
Greensboro, North Carolina

LIGHT HIS FIRE
Re: Quin Hillyer's Open Letter to Fred Thompson:

Pedrito, for whom I was his eponym, was a lethargic male mule my father gave me for my tenth birthday. When my rascal friends and I wanted to have a really exciting ride, we would spray a nip of turpentine on that part of Pedrito's anatomy where the sun never shines, except when digested food comes out.

At the very nick of time when the turpentine would make contact, Pedrito would curvet like a Lipizzaner, blowing a big wind out of her guts while in the air. Boy, an Arabian stallion wouldn't prance like Pedrito, all due to the magic of no more than a tiny drop of turpentine at the right spot.

I hope that Quin Hillyer's open letter does to Fred Thompson, what that nip of turpentine used to do to Pedrito.
-- Pedro Solito
Milpitas, California

My contention is that Fred Thompson is not challenging the big three (Giuliani, Romney or McCain) because he is in fact running for the vice-presidency. When any one of the three wins the nomination, they will have to select Thompson as their running mate to bring a conservative balance to the ticket since they are all perceived as moderate. Thompson will bring back a good portion of the Conservatives except for the die-hards like Richard Viguerie. I think that Thompson would relish the power that Dick Cheney has now in the Bush administration. As a matter of fact, if Dick Cheney hadn't transformed the Vice-Presidency, then Fred Thompson would never have announced his candidacy!
-- Art Ramos

OUR WORST NIGHTMARE
Re: Jennifer Rubin's It's That Bad:

I find myself quite disappointed that the conservative Christian leadership would be willing to back a third party candidate, hoping the Republicans will lose rather than unite against the Democrats, especially if Hillary is the nominee. This self-destructive thinking parallels that of some far-left liberals who believe that the world would be better if the U.S. lost the War in Iraq.

Both strains of thought ignore the probable outcomes of such decisions. For instance, if the US loses the war in Iraq, Muslim fanatics will be so strengthened by their success in driving the U.S. out of the Middle East, they may plan an even more deadly attack against the U.S., such as a nuclear attack or an attack with chemical weapons.

If conservative Christians were to sit out or back a third party candidate to get back at the Republicans and allow Hillary Clinton to be elected, all of the progress of the pro-life, pro-family movement could be eradicated in four years. Hillary's judicial nominees are certain to believe in and practice judicial activism to such a level that any law enacted by the people could be overturned, basically because the judge does not like the law. The partial-birth abortion ruling could be overturned and any State gay marriage ban could suffer a similar fate. Just look at Iowa. Government-funded stem cell research would become sacrosanct. Abstinence based sex-education in schools could evaporate as could school choice. Social conservatives would then have to fight a government education monopoly that vitiates the values that parents instill in their children while the government is assisted by a liberal judiciary which believes that whatever the government wants, it gets. Such an activist judiciary would effectively mute the vox populi. Even if most Americans suddenly converted to conservative Christianity overnight and wanted to pass laws protecting marriage and the lives of the unborn, all such action would be obstructed by a liberal judiciary.

Her domestic policies would be just as bad as it is clear that she does not trust free people to make decisions on their own. Socialized health care, price controls on pharmaceuticals, her own vision of "fair profits," higher taxes and profligate spending would all be a part of a Clinton presidency. Government would slowly yet surely take over just about every aspect of our lives. And don't forget that Bill will be back as well.

A Hillary presidency would sink this country for years and social conservatives really need to think this through. This does not mean the social conservatives have no reason for their disappointment and anger at the Republican Party. The Republicans have paid a lot of lip service to social conservative concerns without a lot of action. However, George Bush has delivered two excellent Supreme Court justices who give social conservatives a fighting chance to effect change in the culture. Under President Hillary Clinton, however, the phrase "activist judges" will assume an even more ominous meaning.
-- C. Evans

With another liberal administration there will be no hope of repairing the damage to the Transportation system either. They will bring on their coat tails those who see nothing wrong with using gas taxes in the General Fund as was done in 1993 and 1996. The damage done during the last Clinton administration was enormous. Forming Metropolitan Planning Organizations and forbidding them to pursue logical growth of the highway system is a very large factor in the multiple reasons that we have congestion problems. Managing congestion appeals to the command and control mentality of Liberals but it is unjust rationing at best.

Under the disguise of transportation equity, the needs of the users were put below the needs of the state and the needs of the system. Submission to unequal distribution of gas taxes in order to build the Interstate continues to be a moral imperative even though the system has been substantially complete for at least ten years. Many motorists have given up on fixing the system and are ready to submit to a toll and know that the money will be turned into something under their wheels rather than be transferred to other states and modes of transportation.

Transportation equity has devolved into meaning that further income transfers must be made for inefficient and unwanted modes of travel. Those who have been taking these income transfers like New York, represented by Hillary Clinton, are quite use to them and are making further excuses for continuing them like global warming, environmental justice and roads don't work anymore.
-- Danny Newton

Nice effort, Jennifer, but scratching the surface at best, I'm sure. Back in 1992, when Bubba was running, Rush pulled one of those "I've changed my mind" gotchas and had a few callers convinced that he was actually going to support Billy. After coming clean, he mentioned that if Clinton were elected we would see just how ugly the true face of liberalism was. He was, we did, and still we're having to face the possibility of going through it all over again, only worse. Just as President Bush described the GWOT as unlike any war we have ever fought, the election of HRC would be unlike any nightmarish Presidency we have ever had to endure. Sure there's SCOTUS appointments, HillaryCare, etc. But, what about adding this to your list of policy changes she is likely to promote, the establishment of 'children's rights', remember her work with UNICEF? And, instead of bringing back the WH china, it'll be China in the WH. Kucinich would be a picnic.

Hmm, maybe she'll even interest Sarkozy in buying back the Louisiana Purchase. You know, give the remaining states a little buffer from the Spanish land grant claimants! Heck, I wouldn't mind moving back to Virginia.

Then, perhaps, with regard to Hillary, this is all for naught. It could be even WORSE! Recently, during a restaurant break, I saw a Gore/Obama 2008 bumper sticker. But, what's more, it was on a gas guzzlin', CO2 pollutin' SUV (Nissan Pathfinder) driven by a pharmacy technician I knew. So, go figure. There's your voting public. About says it all, eh?
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

THE RIGHTWING REVOLUTION
Re: Jeffrey Lord's The Goldwater-Reagan Victory:

Mr. Lord, you just said it all and made our spirits soar. Thank you!
-- Mimi Evans Winship

Jeffrey Lord is stuck in 1964 when 20 million Americans was a large number. If Rush Limbaugh's audience really is 20 million listeners, then that's less than 10 percent of the American population as of THE LAST census. That means that over 90 percent of the American population is NOT listening to Rush. Liberals have as much to fear in Limbaugh's followers as much as Limbaugh's followers have to fear the impact of the homosexual population in America. If Rush is truly going to have an impact (as he thought he'd have before Slick Willy was elected and re-elected while Rush laughed him off all the while) he's going to have to swallow his arrogance and untie the other half of his brain that he has behind his back, the half that says, "Hey, Rush, I'm the other half of your brain, and I have another perspective that perhaps you should consider if you hope to win anybody over to your side." If Rush is conservatism's greatest hope, then conservatism is as good as dead.
-- Daniel Gonzalez

DESERT SOCIALISM
Re: Liz Mair's New Republican Blues in New Mexico:

Liz Mair's' "New Republican Blues in New Mexico" points to a bigger growing problem for the GOP. After rough-and-tumble, hard-working people settle places like New Mexico and create the infrastructure, East and West Coast epicureans then find those places hospitable and begin moving in. They then start "tipping" the people politically, telling them that everyone should have everything, that the ecology is to be cherished above all else etc. When people are comfortable, they begin to believe this stuff. That is why socialism is appealing to so many Americans; because they have forgotten where our well-being comes from.

We conservatives must point out that we will preserve our freedom and prosperity not through redistribution and environmentalism, but through toil and wealth creation and retention. The leftist intellectual conceit that somehow we need more taxes, eco laws, feel-good discussion groups and professorial tracts must be challenged directly.
-- Nikitas
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

RUSH TO MISJUDGMENT
Re: The Prowler's Crazed by Rush:

Let's be absolutely clear about what's happening to Rush and other influential conservatives. This is an orchestrated effort, by the Left, to scrutinize every comment they make, regardless of context, and if necessary, make up out of whole cloth, statements never made, in an attempt to create a phony firestorm of negativism. The repetition of one smear after another, by the MSM, is designed for its cumulative effect. The smear is repeated, and soon becomes added to the "body of evidence" against these conservatives.

The next progression comes from detestable, ideological political hacks, like Harry Reid and Tom Harkin, who use their immunity on the floor of the Senate to lie and defame private citizens. These cowardly, despicable acts are allowed without punishment from their fellow senators. If Senate rules prohibit such statements against fellow senators, under penalty of censure, than certainly, such comments should not be allowed against private citizens, even those with a platform to respond.

So, to sum up, John Kerry gets a pass and a mulligan for telling young people if they don't get good grades, they can end up in Iraq, as losers. Dick Durbin can call them Nazis and Ted Kennedy can say Abu Ghraib is just under new management. When Rush talks, his parent company gets an iron-fisted, velvet glove warning letter from the Senate. This is hardball, leftist, Stalinist politics at its worst. We'd better start waking up.
-- A. DiPentima

HISTORY'S LESSONS
Re: William Tucker's The Real Lesson of Vietnam:

There is no need to rehash the factual inaccuracies in Mr. Tucker's piece. The point is that he totally missed the real lesson of Vietnam, a hostile media.

In recent U.S. history, the media has been largely supportive of U.S. military action, in large part due to government censorship or coercion. In Vietnam, there were no restraints upon the media; and news organs and personalities began criticizing the Vietnam police action almost immediately.

During the initial invasion of Afghanistan, the media was largely supportive, though they were quick to point out each and every failure or setback. When the Iraqi theater was first suggested, they became openly hostile to ongoing military actions in Afghanistan as well as the expanding action in Iraq. They have never ceased, going to lengths that would have gotten reporters imprisoned during WWII.

No, the real lesson of Vietnam is not about the way the war was waged, but is how the media was allowed to control the direction of the war and the manner in which it was fought. This has happened again in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Deja vu, anyone?
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
Re: Jackie Mason's My Night with Bill Clinton:

Love this website, I learned of it from Tom DeLay's website. Finding it was like the first time I heard of Rush on the radio, Joy and Elation. I finally found someone else who thinks as I do. Thank you, Jackie Mason, for putting my thoughts on paper. Thank you as well, American Spectator, for not being swept up in the Clinton delusion. It seems our side is losing at times, but when I come here I feel there is hope.
-- Pat

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