Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Is Our Children Learning?

If California Senator Barbara Boxer gets her wish, the definition of "military school" may be about to change. Her Keeping Schools Safe legislation will give governors  the option of calling in the National Guard to their states' schools as they deem necessary. Right now, only local police departments are allowed to respond to incidents running the gamut from mass shootings to temper tantrums that are suddenly requiring that tots be placed in handcuffs. 
"Is it not part of the national defense to make sure that your children are safe?" Boxer said at Capitol Hill press conference.
This ranks right up there with the fatuous musing of another confused politician named George W. Bush."Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"

Greed disguised as innocuous stupidity started the No Child Left Behind corporate march toward school privatization. Now, Boxer (one of that new breed of bellicose Democrats) wants to take the neo-fascist greed one step further by turning schools into militarized zones. Before you know it, our schools will be called Charter Re-education Camps.

Because when it comes to disaster capitalism overkill, the tragedy in Connecticut is beginning to rival 9/11 in its potential capacity to shred the Bill of Rights. Boxer isn't wasting time. She has also introduced the School Safety Enhancement Act, which would allocate up to $50 million for the installation of spy cameras and metal detectors in schools. Is our children learning yet?

Since there can never be enough flying robots crowding our great American skies, a special School Drone program to further enrich the defense contractors of the military-industrial complex is not outside the realm of possibility. Civil liberties destruction can begin early, as soon as nursery school, to keep us all safe. Students will be surveilled from above and below and within (as in TSA airport screenings). This will eventually help ensure that no independent thought is breaking out, and that no teaching outside the for-profit testing companies is taking place. Public schools already allow military recruiters to set up shop in high schools, even supplying the armed forces with the private home telephone numbers of potential war fodder. So it's only a hop, skip and a jump to transforming the halls of academe into full-fledged war zones.

Is our children learning? Is George Orwell spinning in his grave?

Last year's National Defense Authorization Act allowed for the arrest and indefinite detention of U.S. Citizens by the military. Although the National Guard is exempt from rules which forbid domestic action by the military, the presence of any camouflaged troops in schools could feasibly continue the subversion and work-arounds to the Posse Comitatus Act already being seen in the rampant racial and ethnic profiling being conducted by police agencies. Federal and state agencies theoretically could begin cracking down on schools suspected of sheltering terror cells and other criminal enterprises. Searches and seizures in the War on Drugs are already a reality -- could further draconian measures under the pretext of gun control and mental health screening be looming on the horizon with proposals like Boxer's?
  The slaughter of the innocents must stop," she said. "We must keep our schools safe by utilizing all of the law enforcement tools at our disposal."
Boxer said the National Guard legislation is modeled after a program in place since 1989 that allows governors to use the National Guard to aid law enforcement in anti-drug operations. Troops could be deployed at schools, or assigned to desk jobs at police stations to free up local law enforcement to patrol schools.
Not that our police forces aren't already militarized. The Department of Homeland Security operates a slew of "fusion centers" that combine the resources of the national spy state with those of the cops on the beat. A recent scathing report on the goon-cop partnership revealed monumental ineptitude and the huge amount of money wasted by a government whose function has devolved into spying on its own citizens even as it happily shreds the safety net and plunges us over make-believe fiscal cliffs.

For when it comes to spending money on the evisceration of human rights, the United States government knows no shame, and no boundaries. This country is the de facto partner of the gun industry. It's the largest arms dealer in the world, with sales of weapons to other countries actually tripling last year to a whopping $66.3 billion. The congressional cads and caddesses couldn't even be bothered to pass legislation that will keep the price of a gallon of milk from rising to $8 next year before they skipped town for the holidays. Yet they were almost unanimous in their bipartisan allocation of another $641 billion for the National Defense Authorization Act.

Got milk? Nope. But Georgie Bush is still waiting in vain for an answer to his plaintive question: Is our children learning?


Denis Neville said...

“We must keep our schools safe by utilizing all of the law enforcement tools at our disposal."

We harm our children in so many other ways:

“Millions of children are living hopeless, poverty- and violence-stricken lives in the war zones of our cities; in the educational deserts of our rural areas; in the moral deserts of our corrosive culture that saturates them with violent, materialistic, and individualistic messages; and in the leadership deserts of our political and economic life where greed and self-interest trump the common good over and over. Millions of our children are being left behind without the most basic human supports they need to survive and thrive when parents alone cannot provide for them at a time of deep economic downturn, joblessness, and low wage jobs that place a ceiling on economic mobility for millions as America’s dream dims. Unemployment, underemployment, and economic inequality are rife and will worsen if massive cascading federal, state, and local budget cuts aimed primarily at the poor and young succeed. Homeless shelters, child hunger, and child suffering have become normalized in the richest nation on earth.” – Marian Wright Edelman,

Children of hard times, the desperate toll poverty takes on children and their parents:

American exceptionalism!

4Runner said...

Ya gotta go with the flow & get with the program! As our schools are turned into armed camps (and campuses), it's OUT with "readin', writin' & 'rithmetic" and IN with "shootin', Smith'n & Wesson". Curriculum's gonna change, so here are some new suggested courses:
"Kevlar for Kindergartners"
"Glocks & Goldilocks"
"Cannons for Kids"
"Ammo for Amateurs"
"The Art of Artillery"
"The Math of Mass Shootings"
So remember: Leave No Child Behind---You Can't Get to Heaven Without an AK-47.

Valerie said...

Sorry that this Christmas comment is late but I just had to post. I was over at Truthdig and read that in some areas of Israel, they are banning Christmas symbols and pressuring hotels not to have any Christmas ornamentation at all. The reason it struck me so funny is the Fundamentalist Christians should really be having a cow over this - they, the biggest Republican types that are always in Israel's corner no matter how terrible Israel's crimes. Ya, gotta get a good laugh out of that one. I sure did having been raised in the House of Pharasees as I call it.

Denis Neville said...

Valerie said…“Fundamentalist Christians should really be having a cow over Israeli of banning Christmas symbols”

To those "true believers," Christmas trees and other Christmas symbols are probably just piffle that will be left behind with their piles of clothes when they are whisked off to heaven in the coming Rapture, while the rest of us are devoured by boils, sores, locusts and frogs, during the following seven years of Tribulation.

I’ve seen a few bumper stickers that say "Warning! In case of Rapture, this vehicle will be unmanned.”

Jay - Ottawa said...

Never mind the childrens. Is our serious peoples learning anything? And does we detect our chickens coming home to roost yet?

Through the last week of the year the media takes one more crack at telling us what to think about the year past. The unrecycled life is not worth living, right?

As for the media, lots of easy shows to produce at leisure, weeks ahead of the airing, with repeat views of lovely, tacky and horrid events and expert panels gathered to spin praise and blame in every direction. Priorities neglected. Lists of things that happened, or should have happened – of course, in order of their importance. Lists of big names who died. Lists of hopes dashed.

Hope is like a new calendar: pretty pictures with each passing month and all the days open to a multitude of dreams. Alas, hope delayed month after month becomes hope denied, as useless as the dead calendars we toss out at year’s end. Ah, what might have been.

A NY Times News Alert just in about the environment says it all in a nutshell. I mean about lost time, lost chances, priorities, accountability, and all that. To my mind, looming environmental issues have placed a magnifying lens between humanity and the grand old events of war and want, issues that always have and always will trouble us but soon to be ratcheted up to a scale even less supportable than ever – inescapable, even in lands considered exceptions in history. No exceptions this time, baby.

As the seas rise and rivers dry up, as crops burn under a sun too hot, as migrations of desperation cross old boundaries for a piece of bread, a cup of water, war and want will be magnified. Upheavals constantly everywhere, it is predicted, within a few more decades.

Such catastrophes don’t have to happen but probably will because of news items like the following alert just passed on by the Times.

“Lisa P. Jackson is stepping down as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency after a four-year tenure that began with high hopes of sweeping action to address climate change and other environmental ills but ended with a series of rear-guard actions to defend the agency against challenges from industry, Republicans in Congress and, at times, the Obama White House.”

And, at times, the Obama White House....

Happy New Year, Corporation Persons. Happy New Year, Congress. Happy New Year, Mr. President.

Pearl said...


Thank you for a beautiful but painful summing up of a Scrooge like vision of past and present, only the future won't change in this scenario.
I think what troubles me is realizing how we are ruled by empty people - they fill their vacant minds and hearts with ritual, fantasy beliefs, and slogans instead of the realities. And if and when the fruits of their nothingness come to pass in environmental neglect, lack of health and financial help for the vulnerable, it will bring everyone including themselves down a bottomless pit. And they will still not understand why it happened.

I still have hope in that our newer generations will become frightened enough to wake up and sing as in that wonderful Odets play of the depression.
Meanwhile I treasure those of you who refuse to be fooled by the Wizards of Oz behind curtains and keep us informed of the realities as I get very tired of straining to read between the lines of our media. Although I dare say there are some glimmerings coming through those curtains more and more and I am pleasantly surprised by columns and articles being printed that never would have seen the light of day previously.

I am convinced that commenters to the N.Y.Times for example, are having an effect and prying open the eyes of some less rigid columnists. Karen - your brilliant responses to Krugman and others, always with top rated recommendations, are an example and a guide to others as one way of fighting this war for survival. We are all behind your efforts as an inspiring example that sometimes the pen is indeed stronger than the sword.

So let us hope for a better year coming up for a change, with good health and peace to all.