Monday, May 13, 2013

Just Think of Your Starving Child As an Apprentice Supermodel

Wow, this place has really gone to hell.  Broken windows, moldy carpets, a dead roach floating in the toilet; mouse turds, cigarette butts, and used syringes scattered around the baseboards; and I see my keyboard is now slightly more dusty and cobwebbed than that haunted organ from The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.  If I didn't know better, I'd think someone had rented this place out to a William S. Burroughs Fantasy Camp.  But that's what I get for being an absentee landlord.

Anyway, many thanks to Bill S. for his annual column on Big, Bad Motion Picture Mamas -- it really brightened up the place -- and sincere apologies on my part for the mess and general air of Gothic decay I've allowed to overcome Stately Crap Manor.   I promise to do better.

I haven't been completely idle during my convalescence; I've been watching bad movies and working on the sequel to Better Living Through Bad Movies (because I can do that lying down), but I really do need to get back to WO'C's raison d'├¬tre --  covering the wingnut beat.  Unfortunately, wherever I clicked the past few days, all the right-bloggers were raving about Benghazi, which makes me think of Ben-Gay, which just reminds me that my back hurts.  Then I saw this piece by Dennis Prager...

In the comments to this post, L'il Innocent observed, "What gets me about Sheri's writing (and don't stop me if you've heard this before) is her incredibly consistent tone of gently bemused reasonableness."    And I agree, that tone is something I've always admired about s.z.'s work, and while I can only aspire to mimic it, I generally manage to avoid taking personal offense to whatever our subjects are blathering about.

But this National Review column by Dennis Prager about the moral imperative of weaning poor kids from food kind of pissed me off.  In fact, it made me so mad that I had to refer to World O' Crap's patented Ma Joad-O-Meter to measure just how mad it made me...
...and the answer is that I am currently at Ma Joad Threat Level Four: Ambulatory Mean-Mad.  But what the hell, Dennis founded his own online University, and though their football team is ranked relatively low this year, primarily because it consists of a Madden NFL '94 cartridge for the Sega Genesis someone found under the couch, I can't deny that his self-inflicted credentials are much more impressive than mine.
No More Free Breakfasts 
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced last week that it will discontinue the free-school-breakfast plan it initiated last year. 
Called “Food for Thought,” the plan provides school breakfasts to about 200,000 students.
It was funded by the LAUSD and the non-profit Los Angeles Fund for Public Education, whose goal is to raise the number of participants to about 450,000 students (out of a total of 645,000 in the entire district).
Mr. Prager (sorry, I guess that should be Chancellor Prager) doesn't provide a link or a source for this news; in fact, he doesn't provide any links at all in his piece, except in his author's bio at the end, which links to his latest book (marked down to $15.98 from $26.00 -- act now!) and Prager University (Go Fightin' Pharisees!) "a virtual university aimed at educating people through five-minute videos on conservative political and social views." The Political Science Department offers such courses as "Is The Right More Ideological Than the Left?" taught by visiting professor Jonah Goldberg:
"According to popular myth, if you hold conservative political views, you're a rigid ideologue, unwilling to compromise. But if you hold liberal political views, you're practical and open minded. Best selling author, Jonah Goldberg, explains how this myth got started and why it's wrong in this Prager University course."
...while students pursuing a degree in Life Studies are privileged to distance learn under celebrated academics such as "Comedian and podcaster extraordinaire, Adam Carolla," who holds the Distinguished Potty Chair in Senile Adolescence, and Dennis Prager, who brings his vast, real world experience as a twice-divorced, thrice-married man to courses such as "The Case for Marriage" and the completely not hilariously self-justifying "He Wants You":
Married or not married, men look at women. That's their nature. But is this fascination with the female body a threat to their spouse or the woman they are with? That's the question that best-selling author and nationally syndicated talk show host, Dennis Prager, deals with here. His answer will be a revelation to most women... and a relief to most men
And a windfall to divorce attorneys.

Students majoring in history may select from up to six separate courses (for a total of 30 full instructional minutes!), taught by scholars such as Amity Shlaes ("Why Calvin Coolidge Was Awesome and Could Totally Have Beaten Up FDR, Even If You Factor Out the Polio"), and H.W. Crocker, III, who presents "The Moral Case for the British Empire."  Mr. Crocker is a writer for the American Spectator (Hip, Hip, Hooray, It’s Rhodesia Independence Day!Robert E. Lee: Icon of the South — and American Hero and How Would Jefferson Davis Vote?) and the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War, which asks the burning question:
"What If the South Had Won?" Along the way, he reveals a huge number of little-known truths, including why Robert E. Lee had a higher regard for African Americans than Lincoln did; how, if there had been no Civil War, the South would have abolished slavery peaceably (as every other country in the Western Hemisphere did in the nineteenth century); and how the Confederate States of America might have helped the Allies win World War I sooner.
Ah...Paradise Lost.  Anyway, students interested in applying to Prager University should contact the Admissions Office.  Next Semesters at 2:45 and 3:30.

Dennis may not know how to cite his sources when writing an essay, and should maybe learn to more quickly recognize red flags during job interviews, such as when a prospective employee responds to the question "What would do you consider your greatest weakness?" by bashfully confessing "Well, sometimes I take on tasks personally that could easily be delegated to someone else, and I'm an apologist for Apartheid and a traitorous neo-Confederate" -- but he's clearly steeped in Academia and swollen with bona fides, so let's get to the meat of his argument -- which is that you can't have any pudding if you don't eat your meat, and if we don't give you any meat to begin with, you can just shut up about the pudding.
If you go to the fund’s website, you are greeted with these messages: “Learn to dream” (in English and in Spanish) and “Imagine your life without limits.” These are essentially meaningless messages.
I guess to a Baby Boomer who grew up white and middle class, the idea of society putting any sort of limits on your life and ambitions would sound like gibberish, especially if you used Babelfish to translate it from English to Sociopath.

Now, I'm old -- not as old as Dennis, but old enough to remember when we admitted to having poor and working class people in this country, and not just moochers with microwaves and grocery store cell phones.  I also seem to remember that the consolation prize for growing up poor in America was the American Dream, and its inherent promise of social mobility, the idea that your kids would be better off than you were, and that any boy (it was always a boy) could grow up to be President.  Granted, we assumed that latter point was bullshit, even back then, but when it finally came true (mixed race child of a single mother is elected Leader of the Free World), people like Dennis instantly stopped telling us it was.
But, as we shall see, the Fund’s breakfast program is not only meaningless; it is quite destructive.
What does feeding a child destroy?  It destroys character.  Specifically, the character of Oliver Twist, because who'd give a crap about him if he were fat, greasy, and complacent.  Besides, why would any school need to, let alone want to, feed a child during the instructional day?  As leading institutions of higher learning such as Prager University have shown, most classes only last five minutes, and anybody can wait that long to grab a Snickers out of the freezer.
The reasons for the announced cancelation were that the program had drawn rodents and insects into classrooms and that classroom learning time was being wasted by students who were eating for long periods in class.
Ah, I see the problem.  Dennis is confusing the School Breakfast Program, which has been providing federally funded meal assistance to poor children since 1966, with LAUSD's "Breakfast in the Classroom," which allows students to eat after the first bell.
But the rodents, insects, and disruption of class learning time are nothing compared with the destructiveness of the free breakfast itself. 
First, the program was created to solve a problem that does not exist.
You know, even when Dr. Diane Medved let her Freudian slip slow and bitched that homeless people were spoiling her view of Waikiki Beach ("Leave it to the homeless to dampen my enthusiasm for paradise"), her complaint stipulated the existence of the poor.
It is inconceivable that there are five, let alone 200,000 or the projected 450,000, homes in Los Angeles that cannot afford breakfast for their child. 
I don't think that word means what you think it means, Dennis.  "In LAUSD, over 553,000 of our students qualify for a free/reduced price breakfast but only 29% of our total school population participates. This means that over 400,000 students may start their school days without breakfast, deprived of an important nutritious meal needed to succeed in class."

And Dennis, you can't conceive of there being five children in the the second largest public school district in the U.S. whose familes can't afford three meals a day?  Really?  When Mary taught at her previous inner city school (which had plenty of insects and rodents even without Breakfast in the Classroom), she had more than five hungry kids in her class alone.
A nutritious breakfast can be had for less than a dollar. For examples, go to the website “webMD” which lists five “Breakfast Ideas for a Buck.”
My mistake, Chancellor Prager did include a link.  Allow me to summarize these Ideas for the benefit of any poor people out there who haven't yet realized that they're extinct and no longer need nourishing but inexpensive meals:  Go to McDonalds (Ideas 1-2); go to Burger King (Ideas 3-4); go to Jack in the Box (Idea 5).
Second, it both enables and encourages irresponsible, uninterested, and incompetent parenting.
When what we, as a society, ought to be encouraging is irresponsible, uninterested, and incompetent teaching of online courses by lazy, unqualified hacks and febrile bigots.  It's like that old saying about "feed a cold, starve a fever" -- or is it the other way around?  Regardless, in the academic world, the best results and healthiest profit margins are obtained by observing that old saw, "feed a faculty and starve a student."
Given how inexpensive breakfast can be (not to mention the myriad public and private programs that provide food for poor households), any home that cannot provide its child with breakfast demands a visit from child protective services. Any parent who cannot give a child breakfast is not too poor; he or she is too incapable of being, or too irresponsible to be, a competent parent.
Because money just appears, doesn't it?  If you're down to your last $1.50, and you've got to make a choice between buying your child a French Toast Stick at Burger King (as recommended by WebMD) or sending her to school hungry so you've got bus fare to reach the minimum wage job that's the only thing between your family and homelessness, well -- you've obviously going about this living-in-America thing all wrong, because all you need to do is whine about high marginal tax rates on your radio show and some billionaire will cut you a check.  It never fails.
Third, even where decent parents are involved, free breakfasts at school weaken the parent-child bond.
It makes much more sense for the mother to eat the last cup of Ramen noodles and then nurse her fourth grader -- that way nobody goes hungry, and it creates a bond like Krazy Glue!
 Hundreds of thousands of parents who are able, and happy, to provide their child with breakfast have accepted the offer — because anything free is too enticing for an increasing number of Americans. 
Yeah, that's...bullshit.  There are many more people eligible for the program than use it, which is what Breakfast in the Classroom was trying to correct.  But I guess these moochers are too lazy to even take a hand-out.
But what they have done is made the proverbial deal with the devil. They have traded in one of the most fundamental definitions of parenthood — providing one’s children with food — for a dollar and for a little less work as a parent. As a result, these parents become less of a parent to their child.
"I dunno, Mom...I just respected you more when I had a distended belly and rickets."
And fourth, the free breakfast profoundly weakens young people’s character. When you grow up learning to depend on the state, you will almost inevitably — even understandably — assume that the state will take care of you. And you will grow up also assuming — as do Europeans, who give far less to charity than Americans for this very reason — that the state will take care of your fellow citizens, including your own children.
On the up side, shortened lifespan is one of the dependable effects of childhood malnutrition, so a lot of these losers won't grow up to assume anything.  On the downside, thanks to their weak character and reliance on social services rather than private charities, the Dutch are now taller than us.
These are the ways in which the Left has damaged children and families through free school breakfasts.
This is the first time I have ever read an essay where the phrase "he wants to take food from the mouths of hungry children" is not a hyperbolic interpretation by the reader, but the author's actual thesis statement.
But it gets worse. “Canceling” the program does not mean ending it. 
Remember, the program is not being canceled because of its destructive effects on students and family life. The reasons it is being canceled are that rodents and insects infest classrooms and that classroom learning time is wasted while the children stretch out breakfast-eating time.
You should probably also remember that "canceling" doesn't mean "canceling" either, since LAUSD is expanding the program, not ending it.
Therefore, the program is being shifted to the schools’ cafeterias. The public-employee unions, which govern the state of California and the city of Los Angeles, have demanded that the program be shifted from the classroom to the school cafeterias so as to employ more cafeteria workers.
Or because it was delaying the start of the instructional day, and teachers are more concerned with cramming in a little actual teaching time between all the standardized testing they're required to do than they are with featherbedding the Lunch Lady muster.
Virtually everything the Left touches is either immediately or eventually harmful. The free-breakfast program is only one, albeit a particularly dramatic, example.
Left Must Wash Hands Before Handling Food Programs.
Why, then, do progressives advocate it?
Because children are going hungry and we can easily do something about it?
Because it meets three essential characteristics of the left wing: It strengthens the state; it has governmental authority replace parental authority; and, perhaps most important, it makes progressives feel good about themselves. The overriding concern of the Left is not whether a program does good. It is whether it feels good.
So progressives don't do good (such as feeding hungry children) simply because it's good, or even because it makes them feel good, but only because it makes them feel good about themselves.  I'd be tempted to suggest that Chancellor Prager writes 750 word columns demanding that bread be dashed from the hands of orphans just because doing bad makes him feel good, but even I'm not cynical enough to believe that, because it would suggest that Dennis Prager is capable of human emotion.

Okay, five minutes are up.  Where the hell's my diploma?


Bill S said...

Wow, Prager's really, really repulsive. So repulsive I can't even think of a good joke to make right now.

maryclev said...

Prager DOES realize that there are forms to be filled out and information (such as income level)to determine who qualifies for Free or Reduced meals at school, right?

Or is he just against feeding young children in general? What good comes from feeding kids? Let me count the ways:

~Food gives them energy and helps them remain focused on learning during the morning hours of school.

~Remaining focused on learning, helps the students score higher on the "High Stakes" standardized testing that happens every year.

~Higher scores on state tests could lead to a renewed academic energy, leading a student to focus on graduating high school, and not dropping out of it.

~Graduating high school means the possibility of Higher Education.

~Even if a student does not attend an institution of Higher Learning, they do have a high school diploma, which means they are more educated than many of their family members who came before them.

~Being educated means you will vote, not with your emotions, but with your intellect, which usually means more progressive laws and candidates win.

Oh. NOW I see why he's against feeding kids!

grouchomarxist said...

Yeah, let their little bastards starve. That'll teach the poors some personal responsibility!

People -- and I use the word very loosely -- like Prager make me appreciate the refreshing honesty of murderous, acid-for-blood, egg-laying-in-your-gullet aliens.

Carl said...

What's the sequel to be called "The Return of Better Living.."? "Bestest Living..."?

Carl said...

So progressives don't do good (such as feeding hungry children) simply because it's good, or even because it makes them feel good, but only because it makes them feel good about themselves.

I just wonder if Prager, who claims some expertise in things Biblical, has ever read his Maimonides? This is still considered a charitable gesture.Is he saying God hates givers?

Kathy said...

Prager & Dr. Mike: Separated at birth?

Robert said...

All these people that whine that the state is ruining children’s character never say anything about wealthy parents destroying their children’s character with expensive cars and “jobs” in the family business.

Kathy said...

I left a comment at NR, inquiring as to what Mr. Prager had for breakfast this morning. Whatever it was, is obviously weakened HIS "character".

acrannymint said...

I'm going to be thinking in terms of Ma Joad now. Right now I am at #3

Li'l Innocent said...

Wow, welcome back, Scott! (And I'm habashed and umbled that you quoted my remark about Sheri's writing, btw, thanks.) That's a heckuva restrained Jeremiad there -- too bad Brother Dennis can't be there to receive it in person.

I know what the Chancellor's problem is, tho. He's aching with nostalgia for the days of his youth, when he used to go out before dawn to milk the cows and gather eggs from the henhouse, while his devoted mom ground his cereal in the hand grinder, and squeezed juice from the oranges she had gathered in the wild woods, for his breakfast. Only after eating this breakfast, did he walk down the plank road that his dad and uncles and cousins had built down to the house where 2 local widow ladies taught children between 6 and 12 years old from horn books that had the alphabet, the numerals 1 thru 10, and a verse from the Bible on them.

Thus, thus was a stellar academic career launched. You are right, Scott, to be modest about comparing your credentials with Dennis'.

Carl said...

Prager & Dr. Mike: Separated at birth?

More like "with a crowbar".

Woodrowfan said...

God these people are absolutely VILE. I really can't think of much else to say that isn't violent...

Dr.BDH said...

Some of those WebMD breakfast have almost a gram of sodium. At least those kids won't fall asleep from low blood pressure.

Also: Dennis Prager, Ma Joad's grandson? The resemblance is uncanny...

Kathy said...

The whole Web MD is absurd. Can't afford to buy oatmeal for your kids? Take 'em to Micky Ds.

Weird Dave said...

Empathy? I don't think that word mea...

Oh hell. I don't think Prager has even heard of that word.