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"School Children Singing the Praises of President Obama" (Apparently as a Public School Class Project):

According to Fox News,

The commissioner of New Jersey's Department of Education ordered a review on Friday following the posting of a YouTube video depicting school children singing the praises of President Obama.

Video of the students at the Burlington, N.J., school shows them singing songs seemingly overflowing with campaign slogans and praise for "Barack Hussein Obama," repeatedly chanting the president's name and celebrating his accomplishments, including his "great plans" to "make this country's economy No. 1 again."

One song that the children were taught quotes directly from the spiritual "Jesus Loves the Little Children," though Jesus' name is replaced with Obama's: "He said red, yellow, black or white/All are equal in his sight. Barack Hussein Obama."

There were apparently death threats sent to the principal; of course, such threats are crimes, and should be punished. But I would hope that those responsible for the school project are properly disciplined as well; public school classrooms shouldn't be used to sing the praises of any sitting (or recent) political figure, whether Bush or Obama or anyone else.

That's not a constitutional matter — there's no Establishment Clause for political speech, and of course schools do routinely glorify past political figures, whether Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, or what have you. They also rightly express a calm respect for current elected officials; when an official comes to visit, for instance, it's proper for teachers to give the normal praise offered such visitors, and for students to join in.

But that some degree of ideological indoctrination and glorification is inevitable in government-run schools, and is in fact one of the purposes of such schools (which have long been justified as means of assimilating children into American democratic culture), doesn't mean that it's proper to lead children in songs praising the current President or particular aspects of his political agenda ("Hooray, Mr. President we honor your great plans / To make this country's economy number one again!"). I would have thought that this was pretty clear, and it probably is to most teachers in most schools — but not, unfortunately, in this instance.

UPDATE: Incidentally, the 2006 "Congress, Bush and FEMA / People across our land / Together have come to rebuild us and we join them hand-in-hand!" schoolchildren's song to First Lady Laura Bush is pretty bad, too -- not quite the same, even if it was organized as a public school activity (which I suspect would indeed be so), since it didn't involve such extensive praise of a particular current political figure, but also not the sort of thing that schools should be doing.

William Casey:
I'm pretty sure all of the Obama supporters are pissed about this, as they are now in the awkward position of having to act like this is acceptable, when they know good and well they would have gone ape$#!t if this had happened with Bush.
9.25.2009 1:05pm
finman:

I'm pretty sure all of the Obama supporters are pissed about this

This of course assumes they're aware of hypocrisy. I'm not that's a valid assumption.
9.25.2009 1:08pm
hey-o! (mail):

I'm pretty sure all of the Obama supporters are pissed about this, as they are now in the awkward position of having to act like this is acceptable


Pretty sure
that all of the Obama supporters? Somebody wasn't paying attention on quantifiers-and-qualifiers day in English class during their public school education!
9.25.2009 1:09pm
Disintelligentsia (mail):

Pretty sure that all of the Obama supporters? Somebody wasn't paying attention on quantifiers-and-qualifiers day in English class during their public school education!

If he was taught at a school like this, who could blame him?
9.25.2009 1:13pm
Angus:
Here's one Obama supporter that feels the teachers were wrong to have the kids do this, and that it is inappropriate to glorify any particular politician, living or dead.
9.25.2009 1:13pm
Recovering Law Grad:
Are each of these children receiving proper health care?

Actually, who cares?!
9.25.2009 1:18pm
dr:
I like Obama, and I find this nauseating. And yes, if I'd seen a video of kids singing this way about Bush or Reagan, I'd have vomited.

There you go, William Casey. I suspect that Angus and I aren't alone. Feeling better about America yet?
9.25.2009 1:19pm
slimslowslider (mail):
I second Angus's comment.
9.25.2009 1:22pm
hey-o! (mail):

If he was taught at a school like this, who could blame him?


Hmm, so you're saying that Obama supporters are breeding a generation of dunces who turn out to be Republicans?
9.25.2009 1:23pm
1Ler:
Is it bad that I had dismissed this story as Fox News hyperbole? It turns out that it's pretty disturbing after all.
9.25.2009 1:25pm
gasman (mail):
Schoolchildren taught to sing the praises of their leader has shades of Mao, Castro, and Kim jongil.
9.25.2009 1:25pm
Strict:
Creepy.

It's not even singing. It's more like chanting.
9.25.2009 1:25pm
Disintelligentsia (mail):
It reminds me of this creepy "Dear Leader" music video of children singing of Obama.

Not to mention the child speaker at the UN lecturing world leaders on climate change.

We must remember it's "all for the children." That makes everything OK.
9.25.2009 1:26pm
hey-o! (mail):

Schoolchildren taught to sing the praises of their leader has shades of Mao, Castro, and Kim jongil.


Hitler. Never forget Hitler.
9.25.2009 1:27pm
David Welker (www):
I don't think that such a performance would be appropriate unless it was student initiated and the lyrics were written independently by the students.

That said, the fact that this is a front news story on Fox News shows you what a joke the conservative movement is nowadays. This is the most important thing happening right now? Really!?

Conservatives and their marginal obsessions are truly ridiculous sometimes.
9.25.2009 1:27pm
Houston Lawyer:
Funny that up until this election, no one had to tell teachers not to do this. I would appreciate an explanation of what puts Obama's supporters into the Dear Leader mode.
9.25.2009 1:27pm
Guest12345:

Hmm, so you're saying that Obama supporters are breeding a generation of dunces who turn out to be Republicans?


Don't know that I can agree that they're turning out as Republicans, but it is interesting that the current administration's answer to various problems is to reduce our choices. Rather than educate people so they can make good choices, they just force people into playpens with fewer "bad" choices.
9.25.2009 1:27pm
Disintelligentsia (mail):
Now the principal of the school is not merely unapologetic, but says she'd do it all again if she could! Damn! That's some cajones! A person who shows such an incredible lack of judgment should not be within 100 meters of school. She's certainly more dangerous to the kids than someone exercising their 2nd amendment rights.
9.25.2009 1:30pm
rmd:

Pretty sure that all of the Obama supporters? Somebody wasn't paying attention on quantifiers-and-qualifiers day in English class during their public school education!

Since it seems to be pedantic grammar day at the good ol' VC, I'm going to stick my neck out and say that I don't see the problem with the original statement. Grammatically, that is. I will withhold comment on any political aspect.

The modifier "pretty," meant to indicate something less than 100% confidence, is applied to "sure," not to "all." That is, the statement is equivalent to "I have some high, but less than full, confidence that [some condition exists]." Whether the condition does in fact exist or not doesn't change the construction.
9.25.2009 1:31pm
hey-o! (mail):

but it is interesting that the current administration's answer to various problems is to reduce our choices.


I believe you got your town hall talking points mixed up with the talking points for the comment for this post.


Rather than educate people so they can make good choices, they just force people into playpens with fewer "bad" choices.


Ok :)
9.25.2009 1:31pm
Disintelligentsia (mail):
It sounds like the principal and the teacher are two peas in a pod. From the Foxnews story -


King has long been a fan of Obama, hanging pictures of the president in her school's hallways and touting her trip to his inauguration in the school yearbook.

Included in the full-page yearbook spread were Obama campaign slogans ("Yes we can! Yes we did!") and photos King took in Washington on Jan. 20, when she attended the inauguration.

There also were photos taken at the school depicting students doing Obama-themed activities about their "hopes for the future," featuring posters of Obama. According to the yearbook, students watched the inauguration in class.

Parents said Elvira James, the teacher of the class that was videotaped, also seemed to be promoting Obama.

"She praised him, she put pictures on the walls," said Jim Pronchick, whose 8-year-old son, Jimmy, was in James' class last year. "When he won (the election) they really went off."
9.25.2009 1:33pm
californiamom:
What did these teachers think they were doing? None of these children will be old enough to vote for Obama in 2012. All they did was p. o. the parents big time and with the spread of this video, make everyone acutely sensitive to the issue of Obama hero worship and indoctrination. They made more people wary of sending their children to public schools. If it does some good, it will get more parents to pay more attention to what is going on in the schools to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.
9.25.2009 1:36pm
Disintelligentsia (mail):
On a side note, who's "Bernice Young" - the school was named after her and so was a school in Arkansas (which has mistakenly received numerous calls about the video). Normally schools are named after famous people but I couldn't find anything in Wikipedia or on Google. Google just comes up with results about those two schools.
9.25.2009 1:41pm
Recovering Law Grad:
Does anyone else recognize this as an utter distraction?

It was certainly inappropriate, but aren't there more important issues facing America's schoolchildren, such as the quality of their education (to which this is only marginally related) or the quality of their healthcare?

Fox and the conservative media are emphasizing this for the same reason they are emphasizing the ACORN story: it makes the President look bad (though it shouldn't). If Fox and the conservative media actually cared about children, we'd be seeing specials on Fox discussing the real issues facing them - not a stupid episode touching on 18 kids. But they don't. They care about partisan politics.
9.25.2009 1:43pm
Randy R. (mail):
Angus: "Here's one Obama supporter that feels the teachers were wrong to have the kids do this, and that it is inappropriate to glorify any particular politician, living or dead.'

Ditto on this wise thought. And I agree with California mom -- what could possibly be the purpose except to make the teachers and principle feel good?

I'm even a little creeped out when teachers teach that our system of government is the 'best in the world' or other qualifiers. I'm in favor of instilling patriotism in kids, but not indoctrination, and there is a fine line between the two. I'm sure reasonable minds can disagree on where the line is, but we should all at least agree that the line exists.
9.25.2009 1:44pm
Recovering Law Grad:
I see this story as akin to a Nancy Grace segment. Something bad happened to someone. I got it, but why is it news?
9.25.2009 1:44pm
David Welker (www):
Houston Lawyer,

Do you think that comparing Obama to the leader of North Korea enhances or detracts from your credibility?
9.25.2009 1:45pm
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):
I like this much better.
9.25.2009 1:48pm
Arnostocles:

Funny that up until this election, no one had to tell teachers not to do this. I would appreciate an explanation of what puts Obama's supporters into the Dear Leader mode.


Obama songs are a popular thing. Obama is a musical name; Bush is not. Obama appeals to young people; John McCain does not.

From the top of my head, I can think of at least 15 songs praising Barack Obama. Some are pretty good. "People Want Change" and "Stand Up and Rock Barack" are the best ones.

Capleton - People Want Change (So They Send for Obama)

Mavado - We Need Barack

Sizzla - Black Man in the White House

Jahman &Pressure - Stand Up and Rock Barack

Cocoa Tea - Barack Obama

Gappy Ranks - Obama (aka Black President)

J Murj - Barack Obama

Ajamu - Rally Round Obama

Lushy Banton - Obama

Papa Michigan - Barack Obama

Black Rasta - Obama
9.25.2009 1:51pm
Bleh:

I'm pretty sure all of the Obama supporters are pissed about this, as they are now in the awkward position of having to act like this is acceptable, when they know good and well they would have gone ape$#!t if this had happened with Bush.


1. I think it's pretty stupid no matter which political figure they're praising / singing about. Completely unacceptable.
2. It's not like this was Obama forcing school kids to sing his praises. It was (apparently) some idiot teacher somewhere.
3. Only trolls think that Obama supporters have to support everything that's ever said or done is his name (or for that matter every decision made by him personally), just as I'm sure you don't support everything done by or for President Bush.
4. I love the ominous music playing in the background of the video...
5. Oh wait, you're right. I am pissed, because now this gives trolls ammunition to say that school children of America are being indoctrinated.
9.25.2009 1:51pm
unwelcome guest:
I'll bite - I don't think this is political as much as it is racial - and it's a big deal.

Obama is our first African-American president, (or person of any color other than white). We have only had 6 african-american senators in the history of this country. .

This is as big a deal as Nelson Mandela becoming president of South Africa. I believe school children were singing Mandela's praises as well, but I don't remember any discussion in this country of how that showed that he was like Hitler or Castro.

You can disagree with Obama's policies all you want (and I certainly do - I am very disappointed with the Patriot Act stance). But he will be (and should be) celebrated like Booker T. Washington, and other African-American pioneers. His election was a significant break-through for a large segment of the population.

This is not like a class singing Bill Clinton's praises.
9.25.2009 1:53pm
Bleh:

On a side note, who's "Bernice Young" - the school was named after her and so was a school in Arkansas (which has mistakenly received numerous calls about the video). Normally schools are named after famous people but I couldn't find anything in Wikipedia or on Google. Google just comes up with results about those two schools.


A lot of schools are named after local figures of note. Often past members of school boards, principals, mayors, and the like. Maybe the Arkansas Bernice Young is a different person, or maybe she moved at some point in her life and made a similar contribution to some Arkansas town.
9.25.2009 1:54pm
Arnostocles:

Obama is our first African-American president, (or person of any color other than white). We have only had 6 african-american senators in the history of this country. .


Wow. And 3 of those 6 were appointed and not popularly elected.

Barack was the third elected black senator in the history of the USA.
9.25.2009 2:00pm
glangston (mail):
It's a trifecta.

Stupid songs
Poor singing
and Wrong
9.25.2009 2:02pm
John McG (mail) (www):

You can disagree with Obama's policies all you want (and I certainly do - I am very disappointed with the Patriot Act stance). But he will be (and should be) celebrated like Booker T. Washington, and other African-American pioneers. His election was a significant break-through for a large segment of the population.


I wouldn't have a problem with celebrating that, but the song goes further -- "including his "great plans" to "make this country's economy No. 1 again.""



Do you think that comparing Obama to the leader of North Korea enhances or detracts from your credibility?


Do you think mischaracterizing other posts enhances or detracts from your credibility.

What should be apparent to any reader is that Houston Lawyer was compaing the behavior of Obama's followers to North Koreans, not comparing the Obama to Kim Jong Il.
9.25.2009 2:02pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
David Welker:

Houston Lawyer didn't "compar[e] Obama to the leader of North Korea." He indicated that Obama's supporters were fostering a cult of personality like the one enjoyed by the leader of North Korea. And in the case of these particular supporters, the comparison seems apt enough, given that "[o]ne song that the children were taught quotes directly from the spiritual 'Jesus Loves the Little Children,' though Jesus' name is replaced with Obama's."
9.25.2009 2:04pm
Stevie Miller (mail):
Dammit.

If we're going to fund these things in our public school, I demand equal time for RAP !!

(None of this bullsh*t Protestant Christian "Jesus Loves the Little Children" musical nonsense. That is sooooo yesterday!!)
9.25.2009 2:10pm
Bleh:

If we're going to fund these things in our public school, I demand equal time for RAP !!

(None of this bullsh*t Protestant Christian "Jesus Loves the Little Children" musical nonsense. That is sooooo yesterday!!)


See Laura(southernxyl)'s link earlier:


Laura(southernxyl):
I like this much better.
9.25.2009 2:19pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Obama is our first African-American president, (or person of any color other than white).


My god, really, I hadn't realized! He's black! Why wasn't I told.


This is as big a deal as Nelson Mandela becoming president of South Africa.


No, not really. If he had been elected in 1868, I think your point would be stronger. If ex-slaves were a majority in 1868 that is.
9.25.2009 2:28pm
unwelcome guest:

No, not really. If he had been elected in 1868, I think your point would be stronger. If ex-slaves were a majority in 1868 that is.


So oppression of a minority matters less? Maybe you didn't see "Eye on the Prize" like I did in elementary school, but a good many people felt like we had apartheid here until the '60's. Or maybe you thought things were cool then. If you don't think that we had apartheid here, maybe you could explain how the disenfranchising Jim Crow laws and consequence-free lynchings that happened here were different. Maybe separate but equal was a-ok?
9.25.2009 2:54pm
George Smith:
Coming next month: "A Red Brigade of School Children", with an introduction by Leonard Pinf Garnell.
9.25.2009 2:57pm
Owen H. (mail):

UPDATE: Incidentally, the 2006 "Congress, Bush and FEMA / People across our land / Together have come to rebuild us and we join them hand-in-hand!" schoolchildren's song to First Lady Laura Bush is pretty bad, too -- not quite the same, even if it was organized as a public school activity (which I suspect would indeed be so), since it didn't involve such extensive praise of a particular current political figure, but also not the sort of thing that schools should be doing.



Oh, it's not as bad because they didn't say the name as much? Singing the praises of Congress is ok, as long as they weren't using their names? Rationalize much?

I must have missed where CNN went crazy over this.
9.25.2009 2:59pm
David Welker (www):

He indicated that Obama's supporters were fostering a cult of personality like the one enjoyed by the leader of North Korea.


Were the enthusiastic supporters of Ronald Reagan also fostering a cult of personality?

I think the real problem is that conservatives do not like the fact that Obama is very charismatic, just like Reagan was very charismatic. So, they want to denigrate that, with these absurd comparisons.

The "cult of personality" surrounding the leader of North Korea is not voluntary -- in contrast to the enthusiastic support enjoyed by both Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama.
9.25.2009 3:01pm
unwelcome guest:
oops, it couldn't have been "Eye on the Prize" I saw. Oh well, I saw some propaganda documentaries at various times. I have heard from many who lived it.

So we know that it doesn't matter to Bob from Ohio that Obama is black - that doesn't detract from the fact that it does matter to others. Bob, if you know any black people, maybe you can ask them. I personally think it would have been as big a deal to the country if Michael Steele had been the first african-american president.

It will be a great day when race really doesn't matter. And I think reasonable minds can agree that the video linked by Laura shows a much better example of quality juvenile indoctrination.
9.25.2009 3:09pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
David Welker:

What public school children do at the behest of the authority figures in charge of them at school also generally is not voluntary in any meaningful sense of the word.
9.25.2009 3:12pm
Bleh:

UPDATE: Incidentally, the 2006 "Congress, Bush and FEMA / People across our land / Together have come to rebuild us and we join them hand-in-hand!" schoolchildren's song to First Lady Laura Bush is pretty bad, too -- not quite the same, even if it was organized as a public school activity (which I suspect would indeed be so), since it didn't involve such extensive praise of a particular current political figure, but also not the sort of thing that schools should be doing.


Not quite the same, meaning not quite as bad? It appears to have been organized by government officials (it was at an official White House event). At least the current incident was organized by some loony teacher acting independently of the government. Lyrics like: "Congress, Bush and FEMA, People across our land, Together have come to rebuild us, and we join them hand-in-hand!" aren't on the same level, even when explicitly organized by White House staff?

After the song, Mrs. Bush posed for photos with the kids, many of whom were wearing Katrina Kids T-shirts, despite the chilly rain.

It's cool to exploit children for political purposes, as long as it's your party. Otherwise it's indoctrination. (That's more directed at FoxNews than you EV).
I applaud you for at least being willing to point out that similar events have occurred in the past under other administrations.

President Reagan's speech to school children in 1988 may also interest you (if you weren't already aware of it). Note especially the Q&A session at the bottom, which includes things such as the following exchange:


Q. My name is Cameron Fitzhugh, and I'm from St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Virginia. I was wondering if you think that it's possible to decrease the national debt without raising the taxes of the public?

The President. I do. That's a big argument that's going on in government. And I definitely believe it is because one of the principal reasons that we were able to get the economy back on track and create those new jobs and all was we cut the taxes. We reduced them because, you see, the taxes can be such a penalty on people that there's no incentive for them to prosper and earn more and so forth because they have to give so much to the Government. And what we have found is that at the lower rates the Government gets more revenue. There are more people paying taxes because there are more people with jobs. And there are more people willing to earn more money because they get to keep a bigger share of it.

So, today, we're getting more revenue at the lower rates than we were at the higher. And you know something, I studied economics in college when I was young, and I learned there about a man named ibn-Khaldun, who lived 1,200 years ago in Egypt. And 1,200 years ago, he said, "In the beginning of the empire, the rates were low. The tax rates were low, but the revenue was great." He said, "In the end of the empire, when the empire was collapsing, the rates were great, and the revenue was low." So — all right

Yet Obama's speech to school children, which only focused on the need for education, crossed the line for some.
9.25.2009 3:30pm
Bleh:

organized by White House staff


I admit in advance that this may be an overstatement (but it probably isn't since it was at a White House event attened by both the President and the First Lady).
9.25.2009 3:34pm
David Welker (www):
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk,

I do not think that the exercises at the school are appropriate. However, I also do not think that this event qualifies as first page news.

Further, this isolate incident at some school in New Jersey is obviously not representative of the support that Obama has received, so your point is totally irrelevant.

The analogies to North Korea that some on the right have decided to make tells us more about how these people are embracing the fringe, probably never to return, more than it tells us anything substantive.
9.25.2009 3:38pm
Putting Two and Two...:
Where were you stalwarts of reason back when the Republicans started slapping "Ronald Reagan" on every building they could find while the Gipper was still in office?

Me? I'm a liberal, jerking knee and all, and I wish we'd go back to the days when you had to be dead to have anything named after you. Better yet, dead 25 years. And as for glorification, that should require at least 100 years hindsight and should always be accompanied by a detailed list of the object's faults.
9.25.2009 3:39pm
martinned (mail) (www):

And as for glorification, that should require at least 100 years hindsight and should always be accompanied by a detailed list of the object's faults.

Does the singing of America the Beautiful count as glorification? I'm just asking, since last time I checked the United States aren't dead yet, much less 100 years.
9.25.2009 3:42pm
Anderson (mail):
Since it seems to be pedantic grammar day at the good ol' VC, I'm going to stick my neck out and say that I don't see the problem with the original statement. Grammatically, that is.

Correct. The attempted correction was itself erroneous.

... The song, and the principal, are obnoxiously stupid, but what else is new.

I expect the GOP (and their "libertarian" fellow travelers) to begin barking about "working towards the President" along the lines of the "working towards the Fuehrer" motto.

Oh, wait.

(Scary game: imagine some particular manifestation of dumbassery, and then use Google to see whether it already in fact exists.)
9.25.2009 3:49pm
PlugInMonster:

Were the enthusiastic supporters of Ronald Reagan also fostering a cult of personality?


Not even close and RR never encouraged it either. Unless you're willing to provide evidence of such cult of personality around RR.
9.25.2009 3:54pm
Establishment Claus:
Prof. V, why so quick to dismiss the Establishment Clause? It's not just political, it's "glorifying" the Messiah.

Seriously, the song uses a well-known verse from a Jesus song, and mixes that Church song with a "worship-the-State" song. In other contexts, the mere use of religious texts or music, based on the listeners' ability to recongnize them, have been lawsuit material.

Just this month, the 9th Circuit upheld a school's decision to veto an INSTRUMENTAL performance of "Ave Maria" at graduation. School said the title alone, and people's recognition of it, was enough to justify the school's concern about avoiding an Establishment violation. Granted, the case was not a direct Establishment claim, but was the school's defense against the student's claims of free speech and "reverse Establishment," i.e., violating Estab. by being hostile to religion. But this common defense is, in effect, a derivative Establishment analysis.

Also, several years ago, a 6th Circuit panel used a similar theory when it initially struck down (before en banc court reversed course) Ohio's state motto, "With God, All Things Are Possible." The court's theory was not that the "God" statement alone was a problem. Rather, it was that the line was a quote from Matthew, and was spoken by Jesus, so that the reasonable observer would connect that and perceive and endorsement of Christianity in particular, not generic theism.

As between the percentage of kids here who know the "Jesus" origins of the borrowed verse, versus the proportion of Ohio citizens who knew their motto's origin, the kids are higher.

I'm not saying that makes such a charge right, and in fact, I think the 6th circuit panel was wrong. But I do think it makes an Establishment Clause claim here within range of what some courts have found.
9.25.2009 3:58pm
JPG:
EV: ... public school classrooms shouldn't be used to sing the praises of any sitting (or recent) political figure, whether Bush or Obama or anyone else.

Why not? Isn't there reasonable expectation that those kids will be exposed to a great dose of criticism of the political figures in question as they'll grow to make up their own political preferences? Fearmongerers - on any side - may raise the hazards of the cult of personality in autocratic governments as a point of comparison, but this point strikes me as an half-starved one in light of the vivid freedom of speech and freedom of thought in the American political arena.

Should children be thought to show the greatest regards to whoever is in office, cynicism and criticism will certainly catch up to them before they'll be old enough to cast their first vote.
9.25.2009 4:00pm
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):
Thanks for that nifty Reagan quote, Bleh. It's a neat outline of how tax rates and revenues don't necessarily have the positive correlation one might expect. Here's a contrasting viewpoint, which wasn't offered to schoolchildren, it's true, but it does offer a contrary view to Reagan's philosophy.


MR. GIBSON: All right.

You have however said you would favor an increase in the capital gains tax. As a matter of fact, you said on CNBC, and I quote, "I certainly would not go above what existed under Bill Clinton, which was 28 percent."

It's now 15 percent. That's almost a doubling if you went to 28 percent. But actually Bill Clinton in 1997 signed legislation that dropped the capital gains tax to 20 percent.

SENATOR OBAMA: Right.

MR. GIBSON: And George Bush has taken it down to 15 percent.

SENATOR OBAMA: Right.

MR. GIBSON: And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased. The government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down. So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?

SENATOR OBAMA: Well, Charlie, what I've said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness. We saw an article today which showed that the top 50 hedge fund managers made $29 billion last year -- $29 billion for 50 individuals. And part of what has happened is that those who are able to work the stock market and amass huge fortunes on capital gains are paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries. That's not fair....

MR. GIBSON: But history shows that when you drop the capital gains tax, the revenues go up.

SENATOR OBAMA: Well, that might happen or it might not.


Well, fairness is certainly a concept that little children get more easily than big words like "revenue", or the idea that the government taxes us primarily to get revenue in order to do the things we have charged it to do, rather than to exercise fairness at the expense of getting revenue. So maybe Obama's response to Gibson would have been better suited for the schoolkids.

In all seriousness, if a schoolkid asks a president, whether Republican or DemocratIC, a question, I don't think it's indoctrination if the president answers it according to his own tenets and not that of the opposing party.
9.25.2009 4:04pm
Bleh:

Here's a contrasting viewpoint, which wasn't offered to schoolchildren, it's true...

Aren't we talking about the indoctrination of our children here? And how "liberals" (or "progressives") have a monopoly on that.


In all seriousness, if a schoolkid asks a president, whether Republican or DemocratIC, a question, I don't think it's indoctrination if the president answers it according to his own tenets and not that of the opposing party.

(I hate to sound like a conspiracy nut or something but...) As if that middle school kid came up with that question on her own. (Maybe a conservative school teacher helped her... Kidding, obviously I have no evidence of that)

But hey, you can also find this little nugget in the body of his actual speech:

But America's world leadership goes well beyond the tide toward democracy. We also find that more countries than ever before are following America's revolutionary economic message of free enterprise, low taxes, and open world trade. These days, whenever I see foreign leaders, they tell me about their plans for reducing taxes and other economic reforms that they're using, copying what we have done here in our country. I wonder if they realize that this vision of economic freedom -- the freedom to work, to create and produce, to own and use property without the interference of the state -- was central to the American Revolution when the American colonists rebelled against a whole web of economic restrictions, taxes, and barriers to free trade. The message at the Boston Tea Party -- have you studied yet in history about the Boston Tea Party, where, because of a tax, they went down and dumped the tea in the harbor? Well, that was America's original tax revolt. And it was the fruits of our labor -- belonged to us, and not to the state. And that truth is fundamental to both liberty and prosperity.
9.25.2009 4:12pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
"unwelcome guest" Ironic or descriptive?

Obama is not Mandela. The US is not South Africa. If you can't see the differences for yourself, I'm not going to convince you.
9.25.2009 4:20pm
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):
And this is a problem because why?

Seriously, if Obama were to tell a bunch of schoolkids this gem about raising rates even if revenues fall because it's more important to be fair, that's one thing. For the kids to be taught to change "Jesus loves the little children" into a song about the wonderfulness of Obama - that's a completely different kettle of fish, IMO. (Before anyone tells me I freaked out about Obama's speech to the kids, my thoughts at the time here. And I meant what I said in my comment: "For high school kids, and middle school kids who are bright and aware, I'd want them to hear it even if it was divisive. It's history being made, even if it is just a speech to children. Their own kids may ask them about the Obama presidency in 30 years." I'm frustrated by the fact that I was old enough during the Nixon fiasco to have known what was going on, but in my household and at my school this information was not offered to us or considered to be anything we ought to concern ourselves with. My daughter got a LOT more info about current events than I ever did.)
9.25.2009 4:23pm
Anderson (mail):
so that the reasonable observer would connect that and perceive and endorsement of Christianity in particular, not generic theism.

Y'know, I've been thinking of converting to Generic Theism ...
9.25.2009 4:24pm
Californio (mail):
You are all racists! Besides, why didn't the children have red, uh... BLUE scarves on? Where are the little uniforms, like the boy scouts but only better! With badges with the president's picture on them. Come on People! We ALL need to GET TOGETHER to advance the altristic goals of our elected Leader!

Imagine it - all those cut little tykes marching at recess (to fight obesity - a leading cause of expensive medical care later in life!) singing. And running obstacle courses to promote fitness! And what better way to get health than swimming! Oh, and to promote eye-to-hand coordination, riflery taught at safe ranges. (A HA! let us see the right challenge that!) Gee, they should probably wear helmets for safety too, like surplus military Kevlar. And to distinguish them from other groups they should wear a blue armband with the letter "O" on it, maybe the symbol used during the campaign. I tell you, the past may have been a mistake but as our youth with sing "..Tomorrow belongs to Me."!! The YOUTH are our future, won't you support them?
9.25.2009 4:34pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
David Welker:

Well, perhaps you think those are the points that one should draw from this episode. Maybe, maybe not.

My comments thus far have not really been about the episode itself, so much as the very poor quality of your arguments about the episode. You said Houston Lawyer made a particular comparison; he plainly did not. When this was pointed out, you switched gears and insisted that the comparison that he did in fact make was inapt because the praise was in this case voluntary; it plainly was not.

I'm inclined to think that the story is first-page news, if the newspaper is a local one. Otherwise, the story perhaps is not. Of course, that doesn't mean it's not newsworthy at all, and it certainly does not mean that it's not an appropriate subject for blogging.

Whether the episode is representative of the nature of the support that Obama has received in general is debatable. I personally don't think that the average Obama voter is akin to these school officials, but even Obama supporters and Democratic voters have acknowledged that a subset of his supporters seem prone to hagiography. And the general media coverage of the man has been so fawning at times that it provoked one writer at Slate, hardly a right-wing news organ, to facetiously inaugurate a periodic feature called The Obama Messiah Watch.

So it does not strike me as unreasonable to think that this episode in New Jersey is representative of some of Obama's supporters. How many? Hard to say really.

But given the broader context -- the repeated portrayal of Obama as a transformative, messianic figure in some quarters -- this story does not strike me as being so isolated from the mainstream currents of American cultural and political life as to be irrelevant and abjectly unnewsworthy. Moreover, I do not think it is a coincidence that the sort of people who are outraged that this episode is the subject of any news coverage at all seem to share a certain politics.
9.25.2009 4:36pm
Californio (mail):
opps - make that "altruistic" and "cute" not cut (but they would get "cut" with all that marching! They'd be in great shape1
9.25.2009 4:36pm
Bleh:

And this is a problem because why?

Seriously, if Obama were to tell a bunch of schoolkids this gem about raising rates even if revenues fall because it's more important to be fair, that's one thing. For the kids to be taught to change "Jesus loves the little children" into a song about the wonderfulness of Obama - that's a completely different kettle of fish, IMO. (Before anyone tells me I freaked out about Obama's speech to the kids, my thoughts at the time here. And I meant what I said in my comment: "For high school kids, and middle school kids who are bright and aware, I'd want them to hear it even if it was divisive. It's history being made, even if it is just a speech to children. Their own kids may ask them about the Obama presidency in 30 years." I'm frustrated by the fact that I was old enough during the Nixon fiasco to have known what was going on, but in my household and at my school this information was not offered to us or considered to be anything we ought to concern ourselves with. My daughter got a LOT more info about current events than I ever did

Yeah, but I'm not arguing against what you seem to think I am, I'm arguing against the idea that Obama (and "leftists" in general) are setting out to indoctrinate the children of the United States.
My assertion is that if you're going to base that kind of allegation on one isolated event or even a couple of them (by whacked out school teachers--trust me, there are unfortunately plenty of those on both sides), you should also be intellectually honest enough to admit that similar events have occured during conservative administrations (as EV has done).
I agree with you that I would want my children to attend a speech made by the president, even if it's partisan, even if it were made by a conservative president. But there are a lot of people on here who say that Jesus song in New Jersey = wholesale indoctrination of America's youth. I'm just pointing out that a somewhat partisan speech made by a President, directly to school children is just as much evidence of full out indoctrination as Jesus song in New Jersey is. In my opinion, none of these instances are evidence of wholesale indoctrination. Both of the school songs (Obama and Bush) are inappropriate, but not the end of the world.
9.25.2009 4:45pm
Bleh:

You are all racists! Besides, why didn't the children have red, uh... BLUE scarves on? Where are the little uniforms, like the boy scouts but only better! With badges with the president's picture on them. Come on People! We ALL need to GET TOGETHER to advance the altristic goals of our elected Leader!

Imagine it - all those cut little tykes marching at recess (to fight obesity - a leading cause of expensive medical care later in life!) singing. And running obstacle courses to promote fitness! And what better way to get health than swimming! Oh, and to promote eye-to-hand coordination, riflery taught at safe ranges. (A HA! let us see the right challenge that!) Gee, they should probably wear helmets for safety too, like surplus military Kevlar. And to distinguish them from other groups they should wear a blue armband with the letter "O" on it, maybe the symbol used during the campaign. I tell you, the past may have been a mistake but as our youth with sing "..Tomorrow belongs to Me."!! The YOUTH are our future, won't you support the


Perhaps the real lesson here is that I shouldn't bother to try and argue against the ideas shouted out by trolls on this blog.
9.25.2009 4:49pm
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):

I'm just pointing out that a somewhat partisan speech made by a President, directly to school children is just as much evidence of full out indoctrination as Jesus song in New Jersey is.


Well, we disagree here, which is fine.


I'm arguing against the idea that Obama (and "leftists" in general) are setting out to indoctrinate the children of the United States.


Well, first of all - speaking for myself only (can we have a new acronym, SFMO? Like IIRC and IANAL?) I don't think Obama is doing this. In fact, I'm pretty sure he's not. And we've had leftists in office before and I don't think we had this. I think it's a new phenomenon, it's a cult of personality thing that we haven't seen with prior presidents. I don't think it's widespread at all, or of real concern, but I don't like it.
9.25.2009 5:13pm
Bleh:
I don't think it's new. Would you disagree that Reagan had, and still has to some extent, a cult of personality on the right?

Despite the fact that some people become overly-enamored with certain elected officials, I find it hard to believe that this all just a prelude to troops marching into our towns to take our rights away and send us off to Gulags. (And like I said before, for some reason I find it hard not to argue with the "interesting" people who do think that)
9.25.2009 5:21pm
Bleh:
*that this is all just a prelude...
9.25.2009 5:22pm
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):
Reagan was and is a popular figure. I don't remember his name replacing Jesus's in songs being taught to and performed by schoolchildren.
9.25.2009 5:39pm
Bleh:
Now I would argue that you're splitting hairs.

The use of the Jesus song shows (at least in my opinion) more of a lack of imagination then a elevation of Obama to diety status. I don't really know the song in question, but the lyrics I have seen don't seem to say he is Jesus they just seem to steal a line from a Jesus song and not even verbatim (once again, I could be wrong).

Lyrics:

Mm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said that all must lend a hand
To make this country strong again
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said we must be fair today
Equal work means equal pay
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said that we must take a stand
To make sure everyone gets a chance
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said red, yellow, black or white
All are equal in his sight

Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

Yes!
Mmm, mmm, mm
Barack Hussein Obama


Original:

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Black and yellow, red and white
They're all precious in His sight

Jesus loves the little children of the world

Whether you're rich or whether you're poor
It matters not to Him
He remembers where you're going
Not where you've been

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Black and yellow, red and white
They're all precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world

If your heart is troubled
Don't worry, don't you fret
He knows that you have heard His call
And he won't forget

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Black and yellow, red and white
They're all precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world

All around the world tonight
His children rest assured
That He will watch and He will keep us
Safe and secure

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Black and yellow, red and white
They're all precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world
9.25.2009 5:48pm
Bleh:

He said we must be fair today
Equal work means equal pay
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama


Communism??? OMG, they were right all along! NOOOOO!!!!
9.25.2009 5:50pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
Bleh:

I think you have a tin ear. Borrowing and reworking lyrics from an explicitly religious song in a way that effectively substitutes a politician for Jesus is not likely the sort of thing that happens by accident or through lack of imagination. Whoever penned this song undoubtedly was aware of the original. I suppose it is possible that author is just such a galactic nimrod that it never occurred to him how the substitution would be perceived by others. But the symbolism is so gobsmackingly obvious that it is hard to accept that degree of stupidity as an explanation.
9.25.2009 6:42pm
geokstr (mail):

Bleh:
Yet Obama's speech to school children, which only focused on the need for education, crossed the line for some.

Too bad we didn't get to see the initial drafts of that speech, before the sh*t hit the fan. I'd bet that the final version was quite a different than it started out.
9.25.2009 7:05pm
Bleh:

Too bad we didn't get to see the initial drafts of that speech, before the sh*t hit the fan. I'd bet that the final version was quite a different than it started out.

Puhlease...


Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk:

I think you have a tin ear.

I think we both hear what we want to hear.


author is just such a galactic nimrod

That's kinda what my suspicion is, actually.
9.25.2009 7:19pm
Bleh:
One thing that I find a little funny, is that "fair and balanced" FoxNews says:


One song that the children were taught quotes directly from the spiritual "Jesus Loves the Little Children," though Jesus' name is replaced with Obama's: "He said red, yellow, black or white/All are equal in his sight. Barack Hussein Obama."


This makes it seem like the writer took a Jesus song, and then did a find and replace to put in Obama's name. If you look at the lyrics I pasted above, there is no direct quote to "Jesus Loves the Little Children," at best the line in question is reminiscent of the song. In my opinion.
9.25.2009 7:48pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
Bleh:

The song praising Obama aapparently was sung to the tune of the spiritual as well. If so, it's more than "reminiscent of the song."
9.25.2009 8:42pm
Bleh:
Could be, but still seems like less than a "direct quote". Either way I agree that it's stupid to have school children sing praises of any sort to a political figure. But my point is that it's happened before and I don't think it's evidence of "indoctrination" or something to make us fear for our children as Beck would have us do.
9.25.2009 9:10pm
pot meet kettle (mail):

Thanks for that nifty Reagan quote, Bleh. It's a neat outline of how tax rates and revenues don't necessarily have the positive correlation one might expect. Here's a contrasting viewpoint, which wasn't offered to schoolchildren, it's true, but it does offer a contrary view to Reagan's philosophy.


Really, a quote by Reagan is now proof that supply side economics works?? Stop the presses!!!

Of course, one could do silly things like go past dogma to actually look at the data to understand the correlation between tax rates and revenue, but that would be problematic since it goes against Reagan voodoonomics.
9.25.2009 10:28pm
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):

Really, a quote by Reagan is now proof that supply side economics works??


Who said that?

I think you're irritated that Reagan didn't know he was supposed to answer that question the way a Democratic would have. Stupid Republican.
9.25.2009 11:29pm
Disintelligentsia (mail):
Bleh - although the version you posted has the colors in a different order, they're all there and for both the phrase is "in his sight". In the original it was Jesus' sight, in the next in BHO's sight. What's more, the way it's in the BHO song is how I always sang it as a kid - "red, yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight" and if you google that color order the first thing listed is "Jesus loves the little children" with lyrics in that order. So, no, it's not a big stretch to say they were replacing Jesus with BHO and that they cribbed that song.
9.25.2009 11:57pm
Bleh:
Fair enough, I'll accept that. I still stick to my guns on saying that this is nothing new, and not proof of "indoctrination" though.
9.26.2009 12:16am
PSA Guy:
PSA: Wanker is a troll. Do not respond to Wanker. He is too stupid to understand logic anyways.
9.26.2009 1:17am
MnZ (mail):
Cults of personality are bad. Cults of personality developed and maintained by the levers of government is a very dangerous road as evidenced by the totalitarianism of the 20th century.

However, too many Obama supporters seem blissfully unaware of the 20th century history. As a result, we have incidences such as this school and the NEA scandal.
9.26.2009 8:35am
Andy Rozell (mail):
"Bleh - although the version you posted has the colors in a different order, they're all there and for both the phrase is "in his sight". In the original it was Jesus' sight, in the next in BHO's sight. What's more, the way it's in the BHO song is how I always sang it as a kid - "red, yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight" and if you google that color order the first thing listed is "Jesus loves the little children" with lyrics in that order. So, no, it's not a big stretch to say they were replacing Jesus with BHO and that they cribbed that song."


The way I learned it in Sunday School was "red or yellow, black or white . . . " Nowadays many sing it "red brown yellow black or white . . . "

I've been hanging around churches for 50 + years and have never heard "Black and yellow, red and white. . . "
9.26.2009 12:42pm
purplekoolaid (mail):
Me? I'm a liberal, jerking knee and all, and I wish we'd go back to the days when you had to be dead to have anything named after you. Better yet, dead 25 years. And as for glorification, that should require at least 100 years hindsight and should always be accompanied by a detailed list of the object's faults.

Why don't the liberals lead w/ taking Robert Byrd's (former KKK member) name off of every building in West Virginia?
9.26.2009 2:41pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
You guys are funny! This silliness is just hilarious. First Black President in the first Black History Month and kids are taught a song about him. People are really freaking out at having the President not be a white man like they are used to. Amazing! I guess these are new paths that we as a culture have not had to walk yet and so that engenders the craziness in many directions. Obama is a politician - red black brown or white.
Best,
Ben
9.26.2009 2:51pm
MnZ (mail):
Yeah Ben...obviously those people who object to this are racists that need to be re-educated. And if they keep it up, maybe they should be charged with a hate crime.
9.26.2009 4:10pm
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):
Andy, me too - I've only ever heard or sung "red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight."
9.26.2009 4:13pm

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