I'm feeling a bit burnt out on politics this morning, but can't let this Matt Wuerker piece go out of date without featuring it.
There have been a number of cartoons mocking Paul Ryan's dismissal of the sit-in as a "publicity stunt," as if the Republicans haven't engaged in publicity stunts of their own, like repeatedly voting to repeal affordable health care knowing their hissy-fit won't make it into law, or chasing paranoid Benghazi rumors at taxpayer expense.
It does take chutzpah to dismiss the idea of building public support as antithetical to the democratic process, but Wuerker goes beyond fingerpointing and "you do it too" and addresses the more fundamental issue of being out of touch with the public.
Moreover, he puts the no-fly-no-buy factor in a corner and highlights background checks, which have broad public support and are less tangled up in the flaws of the no-fly list.
My take on no-fly-no-buy is that, while nobody in Congress seems to give a damn if innocent people are kept from visiting grandma, they'd snap to attention if the sloppy nature of the list negatively impacted gun sales.
But that's a sideshow. Background checks are more fundamental, and the refusal of some states to share information has no purpose except to undermine the system. Fix it, and extend it to gun shows. Grandpa can still give his old shotgun to little Tommy.
More important, as Wuerker's elephants fear, is the idea of getting political heads out of the Beltway and down to doing what your constituents, not your donors or your colleagues, want done.
FDR was right when he said that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," and those who stoke fear in the public, and especially fear of the public, rather than addressing real concerns, are disloyal to the country.
Scan back a day or two and see how that worked for the UK.
The futility makes my jaws ache.
The school year being over, let's go to Mr. Fitz for an update on the state of the American educational system.
When the topic came up here last week, the comments included frustration over how you solve the issue of school boards that don't/can't/won't focus on real needs, and my answer is that schools suffer from the same problem that gives us Potomac Fever: Gigantism.
Democracy works best in smaller countries where public input is more immediate, and the more people there are in a country, the harder it becomes for their voices to be heard. As has been said here before, consensus government worked well among the Indians because they could sit in a council and discuss things directly. There's more to it than that, but that's fundamental.
Similarly, the New England model of the small school run by the local community worked: Everyone chipped in, everyone felt they had a stake, everyone could see what was going on.
This is why charter schools work: They are small, and nobody has to be there, everyone wants to be there.
You can't replicate that in a public system. You will always have complaining parents who don't get it, unqualified teachers who don't get it, kids who don't want to be there.
It has always been thus. Even those old-time schools were flawed.
Nor are hers the only recollections we have of those institutions.
His school year began with a fist-fight in which he, the ethnically-Danish teacher, had to knock down the biggest Finn in the class before lessons could proceed.
That is not the model we're looking for.
The school maintains an elementary department consisting of the eight grades, a four-year high school course, and the following special departments: Agriculture, Industrial Arts, Household Arts, Library, Music, and Physical Training. The children have also the advantage of expert medical and dental service without charge.
I'm sure not every student wanted to be there, but the kids at Chazy Central knew why they were there, and all but the most thick-headed among them could see the connection between what they were studying and what they would do with their lives, whether they were preparing to carry on the family farm or to head for the bright lights.
"Centralization" has since mutated from a sincere effort to be large enough to offer more than just the basics into a miserly, tone-deaf search for economies of scale, with a resulting impersonal hugeness of districts that distances the institutions from both student and community.
Meanwhile arrogant leadership insists that only the purely academic track is worthy, denigrating practical studies to something second-rate, offered only to those not good enough or smart enough.
Other nations recognize the value of technical training and offer fully integrated coursework for those whose ambitions do not include parsing Shakespeare.
Kids in those countries know why they are in school, and proceed from there.
And let me head off a bit of American foot-dragger mythology:
We're told that the model of a parallel technical track locks kids into a choice they may regret. Bullshit.
I sat down with two dozen exchange students from Europe, Asia and Africa once, and, as we discussed the differences between their schools and the American system, I asked them how hard it was to transfer from one track to the other.
They shrugged and said you just went to your guidance counselor, got a paper signed and switched.
Then one of them said that, if you did it too often, the counselor would probably get annoyed, and everyone laughed.
But nobody here is listening.
Now, we present this dissenting opinion