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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 12, 2012/ 26 Tishrei, 5773

Big Bird Lays an Egg

By Suzanne Fields




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | For an 8-footer with a lot of yellow feathers and a bird's brain, Big Bird is a fellow with a lot of friends in medium-high places. Barack Obama has even commissioned a campaign commercial taking Mitt Romney to task for treating the bird with something less than reverence. The Bird is all he's talking about.

The lowlight of the first debate for Big Bird fans was Romney's turning to moderator Jim Lehrer and saying: "I'm sorry, Jim, I'm going to stop this subsidy to PBS. I'm going to stop other things — and I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it."

You might have thought Romney had threatened to cancel Christmas, shutter the candy factory and close the orphanage. Charles Blow, a columnist for The New York Times, speaking for Bird lovers everywhere, leapt to the defense of the bird that taught him everything he knows about colors and dancing numbers.

"Big Bird is the man," he wrote in the purple ink so beloved by the friends of the Bird. "He's 8 feet tall. He can sing and roller skate and ride a unicycle and dance. Can you do that, Mr. Romney?"

Probably not, but he can lay out a case for preserving reality and redeeming the mortgage that China holds on the home of the brave. Romney understands that spending money we don't have on every frill that catches a child's eye becomes a moral issue, and how the government spends the public's money demands paying attention to hard choices. Every cut is sacred to someone. If Big Bird is so crucial to educating the republic, why not cut something else? (Charlie Rose? Bill Moyers?)

There's a reason why Sesame Street, delightful though it may be, is attractive to a culture addicted to ease, dancing colors and nonstop entertainment. Children raised on the Street get a distorted image of how hard real learning can be. Math, algebra, geometry and calculus are not about colors, feathers and dancing numbers. Generations of students can tell you that "math is difficult," as Barbie once put it, to the chagrin of feminists who thought her remark from her high-tech implant degraded female mathematical aptitude.

Mitt Romney's astonishing resetting of the campaign was about more than Big Bird's government subsidy. George Bush the elder might say it was about "the vision thing." The vision thing is something that neither Republicans nor Democrats are very good at articulating, but tucked into Mr. Romney's discussion of the killer deficit was that five-letter word, "moral," which sounds almost quaint to contemporary ears:

"I think it's not just an economic issue, I think it's a moral issue. I think it's frankly not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in knowing those burdens are going to be passed on to the next generation and they're going to pay the interest and the principle all their lives."

Let's not give Big Bird airs. If the defenders of learning math on Sesame Street find dancing numbers so valuable, how is it that almost nobody understands the numbers of the deficit? The money earned from Sesame's spinoffs can surely take care of the Bird and the Muppets into their old age, but the dancing numbers of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid need a new choreographer. That's both a moral issue as well as a math problem.

Since Sesame Street first went on the air, the math and science scores of American kids, reckoned against the world's, have been dismal. I'm not suggesting a cause and effect, but for all of its terrific entertainment value, Sesame Street develops an appetite for passive learning, liberally dusted with powdered sugar. We shouldn't get carried away admiring the "educational" benefits of public television, which has become a little bit old-fashioned.

The important point Romney raised in the debate was about the moral choices a society must face looking forward to a bankrupt future. The issue of what the government does and doesn't fund shouldn't be trivialized, as President Obama trivialized it in a post-debate attempt at humor: "Gov. Romney plans to let Wall Street run wild again, but he's bringing the hammer down on Sesame Street."

In "Street Gang," a history of Sesame Street, television producer Joan Cooney compares the show's concept as offering an education as ice cream instead of spinach. But as every child eventually learns, sometimes you've got to eat your spinach.

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© 2006, Creators Syndicate, Suzanne Fields

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