Additional stops on a random walk through a garden of issues currently in the news . . .
A study of student performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test (NAEP) since the early 1970s reaches dismal conclusions. On a scale of 500, test scores by today's high-schoolers average a pitiful one point higher in reading and just two points higher in math.
Do the scores not shout that la-de-da experimentation (today's "progressive education") doesn't cut it -- and teachers should take the kids and run, not walk, back to the basics?
Possibly the best development during the new administration is the replacement of the top general in Afghanistan -- a conventional warfare guy -- with two generals boasting extensive experience in special operations. As Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in announcing his decision, "From a military perspective, we can and must do better."
As for instance Ulysses Grant did in the 1860s, Matthew Ridgway in Korea, and David Petraeus with the late-hour "surge" in Iraq, surely in Afghanistan the right generals can put us on the road to victory.
Israel's new prime minister will meet America's new president Monday -- and the principal topic of discussion likely will be, or should be . . . Iran. President Obama wants an independent homeland for the Palestinians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concurs with that long-term objective.
But Netanyahu regards dealing effectively with Iran -- its nuclear ambition, its practice of terror through clients such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the Mad -- as central to the success of both a Palestinian entity and Middle Eastern peace.
The White House budget office now acknowledges the Obama administration's first-year budget deficit will at least quadruple the record-setting final-year deficit of the Bush administration -- all deficits in all budgets of course ratified by the practically useless U.S. Congress.
Remember the screaming outrage at Bush/Republican deficit spending? It's funny -- isn't it? -- the deafening silence that greets a looming one-year Obama/Democrat deficit at least four times higher.
As he did regarding so much, Mark Twain had it right about your on-the-job federal legislators -- saying: "No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while Congress is in session."
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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