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Obamas Should Try Public School

I'm thrilled to read that Michelle Obama has checked out one grade school off MacArthur Boulevard and a second school on Wisconsin Avenue near Tenleytown. That's where my kids have gone to school!

Only we went to different schools, down the street. The public schools. The Obamas hit town and bee-lined toward two elite private schools in the city: Georgetown Day and Sidwell Friends. They reportedly are interested in another private school, Maret.

Let me make clear that I have nothing against those schools. Friends of mine send their kids to those schools, and the children have turned out wonderfully, with huge heads capable of finding the square root of any number up to a trillion. By 12th grade, the majority of these private school students have already cured a major disease or at the very least patented one of the important human genes. They don't even have to apply to college, because the colleges come find them and offer them not only scholarships but also the promise that, upon receipt of their diplomas, they will be offered endowed professorships.

And I will not argue that attending public school is somehow more virtuous than attending private school. My kids have done well in the public schools (they also went to private middle school, fyi), and seem to me to have reasonable prospects of succeeding in life despite not having learned how to read. Dumb as stumps, my daughters are nonetheless charming young ladies once you get over the extraordinary number of tattoos.

No, my argument for public schools is simple: The Obamas can't afford the private schools.

They cost about $300,000 a year once you include the auction items. To attend a DC private school, you must not only pay tuition, but also must buy auction tickets and then go to the auction and spend thousands of dollars to prove to the other parents that you are committed to the school and also, by the way, loaded. There is an auction every weekend: the big school auction, the crew team auction, the field hockey team auction, the chess team auction, the particle accelerator fund drive auction, and so on. Any self-respecting DC private school wants to have at least as much money on hand as, and a science building equal to that of, Princeton.

The Obamas are supposedly fairly wealthy, but eight years of private school will fix that.

The Obamas are also going to take a huge pay cut. Sure, he'll make more, getting bumped from a senator's salary to that of a president, but he won't have time to write those bestselling books. Worse, she's not going to make a thing. The first lady is forced to work around the clock for no pay. She's technically a volunteer in the White House.

She'll be borrowing money from her staffers. She'll turn to her social secretary and say, "I'm going to the squash team auction tonight -- can I borrow two thousand dollars?"


Saying it better than I can dept.: Here, republished on the very off chance you missed it the first time, is my eldest's defense of Wilson High School.

By Paris Achenbach

Recent op-ed columns and news stories about Woodrow Wilson High School ["A Battlefield Called Wilson High," op-ed, March 29; "Security at Wilson High to Be Tightened," Metro, March 21] make it sound like a school dominated by delinquents and thugs. But that's not the school I know.

It's true that, in recent weeks, the normal dysfunctions of Wilson High have escalated. Before spring break, there were several bad incidents in succession, which probably brought negative publicity more quickly than if the events had been spread out. There was a fight, two lockdowns because of gun threats and then two more fights resulting in numerous arrests. So, after spring break, students were ordered to remain in their second-period class for lunch. I was unfortunate enough to be stuck in biology, where I had to eat on a table on which animals have been dissected.

I wasn't too happy about that. But it's not an injustice. What's crazy is that suddenly, Wilson is viewed as a war zone, as a place where you can't learn or even walk safely in the hallways.

I know that is not the school I go to.

Take, for example, my English teacher. He not only grades more than a hundred essays done by AP English classes each week but he also runs the student newspaper, manages the student plays, coaches the varsity girls soccer team and somehow still has the patience to listen to teenagers whine about how much they have to do. My biology teacher plays guitar and sings songs about DNA replication to the tune of "Yellow Submarine." If you think I don't learn at Wilson, then boy, you are wrong. I can prove the fundamental theorem of calculus. I can understand French. (Well, sometimes.)

Even better are my friends at Wilson. Not only are they awesome and fun to hang out with, but among them is a girl who gets straight A's in her four AP classes, takes Chinese in her free time and is fluent in Spanish. Another friend got a perfect score on the SAT. (Suddenly, my scholarly achievements don't look so impressive.)

But that's beside the point. More important, I can walk down the hallway by myself without feeling like I'm going to get mugged or whatever people out there are saying is happening at my school.

Wilson is my school, my second home, and seeing articles describing it as a battlefield makes me think, "Huh? My school?" And then I read about two girls from my recreational soccer team, whose parents would rather pay $13,627 a year to send them to a Montgomery County school than send them for free to Wilson ["D.C. Parents Look Outside the Box for Public Education," Metro, March 31]. And then, after all of this, I went online and saw all the comments posted under Colbert I. King's March 29 column, and half of them said horrible, downright racist things about my classmates.

So I'm mad. I believe that Wilson is the kind of place that can change the social divide we have in America. There are kids from all over the place in this school, affluent and lower-income; the kids who get into Princeton and the kids who end up dropping out of school. We should embrace this kind of integration, not attempt to reverse it.

An African American teammate of mine on the girl's track team once told me, "I hate, hate the stereotypes. It's the worst thing ever." And she's completely right. So let's not stereotype Wilson High.

By Joel Achenbach  |  November 11, 2008; 7:54 AM ET
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This is a very good Kit. Achenbachian, I would say.

Posted by: Yoki | November 11, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

From everything I am told about DC private schools, the students have access to a much better grade of recreational pharmeceuticals than the impoverished public school kids. Plus they go to keggers with a higher class of budding alcoholics, kids of diplomats and cabinet officers and former vice-presidents and the like.

Nothing should be too good for your children.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Joel, you didn't mention the Annual Fund and the (very often) occasional special campaign for teachers' salaries, buildings, libraries, etc., etc.

The best part of private schools is that many thoughtful adult children resent their parents for MAKING them go to them, making them that horrid, horrid thing -- ELITISTS!

Posted by: rickoshea0 | November 11, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

It might be wise to have Amy Carter's opinion on public schools in DC, as her parents not only sent her to them, but iirc, sent her to a different one each year.

It seems to me that private elementary and/or middle school would be appropriate during this transition period, after all, that is what they are accustomed to, isn't it?

Posted by: VintageLady | November 11, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

This from the Chicago Trib.

—Wendy Donahue
November 11, 2008

Michelle Obama returned to trusted hometown fashion designer Maria Pinto for her meeting Monday with Laura Bush at the White House. Simple, save for the sunburst pleat at the neckline, the classic tomato-red sheath reaffirmed that Obama will be ahead of the fashion curve. The "Paulette" dress is from Pinto's spring collection, not yet available at retail. The original is sleeveless, but this version features sleeves and is reworked in a wool crepe so she can wear it now.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | November 11, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I think too much is made of the private vs. public choice. In the best possible scenario the school is chosen because it is a good fit for the child. I'd like to see some POTUS and spouse throw homeschooling into the choice mix, just for the fun of watching the reactions of everyone from teachers' unions to the unschooling fringe.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 11, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I smell a fashion horse. There's a fine line between gracious and ostentatious and custom cut pre-season dresses whiff of the latter. If she starts buying new china for the place, I'm going to have to start calling her Nancy.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse


Thanks for your link to the article in the previous boodle. I have set it aside to read again, later, but I'm glad you put it up there. I know you are truly not ashamed of your beliefs, at least I hope not. This is one of the few places that we can all be ourselves. Again, thanks.

Posted by: VintageLady | November 11, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyone!!
A nice tag team effort on the kit. Having only attended public schools exclusively,I don't know about private schools that much.Only that my friends who went to Catholic schools did enjoy getting off for the relgious holidays,other then that they were miserable. I don't think I could have handled going to an all boys school either,much happier having girls run about the school.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 11, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

On the First Lady thing, I think Jackie O probably wins hands down.

Elizabeth Monroe seems to have been a hottie as well, though. Maybe fending off the cads of the day led to the Doctrine.

Up here, I think Mila Mulroney was our hottest Spouse of the Prime Minister.

Posted by: engelmann | November 11, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

You have very valid points. My way of reconciling the dilemma is to separate the individual from the institution. Serving your country in its armed forces is a noble and necessary vocation whether done as a career or only in time of war. The actions our soldiers, sailor, marines, and airmen are called on to do are the province of our politicians and leaders. They have to answer to how and where our forces are used.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

yello - I thought they all bought new china.

Given Obama's build (tall and athletic) I could see where custom made clothes might make finding the right fit easier than trying to pick something out from off-the-rack collections. I'm a short person and its a pain to find things that fit well. I can imagine that the other end of the spectrum isn't any easier.

Plus given how much her appearance will be judged over the next 4 years, I don't begrudge her the splurge. If I had the money I'd be right there with her.

Posted by: astromom | November 11, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

My boss's kids go to a private school rather than the more than adequate public school in their neighborhood that my wife teaches at.

She tells tales of the school auction. A quilt made by the students went for the low five figures. Basically, there are a few families you don't bid against. Not if you have to make the mortgage the next month.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I'm with frostbitten on the fit that is required. I was in public schools throughout, some of the brothers didstints in private schools when that seemed right for them. I think families who have the options are very lucky, it's not given to many to be able to shop and choose the best spot.

Though I am also very much of greenwithenvy's way of thinking about diversity of all kinds. I still think to some extent it is true of social events too, mixed company is often more interesting and fun than girls- or boys-only.

Posted by: Yoki | November 11, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Here's a link to official White House china services, there may be more.

When Nancy Reagan took over the East Wing she made it seem like she had to sweep chickens, ducks and goats out of the place before she could make it habitable again.

And lest I be accused of exaggerating, here are Ronnie's own words:

In Nancy's defense, she shook down well-connected contributors rather than make the taxpayer the $200k for the new dishes.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. So far on my day off, I've got up at the usual time, got the Boy off to school (under deep protest, I might add), had a HUGE mug of tea and some breakfast, caught up on the Boodle, done the housework I would normally do after getting home from work, skimmed the online newspapers, and chatted with my mother-in-law. After lunch I'm going shoe shopping, since my current work shoes are irretrievably frayed. Pretty exciting, huh?

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 11, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

And you call this a 'day off!' I'd hate to see how much you accomplish when you are working :)

Can I come shoe shopping with you?

Posted by: Yoki | November 11, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Schools are hard. I went to public schools and have always been a big proponement ofthem. However, when we moved here, the public schools were in sad, sad shape. When the Boy reached school age I had to choose between my principles and his best interests. This choice was made easier by the fact that Ivansdad had attended private school and had no qualms about abandoning the public schools if necessary. The Boy's interests won, and he started at a private elementary school.

However, thanks to some truly visionary civic leaders, our public schools began to improve, and a couple of specialty public schools are real flagships. The Boy had a chance to transfer into that system and remains there, where with any luck at all he'll graduate in six years. We were amused to discover that the fourth grade homework in public school was tougher than in his private school. His current school sounds something like Wilson, in Paris's description, in terms of dedication and pride.The school is diverse and challenging, he is thriving, we're happy with the academics, and I am so pleased that I can support public schools and my son gets a good education. I wish the Obamas luck, but having struggled with this question I can't fault whatever choice they make.

Except home schooling. That's just too time-consuming. I'm sure the Obamas have more patience than we do, but shouldn't they be busy running the country or something? The Boy knows he isn't home schooled because he wouldn't survive the process. Fun as it would be to shake things up with that option, I think dropping out of the education system entirely doesn't set a very good example.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 11, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

i've got the day off as well. cleaning and dissertating are at the top of my list.

i agree with others that the obamas need to do what's right for their family. if it was any other presidential family, no one would second guess private schools or dogs with a pedigree (because of the allergy issue). i realize symbolism is important, but the obamas need to take care of the obamas. they've got enough on their plate without worrying about pleasing every special interest out there.

Posted by: LALurker | November 11, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

That's funny, Yoki. I was thinking I'd had a nice slow relaxing morning. You are welcome to come shoe shopping, though I fear it won't be very exciting. Lostinthought would probably despair of me, as my work shoes tend to be uninteresting. I do enjoy wearing a pair of Converse hightops outlined with little filigree skulls, which I inherited from the Boy, but they seldom go to work with me.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 11, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I struggle with the whole public vs private school issue. Alohaboy goes to a Catholic boy's school, his choice really. I would have liked to have sent him to public school but my private schooled Alohaspouse would not have it past 5th grade. The middle and high schools in this state don't fare well in test scores nor in programs (at least not consistently). Alohagirl goes to an excellent public elementary school (same one Alohaboy went to) and I wish there was a middle and high school that matched up. Alas, that is not the case.

Private schools are king here and now that Obama has been elected as POTUS, Punahou will be even more popular with parents who want their kids to get the best in the islands. I think if we all invested as much into our public schools as we do in the private schools here, we'd have one heck of a public school system!

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | November 11, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Up here, I think Mila Mulroney was our hottest Spouse of the Prime Minister.

Posted by: engelmann | November 11, 2008 11:21 AM

Hotter than Maggie T?

Posted by: byoolin1 | November 11, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

We finally got our state quarter! Took years but it's here.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | November 11, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

My wife was just going over her state quarter collection and she was missing four including Alaska and Hawaii. I will let her know it is now available.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Thats great MotP,and I like it a lot. And i guess they are done.I have enjoyed seeing and collecting all the quarters. Will DC get one though,they are always gripeing about taxation without represntation and I don't blame them in the least.

That is a way cool quarter

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 11, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Hey there KB, we see things more similarly that you might think. Always complicated, though, the splendidness of all the military people I know in and out of the family. Don't be afraid to tell us about your code. One thing about the boodle is that we want people to have a code. We want to know about other codes. We will argue points of them till the cows come home, but then lift a glass to each other and fax pans of homemade comfort food.

Tis the people without a code or the people who refuse to examine their codes that rankle me.

I always honor this day, the peace warriors:
Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin
Martin Luther King
Simone Weil
the Berrigans
Wendell Barry
Mother Theresa
Dr Yunas (microcredit inventor)
Herman Daly and John Cobb....and others I am remiss in not mentioning.

I am forever humbled by my military brother, forever humbled. He believes it is job to protect civic spaces to think and believe whatever we wish, especially if the code is different from his.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 11, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

300,000 a year?

At that price, you could hire a governness and homeschool in the White House for a couple years with mixed classes at the local public school for a social life.

Heck, you could probably hire a different college prof for 3 hour tutoring/field trips every week as well.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 11, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

And I'm sure there are a couple of starving journalists with nearly illiterate daughters who might be able to teach writing, like, humor.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 11, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

You need to use the 10x humorous exaggeration factor. Most private school tuitions are north of 20k. And as Joel explains, that doesn't include the semi-mandatory fund raisers. Not that public schools don't do fund-raising, just not as relentlessly.

One kid I knew said his private school had a very strict discipline policy because the typical punishment was Saturday groundskeeping. It saved on maintenance costs to make the kids do the work.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh I forgot to add.

A special thanks goes out to all our veterans.Without your love and sacrafice and all you have done for our country. You are truly appreciated. Our country and our world are a much better place thanks to you.

Thank you all!!!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 11, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

and 1 other thing

Scotty,I hope you and Nukespouse have a wonderful day today!!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 11, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

what gwe said.

and i like the grounds-keeping discipline policy. makes sense to me.

Posted by: LALurker | November 11, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

The tuition at Sidwell Friends Middle and Upper School is $29,442 (Lower School is one grand less) before several hundred dollars of fees and books. Which doesn't include raffle tickets.

Since the president makes $400k a year, that's a pretty big chunk for two kids.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Happy Veterans Day! Thank you to all who have served our country.

$20,000? And I thought our highest priced private school was outrageous at $17,000. Although, in Aloha dollars, that is horribly out of reach.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | November 11, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, kb. I see your point, as well as yello's and gwe's. I'm adding a tune cootie (while wondering where my copy of the stellar *The Dream of the Blue Turtles* cd has hidden itself).

Words and music by Sting

In Europe and America, there's a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets
Mr. Krushchev said we will bury you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
It would be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russian love their children too

How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer's deadly toy
There is no monopoly of common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

There is no historical precedent
To put words in the mouth of the president
There's no such thing as a winnable war
It's a lie we don't believe anymore
Mr. Reagan says we will protect you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us me and you
Is that the Russians love their children too is copyright © 1995 - 2008 by Marisa Meisters

I've finished working a full day, and have taken it upon myself to replace the department's broken microwave (otherwise, we're asked to take on new projects when we use the building's ones).

The only certain thing is it needs an extended warranty because we've worn out the past 2 in less than a year each and a number of us were determined someone who uses it every day but has never contributed was going to contribute this time. I IM-bushed him, 2 others casually stopped by his desk, he agreed. Are some people free-loaders by nature or am I missing something?

Have to say, I like MO's unstudied look of casual elegance.

Congratulations, TBG!

Posted by: -dbG- | November 11, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

And the Obamas better hurry to beat the December 15 deadline for applying for the 2009-2010 school year. I hope for their sake there are some attrition openings available because Sidwell only takes kids at certain grade level openings.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

And on kit, all other factors aside, I would imagine security for the Obama girls and all their classmates is a very high priority.

Maybe that's easier at a private school. Does the Secret Service get a vote?

Posted by: -dbG- | November 11, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Well, today's a good day to post that "Hey, Shipwreck" - the funny, horribly animated sci-fi / navy thing, full of lots of navy in-jokes, put together by a a current Navy man, is back up and running with fresh episodes.

kbertocci, thanks for posting the essay. It would be harder for me to post any link to Lew Rockwell than it would be to otherwise link to the essay.

It's all too big for me to comment on entirely. I am glad I read Studs's The Good War.


Posted by: Jumper1 | November 11, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Back from the cenotaph. We will remember them.

Posted by: engelmann | November 11, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

KB -- I think the boodle is a place for all ideas. Apparently, we are not afraid of ideas. Such a good quality, freedom from fear of ideas!

Also, KB, your view bespeaks an optimism and hopefulness about the promise of human nature. I am very grateful that you share this with us.

Belated thanks to all for getting me out of a food rut....planning is key.....I do struggle constantly with three tasks, the juggling of which in a tight time budget makes me breathless:

good food
clean welcoming surroundings
time outside to garden and bike

And, work full

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 11, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

You, ma'am, need a cleaning service. Take one of those off the list, and the other three seem more possible. My experience, anyway. YMMV.

Posted by: Yoki | November 11, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

The two Obama girls are 7 and 10. You do the math. The next four years, not to mention possibly eight, will be a pretty big deal in their lives. I have enough confidence in the Obamas that whatever they choose to do will be the best thing for their daughters.

I remember when the Carters sent Amy to a Public school, and was widely criticized for using her education to make a political point.

And I remember when the Clintons sent Chelsea to Sidwell Friends and was widely criticized for not using her education to make a political point.

Personally, I think the smart move for these young ladies is a private school.

This shouldn't be viewed as an indictment of public schools. I went to both public and private schools, and know that a motivated kid with strong family backing can succeed just about anywhere.

(Although my time in a parochial elementary school did instill in me a lifetime fear of salt and pepper corduroy pants and green V-neck sweaters. I once accidentally put on a similar combo as an adult. The screams. Oh the screams. But I digress.)

I feel that in the more controlled environment of a private school the Secret Service will have an easier time ensuring the safety and privacy of these girls.

Besides, as Chelsea once pointed out, at Sidwell Friends that your Dad is the President of the United States isn't really considered that big of a deal.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 11, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

SCC Carters...were

At least I was parallel

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 11, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I read that article, kb. I think he misses a lot of important points.

One, a return to "only our family matters" values would mean the dissolution of our legal justice system and a return to feudalism and rampant neopotism and corruption. The greek triology about Orestes shows the self-contradictions that can arise in such a simple idea of revenge-driven justice. More recently, you can read about the feuds in Huckleberry Finn, any of the power struggles among and within noble families (who indeed cared very little about country, but their own families).

So I do have problems with his a priori reasoning that socializing people to accept packs other than their own is all bad. For one thing, it makes finding a mate much easier if you aren't instantly suspicious and resentful of all people but yoruself.

I know that's not what he meant, but he really doesn't get "For your country."

People don't think of an abstract virtue. They think of their own families, friends, communities at risk. They think of themselves as protecting the very society that allows their families to live in safety. We're not Ayn Randists.

No matter how pacificist you are, if war started raging outside your home, you would grab a weapon, hide, flee, or fight. As a family, you might agree that one will try and repel intruders to give others time to escape.

That's the bitter reality of war. It doesn't necessarily ask if you want to participate. The millions hurt by the genocide in Rwanda did not agree to participate. Same as in Sarevejo.

Today, Veteran's day, is Armistice day, which is the symbolic END of WWI, not the beginning of war.
Memorial day honors those fallen in war, and helps us remember the horrible cost of war.

Independence day marks our establishment as a nation. It didn't start a war; the war was already on.

Among the grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence were people being forced to host British soliders and feed them whether they wanted to or not, and being unfairly taxed for wars that they had no say in.

I have no problem with celebrating those holidays and also desiring peace.

That said, I'm not sure "peace at all costs" is reasonable, when the alternative may be oppression, kidnappings, torture, and genocide. There the man got one point right; war begins with us treating people as pawns, or objects of power.

Unfortunately, it doesn't take many people treating others as such to get a war started.

Look at how WWI started. One assassination, a complex network of treaties, and no diplomatic resolution possible.

War does exist in nature; it's evident in ant colonies. Territorial feuds are also evident between lions and hyenas, neighboring wolf packs, etc.

There are some conflicts that are unresolvable. Threats which go ignored; limited resources to go around; the need to change territorial parameters to protect resources such as drinking water, food, safe passage.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 11, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

BTW - I loved parochial school and the nuns who taught me. These nuns (Sisters of the Order of St Benedict) were intelligent, kind, and, in their own way, powerful feminists.

Of course, there were the uniforms. And the tragic fact that the girls weren't nearly as wild as some might claim.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 11, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

The Aloha family reminds me of how it feels to have your choice of a school for your child taken as an indictment of other parents' choices. Frostdottir was an indifferent student at best, a holy terror at worst. ( I had to have a parent-teacher conference with Mr. F two days into our 7th grade homeschooling stint.) If we look back in near pleasure at any of her school days, it is to the 2 years she spent at an all girls Catholic school on Oahu. However, I was totally unprepared for the friction the choice would cause among the other military spouses in our neighborhood. Ironically, because of the high number of military kids in the local public school the student body was less diverse than Frostdottir's private school.

The Obama daughters' school will be chosen soon enough, then we'll all pretty much forget about it. I do hope for their sake the uniforms are cute. I have RD's salt and pepper cords problem, but with plaid pleated skirts and knee socks. Aaaaargh!

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 11, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Well, 30K isn't THAT bad on a 400K salary plus other income.

But 300K/year... man, no school is worth it, not even medical or law school.

I often think that the sexes should be segregated in junior high and first year of high school, anyway... so I have no problems with private schooling as part of a child's experience.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 11, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

My mother, always the public school supporter, used to say that it's not a private world. But we have to do what's right for the kids, and sometimes security is the most important thing. I'll bet the Secret Service has SEVERAL votes on the matter.

I tell the Geekdottir that her two years at the North Carolina School of Science and Math ruined her for life, and I'm only half kidding. She doesn't find that humorous at all. But she will never be surrounded again by academic and social peers, all chosen because they were top students in their high schools at home. Overall, her college career was a whole bunch easier than those two years.

NCSSM is a public school, with no tuition or fees. The year she was a junior, the school thought about imposing a fee of $750 for extracurricular activities but there was an outcry and the fee was cancelled.

I think it was toughest on me, having to let her go away to school two years early. But it was worth it to her, so I got over the whining.

My point is that private schools are okay, if that's what you want, but your children can get first-class educations in public institutions. Our challenge is to make all public schools as good as the best ones are now.

Posted by: slyness | November 11, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Don't go making me imagine you in plaid skirts and kneesocks and a white blouse and perhaps a wool sweater tied around your waist. I have lots of work to get done this afternoon and don't need the distraction.

My sister spent some time in the Hawaii public schools. My wife and I peg that as the beginning of her wild times from which she has yet to fully recover. Whether she would have done better in a parochial or private school is unknowable.

I subscribe to my Top 100 Theory. If you pit the top one hundred students from a private school and the top one hundred from a nearby local public school, the academic prowess will be evenly matched. The difference is that public schools have a mandate to educate everybody while at a private school everyone there has someone else writing a rather large check to keep them there.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I had to explain to my wife how I had heard of such great places to eat in Durham and how I knew so much about NCSSM. I explained that I had a friend on the internet that I chatted with that had sent a daughter there. I then explained that I had lots of friends on the internet.

The closest we have up in the DC area is Virginia's Thomas Jefferson which draws from several school districts but is non-residential. We have no such equivalent in Maryland. Geekdottir was very lucky to have the opportunity she had.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

kb, I agree with you on the military, but you probably knew that. I do admire and honor those who serve, but I wish they didn't have to. I suppose we're not at a point yet where we can disband the armed forces, but we somehow need to convince our leaders that deploying them in war is not always in our best interest. I guess we need to convince those other knuckleheads around the world, too.

In more pressing Boodle business, I too knew it was The Accidental Tourist - one of my favorites, both book and movie. Also, I know someone who worked with Jeff Probst, when he was a young man. Jeff was the son of a mucky-muck at my very large corporation, and he was hired in an entry-level position, tending printers and collaters and such (back in the days of line printers, greenbar paper, carbon copies). Jeff famously told my co-worker, when asked to do some messy job, "My dad says I don't have to do that." Guess Jeff gets the last laugh...

Posted by: seasea | November 11, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse


Oh, that's just precious! The idea that the 0bama's would ever deign to send their children into the public schools with the common folk!

They aren't even attempting the pretense of looking there as did the Clintons!

LOL! Oh, you've made my day. heee-hee.

Posted by: NeverLeft | November 11, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

The Franken and Coleman campaigns are sending people out to check on ballot security in Minnesota's 87 counties. At least two are storing ballots in jail cells-the most secure places they have. It's going to be a long recount.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 11, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

>More recently, you can read about the feuds in Huckleberry Finn, any of the power struggles among and within noble families (who indeed cared very little about country, but their own families).

I hate to be the one to break the news, but the Duke and the Dauphin weren't really nobility. ;-)

Posted by: engelmann | November 11, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I think we rely too much on schools whether public or private to educate our children. Much of what I learned in life was from five older siblings. They had me memorizing Shakespeare at age six for a neighbourhood family production they put on every year out of our garage. It was great fun.

I also learned much from an accomplished pianist and composer in Toronto for three years beginning when I was just 13 with my sister who was 16. Those 3 hour lessons together each Saturday were a revelation to me. This truly gifted man was in his early seventies when he reluctantly agreed to take us on as pupils... he mostly taught university level pianists. I will treasure those memories forever.

All I'm trying to say is that it's often the experiences out of school which touch us more profoundly and are far more memorable.

My advise... take some time with your kids... talk to them... inspire them... and find out what they want to know... and introduce them to interesting people... musicians, artists... don't just shove them into peer group activities like sports and video games and schools that you think will do all the legwork for you!

Posted by: MissToronto | November 11, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Me?Product of Catholic schools with Canadian flavor, topped off with one year of public high school in CA. RD, instead of the uniform that last year, I went in straight-legged Wrangler jeans and pearl snap western shirts....called Ellie Mae. Wanted very much to put on the blue pleated skirt and Peter pan blouse for comfort and safety. But, alas, then what would I have been called? Alice in Wonderland? Little Miss Faunterloy?

CPChildren have been in independent Catholic school (peace and justice curriculum), home schooled, and public school. All settings have helped them be fine people. What works best, whatever the system, is if the child early on becomes delighted and then responsible for learning. Child more than parents; but parents more than school. Tis about the child and children occur in families first, communities next.

Two of three have completed college at HUGE public U (Terrapins at Maryland University--College Park). The trailing child is in high school and quite fine at a public school that most of my friends ignore or avoid (60% free or reduced lunch). One advantage of going to school with children who are poor is this; your child might be very grateful that he or she experiences material ease and flexibility. Your child might also be humbled at students who do well, despite distracted or overwhelmed or even missing parents. And, many poor-ish people are raising excellent young men and women. So many of us (said broadly not boodley) fail to see that blessed ordinariness in working class people.

Having said that, public schools in many places are simply overwhelmed and underfunded. That so many children manage to get through is a miracle indeed. Those that we lose are our brothers and sisters. If you prefer, try this: people in our community. We are enlarged when all do well. We are diminished when so many are lost.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 11, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

MissToronto... one of my favorite quotes from my son came on a day when we'd gone exploring around Central Virginia.

On the way home, he said, "Well... there's one more thing I wouldn't know about if I'd been in school today!"

Posted by: -TBG- | November 11, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

SCC: should have been OR the noble families... in history...

That said, I'm SHOCKED the Dauphin wasn't really nobility ;). His morals seemed right on, didn't it?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 11, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Yello, Mr. T's niece, who is a HS junior, passed on an opportunity to apply to TJ as she didn't want to leave her friends. She also understood the pressure to excel at a place like TJ and she preferred to have a life. She's doing fine taking AP and honors courses, and she'll be fine in college.

A perk of going to NCSSM is that the students there are exempted from taking the test required by the state to graduate from high school. They also get the cream of high school teachers, and a tuition waiver if they attend colleges in the UNC system.

I'm glad you were able to impress your wife with your knowledge. Did you get a moment to walk around the Duke campus? It's a beautiful place.

Posted by: slyness | November 11, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Hey there RD, nuns and sisters are among the first feminists! Mine were Religious of Jesus and Mary (French and Canadian order). Many relatives were sisters in the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVMs) order founded in Ireland but hugely actively in Iowa and South Dakota when the West was young.

Sadly, I report that many aging nuns are absolutely impoverished. Orders depended on incoming classes to keep solvent. Yes, this resembles a pyramid scheme. Well, no base exists to care for the frail and aging sisters. I know two sisters in their 80s (Society of the Holy Child, Jesus) who are simply amazing people, still engaged daily in peace and justice work. One stood down soldiers in Chile during the coup, ferrying messages and food between the stadium of horror, torture, and death. The other worked in Chad providing vaccines and vitamins in a remote station, solo, for more than twenty years. In her first retirement, she worked as a -- breath intake -- community organizer in Houma, LA. She has a small window unit now for ac at night. This is her first experience with ac, beginning about about 79. She thinks that ac is such a blessing!

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 11, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Ms Toronto! Lovely that you had this. All children need a passion -- sports, music, art, theater, animals, life-guarding, garage-band, social justice, 4H, robots, etc. -- that is an adjuvant to school. Something to ignite passion. Passion, how to bottle that?

Done boodle-bogging.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 11, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Peru wants to send the Obamas a puppy.

It'd be a great indoors dog, but I still have the feeling a dog should have fur. In for a penny, in for a pound.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 11, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Very, very funny stuff. Brightened my day. I guarantee you if my son gets into a private school (on scholarships and subsidies), I will feel absolutely no pressure whatsoever to prove I am not a penny-pinching charity case... 'cause that's exactly what I am!

Posted by: forgetthis | November 11, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

This article and the comments are unbelievable.

Like some other large cities, the Mayor has taken control of the school system, which I recall, the Post thought was a grand idea.

So you have an educational ignoramus with an exquisitely polished skull directing another educational ignoramus who is firing staff and closing schools with reckless abandon.

So ipss on the Schwartzers, as long as the Elites and their hangers-on have a good school or two that will see to their brats while the rest of the system collapses.

And the AP BullShot is getting to be a pain in the rear. If your brats were really so intelligent, they could educate themselves like they did when I was a boy. The purpose of all the AP and enhancement etc is to make sure your very average kids get an unfair and undeserved advantage over the others not so endowed and divert resources from other kids that could benefit from them.

Sick, sick, sick!

Monte Haun

Posted by: mchaun | November 11, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Visiting Washington in 1963, my father tells the story that one day he was downtown and couldn't get a taxi. There were few in those days, no Metro and not many buses. A cab pulled up and the woman passenger waved him in. (No, it's not what you expected!) She was the wife of a newly sworn-in Democratic Representative from Oregon being neighborly, as is the custom in the West, South, Southwest and Middle West. She explained that, just like in Oregon, she insisted her chidren attend public schools in the District. The driver chimed in saying, "Principles are fine, madam, but don't you have concern for their safety?" 45 years later, it seems the Obamas have got the message.

Posted by: HassanAliAl-Hadoodi | November 11, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

A comment before backBoodling...

There comes a time when the whims of Fate leave a Boodler and his Spouse with the SAME DAY OFF! Such a fleeting moment must be grasped, and such was today.

And people thought I was silly for getting married on Veterans Day. ;-)

*a-completely-Grover-less salute to all my fellow veterans* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

We did the walking tour of Duke several years back. Gorgeous campus. There is a picture of me standing in front of the Chapel floating around somewhere. I also snuck into Cameron Indoor Stadium since they left the door unlocked. It was much smaller than I imagined. No wonder it is such a tough away-game site.

The section of Ninth Street where we had brunch is right near the campus, but the closest we got to the campus proper was driving down Markham Ave. to get to I-85. We probably weren't far from NCSSM at that point.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Did I miss a Front Page Alert? I'm not even sure the bunker is open, federal holiday and all.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Happy Anniversary to the S'nukes! Grover waves for everyone!

Posted by: -TBG- | November 11, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

So sweet, Scotty. Young love is soooo adorable. Happy anniversary to you and your bride. What did you get her, a pack of printer paper? You have to set the expectations low early.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

*apologies if I'm repeating anyone's thoughts today*


I honor your steadfast point of view. I would suggest, however, that days such as today are meant not to glorify the conflicts or the immense losses they cause, but to acknowledge those souls who place themselves in harm's way to perpetuate what they feel is a society worth defending.

To take a great man's words rather out of context:

"Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?"

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Happy anniversary to scottynuke and nukespouse.

Oklahoma has a science & math public boarding school like NCSSM. It is awesome. The Boy's school is a specialty public school providing regular and honors courses, performance arts training, and the International Baccalaureate curriculum. Public schools can indeed be amazing places.

I second college parkian on the advantages of attending a school with lots of economic range. We're pretty solidly middle class. At the private school, we were at the low end of the economic spectrum. At this school we're toward the high end. One lesson is that intelligence, talent, personality, interest are not determined by how much money their parents make. This is good for everyone to know, and I fear some of the Boy's former classmates have yet to learn it.

Day off update: grownup family lunch (Boy's at school, hee hee), went by myself shoe shopping, picked up dairy products for supper ingredients, baked an apple pie (yes, from scratch). Soon it comes out of the oven & we pick the Boy up from rehearsal.

Shoe report: One pair black leather & microfiber pumps, to replace the worn-out ones; one pair black leather pumps with stack heels, to alternate with Pair One; one pair brown suede high-heeled clogs, with detailed sticking, suitable for work; one pair spike-heel mauve suede pumps with tops to ankle, black microfiber inserts on side of foot to foot top (really, they look slightly less peculiar than they sound). This is it for another two or three years.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 11, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Stitching. Detailed stitching. Sticking is reserved for the spike heels.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 11, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, all, for the good wishes. :-)

yello, I'm already so far behind in the expectations realm that I'm set for life. *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the person who commented on the need for security for the Obama girls. My guess is that the decision to send them to either a private or public school will come down to what the Secret Service can do without being too intrusive for the girls and their classmates. A friend went to Langley H.S. in Fairfax County with one of Dan Quayle's sons. (hardly a mediocre public school) But eventually they switched to a private school because the Secret Service detail had become ridiculous, something like four guys with him at all times.

Posted by: candle96 | November 11, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm currently making a pot of chili to take to the new parents tomorrow.

Yippee... a new baby to hold, and kiss, and smell and cuddle.

The public schools around me are so good that people wonder about the kids who go to private school. The private route is certainly not looked at as the elite route... more like the "kid got in trouble" route, fair or not.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 11, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Yep, front page alert. Bunker's open, you folks know where to find the key.

Yello, NCSSM is within a walk of Ninth Street, that's why it was popular with the kids. Six or eight blocks, IIRC.

Posted by: slyness | November 11, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I don't see any need to race to the bunker yet. As far as FPA's go, this is fairly mild.

I shake my head when I hear of HoCo residents like my boss sending their kids to private school. Don't they know that's why they pay the extra property tax to live in the area?

Assume a house in a good school district costs about a hundred grand more than one in a bad area. That adds about seven thousand dollars a year to your mortgage payments. About 90% of that is interest and tax deductible at say 28%. You are also going to pay another two grand in property taxes or so (also tax deductible).

That means you are paying about $6,000 a year net after taxes to live in a better school district whether you are sending one kid, six kids, or no kids to the local schools. I've always tried to convince my wife that with the money we could save living in a slum, we could have sent our kid to private school. That's probably an exaggeration, but it makes an odd sort of sense.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, I'm sure that I don't know enough about the specifics of the DC system to answer the charming mchaun's remarks.

I know that the system has plenty of problems, and it's unlikely that Fenty & Rhee are capable of making perfect decisions. But is it actually mchaun's contention that Fenty and Rhee are intentionally sacrificing the quality of education for poor dumb black kids in order to shine of the credentials of a few favored bright students? If so, then I don't think that I've seen sufficient evidence presented to support the assertion.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 11, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Great point, candle96, about Quayle and Langley High. And remember, there will be *two* Obama offspring at the same school.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 11, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure the comic book store on Ninth Street gets tons of business from the NCSSM geeks. Probably less so the fine dining steak place between the laundromat and the tacqueria. That is a rather cool funky micro-neighborhood.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, sounds like you were greatly successful at shoe shopping. Enjoy!

Yello, Durham is such a schizoid place. The NCSSM kids were allowed to go to Ninth Street, but they couldn't go to the drug store in the other direction because it was deemed too dangerous. When Eve Carson's cellphone was found on 15/501, I told Mr. T, they will find her killers in Durham. And they did.

Posted by: slyness | November 11, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

I concur about the security. Sidwell Friends, when I used to live nearby, did seem rather well-set up for security measures, far more than an urban high school right on the curb and without a sizable campus.

There are features a large public HS provides that is difficult for a small private school to match, and vice versa. Same goes for colleges, and all that jazz.

Bottom line may be security both at school AND in making friends at school without having to do through background checks on them and all their associates. Not that they won't do it anyway.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 11, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

That Eve Carson murder sounds mighty tragic. What a waste of potential.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

I've been on both sides of the private/public school debate. The public schools in our area are very good, but we opted to send our kids to parochial school K-8. There were a number of people we knew who seemed to take offense at that, several folks asked why we didn't think the public schools were good enough for our kids. I was always shocked by that. It had absolutely nothing to do with the caliber of the schools.

We decided to send them to the neighborhood public school, which was quite a leap for them. Small, private school to huge public school and they have both done very well. We liked the private/public mix and feel that it has served our children well. The funny thing is that many of our friends who opted to send their kids to the Catholic high school here have not said outright that they think we're crazy, but we certainly get that vibe in some of our conversations.

Put me in the "to each their own" camp. Very boodle like!

Posted by: Kim1 | November 11, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't very clear in my last post (not that anyone cares!) but we sent them to huge public high schools, after their K-8 parochial school.

Posted by: Kim1 | November 11, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm a product of both public and private schooling. I've typed and deleted a lot about the experiences; I don't come out looking really good. The upshot is..I was one of those discipline problems TBG spoke of. But I learned to love learning in Catholic school. ( RDP, the mere sight of plaid can cause hives.)

I also went to an all-women Catholic college, but that's a whole 'nother story...class schedules and payment plans played a big role (I wasn't fortunate enough to go to college straight from high school; I needed to support myself, and then needed to continue working while attending college, so night school it was.) There were definitely differences in coed and single-sex education environments, but that's sort of off-kit, so I'll just blip over that part.

Also off-kit but not blipping over...Ivansmom, I would have loved to go shoe shopping with you. High-top Chucks are way cool and can totally make an outfit come together (I have a lime green pair and a peach pair), and comfortable flats does not equal boring. Besides, unlike pretty much any other kind of shopping, shoe shopping in and of itself is an outing to enjoy. I hope your outing today was fun.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 11, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse

We're fortunate to have had many caring teachers for our children as they progressed through school. A quality education, regardless of the setting, depends largely on parents' involvement. There will always be private schools because there is a market for them, and they will continue keep the social/educational network intact for the more well-to-do people of the world. So it goes. My wife and I are grateful that our daughter's path through school has brought her to a point where she has a good chance at being accepted to the SCGSSM. What a blessing.

Posted by: -jack- | November 11, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

When it comes to wars I follow the philosophy of President-Elect Obama:

"I'm not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars."

And many, many wars in the past have been dumb wars. As is Iraq (I always thought it was dumb, and I'm one of those who really thought there were WMD.) But many have not been dumb.

As time goes by, and the links between countries become greater, it is my hope that one day all wars will become dumb.

But we aren't there yet. Armed force in the service of security is still as necessary as is armed police in the suppression of crime. And I fear it will be for a long time more.

But this is all a moot point when it comes to today. This is Veterans Day, not War Day. It is about honoring those who served, not validating the reason for that service.

It's about folks like my wife's late Grandpa Leroy, who "flew the hump" and was lucky enough survive and live to 80.

And it is about all those who were not so lucky.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 11, 2008 6:57 PM | Report abuse

I too have seen both the public and private school systems at work. I was public schooled all the way and it was an extremely good system, in the top ten country wide at the time. My girls went to public school and then #1 went to a Catholic private high school. She was/is very smart but had some rebellion issues back then and the public high school didn’t have a good reputation. We moved when she was a senior and #2 was a freshman. The new hs was very good and #2 did well there. #1 finished out her senior year at the private school. She still hates plaid. I think if I could have a do over, I’d send #1 to public school and just be more vigilant.

I think security should be the number one issue for the Obama girls. It probably would be easier for the secret service if they went to a private school but it’s too bad to miss the public school experience.

Ah Ivansmom, shoe shopping, I do love it but right now I’ll have to make do with what I have. There have been too many large expenditures around here lately.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 11, 2008 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Happy veterans day to all, and happy anniversary, scotty & nukespouse!

Posted by: -jack- | November 11, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse

As a candidate, rumor has it that Obama received more threats than any other candidate ever. Security for the kids should be one of his most pressing priority when choosing a school, regardless of the quality of the curriculum. I suspect a private setting is more favourable to intrusive security measures. I don't see the rich/powerful complaining about having highly trained armed professionals on site while that could quickly become an issue in a public school.
I went shoe shopping too but, alas, without success. Mrs. Denizen the runner diagnosed my walking shoes as "shot" from the symptoms I described and my faithful work boots suffered from terminal sole delamination (a.k.a. the Bozo the Claown effect). Every work or hiking boot I tried seemed to have a bump or seam pressing on one arthritis growth or another. The clerk went away after she saw me wincing trying some pairs on so I had to pick my own as well. Without success. I'm going to a better (more expensive) tomorrow or the day after.

We have already established that getting old (I'm not even 50 for crying out loud!) su@ks in general terms, haven't we?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 11, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

SCC Claown and there is a store missing somewhere.

BTW I got the tail end of the ceremony at the Canadian War Museum. I highly recommend it. Sober and moving. It was cloudy, the infamous ray of sun was quite diffuse apparently but I wasn't inside to see it at the 11th minute of the 11th hour.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 11, 2008 7:34 PM | Report abuse

My. I should just give up on grammar and vocabulary but I'm not a quitter.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 11, 2008 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Yes S'nuke and S'nukespouse, a very happy anniversary to you from me and also from "S." Hard to believe a whole year has gone by.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 11, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Not very smart. SEcurity impossible. Virtually a guarantee one or both of the children will be hurt, killed or kidnapped. As President it would be harmful to the country to expose himself to such risk. All of you touchy feely, it would be so wonderful palls beside what happens if he does. DC can't protect normal children never mind this high risk

Posted by: samson1 | November 11, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Good picture of Obama and an Iraq vet.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 11, 2008 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Humor, mon ami. Thanks for the link, SD. I'm reading the comments best as I can, and hoping they are as grammatical as they look.

Is "Les mots me manquent." French for "Words fail me" with the same meaning?

Si oui, trés chic!

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 11, 2008 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Completely off topic (imagine that)...

Sarah Palin's been talking about asking God to show her "open doors" and that even if they're open only a crack, she'll "plow right through them".

Why am I thinking of Bush trying to open that locked door after exiting the stage at a press conference in China?

Where is John Stewart and his juxtaposed video clips when you need them?

Posted by: martooni | November 11, 2008 8:44 PM | Report abuse

You got it right Wilbrod.

The Very Large Puppy had his first encounter with a buck in rut today. It was quite funny. The 6-points wasn't all that big bodied, by Canadian standard anyway but it had a good rack and stood its ground. I was holding the VLP on a leash mind you. Those deers aren't that bright, I mean this guy was about 30 ft from a pretty big predatory dog yet was still ready to fight it off. It would have been a very bad deer decision, the kind that lines the side road at this time of year.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 11, 2008 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Loved that photo, SD.

Anyone checked Google today? Appropriate headgear all over the logo. Now that's cool.

Yes, Yello, the loss of Eve Carson was beyond terrible. The Orange County district attorney is going for the death penalty in that case, the first time that has been done in that county in several decades.

Story in the local news that the younger brother of one of her accused killers was shot and killed leaving a party Saturday night.

Posted by: slyness | November 11, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Although I think that security concerns are leading to a Boodle consensus of private schools for the Obama girls, I hope this is not viewed as a criticism of public schools. Especially given that excellent essay by Ms. Achenbach. I was humbled by it the first time I read it, and I still find it amazing.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 11, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse

SD... y'know that a buck with a big rack *south* of the border is probably starring in "La Cage aux Folles" or dating Senator Larry Craig on the sly.

Or a man in dire need of a "bro" or "mansierre".

(sorry... just had to go there even though I know better)

Posted by: martooni | November 11, 2008 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Shriek thanks for those links, I have not been to the new War Museum - that memorial is incredible, sometimes simplicity is just so effective.

I went to the ceremony in the small town where I work - quaint and touching. In speaking to some relatives tonight who were at another service we mentioned that neither of us recalled the solders in Afganistan being mentioned - just past conflicts honoured?

Posted by: dmd2 | November 11, 2008 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Evening all.I have a question for the boodle.

Having never had any children of my own.What exactly does a new baby smell like?

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 11, 2008 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Like Johnson's Baby Powder, gwe.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 11, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Most of the time, anyway.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 11, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Like new car smell, only subtler.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 11, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

dmd, the Afghan war losses were mentioned at the War Museum ceremony. I mean, the last WWI veteran has been dead for a while now.

GWE, spilled milk. Yes, that type of milk. Baby sweat and saliva too. Very human all that. And each baby cooks his/her own smell.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 11, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Is anybody else having a problem with the *&^%$#@ banner ads (usually the one at the top of the page) popping up in the middle of text, and staying there and not going away? Also, with drop-downs at the top that don't roll back up.

Martooni, you'd be so proud of me. Today I found the "command" line in Terminal, used it to repair a damaged file (dpkg, whatever that is) that was blocking Synaptic from working, dowloaded the Ubuntu upgrade to v 8.10, installed a new wallpaper (a shot of a catboat at a dock in the fog at Martha's Vineyard), installed Mozilla Thunderbird, set up my new account, and loaded in a bunch of address in the address book. Why, I'm practically a full-fledged Linux IT geek! (Not.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 11, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse

GWE, I forgot vomit. Witch no. 2 always gave back 20% of whatever she was given, so vomit was part of her baby smell...

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 11, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Mudge The Linux Master. The guys over at the Pig-n-Quill would be so proud.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and found a Firefox add-on that allows YouTube videos to display, which they normally won't do in Ubuntu without a lot of fiddling.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 11, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, Mobutu's dead and not regretted. The ba@tard raped and robbed the old Congo. Do not invoke his name in vain.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 11, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

what is so pleasant about all of that? Oh well I had to ask?

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 11, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

The baby powder part is OK, gwe. Besides, it's hard-wired into our genes. If people didn't think babies smelled good, we prolly wouldn't all be here today. It's probably some kinda pheremone thing, like the smell of a woman's freshly washed hair.

Jeez, this day has felt so weird. All day it felt like there should be a football game on the tube.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 11, 2008 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Just found this archive of WWI poetry, with digitized images of the original manuscripts and much interesting stuff.

An early night for me tonight, as I'll be leaving for St. Paul after work tomorrow. Hope to find some tile and make major progress on other home improvement projects.

DotC-how goes the kitchen work?

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 11, 2008 10:55 PM | Report abuse

It's the smell of life greeenwithenvy.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 11, 2008 11:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you Mudge, a veteran's game would be nice on Nov 11th.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 11, 2008 11:04 PM | Report abuse

like purity and innocence, with just a whiff of trustful grace.

Posted by: Yoki | November 11, 2008 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Since you're headed to St. Paul, frosti, take this tune cootie with you. Big River:

Posted by: -jack- | November 11, 2008 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Dammit, Yoki! I'm tryin' to wind down and go to bed, and you've just put a damn pome in my head.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 11, 2008 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Let me help, mudge. Here's my off the cuff rhyming dictionary:

grace, lace, pace, taste, mace, waste

Feel free to use any or all of them.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 12, 2008 12:01 AM | Report abuse

thanks all, a good friend described it as alive,vibrate with vitality and full of life.i had always just wondered and I knew this was the place to ask. Who needs google when you got the boodle.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 12, 2008 12:31 AM | Report abuse

I don't go sniffing babies TOO closely for obvious reasons, since I have none of my own.

Yes, subtle baby-powderish and fresh background scent pretty sums it up-- as well as all the other descriptions.

There will never be the funky smell of sour perspiration, at least not for 10, 12 more years.

I think Yoki came nearest-- it's not so much the smell (which isn't always the best), but the pheronomal emotive bonding provoked.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 12, 2008 1:18 AM | Report abuse

OK, I didn't really think that my comment was gonna fly in its original form. It's been held for review, and I suspect that it won't ever be released. I'll modify it somewhat:

greenwithenvy asked: "What is so pleasant about all of that?"

It's somewhat similar to the impulse that keeps folks re-electing their local representatives, while all along complaining that politicians are incompetent knaves. They may well be noisy & smelly critters, but at least they're OUR noisy, smelly critters!

Posted by: bobsewell | November 12, 2008 2:46 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and add in some of the endearing (and annoying) traits of a young puppy or kitten. Give it a distinctive smell, and I think you're almost there.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 12, 2008 3:01 AM | Report abuse

I don't dig back into the archives for my own comments very often. But it may be the right time for this one:

- * - * - *
I don't do a lot of praying (it hasn't been my experience that it's a particularly efficient problem-solving technique) and when I do, it's seldom in public. But I'll share this one with you:

"Dear Lord, I've been assured by the testimony of the book of Joshua that you have been able to stop the Sun and the Moon when it suits Thy purpose. Oh Merciful One, please hasten the Sun & Moon upon their tracks so that election day might come soon, in order that a new chief executive will put an end to the crazy cruel clown school that is the detention center at Guantanamo.

Lord, I'm not choosy, I'm not partisan. ANY new executive will suffice, because neither McCain nor Obama will suffer this particular abomination to abide. Unlike some others, I've seldom had any problem finding reasons to be proud of my country, until that dark day when I first heard the name "Abu Ghraib". Since then, I'm a bummed out dude. Hep me, hep me, oh, Lawdy, hep me!!"
- Posted by: Bob S. | August 31, 2008 8:54 PM
- * - * - *

I hereby renew my plea (with the substitution of "inauguration day" for "election day"), and restate my optimism that it shall be answered. I truly don't believe that I live in a world in which such a prayer can continue to go unheard.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 12, 2008 3:23 AM | Report abuse

The whole private school concept is certainly elitist - we shouldn't worry about funding better schools for the poor, and they should give us rich snobs a "voucher" so we can apply the money the state guarantees against exorbitant private school fees. What's in a name? - perhaps a different parent's pay scale. What's in a name? Perhaps no different or better education? What's in a name? One word: "better funding" (OK, that's actually two words, but we don't have a classy expression for that in my work-a-day world of hard-scrabble dog-eat-dog)(but we obviously have plenty of made-up hyphenated words).

But I digress...

The Obamas should either: a) Send all their children to public school as a sign of commiseration, or b) Send their kids to private schoold because they can, and make a big deal about the shortcomings of the public offering, and how they plan to change it. I suppose a really cool third offering would be to send the older one to private school and the younger one to public and track how they fare over the next 50 years.

Posted by: AsparagusPeeChris | November 12, 2008 4:38 AM | Report abuse

Ah, a new early morning Boodler!

Sob! Goodbye to all that--fivethirtyeight, wonkette, politico, pollster, dailykos, huffpo. I know you're still out there, but things have changed and . . . something's missing.

How's everyone faring, or am I the only one in withdrawal?

Posted by: -dbG- | November 12, 2008 4:57 AM | Report abuse

SCC: How could I forget thedailybeast?

Posted by: -dbG- | November 12, 2008 4:58 AM | Report abuse

I'm doing all right without the endless polls, but since Wonkette is blocked at work, I race home and catch up. But by then all the really witty profane comments have already been made, so it's not the same.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 12, 2008 5:33 AM | Report abuse

All right Yoki and gwe, this thing is all your fault:


I have held a few as they came along,
Seriatim, two white and two wheat
(None of them wry though there is always potential),
Not poppin' fresh right from the oven
But day-old and swaddled in linen
(Presentation is so important).
And I always said to them, “Good Evening,”
(Even if it was day), “My name is Granddad.
I'll be your patriarch for this decade.
Would you like to hear our specials?”
And I would reassure them I was
A close personal friend of their mother
Though they never seemed to care much
One way or the other, mewling and oblivious
In the way that young women can be. Still,
I'd lean in for a sniff of their perfume,
Which tonight is Newbaby No. 5,
A naïve little domestic with a pleasant nose,
Like purity and innocence with just a whiff
Of trustful grace, fresh from God.

'Morning, Boodle. I see yello's already in his SPAD; where's Brag, Scotty and cassandra? I hope Yoki and kb are still asleep.

Good Meyerson pieces this morning, and good Toles cartoon. Won't read Gerson and shouldn't have read Parker, which was only lame and wimpy.

OK, time to get airborne.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 12, 2008 6:09 AM | Report abuse

Ooops, forgot that my friend dbG is up and about. How's things in the Greater Northeast (as the locals call that part of Fully)?

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 12, 2008 6:12 AM | Report abuse

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Good morning, friends. Wonderful essay, Miss Achenbach, and great writing. Want to share a few tips on how it's done? I need all the help I can get in the writing department.

As for the conversation concerning where the Obamas will send their daughters, I suspect, security will be at the forefront. I just don't see them taking any chances with their safety.

Scotty, congratulations, Martooni, Slyness, Mudge, and all, good morning to you.*waving*

Well it is Wednesday, the busy day, and I'm about to begin. There is much on the dance card today. I started the day with the pain pills, as much as I did not want to, just felt the need really bad this morning. I wonder if this is going to be every day for the rest of my life, the pain.

It is cold this morning in the Carolinas. Yesterday was so sunny and bright. I went to visit my dad, and he was cleaning. He told me he painted the front of the house, and the kitchen. He keeps himself busy. And that's good.

Slyness, in the Observer, someone wrote in that section of the editorial page that takes in comments, the short ones, that he or she hoped to be dead by January 20. I thought that was an awful comment. My dad suggested if that is what the person wanted, it shouldn't really be problem.

Is this inauguration going to be really big? There are some folks that I know planning on going to Washington for this event. How does that work, if one wants to attend this affair?

Have a great day, folks, and wrap up if you need to.

Time to swim.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 12, 2008 6:19 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. There is a bar of bright pink showing against the dark blue skies. It's a beautiful sunrise, but a cool one.

Good pome Mudge. It always amaze me that each baby has its own smell. And now off to work for this right-sized workweek.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 12, 2008 6:30 AM | Report abuse

Good morning ye Boodlers!

Sputter, sputter. Pouring coffee into fuel injectors.

Reminder for this Saturday, I will be signing books at the Silver Spring Borders store.

Posted by: Braguine | November 12, 2008 7:00 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, everybody!

Another cool morning in the Carolinas, but at least there's no ice in the birdbath. That's coming soon, though.

Babies are so much fun. Now that W and P are crawling, life is interesting at their house. So much going on when they're awake and checking everything out.

Cassandra, I didn't see that original piece from the guy who wants to die before January 20, but I saw the reaction, and it's hilarious. Poor person, what a terrible fate to have the other side win and have a taste of the medicine the rest of us have gagged on for eight long years.

Busy day here also. I spent time yesterday emailing missives to a local TV reporter who put out a story about the latest fire station being in the county and costing taxpayers a lot. He's obviously late to the party and new to town. But it's put me a little behind for today.

Posted by: slyness | November 12, 2008 7:05 AM | Report abuse

Morning all.

dbG - I am in massive election withdrawal, much like the character in Doonesbury.

My daughter smelled like freshly-washed sheets. My son smelled like puppies.

Both are good.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 12, 2008 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Ladybabies! Darling. Now I shall think upon boys as

GWE -- another heart-stopping experience with wee ones is the dime-sized place at the nape of the neck Just perfect. Perfect. I shall transition to something else mysterious for grownups:

the nape of the neck is, shall we say, enticing?

We are biologically primed to respond to such calling cards of DNA-meets-the-face-of-Love.

Also, the molecule oxytocin is in the mix: the elixir of bonding and attraction and love and family and the, such a conversation for early in the AM....more coffee and then off by bike to the shiny-faced young kittens, who will lap up at the knowledge placed in white porcelain bowls at the sunny table of knowledge (very bad pome emerging.....Mudge shall send me to review pipefittings with SoCEngelman!)

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 12, 2008 7:40 AM | Report abuse

The Boodle is a remarkable (place? circle?). 'Mudge, sorry you had to stay up later than you planned, but your poem is a very good poem. CP, your 7:40 is wonderful.

Oh, good morning Boodle. Instead of a suit, I should be wearing armour today. Got a massive new project at 4:00 pm yesterday, involving some 100 lawyers and 4 of my team, with me carrying the colours and sounding the charge. 10 days to drop-dead. That's what, if we sleep no more than necessary and limit bathroom breaks...4400 woman-hours. About half what's needed, but more than we're usually granted.

Have a lovely day, friends.

Posted by: Yoki | November 12, 2008 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Yoki -- in Joan of Arc gear (borrowed in part from Boodler0-amourer bc...with a banner of magnificent-es....gilt...with tigers upon it....fleur de lis for the Cannoucki of it all....

BC -- the amouring armor-er?

Off. Apologies, BC, if I have exposed you too much.

(coffee, only coffee, I promise.)

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 12, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

You know, my cousin went to Sidwell and his education was probably no better than what he'd get at a Montgomery County school such as Wooton or Blair (not sure about DC though). His GPA wasn't fantastic and going to Sidwell didn't get him into a better college either.

And you know, from what he said, there was just as much partying with alcohol and drugs as some public school...albeit probably a higher quality. But I think one thing Joel failed to mention is private schools, I think, are better for security; smaller population of kids and probably, for the most part, teens that have no inkling in harming the president's children. Of course, this is just my 2 cents.

Posted by: cheez | November 12, 2008 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Mudge... that pome is beautiful. I like to think it was written in my new niece's honor--I guess indirectly it was since she started the conversation about baby smell. I sent it along to her mom and two new grandfathers. Thanks so much for writing it.

gwe... it's hard to explain, really, what babies smell like. It's just wonderful and if you notice, you'll always see a dad who is holding his child, whatever age, take a sniff of their hair or neck. I think it's just a primal thing... I don't know... but it's the best smell in the world.

When Son of G was born I could swear that when they brought him to my room I could smell him before he entered the door. It was that strong to me as a new mother.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 12, 2008 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Hey! I clicked on a WaPo banner ad!

Just bought tickets to see West Side Story at the National Theatre in December. It's playing a five-week run there before heading to Broadway. Turns out the show had its world premiere at the National in 1957.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 12, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I loved your poem Mudge. I'm passing it along to my 'new grandma' sister.

Posted by: --dr-- | November 12, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Morning all!

'Mudge, an outstanding pome, even by your standards. Take the rest of the day with pay.

Despite sitting on the runway rather longer than usual, the Brunswick wing of the Dawn Patrol landed more or less on time. Heckuva day yesterday, thanks one again to all who sent good wishes.

*faxin' Yoki the finest mithril chainmail to wear under her suit, in keeping with her "never show all your cards" motif*

*Happy-Hump-Day-even-though-it-doesn't-really-feel-like-it Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 12, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Totally off topic: landmark research into the causes of certain psychiatric disorders including autism, Asperger's, depression, and a whole host of others. It's worth the read.

Posted by: -jack- | November 12, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Yes, TBG, you can certainly say it was written in your neice's honor, because yes, she did start this whole thread. And no, Yoki, I didn't stay up to write it; I went right to bed and right to sleep, and worked on it overnight, and woke up and wrote it this morning.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 12, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

who's who?

abeac1 (nee: a bea c)
MiddleofthePacific (nee: Aloha)
bdl (nee: Boondocklurker)
cmyth4u (nee: Cassandra S)
CollegequaParkian (nee: College Parkian
cora (nee: aroc)
DandyLion (nee: Pat)
rickoshea (nee: Maggie o'd)
seasea (nee: mostlylurking)

And our resident Sybill:
nee: eidrib
nee: birdie
nee: Flatworld
nee: Random Commenter

Posted by: omnigood | November 12, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

DC gets a quarter next year along with

Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands

Posted by: omnigood | November 12, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

This is pretty cool... Google searches can track the flu around the world...

Posted by: -TBG- | November 12, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Then in 2010 the U.S. Mint will start issuing commemorative county pennies.

Posted by: omnigood | November 12, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

FYI, if any of you send that poem on, add the line "For Melina" right under the title.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 12, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Is there a law school in Paris' future?

I expect that Paris will be a success in life and in whatever career she chooses.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | November 12, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

I wrote something last night about my expereiences attending both public and private schools (while my Mom could afford to do so, anyway). When I was finished, I saw that what I'd written didn't add to the discussion, so I dumped it.

I've mentioned my experiences with Sidwell and seeing Chelsea Clinton and some other children of Washington elite around Tenleytown when I worked down there, so I won't bother rehashing. As I said last week, that's where expect the First Children-Elect will go to school, at least for awhile.

Yoki, good for you to have been chosen to lead the Charge of the Lawyer Brigade (or is that the Charges of Billable Hours Brigade? But I digress).

Scottynuke's suggestion of mithril chainmail undergarments is good, but as CP points out, there's some very nice outer armor in the Bunker armory. Let me know what 'cha like and we'll get it cleaned up and rerigged to suit you shortly (armor and gladiator gear works best it it's fitted properly. I have grinders, drills, torches and welding equipment, and Mudge has some leather-working tools, so I think we're good to go. Oh, and we have some paint and gold leaf around, too.).


Posted by: -bc- | November 12, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

and mortii (nee: mo

Posted by: omnigood | November 12, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

This picture even has Yoki's hair right...

Posted by: -TBG- | November 12, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Don't know what's in that pix, TBG, but whatever it is, the gummint filter here won't allow it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 12, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Nothing bad, Mudge... here, try this link...

Posted by: -TBG- | November 12, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Nope, it didn't like that one either. I'll try when I get home tonight.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 12, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

It's a beauty, Mudge, and completely appropriate. You'll like it.

Posted by: slyness | November 12, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

For today's laugh:

Posted by: slyness | November 12, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

New Kit!!

Posted by: -dbG- | November 12, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Please no more talcum powder on the babies. Recent research has indicated it's not too good for baby's lungs to inhale finely ground mineral powders. This wasn't known until somewhat recently. see:



Posted by: Jumper1 | November 12, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Er.. the first link is about paint, Jumper.

The tips are for the first 2 months, when indeed the baby shouldn't be bathed with anything artifical... and the baby IS small enough that "butt" is not far south enough from "nose."

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 12, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

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