This cartoon showcases not only parent denial, but also teacher intransigence. Lets hope our conferences this week are more productive.
Tag Archives: Michael Bloomberg
History has proven Randy Newman dead right: short people are the scourge of civilization.
Though many of our most terrible rulers could tower over us, some humanity’s greatest horrors were perpetrated by those whose size gave them a serious chip on their shoulder. One less elf or Oompah-Loompah crack could’ve made the difference between prosperity and despair.
Wars, revolutions, famine, mass genocide, executions, murder, torture, destruction, rape, pillage—its amazing what can be accomplished by someone no bigger than a garden gnome with a serious ax to grind.
We all know the guy who has a complex named after him (more on him later), but here is some other historical tyrants whose small stature belied a fearsome cruelty:
Conquer Persia, Egypt, the Near East up to India—what else can a little prince with serious parenting issues do? Alexander had serious problems as a kid: a dad that wouldn’t accept him as an heir, and a mom that could put Gypsy Rose Lee to shame. Little Alex (we know he was short, exactly how short is uncertain) decided to channel his aggression by crushing the Persian army, leading his Macedonians to the Indus River valley, and spreading Greek culture and values along the way. It was a lot to pack in 33 short years.
At 5’ 1”, Genghis Khan was lucky he could even get on a horse. Once he got on, though, Genghis laid a path of rape, murder, pillage and destruction almost unparalleled in history. Probably starting with the fellow Mongols who kept with the short jokes, Genghis attacked anyone who got in his way: Chinese, Indians, Turks, Persians, Pashtuns, you name it. He never had trouble getting on the horse again—the pile of dead bodies gave him a boost.
Yep, the guy with the complex. Napoleon (5’ 6”), funny enough, was something of an international celebrity when he took over the French government in a coup in 1799. The honeymoon ended quickly, however, as his megalomanical zeal led him to crown himself Emperor of the French in 1804. It took a continent-wide coalition to finally bring down the pint-sized general—twice. After the first exile in 1814, Napoleon just didn’t understand enough was enough, and created another army only to be crushed at Waterloo in 1815. He would die in exile in 1821, and a psychotic condition was born.
Cruel from an early age, Josef Stalin grew (not much, only 5’ 6”) to be responsible for the deaths of at least 50 million people, mostly his own. First came his bloody path to power, isolating and murdering almost all the former cohorts of his predecessor, Vladimir Lenin. Then came a forced collectivization that caused a catastrophic famine, killing millions. The purges would send most perceived opponents either to a merciful death with a bullet or a miserable death in the gulags of Siberia. He treated women like garbage, his children like street dogs, his own cabinet like farm animals (I think Lavrentii Beria actually was one) and was still feared even through his death in 1953.
You may have expected another New York City mayor here (don’t worry, he’s coming) but even our greatest leaders sometimes act in a tyrannical fashion. Legendary mini-mayor Fiorello La Guardia (5’ 0”) was no exception. Much of the sweeping reforms under his administration were done largely arbitrarily, and with good reason: the city council and Board of Estimate was still populated by Tammany Hall minions. He had a penchant for a violent temper and a tyrannical rule over his staffers. By the time he stepped down in 1945, many of his policies would lead to the budget crisis of 1975, when the city declared bankruptcy—proving that a little tyrant can do both good or ill.
In 1931, Spain kicked out its king and declared itself a republic. Francisco Franco (5’ 4”), an army officer in Spanish Morocco, was not cool with having people overshadow him, literally. Along with senior officers, he led a rebellion in 1936, and took over Spain in 1939 following a bloody civil war. Then Franco went buck wild on his enemies: concentration camps, forced labor, mass executions, persecution of leftists, intellectuals, Freemasons, ethnic minorities. He even had a fully-equipped Masonic temple built in his house just to fire him up! By his death in 1975, the new king, Juan Carlos, knew where the wind was blowing and worked to undo all the damage.
The current despot dictator of the paranoid police state of North Korea (5’3”) is descended from rather tall stock: the founder of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung, who was over 6 feet tall. Despite that height, Kim the elder made up for it in spades with his totalitarian control, lavish lifestyle and fanatical cult of personality. Young Kim had a wonderful example, and he took Daddy’s example to new heights: developing nuclear weapons while his people starved, alleged booze-fests and orgies with multiple women, continued totalitarian control with lots of surveillance, summary executions and a cult that might even rival his Daddy’s. NOTE: I think his official height also counts his hair.
No discussion of minute dictators can be complete without the current Lord Protector of the Big Apple. (By the way, his official height is 5’ 8”: that’s bullshit. I’m 5’9” and I tower over him.) Michael Bloomberg took over as New York City’s mayor in 2002, promising to continue the reform policies begun by his predecessor Rudolph Giuliani. He then proceeded to cut police patrols and city services (reversing a key part of Giuliani’s agenda), flood the government with consultants at exorbitant prices, neuter the City Council and rule the school system with an iron fist. The results are noticeably mixed, and no one can doubt Bloomberg’s nasty attitude and lust for power—a lust that culminated in changing the City’s charter allowing him to run for a third term in 2009. In his last term, Bloomberg has become even more tyrannical, especially as more accounts of malfeasance and fraud continue to surface. It’s a path of destruction that’s difficult to reverse.
There are many other diminutive terrors I probably neglected to menton…as well as those who can become tomorrow’s Stalin or Franco at any moment.
It just goes to show that a short joke can be a dangerous thing.
As swiftly as it came, the reign of Cathie the First came crashing down today–and there’s plenty of blame to spread around.
At 11:30 am, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Cathie Black had resigned as New York City Schools Chancellor, to be replaced by longtime Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott. According to the Mayor, the split was amicable, in that both agreed that they needed a new direction. Yet privately, most believe that Bloomberg showed Cathie the door.
So what happened? Obviously, Cathie never bothered to read the suggestions we gave her when she started. She never had the support of the teaching corps, who saw her as a meddling interloper and empty vessel. Furthermore, she never even tried to wade into the treacherous waters of negotiation and budget battles.
What followed through the next 100 days was an unqualified embarrassment. A recent Marist poll showed an abysmal 17% approval rating. After numerous faux pas and a series of bumbling media fiascos, the rats began to abandon the ship. One by one the Deputy Chancellors, a veritable Praetorian Guard that shielded Black from the gathering storm, either resigned or were replaced.
It was only a matter of time.
So who was to blame for this 100-day nightmare? Mayor Bloomberg, for one. At least he cowboyed up and accepted “full responsibility.” Like so many education reform bozos, Bloomberg thought that skirting certification and appointment protocols would produce a suitable Chancellor, only to fizzle in a sea of media flops and epileptic leadership.
The other ne’er do wells shouldn’t get a pass, though. Joel Klein also gets some blame, since his insistence pushed Cathie Black into the Mayor’s eye, especially while he basked in Rupert Murdoch’s glow. The City Council, who have been impotent for over a decade now, proved its rubber-stamp quality through a feeble attempt to block Black’s appointment.
Yet even the shenanigans of Bloomberg, et. al. would have gone for nought if it weren’t for the connivance of the New York State Education Department–acting with the blessing of the New York Board of Regents. Predating our constitution, New York‘s education establishment was once one of the noblest, most august institutions of education in America. That changed when the Education Commissioner, David Steiner, worked with Bloomberg to get Black a waiver from certification–since she had no qualifications whatsoever.
Our once great granite rock of education had become a filthy loofah, used by politicians and billionaire scum to scrape their underlings clean of hypocrisy and criminality. Even though Commissioner Steiner’s job is now in jeopardy, Governor Cuomo should make a bold, radical decision and fire the entire Board of Regents in one blow. Only thus would we have anything close to our education department’s former glory.
The Neighborhood’s last words are for our new Chancellor, Dennis Walcott. You’ve been involved in public education for a fair amount of your life. We look forward to working with you for the education of our students. Please take a look at our suggestions we gave to Cathie–just avoid the sarcastic remarks.
Those remarks aren’t meant for you–yet. You’ve been warned.