Up Front

THE QUESTION

Which other amendments are the Republicans starting to question?

"The First: Choosing between Catholic and Protestant is enough freedom of religion, right?" -- Jen Phillips, Mother Jones

"The 19th: Isn't it time to end the suffraging of women? Haven't they suffraged enough?" -- Ryan Avent, The Economist

"The 28th: Sure, it doesn't exist yet. But it's never too early to be an obstructionist asshole." -- Scott Thill, AlterNet

PARODY by T.A. Frank

OCTOBER SURPRISES FOR 2010

Newt Gingrich apologizes for earlier comments about the Cordoba House community center. "My implicit comparison of Muslims to Nazis was pretty offensive, even to myself," Gingrich explains. "Not only do I regret what I said. I also intend to volunteer as an English teacher in Fallujah, where I intend to live out the rest of my time on Earth."

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota notes that her political opponents aren't anti-Americans bent on turning the nation into a corrupt socialist state. "Democrats and Republicans both want what's best for the country, and our disagreements are in good faith," she says. "For example, Obamacare was flawed but admirable, and it just needs a few tweaks in order to improve it. Boy, was I weird and wrong before my oxygen deprivation was diagnosed and cured."

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut seeks to downplay fears of a nuclear-armed Iran. "Experts say that Tehran is still several years away from creating a viable nuclear weapon," Lieberman cautions. "In any case, as bad as this would be, Israel has a more-than-adequate deterrent capability. The focus must now be on the two-state solution, and, this winter, I shall be traveling to Israel to help dismantle unauthorized settlements in the West Bank."

Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma calls for a carbon tax. "Let's face it," Inhofe says. "I once called all this climate-change stuff a fraud. But if you spend your summer really studying the scientific literature on climate change, you see that the evidence for human agency is quite strong. Thus, for the sake of Oklahoma and the nation, I intend to convene a Copenhagen Summit II and to wear this solar-paneled cap at all times, indoors and out."

Republicans unite to condemn Rush Limbaugh. "When Rush Limbaugh responded to a story of a white kid being beaten up by two black kids on a school bus by calling it 'Obama's America,' we were appalled," said Mitch McConnell and John Boehner in a joint statement. "We were similarly dismayed when he recently referred to the president as 'Imam Obama.' As powerful as Limbaugh might be, there are times when simple decency requires a severing of ties. We will also decline the invitation to attend his fifth wedding."

DIALOGUE: SAVED BY THE BELL

Is a longer school day a better school day?

Monica Potts: Lots of school districts are extending the school day, especially in lower-income areas, to boost student performance and close the achievement gap. And Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently called for a 12-hour school day. I say the more hours, the better.

Gabriel Arana: Really? Kids suffer enough, and schools waste so much time. It depends on the aim. Are we going to keep kids in school for 12 hours to show Duncan's plan is working? If I were still in school, I'd be resentful.

Monica: Students are bound to find something to be resentful about. But also, things have really changed since No Child Left Behind. To take just one example, recesses are getting shorter, and kids have fewer of them! If the day were managed better, 12 hours wouldn't feel so long.

Gabriel: Well if the extra four hours are for recess, I concede.

Monica: Seriously! Everything I know I learned at recess. Plus, I thought Michelle Obama wanted kids to move. Playtime is important.

Gabriel: Still, I feel like arguing for a longer academic day because it would be good for children's health blurs the line between school and lifestyle.

Monica: I guess it can seem very Big Brother, but this move is spurred by practical concerns as well. A seven- or eight-hour school day isn't long enough for most working parents.

Gabriel: It's true that when you talk about kids and education, parents' schedules are part of that equation, but more class time isn't the only solution.

Monica: In reality, parents' nostalgia plays a bigger role. That's why the most salient points in this debate start with "Back when I was in school ..."

Gabriel: Well, when I was a kid, God knows I didn't want to be in school longer!

Monica: Right. School sucks. That sentiment has fueled a thousand pop songs. I don't know if there's any way around it.

Gabriel: OK. But now that I'm an adult, I recognize that maybe I benefited.

Monica: You definitely did. You went to an Ivy League university. If only every kid had such a bright future.

Gabriel: Yes, and I think the Ivy League school day should be shorter, too.

Monica: I don't know how my college days could possibly have gotten shorter. I was in class four hours each day, tops.

Gabriel: Time spent on homework has to count for something. Not all class time is useful.

Monica: Yeah, we shouldn't extend the school day just to have children staring at the blackboard longer. It should be used for arts, music, and physical education -- things that are currently being slashed from budgets.

Gabriel: See, I feel like fun enrichment is not in school. So, maybe we agree.

Monica: Definitely about recess.

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