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Post Stelian and Michael Dukakis
Created by John Eipper on 12/16/13 4:17 AM

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Stelian and Michael Dukakis (Robert Whealey, USA, 12/16/13 4:17 am)

JE wrote on 15 December: "If Mike Dukakis gave the green light for the 1988 tank video, perhaps he shouldn't have been so eager to dismiss psychology!"

"Perhaps"--no indeed. Both Mike and I had four years of psychology at the BA level. I majored in history; he majored in political science. He had 3 years of Harvard Law. I had 1 year at the University of Michigan in law, plus 1 year at Oxford. I had 2 years in the Army (one in Germany). He had dead-end years in the Army of Occupation in South Korea. He also had 40 years experience in observing the practical psychology of devious politicians. I had 40 years of research in history, politics, military, economic, religious and psychological books.

I met Mike Dukakis when he was a junior in high school. I had the good luck to have had his older brother Stelian as my roommate in our sophomore year of college. We were both in the class of 1952. Unfortunately Stelian had a bad case of manic depression in his junior year. Mike, his father, mother and I discussed Stelian's problems for many years. Stelian was run over by a hit-and-run auto in downtown Boston in 1972 when I was living in Ohio. Cheap politicians exploit the poorly understood problems of the mental health of their competition. Note what Richard Nixon did to Sen. Tom Eagleton of Missouri in the 1972 campaign.

Ronald Reagan in 1988 on TV tried to blame Mike for Stelian's problems. It was one of the worst bald-faced lies I ever heard on TV. TV propaganda is worse today than in 1988. It was probably worse in 1988 than in 1972. Every class of BA students gets dumber than the last. I think the best liberal arts degree peaked about 1969. The CIA, FBI, and NSA do not hire historians. They want to hire English majors and psychologists. US propaganda is called psychological warfare. Their results have produced a few mice and no lions.

JE comments:  The public has become more tolerant of mental health challenges since the Eagleton days of '72, but manic depressive candidates (unless they hide their condition) probably have no better chance of election.  (See Leo Goldberger's post from earlier today on the work of Martin Seligman.)

Yet the great Lincoln battled depression his whole life, and his wife was probably manic-depressive.  Back then such afflictions were classified in more poetic terms:  Melancholy.

The CIA and NSA seek out English majors?  I always assumed they prefer techies.

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  • What Academic Majors Do the CIA Recruiters Prefer? (Miles Seeley, USA 12/17/13 3:26 AM)
    Robert Whealey (16 December) mentioned that the US intelligence agencies prefer recruits with English and psychology majors.  When I was recruited by the CIA in 1951, there was a deserved reputation that the Agency wanted (and got) recruits who had a good prep school and an Ivy League university in their resumes. But this was the time of both the Cold War and the Korean "Police Action," and CIA recruiters changed quickly and dramatically. They needed techies, certainly, but they also needed some pretty tough guys who could serve in some countries where much of life was mean and dangerous. Richard Helms--who in my opinion was by far the best Director--wanted a real cross-section of clandestine services case officers.

    I think things changed again later, when a couple of DCIs were tech-minded, but they went too far and neglected the real world of espionage. The right human agent can tell you not only the number of tanks the target has, but what he intends to do with them.

    Of course I am generalizing here in a major way. There were plenty of Ivy Leaguers who were tough and capable, and techs who had excellent social skills. Still, I well remember the man who recruited me (a prominent academic) who said my being from the Midwest earned me points, but my cowboy skills were very much needed.

    JE comments:  I wonder if being a Midwesterner still earns you points in The Company's recruiting process.  Does this somehow make you more trustworthy?  Real-world?

    Greetings to all from Michael and Nicole Sullivan's lovely home in Havelock, North Carolina.  We drove in from Charleston (SC) yesterday evening, and our dinner and conversation lasted until the early hours.  Today, a busy day of exploration awaits!  I'll definitely share a photo or two with WAISworld.

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    • What Academic Majors Do the US Intelligence Agencies Prefer? (Leo Goldberger, USA 12/17/13 3:45 AM)
      Robert Whealey (16 December) seems to decry the absence of history majors among the recruits for jobs with the CIA, NSA and the FBI---in favor of psychology and English lit types. I have no factual evidence to dispute that this may be so--though hearsay has it that the FBI, at least under Hoover, favored young upstanding, clean-cut Mormons for their reputation of obedience and conformity. Be that stereotype as it may, I just wish to point out that by contrast the OSS (the original American spy enclave of WWII) had some of the most prominent Harvard scholars and alumni gracing its rolls, including a healthy number of historians, such as Arthur Schlesinger, H. Stuart Hughes, Robert Lee Wolff, Clarence Crane Brinton, John K. Fairbank, and William L. Langer--not to mention anthropologists and future diplomats such as Hugh Montgomery, Cora Du Bois, Carleton Coons, among others.

      James Miller and Henry Murray were perhaps the sole representatives of academic psychology, whose responsibility was primarily that of selecting secret agents based on their personality assessment methodology.

      This is just to set the historical record straight.

      JE comments:  I've also heard (anecdotally) that Mormons are highly favored for the US Foreign Service, due both to their language skills and their ability to resist temptations of the flesh.  Is there any truth to this perception?

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      • CIA's Hiring Practices; Kim Roosevelt (Clyde McMorrow, USA 12/18/13 2:49 AM)
        Just a note on the CIA and their early hiring practices, but first a little background. My daughter and her husband were AID workers for several years in Afghanistan (they are now working in Mozambique), so I started reading about this very interesting part of the world.

        First modern Afghanistan, then the history of what is now Afghanistan, this led to the -Stans in general, then the British involvement in India and the Middle East, the Khazars, the English withdrawal from the Lavant, and I am now reading America's Great Game by Hugh Wilford. This is the story of Kim Roosevelt, grandson of Theodore, and one of the founding Arabists for the newly created CIA. Wilford discusses the Harvard, Brinton, Groton connection and the reasons for the CIA interest in Psychology and English Lit recruits. This book is expanding my interest horizon, and brings up many questions I hope to present to WAIS in the future.

        JE comments:  It's great to hear from Clyde McMorrow; best Holiday wishes to him and his family. 

        Kermit "Kim" Roosevelt Jr. is probably best known as one of the architects of the 1953 coup that ousted Iranian president Mohammed Mossadegh and brought the Shah to power.  Here are some more details:


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      • Thoughts on Undergraduate Language Majors (Charles Ridley, USA 12/19/13 3:29 AM)
        Let me express a few thoughts on undergraduate language majors.

        Over the years, the undergraduate language majors most likely to yield employment as a secondary school teacher have included French, Spanish and German. Students of more "exotic" languages such as Chinese and Japanese face a more difficult employment market, although there are increasing numbers of high schools teaching these languages, with Chinese being the better bet.

        If I were advising a young student intent on a language major, I would recommend French and Spanish as the best bets as far employment at the secondary school level is concerned. German has also been a fairly good choice in the past, although it has been falling into disfavor in recent years.

        Scientific and business translation is available in a wide variety of languages. Here the situation differs from that of the secondary school teaching market. As a large number of students study French and Spanish, translation agencies are besieged with applicants desiring to work in these languages and usually require applicants to pass extremely difficult translation competence tests. In translation, there are considerable opportunities in Chinese and Japanese, with even better opportunities for those able to translate into these languages at a native-speaker level. There is also a good market for those skilled in into-German translation.

        Again, French and Spanish are the best choices as undergraduate majors for secondary school teaching. I'm not sure how Latin fits into the picture. On my discharge from the Army after being recalled to active duty when the Berlin Wall went up, I was hired to teach English, French and Latin (one student) at a small-town Maine high school for the remainder of the school year (February-June).

        JE comments:  As a person who trains high school teachers, I'd say that Spanish is the only European language that presently offers good job opportunities. In terms of overall job growth, I'd place Chinese at the top of the list.

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        • Thoughts on Undergraduate Language Majors (Randy Black, USA 12/19/13 7:21 PM)
          Charles Ridley wrote an interesting post on 19 December about the best languages to take as undergraduates pertaining to secondary teaching careers.

          At least from my perspective as a substitute teacher in one of Texas's largest high schools, I would agree that Spanish and French are useful is one is planning to teach a high school language. In Texas, teachers earn a stipend additional to their salary for teaching languages, math, science and a few other hard-to-recruit-for subjects. I assume the same applies in other states. Ditto for those teachers with Masters and PhDs. I worked for a physics teacher last week who even has a JD diploma, having retired from the legal profession but who had a Masters in the sciences dating back decades. Borrowing from the Dos Equis commercials, he is one of the most interesting men in the world of people I've met in my travels.

          The language specialty trend seems to be towards Mandarin as I survey other area schools. My nephew is taking Mandarin at Highland Park High School, a wealthy, inner-city Dallas suburb. HPHS is the area's premier high school and has been since the 1930s, at least among public schools in Dallas. I also graduated from HPSH about a thousand years ago, and while my grades were not stellar, I can attest that they prepared me well for college.

          At Allen HS where I work about 100 days each year, it is rumored that the district is attempting to recruit a Mandarin-certified teacher for the coming school year. I know one thing for certain. In our district, the days of a substitute being simply a "warm body" to take roll and sit in the back of the room reading a paperback novel are over. A large percentage of our subs are state certified teachers, with no experience, trying to get their foot in the door to a permanent job. A few of us are professional subs who are semi-retired and simply want a part-time job that gets us out of the house and offers interesting work. Personally, if I did not truly enjoy the joy of teaching motivated kids, I'd be on a plane to a beach destination a lot more often. Life is too short.

          My motto: I am motivated to help kids learn. When I occasionally run across one who is not motivated, I try to find out what motivates them and play to that motivation.

          I tell people that as a Social Security recipient, I only have three jobs to keep me busy. While my wife would prefer me to get a "real" job as a full-time teacher, I've made it clear that I really enjoy the ability to pick and choose the days I'll work at the high school and for whom. For instance, If I'd had a full-time teaching or any other real job, I'd probably not have had the opportunity to attend our recent WAIS conference in Adrian.

          Plus, as a full-time teacher, I'd be limited to teaching within my certification and heck, that would be no fun. As such, I work for a very limited cadre of about 12 upper level master teachers in French, Spanish, US History and Government, English Lit and even AP Physics. Sometimes I have to go to staff meetings, but they are few and far between.

          From my experience, if there is anything that "real" teachers detest, it's staff meetings where some administrator drones on for an hour about politically correct ways to treat their diverse student body.

          JE comments: Bravo to Randy Black for his motivation as an educator.  And yes, meetings are the bane of the academic's existence, although "assessment" reports are even worse.

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