WHUT? Trump Issues Threat to Reopen Schools That He Says Indoctrinate Students

No one is going to be surprised that Donald Trump says things that are patently absurd. His grasp of the facts on any subject is minimal at best and, more often than not, utterly fictional. And he has a difficult time displaying an ability to express thoughts with simple logic or any semblance of coherence.

Donald Trump, Immigrant, Child

On Friday morning Trump provided an outstanding example of his cognitive confusion. While rage-tweeting about resistance to his reckless intention to have schools open this fall, Trump employed his customary method of persuasion: vicious, albeit impotent, threats. And the proprietor of the fraudulent Trump University is unwise to bring up academics at all following the recent news that he cheated on his SATs (as reported in the new book by his niece, Mary Trump).

Never mind that the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is surging throughout the nation and Trump would be putting students, teachers, administrative and support staff, vendors, security, and the families of them all at risk of deadly infection. Since Trump and his family don’t fall into any of those categories, he couldn’t care less. So he tweeted that…

This is so very like Trump. First of all, it’s another quid pro quo threat to withhold crucial funding unless his unreasonable, and possibly illegal, demands are met. It’s identical to his attempted extortion of Ukraine in order to coerce them to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. He was impeached for that.

Additionally, Trump wraps his mob-style shakedown in a brazenly partisan harangue that falsely accuses the entire institution of academia of being a bastion of “Radical Left Indoctrination.” Which is ironic considering that the whole of Trump’s presidency has been dominated by indoctrination, gaslighting, and outright lying for three and half years.

The consequences for not obediently complying with Dear Leader’s decree will supposedly be the loss of tax-exempt status and federal funding. The only problem with Trump’s ultimatum is that he doesn’t have the authority to carry out either of those penalties. Congress is responsible for appropriating funds for schools, and the president cannot unilaterally overrule them. The same is true for the tax code which is passed into law by Congress and, once signed by the president, can only be amended by Congress.

So as usual, Trump is talking tough out of his asinine misunderstanding of the law. But even worse, he is admitting that the proposed sanctions be applied due to what he says is left-wing political discourse in the schools. That is plainly unconstitutional. He is openly asserting that the government should have the ability to punish schools on the basis of the content of speech. Trump obviously hates liberal politics, but he cannot use federal funds to suppress speech that he doesn’t like.

Finally, Trump’s threat makes so little sense that it could only have come from someone suffering from severe mental infirmities. He is so determined to force schools to reopen that he is making bizarre and improper threats in order to achieve his goal. But he also believes that these same schools are hopelessly tainted by leftist politics. So he’s actually trying force students into the academies of radical indoctrination that he despises. Seriously, Trump is not running on all cylinders. But then, you all knew that.

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Donald Trump Actually Admitted He’s a Flaming Idiot Four Times Yesterday

The past two years has been a veritable circus as Donald Trump clowned his way through the presidency. He’s proven beyond a shadow of doubt that he is utterly incapable of governing. His pathological lying and relentless boasting are the hallmarks of his oratory. And for some reason he insists demonstrating that he’s a complete imbecile who fails to understand the simplest concepts.

Donald Trump

However, even with that record of buffoonery, Trump outdid himself in his speech yesterday that was supposedly about infrastructure. He spent maybe two minutes out of more than sixty on that topic, squeezed in between embarrassing exaltations of himself and infantile insults of his perceived enemies. But what distinguished this speech more than anything else were his own admissions of stupidity. It was a startling thing to watch. Here are a few of the things that Trump needed to make sure that everyone knew he couldn’t grasp:

He Doesn’t Know What a Community College Is:

“I don’t know what that means, a community college. Call it vocational and technical. People know what that means. They don’t know what a community college means […] and I tell people, call it vocational from now on, it’s a great word, it’s a great word. Call it vocational and technical perhaps, but use vocational, because that’s what it’s all about. People know what that means, we don’t know what a community college means.”

Who doesn’t know what “community college” means? The phrase is its own definition. It’s a college that’s in the community. Is that so hard? What’s more, it is not the same as a vocational or technical school. Vocational schools generally focus on a specific skill such as nursing or mechanics. Community colleges are more like conventional four-year institutions with a broad range of study. They award Associates Degrees and are often starting points to pursue higher education. But Trump is fixated on the word “vocational” most likely because he just learned it. He has done the same thing with other words like “comprehensive” and “reciprocal” when those entered his vocabulary. He doesn’t realize that the rest of America already knows these words, or he assumes they’re as dumb as he is.

He Doesn’t Know That His Wall is Not Being Built:

“We’re getting that sucker built. That’s what I do. I build. I was always very good at building. It was my best thing. I think better than being president, I was always very good at building.”

Somebody showed Trump a picture of a wall under construction and told him it was the border wall that he has been yammering about for two years. It wasn’t. It was a part of a wall in California that was undergoing an upgrade that was approved by the Obama administration. However. Trump’s assessment of being better at building than being president is an easy call. Not because he was ever good at building, but because he’s better at anything than he is at being president.

He Doesn’t Know How Judges are Made:

“You know, when I got in, we had over 100 federal judges that weren’t appointed. I don’t know why Obama left that. It was like a big beautiful present to all of us. Why the hell did he leave that? Maybe he got complacent?”

Why? Because the Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, deliberately refused to hold hearings or confirmations for President Obama’s nominees. This wasn’t a secret tactic that might have eluded Trump’s attention. McConnell did it openly and was criticized harshly for his perversion of democracy. But Trump thinks the vacant seats were the result of that black president being lazy. Cause you know how “those” people are.

Finally, Trump took to Twitter for another display of ignorance wrapped in a critique of one of his favorite foils. His tweet accused Jeff Bezos, owner of both Amazon and the Washington Post, of failing to pay taxes and exploiting the Post Office:

Really? First of all, the Post Office is everyone’s “delivery boy.” It’s their whole purpose for being. And Amazon’s use of their services is actually a source of enormous revenue for them. Secondly, Amazon does collect sales taxes in every state in the country that imposes them. The fact that Trump doesn’t know this just shows that he has never bought anything from Amazon or bothered to ask anyone who has. His real target is Bezos, who he thinks is ordering the Washington Post to write critical stories about him. Also, it’s hypocrisy on a grand scale for Trump to criticize others for not paying taxes. He has bragged about not doing so and insisted that it was evidence of his genius as a businessman. At least Amazon’s tax releases are public information, unlike Trump’s.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
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It’s one thing for Trump’s critics to lay into him whenever he does something foolish. But it’s another when he himself admits his foolishness and seems to revel in it. But what’s really frightening is that there are so many people who hear these admissions and don’t find anything troubling about them. His disciples are members of his cult and blindly believe whatever he tells them, no matter how obvious the truth is.

The Stupid Party: Jeb Bush Fears That Big Words Make The World Dangerous

The new Prince of the Bush Dynasty is succeeding in stealing back some of the limelight that Donald Trump has been hogging. However, Jeb Bush’s method of getting attention may not be the most effective in terms of gaining respect. In the same interview where Bush revealed that he thinks Americans are not working enough, he also expressed his disdain for “sophisticated” communication:

“You don’t have to be the world’s policeman, but we have to be the world’s leader — and there’s a huge difference. This guy — this president and Secretary Clinton and Secretary Kerry – when someone disagrees with their nuanced approach, where it’s all kind of so sophisticated it makes no sense. You know what I’m saying — big-syllable words and lots of fancy conferences and meetings — but we’re not leading, that creates chaos, it creates a more dangerous world.”

Oh my, Matilda. The prezdent uses them long words what make chaos. It’s all parta his socialismic plot.

Jeb Bush

The problem with Bush’s criticism of President Obama et al, is that it affirms what can only be described as the aspirational ignorance (sorry for all the syllables, Tea Partyers) of the GOP. There has long been a deliberate objective within the conservative political sphere to literally dumb down their discourse to appeal to a constituency for which they obviously have little respect.

This could be traced back to Ronald Reagan’s fist-shaking demand that “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” which today is regaled by fans as soaring oratory on the scale of Churchill’s “blood, sweat, and tears.” In fact it’s more akin to an old man bellowing at the neighborhood kids to get off his lawn. If Reagan had been FDR he would have settled for “Just stop fearin’ y’all.”

Jeb’s aversion to being articulate seems to run in the Bush family. His brother George is famous for his verbal gaffes and low-brow manner of speech. What’s worse, he actually regards under-achievement as a virtue. Part of a commencement speech he gave included this inspirational message: “To the C Students I say, you too can be President of the United States.” A similar message of intellectual lethargy was conveyed in a commencement address by Rick Perry who said “I’m very proud to tell you I graduated in the top 10 of my graduating class – of 13.”

Academic achievement and critical thinking is not particularly valued among some of the other current Republicans aspiring to the White House. Scott Walker is a college dropout. Rand Paul is a serial plagiarist. Harvard law grad Ted Cruz thinks the Supreme Court is too political, so the judges should be subjected to political reconfirmation votes. Chris Christie’s idea of adult discourse is to tell people to “sit down and shut up.” Ben Carson thinks that ObamaCare is the worst thing since slavery. Donald Trump just tweeted that he had 20,000 people in a hall that only fits 4,100 (He has since deleted that tweet). And of course, Bobby Jindal is the guy who coined the phrase “The Stupid Party” in reference to the GOP. Apparently he knows of what he speaks.

Remember also that Republicans are opponents of education in general. They oppose increased funding and anything that benefits teachers. They are fiercely anti-science. They cannot agree that evolution is a valid theory or that Climate Change is actually occurring, despite all of the scientific evidence for both. They advocate teaching so-called creation science in public schools. They are a party that has open disdain for the high-performing Ivy League institutions that they regard as elitist. And they are strong advocates of homeschooling where no standards of education are maintained.

No wonder leading Republican candidates are so notorious for talking down to their constituents. No wonder they talk in sound bites and bumper sticker cliches. They either don’t understand more complex concepts, or they are afraid their audience won’t. Consequently, Jeb Bush has to demean Obama for using too many syllables and holding “fancy” meetings. I guess the meetings held during a Bush administration would be dominated by coloring books and nap time. Why waste energy with boring and complicated discussions about international law and treaties? That sort of advanced intelligence doesn’t sit well with the right-wing electorate.

Nor does it work for viewers of Fox News, who are treated to a 24/7 barrage of painfully ignorant and dishonest propaganda. That’s a sad fact that was hilariously explained by Monty Python’s John Cleese, who offered a brief description of the Dunning-Kruger effect wherein stupid people are too stupid to realize how stupid they are.

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Fox News Is Worried That American Children Are “Learning Too Much”

In troubled times, with Americans getting beheaded by terrorists, women being abused, teenage African-Americans being gunned down by police, working people struggling to lift themselves out of poverty, and all the while wealthy individuals and corporations assume ever more dominance of our social and political institutions, Fox News has managed to cast a spotlight on little-known but disturbing facet of life in these United States:

Fox News Tucker Carlson

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That’s right, American children are suffering under the burden of becoming too smart. On Sunday’s episode of Fox & Friends, co-host Tucker Carlson presented a segment (video below) wherein he suggested that an alleged reduction in homework assignments was actually a well-coordinated conspiracy by teachers unions to achieve their long-held goal of reducing work for their lazy members. And everyone knows that teachers are among society’s most notorious slackers who yearn only for longer lunches and wasteful leisure. The industrious Carlson began his hyper-rant by saying that…

“A growing number of schools are opting out of giving kids homework. They say that students should use the time to be with family and friends. But is this really about the kids, or could it be a move by teachers unions to get teachers to do less work for, of course, the same pay?”

This is a remarkable turnaround for the Fox set who ordinarily praise initiatives that bring families closer together. It is such an obsession with them that they fiercely advocate homeschooling which, of course, means nothing but homework for the kids, and much less work for teachers. And pay no attention to the fact that Carlson offers no shred of evidence that unions played any role in this alleged trend.

Carlson interviewed Whitney Neal of the Bill of Rights Institute, which was founded by Charles Koch. Undisclosed by Fox News is that Whitney Neal is also the Director of Grassroots at FreedomWorks, another Koch brothers operation. The Kochs are heavily invested in twisting the nation’s academic institutions to conform to their personal, political, social, and business interests. Neal agreed with Carlson’s unsupported insinuations, but went further to say that she believes the whole thing is “more of a ploy to keep parents out of the classroom […] because if kids aren’t bringing home homework, the parents don’t know what’s going on.”

So by providing kids with more time to be with their parents, teachers are somehow inhibiting the interaction between kids and parents. How insidious. What’s more, Neal believes that homework is the only way that parents can have any idea of what is going on with their children in school. They certainly couldn’t go to the school, or ask the kids, or the teachers, or the administrators, or otherwise involve themselves in their child’s education. Neal’s argument is that kids should be getting more homework, not for the benefit of the student, but so that parents can see what kind of homework they get.

If you think that was stupid, just wait until you hear Carlson’s next question:

“Also, do you think the problem with American schools is just that kids are working too hard; they’re just doing too much work; they’re just learning too much? Is that a major problem?”

Well, it is if you’re Fox News. The last thing they need right now is an educated populace. That would decimate their viewer demographic (if you know a Fox News viewer, please tell them what “decimate” means). Not to mention how it would shrink the ranks of the Tea Party and the Republican establishment that feeds off of its innate ignorance.

For the record, teachers are among the hardest working, least appreciated professionals in the country. They are often belittled as nothing more than babysitters and criticized for having a truncated work schedule. See this lovely infographic for the truth. And watch this video from Fox & Friends to observe some real failures in the education system who nevertheless achieved success in television punditry (for which there are no academic requirements and requires no certification).

Common Shaky Ground: Left And Right Agree To Let The Red States Secede

Very few political observers would argue that our current system of government in Washington isn’t broken, or at least in a state of serious disrepair. The House of Representatives is being bullied by a minority faction of Tea Party dimwits who have utterly dominated the pathetically weak Speaker, John Boehner. The Senate is floundering under rules that allow the minority to obstruct any legislative progress through filibusters that redefine a majority as sixty senators. But a solution is being proposed that has found supporters on both ends of the political divide.

To Secede Or Not To Secede

Fred Jackson, news director of the uber-rightist American Family Association, told his radio audience that he thought a caller had a “good idea” when he said that secession is “the only solution that we have because voting doesn’t work.” The idea called for the red states to separate from the union. Jackson lamented that the American people may not be ready for such a measure, but that’s only because they haven’t yet realized “that we are about to hit that wall.”

The day before this broadcast the right-wing pseudo-news wire, Washington Free Beacon, published a story on the same theme but with a geographic limiter. They wrote that “A major Democratic donor said he supports Southern secession because the South is ‘dumbing down national politics.” It’s hard to argue with his reasoning while derps like Louie Gohmert and Ted Cruz are wandering the halls of Congress.

There is some real merit to this idea. After all, both sides would agree that neither is being particularly well represented when the legislative branch of government is so divided. By jettisoning the South the rest of the nation would be relieved of bible-belters who want to invoke a theocracy that believes Jesus rode a dinosaur to his sermons against gay marriage and climate change science. The South would be free to abolish all taxes and prohibit African-Americans from voting. This is not to say that establishing the Mason-Dixon line as the new border would automatically correct the problem. After all, Michele Bachmann would still be up in Minnesota and Darrell Issa would still be out in California. But a large chunk of the causes of division would be resolved.

There are, of course, some drawbacks as well. First among them is the fact that there are a lot of decent, thoughtful people in red and Southern states that would be horrified to find themselves sequestered in a new country that would rank at the bottom of the intelligence scale. A report published by (of all places) Fox Business, surveyed the nation’s academic profile and found that the ten states with the best educated citizens were all “blue” states, while nine of the ten worst educated were “red” states (and eight of those were in the south).

foxbusiness-education

There is also an economic issue since the South is comprised of the states with the highest percentage of people living below the poverty line (31%). And that number reflects an increase of nearly 50% since 2000. The South is currently a net receiver of federal assistance, meaning that it gets more from the government than it contributes in taxes. That would bode ill for a new nation that couldn’t support itself, particularly if it implements the low-tax strategy that it wants to impose on the whole of the United States.

The better educated and financially secure Blue/Northern states would have a distinct post-separation advantage. However, the Red States of America would be a non-starter from the outset because too much of its population would be too stupid and too financially inept to be sustainable. These variances could not be resolved simply by having people relocate to the region they prefer. That would be too great a burden that would involve uprooting families and businesses, finding new jobs and schools and friends, and very likely overcrowding the Blue states, while draining the Reds of their smartest and economically savviest residents. The Blues would be well positioned to compete with international rivals in Europe and Asia. The Reds would be closer to Libertarian Utopias like Somalia.

There is a far better solution than secession. However, it requires the American people to participate in their democracy. First of all, they have to become informed. And that means venturing beyond the increasingly biased mainstream media to find sources that are diverse and independent. Then they have to actually vote. The U.S. has one of the lowest voter turnout rates of any industrialized country. That is a slap in the face to the Founders who were optimistic enough to believe that future generations would appreciate the gift that was left to them.

With their voting power, the people need to demand an end to the anti-democratic gerrymandering that allows representatives to choose their voters rather than the other way around. And part and parcel to that, judicial atrocities like Citizen’s United must be overturned. The people must demand that only real, human, citizens can vote and contribute to campaigns. Corporations, unions, and all other wealthy special interests should not be electing our representatives. Corporations are not people, and money is not speech.

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A final suggestion for reform is a tad more radical, but still far short of secession. The Senate should become a representative body. There is no reasonable justification for Wyoming’s half million residents to have the same political clout as the 38 million residents of California. Two senators per state is an anachronistic solution to a problem that ceased to exist shortly after the Constitution was ratified. Today it permits a tiny minority of sparsely populated, unrepresentative states to hold the rest of the nation hostage. In fact, it is mathematically possible for just 35 million residents (10% of the population) to dictate the national agenda for all 350 million Americans. That is a perversion of democracy.

So it isn’t necessary to dissolve the United States to find a more perfect union. It just requires civic commitment and the will to make substantive reforms. And it wouldn’t hurt if the media stopped deliberately making their audience stupider.

Fox News Nitwits: Cheap Student Loans Keep People Out Of The Labor Market

If there is one thing that is not in short supply at Fox News, it’s raving, rampant, drooling stupidity. Whether expressed by their denial of science, their embrace of religious mythology, or their gullible acceptance of ludicrous conspiracy theories, Fox slathers on the dumb in thick layers. But today was one of those occasions that merit special recognition.

On Fox & Friends Sunday (video below), co-host Tucker Carlson questioned right-wing economist Peter Morici about the unemployment rate and how it is all President Obama’s fault that it isn’t lower (even though it has declined 25% since the highs produced by the Bush recession). Carlson and Morici agreed that one of the major contributing factors to the “crisis” is that Obama has artificially kept student loan rates down in a scheme to push the unemployment rate lower.

Morici: The president has been buying lower unemployment rates by essentially providing very cheap student loans and keeping people out of the labor market.
Carlson: Exactly. So, cheap student loans keep people out of the labor market. This is a dangerous spiral.

Indeed. This devious plot to help young people get an education must stop. We need to send them out into a difficult job market at the earliest opportunity so that employers can exploit their ignorance and inexperience with long hours, low wages, and few benefits. Why even bother with paying their way through high school? The last thing America needs is well-informed citizens with advanced degrees. We can get them from India at a significant discount. And if everyone were educated, who the hell would be left to watch Fox News? Other than, of course, the fine residents of southern red states:

Red State Education
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Ending this socialist abomination of financial assistance for students would give a huge boost to the economy. Corporations would become more profitable due to sharply reduced payroll expenses. Of course, they would also be hard pressed to find skilled workers, but they are already solving that problem by sending those jobs to China. This provides a related foreign policy benefit by forcing the Chinese to waste their money on educating their citizens.

There are other lessons in this for the bureaucrats in Washington. For instance, child labor laws are another major obstacle that keeps young people out of the labor market. And we have more than two million prisoners who could be put to work. And why should people who enlist in the military be taken off of the employment rolls? And what about all of those lazy senior citizens who so conveniently “retire,” so that they are no longer counted in the unemployment statistics (we’re on to you Obama)? For that matter, we could significantly reduce our Medicare and Social Security burden by making loafing seniors get off their butts or pay for their own heart bypass surgery and chemotherapy. For those unable to do so, America saves a fortune on health care when they die. We’d save billions on their frivolous prescription meds alone.

Thank goodness for Fox News who are the only media outlet with the courage to call out kids who are ripping off the nation by seeking to get an education. But then, Fox has long been at the forefront of the education hoax. They regularly disparage institutions of higher learning as bastions of liberal elitism. They campaign for defunding and/or privatization of public schools. They advocate home schooling as an alternative to trained and competent instruction. They oppose common sense programs to improve the efficiency of curriculum standards, even going to the extreme of portraying them as conspiracies to indoctrinate our children.

Clearly, Fox News has performed heroically in the battle against knowledge. And these remarks by privileged upper-cruster Tucker Carlson (whose parents were wealthy enough to pay for his education like the Founders intended) are further evidence of Fox’s commitment to preserving education for the rich and menial servitude for everyone else.

The Tea Party’s Campaign For Mass Stupidity Promoted By Fox News

The Tea Party movement has never been confused with Mensa, the high IQ society. In fact, there have been numerous studies that rank Tea Partiers at the bottom of the intellectual scale, particularly those recently elected to congress. As a group they dismiss the findings of science on matters as diverse as climate change and evolution. And they are skeptical of academics and Ivy Leaguers whom they regard as out-of-touch elitists.

So it is in keeping with their aversion to education that they are now leading the fight against a set of teaching principles developed to insure that K-12 students are prepared to enter college. And predictably, Fox News is only too happy to advance their crusade for national ignorance.

Fox News - ObamaCore
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The target of the Teabaggers’ ire is a program called “Common Core State Standards,” a bipartisan project endorsed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Notice that both organizations are state-based reflecting the focus on local development and implementation.

Nevertheless, right-wingers are enraged by baseless allegations that this is just another federal boot on the throats of sovereign statehood. Not only is there no evidence to support such charges, the facts explicitly reject them. This is easily discovered with a little research, something these Teabaggers would be able to do if they were better educated. The web site for Common Core clearly rebuts their imaginary fears on a page debunking the myths:

Myth: These Standards amount to a national curriculum for our schools.
Fact: The Standards are not a curriculum. They are a clear set of shared goals and expectations for what knowledge and skills will help our students succeed. Local teachers, principals, superintendents and others will decide how the standards are to be met. Teachers will continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms.

On another page of questions and answers about the program, concerns about its management and paranoia related to records are put to rest:

Q: Does the federal government play a role in standards implementation?
A: The federal government had no role in the development of the Common Core State Standards and will not have a role in their implementation. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort that is not part of No Child Left Behind and adoption of the standards is in no way mandatory.

Q: Are there data collection requirements associated with the Common Core State Standards?
A: There are no data collection requirements of states adopting the CCSS. Standards define expectations for what students should know and be able to do by the end of each grade. Implementing the CCSS does not require data collection. The means of assessing students and the data that results from those assessments are up to the discretion of each state and are separate and unique from the CCSS.

Well then, that should settle the matter. And if you think it does, then you don’t know how severely delusional these conservative conspiracy freaks are. Glenn Beck has called this the most important story in history. He has resolved to keep his children from attending college in order to avoid being “marked” by the system that he says is “scary.” He sermonized at length about it on his video blog, warning his disciples that…

“We have, I think, about twelve months to get Common Core out of our system. Our goal should be by the time school starts in the fall of 2014, it’s completely dead. That’s my goal.”

But it isn’t just conspiracy theory peddlers like Beck (and Alex Jones, and Michelle Malkin) who are panicking over the terrifying prospect of our children getting smarter. Nine U.S. senators, including Chuck Grassley, James Inhofe, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz, composed a strongly worded letter in opposition to Common Core. And the Republican National Committee has taken an official stance (pdf) against it.

Hoping to ignite another fake controversy, Fox News is joining ranks of the anti-education brigades. They dubbed Common Core “ObamaCore” in an attempt to generate the instant animus that their audience has for the President. Ironically, the practice of attaching the Obama prefix to various legislation has actually resulted in Obama getting extra credit for programs that have considerable popularity. Confirmation of the bipartisan support for Common Core is the enthusiastic backing of GOP governors including Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee. The plan has already been adopted in 45 states, with only the wingnut utopias of Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia, lagging behind.

In a peculiar bit of hypocrisy, Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal published an editorial in support of Common Core that was co-authored by Joel Klein, a former New York City schools chancellor who now runs Murdoch’s education subsidiary, Amplify. Suffice to say that their motives may not be purely altruistic. Amplify is an education technology provider that stands to profit from government academic programs.

The coordinated effort to suppress education has received the help of the Koch brothers-funded FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, the ultra-rightist Eagle Forum, the pseudo-libertarian Heritage Foundation, the repugnant John Birch Society, the racists at Stormfront, and now Fox News is tying together all the loose ends. And why wouldn’t they. Their own legacy for advancing ignorance is well documented.

Thanks To Fox News: Human Intelligence Is On The Decline

Imagine my surprise to find a story on Fox Nation, the lie-riddled community web site of Fox News, about the decline of human intelligence. Was this an attempt to convey the results of an academic study, or are they just bragging?

Fox Nation

The article refers to a study done at the University of Amsterdam that concludes that westerners have lost 14 IQ points on average since the Victorian Era. The study’s author surmised that a number of complex factors led to the conclusion that was based on tests of visual reaction times. The tests reflect a person’s mental processing speed which correlates to IQ. Among the explanations offered for the brain drain were the migration of populations to densely packed cities and a tendency for more intelligent women to choose to have fewer children.

Not surprisingly, the Fox Nationalists utterly misconstrued the study’s findings. Their linked source for the story was an article on the conservative blog, Townhall, where the web editor dismissed the science behind the research and offered his own opinion that the decline in IQ was caused by MTV and video games. Somewhere along the way he missed the fact that the reported decline occurred over a period of more than a hundred years, which makes his hypothesis focusing on modern television and technology a pretty good example of a dumbed-down contemporary human.

The rejection of science is not unusual for conservatives who persistently refuse to accept the scientific community’s nearly universal consensus on things like evolution and climate change. That may explain why scientists themselves veer away from conservative associations. A study by the Pew Center for the People and the Press revealed that “most scientists identify as Democrats (55%), while 32% identify as independents and just 6% say they are Republicans.”

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Furthermore, if there is a decline in intelligence, it is most starkly evident in the Tea-publican Party. A report published by (of all places) Fox Business, surveyed the nation’s academic profile and found that the ten states with the best educated citizens were all “blue” states, while nine of the ten worst educated were “red” states (and eight of those were in the south).

Fox Business

The decline of western intelligence, according to the Amsterdam data, has been in the works for many decades. It would be interesting to conduct another version of this research that measures IQ in the United States since 1996, the year that Fox News debuted. Numerous studies have already documented the fact that Fox News viewers are more ill-informed than consumers of other media. In fact, one study demonstrates that the more one watches Fox, the more misinformed one becomes. Of course, being ignorant or misinformed is not the same as lacking intelligence. But it has the same effect on electoral outcomes and, consequently, public policy.

So whether Fox viewers are stupid or ignorant is immaterial. The important thing is to continue to provide a counterbalance to the propaganda Fox spews and rescue citizens from their deceitful disinformation that only benefits the wealthy, right-wing elites who Fox was created to serve.

Good News For College Students: You Will Never Meet Glenn Beck’s Kids

With Glenn Beck trolling the outskirts of decent society (mentally and professionally), his nightmarish ravings have taken on a distinctly science-fiction hue. Not that he hasn’t always been on the verge of some paranoid breakdown with his frequent admonitions about apocalyptic “perfect storms” and impending alliances between radical Muslims and secular progressives to form a worldwide caliphate, but his regression is surely spiraling downward.

Glenn BeckToday’s sermon addressed the dangers of education, a pursuit so horrific that Beck will not permit his children to partake of it.

“I said to my wife the other night, my kids aren’t going to go to college. They’re just not going to go to college. They won’t. We can find somebody that they can intern for. They’ll have to do their own thing. I am not sending another child to college. I won’t do it. They are being indoctrinated. I am not going to give them my money. […] I’d rather be a mechanic than in the system that is coming. And your kids are going to be in an absolute system. And I know what that means. This is a really scary thing. Just be aware that there are many ways to mark people.”

Beck has been railing about the covert forces plotting to control the minds of America’s youth for some time. Although he never mentions whether his own Glenn Beck University is part of the problem. His latest conspiracy theory was hatched by something he found in the 2009 stimulus plan that tickled the paranoia sensors in his cartoon brain. As reported by Right Wing Watch, something called “Common Core” is at the heart of the next phase of creeping tyranny.

Beck’s theory is that the 2009 stimulus legislation contained $5 billion dollars designated to be given to states in support of public education, but carried a requirement that any state accepting the money must set up a “longitudinal data system.” The data gathered by such a system, Beck insists, is being harvested by the federal government and stored in a massive facility in Utah and will be used by both the government and corporations to monitor every student from the time they enter school for the purpose of controlling their futures. From the moment a child enters school, his or her future will be determined and those with skills deemed valuable by the corporations will be guided into areas that serve the needs of the corporations while all the others “will be a cog in the machine forever.”

No wonder Beck is prohibiting his kids from attending school. As a delusional, alcoholic, drug-abusing, college dropout, he sees the modern education system is the manifestation of “The Matrix.” And this fits nicely into the conservative model of higher learning wherein acquiring too large a portion of knowledge makes you suspect and alien to the American way of life. A degree from Yale or Stanford is not nearly as useful to an aspiring leader as the charisma of someone with whom you would want to share a beer. This is something I addressed in an essay on “Elitistism” that included this observation:

“Education is a key component in this new paradigm. It is absolutely critical that you not have too much of it. And never, ever use the word paradigm. Once the American people get the impression that you know more than they do about issues like economics or foreign policy, you’re disqualified from service. Achievement and expertise only spotlight how different you are from ordinary Americans.”

The result of this hypersensitivity to learning is that conservatives will continue to be, as GOP Gov. Jindal of Louisiana said, “the Stupid Party.” They will continue to score highly on those polls that rank the most ignorant consumers of media and show Fox News viewers at the top. And they will churn out additional Republican voters who are convinced that the math in every poll is wrong and who value bible fables over science. Consequently, Beck’s advice to shun academia is consistent with advancing the interests of the Republican Party. Isn’t that convenient?

Idiocracy: The Fox News War On Intelligence

There’s one thing you can say about Fox News, and that is that they know their audience. They know that they are serving an intellectually lazy group of rightist zealots who, more than anything else, just want their prejudices to be affirmed. And Fox News is more than happy to accommodate them.

This morning on Fox & Friends, home of the most prideful ignoramusi in television, Brian Kilmeade interviewed David Gelernter, the author of “America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered In the Obamacrats)” The discussion centered on the assertion that those darn kids today just aren’t as super-spectacular as previous generations. Gelernter, a Yale professor, castigated universities and disparaged American students as “learning nothing, apart from how to play with their iPhones.”

The dialogue continued with both Kilmeade and Gelernter insulting President Obama, and liberals in general, as airheads. He even questioned the President’s patriotism saying, “I think he has no sense of obligation to the country. I think he has a vivid sense of what the country owes him.” That’s a veiled reference to the racially incendiary subject of reparations, which Obama has never supported. Talk about dog whistles. The segment also featured a couple of definitions that exist nowhere but in the minds of devoted right-wing demagogues:

Obamacrat: A new generation of politicians who don’t think very much and aren’t concerned about their country.
Airhead Liberal: Accepts liberal political ideas religiously, but never questions them.

And Fox News is not coy about their aversion to being smart. The graphic below explicitly belittles knowledge and Americans who “rely on IQ instead of common sense.” Heaven forbid anyone with actual, demonstrated intelligence be given a role in the affairs of state.

Fox News on Knowledge

The notion that knowledge is a toxic virus that infects elitist liberals and must be exterminated, is a recurring theme on the right. They are overtly hostile to education and regard people who have excelled academically as out-of-touch and even threatening to the their conception of American society. And while there is, of course, a place for common sense, the thing about it is that it is “common.” What ever happened to American exceptionalism and the idea that we can aspire to greatness? Such talk is now considered to be an abandonment of the common man.

Conservatives, through their Fox News mouthpiece, are openly advocating for ignorance. And the reason for that is that they know they can manipulate an incurious, ill-informed population far easier than one that is educated. That is why they denigrate Obama’s achievements at Harvard Law (even though they ignore Romney’s two Harvard degrees). It’s why they oppose legislation that makes higher education available to more Americans. It’s why they even advocate eliminating the Department of Education.

It is no surprise that several studies have shown that Fox News viewers are significantly less informed than consumers of other sources of news. And while pseudo-patriots chant “We’re number one,” the international rankings put the U.S. at 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math. That is not a foundation from which viable competitiveness is likely to emerge. And bashing education is not a path to resolving these problems.

President Homer SimpsonThe GOP is practicing something I call Elitistism: the practice of discriminating against those who are perceived to be elite. The goal of Elitistism is to drive from public life anyone who diverges from the sacred visage of American Averagism. Because everyone knows that the guy you’d rather have a beer with is the best qualified to be president. Although the cold brew may have been replaced by the tea bag, and the barfly by the Tea Hag™ (i.e. Sarah Palin). And whatever you do, don’t exhibit any qualities of excellence or intelligence. As I have previously written, in today’s politics those are flaws that separate you from the masses:

“Education is a key component in this new paradigm. It is absolutely critical that you not have too much of it. And never, ever use the word paradigm. Once the American people get the impression that you know more than they do about issues like economics or foreign policy, you’re disqualified from service. Achievement and expertise only spotlight how different you are from ordinary Americans.”

Today’s segment is further evidence that Fox News not only promotes ignorance, they actually celebrate it, as they pander to their audience that wallows in it. Pretty soon we can expect to have parades of idiots inspired by Fox proudly marching down Main Street chanting “We’re dumb. We’ve come. Get used to it.”