Very odd -- I've been looking for Pat Robertson explaining that the devastation of Hurricane Ian is God's retribution against the wicked immorality of the sinners in Florida, but...nothing. Perhaps he is waiting until clean-up starts., so the heathen can hear him and repent.
Actually, though, my hope is that when Pat Robertson does eventually chime in about Hurricane Ian being God's retribution on Florida, he makes clear it's less from Biblical sinning and more from the state screwing with Disney World.
Either that or for being Climate Change Deniers.
Here's is the second of two articles (the first is here) that I wrote for the Huffington Post 11 years ago in 2011 -- and the third in my series of articles about the Republican Party's 70 year war on education. This one is appropriately titled, "The War on Education." It overlaps with yesterday's article, but has different information taken in a slightly different direction. (Honestly, at this point, a decade later, I don't recall why I wrote two similar articles seven months apart, but my guess is that there was something in the news that prompted the second one -- plus it's an observation that I think deserves to be repeated regularly.)
This all began with my article on Monday about how Trump and the GOP are now pushing their base to follow QAnonymous, something that is based on literally NOT KNOWING. Because -- as has been the case for the past 70 years -- the Republican Party has clearly determined that it's in their party's best interest to have a base that sees education as a bad thing and therefore must rely on whatever GOP party leaders tell them. And so, when you get a Trump who says "I alone can fix it" and lies 30,753 documented times during his four years in office and pushes what is literally a totally anonymous voice to trust with its made-up conspiracies, the GOP base -- which has been disciplined to distrust education and learning and knowledge -- will believe and follow whatever fascist, utter foolishness is fed them.
The other day, the Washington Post released a poll that showed, among other things, how the vast majority of Republicans believe, despite reality, that President Biden hasn't done anything. What that means is that GOP base has either blocked from its consciousness or is totally unaware that President Biden had passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (from which all Americans, including Republicans individually actually got desperately-needed money during the pandemic), the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Bill, the $740 million Inflation Reduction Act (which capped yearly drug costs at $2,000, capped insulin costs at $30 for those on Medicare, brought about major environmental protections, created a minimum 15% corporate tax on businesses that have long-evaded paying taxes, and much more), the first significant gun safety bill in 28 years, the PACT Act to provide health care for veterans -- and (again) much more.
And most of these bill were passed with zero Republican support.
And a vast majority of Republicans actually believe (I was going to say "think," but that seems inappropriate) that President Biden has done nothing.
Which brings us back to the point here, and this article from 11 years ago, on how the Republican Party has been working for 70 years to ensure its base sees education as the enemy.
The War on Education
December 1, 2011
Several years ago, a conservative fellow I was talking with got into a lather about a criticism he often heard. “Why is it,” he asked, “that liberals always say that Republican politicians aren’t smart?”
I politely avoided the quick answer. Besides, it wouldn’t have explained things properly. The truth is that “Republican politicians” aren’t remotely stupid. And there are plenty of Democratic politicians who are head-banging idiots.
That doesn’t mean the ball field is equal. It’s not. And conservatives only have themselves to blame for the rules they wrote and have been playing by for over half-a-century:
You Can’t Trust Really Smart People, Education Gets in the Way of Common Sense, Science is the Enemy of Religious Faith, College is for Over-privileged Elitists, Facts Matter Less Than What You Believe.
Those are the familiar rules that Republicans created. But it’s only the starting point. Because after making the rules, they played the game.
When Adlai Stevenson ran again Dwight Eisenhower for president in 1952, the big criticism that Republicans launched against Stevenson was that he was “an egghead.” Meaning, he was much too smart to be trusted.
When John Kennedy was elected president in 1960, Republicans disparaged him for filling the White House with his “Harvard Mafia.” Meaning, there were all these people so smart they were scary dangerous.
After Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968, he put college students high on his Enemies List. Meaning…well, that one’s pretty obvious. Especially considering that troops were later sent onto the campus of Kent State, and four students were shot dead.
In 1988, the first George Bush campaigned for president as “the education president” – yet in a speech to service workers in Los Angeles explained it wasn’t necessary to go to college. This was an absolutely valid position, but spoke volumes from a leader supposedly promoting education.
When the second George Bush was president, he trumpeted his “No Child Left Behind” program – and then under-funded it, leaving those very schoolchildren far behind.
In 1996, the Republican Party platform stood for abolishing the Department of Education.
Last year, 111 Republican senators, congressman or national candidates were on record to abolish the Department of Education.
This only touches the surface of the ground-and-air war against education that conservatives have been playing. A relentless pounding against the importance of education, to reject facts, ignore history, dismiss science. To mistrust the news media. When information is diminished, it requires needing to rely on others. It demands having faith that others will lead you safely.
Indeed, it is no accident that conservative politicians court the religious right as their party’s base. Religion is centered on belief, on unquestioning faith. And that is the path to unquestioning faith in everything.
It is no wonder that New Yorker author Ron Suskind reported a Bush White House official ridiculing those who live in “the reality-based community.”
It is no wonder that the far right dismisses the science of global warming. And when science offers the breadth of cures from stem-cell research, we saw the far right fight the science.
And it is no wonder that conservatives cry to see Barack Obama’s report card, hoping the mere suggestion will demean his impressive education that includes being elected president of the Harvard Law Review and graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.
If one doubts this, consider that you never heard Republicans demand to see George Bush’s college report card. Or called for the report cards of John McCain – who graduated 894 out of 899 students at the Naval Academy. Or insisted that Ronald Reagan release his report cards from Eureka College, where he did theatricals.
Yet Republicans made Ronald Reagan a conservative god. And it had zero to do with his education. And y’know, it didn’t even have as much to do with his conservative credentials, given how often he raised taxes, massively increased the national debt, signed a bill for amnesty to illegal immigrants and, as governor, signed an abortion rights bill. He might not be able to get past the primaries if he ran today.
Many conservatives don’t realize all these things about Mr. Reagan’s politics, but then…well, that’s the whole point of education, which teaches you how to learn such quaint things.
But when you are told for half-a-century that you can’t trust smart people and science, you end up with a party that lays itself open to a leadership vacuum.
And so, at one time or another, we get Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, a pizza guy and even Sarah Palin leading the pack for the Republican nomination. And now Newt Gingrich, who, as Paul Krugman put it, is a “stupid man’s idea of what a smart person sounds like.”
No doubt, some will be up in arms by how supposedly-elitist this all is. Of course, wanting everyone to be as educated as possible is the exact opposite of elitism.
But then, calling others “education elitists” is one of those standard, conservative rules to demean education. Which proves the point.
Which brings us back, finally, to my conservative acquaintance wondering why liberals always say that Republican politicians aren’t smart. The problem is that he was looking at the wrong thing. This isn’t a matter of who is smart. There will always be people much smarter than you, me and even the smart people. Reading about a Francis Bacon, Voltaire, Galileo, Denis Diderot or Benjamin Franklin can only make one feel breathtaking awe. Republicans and Democrats are both bright and foolish. What this is about is the intentional, driven campaign for 60 years of Republican Party leadership to intentionally downgrade the importance of education. And what results from that when a party does such a thing to itself.
In short, it’s simple: if you don’t want to be angered when your candidates are perceived as less than brilliant, then promote brilliance. Don’t make it your platform to abolish the Department of Education. Don’t claim that opinion supplants fact.
Ultimately, though, there is something far more important at issue than mere politics.
Will Durant, with his wife Ariel, wrote the legendary Story of Civilization. Eleven volumes, over 8,000 pages of discovery that remains today insightful, even-handed and remarkable. And after they finished, they put together The Lessons of History. Written over 40 years ago, in 1968, its perception is as fresh as any news headline you will read.
“Democracy is the most difficult of all forms of government, since it requires the widest spread of intelligence, and we forgot to make ourselves intelligent when we made ourselves sovereign. Education has spread, but intelligence is perpetually retarded by the fertility of the simple. A cynic remarked that ‘you mustn’t enthrone ignorance just because there is so much of it.’ However, ignorance is not long enthroned, for it lends itself to manipulation by the forces that mold public opinion. It may be true, as Lincoln supposed, that ‘you can’t fool all the people all the time,’ but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country.”
The 'Mystery Guest' segment of this edition of What's My Line? features Legendary opera singer Marian Anderson. It’s very enjoyable, made all the more fun by panelist Arlene Francis’s reaction at the end. You can tell how much she admires Ms. Anderson because in all segments of the show I’ve posted, the women panelists have always remained seated when the guest comes over the shake their hands goodbye -- and I think this is the first time I’ve seen a female panelist stand, as Arlene Francis does.
Also nice is that Abe Burrows is one of the panelists. He's one of the great theater writers and directors, best known for writing (or co-writing) Guys & Dolls, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Can-Can, which he also directed -- and he's also the father of renowned TV director James Burrows (of Friends, Cheers, Frasier, Taxi and much more).
If you want to jump directly to the 'Mystery Guest' segment, it starts around the 18:30 mark.
To add some perspective, here’s a segment from an American Experience broadcast on PBS about perhaps Marian Anderson’s most famous performance. She had been blocked from singing at a DAR concert at Constitution Hall because of her race, but thanks to NAACP president Walter White and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (who resigned her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution) another concert got set up at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday, 1939, with (among many others) President Franklin Roosevelt in attendance. Three years later, the DAR did invited Anderson to perform. But this is some of that Lincoln Memorial event –
An update from yesterday. I heard back from the Weebly service that runs this website, and they confirmed my suspicions that that weird email I received yesterday was, indeed, a spoof scam. So, there are no problems.
By the way, the only reason I had even thought that it might conceivably be valid is the whimsy of timing -- I'd had a near-identical, related problem with an actual Weebly glitch about my account only two weeks earlier. But this was suspicious enough that I didn't click on any links in it and kept it in my Junk Mail folder.
In my article yesterday (here) about Trump and the GOP pushing QAnonymous based on literally NOT KNOWING -- indeed almost taking pride in not knowing, I noted that Republicans have had a "War on Education" for over 60 years. I meant that very specifically, though since that wasn't the point of the article, I only gave a few of the most prominent example. In fact, though, I've written a couple of detailed articles in the past for the Huffington Post, both of the 11 years ago, in 2011 (so, no, this isn't anything new that just surfaced) about this pretty clear effort by the Republican Party against education
I figured it was worth posting them again, since the subject has become more prominent, with the GOP coming close to reaching the culmination of its long-held goals, pushing its base to put aside facts, the concept of questioning and relying on knowledge to instead follow the QAnon conspiracies based on literally NOT KNOWING absolutely anything about who is telling them what to believe and what their opinions should be.
Here is the first of those articles. It holds just as true today -- because it's about the history that helped lead the GOP to this point.
Every Child Left Behind
March 29, 2011
Several years ago, I had a realization: conservatives don't care about education.
It's a generalization, I admit. And sounds outlandish. Yet for the past 60 years, conservatives have made crystal clear their utter disdain for education. Hoping to convince others.
It began in 1952. When Dwight Eisenhower ran for president against Adlai Stevenson, the contemptuous attack Republicans made was that Stevenson was "an egghead." Someone who was really - smart. And you just can't trust those smart people.
In 1960, when Richard Nixon ran against John Kennedy, the Republican blast was that JFK was advised by his "Harvard Mafia." Smart people. So smart that they were dangerous. And you can't trust those smart people who go to good colleges.
When Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968, he hated those smart people who go to colleges so much that students made his Enemies List. And later his "get tough" policies on student dissent (including wanting the Secret Service to beat up protestors) resulted in Republican governor Jim Rhodes sending armed troops sent the campus of Kent State University -- and four "enemy" undergraduates were killed.
In 1988, George Bush claimed to be "the Education President" - yet on an campaign stop in Los Angeles told a rally of service employees that not everyone had to go to college. A valid sentiment, certainly, but for a candidate supposedly promoting education, it leaked his true feelings.
And in 2000, George W. Bush failed to fund his "No Child Left Behind" education program.
It's continued for 60 years, as conservatives have demeaned public education, pounding away at the national consciousness that learning for the masses is a bad thing to be scorned and mistrusted.
There's an understandable - and historic - reason for this, of course, because the less educated the public is, the more it relies on authority figures, rather than question anything. And the more that education is disdained, the less that inconvenient facts will be believed.
And so, instead, we get an attitude that challenges any assertion of education with a contemptuous, "So, you think you're better than the rest of us??" - conditioning people to wear with pride that they know less. In all other areas of life, we want the best. We want more riches, more success, to be faster, stronger, cooler - better at everything. Except, after 60 years of conservative pounding against education, not to be as smart as we and our children can be.
And while this conservative effort has been surreptitious over the past 60 years, it's finally released itself: open, unrelenting Republican attacks in Wisconsin against teachers - teachers, for goodness sake! - and a widespread Republican war against education.
In Florida, $3.3 billion has been cut from education over the next two years, almost 15% from the education budget to our children. While $1.6 billion has been given in corporate tax breaks.
Texas has proposed $9.8 billion in cuts in education assistance to school districts. (Bringing a loss of 100,000 jobs.)
Wisconsin cut $834 million from state aid to K-12 education over the next two years. That's 20% of the proposed cuts in the budget. And cuts to teacher pay and pensions.
We have always heard the praise that teaching is the most important job. That teachers are preparing our most precious resource, our children, for the future. How teachers are underpaid heroes. But from the other side of their hypocritical mouths, conservatives will slam teachers as lazy slackers with three months of vacation, overpaid plunderers of public pensions - and for 60 years desensitize the public for stripping away public education.
And now, they couldn't be any more clear:
Last Wednesday in Iowa, three prospective Republican presidential candidates bluntly stated their condemnation of public education at a home schooling rally.
"The public school system now is a propaganda machine," said Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX). "And they condition them to believe in so much which is totally un-American." Like, apparently, the Pledge of Allegiance.
"It is not up to a bureaucrat to decide what is best for your children," insisted Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who home-schooled five children. "We know best." Except about U.S. history. Home teacher Bachman recently placed the cornerstone of the American Revolution - Lexington and Concord - in the wrong state.
"That's all we want," said Herman Cain, a prominent businessman testing a GOP presidential run. "For government to get out of the way so we can educate ourselves and our children the old-fashioned way." Note: "the old-fashioned way" included one teacher for six grades in one room, few women and minorities, and teaching math with an abacus.
But it was left to the event's host, Justin LaVan, to explain plainly how so many conservatives truly see education. "Talking about our Creator. Our rights that came from our Creator, acknowledging that and giving Him the glory." Of course, that's why God invented church. For educating children to succeed in a global community where others are learning science, history and geography, it's a disaster. If prayer worked in school, every kid would get straight-A's.
And in the end, that disaster is what conservatives have long wanted from education. No need to learn anything. No public education. Just private schools and home schooling. Which is the end of an educated nation.
Private schools limit education to those who can afford it. Home schooling limits education to families where one parent can afford to stay home. While hoping that the parent completed high school.
This is known as every child left behind.
But for conservatives, that's okay. The wealthy and privileged will get their children a great education. And the rest of America? You're on your own.
Public education is what helped make America the envy of the world. A nation of well-informed citizens. Leading the way in the space race, technology, finance, and medical advances.
But conservatives? They want to go back to "the old fashioned way." Like the Dark Ages. Where kings and the aristocracy ruled. And you peasants, obey thy overlord.
Make no mistake, this is nothing new. The attack against education is the drug that conservatives have been pushing through history.
If you didn't see Last Week Tonight with John Oliver last night, his Main Story was about Brazil and its far-right president Jair Bolsonaro who is running for re-election using many strategies similar to Trump -- with some added "twists" of his own. There's a lot of good humor in the piece, as well, though (for my taste) I thought several of the joke fell flat, though the studio audience seemed to like them. (Though I think that's more because they sounded like they should be really funny. They just seemed off to me.) Still, it was a very good report
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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