Dumb and Dumber

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/where-does-america-find-such-sad-excuses-for-elected-leaders/2019/03/01/9a221ade-3c5a-11e9-a06c-3ec8ed509d15_story.html?utm_term=.bcccf9d9e0c1

Michael Cohen’s testimony may not have proven that Donald Trump is guilty of any wrong doing or that Cohen himself was telling the truth. What it did prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that there is no shortage of abject stupidity in the halls of Congress especially among republicans.

The article linked above asks a valid question. How have we come to be governed by such an assortment fools and dullards? One answer lies in the over abundance of so called safe districts across the country. There are undoubtedly others factors as well.

Whatever the reason(s) gone are the days when we could call on the best and the brightest to help us decide our most pressing issues. They can no longer get elected, leaving us as a nation at the mercy of those who are suspicious of logic and reason and believe their self righteousness and ignorance are virtues.

Feel free to weigh in. What do you think has contributed to the dumbing down of our elected officials? It’s a discussion worth having.

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17 thoughts on “Dumb and Dumber”

  1. this excerpt from “Flunking Civics: Why America’s Kids Know So Little” in  the ABA journal  back in 2011 is still relevant:

    “When I went to school, we had all kinds of courses on civics and government,” says retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who is pushing to revive civic education. “Today, at least half of the states don’t even require high school students to take civics; only three states require it in middle school.”

    Teaching government, civics and history is becoming a more pressing need than before. With school cutbacks, the Internet distracting students, and the disappearance of traditional newspapers and TV news shows that objectively report information, youngsters have become increasingly disengaged from civic and political life, experts say.

    […]

    The Denver-based National Center for Learning and Citizenship maintains a database on citizenship education, which shows that while 49 states have standards that address citizenship, fewer than half have any testing or assessment programs in place.

    And the National Center for Education Statistics in Washington, D.C.—which issues periodic progress reports on what students know in various subject areas, known informally as the Nation’s Report Card—found that only 27 percent of 12th graders in 2006 were proficient in civics and government. (The center reassessed students’ knowledge of civics and government in 2010; the results are due later this year.)

    The problem is exacerbated by evidence of what researchers describe as a growing “civic achievement gap” between white, wealthy, native-born youths—who demonstrate consistently higher levels of civic and political knowledge, skills, attitudes and participation—and poor, nonwhite and immigrant youths, who are thus at a disadvantage politically.

    Since the late 1990s, when American students tested poorly in reading, science and math against students from 20 other Western nations, federal educational policy has focused strongly on those three subjects at the expense of history, social studies, government and civics.

    […]

    NOT JUST KIDS

    Adults, perhaps unsurprisingly, don’t appear to have a better grasp of law, history or government—all of which could be considered essential to civic responsibilities—than students do.

    A 2005 survey by the ABA, for example, found that nearly half of all Americans were unable to correctly identify the three branches of government.

    [continues]

     

    some states now are beginning to see the light and have legislation pending or recently adopted to once again require civics comprehension. 

  2. it’s so bad the kids have to sue the state.   in  December 2018:

     

    Students sue Rhode Island over lack of civics education

     

    (CNN)Rhode Island is failing to teach civics and prepare students to be “capable citizens,” a federal class-action lawsuit alleges.

    The 14 students in the suit say the state provided such a substandard education that it violates their rights under the US Constitution.
    “The state defendants have failed to provide the named plaintiffs and tens of thousands of other students in the state of Rhode Island an education that is adequate to prepare them to function productively as civic participants,” says the complaint filed this week.

    It’s about civics

     
     
    The suit says students’ public education should prepare them to vote, sit on a jury, and participate in the political process.

    [continues]

  3. ms dowd had a colorful column in NYTimes yesterday.  here’s an excerpt from

    The Sycophant and the Sociopath”

    In his testimony, Michael Cohen called himself a “fool” when it came to Trump. “I ignored my conscience and acted loyal to a man when I should not have,” Cohen said. A fool for love, held in thrall by Trump. How could anyone be held in thrall by such a sleazy goofball, much less offer to take a bullet for him or make 500 threats on his behalf?

    “It seems unbelievable that I was so mesmerized by Donald Trump that I was willing to do things for him that I knew were absolutely wrong,” said Cohen in his “Goodfellas” accent, adding that being around the “icon” was “intoxicating.”

    “Mr. Trump is an enigma,” Cohen said. “He is complicated, as am I.”

    Actually, Trump is simple, grasping for money, attention and fame. The enigma about Trump is why he cut off his lap dog so brutally that Cohen fell into the embrace of Robert Mueller and New York federal prosecutors. Trump is often compared to a mob boss, but Michael Corleone would never turn on a loyal capo, only on one who had crossed him.

    The portrait Cohen drew of Trump was not surprising. It has been apparent for some time that the president is a con man, racist, cheat and liar. (See: Jared Kushner security clearance.)

    What was most compelling about the congressional hearing was the portrait of the sadistic relationship between the sycophant and the sociopath.
    Cohen told the House Oversight Committee that working for Trump had made him feel that he was “involved in something greater than yourself — that you were somehow changing the world.”
    Threatening to sue people and take away their livelihoods or ruin their reputations isn’t exactly Greenpeace or Doctors Without Borders. But Cohen was chugging Trump Kool-Aid. He saw himself as Trump’s protector, the thug’s thug.

     

  4. I must say I got a chuckle out of the kid at the Colorado state HS wrestling tournament who forfeited twice rather than wrestle females in two of his matches. His stated reasons included his religious beliefs.  He goes to the International ANGLICAN Church – the church founded by Henry VIII, the same guy who beheaded his 2nd wife.  I’m skeptical that the church’s teachings would extend so far as to require him not to wrestle a female.  I can think of at least 3 reasons he wouldn’t want to wrestle a female – first, if she beat him he’d be humiliated, second (and this is downright Pencian) he might touch her crotch or vice versa, and third, it’s hard to hid a hard-on in a wrestling singlet.  And really, tell me he’s never wrestled a female in the back seat.

  5. The declining standard of American educational aptitude is such a complex topic with so many contributing factors, as you alluded in today’s original post, it both could and should be its own academic discipline.

    In my estimation, one factor is what i and millions of others do every day, on the internet: make grand assertions without any supporting research or data.  Express an opinion well enough, and it can sound true, without actually being so.  Further expressions of agreement from others without proper critical analysis entrench falsehoods in the popular consciousness.

    To be guilty of the behavior which i just criticized, for purposes of discussion: i’d surmise the that the educational demands made of individuals in a predominantly service-based late-stage-capitalist economy don’t compel the pursuit of a diverse, liberal education.  Job-specific training typically suffices to allow an individual to succeed, or at least subsist, relatively comfortably without pursuing intellectually enriching activities, especially with the plethora of passively-consumed entertainment options available in contemporary capitalist societies.

     
    I’d also remark that the phenomenon being discussed can be and is exacerbated by political interests on both sides of the poilitical spectrum, as i have witnessed personally, and while the participants in this particular online-community are likely to identify efforts by conservative political and media actors, my own observations have perceived scientifically-unsupportable nonsense like holistic healing, opinion-based economic hypotheses, and emotion-based social theory, to name a few, as (a)politically left-wing motivated disciplines of miseducation.

    My own personal efforts to combat the devolving critical abilities of my contemporaries intclude a reluctance to suffer fools gladly, and a proclivity to verbally challenge those making indefensible assertions in personal and professional conversation. I can only tell you that such conduct isn’t a method for making many friends. The friends made, as a result, however, tend to appreciate the honesty provided that seems to be in short-supply, elsewhere, in this 21st century American society.

    So, have fun with that.

  6. You honestly believe young men should engage in competitive combat-sports with young women, pogo?  

    What a serendipitous topic with which to segue back and forth to today’s original discussion point, and here it is- Monday! Personally, i have neither the time nor the desire to do so beyond the aforementioned query, but maybe later, should responses compel me (and they usually do).

  7. Yes, I do think that women who chose to engage in competitive combat sports with men should not be prevented from doing so, Bink.   Wrestling is a great example of how rules in certain sports level the playing field – with wrestling it’s based on weight classes.  The two women he refused to wrestle placed 4th and 5th in the tournament.

    And yes, education has become too focused on job preparation rather than developing broad-based and critical thinking skills. And for god’s sake, teach more civics.

  8. As to the thread topic, one reason we have dumb legislators is reflected in this article on the professional makeup of Congress.  
     

    The most common profession among members of Congress, though, is that of a public servant. That’s a nice-sounded term for a career politician. More than half of our U.S. senators served in the House, for example.
     

    But there are dozens of former small-town mayors, state governors, former judges, ex-state lawmakers, one-time congressional staffers, sheriffs and FBI agents, just to name a few.
     

    Recall that Tom Delay was an exterminator (I’m sure there are thoughtful, educated exterminators in this world, but I’ve only met one who fits that description).  And lord knows that education doesn’t make one intelligent just as a lack of education doesn’t make one incapable of critical thought.  My FIL was a high school educated barber who was smart as hell, extremely well read, and he would have made a very thoughtful representative.  On the other hand, hell, although he’s not in congress, SFB has some Ivy League education – the extent of which remains a question – and critical thinking or thoughtfulness does not appear to be anything he has learned or has any innate aptness for.  (Sorry for the upside down sentence structure).

  9. Pogo – as a former wrestler in high school I guarantee everyone gets some body part across, on and through the crotch. 
    I agree that there is a conundrum in wrestling strictly by weight class without regard to anything else.  I have to take a pause to think about it.  I am in complete agreement with Pogo about the efforts of the greedy old perverts to change education into a trade school, from kindergarten through grad school.

  10. Blue Bronc – yes, I’ve seen enough wrestling to understand that crotches and chests are frequently touched in wrestling matches.  I am certain that every wrestler who’s been through even a few practices knows that through direct experience.  I do not believe that the fact that contact occurs in the sport should disqualify any otherwise capable participant because they aren’t the right gender.  Heaven forfend if the participation of a few female athletes forced a re-evaluation of rules that apply to inappropriate touching of the crotch and chest areas in wrestling if those rules don’t already exist.  I don’t see the fact that guys have crotch junk girls don’t and girls have breast junk guys don’t as being disqualifying in that or any other sport that one gender or the other traditionally has participated in to the exclusion of the other.  Even in West Virginia – a state no one is going to accuse of being progressive, in 2000 Erica Dye went to the state wrestling competition in the A/AA 103 pound class and made it to the semi finals before she lost and dropped to the consolation round quarterfinals where she again lost. She was the 1998 FILA Women’s Cadet National Champion and was recognized at the 2011 Wood County Middle School mat tournament.  

  11. Jace, if you want it I will finish and post when I get into the office tomorrow morning a thread starter I started a couple hours ago. 

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