Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Orwell wrote “Ignorance is strength” as a Party slogan in “1984”. It seems as if that is also an operating principle in our corporate media and education funding as well.

Newsweek featured a Citizenship test that amplifies this ignorance.

Here are a few disturbing examples:

Who’s in charge of the executive branch? The president. Correct: 73% Incorrect: 27%

Who did the United States fight in World War II? Japan, Germany, and Italy. Correct: 60% Incorrect: 40%

We elect a U.S. senator for how many years? Six. Correct: 39% Incorrect: 61%

Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. What is one power of the federal government? To print money, to declare war, to create an army, or to make treaties. Correct: 19% Incorrect: 81%

How many justices are on the Supreme Court? Nine. Correct: 37% Incorrect: 63%

What do we call the first 10 amendments to the Constitution? The Bill of Rights. Correct: 57% Incorrect: 43%

Yesterday was the 67th anniversary of D-Day, the allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe. I wonder how many Americans are even aware of this.

Never mind who wrote the Federalist Papers, forget civics. Americans are fed more vital information.

While the corporate media was falling all over each other to cover non-issues like a congressman’s Twittering skivvies and another certain Twittering Twit of the Tundra’s blathering about Paul Revere’s “shots and bells” warning the British, five more Americans died in Iraq for George W. Bush’s war of choice.

Yes, indeed. Mission accomplished...as long as the mission was the enrichment of corporate cronies, and political capital for the re-election of a “war president” in 2004. Those Americans killed this week did not die to protect us or our freedoms. They are still paying the true cost in blood for Bush’s “crusade” for political gain that he openly admitted he desired, before the cronies on the Supreme Court strangled democracy and gave him the White House.

“One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade…, if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency.” – George W. Bush 1999

That “capital” was spent through Orwellian “war is peace” doublespeak on behalf of permanent war and the shredding of the Bill of Rights.

“I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace.” - George W. Bush

“Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way..." – G. W. B. 4-20-04

But never mind all that. It’s “old news”. Let’s hear more about wieners, shots and bells. And isn’t it more important to hear politicians’ bickering about “values” and government debt while they continue to give tax breaks to the rich and austerity for the rest of us?

Above all, shouldn’t we focus on everything that is NOT about restoring peace, our educational system, our economy, our infrastructure, and our jobs?


T. Paine said...

Despite your hyperbolic diatribe against Bush, I find myself largely in agreement with you on this one, Dubya.

I suspect our solutions to the problems would be dramatically different, but your diagnosis of the illness is indeed accurate.

Dave Dubya said...

Diatribe? Yes. Hyperbolic? Not so much. In fact most of the outrageous words are from "the Decider" himself.

As for solutions, how about a mandatory civics class as a requirement for high school graduation? Or is that asking too much these days, since we need to teach religion-based "intelligent design" creationism as science?

It's bad enough that we neglect math and science, but history and civics are almost completely out of the curriculums.

I'm afraid the way we are heading is only going to make things worse...for most us, but just fine for the elites who want a dumbed down population.

Tom Harper said...

Aw, heck with all this boring history and politics. Today's young people should be tested on the really important matters of the day:

1. Is Lindsay Lohan currently in, or out of, rehab?

2. Describe the nature of Charlie Sheen's most recent meltdown.

3. True or False: Patti La Belle recently sicked her bodyguards on a West Point cadet who was standing too close to her luggage at an airport waiting area.

Anyway, that's the general idea. These are the priorities our population should be tested on, not "how many people are in the Supreme Court" (whatEver).

Dave Dubya said...

I, I, I...feel so stupid. I'm clueless on these pressing matters.

Mary Mayhem said...

I had to take civics in HS, in Texas, while Dubya was guv'nuh...maybe it was before he had the chance to undo all the good Anne Richards had done....wait...nope...I had civics in like 98 or 99...he HAD messed lots of things up by then...education was on the top of the list. But just to let you know, civics (or government as they called it) was on the curriculum for a semester, and economics for the other semester; for the seniors. I don't know if all seniors were required to take it or not, but if you wanted to graduate with honors, you had to. I was NEVER taught "intelligent" design. LMAO.

S.W. Anderson said...

". . . how about a mandatory civics class as a requirement for high school graduation?"

I've lived in several states, and that was a requirement in all of them. However, how good the various civics teachers, textbooks, courses and tests were I couldn't say. I'm sure quality varies from place to place.

That said, take a look at how many young people don't bother to graduate or do it later in life in a GED course.

I think you're correct about some on the right and in corporate America wanting a dumbed-down, more easily manipulated population. At the same time I see something else going on. It's indirectly the doing of wealthy investors and big businesses to some extent, but it's also a matter of widely made choices and attitudes in society.

The four-decade period beginning in 1930 was one in which Americans accomplished great things working together, pooling their resources, sacrificing, getting more and better education and putting knowledge and skills to work in industry, agriculture, the arts and sciences, and in govenment. They worked their way out of the Great Depression, won World War II, financed Europe's war recovery and put us on a path to coming out on top of the Cold War. They created a lot of the nation's infrastructure and wealth, tamed and eliminated many deadly diseases and put a man on the moon.

S.W. Anderson said...

The four-decade period beginning in 1980 has basically been the opposite. Selfishness, greed, division, suspicion and resentment have played a large, sometimes dominant role in the public's attitudes, activities and choices, including political choices.

Unlike the preceding period in which we saw the rise of the middle class, this period created ever wealthier people at the top and more of them while leaving everyone else less well off. These trends were in considerable part fostered and cultivated by the political right and the wealthy few themselves. But people in general contributed to them in a big, sustained way.

These changes were functions of the pendulum phenomenon. It lifted most Americans up in the 1940s to 1970s period, then laid most low in the period since. I find encouragement in the belief the pendulum always swings and is due for a change in direction before long.

T. Paine said...

Dubya, I am absolutely in agreement with you regarding civics, government, and economics classes being made mandatory for our students as a prerequisite for graduation. I recall not too long back seeing a report where a sampling of our congressmen and senators scored a lower average on a basic civics test than the general public did. I may have even done a blog post on it, but I am too lazy to go back and look. Regardless, that is simply unacceptable. I think a civics test and a basic knowledge test of the Declaration of Independence, The Federalist Papers, and most importantly… the Constitution should be given to all members of the legislative branch prior to them being seated. (Let alone the president!)

As for Mr. Anderson’s statement, “I think you're correct about some on the right and in corporate America wanting a dumbed-down, more easily manipulated population.” I would submit to you that this is precisely the tack that the Democratic left is taking. Creating a dumbed-down society that is ever more dependent upon government largesse only increases the power base voting block of the Democrats. The G.O.P. would much rather have an educated and self sufficient populace so that the gargantuan safety net is not needed, so that there are more people with greater purchasing power to help drive the wheels of capitalism and our economy, and are not dependent upon the federal government for dictating every facet of their lives.

Dave Dubya said...

Isn’t it interesting that both learning and teaching “intelligent design” requires no intelligence? Now that’s edjamakashun.

History is quite clear. The rise of democracy and shared prosperity was halted and reversed by the rise of corporatocracy and prosperity exclusively for the economic elite. And still the duped ones insist if only we lower taxes on the rich and cut regulations on the elite, then prosperity will magically “trickle down”. Never happened. Never will.

I like your notion of testing politicians’ understanding of the fundamentals of our democratic republic. I would also like them to learn what it’s like to live on an average income if they truly want to represent us. Far too many of them are aristocrats, like the Bushes and Kennedys, who are clueless to the cost of a loaf of bread, heating a house, and making ends meet on limited income. That’s where their education is sorely lacking as well.

Your assessment, or more likely Right Wing dogma, that the Left wants a society of ignorant citizens depending on welfare could not be more off track. I would say constantly calling public school teachers “union thugs” and accusing college professors of being “anti-American commies” is far more akin to fascistic demonization than to a genuine compassionate support of education.

T. Paine said...

Dubya, I have great respect for teachers and professors that are knowledgable and teach the facts and critical thinking skills.

By the way, macro-evolution is NOT a theory that holds up to scientific evaluation very well, sir, where there is indeed a fair amount of scientific evidence corroborating an intelligent design of the universe.

I frankly don't have a problem with either being taught as THEORY though, at least until the evidence is overwhelming for such theories to even be plausible.

I have nothing but disdain for those that want to push through a political (or politically-correct) doctrine to our students though.

I would love nothing better than to be independently wealthy just so I wouldn't have to worry about making a living and thus could be that opposing voice in a college classroom to some commie professor that brow-beats his students and dares them to submit a paper that is contrary to the vile crap and agenda-driven falsehoods that he spews.

For the record, I like your idea of our elected officials having come from common-man roots instead of political family dynasties, as a general rule too.

I don't care if they have become successful financially, assuming they did it through their own sweat, tears, and hard work. In fact, I prefer those kind of folks for our leaders, and indeed such a person is exactly what is needed as our president right now. We have seen what a miserable failure a mere community organizer is in that office.

Mary Mayhem said...

@ D.D. - I'm really relieved they didn't attempt to teach intelligent design in H.S.; I likely would have been pulled out (by very angry parents) or kicked out (knowing the way I am) of school and subject to the horrid stigma of the GED.

I believe they started this whole thing recently, no? I mean, we were taught, in Louisiana, that the civil war had nothing to do with slavery, but I mean come on...it really didn't...it was a power thang...

S.W. Anderson said...

Paine, you're wrong about what Democrats/liberals want for people and for the country. You're repeating right-wing talking points with no basis in fact. Where's the evidence? Where's the proof?

The fact is, you have neither.

Mary Mayhem, I hope you didn't take my comment as a slam at those who've earned a GED. I'm all in favor of people getting a GED if that's their best option and they've come to realize how important a high school diploma is. I just feel it's better for young people to make it through 12th grade with their peers than to quit.

Mary Mayhem said...

@ S.W.A. Oh no! (I didn't even think about it)...I could care less who gets the GED and who graduates traditionally. I graduated H.S., but I think the stigma of a GED is BS. I know plenty of people who have obtained a GED. They didn't grow up with the same advantages that I grew up with. In almost all of these situations, economic class was a, if not the, contributing factor. I've yet to meet someone who got their GED because their parents were well-off and gave them everything the needed or asked for, so they didn't feel like going to school anymore. NO! Billy Madison is not a real person, and he does not count, and even so, he did finish school at the end. But I digress, as long as you wake up and realize that you've made the mistake of not graduating, proceed to get your GED right away, and then continue your education, you can beat Mrs. Palin et al. in Trivial Pursuit and live up to my standards, because that's what's important. Don't let the GED just be a "Good enough" diploma!

T. Paine said...

Anderson, what I describe as Democratic motives in fostering dependency upon the American populace is something that I am sure the rank and file Democrats are not cognizant of and would frankly not support. It is the Democratic leadership that employs this cynical tactic to increase their voting block power base. "Vote for us and we will give you section 8 housing, cash for clunkers, and food stamps!"

Of course I don't have any "proof" of this. It is not like I have access to the DNC playbook that outlines this strategy, and yet that absolutely seems to be their actions. You cannot deny that the Democrat leadership seems to measure success by how many people partake of WIC, or foodstamps etc.

The idiot Republicans, for all of their faults, seem to measure success by how many people no longer have to partake of those programs.

Mary Mayhem said...

TPaine ~Wrong! So so so very very very wrong. Idiot republicans (your words, not mine) measure their "success" in how many people they can cut from those programs, not how many no longer have to partake. BIG DIFFERENCE!