The Ignoratti are Becoming the New Ruling Elite

One frequent criticism from many on the right is that “the elites” run the country. And as with many things the right does and says, it does it without seeing the tiniest speck of irony. The irony being that in their unrelenting war on education and intellectualism, they are becoming the new elite running the country.

America was once a land of mostly illiterate agricultural workers – a whole country of disadvantaged migrant farm workers like the right so hates today. But those agricultural workers realized – like the migrant workers of today – that education was the way to pull themselves and the country out of the intellectual dark ages. Unschooled and sometimes illiterate parents made many sacrifices to educate their kids to develop the raw knowledge and skill to move themselves and the country forward.

Insane Amounts of Belly Button Gazing
The right may have a point that a society too dependent on intellectualism is a society frozen by insane amounts of belly button gazing and an over-dependence on books at the expense of the real world. But that is where the point ends.

Successful societies need thinkers and doers because a society without thinkers doesn’t have the ability to help provide the knowledge and technology to the doers. The growing attack on intellectualism works like a photocopier that has made a copy from a copy from a copy. Each succeeding generation gets weaker and weaker until, at last, the final copy becomes unreadable.

Over the past few decades, the right has been unrelentingly chipping away at our educational infrastructure. From the abysmal Every Child Left Behind Act, to a steadfast refusal to approve taxes for schools, to rewriting textbooks to follow Christian teachings rather than actual history or science, we’ve reached a tipping point where we can no longer function. Instead of bellyaching about the minimum wage, that money and time would be better spent figuring out how to improve education than to fixate on obliterating it. Give people knowledge and we wouldn’t need to set a minimum wage.

Then Came the Ignoratti
This nation is well on its way to becoming an anti-intellectual wasteland ruled by the ignoratti instead of the intelligentsia or the commonsentsia. We’ve produced a crop of “leaders” without the good sense to come in out of the rain. The Christine O’Donnells, Sarah Palins, Sharron Angles, and Michele Bachmanns of the world recoil at the mention of anything requiring more thought than their many bubbleheaded Tweets.

Present the ignoratti with immutable facts and they’re congenitally unable to process them. Producing an Obama birth certificate 47 ways from Sunday (along with assurances of its legitimacy from the Republican governor of Hawaii) and their answer is, “but it isn’t the right birth certificate”. They refuse to believe scientific data only to assure us the world is merely 6,000 years old. And, the list goes on.

You don’t have to be an egghead to see this problem. You don’t have to belong to the intelligentsia. You don’t even have to be a moderately intelligent person with a poor education. You only need to do this:

Listen to speeches by the leaders of the ignorigentcia and openly think about what they say – lest you become its newest member of their elite.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!




The Obama administration has been remarkably indecisive on the subject of immigration. On the one hand, it talks a lot about its support for a bill legalizing undocumented immigrants. On the other hand, it has also deported more undocumented immigrants than any other president in history. In the process President Barack Obama has pleased neither side; Latinos believe the administration is all-talk and no action, while conservatives believe the administration’s deportations are just a secret ruse for amnesty.

The DREAM Act is an effort which may please at least one side. This is a bill which, if passed, would offer a path to legalization for undocumented college students or undocumented soldiers in the military, who came to the United States as children (younger than 15 years old) and have lived here for at least five years.

There are a number of interesting political considerations which go with the DREAM Act. Although Democrats control Congress and the presidential office, initially many pro-immigrant Democrats were reluctant to introduce the law. They viewed the DREAM Act as a popular piece of legislation which would help public support for comprehensive immigration reform – which conservatives generally denounce as “amnesty”.

This view is no longer held by most Democrats. Comprehensive immigration reform has not been able to get past the ground with 59 Democratic Senators. Democrats will not have a majority this size for a long, long time – and if immigration reform cannot pass with 59 Democratic Senators, then it will likely never pass. Thus the decision to separate the DREAM Act from overall immigration reform.

There is another Democratic consideration, of course. Mr. Reid is facing a very difficult re-election campaign; his state Nevada is 24.9% Hispanic. Boosting Latino turn-out – which the DREAM Act is hoped to do – would be a badly needed assist for him (and for Democrats throughout the nation facing tough elections).

What about Republicans? Well, a number of Republicans, believe it or not, actually supported versions of the DREAM Act in the past. When the DREAM Act was proposed in 2007, 10 Republican Senators voted for it (in 2007 it got 52 votes but failed to break a filibuster). These were Senators Bob Bennett (R-Utah), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Larry Craig (R-Idaho), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). Five – Mr. Bennett, Mr. Brownback, Ms. Collins, Mr. Hatch, and Ms. Snowe – are still serving.

Many of these Republicans came from surprisingly conservative states: Utah, Kansas, Idaho, Nebraska, and Mississippi. One would not expect them to support the DREAM Act – but they did. This was because of former President George W. Bush. Mr. Bush was a strong backer of comprehensive immigration reform and enjoyed substantial Latino support because of this. Indeed, on immigration affairs Mr. Bush was probably more liberal than any Republican today.

These Republicans will probably not vote for the DREAM Act today. The current Republican Party is dominated by red-hot anger against undocumented immigrants, in the vein of Governor Jan Brewer rather than Mr. Bush. At least one moderate Republican – Senator Scott Brown – has announced his opposition to the DREAM Act as “amnesty.” If Mr. Brown will not vote for the DREAM Act, more conservative Republicans such as Senator Orrin Hatch will not either.

The DREAM Act’s chances of passing are therefore slim, according to most in the Washington Beltway. It needs 60 votes, and if Republicans won’t vote for it, then it won’t pass. Moreover, there will probably be at least one conservative Democratic Senator who won’t support the DREAM Act.

There is also the rather important matter of what the American public actually thinks about the DREAM Act. In general, the public always supports less immigration and more enforcement, which is true for almost every country in the world as well. It is difficult to find a restrictive immigration measure that Americans will not support, not matter how extreme it is (this is also true for other countries throughout the world). Japanese internment camps, after all, were quite popular with the American public during WWII. Today Arizona law SB1070 is just as popular.

The DREAM Act goes against this strain of thought. Nevertheless, there is some reason to think that it might have a higher level of support than the usual pro-immigration bill.

For one thing, the beneficiaries of the DREAM Act – undocumented college students – look really good on television. Unlike the average undocumented immigrant, an undocumented college student speaks perfect English, knows to wave the American flag, and doesn’t look fresh-off-the-boat. Moreover, politicians love to talk about their support for college students; college students come just one level below soldiers in the military (whom, it just happens, the DREAM Act will also benefit.)

The DREAM Act’s supporters have the unusual characteristic of being more passionate than the Republican base. Undocumented college students have participated in a number of public protests, from sit-ins at Senate offices to spelling out messages on the South Beach, Miami. Their noise may have some influence on the debate.

Finally, proponents of the DREAM Act are in a far better position in the immigration debate than advocates of immigration usually are. Opponents of immigration reform generally label immigration reform as amnesty. The argument goes that law-breakers – i.e. undocumented immigrants – should not be rewarded for breaking the law. This is a quite effective argument, and something most Americans buy into.

But DREAM Act supporters have much better response than immigration proponents normally have: it was the parents of these undocumented college students who broke the law by bringing them into the United States, not them. They were children when they came here – and the government shouldn’t punish children for the crimes their parents made.

Whether this argument works will probably determine the fate of the DREAM Act.


The Road Ahead on Jobs and Income

Two new government reports illustrate the complex and troubling state of opportunity in America, but also the right way forward.

The first set of data, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that the gender pay gap is at a historic low, with women earning almost 83¢ for every dollar earned by men—compared with 76¢ a decade ago and until fairly recently.  The change is due in part to young women’s progress in the workplace—they increasingly are better educated and out earn their male counterparts—but also to depressed wages and, especially, more rapid job loss by men.  

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Stupid Is, As Stupid Does

I have opinions of my own - strong opinions - but I don't always agree with them. - President George Bush

The one thing you have to admit about the emergence of all of the teabagger candidates is that the political discourse in this country has gone from bad to worse. The intelligence quotient which has always been low in our political debates has certainly hit an all-time low. However, before I make that declaration I know that we still have two months remaining and anything is still possible. The recent performance of Arizona Governor Brewer and Republican Senatorial Candidate Angle in debates demonstrates what many of us have known to be true for a long time many voters select candidates not on perceived intelligence or merit but on identification with the candidate.

The one thing that has concerned me about the blanket assertion made towards blacks and President Obama (all black people voted for him because he was black) is that whites have been using identity politics forever. You don’t have to be a historian to realize that politics has rarely been a meritocracy. Can anyone argue that Bush II or Reagan were intellectual heavyweights? No group has used identity politics more than whites let’s not forget it has taken 44 white presidents to get to this one. So were all the whites who voted for whites racist? But I digress. Some have asserted that President Obama’s own educational achievements are fueling this wing-nut campaign against knowledge. I don’t believe this entirely because they had the same criticisms for any previous Democratic candidate who had similar achievements. Bill and Hillary were lambasted as cultural elitists out of touch with average Americans.

Let’s be honest stupid candidates are nothing new. What is troubling to me about the current trend of candidates especially the teabaggers is not that they are less than scholarly but the fact that their lack of knowledge is what makes them appealing to their constituents. There has been a steady assault on education by the wing-nuts for decades. We have been bombarded by the wing-nuts and their media outlets with the constant railing against the northeastern urban educated elite and their prejudice against the common folks. These are the folks who are leading the destruction of the family by promoting homosexuality. These are the folks who are destroying our social fabric by promoting affirmative action and giving away the country to lazy black folks. These are the folks who are destroying our education system by forcing integration. They are destroying “our America” with their social experiments.

There was a time in America when knowledge and education were valued and stressed as ways to overcome one’s humble beginnings. Many of our early presidents and statesmen were products of these opportunities. However, we also have an equally dark history of denying education to prevent groups from achieving success. We have been a country that has valued the pursuit of education not just for its material gains but also for the pursuit of knowledge. For many years we have led the world in educational achievement and have been the destination of the best and brightest of the world’s students. Over the last two decades our achievement scores have continued to drop and now we rank 18th among 36 nations. Now is not the time with a global economy for America to promote ignorance as a virtue. We need to promote education now more than ever for our young people. What message are we sending our young people with these simpletons vying for power and flaunting their lack of knowledge?

I mentioned the dark history of our nation denying education to blacks during slavery because of the belief that education made folks more difficult to control. My guess is that this is the underlying strategy of the rich and infamous who are funding these candidates and their agendas. There are those who want to dumb down our population to make us easier to control and what better way to do it than by implying that knowledge is somehow evil. Of course there is also their blatant desire to shutdown the Department of Education. We must resist this trend to devalue and demonize knowledge and education because it is putting our democracy at risk. What makes democracy work is an engaged and knowledgeable electorate and the more detached and uninformed the electorate the easier it will be to deconstruct social security, Medicare, and all of the other programs that have provided a safety net for our most vulnerable citizens. The same folks who are touting this knowledge is bad line are the same folks who are making sure their kids are attending all of the right schools. So are we to assume that knowledge is only bad for us?

With the lost of our manufacturing base we no longer have a path from high school to middle-class as we once did. What this has done is made education not only a luxury but a prerequisite for any decent job in our highly technical society. I am a firm believer that we have to reestablish our manufacturing base if we are to continue a viable middle-class. Let’s be honest not all of our kids are going to be engineers and neither should they have to be. Manufacturing in the 21st century will require some technical skills which will require knowledge and education. One of the benefits to the rich and infamous by dummying down the nation is that it reduces the competition for their kids for scholarships and employment.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t believe that education and secular knowledge should be the only characteristics to base a decision on who is qualified to serve this nation. But to ridicule intellectual curiosity as some kind of satanic plot to brainwash our children is dangerous. Our political system must be open to all and all have the right to seek public office but with that right comes a responsibility to be as knowledgeable as you can be about the material and issues that you are asked to preside over. Unfortunately, what many politicians learn the hard way is that governing is a lot more difficult than campaigning. Not knowing anything may have appeal with some voters on the trail but as we have seen with the last administration it does not make for good governance.

"Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped." - Elbert Hubbard

The Disputed Truth

Make Back to School Work for ALL Children


Today more than ever, we must focus on educating all South Carolina children. Our economic future depends on having a well-educated work force.

Providing a quality education requires shared responsibilities … and the shared goal of educating ALL our children.

Responsibility lies with families, teachers and schools, and elected officials who set policies and funding.  Each plays a role.


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