Saturday, December 17, 2016

So To Summarize....

From the weekly  Top Ten comments chosen by the editors of the NY Times:

4. Let’s see, so far we have a guy from Alabama dedicated to upholding the fine Southern tradition of voting prevention heading up the Justice Department, an alleged reincarnation of Patton affectionately known as “Mad Dog” for defense secretary, a general who wants to expand the Al Qaeda terrorist training camp in Guantánamo for Homeland Security, a conspiracy theorist as national security adviser, a fast-food billionaire who opposes health care benefits and better wages as labor secretary, a guy with a plan to dismantle health care access as Health and Human Services, a neurosurgeon with zero leadership experience for Housing, a billionaire who wants to divert funds from public schools for Education, a climate-change denier from fracking earthquake country for the Environmental Protection Agency, an interior secretary who wants to sell off public lands and half of the top management of Goldman Sachs for the rest.
What could go wrong?
— Look Ahead in Washington, reacting to an op-ed by Frank Bruni about Donald Trump’s search for a secretary of state.

What indeed? Oh let me count the ways. Most alarming to me is Trump's pick for Education Secretary. A woman who, in this moment of falling US international test scores (see PISA 2015 stats) –– the US didn't even make the top 10 –– she's looking to turn US schools into charter US Christian madrassas. I simply cannot believe this is happening and no one in government is publicly challenging the potential for severe damage to the demos.

Again, from today's Times:

"Betsy DeVos stands at the intersection of two family fortunes that helped to build the Christian right. In 1983, her father, Edgar Prince, who made his money in the auto parts business, contributed to the creation of the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as extremist because of its anti-L.G.B.T. language.

"Her father-in-law, Richard DeVos Sr., the co-founder of Amway, a company built on “multilevel marketing” or what critics call pyramid selling, has been funding groups and causes on the economic and religious right since the 1970s.

"Ms. DeVos is a chip off the old block. At a 2001 gathering of conservative Christian philanthropists, she singled out education reform as a way to “advance God’s kingdom.” In an interview, she and her husband, Richard DeVos Jr., said that school choice would lead to “greater kingdom gain.”

"And so the family tradition continues, funding the religious right through a network of family foundations — among others, the couple’s own, as well as the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, on whose board Ms. DeVos has served along with her brother, Erik Prince, founder of the military contractor Blackwater. According to Conservative Transparency, a liberal watchdog that tracks donor funding through tax filings, these organizations have funded conservative groups including: the Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal juggernaut of the religious right; the Colorado-based Christian ministry Focus on the Family; and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy."

H. L. Mencken wrote: an election is a battle for the soul of the American people, a war, if you will,  of words and ideas.  But if truth is the first casualty of war, how is a nation of citizens – raised in an education system subject since the early seventies to decades of dumbed down and increasingly locally designed, ideologically influenced curricula – a nation not given to critical discernment, to see through the fog of war?  It never will if Ms. de Vos has her way.  This is Erik Prince's sister, for God's sake. The Prince of Evil himself, Cheney's personal hitman, a guy who singlehandedly created a privatized the US military to promote and protect the agenda of the rentier class and its government handmaidens, and at twice the price of a "government run" military. 

I don't know how much more I can take. I mean, it's not Aleppo, but the world seems so sharply divided these days, not between two opposing points of view, but between thinking people who have an appreciation of the negative effects of thoughtlessness and intolerance and plain ol' nihilists.

The Founders were revolutionaries of a sort, but they weren't nihilists. They had at least some appreciation that there is a benefit to considering the common good. What happens when that idea is no longer part of the equation?

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