WHY DID IT FALL TO THE POST! When liberals refused to discuss public schools, the New York Post stepped in: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, MARCH 17, 2011
Fools for Bachmann/Fools for ODonnell: Wed love to stop discussing MSNBC. But the channels so awful, it squeaks.
Is MSNBC the Fox of the left? We didnt say itKevin Drum did! But The One True Channel is gaining ground fast on its foxy rival. The latest example was Lawrence ODonnells cynical segment on Tuesday night.
Its hard to believe the segment wasnt a con, with ODonnell playing his viewers for foolsessentially telling his viewers how dumb he thinks they actually are.
Was Tuesday evenings segment a scam? If so, the scam worked nicely! In this post at Salon, commenters stood in line to announce how brilliant ODonnell had beento agree with his presentation. Good God, we liberals are easy! Can progressive interests possibly survive our mega-gullible ways?
(To watch ODonnells full segment, you can just click here.)
ODonnells analysis concerned the stupidity of people who voted for Michele Bachmann. Recently, Bachmann made a fairly dumb comment about the battles of Lexington and Concord. She thought these battles occurred in New Hampshire, rather than in Massachusetts, just one and two towns away from our own childhood hometown.
Presumably, most members of Congress would have known where these battles occurred. But most members of Congress doesnt mean all. We have no idea what a full survey of Congress would have shown.
That said, it was only a few months ago that ODonnell made the following remarks about the Social Security system. He spoke with Ashley Carson, a bright young woman who is executive director of the Older Womans League:
Youre right. Its hard to be much dumber than that, and ODonnell has dealt with these issues for a very long time. Condescending to Carson throughout, he spoke in defense of Alan Simpsons role on Obamas commission. (Simpson had just made his statement about the cow with all those t*ts.)
In short, ODonnell can be pretty dumb too, if dumb is the trait we dont like. But then, you probably know that if you saw him undermine Candidate Gore all through Campaign 2000, thus joining the Jack Welch crowd. (Happy St. Patricks Day, everybody!) But on Tuesday evening, Mr. O knew how to toy with his gullible viewers. After reviewing Bachmanns gaffe, he daringly posed these questions:
Its hard to know what role those voters played in Bachmanns gaffe, or in the other clumsy and/or inaccurate remarks she has recently made. No matter! After noting how ignorant Bachmanns staffers must be, ODonnell set his sights on her voters:
Lets see: Fifty-two percent voted for McCainand the same number voted for Bachmann! Almost anyone could explain why that is: The voters in question are Republican voters; they support Republican candidates! Presumably, some of those voters like Bachmann a lot, some perhaps a bit less. But ODonnell was on a cynical roll, encouraging viewers to lock themselves into a pleasing, but very stupid, beliefthe belief that no one gets to be right but them; the belief that voters who hold different values and views must thereby be deemed unintelligent.
This belief is suicidal for progressive interests. It ratchets the ongoing culture wara tribal war which divides the people who are currently being looted by the nations oligarchs. It teaches young liberals to think they are smartand to think that everyone else is stupid. It teaches liberals to make such statements out loud, where they help poison our politics. It teaches liberals to build high the walls which help the oligarchs win.
That said, this approach does serve ODonnells interests. It convinces gullible pseudo-liberals than Lawrence ODonnell is on their side! That can be good for cable ratings. Its good for a cable hosts wallet.
How cynical was ODonnells presentation? Wed rate it high on the cynical meter. But as he continued, things got worse; now, ODonnell wanted to figure out why those voters are so damned stupid. What follows represents his first attempt to solve this vexing problem.
How cynical, how fake is Lawrence ODonnell? Try to believe that he said thisand by all means, do watch that tape:
Stunning, isnt it? Its really something to see the way these cynical hambones toy with race. Weve seen a lot of race cards played by this gang of frauds. This one took a cake, though.
Question: How dumb do we liberals have to be, not to see through such crap?
ODonnell continued his nonsense from there, examining other possible reasons why those voters are so dumb. Well only suggest that you watch the tape, just to see the way he talks down to his liberal viewers. The chances are very, very slight that ODonnell composed his analysis in good faith. But please understand how this works:
You live inside a plutocrat wara war being waged by the top one percent. (Wellby the top one-tenth of the top one percent.) This war has been underway for thirty-five years; the plutocrats clearly are winning. In the process, all average people are getting lootedthose who voted for Bachmann, those who voted for her opponent. But guess what? The plutocrats will continue to win as long as we slow-witted liberals keep taking the bait from cynics like ODonnellas long as we keep getting conned into heightening our tribal wars.
Duh. When the 99 percent get split into two warring tribes, the one percent will roll to big wins. Youve probably heard the phrase: Divide and conquer!
Last night, the nonsense continued on MSNBC, with Chris Matthews devoting yet another pointless segment to Bachmanns meta-disturbing mistake. Plainly, these silly segments are big confections, gooey cream puffs, served to us gullible liberals. As usual, Matthews has begun to embellish various facts, making Bachmanns past absurdities seem like even more than they were. (Matthews has an instinctive aversion to accurate statement. It wont let his soul rest.) But truly, liberals are played for world-class fools when men like ODonnell pander in the way he did Tuesday night. Its hard to be a bigger fraudand its hard to be much dumber than we liberals are when we fall for this crap.
At ODonnells web site, 935 souls have e-mailed, trying to answer his fawning question about why those voters are so damn dumb. But truly, is anyone dumber than us? Happy St. Patricks Day, you all! Are you a Fool for ODonnell?
How much do office-holders know: Bachmann didnt know where Lexington is, although she was only off by one state! In 1986, Rep. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) didnt know a lot more.
Mikulski was running for the Senatefor the seat she won, and still holds. On the Democratic side, she was opposed by Rep. Michael Barnes, a subcommittee chairman on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and by Harry Hughes, Marylands sitting governor. The Republican nominee would be Linda Chavez, a former White House aide.
In July 1986, a TV station hit these hopefuls with a fiendish, five-part pop quiz. According to the Washington Post, these were two of the questions, with answers:
Who is the Israeli prime minister now, and who will be the prime minister in November? (Answer: Shimon Peres now and Yitzhak Shamir in November.)
Mikulski scored 1.5 out of 5; she tied Barnes for the lowest score of all the major candidates. Linda Chavez scored a 4. Debra Freeman, a LaRouche candidate, scored a good solid 3.
Mikulski got elected to the Senate, where she still serves. Did that make her voters dumb?
(For the New York Times report by Steve Roberts, just click here.)
Inevitably, we end up here: One Salon commenter seemed to know why Bachmanns voters are so dumb. The commenter shared her knowledge about one part of Bachmanns district:
Well guess their limbic brains dont work, as we once learned on Countdown.
PART 2WHY DOES IT FALL TO THE POST (permalink): Unheard of! On March 3, Jon Stewart broadcast an intelligent discussion concerning our public schools.
Stewart interviewed Diane Ravitch, an education historian. He asked a series of intelligent questions. He ended up praising his mother, a long-term devoted teacher.
Jon Stewarts the son of teacher, man! Plainly, this must explain the intelligent segment he presented that night. We liberals quit on such topics a long time ago; we dont give a fig about public school issues, or about the black and Hispanic kids whose lives and fortunes hang in the balance. We dont stoop to discussing such issues. The son of a teacher did.
Why did it fall to Stewart to stage this segmentthe type of segment youll never see on The One True Liberal Channel? Simple answer: We liberals are too great for such petty concerns. And when we review the American discourse, our indolence really shows.
How bad is our discourse about public schools? About the deserving children who attend them? Consider the remarkable news report which appeared in the New York Post. The lengthy report appeared on February 20, penned by education reporter Susan Edelman.
Edelman wrote about the recent non-scandal scandal concerning New York State test scores. In the liberal and the mainstream press worlds, this scandal has been non-existent, of course. The liberal world has ignored it completely; last fall, the New York Times offered a vague and blowsy report which skirted most major issues.
But at the much-reviled New York Post, Edelman cut to the chase last month. Her headline spoke of New Yorks testing con. This is how she started:
Ouch! By now, of course, the state of New York has basically thrown all those test scores down the drain. Last summer, the state announced that it had been forced to revise its statewide tests, because they had somehow become too easy to pass. And sure enough! When the states new tests were used in the spring of 2010, passing rates dropped like a stone! As Edelman notes in that opening passage, all that grand and glorious progress suddenly faded away.
As she continued, Edelman started to give an explanation for those lower passing rates. She reported a set of gruesome facts the New York Times has basically chosen to skip, right to this very day:
Say what? In 2006, the score required to achieve Level 2 status was already just 41 percent. But over the course of the next three years, the required score dropped to just 18 percent! Lets be clear: In theory, Level 2 was the score a student needed to be promoted to the next grade; that student wasnt rated proficient (Level 3) in official designations. But that cut score was downgraded too, according to Edelmans report:
According to Edelmans reporting, it wasnt just the lower cut rates which led to higher proficiency rates. She also cited the repetitive questions on the tests, which made specialized teaching to the test a great deal easier. In fairness, lower cut rates might be justified if a tests questions had been made harder for some reason. But uh-oh! Edelman covered that topic too:
Oof. According to Smith, the questions themselves were getting easier, even as the cut rates were being relaxed!
This is a detailed report on a gruesome subject. There is much more to Edelmans report than the parts we have included; wed suggest that you read the whole thing, which runs 2200 words. (Warning: Edelman reports on several state testing programs. Be careful to tease them apart.) That said, might we quickly note two other parts of this story?
First, note the political use to which this bungled testing was put. What follows is based in part on an anonymous source, though Mayor Bloombergs relentless self-praise is part of the public record.
For the record: In all the reporting we have seen, Tisch comes off as a hero in the pushback against his scam. Then too, you should note this remarkable passage about test preparation:
The practice tests cost more than the tests themselves? Is there any way that could be accurate? For the record, CTB/McGraw-Hill is the big corporate player we mentioned in yesterdays post. And by the way: If their actual tests are any good, you dont need all that practice testing!
Though it does help you score lots of money.
We arent experts on the New York situation, but this isnt the first time weve read about lowered cut scores. In last years book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, Diane Ravitch briefly described the same problem, referring to the states secret decision to lower the points needed to advance on the state tests. (We think weve seen Ravitch discuss this elsewhere, although we arent sure.) But as far as we know, these embarrassing claims have never been reported, analyzed or debunked by the New York Times, our greatest mainstream player. Last October, the paper did a long, front-page report about the implosion of the states passing rates. But the report was very airy; it made little attempt to nail down the reasons behind the inflated rates.
Why did it fall to the New York Post to report this remarkable story? As with Stewart, so with the Post; it falls to comedians and tabloids to discuss public schools when high-minded liberals wont. On MSNBC, the very high-minded millionaire hosts would jump off the Golden Gate Bridge before theyd stoop to discussing such topics; these topics concern public school teachers and low-income kids, the types of beings who seem beneath our lofty liberal airs. Meanwhile, the New York Times has frequently played the cheerleader role for the brilliant Mayor Bloomberg. He is a billionaire, after all, and we live in a land where the billionaires are rather plainly in charge.
Tomorrow, well look at that very problem. When pseudo-liberals stare into space, wasting their time on vapid confections, billionaires fill the vacuum. That seems to be a substantial part of what has been happening when it comes to our public schools.
Tomorrowpart 3: Diane and the billionaires