In his State of the Union speech, one of President Obama's objectives for America was to provide access to education for as many people as possible. From Head Start to affordable college loans, making America smarter is worthy goal. It will be hard as long as we (as a nation) celebrate celebrity (and notoriety) and sport over intelligence. There's also that pesky Republican drive to make Americans suspicious of science.
We need to do something
, because boy - are we stupid.
By now, you've likely heard the audio of the phone call
from the woman who thinks that the deer crossing signs on a certain stretch of road should be moved, because it's dangerous for the deer to cross there. You see, people are hitting the deer with their cars, so the deer shouldn't be "encouraged" to cross there.
Another woman in Ohio thinks that's nuts. Deer can't read! So - she asks - why put up the signs at all
? Since the deer can't read the signs, it's a waste of taxpayer money. And anyway, we eat deer, and this is a socialist plot like Obamacare to treat deer better than a fetus. (no - I am not kidding... read the link).
Well sure - you can find stupifying stupidity in the general population. After all, this isn't Lake Wogegon where everyone is above average. Someone
needs to be in the D- category. Our elected officials, however, should be held to a higher standard.
At the state level, that doesn't always work out. People with money, who have friends with money, and are driven to seek the office will win out over the smart grad with more integrity than salesmanship. Enter Republican Alabama state rep Mary Sue McClurkin, who
should know better
says that a fetus is the largest organ in the body
(female body, we presume).
In a recent interview, state Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin explained why she was sponsoring House Bill 57 — The Women’s Health and Safety Act — which would “require clinics to follow ambulatory clinic building codes and make it a felony — punishable by up to 10 years in prison — for a nurse, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant to dispense abortion-inducing medications,” according to the Montgomery Advertiser.
“When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body,” the lawmaker declared. “That’s a big thing. That’s a big surgery. You don’t have any other organs in your body that are bigger than that.”
That resulted in a well-deserved snark response:
In fact, the largest internal organ in the body is the liver, weighing 3.5 pound on average. The body’s largest external organ is the skin. A fetus weighs about 0.6 pounds at 20 weeks.
“My liver, heart, and skin are all very excited that we are now giving organs personhood rights, although the latter is slightly upset about losing out on its ‘largest organ in the human body’ rep,” Jezebel’s Katie J.M. Baker wrote on Monday.
Okay what about at the national level? We've heard plenty of lies and stupid comments from the House and the Senate, but sometimes the stupid shines a little brighter. Everyone is pretty familiar with The Onion. It is a parody newspaper that carries hilarious satire of real news. Most people read it online, but in DC you can get it in print. How it is that an elected House representative doesn't know this is beyond me. Apparently though, John Fleming (R-LA) believed a parody article on Planned Parenthood
In a Facebook status on Friday, the Louisiana Republican alerted his followers to The Onion’s May 18, 2011 article, “Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex” and wrote “More on Planned Parenthood, abortion by the wholesale.” Fleming’s spokesman Doug Sachtleben confirmed to POLITICO the post has since been removed from the congressman’s Facebook page and said the office had no further comment.
The May 2011 Onion article details the opening of a “sprawling abortion facility that will allow the organization to terminate unborn lives with an efficiency never before thought possible.” The fictional Abortionplex includes more than 2,000 rooms dedicated to the procedure, as well as “coffee shops, bars, dozens of restaurants and retail outlets, a three-story nightclub, and a 10-screen multiplex theater — features intended not only to help clients relax, but to foster a sense of community and make abortion more of a social event.”
Why yes, that is TOTALLY believable...
If he was a newbie, you might cut him some slack. However, he is starting his 3rd term in House, so he should know better. He should also do what ANYONE should do on Facebook before giving anything like this credence - verify it.
The creme de la creme, however, is Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). A career politician for several decades, and one of the most powerful politicians in the country, he should have some of the best staff in DC. How is it, then, that he too (or someone in his staff, if you believe Lawrence O'Donnell) believed an absurd story posted on a military spoof site? He went so far as to send a letter
about the story:
On November 14, 2012, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wrote to Elizabeth King, the Pentagon’s congressional liaison, with a an unusually credulous query. “I am writing on behalf of a constituent who has contacted me regarding Guantanamo Bay prisoners receiving Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits,” McConnell wrote in a letter acquired by Danger Room. “I would appreciate your review and response to my constituent’s concerns.”
Um, Guantanamo detainees getting GI Bill benefits? Yes, that’s from the Duffel Blog, as McConnell’s constituent clearly states, complete with the reference URL. Said constituent even notes that he or she can’t find any information about the alleged government payouts to suspected insurgents and terrorists.
Why would any high-ranking elected official take a letter written by a constituent referencing an absurd story as factual without even trying to do a little research first? What does it say about someone of his stature who would believe this, yet poo-poo overwhelming climate change research?
It says that it's time for America to stop reacting and start researching. Facts are our friends, and science makes us smarter. If we don't start embracing that, we'll become a nation of Forrest Gumps, living in a land of Idiocracy.