Republicans are crazy

The United States is not “democratic;” Obama is a threat comparable to Hitler or Stalin; it’s “un-American” to criticize British Petroleum for fouling the Gulf Coast. This calls for diagnosis, not refutation.


I mean crazy.

Like, completely out of their friggin’ minds.

We’re not talking obscure bloggers or fringe groups; we’re talking about the ruling faction on the Texas board of education, led by an appointee of the Governor, voting not to describe the United States as “democratic;” the Republican nominee for the United States Senate from Kentucky making up facts about the Americans with Disabilities Act (and calling it “un-American” for a U.S. President to criticize a foreign oil company for devastating the Gulf Coast); and the former Speaker of the House saying that his comparison of the threat to the country from the Obama Administration to the threats from Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia was “reasoned and compelling.”

All this calls for diagnosis rather than refutation.

Update Per Ann Althouse, here’s the .pdf of the new middle school social studies and history standard. (Not quite as finally adopted; the posted text still has “Atlantic Triangular Trade” in lieu of “slave trade;” apparently that was voted out at the last minute.) The word “democracy” never appears; “democratic” is used twice, once in reference to Classical Greece and once in quoting from the Texas education statute. “Limited government” (or its antonym) appears fifteen times. The high-school standard isn’t as bad on that dimension.

And here’s the economics standard, which makes sure students know about how wonderful “free enterprise” is and never mentions external costs, public goods, health and safety regulation, or child labor, nor the role of the Federal government in creating, e.g., the railroads.

Althouse can’t see anything wrong with this; she’s too busy showing that the Washington Post’s reporting was sloppy, which it seems to have been. She seems to be delighted that the social studies standard takes a swipe at “Southern Democrats” for holding up civil rights legislation, without mentioning either Barry Goldwater or the fact that the heirs of Southern Democrats are now the bulwark of the Republican Party.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

33 thoughts on “Republicans are crazy”

  1. Now that Texas has established a new studies curriculum, I'm thinking of signing up for a correspondence course. Friends tell me it's good for a change of up to 20 IQ points.

  2. Bad as this is, I don't think anyone actually learns anything in middle school anyway, so it could still be much worse.

  3. Rand Paul's version of ADA (that turns out to be just as reasonable as Dr. Paul says it should be) sounds like Saint Ronnie's fabled "welfare Queen" (that turned out to not exist). Paul is just ignorant but Gingrich and Texas school board ARE just nuts. Never let facts get in the way of a good myth.

    What's the GOP without a scarey booggeyman? It's all they've got. Same as it ever was.

    Truth is this kind of stuff has been working like magic for them for, well forever. The media never calls them on it, if anything the media loves to spread it around. The worst is that (polls show) a majority of people believe that if something is published or broadcast it must be true because they think there are laws to prevent publishing of lies. At least in the USSR the people were aware that 'the news' was all lies.

  4. To confirm what Fred says about the media in his final paragraph, just look at the headline in Mark's first link: "New Texas Social Sciences Curriculum Standards Fraught with Ideology, Critics Say." Critics say? It is an objective fact that the curriculum includes falsehoods and that those falsehoods are consistent with right-wing ideology. Yet the media will not state that fact.

  5. So, the ruling faction of the Texas board of education = Republicans? Can I pick a way out there group of Democrats to equate with all Democrats, too?

  6. As to the Texas board of education, when you give government the power to do the things you want to do, you're also giving it the power for your ideological and political opponents to do what they want to do too.

  7. Brett Bellmore says: "Can I pick a way out there group of Democrats to equate with all Democrats, too?"

    Can you translate that into English? Or, are you a product of the Texas education system?

  8. Jymn, he just neglected to include the hyphens in "way-out-there." There's a lot more worth criticizing about Brett's comments than his punctuation.

  9. Brett: Go ahead, pick a contemporary Democrat-controlled body in the USA vested with similar authority and deciding on similarly crackpot measures. Note the words authority, deciding. Individual bloggers arguing for silly things do not count. Liverpool City Council when controlled by the Trotskyite Militant Tendency in the 1980s would have been a parallel, but is ruled out by nationality, date, and the fact that the Democratic Party has no Trotskyite wing.

  10. "pick a contemporary Democrat-controlled body in the USA vested with similar authority and deciding on similarly crackpot measures."


  11. Hm, what would be the equivalent of discussing the free market without mention of externalities? Maybe discussing government without mentioning public choice theory, pretending that, if somebody works for the government, they're automatically acting for the public good? But, gosh, no school system would ever adopt textbooks that did THAT, right?

  12. Eutychus, Congress does not have the votes to alter the first 5 Articles of the Constitution.

  13. Har, har, Eutychus.

    Would you back up your jab with specifics about which crackpot measures Congress has passed?

    And Brett, plenty of liberals are in favor of Police Oversight Committees – which means they don't trust the police to act in the public good all the time. But straw men are more fun to erect.

  14. But, Mobius, plenty of Republicans believe in evolution, too. The standard being proposed by Mark is that you get to attribute to an entire party any position you can find a group controlled by members of that party promoting. It's not a standard of treating members of the party as individuals, or even inquiring into how widely such beliefs are distributed.

    By that standard, the entire Democratic party is on the hook for whatever some Democratic party dominated school board somewhere signs onto.

    Of course, Mark doesn't really mean for the standard to be applied in such an even handed fashion, it's a double standard.

  15. Brett, when you link to the State level Democratic controlled board making curriculum like that, I'll speak out against it, and get to work electing smarter Democrats, or maybe even Republicans.

    Additionally,I have no idea where you got the notion that any (D) slanted board would push the notion that "somebody works for the government, they’re automatically acting for the public good". That is completely at odds with 100 years of Jim Crow laws, and is beneath you as an argument.

  16. Brett,

    This isn't some "school board" and they're not just saying silly things. This powerful board is mandating censorship and indoctrination for the textbooks of Texas, and other states too.

  17. Mandating censorship? I censor my own library every time I buy one book, and not another, in the same sense. You're right about the indoctrination part, but isn't that the point of compulsory state education? The answer to THAT is separation of school and state, not demanding that one party indoctrinate children in the views of the other party.

  18. I've never read a civics text which didn't lie when describing the actual process by which bills are passed. Voice votes used to evade quorum requirements, bills being written after they're passed, or enrolled despite different texts being voted on by the two chambers, 'Allinfavorsayayeallopposedsaynaytheayeshaveit" being one word… Every civics text I've seen has been full of lies, because they described the way the legislature was supposed to function, not the way it actually does.

    Politics IS lies. That's certainly no different on your side of the aisle.

  19. Let's just suppose for a minute that in putting together this school curriculum the Texas board of education is motivated by bias, and engaged in history re-writing, and fill-in-the-blank. Great, now maybe the playing field will be balanced by the time a child gets to the liberal bastion of the American college campus with all of it's well-documented biases and indoctrination.

  20. Bux, you'd better worry if you're right, because, if students learn in college that they've been lied to throughout their childhoods, then they will stop trusting authority and move to the left politically. I attended elementary school in the 1950s during which, when we weren't cowering under our desks as protection against Soviet missile attacks, we were taught that the United States was always on the side of the angels, that every war it had fought was just, and that it had never lost a war. We certainly learned nothing of the genocide against Native Americans or slavery or Jim Crow. And this was in a Northern state.

    Then, in the 1960s, when we were in college, the Vietnam war and Lyndon Johnson's lies disillusioned us radically, and we moved to the left, where many of have remained. Our children tend not to be radicals because they were not raised on the lies that we were; they had more realistic expectations of the government and politicians. If you start lying to kids today, you'll create another generation of leftists.

  21. Brett, topic switching while not even acknowledging the idiotic Texas board's curriculum makes is transparently bad debate skills.

  22. "Brett: Go ahead, pick a contemporary Democrat-controlled body in the USA vested with similar authority and deciding on similarly crackpot measures. "

    The National Education Association which believes that it is almost impossible to determine what counts as a good teacher, and which makes it almost impossible to fire bad ones.

    For what it is worth, that stance alone is more damaging to national education than anything the Texas Board of Education has ever done.

  23. Who said anything about lying Henry? A lie presupposes a truth. A truth presupposes an absolute standard for determining that truth. By what absolute standard do you draw from in determining that your biases are true?

    And in case you didn't notice, trust for authority is at an all-time low under this current radical leftist administration, so you had better hope that this administration can find some "change we can believe in" or today's children are gonna be tomorrow's tea-baggers. I'm sure they'll really love Barack Hussein Obama when they're stuck paying back their money he's squandered. I'm sure you leftists can come up with a school textbook to gloss over that though.

  24. Bux, I didn't know that there were any right-wing deconstructionists. For those of us who are not deconstructionists, however, a truth does not presuppose an absolute standard. Whether you believe in a coherence theory or a correspondence theory of truth, or any other theory, absolute certainty is not required. I could be a brain in a vat, but I may still say that it is true that I am a living person.

  25. I didn't say absolute certainty was required for truth. I said an absolute standard was required. There can exist an absolute standard which I may never know with absolute certainty. But if there is no absolute standard or reference point then it can't be absolutely true. It can only be your opinion or mine. You may win the popularity contest or provide the most convincing arguement but that doesn't make it true. Truth with a capital "T" is always absolute. Please don't fall prey to those who would violate the law of non-contradiction and pretend that they are saying something meaningful. Answer me this, if an absolute standard is not required then how do you know that something is true or false? How do you ever really know?

  26. I don't follow you. Let's suppose that I subscribe to a correspondence theory of truth, and conclude that the statement "It is raining" is true because I see, hear, and feel rain falling (and others attest that I am awake, sane, and not under the influence of hallucinogens). Is that good enough for you?

  27. so your standard of determining truth is the basic reliability of sense perception? Have you seen, heard, and felt (while awake, sane, and not under the influence of hallucinogens) the historical "facts" debated by the Texas board of education?

  28. C'mon, Bux: for things we haven't observed ourselves we rely on other forms of evidence, including the statements of those we have reason to think reliable. By that standard, Joe McCarthy's claim that Dean Acheson and George C. Marshall were traitors was false. And nothing in the Verona intercepts gives any reason to doubt its falsity. So a Texas schoolchild who does not learn that Joe McCarthy made false accusations of treason against two men whose shoes he wasn't fit to shine, and who between them have a substantial claim to having laid the groundwork for the eventual defeat of Communism, fails to learn the truth, as best it can be established by responsible historical scholarship. Is that "absolute" (e.g., mathematical) truth? No, but it's truth beyond reasonable doubt. And the Republican faction that dominates Texas Board is engaging in suggestio falsi and suppressio veri: in English, they're a bunch of stinking liars.

  29. Sebastian H said: "The National Education Association which believes that it is almost impossible to determine what counts as a good teacher, and which makes it almost impossible to fire bad ones."

    The NEA's view is that standardized test scores are a poor measure of what counts as a good teacher. This is, of course, quite different.

  30. More to the point, Bux, what is the purpose of teaching history if there is no truth? Is it all some morality play and propaganda exercise we inflict on our children, scoring goals when our side makes Reagan look (good/bad)?

  31. Kenneth, the NEA has not proposed any other measure of what counts as a good teacher, and they have long claimed that seniority pay is the only functional possibility because you can't tell which teachers are good.

    So that isn't different.

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