Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Maybe Michael Moore is Right

A new report by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute has been getting a lot of attention lately. The Institute administered a civics quiz to a variety of individuals—young people, elected officials, and others, and the results were dreadful. That average score was forty-nine percent; only 0.8 of test takers got an A. Somehow, college educators scored an average of fifty-five. And this wasn’t hard test either—it covered only the most basic aspects of American government. (For the record, I got a 96%. Take the test here)

This would be worrisome, except it only confirms what most people already know, or at least suspect—the majority of Americans have no idea how the country works. It isn’t hard to find evidence of this fact—any “man on the street” segment on TV or radio (think Jay Leno) is a pretty strong indication of that fact (unless it merely shows that the sort of people who want to be on TV enough to appear on those segments aren’t fountains of civic knowledge). And most people can cite numerous examples of incredible ignorance from their own experiences with others. (If you can’t, you either mingle was an unusually intelligent set, or might want to brush up on your American history knowledge).

This ignorance is, of course, deplorable, but it’s also probably not going away. The state of public education might be deplorable, but a lot of people have a stake in preserving the status quo, and since these people also happen to be the people in charge of public education, they’ll probably get their way.

The NEA and AFT are reasonably happy with the way things are. Their membership includes the vast majority of all teachers. Teachers are hard to find, and so wield a lot of power in labor talks. Any real educational reform will be passed over the teachers unions’ dead bodies, and it’s doubtful anyone will have the will to do that. So we’re not very likely to see American civic literacy rise anytime soon.

(Although maybe not knowing who Susan B. Anthony was will be the least of our problems—Americans lag behind other countries is science and math too, which you’d think will be a problem in the future).

The fact that most Americans might as well be living in Estonia for all they know or care has some interesting implications. One is that public opinion is, by and large, massively ill-informed. The majority of Americans support abortion and oppose amnesty for illegal aliens, facts that supporters of abortion and opponents of amnesty take great pride in. But that support means little—most Americans, evidently, don’t take positions on issues based on a broad based understanding of all the factors involved, but take positions based on ignorance.

Another point—both parties claim to speak for the average guy. If they really do, that might explain much of the incompetence in Washington.

And a final point: many commentators point to Obama’s win over John McCain as proof of an Obama mandate. That’s debatable on many levels—most obviously, I’d think you’d need more than 53% of the vote to claim a mandate. But in American politics, it seems safe to say that nobody can get a real mandate—most voters don’t know, and don’t care, enough about a candidate’s policies to mandate them one way or another. People really do vote on a candidate’s image—they can’t understand his philosophical message.

Conservatives don’t often agree with Michael Moore, but perhaps he’s right on one point-- maybe Americans really are idiots. The fact that Americans lack even the most basic knowledge of our government is disgraceful—and deadly harmful to our democracy.

35 Comments:

At November 28, 2008 at 11:14 AM , Blogger BB-Idaho said...

You left no link, but I got an 88%
Noted a conservative tilt right off, so turned off my liberal mind and answered what I thought a conservative would. (when in Rome, as they say) BTW, discussion and
analyses of the test bias has led others to similar conclusions..

 
At November 28, 2008 at 8:13 PM , Blogger road warrior said...

Do we really need a survey to tell us that Americans really don't know the basics of our government? There were a bunch of stupid videos that try to tell us the illuminati voters (Obama supporters) were stupid but really i just think it's a lack of government education period. These kinds of things prove it.

 
At November 29, 2008 at 5:26 AM , Blogger ZmudasExpress said...

maybe Americans really are idiots.

If you heard the on the street interviews of these "Obama supporters" you woud see just how IGNORANT they are.

 
At November 30, 2008 at 8:42 AM , Blogger ZmudasExpress said...

Conservatives had better wise up and return to the present and look to the future. Or they will never regain the White House.
The banning-abortion position that the conservatives hold to is not a realistic one. Not in this country - it's never going to happen, ...

Doctors shouldn't have a right to opt-out of providing treatment.

Let's use a typical modern Republican argument: If Doctors don't want to do their job, nobody is forcing them to do it. They're free to go do something else.

Here's another one: It's a slippery slope. First it's abortions. What's next? Homosexuals? Fat people? Black people? White people? Catholics? Jews? People they didn't like in high school?

What if a doctor refuses to treat AIDS because he thinks it's God's way of eradicating fags? What if he refuses to deliver an ugly woman's baby? What if he refuses to treat cancer because his church teaches that only evil people get cancer?

If 3/5ths of Americans don't support abortion, then they have the right not to get them. BUT they should NOT have the right to impose their morality on others. Let them opt not to.

As for pandering to the far-left... that's funny considering that Joe Lieberman co-sponsored the bill.
The argument that pregnant adolescents are subject to the will of their parents with regards to medical care aren't really valid. In at least four states -- two of which (Pennsylvania and Utah) meet the modern Republican definition of "real America" -- state that pregnant females are emancipated with regards to prenatal medical care. You ought to know this.

You cannot argue that the people should "love it or leave it" on all positions except ones about which you feel a sense of moral outrage or superiority. This is precisely why the Government should not be in the business of legislating morality. If the Republican Party wants to get anywhere in the future, they better get with the times. Keep abortion out of politics.

 
At November 30, 2008 at 3:20 PM , Anonymous T R said...

"Keep abortion out of politics."

Murder is against the law. Why shouldn't abortion be?

 
At November 30, 2008 at 3:47 PM , Blogger ZmudasExpress said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At November 30, 2008 at 3:49 PM , Blogger ZmudasExpress said...

T R said...
"Keep abortion out of politics."

Murder is against the law. Why shouldn't abortion be


Because ABORTION isn't against the law.!

Next question!

 
At November 30, 2008 at 3:57 PM , Blogger ZmudasExpress said...

There is no scientific reason to characterize a raisin-size lump of cells as a human being. Biologically speaking, such an embryo is far more primitive than a fish or a bird. Anatomically, its brain has yet to develop, so in terms of its capacity for consciousness, it doesn't bear the remotest similarity to a human being.
Bottom line is that abortion IS Legal, NOT against the law.

 
At November 30, 2008 at 6:48 PM , Blogger Beth said...

Zmudas, you were once a raisin sized lump of cells, what I want to know if you weren't human then, what were you?

 
At November 30, 2008 at 7:53 PM , Blogger Daniel Ruwe said...

"Zmudas, you were once a raisin sized lump of cells, what I want to know if you weren't human then, what were you?"

Yes, and when exactly did you become human?

 
At December 1, 2008 at 3:26 AM , Blogger ZmudasExpress said...

You’re kidding, right?
The point is that the the law gives the right to choose is that a woman’s body is HERS.
I also think what
my mother decided
was in the best interest for her at that time. If my mother were to have aborted me, that would have been her decision not mine-and even so, it wouldn't really matter then, now would it! ...If abortion were the right decision for her, thwn me as a raisin would not know or vare about it one way or another.

 
At December 1, 2008 at 3:39 AM , Blogger ZmudasExpress said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At December 1, 2008 at 4:03 AM , Blogger ZmudasExpress said...

What right has any religious group or party to impose its morality upon a woman?
This is a personal issue. It is a question of whether an women shall be deprived of her basic right to have something that the law allows.
Yes, there are many people today who believe that abortion is wrong such as you, but that's your choice, don't disallow others to have their choice.
I am a Christian man and I am pro-choice. I don't believe it’s the right of others to take away the choice for my family!
If it's not for you then don't have one
I just get tired of people pushing their religion on others and even though I'm a Christian I still feel that all women should have the right to choose. It's her body and how dare other people tell her what she can do to it or with it. You cant FORCE someone to have a baby they may not want... and its funny that others are trying to tell women to have a baby when they don’t know her life or her situation.
I firmly believe in giving every woman, every option and letting her decide for herself what is best for her... I firmly support each woman's right to choose even when her choice is not the choice I would make for myself...

I think people who are pro-life are entitled to their opinion.. Their right to govern their own body as they please to ……However her rights stop when it interferes with my rights. I believe that abortions should be safe legal.
Many pro-lifers so strongly (and arrogantly) believe that being pro-choice makes you pro-death. WRONG! It's when they say that that I start to get over-the-top impatient with them.

I'm pro-not forcing your morality on others

 
At December 1, 2008 at 4:58 AM , Anonymous T R said...

Zmudas, you haven't answered the question. If you weren't a human what were you, and when did you become one?

 
At December 1, 2008 at 5:57 AM , Blogger Beth said...

Zmudas doesn't want to answer that question, because there is no answer other than the obvious.

And my views are not just religiously based, but based on science and the Constitution. So you can just end that argument that I am trying to force my religion on you, Zmudas.

 
At December 1, 2008 at 6:06 AM , Blogger Bob said...

T R said...
Zmudas, you haven't answered the question. If you weren't a human what were you, and when did you become one?


Well Beth, I'll answer thyat one for Zmudas> If you don't mind!

First of all who are you to abstain somebody else's rights? Would you ever like your's to be abstained from you...? I'm pretty damn sure not.

So then who are you to decide whether an embryo should be given rights or not. The problem with our world is that most people have an opinion and everybody forces their opinions on others. I think the world would be a better place if people minded their own business, and not poke their noses in the business of others.
I am just as opinionated as you are, but the only difference is. I don’t force MY opinion on you. And I expect the same from you. . Or I should say I would like the same from you, I know I’m not going to get it. Because you and the pro-lifers like you want everyone else to have YOUR opinion and to abide by YOUR religious ways of thinking.. But you are not going to convince me that my opinion should not be allowed because of YOUR strict and outdated beliefs. Why is it that I can live with you having your beliefs but you can’t do the same? . Who do you have to be to decide whether embryo should be given rights? Stop judging people and forcing YOUR beliefs on me.
If you are apposed to it because of your unfounded religious views. There is nothing wrong with that, however, you can not expect everyone else to have your religious views. Your argument is baseless once you remove your religious views.

Make NO mistake about it, abortion is a religious view and we have separation of church and state in this country. This is only one of the freedoms i and many others were willing to give our lives for. This should not be a topic for a presidential campain as it always seems to be.. No wonder we lost this election. Our own party was so divided. No one wants any religions beliefs thrust down anyones throat. we all are free to worship (or not to worship) the way we want and many have died protecting that right. KEEP RELIGION OUT OF POLITICS.

I think for myself. You, on the other hand, need to stop posting as T R. Everybody can see right thru that alias ..........

I can certainly respect your position based on your explanation of your beliefs...All I ask is for you and people like you to return my rights under the law.

 
At December 1, 2008 at 6:23 AM , Blogger Bob said...

Beth Alias T R said:"And my views are not just religiously based, but based on science and the Constitution. So you can just end that argument"

You know that is your opinion..not a fact. ...but you can believe it if you wish..

But YOU DO base your opinion on religion and or moral issues.
You might want to live your life for yourself based on your convictions and that's fine, but don't try to convince me that it's because of Religion.
When you mix Religion and Politics you get a old line conservative that out of touch with the times.

I,unlike you, respect anyone's right to choose.
I had enough about this abortion subject, Unlike you, there are many other things in the world going on to talk about.

 
At December 1, 2008 at 7:14 AM , Blogger Beth said...

I only go by Beth, for your information Bob, why in the world would I hide my identity? I have no qualms about putting my words to my name.

We do have rules of law such as murder and stealing that are considered wrong, because no one person's rights should infringe upon another's rights, my rights end where your begin, right? Well, when it comes to the unborn, I happen to think that the baby should have rights, just because he or she is located within his mother's body should not mean his mother's rights trump the rights of the baby.

 
At December 1, 2008 at 1:37 PM , Anonymous T R said...

Bob said "Well Beth, I'll answer thyat one for Zmudas> If you don't mind!"

But you didn't answer it. I'll be surprised if you can.

 
At December 2, 2008 at 5:31 AM , Blogger David#999 said...

I guess this was a slow news week, and there's no other subjects to discuss besides abortion?
Lets see now, There was only the attack in India, the gigantic drop in the stock market, the naming of Hillary as SOS, the Black Friday news. Naw, nothing exciting, so let's talk about abortion again, and again, and again..........

There has never been any shortage of subjects to discuss, but it seems that both Beth AND T.R.
(aka whoever that is) want to put the subject of abortion into every discussions on this borad, there are other subjects to discuss besides abortion. There are other things in this world besides abortion.
How about talking about the time they were taking out my gallbladder?
Given you want to deny women an abortion, would would deny them abouting their gallbladder?

 
At December 2, 2008 at 8:07 AM , Anonymous T R said...

What are you talking about, David? Abortion is taking an innocent person's life. That has nothing to do with gallbladders.

 
At December 2, 2008 at 9:45 AM , Blogger My Left View said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At December 2, 2008 at 9:46 AM , Blogger My Left View said...

This is exactly why I say that conservatism is dead!!!
Most conservatives that I've come in contact with in general, want to ban abortions, ban drug use, ban pornography, and ban all other things that are absolutely none of their business. Whether you agree with these positions or not, you have to admit that they are nothing less than efforts to restrict the freedom of individuals choice, and thereby legislate personal choices. And they call us Liberals Nazie's! Now ain't that hypocrisy.
Conservatives seemingly hate everyone who doesn't share their personal values. And they're out to fix it by giving you no choice but to conform.
The Conservative attitude of "Me first," "Mine is better," and "Death to dissenters," is damaging to our country and it was proven to be the will of the people to put an end to this way of thinking by the recent election

 
At December 2, 2008 at 10:10 AM , Anonymous T R said...

Left View, what do you think abortion is? If you don't think it is murder, what is it?

 
At December 2, 2008 at 11:08 AM , Blogger My Left View said...

No, I don't think it's murder. I don't think that potential is enough to make it a person. It is nothing more than a glob of cells.
I notice that you and your ilk on the "Soapbox" generally disregard the positions of others anyways. You know best. You are all-wise and always right.
Your reaction to what I write is of little concern to me except insofar as I am annoyed by your hypocrisy. All I really want is for you to admit that your position is nuanced as well.
As for what I write not being a concern to the argument in general, it is as relevant as your assertion that Abortion IS murder.
I feel you are making a mistake by assuming "pro-choice" automatically means "pro-abortion, kill all babies and feast on their entrails". I personally interpret it as "if you believe abortion is murder then don't get one", but that is just me.
The problem is, although everyone is entitled to their own opinion, some feel the need to push personal feelings on others. You asked for opinions and that is just what I gave you.
But I agree that neither of us will change the other's mind, so then I'm going to drop it.

 
At December 2, 2008 at 12:25 PM , Blogger Sandys Sandbox said...

No I don't think that it's murder either.... I think it's a terrible choice for a woman to have to make, but in some cases, it is the right choice. For example, I don't think a woman should have a government force her to have a child that was conceived in an act of rape or incest. If abortion is being redefined as murder, we should consider other forms of killing to be murder too. Let's be fair across the board. Killing prisoners in accordance with the death penalty, soldiers killing whomever they are fighting and on and on... I think the anti abortion movement is a backlash to the feminist movement and I also think that if people care so much about the unborn child, they should be some organizations where people can donate money to support that child that would not have otherwise been born so s/he has clothes to wear, food to eat and access to education.... But you don't see THAT happening... My motto is 'you stay out of my uterus, and I'll stay out of yours'.

 
At December 3, 2008 at 4:59 AM , Blogger Myself said...

No i don't think it is murder. Not even close. I think people should be able to do what they want with their bodies and I don't believe murder is murder until the child is actually born. I'd rather see someone abort a child than give birth to and abuse him or her.

 
At December 3, 2008 at 5:25 AM , Anonymous T R said...

I don't believe murder is murder until the child is actually born."

So, the baby isn't "human" until its born? And when it's born, it suddenly becomes "human"? What was it before?

 
At December 3, 2008 at 5:42 AM , Anonymous R T said...

T R said...
I don't believe murder is murder until the child is actually born."

So, the baby isn't "human" until its born? And when it's born, it suddenly becomes "human"? What was it before?

A BLOB OF MASS

 
At December 3, 2008 at 6:00 AM , Blogger Bob said...

Biologically a fetus is only alive because of the mother; it isn't an independent being because it relies on the mother for survival. Yes, it has a heart beat, has dreams, can move and suck its thumb, but a fetus isn't an independent life. A fetus does have independent thought and emotions, yet is still physically a part of the mother. So, technically a fetus isn't alive on its own.
Legally speaking, no
Whereas murder is defined as the unlawful taking of a life.

Abortion is not illegal, and therefore not murder
Also, medically it is difficult to pinpoint where life begins, so also it isn’t murder.
This is a heated topic and ALWAYS will be. EVERYONE will have their own opinions on this topic. This is one of many topics that you should keep your opinions to yourself so you don't start fights between people. Why does BETH always have to push this subject? Get a life Beth; there are other topics out there. Like the one the author of this blog is writing about today for example.

 
At December 3, 2008 at 11:45 AM , Anonymous T R said...

Bob said "Also, medically it is difficult to pinpoint where life begins, so also it isn’t murder."

You're right, scientifically speaking, it is difficult to pinpoint where life begins. This is a reason why abortion should be against the law. Many people say, "It's just a blob of mass." But can they be certain that it's just a "blob of mass"? What if it is a human being? You can't just assume when there's a human life at stake.

 
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