The non-linear nature of history

The name Charles Guiteau is probably not the best known name in American history.  Over at Wikipedia, there’s one category that his entry belongs to, which contains exactly three other names, including Leon Czolgosz (another not exactly well known name to people who aren’t students of American history).   

But Guiteau ought to be more than just a footnote to history.   He was definitely delusional and probably a textbook example of a psychopath.   In 1880, he gave an impassioned speech at the republican national convention in favor of the man who would go on to win the general election, James Garfield.   

And he felt that Garfield won because of that speech.  As a result of more than a half century of patronage, first introduced by Andrew Jackson in the election of 1828, Guiteau felt he was entitled to a position within the cabinet of President Garfield.   When he didn’t get the ambassadorship he wanted, he decided to assassinate the president.   

I often use the case of Charles Guiteau as an example of how you can never tell when some decisions might have horrible, unforeseen consequences.   In hindsight, we can probably argue that there’s a degree of luck that Garfield was the only victim of a disappointed office seeker during the era of the “spoils system”.

There are countless other examples.  I’m torn about whether whether the blame for the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 belongs more on decisions made by Harry Truman or Ronald Reagan.  Probably a little bit of both.   It was on Truman’s watch that we had our failed incursion into Korea under the notion of the “domino theory” that if one country became communist, then other countries would fall.   This, in turn, was Reagan’s justification for funding the mujaheddin in Afghanistan to fight against the Soviets in the 1980s.   And who got a lot of American money for that war?   Osama bin Laden.   Without that money, he wouldn’t have had the resources or the knowledge to train his followers…

Some decisions have consequences that don’t make themselves known for a long time, without regard to whether we might agonize over them for a long time or whether they seemed like no-brainers at the time.  Bill Clinton’s impeachment was only made possible after the Supreme Court rejected his argument that a civil lawsuit would detract from his ability to perform the duties of the president.   The court ruled (correctly) that there was no historical precedent for a civil lawsuit having the net result of harm to the presidency.   Well, that precedent surely is there now…..

You can draw an almost direct line from both Presidents Bush to the recent Russian incursion into Ukraine.   Bush 41 set the stage by not intervening when Saddam Hussein, his country harmed by a nearly decade long war with neighboring Iran, asked for help when Kuwait made oil sales even harder.   So Hussein invaded Kuwait and Bush intervened to drive the Iraqi army back.  Then Bush 43, hoping to salvage his father’s legacy, waged an ill-advised war to depose Hussein after he had gained some political capital in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.  Vladimir Putin, watching this aspect of history can make a valid argument that if Bush could do that, why can’t he do pretty much the same thing in Ukraine, where a fair amount of the local population might prefer to be subjects of Moscow rather than Kyiv….

It’s too soon to know what the consequences of some of the tumult of 2016 will be.   Between Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump, there’s a lot of uncertainty about what will happen next, much less the longer term impacts.   Time will certainly tell on that one, but whatever it is, that’ll only mean that future leaders will have to deal with it when it does finally happen.   

Weltschmerz

Donald Trump took the oath of office today at noon, becoming the 45th president (44th unique president) of the United States of America.  I didn’t hear his speech but I did read it afterwards.   All things considered, it wasn’t a horrible speech, as speeches go.   He seemed to hammer on the points that endeared him to the people who voted for him: the economy is in the tank, crime is unbearable, the military is weak, and all of the other things he said on the campaign trail without a lick of evidence to support it.  

(Note that with regard to the economy, there is a nugget of truth to the pronouncements in that far too many people are working their asses off only to enrich the already wealthy and still have trouble making ends meet but the solution to that is not tax cuts for the rich, as he and his team have proposed.)

I do think there’s something disingenuous about proclaiming to have responded to the will of the people when he actually lost the popular vote, and badly.   Indeed, if the popular vote at all levels actually worked out to the actual results, we’d be celebrating our first female president and a democratic majority in congress.  But that’s not the way the constitution and the congressional districts are designed.  

So we enter into a period of uncertainty about the future of the nation.   As a straight, white cisgender male, I know that I will be all right.   That’s my privilege talking.   But it’s not me that we should be worried about.   It’s all of my friends who don’t share in that privilege: my female friends, my trans friends, my African American friends, my gay, lesbian, and bisexual friends.  Those are the people for whom I worry.  

The word that is the subject line of this essay is a German word for the pain, angst, or anguish of watching things happen around you and how little control you might feel you have.   It literally means “world pain”.   I think it fits.  

A couple of weeks ago, there was an article in the New York Times about why rural America voted for Trump.  It’s interesting reading, to be sure, but there was one characterization of the difference between liberals and conservatives that I, as a liberal, take exception to: it said that conservatives view people as inherently bad and liberals view them as inherently good.   I disagree with such a facile, oversimplified view of humanity.   I think we have the capacity for doing both good and bad deeds.  While there are some bad people in our prisons, most of our inmates aren’t so much bad people as people who’ve made mistakes.  There’s also no shortage of bad people who are running free, maybe even serving as the president of the United States.   I think it takes a lot of work to bring out the best in many people but it can be done.  

And that’s what’s next on the docket.  Bringing out the best.  I shall hold out my hand to anyone who might want to join me.   It’s time to show the people in that article who characterize liberals as lazy, that we’re not afraid to roll up our sleeves and get to work.   

Whither the GOP and the country?

In the past couple of months I’ve been thinking a lot about both American history and what portends for the next four years under a President Donald Trump.   I have often said that I have not been able, in good conscience, to pull any levers in the voting booth for someone with “Republican” next to their name since I watched then-Senator Arlen Specter hew dangerously rightward to fend off a primary challenge from then-Representative Pat Toomey in 2004.   

At the time,  my other senator was Rick Santorum.  When Toomey — whose worldview closely resembles that of Santorum — came in claiming the mantle of the future of the Republican Party, I lost the ability to vote for the GOP.  

I was (and still am) quick to point out to pollsters, this statement is not, in and of itself, a giveaway to the Democratic Party.   

Donald Trump ran on an openly racist, sexist, bigoted platform sprinkled with some economic populism that appealed to those who have felt left behind by a changing economy.   The racism, sexism, bigotry, and general xenophobia he spouted aren’t anything new in either this country or humanity in general.   It’s just disheartening how much he has emboldened them.  

In looking at the posturings of the president elect, I wonder if I have been misjudging things.   Thirteen years ago, I thought the downfall of the Republican Party would be the influence of the religious right, and that in order for the party to become remotely palatable to me, they’d have to rid themselves of the influence of the theocrats in their midst.  

Say what you will about Donald Trump himself, but he is not a theocrat.   He may have surrounded himself with the likes of Franklin Graham and other modern religious hypocrites but he himself has little use for the teachings and trappings of religion.   I might tongue-in-cheek question why someone like Trump hasn’t founded his own church as he seems quite comfortable preaching similar bullshit to gullible supporters, but I’m sure that, as a con man he recognizes similar people.  

I am not, by nature, a pessimistic person.  And I do recognize that sometimes, in order to move forward we must occasionally step back.  Looking at Trump’s nominees for important positions in his cabinet, there are only a handful of people who can competently execute the duties of the position without raising the specter of corruption, conflict of interest, or historical opposition to the goals and expectations of the agency they would lead.  Add in Trump’s very public disregard for our intelligence agencies, and it’s easy to see how our enemies can be emboldened to find ways to attack us while the wolves guard the proverbial hen house.  

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has shown his true colors in wanting to rush the most controversial nominees through the confirmation process without thoroughly vetting them.  (Note that there is nothing wrong with holding the hearings before the president elect assumes the office; it’s the lack of interest in compiling the necessary documentation on their backgrounds that is a problem.)  Considering the sheer amount of wealth all of these nominees have, both individually and collectively, their backgrounds should be investigated more thoroughly, not less.  

I have pointed out before that, depending on how you measure it, three historical presidencies vie for the title of “most corrupt.”  The way Trump is starting out, it seems as though he wants to surpass Grant, Harding, and Reagan and earn the mantle of most corrupt on his own, eliminating any ambiguity from the various possible definitions.  

And yes, that can and will damage the country in scores of ways, both direct (bankrupting the government) and indirect (leaving vulnerabilities in our defenses and infrastructure).   And that, in turn, could be the motivation of an otherwise reluctant congress to grant more powers to a president who is already excessively power hungry.  

During the campaign I was unable to answer the simple question of why Donald Trump wanted to be president.   Most people who enter politics — liberal and conservative alike — do so because they feel compelled to serve the public and think that they can effect positive changes for the country.   There is nothing in Donald Trump’s public statements or his past history that indicates that he wants to serve anyone other than himself.  

But there is cause for hope.  Whatever damage he does, can be easily undone by an electorate that watches in disgust, starting with a new congress designed to hold him accountable for his lies and actions in two years and then a new president in four.  

What I’d like to see in this process is the Republican Party waking up and realizing how much of a mistake they made by having him as their standard bearer.  The country will survive.  Will the republicans? 

This Is Why We Fight by the Decemberists

Come the war
Come the avarice
Come the war
Come hell

Come attrition
Come the reek of bones
Come attrition
Come hell

This is why
Why we fight
Why we lie awake
And this is why
Why we fight
When we die
We will die
With our arms unbound
And this is why
Why we fight
Come hell

Bride of quiet
Bride of all unquiet things
Bride of quiet
Bride of hell

Come the archers
Come the infantry
Come the archers
Come hell

This is why
Why we fight
Why we lie awake
This is why
This is why we fight
And when we die
We will die
With our arms unbound
And this is why
This is why we fight
Come hell
Come hell

This is why
Why we fight
Why we lie awake
This is why
This is why we fight
When we die
We will die
With our arms unbound
And this is why
This is why we fight



So come to me
Come to me now
Lay your arms around me
And this is why
This is why
Why we fight
Come hell
Come hell
Come hell
Come hell

(C) 2011 BMG Rights Management

Watch the video

Modern Day Israel

One of the most repugnant conspiracy theories in existence today is that of holocaust denial.  There’s no shortage of conspiracy theories that selectively deny evidence and focus on one tiny sliver of ambiguity or doubt in order to make the claim that the greater narrative should be discarded in favor of some alternate version of reality.   But holocaust denial stands alone in terms of both the mountains of evidence being ignored and the agendas of those who would further the alternate thesis.  

At times like this, I like to examine the true crux of the argument they’re making.  The fundamental argument that the deniers make, is that there’s no way that in the approximately 5 1/2 year period beginning in late 1939 and ending when Germany surrendered to end the European stage of World War II was not enough time, given then-available technologies, to massacre six million Jews and other minorities.  

Let’s ignore the fact that, if there were a mandate that everyone on the planet must fight exactly one other person to the death every day, the death toll on day 1 would be more than 3.5 billion and that we’d wipe out pretty much all of humanity in just over a month.   And the only real technological limitations would be for the survivors on any given day to locate their next opponents.  

I’m not unsympathetic to the argument that the six million figure might be wrong.  After all, it is truly impossible to know the exact number.  It took the best statisticians in the world more than a decade to land on that number in the first place.   Even today, there’s no shortage of bona fide historians who argue that the true number might be closer to 8 or 9 million.  If we’re willing to argue that the number should be larger, surely there’s room to argue that it’s closer to 4 million, right?

And that’s not even getting into the old canard about how there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.  After all, those gum ads don’t say “4 out of the 5 dentists we surveyed recommend sugar free gum to patients who chew gum.” It’s amazing what the addition of two tiny words can do to the interpretation of the numbers.  

So at the end of the day, denying the holocaust its place in history serves to undermine what happened next: the founding of the state of Israel in 1948.   It’s not unreasonable to assert that a major reason why the nation was carved out of the territory it now holds, because of a degree of European guilt over what happened to the Jews during the holocaust.  Deny the holocaust and you deny the justification for the founding of the nation.  

And that’s unacceptable.  

An argument can be made that the Palestinians who lived in the area in 1948 weren’t adequately informed of what was happening or they weren’t properly compensated for their land and for their troubles.  With that fact in mind, they can’t be faulted for resentment towards Israel and its leaders.  Nearly 70 years have passed since Israel was first founded, and she’s been in a near constant state of alert for hostilities ever since.  

Israel has every right to defend itself and its citizens.  But at the exact same time, if the Palestinians in the area are kept in slum-like conditions without the same privileges enjoyed by the state of Israel, there’s no way around the resentment aimed at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.   To make matters worse, Israel has been building settlements in lands earmarked for the Palestinians.   

I’m not trying to argue that Israel deserves any terrorist attacks committed by the Palestinians but its leadership sure as hell isn’t doing itself any favors by not being willing to listen to their grievances.  Yes, the Palestinian charter calls for the destruction of Israel. It’s what Israel is trying to do to the Palestinians.   

When Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech before congress a year ago, I heard his words and came to the conclusion that he may be one of the most dangerous people on the world stage.  

That fact was underscored a couple of weeks ago when the UN Security Council condemned Israel’s continued building of settlements in the territory it has been occupying for nearly 50 years.  At the very least, it’s a violation of the Geneva conventions.  

I want to reiterate that Israel has a right to defend itself against foreign attacks, and it. has been doing so quite effectively for as long as it has existed as a nation.   But Netanyahu and nearly the entire Israeli government are either being shortsighted, foolhardy, or both when they continue sowing the seeds of resentment that can only result in more attacks.   

The Palestinians don’t need to have the moral high ground in this debate.  But as long as right wing hardliners are in charge of Israel, the Palestinians are getting it anyway.  

It’s a small consolation for the horrors its people are facing, by the hands of a group of people who, quite frankly, ought to know better.  What the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians may not rise to the level of another holocaust, but they still harbor an attitude that surely resembles Germany around about 1936.   

I worry that Netanyahu may be emboldened to make life worse in that part of the world, thanks to the incoming administration in the US.  

And that’s a bloody shame.  

Presidential Greatness

A lot of Donald Trump surrogates are saying that we need to give him a chance.  Of course I’ll give him a chance and so far, if I want to be at my most polite, he is on track to becoming easily the biggest disaster of a president since World War II.   

When Bill Clinton won the presidency after having taken only 43% of the popular vote in a three-way presidential race, the highest ranking republican in office, Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas tried to justify his obstructionism by claiming to represent the 57% of the country that didn’t vote for Clinton.  When Obama won the presidency, the republicans in congress stepped up the obstruction even more and it persisted throughout his eight years in office. I don’t see them as doing anything that can even be remotely considered “giving [them] a chance.”

But the bigger point here is that I question why someone might say that we should give an incoming president “a chance” in the first place (beyond simple civility). It sounds to me as though this is a means of saying that we shouldn’t criticize them. And that’s just bullshit. You can always find things both to praise and criticize in any presidency. My general approval of President Obama doesn’t stop me from criticizing the NSA under his watch, or what happened with Edward Snowden, or the drone strikes. Hell, a year ago I faulted him for the fate of ACORN, the now-defunct community organizing group.  

And that got me to thinking about the greater process by which we judge our presidents.  The Wikipedia page on historical rankings of US presidents is an excellent resource here.  It’s easy to argue that FDR and Lincoln were among the best presidents and that Buchanan and Harding were among the worst.   But why?  What did they do to earn those rankings?  How hard would it be to find something worth criticism for FDR and Lincoln and/or something to praise for Buchanan and Harding?

And I’m not just talking about individual decisions that are important but ultimately not relevant, like FDR’s attempt to pack the Supreme Court.  I’m embarrassed that it was necessary to go to war to end slavery.   We should have been able to do that without so much carnage.   But is it fair to say that Lincoln deserves criticism for his apparent eagerness to go to war in the first place?  Be my guest if you want to make the argument that the fault just as readily might have lain with those who wanted to continue slavery.   You wouldn’t be wrong but the escalation of belligerent rhetoric during the decade or so prior to the war should be a blight on both sides.  

I guess that’s one of the reasons why, when I was in high school, the Advanced Placement American History test put a heavy focus on the 1850s in their questions.  (And the 1790s and the 1930s).  

But fundamentally, it’s not always easy to judge any given president.  Take Ronald Reagan, who championed tax cuts and deregulation.   If we regard these concepts as his primary legacy, were they successes or failures?   It depends on who you ask, of course.  Even if we recognize that they were worthwhile experiments (and I do), can we say, for example, that supply side economics serves nobody but the already rich?  Is it not unreasonable to say that privatizing the prisons was a bad idea?   Regardless of their merits or demerits, he got them done.  

Where is the dividing line between effectiveness at implementing and/or maintaining a given policy, and your disagreement with the policy in the first place?  

Andrew Jackson comes to mind here.  He said he’d force the native tribes to relocate, and he did.  For however horrible the policy was (and it’s a part of the reason why I don’t care for him or his legacy, and I will be grateful when his image is taken off of our $20 bills) but you can’t deny the fact that the goal he set out to achieve, got achieved.  

Just compare Teddy Roosevelt and George W Bush, two men whose interventionalist approaches to foreign policy appear quite similar to each other.   Why is TR so highly regarded but W so low on the Wikipedia page I cited above?  Did TR just get lucky where he swung the big stick?  

It’s interesting that Lincoln and FDR both succeeded presidents whose rankings are close to the bottom of the list.  Is there a degree to which we’re comparing them against their immediate predecessors?  Earlier this year I wrote a blog entry about the gun problem in this country and compared it with the inaction on the part of Herbert Hoover at the start of the Great Depression.  I gave a semi-defense of Hoover who likely had little reason to think this particular economic downturn would have been any worse than prior ones.  James Buchanan was probably correct when he took the position that the federal government had no legal power to prevent states from seceding and certainly would have overstepped its boundaries by forcing them back into the union.  

It’s tough work upholding the constitution, especially when it runs counter to public opinion or need.  Just ask any of the lawyers working for the American Civil Liberties Union, which probably does more to defend our constitutional rights from government overreach than any other organization.  They’ll get criticism from the left when they defend the KKK’s right to hold a rally, and from the right when they point out that nativity scenes on public property violate the establishment clause of the first amendment.  That’s enough to make me wonder if the constitution would even pass a popular referendum today.   

How long after a president leaves office can we truly grasp his legacy?  In some cases, it’s immediate.  George Washington was given a blank slate as to how to run the executive branch.   In others, not so much.   We can pin the assassination of President Garfield (in 1881) on the system of patronage introduced by Andrew Jackson (when he won the 1828 election).  

If it seems as though I’m picking on Andrew Jackson a fair bit in this blog entry, you’re right.  Without regard to how good or bad a president he was, I do consider him one of the most overrated.  

JFK is another interesting example.  Popular, likeable, and, quite frankly, inspiring: many Americans have a soft spot in their hearts for the man, and likely would even if he hadn’t been assassinated.  But when you look at his foreign policy (specifically), the best thing we can say about it is that he was shortsighted.  Just look at his policy towards Cuba during the missile crisis and then later during the Bay of Pigs fiasco.   

His successor exemplifies the dichotomy between domestic and foreign policy successes and failures: he deserves accolades for the Great Society programs he instituted, and criticism for the way he handled the quagmire we know as Vietnam.   Indeed, Vietnam was the reason he became the only president since the passage of the 22nd Amendment to choose not to seek reelection.  (As opposed to being constitutionally prohibited from doing so…  I’m not counting the three presidents who lost their reelection bid who could technically have challenged their successors four or more years later but chose not to.)

How does dying in office change the overall perception of a president?  After all, that’s another thing that Lincoln and FDR have in common.  A total of eight presidents have died in office (William Henry Harrison, Taylor, Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Harding, FDR, and JFK) of whom three — Lincoln, McKinley, and FDR — had already served at least one full term as president when they died.  Of the remaining five, two served less than a year (Harrison and Garfield) and probably should be exempted from any lists ranking the presidents since the fact of their deaths probably had a greater impact on the direction of the country than anything they did in life.   This is especially true for Harrison since he was the first and nowhere in the constitution was it written that the Vice President becomes president upon the death or resignation of the president.  

Side note: I use the word “was” here because the 25th amendment to the constitution settled that question in 1965.  Only 124 years later and after the death of the most recent president to die in office…

It certainly does seem as though popular opinion of presidents who died in office seems to be frozen in time based upon how we felt about them at the time and the relative suddennness of the death.  It’s at least partially why JFK is so loved today while Harding ranks near the bottom.  

But does that mean that the post-presidential activities of the 35 men who lived long enough to become ex-presidents ought to have a bearing on how they’re perceived?  I’d like to think that both Nixon and Carter managed to redeem their relatively uninspiring presidencies once they were unencumbered by the needs of the position itself.   That’s not a new phenomenon.  John Quincy Adams also looks better in the lens of history when you consider his work in congress to abolish slavery.   (Plus, he was portrayed in the movies by Anthony Hopkins.)

And no discussion of post presidential activities (at least the ones that redeem the presidency) would be complete without a huge shout-out to William Howard Taft, who went on to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  According to legend, he wanted to be on the court more than he wanted to be president.   Without regard to the validity of the legend, he certainly executed the duties of the president most consistently with the way it’s spelled out in the constitution.  It’s why he pissed off Teddy Roosevelt so much.   

There are so many moving pieces to what does and does not make for a good president, that it seems almost impossible to gauge it all.  I haven’t even gotten into the stuff we don’t (and can’t possibly) know about what happens behind the scenes, either because it’s classified or just not exceptionally relevant.   

In the end, it’s probably most fair to say that Lincoln and FDR were our best crisis managers.   And that likely means that they’ll rank near the top simply by virtue of the historical circumstances that happened to lead them to he presidency.   Yes, that gives the short end of the stick to those presidents who weren’t tested the same way.   But what can you do?

Watch out for fake outrage!

About a week ago, a fake video popped up in which a person who opposed Trump verbally confronted a Trump supporter.  Almost immediately after this, a report appeared where Ivanka Trump was confronted on a JetBlue plane in a similar manner.  

In light of (1) the sheer amount of fake news out there, (2) the fake video, and (3) the fact that it was JetBlue, I was skeptical of this report.  

So when I saw someone on Facebook make a vaguely worded comment that could have been interpreted as the fake video, I commented “you know this is fake, right?” I talked about confirmation bias and how it feeds into fake news.  And then the following morning, when I realized that it wasn’t fake, I apologized for my error.  

That’s when things went downhill in the Facebook dialogue.  She asked me to make a post on my Facebook feed echoing her outrage at the actions of the man who was escorted off the plane.  After all, would the political left have sat idly by if it had been Chelsea Clinton who had been harassed like that?  And in the presence of her child no less!

I politely refused to do so, largely on the grounds that this isn’t something worth being outraged about.  She threw my confirmation bias statement back at me along with a few other things and I abandoned the dialogue. 

I’m not defending the actions of the man who confronted Ivanka Trump, but he was punished accordingly by being escorted off the plane.   Conservative news media continue to talk about this and how horrible the guy was.  Tucker Carlson called him a member of the intolerant left.  

I call it bullshit.  

Let’s start with the “think of the children” part.  What should it matter?  We hear that a lot when people want to give a comforting lie to children rather than expose them to uncomfortable truths about life.  I have no problem with being age appropriate to some of the more unpleasant aspects of life, but to outwardly lie to them and pretend that things aren’t the way they are?  No. 

I’m reminded of the scene in the movie Dragnet with Dan Aykroyd playing the very uptight Joe Friday and Tom Hanks playing the more iconoclastic Pep Streebek.   They’re investigating vandalism at the local zoo and find a lion whose mane had been shaved into a mohawk.  Friday goes on a long “think about the children” screed about this travesty and how will they recover from seeing this.   Streebek looks over at a group of children and says, “kids, it’ll grow back.”  They all cheer.  

Ivanka Trump may have one of the most unenviable positions in modern politics: she has her own business interests to tend to and she may be best positioned to temper her father’s nature.  If she intervenes too much, charges of corruption and nepotism will surely arise.   If she does too little, she may be questioned about why she allows her father to do the things he will inevitably do.  

Do you want real outrage?  How about Donald Trump’s attempts to redirect US policy during the transition, most glaringly with regard to the UN Security Council condemning Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory?  By comparison, then-president elect Bill Clinton didn’t even complain when still-president George H W Bush had an initial troop deployment to Somalia in December 1992.  If ever the outgoing president might have been in the right to refrain from acting until the new administration came in, it was here.  

How about a Secretary of State designate who has a personal vested interest in seeing the sanctions against Russia be lifted?  How about a Secretary of Energy designate who not only doesn’t accept the reality of climate change but who wants to pursue policies that will make it worse?  How about an Attorney General designate who thinks that racism only exists when it’s aimed at white people?  How about a Secretary of Health and Human Services designate who wants to make it harder for people to afford the health care they need?

How about a Secretary of Education designate who wants to dismantle our educational system, replacing scientific truths with lies that I’m not even sure I’d call comforting?  You want someone to think about the children?  Yeah, I’ll take that over a rude and inconsiderate person on an airplane.   

I suspect the fake outrage machine is only just getting started.