DeVos gives for-profit schools a gift while punishing defrauded students

t is getting more difficult by the day to keep pace with the barrage of nasty policy “reforms” and attacks on domestic programs because of the never-ending distractions centering on the criminal in the White House. No doubt a few Americans overlooked another abominable action from Trump’s evangelical extremist running the Education Department that fairly epitomizes why Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary is an epic disaster. It also shines a glaring light on Trump’s greatest lie that his primary reason for running for office was to “drain the swamp” in Washington when in fact he began transforming the so-called “swamp” into a rotting special interest cesspool the day of his poorly attended inauguration.

Despite the best efforts of a real President, Barack Obama, to aid students defrauded by unscrupulous for-profit schools, Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos devised “new rules” to protect the for-profit private education industry that DeVos represents; the plight of the defrauded students was never a consideration despite they were fundamentally scammed out of a reported $13 billion.

The corporate-friendly plan eliminates regulations requiring for-profit colleges to prove that they provide a quality education that allows enrolled students to secure gainful employment. The plan is being criticized as “the most drastic in a series of moves that DeVos has made to free the for-profit sector from safeguards.”

The Obama-era regulations would have cut off federally guaranteed student loans to colleges if their graduates did not earn enough money to pay those loans off. The rule sent many for-profit colleges and universities into an economic tailspin because so many of their alumni were failing to find decent jobs due to fraudulent claims and inadequate education.

The DeVos-Trump private-school protection plan was hailed as a long-needed reform to “correct Obama-era” rules created to protect consumers. It is noteworthy that DeVos blocked the “Obama-era borrower rule”  from ever being implemented to protect her personal special interest – the for-profit private school industry. The action obviously garnered rave reviews from the for-profit education industry because it provides them with a field-tested means of defrauding students with veritable impunity.

Education activists, however, sharply criticized the action because it leaves defrauded students with $13 billion indebtedness with  little-to-no recourse or relief. At best, education advocates and defrauded students learned that in Trump’s America past corporate corruption and fraud is richly rewarded, and future corruption will be nearly impossible to prosecute – at least that is the case for industry that DeVos exists to enrich. It is worth noting that a government ethics report listed DeVos as invested in a “student debt collection agency” that does business with the Department of Education, but DeVos is only looking after the interests of the cheated students to hear her tell it.

DeVos said the proposal will assist for-profit private schools avoid trouble – by describing how best to avoid being caught or held accountable for cheating. She also lied and claimed the “new rules” actually protect any student who was economically devastated by deliberate deception. According to DeVos, her plan is really focused on protecting the significantly indebted students, but only if “they can prove the [private for-profit] schools deliberately misled them.” If DeVos’ past actions are any indication, students will have to  prove they were defrauded by a for-profit private school to a committee made up of for-profit private school officials.

Education Department documents that were alleged to support DeVos’ plan claimed that although students “really should be protected” from fraudulent private schools, it is really their fault they picked the wrong schools. The Department said:

Postsecondary students are adults who can be reasonably expected to make informed decisions;  if they have access to relevant and reliable data about program outcomes.”

That giant pile of bovine excrement statement fails to mention that one of the primary purposes of President Obama’s “borrower protection rule” was to pressure for-profit private schools to provide prospective students with something they resisted like plague – “access to relevant and reliable data about program outcomes.”

DeVos claimed the new proposal will save nearly $13 billion by reducing the amount of loan relief awarded to students who were defrauded to the tune of at least $13 billion by the people DeVos exists to enrich and protect. Under the new proposal, likely written by the for-profit school industry, private schools can now defend themselves against fraud claims and prevent damage to their reputations; all while preserving the billions in revenue from students who were defrauded. It also authorizes for-profit fraudulent schools to “force students into arbitration agreements as well as bar them from ever suing the schools that defrauded the students.” It is a practice that many for-profit colleges use regularly and “would have been banned” under President Obama’s rules that DeVos prevented being implemented.

While the private education industry cheered another means of cheating students, education advocates “blasted the proposal.” They rightly claimed DeVos’ plan “places [unscrupulous] private schools ahead of students while discouraging victims from ever pursuing financial relief.”

The director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard University explained the real purpose of the Trump-DeVos gift to the for-profit education industry.  Toby Merrill said:

“It encourages abusive and predatory institutions to continue to rip off students with impunity, while slamming the door on the debt relief that Congress has instructed the department to provide to cheated students.”

A senior fellow at the Century Foundation and a former Education Department official, Bob Shireman said:

The proposal is perhaps the most damaging action Betsy DeVos has taken since assuming office. These changes would effectively strip students of their right to recourse if a college or university misled them, making it next to impossible for defrauded students to get the relief they are entitled to.”

The for-profit school industry and their Republican facilitators hailed the corporate-friendly changes as a “great improvement for the for-profit college industry.” The president and chief executive of the trade group, Career Education Colleges and Universities, said the old rules allowing fraud claims to reach fruition were not only unfair, they were very detrimental to for-profit private schools, even though they were never implemented. Steve Gunderson said:

The department has undertaken a thoughtful and deliberate approach to this rule, and we applaud their hard work on this important matter.”

It is unclear how much Mr. Gunderson’s “private school trade group”  was involved in devising the rules to benefit the industry, but it was likely substantial. DeVos does not make any education move without consulting, and then enacting the demands of special interests .

DeVos belied the publicly-stated motivation behind what is her gift to the for-profit education industry she helped create and now represents. She told an assembly of her close business associates in the private school industry: “Our commitment and our focus has been and remains on protecting students from fraud.”

Of course the private education leaders applauded DeVos’ new policy because they perfectly understand that DeVos’ commitment and focus “has been and remains” protecting charlatans in the private education industry. If that was not the case, she would not be making it virtually impossible for defrauded students to ever get relief, much less restitution. It is the only reason she made suspending President Obama’s  2016 “borrower defense rules”  one of the first acts as the most “unqualified Education Department head” in history.

As a reminder, President Obama’s action followed the total collapse of two for-profit schools, Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute to give defrauded and indebted students a possible means of “relief” after suffering far too many for profit private schools’ obvious breach of contract.

It is almost certain that the average American is repulsed at the thought of being scammed, or defrauded, out of any amount of dollars – especially if they had to borrow those dollars with the hope of  improving their future. Trump is firmly behind this act because his so-called “Trump University” epitomized what at least 100,000-plus defrauded students experienced and now have the Herculean task of waiting until 2019 to attempt to “prove the schools deliberately misled them.”  The new rules will not go into effect until 2019, and because DeVos canceled President Obama’s “borrower defense rule” before it was implemented, defrauded students have no recourse.

Although this Trump-DeVos atrocity is not nearly as exciting as the myriad other troubles currently plaguing the criminal in the Oval, it should enrage the population whether they support education or not. It is yet another monumental monetary gift to special interests and that is ire-inspiring in-and-of-itself. But the real outrage is yet another Trump administration “reform” devised to allow special interests to inflict harm on consumers with the full protection of a corrupt federal government that is run by special interests and theocrats.

Propaganda works – 58 percent of Republicans believe education is bad

Critics of Fox News may discount the effectiveness of the right wing outlet’s effort to transform America into a fascist theocracy controlled by the ultra-rich and extremist evangelicals, but that would be a monumental mistake. Like all propaganda agencies, Fox broadcasts talking points crafted by evangelical and corporate activists nonstop until their mendacious messaging is considered a biblical truth.

Fox News, like Republicans and Trump, could never succeed as an ultra-conservative propaganda outlet without an ignorant population. The only way to continue having success at propagandizing is moving the proverbial Heaven and Earth to convince Americans that being educated and informed is detrimental to America and its citizens; something Fox and Republicans have been very successful at.

The idea that education is bad for the country is contrary to the belief of the Declaration of Independence’s author,  Founding Father and third American President Thomas Jefferson. He said:

“An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”

Another great leader, Sir Winston Churchill said:

“The privilege of a university education is a great one; the more widely it is extended the better for any country.”

Obviously, the current administration and the Republican Party it represents wholly disagrees with the concept of a well-educated citizenry, or that it is beneficial to America if the populace is educated. Likely because the less educated the people are, the more electoral support Republicans enjoy and the more success Trump has as the ultimate purveyor of “fake news;” idiot morons will believe anything.

That being the case, it should be no surprise to any semi-conscious American that since Trump’s poorly-attended inauguration there has been a concerted effort to dismantle, and eventually destroy, America’s education system; from public elementary and secondary school to colleges and  universities. It is also not stunning that Trump and the GOP’s propaganda arm, Fox News, has played a crucial role in convincing Republican voters that education is “bad for America.”

For years conservatives have demeaned “secular” education at all levels, and over the past decade Republicans have pandered to the religious right by railing against higher education with valuable aid from the GOP and Trump’s propaganda agency Fox News. It is evident that neither Trump, Republicans, nor Fox News would exist without a fair number of the population mired in rank ignorance about everything, and that does not include the willingly stupid contingent.

To demonstrate precisely why the people’s freedom, and democracy, are in jeopardy today, a recent poll revealed that nearly 6 out of ten Republicans sincerely, believe that “education is bad for America.”

Seriously, it is beyond the pale that anyone in this country thinks education is bad for America, but nearly 60 percent of Republicans is a mind boggling number. It is not entirely unexpected, but it is stunning that they have no issue telling a pollster that they believe education is a negative for the country.

It is noteworthy to mention that to Republicans and the Trump organization, all education is not “bad;” only secular education and any subject not steeped in fantasy and not recorded as Bronze Age mythos in the Christian bible. If America’s education system followed that of theocracies founded on religion, such as Iran or Afghanistan under Taliban rule, Republicans would spend an unlimited amount of taxpayer money on education. Instead, because America is still a secular democracy with Separation of Church and State enshrined in the First Amendment, Trump and his evangelical malcontent Education Secretary are on an honest-to-dog religious crusade to decimate public education and create a system of taxpayer-funded evangelical madrasas.

Republicans have opposed education for well over a decade, but over the past two years the percentage of Republicans who believe education is bad for the nation has risen sharply. In fact, two years ago a Gallup poll revealed that 54 percent of Republicans viewed education in America as a positive for the country. Now, according to the latest  annual Pew Research Center poll, 58% of those same Republicans believe higher education negatively affects society. Those figures represent a swing of epic proportions, and although there are enough GOP supporters who are too stupid to see the value to themselves and the nations of an education, it is telling that close to 60 percent of Republicans consider education bad for America.

To get a good idea of why a majority of Republicans, obviously Fox News viewers, believe education is bad for America, a recent Fox segment featured Tucker Carlson presenting the issue of education as one of waste because “colleges and universities don’t teach kids anything.” He said:

“Colleges barely teach, yet every year they increase their fees. Try that in a private business, you might get indicted for fraud. Do it at an American university and you get billions in taxpayer subsidies.”

Carlson cited some studies about “adult literacy,” and it is unclear to this author how he connected “adult literacy” reports with universities not teaching students or wasting taxpayer money. For the record, “adult literacy” involves helping citizens 16 and older to better read, write, and do basic arithmetic; something any American graduating from the eighth grade will have mastered with relative ease … if they or their adult caregivers consider education as valuable.

What is glaringly apparent is that based on the opposition to education, the Fox audience only heard Carlson parrot what conservatives, and Fox News, have preached for close to a decade; “colleges barely teach …and they get billions in taxpayer subsidies.”  Of course there is a problem with the high cost of a college education in America, but to claim they don’t teach, or that taxpayers are funding liberal indoctrination programs, is something only dyed-in-the-wool religious conservatives, and obviously 58 percent of Republicans, believe as if uttered by their biblical god.

A big issue conservatives have pushed for years, and likely contributes to the Republican opposition to education, is the mindset expressed by no small number of conservatives, particularly those making up the religious right. A former member of the Arizona state legislature, Frank Antenori, summed up a belief often shared by conservatives. He said:

Why does a kid go to a university these days? They go there to get brainwashed and learn how to become activists  and cause trouble.”

No, kids go to a university or college for an education to hopefully have a better life than their parents. And what too many Republicans and religious conservatives consider brainwashing is what sane civilized human beings regard as “being informed.” And, that “being informed” generally results in a religious conservative “kid” informing their parents that no, the Earth is not 6,000 years old and flat; or that no, a zygote is not a living human being; or that no, America was not founded by religious white supremacists to exist and rule the world as an Aryan Christian nation.

This author knows two families who refuse to send their children to public schools because “they only hire teachers that are either gay, atheist, or sexual predators,” and because all colleges train “those teachers to brainwash the kids with lies about America.”

Of course none of the conservative propaganda warning that education is bad for America is true, but for the ignorant religious zealots and angry racists making up the majority of the Republican movement, that propaganda is biblical truth; why else would Fox News and Republicans promoting school privatization keep telling their supporters that America’s education system is inherently evil, and bad for the country?

Here’s the problem going forward; Trump and his evangelical crusader DeVos will not have much Republican opposition to their goal of dismantling the education system in America and replacing it with for-profit private religious and corporate charter schools – at taxpayer expense. For dog’s sake, they have already garnered support from close to 6 out of 10 Republicans who openly admit they believe education is bad for the country. It is probably true that Republican and conservative leaders are not nearly as concerned with religious indoctrination as they are keeping the voting public ignorant, but despite their motivation, wanting an uninformed population is appalling. However, it is the only way Republicans can ensure that the stupid contingent keeps faithfully voting against their own self-interests and contributes to keeping the GOP in power.

America faces myriad threats to its continued existence as a matter of course, even as a crippled world leader, but with Trump and DeVos on a religious crusade to decimate public education, the greatest threat is an ignorant population opposed to public education. Tragically, with 58 percent of Republicans claiming education is bad for the country, the ignorant population is going to grow with every Fox News segment and with every dirty lie from the fascist in White House and the evangelical extremist running the education system.

Now DeVos wants separation of church and state in the “ash heap of history”

Despite what evangelical know-nothings the current administration is overflowing with claim incessantly, the intent of the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers is crystal clear regarding the “wall of separation” between church and state. Thomas Jefferson famously said in his second explanation of what the religious clauses in the First Amendment mean that,“No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.”

In Trump’s “cesspool” administration, far too many evangelicals from Mike “preacher” Pence to J. Beauregard Sessions to that nasty “B” DeVos person, the idea of “not compelling” all Americans to support religious places is an affront to evangelical zealots and patently unconstitutional; and according to DeVos it needs to be “assigned to the ash heap of history.”

Seriously, this idea of abolishing the “separation” clause is only being proposed openly by the Trump theocrats because the media, almost all media, and Democrats are too terrified of ever alerting the American people that their government is being hijacked by a minority of the population made up of evangelical extremists with the undying support of Republicans. As this column has stated over two-hundred times over the past twelve years; it is not against any federal or state law to cite the unconstitutionality of allowing evangelical zealots to force their bastardized version of Christianity on the people.

Even though it is brutally painful for a secular humanist and two decade-long educator to see Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ name in print, or her face in an image because of the horrors she represents, it was with no great pleasure to learn that there is yet another DeVos theocratic atrocity to comment on. And like everything that DeVos and her evangelical ilk represent, it is a struggle to comment without getting downright nasty; especially when her latest outrage is a major threat to America as it has existed for 238 years.

Some Americans are aware that DeVos openly claimed her intent as Education Secretary is to change American culture in ways that more rapidly advance her god’s kingdom, but they may not be aware that she and her wealthy and powerful friends intend on meeting their 2020 “deadline for restoring religion and Judeo-Christian values under the Constitution.” It is a goal that requires deleting the Amendment in the Constitution that forbids the government from “imposing” any religion on the people; or compelling the people to “support religious worship, places, and ministries.”  It is why DeVos and her evangelical cabal want the Constitution’s “Establishment and Separation” clauses “assigned to the ash heap of history.”

DeVos made the not-so-stunning remark after spending two days visiting some schools in New York and then addressing an evangelical-corporate outfit, the Alfred E. Smith Foundation. It is noteworthy, but not atypical for DeVos, that during her two-day visit to New York schools, she  spent the entirety of her taxpayer-funded time “officially” visiting private religious schools; she refused to set foot into any of the public schools the agency she runs is tasked with overseeing and assisting.

In defending her intent to shift even more taxpayer money intended for public schools to private, for-profit, religious schools, DeVos lashed out at the so-called “Blaine Amendment” founded on the Separation and Establishment Clauses in the Constitution’s First Amendment.

The Blaine Amendment is the law of the land in 38 states that were intelligent enough to know that unless there is a clear state Constitution prohibition on robbing public school funding to pay for private religious instruction, the stinking evangelicals would attempt to skirt around the U.S. Constitution; something that is occurring regularly in Republican controlled states.

The Blaine Amendment simply forbids “direct government aid to educational institutions that have a religious affiliation.”

DeVos used her speech to the religious-corporate “non-profit” group to rail against what she considers an atrocity of biblical proportions; not allowing religious parents to rob public school funds to send their children to private, for-profit, religious schools.

The nasty piece of work said:

I know very well there are powerful interests that want to deprive families their God-given freedom. I know that those sycophants of ‘the system’ have kept legislators here from enacting a common-sense program that would open options to thousands of kids in need.”

Then she cited last year’s atrocious Supreme Court ruling, Trinity Lutheran v. Comer,allowing a church to rob public money for its playground as why abolishing 38 states’ Blaine Amendments is something the new theocracy has to do quickly in order to legally rob public school funding for private religious schools. She screeched:

As many of you know, the Supreme Court ruled in last year’s Trinity Lutheran case that it was unconstitutional for a playground restoration program funded by state-taxpayers to exclude a school ‘simply because of what it is – a church.’ These amendments should be assigned to the ash heap of history.

The dirty evangelical comment is tantamount to saying that the Separation and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment are destined for the “ash heap of history.” There is also the issue of another hypocritical Republican who regularly champions the States Rights when it contradicts federal law; unless it interferes with an agenda Republicans won’t comport. In this case those Blaine Amendments are founded on the U.S. Constitution so there is no “conflict.”  The only problem for the theocracy advocates is that those Amendments don’t allow the likes of DeVos to steal even more taxpayer dollars to fund religion.

There has been chapter and verse written about DeVos’ intent to decimate the public school system, including the Department of Education she leads. That was verified by a Dominionist Christian group with close ties to DeVos that devised what sane Americans would call “an alarming report” demanding the immediate end of the Education Department and a federal mandate promoting Christianity in “public schools.”

The report, an honest-to-dog evangelical manifesto, was handed to Trump and DeVos less than a month after Trump’s poorly attended inauguration. The Council for National Policy’s orders to Trump and DeVos were clear: “Restore education in America in accordance with historic Judeo-Christian principles.”  Translation: decimate public schools and create a system of taxpayer-funded evangelical madrassas with the Christian bible as curriculum.

Of course DeVos was already a major player and committed acolyte of the Council for National Policy organization, and Trump duly followed its orders in his first address to a joint session of Congress pledging his intent to provide all the taxpayer dollars necessary to fund private, for profit, religious schools; and this was after his call to drastically slash funding for the public schools system.

Look, this is getting serious rapidly and there seems to be little-to-no urgency to respond to America lurching towards an evangelical theocracy. It is true, of course, that religious Republicans have long advocated robbing the public schools to enrich the private religious school industry, but this is the first time anyone in a position like DeVos actually advocated sending the separation clause to the ash heap of history. It is true that Mike “preacher” Pence and J. Beauregard Sessions have called the Separation of Church and State patently “unconstitutional” and an unhistorical concept; but even those two evangelical maniacs have not called for deleting a major part of the First Amendment.

Although DeVos did not, in fact, call for sending the actual 1st Amendment to the ash heap of history, her call to abolish 38 states’ constitutional provisions founded on the First Amendment’s “wall of separation” informs that she and her dirty evangelical cohort will not rest until anything preventing a theocratic coup d’état, such as the First Amendment, is abolished and sent to the ash heap of history.

Image: Patheos

God Is Not A Surrogate For Sane Gun Measures

The Florida legislature did a fine job distinguishing itself as a dispassionate group of cretins this week by refusing to debate a ban on the kind of weapon used in the Valentine’s Day Massacre about a week ago. Florida Republicans failed to give the state’s students a modicum of consideration concerning their safety, but they succeeded in declaring that pornography is a public health risk to Floridians. That action alone should inform exactly what the Florida legislature’s priorities are regarding public safety. To further distinguish itself as out of touch with reality, the legislature’s lower chamber came through for the terrified massacre survivors with an action that will have no effect on public safety or school gun violence – invoking god.

In an overwhelming majority vote, the Florida house passed legislation putting god in all Florida schools because of the recent gun massacre and legislative inaction on school safety.  The final vote count was 97-10 and the numbers elicited a standing ovation from proud members of the Florida House.

The bill, H.B. 839, requires all public schools in the state to post a sign, “In God We Trust, in a conspicuous place” to bring a little light into the Sunshine state’s public schools and administration buildings. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Kimberly Daniels, is a Jacksonville Democrat who operates her own global Christian ministry and said the state’s public schools needed some god signs in light of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High gun massacre last week, and the legislature’s inaction on gun safety.

No doubt the massacre survivors will feel comforted that their representatives couldn’t be bothered to give them some consideration in restricting assault weapons, but they could damn sure declare that porn is dangerous and then vote to force a stupid god sign on the schools. Ms. Daniels explained why Florida desperately needed god signs in every school after a mass shooting. She said:

He [apparently god] is not a Republican or a Democrat. He is not black or white. He is the light, and our schools need light in them like never before.”

Daniels spoke directly to the school shooting and admitted that it’s no secret that the state has gun issues that must be addressed. She voted to move the assault weapon ban to the House floor for debate, but she was on the losing side – so she naturally thought the alternative is a god sign. The idea of substituting a “god sign” for action on assault weapons cannot be encouraging for Florida students reaching out to their representatives for help in making schools safe; particularly when those politicians are feigning regard for the students’ “hearts” and the public’s health threat from pornography. Daniels explained what is really important to aid the students.

The real thing that needs to be addressed are issues of the heart. We cannot put god in a closet when the issues we face are bigger than us.”

Ms. Daniels also talked about video games that train children to become virtual assassins, and that things are getting so bad that maybe people will finally “come to realize that problems are much bigger than politics.”

So apparently when the only Americans capable of putting the brakes on the NRA gun proliferation crusade fail to protect the population, because that problem is “bigger than politics,” they appeal to god. It sounds suspiciously like every insipid Republican calling for “thoughts and prayers” after every mass shooting, and it is exactly like every stinking religious right sycophant blaming school violence on the lack of god, bible and prayer in public schools.

This god business as a prophylactic against gun violence is just a monumental abomination, particularly so coming from a Democrat. For dog’s sake, putting up god signs is not going to stop angry white people from using firearms to kill innocents anyplace, much less in public schools. Perhaps Ms. Daniels, like no small number of evangelical fanatics, fails to recall that there were god signs, god books (bibles), god images (crosses), and all manner of “heavenly” icons in plain sight in the two Christian churches ravaged by gun violence. And it is beyond refute that those gun victims put all their trust in their god while they were in their god’s alleged houses; and yet they were still viciously massacred.

One of the 10 representatives to vote against an unconstitutional measure actually condemned the bill for exactly the right legal reason; it violates the 1st Amendment’s Establishment and Separation Clauses.  Representative Carlos G. Smith said on Twitter what should have informed every member of the Florida House’s vote on the god sign bill.

Let’s keep a clear separation between church + state. Forcing our public schools to post “In God We Trust” in a conspicuous place is inappropriate. I don’t care if it was a Democrat who sponsored the bill. I vote based on core values, not party lines.”

Mr. Smith is right, of course, about the unconstitutionality of legislating god in public places, especially in schools. But he would have been “more right” if he had also condemned the god signage as surrogate for action on assault weapons, which is what this ‘in god we trust’ business is really all about. It is also another dangerous step in forcing religion on the public by legislative fiat, and it is despicable for using the gun massacre as cover for an unconstitutional action advancing theocracy.

The survivors of the school massacre have an abundance of reasons to be incensed at their Florida representatives. It was insulting enough that the legislature refused to consider debating a ban on the kind of weapon used in the shooting to stop a clear and present public health risk, while officially declaring that pornography is a real serious health threat to Florida residents. But overwhelmingly voting to force schools to post god signs “to address issues that are bigger than politics” is beyond insulting. It is a personal affront to the survivors and the victims’ families; many who already trusted in a god while an angry man with an assault weapon slaughtered their friends and teachers.

Image: Patheos

DeVos Embraces Misogynists “To Advance God’s Kingdom” Against Women

Anyone remotely familiar with the Christian bible, or the evangelical faith, is aware the religious mythology is as steeped in misogyny as it is brutal and deadly punishment for non-compliance to its edicts. In fact, nearly all religions are misogynistic in varying degrees, but “all religions” aren’t the purview of public school enemy Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. She is a dyed-in-the-wool evangelical whose stated goal in decimating public education is using her cabinet level position to “advance god’s kingdom.”

Since advancing her evangelical god’s kingdom has to include advancing the bible’s misogynistic dogma, it was no surprise that DeVos reached out and invited to some decidedly misogynistic men’s groups, replete with accused rapists, for a meeting at the Department of Education; apparently for misogynists’ guidance on how best to deconstruct as much of Title IX as possible in as short amount of time as possible. The misogynists know this is the best chance they have to turn back the clock on women’s rights and no better advocate for their cause than an evangelical fanatic with a powerful cabinet position than DeVos.

Title IX is a federal law as part of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 that states:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”    

It is noteworthy that this is the second time DeVos “reached out” to evangelicals to address their biblically-informed discriminatory needs. The first time was less than three weeks ago when she invited, commiserated, and pledged support for evangelical anti-LGBTQ hate groups as part of her effort to “advance god’s kingdom.” Having assured the religious that she will use the Department of Education to assist their anti-LGBTQ discriminatory lust, she turned her attention to the men’s misogyny clubs.

There is little doubt that men’s misogyny clubs believes DeVos will aid them in putting women in their place as defined by the Christian bible; in subjection to a man’s will. It is apparent that DeVos wants to help the misogynists because they have been overtly critical of Title IX policies with a particularly rigorous bent toward those enacted to help colleges and universities staunch the epidemic of campus rape. The policies the “National Coalition for Men” want eliminated were put in place by real President, Barack Obama because although he is a Christian, he understands the need to protect women on college campuses from sexual assault.

The National Coalition for Men has been around since the 1970s as part of the so-called “men’s rights” movement. And like the name suggests, the coalition exists solely to promote misogynistic ideals and wage war against women and their struggle for equality. Obviously, women wanting equal rights is one of many mortal sins among the evangelical movement.

For an example of the group’s intentions and glaring animus towards women in general, and their fight for equal rights, on the group’s North Carolina website it offers legal guidance for rapists and publishes photographs of rape victims claiming they are liars. Of course the tactic serves one purpose; to warn rape victims that if they report an attack and rape, they will be publicly besieged, exposed and intimidated. The message to women is clear: if you are attacked and brutally raped, you stay silent or face more attacks from the men’s rights movement.

For an idea of the mindset of  the “men’s misogyny club,” five years ago it gave its overwhelming endorsement and support for the Republican House version of the Violence Against Women Act because it eliminated protections for the LGBTQ community. It has also been “lawsuit happy” any time it notices an event organized specifically for women.

For example, it sued a strip club for allowing women in free during a “ladies night” promotion, as well as suing a company for not allowing men to attend an event organized to assist women’s networking. The “coalition” president, Harry Crouch, regularly lashes out at women for surviving domestic abuse that he claims is always their fault. He also vehemently defended former football player Ray Rice after he knocked his then-fiancée unconscious in an elevator and dragged her out like so much refuse. According to Crouch:

If she hadn’t aggravated him, she wouldn’t have been hit. They [women] would say that’s blaming the victim. But I don’t buy it.”

There is a good reason the National Coalition for Men and several other anti-women’s groups were invited to meet with DeVos; she appears more than willing to rescind the Title IX protections for sexual assault survivors.

When she sat in her Senate confirmation hearing and lied like a good evangelical, she said it “would be premature” for her to commit to upholding the federal protections for women. She claimed her reluctance is based on “conflicting opinions” about the need to protect women on college campuses from sexual assault. Obviously the “conflicting opinions” include those of the misogynist men’s groups with glaring animosity towards women; especially “those” women who believe they have a right to equality in education, or wages, or voting rights, or the right not to be raped at all, much less with veritable impunity.

There is also hope among the misogynists that DeVos will do their bidding because she has made donations totaling $25,000 to another anti-woman’s group, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) that regularly publishes articles “dismissive of sexual assault survivors.” One article stated:

Much of the feminist ‘war on rape’ has conflated sexual assault with muddled, often alcohol-fueled, sexual encounters that involve miscommunication.”

It is a typically male rape culture ploy to excuse sexual attacks, and as far as “involving miscommunication;” that is code for the attacker not accepting the word “no, please stop, don’t rape me.”

No matter what DeVos’ particular religious bent might be, it is abominable that she is using her cabinet position to “legitimize” hate groups whether it is anti-LGBTQ hate or misogynist groups fervently dedicated to “defending rapists, attacking female victims of sexual assault, and promoting the conspiracy theory that domestic violence is exaggerated.” But that abomination is exactly what the hateful evangelicals who put Trump in the White House expected as remuneration for their votes. Now with an evangelical monster like DeVos running the Education Department, those abominations are only going to get more ardently biblical; something anyone familiar with the Christian bible knows will be brutal.

Image: Elizabeth Brockway/Daily Beast

Stupid Wins As Majority of GOP Say Education Is Ruining America

 

One of the benefits to Republicans in sitting back and allowing Russia to install their party’s standard bearer in the White House was successfully dividing America; it has been a regular goal and campaign tactic of the GOP since Reagan. The GOP has pitted its supporters against any and all groups that aren’t religious, white or wealthy for a few decades. And, Trump has done his part in driving a wedge between his religious racist acolytes and every other demographic in America; it’s safe to say divisiveness and animosity is about the only thing dumb Donnie’s accomplished since that damn dark day he announced his candidacy and incited every stupid bigot to attack everything crucial to a functioning democracy.

Of course by now one or two semi-intelligent Americans are cognizant that a free press (media for you morons) is critical to democracy; something even George W. Bush admitted since Trump began his fascist attack on the media. However, there is another integral aspect necessary for a successful democracy that everyone from Founding Father Thomas Jefferson to Winston Churchill expressed as some iteration of this simple sentiment:

The cornerstone of democracy rests on the foundation of an educated electorate.”

At this juncture in American history with a half-wit White House occupant leading a political movement dedicated to anti-intellectualism as fervently as they are evangelical fundamentalism, only a fool would argue that Republicans in general and Trump in particular support democracy.

That being the case, the current administration certainly hates the very idea of an “educated electorate” and it informs the current Republican crusade to destroy public education in favor of inculcating archaic religious dogmata to keep the public stupid and Republicans in power. As the results of a new Pew Research Center poll reveal, Republicans are winning the war on intelligence and intellectualism because a majority of their number ardently perceive education, especially higher education, as more dangerous than the media. They also believe that education is bad for America, similarly to Trump’s assertion that the United States Constitution is “really bad for Americans.

This increasing animus toward education is a result of both Trump and the conservative movement’s “long game of denigrating U.S institutions to reshape political discourse” into a partisan divide between the stupid and the informed. Only an idiot can’t see that the stupid is winning by a wide margin based on the support Republicans enjoy as they deconstruct America, attack democracy, and elevate the rich and the religious as “real Americans.”

According to the Pew Poll, in a not-so-stunning reversal from less than two years ago, a majority of Republicans are certain that colleges and universities have had a decidedly “negative impact” on America. The poll reported that “fifty-eight percent [of Republicans] say that colleges are having a negative effect on the way things are going in the country.” Among Democrats and left-leaning independent voters, 72 percent still claim that “colleges and universities have a positive effect on the nation.” Not surprising, about the same number of Republicans (73 percent) believe that Wall Street, banks, financial institutions, and evangelical churches have a decidedly positive impact on the nation.

What that means is that Wall Street and banks that decimated the economy less than a decade ago are substantially more popular among Republican voters than colleges whether it is Stanford, Harvard, or the University of Toledo. Exactly a year-and-a-half ago, 54 percent of Republicans said colleges and universities had a positive impact on the direction of the country. It was exactly a year-and-a-half ago that Trump began his crusade to deconstruct democracy.

As the Pew poll demonstrated, this sudden antipathy toward higher education is a stark departure from just over a year ago; about the time Trump began his attack on intelligence whether it was making up his own facts or blatantly lying and getting pissed that the media calls him on it.

One of the reasons Republicans hate colleges and universities is their claim that institutions of higher education are “bastions of liberal indoctrination.” Liberal indoctrination is Republican code for critical thinking, not adhering to religion and not embracing anti-democratic conservative policies.  In fact, it is no coincidence that since Trump and conservatives attacked what they call “the scourge of political correctness” they have ramped up their vicious attacks on the very institutions that defend the democratic diversity of voices among informed students.

For example, just recently Arizona Republicans threatened to “cut funding from public institutions that offer courses and events that are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,” or if they advocate for “solidarity” among various ethnic, racial, religious or gender groups. Add to that Trump’s threat to “defund” the University of California at Berkeley because students exercised their constitutional rights of free speech and peaceable assembly protesting the appearance of a seriously nasty right-wing “provocateur.”

As noted in a Salon article, conservatives have always attacked academia on the general principle that it is anti-American for any institution to promote intelligent inquiry and critical thinking, but since those institutions are “increasingly filled with members of marginalized communities” Republican attacks are beginning to resonate with racist, bigoted, and religious Republicans; a fact not lost on Republicans dependent on rank stupidity and hate to stay in power. Unfortunately, Republicans are taking preemptive steps to shut down dissent at college campuses now that their base believes higher learning is destroying America.

Last month, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) convened a hearing titled “Free Speech 101: the Assault on the First Amendment on College Campuses.” It is perfectly fine for ultra-right wing maniacs to exercise their free hate speech, but the student protestors are not extended the same courtesy. In fact, last month Wisconsin Republicans passed a bill allowing college administrators to expel students if they dare disrupt right-wing speakers.

It is important to reiterate that about a year-and-a-half ago, 54 percent of all Republicans claimed that higher education, colleges and universities, had a positive effect on the nation. One doesn’t have to reiterate to anyone exactly what happened about a year-and-a-half ago and in precisely the same fashion that conservatives turned against “the media,” they turned against colleges and universities. What is historical, and a damn frightening prospect, is that all tyrannical fascist dictators began their reign of terror by attacking the media and institutions of higher learning.

Republicans have always depended on “stupid” Americans to stay in power, and it is bad enough they are on a tear to dismantle public education and replace it with for-profit private religious schools.  But is it simply atrocious that their crusade against higher education is bearing fruit among their idiot supporters – another sign that America is devolving rapidly into a barbaric uncivilized society without a functioning government.

Anyone who doesn’t believe it should be aware that nations with a better-educated population have better and more responsive governments simply because voters think critically, ask politicians the right questions, and call them out if they lie. It is precisely why Republican politicians want to destroy public education and why their ignorant sap supporters think higher education is bad for America. It is another bad sign for America, its people, and its democracy.

 

DeVos Embraces Anti-Gay Extremists At Education Department

 

It is probably true that normal people who are thrust into a high-level position requiring a specialized knowledge of a subject will gather as many preeminent experts in the field for advice as possible. That would be particularly true if the person in that high-level position has absolutely no experience in the field to avoid being a total and complete failure. Betsy DeVos, the filthy rich Republican contributor and avowed enemy of public education is not a normal person for myriad reasons, but primarily for her lack of even a rudimentary comprehension of the public education system she wants to transform into privatized evangelical madrassas. Besides her sworn intent to use public schools and public money to “advance god’s kingdom,” DeVos has refused, under oath no less, to commit to protect the civil rights of all Americans involved in the education system; whether students, teachers, administrators or college professors.

On Thursday last, a day before the Commission on Civil Rights announced it was initiating a comprehensive two-year investigation into the Trump administration, Betsy DeVos was convening a policy-planning meeting of the most radical religious right anti-LGBT extremist groups in the United States of America. If there were any lingering doubts as to why DeVos “refused repeatedly” to commit to protecting the Constitutional civil rights of anyone associated with education, especially students and teachers, DeVos huddling with notorious evangelical hate groups should clear up her “lack of commitment” to civil rights.

Two days prior to meeting with luminaries of evangelical hate such as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, DeVos held a “very private meeting” with a Missouri millionaire and renowned conspiracy theorist because he is openly committed to spending whatever it takes to aid DeVos in eliminating public education. And, it cannot possibly be overstated that besides contributing millions of dollars to Republican candidates, the only reason DeVos was nominated, and then confirmed, as Education Secretary is because she is committed to destroying America’s public education system.

First, DeVos deliberated with the Family Research Council, a bonafide hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), because it and the extremist evangelical group Focus on the Family ardently promote hate-driven anti-gay propaganda more than they promote the Christian bible. FRC president, radical fake Christian Tony Perkins, spent no small amount of time, and donor money, lobbying against anti-bullying initiatives in schools, and the effort to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He also claims that the LGBTQ community is “disgusting” and exists solely to “recruit children” into the lifestyle – especially in public schools with anti-bullying programs. Perkins, a real pile of feces, heavily promotes programs that abuse LGBTQ children under the guise of “gay conversion therapy,” and appeals to white supremacists for support. Perkins did spend someone else’s hard earned money to purchase the mailing list of white supremacist and Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Perkins, the president of a hate group and a truly hateful evangelical, claims that Americans that support LGBTQ rights are:

Very aggressive, they’re intolerant, they’re hateful, vile, they’re spiteful. …. To me, it is the height of hatred to be silent when we know there are individuals that are engaged in activity, behavior, and an agenda that will …destroy our nation.

This is the mindset that the evangelical freak-of-nature DeVos, Secretary of Education, is intent on installing as education policy “to advance the kingdom of god” in the education system. However, “education system” under DeVos’ plans is a monumental misnomer; she promotes for-profit private and religious schools that can hardly be considered “an education system.” It is  a religious indoctrination system,  not an education system.  It is why she held a private counseling session with “Missouri-based” millionaire and heavy Trump supporter Rex Sinquefield.

Sinquefield is a noted conspiracy theorists who “despises public schools” and regards himself, like DeVos, as a major “school reform expert and advocate.” Like everything related to conservative use of the word “reform,” in Sinquefield’s mind reform means eliminate.

According to Sinquefield, the American public education system was a Ku Klux Klan plot created specifically to hurt African American children and claims it’s what drives his “personal mission” to rescue education from those teachers; especially those teachers represented by unions. He also donates heavily to the extremist right-wing Show-Me Institute, a really right wing “belief tank.” The Show-Me outfit “creates studies” to assail the public education system and promote policies that use taxpayer money to subsidize private and religious schools for the very rich who want taxpayers to fund their kids religious indoctrination.

DeVos claims she believes that “Discrimination in any form is wrong,” and that she “doesn’t support discrimination in any form,” but of course she said that at the same time she repeatedly refused to commit to deny funding to schools that do discriminate. DeVos is a dirty liar; and not just because she committed perjury under oath before the Senate during her confirmation hearing. But because she does not believe discriminationin any form is wrong” or that she doesn’t “support discrimination in any form.”

Her invitation to the extremely discriminatory Family Research Council and Focus on the Family at the Federal Department of Education belies her filthy lie that she opposes discrimination. And, her private meeting with another anti-public education extremist with an eye toward aiding her destruction of public schools, and creation of nationwide evangelical madrassas, belies her filthy lie that she cares one iota about America, its children, or its Constitution.