Patterico's Pontifications


Weeding The Garden Of Ignorant Voters

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:27 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Last year, when a lot of people still believed Donald Trump wasn’t really a serious candidate and would drop out any day now, Thomas Sowell, who couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that after enduring 8 years of Obama, voters were “turning to another glib egomaniac to be his successor,” wrote:

Despite many people who urge us all to vote, as a civic duty, the purpose of elections is not participation. The purpose is to select individuals for offices, including President of the United States. Whoever has that office has our lives, the lives of our loved ones and the fate of the entire nation in his or her hands.

An election is not a popularity contest, or an award for showmanship. If you want to fulfill your duty as a citizen, then you need to become an informed voter. And if you are not informed, then the most patriotic thing you can do on election day is stay home. Otherwise your vote, based on whims or emotions, is playing Russian roulette with the fate of this nation.

David Harsanyi, senior editor at the Federalist, opens his op-ed at the Washington Post echoing Sowell:

Never have so many people with so little knowledge made so many consequential decisions for the rest of us.

A person need only survey the inanity of the ongoing presidential race to comprehend that the most pressing problem facing the nation isn’t Big Business, Big Labor, Big Media or even Big Money in politics.

It’s you, the American voter. And by weeding out millions of irresponsible voters who can’t be bothered to learn the rudimentary workings of the Constitution, or their preferred candidate’s proposals or even their history, we may be able to mitigate the recklessness of the electorate.

No, we shouldn’t erect physical barriers to ballot access. Let’s purchase more voting machines, hire additional poll workers, streamline the registration process, mail out more ballots for seniors and produce more “Rock the Vote” ads imploring apathetic millennials to embrace their civic duty.

At the same time, let’s also remember that checking a box for the candidate whose campaign ads you like best is one of the most overrated obligations of the self-governed. If you have no clue what the hell is going on, you also have a civic duty to avoid subjecting the rest of us to your ignorance.

Unfortunately, we can’t trust you.

Harsanyi then goes on to suggest that the way to weed out ignorant voters is to have everyone take the citizenship civics test. After all, if prospective citizens are required to know about our nation’s history, the Constitution, and the government, wouldn’t it stand to reason that the people actually deciding the fate of our nation also be equally well informed? And obviously, with the internet, all the necessary information is readily available to study up on. In other words, there is little excuse to remain uninformed.

And in light of some awful statistics he cites, it’s clear that at the very least, brushing up wouldn’t be a bad thing:

When Newsweek asked a thousand voters to take the official citizenship test a few years back, nearly 30 percent couldn’t name the vice president. More than 60 percent did not know the length of U.S. senators’ terms in office. And 43 percent couldn’t say that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights.

Only 30 percent knew that the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

Further, only one-third could name all three branches of the U.S. government!

Harsanyi also addresses the inevitable accusations of elitism and unfairness to minorities and the poor:

Unlike the many who depend on ignorant voters to wield and secure their power, I refuse to believe that working-class or underprivileged citizens are any less capable of understanding the meaning of the Constitution or the contours of governance than the supercilious 1-percenters. I believe this despite the widespread failure of public schools to teach children basic civics. It’s still our responsibility as voters.

Of course, we also must remember the ugly history of poll taxes and other prejudicial methods that Americans used to deny black citizens their equal right to vote. Any effort to improve the quality of the voting public should ensure that all races, creeds, genders and sexual orientations and people of every socioeconomic background are similarly inhibited from voting when ignorant. For the good of our democratic institutions.

The comments left at his op-ed are priceless and about what you would expect.

Amusingly, an incredulous Jake Tapper asked if this was serious, and Harsanyi answered:

@jaketapper well, actually: yes-ish.

A sampling of questions on the test, which Harsanyi describes as running from the “very easy to the preposterous”:

“If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President?”

“There were 13 original states. Name three.”

“What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?”

“What is freedom of religion?”

Whether Harsanyi is poking fun at the Washington Post readership or not, many commenters here have previously suggested something similar. It’s interesting to consider who may or may not have ended up in the White House over the past 20 or 30 years if a something like this had been in place.


152 Responses to “Weeding The Garden Of Ignorant Voters”

  1. Hello.

    Dana (0ee61a)

  2. If the standard is that of the actual naturalization test, it is fairly low. A kid in middle school could pass it (I have had the questions described to me by coworkers who were going through the process: your first sample question was the hardest question I heard.)

    kishnevi (93670d)

  3. Kishnevi,

    Hit the links in the article that show the results of adults who took the test. You might think that a kid in middle school could pass the test, but it’s highly doubtful in light of that.

    Dana (0ee61a)

  4. Not sure that the result of schooling on the subject is a “failure”. I’ve gone around with teachers on related subjects, and for many of them, it’s Zinn from start to finish, and for many others, Zinn-light.
    From time to time you’ll hear about a test showing that freshmen in certain colleges do better with such questions than do the graduates. A sort of knowledgectomy.

    Richard Aubrey (472a6f)

  5. I took the practice test on a lark, and got 20/20 even though I was answering as fast as I could read it. Incredulous at how easy it was, I took their offer of a second test and got the same score (about a half-dozen questions were repeats). It is comically easy, and you Biden-literally should know all the answers just by ever seeing a map, having been to a 4th of July parade, and seeing the Schoolhouse Rock episode about how a bill becomes a law. Try it:

    Eliot (4adec5)

  6. By the way since I am getting these from Instapundit, I should give him the nod.

    steveg (fed1c9)

  7. Dana@3
    Perhaps I should amend my comment to refer to middle school kids back when I was in middle school…about 45 years ago.

    kishnevi (91d5c6)

  8. Now that makes sense, kishnevi. Same here.

    Dana (0ee61a)

  9. The dumbing down of America, especially when it comes to matters of civics and American culture, has been a top priority for liberals and their handmaidens in the academic establishment. They thought it served their interests and, until Trump, it has. Now that it appears this dumbing down has spawned anti-progressive populism on a massive scale, some rethinking may be in order. A vindictive, autocratic Trump – very much in the Obama/Clinton model – could do serious harm to the institutions of the left. In the mean time, watching the Gopnik-crowd wrapping themselves in the flag should be entertaining.

    ThOR (c9324e)

  10. I’m pretty sure most of these stories about large percentages of people who fail easy tests are surveys of people who had no reason to take their survey test seriously.

    CayleyGraph (353727)

  11. “Only 30 percent knew that the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land.”

    In what Bizarro universe is the Constitution the supreme law of the land?

    Zakster (5a94bc)

  12. glib egomaniac is a universal trait. In the job description. So much a given that it is a staple in our humor.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  13. Who died and made you President?

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  14. weeding out voters is damn close to the global warmers wanting to weed out humans.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  15. I posted this comment on or about 6/3/15 at “The Hill.”

    Fred Beloit Relativicus • a year ago
    You seem like a smart, nerdy kind of guy, Rel. Do you know what true patriotism is? Here would be an example. There are quite a few people, and they are called low-information voters, who know little to nothing about today’s issues and candidates because they are busy earning degrees or working hard to support themselves.

    Don’t you think they should voluntarily NOT vote on issues and people they know little about because they don’t want to ruin American elections?
    • Edit• Reply•Share ›

    Fred Beloit (12281a)

  16. Don’t blame the voters, they did their part. However, if you must assign blame then single out the non-voters, they’re the ones willing to stay home and acquiesce.

    ropelight (1bda83)

  17. Had a look in on that test. Not terrifically complicated. I submit that anyone running for office from dog catcher and up be required to take that test. I get that Civics 101 in high school may have been a while back for some, so I’ll grade this easy and say 85 or better. 84 or lower, you don’t get to run. You can use your grade as advertising fodder, but don’t be surprised if it gets used against you.

    Bill H (971e5f)

  18. much of this was accelerated by the constructivist educational templates, in the no child left behind, first ignite and then the rotten core, these were the magic beans the emirates sold to neil, who then pwned them off on the medici, and mailman’s son, et al,

    narciso (732bc0)

  19. I’d go so far as require that all persons wishing to vote perform 8 hours of community service every four years. It falls no more heavily on the poor than the rich, and in many ways less so.

    Tests and such can be gamed, as much by SJWs as by Klansmen, but if there is any fault with a community service requirement it’s that it might be too easily met.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  20. Forced labor as a requirement to exercise the Constitutional right to vote is beyond illegal, it’s unAmerican.

    ropelight (1bda83)

  21. The answer is a Supreme Ruling Council, ruling in accordance with traditional Christian and American values, supported by its own Revolutionary Guard.

    nk (dbc370)

  22. Don’t blame the voters, they did their part. However, if you must assign blame then single out the non-voters, they’re the ones willing to stay home and acquiesce.

    ropelight (1bda83) — 5/21/2016 @ 3:43 pm

    Sorry Ropelight, but voters like you are part of the blame. You are the one who foolishly went for the siren song of socialism disguised as Make America Great Again. You are the one who decided that a phony conman posing as a conservative was a great look for you. You were the one who smeared Cruz as not eligible, all the while supporting someone who doesn’t even think, much less believe in the rule of law. You are the one supporting a 70 year old punk who has no compunctions about weaponizing the government against us.

    Then you blame me for Trump. Good luck with all that, dude. You’re going to need it. I didn’t choose Trump. You did. That mess is on you.

    Bill H (971e5f)

  23. It’s not the lack of knowledge that concerns me — nearly all people who vote have less knowledge than I’d like, and we won’t get into the intelligence question. What REALLY bothers me is casual voting and obligatory voting. I want people to have spent some time on the issues. I would rather 100 ropelights went to the polls that 1 Mr. Sunglasses. Not that I will ever agree with ropelight, but I do not deny that he has spent CONSIDERABLE time thinking about the issues.

    So, I want there to be a BURDEN. I no more want an educated know-it-all who doesn’t know more about the issues than “Hillary’s a women” voting than I want a wino bussed to the polls. even though he can name two Supreme Court justices.

    So, as I said, impose a fair and equitable burden. Community service is one that also does some good, most of the time.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  24. then there are the idiots who buy stewart, camelbert and maher, as savants, when they are clearly idiots, I’m leaving out the toxic leaching that springer, oprah and donahue, left over the last 30 years.

    narciso (732bc0)

  25. One would blame non-voters in a mass-voting system. But I would rather have a lot more non-voters.

    Each and every one of us knows people who SHOULD NOT VOTE. At best, they just add noise, at worse they are easily manipulated. But their ideas of research are MTV news or their horoscope or what colors the candidates ads favor. Not everyone should vote, and the majority of voters would not vote if it cost them as much as a cheap lunch to do so.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  26. if they’ll vote against pee-stank then god love em

    happyfeet (831175)

  27. It’s not the lack of knowledge that concerns me — nearly all people who vote have less knowledge than I’d like, and we won’t get into the intelligence question. What REALLY bothers me is casual voting and obligatory voting. I want people to have spent some time on the issues. I would rather 100 ropelights went to the polls that 1 Mr. Sunglasses. Not that I will ever agree with ropelight, but I do not deny that he has spent CONSIDERABLE time thinking about the issues.

    Very much as I told some young man quite a while back- choose your side, doesn’t really matter which. But be aware of your choice. Have some idea of who that person or idea is. Research into it. Know why you want to place that support.

    Bill H (971e5f)

  28. Heinlein suggested (“Starship Troopers”) that the franchise be limited to veterans, after their service was up. Not just military, mind you, but other people who had served the state. The idea was that until you had skin in the game you had no right to make decisions. No one was required to do so, and the ONLY thing one didn’t get from not doing so was a vote.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  29. if they’ll vote against pee-stank then god love em

    I’d expect winos to vote for.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  30. I will say this, our country has become less well governed the more democratic we have become, the farther we have strayed from our founding.

    The first move is to repeal the remaining three Progressive amendments. Then eliminate at least half of the cabinet departments, and shift their responsibilities to the States, or private institutions. (e.g. shift education to the States, eliminate Energy, eliminate or privatize the postal system)

    Pass an Amendment prohibiting federal employees from joining a union and reform the civil service system. Go back to paper ballots, and end same day registration and absentee ballots except for the military and diplomats serving overseas. End Gerrymandering. If possible, pass a law or Amendment overturning Reynolds V Sims. (Dirksen was so right:…”the forces of our national life are not brought to bear on public questions solely in proportion to the weight of numbers. If they were, the 6 million citizens of the Chicago area would hold sway in the Illinois Legislature without consideration of the problems of their 4 million fellows who are scattered in 100 other counties. Under the Court’s new decree, California could be dominated by Los Angeles and San Francisco; Michigan by Detroit.”)

    gahrie (12cc0f)

  31. A vindictive, autocratic Trump – very much in the Obama/Clinton model – could do serious harm to the institutions of the left.

    What makes you think he would do that? Trump is a Leftist. On issue after issue, he’s proving himself to be a Big Government Leftist. He’s always been a Lying Leftist. Always. And now, he’s throwing his supposedly Right-of-Center Primary positions in the garbage heap and pulling on his Full Leftist attire. Attire that is form-fitting.

    Many years ago, I believed the only way for the Anti-Christ to gain world-wide power was for the Rapture to take place before the Tribulation, because there were too many Christians in the US especially to ever allow that to happen. Now, with millions of people worshiping Obama and millions of people worshiping Trump, I’m not so sure.

    How did Italy get Il Duce? How did Germany get Hitler? How did Venezuela get its tyrant? The same way the US got Obama and the same way Trump got millions of votes. People with itching ears flocking to con-men who told them what they wanted to hear.

    If the US survives the next four years, and the odds are not in its favor, there will be a lot of people I will never trust again as we go about rebuilding after the near-total collapse. Three of those “never trust again” people spew forth here, in the names of mg, ropelight and papertiger

    John Hitchcock (78e0b4)

  32. Addendum: if you don’t repeal the income tax, reform it so that everybody pays at least a minimum amount, and make it so that you cannot receive a “refund” bigger than the taxes you had withheld. Eliminate all deductions and simplify the code so that it can be done on a postcard.

    gahrie (12cc0f)

  33. Gahrie, the problem with that idea is 2 years later, the next group can just put all those things back in. Majority vote. And, as a 1-line addendum to an unrelated bill.

    John Hitchcock (78e0b4)

  34. Hit the links in the article that show the results of adults who took the test. You might think that a kid in middle school could pass the test, but it’s highly doubtful in light of that.

    Actually if a kid was paying attention in 8th grade US History, he probably could pass the citizenship test. I know, I used to teach 8th grade US History.

    If a kid was paying attention in 11th grade US History and 12th grade Government, they definitely should be able to pass the citizenship test, I know because I teach those classes now.

    gahrie (12cc0f)

  35. serious john, mussolini and hitler led militias as well as their political component, re hitler in the other thread, stalin was actively attacking the social democrats, because he saw them, not the nazis as the real threat,

    narciso (732bc0)

  36. There have always been stupid, ignorant voters. Even literacy has not been a requirement.

    Any qualification beyond ordinary citizenship risks being used as a trick to disfranchise a group some other groups doesn’t like (or wants to dominate).

    For the rationally ignorant voter, the useful trick is to find surrogates and follow their lead. Support a party, or follow the endorsements of a newspaper. Find a friend or relative who studies the issues and whom you agree with. But trying to research every candidate for every office is a fool’s errand. For one thing, there are far too many elective offices. (This arose as a “reform”, to give “the people” more direct control. But the multiplicity of offices overwhelms nearly everyone, and allows insiders to control the system.)

    Rich Rostrom (d2c6fd)

  37. Not just military, mind you, but other people who had served the state.

    Come on Kevin M, you’re killing me here. First off just the sound of “people who had served the state” makes the idea suspect. Secondly, who “serves” the state, Senators, governors, bureaucratic drones at the EPA? Personally, I think anyone working a government job should be forbidden to vote for obvious reasons. Anyone on welfare or receiving any type of federal, state or local support other than private charity should not be able to vote for the same reason. I also don’t think anyone not paying federal taxes should be allowed to vote, again no skin in the game. Frankly, I would also limit voting to persons who own property and have served at least two years in military service.

    BTW, my wife got a perfect score on her citizenship test. She had a great teacher. A hansom one too.

    Rev. Hoagie ™ (734193)

  38. You know who’s done a ton of “community service”? Felons.
    You know how the “best-educated” i.e. the college crowd overwhelmingly vote? Welfare state.
    You know who knew their country’s Constitution, governmental organization, and leaders by heart? The people of the German Democratic Republic.

    The Founders envisioned an electorate of dunces, even with the franchise limited to relatively young white men of property back then. That’s why we have two-year terms for Representatives, four-year terms for President, and staggered terms for Senators. They put in systemic safeguards.

    Maybe they did and maybe they did not envision the power grab by the Supreme Court in Marbury v. Madison, which makes one President’s and one Senate’s evil live on for twenty to forty years but that was not really a problem until the 1950s and after.

    Did they envision the abolition of the property requirement and giving women the vote? I imagine only with horror because that’s really the source of all the welfare-state policies. People who need and want to be taken care of.

    Anyhow, the bottom line is a strong Constitution with systemic safeguards. If I were to change anything, it would be to limit judicial tenure to no more than twelve years but which could be renewed.

    In conclusion, Harsanyi is full of s***.

    nk (dbc370)

  39. This isn’t going to happen and is just sour grapes about the results of the Republican primary anyway. You guys want to win elections you should be figuring out how to appeal to Trump voters not dreaming about how to disqualify them.

    James B. Shearer (93f129)

  40. Shearer doesn’t know what “sour grapes” actually means. But that’s okay, there are a lot of things Shearer claims to understand but doesn’t.

    John Hitchcock (78e0b4)

  41. he wrote this to be stupid on purpose Mr. nk

    it’s some kind of in-joke i think

    happyfeet (831175)

  42. grapes are fun in chicken salad you have to halve them and counterpoint with the jaunty spice of a fun salsa Mr. Hitchcock

    happyfeet (831175)

  43. cruz bathroom-trannied himself out of the race in Indiana, whose economy was ravaged after their idiot so-con governor let his inner bigot loose

    idiot believes his own social con butt-snuffling b.s. like a typical harvardtrash primadonna

    this does not mean we have to disenfranchise peoples

    happyfeet (831175)

  44. he addressed it those who believe the sky dragon is real, there were no wmds in iraq, and obama saved the country from a great depression, all extensive delusions,

    narciso (732bc0)

  45. That first part, narciso, suggests you’re an antagonistic anti-theist. If so, I have lost a lot of respect for you.

    John Hitchcock (78e0b4)

  46. ohnoes

    happyfeet (831175)

  47. I didn’t mention religion, john, however, we know whose campaign is diligently against leaders of faith, don’t we, now you’re committing category error like this fellow,

    narciso (732bc0)

  48. Nah, the Trumpkin phenomenon is merely another aspect of the welfare state. White people, insecure or outright unsuccessful, holding out their hands and saying “Gimme goodies and hugs, too”.

    nk (dbc370)

  49. Anti-theists are disreputable.
    Antagonistic anti-theists are worse than putrifaction.

    John Hitchcock (78e0b4)

  50. do I have concerns he could be like Constantine or Henry Tudor, yes, did the elmer gantry type tropes that cruz engaged in at the tail end make me regret voting for him no,

    narciso (732bc0)

  51. “Those who believe the sky dragon is real, … all extensive delusions”

    Explain that declaration.

    John Hitchcock (78e0b4)

  52. The sky dragon people like Harsanyi believe in is the one that causes global warming, John. But Obama, riding a unicorn that farts Skittles, will defeat him.

    nk (dbc370)

  53. i don’t want no goodies i just don’t want no pee-stank

    also i want a break from having to hold failmerica’s ho-magnet white house in such disdain

    not that Mr. T isn’t a ho

    but that he’s a ho of the people

    he’s already kicked so many losers in the nuts he should get a free pizza from domino’s

    they said he’d implode like the house in poltergeist

    lol they were wrong

    he imploded sleazy bushklanster jeb

    he imploded snotty harvardtrash ted

    he imploded carly fetalroehha

    he imploded all of them and did it with a gracious mischievous smile

    i love him

    he’s a magnificent pickle

    he should have a theme song

    happyfeet (831175)

  54. If that’s the case, that’s different than what I’ve seen, nk. It is also why I added the qualifier to my statement, allowing for the possibility there was something different. I have seen it, and many other derogatories directed at the Lord, to mock those of us who know He is real.

    John Hitchcock (78e0b4)

  55. “Goodies” is a broad term.

    nk (dbc370)

  56. anthropogenic global warming advocates, believe in that mythical beast that summons locusts over europe, sciroccos in north africa, and other ephemera from that emmerich catalogue of natural apocalyptica, do I need to spell everything out,

    narciso (732bc0)

  57. yes it is

    i hardly ever ask for nothin though and this christmas all i want is to have no stank on the horizon

    y’all do a pikachu a solid

    happyfeet (831175)

  58. Three of those “never trust again” people spew forth here, in the names of mg, ropelight and papertiger

    John Hitchcock (78e0b4) — 5/21/2016 @ 4:25 pm

    Why John, does this mean we’re not friends anymore? You know John, if I thought you weren’t my friend… I just don’t think I could bear it!

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  59. Thumper’s respect for others is in direct proportion to their agreement with him. Disagreement breeds disrespect in the mind of a would be tyrant. Anyone he can’t bully into submission he gleefully consigns to the neither regions.

    ropelight (1bda83)

  60. I know the airing of grievances, has become razorsharp here, but shirley you can’t be serious about doubting my faith,

    narciso (732bc0)

  61. WRT Starship Troopers: The franchise was only available to honorably discharged veterans of military service. If you could grasp the enlistment oath, they took you and found something for you to do, matching your abilities. The key was putting yourself out there for the people behind you.
    Also, occupations like cops and politicians and others unspecified were reserved for “citizens”. The rest were “residents”.
    People who haul out the chickenhawk argument are coming close to Starship Troopers, whose movie (awful) they thought was fascist. That’s probably because Doogie Houser had one of those pushed-up Wehrmacht saucer caps.

    Richard Aubrey (472a6f)

  62. Narciso, as I said, I heard things like that, attacking the Lord, so I didn’t know. I had never heard of the warmers using mythology. And it’s difficult to keep everyone’s positions on everything straight. Especially now. Pax.

    John Hitchcock (78e0b4)

  63. I missed when mg converted – Didn’t he use to add Cruz/West ’16 to all his comments?

    When did that stop?

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  64. well it was verhooven’s who detects fascism in corn flake boxes, he admitted in interviews, the violent disciplining was his reference to texas?? there were two sequels, the last was better than the original, highlighting the forever war scenario,

    narciso (732bc0)

  65. that’s ok, I some times subreference too much, I blame dennis miller back in the 90s,

    narciso (732bc0)

  66. But we already have “Starship Trooper” style voting requirements, used to exclude those who refuse to serve.

    When you were eighteen – think back. It will be a dim memory. Before you could vote.
    Perversely this requirement only applies to males. – that’s a hint.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  67. I’m sorry. Did I disrupt your train of thought?

    Carry on trooper.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  68. Gahrie, the problem with that idea is 2 years later, the next group can just put all those things back in. Majority vote. And, as a 1-line addendum to an unrelated bill.

    I remember the trade they made in ’86, where a lot of deductions went away and the marginal rates came down. It did not take the Dems a week before they were saying “Look at how LOW these marginal rates are!”

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  69. just clarifying, they can continue with the fever dreams of aaron mccomb, ron silver’s chewing the scenery into oblivion,

    narciso (732bc0)

  70. is it enemy action, when you reduce the deductability of real estate interest, and that supported the rickety chenga that made up the s&l portfolio, when greenspan said property was dangerously overvalued and he rode a two year interest rate hike that popped the bubble,

    narciso (732bc0)

  71. Come on Kevin M, you’re killing me here.

    Yeah, I kinda balked at that, too, but that was Heinlein’s formulation. What he meant was served the society through the state, back in an era where people actually believed in “good government.” In any event the idea that a government run by the givers was better than one run by the takers, never mind what “government service” has become.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  72. 67
    Does not apply to men of my age group: I turned 18 in the period after the draft but before registration (I think it started about two years later). That was 1977.

    kishnevi (294553)

  73. I agree that an uninformed, uneducated, and gullible electorate is a problem.
    It is a problem because those in positions of power and responsibility created them and manipulate them and depend on them.
    We stopped being a people virtuous enough for our kind of government.

    In Philly the mayor and others want to make a new tax supposedly to fund more pre-k…
    Like more exposure to the public school system is what kids need…

    The tax is 3 cents per oz for “sugary drinks”…
    It is being sold by those in government and their friends by saying:
    -The companies that make money getting our kids fat can afford it…
    -The store owners in “our communities”, who “aren’t part of our communities anyway” (yes, my wife heard that from a city council person at a community meeting” can afford to pay it…

    As if this wasn’t dishonest and insulting to intelligence already,
    they did the same thing a few years ago with cigarettes…
    Guess what, people cross the street and go a few blocks to buy their cigs and milk and what else outside of the city

    Those are the people I really blame, people who know better but serve themselves not their constituents.

    MD in Philly (f08e8d)

  74. You know who’s done a ton of “community service”? Felons.

    Not voluntarily.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  75. Does not apply to men of my age group: I turned 18 in the period after the draft but before registration (I think it started about two years later). That was 1977.

    Report to your local recruiting station young man. Before you cast another ballot.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  76. The franchise was only available to honorably discharged veterans of military service.

    Yes, but this service might have been anything, including dogcatcher or bedpan-changer, if that’s what they needed, and what you could do. It was general “government service” in a military organization.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  77. ah yes, franklin would be hardpressed at what has happened to his fair city, since the frank rizzo days, which were no picnic as my late cop friend reminded me,

    narciso (732bc0)

  78. Franklin would be saying “I guess they couldn’t keep it.”

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  79. cicero would agree, of course you know his fate.

    narciso (732bc0)

  80. Military rule, even retired military, is fascistic. From the Spartans, to the Romans, to the samurai, to the Prussians, or any other military government you’d care to name.

    nk (dbc370)

  81. yes, but it’s not clear that is what is going on here,

    narciso (732bc0)

  82. The Founders definitely did not envision a military ruling class. Just the opposite. A militia composed of all the people.

    nk (dbc370)

  83. starship troopers are way better than regular troopers


    happyfeet (831175)

  84. now I bring up relevant links, like so,

    but you insist of gopnik’s sophistry, kagan fils screed that would embarass his father, the great classical historian who clued me in to thucydides whitewash,

    narciso (732bc0)

  85. Men born from March 29, 1957 to December 31, 1959 were never required to register because the registration program was not in operation at the time they turned 18. The requirement to register was reinstated in 1980 and applies to all men born on or after January 1, 1960.


    I was born in 1959; the registration started up when I was 20.

    kishnevi (294553)

  86. you note how the left came up with ‘epistemic closure’ in an act of projection, because that’s what they do.

    narciso (732bc0)

  87. Well, that was a militia composed of all of the people when all of the people had to work or starve, not to mention build a place to live that would shield them from the elements.
    There was a time that merely staying alive required a certain degree of initiative and skill.
    Now all the skill that is needed is to pull the big lever with a D and know where to go to get free stuff.

    Dehumanizing, destroying the soul.
    Of course, once one has bought the lie that there is no soul to destroy…

    MD in Philly (f08e8d)

  88. Our founders knew full well that “democracy”, meaning simple majority rule, was a failed experiment. From the beginning of written history, Herodotus and Thucydides, they could study and understand the problem with mob-ruled countries. So they designed a system for us. But it was up to each generation to rise to the challenge of supporting that system.

    The most egregious failures occurred when “Republicans” failed to counter FDR. But they, like FDR, were enthralled by progressivism, and about all they could offer were promises of better management and isolationism, neither of which addressed the realities of the time. Their failure to respond to the challenges of those times resulted in World War II and the deaths of 400,000 Americans, and 50 to 100 million elsewhere, plus a similar number of seriously disabled survivors.

    In 1965, LBJ rammed thru Medicare and the War on Poverty, aka, the single mom enabling act. Nixon raised the stakes with an extension of the regulatory state into environmental affairs with the EPA. Like other 20th Century Republicans, Nixon was a progressive at heart, and probably indifferent to the damage he was doing to the design of our political regime. His sole interest was his reelection, by any and all means.

    Skipping over the one bright light we’ve experienced in the last Century, Ronald Reagan, and ignoring the Democrats who have been hell bent on destroying our Constitutional regime for five generations, we get to the Bushs. Both are “compassionate conservatives”, which is now clearly a code word for “progressive”, meaning they’re OK with the regulatory state. But unlike the current occupant of the WH, they honored the separation of powers, and allowed Congress to defeat them at will. They were willing to play the game, probably because they knew that failing to honor the separation of powers would result in a high speed crash.

    In 2009, we elect a man child who had none of FDR’s charm, and all of his negatives, and the country stumbles downhill rapidly. This resulted in the Tea Party, and over the course of the elections of 2010, 2012, and 2014, the Republicans gained majorities in both Houses of Congress. But these REMFs cowered before the banana presidency, and failed to exercise the powers granted them by the Constitution. And the man child had no intention of playing the Bush game with the now-ultimate power of the executive. Even the Supreme Court abandoned its powers. It now functions as highly paid and exalted group that can bestow legitimacy on the unconstitutional actions of the executive. They prance around behind a buck naked executive praising the fine fit of his new clothes.

    So now we are about to experience what our Founders feared. Our fellow countrymen, including the so-called “idiots” that are the centerpiece of this article, who love our country and despise the progressive who are debasing it, have lost faith in a political regime that was supposedly based on the separation of powers and checks and balances. Their anger and frustration was to be expected. They will vote with their fear and frustrations. It is the way things always have worked before, and there’s no reason to expect otherwise. The REMFs we placed in Congress were the antidote, but they chose to pretend this was just business as usual, and they were best advised to look towards their reelection rather than worry about constitutional responsibilities. Even inactions can result in reactions.

    BobStewartatHome (a52abe)

  89. Just like when we let the Kenyan into office, because he met the spirit of the law, now you have to go and serve your country.

    Does Jury duty count?

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  90. There were two registrations. There was an interregnum after our bugout from Vietnam while the Selective Service was being dismantled and then Carter reinstated registration. My second brother and I were registered under the original Selective Service; our baby brother registered under Carter’s.

    nk (dbc370)

  91. cloward and piven knew well what they were doing,

    nyc was the test case, 2008 was the beta test,

    narciso (732bc0)

  92. Oh, and there is some current campaign ad about how somebody is trying to privatize and destroy SS every day and if you vote for this guy he will make sure that nothing ever changes,
    never mind the roar of the approaching water fall, it is too far in the future to worry about

    Hey, projection again, it just occurred to me,
    Pelosi would talk about repubs destroying the earth like we didn’t care about our children and grandchildren,
    She and her kind are the ones destroying our country a heck of a lot faster than AGW would even if true…

    MD in Philly (f08e8d)

  93. So the folks discussing Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” need to remember something.

    The only reason the franchise-by-service-only system was in place was because it worked. Not because of any planning. It occurred in the aftermath of a global nuclear exchange and collapse.

    This was discussed in the History and Moral Philosophy course Johnny Rico took in OCS.

    I have no trouble with restricting the vote to people who demonstrate their commitment to the nation (in a similar way, I think EVERYONE should pay SOME tax to the Feds). Sure, it would get me labeled terrible names. But the idea of “buying in” is pretty important, I think. Doesn’t have to be military.

    Heck, I believe that folks shouldn’t be able to vote if they do not know SIMPLE aspects of government as described above. But again, our bizarre self-loathing culture will not permit this.

    Simon Jester (65322a)

  94. If you own land you can vote. If you don’t own land, GTFOH.

    mg (31009b)

  95. You’re putting the cart before the horse. Have schools that teach children the way they should be taught and you will have voters that know civics. Promote patriotism and you will have voters who have served their country in the military or other public service.

    nk (dbc370)

  96. The Founders definitely did not envision a military ruling class. Just the opposite. A militia composed of all the people

    Yes. In fact, although over the years this fact has not only been obscured but completely covered over, that was the whole point of the Second Amendment. (If you want confirmation refer to the version found in the Virginia Constitution, which spells it out in full and explicitly.)

    kishnevi (91d5c6)

  97. I quite agree, nk. I have a son in middle school, and a son in high school.

    The *only* way they have learned solid civics is through me.

    Why, did you know that they weren’t told about Paul Revere as children?

    Our culture suffers from oikophobia, and so there seems a concerted effort to tear down any trace of what makes this nation special or valuable.

    Something I have been doing recently that proves my point. When progressive people who discuss politics with me start talking about our “terrible” immigration policy, I ask them how our policy compares to that of Mexico with regard to illegal immigration. First, they don’t know. So I make them look it up.

    And then I ask them to openly say that our policies are better than Mexico’s (because they are).

    They can’t do it. They honestly cannot say that anything we do is better than any other nation.

    Oikophobia. It’s a thing.

    Simon Jester (65322a)

  98. A good description of oikophobia, if anyone is interested:

    Simon Jester (65322a)

  99. you see this across the pond, the tories with the exception of perhaps gove and a few others are apologetic about Brittania,

    narciso (732bc0)

  100. Well, my daughter’s public schools have been pretty good in this regard. She argued the Second Amendment in a debate. They just learned the Flag Code. She’s practicing the caisson song for the Memorial Day program.

    nk (dbc370)

  101. this fellow slobbered all over jfk some years back,

    there’s another which is a electron microscope of his finances, I think many of these people whould rather be speaking german, rather than to credit who they consider an imperialist reactionary, christopher hitchens was an exception,

    narciso (732bc0)

  102. In another thread, Bobstewartathome mentioned that I’d be on the side on Churchill. I wasn’t born yet but all my relatives were. On the side of Churchill. For a time only the Greeks and the British were fighting the Axis. And winning. The Greeks wiping out the Italian army and the British sinking the Italian navy.

    nk (dbc370)

  103. A man wakes up in the hospital bandaged from head to foot.
    The doctor comes in and says, “Ah, I see you’ve regained consciousness. Now you probably won’t remember, but you were in a huge pile-up on the freeway. You’re going to be okay. You’ll walk again and everything.
    However, your penis was severed in the accident, and we couldn’t find it.”

    The man groans, but the doctor goes on, “You have $9,000 in insurance compensation coming, and we now have the technology to build a new penis. They work great but don’t come cheap. It’s
    roughly $1000 an inch.”
    The man perks up.

    So,” the doctor says, “You must decide how many inches you want. But I understand that you have been married for over thirty years and this is something you should discuss with your wife.
    If you had a five-incher before and get a nine-incher now she might be a bit put out. If you had a nine-incher before and you decide to only invest in a five-incher now, she might be disappointed. It’s important that she plays a role in helping you make a

    The man agrees to talk it over with his wife.

    The doctor comes back the next day, “So, have you spoken with your wife?”

    “Yes, I have,” says the man.

    “And has she helped you make a decision?”

    “Yes” says the man.

    “What is your decision?” asks the doctor.

    “We’re getting granite counter tops.”

    Rev. Hoagie ™ (734193)

  104. reading max hastings volume on codebreaking, you ask cameron and he would probably say yes, but after musing for a long time,

    narciso (732bc0)

  105. Rev H,. did you see the news from Massachusetts General Hospital earlier this week?

    I am currently in Virginia, and applying your “storefronts to rent” metric. Interesting how it varies from town to town almost. Upper Shenandoah is worse off than the Lower Shenandoah especially after I add on two ancillary measurements: prominence of cars made at least 10 years ago and houses with badly pealing paint. The area around Winchester is, going by that, more prosperous than the area around Harrisonburg. Can’t speak about the areas south (Lexington etc) or north (towards Maryland) as we did not visit any sites in those areas.

    kishnevi (294553)

  106. A little boy is with his mother at the zoo. They go by the elephant pen and the little boy points at a male elephant and asks, “Mommy, what’s that thing hanging down from that elephant’s belly?” Embarrassed, the lady mutters, “It’s nothing”.

    Next week the little boy is at the zoo with his father. They go by the elephant pen and again the little boy asks, “Daddy, what’s that thing hanging down form that elephant’s belly?” His father says, “That’s the elephant’s penis, son”. “Oh”, says the little boy. “Last week I asked mommy and she said it was nothing”. And his father says, “Son, I’ve spoiled that woman.”

    nk (dbc370)

  107. Kishnevi, when an area is in decline of course you’ll see an increase of the “storefronts to rent” metric. That also occurs as an area develops. After all stores have to be built first and will generally stand empty for some time as business decides if it wants to chance the area.

    But I was specifically referring to the same geographic areas around the suburbs of Philly that have had no obvious demographic change yet I watched the stores go empty for longer than usual times. The areas were not being inundated with blacks or Hispanics nor gentrified and receiving new white families. The racial and seemingly financial demo remained the same but businesses seems to not thrive nor want to move in when stores became available. The only new stores and coincidently new construction was either a.) government or b.) large names like WaWa or Speedway or a fast food franchise.

    As a businessman I tend to keep an eye out for attractive available locations as well as try to keep a finger on the pulse of an area. So these are merely my own observations and by no means a scientific study. It’s all based on gut and experience and nothing else. However, I have made a fairly successful career with the old gut as it may.

    Rev. Hoagie ™ (734193)

  108. i ain’t goin your way

    get outta my way

    up a lazy river

    with trump

    happyfeet (831175)

  109. tried to put some context to the controversy last month,

    narciso (732bc0)

  110. #103: narciso, the article by Nigel is not news other than Nigel’s take on Churchill’s personal problems. There were good reasons to think of invading through Austria to conquer Germany. Churchill was well aware of the Soviet plans for eastern Europe, and a push up the Adriatic would have kept most of those countries on our side of the iron curtain once Germany collapsed. Any number of histories have elaborated on the contrasting strategies, and I find Churchill’s arguments more convincing than not. Churchill had a much clearer understanding of European history than our general staff. In fact, I think there was a good deal of anti-British prejudice in our senior REMFs, and they figured Churchill wanted to do this because it would have been good for Britain, therefore it wasn’t appropriate. And for a depressed alcoholic, Churchill certainly managed to hold up his end of the stick. The people who worked closely with him had nothing but admiration for his energy, insight, and discipline.

    BobStewartatHome (a52abe)

  111. I’m speaking of the wider point, about analyzing a leader at an atomistic level, so it’s not about his oratory, his eloquence, but his vices, his other shortcomings,

    narciso (732bc0)

  112. As I said 50+1 Democracy is nonsense.

    I am all for having to pass a test to vote.

    But I am not a slave to the concept of “Democracy” for governance which by the way neither were are Founders. We allegedly had a Constitutional Republic where its power was limited and held in check to avoid the putrid crap we see today.

    But hey …

    Rodney King's Spirit (e2dd8e)

  113. Military rule, even retired military, is fascistic.

    That’s not what fascism means, actually, although popular usage has made the word kind of meaningless. Now it just means “evil.”

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  114. up a crazy lazy river

    happyfeet (831175)

  115. But the idea of “buying in” is pretty important, I think. Doesn’t have to be military

    I said “8 hours of cummunity service every four years” and you’d think I was bringing back slavery.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  116. there’s nothing by itself wrong, with having basic standards of information, but the old latin phrase quic custodiem custodies, who decides what is the truth, and what happens to those who are weeded out,

    narciso (732bc0)

  117. As I said 50+1 Democracy is nonsense.

    Two-thirds to pass a law, a simple majority to repeal it.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  118. blimey, I didn’t expect the spanish inquisition, rimshot (of course, I think too much is made of it,)

    narciso (732bc0)

  119. I’ve gotten dejavu about these teleplays,

    b 1 bob dornan and oliver north were their designated bete noires.

    narciso (732bc0)

  120. they mean well really they do,


    narciso (732bc0)

  121. you’ll get around to this sooner, or later,

    narciso (732bc0)

  122. Ok, but the concept that the privileges of citizenship, or full citizenship, are not automatic even to the natural born, but must be earned, is definitely a tenet of orthodox fascism.

    nk (dbc370)

  123. After years of supporting a spineless, corrupt, RINO GOPe, the ‘true conservatives’ get upset that people won’t support them yet again. You’re not upset that the party wants a corrupt RINO, you’re upset they didn’t want YOUR corrupt RINO.

    Mr Black (7c41e5)

  124. so were fascist before 1920, tell me another one, btw didn’t you have a military leader who was a prominent politician, venizelos,

    narciso (732bc0)

  125. My grandfather left America to fight under him. Doubled Greece’s territory. But why go that far back? Ioannis Metaxas who opposed Mussolinin in 1940 was a Fascist politically and a military dictator who had deposed the King. My uncles fought under him.

    nk (dbc370)

  126. What are you going to dangle to entice Donald Trump with?

    Money, Fame, Women, not going to work.

    To corrupt him. That’s a hard case.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  127. well metaxas and the colonels are too obvious, so I picked the one who isn’t.

    narciso (732bc0)

  128. But I didn’t get “so were fascist before 1920″.

    nk (dbc370)

  129. You kidding us, papertiger? Trump dies for adulation, admiration, being the center of attention. The bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral. He’ll never have enough of it.

    nk (dbc370)

  130. before woman’s suffrage. try to keep up.

    narciso (732bc0)

  131. Oh, I thought maybe you meant the American Indians who until 1925 had to prove they were assimilated and go through naturalization. But that was 1925 not 1920.

    How did the women “earn” that? Wilson shipped off all the young men to fight in Europe and the women nagged the old married men into giving them the vote. And Prohibition. The soldiers came back, found the women in charge and couldn’t even get a drink to console themselves with.

    nk (dbc370)

  132. So the wormtongues will cajole him into corruption.

    The thing might turn into a butt kissing contest. Wouldn’t it be funny if he got everything exactly as he said because nobody has the fortitude to tell him no.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  133. It’s not about trump, good Allah.

    narciso (732bc0)

  134. Thank you, narciso. See my comment on the other thread for my Sunday morning resolution.

    nk (dbc370)

  135. ” Not just military, mind you, but other people who had served the state.”

    No, hell no! We do not serve the state. The state serves us!

    felipe (325ff3)

  136. #22, #39

    You, sir, are on fire!

    felipe (325ff3)

  137. No one is going to corrupt Trump cuz he already is.

    Just so happens it won’t be somebody else to do so.

    He did it all to himself.

    Rodney King's Spirit (e2dd8e)

  138. Hmmm. Weed out the culturally illiterate voters? Sounds like the literacy tests white folks used to keep Knee-Grows from voting back in the day. Somebody doesn’t like the way the election is shaping up.

    f1guyus (e0fc17)

  139. “Military rule, even retired military, is fascistic. From the Spartans, to the Romans, to the samurai, to the Prussians, or any other military government you’d care to name.”

    nk (dbc370) — 5/21/2016 @ 6:11 pm

    That just proves you have no idea what Fascism is; even the earliest democracies – like Athens – required military service as a prerequisite for full citizenship. This was millennia before Fascism.

    Mike Giles (713443)

  140. Mike, Athens didn’t require military service, they offered it to those who didn’t own property. You could also serve on a jury for the same day rate as the rowers on the Triremes. Both got you the vote, and at a salary of a drachma a day, the same as the builders of the Parthenon. People regarded this as a good deal, better than anything previously known to man, and accepted the terms. This allowed Athens to deploy a fleet of 200 Triremes that drove the Persians to shore and freed a number of Ionian colonies from Persian control. The tribute collected from the freed colonies, plus the benefits of trade with these colonies, paid for the 200 rowers on each Trireme. This led to the age of Pericles, and under Pericles’ leadership the mob was convinced to do the right thing, and Athens prospered. But Pericles died of the “plague” in 429BC, and Athens plunged into chaos as demagogues inflamed them to pursue one folly after another. And every failure had a scapegoat, who was executed or exiled by the mob, and nothing could be learned. It was like the French Revolution before Bonaparte.

    The Athenians understood that men, acting in their own interests, could be the most potent weapon, irrespective of technology, if only those interests could be aligned with the State. This is in complete opposition to modern progressives and environmentalists who regard mankind as a plague upon the earth. Alexander the Great took this idea to the next level, wherein everyone in his army was treated as an individual working for wages (and plunder) as compared to the slaves who comprised the entire Persian empire, except the King of Kings, or the Greek hoplites who were the landed gentry. Alexander sought to kill everyone who opposed him, and in so doing, he revolutionized warfare. This was a departure from previous implied rules, at least amongst the Greeks.

    BobStewartatHome (a52abe)

  141. There is more than one type of ignorance that affects public policy. For example, questions about economics would probably not appear on a civics exam. Yet ten million people have already cast their presidential primary votes for a man who put the following statement on his campaign web site:

    It makes no sense that you can get an auto loan today with an interest rate of 2.5%, but millions of college graduates are forced to pay interest rates of 5-7% or more for decades.

    Joshua K. (9ede0e)

  142. Joshua K. (9ede0e) — 5/23/2016 @ 7:50 am

    True. It is risible that so many Trump supporters, much less their flag bearer don’t understand the difference between secured and unsecured debt. Actually, I take that back. I’m sure Trump does know the difference. What he’s counting on his supporters are stupid enough to fall for that bit of socialist populism.

    Bill H (971e5f)

  143. no, those are doc brown supporters.

    narciso (732bc0)

  144. 14. Who signs bills to become laws?
    … the President

    But does he ? There are reports that the White House has been using a mechanical device, called an “Auto-Pen”, to sign most of the bills that Congress sends to the White House for the President’s signature.

    Neo (d1c681)

  145. This:

    We stopped being a people virtuous enough for our kind of government.

    You are correct Doc.

    Steve Malynn (1d7837)

  146. That “sampling of questions” looks to be pretty out of date.

    The US Constitution as supreme law of the land, for example.

    malclave (4ddf38)

  147. But does he ? There are reports that the White House has been using a mechanical device, called an “Auto-Pen”, to sign most of the bills that Congress sends to the White House for the President’s signature.

    Neo (d1c681) — 5/23/2016 @ 12:43 pm

    I think that’s been found legal. Much like a secretary signing for the President on his authority. I don’t like it either, but we jumped that hurdle eons ago.

    Bill H (971e5f)

  148. I keep getting asked to vote for members of my alumni association, but I never vote, although maybe I should. I know nothing about these people, and they never tell you. Somehow nobody seems to think it matters, which is crazy, of course. This can’t be good, and bespeaks an organized campaign. The only thing I can tell from this is that they are probably all not good, becaused it is all so Panglossian. Nevertheless, some might be better than others, and some might actually do a little good but I also know it all doesn’t matter, and the only reason this alumni association exists is that the people running Excelsior University want to pretend it is all a regular college.

    We had, (alumni had) for awhile, access to an online library, but that went away. And then we had the administration promoting this Alumni Directory, which is probably nonsense – a book that nopbody will look at that they hope to sell to the people in it, like Who’s Who. They probably got a fee. I think it’s been published twice now.

    All this takes away from their mission.

    Sammy Finkelman (643dcd)

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