When Evidence Doesn’t Matter

A friend who lives in Wisconsin recently shared an article from the Madison newspaper, detailing the declining rank of the University of Wisconsin in the wake of Scott Walker’s savage cuts to that institution.

Now-retired UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley would often say that it took well over 100 years for the people of Wisconsin to build a world-class university, but it won’t take but a few years to tear it all down.

We saw the first signs of how true Wiley’s observation is when late last week the National Science Foundation reported that the UW-Madison has fallen from the ranks of the top five research universities in the country, a position it had maintained for the past 40 years.

The news underscored how the university is being impacted by the draconian policies of the current crop of Republicans who are running state government. .The governor and several key legislators have consistently insisted that UW faculty are overpaid and coddled. Walker chided that budget cuts could be weathered if only professors taught one more course. Other legislators would go so far as threatening more budget cuts when they would hear of a class they didn’t like.

Not surprisingly, a number of professors have left for greener pastures, and have taken their research grants with them, exacerbating the University’s fiscal woes.

As the article points out, Walker’s dogged insistence that cutting taxes and spending are the cure for anything that ails state government isn’t just affecting the university.

Wisconsin’s once-proud K-12 public education system is being forced to go begging to property taxpayers with referendums just to keep school districts’ heads above water. The condition of our lakes and streams and even our groundwater has been deteriorating each year and the DNR, charged with protecting it all, is being starved to death under a secretary who won’t fight for it. Our job creation is far below the national average and Wisconsin workers, many no longer protected by unions, earn less.

Wisconsin’s experience isn’t unique. Kansas’ economy continues to decline under the similar ideology and even more draconian policies of Sam Brownback. Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, has presided over the abysmal performance of Detroit’s schools, thanks to a radical privatization philosophy she and Trump want to employ nationally. Paul Ryan and other House Republicans have their guns trained on Medicare, ignoring the fact that the program is both popular and cost-effective.

In each of these cases–and many others I could cite–elected officials are pursuing their ideological commitments with a decidedly religious fervor. Reality be damned.

When evidence doesn’t matter and experience doesn’t inform, Dark Ages aren’t far off.

38 thoughts on “When Evidence Doesn’t Matter

  1. NPR reported yesterday that the Trump transition team is requiring Department of Energy employees to complete a lengthy questionaire that sounds a lot like they are being asked to inform on fellow employees, a la McCarthy era tactics, with the distinct possibility of blacklisting anyone who is a climate change scientist.

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/09/505041927/trump-transition-asks-energy-dept-which-employees-work-on-climate-change

    That indicator of things to come is just one more move by the Koch brothers operatives to enact their takeover of energy policy.

    The energy department, education, interior, agriculture and a host of other agencies are going to be led by those who have been outliers and fringe dwellers with ideological agendas that are now firmly mainstream in federal politics, with the Trumpence emperor without any clothes marching at the fore.

    Bullying, intimidation, threats and now probable blacklisting are the tools of fascist dictators. And a host of them are about to be sworn into office.

  2. Pardon me while I digress to those progressive days of yesteryear in the city of Indianapolis under Mayor Bill Hudnut. “When Evidence Doesn’t Matter” fits the situation as Goldsmith systematically destroyed much of the progress Mayor Hudnut created, not only in the city itself but the reorganization of city government which evidenced internal and external progress through his unparalleled 16 years of service. Much of the “evidence” of this progress is gone due to Goldsmith’s order to destroy all paperwork and files from the Hudnut administration and huge trash bins were wheeled into all offices to accomplish this order.

    Scott Walker has basically dismantled and destroyed much of the entire state of Wisconsin as Goldsmith began the downward decline of Indianapolis. What will the future be for Wisconsin and all of its colleges and universities; in fact what will the future be for education on all levels in all states if Trump gets his way regarding the appointment of anti-public education to Secretary of Education?

    The evidence that Charter schools and voucher students is not improving the education of our children is being ignored as money-grubbing Republicans take control of our public education tax dollars. Let us not forget that Walker was a front runner in the destruction of unions which infected other states and the exodus of businesses to other countries escalated. Colleges and universities are quickly becoming big business and evidence that this is only causing soaring cost of education…a cost that will be passed on to the tax payers as we are still witnessing the ongoing fiasco of Trump’s “salvation” of Carrier in Indianapolis.

  3. “In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve.” (deToqueville) Unfortunately we all have to live with that government. Don’t expect the nihilists who are now in charge to do anything to improve the understanding of the people who voted them in. The fact that facts don’t matter only benefits them.

  4. One has to wonder whether there is a conspiracy afoot among those who want to privatize education (but not its public funding) just as there is with Medicare, Social Security and other programs where there is a pile of money sitting there waiting to be added to Wall Street’s bottom lines. People such as Walker and Brownback represent the leading edge of such a conspiracy (if it is one and not just a random confluence of right wing thought) and their job is to downgrade the program(s) sought to be privatized. Thus public universities and public education in general are put down mercilessly (a putdown destined to be accelerated with the appointment of Betsy) in order to gain public approval for corporate takeover, and I note that Medicare and Social Security are being softened up for takeover as well in a continuing mantra of “government is bad; private enterprise is good” language (hurrah for insurance companies, HMOs and annuities hucksters and others dedicated to making America great again ).
    Tea party and (especially since Citizens United) Koch-led and ALEC-approved politicians at state and federal levels have already merged Wall Street with government via routine shutdowns, hooking Wall Street-approved amendments to spending bills and other motherhood and apple pie bills in order to insure passage, cutting the budgets of those agencies charged with regulation of their activities etc. etc.etc.
    So is it a plot? Well, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck. . . . . It’s a duck.

  5. JD,

    “Bullying, intimidation, threats and now probable blacklisting are the tools of fascist dictators. And a host of them are about to be sworn into office.”

    It’s imperative that we all take a look at the battle for Okinawa in WWII. That’s when the Japanese were left with only one tactic…..the use of the Kamikazes, or suicidal attacks against our ships. METAPHORICALLY, “the writing is on the wall,” the pro-democracy forces in the U.S. will be in the same situation as the Japanese after January 20th.

    Let’s start preparing, at least mentally, like the Japanese did months before the invasion.

  6. The same has happened to the University of North Carolina under Gov. McCrory. Thank God he served only one term and was defeated!!

  7. “In each of these cases–and many others I could cite–elected officials are pursuing their ideological commitments with a decidedly religious fervor. REALITY BE DAMNED.

    In the book and later movie “Fail Safe,” the only remedy left was a suicidal mission to re-establish equilibrium between the U.S. and Russia. Since the Trump/Pence lead Republicans are committing suicide, what other choice do we have?

  8. America’s basic problem can be stated in “two little words”……PROPAGANDA GAP. Once that is corrected, I believe we can move with a powerful countervailing force toward national equilibrium.

    This countervailing force will have to use a NEW FORMATION based on a UNITY between women and men much like the one that was SUCCESSFUL in Jacksonville during the Minority Set-Aside battle where women and minorities fought to receive their fair share of business contracts with the City of Jacksonville.

  9. It’s entirely possible that I just have no imagination, but the question I ask myself, repeatedly, is, “Why?” Why does Scott Walker want to destroy UW? Why does Paul Ryan want to destroy Medicare and Social Security? Why do the Koch brothers want to destroy the environment, the water that we all drink, and the air we all breathe?

  10. Where is the progressive pushback and engagement of the remaining media against Walker and Brownback? Shouldn’t democrats be relentlessly attacking their piss-poor records and destruction? What we need is a real leader with focus and drive to start the attack now. These fake public servants need to be defeated using their tactics and making their performances and policies as intolerable as the term “liberal” and “progressive “.

  11. What kamikaze-like attack(s) can you suggest beyond a union of women and minorities; and what will that union look like. I think drastic steps must be taken in the next 40 days to completely stop the take over of government by anti-democratic forces. Peacefully of course, but powerfully. Trump cannot be allowed to take office. His appointees must be neutralized. Help.

  12. Marv; I’m with Ginny F, “why”? Do they get paid bonuses for these actions? How do they benefit personally by depriving others of rights, education, benefits and money? Or destroying universities and unions? Is it simply because they CAN? Of course I have had the same question regarding hackers who imbed viruses in personal computers; do they get feedback regarding the problems they cause? No questions regarding Trump’s lies about Hillary – we are looking at the payback for that hacking on every newscast.

    Supposedly; for every action there is a response, either a benefit or a consequence. So I ask again regarding Walker, and Ryan destroying UW, Social Security and Medicare; “WHY”?

  13. What the Republicans do not want is any semblance of Liberal Arts infecting, that is anything that questions via independent thought. Rote memorization, of beliefs is essential with some marketing jingles thrown in – Make America Again, Death Panels, Onerous Regulations, etc.

    There is an interesting take on the election in the Intercept – >> “It’s now time for us, as a nation, to come together and congratulate the winner of the 2016 presidential election: Goldman Sachs.” The author outlines a very long list of Goldman-Sachs employees that have went on to high Government Jobs, beginning with Bill Clinton, Bush 2, Obama, and now the Trumpet. The author sums it well, if not depressingly true – “So have all the elections you want. Democrats and Republicans can lose; it happens all the time. But Goldman Sachs always wins.” https://theintercept.com/2016/12/09/trump-makes-america-goldmans-again-maga/

    I think we shall see if the Democrats will mount any resistance to the Trumpet’s Cabinet picks. I suspect a few Democrats will mumble a bit, but I predict we will witness them slithering across the floor, approving the Trumpet’s picks for the cabinet, and later the Federal Courts, after all you need a backbone to sit up. If it is one thing the Democratic Party for the most part has demonstrated is a distinct aversion to political combat. The Democrats suffer from Political PTSD. There should be a sign on the DNC HQ a warning for Progressives – All hope abandon ye who enter here, – from Dante’s Inferno.

    Resistance to the Trumpet will have to come outside the Democratic Party.

  14. Wayne,

    “I think drastic steps must be taken in the next 40 days to completely stop the take over of government by anti-democratic forces. ”

    It will be a new formation of men and women not based on any discrimination, except for the recognition of capabilities. Trump/Pence is a male dominated movement that can only be countered by a female/male movement. A women’s movement ONLY is not feasible because of the lack of access to the male oligarchy. Without the ability to neutralize the deviant male oligarchy any movement is only an act of futility.

    I will be fully activating http://www.StandUpToPower.org. I will explain in more detail the POLITICAL ARCHITECTONICS on that site. It should be fully operational by next Tuesday. I need at least three days to put it all together by “funneling” all my websites into one main educational site. As you best stated, “drastic steps….. peacefully of course, but powerfully.”

    This is the time to do it. After today, we will still have 40 more days before the INAUGURATION to organize. That’s enough time.

  15. JoAnn,

    “Supposedly; for every action there is a response, either a benefit or a consequence. So I ask again regarding Walker, and Ryan destroying UW, Social Security and Medicare; “WHY”?

    You should understand better than any of us. It’s an “ignoramus plan” to establish WHITE MALE POWER by using RELIGION as a mask. POLITICAL INSANITY generally doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    To quote Sheila: “In each of these cases–and many others I could cite–elected officials are pursuing their ideological commitments with a decidedly religious fervor. Reality be damned.”

  16. Louie,

    “Resistance to the Trumpet will have to come outside the Democratic Party.”

    AS WELL AS OUTSIDE the Southern Poverty Law Center/Anti-Defamation League SHAM.

    sham (sham) n. [< ? shame] something false or fake; person or thing that is a fraud–adj. false or fake–vt., vi. shammed, sham'ming to pretend; feign

    When some you have time, just google Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center and find out for yourself what the former employees have to say.

  17. They are just looters. Like pirates. They see a pile of money and they take it. And America is just stupid enough for them to get away with it.

  18. University of Louisville has recently been put on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Governor Bevin summarily dismissed the entire board without cause, violating the association’s policy of keeping politics out of board appointments.

    The Journal-Courier reported:

    “The university said in a news release that SACS found U of L was not in compliance with rules requiring that trustees be dismissed only for cause; that university boards alone select their president; and that boards be free from undue political or other external influence.”

  19. “AS WELL AS OUTSIDE the Southern Poverty Law Center/Anti-Defamation League SHAM.”

    OK Marv; this is merely my simplistic – or simple – point of view but I believe you are giving Morris Dees/Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League credit for too much power to have turned this election. Can this view also call negative attention to Jews, who to the general public and due to lack of much public anti-Semitism from Trump’s supporters, had not been considered a major reason to vote against Trump & Co.? Not sure I am saying this correctly; I believe you know me well enough to know that I am not anti-Semitic so am not supporting that point of view. I am questioning your insistence that Dees/SPLC/ADL are at the basis of our current presidential dilemma.

    “Resistance to the Trumpet will have to come outside the Democratic Party.”

    I believe that the “outside the Democratic Party” means we will need to seek that resistance from within the Republican party; hopefully from (but with little real hope) the Electoral College members. But if/when Trump is inaugurated we must find support against his white nationalist, anti-Semitic cabinet appointees from within the Republican Congress. Otherwise, all is lost; little will be accomplished in 2018, because “When Evidence Doesn’t Matter” resulted in this presidential election horror after almost 18 months of watching and listening to Trump spew his hatred openly and often. What more “evidence” did people in this country need to know who and what they were electing? President Obama was elected twice but so, in every sense of the word, was Scott Walker…against all evidence he was unqualified for the job.

  20. JoAnn,

    Can this view also call negative attention to Jews, who to the general public and due to lack of much public anti-Semitism from Trump’s supporters, had not been considered a major reason to vote against Trump & Co.? Not sure I am saying this correctly”

    The anti-Semitism, at this point in time, is so strong that it didn’t need to have any “public anti-Semitism from Trump supporters” to make it an issue in voting FOR Trump & Co. JoAnn, I don’t think you’re seeing it correctly is why you’re saying this incorrectly. I do know you well enough to know you’re not anti-Semitic, but you’re in the minority. There has been absolutely no treatment of the anti-Semitism in the U.S. other than the “Teaching Tolerance” program of the ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center in years.

    The program has now been “trashed” by the ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center. It had become too obvious that it was mostly worthless.

    The ADL has been covering up the anti-Semitism for years. In 1978, I was asked to be the Spokesperson for the American Jewish Congress in Dallas. The American Jewish Congress is the most liberal of the three major Jewish organizations. With that power, I immediately called for a report from the Anti-Defamation League on the state of anti-Semitism in the U.S. and especially how it was affecting Dallas. They came back with a report from the 60’s about anti-Semitism in California. When I continued to press the issue, I received a call from the Director of the American Jewish Congress in Dallas that three Israelis connected with the Mosaad, the Israeli intelligence agency, wanted to have lunch with me at Cindy’s Delicatessen. I met with them and a few days later I was removed as the Spokesperson. Does this help you better undersand where I’m coming from?

  21. There’s a term that I always assumed came from your neck of the woods that describes such shenanigans as “selling the seed corn”, apparently the last ditch effort to save the farm.

    It’s the start of the race to the bottom.

    To have jobs we need a viable economy. To have a viable economy we have to have competitive education, energy, and healthcare. We don’t now and the GOP is selling that seed corn.

    We can all do that math.

  22. This mess can’t go any further. Anti-Semitism destroyed the Jews as well as GERMANY. It will destroy all of us, if we don’t wake up to the mess we’re in.

  23. Marv; I do understand where you are coming from on the Jewish issue, what I am not seeing is anti-Jewish propaganda and posts on Facebook (and I get a lot of crap) or on MSNBC, CNN or my local ABC or NBC news. I have also tried PBS news for general newscasts. If I have to search for anti-Semitism on specific sites (National Policy Institute, The Daily Stormer maybe?), it doesn’t seem to be making an impact except for those in your position of legal knowledge and authority and Jewish background. I truly do want to know and understand the depth of this problem; it seems to be swept under the rug – or maybe still hiding under rocks – but it doesn’t appear to be a major public issue. Or is that your argument – that it SHOULD be a major public issue?

  24. With all due respect, Marv, though anti-semitism was indeed on display in parts of Trumps base of support, everything going on is not about Jews and anti-semitism. The GOP is now the party of looters, plain and simple. Ironically (to me at least), Ayn Rand had some of it right, but her mind was warped by seeing communists as the prime enemy of freedom. In reality tyranny is the threat and the sort of opportunists who become tyrants are not really ideologically motivated. They can be communists or fascists or a hybrid of the two. The scapegoats can be Jews, Muslims, or any other conveniently suspicious group. The point is that the US is a giant pile of wealth, and the those who suffer from the mental illness we call greed (the inability, usually due to childhood trauma but sometimes as the result of psychopathy or sociopathy, to realize that the accumulation of wealth has diminishing returns and negative social impacts on fellow humans) are trying to loot it, and they have control of a major political party, and for at least the next two years, the federal government. That is what this is all about: greed.

  25. And I would add, the mentally ill victims of greedy thought patterns are not even rational (thus the mental illness). If they loot all the wealth for themselves, they will also have lousy standards of living because they will live in poverty stricken countries. That is what we call the “third world.” These people act against their own interests, but they are blind to their own folly.

  26. JoAnn,

    I truly do want to know and understand the depth of this problem; it seems to be swept under the rug – or maybe still hiding under rocks – but it doesn’t appear to be a major public issue. Or is that your argument – that it SHOULD be a major public issue?

    You’re right again. It is my argument that is should be a major public issue. It’s being covered up because of the aid to Israel. The Jewish establishment was threatened by leaders of the Religious Right, as well as Representative Rudy Ginrich, in the mid 70’s that if they fought the anti-Semitism in the U.S. then the aid to Israel could be cut off. No doubt that presented a predicament for the Jews, who were now facing a potentially lethal anti-Semitic movement in the U.S. Do we protect a safe haven in Israel or place our bets in the U.S.? So they’ve been walking a tightrope ever since. Do you blame them? I don’t. But that’s them and not me.

    I’m from a mixed backgound like President Obama. His physical features are more like his minority side of the equation, so he relates more to that side. Mine are more like the majority side, so I relate more to that side and, consequently, do not have the loyalty to Israel that many Jews have and probably should have.

  27. Over it,

    When did I imply that everything was about anti-Semitism? I said it was being covered up. Is the anti-Muslim problem being covered up? No. Is the racist problem being covered up? No. Aren’t young African-Americans marching in the street?

    At first, the AIDS epidemic was being covered up until enough people became concerned. Most epidemics are not covered up. This epidemic of anti-Semitism is one that has been covered up for close to 50 years. It had to be because of the noteriety of the Holocaust. Deception is the only way the virus of hatred could be transmitted in the U.S.. In Nazi Germany it was out in the open. It’s about time we became concerned.

    However, I do agree with you on your last statement that it’s about: Greed. And it’s hard to imagine how much looting of Jewish property occurred in Nazi Germany. Anti-Semitism isn’t particularly good for the soul.

  28. JoAnn,

    I will admit tackling anti-Semitism can raise problems for the Jewish Community. However, in this instance, not tackling it for 50 years, in my estimation is another “crime against humanity.” If someone out there is in a better position than I am to give an estimation, please step-up and I will sit down.

  29. If you look at the actions taken by many “top ranked” universities against adjunct faculty, you will rapidly lose sympathy for members of the educational-governmental complex. The actual teaching staff bear the burden, the elite get the special breaks. As to Wisconsin, there is an obsession with public sector unions among certain people. Yet if you look at American labor history, you will find great reluctance to have public sector labor unions, which are often viewed as an inherent (and incurable) conflict of interest.

  30. Thank you, Theresa.

    Marv, I am not saying that anti-semitism isn’t a problem. It is just not THE problem. And honestly your focus on that issue does often imply everything is about that.

    The only thing that matters now is sabotaging the looters in every way possible for the next two years.

  31. Over it,

    “Marv, I am not saying that anti-semitism isn’t a problem. It is just not THE problem. And honestly your focus on that issue does often imply everything is about that.”

    I’ve never implied that anti-Semitism is The Problem. It’s just the biggest one if not contained.

    “The only thing that matters now is sabotaging the looters in every way possible for the next two years.”

    Sounds good. How about a few examples based on your experience.
    e

  32. My brother-in=law, a respected cancer immunology researcher and professor has left the University of North Carolina for the same reasons – lack of university support, the need to be constantly searching for grants, demands for more teaching, etc. Their loss is Canada’s gain. He has taken his knowledge and talent to the University of Alberta.

  33. Just to our south, in Kentucky, U of L is on probation because an inexperienced Tea Party governor fired the university’s board of trustees!

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