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Some serious dumbassery from Democrats and Republicans

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee tells a group of high schoolers that the moon “is made up mostly of gases.” Senator Elizabeth Warren argues that Israel is pursuing genocide in the Gaza Strip. Former president Trump speculates that Joe Biden used cocaine before his State of the Union Address, and says he wants Biden to take a drug test before any presidential debate. And Marjorie Taylor Greene insists that Vladimir Putin, by invading Ukraine, is “defending Christianity.”

We’re in the very best of hands, America.

The Ridiculousness of Our Ruling Class

You could argue that spotlighting a spectacularly inane comment from 15-term Democratic Texas representative Sheila Jackson Lee is akin to shooting fish in a barrel. But I think spectacularly ill-informed lawmakers usually get too little grief for their idiotic comments, instead of too much.

Jackson Lee appeared at Houston’s Booker T. Washington High School ahead of Monday’s solar eclipse, and she offered some . . . curious remarks about astronomy:

So that you have the energy of the moon at night, and sometime you’ve heard the word, ‘full moon’ — sometimes you need to take the opportunity just to come out and see, a full moon is that complete rounded circle which is made up mostly of gases, and that’s why the question is, why or how could we as humans live on the Moon? Are the gases such that we could do that? The sun is a mighty powerful heat, but it’s almost impossible to go near the sun. The moon is more manageable, and you will see in a moment — not a moment, you will see in a couple of years that NASA is going back to the moon.

According to Mediaite, Jackson Lee also said, “I don’t know about you, I want to be first in line to know how to live and to be able to survive on the Moon,” before adding, “That’s another planet which we’re going to see shortly.”

As you likely remember from elementary school, the moon — which is not a planet —  is not made up mostly of gases; it is made up of rock. I suppose the term “more manageable heat” is accurate if you’re comparing the surface of the moon to the surface of the sun, but temperatures on the moon can range from 250 degrees Fahrenheit to negative 208 degrees Fahrenheit. Not that manageable.

Still, not everything Jackson Lee said was wrong. “It’s almost impossible to go near the sun.” Fact check: True! Unless you’re Smash Mouth.

If you’re a science teacher at Booker T. Washington High School, God help you. Your students are going to ask, “Why do we have to learn this stuff?” and you’re going to have to reply, “If you never learn anything about astronomy, you could end up in the U.S. House of Representatives for three decades.”

Jackson Lee eventually added, “Obviously I misspoke and meant to say the sun, but as usual, Republicans are focused on stupid things instead of stuff that really matters.” The sun is indeed a giant ball of gas and plasma, but it is hard to believe that anyone, much less a representative, would speculate about whether human beings could live on the surface of the sun.

Sheila Jackson Lee graduated from Yale University in 1973.

If all of this is ringing a familiar bell, you may be remembering the representative’s other bizarre mix-up of celestial bodies:

Jackson Lee, whose district neighbors the Johnson Space Center, was a member of the House Committee on Science in 1997. She spent part of her summer recess in 1997 visiting the Mars Pathfinder Operations Center in Pasadena, California. While there, according to an article by Sandy Hume in The Hill, Jackson Lee asked if the Pathfinder succeeded in taking pictures of the American flag planted on Mars by Neil Armstrong in 1969.

The planet Mars and the moon are two different places, in case anyone missed that.

Earlier this year, there was some buzz that Jackson Lee might actually lose her primary, but she ended up winning with more than 60 percent of the vote.

This ranks up with Georgia Democratic representative Hank Johnson’s comment during a hearing in 2010, when he warned Admiral Robert Willard, head of the U.S. Pacific fleet, that regarding the island of Guam, “My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.” God bless Admiral Willard for his straight-faced response, “We don’t anticipate that.”

Many folks are reaching the limits of their patience with dumbassery on display among our country’s elected officials. Here is another great example: Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren insisting that it’s obvious that Israel has genocidal policies in its current war against Hamas.

Like some of Warren's her shoddy academic work or her hypocrisy, deceit, and baseless hysteria in political debates or her biographical whoppers, one could ascribe this simply to dishonesty and political pandering. But first of all, this is all she does. Her economic arguments and analogies are almost invariably things that a person of modest intellect and familiarity with the world can see right through, like her thinking there’s a monopoly on sandwich shops or straining to compare Big Tech to baseball umpires. Her math is no better. Nor is her legal analysis, such as her claim that, in the Dobbs decision, the Supreme Court justices “forced their unpopular agenda on the rest of America” by . . . letting Americans vote on the abortion issue.

The Gaza thing, however, is not just something so easily rebutted and so incautious about the details that it was politically stupid to say. It also reflects an inability to think. Words have meanings, and “genocide” has an easy one to grasp: the purposeful destruction of an entire people. Anybody who occasionally pays attention to the Gaza war and the Israeli military tradition knows that this is not at all what Israel is attempting to do, even if the consequences of the war for Gazan civilians may be severe enough that people of good faith can condemn them. The war is aimed at a clear and distinct goal: to destroy Hamas, not Gaza — specifically, to destroy Hamas’s military and break its governing hold on Gaza. Moreover, Israel is doing so because Hamas is itself an openly genocidal organization devoted to destroying the world’s only Jewish state. The failure to grapple with any of this is a symptom of one’s brain being shut off.

Meanwhile, many Baby Boomers, who are still enjoying an iron grip on positions of leadership in American society in the year 2024, have accumulated so little wisdom with their many years.

These folks are the elders most responsible for shaping young minds, the university presidents, administrators, and some faculty who continually cave to students who make preposterous demands. This is the first generation of students to attend college because of what they think they can teach their professors. It would be tempting to call it a “day care for young adults,” but any actual day care would be shut down if the grown-ups cowered behind desks while the toddlers ran the place.

Of course, not all seniors have turned to the dark side. Many men and women over 65 are appalled at the portion of their age cohort that has descended into conspiracy-world. In fact, while the world frets over the use of social media by young people, it is actually an intense minority of seniors who fire off misinformation at a rate that puts Zoomers to shame.

And for those fuming that so many examples of dumbassery come from Democrats, let us note that a week ago, former president Trump speculated that Joe Biden used cocaine before his State of the Union Address, and said he wanted Biden to take a drug test before any presidential debate:

Hugh Hewitt: Now you have said you’ll debate him anywhere, anytime. Do you think he’ll agree to any debates?

Donald Trump: Yeah, anywhere, anytime.

HH: Do you think he’ll agree?

DJT: I don’t think so, but I hope he does. I think what happened is you know that white stuff that they happened to find, which happened to be cocaine in the White House, I don’t know, I think something’s going on there, because I watched this State of the Union, and he was all jacked up at the beginning. By the end, he was fading fast. There’s something going on there. I want to debate. And I think debates, with him, at least, should be drug tested. I want a drug test.

HH: Mr. President, are you suggesting President Biden’s using cocaine?

DJT: I don’t know what he’s using, but that was not, hey, he was higher than a kite. And by the way, it was the worst, it was the worst address I’ve ever seen, the State of the Nation. I’ll tell you, State of the Union, that’s not State of the Union, because he doesn’t represent us properly. That, I can tell you. But he’s obviously, he’s being helped some way, because most of the time, he looks like he’s falling asleep. And all of a sudden, he walked up there and did a poor job. But he was all jacked up.

Earlier this week, a right-of-center figure on Twitter admitted that when he encountered a quote from former president Richard Nixon, calling the first prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew, “a big man on a small stage, who in other times and other places might have attained the world stature of a Churchill, Disraeli or a Gladstone,” he had to Google the names, “Disraeli & Gladstone.” This led to a lot of responses along the lines of, “How could you not know who Disraeli and Gladstone were?”

Benjamin Disraeli was prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1874 to 1880 and is seen as the father of the modern British Conservative Party. William Gladstone served for twelve years as prime minister, spread over four non-consecutive terms, and is considered one of the great leaders in British history.

I’d argue those figures aren’t the most common names in political discussions, particularly on this side of the Atlantic, but they’re not exactly obscure figures, either.

There’s no shame in not knowing a particular figure or fact; we’re all born knowing nothing and have to work our way up from there. We’re all on a journey of lifetime learning. But it is a character flaw to act like anything you don’t know is not worth knowing.

In other words, there’s no shame in not knowing something. But there is shame in refusing to learn. And an unnerving number of our elected leaders are convinced they already know everything.

Here is one more for you to end this article.

Counter to U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s claim that Russia is “protecting Christianity,” the Russian state is one of the largest oppressors of Christianity in the world, and “egregiously” and “systematically” persecutes a wide array of Christian churches — the notable exception being the Ukrainian Orthodox Church–Moscow Patriarchate, which Vladimir Putin co-opts.

The issue of religious persecution has emerged as an objection to House Speaker Mike Johnson’s plans for military funding for Ukraine. Many congressional Republicans evidently believe that Russia is “protecting Christianity,” as Marjorie Taylor Greene said on Monday. These Republican members are being duped by Russian propaganda, including the claim that Russia’s war against Ukraine is against Satanism. “The overthrow of faith and traditional values and the suppression of freedom are resembling a ‘religion in reverse’ — pure Satanism,” Putin said two years ago, in a speech on Russia’s intent to annex occupied Ukraine.

Moscow’s invasion and devastation of Ukraine have contributed to the assessment, by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), that Russia ranks among the world’s religious persecutors of greatest concern. Russia, they find, “egregiously” and “systematically” persecutes a wide array of Christian churches, except the Ukrainian Orthodox Church–Moscow Patriarchate, which Putin co-opts. A Ukrainian delegation of diverse religious leaders told a Hudson Institute gathering last year that they fear that a victorious Russia would crush their religious institutions. Credible reports on Russia-occupied Ukraine validate this.

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