Is he smarter than a 5th grader?

In an op-ed over at Bloomberg about Trump’s failed stunt with the Bible, I was struck by the man’s pronouncements. Even if the purpose of the stunt was only to showcase his Mussolini-esque (-ish?) strength, you might think that he would deliver a rousing speech, something inspirational, like exhorting his cult followers to go burn down the Reichstag.

This is what he said:

“We have a great country, that’s my thoughts,” he said. “The greatest country in the world. We’ll make it even greater. We will make it even greater. It won’t take long. It’s not gonna take long. You see what’s going on. It’s coming back. It’s coming back strong. It will be greater than ever before.”
“Okay. Thank you very much. We have the greatest country in the world. We’re gonna keep it nice and safe.”


Even more than usual I was struck by the gobsmackingly simple-minded vocabulary. How is this man the President of the United States?

As a retired elementary media specialist, it occurred to me to head over to and see what reading level our president (who is impeached and has botched the pandemic response) speaks. Lexile has positioned itself as an arbiter of readability for books; every book these days has a Lexile score. The idea is that your student will have a range of Lexile scores within which they are comfortable reading, and that for best growth the student should read somewhere near the middle of that range, if not lower.

(I was constantly having to teach parents of gifted kids that no, it was not beneficial for the kids to read at the high end. After all, I would point out, if the parents read at their Lexile level, they could just chuck the Tom Clancy out and stick to St. Thomas Aquinas or Kierkegaard.)

So over to the Analyzer I hopped, and this is the Lexile level of Trump’s “oration”:

I think it’s a hoot that the longest sentence is the longest only because of the editorial he said.

And the recommended books?

And most ironically of all:

The question remains: what grade level are we talking about? Have a chart:

Here we have the End Of Year Lexile level for each grade level, both for the absolute middle of the road kids (50th percentile) and the very bright kids (90th).

By the end of first grade, the brightest kids have already outstripped Trump’s Lexile level.

By the end of second grade, even the most average kids are reading beyond Trump’s “best words.”

So is the president (who is impeached and has botched the pandemic response) smarter than a fifth grader? Honey, please. He’s not even smarter than a second grader.

Replies, but no answers, Drew Ferguson edition

Guys, I would never suggest our congresscritters are evil and lying when Occam’s Razor offers us the simplest solution: they have no way to respond to constituents in this day and age when everything is automated.


Here are the two recent blog posts that I asked my congresscritters to respond to, to take a clear stance in support of (which is the default position) or in opposition to the president (who is impeached and has botched the pandemic response)’s recent actions.

  1. Trump threatens to kill Democrats; GA congresscritters okay with that.

  2. Trump extorts Michigan; GA congresscritters OK with that

Here are two emails I just received from Rep. Drew “Who?” Ferguson:


There was more blah blah about all the stuff that the (Democratic-led) House of Representatives did.

So here’s your challenge: exactly what message from me was Rep. Ferguson replying?

As far as I can tell, Rep. Ferguson’s positions on my two blog posts (and ResistBot messages to him) remain the default: He supports the idea of killing Trump’s political opponents; and it’s fine with him for the president (who is impeached and has botched the pandemic response) to extort states who do not kiss his ass.

Trump threatens to kill Democrats; GA congresscritters okay with that.

And here we are.

Here’s a good article on the naked authoritarianism of Trumpism. It is worth your time to read it, especially given yesterday’s events.

There’s an organization called Cowboys for Trump, and it’s about what you’d expect. Its founder is a Arizona politician named Couy Griffin, and on Tuesday he was videoed making a speech. He tweeted it himself, and the first line in the video is, “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” Here’s the link.

And here’s the screenshot in case it’s taken down. (It’s been up since Tuesday, and Griffin is claiming that he didn’t mean literally killing his political opponents.)

By late last night, the president (who is impeached and has botched the pandemic response) retweeted it.

I hied myself to Resistbot and wrote my congresscritters: Sen. David “Not the Chicken Guy” Perdue, Sen. Kelly “Inside Trader” Loeffler, and Rep. Drew “Who?” Ferguson.

Arizonan Couy Griffin, founder of Cowboys for Trump, was videoed saying “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” He claims it was taken “out of context,” but he said what he said. Moreover, he tweeted the video himself. Moreover, the president (who is impeached and has botched the pandemic response) retweeted the video.

I will be blogging about your response to this at I will presume you support Griffin’s statement unless I hear a denunciation from you.

This is not free speech. It is not metaphorical. It is a murderous threat coming from someone to whom the phrase “Boogaloo” is not unknown. Your silence tells the nation that you are completely on board with this authoritarian movement and support killing your political opposition.

Anything less than a denunciation from you is a “Heil, Trump!”

We see you.

I now await their non-responses, but I’m not getting my hopes up. The truth is, they’re all Nazis.

Fund your schools, you cowards

I was minding my own business, swimming through the hellsite known as Twitter, when someone tweeted about a media specialist in Hampton, GA, begging for bucks on so that her Title I students could each get a book to read over the summer to get a headstart on the Helen Ruffin Reading thing that many schools do.

Sure, I thought, and I headed over to chip in a little. While there, I decided to see if anyone in Newnan had asked for help.

Oh yes.

So I chipped in there, too.


Every time some conservative grotesquerie rants about being taxed and about overreaching gubmint, I remind them that this is the result. Oddly, it does not abash them. Instead, they froth at the mouth and say that this is RIGHT AND JUST because this way people support our children’s needs voluntarily.

To which I reply: screw you. Screw you and your privileged life that had your education handed to you both by well-funded schools and comfortable middle-class parents. (And if that was not the case for you, then SCREW YOU EVEN MORE: you should know better.)

Yes, the government should take your money (in taxes) to fund our nation’s schools. They should tax the rich more. (And if you don’t understand how marginal tax rates work, go educate yourself. And if you’re feeling sorry for the poor billionaires, disabuse yourself of that ignorance, too.)

No teacher should ever have to buy pencils or headphones or books, and no teacher should ever have to beg for others to do so. We as a nation should be paying for all of it.

All. Of. It.

Pro tip: Do not go to and poke around. It will drive your blood pressure through the roof.

Trump extorts Michigan; GA congresscritters OK with that

Click-bait hed, but bear with me here.

This morning, the president (who is impeached and has botched the pandemic response) tweeted these two tweets:

Notice that he tags his budget director and chief of staff: put this on the agenda.

As usual, the president (who is impeached and has botched the pandemic response) is wrong about nearly every aspect. Lying or stupid? Probably both.

Here’s the Michigan Secretary of State responding:

Benson — a Republican — wasn’t having any of it. She notes that they didn’t send out ballots, they sent out absentee ballot applications. Not only that, but Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved, via referendum, voting by mail, so it was hardly “illegal.”

The main point, though, is that Trump’s response is simply “Stop giving [all] people the opportunity to vote, or I will cut off funding allocated to you by Congress.”

In other words, “Nice state ya got there, be a shame if somethin should happen to it.”

Trump is extorting the state of Michigan.

So I thought I’d check in with my congresscritters: Sen. David Perdue, Sen. Kelly “Inside Trading Spaces” Loeffler, and Rep. What’s-His-Name Ferguson. Here’s what I sent via Resistbot:

Good morning.
The president (who is impeach ed and has botched the pandemic response) tweeted this message to Michigan this morning:
“Breaking: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election. This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!..”
1. He’s wrong about the ballots: Michigan SOS Jocelyn Benson sent applications for absentee ballots to their voters.
2. The people of Michigan voted overwhelmingly by referendum to allow voting by mail.
3. Trump is explicitly extorting Michigan: either stop the voting by mail or lose funding.
I have to assume that you approve of this straight up quid pro quo, since you have approved of every other move made by Trump, and that’s what I will be telling readers of my blog. If you don’t, please reach out to me and tell me so pointblank.

Done and done.  I will update this space if any of the critters respond with anything other than a form email. (Perdue’s automated server has already replied with his BS blah-blah.)

UPDATE, 5/22/20: Loeffler auto-punts, doesn’t answer the question. Status: We must still assume she supports Trump’s extortion.

UPDATE: Others are already on this:

A message for my county commissioner

Personal to Coweta County commissioner Al Smith, who said re: a request for a “farm distillery ordinance”, and I quote,

“Since Coweta County is considered a dry county, why would we want this? If we don’t have this now and we never had it, why would we want this?”


“People are getting enough alcohol as it is. I don’t see how anybody is being restricted from getting whatever they want.”

If I have ever heard a more reductive “If’n it wuz good enough for my Pappy, it’s good enough for all y’all,” I don’t remember it. Jebus H. Cthulhu, even those of us who grew up here know that Coweta County is not what it was even ten years ago, much less back when you had a flat stomach.

Do you really think that the quality of life in our community is enhanced by this dog-in-the-manger approach to governance? Do you really think that it’s the best interest of our citizenry to make them drive twenty minutes in any direction to stock their home bar?

Or do you live conveniently near the county line, where of course there is a liquor store right over that line, sucking Coweta County’s revenue straight down its gullet?

And how is it even possible that, in the home of Walking Dead and Alan Jackson and Murder in Coweta County, you do not understand the importance of tourism to our bottom line?

I can’t even. And from a Democrat, too.

Tell you what—you come sit out in my labyrinth with me and let me serve you a cocktail and let’s talk about this. If I’m an hour late, it’s because I had to run out and get a bottle of whiskey.


An unamused constituent

A thought experiment re: Great America

I have a thought experiment for those whose hats proclaim their dissatisfaction with the way our nation has changed.

Let’s pretend for a second that the Great America you want to force us to return to is not the one where women stayed at home instead of having careers, people of color were simply “colored people,” and LGBTQIA folk were still hidden in the DSM-I.

No, let’s assume for the purposes of this experiment that you are yearning for the stressful yet amazing days of World War II, when the whole nation pulled together to defeat an insidious enemy — on two fronts no less.

Remember how it was?

  • Uncertainty over the outcome
  • The risk of certain death for “our boys” over there
  • Rationing at home
    • (Read an interesting comment the other day about the author realizing that we didn’t necessarily ration because of scarcity but to make sure that the few didn’t hoard; in other words, everyone was limited, but no one went without.)
  • Curtailment of freedom of movement: gas rationing, blackouts, etc.
  • “Victory” gardens/scrap metal drives/War Bonds

In other words, it was a massive Communal Effort that I daresay people griped about at the time but accepted for the greater good. We were Americans, by god, and we would get through this together. America was GREAT.

Okay, I’m sure you already see the parallels I’m trying to draw here. We are again confronted with a massive threat to our nation, and here’s the thought experiment: who is trying to get you to pull together, to self-sacrifice to help save our nation, to remember that you are part of a greater good — and who is telling you don’t need to do that, to go about your business, ignore healthcare issues and warnings, and otherwise carry on with your life as if nothing’s wrong?

And which one are you doing?

Make America Great Again, indeed.

On the other hand…

Screw it, I’m blogging about the Current Administration anyway.

Eventually, sooner rather than later, Congress is going to want to investigate why our nation was so ill-prepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as why we bungled what we did do.

At that point, you can expect the Republicans/Fox News to start screaming about “politicizing the situation” and “another impeachment hoax” and “election-year showboating.”

It’s a given that the pandemic response was completely borked, so one of two things is true: either 1) this president (who is impeached) and his administration were incompetent at their task of keeping the nation as safe as possible; or 2) they deliberately slow-walked everything so as not hurt the president (who is impeached)’s re-election campaign.[1]

So here’s my preemptive question to the howler monkeys:

Don’t you think that incompetence and/or venality should be investigated? And if found to be true, shouldn’t we want to do something about the man in the office?

I think we all know what their answer will be. I just want to hear them answer it out loud and on the record.


[1] It is entirely possible — even probable — that both are true.

Consume this, capitalist pigs!

I have noted before that I have refrained from blogging a lot about the Current Administration because it would not be good for my mental or physical health. However, the recent debacle in the Rose Garden (CEO: “We’re here for you, America, and we hope to have more toilet paper and hand sanitizer available for you to BUY soon”) had a tiny detail that I haven’t seen any of the better political writers examine, so here we go.

First of all, notice the light blue subtitle: New Options for Consumers.


Not citizens, not Americans, not “everyone.” Not even just plain “New Options.”


I like to think that the poor graphic designer charged with producing this thing deliberately made that subhead almost unreadable, because how fupping embarrassing is that? Consumers.[1]

Second of all, as it happens, there is no screening website. The president (who is impeached) made that up.

But none of that is what I realized yesterday: Despite what the poster says, THERE ARE NO OPTIONS ON THAT CHART. None.

Go ahead, start at the top of the chart and see what options you have to help keep yourself and your monkey circle safe. For example, what if you are asymptomatic but are pretty sure you’ve been exposed to the virus because you’ve worked with someone who is exhibiting symptoms but who has not been tested LIKE THE CHART SAYS BECAUSE THERE ARE NO TESTS, KENNETH? Because that’s exactly where I am. What options are offered to me in that chart?

, stood in front of the American people consumers and held up a poster that is nothing but pretty boxes and lies.

Unfortunately, that’s no more than what we can expect from this administration.


[1] Of course, that’s actually the standard Republican view of citizens anyway: we are merely consumers of the Great Capitalist Beneficent Free Hand. We exist to boost profits.

Bless their hearts

Oh, ammosexuals, darlings, this is just sad.

This popped up on an acquaintance’s Facebook feed; I have blurred out the snarky message because 1) it’s just dumb; and 2) I’m not here to discuss that today.

The whole ammosexual/militia mindset is identical to that of the Christianists: they are a defiant band of righteous warriors, persecuted and faced with… what? It’s never very clear other than PERSECUTION, KENNETH!!

But wait—being a ragtag band of persecuted holy ones is only half their mindset. The other half is that they are the overwhelming majority of the population; it’s the rest of us who are pitiful worms cowering before their righteous glory.

I know. I don’t know how that works, either. What’s even weirder is that they are wrong about both halves of their brains. No one is persecuting them, and they are certainly nowhere near the majority of the country.

Nevertheless, they like to think of themselves as the New Patriots, the “3%” — in their terms — who drove the American Revolution to its successful conclusion. (See the ’76’ in the militia logo in the photo?) They regard themselves as the direct inheritors of Patrick Henry and George Washington; the rest of us are effete losers who don’t  know the true meaning of being a MERKIN, KENNETH.

Here’s the deal, though, ammosexuals: the difference between you and the Founding Fathers is that those guys were literate. They were hyper-educated, fluent in multiple languages, cosmopolitan in their worldview and deistic in their theology. They wrote — and read — volume upon volume of long, complex sentences about long, complex ideas with Aristotelian logic. They communicated those ideas to the world in ways that cannot be summarized on a business’s snarky message board.

They were smart men.

You? Well, let’s just say I’m a little skeptical that you will publish the equivalent of The Federalist Papers any time soon.

And here’s a really really huge difference between you and the Founding Fathers: MOLON LABE, your little motto at the top of your sign, identifying you to your fellow ammosexuals as one of the Good Guys, is not exactly the Gadsden flag that you think it is.

Yes, it’s a motto of defiance. It’s what Leonidas of Sparta replied to Xerxes at Thermopylae when then Persian emperor demanded the Spartans surrender their weapons.


James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, et al., would have read that in the original Greek, without having to memorize it as an ammosexual shibboleth. They would have been able to translate it for themselves. They’d know that Leonidas defied the demand to surrender their weapons with the immortal phrase, “Come and take them.”

Madison, Jefferson, et al., would also have known the result of that exchange: Xerxes did, in fact, come and take them, wiping out the entire Spartan force in the process. Quite the Pyrrhic[1] motto for such a mighty movement.

Yes, I am laughing at you.


[1] You will want to get someone to explain ‘Pyrrhic’ to you. It’ll be another eye-opener.