Random Things that Fall Out of My Head

Frank Michels

Frank Michels
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
March 29
Frank Michels is a songwriter, musician, and producer in Nashville, Tennessee. He likes to dig in the dirt and plant flowers, cook tasty things, walk his dog, and play really fast riffs on a telecaster guitar.


FEBRUARY 20, 2012 7:58AM

Willfully Ignorant People are Hurting America

Rate: 31 Flag


The other day I was reading an article in the newspaper. (Yes, I’m one of the dwindling number that still do that.)  The subject was Republicans in Congress and their continuing fight against the Obama administration’s ruling that religion-affiliated employers must cover women’s contraceptives in the health plans they offer. A CNN poll released last Thursday found that half of all Americans aware of the ruling said they oppose it, while 44% support it. 

But here’s what really shocked me. Nearly 40% of those polled said they had not heard about the dispute. Apparently they were too busy watching “Jersey Shore,” and missed any mention of the controversy, which had only been covered by every newspaper, magazine, radio news broadcast, network and cable news outlet, comedy news show, church bulletin, facebook page, gossiping housewife, skywriter, and crazy homeless guy with a bullhorn, almost constantly for the last two weeks. How ignorant and/or out of touch do you have to be to miss a news story that big? 

I get really angry when so many people say that “it doesn’t matter who gets elected, because they’re all the same.” Well, guess what, folks—one political party, the Republicans, wants to restrict your access to birth control, and the other, the Democrats, wants you to have easy access to contraceptives and other women’s health care. I’d say that’s a pretty big difference.


church sign   

If you snooze, you lose. That has never been more true than in today’s politics, with so many Republican candidates fighting to see who can be the most right-wing, and actively working to roll back progressive ideas that most people have taken for granted for years. It is vital that all voters pay attention to what our lawmakers are doing, and make their opinions known so that elected officials who stray way out of the mainstream will fear for their re-election chances. You can’t just leave democracy in the hands of the die-hard believers in the extreme wings of both parties. 

The thing that really bothers me is how easy it is for politicians to manipulate their uninformed constituents into supporting measures that are against their own interest. 98% of Catholics use birth control, yet many have bought in to the bogus notion that the government is intent on taking away their religious freedom. Millions of blue-collar workers were hurt by the housing collapse, yet they still support the Republican Party that wants to ease regulations on Wall Street and the big banks. Many people support Tea Party candidates that espouse rigid small government ideas, all while happily cashing their Social Security checks and relying on Medicare for their health care.


tea party   

You’ve all seen those Jay Leno segments where he interviews random people on the street and asks them questions about common things you would think everyone should know, such as, “Who is the Vice-President?” That question seems to be too hard for most people. However, they do know the names of all the characters on “Two and a Half Men,” what Lady Gaga wore to the Grammys, and what Beyonce named her baby.  

So I don’t know what we have to do to get folks to pay attention to important issues that greatly affect their lives. Maybe Jersey Shore could do an episode where “The Situation” gets “Snooki” pregnant because she couldn’t afford her birth control pills…


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Unfortunately you are not alone....ask the same, relative to us, questions and.....forget it
Funny, the greatly bandied internet explosion seems to have done nought in the fight against ignorance
"You can’t just leave democracy in the hands of the die-hard believers in the extreme wings of both parties." I agree...and agree that it makes a huge difference who is elected, impacting our present and future in so many different ways. I don't even want to begin to imagine where we'd be now if McCain/Palin had been elected.
It's kind of funny that no matter what side of the fence you're on, the other side is evil, stupid and wrong.

Kind of like the bizarro version of the "grass is always greener" idea...

...actually, now that I think of it, it's not that funny.
Beyonce had a baby? What's a Beyonce?
You nailed this one...
•.•♥╔╗╦╦╗▄║╔╗╔╗ & ╗╔╗╔╔╗╔╗•(¯ `v´¯ )◦•*✿
•.•♥╚╗║║║╦║╠╝╚╗ & ╠╣║║║╦╚╗(¯` ❤ .¯ )✿
•.•♥╚╝──╚╩╚╚╝╚╝ & ╝╚╚╝╚╝╚╝◦.(_.^._)•*¨✫
❊¸.•*´¨`*•.¸❊¸.•*´¨`*•.¸❊¸.•*´  ¨`*•.¸❊¸.•*´¨`*•.¸❊
Have a beautiful new week with love and happiness❤¸.•*¨✫
Thumbs up on this one, Frank. Good essay.
So the propaganda machine is up and running at full steam. Republicans want to protect you and tell you how to live your life, Liberals want to throw you to the wolves and force you to live outside of your moral comfort zone. Shame on those Liberals, believing that all people have the right to choose their own lifestyle. That's not what this country was founded on...

Oops, yes it was.

You might be on to something with having Jersey Shore do a PSA. One hopes, though, that we wouldn't have to teach the characters how to pronounce words like Ahmadinejad.

Did you hear about the people that think government programs such as Welfare and Food Stamps are bad, but don't realize that Social Security and Medicare are government programs. I heard that this morning.
In a perfect world we'd lead the extremist on both right and left to the middle, but that's not to be. They are dyed-in-wool. The middle left is where I reside, but I don't know if my Democratic Party can even go here. I just don't see common everyday people who read newspapers making a difference. We've got 2012 election (which will be close due to the fact fanatics believe O has destroyed our Constitution.) Then come 2016 I see Repros carrying the Oval Office, and that is when these days we now live in will be called moderate and good 'ol.
It would be nice to think that those are the 40% that don't vote. But I don't think it's true.
It's people who don't know their hearts who scare me. Politics is just a mirror of that, not a determiner.
Hey, you'll love this one. Today I was reading the "letters" section of our local paper here in Pasco County, Florida. One letter writer was defending the flying of the Confederate flag by many around here. The letter writer stated that " The Confederate flag represents the thousands who died fighting for equality". Now ain't that a hoot!
I guess I lost out somewhere by not being edumcated here in a Florida skool!
Between the willfully ignorant and the deliberately arrogant we don't stand much chance. I think though that it is time to speak plainly about the "Right". We can say conservative, republican, or any number of labels but, we need to call them what they have become, fascists. The modern right in the U.S. has joyously embraced every facet of fascism. The xenophobia, the notion of recapturing the past, the unbending belief that the nation is right, the belief that somehow a god has ordained this nation above all others to dominate the world.
"The xenophobia, the notion of recapturing the past, the unbending belief that the nation is right, the belief that somehow a god has ordained this nation above all others to dominate the world."

And mr. hopey changey is different how?
@Mark, Very little. Still the democrats are either sneakier than the republicans or they are less focused. Sometimes we have to make more than one attempt to fix a problem, a small step in the right direction is better than leaping face first into the pit of disaster.
Thanks for taking the time to respond, Bobbot. I'm not sure that I entirely agree with You, but You are a gentleman, and I find that worthy of respect.
Just your title alone deserves 12 stars. All I can say is AMEN!
And while this is all true, I'm not really sure it's all new. The classist war waged against forethought and intelligent analysis of issues, as opposed to the fodder to be developed by appealing to the ignorant masses has manipulated the American political scene from it's onset. There's no dearth of evidence to be had in campaigns going right back to the begging. It's human nature that can be exploited and it let's face it - it works. Without some (gasp) test of the ability to entertain critical thought and (double gasp) even admit, that (as I said in http://open.salon.com/blog/samasiam/2011/09/13/mama_why_does_that_man_have_a_stick_in_his_hand):

“the mark of true intelligence and critical thought, is the ability to understand that beliefs are not facts and that facts, unlike our emotions and beliefs, are not instantaneously gratifying and are always subject to being modified by additional information. But the life and the society which strives to base it’s values, policies and objectives on facts, is the only hope mankind has.”

I'm not taking bets.
Mark, Jan, et al here on OS read posts like this and still say there's no difference between Repukes and Dembos: well, ask the dying girl in the alley!!!!!!!

What so many can't deal with is the Left has to deal with our economic system and its flaws and corruptions- AS IF THEY COULD JUST SNAP FINGERS AND MAGICALLY REPLACE IT!!!

It is not funny, but, I agree with them, and others who think that way, on so many other issues, just can't walk around with wool covered eyes and blinders on the sides ... think about it: you want the Prez to save us, then complain he didn't do it the way you think is moral despite 10,000 years of human history that built up to it.

Fascinating, as Sen. McQuack is fond of saying.

How appropriate that Roberto's comment was the first. I was struck by the Catholic Priest in Rome interviewed by Senor Mayer who laughed like a hyena while pointing out Jesus was the #6 prayed to "Saint" in Italy- didn't even make the starting 5!

So, if Italians, after 2000 years, don't know Jack$@ about their own theocracy it is hardly surprising the hoi polloi americano are even STUPIDER after only 200.

Auwe (Alas)
It is absolutely terrifying. Honestly, they all seem more concerned with a zombie apocalypse than what is happening right under their noses. Who ever stumbles upon the answer to wake up the spicy brains of these people deserves a Nobel prize. But then, it would probably be banned by the FDA.

I'd rate more than once, if only I was a hacker. ; )
I hate to say it, but my kids are as dumb as stumps when it comes to politics. I try and inform them, but they would rather play their computer games and buy the newest IPhone. It drives me insane that kid's today, (yes, I'm an old foggie) let president after president send boys off to be killed, yet will only demonstrate about tuition hikes. With the Occupy Movements, I finally thought the kids where "getting it". Yeah, fool me once...,
A correction: "You’ve all seen those Jay Leno segments where he interviews random people on the street and asks them questions ..."

Sadly, no. I haven't. In fact, I don't watch ANY broadcast TV of any kind. I just can't afford satellite and cable's non existant out where I live. Sure, I could put up that huge dang antenna a friend gave my wife eight years ago, but why? What can I get off broad cast TV thast I can't get better from papers, internet news and the radio? Answer: Not a Thing.

That said, even I know about the debate, have been signing petitions on all manner of issues with the War on America by the Republican Far Right, which is Nearly Wrong All the Time.

I have lived on the West Coast (California and Washington,) in Hawaii, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas. No matter where you go, it's not hard to spot the Beavis and Buttheads of our society. If you don't see those two nitwits, you can find plenty of Homer Simpsons and that stupid ass Family Guy douchebag, which I cannot stand to watch for more than the time it takes to switch or walk out at any friend's house where I might accidentally discover it.

Look at our shows of the day (I do watch some series on Netflix with my ROKU -- I love my ROKU) and watch which ones win and which ones lose. The vast majority of the "winners" cater to the lowest form of intellectual stimulation: Sex, sexual innuendo, cheating, lying, backstabbing low moral fiber, mixed generously with cold blooded greedy bastards, political misconduct, explosions, gunfire and an extremely unhealthy dollop of perversely self satisfied bigotry disguised as being patriotic.

I think U2 said it best,
"When fact is fiction
And TV reality"
From Sunday, Bloody Sunday.

I have been 'blessed' to sit amongst relatives who actually believed all that Wrasslin' on Saturday, Tuesday and Friday was ALL REAL.

As a nation, we have some of the smartest and most caring people you can look to find. As a people, we are inventive, ingeniously creative and we even tend to be something of a workaholic society. But our entertainment caters not to this demographic. Instead it seeks to "level the mental playing field" by shoving insipid, petty and low brow, as well as a low ethical bar shows.

If you watch enough TV you'll believe:
New York, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Detroit are so crime ridden that going there is probably a bad idea.

That cars explode when shot, unless the good guys are hiding behind it, or when they hit another car, flip over, go off a cliff or if you shoot the gas tank.

You gotta realize (I hope anyway) that TV is like that slogan of Geobbels: If you tell a lie long enough, loud enough, the people will come to believe it's true. If we are inundated with enough stereotypcial crap, pandered at the lowest levels, we, as a nation of people (and by extension, any people of other nations who are unlucky enough to recieve large blocks of our programming) are a bunch of gun happy ignoramus' bent on stealing to succeed, willing to kill for lust, and lie, cheat and steal for nothing more than a few more dollars and a nice car.

Then again, when dealing with our political base, I am pretty sure people of other nations come away with the same overall impression.

Sorry for the rant. I just wish I hadn't met so many Americans in my travels across the country who are not only willfully ignorant, but damn proud of it.

They don't represent all of us, but holy cow, I think the stupid people might be the majority and I think the majority might be winning right about now.

@ Frank Michel It is mind boggling how out of touch and out of time the American electorate is. Funny you should mention the dregs from the Jersey Shore for birth control advertising. I imagine that they are probably Catholic and using birth control, otherwise we would have had a rash of Situations from NY to FLA to Italy. It will be interesting if Santorum becomes their nominee because Snooki has been a vocal Republican supporter. If these people represent their audience then it isn't any wonder they can support a candidate and do the complete opposite of what that candidate espouses. They're well paid idiots.
@kenny1948 that is hysterical and frankly in today's world all you have to do is speak it to be true, because you will rarely find real opposition.
@Markinjapan I'm as upset as you with where this administration decided to fall down and find it extremely difficult to continue to hold my nose and vote. I'm especially angry because when President Obama signed NDAA and said he planned to never use it, my response was then why sign it? What I figured was that it is a form of emotional blackmail that he is using against those who once supported him. And the thing is we know that the seriously deranged group running on the Right would have no compunction about rounding us up. I unfortunately think so would Obama if he felt the need.
I agree 100%.

Who on earth is Snooki?
Just like you can't have a civil discussion about raising taxes, addressing global warming or legalizing some drugs. Advocate one of these positions and you're subject to attack ads and and bumper sticker wisdom. Fine post Frank.
Remember when Ralphie's Dad yelled at Ralphie's Mom about breaking the "major prize" lamp? "Yewwwwwww, used up all the glue on purpose." My point is that we now say "theyyyyyyyyyy" to refer to anyone with whom we don't disagree.
I find it amazing that people can look at the same information I see and come up with a different logical conclusion or point of view. "Theyyyyyyyyy must be stupid, ignorant and ill-informed."
My father always said "opinions are like assholes, everybody has one." And anyone with an opinion different from mine is a huge asshole.
Like you, I have been frustrated by these same debates for decades. While I try to respect those who hold the "anti-choice" position (I will never dignify it by calling it "pro-life") I cannot understand the notion that that point of view would impose a set of limitations on people while the "pro-choice" point of view does not. It has never made sense to me.
I remember an op-ed piece by Molly Ivins some years ago in which she attacked "willful ignorance in the face of facts," a turn of phrase that grows more relevant and frightening every day. Television truly is The Idiot Box. Rated.
You are right. They are 'willfully' ignorant. When I attempt to have a conversation about anything other than people, where to buy the cheapest gas, or some other basic level of communication my conservative friends either belittle the conversation, try to change the subject or turn to someone else and start talking about important people that they know.
Any mention of international affairs, history, literature, or recent scientific discoveries seems to be viewed as liberal conversation; something the "elite" would talk about.
Redefining informed and intellectual people as the elite, rather than the top 1% of the wealthy has been very cleverly carried out by the minions of the top 1%. R
If you're a voter, a brain is optional.
jane- have you read Obama's 89-page proposal for financial regulatory reform? I've browsed it. Oh, Dodd-Frank, and more. My view is what you, I and others find tough to stomach is all the Goldman Sachs folks involved ... now, how do you right an economy people count on without them? The market sets the tone! Their greed and fear rain down on the job hunters (none of this BS about job creators :(, now, if, you want to see it changed what we need is alternatives to job hunting paradigms in general, but, that conversation isn't a vote getter.
"How ignorant and/or out of touch do you have to be to miss a news story that big?"

But it was All-Disco Week on 'Dancing with the Stars'!!!!!! :D
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.
"extreme wings of the parties?" Yeah, let's equate the bigots on the right with the people of conscience on the left trying to stop USWarMachine genocide and economic rape by the one percenters of everyone else.

I take issue with "I'm all in for Team Dem."

There's full out waking up to awareness and conscience and then there's cherry-picking a few really strong and powerful issues that are worth fighting for, yes indeedy, and that the Dem Party is giving some lip service to (to earn the white hat from its more myopic followers) especially during an ELECTION year as well as the full out propagandized Dem tv (some alternative), but then there is obligingly wearing those blinders as the constitution gets shredded, the bankster fraudsters keep stealing with impunity from the pimped out pols going all the way to the top, and the media manufactures consent (bobble-headed assent from the "vast majority" of both parties) to keep on committing genocide and, hell, as long as we don't have to fight and murder and die, and really seriously think about droning, and corporate profiteering.

It's all just a remote game our celebrity amoral pol gamesters are playing with human lives and might makes right, winner takes all, gamesmanship earns its power, who cares about justice, humanity, the constitution, and international law.

Just focus hard on the amiability of Obama's smile and the hipster MSNBC team reassuring you that you have the moral high ground. Well, the lesser evil high ground, which replaced the moral high ground long ago.

I give you no argument re the derangement of the Republican leadership and the scary, scary, scary people and numbers of them who are empathyless in the name of God.

But what scares me even more in fact are those "pragmatic" lesser evilists who can't fight full out for real democracy. They are contributing to the deadweight of what is wrong with America. All the while attacking the messengers on the left, if they bother to even acknowledge them, of the reality of the depth of our national dysfunction. WTF????? Yeah, pick a worthy battle and ignore the siren of cognitive dissonance going off in your skull about the rest of the crap going down!!!! And be suspect to what you are supporting since it is an election year and the season of mendacity.

Lucy and the football election season once again. Five stages of grief exiting still WILLFULLY not happening as the "bargaining state" as we go toward a second term of citizen legacy party ABUSE. Doesn't matter which party is in power, we are all screwed by the criminal elite. Talk about lesser evilism to the masses of innocent people being droned into red mist that things could be so much worse under a non-Obama! Tell it to kids in this country who are starving, whose parents are dying from lack of health care, to the people who have lost their homes and jobs, who are saddled with debt, young and old, until they get to escape it by dying. To those who can't begin to get into school, into a job whether satisfying or not, just to survive. To those rotting in prison because the justice in this country has a huge, white, pro-corporate crony thumb on the scales of justice and our prison system is a form of racist domestic genocide, the prison system now being even more privatized for rat bastard takers.

I wish I were being hyperbolic. Yeah good on you for women's rights support. But don't let it be the Trojan horse "bargaining" chip used by a lying legacy Dem party once again to re-seduce undeserved support from a more aware than the righties but not aware enough by a long shot segment of America.
I very much relate to Scanners point and to much of this...that being said, I wonder how much of that "40%" encompasses much of the full time or multiple job workers, with little or no time for TV, newspapers or blogs. As a single parent much of my 3 daughter's lives, after a very long 12-14 hour work day, school activities, kid's sports, dance, etc..., dinner, homework, baths...there was little or no time for politics, news or finding time or energy for reading anything at all. There is a period of a few decades or more, during my kids growing up years, that I barely remember time to wash my face at bedtime. Only since they have been grown and gone off on their own, have I been able to reconnect with world news, politics and the biggest luxury of all...time to write, read and learn. It is very daunting to say the least. All that you say here is very strong and to a particular point of view. It hurts my stomach to read it and to live it, but we must. Our adult kids who do not embrace politics, who have come to despise the far left and far right views of the 2 party system, will increase the numbers in the deciding middle, or the undeclared/independent thinker that we are seeing vast increases in today. Interesting times ahead, that's for sure.
It's not just ignorance, it's the inability to look at issues objectively and logically, and to properly understand cause and effect.

But it's more than that, a lot of people are lazy and would rather parrot political talking points than actually think about an issue.
Gee.. another liberal/progressive/socialist who is the intellectual and moral superior of the rabble he pretends to embrace through layer upon layer of progressive laws, bureaucracy and political censorship.... how tiring it is too read through the drivel that passes for 'comments' form your fellow leftist elitists. It is no wonder that the left is shrinking under the harsh light of reality after leftist dogma after leftist dogma is reduced to the shivering mass of failure that it was always doomed to become.

Keep up the good work ! I hear Mother Jones needs more dope addled writers for their rag. This kind of sophomoric clap trap is what they are looking for...
I have three problems with this essay.
1.) This is nothing new. In 1960 I conducted an opinion poll among hundreds of voters in a large American city, during the Kennedy-Nixon election campaign. I won't go into the details, but basically nobody knew anything about anything.
2.) Your statement that the Republicans want to "restrict your access to birth control" is simply not true. It is a twisted way of viewing the debate that is going on. No Republican, not even Santorum -- whatever his private feelings on the matter -- intends to do that.
3.) Your statement that 98% of Catholics use birth control makes me wonder how the Catholic demographics got so skewed. The Catholics must be an uncommonly young group, because apparently they have virtually no women who have reached menopause.
Wilfully ignorant people are the majority in this country, but they're by no means limited to the ranks of conservatism. Your description of Democrats as good and Repulicans as bad, while no doubt useful in validating your personal Democrat self, lacks the kind of self awareness we need to re-make our nation. Get with this fact if you can, Frank; loyalty to the Democratic party is as destructive to our democracy and our collective well-being as loyalty to the Republican party.
No. This debate is not about contraception. Contraception will not magically vanish or be criminalized if the HHS mandate is overturned. This debate is about whether religious groups have the right to practice their faith unimpeded by the government (First Amendment anyone???). Ignore this now, and don't come crying later when your First Amendment rights get trampled. Debate over.