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After watching excerpts from Ted Cruz's speech, I find myself questioning the mythology surrounding the supposed highest institutions of our nation.  Far from just Ted, our former President was also credentialed from the same circles.  I have to wonder what the criteria is for graduating from these lofting schools.

Seriously, someone here on kos must have attended one of these places.  Why is it that they manage to thrust a seemingly endless train of morons onto the stages of American power?  Do they feel any level of shame, when their alumni prove themselves to be blithering idiots?

I come for a poor background, and would describe the majority of my education as self taught.  Other than picking up some technical skills from schooling, I've really just followed my curiosity.  Mind you, I would not claim the intellect to be one of the most powerful people in the country.

Yet I watch these drooling idiots day in and day out, with seemingly no understanding of the world they occupy.  Bill O'Reilly graduated Harvard, and somehow managed to avoid the theory of gravity in his education (remember the "what causes the tides?" comment).

Now forgive me for being judgmental, but any institution that graduates a student without a basic 18th century grasp of science, should be investigated as a pyramid scheme.

Just the other day Jon Stewart appeared to have next to no knowledge of basic biology or classical theological arguments, while interviewing Richard Dawkins.  He went to William and Mary, where I guess philosophy and basic science are optional.

What credential should these institutions have in our society?  If these are the intellectual elites of our nation, we're in big fucking trouble.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's an athletic conference ... (14+ / 0-)

    ... with high admissions standards.  Whether they deserve the lofty reputation they share with other schools (Amherst/Swarthmore, CalTech, UChicago, MIT, etc.) is sorted out over time, based on whether their graduates, on average, do seem to demonstrate superior skills in their chosen fields.

    For what it's worth, and I've told this story enough, I knew Ted Cruz in college from the debating circuit.  He is a speaker with compelling talents, and is by no means an idiot. He's just really, really wrong in the politics he has chosen to espouse.

  •  Don't confuse Cruz's grandstanding for stupidity (16+ / 0-)

    He's playing a part and reaping huge personal rewards for it. Remember, he's trying to act like he's not a hoity-toity intellectual to attract a fanbase that think fart jokes are a the epitome of human achievement.

    Spite is the ranch dressing Republicans slather on their salad of racism

    by ontheleftcoast on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:08:44 AM PDT

  •  Ancient Rome had lead in their cookware. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth, Chi, jabney
    Why is it that they manage to thrust a seemingly endless train of morons onto the stages of American power?  

    Notice: This Comment © 2013 ROGNM UID 2547

    by ROGNM on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:08:58 AM PDT

  •  Cruz is wrong, he's not stupid. (11+ / 0-)

    Everyone that has worked with, for or against Ted Cruz credits him to being scary-smart.  It does us no good to sit here and try and discount that.

    The guy is well educated, naturally intelligent, a champion debater, a professional attorney, and someone who knows precisely what they are doing and who their audience is.

    Politics is not about "compelling intellectual arguments", hell on their side you have to be careful about even SOUNDING SMART.

    Cruz knows this.  

    Our job is to stop him, not lob easy insults at the guy.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:26:36 AM PDT

  •  O'reilly didn't go to real Harvard (6+ / 0-)

    I ink on balance, most graduates of see schools are quite bright and successful, even compared with other politicians.  Some of that is opportunity, but that only really helps with the first job.  Cruz is who he is, but Steve King didn't go to a Harvard and it shows.  Of course, Cruz is the one who only wanted students from the Big 3 ivies in his study group, but that was law school, and we were all jerks back then.  (Nobody from Caltech, really?)

    I went to non-ivies but equivalents, and got into some ivies, and I make bad decisions daily.  I worry more about the Regents, Liberties, Ave Marias, Patrick Henrys, and myriad for-profit scams.

    Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

    by Loge on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:28:47 AM PDT

    •  How many Caltech grads go to law school? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dr Teeth, kyril, Loge, craiger

      I can think of just one (PhD in Chem) in my Chicago class of ~180.

      Also, allegedly Cruz did let one Northwestern ("The Duke of the Great Lakes") grad into his study group.

      •  At best, the Wake Forest. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dr Teeth, RamblinDave

        Or does U of C = Vanderbilt?

        Anyway, it amuses me to no end that Cruz is the guys in Legally Blonde who were mean to Elle.  

        Seeing his notabuster, I can't see him a as good debater.  He radiates insincerity, has an annoying voice, and lies incessantly.  Everything's too studied, none of it's natural, and his blather about freedom sounds like a Justice Kennedy opinion or a French emulsified sauce: rich elements, held together by brute force that collapses under the slightest heat.  

        I wish I had more of his confidence, but the lesson I got from prestigious colleges is there are plenty of smart people in the world, and your value as a person has to be more than that.  What I read about Cruz at the Tiger school is he never really participated in the university life outside of video games with his debate buds.

        Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

        by Loge on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:49:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I know a few (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dr Teeth, Adam B, craiger

        One is a patent attorney; I'm sure I could dig up several for you. :-)

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 08:17:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  One from my class, that I know of. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dr Teeth, Adam B

        Patent law.

        Caltech only matriculates a couple hundred students each year, so there aren't a lot of grads to begin with.

        On a recent recruiting trip, I was surprised (but not) to learn that a lot of the kids with math degrees were getting Wall Street jobs. That wasn't a popular path in my day.

        "They let 'em vote, smoke, and drive -- even put 'em in pants! So what do you get? A -- a Democrat for President!" ~ Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

        by craiger on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 10:55:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It would be unfortunate... (5+ / 0-) judge the quality of these schools based upon a handful of winging attention-seekers.  And that's what their antics are about, getting attention.

    I'm not always political, but when I am I vote Democratic. Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:40:32 AM PDT

  •  Some attend elite colleges to learn something (9+ / 0-)

    useful to the world, some to learn something useful only for themselves or a limited class, in careers in finance or politics, and some to have their entitlements certified. See Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class.

    I took a double major in Mathematics and Philosophy (including Foundations of Mathematics, much of which later became Computer Science) at Yale, graduating in 1967. Apart from learning actual math and such, the most important thing I learned at Yale was to be able to recognize when someone was talking nonsense, especially in philosophy, pseudoscience, and economics. and thus also in politics. For example, Plato in his early writings championed the questioning of authority by Socrates, but later on wrote two of the most important manuals for mind control by tyrannical oligarchies, The Republic and The Laws.

    After Yale I went to Korea in the Peace Corps, and after that I entered on professional studies in delusion in Buddhist monastic training.

    Bush and Kerry were somewhere around when I was an undergraduate, but I never ran into them. In fact, I don't know anybody who got tapped for Skull & Bones. I suppose I must have seen Bush as a cheerleader at football games, when I was playing clarinet in the band.

    Yale is officially very proud of educating students for public service, but when they are bragging they sometimes just tally up all Yalies who get into government, giving equal weight to Bush and Kerry.

    Among those Yalies I am still in contact with, via an alumni mailing list, we have one Global Warming denier, and one other severe Republican. The rest are Democrats, with a few serious Progressives.

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:41:39 AM PDT

    •  Is there a sense of responsibility? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Growing up a smart kid in a poor rust belt community, there was a sort of implied responsibility not to waste my brains.  I remember a neighbor would drop off a copy of the New York Times on my porch, when I came home from school.

      I often wonder if the same ethic exists in the privileged circles.  Does a institution like Yale stress the fortunate circumstances of its attendees as a burden which also must be carried?

      •  If you bring a sense of responsibility with you (5+ / 0-)

        you can learn how to make it effective at Yale and other elite schools. Read Doonesbury to see how that can work. If you bring entitled selfishness, you can learn how to make that effective, too. Also highlighted in Doonesbury.

        Yale does not know how to teach the selfish any form of responsibility, any more than churches do. The Society of Friends (the Quakers) is much better at bringing up children to be unselfish than most, although Richard Nixon demonstrated the limitations of the method. The Buddhist organization Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka is pretty good at it in the villages, but the cities are dominated by a violent, Fundamentalist, ultranationalist Kill-the-Tamils strain of Buddhism.

        The most interesting fact, to me, about US society is the rate at which millions of young Fundamentalists and other Republicans are falling away, amounting to about 1% of the entire population annually. It doesn't seem to be schooling that does it, but more having actual contact with people outside their parents' comfort zones, which can often happen in college as diversity increases.

        Robert Axelrod's The Evolution of Cooperation has some useful suggestions on all of that.

        Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

        by Mokurai on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 08:13:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  In my experience, no. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dr Teeth

        Some of its students already have that sense of responsibility, but I can honestly say I can't recall ever hearing a professor try to impress that upon anyone.

        Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

        by RamblinDave on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 09:30:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  "Noblesse oblige" might apply here - implies (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dr Teeth

        that with wealth, power, and prestige come responsibilities.

        In American English especially, the term is sometimes applied more broadly to suggest a general obligation for the more fortunate to help the less fortunate.

        It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

        by auapplemac on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 12:00:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I agree with you completely. (10+ / 0-)

      I attended two of what Cruz dismissed as the "minor ivies," but I did teach at Princeton for part of the time when he was an undergrad there. He was never in one of my classes. If you are interested in learning, you can receive an outstanding education at the elite colleges. On the other hand, you can skate through with a gentleman's C (See W) and learn very little. Once you are accepted, it is very hard to flunk out of the elite colleges.  

      •  Actually it's quite easy (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dr Teeth, jabney, blue jersey mom, native

        to flunk out of the "lesser Ivies".  As an alum, I know quite a lot of people who have done that - usually the brighter freshmen who won't put up with the bullshit.

        The top three, though - once you're in, you're made.

        The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

        by raboof on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 08:43:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I had one classmate at Yale who flunked out (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dr Teeth, raboof, annetteboardman

          But she practically begged for it.

          She was actually a living, breathing Republican stereotype. You know that whole Republican caricature of Affirmative Action recipients feeling entitled to goodies just by way of being who they are? She was the only person I've ever met who actually had that sense of entitlement. She announced to anyone who would listen that as a woman in a traditionally male field of study (military history), Yale was going to roll out the red carpet and give her everything she wanted. And at first, they did: she got a coveted teaching fellowship with a world-renowned professor, and then she got admitted to an extremely selective course (over 100 applicants for 12 spots).

          But they did draw the line at one thing: she never did any of her work. First semester, she only completed one course and that was a grade based on group projects, on one of which she simply took credit for work I had done, and by the end of second semester she didn't even always go to class. Our dean offered her an opportunity to catch up on her incomplete work over the following summer, but she went to Paris for two weeks when she should have been catching up. After three semesters and only one complete class (which was, again, completed on the backs of others including me), they kicked her out.

          And yes, she was a Republican.

          Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

          by RamblinDave on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 09:38:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Word (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B, Dr Teeth, elfling, CFAmick, raboof, native

      Yale '92 here.  What I tell my non-Ivy friends is that the hardest part about Yale is getting in.  Some people get in because they're super smart and talented, and some people get in because their dads went to Yale.  Guess which category I'm in? :)

      Once you get in, you can take advantage of excellent educational opportunities, or you can slack off and drink a lot.  Yale is a for-profit institution -- they want to keep you in so you will keep paying tuition, so you really have to try if you want to flunk out.  It's not impossible, I know one guy who did it, but you have a lot of opportunities to turn it around if you want.

      Once you graduate, you find that doors are open to you which are not open to other folks.  Companies will read your resume when they won't read the resume of the guy who went to the state school.  This is the part that is most unfair.  I got job offers from top Silicon Valley companies and have been here for twenty years, making lots of money, when there are certainly smarter and harder-working guys who can't get in the door because they didn't go to the right school, and a big part of it is because my dad went to Yale.

    •  Yale '01, and... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dr Teeth, annetteboardman

      You'll appreciate what happened on Class Day that year. The student speaker tried to warm up the crowd with a review of what a great year it had been for Old Eli. She said, "We have a Yalie in the White House..." and paused there for a round of applause that didn't materialize at all. Then she added, "And a senator from New York," which did produce the applause.

      When I was there, I knew some absolutely brilliant people, and I also met my share who could barely write an essay but could throw a football or came from an underrepresented part of the country or had a relative who had given Yale a lot of money. I knew people who were deeply committed to changing the world, and I knew people who were proud of the fact that they got a teaching assistant gig in a class while they were taking the same class with another professor (and sometimes sleeping through it). There will always be another generation of George W. Bushes out there, which is okay as long as we don't let any more of them get elected president.

      I have ever since been firmly of the belief that it is possible to get a great education at any university as long as you're committed to learning. Regrettably, it is also possible to go to Yale and think "Misunderestimate" is a word. That's why I generally try not to wear Yale on my sleeve.

      Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

      by RamblinDave on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 09:28:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ted Cruz is an actor. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth, elfling, Nespolo

    In fact, the vast majority of Republican politicians are better understood as actors.

    That's not to say that they don't hold some flamingly wrong positions, but they don't hold them for the reasons they tell us they do.

    "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

    by kyril on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:50:49 AM PDT

  •  There is a specific name for what Cruz does (5+ / 0-)

    It is bunk.

    Bunk derives from bunkum, which derives from Buncombe.


    1830s, from buncombe, from “speaking to Buncombe” (or “for Buncombe”) from Buncombe County, North Carolina, named for Edward Buncombe.

    In 1820, Felix Walker, who represented Buncombe County, North Carolina, in the U.S. House of Representatives, rose to address the question of admitting Missouri as a free or slave state. This was his first attempt to speak on this subject after nearly a month of solid debate and right before the vote was to be called. Allegedly, to the exasperation of his colleagues, Walker insisted on delivering a long and wearisome "speech for Buncombe." He was shouted down by his colleagues. His persistent effort made "buncombe" (later respelled "bunkum") a synonym for meaningless political claptrap and later for any kind of nonsense. Although he was unable to make the speech in front of Congress it was still published in a Washington newspaper.

    The term became a joke and metaphor in Washington, then entered common usage…

       Our readers have, perhaps, often heard of ‘speaking to Buncombe,’ by which phrase is signified a speech not intended or expected to have any influence on those to whom it is addressed, but designed for the speaker’s constituents. It originated with a representative from North Carolina, who came from the county of Buncombe, and who being asked, one day, why he continued to speak to empty benches, ‘O!’ he replied, ‘I am speaking to Buncombe.’
           Portsmouth Journal of Literature and Politics, 1838-12-15
    Hence also the terms debunk and even Rachel Maddow's Debunktion Junction.

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:51:35 AM PDT

  •  You can throw Larry Summers in the mix. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth

    However, by the metrics you are using, you could point to Einstein and Nash and say only geniuses come from Ivy League Schools.  

  •  Looking at what they've produced... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth

    ...I really don't have a fucking clue.  I guess it's all in individual psychology.

    Warren/3-D Print of Warren in 2016!

    by dov12348 on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 09:03:38 AM PDT

  •  We Have a System That Selects for Morons Regardles (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth

    of where they come from or were educated.

    Government, public square, culture, economy and education. It's all broken, all captured to serve the rich at the expense of the people and of society.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 09:55:40 AM PDT

  •  Ivy League prestige is self-perpetuating (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth, raboof, RamblinDave

    Harvard Graduates who become senators and Silicon Valley moguls hire other Harvard graduates. The benefit from attending Harvard is not really about getting a good education. There are lots of schools that provide an equally good education. The benefit is making connections with the influential people who are or have been affiliated with Harvard.

    The alumni networks of elite academia are very, very valuable and powerful.

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