Alternative facts may be a good thing
It’s probably hard to tell much about me, given the tiny size of the picture of me that accompanies this column. So, to summarize, I’m 6’2”, 195 lbs. with flowing blonde hair and flawless skin. I have 6-pack abs and long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I wear a size 12 shoe and have large hands (in case you’re wondering).
That, faithful readers, is what’s known as alternative facts.
Presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway probably knew, as soon as she said it, that the term “alternative facts” was going to come back to bite her.
Conway has never met an argument she’s not willing to make or a candidate she’s not willing to support – if the pay is right. And she’s a smart person. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa in college and received a law degree (with honors) at George Washington University.
But she’s more than a brain. She won the New Jersey Blueberry Princess pageant when she was 16. But she’s more than a beauty with brains. When she was 20, she won the World Champion Blueberry Packing contest.
The contest ended in a tie. She demanded a recount and was declared the winner. I am not making that up.
In case you’re wondering, you win the contest by packing the most crates with blueberries. She worked for eight summers on a blueberry farm in New Jersey, so she knew of which she packed.
“The faster you went, the more money you’d make,” Conway said.
In what he probably thinks is a compliment, a former boss said of Conway, “She never let ideology get in the way of smart political behavior."
Did you see when the Trumps arrived at the White House pre-inauguration and Mrs. Trump handed Mrs. Obama a nicely wrapped gift box? Mrs. O opened the box later on Air Force Former One. Inside was a handwritten note. HELP!
As you can tell, I’m going to have four years of easy material. And, if the Russians have anything to do with it, make that eight years, Comrade.
The President Tweeted a picture of his inaugural crowd to prove his claim of “outstanding” size. Trouble is, the picture he tweeted was from the next day’s Women’s March.
A Republican state senator from Indiana (home of the vice president), referring to the women’s march, said, “In one day Trump got more fat women out walking than Michelle Obama did in 8 years." I am not making that up.
He apologized and said he doesn’t know how that got on his Facebook page. That’s probably true, because he’s most likely too stupid to turn on a computer.
Betsy DeVos, Mr. Trump’s nominee for secretary of education has said she wants to use public schools to advance “God’s kingdom.”
DeVos is a very wealthy woman. Her family is wealthy and her husband’s family started Amway. Her brother started Blackwater, the private security firm that made a fortune in Iraq.
During her confirmation hearing, DeVos did not dispute a claim that her family foundations have given as much as $200 million to political candidates. They have given more than $100 million to Christian organizations. They have given tens of millions to private and charter schools.
The money is theirs to do with as they please.
But DeVos has never spent one day of her privileged life in a public education setting as either a student or a teacher, administrator and board member.
I think back to Dick Riley’s tenure as Secretary of Education and all the reform and improvements he brought about. DeVos is not up to the task. Which means she’ll probably sail through confirmation (despite some contentious moments during questioning by Democratic senators).
She would not say schools are no place for guns. Guns would protect our students from grizzly bear attacks, she said.
She didn’t understand the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that requires school to educate students with disabilities. She later said she might have been confused. Yep.
She refused to say that any school receiving public funding – a public school, a public charter school or a private school receiving voucher money – should be held to the same level of accountability.
DeVos said tax filings by her mother’s foundation should not have listed her as a vice president and member of the board. She’s been listed on the form for 13 years.
Stay tuned, folks.
(Larry Franklin is publisher of The Chronicle. His email address is email@example.com.)