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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Education

Glenn Youngkin, right

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Say what you want about Fox News—and please do say what you want about Fox News!—but you have to admit they're informative. Just this week, I learned something thanks to the crack Fox News team working tirelessly to create fresh new content for American eyeballs. I learned that Fairfax County, Virginia, is populated exclusively by top members of arch-right Republican think tanks and political campaigns. Can you imagine that? An entire Virginia county in which everyone you meet works for a Republican candidate or is a "senior fellow" at something?

Go to Arby's, and the guy making your sandwich is actually a senior fellow at the Conservative Sandwich Institute. Go to pump some gas, and the woman behind the counter of the sketchy convenience store you try to never go into leads a second life as a National Rifle Association board member. Get mugged, and you'll soon learn the person stealing your money is part of a nationwide "libertarian legal organization."

Wait, that last one happens all the time. But the other two are still weird, right?

These are the conclusions that can be drawn from a Fox News report—one that actually aired on actual television—attempting to drum up drama over the supposed cruelty of local school boards that have not sufficiently bowed to far-right paranoia about whatever they think "critical race theory" is, or the trauma of asking children to wear masks, or whatever else stone-cold ignorant pro-Trump fascist boot-polishers are going on about in their twitching Facebook posts.

Fox's "straight news" story featured a set of "Fairfax County parents" wanting to "push back against" the county's school board. They were all very upset over who-gives-a-damn. But as Media Matters quickly determined, all three were actually Republican freaking operatives who were not disclosed as such. The whole thing was rigged!

Parent One: a "notorious" ex-Trump administration Department of Education official currently holding down a position as "senior fellow" at a right-wing think tank.

Parent Two: the freaking chair of "Educators for Youngkin," a group boosting the crackpot Republican gubernatorial nominee by helping to drive the very far-right paranoias Fox is reporting on.

Parent Three: founded a parent's group currently suing the county school board over admission standards—a longtime race-baiting conservative cause.

What are the odds? Imagine picking out three "concerned" parents, and whoops, every one of the three is a Republican activist working to orchestrate the attacks on school boards that Republican candidates are trying to turn into the next big Fake Social Crisis. What are the odds?

Yeah. The whole thing was fake. James O'Keefe-level fake.

The odds are not zero that this collection of "concerned" professional conservative cranks provided the footage themselves, shipping it to Fox prepackaged for Fox viewer consumption. Those things do, after all, happen.

Conservatives have been drumming up new paranoias about what's going on in their local schools ever since the first moments of desegregation. They are absolutely convinced that their children are secretly learning how not to be racist, even when their asshole racist parents don't want them to learn that.

They are convinced that schools are asking children to wear masks during a deadly ongoing freaking lung-destroying organ-tearing pandemic because it is a secret plot to Who The F--k Knows. The first generations to be freed from the horrors of polio are in absolute panic over the thought of vaccinating children, something only the fringes of the pseudoscience fringe considered controversial until Donald Trump sniffed that viruses were just made-up attempts to tarnish his glorious reign of grift and incompetence.

And here comes Fox News, the "serious" news side, like clockwork, to package up the fringe of the fringe and turn it into nationwide party talking points.

Why does this only happen on the conservative side? The New York Times is notorious for presenting Republican operatives as supposed jus' folks. The Washington Post and every other outlet you can name has had a turn at it. But the reporters regularly land on local Republican operatives to present as "concerned parents" or "concerned business owners" or "concerned woman who believes face masks trap and amplify the powers of evil spirits, evil spirits named Timmy and Bob and Chadwick and Timmy Jr., and who advocates for squirting pool-cleaning chemicals up your nose because Bob absolutely hates that and will convince his evil spirit roommates to go hide out in your neighbor's place instead." I can't recall the last time Fox News or the Times or anyone else "accidentally" profiled a parent who "accidentally" turned out to be a Democratic candidate's campaign manager or similar.

Pretty weird, that.

Well, we learned one thing: We learned that Fairfax County, Virginia, is populated exclusively by Republican operatives who don't like their local school board decisions. It's a bit of an odd situation in that it's not clear how the school board became populated with residents who are not uniformly Republican operatives pushing whatever specific talking point Republican election strategists are rushing to Fox News to help convey. Still, such explanations are best left to experts, and there's not a single damn person associated with this story who could be considered one.

Still, it seems like a follow-up story is in order. Are all residents of Fairfax County Republican operatives and surrogates, or just all the parents? Wait—are we even sure all three of these people have kids? At these schools, as opposed to private ones?

Are their kids employed by far-right think tanks too, or is getting your first conservative think-tank gig considered the Fairfax County rite of passage to adulthood?

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Kirk Bangstad

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

The Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC has announced it will be helping lend financial support to a class-action lawsuit filed against the Waukesha School Board and the superintendent for failing to follow the CDC's guidelines for COVID-19 school protocols. The Super PAC's founder and owner of the Minocqua Brewing Company, Kirk Bangstad—also a former Democratic candidate in the Badger state—has promised that the Super PAC will be funding actions "against every school board in Wisconsin that isn't mandating masks for kids too young to get the vaccine and not following CDC guidelines for students while in school to protect against the deadly Delta variant."

Bangstad says he started the Super PAC to help local businesses weather the ongoing pandemic but then, after watching some of the local school board fallout over mask mandates back in May, Bangstad put out a public statement asking whether or not there were parents dealing with kids who got sick after these mitigation rules were done away with. "I got flooded with parents across Wisconsin who are super upset, scared and felt powerless to protect their children. If they had masks in these schools these kids could actually get an education," he said. Since then, the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC has added the Fall Creek School District to its list of supported lawsuits.

On October 10, Bangstad went on Facebook to give a nice, long rundown of answers to questions his Super PAC has received surrounding these lawsuits. It's worth a gander.

Let's start by saying that Bangstad does not leave anything on the table in this Facebook statement. The first question: Why is a brewery funding these lawsuits?

Our Super PAC should NOT be funding these lawsuits. We always thought that our government, the teacher's union, the ACLU, the hospitals, the nurse's unions, or any other number of progressive groups or "academies of smart people who understand stuff" should be stepping up to block the alt-right, anti-science, and anti-history nonsense that has overcome school boards across our state.
Wisconsin communities have exploded with the Delta variant because many school districts have dropped all forms of Covid mitigation that were in place last year due to the shrieking hordes of Tucker Carlson-watching zombies separated from their cerebrums and driven only by their lizard brains.
Oh, that's the stuff. Keep in mind Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has spent months promoting conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccine's efficacy and safety, as well as pushing the big election lies that continue to undermine our democracy. Sen. Johnson reportedly told a town hall last week that the COVID-19 vaccines "are not as safe ... and effective as we all hoped and prayed they would be," and that even though Wisconsin's hospitals were bursting with patients and failing under the stress, this isn't the result of a health crisis.

"A bad flu season will put stress, sometimes overwhelm hospitals for certain regions. That happens all the time. Just because it happens with COVID doesn't mean there's some massive crisis in terms of our health care system."That is just one of the mountains Bangstad's brewery is trying to overcome.

Calling Sen. Johnson as well as Rep. Tom Tiffany "traitorous," Bangstad writes that this fight, while aiming to protect kids instead of win elections, does not mean those goals are mutually exclusive. "We raised over $50K two weeks ago specifically by asking people to donate to these lawsuits. Because of that, we believe we've been given a mandate to see this project through," he said. He calls on more progressive groups to join the fight to protect these children, as well as the unions directly affected by bad public health policies.He makes the important point, that Daily Kos' The Brief podcast has been hammering home over the past year, that fundraising just for 2022 is not enough. "It's not just about collecting money for the next election, it's about organizing and protecting our democracy every day, no matter if there is an election happening our not."Bangstad lists a series of things people can do, from phone banking to volunteering for other Democratic organizations. But most importantly he hits hard, once again, at the anti-science dunderheads screeching the loudest, telling Wisconsinites to "make some god-damned NOISE at school board meetings—force the media to SEE YOU TOO, not just the slack-jawed domestic terrorists whose minds have been overtaken by conservative AM radio."As for the lawsuits, attorney Frederick Melms told The Washington Post, "These school districts just have decided to bury their head in the sand without any real sort of rationale behind it. They just are ignoring the guidance from the health department, from the CDC, from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. It's really reckless."