Now comes one of the dumbest gotcha pieces I have ever seen, courtesy of Andrew Kaczynski of Buzzfeed. I would customarily paste some of the text here but you would do yourself a favor by actually clicking the link and seeing the huge, screaming type, complete with ridiculous subtitles. The gist of this particular piece of unmitigated nonsense is that Jeff Flake is somehow a liar or dishonest based solely on the following two facts:

  1. In an interview with NPR, Jeff Flake claimed that he listened to NPR.
  2. HOWEVER (cue shocking gotcha music) Jeff Flake voted “aye” on HR 1076 which would have removed taxpayer funding from NPR.

I am dead serious, that is literally the entirety of the post. Please, go click on it yourself. Gaze upon it and wonder. Here is a man, presumably over the age of 18, who has as far as I know matriculated at least from High School and more likely than not from some institute of higher learning, who literally does not understand that opposing taxpayer funding of a thing does not equate to opposing the very existence of that thing. I mean, it’s as if his brain seriously cannot comprehend the very concept of things that exist that are not bought with taxpayer dollars. I have to assume that his paychecks are direct deposited, because otherwise doubtless his twitter feed would weekly be filled with puzzled questions about why Jack Lew’s signature isn’t on his paycheck anywhere.

While it would be easy and comfortable to assume that this particular form of dementia is an isolated incident, the sad reality is that an entire generation seems to have been deliberately raised to not understand this distinction. Recall that during the entire fight over embryonic stem cells during the early days of the George W. Bush administration, the public was absolutely convinced that Bush had made embryonic stem cell research illegal. This was patently untrue – not only that, it wasn’t even true that Bush eliminated federal funding for embryonic stem cell research – rather, he merely restricted federal funding to certain already extant stem cell lines. And yet, the myth of Bush making embryonic stem cell research “illegal” persists to this day.

Or who can forget Free Stuff Activist Sandra Fluke becoming a cause celebre because she couldn’t understand that, while literally no one wanted to make her birth control illegal, a fairly large number of people felt like she should at least be willing to pay some amount towards her own birth control, much the way hypertensives do with their blood pressure medication. For pointing this out, Democrats argued, with measurable amounts of success, that Republicans were coming after everyone’s birth control because they hate women.

The only reason these idiotic attacks have had traction (and sadly, they have) is because enough people have somehow reached adulthood without learning the difference between the completely unrelated words “illegal” and “gratis.” It is in large part the problem that infects Washington culture and has led to the ever-larger expansion of the government behemoth. And until this failure of education is reversed, we won’t be able to reverse our current slide.