Is This Guy America’s Most Arrogant State Lawmaker?

by Jim Geraghty

Also in today’s Jolt:

A Strong Nominee for the Title of America’s Most Arrogant State Lawmaker

Sure, some of the complaints about Common Core can get overwrought. But Common Core advocates have dismissed parents’ concerns with stunning contempt and arrogance. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sneering about “white suburban moms” was bad enough, but now Duane Lester brings our attention to an even more astounding act of lawmaker condescension and disdain:

[The Missouri] House Appropriations – Education Committee Chairman Mike Lair, R-Chillicothe, found $8 to address a pressing problem. The money is to be used “for two rolls of high density aluminum to create headgear designed to deflect drone and/or black helicopter mind reading and control technology.”

On the summary sheet handed out to lawmakers, the money is slated for “tin foil hats” and was tied to an amendment removing language barring the state from accepting federal grants to implement Common Core standards for public schools.

“If you can’t deal with folks with logic, you use humor,” he said. “This is to stop all the problems from the black helicopters and drones. This is high density foil.”

Take your tin foil and stick it where the sun don’t shine, Chairman Lair.

There are a lot of objections to Common Core, coming from a lot more corners than the conspiracy theorists. If you don’t like Glenn Beck, there’s plenty of Republican state lawmakers. If they’re too righty for you, there’s skepticism and complaints from the NEA, liberal education-reform groups, teacher complaints about the lesson plans, parents of every political stripe . . . Even if you’re a big fan of Common Core, you have to recognize that arrogant dismissal and mockery like Lair’s actions do nothing to reassure skeptical parents and teachers.

Duane helpfully provides a last detail:

UPDATE: James Harris, a family member and supporter of Lair writes in:

Regrettably, his attempt of a joke has spun out of control on social media by some who thought he meant to criticize them, which is not want he meant.

Yesterday, my father in law, Rep. Mike Lair inserted a line item into the Education Appropriations bill for tin foil hats as a humorous statement on a fellow lawmaker’s bill. Rep. Kurt Bahr sponsored HB1490, which would prohibit schools from adopting any Common Core standards and, further, would require the General Assembly to approve any statewide education standards.

Members of the House took it in the spirit it was meant; as something to inject levity into a conversation which has gone past the point of logic and veered well into assumption. It was in that spirit that other members of the House jokingly wrapped his desk in tin foil.

This is true; Abram Messer, executive director of Missouri Family Network, Tweeted out a photo of the tin-foil-wrapped desk.

Harris continues:

Mike had been a history teacher and always has used humor to get people to focus and get to the root of an issue.

Mike has attempted to deal with this issue using logic and research, filing HB1157 (which would protect data gathered from Common Core, ensuring student data would be secure) and HB1158 (which would prevent DESE from mandating curriculum or textbooks at the local level, ensuring local school boards’ power is not infringed upon) to address the two main concerns with Common Core in a logical, pragmatic manner.

Mike supports vouchers, Right to Work, numerous tax cut measures, sponsored 2nd Amendment measures and every tort/civil liability effort. He is consistently ranked as one of the most conservative members.

I understand that you were not in Missouri and did not speak with Mike, so I believe calling him arrogant is inappropriate. Mike is conservative and merely trying to get people to laugh so they could get back to the discussion.

There’s a very simple way to ensure that no one thinks you’ve compared Common Core opponents to tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorists: Don’t insert language for “two rolls of high-density aluminum to create headgear designed to deflect drone and/or black helicopter mind reading and control technology” to an amendment restricting Common Core in your education-funding proposal.