Where’s Hunter S. Thompson when you need him? Our national discourse has gone gonzo, hijacked by maniacs.

I’ve done my best to tune out the cynical cluelessness permeating the Republican primary race, but these guys are actively working to ruin the country. It’s hard to single out only a few howlers, but just this month we’ve seen:

Mitt Romneybrazen distortion and lies about President Obama’s positions

Herman Cain: knew from the beginning this was only about self-promotion

Rick Perry: wants to radically reform government but can’t remember how. (Oops.)

New Gingrich: Child labor laws are in the way of really making our economy work.

The disingenuousness takes your breath away.

I feel an indirect link between these out-of-touch corporatist ideologues and a New York Daily News story by Ben Chapman this week on the insane new expansion in New York State testing. Check out this lunacy:

State Education officials are expanding mandatory reading exams that students across the state take each spring, according to documents posted on a state website Monday.

Third graders would spend 245 minutes on a reading test given over two consecutive days in April 2012 — up from 150 minutes over two days last year. Other grades will see similar gains.

Teachers and parents slammed the state’s new, super-sized testing schedule.

“It’s insane to make third graders sit still and take a test for that long,” said Lisa North, a reading teacher at Public School 8 in Brooklyn who administers the tests.

I truly don’t know what’s next in this brave new world: four-hour reading tests in second grade? Why not in first grade too? Why not a three hour reading test in kindergarten? Capture the data early! Where is this all leading? How much of our soul are we selling in the name of data?

No one wins here— except for-profit corporations selling tests and test prep. (And privatizers who cheer the demise of public education.)

I recently received an email from Peggy Robertson, an administrator for the grass roots group United Opt Out National. They’ve got something strong to say about this.

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