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The Republican Mindset

April 20th, 2014 1 comment

This article crystallizes the mindset of the Republican party extremely well.

Common Core is a set of K-12 educational standards that would delineate what any student should know at the end of a grade level in English and Math. It was created by the National Governor’s Association as a state-driven initiative. It had bipartisan backing and strong Republican support. Only a few crazies on the wingnut fringe opposed it.

Then Obama got behind it too, offering a few incentives for states to adopt it.

Suddenly, conservatives have abandoned it en masse and now call it “Obamacore,” saying it is a vile overreach by the federal government to warp the minds of youngsters.

Like Obamacare itself, and so many other ideas that actually were conservative to begin with and had major right-wing support, all it takes is for Obama to voice support for it, and suddenly the bulk of the Republican Party and conservatives everywhere make a 180-degree turn and call it treachery.

The Republican revolt against the Common Core can be traced to President Obama’s embrace of it, particularly his linking the adoption of similar standards to states’ eligibility for federal education grants and to waivers from No Child Left Behind, the national education law enacted by President George W. Bush.

The comparison to Obamacare is not coincidental; now that the ACA has flopped as a political war cry, conservatives appear to be desperate for anything they can grab ahold of to win elections with, and if that means sabotaging what they believed was an important improvement to children’s education, well, so be it.

A few Republicans stand in defense of the program, but are kind of being drowned out by the rush of Republicans turning tail.

Jeb Bush said the pivot seemed more like pandering. In remarks this month during an event at his father’s presidential library, he affirmed his support for the Common Core. “I guess I’ve been out of office for a while, so the idea that something that I support — because people are opposed to it means that I have to stop supporting it if there’s not any reason based on fact to do that?” he said. “I just don’t feel compelled to run for cover when I think this is the right thing to do for our country.”

With a knowing grin, he added, “Others that supported the standards all the sudden now are opposed to it.”

Some other former Republican governors who pushed the adoption of the Common Core agree with Mr. Bush. “There is a great deal of paranoia in the country today,” said Sonny Perdue, a former governor of Georgia, who was also instrumental in creating the program. “It’s the two P’s, polarization and paranoia.”

“Polarization and paranoia,” well-put. But there’s one more P: Politics.

Supporters of the Common Core, which outlines skills that students in each grade should master but leaves actual decisions about curriculum to states and districts, say that it was not created by the federal government and that it was up to the states to decide whether to adopt the standards.

But opponents say Mr. Obama’s attempt to reward states that adopt the standards with grants and waivers amounts to a backdoor grab for federal control over what is taught in schools.

The only meager silver lining I see in this is the generation of idiotic utterances to support a completely hypocritical and empty opposition to something purely on political grounds. Cue Ted Cruz:

“Standards inevitably influence the curricula being taught to meet those standards,” Mr. Cruz said.

Ya think? Never mind that educational standards were a big Republican idea until just recently.

Or, if you recall, this dilly from a Republican candidate for governor of Arizona:

Melvin’s comments led Sen. David Bradley, D-Tucson, to ask him whether he’s actually read the Common Core standards, which have been adopted by 45 states.

“I’ve been exposed to them,” Melvin responded.

Pressed by Bradley for specifics, Melvin said he understands “some of the reading material is borderline pornographic.” And he said the program uses “fuzzy math,” substituting letters for numbers in some examples.

Stay classy, Republicans.

About Time

April 14th, 2014 1 comment

President Obama:

Across the country Republicans have led efforts to making harder not easier for people to vote. … The real voter fraud is people who try to deny our rights by making bogus arguments about voter fraud. … America did not stand up and did not march and did not sacrifice to gain the right to vote for themselves and for others only to see it denied to their kids and their grandchildren. We’ve got to pay attention to this. … This recent effort to restrict the vote has not been led by both parties. It’s been led by the Republican Party.

Welcome to the party, many years late. This issue is long overdue for top-level attention.

The appalling fact here is that the attempt to restrict voting and deny people their rights is not even well-disguised; despite the hue and cry about fictional “voter fraud,” it is about as easy as it imaginably could be to see that this is all a political ploy to win elections. Several conservative politicians have actually said as much, publicly, on the record.

That the media does not reflect this as well as it should, and worse, that the conservative majority on the Supreme Court should so transparently enable this affront to Democracy… well, it is simply beyond the ability of mere words to express.

Courts should be shutting down these obscenities as soon as they pop up. Alas, such justice is now a rare commodity. This, taken together with gerrymandering and a full-blown propaganda tool masquerading as a national news organization, what we have is not even close to proportional or representative government.

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Recently, In Fundie Land…

March 23rd, 2014 1 comment

Creationists are demanding equal time on TV to refute Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos episodes which discuss evolution.

I find it fascinating that people like this make demands of this sort. It highlights a common conservative shortcoming: they rail and scream about how bad something is, then they try to do the thing they railed against but even more so, and then they freak out when they meet any resistance to it.

You see, these are the same kind of people who detest the very idea of “equal time,” especially in the context of the Fairness Doctrine. They spend a great amount of time decrying the very concept, acting like it is some kind of socialist fascism, and just an excuse for liberals to take over Fox News and conservative radio. (This is interesting on another level, because it shows up how they know that the media is in fact conservative, else the Fairness Doctrine would benefit them!)

But when they see some documentary or news report that says something they don’t like, their knee-jerk reaction is—naturally—to demand equal time.

They don’t call it the “Fairness Doctrine,” which they hate, but that is exactly what they are asking for. What we call the “equal time rule” is limited to political candidates in a campaign (not to mention, documentaries were exempt from the rule). The Fairness Doctrine is about allowing equal time in the media for opposing views on important issues—which is exactly what is being called for now. Neither the rule nor the doctrine is still in force, though; equal time was done away with not too long ago, and the Fairness Doctrine was scrapped in 1987.

Another aspect to the creationist demand is the idea that somehow, creationists aren’t getting equal time in the media. Which, of course, is laughable—there are all kinds of fundamentalist religious TV shows and even whole networks running 24-7; should scientists be able to demand equal time on their channels? Again, the hypocrisy and double-standard are thick and deep.


The Westboro Baptist Church remains clueless after the death of their former pastor, Fred Phelps. As the church members protested a music concert, a group of people across the street held up a banner that read, “Sorry for Your Loss.” Poignant, and to the point—it expressed sorrow for anyone’s death, sympathy for those in grieving, and served as an example of how one reacts properly to those who have lost a loved one.

A member of the Westboro group responded, “I don’t even know what they’re saying.”

That response speaks volumes.


And, for the really low-hanging fruit, let’s just note that Sarah Palin recently chastised women who wear a “symbol of death around their neck.” She was referring to women who wear a necklace with a tiny coat hanger in protest of the campaign to criminalize abortion. As usual, she did not think two inches beyond her immediate words, or else she would have realized that she herself has worn a symbol of death around her neck all of her adult life.

How about chastising anyone who wears the cross as a symbol for the love of Jesus and yet consistently campaigns against that which Jesus actually stood for?

Breaking the Nazi Barrier

March 16th, 2014 3 comments

I know that this is probably obvious to anyone who reads this… but still, it is hard not to observe the massively hypocritical hyperbole we get now from the right wing. It used to be that people didn’t equate everything they disagreed with to Nazis. Then there was the rule of thumb that the first one to use the word “Nazi” lost the argument. But now? To hell with political correctness! Nazis away!

“Political correctness” is so oppressive, that the U.S. is now “very much like Nazi Germany,” and we are living in a “Gestapo Age.” And if the people dare criticize the rich or object to the gap between rich and poor, it is akin to Kristallnacht, and we’re again well on our way to becoming Nazi Germany.

On the other hand, the ideal fair and “free market” is a society where workers are locked into a store and commanded not to use the emergency exits unless the building is literally burning down–and workers like the guy with a crushed ankle follow those commands because they cannot afford to lose their minimum-wage jobs. We’re lucky to live in a country where paying someone a wage which will not even let them approach the poverty line is seen as unthinkable largesse. No, that’s not fascism.

And a society where denying gay people not only the right to marry, but trying to force through laws which would make it so that any doctor could leave them dying in an emergency room, or any policemen could leave them abandoned to a horrific crime–well, that’s simply religious freedom at work. Not allowing us to abuse homosexuals or to deny women access to contraceptives, that’s Nazi Germany.

You see, when a billionaire is criticized for luxuriating in massive opulence and wealth after crashing the economy, it’s like sending a Jew to the concentration camps.

But slashing billions of dollars of food stamps needed by families with children on the edge of starvation, and calling anyone who uses them a parasite, well, that’s just good old common-sense American Christian morality. And the billions then lavished on corporations already awash in unimaginably astronomical profits, well, who could blame them for taking what’s being offered?

The class war is being vociferously fought, but not by the poor. Religious intolerance abounds, but it’s not coming from the areligious.

But hey, I’m just being a Nazi by bringing this up. Shame on me.

Perry’s “Texas Miracle”: Rob the Poor, Lavish the Rich

March 10th, 2014 2 comments

To hear Perry and conservative-cheerleader NewsMax tell it, Perry’s Texas is a paradise for all. 37% percent of all new jobs in the U.S. have been created in Texas since 2009, and it’s all supposed to be because of low taxes and low regulation:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry tells Newsmax that he attributes the “Texas Miracle” — the Lone Star State’s relatively robust economy during the economic downturn — to a “light” tax burden and a favorable regulatory climate. …

[Perry states:] “The men and women in Texas know something now after a decade-plus of our governorship and our policies being implemented by a Republican House, Senate, lieutenant governor and speaker. We’ve kept our tax burden as light as we could and still delivered the services that the people of Texas desire, and we have a regulatory climate that is fair and predictable.I cannot tell you how important is predictability and stability in the regulatory climate.”

What’s not stated is that it’s also because of a lot of other stuff:

  • Oil and gas prices are high, which sucks for the nation, but benefits Texas’ economy
  • Texas has a high birth rate and migration rate, artificially raising job numbers
  • Texas made off like bandits from the Obama stimulus, with half of the job growth coming from education, health care, and government sectors
  • Texas used $6.4 billion in stimulus money to help balance the state budget, more than all but 2 other states

And since the stimulus money is running out, Texas is now facing huge budget shortfalls, which it plans to mitigate in part by slashing Medicare and education spending—in a state which already has rock-bottom health care and education stats.

Certainly, Texas is great for businesses and wealthy people—but is horrible for the majority of people in the state:

  • Texas shares with Mississippi the highest rate of minimum-wage workers in the U.S.
  • 26% of Texans have no health insurance, the highest rate in the country
  • Deregulation of health insurance has led to sky-high rates
  • Texas has the 4th-highest poverty rate of any state in the nation
  • Texas’ unemployment rate, at 8.2%, is higher than the national average
  • Texas has fewer adults with a high school diploma than any other state; is 43rd in the nation in graduation rates, and 45th on SAT scores

I guess that when Perry says that the people of Texas are getting all the services that they desire, he figures Texans don’t “desire” education or health care. Or, likely more accurately, none of the people Perry associates with are lacking in any such services.

But the kicker is in the tax rate, when all taxes are taken into account. The state has no income tax, but it does have a high sales tax, and overall, its tax rates are extraordinarily regressive. Here is Perry’s so-called “light” tax rate, compared with California’s:

Blog Taxes Texas California

The poorest 20% of Texans pay four times more of their income in taxes than do the wealthiest 1%. That’s pretty shocking.

California’s is pretty regressive because it has an even higher sales tax, but that is attenuated by the income taxes. There is no such balance in Texas, meaning that the state’s tax burden falls chiefly on the poorest people—who also get the crappiest education, the least health insurance, and the worst pay.

So the message is clear: if you want all the benefits of third-world cheap-labor exploitation but don’t want to leave the U.S., Texas is your destination!

What’s most scary: this is the model for what Perry and many other Republicans want to bring to the whole country.

Not that that’s a big surprise, or anything.

Categories: Economics, Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

My Right to Deny Yours

February 26th, 2014 2 comments

There’s a very simple rule: your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins. Your rights, freedoms, and liberties are not to be used as a license to abridge the rights, freedoms, and liberties of others. It’s not hard to figure out.

There’s a whole new strategy amongst the Religious Right: to deny those rights, freedoms, and liberties to groups and classes of people, and to restrict a range of activities, against which religious conservatives are prejudiced, all in the name of their own “religious freedom.”

You want access to birth control? Well, so long as I am even peripherally involved as a taxpayer or an employer, my freedom trumps your right: I can deny you access, either by restricting what insurance you receive, or even by being a pharmacist.

You want equal rights as a human being? Well, not if I have to interact with you. I have the right to treat you like a non-person if I happen to be any random person doing business with you, even as a doctor or law enforcement officer.

You know what? That’s not only wrong, it’s asinine. It’s so clearly wrong that it should be obvious to anyone and everyone. If any such law is passed, it is an embarrassment; if any such law is upheld, it will be a violation of the most essential principles of our society.

The Religious Right is on a new kick: I get to use my religion to harm others.

No you don’t. You have no such right. Period.

Late note: when even religious bigot Newt Gingrich says you’re going too far, take that as a hint.

Categories: Religion, Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

Offended by What America Is

February 4th, 2014 5 comments

Yeah, time for more right-wing hate at an ad (this time for Coca-Cola) that tries to include more people and more diversity. Conservatives truly hate diversity. I mean, the whole idea of people coming here from all over the world to form a melting pot of cultures where everyone loves America—really, I ask you, how un-American is that?? How can you not be offended?

The commercial, clearly intended to be an outreach to as many people as possible who make up our nation, and a celebration of the fact that we have such richness in culture and language, royally pissed off those who see America as being white and English, as this writer from Breitbart suggested:

As far as the executives at Coca Cola are concerned, however, the United States of America is no longer a nation ruled by the Constitution and American traditions in which English is the language of government. It is not a nation governed in the Anglo-American tradition of liberty. It is instead a nation governed by some all inclusive multi-cultural synthesis of the various forms of government in the world, as expressed by the multiple languages used in the Super Bowl ad to sing a uniquely American hymn that celebrates our heritage.

I think you can call that “reading way too much into the message.” No more Constitution? Really? How the hell can you get that from the ad? Was there some subliminal message against the three branches of government that I somehow missed? And American traditions? Apparently, if it’s not white people singing in English, then it’s not “traditional America”? And “English is the language of government”—seriously, I do not recall seeing any government officials in the ad.

The next line is the giveaway: “It is not a nation governed in the Anglo-American tradition of liberty.” First, how was anything in that ad not about liberty? But “Anglo-American”? How could the writer be more clear without saying “white”? In other words, America must be white to be free; you can’t have liberty with all these foreigners running around speaking other languages. It just won’t do.

Here is someone who sees other colors and other languages, and cannot help but feel oppressed by “various forms of government in the world.” They’re taking over!

Glenn Beck also crystallized the racial fear:

“So somebody tweeted last night and said, ‘Glenn, what did you think of the Coke ad?’ And I said, ‘Why did you need that to divide us politically?’” he said on his radio show. “Because that’s all this ad is. It’s in your face, and if you don’t like it, if you’re offended by it, you’re a racist. If you do like it, you’re for immigration. You’re for progress. That’s all this is: To divide people.”

He’s actually very correct in one respect, though I don’t think he meant to be. If you watch an ad where people of different races join together to sing praise to America, and you are offended by the fact that there were people of different races doing that… well, I hate to say it, but yes—you’re probably at least somewhat racist.

But as far as dividing people? Those who would show unity in diversity are not the ones dividing us. It’s the ones who hate diversity who are dividing us. We are, after all, a diverse nation; it’s the core of what we are. It’s the (original) national motto: e pluribus unum, “from many, one.” People like Beck want to push away anything that is not white and speaking English, or at least trying its best to imitate that. They embrace the “one,” so long as it is the right color and language, and reject the “many.”

You cannot do that. We are many. To deny that, to claim that America is white and English-only is to deny our history, to deny our origins, to deny the core of our very identity.

Categories: Race, Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

Cats and Dogs Living Together Is Just Around the Corner

January 4th, 2014 2 comments

The right-wingers’ worst fears have come true. In the wake of recent gay-marriage rulings, polygamy has now been legalized, with Supreme Court validation coming all too soon. Inevitably, incest will be allowed, and anything else you can imagine. Marriage is destroyed, and no longer has any meaning. It was all predicted by Dr. Keith Ablow. Albow, at first glance, seems to have good credentials—a psychiatrist with an M.D. from Johns Hopkins—so, based on that, you would think that what he wrote would, even if opinionated, at least have the facts down well.

He wrote:

More than a year ago, when states began to legalize gay marriage, I argued that polygamy would be the natural result. If love between humans of legal age is the only condition required to have the state issue a marriage license, then it is irrational to assert that two men or two women can have such feelings for one another, while three women and a man, or two men and a woman, cannot. …

Well, now U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups has found parts of Utah’s anti-bigamy law unconstitutional. His ruling comes in a case brought by Kody Brown and his four wives, who are featured in the reality TV show, “Sister Wives.”

I believe the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold that finding, if Utah challenges it. As I predicted, this will officially make marriage the Wild West, in which groups of people can assert that they are married and should have all the benefits of that status, including family health plans and the right to file taxes as married people.

That’s rather startling—a judge ruled that the state must recognize polygamous marriages? Albow does use equivocating language (“parts of” and “assert” in particular), but makes it clear that the government will be required to officially recognize the status of polygamy.

All it takes is a rather cursory check to discover that Albow is either an idiot with an M.D. who did not read beyond the first sentence of some right-wing blog post, or else (more likely) he is intentionally misstating the facts.

In the real rundown of the case, the Utah verdict did not overturn polygamy laws, merely the laws concerning cohabitation, where several adults decide to live in the same house and all have sex together. No one is being permitted multiple-marriage licenses, no government agency is being forced to provide any kind of benefits. All that the court decided was that the government cannot regulate who lives in your house or who you have sex with.

Nor was the verdict in any way, shape, or form based upon or related to any of the recent rulings on gay marriage. And no, it does not allow for any kind of official or sanctioned marriages, nor will it lead to incest or cats and dogs living together. Well, actually, maybe that last thing.

In fact, it simply brings Utah in line with the way most states have handled cohabitation for decades.

Albow apparently just wants to use this news to frighten people into being more conservative and to make people more hostile to a government he wants them to believe are destroying our institutions. He goes on:

It will also, eventually, lead to test cases in which a few unusual sisters and brothers insist that they can marry, because they are in love and promise not to procreate, but, instead, to use donor eggs or sperm.
And, I predict, the courts will agree with them. …

Marriage is over.

It was always at least a little funny that a huge percentage of people swore to stay together until death, then divorced and remarried.

But, now, it is, officially, judicially, a joke.

If two men can marry, and three men can marry, and five women and a man can marry, and three men and two women can marry, then marriage has no meaning.

As you can see, he quickly slides down the slippery slope, albeit using incest instead of the usual bestiality scare tactic. But his primary thesis is what is interesting: that marriage is an institution that can be rendered meaningless by whom the judiciary may allow to enter it.

He casually sets aside the manner in which people actually regard and sometimes even abuse marriage—high divorce rates, and, from the article’s graphic, exceedingly short celebrity marriages—as being “at least a little funny,” and instead notes that what really destroys the institution is which people are allowed to join it. One can easily imagine that if Albow were writing this article 40 or 50 years ago, he would be decrying the overturning of miscegenation laws with almost the exact same argument.

People have been marrying for horrible reasons for as long as the institution has been around. It was initially based more on the concept of women as chattel, hardly a pristine foundation. Marriage has been used to trap people into lifetimes of abuse. People have battered the institution with widespread infidelity, have used it for technical financial purposes or for illicitly gaining citizenship. People marry for all the wrong reasons—accidental pregnancy, desperation, marrying into status or wealth, and yes, even to get the government benefits.

However, despite centuries of widespread abuse, marriage stood strong and did not lose its meaning.

But now, two men or two women can get married! It apparently does not matter one bit that these people are almost certainly going to have no more and no less abuse of the institution than heterosexual couples; nothing that they actually do in or with the institution will be a change from what it has been before.

No, it is simply that we are allowing same-gender marriages, by itself, that marriage is now “a joke.”

As if marriage is somehow not mostly about the commitment between the wedded and their own internal desire to share, commemorate, and make official that commitment before their community.

Albow seems to be saying that, now that gay people can be married, or even (completely unofficially) more than two people can cohabit, marriage is meaningless.

Which brings me back to a conclusion I made some time ago: to these people, even if marriage is mostly about love, or commitment, or any significant, deeply fulfilling relationship, it is only meaningful to them if it is an exclusive club to which only people they approve of can join. Because if those damn Negroes can join my golf club, or if women are allowed into my boy’s club, it will ruin everything.

It’s pretty clear that Albow has some huge personal bugaboos about gender and sexuality, and is severely distorting the facts to frighten people into acting the way he wants.

Of course, the fact that the article was published on Fox News should have been a big hint right from the start.

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The Time for the Filibuster Ended 5 Years Ago

November 21st, 2013 2 comments

It all comes down to a simple principle: the power to destroy a thing is the power to control a thing. The filibuster is only meaningful if used sparingly. And Republicans have shown utter disregard for that caution. They have shown that so long as they have at least 40 votes in the Senate, they will use it on anything and everything.

Democrats are idiotically hanging onto the belief that when the Republicans gain power in the future, maintaining the filibuster today will still allow them to use it then.

It’s stupid because it should be obvious by now that the first thing Republicans will do when they eventually win control of the Senate is end the filibuster. After years of using it on everything in sight, they would not hesitate one millisecond to snatch the power away from Democrats. If there is one things conservatives do, it is to project; they have abused the filibuster so much, they would expect nothing less from Democrats, and would not want to give them the chance.

Of course, it is only meaningful to end the filibuster for clearing nominations; for other laws, Republicans in the House will kill anything the Senate sends them anyway, and so the Democrats might as well put the onus of ending the filibuster on the Republicans (because you can be certain that if Democrats end it, Republicans will hypocritically use that as a cudgel).

I even believe that the Republicans would go one step further, and reinstate the filibuster before they lose power again. Because, yes, they are that hypocritical and self-serving, and yes, Democratic politicians are that stupid that they might even fall for that. Republicans were reluctant to “go nuclear” before, but they have become far more radical since then. They’d do it in a heartbeat if they thought it could work.

Honestly, the Democrats should have killed the filibuster completely in 2008, when Republicans made their “filibuster everything” strategy clear, and limiting the filibuster could have meant something as Dems had control of both houses. Even then, it would have been diminished because Obama was desperate to “be reasonable” with Republicans and give them loads of goodies even though they still voted unanimously against the most generous of compromises. But a lot more could have been passed with less sabotage by the GOP.

Republicans, simply put, are now in an all-or-nothing mode, literally. Which means, sadly, Democrats have to play the same game, or else be run over. Alas, they seem all too willing to be doormats.

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The New Ann Coulter

November 13th, 2013 3 comments

Sarah Palin has a new book out on the fictional War on Christmas, with dancing images of liberal atheists becoming apoplectic whenever anyone wishes them a “Merry Christmas!” and liberals generally destroying America. Twice now I have been sorely tempted to post rebuttals of what she said, but have come to the realization that Palin needs to be treated the same as Ann Coulter: an opportunistic cultural baiter whose statements can all be boiled down to a simple “I hate liberals for reasons that have no basis in reality.” Such statements can only be addressed by ignoring them; it never pays to argue with crazy people.

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Why Obama and the Dems Could Not Capitulate

October 17th, 2013 4 comments

Give a terrorist a cookie… and he’ll want a glass of milk.

That’s essentially what happened before. In 2011, the Republicans did the same thing—they threatened to default on the debt—and to stop them, Obama and the Democrats gave them a cookie. That cookie is still with us in the form of sequestration, which gave the Republicans almost the level of cuts that even Paul Ryan demanded in his non-fact-based budget proposals from 2008.

This year, they came back for the glass of milk with a vengeance. However, this time, the Democrats were somewhat less stupid, and simply refused. They denied the Republicans the chance to get their hands on the ACA, even a little bit, and agreed pretty much only to negotiating more in the future. This infuriated the extremists:

The conservative activist group FreedomWorks railed against the Senate deal as a “complete surrender” to Democrats. The group joined a trio that includes Club for Growth and Heritage Action in advising lawmakers to oppose the plan because they will use it to rank Republicans in their annual scorecards.

You might want to say that, despite the puerile insanity of the Tea Partiers, despite their wanton disregard for the national good in their petty drive to destroy what they would have cheered from a Republican administration, that Obama and the Democrats themselves should not have let it come so close, that they should not have played with default. That as painful as any capitulation may have been, allowing the country to go into default is not worth that or any other risk.

However, this is not a rational analysis. Democrats tried giving in, even if not very much, in 2011, and it brought us here. This time the Republicans were demanding even more. Had the Democrats caved—even in a small way—then we would be right back at the brink again next time, and again after that, having taught the Republicans that threatening to default on the debt works.

It would, in fact, only get worse. The demands would become grander and more obscene each time, the language even more vitriolic, the game of chicken more perilous. The Republicans would believe in their own indestructibility, convinced that the Democrats would cave. And at some point, after vast amounts of damage caused by the demand they were granted, default would come, and that would be catastrophic.

And the raving lunatics would go home screaming about how Obama and the Democrats were the cause of it all. Just like they have been this week, standing before crowds of veterans squealing about how Obama shut down the government and how Democrats refused to negotiate. These people know even less shame than fact.

Frankly, the entire debt-ceiling thing should not even exist. The time for that debate is when Congress decides to spend. To make the decision to spend and then threaten not to owe what they decided to spend is the height of infantile madness. It’s like taking out a loan to buy a house and then telling the bank that you refuse to owe them any money.

Over the past decades, it has generally been a quiet form of protest, a procedural protest regarding deficit spending. Now, however, that we have a party which has proved itself incapable of rational behavior, it is like a flamethrower in the hands of a four-year-old boy, who thinks it’s an incredibly cool way to demand more cookies.

Sadly, despite the precipitous drop in the polls, the Republicans may not end up paying a price. The expert wonks generally agree that it is improbable that the GOP will lose control of the House. Between gerrymandering, vote suppression, and the public’s dependable propensity to forget last year’s wrongdoings, it is likely that the independents will again make brashly stupid decisions and will return to power the same gang of thugs barren of knowledge, sympathy, or compassion.

I cannot state how badly I want them to be wrong.

Categories: Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

Right Wing Expectations

October 13th, 2013 5 comments

Bill Maher had Carol Roth on his show, yet another of the long line of conservatives calling themselves “independents,” talking deficit reduction we somehow never heard when Bush was in office. One of her points was about how Obama has raised the debt by “6 trillion dollars over the last four and a half years,” and despair that we have to raise the debt ceiling at all.

First of all, the $6 trillion number only comes from adding the full spending for 2009—which was George W. Bush’s budget, not Obama’s. And what Obama did spend over that was expressly to deal with the massive economic catastrophe Obama inherited on day one.

That’s a favorite ruse conservatives love to play: conflate the tail end of Bush with Obama’s own record, as in “Obama gave us a $1.4 trillion deficit,” or “Obama drove the unemployment rate up to 10%.”

A less contrived total deficit would be $4.7 trillion over five years. So, where did that come from? Did Obama just say, hey, let’s generate $4.7 trillion dollars in spending that wasn’t there before?

Of course not. Almost all of the debt under Obama has been from the money that, again, George W. Bush and Republicans in Congress committed us to. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And then there was the damage caused by the fiscal cataclysm Bush handed Obama in early 2009.

The fact is, Obama has done almost nothing but cut the deficit since he came into office:

Year Deficit in
$ Billions
$ Change
in Billions
2009 1,413   –
2010 1,294 -119
2011 1,300 +6
2012 1,087 -213
2013 973 -114

But that’s not good enough for Roth; she was appalled that Obama’s spending was still raising the debt ceiling at all: “[The debt ceiling is] going up because the government overspends, because they refuse to balance the budget…. If they didn’t overspend, we wouldn’t be hitting the debt ceiling.”

So, what was Obama supposed to do, cut $1.4 trillion dollars in one year? To wipe that out in even five years would require raising revenue and/or cutting the budget by $282 billion per year, every year. Something unprecedented, save possibly for coming off of wartime spending at the end of WWII.

When Bush was in office, most of that time being when Republicans also controlled both houses of Congress, deficit spending went up more often than it came down (up 5 years, down three years). When it went up the first two years of Bush’s budgets, it went up by huge amounts: $286 billion and $220 billion.

The three years the deficit went down under Bush, it went down by $94, $70, and $87 billion dollars, an average of $84 billion a year—something conservatives at the time hailed as little short of genius. Under Bush overall, the deficit increased $192 billion a year—and we did not hear conservatives complaining even a tenth as much as they do now.

Under Obama, the deficit has fallen an average of $110 billion per year.

Even under Bill Clinton, while he was creating a surplus, it went down only $70 billion a year.

So, what exactly do conservatives expect from Obama, when they themselves are entirely mute on where this money should be cut? Of course, we know where they want to cut it: Social Security and Medicare, the exact programs they claim they want to “save.”

We know where Republicans do not want to cut it: from the military, where almost all of the waste and overspending exists. In fact, they want to increase our ludicrously high military spending. They not only want to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan, they want to start a new war in Iran—and wanted to invade Syria, at least until Obama said he’d take action there.

And we know where Republicans do not want to raise revenue: from millionaires and billionaires, and from corporations making tens of billions in profit every year with many of them paying no taxes at all on those profits.

So when a conservative whines about how Obama is spending us into oblivion? I would suggest trying to speak facts to them, but they would almost certainly not listen, and would instead probably spout the same utter bullshit like Roth was on Maher’s show.

This Is Conservatism

September 29th, 2013 4 comments
Even in 2009, it was pretty evident. A foreign leader asked Obama:

“We don’t understand it. You’re trying to make sure everybody has health care and they’re putting a Hitler mustache on you — I don’t — that doesn’t make sense to me. Explain that to me.”

Conservatives are doing things which would have been unimaginable a few decades ago. Some things which we even take for granted now. Think about the following facts in the context of what would have passed muster a few generations ago—or even more alarmingly, in the context of sound reason.

Conservatives run a propaganda channel on TV which they shamelessly pretend is a “news network.”

Conservatives openly mock facts, deny science, and fervently stand behind statements which are easily proven false.

Conservatives are openly suppressing liberal voters under the laughable pretense of openly discredited “voter fraud.”

Conservatives work almost exclusively now via obstructionism, essentially stopping all meaningful legislation.

Conservatives oppose any and all legislation favored by the opposition regardless of what it is, even if it was what conservatives themselves were promoting until very recently.

Conservatives have utterly rejected the core principle of American politics—compromise—and now genuinely threaten to destroy the American economy if they do not get their extremist agenda passed. For conservatives, “negotiation” means nothing more than “give us everything we want and you get nothing.”

Conservatives are opposed to virtually any policy that would help their supposed constituents, the people: health care, retirement benefits, a living wage, solid public education, college education, union protection, infrastructure, corporate and government regulation, clean air, clean water, clean and/or cheap energy, environmental protection, reproductive choice, progressive taxes, network neutrality, unemployment insurance, food stamps, responsible gun control, the ability to sue if wronged… the list goes on and on and on. Anything that would help the people of the country, anything that would help the economy at large, conservatives oppose.

What do conservatives fight for? Lower taxes, mostly for wealthy people. Oil and coal. Military spending. Land wars in the Middle East. Privatization.

And yet, tens of millions of Americans who are most hurt by what Republicans are doing vote them back into office time and again.

Could the lack of a well-informed electorate somehow be involved?

Together, of course, with the excruciating inability of Democrats to effectively counter all of that or to even provide a marginally attractive alternative choice. As I put it in 2010, if Republicans had to advertise truthfully, their campaign slogan would be this:

We’re Crazy and Destructive, but the Other Guys Are Ineffective at Stopping Us!

Categories: Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

What Is Divisive

September 27th, 2013 2 comments

Derek Thompson writes that the Stimulus and Obamacare are the first and second “most divisive legislation in modern history.”

He’s wrong. The laws are not at all divisive. The Republicans are. The current conservative movement is the most divisive in modern history.

It’s easy to see. Consider these two scenarios.

First, imagine that the 2008 economic crisis happened two years earlier, in 2006, smack in the middle of Bush’s second term. Bush probably would not have tried to pass a stimulus like Obama’s, but consider what would have happened had he done exactly that.

The important point to remember is that Republicans and conservatives in general did not oppose the stimulus because it spent a lot of money; Bush had spent way more over the previous years and they were not really all that opposed to it. They would not have liked so much spending on infrastructure, but they would not have violently opposed it, either—so long as it was a Republican administration passing it. Democrats, not even close as willing to be divisive and opposed on purely partisan grounds, would have gone along with the bill. They would probably have complained that it did not spend enough on infrastructure and other left-wing wish-list items, but they would not voted against it.

When the stimulus passed, the horrendously plummeting job market immediately reversed, the stock market turned around and began a comeback, and several months later, unemployment stopped rising. Had this happened in 2007, Bush would have been hailed as an economic savant, a hero who stopped an impending economic disaster.

Try to tell me that wouldn’t be the right wing’s take on the issue. There’s really no question—of course they would have reacted that way.

The Stimulus in itself would not have been “divisive” at all.

Obamacare would have played out similarly. Imagine that in 2008, Romney got the GOP nomination and then won, maybe riding high on Bush’s Stimulus recovery. He brings the Massachusetts health care plan—essentially Obamacare—to the national level. Democrats complain, wanting single-payer Medicare for All, but Romney sticks with the conservative plan, which was created, after all, by the strictly conservative Heritage Foundation. Conservatives did not oppose the plan when the Heritage Foundation proposed it. Conservatives did not oppose the plan when Romney instituted it. They only opposed it when Obama made it his own.

Republicans, pleased to get on top of a winning issue that Democrats would otherwise have dominated, would have approved the conservative health care plan proposed by a conservative president who had successfully implemented it before. Some right-wingers would have opposed it, but not nearly enough to stop its passage. Again, Democrats would have complained it did not go far enough, but most would have voted for it.

Again, the legislation is not divisive at all.

People have to understand: the Stimulus is not divisive. Obamacare is not divisive. Obama is not divisive. Obama is hardly even a liberal, for Christ’s sake.

The current political atmosphere is divisive only because conservatives have decided that such extreme partisan rancor works well for them. Period. End of sentence.

Categories: Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

Reaching New Lows: Deranged, Perverted, AND Hypocritcal

September 21st, 2013 6 comments

a creepy conservative adConservatives have a new ad out, one which is universally being referred to as “creepy,” which attacks Obamacare. It depicts a woman at a gynecological exam having a ghoulish pervert in an Uncle Sam costume sneak up on her with a speculum.

The message, void of the warped imagery, is that Obamacare puts the government between you and your medical care, an old canard which conservatives always fall back on when it comes to anything related to health care reform, a message as fake as the asininely depraved vehicle used to deliver it.

The real irony: these same conservatives—pretty much exactly the same conservatives—are the ones who are getting laws passed around the country which force women, including rape victims, to undergo mandatory vaginal ultrasounds before they can get an abortion.

That’s right. The people who actually are getting Uncle Sam to creepily violate women in hospitals for no defensible reason are putting out ads falsely saying that Obamacare will do to women what they are doing to women. Imagine a rapist putting out a commercial saying that the district attorney sexually violates women, or an arsonist running a nationwide TV campaign about how firefighters actually start fires. That’s pretty much what we’re looking at here.

It would be creepy even if it weren’t true that these people want to force rape victims who are trying to stop the pregnancy caused by their rapist to undergo a medically unnecessary procedure equivalent to government-mandated rape. I’m trying to imagine how you could be even a little bit more perverse than these people without sounding ludicrously obscene, but these people have long since passed that landmark.

My Right to Swing My AR-15

September 14th, 2013 1 comment

Every once in a while you read about a story like this one, from Appleton, Wisconsin:

Police detained two men openly carrying AR-15 rifles near Saturday’s farmers market, setting off a debate this week about response at the highly attended event.

It appears that two local citizens, Charles A. Branstrom and Ross A. Bauman, decided to exercise their constitutional rights by going to a peaceful public gathering armed with weapons designed to kill large numbers of people. Obviously, it was a stunt designed to flaunt gun-toting rights, with someone ready to video the whole thing.

Police told Branstrom and Bauman “that walking into a farmer’s market filled with a couple thousand individuals would be a recipe for disaster.”

Branstrom and Bauman maintained that they had the right to do so, the report says.

They have the right to provoke public fear and disruption. Interesting. I wonder what the revolutionary Minuteman fighters would have thought about heavily-armed people needlessly marching about the town square. Something tells me they would have had a better sense of propriety and responsibility regarding a solemn duty.

One can assume that Branstrom and Bauman point was, “We have a Second Amendment right to ‘bear’ arms, and that means we can carry our AR-15s wherever we damn please.” Gun advocacy groups call such stunts “educational,” claiming that people will get used to such things.

However, despite the viewpoints of people such as these, most Americans—including, and perhaps especially those who own guns themselves—do not like the idea of the streets being populated with people wielding military assault rifles. One can assume that the open-air violent crime rate in Appleton, Wisconsin is not in fact an actual threat, and even if it were, both police and local citizens would not feel more comfortable with random citizens eager to let go with their AR-15s in public taking it upon themselves to open fire on streets where their children walk.

Branstrom and Bauman acted ignorant of such attitudes, stating:

“I guess some people don’t like guns.”

They then claimed that the purpose for carrying the guns was “self-defense.” Really? They expected to get shot at at a suburban farmer’s market event? Or perhaps they thought it possible they might empty a few dozen rounds into a pickpocket?

Bullshit. There was no threat to them, and therefore no reasonable cause to carry the weapons. The reverse, in fact, is true: they were the threat. With no reasonable peaceful use for such weapons, their presence is a very real implicit threat to the other citizens there. It’s not that “some people don’t like guns,” it is that “some people don’t like implicit threats to slaughter their children.”

These gun-toting idiots may actually even think they were making a point about their rights and freedom, but what they were doing is the classic example of the only legitimate reason why any constitutional rights are abridged: infringing on the safety and rights of others. Some tend to forget about that rather vital and necessary counterpoint to one’s constitutional rights.

Categories: Right-Wing Extremism, Social Issues Tags:

We Would If We Could

August 23rd, 2013 4 comments

I get the very strong impression that if Republicans had enough control over both the House and Senate, Obama would be impeached and convicted.

Not for actually doing anything wrong, and certainly not for doing anything even a tenth as illegal as Bush and Cheney did. Rather, he would be impeached simply because they could impeach him.

After reading a slew of stories this morning about how Republicans are just aching to impeach Obama, I noticed one interesting point: there was very little attention focused on any actual charges. Instead, it was more about the enthusiasm.

For example, a few days ago, Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) said that “it’d be a dream come true” to impeach Obama for the IRS scandal. Why doesn’t he? He “ultimately decided there wasn’t enough evidence.”

Yeah, that’s kind of an obstacle. Not having any evidence. But not an obstacle for determined Republicans.

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) last week suggested that Obama should be impeached over his birth certificate, and claimed there would be enough votes in the House to do so. His colleague, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that the only reason they were not impeaching Obama was that they did not have enough votes in the Senate. His reason to impeach? Obama ignores the law, citing the fact that Obama did not cut off military aid to Egypt after the coup. Which, ironically, is (a) something Republicans would have done in a flash, and (b) even more ironically, is the best charge I have heard regarding a cause for impeachment. Not that it’s good enough by a long shot, but it at least is not completely ludicrous. And, listening to what he said, it really does come across as just a pretext.

Look hard enough, and you’ll find more specific lists. Here is one of the more coherent ones that lists a dozen “impeachable” offenses:

  • President Obama has appointed cabinet level positions “without the advice and consent” of the U.S. Senate. Of course, the Senate is legally required to “advise and consent” and Obama bypassed them because they failed to do so over a span of years; his recess appointments are no less questionable than their de facto disempowerment of the agencies via refusing to approve appointments, and to cut off Obama’s legal authority for recess appointments by pretending to never go into recess.
  • Passing the Affordable Care Act, apparently because it forces religious organizations to “provide contraceptives and abortion” against their religious principles; this is simply false, as such organizations only need to make insurance available; contraception can be arranged via a third party. Besides which, it is arguable that the religious freedom of the individual over matters in their own lives trumps that of an employer’s attempt to control that employee’s personal matters; even if decisions go the other way, there are no grounds for impeachment for taking a stand one way or the other on the issue.
  • Ordered the EPA to “implement key portions” of Cap and Trade without Congressional approval; a search for this on the web brings up almost exclusively right-wing media outlets and blogs. As far as I can tell, there is no impeachable offense in taking executive action, where permitted, to implement steps toward a goal that Congress failed to pass in full. Had Congress passed a law forbidding such actions and Obama violated that law, that would be different.
  • Placed a moratorium on offshore oil drilling or exploration on federal land anywhere in the United States. I am pretty sure this is simply untrue. Obama put a 6-month moratorium on new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
  • Authorized loans of billions of dollars to countries like Brazil and Mexico so that they can drill for oil, and then sell that oil to the United States. Nope.
  • Has not enforced laws against illegal immigration enough. Aside from that simply not being true, the fact is that you cannot impeach a president for the emphasis he places on various types of enforcement.
  • Joined with foreign countries such as Mexico, Bolivia, and Columbia, in lawsuits against Arizona, Georgia, and Alabama to stop them from enforcing the federal immigration laws. This refers mostly to Arizona’s ludicrous 2010 law requiring police to stop anyone who looks Hispanic and demand their papers, amongst other things. The Obama administration concurred with much of the nation that this was unconstitutional, and so filed a suit to stop it. Foreign countries signed amicus briefs supporting the suit. Nothing illegal or improper was done, and the Supreme Court upheld the Obama administration.
  • Ordered the FCC to adopt regulations giving the federal government control of the Internet and its contents, including providing Obama with a kill switch that gives him authority to shut down the Internet if he sees fit. The Executive Order Obama signed was for times of emergency, similar to imposing martial law. While controversial, I’m pretty sure there was nothing illegal here.
  • Failed to uphold Defense of Marriage Act and resists Republican voter suppression schemes. Essentially, “we made these outrageous pieces of crap and Obama is fighting them within the system of laws.”
  • Fast & Furious, combined with “Obama Gonna Getcha Gunz.” More of nothing.
  • Obama used the U.S. military in Libya, claims powers essentially allowing him to begin military dictatorship in U.S. While the dictatorship claims are vacuous and are nothing new, the laws concerning war powers and when they can be used with or without congressional approval are more controversial. Not, as far as I can tell, an impeachable offense, but something which should be settled.
  • Nationalized and took control of automobile manufacturers, banks, insurance companies, and portions of the healthcare industry. This is on the level of FEMA concentration camps.

There are other lists, like this “51 Reasons to Impeach Obama” list, but they invariably get even more ludicrous than the one listed above. The “51 Reasons” list, for example, begins with Obama conspiring with William Ayers to steal $300 million to radicalize Chicago students, giving you an idea of how fact-driven such literature is.

There’s even a new book out via World Net Daily (a group that joins rags like The Daily Caller in making Fox News look like a liberal bastion) called Impeachable Offenses, which mostly looks like the bullet list above, but updated.

Let’s face it: the real reasons why so many conservatives want to impeach Obama are simple: he is not a Republican and/or he is black. That sums it up.

Categories: Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

Reward the Rich, Gut the Poor

July 16th, 2013 7 comments

Paul Krugman writes concisely and pointedly on what the Republican Farm Bill, stripped of food stamps, fully represents:

For decades, farm bills have had two major pieces. One piece offers subsidies to farmers; the other offers nutritional aid to Americans in distress, mainly in the form of food stamps (these days officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP).

Long ago, when subsidies helped many poor farmers, you could defend the whole package as a form of support for those in need. Over the years, however, the two pieces diverged. Farm subsidies became a fraud-ridden program that mainly benefits corporations and wealthy individuals. Meanwhile food stamps became a crucial part of the social safety net.

So House Republicans voted to maintain farm subsidies — at a higher level than either the Senate or the White House proposed — while completely eliminating food stamps from the bill.

To fully appreciate what just went down, listen to the rhetoric conservatives often use to justify eliminating safety-net programs. It goes something like this: “You’re personally free to help the poor. But the government has no right to take people’s money” — frequently, at this point, they add the words “at the point of a gun” — “and force them to give it to the poor.”

It is, however, apparently perfectly O.K. to take people’s money at the point of a gun and force them to give it to agribusinesses and the wealthy.

In the previous post, I pointed out something very similar. In the 2012 election, Republicans proposed tax cuts that would have heavily favored the wealthy, including capital gains tax cuts, a 20% income tax cut (new top rate: 28%), and a 30% corporate tax cut, on top of a slew of new loopholes for corporations, eliminating the estate tax and slashing the gift tax.

Romney tried to sell it as a “fair, flat” proposal that would cut things evenly for everybody—except that in reality, the top 0.1% would have gotten a 13% cut (just in personal taxes, not counting corporate savings) while the lower-middle class and the poor would have received less than a 1% decrease in their tax burden.

In the same year, Republicans also tried to raise taxes—something they had purportedly pledged never to do—on more than 20 million lower- and middle-class families. They tried to kill a tax credit for 11 million families paying for college for their kids; they tried to end child tax credits for as many as 12 million families; and they tried to end the Earned Income Tax Credits for as many as 6 million families.

They have consistently tried to slash unemployment insurance payments, and now are trying to eliminate food stamps for millions of families below the poverty line—while at the same time fighting for the most generous possible handouts to wealthy people and corporations.

Tell me, exactly what do Republicans have to do to get most Americans enraged at this kind of crap? Do they have to ritually slaughter a poor family and feed their flesh to billionaires on live TV or something?

Conservative Myths, Memes, & Lies

July 14th, 2013 3 comments

There comes a point where the sheer volume of fault- and falsehood-ridden conservative “facts” and ideas is rather breathtaking to behold. With sadly lowered expectations of what passes for logic and standards of evidence, and then to be assaulted with such claims on an almost daily basis, we sometimes fail to appreciate the startling number of assumptions and opinions held by conservatives which are not only demonstrably false, but usually obviously so.

Here is a list of ones that come to mind at the moment. I had to stop at fifty, the list was getting so long.

You cannot say the word “God” in the public square. Yes you can. God is everywhere, in every public oath and on every piece of currency. How many children are compelled daily to mention God in the pledge in public schools? How many television and radio shows and even stations are dedicated to preaching 24/7? Clearly, you can say the word all you want. Myths about people practicing religious freedom in public and being arrested for it are inevitably about people failing to secure parade permits and the like. If this claim is instead made to mean that god cannot be mentioned in government buildings, then a person claiming such may be referred to any American legislative session at any level, virtually all of which are initiated, daily, by a clergyman saying a prayer.

You cannot say the word “God” in a public school. Of course you can. The only restriction is that no one representing the school may advocate a specific religion to the exclusion of others.

Children are not allowed to pray in public schools. Wrong. Students can and often do pray in public schools. Any “private, voluntary student prayer that does not interfere with the school’s educational mission” is allowed.

There is a war on Christianity in American society. Quite the contrary. It is other belief systems that are discriminated against; Christianity is safely dominant in American society. The perceived “war” on Christianity is nothing more than (1) appropriate and yet often-less-than-wholly-effective resistance to unconstitutional encroachments by Christianity in violation of the First Amendment, such as resistance against teacher-conducted prayer in public schools; or (2) fictional “attacks” on religion which are nothing of the sort, such as a business using the expression “Happy Holidays!” to greet all customers, including Christians.

Conservatives fight for freedom of belief. Not true; they do so only when the religion in question is Christian; all other belief systems are second-class or worse. Religious discrimination is in fact practiced in the United States—only it’s conservative Christians who are the most often guilty of it. Blocking the building of mosques, demanding atheist billboards be taken down, shouting down a Hindu cleric delivering an invocation—even running a Jewish family out of town when they object to their daughter being pressured to convert to Christianity.

Secularism is anti-religious. Secularism is not the banning of religion, it is the policy in which no one religion is allowed to be presented as the official religion of the state, as it is a historical fact that when a belief system is endorsed by the state, all other belief systems suffer as a result. Christians who want state officials and representatives to overtly promote Christianity are in violation of this principle, but do not see things that way. They see their dominance in state affairs as a given, only natural and right; they see secularism as a means of preventing their “religious freedoms,” i.e. to impose their religious beliefs (which they see as moral imperatives) on others. In a way, this is similar to the claim that science is anti-religious when it announces observations such as life evolves from simpler forms or that the universe is billions of years old; these claims do not attack religion, but instead simply contradict religious excursions into realms in which religion has no right to dominate.

Separation of church and state is an offense to religion; the founding Pilgrims would have abhorred it. Very similar to the claim above. The invocation of the Pilgrims is especially ironic, as their plight was one of the reasons that separation of church and state was established, and serves as an excellent example of why the principle is sound. The Pilgrims were driven out of England when the state-endorsed religion enacted a series of laws requiring all subjects to attend state-sponsored churches and to read from state-authorized prayer books, else face fines and imprisonment. The only way to allow all belief to flourish is to do so in a state where no one belief system is allowed to dominate; the only way to assure that is to maintain a strict separation of church and state.

Corporations are job creators. As Nick Hanauer pointed out, businesses, by nature, are opposed to creating jobs. Employing people is an expense, and businesses avoid every expense possible. Businesses hire people only when there is no other choice, and fire people whenever possible. Job creation is most accurately attributed to demand for goods and services, which is mostly driven by middle-class consumption.

Wealthy people are job creators. Untrue, for many of the same reasons listed above. Consumption by rich people is far less responsible for creating jobs than is consumption by other groups, including the poor. Investment by wealthy people does not create jobs, rather said investment is a response to demand that presents an opportunity to a wealthy person to gain more money by purchasing ownership in a business which will attempt to hire the fewest number of people possible to respond that that demand.

Cutting taxes raises tax revenues. The idea that the government can raise more revenues by cutting the amount of taxes people pay is dubious at best. There may be stimulative tax cuts if they are targeted precisely, but it is more likely that there are far better stimulative alternatives—amongst which the strongest include issuing food stamps and spending on infrastructure projects. Worse, conservative tax cuts are aimed primarily at the wealthy, a type of tax cuts which is rather plainly not stimulative.

Cutting taxes for wealthy people and businesses spurs investment in businesses which create jobs. This is usually argued when conservatives wish to cut the capital gains tax, or other taxes which mostly affect wealthy people. It is patently untrue. If a market is depressed and no one is spending, you can give all the money in the world to wealthy people and businesses, and they will not invest it in job-creating industries—precisely because no one is buying anything. Why should a wealthy person build a factory to create things when no one is buying them? In contrast, if you give wealthy people and businesses no tax cuts, or even if you raise their taxes, they will always find revenue to invest (by using their collected wealth or by borrowing from banks) if people are buying something.

Wealthy people will stop working if you raise their taxes. And people will stop eating if you take away most of their food. Or, wait, that’s incredibly stupid.

Reagan cut taxes and doubled revenue. Net taxes actually went up under Reagan, and most revenue increase claimed to his credit was inflationary.

Conservatives want to cut taxes for all Americans. This is contradicted by the most recent election cycle, in which conservatives wanted to repeal both the estate tax and slash the capital gains tax and corporate taxes—and at the same time also advocated raising taxes on the poorest Americans, most specifically by eliminating tax credits and breaks aimed squarely at low- and middle-class earners. This was proposed under the infamous “47%” claim, in which it was usually asserted, either overtly or by inference, that 47% of Americans paid no taxes. The number referred to those who owed no federal income taxes, but who still paid sales, property, payroll, and many other taxes, some even in excess of the percentage paid by the excessively wealthy Republican presidential candidate himself.

Liberals are “takers” who tax hard-working conservatives so they can live off of government entitlements. It is usually not directly stated that liberals are the takers and conservatives are the makers, but that is clearly what is meant. What is ironic is that it is conservative states that take more than they contribute, conservative areas that take more than they give. Generally speaking, the division is much closer to equal than otherwise; there are takers and makers on both sides. However, it is clear that conservatives are just as enamored of entitlements as liberals are; they are just less willing to pay for them when they go to other people.

Democrats are tax-and-spenders; Republicans want to cut the budget. Everyone in government is a “tax and spender.” If there is a differentiation, it works out that Republicans are “spend-and-debtors,” in that they are less willing to pay the bills at the end of the day. The vast majority of spending, the deficit, and the debt has been incurred by Republican administrations and policies over the past several decades.

Business owners built their businesses without any government help. Nobody lives in a vacuum, nobody lives cut off from everyone else. Everyone depends upon resources created by others, many created by or nurtured by the government. Everything from trade deals to education to infrastructure contributes to every business; without the government, business as we know it today would be completely unrecognizable, and certainly far less robust. The assertion to the contrary is part of the recent conservative desire to stop having to pay for what they receive by denying they receive anything at all.

Private industry created the Internet. Yes, people really claim that. I refuted it here. Spoiler alert: the claim is not true.

Freedom on the Internet is threatened by government regulation. To the contrary, the “regulation” claimed to be throttling Internet freedom is that which prevents private industries, primarily telecommunication firms, from asserting ownership over a public resource, which would result in diminished freedom, not to mention higher costs.

Government never creates jobs. This claim is obviously ludicrous, considering the 22 million jobs held in federal, state, and local governments, many of them life-long, in fields ranging from education to the military. One can only assume that the claim being made is that specific stimulative spending does not create jobs in private industry, under the assumption that “creating jobs” means permanent lifetime employment. However, no matter how absurdly you parse the claim, it is utter nonsense; the 2009 stimulus saved millions of jobs, and helped create millions more. Claims of its “failure” are as unfounded as all the other conservative claims on this list.

Conservatives support higher wages and better working conditions, which can only result from a free market system without government regulation. This is one of a class of statements which predicts riches for everyone if only the government stops interfering and businesses can do virtually anything they like. Needless to say, the relentless drive to deregulate business, dismantle unions, and block minimum wage raises has resulted in a workforce remunerated far less than before. It is a rule of business that, unless forced otherwise, wages must be driven down and benefits cut wherever possible, while “efficiency” (fewer people doing more work for less pay) is driven as high as it can be. Witness the rare exception, Costco, paying better wages and benefits—and being castigated by Wall Street for doing so.

Academic excellence can only be achieved through government-regulated standardized testing. Which, when you think of it, is kind of ironic when you consider how conservatives are against anything being government-regulated. Unless, of course, it is something they don’t like, in which case, the government should regulate or ban it. Suffice it to say that standardized testing is a horrible way to run public education.

Conservatives freed the slaves. Conservatives to blacks: “You’re welcome.” This claim is dredged up when conservatives feel like minorities, for some weird, inexplicable reason, seem to be voting less and less Republican. The logic: conservatives today are Republicans, the Republican Party was founded by Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln freed the slaves—therefore, conservatives freed the slaves and are champions of civil rights. They even sometimes try to claim that liberals supported slavery, hinting that liberals oppose religious groups (another common conservative fallacy), and religious groups were abolitionists (most religious groups of the day were not).

Martin Luther King, Jr. opposed corrective or reparative measures against racism. An old idea to combat Affirmative Action by citing King’s statement about judging a person only by the content of their character—whilst conveniently ignoring that King was speaking of a future devoid of racism, not a present in which racism flourishes and corrective measures are the best manner to at least partially counteract such forces.

Racism is no longer an issue in America; the country is color-blind, and corrective measures are reverse racism against whites. This is essentially what the conservative bloc on the Supreme Court recently decided. Within hours of that decision, states which had formerly been restrained by the Voting Rights Act immediately begin passing and enacting strongly discriminatory redistricting and laws, aimed at robbing minorities of the ability to vote and elect representatives for their interests. So, no, we’re not color-blind, and the Voting Rights Act was not reverse racism.

Laws intended to offer equal protection to women and minorities are “special privileges.” “Special privileges” is one of those code words for equal rights and treatment under the law. How a law, for example, requiring equal pay for women and allowing them to sue when they do not receive it, is a “special privilege” is somewhat difficult to reason. Conservatives will likely point to hate-crime legislation as a “representative” example of such special treatment; however, such laws apply to everyone—including violence against whites—and are in effect not to give special treatment to minorities, women, or gays, but to protect society from individuals who pose a special threat as they wish to do violence against entire classes of people.

Businesses and workplaces are often forced to hire unqualified women and minorities in order to satisfy quotas. If such a thing ever happened, it would only as a misapplication of the law, usually due to people believing this very myth. No quota ever required any business or office to hire someone unqualified for the job.

The free market is self-regulating. No it’s not. Oh, it regulates certain economic factors in very crude ways, but it does not self-regulate the behavior currently handled by government regulations. Left to itself, it would abuse employees, pollute the environment, and cheat people to no end. Its chief goal is to make money; all other considerations fall in that wake of that prime directive. It does not react to consumer complaint by cleaning itself up and regulating itself; if it did, government regulation would never have been necessary in the first place. Besides which, non-governmental factors which would help regulate certain aspects of business—such as unions—are consistently opposed by conservatives.

Treatment for drug addicts is coddling criminals / a waste of money. All evidence to the contrary. People have a tendency to reject treatment over incarceration because it means spending money to help people they disrespect or outright despise. No matter that it costs far more to incarcerate, and creates an incredible drag on the economy as well as general damage to society as a whole. Like drug laws overall, it is not about what makes sense or is best for people, it is about appearances and appearances only.

The context of the Second Amendment has not changed at all in 222 years, but the context of the Voting Rights Act has completely changed in 48 years. Do I even need to go into details?

We have never executed a person innocent of the crime for which they were executed. Wrong. Statistical evidence proves it beyond any rational doubt. Most individual proof is extremely difficult as states regularly destroy all evidence after someone is executed, and police and prosecutors refuse to investigate the crime further. Not to mention the fact that we do know of such specific cases. Ironically, conservatives who claim the government never does anything right and do not trust the government at all to regulate business, educate children, or run health care, nevertheless seem to trust the government explicitly to never wrongly execute someone.

States rights must prevail. Except when they want to do something conservatives don’t like. If a state, for example, wants to legalize marijuana, allow gay marriage, or permit people dying of terminal illnesses the right to end their own lives, then states do not have rights over the federal government. But if a state wants to ban abortion, relax gun control, or outlaw gay marriage, medicinal marijuana, and right-to-die, then state’s rights becomes the absolute principle that must be respected. Historically, “state’s rights” has a powerful racial impact due to its use to defend slavery, and later, segregation; like “strict constructionism” and “judicial activism,” “state’s rights” is really just a code word for advocating conservative agendas; these are by no means actual “principles.”.

Conservatives are against “big government.” Funny, then, that every time they get control of things, we get bigger government. Not that Democrats are much better at it—but at least they don’t pretend to be against something they clearly support. For conservatives, “big government” is yet another code word, this one meaning “spending we don’t like.” Medicare, for example, is “big government,” while an exploding military budget which vastly outspends the rest of the world combined is somehow defensible.

Conservatives want to “save” Medicare and Social Security. By dismantling them and replacing them with programs given the same name but not resembling the original programs at all.

Conservatives support the troops; liberals hate the soldiers. Remember how liberal protesters spat on returning Vietnam vets on the tarmac of airports? So do a lot of people—which is strange, as it never happened. In fact, war protesters were usually supportive of vets, which is evidenced by the fact that so many of the protesters were themselves veterans. The specific story as well as the general myth that conservatives are pro-soldier is false. Conservatives have gained the reputation for being pro-military primarily for their support of military spending, in addition to their generally hawkish stances. They mouth support for the troops, but fall short of actually giving it. In fact, when it comes to supporting veterans’ causes, it is liberals who often do the best job, while conservatives do their best to block such support. Conservatives have even claimed that Obama’s efforts to increase benefits and support for troops is evidence that he hates them—I shit you not. Veterans groups typically give very high scores to Democrats for supporting veterans’ issues, and very low scores to Republicans. Republicans, despite their reputation, are much more liable to block the granting of benefits and programs for vets. As General Wesley Clark said in 2004, “Republicans like weapons systems; Democrats like the soldiers.”

If a conservative says something that offends people and results in damage to their reputation or career, their First Amendment rights are being violated. This is a common dodge to controversy. Although conservatives have no problems pushing for boycotts to punish people and causes they disapprove of, when the same happens in reverse, they often claim that the person’s first-amendment rights are being violated. This despite the clear fact that the First Amendment protects your right to say what you want, and not your right to avoid people shunning you for it.

Obama caused high unemployment. Conservatives who claim that Obama was responsible for high unemployment consistently and conveniently ignore that the rate began to skyrocket under Bush, who took it from 5.0% in April 2008 to 7.8 % in January 2009, a rise of 2.8% in just 9 months, and that it hit a high of 10% in October 2009, a 2.2% rise in another 9 months. However, to hold Obama responsible for the latter rise is questionable at best, and most likely completely inaccurate. Imagine Bush piloting an aircraft at 40,000 feet: he pushes the airplane into a steep dive, and at 28,000 feet, as the plane plummets, he hands over the controls to Obama. Obama struggles to level out the plane, but cannot manage to do so until it reaches 20,000 feet—at which points conservatives blame him for the low altitude and do everything they can thereafter to impede his piloting duties. In addition to sheer inertia, the fact is that the unemployment rate is a “lagging indicator,” meaning that the current rate indicates the response to what was happening in the economy 6 to 9 months previously. Meaning that Obama only began “owning” the unemployment rate when it was already at its peak.

Obama skyrocketed the deficit. Nope. As with the unemployment rate, the deficits skyrocketed under Bush; Obama has done nothing but reduce them. The current deficit is primarily a result of Bush-Cheney tax cuts, the wars in the Middle East, and the 2008 economic collapse. Obama has initiated far less deficit spending than Bush; Bush went from incipient surpluses to a trillion-dollar deficit; Obama has only brought down spending and deficits. Historically, over the past half-century, Democratic presidents has presided over deficit reductions, while Republican presidents have exploded them.

Republicans have always fought hard to balance the budget, but are confounded by Democrats who bust it. See above. When Republicans had control of the presidency and both houses of Congress, they went from a surplus to a nearly $600 billion deficit—and that was before the 2008 collapse. They try to take credit for the deficit reduction in the 90′s, but that was due as much to the Internet boom and to Clinton’s 1993 tax hike. Even under Reagan, who supposedly tried to cut spending while Democrats foiled his efforts, the facts are that the Democratic Congress passed budgets which were lower than Reagan’s proposals 7 of 8 times.

Gay marriage will undermine the institution of marriage, leading to polygamy and bestiality. See my recent post. In short, no.

Gay marriage will undermine population growth. Again, no. Stupid claim.

Global warming is a myth. Funny that Fox News doesn’t put Al Gore’s book on the sidewalk now. Do we really need to discuss how global climate change is real? I hope not.

Scientists disagree on global warming / evolution. There is no consensus. It can be said that scientists disagree on virtually everything. When 97% believe it is happening, that’s pretty conclusive. When only 1% ~ 6% of climate scientists claim that humans have had little or no effect on climate change, claiming that the debate “isn’t settled yet” is disingenuous at best. As for evolution, only 0.15% of scientists in fields relating to evolution disbelieve in it.

Evolution is “only a theory.” So is gravity, but you ain’t floating away, are you? This chestnut is just a distortion of the meaning and use of the term “theory.” The evidence for evolution is overwhelming; we simply do not understand all of the details yet. The creationists use the “theory” dodge to avoid the mountain of evidence supporting evolution, and contradicting their own claims which are supported only by faulty interpretations of ancient scripture. As stated near the top of this list, noting certain realities such as evolution does not attack religion, but instead simply contradicts religious claims about science which religion is not justified to make.

Money equals free speech. It may be true legally, but not in fact. Free speech is free speech; money is a means to elevate one person’s freedom to speak above everyone else’s. You have the right to speak, just not the right to be heard. Money allows a very few the assurance that one will be heard. That is not a right. It is a means of granting extraordinary power and special rights to those who possess wealth, with all of the freedoms a right confers so as to avoid any attempts to level the field. Arguably, the idea that money is free speech actually degrades the freedom of speech for most people.

Corporations are people. This is a legal fiction constructed to allow corporations to create contracts, participate in lawsuits, and shield individual shareholders (e.g., prevent the collection of debt from reaching personal possessions). Although the legal fiction describes the corporation as a legal “person,” this had never been assumed to grant corporations constitutional rights—at least until the right wing of the Supreme Court made the ethically repellent decision of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and declared that corporations have First Amendment rights, as if they were actual people. This is a break from tradition, and has poisoned our political process since then, far in excess of the toxic mess it already was. The conservatives on the court, from thin air, created a right that had not existed before—as audacious a case of “legislating from the bench” as has ever been witnessed before. Suddenly, corporations could be wielded as a super-person by people who already enjoy their own individual rights, giving them extra powers—not by all shareholders, but just those few wealthy and power people who actually control them.

Capital gains tax is double-taxation. No it’s not. Corporate shareholders are shielded by the “body” of the corporation; the price for this is that the corporation is treated separately from the shareholders. It is not double taxation when an employer is taxed and then an employee is taxed. The same principle applies here. Those who make this claim simply want all the protections a corporation supplies without paying any of the costs—an all-too-common conservative theme.

Liberal justices legislate from the bench; conservatives are strict constructionists who want to preserve or “restore” the original constitution. In simple terms, a conservative will define any decision that conservatives disagree with as “judicial activism” and “legislating from the bench,” no matter what the grounds. It is little more than a reflexive response to dismiss judgments that go against them.

Actual judicial activism is when a decision is handed down that goes beyond or contradicts precedent, engages in judicial overreach (the court going well beyond what is necessary to settle the case), and defies standards of judicial restraint.

While it can be argued that both liberal and conservative judges and justices have practiced such activism, there is ample evidence that this is far more a practice among conservative jurists than of liberal ones. Roe v. Wade is the primary and usually sole arguable example of liberal judicial activism. Conservatives, however, have been going on a spree of such activism in recent years. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Bush v. Gore, District of Columbia v. Heller (rewriting the Second Amendment to match current conservative views), or the recent fiasco of Shelby County v. Holder (essentially gutting the Voting Rights Act)—there has been a long string of outrageous decisions by conservative jurists which go beyond any precedent and often any standing law and create completely new legal assumptions based upon little else than a egregiously unrestrained conservative agenda. In 2005′s McCreary v. ACLU, for example, Scalia attempted to rewrite the Establishment Clause.

This flies in the face of “strict constructionism,” which has historically been, according to William Rehnquist himself, a philosophy used when a judge is not “favorably inclined toward claims of either criminal defendants or civil rights plaintiffs.” Strict constructionism, nominally at least, is supposed to be about interpreting the law very narrowly. It holds that anything not clearly expressed may not be interpreted, and—in complete contradiction to the Ninth Amendment—that if a right is not positively granted by the constitution, it does not exist.

Not only is this “philosophy” patently unconstitutional, it is not even consistently applied—as the many cases of conservative judicial activism, exemplified by the cases above, evidence more than clearly. In addition, for a group that claims to be “preserving” the constitution, it seems strange that they are constantly trying to amend it.

Voter fraud is a serious issue. No it’s not. Voter fraud is rare, and conservative claims to the contrary are completely unevidenced. Usually cited are cases where people hired to collect registrations create false documents to collect more money—documents which are found, trashed, and never result in actual stolen votes, mostly due to the fact that there was never any intent to do so.

Election fraud, on the other hand, is copious these days—and is quite notably a completely conservative practice. From Katherine Harris’ historical perverting of the Florida Central Voting File throwing the 2000 election illicitly to Bush, to the current right-wing judicial activism allowing conservative states to gerrymander and rewrite voting laws to specifically disenfranchise minorities, conservatives have rigorously and rather openly driven to abuse their legal power in order to win elections dishonestly.

The media has a liberal bias. I’m not even going to dignify that long-standing piece of excrement with an explanation; if you are not fully aware of why it is wrong, then there’s no talking to you; you may return to viewing Fox News, which is totally unbiased.


If conservatives comment on this list, they will most likely do so in their usual fashion: to ignore the bulk of the list, go after the one or two points they believe are weakest, and within those points focus on only one contention or a subset of the entire point—and never, ever concede everything (and possibly anything) else. We’ll see.

The War on Reason Rages On

March 26th, 2013 2 comments

Remember how we believed that the horrific national tragedy of twenty little children being slaughtered with an assault rifle, especially after so many other shootings like the Aurora theater massacre, would lead to an assault weapons ban, or at least a law to limit the number of bullets in a cartridge?

Apparently not.

While the public may have been sufficiently aghast at such tragedies to pull the switch, Congress seems to feel differently. A majority appear to be saying, “No, we think more than two dozen first-graders need to be shot to bloody pieces before we act. Let’s wait and see.”

Not that an assault weapons ban would lead to an immediate halt to such slaughters, but the later you act, the longer they go on. So, good work, senators. You just proved that the NRA is not as weak and ineffective a lobby as some had started to believe.

But hey, at least we can all agree on universal background checks, right? Background checks, even in their currently weak form, have proven effective at stopping two million gun sales, over one million of those to felons, over the past few decades. Obama’s plan for shoring up their weaknesses so that criminals and the mentally ill will have a hurdle in their way before they can acquire a major arsenal is the most milquetoast, sensible, non—

Other gun control efforts like universal background checks on people buying guns are also struggling in Congress, despite public anger at the Connecticut shooting and other massacres.

<facepalm>

It is, after all, what, three months since we saw those children gunned down. So, who cares any more?