February 27, 2011

Those evil unions

I posted this on twitter, but had to cut it down. Like the question posted yesterday concerning why a small tax increase on the rich is socialism, but asking the middle class to give up 14% of their pay or benefits is considered "doing your part," this:
A unionized public employee, a Tea Partier and a CEO are at a table with
a dozen cookies in the middle; the CEO swiftly grabs 11 cookies while saying to the Tea Partier, "Watch that Union guy, he wants part of your cookie!"

This is an age old question, of course. The elite and powerful have always played workers against slaves, or against Indians, or against other workers. Bacon's Rebellion comes to mind, as does the white power structure's response to black populism in the 1880s. Here we have the extremely and obscenely wealthy (Koch brothers) dividing workers against each other. Non-union workers are being told that unions are cheating them and taking their jobs. Plus those union guys are costing you more. Private sector workers are told that government workers are all lazy and cheating us. Private workers are all hard working entrepreneurs instead of parasites on society.

Meanwhile, of course, while that misdirect goes on, the Koch brothers and other obscenely wealthy corporate owners avoid paying taxes, and work like hell to cut the wages of anyone they can--of workers, that is, not of the elite.

As I mused to SOF the other day, this is a declared war on the Middle class. But unlike other wars, in this one, the victim of the attack includes a huge section that is cheering the war on.

Sunday notes--Evolution and the idea that facts matter

Saw on Sully's blog this interview on teaching evolution in America with a nice explanation of why it matters, even to people who will not go on in science:
"They should not blindly accept scientific findings, whether they come from academia, government or industry. But neither should they believe that scientific debates are simply clashes of opinion and values. A healthy appreciation of the nature of science, the persuasiveness of replication, and respect for the necessary expertise is also essential. When teachers tell their students that they can have their own opinions about the validity of evolutionary biology, they are sending a dangerous message to our future citizens."
Facts matter, and the most unfortunate part of this has been the sense that my conservative friends can choose to "believe" or "not believe" factual evidence. From one angle, it matters not whether they believe it or not, but from another angle, it has a huge ripple effect in our approach to difficult problems. And we see this all the time. Conservatives who simply will assert something about Obama or Reagan and will not actually look at the factual record.

A good example, just this week, is how Gingrich responded to Obama's DOMA decision. Obama told his justice department not to fight the law in court--he didn't say they won't enforce the law. This has happened before. But when Gingrich talks about it, he frames it as Obama putting his own beliefs above the law and refusing to enforce the law.

Facts matter. And we live in an age of Fox where facts are fungible and malleable--and ultimately only useful in how they can be manipulated and used.

February 26, 2011

February 25, 2011

10 other disasters planned by Gov. Walker

Wonk Room REPORT: Top 10 Disastrous Policies from the Wisconsin GOP You Haven’t Heard About

Two Witnesses say that Broun laughed at "shoot Obama" question

Witnesses: Republican Laughed When Asked "Who's Gonna Shoot Obama". Broun claims that he found the question abhorrent and didn't even acknowledge it. Or perhaps it was nervous laughter.

But I am tired of Republican not using the opportunity to remind people that isn't a funny joke and it isn't the way we operate. We don't mow down protesters in the street. We don't treat Americans who disagree as criminals or enemies. We argue about issues in the public square.

Talk radio and right wing craziness has been normalized within the GOP.

Liberal v. conservative on government spending

As I continue to say, I think the big divide between conservatives and liberals is not the type of economy or country they want to see, but the different sense of autonomy or individual effort that got them where they are. The conservatives I know seem to think that they achieved their wealth, job, or status purely through their hard work. As such, they see taxes as an imposition. As one of my conservative friends (state subsidized law school, btw) puts it, "the government has to justify asking for more taxes."

The second divide, it seems to me, (as Bob noted in the last comment thread) hinges on how you conceptualize government spending. For conservatives, government spending is mostly (if not always) wasteful and going to undeserving people. As the troll asked, we have spent these millions of dollars, but have nothing to show. Except that isn't true, of course. At least not in how they identify it. As many have noted, the DOD has identified several contractors who have cost the taxpayer hundreds of billions in fraud (that is a B, not an M--as if that would make it better) but still are awarded government contracts. Yet, for conservatives, that is not the subject of their ire, but rather the fact that Planned Parenthood gets money from the feds.

Third, seems that many conservatives hold corporations as some kind of divine or holy venture. Only partly kidding. One of my facebook friends (the one who has yet to tell me a time when Palin has acted like a Christian) repeated the line about the need to lower taxes for corporations. In fact, he suggested that it was taxes that made these corporations outsource jobs. See, if we were to just give corporations whatever they want, they will take care of the workers on their own. It is like magic.

I think all of those assumptions lack factual foundation, but they seem to drive much of what the Koch brothers are able to exploit when they suggest that these public workers in Wisconsin (like our friend UBUB) are living the life of luxury on the public dime. I guess this is a very old strategy for the very rich. Divide the working class as much as you can. Divide them over race (Bacon's Rebellion or Jim Crow), or divide them between union and non. Make sure that no one looks at the stagnating wages, or asks just how much the wealthy will make off this mess. Don't look behind the curtain, and make sure you resent the hell out of that other working class stiff.

Or, as Monk pointed out to me this morning, you can always just distract by yelling about the abortions. Or the flag burners. Or the gay flag burners getting abortions in Mosques.

Don't tell me the left and right are the same

Town Hall Attendee Asks GA Republican When Someone Is Going To Shoot Obama | TPMMuckraker

And yeah, I know this is just one wingnut. But look at the elected member of congress' response. He could have easily said, "hey, that isn't how we do things in this country," but instead he just says that people are unhappy. And the crowd laughed at the question.

February 24, 2011

Modern Republicanism?

Indiana Official: "Use Live Ammunition" Against Wisconsin Protesters | Mother Jones. Indiana had to fire this Deputy AG after he tweeted that the police should use "live ammunition" against protestors in Wisconsin. But, as Mother Jones shows, the guy has said stuff like this for sometime.
"But he evinces contempt for political opponents—from labeling President Obama an 'incompetent and treasonous' enemy of the nation to comparing 'enviro-Nazis' to Osama bin Laden, likening ex-Labor Secretary Robert Reich and Service Employees International Union members to Nazi 'brownshirts' on multiple occasions, and referring to an Indianapolis teen as 'a black teenage thug who was (deservedly) beaten up' by local police. A 'sensible policy for handling Afghanistan,' he offered, could be summed up as: 'KILL! KILL! ANNIHILATE!'"

This guy has the same first amendment rights as anyone else, but what is troubling is the nature of his rhetoric. This goes hand in hand with our previous post, and Monk's comment about the Tea Party's "Christianity." How do evangelical Christians stand with a party where this kind of sentiment is considered part of the "market place of ideas?"

February 23, 2011

Real quick rage

Heard this story coming back from my guitar lesson about Tea Party Republicans cheering the unfunding for healthcare for women and Pell grants for students.


Then read that my own state Republicans are cutting taxes in the face of deficits.

The stupidity and callousness is amazing. Blinding stupidity matched with a "fuck anyone in need" mentality that just makes me ill.

How the middle class became the underclass

Part of our ongoing discussion about the middle class and how conservative policies seem aimed at making the middle class smaller. Check out some of the data from this article.
In 1988, the income of an average American taxpayer was $33,400, adjusted for inflation. Fast forward 20 years, and not much had changed: The average income was still just $33,000 in 2008, according to IRS data.
Exactly what we are reading everywhere. Those in the lower middle class have either stagnated or lost ground. That stagnation was hidden for quite some time with the expansion of credit and availability of credit cards and cheap loans. That allowed this stagnating class to still consume. But that isn't real advancement.

Meanwhile, the richest 1% of Americans -- those making $380,000 or more -- have seen their incomes grow 33% over the last 20 years, leaving average Americans in the dust.

I keep trying to come up with a good analogy that demonstrates this. One, using tree houses, uses the imagery of ladders down to the masses allowing access to the middle class, and those ladders (unions, subsidized education, etc) are consistently and routinely being taken up by conservatives in the name of budget cutting, or protecting the capitalist class. Meanwhile the rich get obscenely richer.

That imagery doesn't quite work, but there is something going on here. The attacks on unions in Wisconsin is part of this. As are the attacks on the safety net for the elderly and poor.

Meanwhile the Republican party pats itself on the back for defunding Planned Parenthood--and in the process will simply make it harder for poor and working class women to get cancer screenings, STD help, and even pre-natal care. But in the name of "life," Republicans are after that too.

February 22, 2011

Cultural disconnect

Yesterday was a long day. After class, it was time for Streak's latest chemo treatment. We are giving him a stronger dose this time as it appears that we need to fight with a stronger weapon. We will see if that works. So far, one day into it, he is tired, but ok.

So, anyway, I was at the vet's office here in Norman. This is strictly small animal vet practice. I remember talking to our vet about the perils of trimming dog's nails (got to watch getting the quick) and relating that I remember a story from my youth about my brother trimming a horse's hooves. My dad warned him not to hit the quick, to which my brother asked, "how will I know?" My dad dryly responded: "You will know."

My vet actually was interested and noted that she really didn't know that much about horses. So that was why I found it interesting to find a copy of Western Horseman magazine in the rack--mixed in with the Cat Fancy.

While waiting for Streak's blood work, and then for his chemo IV, I read a couple of issues. I used to recognize that world. I was never in it, per se, though my parents both grew up in that world, and my cousins were, and are, deeply inside the world of saddles, trailers, ropes and boots. We had horses growing up, but it was a sidelight to other stuff. I went to rodeos, but only occasionally. And while I could rope anything from the ground, I never actually roped anything from a horses back.

So I found it fascinating to read. The ads for the professional bull riders (didn't see anyone I recognized or had heard from my family) and those for horse care and boots and hats were just a blast. One advertising the best hat in the world had a young woman sitting in an old bathtub--only showing her legs and hat (and arms). Another showed a young woman running in a pasture in running gear, but the ad was for something to help horses in a performance. I didn't see any horses in the ad.

The political and religious bent was also there. In one column that highlighted "cowboy gear," it showed a man on horseback and then highlighted his choice of boots, hat, rope, etc. In this one, he carried a single shot .45, and said something about "always carry a gun when I am cowboying, just in case something weird happens. But I also believe in the Second Amendment and think that we have the right to protect ourselves in this country." Ok then. Another story hightlighted a guy who braided leather ropes, and he noted that God had taught him to do that to give him one more way to feed his family. I noticed that and the duct tape gloves he used to keep his hands from bleeding and decided to move on.

Anyway, it was not what I expected from our urban vet office, and was a nice little distraction. Their vision of the cowboy is very interesting, and one that is miles away from the historic cowboy, but perhaps close to how the modern cowboy identifies themselves.

February 20, 2011

Is truth relative?

I am not a philosopher, nor do I teach philosophy. I have read, and I do a lot of thinking, but am not terribly conversant in the language of philosophy.

But I have been thinking more about how we process morality and make moral decisions. Greg, who actually can speak authoritatively about philosophical questions, has a great post on his Christian students and stealing music. Polling his class, he found that a good many who say they are Christian, who identify as conservative Republican, defend stealing music on pretty flimsy grounds.

For many conservatives, truth is absolute (damn those liberals) and unchanging. Murder is always wrong, as is stealing. Same, for them, when speaking of being gay, or adultery. Those sins are sins regardless of what is in your heart. Just because you told yourself it was ok to have an affair with the neighbor doesn't change that it is wrong, right?

It certainly is objectively true when dealing with other people's sins--especially sins that are not ones that challenge them. I say that with compassion, mind you, in that this seems like a human need to defend and protect your own sense of personal morality. We all want to see ourselves as moral.

But time after time, I find conservatives identifying sins as objectively wrong, period, when they are the sins of others. Being gay is wrong, in their mind, and what the gay person thinks or believes is irrelevant. Sins like greed, however, are internal and relative, and only the sinner themselves can know if they are actually greedy.

Ah, but there is the rub. As Greg notes, stealing is always wrong, yet these moral Christians justify it in certain situations. Torture, one would think, is objectively evil, yet moral Christians support (60%) its use against terrorists. One would assume that if the question were about torturing anti-abortion activists, the support would drop. So something as objective as torture becomes subjectively allowable as long as the person supporting it believes it is justifiable.

Yet Greg and myself are the ones pushing some kind of moral relativism?

February 19, 2011

Condolences for our friend Anglican

Our friend Anglican lost his father today after a long illness. Our thoughts are with him and his family today.

Evangelicals want to cut funding for the world's poor

Is there a more depressing headline? Those who frame their entire world around Jesus Christ (or so they say) are jumping up and down to cut funding for international aid, for the environment, and for the unemployed. As Fred notes here, this is both spiteful, and stupid, as none of this will actually help our budget.

I am increasingly convinced that most conservatives over-estimate their own autonomy, and completely inflate the role that their own effort and will played in their success. And that isn't a shot at them for either. The conservatives I know have worked very hard, and have often denied themselves certain things to achieve their income, home, vacation, etc.

But they most often, at least it seems to me, underplay any role that tax money or luck play in their good fortune. And I have to say, that is the best possible explanation. Because if not, then they are like the kid on the playground who gladly uses the rope ladder to get into the fort, but then pulls it up when inside. If that is the case, then it is an incredibly mean-spirited selfishness that drives these political considerations.

All I know is that I find it incredibly hard to see Christ cutting funding for mosquito netting, or cutting funds for women's cancer screenings (as the House voted yesterday to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood), or cutting funding for AIDs drugs. If that is Christianity, as I seem to say a lot on this blog, then let me out.

February 18, 2011

Bad faith from Wisconsin's Tea Party Governor

As Monk noted in the comment thread, there is evidence that Walker is simply creating a false crisis to kill the unions, and the state budget is not in such bad shape. Or it wasn't until he cut taxes upon entering office.

Two things, and then I have to go teach. 1) This speaks to the lie that is "supply side economics"--at least for many Republicans. If, in fact, cutting taxes was intended to spur the economy and then would result in increased state revenues, then there would be no problem with the state employees and the budget. After all, Walker cut taxes, so prosperity is right around the corner, right? But he didn't cut taxes to help the economy, but merely because he and so many like him hate government and want to defund it.

2) What disturbs me about this the most, besides the obvious bullshit about cutting taxes and then saying, "we have no money," is the sense that for people like Walker, this is not about negotiating with people with whom he honestly disagrees, but for whom he has concern. This is a scorched earth tactic intended to crush an enemy. For many (certainly not all) Republicans, Democrats, liberals, or any of the interest groups associated with the supposed left, are enemies not fellow Americans.

Bad faith.

February 17, 2011

And this guy was in our intelligence department

Retired General Talks about Arming Against Obama, Marxism on EthicsDaily.com:
"Boykin has more recently accused the Obama administration of being part of a Marxist insurgency. He gave a video presentation, titled 'Marxism in America,' on MorningStarTV.com on Oct. 24, 2010.

'I'm a Special Forces officer, I'm a Green Beret,' said Boykin. 'And I've studied Marxist insurgency. It was part of my training. And the things that I know that have been done in every Marxist insurgency are being done in America today.'

He identified the financial bailouts, health care reform, gun control by the United Nations and hate-crime legislation targeted at pastors as evidence of a Marxist insurgency."

Modest proposal

That is what Governor Scott Walker called his proposal to strip unions of the right to collectively bargain with the state. He thinks he is being reasonable, because as he said (or something like this--I heard this on NPR yesterday) "no point in negotiating as we have nothing to offer." As many have suggested, it sounds like he is claiming poverty to try to kill the unions, even though I have yet to see evidence that state employees in Wisconsin make too much money.

Let me tell you, however, that this is not a modest proposal. This is a tea party bullshit proposal. If you take one aspect for raising revenue off the table, then you are not being reasonable.

Here is my modest proposal. We examine programs for their efficiency and effectiveness. If they can be made more efficient, but are effective, then we keep them and improve them. If they are not effective, we get rid of them or find another way to get that done. But, and this is a but that Republicans have declare off limits, we also raise taxes. Not dramatically. Hell, Republicans had a fucking fit over returning to Clinton era tax rates. It isn't as if we are talking about returning to the 90% upper marginal rate of the 1950s.

The one thing I see clear in Republican negotiations. In all their talk about "sacrifice," the only ones not asked to sacrifice are the wealthy and powerful. But those in the middle class, or lower, are asked to take big cuts and big sacrifices.

February 16, 2011

Republicans plan for deficit reduction: eat our seed corn

As Krugman so clearly shows. Republicans are looking to cut programs for nutrition, nuclear nonproliferation, tax enforcement--why? Because they think that cutting anything is better than raising taxes. And why does this sell with their base? People who don't want any more taxes, but also actually don't want these programs cut? Because they are uninformed and have not thought it through.
"And what they’ve been hearing ever since Ronald Reagan is that their hard-earned dollars are going to waste, paying for vast armies of useless bureaucrats (payroll is only 5 percent of federal spending) and welfare queens driving Cadillacs. How can we expect voters to appreciate fiscal reality when politicians consistently misrepresent that reality?"
Which has been my point as well. Republicans have made a cottage industry of bashing government and misleading voters. Now they are in the unenviable situation of having to actually cut programs and not raise taxes. As Bruce Bartlett suggested the other day, this approach comes with real dangers, because when the average American learns that they may have more reliance on government than they realized, they might actually show up in 2012 and vote. Perhaps.

February 15, 2011

Good example of misplaced priorities

Obama is trying, I think, to negotiate with people who have no genuine interest in negotiating, and is doing so by putting some programs that he clearly values on the proposed chopping block. In the State of the Union, he suggested cutting community services, which, provides things like "job training, Head Start, housing, tax preparation and other services for the poor." Now we read that he is also interested in cutting heating aid for the poor.

I understand Obama's situation. But I think he falsely assumes that Republicans will negotiate. And I know I am often accused rightly of painting with too broad of a brush, but I really wonder if Paul Ryan gives a shit about that 72 year old blind woman who relies on federal help to keep from freezing in the winter. I don't want to believe that, but am not sure quite how else to read this.

My explanation for this is really unchanged. A) I think most people don't think of the ways that government has helped them. Like the people who benefitted from government subsidized education only to now want to cut those same programs. B) I think most conservatives therefore don't imagine government programs going to actually help people like themselves, but rather going to undeserving and lazy people.

I was going to say that the difference is between liberals who believe in shared opportunity and conservatives who do not. But that isn't quite accurate. I simply think that conservatives so over-estimate their own contribution to their success that they think efforts at encouraging success are wasted. After all, if they were able to make it to the middle class without any help, why should anyone else?

February 13, 2011

I really hate stupidity

And the Republicans have let stupidity rule over the last 10 years. It hasn't always been so, though more of the tendency of the last 30 years. And, with the addition of the Tea Party idiots, the stupidity quotient is going up. Look at their budget proposals and you see a group of people who really don't understand how our system works. As Bruce Bartlett notes, many of them newly elected to Congress have no real idea how Congress works--at a literal level. We have seen member after member denounce government healthcare as socialist, while then either complaining about their own coverage, or not even realizing that their healthcare is subsidized by the tax payers.

Read Bartlett further and you realize that the anti-government crowd is incredibly loud and incredibly stupid. Many denouncing government don't even realize the benefits they get or have gotten from government--which reinforces my main argument that people associate government spending with welfare and not with programs that benefit them. The myth of autonomy, or the "bootstrap myth" seems alive and well, and we see that with the newly minted Wisconsin governor declaring war on unions. After all, if you truly believe that you have made every dollar on your own, then why do you want others to get assistance?

Bruce Drake suggests further that the Tea Party nonsense (keep your government out of my medicare) is actually really at odds with the rest of the Republican party. In fact, he says that on most spending cuts and investment issues, that non-Tea Party Republicans are closer to Democrats than to the Tea Party.

Yet, they let them in the tent. They could have laughed at them with the death panels and "keep your government out of my medicare," but supposedly responsible Republicans such as Chuck Grassley decided to cheer them on. Now they may regret that as they have let in the dumbest and dullest into their midsts, and now have to work with people who believe that compromise is communism. Hell, we see people like Pam Geller now denouncing the conservative CPAC as infiltrated by muslim extremists. They are everywhere! Be afraid. Hell, read the story and see the idiots saying that all muslims are extremists.

And the fact is, I think many of those are not truly idiots, nor are they such extremists, but they have been encouraged to think this by people who should know better. SOF and I have been talking about Fox and how people who watch them could have a very hard time not being fear-filled at every single story. After all, watching Fox, you will get a completely different view of everything from the middle-of the road Obama approach on taxation and healthcare to what just transpired in Egypt. Perhaps, if I watched Fox all day, I too, would believe that Muslims were all extremists and linked to communism.

Did anyone see this story? I know it is Media Matters, but this interview with an insider from Fox was quite interesting. The unnamed source (yeah, I know) says straight that the "news" is just made up:
"The source continues: “I don’t think people understand that it’s an organization that’s built and functions by intimidation and bullying, and its goal is to prop up and support Republicans and the GOP and to knock down Democrats. People tend think that stuff that’s on TV is real, especially under the guise of news. You’d think that people would wise up, but they don’t.”"

This is, in big part, the fault of the Republican party. In the guise of expediency and electoral wins, they embraced their new ally in Fox, and then the Tea Party. Now, those with half a brain left find themselves working for idiots and open liars. I would feel sorry for them if the consequences weren't so dire.

I grew up Republican, and certainly believed that there were serious people who supported their policies. I still do, actually. But I no longer believe that the party itself, nor the people running it, are serious people who want government to work. They simply want the rich to get richer, and the rest can suck it.

February 9, 2011

American Family Association racism, and the GOP on abortion

Hey everyone. Hope you are all warm and dry. We experienced our second straight school-closing blizzard today. This one turned out to be rather mild, and OU is back to work in the morning. I am going to make some posole tonight and we will enjoy the warm soup during a cold night and get ready to go back to work tomorrow. Contrast that with 4 straight school closings last week, and this is just a mild day.

So, while I have been working on lectures (trying to make Jamestown interesting) and doing some grading, I have also been watching the blogs. I see that Republicans are doing everything they can to undermine abortion access. What is weird to me about that, is that just about every pro-lifer I have ever met has admitted that there are situations where they would not fight it. They might not personally choose to abort, but they can see why, in those situations, someone would. Yet the GOP works incredibly hard to make sure that even in those situations, people without means would not have access. As we talked about the other day, that included trying to redefine rape. Or now, they are talking about removing the tax break for healthcare for any plan that funds abortion. That means that not only federal plans, but any private plan would have to drop abortion coverage or see their federal tax break cut.

Again and again, I am reminded that only the poor will really hurt from this. John Wayne, of conservative fame, once took his wife to Mexico for an abortion. The conservative attack on the poor continues, and in this case, will succeed because so many people are both squeamish about abortion, and simply don't care about things that don't effect them personally.

And then there is the American Family Association. To be fair, they are usually on the wing-nut side of things, but this one latest is a real doozy. Turns out that idiot and racist Bryan Fischer believes that Native Americans not qualified for sovereignty because they rejected Christianity.

Reading his rant, I am reminded of the lecture I just gave on the Puritan attack on the Pequots where they quoted from the OT story of the Amelekites to justify their slaughter. Only among the far religious right do you hear those stories retold--but retold as a good thing. It is truly unbelievable, and is the worst example of American Exceptionalism you can find. This simplistic, racist and simply stupid take on history is appalling, especially from people who claim to be Christian.

February 5, 2011

Republican ideology has consequences

As you all know, I am convinced that since Reagan, conservatives have essentially run and governed on a con--the con being that they can cut taxes and increase or maintaing revenue--and that government is an evil entity that should be dramatically reduced. I am further convinced that when most conservatives talk about the evils of government spending, they are thinking of handouts to poor or non-working people, and have no real sense of the ways that they, themselves, benefit from federal money. In fact, I would love to see an interactive website that took a typical city street and demonstrated, visually, how much federal, state, local and private money went into each business or home. I am not sure how to get at that information, but that needs to be done.

But in other, related news, I have been hammering conservatives for the hypocrisy of calling stimulus money socialism and then using it to pay their debts. Turns out, it is even worse than that. As we learned today, not only has Rick Perry used stimulus money to fill his state deficit, but he also socked much of it away into the state's rainy day fund. So money intended to stimulate the economy is locked away for Texas's future subsidies for rich people, undoubtedly, instead of getting the economy going. Worse, child poverty is through the roof in Texas, but to save money, Perry wants to cut some $10 billion from funds aimed to help poor kids.

Got that? He didn't need the stimulus, called it socialism and threatened to secede, all while using the money. And now, he is planning on further cuts in aid to the poorest kids. Can't, of course, raise taxes, because conservatives no longer do that.

This shit has real life consequences. Government can over-reach and certainly can be wasteful. But it also helps us pool our resources to help the disabled and the very poor and the children. It helps us help those devastated by natural disasters. It helps us provide a college education at an affordable level.

But not for Tea Party idiots. Nope. Government is evil except for that which helps them. Can't pay for that either, of course, but certainly can't extend it to those in need. And while I am on that, this great reminder that the Tea Party is not a "revolution," but spoiled people bitching about non-issues. Egypt is a revolution, and as he notes, no silly costumes, tea bags, and not a picture of Hitler anywhere.

February 3, 2011

Sigh--Right wing freaks out about Egypt--redefines rape at home

Seems like the far right cannot quite ever get away from accusing our President of being disloyal. I have a former BSU friend (that is Baptist Student Union to the unwashed) who told me that Obama was sympathetic to terrorists. I pointed out that was ridiculously stupid, but he has yet to back off of that.

The issue, it seems, is that for the far right, there are no distinctions between Muslim groups. For them, they are all terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. There are no real serious internal divides within Islam for them--which of course, reminds us that the story is that Bush didn't know there were Shia and Sunni when he ordered the invasion of Iraq.

So since Egypt has gone into a bit of chaos, this right wing has continued to freak out. When the Muslim Brotherhood refused to join the protests at the beginning, the far right said that was just a lie, and hell, if they are all extremists, then what is the distinction? And, on Fox, we now hear that Obama Is In League With The Muslim Brotherhood:
"On Hannity last night, Gaffney argued that 'the Obama Administration's policies are being viewed through, and actually articulated and implemented through influence operations that the Muslim Brotherhood itself is running in our own country.'"
I am constantly reminded of how easy the right can question our loyalty, and have been told that was justifiable by a very conservative distant relative. That was a fun conversation. I think it went something like, "perhaps you are upset because you realize that Democrats are actually unpatriotic..." Gah.

Then at home, we see that our GOP leadership, with the help of a conservative Democrat, are pushing to redefine rape in an effort to further undermine access to abortion. My stance on abortion is pretty clear, I think. I hate it, and think we should work very hard to reduce it, but I am not convinced that the government should be the one making that very difficult decision, and am absolutely not convinced that redefining rape downward is good for anyone. Under this bill, those raped by means other than brute force are out of luck. Date rape, statutory, or those against the mentally ill or those who have been drugged or are intoxicated don't count.

Very hard to see this as anything but an attack on women. You want to reduce abortion? We know how. Reduce unwanted pregnancies through good sex education and then try to reduce poverty and increase access to good healthcare.

But this is not the way.

February 2, 2011

Looking for Republican consistency

I used to respect the GOP. Hell, I used to be one of them. I was raised with the idea that Republicans were consistent about wanting less government, lower taxes, but still efficient and good government with a reasonable foreign policy and a caution for domestic spending.

That was before the current GOP, clearly. Once Reagan sold the lie that you could cut taxes in any economic situation and see revenue increase--well, all bets were off. It was the "free lunch" equivalent that allowed the party to promise to cut waste, while still paying for needed programs. But, as we saw during Bush, these Republicans don't even pay for their wars.

If you haven't read the papers, Oklahoma, much like the rest of the nation, has experienced a pretty good winter storm. It has bought me a few days away from students--which I am enjoying--and time to rejuvenate. But it also highlighted a huge inconsistency with our Tea Party-dominated Republican government. See, Mary Fallin ran on her cred as a conservative and her willingness to "stand up" to Obama. Like my idiot student, she and others want to "nullify" healthcare at the state level--a stance that has no intellectual consistency, but nonetheless is popular among the same people who believe their federal taxes are way too high.

So back to the storm. As this blog notes, Governor Fallin very quickly called for federal assistance in paying for snow removal, and the cost of generators. I am fine with that, btw. That is how our system works. We pitch together to help out California when they experience massive fires, or Kansas if they have a tornado outbreak--or NE's noreasters, or Louisiana and hurricanes. It is how we, as a country pull together and pool resources. We don't tell the hurricane victims to suck it up, and we don't tell Fargo to drown.

But this doesn't match the Tea Party rhetoric. Fallin, as governor, absolutely should look out for the welfare of this state and should take available federal assistance. But it is inconsistent with her language. Though no more inconsistent than every other Republican who has denounced the stimulus while taking credit for the individual funds brought to their district. Or, in the case of Rick Perry, Texas governor who talked about "secession" last year--turns out that while he was bashing stimulus money, he was using stimulus money to plug 97% of his state budget shortfall.

I am fine with that. Like I said, all of us together can do things that individuals cannot. But enough with the anti-government rhetoric. Or if you are going to continue it, then I suggest that everyone who benefits from any government money--stop it. Quit the job that gets federal money. Reject that tax rebate, or break for your mortgage. Reject it all. Or stop your fucking whining.

That too much to ask?