Browsing the archives for the Wingnuts Being Wingnuts category.


Not So Free in Muskogee

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Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Gotta read this column by Thomas Edsall:

In the fall of 1969, Merle Haggard topped the Billboard country charts for four weeks with “Okie from Muskogee,” the song that quickly became the anthem of red America, even before we called it that.

“We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee, we don’t take our trips on LSD, we don’t burn our draft cards down on Main Street, we like livin’ right and bein’ free,” Haggard declared. “We don’t make a party out of lovin’, we like holdin’ hands and pitchin’ woo.”

Times have changed.

Today Muskogee, Okla., a city of 38,863, has nine drug treatment centers and a court specifically devoted to drug offenders. A search for “methamphetamine arrest” on the website of the Muskogee Phoenix, the local newspaper, produces 316 hits.

In 2013 just under two-thirds of the births in the city of Muskogee, 62.6 percent, were to unwed mothers, including 48.3 percent of the births to white mothers. The teenage birthrate in Oklahoma was 47.3 per 1,000; in Muskogee, it’s 59.2, almost twice the national rate, which is 29.7.

Need I mention that Muskogee voters proudly vote Republican?

… the Baltimore riots have become a vehicle for conservatives to point to the city as an emblem of the failure of liberalism and the Democratic Party. The current state of affairs in Muskogee suggests that the left does not deserve exclusive credit for social disorder.

Rightie politicians and media have been crowing that Baltimore represents a failure of liberalism. I could link to umpteen hundred such rants, but here’s just one.

Jeb Bush says the strife in Baltimore proves the war on poverty “failed” to expand opportunity in America’s most disadvantaged communities. In a Chicago Tribune op-ed published Wednesday, the presumptive 2016 candidate writes that Democrats are wrongly responding to the unrest with calls to increase government spending and reform the criminal justice system.

And, of course, from a progressive perspective just the opposite happened; there’s no part of America untouched by Reaganism and right-wing anti-tax, trickle-down nonsense lo these past 30 plus years. See, for example, an in-depth report by Emily Badger in the Washington Post, “How Baltimore and cities like it hold back poor black children as they grow up.” There are places in the U.S. that are something like economic and social black holes, and it’s nearly impossible for people who grow up there to escape. Programs — you know, the government spending thing — that enable greater mobility actually appear to work. I suspect investing in better public schools and transportation systems wouldn’t hurt either, but of course conservatives hate public schools and transportation and fight spending on such things tooth and nail. And, dude, do you not see that the criminal justice system seriously needs reforming?

Edsall mentions this:

John Nolte, who writes for Breitbart.com, Tweeted at 9:26 p.m. on Monday, April 27, “Baltimore is what happens when you replace the two-parent family with a welfare check & union-run public schools.” An hour later, Laura Ingraham, a talk-show host, followed suit: “No fathers, no male role models, no discipline, no jobs, no values = no sense of right & wrong.”

I’ve yet to see evidence that breaking up teacher’s unions improves public schools, and if we want to talk about lacking a sense of right and wrong let’s talk about the police.

But what happened to Muskogee? Edsall presents copious data showing that while rates of out-of-wedlock births are slowing down among blacks they are speeding up among whites. Since 1980 the rate of out-of wedlock births has increased by 4 percent among blacks (and decreased in recent years) but has risen by 33 percent among whites. Further,

The highest rates of white teenage pregnancy in the 30 states with available data are in red states. While the national white teenage pregnancy rate in 2010 was 38 per 1,000, white rates were at least 10 points higher in nine states: Oklahoma (59), West Virginia (64), Arkansas (63), South Carolina (51), Alabama (49), Mississippi (55), Tennessee (51), Kentucky (59) and Louisiana (51). Each of these states cast decisive majorities for Romney in 2012.

The high pregnancy and birthrates among white teenagers in states where the Christian right and Tea Party forces are strong reflect the inability of ideological doctrines stressing social conservatism to halt the gradual shift away from traditional family structures.

In fact, the map in the second chart [see article] shows that the Southern Baptist Convention, one of the most socially conservative denominations in America, is dominant in every one of the nine states with the highest white teenage pregnancy rates, with the sole exception of West Virginia.

And on and on. The Red States really are going to hell in a handbasket.

Edsall points out that Republicans are in complete control in 24 states, and in most of those states the legislatures are waging all-out culture war. But they are so focused on blocking access to abortion and stopping same-sex marriage they are oblivious to the very real social and economic problems going on under their noses. Edsall again,

The problems of majority black Baltimore are extreme, but many of the trends found there are as extreme or more so in majority white Muskogee.

The Baltimore poverty rate is 23.8 percent, 8.4 points above the national rate, but below Muskogee’s 27.7 percent. The median household income in Baltimore is $41,385, $11,661 below the $53,046 national level, but $7,712 above Muskogee’s $33,664.

If conservatives place responsibility on liberal Democrats, feminism and the abandonment of traditional family values for Baltimore’s decay, what role did the 249 churches in and around Muskogee play in that city’s troubles?

Right-wing politicians have been given too big a pass for way too long.

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Self-Terrorism at Work

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Terrorism, Texas, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

ISIS may be evil and deranged, and they may lack any sort of capability of striking in the U.S., but I fear they have our number.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack outside a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest in Texas — and warned of more attacks to come.

In a broadcast on its official radio channel Tuesday, the group said two Al Khilafa soldiers opened fire outside the event in Garland, a Dallas suburb. Al Khilafa is how ISIS refers to its soldiers.  …

…While ISIS claimed responsibility two days after the attack, there was no immediate indication that the terror group in Iraq and Syria had contact with Simpson or Soofi, who both lived in Phoenix.

Odds are the gunmen were wannabees with borderline personality disorder who had as much contact with ISIS as they had with Santa Claus, although the gunmen and ISIS operatives appeared to be following each other on Twitter. But we’re living in a country in which Wal-Mart has to refute rumors that the feds are building tunnels under closed stores to facilitate a military takeover of Texas. ISIS doesn’t have to lift a finger to scare Americans; we are champs at terrorizing ourselves. Claiming responsibility for the Texas shooting was actually brilliant on their part. The baggers will believe it and reach new heights of irrational paranoia.

Reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode where the townsfolk panic over rumors of space aliens and start shooting each other. The actual space aliens observe this and decide the easiest way to conquer Earth is to let the paranoid humans destroy themselves.

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Hey, Texas! BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA!

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Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

The state of Texas has reached new heights of absurdity, not to mention stupid. The wingnuts therein became convinced that U.S. Army training exercises in the American southwest are a cover for a federal government takeover of Texas. And we’re not talking about fringe basement-dwellers here; Gov. Greg Abbott  has ordered the Texas Guard to “monitor” the federal troops just in case. Sen. Rand Paul promised to look into it. It’s even come up at White House press briefings. See also the Dallas Morning News.

What do you want to bet the people who have gotten themselves worked up into screaming hysteria over this are the same ones who can’t so much as buy a doughnut without strapping on an AK 47?

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Blowing Up the Deal

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Middle East, Obama Administration, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

I haven’t had time to look into specifics, but Iran and several world powers have agreed on a framework for a nuclear deal. Greg Sargent writes,

The preliminary deal would limit continued operation of centrifuges to one site, while converting a second one — which had been the subject of controversy — to a research facility. The Arak nuclear reactor could no longer be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium.

In exchange, sanctions against Iran will be lifted by the U.S. and European countries, after the International Atomic Energy Agency verifies Iran has taken those steps.

Naturally, congressional Republicans already are against it, because Obama. Blowing up any deal the President makes, no matter what it is, is a key litmus test among the 2016 presidential hopefuls. Because Obama.

Scott Walker told an interviewer that if he is elected POTUS he would not only blow up any deal with Iran on his first day as president, he would do so even if all of our allies want the deal to continue.

I asked Peter Juul, a Mideast analyst for the Center for American Progress, to explain what the consequences of that might be. He told me:

“The big questions would be, How would Europeans and Iranians react? It’s hard to believe that the Iranians would stick to their end of the deal. That would leave Iran open to take their nuclear program as far as they want.

“The Europeans would probably try to keep their portion of the deal in place and try to salvage it. This would place the burden of having blown up the deal on us. This would be particularly ironic, considering that a major Republican and conservative talking point is that the Obama administration is breaking faith with our allies. We would be alienating and breaking faith with our European allies right out of the gate. You’d be irreparably damaging our transatlantic relationships for however long Scott Walker were in office.

“Putin is not going to leave power anytime soon, unless he keels over. For all the talk about the Russian threat, it would be odd to throw our European allies under the bus on Iran at the same time they are facing down a Russia that is not particularly friendly.

“There would be a lot of ripple effects around wherever the U.S. and Europe have security cooperation. This is a reckless, irresponsible, shoot first, don’t-ask-questions-ever approach. It’s just not a viable strategy if your goal is to keep Iran from getting a nuclear bomb.”

But for the idiot children like Walker who hope to be on the GOP ticket, the goal is not to keep Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. The goal is to stick it to Obama.  It’s a bit like what the incoming Bush Administration did in 2001 when it assumed Clinton people like Richard Clarke, who were yammering about that dangerous al Qaeda thing, were just being hysterical.

All of this should theoretically lead to at least some kind of pressure on members of Congress who are looking to kill a deal — not to mention the 2016 GOP hopefuls — to say what they support doing instead beyond thwarting Obama. “The bottom line is that it’s unclear what Walker and others who think like him want out of this process,” Juul says. “If no deal could possibly satisfy them, they should say so.”

It’s a bit like Obamacare. Republicans keep saying they have a better way, but the better way really is to just go back to the way things were before.  And then make that even worse.

Salon has a roundup of reactions to the proposed Iran deal. The Right thinks the proposed deal with either bring back the Third Reich or usher the Apocalypse.

Paul Waldman:

I can make that prediction with certainty as well, because we’ve already heard plenty of them. But as I discuss at the Plum Line today, we should be absolutely clear what those who talk about Munich are saying:

Many of us roll our eyes and poke fun at endless Hitler analogies, but in this case their use is extremely revealing. If you believe that the negotiations with Iran are the equivalent of those in Munich in 1938, what you’re basically saying is that war with Iran is inevitable, so we might as well get started on it right away. After all, it isn’t as though, had Chamberlain left Munich without an agreement, Hitler would have retired and gone back to painting. The whole point of the “appeasement” argument is that the enemy cannot be appeased from his expansionist aims, and the only choice is to wage war.

That’s what Iran hawks are arguing: We shouldn’t pussyfoot around trying to find a diplomatic solution to this problem when there’s going to be a war no matter what.

You can call this clear-eyed realism, or you can call it terrifying lunacy. But it would be nice if they would admit that war is indeed what they’re advocating. Up until now, only a few conservatives have been willing to say so. I’d like to hear their argument, and not a bunch of “all options should be on the table” hedging, but a real case for why launching a war on Iran really is the best of the available options.

The idiot children really must be pushed hard to be explicit about what they actually intend. Over and over and over. I’m really certain the American people just want the Middle East to simmer down and stay out of the headlines, not more war.

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Neocons Attempting Another Con

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Obama Administration, Terrorism, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

They don’t quit. The neocons at National Review — including Stephen Hayes, who will insist on his deathbed that before 9/11 Mohamed Atta did too meet with agents of Saddam Hussein in Prague — now are flogging documents that “reveal” Osama bin Laden had secret ties to Iran.

Yes, and I’m Shirley Temple’s zombie.

If you keep reading the articles, it turns out that these documents say nothing about secret ties to the Iranian government, just that a small number of al Qaeda operatives had been in Iran, somewhere, doing something, including “training.” But for all we know their long-term plans were to set off bombs in Tehran, not attend parties with the ayatollahs.

The documents were among those recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound and were introduced in court in the trial of “a terrorism suspect.” I believe they are referring to Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa, a Canadian national currently on trial in Brooklyn for murdering five U.S. servicemen in Iraq in 2009. However, for some reason, the National Review propagandists are not calling this suspect by name or imagining he has secret ties to Iran. I guess they have no beef with Canada. Yet.

The thrust of all of the National Review‘s articles on this new “evidence” is that the Obama Administration didn’t take the continued threat of Osama bin Laden seriously.

The files do not support the view, promoted by some in the Obama administration, that bin Laden was in “comfortable retirement,” “sidelined,” or “a lion in winter” in the months leading up to his death. On the contrary, bin Laden is asked to give his order on a host of issues, ranging from the handling of money to the movement of terrorist operatives.

Hmm, let’s see — which President was it who declared that Osama bin Laden had been marginalized back in 2002?

And, let’s see, which President actually got the guy? Hmm, it’ll come to me …

Seriously, does the crew at NR assume we all have Alzheimer’s?

From what I saw, at no point in any of this coverage does NR use the words Sunni or Shia. Al Qaeda is a radical Sunni sect opposed to all heretics, which in their minds would include Shia. The government of Iran is controlled by a bunch of strict Shia who consider Sunni militants to be their sworn enemies. The odds that these two are working together now are about the same as the odds that the GOP will throw the 2016 presidential election in favor of Bernie Sanders. Larry Johnson says that about 20 years ago there was a brief movement toward rapprochement between Osama bin Laden and the Shia in Tehran, but that those days are long over, and the two groups are more radically opposed to each other than ever.

Obviously, the neocon crew at NR are up to their old tricks and trying to stampede us into a war with Iran, which men of extended military experience like Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes (cough) think will be just the thing to fix all that misbehavior in the Middle East. They don’t quit. And they don’t learn.

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But Can He See Russia From His House?

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Wingnuts Being Wingnuts, Wisconsin

It’s CPAC time, boys and girls!

And the fun has begun! Scott Walker actually said this:

“I want a commander-in-chief who will do everything in their power to ensure that the threat from radical Islamic terrorists do not wash up on American soil. We will have someone who leads and ultimately will send a message not only that we will protect American soil but do not take this upon freedom-loving people anywhere else in the world,” he responded. “We need a leader with that kind of confidence. If I can take on a 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.”

Because a crowd of unarmed and peacefully if loudly protesting teachers and farmers is just like ISIS. That was so stupid even the National Review called him on it.

[Apparently Walker has made noises in the past tying unions to Communism (see Steve M). This actually echoes some very old history involving Wisconsin. Way back when Wisconsin’s infamous Senator Joe McCarthy first won a seat in the Senate, but before his infamous “I have in my hand” speech that gained him national attention for his witch hunt seeking Communists in the State Department, his signature issue was unions. He was the anti-union senator, ceaselessly arguing that labor unions were Communist fronts. (This is documented in a book by historian David Oshinsky titled Senator Joe McCarthy and the American Labor Movement [University of Missouri Press, 197-something].) As with his later fruitless witch hunts none of the people he targeted were ever found guilty of anything, but wingnuts insist up and down that McCarthy  was “right” about Communism and that the Venona papers  prove it. However, none of the people McCarthy targeted are mentioned in the Venona papers. So he remains zero-for-whatever in uncovering actual Communists.]

[Also, too, today a New York Times editorial complains that "Republicans’ support for anti-union legislation is at odds with their professed commitments to helping the middle class." Ya think?]

By all accounts Walker wowed the crowd at CPAC, who gave him a standing ovation. But Walker never struck me as someone who could get traction in a national campaign, unless perhaps he put himself in the hands of a Lee Atwater/Karl Rove sort of handler who could craft the impression that Walker has a personality. Rove himself seems to have passed his sell-by date, however, and I don’t see anyone else on the Right ready to step into the void. As we saw in 2012, it’s not that hard to become the Darling of the Right for 15 minutes or so with a masterful tossing of anti-Obama red meat, but that act doesn’t play so well outside of the Rightie Bubble.

Jeb Bush is supposed to speak at CPAC today, and there’s a move afoot among the more rabid teabaggers to walk out of the speech. Pass the popcorn.

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Putting the Con in Conservative

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Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

I don’t often link to right-wing sites to approve of something, but recently John Hawkins of Right Wing News published the results of a study showing how right-wing PACs spent contributors’ money. And — what a not surprise — there are many PACs soliciting money for “conservative” politicians that are spending little to no money on behalf of those politicians. Even PACs that are allegedly linked to a particular candidate aren’t spending money on behalf of that candidate. For example, the National Draft Ben Carson for President PAC spent only 4 percent of nearly $13 million received on efforts to draft Ben Carson for President. It may actually surprise you not in the least that SarahPAC spent maybe 7 percent of more than $3 million to help political candidates, which is the ostensible purpose of SarahPAC.

The PACs are not necessarily guilty of criminal activity. There are all sorts of legal ways to move money around to confound oversight. A PAC might set up a couple of vendors, possibly owned by people associated with the PAC, and send the vendors $100,000 each. The vendors then print $1,000 worth of fliers and pocket the rest. But on the PACs paperwork, it shows $200,000 spent on political action.

The Good Roger Ailes is derisive of Hawkins’ work, mostly because — duh, you didn’t know this already? Plus Hawkins’s analysis has lots of blind spots, some willful. But the larger point stands.

There is much speculation on rightie blogs that left-wing PACs are just as bad and probably worse. And I welcome similar analysis of leftie PACs. One of my gripes about progressivism going back many years is that, until the last decade or so, about the only activism going on was coming from single-issue advocacy groups that incessantly raised money but never seemed to accomplish anything. I may have told the story about how I stopped giving money to NARAL back in the 1980s, because as far as I could tell my donations were all being spent on salaries and office furniture.

But progressives across the board have been much more opposed to no-holds-barred contributions and want significant campaign finance reform that would stop a lot of this, whereas conservatives oppose reform and like the system just as it is, thank you, except they’d like to be able to bar unions from political activity if they could. But just unions; not the Koch Brothers.

And the even larger point is that the Right is mostly a grift, anyway. Characters like Richard Viguerie, Ann Coulter, etc., have been cashing in for years by doing nothing but raising alarm about the Coming Darkness of Liberalism When You Will Be Forced to Convert to Islam and Eat Babies. I wrote awhile back:

If bank robbers rob banks because that’s where the money is, grifters infest the Right because that’s where the gullibility is. People who can be made to believe in death panels can also be sold on dubious investment schemes, survivalist kits and quack arthritis cures. It’s too easy. See especially Rick Perlstein, “The Long Con.”

At least, I’m not aware of anyone using leftie political networks to sell cancer cures, dubious investments schemes or the leftie equivalent of survivalist kits, whatever that might be.

There are also subcategories of specialized grifters such as the NRA/firearm industry and climate change denialists/petroleum industry. But it’s all of a piece, really.

I wrote recently that the only substantive difference between the “extremists” and the “moderates/establishment” in the Republican Party is that “the ‘moderates’ realize elections have to be won, and the ‘extremists’ don’t know that, or don’t care.” When you look at someone like Ted Cruz, who unlike many others may not be crazy or stupid, one suspects his long game isn’t winning the White House. The long game is making a ton of money. In this country, once you become a reliable supplier of red meat for the Right, you are set for life. Whether you ever actually accomplish anything that’s good for anyone is irrelevant.

Now Paul Waldman writes about how rich conservatives are bilking the rank and file:

This particular con is just one variant of a wider system, one that has been in operation for decades. While there may be some cases of similar scams on the left, they’re absolutely rampant on the right, because they’ve been so central to the conservative movement for so long. In the 1960s, conservatives realized that the nationwide grassroots network that activists built to support Barry Goldwater could be an ongoing source of funds, not only for conservative causes but for people wanting to sell snake oil. Lists of names and addresses became a valued commodity, built, bought and sold again and again for the benefit of those who controlled them and those who used them (Rick Perlstein lays out that history here).

That tradition continues, but in new and more complicated ways that I like to call the circle of scam. Organizations like the Heritage Foundation and FreedomWorks pay radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity big money to offer on-air endorsements that are the radio equivalent of “native advertising.” Future presidential candidate Mike Huckabee sells his email list on “miracle cancer cures” hidden in the Bible. Conservative media figures like Dick Morris solicit contributions that somehow are never turned to the political ends they claim. Nobody wants to upend the system, because too many people are getting a taste.

The common thread can be found in the marks: the little old lady in Tupelo who sends in $50 thinking that she’s striking a blow against Barack Obama, the couple in Topeka who hopes Mike Huckabee’s biblical cancer cure can save their daughter’s life, the man in Toledo who thinks that the group with “Tea Party” in its name is going to have an impact on his state’s races. What none of them know is that their money is just going to make somebody who’s already rich a little bit richer.

It’s been a hugely successful scam. However, there are signs more and more people are getting elected who don’t know it’s a scam. Could The Stupid eventually become so blatant even wingnuts notice? Hmm, I’m not holding my breath until that happens. But maybe Peak Wingnut will finally come to pass.

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The Real Road to Serfdom

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Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

In the last post I argued that Republicans have reversed John Locke’s “life, liberty and property,” putting property (or the wealth of the wealthy) first, liberty second, and life a distant and expendable third. Now Paul Krugman agrees

If you look for an overarching theme for overall conservative policy these past four decades, it definitely isn’t liberty — by and large the GOP has been enthusiastic about expanding the security and surveillance state. Nor is it in a consistent fashion smaller government, unless you define military and homeland security as not government. Instead, it has been about making the tax-and-transfer system harsher on the poor and easier on the rich. In short, class warfare.

It seems that several Republican governors, whose “conservative” economic policies strangled their states’ economies, are proposing tax increases to make up for loss of revenue. However, Krugman writes, “in every case the tax hike would fall most heavily on those with lower incomes, and many are proposing simultaneous tax cuts for business and/or the wealthy.”

In short, doing more of what hasn’t worked before. Erik Loomis writes,

Watching how Republican presidential possibilities have been talking in the last couple of weeks, it’s pretty clear that they are going to focus on income inequality, but define income inequality as a problem that exists because the rich pay too much in taxes and the poor don’t pay enough. I know this sounds like a terrible strategy for the Republicans, and maybe it is, but I do believe in their ability to obfuscate an issue and twist meanings that the message of income inequality I hope the Democrats run on in 2016 will have a lot of difficulty motivating the public.

Unfortunately, I think he’s right. A substantial portion of the American public will be persuaded that “income inequality” means the rich are being soaked so that the poor can lounge around living high on the hog and food stamps.

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Life, Liberty, Property, but Not in That Order

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Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Thomas Jefferson’s “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” was presumably inspired by John Locke’s “life, liberty and property.”  Locke’s thinking influenced the U.S. Founding Guys more than any other single philosopher, and Locke said government is obligated to protect the life, liberty and property rights of the people. You would think teabaggers/Republicans would know this and respect it.

However, if you pay attention you notice that they’ve reworked the order — property first, then liberty, but life gets bumped off the list unless you are a fetus. Mark Joseph Stern provides several examples of Republicans putting liberty and property ahead of life. These include putting a right to refuse vaccination ahead of public health and their frantic crusade to stop the government from paying for health care.

Republicans are currently cheering on an anti-Obamacare lawsuit that could strip millions of health insurance. They’re willing to put Americans at risk of death just to score points against a law they hate. … Many conservatives are cheerfully unconcerned by this lawsuit’s potentially fatal consequences. In one op-ed titled “End Obamacare, and People Could Die. That’s Okay,” Michael R. Strain of the American Enterprise Institute insisted that the Supreme Court should have no compunction about rendering a decision that will kill Americans. A higher mortality rate, Strain wrote, is “an acceptable price to pay for certain goals,” including “less government coercion and more individual liberty.”

Liberty trumps life, in other words. Better dead than taxed, or something. If anyone knows on what planet that makes sense, do raise your hand. The Michael Strain op-ed is a chilling thing to read, but you know this “acceptable price” stuff is conventional wisdom among the privileged crew he rubs elbows with. They’re never going to have to pay that price, of course. But they’re kicking some of us to the curb for the Greater Good, and we’re supposed to be grateful. Yay, freedom!

I’ve been particularly infuriated by reports that the Koch Brother-led Americans for Prosperity has been going around strangling any movement toward expanding Medicaid in the non-Medicaid-expanding states, most recently Tennessee. Apparently the Koch Boys love freedom so much they’re determined to kill any poor, sick hillbillies that get in the way.

So, obviously, liberty is ranked ahead of life. But I would argue that for all their rhetoric about liberty, in truth the U.S. Right puts property ahead of liberty. The late 19th century Supreme Court was notorious for putting property rights above civil liberty, so this is not without precedent. But the base has been well trained to unquestioningly support everything from Citizen’s United to more tax cuts for the rich at the expense of everyone else to climate change denialism, because it’s in the best interests of the 1 percent to do so, and those policies are not promoting anyone’s liberty. Indeed, if you pay close attention you may notice that a lot of their arguments for “liberty” are mostly in favor of unrestricted acquisition of wealth.

It’s property first, then liberty when it doesn’t get in the way of property, and life for the post-born can be bumped off the table as necessary.

Update: How could I have forgotten that gun rights also trump life?  Little children killing themselves with guns is the price we pay for the freedom to keep loaded guns anywhere we want, right?

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Free Speech Hypocrites

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conservatism, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Does anyone else remember the Chocolate Jesus? Back in 2007 the artist Cosimo Cavallaro sculpted a crucified Jesus out of 200 pounds of milk chocolate, and the piece was displayed in a Manhattan gallery. There was a huge hue and cry about it, mostly because Cavallaro left out a loincloth. You might remember that Little Lulu threw a fit over this affront to Christianity (Jesus had a weenie? Who knew?), and the sculpture was removed.

It seemed obvious to me that the nudity was not just for shock value but added to the poignancy and vulnerability of the image of the crucified Christ, and the medium was a powerful statement on the commercialization — and trivialization — of Easter. But American righties argued that in the U.S. only satire poking at Christianity is allowed, but that satire of, say, Islam is not, and that’s not fair.

And I say satire by definition requires that the target be something that is established, powerful and privileged.  Ridicule of a relatively powerless minority group, which Islam is in the West, is not satire, but “bullying.” See also “When Operas Attack,” and don’t forget the many efforts by the American Right to shut down performances of Terrence McNally’s play Corpus Christi.  Yes, in the U.S. the Left tends to push back against expressions of racism and sexism, but the Right has a long record of attempting to shut down genuine artistic expression that it finds offensive.

I’d never heard of Charlie Hebdo before this week, and I only know it from the cover images and cartoons that have been reproduced on the Web. (Oddly, if you go to the Charlie Hebdo site now you can’t get to the back issues but can see only a “Je suis Charlie” statement. Keeping the content available would have been gutsier.) But what I’ve seen reminds me of the old underground comix that were popular in the 1960s counterculture — a lot of vulgarity and shock for the sake of shock. Which is not necessarily bad; some of those comix were brilliant, as I remember. And who didn’t love Mr. Natural?

But what happened to them? The 1970s happened, and then the 1980s. The country got more conservative. IMO it wasn’t primarily “political correctness” that killed them, as Alice Robb claims, but prudery.

It’s interesting to me that one of the few people to recognize the Right’s hypocrisy is Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, one of the people who led the charge against the Chocolate Jesus. Donohue is opposed to free expression, but at least he’s consistent about it and not calling for a different standard for different religions.

As a people, we’re either for freedom of expression, or we’re not. If we’re only in favor of allowing expression with which we agree, we’re not.

Update: One of the best responses to the Paris massacre I’ve seen so far.

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