Natural Selection and Erick Erickson

The first thing I did when I heard about this video was to check Erick Erickson’s Wikipedia page to see if he is married. The page doesn’t mention a wife, which gives me hope he is not. Otherwise I’d feel compelled to organize an intervention for the poor girl. But on watching it, I was even more appalled.

Most of the time, conservatives pooh-pooh the pay gap as a result of women’s “choice” to work less and attend to the home more. They’re not against equality, they assure us, but equality just naturally fails on its own because women make it so! That ruse lasted right up until the announcement that four out of ten households with children now have a female breadwinner. So how did Fox News respond? By gathering a panel of all male pundits to explain that, under no uncertain terms, the disappearance of male economic dominance signals the end of life as we know it.

Choice phrases tossed around, including from resident liberal Juan Williams: “disintegration of marriage,” “society dissolve around us,” and “something going terribly wrong in American society.” Then there’s Lou Dobbs, darkly intimating that women’s escape from economic dependence turns them into killers: “And those are the children who survive!” he exclaims at one point, in reference to all those money-grubbing ladies having abortions on their lunch break.

Here is a portion of Erickson’s contribution:

“I’m so used to liberals telling conservatives that they’re anti-science. But liberals who defend this and say it is not a bad thing are very anti-science. When you look at biology — when you look at the natural world — the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complementary role. We’re lost the ability to have complementary relationships … and it’s tearing us apart.”

I can think of a number of species, including primate species, that don’t fit Erickson’s notions of male dominance, but let’s go on … a big chunk of those primary breadwinner moms are never married or divorced. Having lived that life myself, I have no doubt that a large majority of those single moms would dearly love to have a decent man in their lives to help support them and raise those children. But while there are a lot of decent men out there, there are not nearly enough to go around, it seems. So, women end up raising children by themselves.

I propose convening a panel of women asking why so many of today’s men fail to abjectly at being husbands and fathers. Erick Erickson could be Exhibit A.

Outrage Fatigue

Ratings for the evening MSNBC programs, including Rachel Maddow’s show, are significantly down. Digby notes that traffic is down across the board in liberal media generally, including blogs.

We’ve been through a number of elections, crises, other ups and downs over the past decade but I’ve not seen anything like the drop in interest over the past few months. If it was just me I’d attribute it to my little project having run its course but it’s happening across the liberal media spectrum. I don’t now what the answer is, but it isn’t that there isn’t a permanent audience. There was until very recently. It’s that the liberal audience is tuning out and one can only assume it’s because they don’t like what they see in our politics.

Annie Laurie adds,

“We” spent money and time and energy we could barely afford to elect President Obama, not once but twice, and thereby avoided the disasters of Presidents McCain and Romney. President Obama has not been an unmitigated blessing to the Democratic Party, nor has the Democratic Party always been a loyal servant to President Obama. And the Republicans are variously liars, thieves, grifters, ratfckers, self-satisfied morons and generally crazy people. Also, there is no cure for the common cold and no pill that will allow us to eat whatever we want and still loose weight. Welcome to the human condition, aka “politics”.

I have to plead guilty that I haven’t watched the evening politics talk shows in quite a while. Since the November elections I either spend evenings when I’m at home writing stuff, or reading, or playing Words With Friends, or watching teevee shows that are mostly fantasy, like Grimm, in which a Portland detective deals with fairy tale characters. After years of following today’s Republicans, Grimm feels like an oasis of sanity.

This is not because I don’t care. But I’ve been blogging here for nearly eleven years now, and while I have no plans to stop, at the moment I’m kind of exhausted with it. I’ve run out of entertaining ways to say that Republicans are variously liars, thieves, grifters, ratfckers, self-satisfied morons and generally crazy people. But we’ve got some interesting stuff coming up, like the George Zimmerman trial and the implementation of Obamacare, and next year’s midterms, so I expect to get back into the groove eventually.

Delusion and Denial

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” — Upton Sinclair

Peter Ferrara, a contributor to Forbes magazine, tells us “To the Horror of Global Warming Alarmists, Global Cooling Is Here.” It must have just arrived last week, since 2012 was the hottest year on record in the continental U.S. and the 9th hottest year globally. But good to know the cooling is here just in time for summer!

Unfortunately, Ferrara is not a scientist of any sort, and his argument is based mostly on a historical record showing a cycle of Little Ice Ages, plus a couple of quotes from official-sounding sources suggesting we’re about to enter another Little Ice Age. Unfortunately for us, there is an overwhelmingly strong consensus among actual climate scientists that the earth getting hotter, and the increase in heat is at least partly the result of human activity. I’m not seeing any widespread horror among actual scientists about global cooling, or any evidence that there is any cooling.

Belief About Belief

A book excerpt called “American exceptionalism is a dangerous myth” has some really good bits in it, such as —

A clue to the collective psychology emerged in the movement’s early days, when adherents dressed in tricorn hats, knee breeches, and brass-buckled shoes. This goes to the true meaning of the movement and explains why it appeared when it did. One cannot miss, in the movement’s thinking and rhetoric, a desire for a mythical return, another “beginning again,” a ritual purification, another regeneration for humanity.

Whatever the Tea Party’s unconscious motivations and meanings—and I count these significant to an understanding of the group—we can no longer make light of its political influence; it has shifted the entire national conversation rightward—and to an extent backward, indeed. But more fundamentally than this, the movement reveals the strong grip of myth on many Americans—the grip of myth and the fear of change and history. In this, it seems to me, the Tea Party speaks for something more than itself. It is the culmination of the rise in conservatism we can easily trace to the 1980s. What of this conservatism, then? Ever since Reagan’s “Morning in America” campaign slogan in 1984 it has purported to express a new optimism about America. But in the Tea Party we discover the true topic to be the absence of optimism and the conviction that new ideas are impossible. Its object is simply to maintain a belief in belief and an optimism about optimism. These are desperate endeavors. They amount to more expressions of America’s terror in the face of history. To take our country back: Back to its mythological understanding of itself before the birth of its own history is the plainest answer of all.

Elsewhere — I’m pretty much on the same page as Kevin Drum regarding the State Department investigations of James Rosen.

Ends and Odds

First off, Jon Stewart takes down Peggy Noonan.

John Schwartz of the New York Times writes about the lack of tornado shelters in Tornado Alley. Oklahoma officials are reluctant to add tornado shelter requirements to the building code, because freedom. Coming from a tornado-prone area myself, I do wonder where peoples’ heads are. Tornadoes are hardly rare in Oklahoma.

Here’s a clip and save — A Calm, Reasonable Explanation of Why Michael Kinsley Is Wrong About Austerity by Ryan Cooper.

Inhofe: Tornadoes and Hurricanes Are Different

Like, hurricanes are wet and stuff. And they don’t strike Oklahoma.

Joan Walsh:

Inhofe, of course, believes his state deserves those resources, even though he voted down aid to Hurricane Sandy victims. On MSNBC, Chris Jansing confronted Inhofe about his calling the Sandy aid bill a “slush fund,” and the brazen right-winger insisted the two issues shouldn’t be linked.

“Let’s look at that, that was totally different,” Inhofe told Jansing. “They were getting things — for instance that was supposed to be in New Jersey, they had things in the Virgin Islands, they were fixing roads there, they were putting roofs on houses in Washington, D.C.; everyone was getting in and exploiting the tragedy taking place. That won’t happen in Oklahoma.”

Inhofe’s answer is too dishonest to fully parse. First of all, there was Sandy damage way beyond New Jersey, including in the Caribbean and in Washington, D.C., too. And Inhofe had different objections to the Sandy bill at the time. In a rambling, hard-to-follow Senate floor speech blocking Sandy aid last December, the Oklahoma conservative objected to the bill’s timing — “There’s always a lot of theater right before Christmas time … We shouldn’t be talking about it right before Christmas” — even though it was already going on two months since the storm ravaged the East Coast.

New York Daily News:

The Sandy relief bill initially contained money for projects outside of areas damaged by Sandy, with the hope of attracting enough votes to get it through Congress.

That spending represented a small portion of the massive bill – and much of it eventually was dropped from the legislation after objections by Republicans in the House.

The Sandy relief legislation did not contain money to put roofs on homes in Washington, but there were funds to repair museum roofs damaged by the hurricane.

Oklahoma’s other waste of space senator, Tom Coburn, is demanding that there be budget cuts to offset any disaster aid. Let somebody in someone else’s state suffer.

Congress: Selling Us Out, Piece by Piece

It’s safe to say not a day goes by without some part of Congress selling out to moneyed interests, and today was no exception. Today the House Committee on the Judiciary began fast-tracking a bill that obstructs promised compensation to asbestos victims. The Committee broke a promise to hold a public asbestos victims’ hearing and instead sent the bill to a full committee markup and vote without bothering even with a subcommittee vote.

The bill is H.R.982, called the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013. It is supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and based partly on “model” legislation written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for state legislators. The bill would require asbestos victim compensation trust funds to make public the personal information of those making claims on the trust. It lays no burden of “transparency” on companies that exposed workers and others to asbestos, however.

Asbestos victims’ advocate Judy Van Ness, who lost her husband to asbestos-caused disease, said of the bill,

“The FACT Act forces the asbestos trust funds who administer claims to reveal on a public website personally identifiable information about us and our families including the last four digits of our social security number, private work history and personal information of children exposed at an early age. This information could be used to deny employment, credit and health, life and disability insurance. It could also make us more vulnerable to identity thieves, con men and other types of predators.”

Some background — Because of his flameproofing properties, use of asbestos exploded in the 20th century, in ships, building materials, and machine and auto parts. Internal documents revealed during litigation showed that asbestos industry officials knew that breathing asbestos particles causes severe lung disease by the 1930s. The connection between asbestos and the deadly mesothelioma cancer was well documented in medical journals by the early 1960s. Yet the industry continued to recklessly expose workers and consumers to asbestos while aggressively lobbying against government safety regulations.

Not until the late 1970s did the Consumer Product Safety Commission ban asbestos use in wallboard patching compounds and gas fireplaces. And not until 1989 did the EPA attempt to ban most other asbestos products, a ban partly overturned by a federal appeals court in 1991.

Today there are stringent regulations regarding handling and disposal of asbestos, but all those years of recklessness have taken a toll. It is estimated that 10,000 U.S. workers die each year from asbestos exposure.

As asbestos manufacturers faced lawsuits from sick and dying workers, many went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy to protect their assets. Some of these manufacturers were required to set up asbestos personal injury trusts, which were responsible for compensating present and future claimants. The FACT Act of 2013 would require these trusts to disclose much personal information about the claimants, a requirement that seems to have little purpose except to dissuade people from filing claims. (According to the General Accounting Office, personal information about individual claimants may be obtained today with the permission of the claimants or in response to a legitimate subpoena, but otherwise the privacy of claimants is respected.)

FACT would also create delays in addressing claims, which creates great hardship for the victims. Most mesothelioma patients die within six to eighteen months of the diagnosis.

Industry associations and “tort reform” organizations have spread stories for years about greedy litigants looking for “jackpot” jury awards and alleged asbestos victims gouging money out of every company in sight without even being sick. The fact is that the trusts are set up with all kinds of safeguards against fraud.

The Asbestos Cancer Victims’ Rights Campaign has an online petition to stop the FACT Act. The larger point, though, is that this is just one more example of the way Congress, especially the House, has stopped working for the People.