Rightie Fantasia

Obama Administration


Younger and/or foreign readers may not recall how big a role the alleged moral superiority of small-town America used to play in conservative politics (and still does, to some extent). Republicans portrayed themselves as the party of the “real America”, of family values, as opposed to the decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts. Defense of traditional values played a big role in the 2004 campaign.

You always knew that there was plenty of hypocrisy here, that the heartland had no monopoly on virtue and the coast no monopoly on vice, and that surely some of the loudest family-value types had skeletons in their closets. But what we’re now learning about the Speaker of the House during those years is beyond anything one could have imagined.

I’ve encountered intelligent and thoughtful young people who were certain liberalism encourages sexual permissiveness, which was never what political liberalism was about. Rather, it was the simple idea that what consenting adults do in private is not anyone else’s concern, especially the government’s. And for all we know, political liberals may be less likely than political conservatives to do anything, um, remarkable. All we know is that the people screaming about family values and God’s laws seem at least as scandal-prone as anyone else. Maybe more so.

As I wrote in The Book, there is copious data showing that populations that are religiously and politically conservative have more divorce, more unmarried pregnant teenagers, and usually higher abortion rates (even if abortion is illegal) than people living in more secular, liberal and “permissive” cultures. And I concluded,

It appears that when absolutist morality is publicly enforced, actual human behavior — heterosexual behavior included — is driven into the closet, leaving actual humans with no practical guidance in their actual circumstances.

I say the absolutist approach to morality gets everything backward. It creates too wide a gap between public righteousness and what people are really doing in their private lives, so that the moral rules are not really guiding anyone. And when we cede the presumed moral high ground to the absolutists, too often we squelch open and honest public discussion of our real-world circumstances and moral decisions.

So it is with the Duggars; the conservative reaction overall has been to try to pretend nothing happened, or if it did happen it’s been dealt with and we should all just get over it. One rightie screeched

“‘Abuse’ is the new ‘racism,’” Boyer, who also sits on the board of the Home Educators Association of Virginia, wrote. “As soon as you’re accused of it, you’re considered guilty. Just what would you like the Duggars to have done? Turn all their kids over to a godless psychologist? Maybe one supplied by the local public school system where ‘abuse’ is so unheard of? Should they have skinned Josh alive, rolled him in salt and hung him on a meathook?”

Translation: The cognitive dissonance is hurting my brain! Everybody shut up about Josh Duggar so that I can go back to believing only secular liberals do depraved things!

Of course, righties live in fantasy land about other things, too. Krugman again:

Menzie Chinn notes the continuing failure of the Kansas experiment with supply-side tax cuts. And yes, it is an experiment — Gov. Brownback said it was, and by cutting taxes radically on the basis of ideology rather than any compelling event, Kansas in effect provided us with a natural experiment on exactly what such cuts accomplish. Menzie uses business indicators; I just look at employment growth since Brownback took office, compared with the nation as a whole (red line). No hint whatsoever of a supply-side boost, and of course a terrible fiscal crisis.

So how will this change GOP economic ideology? You know the answer: not at all. We live in an age of right-wing derp, of doctrines that just get repeated (and indeed strengthen their political hold) no matter how wrong they prove. Gold bugs and Austrians are more dominant in GOP circles than they were before seven years of wrongly predicting runaway inflation. Supply-siders are more dominant than ever despite the boom in California and the bust in Kansas.

This is not to say that liberals are always right. But most of the time, when presented with real-world evidence our ideas aren’t working as predicted, we adjust.

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  1. grannyeagle  •  May 31, 2015 @10:36 pm

    “Should they have skinned Josh alive, rolled him in salt and hung him on a meathook?”
    Of course not but I confess I have evil thoughts about what should have been done to him or at least to a certain part of his anatomy.

  2. Tom_b  •  Jun 1, 2015 @10:32 am

    Most righties seem to have zero concept of morality; it’s all “control” to them– keep women oppressed; regulate everybody else’s private life– except when individuals in their clan fall victim to their hormones.

    If they had any concept of morality, we wouln’t be arguing about lethal injection; we be abolishing the death penalty. Only about 3 or 4 civilized countries still have one– the rest are horrible places like China and the various Arab states.

  3. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 1, 2015 @10:34 am

    What Stephen Colbert said about George W. Bush at that press dinner, applies to all conservatives – to paraphrase”
    ‘They believe the same thing on Wednesday that they did on Monday, no matter what happens on Tuesday.’

    I don’t sense any ‘buyer’s regret’ from the people in KS.
    They next GOP Goobernatorial (sic) candidate will tell the people that while Brownback’s spirit was willing, his flesh was weak, and that by gosh, he/she will show them some REAL Conservatism if they’ll vote for him/her!

  4. goatherd  •  Jun 1, 2015 @11:03 am

    As an oracle of the obvious, it seems that moral absolutism fixes the locus of control outside the individual. So, the individual never has to engage the issue of morality and wrestle with the nuances, or even the reality. This is the kind of struggle that we learn from. The exception only comes when the fault or sin falls too close to home. Then it’s time to hit the book(s) to find adequate reason to blame the devil or the victim. Then there is plenty of public soul searching as the elders gather.

    There is a payoff for the average Joe, but only if the Joe in question is short of spiritual curiosity and is content to view the world of incidental externals. A kind of peace comes along with that, nagging doubts and insistent questions are all neatly pushed aside, and in the end you get to go to a magical summer camp.

  5. uncledad  •  Jun 1, 2015 @11:07 am

    “This is not to say that liberals are always right”

    Maybe not but the modern Christian fundie trickle down conservative is always wrong! The scary thing is they have FAUX news and all their wing-nut hate media always telling them the opposite, the wrong never sinks in? Not much separates the modern conservative and the inhabitants of Jonestown Guyana. Jones had to separate his flock from society to enforce his perverted doctrine, the modern conservative overlords have separated its flock from reality, brilliant!

  6. joanr16  •  Jun 1, 2015 @11:31 am

    Oh mercy me, I’m all a-flutter! Lindsey Graham is running for president! I must recline on my faintin’ couch!

  7. Tom_b  •  Jun 1, 2015 @11:59 am

    “…I’m all a-flutter! Lindsey Graham is running for president!”

    Where’s Mark Sanford in this? Why hasn’t he tossed his hat in?

  8. uncledad  •  Jun 1, 2015 @12:02 pm

    Geez in he twit filter again, and not even one of the seven deadly words?

  9. uncledad  •  Jun 1, 2015 @12:28 pm
  10. joanr16  •  Jun 1, 2015 @1:03 pm

    Very accurate assessment at Media Matters… sadly enough.

  11. grannyeagle  •  Jun 1, 2015 @1:40 pm

    JoanR16: Oh me, oh my!! I don’t have a fainting couch. Can I borrow yours?

  12. joanr16  •  Jun 1, 2015 @2:23 pm

    Grannyeagle, you are most welcome to, do you also need to borrow the smellin’ salts? I have plenty.

  13. paradoctor  •  Jun 1, 2015 @2:31 pm

    Please clarify: what is usual legal procedure in a case such as Josh Duggar? Counselling for the victims, I suppose; and presumably separating the abuser from the victims. Though in this case it involves splitting a family; does this complicate things? What other actions are normal? And who judges?

  14. Swami  •  Jun 1, 2015 @3:24 pm

    Just what would you like the Duggars to have done?

    Well, seeing how Jesus supposedly delivered young Josh from an incestuous spirit you’d think the Duggars would give testimony for the merciful gift of the Lord. What better opportunity for a powerful Christian witness than to be delivered from the depths of depravity and brought into the light of Christ. Yet the Duggars denied the redemptive power and healing balm of Jesus. They gave Satan the victory by hiding Josh’s wicked and sinful nature. Seems somebody was trying to put new wine in old wineskins
    Doesn’t the scripture speak to us in Luke 8:16 ? No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a bushel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light.

  15. Swami  •  Jun 1, 2015 @4:15 pm

    Ah, so Lindsey took the plunge! I’m still struggling to understand what is it that makes these clowns enter into a presidential race when there is absolutely no chance of even getting off the ground. Is it the money, the notoriety of name recognition?, or just a basic ego trip? I wonder from where Lindsey is going to launch his campaign..Victoria’s secret? Who knows? Maybe from the J Edgar Hoover building.

  16. paradoctor  •  Jun 1, 2015 @4:27 pm

    Swami: yes, they should have gone to the authorities promptly, for religious and legal reasons. I’m wondering about the specifics of what happens next. For instance, should they have lawyered up with equal promptness? Is the process designed for minimum or maximum family disruption? And (speaking pragmatically) how much would their reality-show wealth smooth the process? How would it go for them, without that wealth?

    My take-home lesson; if you have 19 kids, then eventually one of them will mess up enough to cost you a bundle.

  17. grannyeagle  •  Jun 1, 2015 @4:46 pm

    joanr16: Smelling salts? I do believe they are ammonia and I don’t care for the smell. Maybe it would be better to just take a little nap.

  18. uncledad  •  Jun 1, 2015 @7:52 pm

    “Just what would you like the Duggars to have done”

    Simple, they should have reported the incident to the police, not some family friend who happened to be a cop was into kiddie p#rn. Had they reported the boys action to the proper authorities the department of child services would have known how to handle the situation legally and what was best for all involved. Instead the parents chose to cover the little miscreant’s actions up and for that they should be prosecuted and should not have parental rights to any of the remaining children. Simple

  19. erinyes  •  Jun 1, 2015 @8:00 pm

    I had a friend when I was a kid that was one of 13 children. I don’t know how they did it. They had meals in shifts, there was always crying or screaming. It was like living in a troop of friggin monkeys. They were Catholic, mom and dad were always praying. I don’t see how that would be a good life. The one that was my friend went into the priesthood, got ejected, and became a basket case. Something happened in the seminary that screwed him up royally.

  20. Doug  •  Jun 1, 2015 @8:19 pm

    Uncledad – and any of the regulars. You can call me ‘our’ Doug or ‘our’ mailman or any number of insults if you want to disagree with my comment. But on Mahablog, I am NOT to be referred to as a ‘hero’ or any other sandwich for that matter. I have to deal with that crap elsewhere, smile and say ‘thank you’. Here, I’m among friends who know my faults and I’ll feel a lot more comfortable if you treat me as one of the gang, same as before.

  21. Doug  •  Jun 1, 2015 @9:10 pm

    A lot of years ago, when I was in restaurant management, the boss and I had to deal with an adult gay employee in his 20s who was pestering a high-school student who had clearly expressed no interest in same-sex dating. I was the asst mgr and the manager wanted me to evaluate how/if we should respond since it had been brought to our attention, by the minor. My boss wanted me to realize, and I eventually did, that the issue was sexual harassment in the workplace.

    Since then I’ve been able to keep the focus. If an evangelical complains that gay parents will/might abuse their children, natural or adoptive, I ask how that differs in substance or degree from abuse by heterosexual parents, real or adoptive.When a law proposes to give funds to religious schools, I ask if they are OK with funding by the same formula to Muslim schools? In discussing a ban on abortion, I suggest we impose a pregnancy test on any female of child-bearing age before she can exit the country, and impose immediate penalties if she returns un-pregnant.

    The trick and the problem is critical thinking. The morality police are very good at ginning up outrage against the minority they want to target. People get swept up in a game of misdirection – outrage for a crime by the target group which an approved group will be absolved of.

  22. Swami  •  Jun 2, 2015 @2:42 am

    paradoctor …I’m not sure whether you picked up on the facetiousness in my comment.
    The reason I have such strong feelings against the Duggars and all those who seek to minimize the damage that Josh has done is because I have been through the ordeal of having my 13 year old daughter molested by a sexual predator of the Christian variety.
    Close to 20 years ago my family and I were involved in a church where my daughters were in the church youth group. The youth pastor was a married 26 year old who had been raised in that church and gave all appearances of being a clean cut and decent guy. He earned the praise and admiration of the whole congregation with his beautiful singing voice and zeal in helping the youth of the church come to fruition in the Christian life.
    Unfortunately, he had secret desire, similar to that of Josh Duggar’s, that manifest itself in the molestation of 4 young girls in the church youth group. Eventually his secret was discovered and he was arrested and sentenced to 4 years in prison and also was enrolled (married?.. till death do us part) for life on the sexual offenders list.
    But the story doesn’t end there. There’s also the part of the damage inflicted on his victims and their families. So,I really have a hard time listening to a guy like Huckabee who, in Josh’s case, can just gloss over the damage with a simple they received counseling comment. All is well now!
    It might be the case in some situations where the victims can just move on in their life with no apparent damage, but chances are, given the tenderness of the age of Josh’s victims there is going to be life altering effects and damage to Josh’s victims that just can’t be dismissed with a plea to make Josh the victim of a youthful indiscretion.

  23. paradoctor  •  Jun 2, 2015 @10:29 am

    Facetiousness noted. Thank you.
    Personal suffering noted. My condolences.
    Long-term suffering noted. O horror.

    Uncledad has answered some of my procedural questions. Call cops promptly, child-protection services get involved, much counseling for all.
    In practice, how well does this work? (Better than reflexive self-protection; ask the Catholic Church.)

  24. uncledad  •  Jun 2, 2015 @11:00 am

    “I am NOT to be referred to as a ‘hero’ or any other sandwich for that matter”

    Not even a Gyro? No problem Doug I understand, I think?

  25. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 2, 2015 @11:02 am

    Well, I could never fly in a gyro, because I’m a Blimpie! 😉

  26. uncledad  •  Jun 2, 2015 @11:11 am


    Sorry to hear of you and your daughters ordeal, best wishes to your entire family. The problem with the Duggars is they were and I suspect still not concerned about the wellbeing of their kids. They (like most right-wingers) are only concerned about how they can capitalize on every situation. They did not report the misconduct because they knew it would tarnish their brand. I place all the blame squarely on the parents, why they are not being vilified along with the little molester escapes me?

  27. goatherd  •  Jun 3, 2015 @10:22 am

    The plot with “Coach Denny” thickens. Does the name Sibelius Edmond ring any bells?

  28. Swami  •  Jun 3, 2015 @12:36 pm

    goatherd.. Do tell. I’m always interested in unraveling clues. It beats the hell out of watching reruns of Perry Mason. I googled Sibelius Edmond, but it didn’t provide me with a strong enough connection to put me on the trail of coach’s evildoing. Spill, man!

  29. goatherd  •  Jun 4, 2015 @11:19 am

    We have very dodgy Wi-Fi here, and autocorrect …

    I think the Sibel Edmonds affaire will prove very interesting.