Archive for category Conservative
The presidential debates should be an opportunity to focus on the most important issues of the day. Unfortunately, the producers of the second debate failed miserably at this goal, because of their selection of which questions to ask.
Prior to the debate, the producers agreed to consider the top thirty questions voted on by the public at Open Debates. The question with the third largest number of votes, posed by Ellen Pleasant from North Carolina in the video below, was “Do you support expanding, and not cutting, Social Security’s modest benefits?”
That straightforward question was voted third, out of more than 12,000 questions on which to vote. Over 45,000 Americans voted for Ellen’s question. With poll after poll showing that retirement insecurity is a top financial concern of most Americans and with the reality that Social Security is likely to be even more important in the future, the voting is no surprise.
But the moderators did not ask it – or any of the other questions in the top thirty…
Why not ask such an obvious question? David Dayen explains: Debate Moderators Under the Spell of Deficit-Obsessed Billionaire Pete Peterson.
Who is Peter G. Peterson? He is a former Nixon cabinet official and private equity billionaire who has been demanding cuts to programs he’s too rich to rely upon since the early 1980s. Peterson was the inspiration behind President Obama’s failed Catfood Commission and many phony “grassroots” groups calling for austerity budgets, and ending Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
If you watch cable TV, you have seen the scary Peter G. Peterson ads warning us of impending economic collapse unless the Washington politicians come up with more tax cuts for the rich and benefits cuts for the 99 Percent.
Everybody in America totally rejects Peterson’s austerity plans. Everybody, that is, except the 1 Percenters and their bipartisan representatives in the nation’s capital. Even if Peterson remains unsuccessful in his quest to destroy our social safety net, his relentless propaganda helps stifle the debate about EXPANDING Social Security and other programs – which is what we ought to do.
A government of the people, by the people, and for the people is the opposite of what Peterson and his political allies such as Hillary Clinton want to achieve.
Did anyone notice in the last debate when Hillary pledged she would “not add a penny to the Debt?” That was Peter G. Peterson talking.
To be honest, there are so many gob-smacking details in the story it’s difficult to know which deserve the most mockery.
Let’s start by noting that the Missouri state senator involved is chair of the Missouri senate’s interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life. Let’s just pause and let that sink in.
What the actual fuck?! The state of Missouri’s senators are so far gone that they actually have a Committee on the Sanctity of life. The duties of said committee are spelled out here and are genuinely stunning in multiple, utterly nonsensical ways: Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been trying to make sense of the antics on display at the Omaha Public School hearing about making changes to their thirty year old sexuality education program.
It had the hallmarks of a moral panic:
A moral panic is a public panic over an issue deemed to be a threat to, or shocking to, the sensibilities of “proper” society. This is often fanned by sensationalistselective reporting in the media and exaggerated accounts offered by “moral entrepreneur,” a category that includes politicians on the make and activists in search of a cause. Moral panics can result in what is a real phenomenon being blown way out of proportion, or in what is not a real phenomenon in the first place being widely believed to be real. Moral panics often feature a caricatured or stereotypical “folk devil” on which the anxieties of the community are focused, as described by sociologist Stanley Cohen who coined the term in his study Folk Devils and Moral Panics, which examined media coverage of the mod and rocker riots in the 1960s.
The basic outline of this drama could have been predicted (and was predicted) months ago – someone objects to same-sex couples marrying; in their business or government position they refuse to issue marriage licenses or otherwise serve same-sex couples. A minor media brushfire occurs, a right wing legal organization leaps into the fray and throws gasoline on the fire. A court orders the person to issue said marriage licenses or provide said services. Person refuses, and on the advice of the legal organization starts talking about religious freedom. Court orders person to do their job. Person refuses. Right wing legal organization gives bad advice, hoping to create a martyr. Person goes to jail for contempt of court. The Religious Right goes up in flames.
The specific details were always up for grabs – there’s no reason it had to be Rowan County, Kentucky rather than Mobile, Alabama or Twin Falls, Idaho. The objector could have been a man not a woman, a judge not a county clerk or the owner of a business. That the objector would adhere to a form fundamentalist Christianity was a given, although the specific form doesn’t make much difference (Davis belongs to an Apostolic Christian Church). The actual nature of the objection could easily have been a cut and paste job – we were always going to hear screeching about religious freedom and how this poor person is being oppressed. Even the specifics of the punishment are largely unimportant – whether it was jail time or fines or an order to comply with nondiscrimination laws, the reaction was always going to be the same. Even the comparisons to Rosa Parks were inevitable as the religious right tries to coopt the luster of the Civil Rights movement.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis helpfully stepped into the fray. Her refusal to issue any and all marriage licenses, especially to same-sex couples, put her in the middle of the fight the religious right has wanted for the longest time. Read the rest of this entry »
but then we all already knew that, right?
Nicholas Kristof’s column this morning makes several shrewd observations:
TO appreciate the dumbing down of American politics, consider this: Conservative Republicans, indignant about abortion, are trying to destroy a government program that helps prevent 345,000 abortions a year.
In other words, Title X prevents an abortion about once every 90 seconds.
Family planning investments also offer hedge fund-like returns, for a condom or IUD can avert more than $12,000 in average Medicaid spending on a childbirth. Guttmacher calculates that every $1 invested in public family planning services saves $7 in public expenditures. This is a program that saves money as well as lives.
The paradox of conservative Republicans falling all over themselves to condemn Planned Parenthood for a practice that many Republicans voted to authorize while also threatening to defund and destroy a program that prevents hundreds of thousands of abortions perfectly exemplifies the self-defeating nature of conservative policy.
Mark Summer at Kos sums up the conservative obsession perfectly:
For them, abortion has never been an issue. It’s AN ISSUE. It’s not about babies, after all, it’s about (sotto voce) S-E-X. Any program that helps women with… women things, is something, something, somehow a Very Serious Threat that women should fail in their defined role as the guardians of virtue. After all, how many little girls out there are thinking right now “well, I would be a total sex-crazed slut if only there was someone standing by with federal funds to help me not catch chlamydia.” Se… (ahem) S-E-X should be scary. And is something that should be reserved to old male Congressmen who have the money to pay for it.
It seems to me there’s a deeper force at work. In Republican Gomorrah, Max Blumenthal described it as the culture of personal crisis. It should not be lost on us that conservative states have higher rates of unintended pregnancy and teen pregnancy than do progressive states, it should not be lost on us that divorce rates are higher in conservative religious Alabama than they are in liberal Massachusetts. Texas’ conservative, overtly religious political culture produces policies which reliably produce higher rates of teen pregnancy, unintended pregnancy and divorce which creates the feedback loops that drives Texas’ conservative, overtly religious political culture. Opposition to abortion, and more broadly any honesty about sexuality, is not driven by rational concerns and doesn’t connect to rational policies. When faced with an angry constituency wanting to know why they haven’t done anything about Roe v. Wade, conservative Republicans have no rational policy response so they’ve lashed out at a government policy that is about sex and therefore must somehow alleviate the anger. Then, when the policy response fails, conservatives will, no doubt, decry the culture of personal crisis their policies have created and deepened. It’s a great racket.
The blogosphere has been chuckling – okay laughing uproariously – at Bryan Fischer, spokesperson for the American Family Association. Fischer, you see, recently declared “proof” that America is a Christian nation because . . . bacon.
“You want one single item of proof that America is a Christian nation and not a Jewish nation and not an Islamic nation?” he asked. “One single bit of proof is all you need: we freely allow restaurants and grocery stores to sell and to serve bacon. That can only happen in a Christian country.” “So the sheer fact that we freely allow the sale and consumption of bacon,” he continued, “is absolute proof that we are, in fact, a Christian nation”
The part that fascinates me is that Fischer offered this bon mot as if it were an actual argument. I can’t help but wonder – are there conservative Christians out there for whom this argument is persuasive?
Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly highlighted a report from Media Matters, detailing the depth and breadth of the right’s bizarre Benghazi! obsession. Ed noted:
Short of gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Watergate hearings, I’m not sure we’ve seen anything quite like it in modern electronic media. And we wonder why in the strange alternative universe of the conservative movement, jabbering about Benghazi! is like discussing the weather.
From the Media Matters report:
Media Matters reviewed Fox News transcripts and identified segments including significant discussion of Benghazi on The Five, Special Report with Bret Baier, The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity, and On the Record with Greta Van Susteren between September 11, 2012, the night of the attacks, and May 2, 2014, when House Speaker John Boehner announced the formation of a select committee to investigate the attacks and their aftermath. This report does not include The Kelly File or Fox Report because they did not run for the full period of the study.
?1,098 total Fox News evening segments that included significant discussion of Benghazi — an average of about 13 segments per week
?In 18 of 20 months studied, Fox ran at least 20 Benghazi segments per month, with a high of 174 in October 2012
?382 segments aired on Special Report, the network’s flagship news program
?478 segments invoked the talking points used for Susan Rice’s 2012 Sunday show appearances
?281 segments alleging a “cover-up” by the Obama administration
?144 interviews of GOP members of Congress versus only five interviews of Democratic members of Congress and Obama administration officials
?120 comparisons to Iran-Contra, Watergate, and the actions of the Nixon administration
?105 attempts to link Benghazi to Hillary Clinton’s potential presidential ambitions
?100 segments promoting the lie that the administration issued a “stand-down order”
Media Matters points out that Fox’s talking points have been repeatedly refuted by actual facts but that hasn’t stopped the sludge from flowing. The right’s obsession with Benghazi is a perfect example of the mighty wurlitzer at work. It’s depressing – people on the right have an almost religious belief that Benghanzi! was some sort of scandal and that if they just keep digging the nefarious, black-hearted truth will emerge.
Conservatives have now spent 2 years shrieking hysterically about BENGHAZI, convinced of some sort of malfeasance or deliberate wrongdoing by the Obama Administration. According to the Republican led House Intelligence Committee, not so much.
Among the key findings:
— Intelligence agencies were “warned about an increased threat environment, but did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened.”
— “A mixed group of individuals, including those associated with al Qaeda, (Moammar) Khadafy loyalists and other Libyan militias, participated in the attack.”
— “There was no ‘stand-down order’ given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening, no illegal activity or illegal arms transfers occurring by U.S. personnel in Benghazi, and no American was left behind.”
— The administration’s process for developing “talking points” was “flawed, but the talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis.”
Anyone betting this will mean conservatives will stop hysterically shrieking about Benghazi is taking a sucker’s bet.