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So the election was a landslide. Well, that's what the math nerds had been saying for a while. (I am proud of my people; this is a status high-point for us statisticians.)
But it got me thinking. How could a political party allow itself to get caught philosophizing in public about rape right before the election? Were they trying to lose?
Then, it occurs to me. They didn't see anything wrong with it. They certainly didn't think it would hurt their chances. Religious conservatives believe everyone thinks like that.
This is what fundamentalism is: a cult for those obsessed with sex and controlling women's bodies. They thought they were helping to persuade undecideds. They don't realize that normal folks aren't obsessed with sex in that way.
So, GOP, here is some advice for 2014:
Explaining that you think rape is part of god's plan doesn't make us feel better about rape or your plans to make family planning illegal. It makes us want to kick you in the nuts.
The last few years have helped me to realize what the conservative worldview is, what its foundational feature is. Calling it an ideology gives it too much credit. It is really a habit of mind. It boils down to this:
Powerful bigots should have all the power.
It surely isn't about personal liberty. American conservatives oppose government only when government challenges inequality. Conservatives are all for government oppression when they get to direct it at immigrants and minorities. Conservatives are all for big government when it means enforcing fundamentalism.
It isn't about liberty. It is about hierarchy. Conservatives instinctively support the powerful in any conflict. Conservatives believe that the powerful are better than the rest of us. Our duty, to them, is obedience.
Realizing this is what conservatism is all about helps us understand our contemporary political moment.
It comes as no surprise that the very wealthy regard the rest of us with contempt. Romney's '47%' speech just shows us how the 1% feel about people who have to work for a living.
What I think is more revealing is the part where Romney claims to have inherited nothing. The very wealthy are socialized to believe that they deserve everything they have, including power. So they tend to accept such obviously false beliefs. That is the real sense of entitlement in the US, not people who believe they are entitled to health care, food, or housing — which, in fact, they are entitled to under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
People who have so much unmerited privilege resent that the rest of us don't accept their superiority. That feeling, that sense of entitlement, is what makes Romney a disgusting plutocrat.
Color me not surprised that the supposedly devout conservative Christian is an unprincipled liar and craven opportunist. I'm also not surprised that the Republicans have gone all in on the racial resentment/white supremacy strategy. As Jonathan Chait points out, this is their last chance to destroy the New Deal.
There’s no moral or policy rationale for Romney’s proposal to increase social safety net spending on current retirees while cutting Pell Grants, Medicaid, children’s health insurance, and food stamps to shreds. The nonwhite share of the electorate is increasing fast enough that the political math of this sort of gambit will grow completely impossible — there will simply be, from the right-wing perspective, too many of them and not enough us. But there may be just enough us to pull out one more win, and thus the Republican determination to make such a win as consequential as possible.
Just in case you thought Richie Rich couldn't be any more of an asshole...
Kevin Drum digs into Romney's shameless lying.
I guess Mr Romney has received permission from his church Elders to lie his way to the White House.
Because Christians are better than the rest of us.
If David Brooks reads this Charles Pierce column and doesn't put a bullet through his own temple, he is not a man.
I'm afraid that Mr Brooks is taking the neo-feudalism of the GOP a bit too literally. But Pierce amply demonstrates that Brooks is full of shit anyway. Once again, we are reminded that the only possible reason that Brooks is still employed must be that he has pictures of an editor in a compromising position. (And, no surprise that Brooks feels at home with the wankery of the Aspen Ideas Festival.)
From Erik Loomis at LGM:
Yes, point taken. But I think it is important to note that I expect more from Democrats than their not being insane reactionaries. I want a real political party that represents workers.
Henwood says something in his essay that I find completely puzzling:
The United States would be a very different country had unions—which still have a lot of money and people to work with—spent the last five years agitating for single-payer health insurance.
As someone who spends a lot of time doing union work, in addition to my regular job, I find this assertion laughable. First, if my union were to spend any significant resources on this instead of organizing our workplace and trying to improve our bargaining position, the leadership would likely be voted out in the next union election. It would be awfully hard to convince people to join the union if we couldn't point to concrete things we've done to make their jobs better. Most people, it should be obvious, won't pay union dues for social movement organizing alone.
Second, in my union chapter, there are perhaps two dozen people who can be counted on to do organizing work, and we represent about 500 full-time faculty and more than that many part-time faculty, in addition to several hundred academic staff. You do the math in terms of organizing capacity. We can barely manage to organize our campus on bread-and-butter issues. There is simply no way to do significant social movement organizing (advocating for the working class in general) without first building a significant organizing capacity based on the workplace. The sad truth is that most unions are like mine. There isn't a lot of excess organizing capacity to spend on class mobilization.
My friend Samir Chopra has a series of posts about unions in the aftermath of the Wisconsin election. He's spot on; the important thing when thinking about unions and democratic society is power. Without unions, workers have no power, not only in the workplace, as Samir says, but also in politics. Unions are the most important form of resistance to the inequality that is essential to capitalism.
Anti-union workers need to hear an important message: it is never the moral choice to side with the powerful against the powerless.
Isn't the difference between big banks and private equity firms merely the difference between Frank and Jesse James?
Read the article to see Pierce's latest takedown of Brooks.
Ideology makes people think that the perspective of the investor class is their own. Brooks, of course, is just a paid shill, but the pablum he writes resonates with a lot of working people who echo concerns about the "competitiveness of American business" and the need for corporations to be "nimble" and "flexible." They talk positively about "creative destruction." These qualities constitute an objective condition that is much worse for working people.
Ideology makes people believe things that are against their own interests.
So says Samantha Hopkins, assistant professor of geology at the University of Oregon, who studies diet and evolution.
My favorite part of the story:
Hopkins and her colleagues found this out by scanning the literature for data on what 1,500 species of modern mammals eat. They gleaned it from field research by biologists, who sift through poop and examine stomach contents. It is not glamorous work.
The story is actually quite interesting in terms of human evolution. Go read it so your impression of these scientists' work is not my silly quotation.
No one who pays attention to politics is unaware of what the Republicans are trying to do with the budget. James Surowiecki's conclusion gets to the serious point:
In order to return our society to the time of (their) ideal domination — of whites over people of color, of men over women, of bosses over workers, of the wealthy over the rest of us — Republicans must repeal all of the accomplishments of progressives in the last century. Most people don't want that to happen. So the Republicans lie about it.
They should at least have the courage of their horrific, feudal convictions.
Paul Krugman, once again, uses empirical data to expose the flaws in our democracy. He captures the hypocrisy of Republican voters nicely in the title: Moochers Against Welfare.
He mentions three possible explanations for why people in districts that elected the most conservative representatives tend to use more government programs than people in more liberal districts — the very people who seem to be most against social welfare are bigger "moochers" than the voters they rail against. Well, hypocrisy is a truly American value.
But I think the variable that Krugman has overlooked is most important: race. Those relatively poor whites in the reddest districts are opposed to social welfare for people of color, who they demonize as "unworthy poor" unlike themselves. Old fashioned American racism combined with the fundamental attribution error ("my misfortune is due to bad luck; yours is because you are lazy, stupid, evil, etc.") seems to be the best explanation.
Let's not forget that ignorance plays a huge role in this dynamic as well, given that 40+% of the recipients of government programs believe that they have never received government aid. The ideology of predatory capitalism exploits this ignorance to keep relatively less well off whites angry about public spending. It is also why Republicans, when elected, never actually enact the "small government" they blather on about.
Moochers against welfare is a pretty accurate description of the Tea Party.
Everywhere in the world — in the US and elsewhere — where democracy is tried, corrupt politicians use power to enrich themselves and their class allies. We are ruled by money. We need a new idea. We need a new world.
In the face of this failure of formal electoral processes, there is only one thing we can do: take to the streets.
A warning for Mitt: when Newt Gingrich calls you a liar, it is like Satan calling you evil.
The latest Rick Perry news serves as proof that it is actually possible to be too stupid to win the Republican Presidential nomination.
The New York Times asks if reporters should be reporters or merely stenographers.
How sad that we've come to a place where this is an actual question in the so-called newpaper of record.
The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life. Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth. -- IWW
In a democracy it is necessary that people should learn to endure having their sentiments outraged. -- Bertrand Russell
Let us strangle the last king with the entrails of the last priest. -- Denis Diderot
It's not that no one sees the straight line to Doomtown we've been on since Reagan, it's that there's big profits in it. The most superficially Christian and Other-Worldly-Yearning nation in the developed world is the one most likely to kill you for your shoes. -- Doghouse Riley
The true purpose of education is to try to foster in students a kind of critical cosmopolitanism, such that they learn, among other things, to question any notion that one’s nation or tribe is favored by God or destiny. -- Michael Bérubé
It is not enough to decry the existence of the Spectacle. We intend to use both art and theory as a battering ram against Capitalism and its false opposition, tribalism, in all of its mystical forms. We believe it is possible to move beyond the inexcusable savagery of everyday life. -- The Anti-Naturals
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