Conservatives often project their failings onto other groups. Here is a classic example of conservative projection. The Republican Party has driven out not only its moderates, but it’s less extreme conservatives. Even Ronald Reagan would be too “liberal” these days, supporting tax increases and supporting increases in the debt limit without question. Barry Goldwater would be seen as a flaming liberal with his attacks on the religious right. In contrast, the Democratic Party ranges from conservatives to liberals (most generally barely left of center by international standards). Michael Goodwin claims at the far-right New York Post that it is the Democratic Party which has driven out its moderates.
“Amazon announced plans for an amazing service called Amazon Prime Air. When you order something from Amazon that weighs five pounds or less, a robot will drop your package on your doorstep. It’s all part of Amazon’s pledge to drive your dog insane…
“You know in some countries seeing an unmanned drone means your village is about to be destroyed. In America it means you ordered Mad Men on Blu-ray.” –Jimmy Kimmel
Check out Sarah Palin at Liberty University lashing out against “angry atheists” who want to “abort Christ from Christmas.” She also said:
If you lose that foundation, John Adams was implicitly warning us, then we will not follow our constitution, there will be no reason to follow our constitution because it is a moral and religious people who understand that there is something greater than self, we are to live selflessly, and we are to be held accountable by our creator, so that is what our constitution is based on, so those revisionists, those in the lamestream media, especially, who would want to ignore what our founders actually thought, felt and wrote about in our charters of liberty – well, that’s why I call them the lamestream media.
The Republican Party and the conservative movement operate in a Bizzaro World where whatever they say is frequently the opposite of fact. Republicans claim to be the party of individual liberty and small government while promoting a government which is more intrusive in the private lives of individuals and the party which is far more responsible for increasing the deficit. They regularly deny the racism which is a major component of their views and the manner in which they promote create fear of minorities with their arguments against a social safety net. This conservative lack of awareness is fully on display in John Hawkin’s arguments on Why Liberalism Is On The Wrong Side Of History.
Hawkins began with the usual erroneous claim that liberals, who have historically been the party of defending liberty, stand for the opposite:
Liberals dream of one day seeing all Americans permanently locked in the smothering, cradle-to-grave death grip of the nanny state. Nothing excites a liberal more than the idea of controlling where you go to school, regulating your work and play, deciding what type of health care you’re going to have and then deciding when you get to retire and how much money you have when you do. Even if you want to choose, you can’t. Even if you want to break free, you’re stuck. You’re not allowed to make different choices because liberals have made it illegal.
Such projection of conservative views is seen throughout the article which distorts liberal beliefs while ignoring the fact that it is the conservatives who have been promoting restrictions on reproductive rights and using the power of the state to tell people who they may or may not marry. It is Republicans who seek to use the power of government to impose their religious views on everyone. Melissa McEwan has discussed this further.
Conservative views on liberty become more understandable when we understand that to conservatives, freedom frequently means the freedom to impose their religious views upon others, the freedom to avoid contributing to the social safety net, and the freedom from even necessary government economic regulations.
Lacking reality-based arguments, Hawkins resorted to an imaginary mischaracterization of liberal views:
The problem with that is not so much liberals living how they want to live; it’s that liberals want to force everyone else to live how they want to live. They don’t like guns; so no one should have guns. They like gay marriage; so everyone must be forced to like gay marriage. They like PBS; so everyone should be forced to pay for PBS…
If Justin Bieber is at the top of the pop charts, should EVERYONE be forced to listen to Justin Bieber? If Duck Dynasty is popular, should EVERYONE be forced to watch Duck Dynasty? If the two most popular foods in America turn out to be hotdogs and chocolate ice cream, should EVERYONE have to eat those two foods at every meal? We laugh at this sort of thinking in the marketplace, but that’s exactly the philosophy liberals have with government.
In reality, liberals believe in a system which results in a wide variety of views. Unlike many conservative, liberals encourage and support a wide variety individual choice–not only in popular culture but in life styles.
Considering recent headlines, it is not surprising that Hawkins distorts the Affordable Care Act with no recognition that the individual mandate was an option of a position long-promoted by conservatives, and that Obamacare provides people with more choices in health care. While liberalism has promoted a market economy, liberals recognize that there are areas where the market fails, such as in the financing of health care. The Affordable Care Act is giving choices to people who were denied health care coverage due to having medical problems–a fundamental failing of the old system. Supporting a solution using government in such situations is far different from conservative use of government to try to ban abortions, impose vaginal probes on women, restrict access to contraception, ban same-sex marriage, and prevent the use of marijuana, even for medical needs.
The historical trend has been towards liberalism. Some liberal gains of the past when government did impose restrictions, such as prohibiting child labor, are now widely accepted. Social Security and Medicare are considered essential portions of the social safety net by most people. We have reached a tipping point in which same-sex marriage is rapidly being accepted, and ending marijuana prohibition will probably follow soon after. Conservatives are on the wrong side of history–and their problem is only exacerbated when they show how they are out of touch with reality when they claim to be the party which supports liberty.
“Is it possible that America may be coming to its senses a little? That may be the message from these elections we had on Tuesday because Chris Christie, the big winner, is from the not-nuthouse wing of the party – you know, he’s an indoor Republican. And the two bats**t Tea Party people lost pretty bad. In Virginia, their candidate for governor, Ken Cuccinelli went down, which is ironic because he was trying to make oral sex illegal. I’m not making that up. He wanted to make abortion impossible, ban gay marriage, and reinstate the sodomy laws against oral and anal sex. Why? Because it’s a Republicans’ job to get government out of our lives.” –Bill Maher
“Outlaw sodomy? Does this guy realize that for most people under 30, sodomy is the main form of birth control. What a platform. He wanted to outlaw blow jobs, and he lost single women in the state by 43 points. But listen to this, he won married women by 9. That’s all I need to know about marriage.” –Bill Maher
“In Alabama, the Tea Party candidate named Dean Young, who wanted to impeach Obama and compared gay people to animals, he lost to a potty-trained Republican. Boy, that is something for your resume – Dean Young: too ignorant for Alabama.” –Bill Maher
Nick Gillespie of Reason had an op-ed in The Washington Post yesterday on Five Myths About Libertarians. Here’s my take on these alleged myths, which generally have some degree of truth but are not necessarily completely true:
1. Libertarians are a fringe band of “hippies of the right.”
The classic description that libertarians who have smoked marijuana is true (even if simplistic) about many but certainly not all. There are libertarians on the left and right, but this doesn’t have as much electoral significance as Gillespie suggests when writing:
Libertarians are found across the political spectrum and in both major parties. In September 2012, the Reason-Rupe Poll found that about one-quarter of Americans fall into the roughly libertarian category of wanting to reduce the government’s roles in economic and social affairs. That’s in the same ballpark as what other surveys have found and more than enough to swing an election.
Looking beyond the likelihood that a Reason poll might tilt the questions and definitions towards such a finding, there are vast differences between right-libertarians and left-libertarians. Sure, if there was a Democratic candidate who is terrible (as very many are) on civil liberties and social issues it is conceivable I might vote for a libertarian Republican for the Senate who might provide a strong voice for some issues I support. Of course this would not include someone like Rand Paul. Left-libertarians see the issues which impact individual liberty far differently from right-libertarians, many of whom don’t even support abortion rights. Left-libertarians disagree with right-libertarians as to the importance of some regulation of the economy, realizing that markets are human inventions which require regulation to function. Many of the left-libertarians who are not thrilled with ObamaCare prefer a single payer system which directly conflicts with the core values of right libertarians. There is simply a huge gap between different people who might be lumped together as libertarians in such a poll.
Left-libertarians and right-libertarians are unlikely to join together to swing an election, but there is hope that the two could exert pressure on both Republicans and Democrats to change some of their policies in areas where the two groups agree.
2. Libertarians don’t care about minorities or the poor.
Few outside the libertarian movement really buy their claims that libertarianism helps the poor. Democratic economic policies may not be libertarian (nor are they socialist) but the historical fact remains that the economy does better under Democrats. As opposed to the right wing view of trickle-down economics, a rising tide under Democrats is more likely to raise all ships. Where this doesn’t work, the social safety-net which libertarians oppose remains necessary. On the other hand I do agree with Gillespie to a degree that there are areas where it would be beneficial to reduce regulations on small business. That said, I run a small business and do manage to survive with all the regulations in place.
Gillespie is right about the drug war, which is largely a war on poor minorities. What other result is possible after you imprison minorities for drug possession, and then release them from prison with a criminal record which makes it very difficult to ever get a job?
3. Libertarianism is a boys’ club.
He is right here. There have been prominent libertarians among libertarian intellectual leaders. I have known female libertarians. They do exist.
4. Libertarians are pro-drug, pro-abortion and anti-religion.
As I mentioned above, it is a favorable characteristic that libertarians oppose the drug war (which is not the same as supporting drug use). Having thirty percent of libertarians opposing abortion rights is a negative.
Saying any political group is anti-religion is likely to be fallacious. Republicans have often claimed Democrats are anti-religion but the percentage of atheists among Democrats is fairly low (even if higher than among Republicans). The difference is that liberals who are religious see religion far differently than conservatives, and do not have the desire to use government to impose their religious views upon others.
Some libertarians are quite hostile to religion. Ayn Rand (who didn’t actually consider herself part of the libertarian movement) has writings as hostile towards religion as to socialism (which in her mind would include the views of Democrats). On the other hand, there are some called libertarians such as Ron Paul and Rand Paul who support many of the views of the religious right, and whose philosophy is not one I would consider to be pro-freedom. I have discussed Ron Paul’s anti-freedom views at length here. People of the old right such as Ron Paul also carry much of their baggage including racism, creating further problems when considering libertarians and minorities.
5. Libertarians are destroying the Republican Party.
On the one hand Republicans do need a reboot in their ideas. It is a good sign when some Republicans join some Democrats on issues such as opposing violations of privacy rights from NSA surveillance programs. On the other hand, opposing all government activity regardless of importance just pulls Republicans further from mainstream views.
The old Republican Party would talk about abortion during elections but wouldn’t dream of actually trying to restrict abortions and the issue was forgotten between elections. Country Club Republicans didn’t really want to lose this option should their own daughters get pregnant. Republican strategists were wary of the outcome, realizing that making abortion a true political issue would turn their party into a regional party without chance of success beyond the conservative areas of the country. That has already occurred, so perhaps they have nothing more to lose. In the old days, Republican leaders considered the religious right a bunch of kooks as they sought their votes and contributions. Now the kooks are in control of the Republican Party.
Texas today passed harsh restrictions on abortion rights, contrary to the right to privacy inherent in the Constitution as upheld by the Supreme Court. Of course the conservative activist judges who have been working to change the United States into a right wing Bizarro World which our Founding Fathers would not recognize might go along with these Republican attempts to restrict the basic human right to control one’s own body. Conservatives have been spreading a revisionist history for the past several years denying the separation of church and state which this nation was founded upon.
In the first six months of this year, a total of 47 line items restricting abortion have been enacted in 18 states, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based research group that supports abortion rights. Perry’s signing of the Texas legislation would bring the 2013 count to 52 restrictions in 19 states.
That midyear tally is the second-highest of all time, surpassed only by 2011, when 80 line-item restrictions were enacted in 19 states.
The Republicans will enjoy such political victories in the short run. They are aided in many states by advantages gained in 2010 when voters were conned into thinking they were voting for jobs, not the agenda of the religious right. In the long run, this will just accelerate the trend for Republicans to be unable to be elected outside of the most authoritarian portions of the country. Demographic trends may make even victories in some Republican areas more difficult. The authoritarians of the Republican Party share the tendency of authoritarian groups to support racism and xenophobia. Even Texas might not be a safe Republican state in another decade. Look at the electoral map and try to figure out how Republicans have any chance of winning a national election without Texas, after losing other large states such as Ohio and Florida.
Politico describes Christian Nation, a novel by Fred Rich about Sarah Palin becoming president after McCain Palin won in 2008 and John McCain subsequently dying in office:
And although it’s fiction, Rich is dead serious about what a Palin presidency would mean for the country. As the title suggest, Rich is concerned about how religious extremists on the right could upend society.
“If somebody like Sarah Palin, who holds so firmly to this conviction that America is and should be a Christian nation, what would happen if she actually had the power to implement it?” Rich says his book “paints a picture of what that path would look like.”
“How could the federal courts, which are the only defense against all the nonsense you see out of the state legislatures, how could the federal court system be neutralized? What legislative strategies could the Christian right pursue were they in control of the Congress? It shows that it’s not impossible or unthinkable for them to actually be able to implement that agenda.”
What would happen, according to Rich and the book is a government that claims to speak for God and policies based solely on the Bible, which would overwhelming hurt gay Americans.
While we could expect the First Amendment to be ignored in a Palin administration, the problem isn’t limited to Sarah Palin. Rich also looked at the 2012 candidates for the Republican nomination, pointing out that“you had all but two or three who are largely motivated by very strong, very conservative Christian beliefs.” It does not appear that 2016 will be any better.
Rich further warns that we must take what these Republican candidates say seriously, and not write it off as pandering to the base:
“The biggest mistake that we can make is that we don’t believe that they believe what they say. And for many of them, they do mean exactly what they say. If you think that the rapture is going to come in your lifetime, if you believe as many of them do that hell is a physical place where you’re confined to for all eternity, these things motivate you.”
Whether the country has become more or less liberal on economics depends upon both the time frame considered and definition of economic liberalism used. The country has moved towards the right in some ways on civil liberties issues since 9/11. On the other hand, while the pendulum sometimes moves briefly in the other direction, the country is becoming socially more liberal.
Stuart Rosenberg points out the difficulties now faced by social conservatives, as their archaic views are rejected by increasing portions of the country:
Starting with TV shows like “All in the Family,” “Diff’rent Strokes” and “Maude,” progressing to the very funny “Will & Grace” and going right up to today’s most obvious example, “Glee,” television has pushed socially progressive themes. Socially progressive characters are enlightened and admirable, while traditionalists are unappealing, to say the least…
The public and TV networks’ reactions to two recent Supreme Court decisions, one invalidating Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the other invalidating the Defense of Marriage Act, were noteworthy.
Both decisions were 5-4, but only about the Voting Rights Act decision did I hear the high court widely described as “bitterly divided.”
In the days after the Voting Rights Act decision, you might have thought that the high court had taken away the right to vote from African-Americans. Journalists gave plenty of attention to voices opposing the decision and arguing that the ruling would overturn all the progress of civil rights since the 1960s.
The media’s coverage of the DOMA decision, on the other hand, was almost euphoric, geared overwhelmingly toward those celebrating the decision…
The type of coverage of the two decisions undoubtedly also reflects the fundamental values of most journalists, who are generally more liberal than the country as a whole. There appeared to be plenty of cheerleading after the two rulings on same-sex marriage, and not merely from the obvious voices on MSNBC.
But it wasn’t only surrounding the Supreme Court’s opinions on marriage that some of the recent media coverage seemed tilted.
On his final show hosting CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday, media critic Howard Kurtz commented on the media’s very sympathetic treatment of Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, whose 11-hour filibuster at the end of a special session prevented the enactment of a bill limiting abortions and requiring facilities performing abortions to meet certain standards.
“If Wendy Davis had been conducting a lonely filibuster against abortion rights,” Kurtz asked, “would the media have celebrated her in quite the same way?” Kurtz didn’t offer an answer — because he didn’t have to. The answer certainly would have been “no.”
For social conservatives, the greatest problem may be the undermining of traditional religious authority and belief.
While Gallup showed only a slight annual increase last year in the percentage of people saying that they had no religious identification (up to 17.8 percent in 2012), the trend is clear.
“The rise in the religious ‘nones’ over time is one of the most significant trends in religious measurement in the United States. … The percentage who did not report [a religious] identity began to rise in the 1970s and has continued to increase in the years since,” wrote Gallup in a January 2013 report.
In the 2012 exit poll, President Barack Obama won 62 percent of voters who never attend religious services but only 39 percent of those who attended weekly. He carried 70 percent of those voters who said they had no religion, compared with only 42 percent of Protestants and 50 percent of Catholics…
Social conservatives probably see Obama, liberals on the Supreme Court and Democrats in Congress as their main adversaries. But they are wrong. The most important leaders of cultural liberalism may well be the members of the media and entertainment communities, and social conservatives simply have no strategy to deal with that.
While the country is becoming more liberal, I see the record of the Supreme Court as far more mixed, making some rulings which liberals are happy with but also taking moves to try to move the country to the right, such as with the Citizen’s United ruling. Their efforts to reduce the ability of minorities to vote may also be of value to Republicans. I wouldn’t underestimate the value of looking at popular culture as an indicator of which direction the country is heading in, but a conservative Supreme Court can leave us with a government which continues to be overly intrusive in the private lives of individuals.
So this is what conservatives mean by family values?
Responding to a question from a viewer, Robertson said that married men “have a tendency to wander” and it is the spurned wife’s job to focus on the positive and make sure the home is so enticing, he doesn’t want to stray.
“I’ve been trying to forgive my husband for cheating on me,” the viewer writes. “We have gone to counseling, but I just can’t seem to forgive, nor can I trust. How do you let go of the anger? How do you trust again?”
While Robertson’s co-host hedged on the question, calling forgiveness “difficult” and spousal infidelity “one of the ultimate betrayals,” Robertson got right to the point.
“Here’s the secret,” the famous evangelical said. “Stop talking the cheating. He cheated on you, well, he’s a man.”
The wife needs to focus on the reasons she married her spouse, he continued.
“Does he provide a home for you to live in,” Robertson said. ‘Does he provide food for you to eat? Does he provide clothes for you to wear? Is he nice to the children… Is he handsome?”
And some people were surprised that Mark Sanford was reelected in a Republican district.
In related news, The Hill reports that John Edwards is hitting the speaking circuit, although they only mention one event. He will address PMP Marketing’s annual client retreat in Orlando. I doubt liberals will have much interest in hearing more form him, but perhaps he can start speaking to evangelicals. The religious right probably would have no problem forgiving Edwards for cheating on his wife, but they would have difficulty forgiving him for running with John Kerry.
Sometimes Rand Paul makes a lot of sense, such as when saying that the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing should be tried in civilian as opposed to military courts (which many other Republicans have been advocating):
“You know, I want to congratulate law enforcement for getting and capturing these terrorists, first of all, but what we do with them, I think we can still preserve the Bill of Rights, I see no reason why our Constitution is not strong enough to convict this young man with a jury trial, with the Bill of Rights,” Paul (R-Ky.) said on “Cavuto” on Fox Business Network. “We do it to horrible people all of the time: Rapists and murderers, they get lawyers, they get trials with juries. We seem to do a pretty good job of justice. So I think we can do it with our court system.”
If only Rand Paul and other libertarians would stick more to civil liberties issues. Then they would sound much more rational and we would have more in common with them.
I think that one reason Rand Paul and many other libertarians come across as crackpots is the company they keep. The close affiliation between libertarianism and the conservative movement has been disastrous for libertarianism. You can’t mix a pro-freedom philosophy with the views of the authoritarian right and remain consistently pro-freedom (or make much sense).
The Rand (and Ron) Paul form of libertarianism has many of the negative attributes of the far right. In the case of Ron Paul this has included racism, but this isn’t universal to all libertarians who became influenced by conservative views. This also includes support for states’ rights, which opposes excessive government power at the national level but often allows for far more restrictions on liberty at the state level (frequently at the expense of minorities.)
Many libertarians ignore religious liberty while promoting what they would describe as economic liberty. In some cases they are right to oppose unfair restrictions on business and counter-productive regulations. Far too often this really translates into opposing the types of regulation which are necessary for a free economy to work. They believe that markets are something arising from nature which must be left without restrictions, failing to realize that markets are creations of man which only work with a certain amount of regulation. This must come from government, not always Adam Smith’s invisible hand. In the worst cases, libertarianism is used to justify lack of activity against powerful business interests who exploit the pubic or harm the environment. They universally support business over government. While government is not always right in such disputes, when the system is working government provides a means for the public to work in unison against special interests which are too powerful for individuals to take on.
Many libertarians aligned with the conservative movement have adopted views of the religious right, failing to realize that mixing religion with government is one of the greatest threats to freedom we face.
Libertarians would be much more consistent supporters of individual liberty (as opposed to being opponents of government action on a national level) if they continued their support of civil liberties but also recognized the importance of separation of church and state, while giving up racism, state’s rights, and a knee-jerk opposition to economic regulation where it is needed. Of course those who hold this viewpoint are better known as liberals.
Having arguments brought before the Supreme Court on same sex marriage has highlighted the division in this country over social issues. While liberals respect the rights of individuals to live their lives as they choose, social conservatives demonstrate the fiction of conservative support for small government or individual liberty. It is conservatives who support the use of big government to impose their views upon others.
Differing from conservative views, the posts showing up on my Facebook page are covered with graphics supporting marriage equality, with many people changing their profile pictures to ones such as above and below:
There is no rational argument to support using the government to impose one’s religious views upon others. The Founding Fathers certainly frowned upon this when they developed a secular government with separation of church and state. The modern conservative movement, which is both morally bankrupt and out of touch with reality, sees things differently. Here’s the dumb conservative question of the day from The Brody File: Are Evangelicals Now More Scorned than Homosexuals? Of course Evangelicals who seek to impose their religious views upon others should be scorned. Why does the religious right believe there is a reason that homosexuals should be scorned.
With growing majorities supporting marriage equality, there is even speculation that the Republican Party will give up on this issue. Others will continue to fight modern times and reality. Mike Huckabee responded to the prospect of Republicans supporting same sex marriage: “if they do, they’re going to lose a large part of their base because evangelicals will take a walk.” Of course this would hasten the demise of the Republicans as a national political party.
Some conservatives are supporting continued discrimination based upon biblical reasons, which have no place in our system of government. I’ve even seen some claim that it is their freedom of religion which is being infringed upon. To the religious right, freedom of religion means the “freedom” to impose their religious views upon others.
The religious right has always had an awkward relationship with the Republican Party. Prior to the Bush years, party regulars wanted their votes, but also regarded them as the kooks of the party and threw them a limited number of bones when in office. Their influence grew when one of their own became president in 2001. Since then it has become clear that, unless they change their ways, the Republican Party is on a path to extinction outside of the deep south and scattered other bible belts. This became painfully obvious to Republican leaders after the 2012 election. Now that the party is trying to change their appearance (but unfortunately too few policies), the religious right is getting nervous:
Some leaders of the religious right are openly worried this week after a sprawling 98-page report released by the Republican National Committee on how the party can rebuild after its 2012 implosion made no mention of the GOP’s historic alliance with grassroots Christian “value voters.”
Specifically, the word “Christian” does not appear once in the party’s 50,000-word blueprint for renewed electoral success. Nor does the word “church.” Abortion and marriage, the two issues that most animate social conservatives, are nowhere to be found. There is nothing about the need to protect religious liberty, or promote Judeo-Christian values in society. And the few fleeting suggestions that the party coordinate with “faith-based communities” — mostly in the context of minority outreach — receive roughly as much space as the need to become more “inclusive” of gays.
To many religious conservatives, the report was interpreted as a slight against their agenda and the hard work they have done for the party.
“The report didn’t mention religion much, if at all,” said Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association. “You cannot grow your party by distancing yourself from your base, and this report doesn’t reinforce the values that attracted me and many other people into the Republican Party in the first place. It just talks about reaching out to other groups.”
Sandy Rios, an Evangelical radio host and Fox News contributor, said the RNC report’s proposals amount to a “namby-pamby” abdication of religious values, and warned that the party could soon lose the grassroots engine that has powered its electoral victories for decades.
The Republicans have problems both with the viewpoint of the religious right and with the political ramifications of ignoring them. The word “Christian” or any other religious label should not be in a political party’s blueprint, at least if they respect the Founding Fathers and the principle of separation of church and state which this country was founded on. Protecting religious liberty and promoting religious views are mutually exclusive to those who understand what religious liberty means. Of course to the religious right, freedom of religion means their freedom to impose their religious views upon others.
I suspect that even some Republicans understand this, but they also fear what will happen to the party if they lose the grassroots support from the religious right, and if they stay home on election day.
Sean Spicer, communications director for the RNC, said the party had no intention of distancing itself from its religious base.
“They are a critical part of our party, and moving forward, they have to continue to play that essential role,” Spicer said. “The goal of the report was to look at areas where we could do much better, and in areas that needs that substantial improvement [working with conservative Christians] may not be at the top of the list because they’ve always done a fabulous job.”
Spicer also insisted that while the GOP hopes to expand its coalition, “the principles in the party are sound” and would not be abandoned. Asked whether opposition to same-sex marriage was among those principles, he said, “Yes.”
Even if the Republicans tone down social issues during campaigns, this does not mean things will change should they win. Some in the religious right are outraged by the report, but others realize that Republicans will promote the same policies on social issues:
On the other hand, Ralph Reed, director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a former campaign adviser to George W. Bush, defended the RNC report, and the establishment leaders who spearheaded it.
“I know most of the members of the committee,” he said. “Some of them are personal friends of mine. I know Reince Priebus. He’s a deeply committed Christian. He’s pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-family… and the Republican Party is going to stay that way.”
It may be a new year, but we have the same old right wing paranoia, as is seen in several stories today. First there is the warning in an email from the American Family Association (via Think Progress) that within 50 years Christians will be treated like African Americans during the Jim Crow era:
What will religion look like in the year 2060?
Conservative Christians will be treated as second class citizens, much like African Americans were prior to civil rights legislation in the 1960s.
Family as we know it will be drastically changed with the state taking charge of the children beginning at birth.
Marriage will include two, three, four or any number of participants. Marriage will not be important, with individuals moving in and out of a “family” group at will.
Churchbuildings will be little used, with many sold to secular buyers and the money received going to the government.
Churches will not be allowed to discuss any political issues, even if it affects the church directly.
Tax credit given to churches and non-profit organizations will cease.
Christian broadcasting will be declared illegal based on the separation of church and state. The airwaves belong to the government, therefore they cannot be used for any religious purpose.
We will have, or have had, a Muslim president.
Cities with a name from the Bible such as St. Petersburg, Bethlehem, etc. will be forced to change their name due to separation of church and state.
Groups connected to any religious affiliation will be forced out of health care. Health centers get tax money from the state, making it a violation of church and state.
Get involved! Sign THE STATEMENT.
Donald E. Wildmon
Think Progress pointed out that such extremism has been common among the AFA:
As absurd as they may be, these 2060 predictions may not even rank among the AFA’s most extreme ideas. The group’s spokesman has called for kidnapping the children of same-sex couples through a modern-day “Underground Railroad” system. When one man heeded this advice and aided a woman in kidnapping the daughter of a lesbian woman, the group advised him to flout American laws and flee the country. AFA also organizes against any individual or company that shows the slightest tolerance for LGBT people, including Office Depot, Urban Outfitters, Home Depot, JC Penney, and Google.
Some additional examples of right wing paranoia in the news and blogs:
Wisconsin state Senator Glenn Grothman has issued a press release waging a War on Kwanzaa, which he describes as a fake holiday aimed at dividing blacks and whites. He also says
“Of course, almost no black people today care about Kwanzaa — just white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people’s throats in an effort to divide Americans,” Grothman said. “Irresponsible public school districts such as Green Bay and Madison … try to tell a new generation that blacks have a separate holiday than Christians.”
Grothman adds Karenga “didn’t like the idea that Christ died for all of our sins, so he felt blacks should have their own holiday — hence, Kwanzaa.”
In the National Review, Kevin Williamson argues that nearly everyone calling for gun control either doesn’t understand or refuses to address the actual purpose of the 2nd Amendment. They talk, he says, as if there’s no legitimate reason for an American to have military grade weapons, as if the 2nd Amendment protects mere hunting and home security. “The purpose of having citizens armed with paramilitary weapons is to allow them to engage in paramilitary actions,” Williamson writes. “There is no legitimate exception to the Second Amendment for military-style weapons, because military-style weapons are precisely what the Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to secure our ability to oppose enemies foreign and domestic, a guarantee against disorder and tyranny.”
Walter E. Williams makes a similar argument in a Townhall column. “There have been people who’ve ridiculed the protections afforded by the Second Amendment, asking what chance would citizens have against the military might of the U.S. government,” he writes. “Military might isn’t always the deciding factor. Our 1776 War of Independence was against the mightiest nation on the face of the earth — Great Britain. In Syria, the rebels are making life uncomfortable for the much-better-equipped Syrian regime. Today’s Americans are vastly better-armed than our founders, Warsaw Ghetto Jews and Syrian rebels. There are about 300 million privately held firearms owned by Americans. That’s nothing to sneeze at. And notice that the people who support gun control are the very people who want to control and dictate our lives.”
Beyond the absurdity of thinking they can, or should, take on the United States militarily, Conor pointed out the conservative inconsistency in backing Second Amendment solutions while they “actively oppose so many other important attempts to safeguard liberty.”
Finally (for the purposes of this post–conservative paranoia extends much further), Amanda Marcotte links the belief of many conservatives that Hillary Clinton faked her concussion to avoiding testimony with other forms of wingnuttery and conspiracy theories:
It’s worth noting that most conspiracy theorists identify as “skeptics”, but of course they’re doing the opposite of skepticism, which requires evidence to support extraordinary and implausible claims, such as the claim that hundreds of people could come together to help Secretary Clinton fake a series of illnesses without a single person blowing the whistle. Remember: Bill Clinton couldn’t even keep the lid on an affair that had only two witnesses to the actual acts of it. Althouse may feel entitled to full information on demand of any Clinton body part she desires, but that doesn’t actually mean doctors have to violate federal law to give it to her.
Of course, wingnuttery nowadays is entirely dependent on the asinine belief that widespread conspiracies are a daily occurrence. These folks believe that thousands of scientists worldwide have been in cahoots for decades to perpetuate the false claim that global warming is real for no other reason than a vague hatred of capitalism, and that not one has ever thought to blow the whistle on this evil scheme. Marshaling the State Department and the staff of a major hospital into a conspiracy theory seems like tiddlywinks compared to that.
But riddle me this, wingnuts: If Secretary Clinton is such an evil mastermind that she can repeatedly bend so many people to her will with full confidence that not a one will ever blow the whistle, why couldn’t she just get up and say whatever the hell she wants under oath if she did testify? Seems like a conspiracy of one would be easier to pull off than repeated faked hospitalizations. Why do you believe someone who would supposedly create one elaborate scheme after another to avoid testifying would suddenly start spilling truths only she knows under oath? Do you believe that taking an oath is like a magic spell that causes the person who did it to be incapable of lying? (Not that I think she has anything to lie about, honestly, just curious what the fuck they think is going on here.) If that’s so, why did you demand that Bill Clinton be impeached for perjury?
GQ: How old do you think the Earth is? Marco Rubio: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.
Often ignorant comments such as this receive brief mention in the liberal blogosphere and are forgotten, but this comment continues to receive a lot of attention. Mark Halperin writes this off as an example of How the left-wing Freak Show is gearing up for ’16:
There’s one area where Democrats are really far ahead of Republicans right now. Science and technology, no. It’s doing this thing that Democrats failed to do in 2000, to stop George W. Bush, which is really, really early on using the left-wing Freak Show to define anyone who’s thinking of running for President, as quickly as possible, in negative terms on Twitter, on cable, on the Internet. They’re all over this Rubio thing because they want to control his image in a negative way and they did it this cycle too. They went after Romney early, it really hurt him. And they’re doing it now. And, you know, as a matter of just pure politics, it’s very effective because Rubio’s not full-time thinking about running for president. He’s out there dabbling but people on the Left will just be defining anyone who looks like they might be strong in four years.
Halperin has often referred to the right wing Freak Show, while far too often repeating their falsehoods as if there was some validity to them. It is even worse if he is going to call criticism of Rubio’s statement a left-wing freak show, analogous to the right-wing freak show of Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, and others who promote a fictitious right wing narrative. There is no real comparison between these people who spread misinformation and those on the left who criticize Rubio for making a statement showing such disregard for science.
It also borders on the right wing conspiracy-theory mentality to see this as a plan to take out (or Palinize) Rubio in preparation for a possible 2016 presidential run. This response came after the interview, not part of some long-range conspiracy. This is not a quote being invented or taken out of context as we frequently see from the right wingers. This is not an attempt to dig up some long past statement or action, as right wingers often do when attempting to demonize a political foe. This is an honest response to a recently published interview on a subject which the left is quite concerned about–the Republican denial of facts and science.
In his answer, Rubio played down the importance of the question stating, “I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow.” Alex Knapp responded to this in Forbes:
…the age of the universe has a lot to do with how our economy is going to grow. That’s because large parts of the economy absolutely depend on scientists being right about either the age of the Universe or the laws of the Universe that allow scientists to determine its age. For example, astronomers recently discovered a galaxy that is over 13 billion light years away from Earth. That is, at its distance, it took the light from the Galaxy over 13 billion years to reach us.
Now, Marco Rubio’s Republican colleague Representative Paul Broun, who sits on the House Committee on Science and Technology, recently stated that it was his belief that the Universe is only 9,000 years old. Well, if Broun is right and physicists are wrong, then we have a real problem. Virtually all modern technology relies on optics in some way, shape or form. And in the science of optics, the fact that the speed of light is constant in a vacuum is taken for granted. But the speed of light must not be constant if the universe is only 9,000 years old. It must be capable of being much, much faster. That means that the fundamental physics underlying the Internet, DVDs, laser surgery, and many many more critical parts of the economy are based on bad science. The consequences of that could be drastic, given our dependence on optics for our economic growth.
Here’s an even more disturbing thought – scientists currently believe that the Earth is about 4.54 billion years old because radioactive substances decay at generally stable rates. Accordingly, by observing how much of a radioactive substance has decayed, scientists are able to determine how old that substance is. However, if the Earth is only 9,000 years old, then radioactive decay rates are unstable and subject to rapid acceleration under completely unknown circumstances. This poses an enormous danger to the country’s nuclear power plants, which could undergo an unanticipated meltdown at any time due to currently unpredictable circumstances. Likewise, accelerated decay could lead to the detonation of our nuclear weapons, and cause injuries and death to people undergoing radioactive treatments in hospitals. Any of these circumstances would obviously have a large economic impact.
If the Earth is really 9,000 years old, as Paul Broun believes and Rubio is willing to remain ignorant about, it becomes imperative to shut down our nuclear plants and dismantle our nuclear stockpiles now until such time as scientists are able to ascertain what circumstances exist that could cause deadly acceleration of radioactive decay and determine how to prevent it from happening.
The bottom line is that this economy, at its root, is built on a web of scientific knowledge from physics to chemistry to biology. It’s impossible to just cherry pick out parts we don’t like. If the Earth is 9,000 years old, then virtually the entire construct of modern science is simply wrong. Not only that, most of the technology that we rely on most likely wouldn’t work – as they’re dependent on science that operates on the same physical laws that demonstrate the age of the universe.
Now, this doesn’t mean that our representatives to the Congress and to the Senate should be scientific experts. But if they hold ideas about the world around us that are fundamentally at odds with scientific evidence, then that will ultimately infringe on their ability to make reasoned judgments about a host of issues where the economy touches technology. And that could end up harming the economy as a whole.
Politicians who are ignorant of basic science are not capable of making rational decisions on public policy in the 21st century. It is possible that Rubio might be more knowledgeable about science but feels it is necessary to deny scientific facts to maintain the support of the anti-science right wing. If this is the case, such cowardice is also not desirable from those in government.
Pictures from the Doctor Who Christmas Special have been released and two videos of consequence were presented at Children in Need. First there is a prequel episode, The Great Detective, in which we find that the Doctor has retired. Secondly there is the trailer for the Christmas episode in which the Doctor’s retirement on screen is a brief as we would expect.
‘The Snowmen’ has been revealed as the title for this year’s movie-scale Doctor Who Christmas special, and the episode that will introduce the new companion, a new look for the Doctor and a new monster that will have families shivering behind their sofas.
Starring Matt Smith as the Doctor, and introducing Jenna-Louise Coleman as new companion Clara, The Snowmen will follow their adventures as they embark on a mission to save Christmas from the villainous Doctor Simeon (Richard E Grant) and his army of icy snowmen.
Fans also got a sneak peak at a new costume for the Doctor, revealed in an exclusive trailer on Children in Need, while a special prequel showed the impact of the loss of the Ponds, with old friends Vastra, Strax and Jenny trying to persuade the Doctor not to give up on adventures.
Steven Moffat, Lead Writer and Executive Producer, said: “The Doctor at Christmas is one of my favourite things – but this year it’s different. He’s lost Amy and Rory to the Weeping Angels, and he’s not in a good place: in fact, he’s Scrooge. He’s withdrawn from the world and no longer cares what happens to it. So when all of humanity hangs in the balance, can anyone persuade a tired and heartbroken Doctor that it’s time to return to the good fight? Enter Jenna-Louise Coleman…”
Matt Smith, who plays the Doctor, commented: “For this year’s Christmas special we have the wonderfully villainous Richard E Grant as Doctor Simeon – as well as lizards, Victorian assassins and deranged warriors from the future, who all return to convince the Doctor that he should board the TARDIS again and save the world. Add to that Jenna-Louise Coleman, and so begins the Christmas Special 2012. I hope everyone enjoys it!”
The BBC Cymru Wales produced drama will return to BBC One in December, with a further eight epic episodes in spring next year.
Doctor Who TV previews an episode for the second half of the season, to air this spring:
Writer Stephen Thompson speaks about his upcoming episode for Series 7: Part 2 in the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine(#454 out today.)
He confirms the story is titled Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS and explains how the episode came to be: “My first meeting was last October. I went along with a pocketful of dream-episodes. (Still trying to work out a way to shoehorn the Krynoids in. Might yet happen.) This initial meeting is fairly predictable. Before I even open my mouth and pitch to the room, Steven goes ‘I want you to do x.’ And his idea is so wonderful, and so much more clever and interesting than anything mere mortals like myself could come up with, you end up saying ‘Yes’ and the meeting’s over in record time. Or at least the same time it took last year. And so it was. ‘Would you do one where we see the centre of the TARDIS?’ ‘Er, yeah. Okay.’ Conversation took nine seconds. And then I’m chained to a laptop on and off for the next six months, basically.”
“Actually Steven had two ancillary reasons for bringing that idea to the table. One: he admits to being haunted by The Invasion of Time – the story from 1978 set on board the TARDIS, where the sets were cobbled together at the last minute. Unfortunately a TV strike meant that studio sets were not built, and as a result our only glimpse of the TARDIS interior has been a disused hospital in Surrey with bin-bags stuck to the windows. Two: Steven knows; that I’m a pure mathematician and anything involving multi-dimensional geometry gets me excited. (There’s my geek credentials.) So – that was the brief. What’s in the middle? Plus the title. And then I’m sent off to fill in all the blanks.”
He adds: “[With The Curse of the Black Spot] my brief from Steven was very different – he said a lot of the [Series 6] episodes were dark and complex, and he needed me to write something light. This year got to indulge my inner fan. (And I got to ask my kids what rooms in the TARDIS they’ve always wanted to find.)
“This episode will be different in many ways, not least because the star won’t necessarily be the usual person. You might not even see the star, it might be the guy at the drawing board. It just might be the designer…”
Fringe is now about putting things into or taking things out of the brainstem and brain, and the consequences of such action. On Fringe, greater intellectual power tends to have dangerous trade offs, if not being outright evil. We continue to see Peter developing his Observer powers after implanting Observer technology in his neck, with Olivia now aware of what Peter has done. There is parallel story going on with Walter and Nina with Walter wanting Nina to remove the parts of his brain which William Bell removed and which were later restored.
There are so many questions leading into the final episodes of the series. I wonder if Peter might wind up being the first Observer, setting everything else in motion, and providing an explanation as to why so much has centered around Peter. Will we be better or worse off with Peter becoming more like the Observers and with Walter more like his old self? Will Peter lose all his hair? Will Walter perform a lobotomy on himself if Nina does not help him? Will the Observers continue to allow pictures of Etta to go up all over as the face of the resistance? Will Peter defeat the Observers and pull a cosmic reset switch, returning to the park with Olivia and Etta? We will have to wait three weeks to find out anything more, with the next episode featuring Peter vs. Windmark.
I have previously presented opinions on the election from people in show business. In case have not seen it, the one which you really should not miss was from Joss Whedon on how Mitt Romney’s policies would set up the conditions needed for a Zombie Apocalypse. The same issues remain even if Romney has become a toxic-asset which even Republicans now want to be rid of. Almost everyone seems to have turned on Mitt Romney for his view on the 47 percent and takers after the election, including Republicans who defended Romney on this view during the campaign. I previously commented on this post-election Romney gaffe when speaking to donors here and here. Bill Prady, creator of Big Bang Theory, weighed in on Romney’s flawed view on his Facebook page. A portion follows:
I number among my friends many who, like myself, voted for the President. Not one of them gets “free stuff” from the government (unless you count Social Security and Medicare, I suppose). My friends are hard working moms and camera operators. They are teachers and gardeners and maids. They are writers and actors. People with jobs. Two jobs, some of them. They didn’t vote to get free stuff.
Me, I created a television show. I didn’t vote to get free stuff.
We voted for the President because we share his vision for America. We believe in a country where people are treated with respect no matter who they are. We believe in the freedom to love whom you love — and to marry the person you love. We believe that no family should go bankrupt because their child becomes sick.
We believe that women can make their healthcare decisions for themselves in consultation with their doctor and their god and that they don’t need a politician to tell them what to do. We also believe they should be paid the same if they do the same work.
We believe that lowering taxes on the wealthy isn’t an economic policy and it doesn’t lead to prosperity and higher employment. The experts believe that, too — it’s in the report the Senate recently suppressed. We also believe that because we lived through it — it lead to the worst economic disaster in our lifetimes.
We believe that the men and women who wear the uniform of our nation deserve our highest respect, and we believe that when we send them to fight unnecessary wars and then don’t care for them when they return we have betrayed that respect. We also believe that if we ask them to leave their jobs and fight for us, we should make sure they can get jobs when they return.
We believe that asking people like me to pay a little more — just what we paid during the Clinton administration (one of the greatest periods of growth in modern history) — isn’t communism. It isn’t socialism. It’s fair.
We believe the infrastructure of this nation is crumbling and that we must invest in the repair of our roads, bridges and schools. And we believe that in those schools, our children — our most precious resource — should be getting the best education whether they live in Chevy Chase or Harlem.
We are hard working people who worked hard for this victory.
The Big Bang Theory get into genre (including recent references to Doctor Who) far more than politics, as would be expected on a network television show seeking to appeal to a mass audience, but there have been a number of amusing swipes at the religious right on past episodes such as here and in the clip below.