Tag Archives: conservatism

It’s the Planning Part That Makes Them Crazy: GOP attacks on Planned Parenthood

Sanger

It must be campaign season: the Republican Party is once again attacking Planned Parenthood.  This current manufactured outrage moment was coordinated with the debunked video from a shadowy outfit whose “investigators” come complete with phony identification documents. [HuffPo]  [DemoNW] Since the GOP seems to have nothing on offer regarding national infrastructure, comprehensive immigration policy reform, Middle East Peace negotiation, manufacturing policy, minimum wage levels, job training and education, or any substantive proposals on the expansion of health insurance coverage – it must be time to look for Distractions. And, what better distraction than Planned Parenthood?

These attacks appeal to the rabidly anti-contraception/abortion advocates in the Republican base.  We can assume that this element is a small minority of the U.S. population because (1) more than 99% of women aged 15-44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method. (2) Approximately 62% of all women of reproductive age are currently using a contraceptive method. (3) 83% of Black women, 91% of Hispanic women, and 90% of Asian women of child bearing age currently use a contraceptive method during intercourse. (4) 92% of all women with incomes of 300% or more of the federal poverty standard are currently using contraception, as are 89% of those with incomes at 0-149% of the poverty line.  [Guttmacher]

Contraception method chartAs the statistical reports, and the chart, demonstrate, those who oppose contraception are a definite minority, and the religious argument begins to unravel when another survey is highlighted: “Some 68% of Catholics, 73% of Mainline Protestants and 74% of Evangelicals who are at risk of unintended pregnancy use a highly effective method (i.e., sterilization, the pill or another hormonal method, or the IUD).” [Guttmacher]

As with the polling and survey reports on contraception, the polling on the abortion issue also illuminates the minority position of the radical anti-abortionists.   Note the trends reported by Gallup:

abortion polling It doesn’t even require a calculator to see that as of 2015 approximately 80% of the U.S. population believes that abortion is acceptable, at least under some circumstances.  Only 19% believe the medical procedure should be illegal in any situation.  [Gallup]

Thus we have circumstances in which 99% of those women who have had sexual intercourse using some form of contraception, and 80% of the nation believing that under some circumstances (usually involving the welfare of the mother) abortion procedures should be legal.  Why would a major political party attempt to use contraception/abortion as a political issue?

If it worked before – it will work again?  Republicans have utilized “wedge issues” with some effect before – gay marriage, gun safety, contraception/abortion.  And, Thomas Frank’s book concluded:

“…the Republicans use social issues in a bait-and-switch routine: people are enticed into voting Republican over social issues like abortion or gay marriage, and then Republican pols, once elected, ignore all that and govern like the pro-business, rich-people’s party that they are at heart.”  [Atlantic]

The problem for Republicans is that while they are the pro-corporate (not small business) party of the hedge fund managers and the large banks, the bait is becoming harder to find.  Therefore the need to find another way to access the anti-contraception/abortion vote – let’s try fetal tissue research!

The GOP has two problems with this wrinkle – first, they were for it before they were against it. [Think Progress] and secondly, who wants to argue that fetal tissue should be turned into medical waste instead of having the family opt for tissue donation for medical research?

Nor is fetal tissue medical research a new thing – it’s been done since the 1930s, and the 1954 Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded for work with fetal tissue that lead to the development of the polio vaccine. [USNWR] Current work with fetal tissue involves studies related to birth defects, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s Disease, eye diseases, and HIV/AIDS. [Reuters] Fetal tissue research also yielded vaccines for chicken pox, rubella, and shingles. [CNN]  If one is truly “pro-life” in the comprehensive meaning of the term, then the research into finding a vaccine for rubella is instructive:

“From 1964-1965, before the development of a vaccine against the disease, a rubella epidemic swept the United States. During that short period there were 12.5 million cases of rubella. Twenty thousand children were born with CRS: 11,000 were deaf, 3,500 blind, and 1,800 mentally retarded. There were 2,100 neonatal deaths and more than 11,000 abortions – some a spontaneous result of rubella infection in the mother, and others performed surgically after women were informed of the serious risks of rubella exposure during their pregnancy.”  (CRS = Congenital Rubella Syndrome) [HistVac]

Interesting isn’t it: The use of fetal tissue in medical research to develop a vaccine against Rubella meant FEWER abortions (both natural and medical)  and 2,100 fewer neo-natal deaths.  OK, now stand at a podium and tell the voters that you are in favor of bringing all fetal tissue research to a grinding halt even if it means more miscarriages and abortions? In the name of “Life?”  There’s a purpose for fetal tissue research at the other end of the age spectrum:

“Stem cell therapy for retinal disease is under way, and several clinical trials are currently recruiting. These trials use human embryonic, foetal and umbilical cord tissue-derived stem cells and bone marrow-derived stem cells to treat visual disorders such as age-related macular degeneration, Stargardt’s disease and retinitis pigmentosa. Over a decade of analysing the developmental cues involved in retinal generation and stem cell biology, coupled with extensive surgical research, have yielded differing cellular approaches to tackle these retinopathies…” [NCBI]

The radical anti-abortionists haven’t mentioned the research into how to attack the 2.7 million cases of macular degeneration in the U.S. [NEI]  Do we dare tell them that most of those cases are among Caucasian Americans?

Mac Degeneration by race And, here we have it: attacks on an organization, often the target of radical anti-abortionists, which lawfully provides fetal tissue to medical research facilities  currently working on ways to prevent, cure, or alleviate diseases prevalent in America, many of which are  deadly (ALS, Parkinson’s) or debilitating (macular degeneration).  All for what?

For an issue most Americans don’t have at the top of their priorities?

abortion issue

To attract 21% of the respondents in the 2015 polling?  To appease those for whom family planning is anathema?  Nothing better illustrates the hold over the Republican Party like its pandering to a small minority in the national audience, a minority like Quiverfull (see Duggars), for whom women are merely the instruments of men’s procreation?  To appeal to those who follow the Army of God manual and bomb abortion clinics or kill providers? To address those ignorant enough to miss the connections between significant medical research and the use of fetal tissue?

Or, to appeal to those who firmly believe that the Little Woman should be barefoot and pregnant – in the kitchen – not the Senate or the House.  Families which plan for their children, which can assume two incomes, which can maintain intimacy without unintended pregnancies, and who can afford the $3500 it costs for the average uncomplicated birth of a child in a hospital [Parents] are generally better off, and so are their kids.  Here we hit the rough patch. 

Planning is Everything.   It’s impossible to attack those families which are practicing birth control for rational reasons —  in the face of irrationality.  Critics of social welfare programs offer, “If you can’t afford them then you shouldn’t have them.”  If we accept this criticism, then what rational premise might one have for defunding the organization which promotes responsible parenting by making contraception available? 

However, “If you give’em birth control they’ll just be promiscuous!”  Notice the emphasis is on the female, “boys will be boys.”  It’s hard to separate this attitude from good old fashioned garden variety misogyny.  If we actually want fewer unplanned pregnancies, especially among younger women, then what is the rational argument for cutting funding for clinics like those sponsored by Planned Parenthood which inform young women about contraceptive options?

Only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s medical procedures involve abortion at any stage and in any manner. For the radicals this is 3% too many.  For the deluded among us – every woman must carry every pregnancy to term, no matter the cost to her physical well being or to her mental health. Every pregnancy must end in a birth – even if the fetus is so badly deformed that it won’t survive outside the womb for more than 24 hours?  How many of the radicals are even aware of anencephaly,  exomphalos and gastroschisis? [Patient]  Pre-natal care is required in order to detect abnormalities like anencephaly, and where do women – especially low income women – get pre-natal care? From their local Planned Parenthood clinic.  Which, we should add, provides pre-natal care for the pregnancies, planned or unplanned, of many middle and lower income women.

If the Republicans who are chanting for Investigations! Funding Cuts! and other assaults on Planned Parenthood understood just how ridiculous they sound, and how close to the radicals associated with the Army of God and the  Quiverfull movement they’ve moved, then they’d have a much better grasp as to how counter-productive their shift to the radical right will be received in a general election.  In their attempt to manufacture another “crisis” in “poutrage” and to generate a wedge issue, they’ve only succeeded in forming alliances with the most misogynistic elements of the Right Wing: Those who neither want nor countenance Planning in family relationships. 

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Filed under abortion, health, Health Care, Politics, public health, religion

Income Inequality Matters for Nevada’s Children

child poverty

We ought to be embarrassed.  The Kids Count Data Book 2015 edition is out, and the numbers aren’t pretty.

“Nevada ranks 47th among states in overall child well-being, up one spot from last year. The study found that Nevada ranks 43rd in family and community development indicators, like children living in high-poverty areas; 46th in health statistics, like low birthweight babies; 46th in economic well-being, including parents lacking secure employment; and 50th in educational achievement, including 69% of Nevada’s children not attending pre-school.” [LVSun]

Yes, there we are, ranked down there with Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Mexico.   Overall, things aren’t looking up for children, and there’s an explanation:

“Although we are several years past the end of the recession, millions of families still have not benefited from the economic recovery,” Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation, said in a statement. “While we’ve seen an increase in employment in recent years, many of these jobs are low-wage and cannot support even basic family expenses.” [LVSun]

And why might this be a correct assessment of the situation? There has been income growth since the end of the Great Recession, but the recovery has benefited those at the top –thus much for anything trickling down:

“The states in which all income growth between 2009 and 2012 accrued to the top 1 percent include Delaware, Florida, Missouri, South Carolina, North Carolina, Connecticut, Washington, Louisiana, California, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Massachusetts, Colorado, New York, Rhode Island, and Nevada.” [EPI]

Nevada has made some improvements – if bouncing off the bottom is an indication of progress – in health, for example, 5% fewer children are without health insurance, and education in which 69% of our kids aren’t attending pre-schools, up from a previous 72%.  But, the economic picture is bleak at best.  23% of the youngsters live in poverty, 34% are in families experiencing what’s euphemistically called “employment insecurity,” and 39% of the kids live in a situation in which housing costs are eating up the family budget.  [AECfnd]

If we tread deeper into the income inequality waters we can see why the numbers for Nevada youngsters didn’t improve. Here’s the answer: “In four states — Alaska, Michigan, Nevada and Wyoming — average income increased exclusively for the top 1% and declined for the bottom 99%.” [247Wallst]  So, in the Silver State, not only did all the income growth get sucked up by the top 1% during the recovery, but the bottom 99% actually saw their incomes decline.

Most analyses get the first part right.  In the last downturn the bottom fell out of the construction sector in Nevada; the housing bubble burst, and employees were laid off.  Laid off employees have less discretionary income to spend, and less income equates to fewer purchases.  Fewer purchases yield less economic activity in the community, and everyone starts to go down hill.  When we get to the middle part of the explanation some analysts start getting fuzzy.

First Law of Staffing

The question in the middle is how to encourage more employment.  For the umpteenth time here’s the answer:  There is no rational reason to hire anyone to do anything unless the DEMAND for goods and services is greater than the capacity of current staffing levels to provide an acceptable level of customer service.  Amen. Again.

The Small Business Chronicle offers some very sound advice which expands on this generalization.  Their five step process asks: (1) Are your projects or other business activities getting done on time? If yes, then you probably don’t need any additional employees. If no, or the business is thinking of more marketing to drive up revenues then ask (2)  if you were to increase your marketing efforts could your present staff handle the additional work load? The next step (3) is to look at your overtime records. One sure sign that the business is understaffed is increased overtime from current employees.  In the first step the business owner gauged the project or work time, in the next (4) step it’s important to look at the issue from the customer or client’s perspective – if the business is monitoring customer wait time and it seems (or is reported to be) excessive, then the business is understaffed. Finally, in Step (5) a savvy business owner will determine if the increases in demand are continual or seasonal. If seasonal, then temporary employee hiring may be the solution.

What’s not under consideration here?  The advice offered above didn’t include a question about whether Nephew Lester needs a job. Familial ties are wonderful, but they don’t constitute a reason to hire an employee.  Hiring veterans is a healthy business practice – but again, no matter the benefits, if his or her skills aren’t necessary to get things done or made on time, and if a barrel of overtime isn’t on the current books, there’s no rational reason to make a new hire.  Tax breaks for hiring the unemployed are fine – but just as in familial or socially beneficial cases, there’s NO reason to hire anyone for any tax break if there is insufficient good old fashioned demand for the products and services.   It’s at this point that the conservative, trickle down, no new taxes, barrage of talking points becomes almost ludicrous.

tax incentives accounting There is a wonderful leap of logic, stretching that term to its extrapolated limits, in asserting that more tax incentives, tax breaks, tax forbearance, tax limits, tax deductions, and tax treatments will magically yield more employment.   What is required is to believe that if a company is more profitable it will automatically hire more people.   Yes, a more profitable firm is capable of hiring more but NOT if there is no increased demand for the goods or services.  A more profitable firm has the potential for more hiring – but not if it is corporate policy to put more effort into mergers and acquisitions than into actual plant expansion. A more profitable company may hire additional workers but not if the firm has decided that it will put its revenue into stock buy-backs, dividends, or management compensation. Potential may be a powerful argument, but unless it is translated into a realistic appraisal of company or corporate intentions and vision it’s as ephemeral as a fruit fly.  And it’s not really useful for putting food on the table for the kids.

And, now we return to the economic problems of children. If the jobs available for their parents are seasonal, temporary, or permanent but low wage then all the job “expansion” in the nation isn’t going to improve their prospects.

Seasonal employment is relatively easy to understand.  It’s everything from harvest time to Christmas sales.  The sector of the labor market into which more parents are finding themselves is the temporary work force.  About 75% of Fortune 500 firms are relying on third party logistics companies to handle their warehousing, and employment in transportation and materials moving and production now accounts for some 42% of temporary hiring. [NELP]   The advocates of temporary hiring note that only about 3% of the workforce is on temporary status, which is true but doesn’t include the fact that temporary employment grew from just a bit over 0.5% in 1983 to over 2.5% as of 1999. [BLS] Further, the trend is increasing as this graphic from Staffing Industry illustrates in YOY growth from 2013 to 2015:

temp jobs trendsAs this sector of the labor market increases the “employment security” of parents becomes more tenuous.  As long as this trend continues we’ll likely find more youngsters in that “parents lack secure employment category.” 

There’s no reason to believe that corporations in Nevada are functioning any differently than those in the rest of the country in terms of staunch adherence to the Shareholder Value Theory of Management, the interest in mergers and acquisitions rather than plant expansion in general, and the interest in utilizing temporary labor for logistics, warehousing, and service jobs.

In sum, there’s no rational explanation for hiring (temporary or permanent) which doesn’t relate directly to demand – and there’s no reason to expect demand to increase if the jobs created are temporary, low wage service or retail sector, and with reduced hours or misclassification of employees. Meanwhile the kids need housing, clothing, food, medical attention, and school supplies.

We ought to be embarrassed, but we probably won’t be until we can shake the 1% awake to the fact that profitability doesn’t necessarily equate to employment. To the fact that potential employment isn’t actual employment. To the fact that temporary employment isn’t secure employment, and to the fact that taxation has precious little to do with hiring the parents of Nevada’s children.

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Filed under Economy, family issues, Nevada economy, Nevada news, Nevada politics, poverty, Taxation

TLC got Duggared?

Deuteronomy

I’m wondering why anyone was particularly surprised by the revelation that one of the male members of the Clan Duggar molested his sisters and a babysitter.  Information about the Quiverfull Cult has been easily available since at least 2009, and as Newsweek described it the cult is a ready-made environment for the abuse of women and female children.

“At the heart of this reality-show depiction of “extreme motherhood” is a growing conservative Christian emphasis on the importance of women submitting to their husbands and fathers, an antifeminist backlash that holds that gender equality is contrary to God’s law and that women’s highest calling is as wives and “prolific” mothers.” [Newsweek]

What follows is a loose network of extreme fundamentalists who value the creation of sons (daughters are just the potential mothers thereof), offer much militaristic palaver, and espouse the ultimate political message: If we can’t defeat our opponents now, then we can simply overwhelm them with our progeny later.  In this milieu family planning and gender equity must be eradicated to prevent the further “destruction” of society.  The desired result is a patriarchy in which godly women are submissive wives and mothers.  In short, it’s back to the Bronze Age.

Network “Difficulties”

TLC, which has devolved from an educational cable channel into a sideshow, decided airing a program about an extremely large family would attract viewers – an audience perhaps analogous to those who show up to view train wrecks – and it did, garnering some $25 million in ad revenue, a tidy profit since the network is paying the family approximately $40,000 per episode. [EW]  What happens to the show, (1) it continues; (2) it changes focus to a new family, or (3) it’s dropped may, well depend on whether TLC can find sponsors after Walgreen’s, Payless, General Mills, and Ace Hardware headed for the exits.

I’d feel some compassion for the network, but … first, this is what can happen when the felt need to provide content which appeals to the lowest common denominator overcomes the discussion about providing quality content.  The Network was “deeply saddened” to have to yank its re-runs in the wake of the Duggar Scandal, perhaps because it was drawing about 1 million viewers per nightly episode. [THR]  Just for a little perspective,  Game 1 of the NBA finals grabbed  14.37 million viewers. [TVBN]  Perhaps TLC should have learned a short lesson when A&E dropped the prime character in Duck Dynasty after his egregious commentary, after the Food Network had similar problems with Paula Deen, and especially after the network itself got entangled in the Honey Boo Boo fest; a lesson that when you are dealing with extremists don’t be surprised when they behave that way.

Secondly, the network might have known it was treading in dangerous terrain when some of the other prime characters in the Patriarchal Posse were also exposed  experiencing moral meltdowns.

In November 2013 the leader of Vision Forum Ministries confessed to an illicit affair, and the organization closed up shop. This was the anti-contraceptive advocacy group which gave Michelle Duggar that “mother of the year award.”  VFM wasn’t the only part of the Patriarchal Posse experiencing problems – we should add the conservative Institute in Basic Life Principles to the roster.

The IBLP, from whom the Duggars sought guidance, was “shocked” when leader Bill Gothard found himself facing allegations of “sexual abuse from dozens of women associated with his organization.” [Wire] All this might lead a person to wonder: Didn’t anyone learn anything from the sad saga of Jim and Tammy Fay Baker?

A network shouldn’t have to wait for a summation like the following before getting a clue that some programming might not be appropriate for prime time viewing;

“The “pitch” of Biblical patriarchy, as epitomized by Michelle Duggar, is that women will be coddled and worshipped in exchange for giving up their ambitions and the autonomy to practice an extreme form of female submission. The unpleasant truth is that a culture that teaches that women are put on Earth for no other purpose but to serve men is not going to breed respect for women. Instead, these incidents show a world where men believe they can do whatever they want to women without repercussions. Is it any surprise that a subculture that promises absolute control over women will attract men who want to dominate and hurt women? Don’t believe the TLC hype. Biblical patriarchy is a sour, dangerous world for women, and luckily, that reality is finally being outed.” [TDB]

A commercial enterprise

CNN once explored what components tended to create a television program with lasting popularity.  Its review indicated the following: “Culture watchers say a constellation of factors make a TV program last: great writers, producers and actors; a good concept; room to grow with a strong ensemble cast offering multiple story lines; a desirable time slot; audience comfort; loyal network support; and the public’s fickle taste — the wild card.” 

This is all well and good, but doesn’t address one of the primary considerations in television  – the cost.  Not-Quite-Reality Shows are relatively cheap to produce, ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 per episode.  In comparison, at its peak ER was costing approximately $13 million per episode,  Friends cost about $10 million per program, and Deadwood cost about $4.5 million per episode. [Marketplace]  In short, hiring quality writers, producers, and developing an ensemble cast presenting multiple story lines isn’t anything close to cheap.  And, the bottom line is still the bottom line:

“TLC was even rebranded with “Life Unscripted” as its slogan in the mid-’90s, “Live and Learn” in the mid-2000s and “Life Surprises” in the late-2000s. Since undergoing this rebranding, the channel has shaken its poor ratings and has become one of the primary sources for reality shows. Undoubtedly, the success of shows like “Jon & Kate Plus 8” contributed to the recent surge in market price for TLC’s parent company, Discovery, in 2008-2009.” [Investopedia]

This is the point at which “audience comfort” clashes with “corporate earnings.”  The television audience wants to feel positively about the characters – real, cartoon, ‘reality,’ or actors – in their homes. Portrayals on the screen should be enough ‘like us’ to be sympathetic (or an obvious villain) but not so much ‘like us’ that they are as un-dramatic as our quotidian existences.  We still require the old standard elements — focus, tension, timing, rhythm, contrast, mood, space, language, sound, symbolism, conflict, climax, and resolution, in order to label a show as one of genuine quality.  This can get expensive.

When there is a plethora of small networks clamoring for our attention there may also be a temptation to broadcast the most contrasting, most dramatic, and most conflicted – i.e. most titillating  fare.  The marketplace enters the formula when the cost of production, the expense of broadcasting, and the willingness of advertisers to purchase air time are all taken into consideration.  We should also attend to the financial elements like syndication, after-run DVD sales, and other revenue factors.  However, we will still ultimately receive what the advertisers are willing to pay for.

When, for example, advertisers are unwilling to associate their brand with “a sour, dangerous world for women” then shows such as the Duggar’s will be terminated.

In the mean time, does Josh Duggar owe someone many shekels?

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Filed under conservatism, Economy, media, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

There were some weddings in Las Vegas

Rainbow Flag 2 Some couples got married in Las Vegas, NV yesterday, a headline which now joins “Dog bites man,” and “Spring Flowers Bloom” in the archives of conspicuous banality.   The question in Nevada shifted from “could it ever happen?” to “will it happen?” to “how come it has taken so long?”  [more from Ralston]

Conservatives who are still uncomfortable with the idea of letting a relatively small number of homosexual citizens in the state take on the joys and obligations of marriage may not take much comfort in the thought that part of their message over the last 30 years has been received:  Government should not intrude on our private lives.  And, when we’re talking about truly private matters – who can argue with that?

It’s never been a simple matter to claim religious authority in the public sphere.  It’s especially difficult in a country in which initial religious practice ranged from the Brownists in Plymouth – marriage was an invention of man without scriptural authority, to Catholics in Maryland – marriage was a sacrament. [CJPH]   However, it’s also never been a simple matter to avoid entangling religious beliefs and political ideologies – witness the Rovian formula welding Patriotism and Christianity for the benefit of the Republican Party.

The result has been a right wing conglomeration of the fiscal ultra-conservative (Grover Norquist) added to the religious ultra-conservative (Patriot Pastors) mixed with the military/financial interests (Koch Brothers, Wall Street).  At some point the seams start ripping.

Small But Not Too Small?

It’s impossible to have “small government” if the government is tasked with supervising individual sexual behaviors.  It’s impossible to have “small government” if the government is charged with executing statutes on family matters and women’s individual healthcare decisions.

It’s impossible to have “small government” while maintaining a military budget of at least $682 billion – as large as the combined military budgets of the next ten highest national budgets combined. [WaPo]  And, it’s impossible to have “small government” if we also want to secure fiscal and economic stability.  We tried ‘de-regulation’ and what we got was Enron and Lehman Brothers – and the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Now the frazzle shows up in the religious realm.  It’s now impossible to anchor a political ideology on a  floating buoy – public opinion has moved remarkably on same sex marriages in the last decade.  What was a useful wedge issue in 2004 has become something to avoid in 2014.  Witness the palaver over Blundermeister John Boehner’s decision to campaign on behalf of a gay Republican in California? [TDB]

No majority is ever permanent. No radical ideology is ever secure.

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Filed under Nevada politics, privacy, religion, Republicans, Rove

Bouncing Around with the Bubble People

Bubble HouseI wondered, while drafting the last post, why anyone on the planet — much less in the litigious United States — would propose a robust defense of exactly the same arguments is his defense of the ridiculous (Bundy) that were all tossed out of court in a previous case (Gardner)?  Why continual dismissal of the repeated talking points wouldn’t deter someone from appealing to them once more as revealed wisdom?

A person would have to inhabit a very tightly enclosed bubble to have missed the point that these arguments wouldn’t be any more successful than they had been in prior litigation.  But then, when an individual comes to assume that his or her beliefs are, in se, facts, indeed articles of faith, it stands to reason they’d be repeated.   The Bubble People are impervious to the rest of the world and its reality.

They have their very own self-sustaining history.  A history, for example, in which “faith” not “government” freed the enslaved people in the American south. [Salon]  Let’s grant that some of the most ardent Abolitionists were people of faith, but had we waited for the efforts of the Underground Railroad to rescue all the 3,950,528 people enslaved in the Confederacy we’d still be discussing the issue.

Lincoln may not have started his presidency as an enthusiastic adherent to the abolitionist cause, but his Gettysburg Address calls for a “new birth of freedom,” not merely the reinstitution of the status quo ante bellum.  Besides which it’s rather difficult to forget the approximately 750,000 men who died in that war, and to ignore the fact that some 364,000 were fighting for a government seeking to end human slavery.

And if the actual story of America doesn’t support the atmosphere in the bubble — rewrite it — the Jamestown Settlers were socialists, Alexander Hamilton has been misinterpreted by pointy headed liberals as espousing a theory of strong central government, Franklin D. Roosevelt caused the Great Depression, Senator Joesph McCarthy was no raving opportunistic radical — he was a hero!  At least that’s the story had it been written by a Texas school board member: “We are adding balance,” Texas school board member Don McLeroy said. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.” [McClatchy]

If they don’t accept commonly accepted historical narratives and themes why would we expect them to adopt the uncertainties of science and scientific inquiry?

Global climate change is a hoax.  Except for the 9136 scientists who agree that global climate change is a reality. The Bubble People would prefer to hear from the one who doesn’t agree. [SAm]  Disagreement on how much is anthropogenic or on the extent of warming is taken as “proof” there is no consensus.  Evidently unable to accept the intrinsic skepticism of science, the Bubble People don’t want anything that isn’t 100% certain — like their articles of faith. [Salon]  Not only do they not “believe,” they really don’t want any more information which might test their tenets. Witness Congress in 2011:

“House Republicans, led by Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), killed the budget-neutral provision to create a climate service within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA’s proposed Climate Service, or NCS, would have consolidated NOAA’s existing, widely dispersed, climate-monitoring capabilities under a single management structure to meet Americans’ rising demand for authoritative and timely climate information. [Think Progress]

And, it’s not just climate science they don’t want to know about — they’ve opposed research into gun violence as a public health issue.  Republicans in Congress have opposed funding for research in this area for the past twenty years, and the current Congress is no exception.  [ProPublica]  The Gun Lobby response — there’s no way to be pro-gun and also pro-research as if the two were mutually exclusive, and a dismissive “we don’t need more research  we need more prosecution.” [ProPublica]

It’s easy to imagine a robust “LA LA LA LA LA  I can’t hear you!” coming from inside the Bubble.  They’ll make up their own history, their own science, their own political science, their own medical conclusions, their own jurisprudence … they’ll repeat it even if it’s only among themselves.

“One hundred repetitions three nights a week for four years, thought Bernard Marx, who was a specialist on hypnopædia. Sixty-two thousand four hundred repetitions make one truth. Idiots!” –Brave New World

Ignorance becomes a comfort zone, one from which the Bubble People are loathe to emerge.  Even though ignorance is definitely not bliss, and curiosity is closer to satisfaction, they’ll stick with their thoroughly absorbed notions of truth — protected from the discomfort of having to accept and then function from a new set of information or concepts.

They will prefer short term comfort to long term prosperity, and see the world as a zero sum game in which every change they must make means something taken from them rather than a new opportunity for self discovery.

For some, they will be the man in the cave who has depended on lightning strikes for his fire, and is lost when the embers die.  Sad.

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Filed under conservatism, Politics, Republicans