Category Archives: economics

Conservative nostalgia is a dangerous delusion

So Kevin Sorbo’s wife Sam Sorbo has an editorial on Fox News (not linking to it) recycling the time-honored conservative/religious right about how America has lost its moral compass: “American society used to be governed by Judeo-Christian do-unto-others morals. But we have drifted (been pushed, really) into a hedonistic YOLO (You Only Live Once) cultural morass. The upshot of this is a distinct lack of respect for human life in general, as well as a pervasive, insidious obsession with self.” And go figure, her primary examples are not billionaires demanding the biggest tax cuts but Clinton supposedly selling U.S. uranium to Russia and football players protesting police-on-black violence.

Fantasies of some golden age when everyone was moral, kids respected their elders and we could leave our doors unlocked probably go back as long as we’ve had doors. The trouble is, Sorbo, like a lot of religious conservatives, wants us to believe it’s true (and may believe it herself). It’s not. “Judeo-Christian do-unto-others morals” (I always interpret “Judeo-Christian” as “Christian but we don’t want to sound bigoted”) didn’t do anything to stop the hundreds of blacks lynched in the South under Jim Crow — white evangelical churches were strongly against integration and civil rights (that was Jerry Falwell’s big political issue for years). Conservative Christianity was on the wrong side of the women’s rights movement, then on the gay rights movement. Some members are against any religion but their own having First Amendment rights. The idea that we’re in some moral cesspool because we don’t follow Ms. Sorbo’s view of God is just crapola.

Case in point, Bible-thumping theocrat Roy Moore has now been accused of hitting on and getting physical (though not actual presentation) with girls as young as 14 (oh, here are his past views on rape and child abuse). I will be astonished if it makes a difference because a lot of voters in the Bible Belt define “Christian” as anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-liberal, and Moore fits the bill nicely. One voter has declared it’s better to vote for a pedophile than a Democrat because he hates Democrats and thinks they’re evil (a view he apparently does not hold of pedophiles).

Sean Hannity’s interview with Moore apparently left some pundits convinced he’s guilty.  But it’s unlikely any Republican pols will do anything to oppose Moore but wring their hands.

I blogged a while back about allegations Eddie Berganza at DC Comics was a sexual harasser. Buzzfeed presents the words of several women who say yes, he was.

Putin says Russia didn’t meddle in the 2016 election. Trump is very, very upset that people don’t believe him — it might hurt Putin’s feelings.

Trump might not build a border wall or repeal Obamacare, but he’s sure as hell getting right-wing judges appointed to the bench.

Trump thinks a primary argument for passing Republican tax cuts is that he’ll pay a lot without them.

Apparently the UK finds Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity violate broadcast standards for news shows.

A member of the sexist Proud Boys movement thinks trans candidates only won because women have the vote and women vote based on feelings. In contrast, presumably to his loathing for transsexuals which I’m sure he imagines is totally logical.


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Kids, don’t let laziness happen to you!

So right-wing pundit Bill Kristol is pushing for a new, centrist path through American politics, which turns out to be a lot more conservative than most people would think of as centrist (The Left Is Bad! The Right Just Needs Some Tinkering. etc.). Literary Dissection Tray does a good job breaking it down at the link, but there’s one point I wanted to discuss, Kristol’s (and his colleague, center-right Dem Bill Galveston) concern that Americans are dropping out of the rat race. A growing number of young men are not working, and they’re happy not working. And that’s giving Kristol fits.

So the New Center’s solution is to stop American companies shipping jobs overseas, increase the minimum wage — oh, wait, no. It’s to “call laziness what it is … Even if these individuals are not “mooching” off anyone else, social science suggests that the failure to contribute correlates with a whole variety of pathologies including drug use, divorce and depression. The New Center should not be bashful about criticizing individuals who are not carrying their weight.”

First, I will pause to note that divorce is not a pathology, and the response to depression should not be calling someone out for having a mental illness, and to recommend LDT’s critique of the “they spend all their time playing videogames!” line of attack (which Kristol probably imagines is a killer put-down). That said — if these nonworkers aren’t taking government assistance, why on Earth is it Kristol’s damn business whether they have jobs or not? Isn’t that personal freedom, the thing conservatives are so keen on.

Haha, kidding. Kristol, for example, is adamantly opposed to gay marriage, and insists Republicans should oppose it even though the majority of Americans support it. It’s the same way David Brooks thinks we have too much individuality in America, instead of “disciplined, orderly lives” imposed by our wise leaders. Brooks was also among the pundits who thought 9/11 freed us from a world where Americans were too comfortable had too much leisure time, played too many videogames.

This is not a new line of thought. America has always had dropouts of one sort or another: tramps, hoboes, Beatniks, hippies. And there have been always those who feel this is absolutely unacceptable. As Risa Goluboff details in Vagrant Nation (which I thought I’d blogged about but it appears not), the response to people rejecting the  system — not trying to change it or destroy it, simply dropping out — is to make them drop back in. Vagrancy laws were routinely used to coerce drifters, vagabonds and the unemployed into taking jobs for shit wages because the laws made being unemployed and refusing to work a crime. Fifty years after the 1960s, some conservatives still get aroused by the though of cops assaulting hippies.  It’s a common trait among authoritarians to resent people who don’t play by the rules, even if they’re not hurting anyone; not playing by the rules is harm enough.

But in contrast to the people whose idea of rebellion is to be a jerk, dropping out isn’t automatically awful or destructive. Certainly they’re doing less damage than windbags such as Brooks, Kristol or Kristol’s father Irving, who openly yearns for building an American empire. Of course, neither he nor his son will be putting their lives on the line for that mission, any more than TV conservative Joe Scarborough.

But let’s be fair. If they weren’t finger-wagging and telling other people how to live their lives, they wouldn’t be conservatives.

Painting of Sloth is by Hieronymous Bosch.



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Like a virgin, linked for the very first time

No actual discussion of virginity here, however.

•Roy Edroso watches right-bloggers try to spin Trump’s Mideast trip into something awesome. A less enthused take from Digby.

•The White House wants to block the Ethics Office from looking at whether lobbyists working for Trump are violating ethics rules by working on matters they lobbied the government about.

•Did General Hospital craft a storyline simply to allow product placement for a drug?

•Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve, is preaching junk science. I haven’t read the book, but I did look up one issue on which I was curious and he got even the basics wrong.

•Africans should decide which African renewable energy projects need funding.

•With the death of Roger Ailes, Fox News guru, Slacktivist looks at not speaking ill of the dead. While I don’t have a link, Glenn Greenwald has argued that we should speak ill of the dead: otherwise the people declaring how awesome they were will define their legacy and overlook flaws (Reagan’s refusal to approve added funding for AIDS research, Jerry Falwell being a segregationist, etc.)

•Feministing argues that while lots of people protest when right-wing speakers are denied a platform on campus, other viewpoints get shut out without objection.

•Now that Charter has bought out Time Warner, cable customers are getting rate hikes — immediate, with their cable getting turned off until they pay.

•Cable companies commit to net neutrality! Except they won’t say so in writing.

•Reporter Chris Cilliza explains that while the media devoted too much coverage to Clinton’s emails, it’s totally Clinton’s fault.

•Scott Adams of Dilbert fame continues cheering for Trump. Did you know that when President Shit Gibbon does something incompetent, it’s part of a clever strategy? I don’t know what his take is on how most of those Carrier jobs Trump supposedly saved are going away now.

•Did you know that according to the Federalist horror of The Handmaid’s Tale is that dramatizes why gay marriage is bad?

•For-profit colleges sue to stop a rule that protects students from colleges that screw them over.

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Assorted political venting, starting with Trump’s dictatorial fantasies.

Trump speaks the truth! The reason he hasn’t accomplished more is at least partly the Constitution and its checks and balances — the judicial power to block his deportations, the need for Congress to roll back Obamacare and to vote on a budget, etc. The trouble is, President Shit-Gibbon thinks that’s a bad thing, “It’s an archaic system … It’s really a bad thing for the country.”  No, it’s not. It’s what keeps the president — not just Trump, not just white supremacists, but any president — from riding roughshod over the rest of us.

And as I’ve discussed before, a lot of Republican voters are right there with Trump. They’d love a dictator as long as he had an R by his name; back during the W years, one of the things that drove Republicans to outrage was that liberals questioned Bush! Disagreed with him! Refused to support his policies! Which is exactly the same as wanting terrorist to rape American children! (I’m sure they’re fine with a woman who laughed at Jeff Sessions getting prosecuted for it And convicted).

Of course the same people turned around and spent the Obama years refusing to support his policies, cheering on Republicans whose over-riding goal (by their own words) was to make him a one-term president, celebrating Limbaugh for saying “I hope he fails.” And they apparently don’t see any contrast. After all, they still tell themselves they have the moral high ground.

And sexism invariably goes hand-in-hand with authoritarian conservatism. As witness Trump appointing a lying forced-birther to manage the DOH population-planning grants (and here’s another forced-birther appointment). Or a post by a neo-Nazi on publicly shaming women (who are too fat, dating across the color line, etc.) — which he assures readers will turn them on and make them beg to carry your children.

•Speaking of sex discrimination, a Texas court has ruled that even though a new mother’s employer harassed her about breastfeeding, that’s not sex discrimination because men can lactate.

•Chechen police are threatening parents with gay kids: kill your children or we’ll kill them for you.

•Ivanka Trump wants you to know she feels really, really bad about Trump’s “pussy-grabbing” speech. As noted at the link, it doesn’t seem to inspire her to do anything about Daddy’s loathsome ways.

•A new bill would not only end net neutrality, it would ban the FCC from ever doing it again.

•To end on an up note: we can still fight and win (Democrats scored several victories in the recent budget negotiations. No wonder Trump wants to be a dictator).

•Students at a college run by Laureate Education claim the company stripped the school’s assets, ensuring it’s closure, but kept enrolling students.

•Yes, the forced-birth movement does intend to prosecute women who get abortions. They’re already doing it. More here.

•Vox explains why hiring climate-change denialist Bret Stephens for the NYT editorial page gives added status to someone whose views don’t deserve it. And who conveniently fudges them to fit his new gig (instead of Climate Change is Bull it’s now Sure, It’s Probably Real, But Not Definitely) LGM explains why the NYT can’t claim free speech as a defense.

•Speaking of lying, Consumerist shreds Verizon’s arguments for why net neutrality is bad.

•Wells Fargo shareholders says the bank went and collected day laborers from convenience stores to pressure them into signing up for accounts — then adding more unwanted accounts without the workers’ consent.

•Remember how Flint pumped lead-tainted water to its citizens? Residents are being billed for it, even though they can’t drink it.

•Digby looks at how bad the health-care bill is (particularly for women). But the right-wing media is doing its best to keep Republicans thinking it’s awesome. And Health Secretary Tom Price’s strategy is similarly to lie like hell.

•Trump’s right that a good deal could have stopped the Civil War — but only by preserving slavery. I’m sure he’d have been down with that.

•Here’s a shocker, no outrage from the religious right at Bill O’Reilly’s alleged sexual harassment. Funny, when conservatives complain Christians are too wimpy to stand up for what’s right, they don’t mean standing against abuse.

•White paranoia about genocide.

•Monsanto may have ghost written a report finding its pesticide was safe.

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Never underestimate Republican determination to make people suffer. Or be shitbags

The House has passed a resolution replacing Obamacare with a worse program.

Among the lovely features are that insurers can charge higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions. There’s a pool of money set aside to help, but not enough. Oh, and large employers can choose which state’s rules for coverage (does employee insurance have to cover maternity benefits?) they follow, so if one state sets a really, really low bar, that could allow employers everywhere to adopt that standard. NC Rep. Robert Pittenger babbled about state’s rights before the vote (and if you don’t like the standards your state has, move!) but I’ll bet he ain’t complaining that the rule nullifies state’s rights (a state can set any requirements it wants. They won’t matter). And yet he’s a cut above Alabama Rep Mo Brooks, who says pre-existing conditions are people’s own fault, so why should healthy people subsidize them?

(Horrible sidepoint: women who suffer PTSD or STDs from rape sometimes lost their coverage because those things were pre-existing conditions. It could happen again.

And let’s not forget, Republicans had no intention of letting rules like higher prices for pre-existing conditions affect them — they had an exemption. Until they backed off after it was publicized and denied it ever happened. And as noted here, even Republicans who vote no are not off the hook for this.

More analysis and criticism of this moral disgrace.

The Republicans rushed this through so fast they don’t even have hard facts and figures. Which Sean Spicer has explained is because it’s just impossible to figure out what the effect will be until it passes. Um, no. Analysts did fine for the first version of the bill. Though I’m sure it’s way too hard for Spicer or President Shit-Gibbon to figure out.

I’m writing my senators and praying hard.

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Yet more reasons we can’t have nice things: media, Republicans and big business


Because the standard for assessing Trump’s first 100 days shouldn’t be what a moderate centrist Trump would have done and how he might have done it if not for those darn Democrats pushing him to the right. Or that Trump should listen to the conservative movement because Ronald Reagan’s conservative policies ended the Cold War and boosted the economy (as noted at the link, they did neither).

•Because CNN’s new hire Chris Cillizza sees no conflict between treating Chelsea Clinton as a public figure (she might run for office!) and arguing that Ivanka Trump, who is a White House official now, shouldn’t be criticized for holding up her dad as a champion of women.

•Because the right-wing media’s response to Bill O’Reilly getting fired for alleged sexual harassment was to explain they didn’t like him and he wasn’t a real conservative anyway.

•Because we have people on Fox news advocating violence against abortion doctors and saying anyone who doesn’t do it is a “pro-life coward.”


•Because while Republicans are looking at dropping the “can’t deny insurance for pre-existing conditions” health insurance rule, they’re keeping it for themselves and their staff.

•Because some Republicans still think the Iraq war was a fantastic triumph, and a role model for the future.

•Because “far left special interests” who create national monuments and national parks must be stopped!!!!

•Because deregulation of business screws over consumers.

•Because North Carolina Republicans are explaining the billion-dollar shortfall that would be caused by their proposed tax cuts doesn’t matter — it will spur such unimaginable growth, the state will actually get more money! This is, and has always been bullshit, as in it’s never worked (it’s the same bullshit approach that tanked the Kansas economy). And if it did have a chance of working, it still wouldn’t work in practice — once you go down that route, it’s just too tempting to tweak the numbers.

•Because if a guy goes to a bar dressed like a girl, Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi says the guy deserves to be beat up. He subsequently CYAed with a lot of talk about respect and tolerance but seems to think “civility” refers to the gay guy not doing anything to offend people rather than people refraining from beating gays up.

•Because Republicans don’t give a damn about red ink when they cut taxes. The idea they’re concerned about the deficit enough to oppose Trump’s budget is bullshit. And so is Trump’s tax plan.


Because Mylar allegedly used rebates and other tricks to convince insurers and state programs to cover only EpiPen and not cover competitors (and those rebates led to the price shooting upwards). And then touted all the programs that only covered EpiPen as proof of its superiority

•Because General Motors thinks it shouldn’t have to pay victims of GM vehicles’ ignition defect (the one where the ignition would suddenly turn off on its own).

Because, Uber.

•Because our capitalist system would probably mess up drug legalization just like it gave us the opioid epidemic.

•Because a supposed Islamic terrorist attack on a German sports team was actually a scheme to crash their stock, then buy it cheap.

•All that stuff conservatives spout about how we should let states set their own rules instead of having everything dictated from Washington? Bullshit. Business groups are now demanding Congress stop states and municipalities from imposing their own minimum standards for family and sick leave. Though they also object to higher federal standards. Personally I think it’s easy to overcome the confusion these businesses insist they face — just pass a rule that whichever state they work in with the most generous standards, those standards apply everywhere they have an office. Uniform, just as they like it!

•Because Internet providers are pushing to eliminate net neutrality so that they can pick and choose how easy it is for you to use a particular service or website. Although I should note a lot of Internet companies have filed to protest the FCC’s proposal.

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More reasons we can’t have nice things (#SFWApro)

Because whackaloon conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones are taken seriously. Even when claiming that George Soros is making pot stronger to destroy America.

•Because ass-hats like Michael Reagan (son of Ronnie) respond to Bill O’Reilly’s alleged sexual harassment by saying men should have the right to sue women for looking sexy. They dress to get us all hot and bothered, then they get upset when we notice how they’re dressed. The answer: sexual harassment isn’t just men noticing women are attractive. And if men can’t control themselves, it’s not the woman’s fault. No matter how she’s dressed.

•The fight against abortion continues. On a plus side, Maryland is revising its definition of rape so that even if it’s not forcible, cops can charge the rapist.

•Congress is considering a bill that would reduce regulation on crooked payday lenders. Bill’s primary supporter is a Republican, natch. And Trump’s “populism continues to focus on reducing regulation on businesses. And Congress is also looking to cut protections for people using prepaid debit cards.

•Donald Trump has also eased wildlife restrictions in Alaska that make it easier to shoot hibernating bears. Because let’s face it, how else can a man feel like a man?

•Attorney General Jeff Sessions thinks Hawaii is not a real state. Which may reflect long-standing right-wing fears that Hawaii isn’t white enough to be a state.

•Because Paul Ryan, that supposed man of principle and seriously wonky disposition, has no qualms tongue-bathing Trump in print. And while he seems cool with having gone to college on his family’s Social Security Disability income, Ryan opposes retired miners getting health benefits.

•Because some right-wingers can’t grasp that choosing to have a baby doesn’t make you anti-abortion.

•Because pundits still want to blame Trump and angry conservatives on liberals. Or explain that if black America suffers, it’s their own fault. While still insisting Trump is Clinton’s fault. And claiming Democrats raise the murder rate.

•Because a Republican Congressman (Jim Sensenbrenner) thinks there’s no need for government to impose privacy rules on Internet providers — nobody has to use the Internet, right? By which logic we shouldn’t worry about keeping up roads, as nobody has to drive.

•Because reporters can paint a spectacular Democratic win as a Republican triumph. Or continue to insist on how awesome it is they’re interviewing Trump voters.

•Because think tanks like CATO can suddenly discover feminism when they can use it to argue in favor of exploiting third-world workers.

•Because part of the right-wing isn’t even denying they like shari’a law as long as it’s white shari’a.

•Because women’s achievements are sometimes hand-waved away and credited to men.

•Because sexual harassers can stick around academia for years. And years.

•Because as IF Stone once put it, the real problem isn’t when governments lie but when they start drinking their own snake-oil. Republicans used to use the right-wing media to manipulate people, but now they’re believers themselves.

•As that’s kind of a downbeat post, I’ll leave on one cheerful note: Florida State Senator Frank Artiles used the n-word on a political opponent. It created such a backlash, he’s resigning.

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