Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

This is not "conservative"

Let me digress from the discussion of what conservatism is and why it's not good for people, and talk a little bit about the Republican party. The party doesn't actually have a platform at the moment -- as you may recall they voted to make the platform be "whatever Dear Leader says" -- but we do know that generally they stand for rich people not paying taxes, eliminating environmental, workplace safety and consumer protection regulations, not letting non-white people vote, and other stuff that probably does fit the definition of conservative.

However, they also have room for stuff that's just loony tunes. There's nothing evidently conservative about rejecting medical science, as far as I can understand. For example, that face masks are effective at preventing transmission of respiratory viruses, including Covid-19, is what is called a scientific fact, and scientific facts cannot violate any conservative principles -- they're just facts. Then there is hydroxychloroquine. Multiple high quality clinical trials from around the world have demonstrated conclusively that it is completely ineffective against Covid-19, at any stage of the disease, including for prophylaxis. That is another example of a scientific fact. I'm going to refer you to Scott Lemieux because of the NYT paywall, since he has already ripped them off:


In choosing a slate of doctors to testify about coronavirus treatments before his committee on Tuesday, Senator Ron Johnson has assembled a cast of witnesses who question much of the public health consensus about the virus.

There is a prominent vaccine skeptic, an outspoken critic of masking and social distancing, and at least two doctors who have promoted the use of an anti-parasitic drug that government scientists have recommended against using to treat the coronavirus.

It is the latest example of how Mr. Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican who has used his powerful investigative panel to amplify groundless accusations pushed by President Trump, has now embraced the role of the Senate’s leading Covid contrarian.


This shit is going to, you know, kill people. Literally. It already has. What this has to do with Ayn Rand and Edmund Burke you'll have to tell me. 

Dear Dumbass: Ron Johnson is a United States Senator. Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States, who has the adoring and undying support of 95% of people who say they are Republicans. This is not cherry picking a random example of a nutcase.



Don Quixote said...

Again, I think that once any group--even if it is an entire political party--has devolved int a personality cult, there's no pulling it back from the edge; they've "gone over" for the sake of their megalomaniacal leader, whether it's Jim Jones, Marshall Applewhite, or Keith Rainere.

Since admission to the group is based on the rejection of reason and observable facts, they are totally Thanatos-drive, that is to day, death-driven. There is no raison d'etre for them anymore except following their leader; they've abdicated all critical thinking. And since the leader is always a narcissistically disturbed person, their sense of power drives them to destroy everything. And their followers, being followers, follow.

There is nothing going for the Republican party except racism. That is its platform. The party is completely opposed to the continued existence in America of anyone who is brown, Asian, or an immigrant. So they are opposed to reality itself.

We can't totally "explain" insane behavior except to understand why people do what they do. We can't change their behavior, even if it's totally insane and self- and other-destructive.

To anyone who thinks this evaluation is excessive--well, haven't people gone crazy before, destroying many other civilizations and countries in history?

mojrim said...

I think it's necessary to seperate the GOP itself from its voters, and to distinguish both of those from what could ideologically be called conservatism. The party, as I've said here before, is a white shoe law firm representing older, labor-intensive business interests. It employs sophisticated PR to convince certain voters that this is in their own interests, though this clearly broke down in the 2016 primaries.

Those who vote republican do so for a variety of reasons, race being perhaps first among equals. Abortion* is very high among them, as is an understanding that the Dems stopped representing their economic interests in the 90's (or the 70's), and a general dislike of being scolded for lack of couth.

Even much of what we attribute to racism has economic roots: scapegoating is a natural human response to two generations of a shrinking pie and the Dems have been painted as the redistributors. Anthropologists note that tribalism and norm observance intensifies during times of existential scarcity. I have noted that the gains in minority rights have reversed in step said shrinking pie.

*Roe v Wade was really a godsend for the GOP, giving them an indestructible foe to arouse religious voters without the danger of having to make a decision on the matter. The best possible thing for the american left would be it's overturn.

Cervantes said...

Ah, I was wondering what your point was in commenting on the earlier post about the Supreme Court. The Court for the most part throughout U.S. history has been a conservative force. The tendency to expand civil rights and individual liberties in the 60s and 70s was largely anomalous. There was certainly a backlash against Brown v. Board and other civil rights decisions, but the racism was already there and the net effect was to bring it out into the open and spark the long struggle for equality since then, which has progressed though slowly. About Roe v Wade, specifically, you may be right. The Christian right, having lost the cause of segregation, seized on abortion as a substitute. Don't know if that was predictable. As I have said, the problem of judicial accountability is a gordian knot for political theorists and I don't have a definitive answer to it.

Don Quixote said...

Mo--I'm confused by something you wrote in your comment: "Those who vote republican do so for a variety of reasons, race being perhaps first among equals. Abortion* is very high among them, as is an understanding that the Dems stopped representing their economic interests in the 90's (or the 70's), and a general dislike of being scolded for lack of couth."

As Cervantes noted in his Sept. 22 blog (The Bible and Abortion), the abortion issue was manufactured by Paul Weyrich. It served as a surrogate for the anger of racists. But why on earth do you say Dems stopped representing the economic interests of people? Huh? Republicans have been trying to fuck people over for decades, while Dems have championed social justice and fair wages, etc. Again, I'm confused by this assertion. Are you saying that's their perception--even though it's false?

A friend of mine in FL switched from Dem to Repub in the 80s because he became convinced Dems "think people like [him] are the problem." I can only imagine that he is racist, and thinks Dems favor people who aren't Caucasian.

Whattafuckinmess our ignorant population makes. Not deplorable, but racist and ignorant.

mojrim said...

"Social justice" and "fair wages" are just more IdPol nonsense, the proposition that the black janitor and the hispanic hotel maid should make as much as their white counterparts. Since 150% of nothing is next to nothing, one cannot really call this good econ for the lower half of the wage graph. The same can be said for "criminal justice reform" (three lies in one, like the MRE), which ignores the basic fact that our national drug policy exists entirely to bully and control the poor.

When they address working class minorities they address us entirely as minorities and ignore our class relationships. This is a predictable outcome of having thrown unions under the bus starting in the mid 70's. Joe Biden is directly responsible for throwing millions of black men in prison. Both Clinton and Obama helped to gut good paying industries in the US. Clinton threw millions of black families into greater poverty. I could go on and on so, yeah, fuck those guys.

The only real difference between Dems and the GOP, vis economic policy, is that the Dems like to offer transition assistance to displaced workers when their policies destroy a community. That such retraining shows no advantage over just finding another job doesn't seem to faze them. All they have to offer, for some time now, is Goldman-Sachs with a rainbow flag.

Cervantes said...

Mo makes several quite legitimate points, I think the issue is that the Republicans are even worse for working people but the white working and middle class is attracted to the racism. If there's any good news, is that we seem to be moving away from the War on [Some People Who Use Some] Drugs and mass incarceration. Whether unions can come back is a more complicated question which has to do as much with the structure of the modern economy as it does with public policy, though policy could help.

Don Quixote said...

Let's not be guilty ourselves of living in the past. People change--others mutate. The current iteration of the Republican party is an abomination, divorced from reality and rooted in death.

Raymond said...

Two problems here, esteemed Cervantes,

1. While the GOP is worse for workers it's only a matter of inches. The Dems sole appeal to minority workers is that white workers losing ground brings them closer to minorities, which they call progress.

2. The structure of the modern economy isn't a natural phenomenon, rather the direct and predictable result of bipartisan decisions over the last 40 years. Thereis nothing about the economy that is outside the realm of public policy and no governing entity can disclaim responsibility.

As for changes in the GOP, M. Quixote, so what? Trump is ugly and stupid but his actual policy outcomes have been mainline GOP all the way. The Shrub would have avoided retail cruelty on the southern border but that's pocket change on the whole.

Cervantes said...

As for point #2, of course I argue exactly that all the time.

As for point #1, however, I think you overstate the case. Democratic tax policy in general tends to be more progressive; the Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid expansion clearly benefited low income people including minority workers, as do Democrats more vigorous enforcement of the Civil Rights acts and, at the state and local level, more friendliness to higher minimum wage, just for examples. However, I agree that neither party has done anything to arrest the long-term structural changes in the economy that have been steadily moving wealth and income up the ladder, and that these differences aren't all that much.

If the Dems can take the Senate and keep their promise for major infrastructure investment, that can really matter to people. But we'll have to see. AOC and kindred spirits are to be found in the Democratic party, and nowhere else. How much influence can they have? We'll find out.

Don Quixote said...


I agree with your points, with the addition of Cervantes's caveat about progressive policies of the Dems. As someone who's worked in the lower middle class work world for some years, I am continually amazed at people of all ethnic backgrounds who keep saying it wouldn't matter much which party was in charge ... just yesterday, a close Native American friend maintained that Covid-19 wouldn't have taken a different course under a Dem president.

I didn't belabor the point too much. But are you fucking kidding me? He further maintained that--for some mysterious reason--we couldn't have treated it as S. Korea did. There, 1 in 1,300 people has had Covid-19; here, it's 1 in 21.

Why the fuck not? Of course we could have. It's all a matter of willingness and leadership.

So no, things would not be "slightly" different under Dems.

That said: I understand his viewpoint. My ancestors lived in Russia/Ukraine, and they were Jewish. When I asked my grandmother what the Russian Revolution was like, she said, "It was like nothing. We were treated like shit under the Czar, and the same under the Bolsheviks."

That's why minorities here feel the way they do about the two parties. Because they're always at the bottom, no matter what. That's what needs to change.

AOC will be 35 one month before the 2024 election ...

mojrim said...

The problem, my dear Cervantes, is that everything you bring up on point (1) is really pocket change. A 5% dif on marginal tax rates and no one wants to touch capital gains. ACA itself wouldn't have been needed if high-paying (and strong benefits) jobs hadn't been destroyed. We're finally talking about raising the minimum wage only because it's become the default wage for people that, a generation ago, would have been making $25-30/hour. And let's not even talk about Barak Obama trying to destroy social security...

So tell me, do you really think that, even with a Senate majority, Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer will actually pour a trillion into infrastructure? I'll go on record now saying no way, no how.

Tell me this, Don Quixote: Are the poor and marginalized, as a class, really so deluded that they'd consistently imagine the difference is negligible? That decade after decade they'd decline to vote on the grounds that it wouldn't change anything for them? COVID decimates black and native communities, Obama throws Flint to the wolves, and the cops keep murdering us no matter who's in charge.

Don Quixote said...

I don't think poor people are "deluded." And of course, there are poor people of all levels of political education and political involvement.

But I do think poor Americans in general are so fucking busy trying to stay afloat financially that they generally aren't up on politics. Working three jobs can do that to you, accompanied by high levels of mental illness caused by addiction, PTSD, and child abuse. Such a lifestyle is not conducive to trying to change the system because you're trapped in the system. Whether rural farmers or city working people, many poor people feel abandoned by government in general. Along comes an insane con man and (being insane) convinces them he cares about them (what a sick joke!).

And then, of course, the foundation of the USA: racism. As LBJ said to Bill Moyers years ago, ""If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you." People opt for racism over self-interest for an ego charge.

Think about it, Mo: poor Caucasians vote for people like Shitler; poor African Americans vote against him. Who's deluded? The Caucasians in general have no "bullshit detector," but after 400 years of persecution, African Americans have it branded into their consciousness.

mojrim said...

Except, my dear Don, that poor blacks, hispanics, and natives generally fail to vote at all. If you were to ask many of those I grew up with why, they would tell you that it doesn't matter which rich white guy (or gal) is in charge, the result is always the same: jobs disappear, welfare gets cut, and the pigs keep killing us. Until you have an effective answer for those street level metrics, blaming it on "poor whites vote for racism over their paycheck" is just sour grapes and excuses. And we've had as much of of both as we can stand.

Don Quixote said...

Mo, I couldn't agree more with most of what you've written above--as I said, my grandmother was in this position in Ukraine in 1917-18. Nothing changed, Tsar or Bolshevik. The Jews were treated like dirt and worse.

But as for sour grapes and excuses ... not so. In fact, the answer is to be able to get poor minorities to vote, like in Georgia. How did (and does) Stacey Abrams do it? Education, talking to people. That has to happen nationally. And here's why: yes, of course, there has to be culpability at some point for people, no matter their circumstances--but people need to know they have a choice before they truly have a choice. People need to know that they have power before they'll exercise it. And as you say, African Americans have had as much as they can stand (more than they can stand), and Native Americans of course were the original victims of the Europeans' genocide.

mojrim said...

The problem with all that, Don, is we've been here before and it didn't really get us much. People like me don't fail to vote because we lack education or because Stacy Abrams hasn't called us, but because we've heard this tune before. We turn out to elect Clinton and he throws us to the wolves while courting white suburbanites. Again with Obama and he does the same, rescuing bankers while pulling repulsive PR stunts in Flint. Now they've managed to foist a geriatric ghoul on us who will spend four years rambling on about classic cars and, I can promise you, the result will be the same.