"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Busting Another Myth About Immigration Reform”: Conservative “Reality” Just Happens To Be An Ideological Constructed Fallacy

Conservatives like to complain that immigrants not only take jobs citizens would otherwise do (mostly untrue), but also constitute a drain on social services. It’s not only an inhumane argument but also impractical: if you need people to perform difficult and dangerous jobs, do you really want them not to be able to get medical treatment or for their kids to go uneducated?

But these arguments aren’t just impractical and immoral. They’re also wrong. As it turns out, undocumented immigrants are a net positive to the social security system:

Here’s how the math works. Five percent of the U.S. work force is undocumented, which is some 8.1 million people. Thirty-eight percent of the 8.1 million pay social security taxes, which comes to roughly $12 billion a year, according to CAP estimates. That’s a pretty nice cushion for a graying America.

Stephen Goss, chief actuary for the Social Security Administration, told the Daily Beast, “Even as it stands under current policy, unauthorized immigrants contribute positively to the financing of social security not only in terms of their own contributions, but in the succeeding generations when they have children on our soil that are citizens from day one.”

Bringing them out of the shadows will let them actually collect on the money they have paid into the system, but it would still be a net positive:

Obama’s executive order would allow newly legalized workers to eventually collect benefits when they reach retirement age. But that’s a long way off for many of them, and any potential loss would be more than offset by the millions of young workers who will be brought into the system to pay taxes for three or four decades before they can collect benefits.

Conservative arguments present reasonable people with a quandary: do you attack their arguments for their heartless immorality? Or their functional impracticality? Or their ill-informed simple wrongness? Whether it’s socialized medicine, immigration policy, climate change, social issues, tax policy, foreign policy or so much else, conservatives are constantly pursuing policies that fail basic moral tests, are largely unworkable, and that are proven wrong by actual evidence at every turn. And yet (or perhaps as a consequence) conservatism veers ever further rightward.

It’s not just a political disagreement. We’re living in different realities at this point. Conservative “reality” just happens to be an ideological constructed fallacy.


By: David Atkins, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, November 29, 2014

December 1, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, Immigration Reform, Social Security | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Denier Vigilantes”: Why It’s So Sad When Conservatives Try To Play The Underdog

Jeffrey Toobin once described the career of John Roberts, the conservative chief justice of the Supreme Court, this way: “In every major case since he became the nation’s 17th chief justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff.”

This is a raw expression of one of the most basic forms of conservatism: The defense of incumbent holders of wealth and power. Of course, it doesn’t account for the whole of American conservatism, but it’s no secret that conservatives are the most outspoken defenders of the 1 percent, from the Wall Street Journal editorial board to the vast bulk of the Republican contingent in Congress.

The rise of the social justice movement has thus presented a persistent rhetorical problem for conservatives. Members of this movement have made a compelling case that the powerful have rigged society against certain groups: minorities, women, the poor, transgender folks, and so on. That rhetorical strength has been a great source of temptation for conservatives, who would strongly like to cast themselves as heroic underdogs fighting against a vile and oppressive regime.

We saw this tendency at work this week, when Bill Nye the Science Guy was on CNN’s defibrillated new version of Crossfire. Nye kept emphasizing that conservatives are simply unwilling to accept the scientific conclusions on climate change, which predict highly alarming consequences if we stay on our current emissions path. In response, host S.E. Cupp accused him of trying to “bully…anyone who dares question” the science.

Take a look:

Similarly, George Will, the conservative columnist at The Washington Post, recently used conservative conspiracy theories to assert that climate scientists have “interests” that have biased their analysis. “If you want money from the biggest source of direct research in this country, the federal government, don’t question its orthodoxy,” he continued.

Set aside the fact that these conservatives conveniently accept the logic of social justice only when it suits them. The real problem with this kind of analysis is that it makes no sense if you think about it for even five seconds. They have the power imbalance completely backward. Carbon-mining companies are, in fact, among the most profitable industries that have ever existed. Climate scientists have, in fact, been legally and personally harassed by denier vigilantes and their pet hack journalists.

Wouldn’t the incomprehensibly huge piles of money the oil industry spends on political organizing count as some kind of interest that influences society? Not to George Will, which is why he doesn’t provide any evidence whatsoever that there is an actual conspiracy. There is none, because it doesn’t exist. It’s derp all the way down.

And thus we see the problem with Cupp’s analysis as well. Accusations of bullying only make sense if there is an insanely wealthy cabal of climate scientists oppressing someone unjustly. But Nye is simply correct in his description of almost total unanimity on questions of climate change. In particular, he’s right to say that more global warming means more extreme weather, the fact of which conservatives are constantly trying to fudge.

Cupp isn’t being bullied; she’s wrong on the facts, and appropriating social justice rhetoric in the most ham-fisted way to put that position out of reach of criticism.

It’s ludicrous, and people shouldn’t stand for it. But more than that, it’s just kind of sad. Just consider the bizarre spectacle of billionaire Charles Koch, who has whined piteously about a bunch of powerless leftists calling him names. You would think conservatives would be more comfortable being on the side with all the power and money, instead of trying to be something they’re not.

By: Ryan Cooper, The Week, May 9, 2014

May 12, 2014 Posted by | Climate Change, Conservatives, Conspiracy Theories | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Conservatism Is Too Big For Its Own Good”: The Right No Longer Understands The Difference Between The Movement And The Party

There’s a moment every year at the Conservative Political Action Conference when some eminence from the 1970s talks about the good old days at CPAC, hearkening back to the time when Ronald Reagan would show up and speak to a a small room of only about 500 activists. Things have changed. Now there are about 500 journalists who get registered to report on CPAC, which has bloated to some 10,000 participants in the fat years.

Maybe conservatism is just too big for its own good.

The conservative movement has grown large because it aspired to be something greater than a part of the Republican coalition. It wanted to become the entirety of the GOP. Instead of splitting into different interest groups, the conservative movement devises ad-hoc philosophies to integrate single-issue advocates into a larger coalition. You’re not just for low taxes or against abortion, you’re a conservative!

In this sense, the conservative movement has become a kind of parallel institution that drains resources, attention, talent, and energy from the GOP’s own electoral and governing efforts. Conservative Inc. is an enterprise with enough resources and power to be an attractive alternative to America’s official institutions of electoral power.

If you are a Republican politician and don’t have the wherewithal to become president of the United States, perhaps you have enough talent to become president of Conservatism. It’s an unofficial position, but has plenty of benefits. You won’t have the psychic pleasures of representing the electoral will of the American public, but you also won’t be burdened by any real responsibilities either.

Naturally, the idea of being a player without responsibility provides more attractions for charlatans, rabble-rousers, and opportunists.

Shades of this phenomena began in the 1990s presidential primaries. Whereas Pat Buchanan picked a principled fight with his party over issues like trade and foreign policy, candidates like Alan Keyes ran less for president than for publicity: mailing lists filled out, speaking fees increased, and radio shows picked up on more networks.

By the 2012 Republican primaries, it was obvious that there were in fact two competitions happening on the same debate stages. Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and even Newt Gingrich were not running for president in the same way that Mitt Romney and Rick Perry were.

This seems not to happen in the Democratic primaries. Sure, 2004 saw Howard Dean emerge as the leader of “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” But there is no parallel universe called Liberalism where he and Mike Gravel could become well-paid industries unto themselves as think leaders, book hawkers, and distinguished dinner guests. Dean became chairman of the Democratic National Committee, a political job with actual responsibilities and geared toward winning elections, not just flame wars.

The composition of the Democratic coalition seems stronger precisely because it is more splintered and more issue driven. No one is afraid that Planned Parenthood or the teachers’ unions are going to impose a broad-ranging ideological revolution on the nation. The public assumes that they will simply lobby for their particular, limited interests and that the party to which they belong will have a moderating effect on them.

But the conservative movement really is large enough to exert a destabilizing gravitational force on the entire political culture. Its opponents fear that its size and strength make the GOP immoderate. And they may be right.

In any GOP presidential primary, the candidates who are running to be unofficial head of the conservative movement can do a great deal of damage to the GOP’s eventual nominee. They can pressure the eventual candidate to over-commit to the right in the primary race, essentially handing them more baggage to carry in the general election. Or they can cripple the eventual primary winner by highlighting the nominee’s deviations from the movement, dispiriting the GOP’s base of voters.

When the attendees of CPAC gather in Washington early next month and conduct their presidential straw poll with the self importance of a warning shot, it might profit them to consider whether they intend to elect a new president of their ideological ghetto or one for their nation.


By: Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week, February 26, 2014

February 27, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, GOP | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Original Naysayer”: Obstructionist Mitch McConnell Totally Said No Before Saying No Was Cool

A number of journalists have been casting about desperately for sources of hope, and some of them have settled on moderate Republicans, especially Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Paul Kane calls him “perhaps the most accomplished congressional dealmaker of his time.” McConnell hasn’t been shy about portraying himself as a savior, either. “I’ve demonstrated, once again, that when the Congress is in gridlock and the country is at risk, I’m the guy who steps forward and tries to get us out of the ditch,” he told Robert Costa.

McConnell has no right to say that about himself. He has engaged in as much obstructionism as the worst of them, and his ideas are partly responsible for bringing Republicans to their current state of disarray.

The senator from Kentucky was the original naysayer. Soon after President Obama’s election, McConnell instructed Republicans to oppose Obama at every opportunity. The goal appears to have been to make sure that the country was chaotically governed for four years so that the president would not win a second term. “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” McConnell said. “If he was for it, we had to be against it,” former Sen. George Voinovich (R-Oh.) told Mike Grunwald. McConnell “wanted everyone to hold the fort. All he cared about was making sure Obama could never have a clean victory.”

This is the kind of dealmaker McConnell is. He will make a deal or put a halt to legislative action altogether, depending where he believes the political advantage lies.

It also seems that McConnell’s strategy of opposition has seriously damaged his party’s ability to develop and propose their own original ideas. Conservatives do have plenty of good ideas, but when constructive legislating is off the table for electoral reasons, it’s easy to speculate that legislators and their staffs will devote less time and fewer resources to thinking about those ideas — how to implement them and how to include them as part of a complete legislative agenda. It does seem clear that the Republicans in the House are simply taking their cue from McConnell, even though he chides them for their ineffectiveness in his interview with Costa. It was McConnell who first declared uniform opposition to be the mark of loyal conservatism.

When a party has no ideas of its own, negotiations become impossible. The cause of the most recent crisis was that Republicans had no positive demands to offer — no new policies they wanted to see enacted. They could only offer negative ones — existing policies they wanted postponed or terminated, specifically, the health care law — which, of course, Democrats did not accept. Had there been a positive, thoughtful G.O.P. agenda, Democrats could have conceded one or more of its elements, allowing Republicans to save face without engaging in brinksmanship and perhaps even implementing a worthwhile program or two.

McConnell insisted on putting politics before policy, which is exactly the kind of thinking that has crippled his party. He can be credited for rescuing Republicans, but only from his own mistakes.


By: Max Ehrenfreund, Washington Monthly Political Animal, October 19, 2013

October 21, 2013 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Politics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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