Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Wrong side of History.

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court, in a fit of cowardice mixed with cool logic, let stand the rulings of 5 different United States Appeals Courts who had all affirmed United States District Court rulings.  Those 5 District Courts had each ruled that laws in 5 states banning Same Sex Marriage violated the Constitution of the United States.  Based on that, Gay Marriage will now be legal in 30 States and the District of Columbia.  Well over half of America’s citizens now live in states where you are free to marry the adult person you love, whatever their gender.  Sanity seems to be prevailing.
I was struck by the paucity of outrage at the Supreme Court’s action (or inaction).  Across the nation, elected officials seemed to accept what had happened and within hours people were getting married in states where such a thing seemed impossible not 10 years ago.
From all that, I wondered if it is becoming clear to Conservatives how often they have been wrong.  Consistently wrong on almost every single significant issue of public policy.
They have been wrong, spectacularly wrong, on Civil Rights.  Conservatives opposed the Civil Right Act, the Voting Right Act, the Equal Rights Act and the 13 Amendment.  Conservatives oppose laws that ban discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion.  Interestingly, they would often invoke religion (either explicitly or by implication) as justification for the discrimination that they wanted to continue to practice.
Gay marriage civil rights for homosexuals in general haven’t had any of the terrible consequences for America that Conservatives have been predicting.  Gay marriage hasn’t harmed heterosexual marriage in any way.  Gay’s are just a likely to be good parents (and just as likely to be bad parents) as straights.  Homosexuality isn’t the same as bestiality or pedophilia.  All the lies told by Conservatives about the impacts of Gay Right have all been proven wrong.
And now they are attacking a woman’s right to chose and American’s right to vote.
They have been consistently and unequivocally wrong on economic policy.  They opposed the Minimum Wage, Child Labor Laws, Occupational Safety Laws.  They opposed Social Security and Medicare, two programs that have transformed the lives of America’s elderly for decades.
Tax cuts do and never will pay for themselves.  Tax cuts provide a very small short term boost to the economy but are a long term drag on economic growth because the deficits that they cause raise the cost of credit for everyone, eliminating any tiny economic benefit they might have had at first.
They opposed the WWII GI Bill, which sent millions of returning veterans to college and helped propel the US Economy throughout the 50’s and into the 60’.
The opposed the President’s plan to rescue the GM and Chrysler and they were utterly and completely wrong about that.
They opposed the 2009 stimulus bill, predicting that it wouldn’t create job or generate economic activity and they were wrong about that.
They opposed President Clinton’s 1993 budget which created the conditions that led to our first balanced budgets since WWII concurrently with 8 years of historic economic growth.  Conservatives predicted that exactly the opposite would happen.
Conservatives predicted the President Bush’s tax cuts would spur the economy to strong growth and more jobs and what we got was 8 years of sluggish growth, increasing income inequality, and exploding deficits culminating in the Great Recession, which they then, amazingly, tried to blame on poor people.
More recently they opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) inventing a long and inventive list of lies and distortions, EVERY ONE OF WHICH HAS BEEN PROVEN WRONG.  Despite their predictions of doom and disaster, Obamacare is working better than expected.  More people that originally predicted have signed up for health insurance, many of them having health insurance for the first time in their lives.  And those newly insurance Americans are paying their premiums.  Obamacare is reducing the budget deficit and will reduce growth by ~1 Trillion Dollars in the next decade.  The rate of Health Care Inflation has slowed dramatically since Obamacare was passed.  There are no death panels, no FEMA Camps, no private Army.  The number of insurance companies that are registering on the exchanges to offer insurance is increasing.  Billions of dollars in Premiums have been rebated to consumers when their Insurance Company didn’t spend the large bulk of their income from premiums on paying claims.  Medicaid Expansion is helping to keep small local hospitals open, in those states that accepted the Medicaid Expansion.  Every significant prediction of failure or disaster that Conservatives predicted about the Affordable Care Act has proven to be wrong.
And they pretend not to notice.
It is difficult to find in the past century ANY conservative policy that has actually been good for this country.  I have asked the same question many times, name one Conservative Policy that has been good for America and I have gotten 1 answer.  One person named the Interstate Highway system, started and supported by President Eisenhower.  And that one policy is in reality, one of the largest publics works projects in American History, not exactly the kind of policy usually put forward by Conservatives.
In the past 60 years, we have had disputes about what impact science should have on public policy.  Starting in the late 50’s, it was becoming clear to scientists that the lead in our gasoline was poisoning our air and our waterways.  Scientists and Liberals advocated for the removal of lead from gasoline.  They were opposed by the oil and auto industries and by those industries Conservative supporters.  The supporters of Lead first simply denied the science.  They paid other scientists to come up with competing studies that said Lead in our air and water wasn’t poisoning us, or that it wasn’t coming from our gasoline.  When the argument was defeated by real scientists, they said that shifting away from Lead would ruin older cars and would hurt the economy.  Not surprisingly they were wrong.  Eventually, when we did finally eliminate lead from gasoline, we prevented thousands, perhaps millions, of Americans from the suffering that was the almost inevitable result of exposure to high levels of environmental lead.
The same pattern was repeated by the Tobacco Industry.  As it became scientifically clear that Tobacco was not only addictive, but was deadly, the Tobacco followed the same play book, hiring shill scientists to produce scientifically flawed studies that they could tout as proving that Cigarettes were neither Addictive or deadly.  When that argument was finally and conclusively squashed, they then attacked the victims.  Conservatives would argue that since it was now clear that cigarettes were deadly, it was the smokers fault for getting addicted in the first place, and that to blame the Tobacco companies was to deny personal responsibility.  Now we know that Tobacco companies have deliberately and systematically advertised their poisons to children since they need to replace 3000 smokers a day who die from smoking related illnesses.
When it became clear that we were destroying the very environment that we all had to live in, Conservatives opposed taking any actions.  They predicted that cleaning up the Air and Water would devastate the economy and put millions out of work.  And they were wrong, yet again.  Not only did cleaning up the environment not devastate the economy, it created entire new industries and put millions of people to work while dramatically improving the health of Americans and improving the Health of our planet.
And it goes on.  With Climate Change, the stakes are so much higher.  But the players and the tactics are the same.  Conservatives deny the science at the top of their lungs, and accuse thousands of actual Climate Scientists of corruption and dishonesty, while promoting the opinions of people who aren’t actually experts in the field.  Conservatives, despite their history and the numerous new studies that disagree with the, argue that doing anything about Climate Change will devastate the economy and put millions out of work.  Claims that they have made time and time again in previous “debates” where they have been utterly and completely wrong every time.
So I was wondering as I watched Conservatives losing another Civil Right battle, will they, do they every recognize that they are on the wrong side of history.  Do they see that they are almost in errantly wrong in their predictions.
It doesn’t seem so.  They ability to be self delusional is quite impressive.
They have lost the war on Gay Right, even though there are ever smaller and smaller battles to be fought, the end isn’t in doubt, and it isn’t anything like Conservatives have been prediction.

Yet again, wrong on the facts, wrong in their predictions and on the wrong side of history.  Its almost a Conservative mantra.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

An Armed Society is a Polite Society

In an on-line discussion I was participating in, one of the commenters stated categorically that an Armed Society was a Polite Society.  And this person was dead earnest about their belief.  That has stuck with me as emblematic of the insanity of the current gun control debate.  Turns out, not surprisingly, that it was a quote from my favorite Author, Robert A. Heinlein.  I learned a lot of my libertarian leaning from Heinlein and his books.  There are actually a couple of face book groups with that quote in their group name.
The whole quote is kind of illustrative:
“An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.”
There is a certain logic in this.  If you insult someone and do not apologize to their satisfaction, you could end up dead.  I guess that the fearful politeness that this engenders will make for a largely polite society.  Except of course, for those who wear body armor or are expert enough to win their duels.  If you are confident that you can best anyone you insult in the resulting duel, where is your motivation for mannerly behavior?  If you invent a newer, better, more lethal weapon, your need to be polite in society by this very definition goes down.  So someone who is disabled and not capable of that sort of personal combat, ends up being the one anyone and everyone can insult without fear of consequences.
To me, the inevitable result of that philosophy is a society of tiers where those who are physically capable, and who can afford the best equipment and the best training, will have no motivation to be polite, or at least will only need to be polite to those that might give them a close to equal contest.  You end up with a society of well armed and physically capable bullies preying on the rest of society

Not my idea of utopia.  Or even a polite society

Sunday, February 23, 2014

When was the last time Republicans were right about something?

When was the last time Republicans were right about something?

That’s not really a rhetorical question.  I am trying to figure out when it was.

Their apocryphal predictions about Obamacare are all turning out to be wrong.

They still insist, despite all the evidence, that the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (The Stimulus) was a failure despite all it did to prevent the economy collapsing into an actual depression.

The insisted that the President’s plan to bail out GM and Chrysler were doomed to failure.  Both GM and Chrysler are thriving and by time we finish selling the last of our stake in those companies we will actually have made a little money on the GM bailout and will have recovered almost all of the Chrysler bailout monies, without Washington bureaucrats telling the management of either company how to run their businesses.

Many, led by Senators McCain and Graham have criticized everything that this president has done on foreign policy.  Often changing positions almost overnight like McCain did with the President’s response to the Arab Spring revolution in Libya.

They take tragedies and mistakes and insist that they are scandals and keep repeating the same discredited attacks long after they have been debunked.

They acknowledged the reality of Climate Change before they decided it was a hoax (George Bush ran on a Carbon Tax in the 2000 campaign).

They were in favor of insurance exchanges before they were against them.  RomenyCare in Massachusetts was the implementation of a plan from the Heritage Foundation in response to Hillary care in 1993.  Romney implemented it in Mass in 2005 and then ran against the same plan in 2012.  The House GOP Budgets for the past few years have included a plan to transition people on Medicare from the current system to a system of insurance exchanges where people would shop for and buy individual insurance using Premium Support payments from the federal government.

Republicans are very concerned now about the Deficit and resulting National Debt only when there is a Democrat in the White House.  When Reagan tripled the annual deficit and more than doubled the National Debt, he became an almost religious Icon of the Right.  Bush the 2nd inherited a budget surplus and within 8 years had created a $1.3T deficit, more than doubling the National Debt in the process while Republicans kept insisting that the disastrous Bush Tax cuts be made permanent.  And not the incessantly criticize President Obama, glibly ignoring the simple fact that the annual deficit has FALLEN every year of his Presidency and has been more than cut in half as a percentage of the overall economy.

Republicans led us into the disaster that is Iraq based on faulty or even manufactured intelligence.

Republicans insist that we are overregulated while ignoring the fact that the Gulf Oil Spill, the series of oil pipeline ruptures across the country, the Freedom Industries spill in WV, the coal ash pond leaks in North Carolina, and the Financial Crisis that led to the current sluggish economy were ALL the result or either inadequate regulations or regulations that were not adequately enforced.

Republicans refused to renew extended Unemployment Insurance payments despite the reality that doing so only slows our economic growth even more.

They criticize the President because the economy isn’t growing as fast as anyone would like, claiming that the President’s policies have failed, all the while refusing to pass any of the measures he has proposed to stimulate job growth and boost the economy.

They blocked sensible gun control programs like expanding back ground check to close the Gun Show Loophole, proposals that have the support of a large majority of American’s.

They have blocked the President’s attempt to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform, insisting on enforcement first, while ignoring the fact that the Border Patrol has tripled in size under President Obama, that ICE and the Border Patrol have deported more undocumented workers than any administration in history and ignoring the fact that we have been a close to net 0 illegal immigration in the past 5 years.

When was the last time they were right about anything?