Tuesday, October 31, 2006

If You Can't Say Anything Nice...

...then we'll have to keep talking about really, really, really irritating shit.

The front page of today's paper features a prominent story about our government spending MILLIONS of dollars on campaigns to keep adults from having sex outside of marriage.

Because, really, I'm sure that the needs of, say, the still-decimated sections of New Orleans are considerably less pressing than those of keeping consenting adults in what was once the planet's signal self-governing free democracy from having sex outside of the strictures of fundamentalist Christian marriage.

Even if it weren't an outrageous abdication of every principle of freedom and self-determination which Republicans might otherwise be expected to champion; even if it didn't harken to a time in society now decades or centuries gone, this government's glassy-eyed fetish with abstinence as a social policy fails every practical test as well (not that anyone in high places is accustomed to drawing conclusions from unbiased scrutiny of data). By every measure of civility and public health these draconian views on sex and reproduction rights are countereffective: they have the practical effect of increasing unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases and the subjugation of women in our culture. From Sam Harris's latest book:
American teenagers engage in about as much sex as teenagers in the rest of the developed world, but American girls are four to five times more likely to become pregnant, have a baby, or to get an abortion. Young Americans are also far more likely to be infected by HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The rate of gonorrhea among American teens is seventy times higher than it is among their peers in the Netherlands and France. The fact that 30% of our sex-education programs teach abstinence only (at a cost of more than $200 million a year) surely has something to do with this.

The Clinton years seem like a distant dream. The brand of ugly conservatism that seems to hold our culture's reigns right now was kept under wraps by a popular wave of social moderation, we were generally respected in the world, our citizens tolerated each other and got along while living their diverse lives, and there was a person at the helm who held benevolent views of our citizenry; government was generally in the business of helping people. The economy hummed along happily. Contrast this with today where we seem to be struggling to protect ourselves from this Taliban-like wash coming from Washington, where the interests of a little clique of rich white guys seems to be trumping the concerns and needs of everybody else.

Paul Krugman said in an interview a year or so ago that he believed that our current leadership would stop at absolutely nothing--legal or ethical or otherwise--to remain in power, and I'm afraid he's right. W's statement last week that in spite of conventional wisdom "we will prevail" in the elections seems a bit ominous in this light. This is a man whose activism has far outstripped his wafer-thin mandate, and we should not be afraid to say it. Our world is a frightful mess right now, and he has played a starring role in making it so. Whatever my reservations about the candidates not part of this new conservatism (and I have plenty), I cannot see any choice that puts us in a worse place than the arrow of the last six years shows we're clearly headed, or even anywhere near as bad a place as we're in right now.

What is needed is not simply a vote that removes them from power, but a statement, a repudiation.

Vote 'em out, folks. Send 'em packing.

(As so often happens, I no sooner write something than I discover someone else has already said as much, and much more effecively.)

P.S. Oh, and did you hear about Rush Limbaugh's criticism of Michael J. Fox's Parkinsons disease? Apparently his tremors are really a political manipulation, and not the symptoms of a fatal disease like we all thought. Doesn't Fox know how immoral he's being for wanting to find a cure? Stupid showboating liberals.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post.

One comment about M.J. Fox's tremors: Limbaugh had the nerve to say that Fox was OFF his medicine so that he would be "shakier" for the ad. However, the shakiness comes from taking the medicine! The normal state of a Parkinson's victim is to be very stiff from LACK of movement.

Limbaugh is merely an entertainer, and I wouldn't take him seriously except for the fact that the knuckle-dragging high-school dropouts consider him their god. He's a soft-porn star for conservatives.

-A. Random

Jeffy said...

I think that the Republican party has moved far afield from its small-government roots. It has been so completely taken over by the religious fundamentalists that is has now become an entirely different party. The only remnant of the GOP is an exaggerated reflex to minimize taxes. It used to be a strategy that was tailored to folks with high incomes and fit well with their small-government ideology. Now it is also part of the plan to keep the government from spending anything that wouldn't be better spent by religious organizations (and if you can spend government funds on ridiculous morality preaching all the better).

Your suggestion to throw the bums out is right on target.

I've been hearing so much discussion in political coverage and debates about what to do with Iraq. Since there is no good solution to the problems there, neither the incumbents nor the challengers really have very appealing plans. However, I have come to the conclusion that there is one good way to differentiate between the two - one group made the horrendous mistake of getting us into this mess. Even if there is no good solution at this point, we can still get rid of the group that collectively made such a bunch of bad decisions and got us to where we are now. Given their track record I certainly don't want to trust them so make any more decisions for us.

wunelle said...

Amen to all that. I've said many times before, I know, that I'm perfectly willing to listen to the Libertarian side of Republicanism but, as you say , it has become nonexistent. Once in a blue moon you hear a Republican say that this current modus operandi simply goes against all of what they're supposed to stand for--but these admissions are rare, and agreement from within the ranks is rarer yet.

I agree that there IS no easy solution to the Iraq quagmire. So it isn't really about who will do better in fixing it, but rather a question of holding accountable those who have made and pushed the policies that got us here (and of supporting those who might begin to undo some of the damage we've suffered internationally).

Anonymous said...

This may answer your question as to whether anyone can want this :

A Country Ruled by Faith

It's by Garry Wills. In case you don't know him, he's a very distinquished historian, the kind that uses scientific methods in quest of history.

Some number, around 35%, believe that this is God's war, and it's "unthinkable" that God can lose or err.

I think he means "unthinkable" literally, not figuratively. They cannot produce that thought to even consider it. It would shatter the universe they live in.

If Bush really loved his dog (in that unseemly fashion you love yours and we love ours) do you think his heart would grow a size or two and maybe have some room for compassion?

(Shameless plug for my dogs: there's a picture of them on WBRM on 29 Oct)