Link Parade 6/30/13

Here’s a collection of things I wanted to talk about but don’t have a full post in me for.

1. Apparently, Ohio is also passing an abortion ban, presumably to create the jobs they keep saying is their priority. Miri has the details and is encouraging people to call John Kaisich and tell him to line-item veto that provision from the budget bill. I encourage you to go over there and get the details on how. I just did, and I don’t even think modern Republicans ever give a shit about public opinion, but it didn’t hurt me. The part that gets me, however, is this bit:

Doctors must inform patients seeking abortions exactly how much money the clinic made from abortions within the past year, and how much money the clinic stands to lose if the patient chooses not to get an abortion. In case it’s unclear, the point of this is to warn patients that there is a “conflict of interest” involved in providing abortions because clinics can make money from them. This is ridiculous because any medical procedure can make money for doctors and hospitals.

You’ll notice that with the advent of 501(c)4s and the GOP’s favorite Court ruling, Citizen’s United, that the opposite is true of them. If I were a principled Democrat in Ohio, every bill will have a proposed amendment that you cannot submit a bill in the state legislature without it saying how much you have received from the relevant special interest group and how much you stand to lose in campaign donations if the bill doesn’t pass.

2.Will Wilkinson talks about why Republicans would bother standing against immigration reform when it’s clear that even 86% of Republican voters think a “pathway to citizenship” is a good idea. And the answer is that they have a hard core base that really is dedicated to identity politics.

The energetic ideological base of the Republican Party is a nationalist, identity-politics movement for relatively well-to-do older white Americans known as the “tea party”. The tea party is interested in bald eagles, American flags, the founding fathers, Jesus Christ, fighter jets, empty libertarian rhetoric, and other markers of “authentic” American identity and supremacy. That America is “a nation of immigrants” is a stock piece of American identity politics, but the immigrants that made America America were, well, not Mexican, and spoke English, or at least Pennsylvania Dutch. Sorry Mexicans! Even if each element of immigration reform, taken in isolation, is agreed to be a good idea by a solid majority of Republican voters, Republican politicians must nevertheless avoid too-enthusiastically supporting this package of good ideas, lest they fail to project sufficient appreciation for the importance of keeping America American and putting Americans first.

This is where I think there is an element of cognitive dissonance present in a lot of GOP voters. They don’t think of themselves as hurting immigrants, they don’t want to hurt anybody, but they also want to feel more authentic, more American than somebody, and immigrants are a traditional target. They prioritize their desire to feel superior, better than, over their desire to help people who may have been raised in this country, entirely unaware that their parents brought them here illegally as babies. They aren’t entirely unfeeling toward other people, which is why they support parts of the bill, but a whole bill threatens their feeling of supremacy and that cannot happen.

3. This is the boy I wish I was when I was 13. In fact, this is the boy I wished I was when I was 13. Will Phillips has been a social justice activist since he was 10 years old. Matt Barber has questioned his motivations and suggested he’s been “brainwashed” (which is wingnut speak for “taught that other people matter”). He initially got famous for refusing to say the Pledge because he didn’t feel that we did have “liberty and justice for all.” Most recently, he spoke at the Northwest Arkansas Pride Parade. This kid is amazing and has a bright future ahead of him. Go read about him now.

4. TW: cults, murder, homophobia. “Lord” Pete Moses is the leader of a Judaism-based cult. And he has just been found guilty of murdering two of his followers, one of which was a 4-year-old boy who was killed because Moses thought he was gay. At the very least he will be going to jail, the sick fuck. Sentencing is next Friday.

5. If you have small children, you should fill out this form saying you would be interested in getting them this awesome toy to teach your youngsters about evolution. Even if you don’t have kids you should fill it out. This is not buying the product, they are gauging interest in it, and filling out the initial form will not ask you for credit card information, but will give you an opportunity to give comments.

6. If you remember me talking about Joe Klein and how he apparently doesn’t understand that atheists help people, there have been multiple updates. First, Klein himself tried to weasel his way out of his comments by claiming that he only meant organized atheist groups, which is still incorrect. Now Time has come out with its own statement, and basically they’re supporting Klein, which is why I highly suggest that you contact Time and let them know that this is utterly unacceptable, that inaccurate reporting has no excuse, and that you intend to cancel your subscription if you have one.

On a side note, I was helping my friend with her baby yesterday. Funny how Joe Klein wasn’t there to help.

7. This baby duck was born with a deformed leg. So, rather than give him a peg leg or letting him suffer, science has found a solution. Using a 3D printer, people made a mold for a silicone prosthetic leg and foot for Buttercup. All the feels for this one.

8. I was torn about this for a whole 3 seconds before recognizing the problems with it. Basically, it’s a website that is encouraging a movement for “Christian Domestic Discipline” which we are told is a consensual arrangement that includes male domination and punishments like spanking.

Christian Domestic Discipline is not BDSM. It is not a game. While we do not deny its sometimes erotic nature, it is ultimately not for erotic purposes. It is often much different than the domestic discipline you will find outside of the Christian faith.

The thing is, it sounds a lot like BDSM. However, my experience has taught me that I can’t trust that Christianists aren’t lying when they say stuff like “consensual”, and there is a question of whether a lifetime’s worth of being told that this is the natural order of things leaves a person in a position to meaningfully consent or not. However, giving the women involved in this the benefit of the doubt, I see nothing on their website about wives who want to exit this “consensual” arrangement, or merely drop that aspect of it without getting a divorce. I also see no mention of safe words and very little in the way of safety instructions to keep husbands from going too far (I suppose god will stop them?), which means it is very, very, very not BDSM. Essentially, as a Dom/sub relationship with a religious play component, this could be really hot. As a lifestyle with no escape routes, no safety instructions, and no apparent care for the lives of women who get into this other than value paternalistic nonsense, it sounds both dangerous and abusive, despite claims that it is not (because saying that something is not abusive/racist/homophobic/otherwise awful totes makes it true).

9. #4 on this Fred Clark link list. Just go read it.

I think that’s everything for now. Oh, if you haven’t, please go vote on my new tagline. It’ll only take a second and be really helpful.

Confronting the “Best Arguments”

Most people are pretty sure they’re right. Not necessarily about everything, but there are a few things they feel absolutely confident about. I know that I feel free damn confident about most of the stuff that goes up here, and when I’m not I will say so. However, there are two implications to this confidence: either I am really, truly amazing and right about everything I believe, or I am wrong about some things and haven’t heard the right argument yet.

It’s the latter that I find people banking more more and more. Let’s look at some examples:

What are marriage advocates to do? How can marriage—a thorough defense of which requires deep theological reflection or the complex natural law web of anthropological, historical, social, and scientific ideas contained in [Robert George’s] What is Marriage—compete with “all you need is love”? – Eric Teetsel, “On Winning the Marriage Debate

 

Not for Hitchens the rich cross-cultural fertilization of the Levant by Helenistic, Jewish, and Manichaean thought. Not for Hitchens the transformation of a Jewish heretic into a religion that Nietzsche called “Platonism for the masses.” Not for Hitchens the fascinating theological fissures in the New Testament between Jewish, Gnostic, and Pauline doctrines. – Curtis White, “Christopher Hitchens’ lies do atheism no favors

 

“Either this group is completely ignorant of arguments for and against God’s existence or they’re ignorant of the best theistic scholarship.” – Anugrah Kumar, quoting William Lane Craig, “Christian Philosopher William Lane Craig Calls Atheist Hotline a ‘Wrong Number’” (warning that the Christian Post is particularly annoying with its ads, with video ads that keep restarting if you pause or mute them)

We often see this regarding religious or theistic arguments, but it’s becoming quite popular among people who continue to put forward bad arguments: simply claim that the person who doesn’t buy into them hasn’t heard all the really good reasons why we should buy into what they’re saying. I think it’s a variation on The Courtier’s Reply.

I’ve encountered this before with theists and when I ask them to actually present those really good arguments, I will generally get a form of Pascal’s Wager. Occasionally I will get the Kalam Cosmological Argument and very rarely anything different. Unfortunately, both Pascal and Kalam are very easily debunked. In fact, I took a look at Craig’s ReasonableFaith.org (which is not as cool as a reasonable conversation, let me tell you) and it’s almost all Pascal and Kalam. You don’t have to believe me, go check it out yourself. I fact, if you check out his “The New Atheism and Five Arguments for God,” (for example) you can see that he brings up Kalam, but also the Thomstic Cosmological argument, the Moral Argument, the Teleological Argument (which is by far the most ridiculous and easy to argue against, as far as I’m concerned), and the ever absurd Ontological Argument, which is really just such a joke on the face of it that I’m going to assume it was developed by Dr. Frank-n-furter. Though I will point out that he forgot the Argument from Tigers.

I’ve looked at that site for a while now and see very little that isn’t a variation on these five, so I can’t help but ask Dr. Craig…where are you hiding these “best arguments”? Because the ones you presented are all childishly simple and only really convincing to people who want to agree with the premise.

Oh, and there’s the very popular “it’s a mystery“. That works for a lot of things.

Going to the Teetsel piece, we see basically the same argument being made for conservative principles. The problem is that people just don’t understand the wealth of thought and philosophy that goes into being a conservative, and are instead distracted by pop culture and celebrities. Liberalism, according to Teetsel, is the result of an abandonment of thought to shiny entertainment.

This is even more absurd than the Ontological argument. Teetsel is trying to tell us that the ideology that aligns itself with people who think somebody rose from the dead (several people, actually), the ideology that consistently denies the findings of science, the ideology that has never been right about a social issue since the founding of this country (and not too often before), is the thinking person’s option?

As David Sessions points out in this article for Patrol,

So Teetsel can’t pretend that the gay rights movement won simply by circumventing an intellectual debate. They had the intellectual debate when the religious right so took its own position for granted that it thought it didn’t need to argue; when the right finally started playing catch-up, even the most sophisticated versions of its ideas were too far outside the mainstream for a secular democracy. The right didn’t lose because of the “packaging” of its ideas, it lost because those ideas themselves were defeated in battle. (Similarly, Romney lost the election not because he didn’t get the conservative message across, but precisely because he did.)

This is also a lot like Penny Nance’s preposterous assertion on Mike Huckabee’s show that conservatives on college campuses are being “bullied” because they can’t explain their opposition to things like same-sex marriage. The sad truth is that they are able to articulate their positions just fine.

So, here’s the deal: we’ve heard your arguments, and they suck. I’m sorry, I don’t know if you’re just really invested in these things being true that you miss the obvious flaws in what you’re saying or what, but these arguments are truly awful. Fortunately, you don’t have to feel awful for having had them: you can change your mind. In fact, that would be great.

But if there are arguments that you’re hiding from me, ones that suddenly make it plausible that a wizard who lives on a cloud is up there mucking about with our lives, or that magically makes welfare queens a reality, or that convinces me that I’m a bad person for a propensity to not only be attracted to men but also act on it, now’s the time to break them out. Seriously, I don’t know what you guys are waiting for. Isn’t it time, after all this joking around, to break out the real “best arguments”? These are the gag arguments, right?

Right?

I Am Not Your Hail Mary

Very few things piss me off more than seeing desperate propagandists looking to monopolize on the people that they generally denigrate or ignore. This is often done with queer people these days, as LGBT citizens continue to gain mainstream acceptance and it becomes less acceptable to simply demonize them (though Rand Paul’s two forays into inter-racial relations is another good example). So instead, they’re used as props when it’s convenient to some other cause.

Perhaps the best example is the whole existence of groups like GOProud and the Log Cabin Republicans, which I’ve written about before and serve as little more than living embodiments of the Appeal to Worse Problems. No matter what matters to gay people, LCR and GOProud’s argument is always that they should suck it up and deal because jobs and guns and freedom and stuff. The arguments are often laughable, silly, and completely divorced from any awareness of even recent history. These groups don’t actually care about the rights of gay people, they care about giving members of their party the ability to say, “I have gay friends” when they say something particularly homophobic.

Now, with the gun rights debate still raging pretty hot, we have, of all organizations, Fox Nation and The Daily Caller writing about how the proposed legislation might limit the rights of gay gun owners because if they live in a state that doesn’t recognize their marriage, it’s more difficult for them to transfer ownership to their partners.

Take a minute to really let that sink in.

Equality Matters has this to say about how genuine the concern for gay gun owners seems.

Fox Nation has a history of demonizing LGBT equality, including attacking President Obama for calling on the U.N. to protect victims of LGBT violence.  It previously criticized an immigration judge for halting the deportation of a gay man who is married to an American citizen, and when Obama announced his support for marriage equality last May, Fox Nation warned, “OBAMA FLIP FLOPS, DECLARES WAR ON MARRIAGE.”

The Daily Caller’s sudden support for LGBT equality seems no more sincere. The publication typically concerns itself with LGBT issues only when they can be used as an excuse to advocate for anti-gay causes and politicians. Earlier this month, the Daily Caller’s Jim Treacher suggested that marriage equality might lead to fathers marrying their sons for tax purposes.

This is, of course, absolutely correct. Both conservative outlets have, like almost every conservative outlet, derided and degraded queer people for years. They are against every single other right that a queer person may have except for the right to transfer their firearms to one another at will.

Now, any sensible person would look at this ridiculous argument and say, “Well, if you would simply allow same-sex marriage, the problem with legal gun transfers is solved and you can still require universal background checks.” But that wouldn’t fly at Fox and the DC, because the LGBT population is not composed of people, to them. It’s composed of props that can bear whatever characteristics are necessary to score political points with their ever-shrinking demographic. And when I see pathetic attempts to use the hard work that myself and people much better than me have done to foster queer acceptance in the mainstream culture in order to play to the sympathies of people who are not as rigidly homophobic as the writer, that makes me righteously furious.

I am nobody’s Hail Mary pass. Just because appealing to the care and concern that so many people have died to achieve might make you think it’ll get people to your side on this one issue does not mean that the vast majority have forgotten your previous rejection of that care and concern. It’s a cynical exploitation of people who have suffered at the hands of these montebanks, and nobody is buying it.

(h/t Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters)

What I Missed

CN: Rape, Catholicism

Been gone for over a week now. If I have the time, I might also post about my trip, which was amazing, and will interest almost three of you.

The world stopped spinning in the interim, right? No noteworthy events I need to worry about? No? Some things did happen? Guess we should talk about those, then.

Steubenville rape convictions

The two football players who raped a girl, then posted all of the evidence online, have been convicted of rape.Which means that we now have a bunch of rape apologia to wade through, from Candy Crowley’s bemoaning the loss of such promising lives that the rapists could have had if they weren’t busy assaulting passed out girls, to Breitbart.com’s predictable “blame the media” gambit.

The worst responses, I think, are coming from Ma’lik Richmond’s family members, though, who are understandably trying to blame anybody other than their family member. One has been arrested for threatening Jane Doe online for “[ripping her] family apart.” I kinda feel sad on this one, since she really is incapable of recognizing that her rapist cousin is the one at fault, not the person who turned in her rapist cousin.

The saddest, though, is Richmond’s father who has sad, “I told Ma’lik to put all his trust in God. God will see him through this.” It’s a shame that God didn’t decide to see Ma’lik through to not raping somebody. I can’t understand this reliance on an all-powerful super being that wants the best for us only after dropping the ball on making sure the worst doesn’t happen in the first place. I would much rather that Richmond and Mays learn the value of other human beings, especially women, than put their trust in a man in the sky that isn’t historically known for treating women with respect or dignity.

I will admit that my first reaction to all of this was to revel in the schadenfreude. I didn’t much care that the defendants broke into tears after the verdict was read. They’re rapists, they deserve that sort of misery at least. However, I will also admit that my enjoyment of their sorrow was tamped down by Ashley Miller’s post calling for a middle ground that does recognize that rapists are still people without also requiring that they be forgiven or let off the hook.

Dehumanizing rapists has the effect of distancing ourselves from the chilling reality that people who have raped aren’t uncommon, making them just monsters makes it that much harder for us to accept that “normal” people who are accused may well be guilty.

Thanks for the perspective, Ashley. Trying to make them “monsters” contributes to the idea that “regular, nice” people can’t be rapists, and that makes it more difficult to combat rape.

New pope

We now have a new Pope, and already people are praising him for his “humility” and how he’s a “reformer.” The fact is, he’s almost as much of an asshole as the last one (thanks to Aoife at the Tea Cozy for collecting that research), he just doesn’t like to remind people of it. That he lives in an apartment doesn’t mean that the Church didn’t spend millions maintaining the opulent residence that he eschewed back in Buenos Aries, it just meant he wasted all of that money that could have been used to help real people.

Also, he still considers me to be basically a tool of the Boogeyman…er, Satan, and my (as well as your) female friends to be incubators, even when they were raped. Also, while he feels that people who support bodily autonomy for women and same-sex marriage should be denied communion, he has no problem personally administering the sacrament to brutal dictators that kidnap political opponents and, much like the Church itself, steal babies to place in more acceptable households.

Let’s be fair to Pope Frankie, though. In order to get to that level of power within the Vatican, you kind of have to be an asshole. It’s very rare that you get real reformers in the Holy See because a) they were appointed by their predecessor, usually, and b) this is the party line. John XXIII was an aberration, and even then the reforms he made were mostly about making the same old stuff more accessible. The really radical stuff from Vatican II has been ignored by conservative popes like John Paul II and Benedict XVI who have been clear that they consider it all meaningless and heretical. So it’s not like Frances can walk into office and say that the Church is now pro-gay.

There are things he can do, however. He can demand that the order of nuns that ran the Magdaline Laundries stop working with the Irish government to run similar social welfare programs today. He can actually do something about people who covered up child abuse in the Church. He can go to Africa and say that condoms don’t spread AIDS, they reduce it.

But he won’t. And you’ll have people like commenter Emmet at WWJTD who wax on about the “depth and richness of the faith“, as if pomp and circumstance make up for the cruelty and victimization. Much like there are not enough soup kitchens in the world that somebody can start to make up for a single raped child, there is no amount of gold brocade dresses and gem-encrusted slippers that can do the same.

Growth and Opportunity Project

The GOP has unveiled their “Growth and Opportunity Project,” the plan on how to start winning elections without mucking with voting laws again. And, unsurprisingly, it’s basically just the same thing they’ve always believed, but not shouted as loudly.

The Party should be proud of its conservative principles, but just because someone disagrees with us on 20 percent of the issues, that does not mean we cannot come together on the rest of the issues where we do agree.

That, according to RNC chair Reince Priebus. The problem, of course, is that there is nothing to be proud of with those principles. It’s a stunted ideology that prizes nothing but the desire to slit the throats of anybody standing in the way of everything you want. The GOP won’t be able to get young people on board so long as they are still the party of homophobia, racism, and misogyny, even if they are quieter about it.

That’s why I have trouble giving full credit to Rob Portman, a conservative Senator who has come out in favor of same-sex marriage because he has a gay son. First, I wonder how often in the past two years Portman has tried to convince his son to get help, that he’s not really gay, but that’s speculation. Secondly, while I appreciate his new stance, he didn’t come to it out of a sense of justice, but because it affected him personally. Matt Yglesias calls it “the politics of narcissism.”

Rob Portman doesn’t have a son with a pre-existing medical condition who’s locked out of the health insurance market. Rob Portman doesn’t have a son engaged in peasant agriculture whose livelihood is likely to be wiped out by climate change. Rob Portman doesn’t have a son who’ll be malnourished if SNAP benefits are cut. So Rob Portman doesn’t care.

Those of us in the atheosphere often talk about the problem with doing good things for bad reasons, usually in response to “Well, if that person’s belief in Jesus/Ahura Mazda/Whatever gets them to be kinder and more charitable, then what’s the big deal if they’re right or not?” And this issue with Portman is a great example. Without a solid, foundational basis in material reality, then a person’s goodness and empathy become highly specialized, and they stop pursuing justice because it’s just, and rather do so because specific action items benefit them.

Also, faith-based goodness is too easy to turn on its head, a phenomenon best illustrated by Greta Christina’s (really Brownian’s) Hair Dryer analogy. Whether you’re shooting redheads or volunteering at soup kitchens because your hair dryer is telling you doesn’t matter because you’re still listening to your hair dryer which could presumably change its mind at any point. If Rob Portman’s son decides he doesn’t want to get married, Portman’s newfound love of SSM will evaporate as quickly as it materialized and he will quietly start following the Growth and Opportunity Project plan of opposing equality, but in a way that doesn’t turn off young straight voters.

The Amazing Atheist again demonstrates that he’s an entitled jackwagon

Before I left, I posted Anita Sarkeesian’s first Tropes vs Women video (which was awesome). Unsurprisingly, she turned off comments on it because she’s capable of learning and that it would just be a place where mouth breathing MRAs masturbate themselves into a frenzy complaining about how the video doesn’t meet whatever standard they’ve suddenly decided was the most important thing in the world ever.

And one stands out. The Amazing Atheist hasn’t figured out that making a ten minute video about how someone isn’t letting you critique them is hilarious for those of us possessed of self-awareness. More “not being able to abuse people wherever I feel like violates my rights” bullshit. No need to dwell further.

“Sincerely Held Beliefs” rears its ugly head again

Miri points out that if your beliefs keep you from doing a job, find another one. Tennessee has started the process of passing a law (just got voted out of committee) that allows bigots who want to be counselors to be able to express their bigotry.

Personally, I find this sort of thing highly ironic coming from the Christian Right, for whom it is literally an element of faith that they will be persecuted and discriminated against. However, they go to incredible lengths to make sure that they never have to suffer the most minor inconvenience for their faith. I suppose the way they get the third nail in is to just claim that it’s there.

The thing is, I don’t want people to suffer, for their faith or for any reason. Suffering sucks. But if you’re going to tell me over and over again that my pointing out your bigotry means I’m oppressing you, then stop making yourself a liar and actually be oppressed. You can’t have it both ways.

Also, I really hate the phrase “sincerely held religious beliefs.” The fact that you really, really believe something awful doesn’t make it less awful. The strength of your faith in cruelty makes it no less cruel. The weight you place on your commitment to stupidity makes it no less stupid.

Malala goes back to school!

Going to wrap up with some positive notes. I Facebooked about this on the road yesterday because I was so excited, but Malala Yousafzai has started going back to school again in Birmingham. She is safe in England where she can attend classes without having to worry as much about being shot in the head for it. She’s, without a question, my favorite for the Nobel Peace Prize this year and somebody I truly admire. I hope she continues to do amazing things with her life.

Finally, some videos
A dad altered his daughter’s Donkey Kong game so that Pauline is the playable character rescuing Jumpman

Via Emma Wolf

Somebody wrote a musical interpretation of Pi based on numbering the notes in the scale and using the numbers for chords. In the mood for interesting musical things. Heard an original piece last week that did something really clever with the Cantus Firma (will only go into detail on request here), so playing with theory is my current mood. Either way, this sounds good.

//

Lindsey Graham Correct, Still a Jerk

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently told Politico the following:

“If we lose this election there is only one explanation — demographics. … If I hear anybody say it was because Romney wasn’t conservative enough I’m going to go nuts. We’re not losing 95 percent of African-Americans and two-thirds of Hispanics and voters under 30 because we’re not being hard-ass enough.”

The thing is, he’s absolutely right. People will say that Romney wasn’t conservative enough, and the reason will have been that when you try to tell people that the issues that matter to them shouldn’t matter to them, so vote against those things, you inevitably will lose.

The same goes for the gender gap. The same goes for LGBT Americans, despite the ridiculous “feelings” that the Log Cabin Republicans have. Telling young, non-white, non-straight, non-Christian non-men that really they ought to be worried about taking care of old, white, straight, Christian men is not a winning strategy, at least not long term.

The problem, of course, is that Graham is a part of this very issue he’s complaining about. He’s stood rock-ribbed with every filibuster and supported his party in their every nutty idea. He’s not some sort of stand out figure in a sea of ridiculousness, he’s an elder statesman of the GOP who could be counted on time and time again to make the decision that has lead to the situation he now decries.

But, of course, he’s up for re-election in 2014 and it’s never too early to start positioning yourself as a moderate. But let us not forget that this is a guy who sits next to Jim DeMint, King of Hardasses, every day at work and has yet to turn to him and say, “You’re being a racist prick and this will make minorities think we’re Klansmen. I’m not voting with you, buddy.” Rhetoric is the least weapon in Lindsey Graham’s arsenal, and it’s the only one he’s willing to employ, ideally during a time when everybody is busy talking about tomorrow’s election.

David Brooks Recommends Submitting to Hostage Takers

I mean that entirely metaphorically.

I’m not sure what David Brooks is thinking, nor why he continues to have readers that think he’s in some way a moderate as opposed to simply incapable of grasping reality. His latest take on the presidential run is so far beyond laughable that it’s circled back around to be hilarious again.

Essentially, Brooks argues that since Romney is such an opportunist, he’ll see that the extreme partisanship of the last four years won’t work and tack to the middle as president, and since Republicans are less likely to eat their own than a Democrat, a GOP House would be willing to work with him and a Democratically controlled Senate would also be willing to. However, if there’s an Obama presidency for a second term, the GOP House won’t work with him and Republicans in the Senate will filibuster his stuff.

Therefore, suggests Brooks, we should vote Romney because he’ll get things done.

I think this is one of the most idiotic in a stream of intellect-free commentaries from Brooks. Let’s look at the many, many problems with this line of thinking.

1. There is absolutely no reason to believe that Romney will tack to the center. The GOP doesn’t stand division in the ranks well, and since it’s controlled entirely by the far right wing of the party with no room for moderates, Romney will be looking to avoiding a second term primary.

2. As many of the commenters pointed out, this doesn’t speak well of the Republican party. Brooks admits that if they don’t get they’re way, they’ll throw a tantrum and refuse to work with Democrats. The answer to that is not to reward that behavior, it’s to take away their seats in Congress until the party starts putting moderate voices forward again. Basically, he’s saying that when the GOP takes the country hostage, the solution is to give them what they want and hope they don’t ask for more. Because that always works so well. That’s poor policy and indicative of a Republican party more and more convinced that there’s no difference between “not getting everything we want” and “persecution.”

3. After four years of blanket filibusters, what’s to keep the Democratic party from either not bringing up legislation (if they retain control) or filibustering themselves (if they lose control) for four years as well? I’m sorry, but I’m not a fan of being the better person when we’re talking about the rights of millions of people, and if stopping the GOP from further limiting abortions and passing new anti-gay legislation means doing exactly what Republicans have done for four years, then this is the government we’ve created.

4. Brooks seems to think that a President Romney would actually bring down the debt and work on entitlement reform and the like. This is the most hysterically optimistic bit in the whole piece. A Romney presidency would be about a number of things: repealing health care reform (and replacing it with nothing), restricting reproductive rights, loading up the SCOTUS with more Scalias, killing Medicare, starting foreign wars with countries the president can’t locate on a map. None of these things would bring down the debt. History has shown us that nobody spends as much in office as “small government” conservatives. Brooks also assumes that conservatives actually care about those things instead of pretending to care about them so they don’t look like assholes.

I’m not exactly sure what Brooks was thinking. Perhaps he simply wasn’t. But for all the possible reasons you could say to vote to Romney, I think, “his party will make people’s lives worse to deny the opposing party a victory if you don’t” is probably the very worst. Though, I admit, it also might be the most honest.

Price Gouging Has Defenders

And there are more of them all the time.

Free market fantasists like those at the American Enterprise Institute, an organization dedicated to writing economic fairy tales, seem to be coming out more and more in favor of allowing price gouging during disasters (emphasis his).

Rising, market-based prices following a disaster are the most effective method possible of allocating scarce resources, eliminating shortages, and attracting essential supplies to the areas that need them the most.  In fact, market-based prices are also the most effective method possible of allocating scarce resources, eliminating shortages, and attracting essential supplies to the areas that need them the most before a disaster – wind and rain don’t change that reality.

I’m not sure what’s worse, the euphemism or the delusion. Either way, this is fucking sick.

David Brown at Mises Daily reprints an article he wrote after Hurricane Charley, which I lived through up here. Essentially his argument is that raising prices to incredible heights ensures the equal distribution of goods since it prevents people from hording what available resources there are. I might almost agree with this, but what Brown fails to do is recognize that it also entirely cuts people unable to pay for $15.39 a bag ice out of the market. It presumes that there are no people who would have bought only one bag of ice because that’s what they were able to afford, and it callously ignores that people who require ice but can’t afford those prices will suffer as a result. As per usual, the free market fetishists don’t much give a shit about the suffering of others and cling to a system that requires suffering meet a certain level before any change is affected, abhorring the pro-active and glorifying the reactive, whether or not it’s far too late.

What Mark Perry and David Brown don’t seem to understand is that there is a cost in human lives that they are ignoring. The problem with price gouging is not that it’s economically unsustainable, it’s that people who can’t afford artificially inflated prices fucking starve to death. I understand that these are poor people and therefore unworthy of life by the standards of Perry, Brown, and their ilk, but can they at least pretend to a shred of humanity?

And I may be unfair, here. They may be among the hordes of people who seem to believe that with no government, no regulation, and perfect laissez faire capitalism, the Invisible Hand will gently guide us all to Fantasy Land where magic unicorns will give rides to children for $3 a pop and we’ll all know the dignity of work. Everyone is always equal there and only rises or falls based on their effort. Everything is bought and sold and there’s no government to make people into selfish meanies, because democracy is inferior to economic anarchy where the only law is that which is determined by contract.

This is not some isolated opinion. Even presidential candidate Mitt Romney seems to think that a disaster zone is the perfect time to make a buck (emphasis mine).

Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.

I fail to see how predicating disaster relief on whether it will result in profits for a corporation is somehow better than ensuring that people who are in need of disaster relief actually receive it.

But of course, the people saying these things will never be in this position. Mitt Romney will go to another one of his houses. Mark Perry will do whatever Mark Perry does in an emergency, which I suspect is not worry about where his next meal will come from because the price of all the food he needed up buy has just skyrocketed.

This is why I’m a liberal: because thinking that a disaster is a time to seek profit is inhuman, and the twisted fantasy world that people like Perry and so many millions live in has no basis in reality. It’s no different than saying that without somebody telling me how gravity works that I would be able to fly just by flapping my arms. Except when I say that and believe it, only I get hurt. When Mark Perry and David Brown say this shit and believe it, other people get hurt.