Cruelty As Ideology: The Mo Brooks Edition

A while ago, I noted that cruelty is not just a character flaw, but an ideology. Like all ideologies, cruelty is a force which gives people meaning:

…consider, instead, healthcare. A fair number of conservatives don’t have a problem with our current system. Why? Because they believe those who have problems paying for it likely deserve it. If they worked hard, saved more responsibly, were better liked by their neighbors, and had a church that would help them, then healthcare wouldn’t be a problem. If they were good people–and good people, oddly enough, seem to be disproportionately white evangelical Christians–then they would not be receiving this misfortune (or, at least, would have the previously mention support systems). Besides, we know how those people are. This is an abhorrent melange of Ayn Randian libertarianism, Prosperity Gospel, and racism.

Put another way, what many people see as cruelty, they see as a just order. Like racism (and in part, derived from it), the cruelty provides a powerful organizing principle for understanding the world around them. Someone can’t afford healthcare? It’s their fault.

Well, Republican Congressman Mo “taking the -e out of moe” Brooks said the quiet part out loud (boldface mine):

During an interview with CNN on Monday, Brooks acknowledged that, under the American Health Care Act, insurers could discriminate between the healthy and sick ― in some cases, by charging people with pre-existing conditions higher premiums.

This was OK, Brooks went on to explain, because that would mean lower premiums for healthy people who “have done the things to keep their bodies healthy … who have done things the right way.”

Brooks then recognized that some people have medical problems “through no fault of their own” and that society should take care of them, although he didn’t explain how to do that and suggested the matter was “complicated.”

Brooks may have been speaking for himself. Or he may have blurted out what many Republicans think but are loath to say explicitly ― that people with pre-existing conditions should pay more for their health insurance because in many cases their health status is a by-product of their behavior.

Cruelty is an ideology which provides all of the necessary ingredients: villains, ‘good people’, and internally consistent explanatory power. To view this as a character defect, lets them off the hook for taking responsibility for the consequences of these beliefs. It also lets us off the hook because it’s too easy to write this off as a broken person and not an ideologue. In other words, we avoid asking the question “Where was he radicalized?”

Posted in Basic Human Decency, Conservatives, Healthcare | Leave a comment

Links 5/15/19

Links for you. Science:

Shipwrecks off NC coast harbor tropical migrants
Phage therapy: ‘Viral cocktail saved my daughter’s life’
Drug-Resistant TB: A Clear And Present Danger
Evolutionary Psychology Quiz
‘Lost’ book of exquisite scientific drawings rediscovered after 190 years


I Helped Patients Get Through Abortion Clinic Parking Lots. What I Saw Was Horrifying.
Cory Booker now has the most ambitious gun control proposal of any 2020 candidate
Trump is counting on Russian help to get reelected
Why Last Night’s #MOECHELLA Protest Was a Big Deal for DC
Actually, Impeachment Terrifies Trump
White supremacists interrupt Arkansas Holocaust remembrance event
Death and surrender to power in the clothing of men.
Rumblings On The Right… Of The Democratic Party
The Trump DC hotel bar is ideal for spies
Trump’s 2020 Campaign Manager Happily Accepting Cash from Romania: Brad Parscale is practically begging for Mueller Report II.
Dying Is No Reason to Stop Fighting (and how many people moved by this are still going to support Biden in the primaries?)
The Green New Deal Costs Less Than Doing Nothing
Manufacturing Can’t Create Enough Jobs. Infrastructure Can.
Biden faces dilemma over K Street allies
The Democratic Party Just Ticked Off Its Youngest Organizers
Want The Voter File? Campaigns Will Have To Pay, Record Videos, And Fundraise For The DNC To Get It
The Jewish Trumpeter Who Entertained Nazis to Survive the Holocaust
The Democratic Party Leadership Should Resign (Dauo seems to be plugging a new book; doesn’t mean he’s wrong though)

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Walk This Way…

Observed on 13th Street NW, between R and Riggs, Logan Circle, D.C.:

Walk this way, vote this way

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Revisiting Misadventures in Interpreting Democratic Primary Polling Data (LIZLADS ARE THE WORST)

Since we’re discussing the Democratic primaries, I’ll began with my typical disclosure that, were I voting today, I would vote Warren.

A month ago, Emerson Polling released a poll, which led to wailing and gnashing of teeth in certain quarters:

Anyway, the thing that has people freaking out is that 27/103 Sanders supporters in the primary say they would support Trump over Warren, were she to be the nominee (columns AU & AV, rows 90-92). On the other side of the ideological spectrum, 13/85 Biden supporters say they would choose Trump over Warren. If you’re wondering why sample size and weighting matter, fifty percent of Klobuchar supporters say they would choose Trump over Warren (ZOMG!): the result is actually 2/4.

The emphasized part was viewed as evidence that Sanders supporters are the WORST EVAR in the ENTIRE HISTORY OF WORSTYNESS. Well, the same polling outfit released a new poll with the same question, and guess what? Only 12/107 of Sanders supporters in a Trump versus Warren contest would vote for Trump (down from 27/103 a month ago). WORST EVAR?

Interestingly, that’s no different than the percentage of Warren supporters who would vote for Trump over Warren, 3/42 (Fisher’s exact test, p = 0.55). Yes, you read that correctly. LIZLADS ARE THE WORST EVAR.

Somehow, I don’t think that point will be trumpeted (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?) very much.

Posted in Democrats, Polling, Statistics | Leave a comment

Links 5/14/19

Links for you. Science:

Silicon Valley startup uBiome raised $105 million on the promise of exploring a ‘forgotten organ.’ After an FBI raid, ex-employees say it cut corners in its quest for growth.
The Evidence Is Strong: Air Pollution Seems to Cause Dementia
Jim Fowler, intrepid host of ‘Wild Kingdom’ nature series, dies at 89
Superbug infections in 17 states linked to weight loss surgeries in Mexico
An Afternoon with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the Texas Anti-Vaccine Movement: Kennedy’s presentation to vaccine activists at the Capitol was a master class in how to turn fears toward a dangerous cause.


Why You Should Back the Sanders/AOC Plan to Cap Credit Card Interest Rates at 15%, Re-Launch the Postal Savings Bank
The Scary Noisy City
Why Charter School Proponents Have Lost Many of the Democrats Who Once Supported Them
A conservative Christian group is pushing Bible classes in public schools nationwide — and it’s working
The mess that is elite college admissions, explained by a former dean
The big unanswered question at the core of Trump’s corruption
If This Is a Constitutional Crisis, Act Like It
Jack Evans scandal in D.C. has sparked a petition drive for stronger ethics laws
Will DC’s budget cater to people who own four cars?
Why Democrats should open an impeachment inquiry
Trump is already colluding with a foreign government to get reelected
Trump administration ready to redefine who is poor to take assistance away from millions
New York Times gets caught peddling bogus GOP attack on Democratic candidate—again
Trump’s new effort to muzzle Mueller gives away his big scam
How golf explains Trump. Seriously.

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment

Strongly Urge

Observed in Blagden Alley, Shaw, D.C.:

Demand peace

Posted in DC | 1 Comment

Georgia’s Anti-Abortion Law Is a Democratic Party Failure

Before you blow a gasket, yes, Republicans and conservatives are the ones who pushed for it. But the recent spate of anti-legal and safe abortion legislation in the U.S. must be perceived as a complete, comprehensive, and long-term failure of the Democratic Party.

If the Democratic Party has a signature, defining issue in 2019, it is not any of the issues the ‘economic left’ has been promoting. Regarding minimum wage, at least thirty House Democrats oppose a universal increase to $15/hour (unclear how many in the Senate oppose a universal increase)–there is a ‘big tent’ on this issue (to use a phrase). The signature defining issue is not Medicare for All–that is only supported by a minority of the party. It’s not pro-union policies such as card check or repealing Taft-Hartley; we haven’t seen many bills for this speeding to the floor of the House, never mind the Senate. It’s not environmental policies such as the Green New Deal either.

No, the signature, defining, ‘red line’ issue over the last decade or two is legal and safe abortion. In the House, there is only one Democratic member, out of 235, Dan Lipinski, who is anti-abortion, and, in the Senate, only one Democratic member, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, opposes abortion after twenty weeks. At the state and local levels, the picture isn’t much different. Often, in conservative areas, one of the defining differences between the Democrat and the Republican is support for legal and safe abortion (on economic issues, the Democrat usually isn’t that different). Put another way, a machine learning algorithm would hone in on abortion to determine if someone is a Democrat or a Republican.

Yet, on this defining issue, the Democratic Party is getting clobbered in terms of policy. Democrats have failed to secure judgeships (and, in the name of bipartisanship, failed to play hardball to secure those seats), hold statehouses and gubernatorial offices, and maintain Senate majorities. It’s not just ‘losing elections’, it’s the failure to enact policies, such as voting rights legislation or D.C. statehood, to prevent Republicans from tilting the playing field–and Democrats have failed to do this for years (though there have been some exceptions, often short-lived).

This is also not just a policy failure, it represents the final shredding of the unofficial intraparty deal between New Democrats (and moderates) and what used to be called liberal Democrats. Essentially, liberal Democrats would get scraps from the high table, but, at least, Democrats would keep the judiciary under control, and abortion would be safe and legal (hell, might even get non-shitty civil rights-related stuff too!). Safe to say, that deal is null and void. What is the point of compromising on economic issues when the New Democrats and the moderate Democrats can’t even hold up their end of the bargain? As Brad DeLong noted regarding other policy areas, the New Democrat reign has failed at a political level.

This is a complete failure of Democratic Party leadership, both elected and the ‘supporting’ groups. This time, the left, construed somewhat broadly, shouldn’t let a crisis go to waste. The “I Feel Your Pain” reunion tour isn’t going to cut it. We need new leadership and new understanding of the crisis, not an ersatz ‘Resistance’, because the Democratic Party has failed at its signature issue.

Posted in Blastocyst Liberation, Democrats, Fucking Morons | 4 Comments