As I've mentioned a few times, I'm in the midst of reading Stephen Goldstein's futuristic, dystopian and jaw-dropping novel, Atlas Drugged-- Ayn Rand Be Damned!, which depicts the gritty, tragic reality of an America captured by Republicans like Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney. Like Ryan and Romney, Goldstein's characters are imbued with the infantile selfishness and anti-Christian avarice that has rapidly overwhelmed today's GOP. I recommend the book highly. But if you don't have time to read a whole novel to see what the Republicans are leading us to-- just check out the 2012 Texas Republican Party platform, or, easier yet, the synopsis by Travis Waldron:
The Republican Party of Texas released its 2012 platform this month, outlining its policies on taxation, education, and a host of other issues related to the economy. Texas Republicans, according to the platform, support eliminating the minimum wage and the prevailing wage, doing away with the Department of Education and Department of Energy, and ?reducing taxpayer funding to all levels of education?-- but those aren?t even the most damaging positions.
Here?s a look at the five most outrageous beliefs Texas Republicans hold:
1) The party opposes almost all forms of taxation: The Texas GOP supports ?repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment,? which instituted a national income tax, and instead favors a wildly regressive national sales tax that would hit low- and middle-income Americans hardest. It also favors making the Bush tax cuts permanent and repealing the capital gains tax and the estate tax, the latter of which it claims is ?immoral and should be abolished forever.? On the state level, it supports abolishing property and business taxes, and property taxes on inventory, and opposes efforts to institute a state income tax, an Internet sales tax, professional licensing fees, and taxes on real estate transactions. Instead, it supports ?shifting the tax burden to a consumption-based tax.?
2) It supports returning to the gold standard: ?We support the return to the time tested precious metal standard for the U.S. dollar,? the platform states, echoing Rep. Ron Paul (R), the state?s eccentric congressman and presidential candidate. While returning to ?sound money,? as the platform calls it, is popular among far right-wing conservatives, it is ?not feasible for practical and policy reasons,? according to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Most economists agree that the gold standard never worked and that returning to it now would have disastrous consequences for the American economy.
3) It supports privatizing Social Security: Given that Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) called Social Security a ?Ponzi scheme? during his ill-fated presidential campaign, it may be no surprise that the Texas GOP opposes one of the nation?s most successful federal programs. ?We support an immediate and orderly transition to a system of private pensions based on the concept of individual retirement accounts, and gradually phasing out the Social Security tax,? the platform says, ignoring that had such a plan been enacted prior to the Great Recession, it would have cost an October 2008 retiree tens of thousands of dollars (and that was before the market bottomed out in 2009). Millions of Americans lost everything in private accounts during the recession, and Social Security was all they had left.
4) It opposes multicultural education and ?critical thinking?: ?We believe the current teaching of a multicultural curriculum is divisive,? the platform says, adding that it supports teaching ?common American identity and loyalty instead of political correctness that nurtures alienation among racial and ethnic groups.? In Arizona, where Republicans banned multicultural programs, students in those programs actually out-performed their peers. Texas Republicans also believe ?controversial theories? such evolution and climate change-- which aren?t controversial at all-- ?should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced.? There?s more: the GOP also opposes the teaching of ?critical thinking skills? because they ?focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student?s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.?
5) It supports corporal punishment in schools: ?Corporal punishment is effective and legal in Texas,? the platform states, adding that teachers and school boards should be given ?more authority to deal with disciplinary problems.? Actual research, however, shows that corporal punishment is bad for children and their education. Research shows that corporal punishment is ?associated with an increase in delinquency, antisocial behavior, and aggression in children,? according to the American Psychoanalytic Association, which ?strongly condemns? the use of such punishment. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents and schools use other forms of punishment because ?corporal punishment is of limited effectiveness and has potentially deleterious side effects.?
Welcome to The Morning Pride, ThinkProgress LGBT?s daily round-up of the latest in LGBT policy, politics, and some culture too! Here?s what we?re reading this morning, but please let us know what stories you?re following as well. Follow us all day on Twitter at @TPEquality.
- Meanwhile, Minnesota for Marriage is in damage-control mode after posting on Facebook that gays should be put to death.
- Montgomery County School Board voted to end allowing nonprofits to send informational fliers home with middle and high school students to prevent PFOX from distributing ex-gay propaganda.
- Marriage equality is becoming a particularly contentious issue in Ohio.
- A new report documents the needs of LGBT Chicagoans, including afford health services, government benefits, and sustainable employment.
- After originally being allowed to join as a family, a gay couple and their son were kicked out of an athletic club in Roanoke and are now suing for discrimination.
- A transgender inmate in Indianapolis feels “less than human” after being kept for three months in social isolation (a.k.a. “protective custody”).
- Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe supports marriage equality.
- At a Trevor Project event with former Will & Grace co-star Eric McCormack, Debra Messing said she hopes her son is gay:
MESSING: I’d be devastated if my son grows up to be a hetero (sexual). As a parent you just envision a certain life for your child. I mean, if he’s straight, think of all the fabulous things he’s going to miss out on!
– Turkey said it was stationing anti-aircraft batteries on its border with Syria following the downing of one of its warplanes.
– The Syrian government has reportedly arrested tens of thousands of people over the last 16 months since the uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s government. Activists and lawyers said the arrests have focused on secular activists and men and boys from towns the Syrian army has attacked.
– Reuters reports that a top weapons industry executive said “the Pentagon may have to pay billions of dollars in termination fees and other contract penalties if Congress does not stop $500 billion in automatic defense spending cuts due to take effect on January 2.”
– Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with Israeli Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz on Sunday in the highest-level meeting between the sides since peace talks broke down in 2010. A Palestinian official said the talks came “after a request for a meeting from Mofaz.”
– The Financial Times reports that Iranian analysts do not expect economic sanctions to influence leaders in Tehran to halt its nuclear program.
Economic growth for the first quarter remained at 1.9 percent, unrevised from previous data from the Commerce Department.
At this point, everything useful that could possibly be said about the Affordable Care Act has already been said — not to mention all that blather about broccoli. Rather than pretend that there is something more to say before the Supreme Court hands down its opinion today, here is a list of resources to help you understand the significance of today’s decision — and don’t forget to also check out Igor Volsky’s “10 Things You Would Miss About Obamacare“:
Why The Law Is Constitutional
What Could Go Wrong If The Law Is Struck Down
What Will Conservatives Do Next If They Win
The Affordable Care Act is clearly constitutional, and the attacks on it cannot be squared with nearly two centuries of precedent. Smart conservatives are clever enough to realize this, and for this very reason will be clever enough to realize that they stand to win even more audacious lawsuits if the Supreme Court lets this one slide.
Welcome to ThinkProgress Economy?s morning link roundup. This is what we?re reading. Have you seen any interesting news? Let us know in the comments section. You can also follow ThinkProgress Economy on Twitter.
I’ve written before about Beasts of the Southern Wild, the apocalyptic fairy tale about people living outside of the levees in Louisiana, which was my favorite movie at Sundance, remains one of my favorite movies of the year, and stars the most original superhero of the summer in six-year-old Hushpuppy. It’s a deeply, intensely political movie, though not along conventional lines: director Benh Zeitlin told writer Jeremy Butman of his characters, who live through a hurricane and resist efforts to relocate them behind the levees, that “It’s not like the movie is advocating that people not be rescued from disastrous situations. But it’s that condescending notion of, ‘We know better, you should live somewhere safer,’ which definitely infuriated me after the storm and that was a big entryway into the movie.”
I was also intrigued by what Zeitlin said in response to what I think is the most substantive critique of the movie, that it can seem to glorify extreme poverty, an answer that also clarifies the ideas behind his world-building:
The Bathtub is not a place where money exists. The whole idea of the Bathtub is that it’s a society where all the things that divide people have been removed. So there’s no religion, no politics, no money, no one sees race, there’s no rich and poor because there is no currency. So, I never thought about that because to me the Bathtub is this utopian place. And the poverty thing, to me it’s much more like it’s been cut off from the world, and it’s a survivalist place where they have to build everything by hand, they have to live off the earth. You don’t have any commodities to sustain yourself, but to me there’s no poverty there. There’s this ultimate freedom that exists there. But part of it is that when people see a trailer it’s like, “Oh, it’s a trailer. Poor people live in trailers.” That’s how I know it has been looked at, but I think that people are bringing certain preconceptions. When you see a trailer there’s a certain association. When you see black people in dirty clothes there’s an association. Those are things that people are bringing in because they’re used to those aesthetic elements communicating a very specific narrative about misery and poverty. So, it’s not that I don’t understand the reaction, but I don’t know that it’s in there.
Science fiction and fantasy can create new things, of course. But I think it’s easy to forget that they can also help us question the associations we have with images and signifiers, and pose challenges to our visions of what counts as affluence, or comfort, or an aspirational lifestyle. Respecting Hushpuppy means, at least for the duration of the movie, accepting her worldview. As she puts it, ?Daddy says on the other side of the levee, on the dry side, they afraid of the water like a bunch of babies…The Bathtub has more holidays than the whole rest of the world?Daddy?s always saying that up in the dry world, they ain?t got none of what we got. They only have holidays once a year. They got fish stuck in wrappers and babies stuck in carriages?Me and my daddy, we stay right here?We?s who the earth is for.?
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If I somehow twisted the arm of a politician to stand up in front of microphones or on the House floor to say that elephants are really Martians, the media would find some way to turn that into a headline which said "Are Elephants Martians? Experts Weigh In." The experts would then parade across the screen, but because the Martian-Elephant Liberty Think Tank (MELTT) already had white papers written which proved that Martians do indeed exist and fuzzy images seem to indicate there might be some resemblance to elephants, that expert would also take his seat at the pundits' table and so it would come to pass that we all be asked to accept as fact that it is not entirely insane to believe that elephants are Martians.
Next, they would commission a poll to see how people feel about elephants being Martians so they could get some experts to come on television and tell you why they're Martians.
Oh, the Sacred Polls, how we do worship them.
Just as opinions are placed into the mainstream via the highest, holiest institutions of thought -- think tanks -- so too are those opinions hardened by the pollsters, who in some cases, admit they use their data-gathering efforts to shape ideas. Instead of asking questions which then elicit responses, they take data and form a narrative, which is then pushed along by the linguists and thinkers, while some pollsters then convert the poll itself into the narrative.
This is how it works. Don't believe me? I swear to you this headline actually exists on a mainstream newspaper website: A third of Earthlings believe in UFOs, would befriend aliens.
Not only does it exist on that major website, it was a trending item on Memeorandum's Political News Page. No lie, and look where it is:
Yes, that's right. An article was placed (presumably by a human editor but perhaps not) about people's belief in UFOs as a related article to a poll showing President Obama pulling into the lead in Florida and Pennsylvania. What's wrong with that, you say? Nothing, if you're one of the many in this country who believes our President is an alien. Or if you don't believe aliens should be President. Or something.
The article explains that National Geographic wanted the "pulse on people's opinions" with regard to UFOs, so they commissioned a poll. 17 percent don't believe they exist; 36 percent think they do; and 48 percent aren't sure.
A Call to Action
My friends, it's time to create the UFO Institute for Studies of Liberty in Space. The UFOISOLIS will dedicate itself to scholarly studies of UFOs, including how many have been seen, whether they flew the American flag upon entry into the atmosphere, whether they believe in free commerce and the right to carry guns, and what sort of breakfast food they most particularly prefer. Are inhabitants of UFOs white? Black? Are they Christians or pagans?
Studies will be undertaken. Serious, serious studies. When those serious studies conclude, breathless headlines will greet us shouting in 50 point type that THERE REALLY ARE UFOs. Drudge will report an exclusive interview showing that aliens are conservative libertarians and immediately thereafter, a social media campaign will be undertaken immediately with a lovely likeable Facebook page and legions of Twitterbots telling us to +1 their Important New Study on Google+. Email campaigns will commence as well, with scary headlines, and Congressmen will stand up and pound the lectern as they remind us all that Our. Liberties. Are. At. Stake.
The Foundation for Legal Defenses of Alien Rights (FLDAR) will propose legislation and reach out to constituent state legislators to begin their next term campaign based upon the Very Righteous Legislation before them, guaranteeing Earth's Sovereignty Leads Unidentified Things (ESLUT).
Thus shall it become immutable fact that elephants are aliens who arrived in UFOs from Mars. I suppose that's all right as long as they don't run for President.
Then again, the Republicans would immediately declare war on the Martian Elephants while Democrats take polls that show Americans trust President Obama to lead the nation's defense against aliens more effectively than they do Mitt Romney.
Footnote: That last question is real. WHO THINKS OF QUESTIONS LIKE THAT? Answer? National Geographic, which is why that poll article got tied into the larger news of swing states leaning toward the President.
Cross posted from The Stars Hollow GazetteThis is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.Find the past "On This Day in History" here.Click on images to enlarge.June 28 is the 179th day of the[...]
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The day has finally arrived. After years of debate, the long wait will soon be over. At around 10 am Eastern time when the Supreme Court speaks we should finally know the fate of the Affordable Care Act. Today is the last day of the Supreme Court's[...]
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