Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Conservatism is a Constant

I was recently rereading The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell's book about poverty. It suggested to me that conservatism really has not changed much since he wrote it in 1937. (Of course, I suppose that is appropriate for conservatism.) He was writing about England in the depths of the Great Depression and their class system is still more rigid than ours is today, but the attitudes are still comparable:
Every middle-class person has a dormant class-prejudice which needs only a small thing to arouse it; and if he is over forty he probably has a firm conviction that his own class has been sacrificed to the class below. Suggest to the average unthinking person of gentle birth who is struggling to keep up appearances on four or five hundred [pounds] a year that he is a member of an exploiting parasite class, and he will think you are mad. In perfect sincerity he will point out to you a dozen ways in which he is worse-off than a working man. In his eyes the workers are not a submerged race of slaves, they are a sinister flood creeping upwards to engulf himself and his friends and his family and to sweep all culture and all decency out of existence. 
The notion that the poor have got it good is not gone. The idea is routinely lampooned in Ruben Bowling's "Tom the Dancing Bug" comic. He has a reoccurring character that he renders in a 1930s funny animal strip style called Lucky Ducky, "The Poor Little Duck Who's Rich In Luck." Despite his poverty, Lucky seems to turn every calamity to his advantage - or so thinks the infuriated millionaire Hollingsworth Hound who sees the system as rigged against the rich. Bowling created the strip in response to a 2002 Wall Street Journal editorial about those "lucky duckies" who are too poor to pay taxes.

But this reactionary fantasy is not just limited to the topic of economic inequality. This attitude can be seen in many absurd arguments conservatives make. Think of every straight, Christian, white man who imagines he is persecuted because he can no longer persecute. There are whites who think that affirmative action is "reverse discrimination." Men's Rights Activists (MRAs) claim we live in a matriarchy today. Kim Davis' supporters think that legalizing gay marriage will result in death camps for Christians. The list goes on.

On the same page, George Orwell added:
The notion that the working class have been absurdly pampered, hopelessly demoralized by doles, old age pensions, free education, etc., is still widely held; it has merely been a little shaken, perhaps, by the recent recognition that unemployment does exist. For quantities of middle-class people, probably for a large majority of those over fifty, the typical working man still rides to the Labour Exchange on a motor-bike and keeps coal in his bath-tub: 'And, if you'll believe it, my dear, they actually get married on the dole!'(emphasis original)
The only difference is, today in America, they say that welfare is breaking up families. But both then and now, conservatives claim that welfare encourages the poor to make more babies. Of course, if the poor use birth control or have abortions, conservatives complain about that too.

But, either way, they think it is easy living.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Latest Nazi Analogy Update

If I posted every time a conservative made another ass-backwards Nazi analogy, it would be about once a month, if not weekly. Their reflex is simultaneously outrageous and ordinary now. Your jaw only drops as part of a yawn. But two examples stand out this past summer.

The first is National Review writer Kevin Williamson calling Jewish U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders a Nazi because he is an unapologetic socialist which conservatives routinely conflate with the Nazis' oxymoronic "national socialist" - a label that was just as absurd in the 1930s as it is today.

The second is the Holocaust comparison made by Kim Davis' lawyers and supporters. Check out the rally photo in that last link and roll around in the irony. In it, one supporter is holding up a sign predicting an anti-Christian Holocaust, while another is flying the confederate battle flag. No doubt both would hotly deny the "Stars and Bars" has anything to do with white supremacy and thereby deny any mixed message.

But recently a new wrinkle has emerged. It is not a Nazi analogy per se, but it is definitely Nazi-related. Heretofore, I had thought that the staff of Reason magazine had distanced itself from the racist crackpots of the Ron Paul crowd. After all, they investigated who wrote the infamously racist articles that appeared in Paul's newsletters in the late 80s and early 90s. Well, it turns out that they once flirted with that element as well by defending South African Apartheid in the 1970s and giving a platform to Holocaust deniers.

Now, their prickly reaction to this revelation does not necessarily mean they have not made a clean break since. But it is interesting to see that they share similarities beyond calling themselves "libertarians."

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Promises, Promises

Good news, everyone!

Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has recently threatened to resign and await ‘nuclear holocaust’ if the Senate approves Obama's deal with Iran. Senate Republicans have just failed to invoke closure to block the treaty, which means it is getting approved. So, so long Louie!

Only probably not.

Unfortunately, conservatives are not, by and large, an honorable lot. They are given to swearing great, highly dramatic oaths only to not follow through. On the premise that waterboarding is not really torture, Fox News blowhard Sean Hannity said he would endure it for charity. It hasn't happened. Radio host Rush Limbaugh swore he would move to Costa Rica if Obamacare passed. He's still here. And NRA board member/artless draft dodger Ted Nugent swore he would either be dead or in jail if Obama got reelected. Alas, Mr. Nugent is neither. And all of these oafish oaths are several years old now.

I am really starting to not trust these guys anymore.

UPDATE - 09/29/15:

In a predictable yet unanticipated meta development, Sean Hannity has also said that the Iran deal will result in a holocaust. Except he means the Nazi kind rather than the nuclear kind.