Friday, May 13, 2011

Evangelicals are not a part of the Republican coalition—they ARE the coalition

This aligns with some research I did in Australia in the early '80s. I found that stance on religious/moral questions was a very strong predictors of other conservative attitudes

Since the Reagan era, Republicans have described their political coalition as a “three-legged stool.” Fiscal conservatives, national security conservatives, and social conservatives together hold up the fortunes of the party. This rhetorical stool is often used like a prop in pro-wrestling: to bludgeon recalcitrant office-seekers into submission.

But the metaphor is also supposed to signify a division of labor: Fiscal conservatism is the purview of the Republican business class or libertarians, national security is handled by neoconservatives, and somewhere out in the hinterlands the religious right will hand out pamphlets about abortion and knock on doors come election time.

This picture is a lie. In their activist fervor, their enthusiasm for the ideas, and their electoral clout, religious conservatives are the base of all three legs. White evangelical Protestants make up almost third of the total electorate, and four out of five of them vote Republican. The religious right is more convinced of American righteousness in the exercise of its military might than the neoconservatives are, and more invested than Wall Street in lower taxes.

The Tea Party, confusedly hailed by the media as a grassroots libertarian spasm, turns out on inspection to be the religious right wearing a tricorn hat and talking about Obamacare. Neoconservatives who call for confrontation with Iran, a closer relationship with Israel, and pressing the War on Terror are not echoed by religious conservatives—they’re drowned out by them. In economics and military matters, no less than in social issues, conservative evangelicals are more Republican than Republicans.

“I’m all three,” says Richard Land, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, political arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. “I’ve always believed in low taxes and a strong national defense.” Similarly, Jordan Sekulow, deputy director of governmental affairs at the American Center for Law and Justice, a Christian legal group, notes that for the evangelical right conservatism is a seamless garment.

“I grew up in this movement,” says Sekulow, “you can go through the old tapes of the Moral Majority. You’re not going to find anyone calling for higher taxes and a bigger federal government.” .....

The media story of Republican triumph in 2004 was the story of the Values Voter, who turned out to reject same-sex marriage in 11 states and along the way re-elected President Bush. White evangelicals were the largest demographic group in Bush’s camp, delivering over a third of his votes. The media story of the GOP’s 2010 midterm victory was the story of the Tea Partier, who took to the ballot box against government expansion into healthcare, bank bailouts, and reckless spending. The Tea Party was heralded as a new, transformative force. Yet these two columns of voters hail from the same evangelical regiment.

While Tea Party organizations do appeal to a certain kind of independent, The American Prospect’s Michelle Goldberg notes some unmistakable similarities between the religious right and the new revolutionaries: “Both have their strongholds in the white South, and both arise out of a sense of furious dispossession, a conviction that the country that is rightfully theirs has been usurped by sinister cosmopolitan elites. They have the same favorite politicians—particularly [Sarah] Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann.” Bachmann and Sen. Jim DeMint, long favorites of Christian conservatives, now lead the Tea Party Caucus in Congress.....

Evangelicals bolted the Democratic Party in the ’70s and joined the Reagan coalition in the ’80s. By 1992, when Pat Robertson gave his speech to the Republican convention in Houston, GOP opposition to abortion and the mainstreaming of homosexuality was so solid he dedicated just 160 words to those subjects. He devoted 660 words—40 percent of his speech—to taxes, government spending, and the welfare state. He opened with a thunderous encomium to the GOP: “It was Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Republican policies which brought communism to its knees.”

Evangelicals’ disgust with the counterculture of the ’70s, their confrontational stance toward communism, and their eventual adoption of the GOP parallel exactly the ideological odyssey of the neoconservatives. And the religious right today outpaces those intellectuals in their commitment to seeing American power employed abroad in spreading democracy and human rights.

Evangelical leaders were as outspoken as anyone in their defense of the Iraq War. In 2004, Jerry Falwell deemed the military invasion and occupation sound for reasons biblical and humanitarian, quoting St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Robertson told viewers of his Christian Broadcasting Network, “We’re on solid ground [in Iraq], not only in terms of Christian, biblical concepts, but also in terms of public relations.” Even after the public had soured on the conflict, former head of the Christian Coalition Ralph Reed, asked to recant, said, “I supported the war then, I support it now.” ....

Conservative Christians don’t need to be told by anyone that America ought to stand by Israel. Evangelicals with a Dispensational theology already “speak out for Zion’s sake” (Isaiah 62:1). Hagee’s group, Christians United For Israel, is more passionately Zionist than any American neoconservative because its mandate, so its members believe, comes from Scripture, not an interpretation of political necessity or cultural affinity. Every year, CUFI draws one of the largest conservative Christian crowds to Washington, D.C. Hagee can pack a convention center when neoconservative foreign-policy confabs barely fill a presentation room at the American Enterprise Institute.....

The overwhelming fact of evangelical engagement remains their unbridled enthusiasm for Republican policies. In 2006, at the absolute depths of Republican mismanagement of foreign policy and just two years after Bush had ditched social issues for Social Security reform, 59 percent of Republican or Republican-leaning evangelicals told the Pew Forum that the GOP was “doing either an excellent or good job” at standing up for its traditional positions. In the November 2010 elections, when social issues had supposedly taken a backseat to Obamacare, 78 percent of white evangelicals pulled the lever for Republicans, according to a post-election survey Public Opinion Strategies conducted for Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition.

For all the ideological examination that neoconservatives and the Tea Party have received, neither would have the clout to add a jot or tittle to America’s policy debates without the manpower, enthusiasm, and the leadership of the religious right. Christian conservatives haven’t abandoned their social issues—they’ve enfolded foreign and fiscal policy into their ongoing culture war. Their worldview has as much to say about war, healthcare reform, and tax rates as it does about unborn children and homeschooling. And everyone is listening now.



That good ol' Leftist civility again

Fact-Challenged Ed Schultz

As much as liberals complain about conservative "misinformation" and incivility, they never seem to find it on channels like MSNBC, and we know there are small bands of liberals that wander over there.

While many were watching the first GOP presidential debate on May 5, Ed Schultz invited on left-wing bomb-thrower (and 2010 congressional-seat loser) Alan Grayson to heap mud on George W. Bush. Schultz asked if Bush failed to accept Obama's invitation to ground zero out of personal pique. Grayson replied through a smirk, "I suspect that President Bush might've been passed-out drunk the last three or four days, so I'm not sure he made any conscious decision at all."

Schultz found that acceptable. "Great to have you with us tonight," he said to Grayson at interview's end. "Thank you for your take." That wasn't a "take." It was a typical smear.

That same shameless disregard for the truth really shook the crowd at the 2011 Media Research Center Gala on May 7. Special Ed -- as radio talker Chris Plante calls him -- overwhelmingly won on the applause meter for the (worst) "Quote of the Year," which actually covered two years. On Sept. 23, 2009, Schultz yelled this ridiculous, foam-flecked rant on MSNBC about critics of ObamaCare.

"The Republicans lie! They want to see you dead! They'd rather make money off your dead corpse! They kind of like it when that woman has cancer and they don't have anything for her." He wasn't joking. He was serious.

Poor Special Ed. It fell on Ann Coulter to point out -- with glee -- the redundancy of Schultz saying "dead corpse." But where on the spectrum of "fact" and "misinformation" do you place the idea that conservatives want Americans dead and deeply enjoy denying health care to cancer patients?

And who, exactly, is Schultz to pose as the one who most definitely does NOT take glee in others' medical misfortune? This is the same hack who said on Feb. 24, 2010 that "You're damn right, Dick Cheney's heart's a political football! We ought to rip it out and kick it around and stuff it back in him! I'm glad he didn't tip over. He is the new poster child for health care in this country."

On June 16, 2009, Joe Scarborough asked Schultz if he felt Cheney hoped Americans would die in a terrorist attack so it would benefit Republicans. "Absolutely, absolutely," said Schultz. "I think Dick Cheney is all about seeing this country go conservative on a hard-right wing and I think he'll do anything to get it there." A month earlier, he begged for Cheney to die. "Lord, take him to the promised land."

Lack of civility is one thing. Lack of honesty is another.

Schultz routinely uncorks sentences that seem to have recklessly rocketed off the planet of Fact. Here's a funny one from days ago, on April 27: "I see that Sean Hannity is now on a regular basis losing to Rachel Maddow. Hmm, interesting. Must be that liberal media that just doesn't connect with people." In reality, Hannity routinely doubles Maddow's audience, just as Greta Van Susteren has double the viewers of Ed Schultz now that he's at 10 p.m. That Schultz, he "connects with people."

Here's another jaw-dropper from Special Ed. On his radio show on Oct. 22, 2010, he announced, "I call NPR National Pentagon Radio. They're no more left wing than Fox News as far as I'm concerned. Look at the commentators they have on there, right? They're all right-wing commentators. I couldn't get in the door of NPR."

NPR is "no more left-wing than Fox News"? Once the laughter subsides, we could ask Schultz if that were within two time zones of the truth, would we really see Barbara Boxer and Ed Markey desperately campaigning with Arthur the Aardvark to keep NPR and PBS funding alive?

Schultz mangles facts like McDonald's grinds hamburger. Within a few days in April, Schultz bizarrely insisted that the Bush tax cuts depressed federal revenues so severely that "Even seven years later, revenues were lower than before the Bush tax cuts went into effect." (Wrong: They were 27 percent higher.)

Then he also claimed the congressional Democrats held spending in check during the Clinton presidency (wrong again: Republicans were in charge). Then he argued it's not illegal for teachers to strike in Michigan (wrong yet again).

MSNBC flacks try to sell Rachel Maddow as the straight-A student who spends hours before each show during her homework. (That fits, if the class for all that effort was 20th Century Socialist Philosophers.) Nobody could sell Ed Schultz as a man who's factually fastidious. "Going on air" for Schultz isn't a phrase about broadcasting. It's about the solidity of his evidence.



Romneycare proves a failure

By Michael Graham

Which wait time will be longer: The wait to finally see a doctor under Romneycare or waiting for Mitt Romney to admit his plan is a failure? As governor, Romney sold his big-government health care scheme as a way to clear the crowds jamming our emergency rooms while increasing access to health care for all.

Instead, as Christine McConville reported in the Herald yesterday, a new report by the Massachusetts Medical Society finds that “more than half of the state’s primary care practices are closed to new patients, while the practices that are still accepting patients have increasingly longer wait times.”

I’m one of those statistics. Earlier this year I had to find a new doctor in the Boston suburbs. The first three offices were taking no new patients. The fourth would take me, but I had to wait two months to actually see the doctor. Fortunately I’m healthy and hate going to the doctor, anyway. An extra eight weeks without a prostate exam was absolutely fine with me.

In the end (no pun intended) it all worked out, because I’ve got great insurance and she’s a great doctor. And my wait wasn’t much longer than the average reported wait time in Massachusetts of 48 days.

Generally speaking — and it varies based on the kind of doctor — our wait times are about twice as high as the rest of the U.S., and the problem has gotten worse under Romneycare. “Massachusetts is learning a basic lesson in economics,” Peter Suderman of Reason magazine told me yesterday. “More coverage does not equal more care.” Suderman, who has been covering Romneycare for years, says nobody familiar with simple economics should be surprised at the results.

Take the new survey of emergency room physicians finding more ER patients than last year — part of an ongoing trend here of higher emergency room use. In theory all these newly-covered patients would be sitting in their primary-care doctor’s office, getting less expensive treatment.

But Romneycare drastically expanded the number of patients on Medicaid and subsidized plans. “These patients go to emergency rooms more than any others, including people with private insurance and even no insurance,” Suderman said. And even if they wanted to go to a doctor’s office — they can’t. The wait times are too long. “It’s a pricing problem,” Suderman says. “If you guarantee everyone coverage and you don’t let the market differentiate between patients, then you end up paying for care with your time.”

Actually we’re paying with our time and money. Why did we do all this again? To get more people insured. Here where we already had one of the smallest uninsured populations in the country.

In politics there are missteps, mistakes, and unmitigated disasters. Romneycare falls solidly in the latter category. Longer lines, higher premiums, more state spending and fewer seats in the local emergency room — is there any upside?

A true leader would admit his mistake, build on what he learned from it and move forward. Romney, with more flip flops on his record than a beachfront sandal shop, can’t afford another one.




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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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