Rubio’s Young Earth Fantasies

Marco RubioMarco Rubio has made a bit of a stir with comments about his young earth belief. It isn’t so much the beliefs; they are standard fair in the conservative movement. What is most appalling is his relativistic statement in support of these beliefs, “At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all.” If I didn’t know what he was thinking, I would yield the point. The truth is there are different theories and I think it is a great idea teach them all. But I’m talking about actual scientific theories and this is not what Rubio is talking about. He wants the Genesis myth to be taught as science.

I’m not kidding about this. He goes on to say, “I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.” No. It isn’t one of the great mysteries. The earth was not created in 7 days and I don’t know what an “actual era” is. These are the words of a man who can not back up his beliefs. His religion tells him that the universe is not the way we know it to be so he claims that we should teach “all sides of it”: the side that’s true and the fantasy he wants to believe. This isn’t even handed. This is simple distortion of the truth.

Digby dug up a 2009 article about what Rubio was saying then, via Little Green Footballs:

Rubio added, “And for me, personally, I don’t want a school system that teaches kids that what they’re learning at home is wrong.”

Rubio, a Cuban-American, made a comparison to the strategy employed by the Communist Party in Cuba where schools encouraged children to turn in parents who criticized Fidel Castro.

“Of course, I’m not equating the evolution people with Fidel Castro,” he quickly added, while noting that undermining the family and the church were key means the Communist Party used to gain control in Cuba.

What I find most offensive about these words is how they fit into the context of my lifetime here in the United States. There is only one party that ever acted in this way. It was the Republican Party under Reagan and Bush that encouraged children to turn their parents in for drug use and dealing. I remember Bush praising a grammar school child for having turned her cocaine dealing parents into the police. So to have a Republican claim that teaching evolution is somehow going to turn children against their parents when his own party worked to do that very thing in the name of their useless Drug War makes my blood boil.

It would be nice to think that anyone as delusional as Rubio couldn’t become president. But we know that isn’t the case. Well over half the people of the United States believe the same disproven rubbish that he spouts. There really are facts in the world, however. But the modern Republican Party will have none of it. And as we know from Charles Krauthammer, the only thing the Republicans need to change about themselves is to be a little less vile regarding Latinos. So don’t be surprised if roughly 50% of the country votes for a Cuban young earth proponent in 2016.

And a Little Child Will Lead

Guess Who?Isaiah 11:6 tells us:

The wolf will live with the lamb,
The leopard will lie down with the goat,
The calf and the lion and the yearling together;
And a little child will lead them.

That time has come my friends. Jennifer O’Connell has posted an email sent from R— (Do you feel like you are in the middle of a 19th century novel?) to Hasbro, the toy and game company. (I assume R— is O’Connell’s daughter, but I don’t know.) She sent the following email to the company regarding their game Guess Who?

My name is R—. I am six years old. I think it’s not fair to only have 5 girls in Guess Who and 19 boys. It is not only boys who are important, girls are important too. If grown ups get into thinking that girls are not important they won’t give little girls much care.

Also if girls want to be a girl in Guess Who they’ll always lose against a boy, and it will be harder for them to win. I am cross about that and if you don’t fix it soon, my mum could throw Guess Who out.

My mum typed this message but I told her what to say.

I hope that this email causes Hasbro to change their game design. However, their initial response was not good. They said:

Guess Who? is a guessing game based on a numerical equation. If you take a look at the characters in the game, you will notice that there are five of any given characteristics. The idea of the game is, that by process of elimination, you narrow down who it isn’t, thus determining who it is. The game is not weighted in favour of any particular character, male or female. Another aspect of the game is to draw attention away from using gender or ethnicity as the focal point, and to concentrate on those things that we all have in common, rather than focus on our differences.

This doesn’t answer the question at all. I can see where they might only put mustaches on men. But there is no reason they couldn’t have 12 men and 12 women characters.

I encourage everyone to write to Hasbro at askhasbro@hasbro.co.uk or most likely askhasbro@hasbro.com, but I can’t find a direct email address—they want me to create an account, the bastards! If you do, tell them you’d like to see 12 or even 13 female characters in Guess Who? (because there are more women in the world than men).

Regardless, I have confidence that R— has it well in hand.

Grow the Social Safety Net

Paul KrugmanWe need a bigger social safety net. Yesterday, Paul Krugman pointed this out by noting our modern economy where everyone is just supposed to get used to the fact that you will have a new job every three years and that insecurity is now normal so get over it. This kind of dynamism requires some kind of bedrock that we can all hold onto. And the only such bedrock comes from the welfare state.

I have a problem with the “new job every three years” idea, even though that has been my life. All this new economic dynamism has mostly been on the part of workers, not companies. It would be one thing if companies only lasted three years. But what happens is that companies that last 100 years no longer show any loyalty to their workers. (Even while they complain that workers don’t show enough loyalty to these companies.)

What has really happened in the modern world is that the government long ago declared open season on unions and all manner of other worker rights. So now workers are in the position of beggars, hoping that some company will take pity on them and employ them for a few years.

Of course, the people who want to destroy the social safety net are the same people who want to eliminate worker rights. I was amused earlier in the year when some conservative MP claimed that everyone should start their own businesses. This is absurd, of course. If that happened, there would be no businesses, just 7 billion private contractors. But what’s interesting in this context is that such a claim implies that people who complain about lack of work should just be able to start their own businesses. “Just take out a loan from your parents!”

I think we are past the point where we can reasonably claim that the right in this country (or just about any other) is an honest broker. They hate the poor. They think the poor are morally deficient. They would prefer that the poor just die off, but as long as they are powerless and hidden, fine.

Krugman is right of course: now more than ever, we need the social safety net. If companies are going to follow the Gordon Gekko model that profits are all and they owe nothing to society, the government needs to take over. But as long as these business owners have the power that goes along with their profits, they will fight hard to impoverish workers outside their business environment. The smaller the safety net, the more pliant the workers will be.

Eventually, this all ends in a feudal state, of course. So while we still have a democracy, we must fight to empower workers. And that means expanding the welfare state, not just protecting it.

Republican Moderates Not So Moderate

David FrumThere was an amusing bit on Real Time last Friday. The panel was talking about Romney’s recent conference call and how the adults in the Republican Party needed to take control. Maher said that one way they could do that was to stop all this nonsense about Benghazi. Given that Real Time is at base a comedy show, it is not surprising what happened next. The two “reasonable” Republicans, David Frum and Ana Navarro, got apoplectic. “But there is a cover-up!”

This is the problem with all of the talk about the Republican Party reforming itself. The Republican elite didn’t get into power by accident. The difference between the extremists and the moderates is the way that they talk about issues, not where they actually stand on issues. Like the rank and file members of the party, moderates are authoritarian followers. As much as I look for reasons to explain the conservative worldview, nothing fits better than John Dean’s authoritarian theory.

This gets to the heart of what is so frustrating about talking to Republicans. Most of the time they are incredibly reasonable. Yet in the heat of an election or on an issue that Fox News is pushing (e.g. Benghazi), they lose all perspective. This explains why they look back so fondly on Bill Clinton and how they will gush with praise over Obama in 8 years. These people are easily led by demagoguery.

The reason the most vile Republicans rise to the top is that they best pose the issues in a way that the conservative authoritarian followers can accept. The question is never do you want to protect everyone from potential global warming; it is: do you want to destroy the economy or believe in a liberal conspiracy theory? It is never how do we best help the poor; it is: do you want your hard earned money going to a bunch of loafers? It is never what is the proper role of government surveillance; it is do you want another 9/11?

When I talk to conservatives their answers are normally nuanced. But they can’t help jumping for the sloganeering of the party elites. And this is as true of the public “moderates” as it is for the rest. Both Frum and Navarro said reasonable things about non-partisan issues. But that doesn’t make them any less dangerous. In fact, it makes them more dangerous. They clearly have the capacity to see the complexity of the world but they choose to (following Stephen Colbert) let their guts lead them.

And this is why the Republican Party will not reform itself anytime soon. For all the reasonable talk from the moderates, they are as easy to get worked up in a froth as the rest of their party. The froth production masters are the crazies. When David Frum manages to not get excited by things like the Benghazi scandal, then the party will change.

Afterword

Read John Dean’s excellent Conservatives Without Conscience.

And look! Candy: