Tuesday, September 29, 2015


The president of Planned Parenthood appeared before a House panel this morning, but she clearly wasn't expected to answer questions:
GOP Chair Repeatedly Interrupts Planned Parenthood Head At Hearing

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) repeatedly interrupted Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards as she tried to answer his questions Tuesday in front of the House Oversight Committee....

Chaffetz, who chairs the committee, started off by asking Richards about funds that were sent overseas.

"Do any of these funds go to the Democratic Republic of the Congo?" Chaffetz said early in the back-and-forth.

"Congressman, let me tell you --" Richards said before Chaffetz interrupted her.

"No, no, no. We don't have time for a big narrative," Chaffetz said.

"I'm not going to give you a narrative --" Richards said.

"Yes or no," Chaffetz replied, before Richards gave a more lengthy response.

A few moments later, Chaffetz asked Richards, "In your 2013 tax return, it lists $3.3 million marked as 'investment' in Central America and the Caribbean. I'm just asking you if that investment was an actual investment."

"We don't own anything in those countries. What --" Richards said as she was interrupted by Chaffetz.

"OK," he said. "I have to keep going." ...
Well, why would she be offered a chance to speak at adequate length in her own defense? Conservative ideology divides all people into two categories, the Purely Good and the Purely Evil. All conservatives are certain that Richards falls unambiguously into the latter category. Therefore there is nothing she can possibly say that could possibly be of value to good people.

If everyone is either Purely Good or Purely Evil, then the American system of government makes no sense, because compromise with political opponents is literally compromise with agents of Satan. That's why the government in D.C. doesn't work (although governments in pure red states such as North Carolina often seems to work with brutal efficiency).

We see right-wing Manichaeism everywhere. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are blocking a Manichaean shutdown of Planned Parenthood now, but we'll almost certainly have a shutdown later in the year, when Boehner is gone and the new House Speaker is compelled to appease the zealots. Meanwhile, in a new Public Policy Polling survey of North Carolina, we see that many Republican voters in that state just can't conceive of peacefully coexisting with either Muslims or believers in secular government:
44% of Carson voters think Islam should be illegal in the United States, to only 38% who think it should be legal. And with Trump voters the numbers are even more extreme- 52% think Islam should be illegal to just 31% that believe it should be allowed. Republican voters in the state as a whole are evenly divided with 40% thinking the practice of Islam should be legal and 40% thinking it should not.

Given those numbers it's not surprising that on the more narrow issue of whether a Muslim should be allowed to serve as President, only 16% of Republicans say yes to 72% who say no. And this all feeds into a broader concern that President Obama is waging a war on Christianity- 72% express that sentiment to only 20% who disagree with it.
(North Carolina Republicans are actually more only marginally less tolerant of Islam than Iowa Republicans -- As I noted last week, a PPP survey of that state Iowa found that 49% 30% of Republicans there believe Islam should be illegal in America, while only 30% 49% believe it should be legal.)

We can't be one nation if many of us think making concessions to our opponents is cooperating with the evil. But that's where we stand.


UPDATE: Garbled statistic corrected.


Knight of Nothing said...

What you say is bleak. And I'm hard-pressed to offer any kind of salve. This is the perfect companion piece to your two earlier essays about Frank Bruni and the lack of consequences for Republican extremism. As long as the 'Both Sides Do It' narrative holds sway, the right will push back on and chip away at labor, racial justice, women's rights, bi-lateral diplomacy, and the environment, and feel absolutely justified in doing so.

pbriggsiam said...

You make a very good point. And yet ironically, we on the Left can't afford to make compromises either. With the current nature of the GOP, can we afford to allow the Overton window to continue to slide to the right? It seems like, politically we should be doing everything in our power to beat the other side and marginalize their beliefs in America, no?

And yet, if we are equally uncompromising, will this ever succeed? Can we get to a point where the right-wing fever is back under the rock it bloomed forth from?

Their non-compromising take on our liberal beliefs creates a very hard place to ever hope to act as one nation.