Our policies are working! Oh shit, blame the liberals!

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, December 30, 2010 15:44 EDT
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Via Roy, I see Charlotte Hays of the National Review is really bringing it in the ongoing Wingnut Olympics, where competitors are judged by how many lies and non sequiturs they can cram into limited space. Hays has only one paragraph’s worth of material, and yet the bullshit packed in there is astounding.

The blizzard is definitely a force for conservatism, and not only because it has had the global-warming crowd scrambling for explanations.

There are many lies in this. The most obvious is that anyone is “scrambling” for explanations. People who actually understand the science know there’s a difference between weather and climate, in the same way we understand that a single traffic accident doesn’t mean that a town’s relatively low rates of traffic accidents are somehow disproved. She’s basically fantasizing, and this demonstrates that wingnut audiences struggle with telling the difference between their fantasies (that a bunch of ignorant people who resent scientists for not being ignorant have made the scientists scramble) and the reality (that no one is scrambling, because the models that prove global warming allow for severe blizzards and even probably predict them).

But this is also based on an under-lying and nonsensical myth of wingnuttery, which is that the majority of the world, except for a few American conservatives who also are likelier to embrace creationism as a theory, wants to believe that our climate is going out of wack in such a way that it’s going to increase destructive weather events, starvation, and war. Why they’re the only ones special enough not to get sucked into this pessimism—and why hope-and-change liberals are supposedly now the sourpusses—is never explained. At best, they assume everyone else is as big a culture warrior as they are, and we actually want to deprive them of their Penis Mobiles because we’re somehow threatened by them (instead of amused at the overt overcompensation). Also, this theory relies on, as I’ve noted before, an epic conspiracy theory that involves hundreds of thousands and probably millions of scientific experts. They believe the vast majority of scientists and educators in the world are conspiring to hoodwink a gullible public about global warming, even though the motivations of these people are never established. (The go-to explanation is “research grants”, but this is coming from people who deny that the exponentially larger oil profits could inspire oil companies to spend millions of dollars on anti-science propaganda. They also have to deny that people they claim are solely motivated by money suddenly wouldn’t abandon their underfunded university jobs to work in anti-environmental propaganda that pays way better.) That’s a lot of bullshit, and that’s only her first sentence, which isn’t even really related to the rest of her nonsense paragraph!

The blizzard reveals something basic: Liberals in government want to tell us what to eat, counsel us about how and when to die, and in general attempt to engineer our lives. But when reality knocks, they can’t do the basic stuff such as clearing the streets so that newborns don’t die in bloody apartment-building lobbies.

Let’s break this down into its various lies. First is the notion that “liberals” are tyrannical because they try to publicize scientific information about nutrition. They aren’t even forcing you to believe them! If you want to believe that your chronic constipation is due to the global warming conspiracy instead of your stubborn unwillingness to ingest fiber, you retain the right to be a dumbass. Second of all is this lie that Mayor Bloomberg is a “liberal”. Actually, the irritatingly smug mayor of New York is an independent and former Republican. He just happens to channel his fetish for controlling the bodies of poor people into food instead of into sex, like most Republicans. But nothing he’s done as mayor in terms of nutrition proposals would actually control the choices of anyone that Hays cares about—he’s mostly interested in making certain food items out of the price range of the poor. And there’s no attempt to “tell you what to eat” by putting nutritional info up in chain restaurants. You can cover your eyes if you feel overly controlled by knowing what you’re putting into your body, but I would say that people are actually less controlled if they have more information.

Equating Mayor Bloomberg with the liberal Democrats who came up with subsidies for end-of-life counseling is another lie. So is the notion that you’re being forced to be counseled by your doctor. You don’t have to go to a doctor for end-of-life counseling if you don’t want to, but if you do want to, Medicare will pay for it now. I’d like to see this whining about how being subject to voluntary access to advice taken to its logical level. Conservatives really shouldn’t go to doctors if they’re so bothered by it. How dare a doctor tell you what is happening to your body? That’s an imposition on freedom. People should never listen to scientific information ever before making a decision, since that’s basically fascism. The only free decision is a completely uninformed one.

The next lie is somehow suggesting that there’s a relationship between street plowing within New York City and federal government initiatives like creating the food pyramid or subsidizing voluntary health care use. There’s not, except in the most thin sense that both tend to require tax dollars for funding. But there is a major relationship between Republican calls for budget cuts to pay for tax cuts for the rich and the lack of street plowing!

This week, as Mr. Bloomberg conceded that the city’s response to the blizzard had been inadequate, many theories, in both shouts and whispers, have been offered to explain the shortcomings: the Sanitation Department had undergone staffing cuts; the ferocity of the snowfall and the power of the accompanying winds had presented extraordinary challenges to the city’s snow plows; angry sanitation workers had sabotaged the efforts; city residents had ignored common sense and wound up stranding their cars in streets across the five boroughs.

It makes sense that if you had more money to spend on street plowing, there would be more street plowing, in the same way that spending more money on food means you have more of it in your refrigerator.

Mayor Bloomberg may be receiving an unfair amount of criticism for his lackluster performance in coping with Mother Nature, given the almost unprecedented nature of the storm, but the unplowed city streets provide a metaphor for the nanny state: It can order us to do anything, but it can’t take care of the basic obligations of government.

The final lie: that conservatives support the “basic obligations of government”. Well, that and the lie about how public health initiatives somehow detract from street plowing. But the reason there are budget cuts has everything to do with Republican theories of government, the big one being that government doesn’t do shit and so it should just go away, except the military, which can be used for poaching the resources of other nations. Isn’t a city that’s under a blanket of snow where the only people who are clearing the streets are unpaid volunteers exactly what libertarians are demanding? After all, those tax cuts don’t pay for themselves. Maybe we should privatize all the streets so that the budget cutting and refusal to actually do anything about the snow is being accomplished by morally upstanding capitalists. That way, you can pay even more to for-profit enterprises for not having any service to your house. Isn’t deunionizing the conservative wet dream? I mean, the results of this wet dream are lower salaries, therefore lower job satisfaction and worse performance.

I hear all the time from conservatives about how evil it is that there are government workers out there drawing paychecks to do things like rebuild roads. And the first time that we start to get an inkling of libertarian paradise, where no one is there to plow your street because god forbid we tax people to pay for it, all of a sudden it’s time to blame the liberals. And it’ll work, because deliberate dumbassery is the order of the day for conservatives.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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