Political Animal


November 25, 2012 10:35 AM When conservatives talk about ideas, they euphemistically rely on abstractions — because it covers up the creepy reality

By Kathleen Geier

Yesterday, I briefly alluded to my belief that two of the Republican “rape guys” from this past election, U.S. senate candidates Richard Mourdock of Indiana and Todd Akin of Missouri, who went down in flames following spectacularly knuckleheaded comments about abortion and rape, probably would have won their seats if they’d gotten halfway competent media training. I stand by that claim.

It’s notable that Paul Ryan holds exactly the same wingnutty position on abortion that Akin and Mourdock do: i.e., that abortion should be banned even in cases of rape and incest. The problem with Mourdock and Akin was that, unlike Beltway favorite Paul Ryan, they were unpolished rubes who hadn’t mastered the art of speaking wingnutspeak — i.e., communicating creepy conservative ideas in ways that don’t scare people. They learned, the hard way, that when you’re a conservative, it’s best to keep things at the level of grand, shining abstractions. That way, you sound noble and oh-so-morally-superior. But when you get down to brass tacks — to actual policies and specific examples — you may well find yourself in a world of trouble, defending policies that a pretty hefty chunk of the population is going to consider icky.

That’s one reason why conservative cant is chockfull of grand abstractions: “small government,” “right to life,” “states’ rights,” “free markets,” “right to work,” “judicial restraint,” “family values,” etc. But there are other reasons for the abstract language, as well. American conservatives are more likely to have a strict ideal of what they think the world should be, and which they believe everyone should conform to. They tend to believe society and human happiness would be best served if everyone were straight, Christian, married, living in a patriarchal nuclear family, preferably living in a nonurban area, etc.

Whereas American liberalism, rooted in the pragmatism of John Dewey and other philosophers, tends to have fewer stringent, a priori ideals and is more improvisational, practical, and interested in solving problems on a case-by-case basis. For instance, contrary to what conservatives claim, most liberals don’t have any ideological commitment to big government per se, but we do realize that a strong federal government is often necessary to perform important functions we believe in, such as providing retirement benefits for senior citizens, and universal health care for all. Also unlike conservatives, we tend to believe that people can live happy, productive lives in any number of ways that differ from the approved model, i.e., gay or straight, with or without children, as Christians or as believers in some other religion or as atheists, in families with a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, etc.

But the other big reason for conservatives to rely so heavy on abstractions is that most people disagree with the real-life implications of those abstractions, and conservatives, for marketing purposes, want to soothe voters’ anxieties by covering that up. Consider the ugly reality behind that list of abstract weasel words above:

“Small government” = No Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment benefits, or at the very least, radically reduced versions of same. It also means the rich and corporations paying little or no taxes, and ordinary people paying more. In other words, pretty much no social insurance or wealth redistribution, no matter how frightening the degree of economic instability or how obscene the level of economic inequality.

“Right to life,” all those endless abstract debates over “when life begins” - These terms/debates erase the real-life women who would be forced to live with the tragic consequences of forced childbirth. Those consequences include death.

“States’ rights” = Racism. Period. Though I guess these days it could also mean homophobia.

“Family values” = Women being discouraged from having careers and encouraged to depend on and constantly defer to men, gay people not being able to marry the people they love, people being heavily pressured to get married early and to stay married even if they’re deeply unhappy being so, no unapproved sexytimes whatsoever (e.g., no sex before marriage, no extramarital sex, no homosex, etc.), heavy censorship of media that deals with sexual themes.

“Judicial restraint” = Bringing back the 19th century, more or less. In particular, it means no right to privacy (including no right to contraception or abortion), no rights for women, gays or nonwhites, and the court having the power to strike down any laws involving regulations on the private sector or redistributive public policies they don’t like (be they the New Deal policies or ACA).

“Free markets” = No minimum wage and no rights for workers. The right for all of us to be “free” of consumer safety laws (for food, drugs, other products). And as the economistDean Baker likes to point out, it never means a truly free market in patent and intellectual property laws, or the freedom for professional class workers from other countries to emigrate here.

“Right to work” = Union Busting Iz Us, or, as my friends in the labor movement like to say, the “right to work for nothing.”

“Religious freedom” - This is a new one, or at least, the way it’s now being used as right-wing code is new to me. Example: it violates the religious freedom of the Catholic bishops for women to be able to choose to use their health insurance to obtain birth control pills. Funny, I thought a far stronger case could be made arguing the opposite, that it is a violation of my religious freedom when the bishops of a religion I don’t even believe in want to dictate how I can use my health insurance.

And on and on. Whenever I hear a conservative use an abstraction, I reach for my wallet. Or my (metaphorical) gun.

Do liberals do this kind of thing? To some extent, I suppose we do. “Right to choose” is a euphemism for “abortion rights;” “marriage equality” is the same for “gay marriage.” But honestly, I don’t think we use nearly as many of them! The reason is that most of our ideas are actually pretty popular. We don’t have nearly as much to hide.

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee


  • Percysowner on November 25, 2012 12:32 PM:

    Right to choose or pro-choice don't fall into the same category for me. The hard right co-opted the phrase Right to Life and made the right to choose sound like its proponents are pro-abortion. I think most in the pro-choice movement would like to see abortion happen less than it does and have pregnancy prevention be more available, and used more. Right now Right To Lifers are expanding their definition to include most forms of contraception as being abortions. Frankly, I'm waiting to find out how the RTL movement works its way around labeling the diaphragm as an abortificant so that the only acceptable form of birth control is in the hands of men and is called disease prevention.

    Pro-choice or Right to Choose is just that leaving the decisions about abortion AND birth control to the choice of the woman involved.

  • navarro on November 25, 2012 12:43 PM:

    remember also that "states rights" end at environmental regulations and changes in marijuana laws. "judicial restraint" generally ends at those points as well.

    keep princat

  • TCinLA on November 25, 2012 12:46 PM:

    Richard Hofstadter dealt with all this 50 years ago:

    "It can most accurately be called pseudo-conservative -- I borrow the term from the study of The Authoritarian Personality published five years ago by Theodore W. Adorno and his associates -- because its exponents, although they believe themselves to be conservatives and usually employ the rhetoric of conservatism, show signs of a serious and restless dissatisfaction with American life, traditions and institutions"

    “Their political reactions express rather a profound and largely unconscious hatred of our society and its ways -- a hatred which one would hesitate to impute to them if one did not have suggestive clinical evidence ... The pseudo-conservative, Adorno writes, shows 'conventionality and authoritarian submissiveness' in his conscious thinking and 'violence, anarchic impulses, and chaotic destructiveness in the unconscious sphere…… The pseudo conservative is a man who, in the name of upholding traditional American values and institutions and defending them against more or less fictitious dangers, consciously or unconsciously aims at their abolition.'"

  • alljack on November 25, 2012 12:46 PM:

    More egregious weasel words: cut spending. I would respect the first Republican who says, "We have to cut services!" At least it would reflect their actual intention. That would take a degree of honesty that I never expect to see.

  • Califlander on November 25, 2012 12:51 PM:

    Don't overlook the problem conservatives face within their own ranks when they start getting too specific.

    Because conservatism tend toward dogmatic rigidity, a candidate who starts talking actual policy implementation runs a significant risk of stepping on an ideological land mine set by members of his own party. Conservatives have to dissemble even when they're among friends.

    This has significant consequences for governance. A conservative office-holder who actually does *anything* risks compiling a track record that will be deemed insufficiently pure and can be used against him in a later run for office. Romney used the records of his opponents in just this way, and they tried to use his. If you're an ambitious Republican, it's far safer to be gridlocked than to actually govern.

  • Upper West on November 25, 2012 1:07 PM:

    Excellent analysis. Unfortunately, "branding" is important for political issues, and Democrats haven't done as good a job and Republicans.

    Any example -- "pro-choice" is much less powerful than "pro-life" and limits the issue to abortion, rather than a broader focus that would include, e.g., birth control, and end of life or sexuality issues. The Democratic "brand" should be Pro-privacy -- appealing to most Americans' wish to keep the government out of the bedroom, the doctor's office and the hospital room.

  • c u n d gulag on November 25, 2012 1:16 PM:

    Well, they have to use code words.
    For the most part, Democrats/Liberals are "Ego," as defined by Freud.
    And Republicans/Conservatives, waffle between "Id," and "Super Ego (minus the conscience, of course)."

    If their Id's and Super Ego's weren't cloaked in Code, who would want to listen to their message, besides other irrational, emotionally stunted, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic, and/or crazy, people?

    With the Id and Super Ego translation:
    "Small government:” For YOU! I get all the feckin' government I want and need!!!

    “Right to life:" My right to contol other lives, and make them a miserable as humanly possible.

    “States rights:” Me and my neighbors who agree with me, don't have to give a sh*t what anyone else thinks, or do what we don't want to do.
    But most importantly - "UP YOURS: FECKIN' N*GGERS, F*GS, D*KES, SP*CKS, BEEYOTCH'S, AND CH*NKS!!!"

    “Free Markets:” When I get rich by winning that damn lottery with my lucky numbers, I don't want any restraints put on me to get richer and richer.

    “Right to work:” The owner/boss is the owner/boss for a reason. I'm ok with that, as long as he pays me a penny more than any N*GGERS, F*GS, D*KES, SP*CKS, BEYOTCH'S, AND CH*NKS!!!
    And the company, and the world, would be a lot better off they THEY had NO 'right to work!'

    “Judicial restraint:” Only in the case of Liberal Judges, who need to be restrained at all times - preferably in Iron Maidens.
    Conservative ones should act at all times, as if there is no restraints.

    “Family values:" I AM THE KING OF MY HOUSEHOLD! THE FECKIN' KING!!! And what THE FECKIN' KING says - FECKIN' GOES!!! Scratch that - I AM GOD IN MY FAMILY!!!
    So, Beeyotch, if you want to walk with me, YOUR KING, the families GOD, you do so a step behind me, and to one side, followed by the childredn - the seeds of YOUR sins.

    Not too appealing, right?

  • Kathryn on November 25, 2012 1:20 PM:

    Too true Kathleen, I'm sure few alarm bells went off when lying Ryan said he was proud of his pro life position and the method of conception (rape!) did not change his no abortion beliefs.

    Mr. Smug has no interest or understanding of what a woman who is raped goes through and would deny them even the morning after pill.

  • dalloway on November 25, 2012 1:22 PM:

    War on drugs = legal control of certain populations, primarily young minority men.

    Gun rights = profit protection for weapons manufacturers.

    Law and order = huge money for prisons, especially private ones and powerful corrections unions

    School vouchers = public subsidy of religious schools

  • emjayay on November 25, 2012 1:27 PM:

    George Lakoff in his book Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, and later books more specifically about the brain and use of language by conservatives and liberals has a lot more to say about this kind of stuff. Check your local public library.

  • JM917 on November 25, 2012 1:35 PM:

    Entitlements = Any right or benefit that working people have earned through a lifetime of toiling and paying payroll taxes, which can be defined as "selfish" and "greedy"--excluding, for example, military pensions, farmers' susbsidies, and myriad corporate perks.

  • jeffersonh on November 25, 2012 3:03 PM:

    Great article Kathleen. Here's a few more:

    "Support the Troops" means, to a conservative, "Don't question the war policy." It does not mean actually supporting the troops with things like adequate body armor, not sending them into harm's way with inadequate or no strategy, ensuring they have real veterans' benefits -- all things they consistently vote against.

    "Small business" = Big Business.

    "Job creator" = any rich person, whether they ever have or ever will create a single job.

  • zandru on November 25, 2012 3:12 PM:

    "no unapproved sexytimes"

    And no "sexytimes" DURING marriage, if you are not hoping to become pregnant. Because, you know, using birth control would be MURDER.

    Ms Grier, you repeatedly used the "redistributive/redistribution" terms. That's a no-no. We on the Left prefer "tax fairness" or "paying your share." The implication is that the government requires adequate funding, and that it should be obtained by progressively taxing based on income or wealthy. Left unsaid is that some of this revenue goes to the poor (and "undeserving", by wingnut dogma.)

    In fact, the amount of "redistribution" is actually very small, so there's really no percentage in calling excessive attention to it. The term, moreover, makes the wrong-wing go crazy, so why go there?

  • thebewilderness on November 25, 2012 3:50 PM:

    The purpose of forming cooperative community is redistribution.
    It always has been.

  • Martin Fox on November 25, 2012 4:44 PM:

    The "creepy reality" behind the author's high-sounding term, "pro-choice"?

    Dead babies and dead consciences.

  • Gandalf on November 25, 2012 4:48 PM:

    I know lots of real life conservatives and to varying degrees they pretty much espouse the ideas Kathleen has presented. They usually are every bit as thin skinned and acrimonious as you are.

  • shivas on November 25, 2012 5:01 PM:

    Conservatives want government to be small enough to be able to drown it in a bathtub, yet large enough that it can still intrude on its citizen's sex lives.

  • Roger Keeling on November 25, 2012 5:02 PM:

    Great piece, Kathleen. Right from the title, I couldn't help but think of a feature called "Faceoff" that the (now long defunct) magazine, Brill's Content, ran every issue for quite a long time. They would pick a topic, generally related to current media issues, and pit a conservative and liberal against each other. For the longest time they had that smarmy little creep Jonah Goldberg matched off against Jeff Cohen, founder of Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).

    As that series of "debates" progressed, I was increasingly struck by the fact that -- every single month -- Goldberg's arguments were almost entirely based on abstractions of one sort or another. Cohen, by contrast, invariably set up his argument, THEN unleashed a torrent of rock-solid facts and figures to back it up. In terms of pure logic, or classic forensic debate, Cohen blew Goldberg out of the water every time.

    Not that it mattered to conservatives. "Facts", as we now know, just don't impress them very much.

  • Wolfdaughter on November 25, 2012 5:03 PM:


    You may have a point--perhaps the picture drawn here of conservatives and terminology is overly broad and "scary". So, why don't you tell us what conservatives do believe?

  • SAHinDC on November 25, 2012 5:11 PM:

    And what about the second chapter of the “Small government” 101 GOP's handbook? the one that refers to: no NIH, no FDA, no NASA, no NIST, no CDC, no 9-1-1, no bridges, no streets, no stree lights, no electric grids, no copyright laws, no patents, no department of energy, no department of commerce, no research whatsoever in science, no stem cells, no research in Alzheimer, not to mention global warming or reasearch on volcanoes or oceanography, or the fruit fly, or DNA, or evolution (god forbids!!). Why not just go back to the 12th century? And what about linguistics? paleoanthropology? getting too complicated here? and the Arts?? The civilized world doe not need Arts! In summary, anything that does not return investments in the very short term or is investment whose benefit is shared by the poor and middle class, just forget it. get rid of it.

  • TGSnova on November 25, 2012 5:44 PM:

    Yes, because the euphemisms of "pro-choice", "women's health care" and "reproductive healthcare" that, in reality mean "killing biologically and genetically distinct members of the human race" isn't at all creepy. Reprehensible thinking.

  • hhill51 on November 25, 2012 5:49 PM:

    I think you missed a big part of their "free markets" hypocrisy -- limited liability, with unlimited profit potential.

    Examples include tort reform (when a truly free market would allow private industry to take unlimited loss for liability when they misbehave), pollution spread to everyone downstream or downwind, and, of course, Too Big To Fail in the financial markets.

  • Harvey Bernstein on November 25, 2012 5:49 PM:

    It crosses over to weasel laws where they do get power. All of the abortion laws designed to hassle.

    Waiting periods; some with unnecessary, costly exams
    Clinic requirements despite any evidence of dangerous conditions
    Physician attending privileges when it is clear that the privileges will be impossible to obtain
    Protection of phony 'crisis centers' - sometimes mandating a consult at one
    Notification laws - can sometimes be justified, but can be easily abused
    Laws prohibiting sex selection - not the best idea, but ultimately the choice of the woman.

    Any of the above could be a legitimate concern, but it is clear that the goal is simply to make a woman miserable or inhibit a poor or defenseless woman.

  • Kent Crawford on November 25, 2012 6:00 PM:

    I was frankly embarrassed to read this article and the comments, all from the Liberal/Progressive wing. The total represents such a thorough demonstration of ignorance that I am amazed anyone could take it seriously, and depressed that so many do.

    For example, "States Rights = racism." That is not true now nor was it ever true. You all need to study the Constitutional question that led to the Civil War.

    The Founding Fathers designed a small federal government [Enumerated Powers] and underscored that with the 10th Amendment. The several States were to be free to experiment, to be the laboratories of democracy, while the central government took care of those few things it could and should do. Unfortunately, that view has been discarded by both political parties to one degree or another, and the result is a monstrosity that does nothing well at great cost.

    Richard Hofstadter was close, but still missed the point. Conservatives do not like Big, Activist Government and the society it spawned and the economic burdens and disasters it creates. That is even more true today than it was 50 years ago.

    My advise to the lot of you is to get off your pseudo-moral or amoral high horses and devote some energy to the study of history and economics, and learn something! Ask yourself why a minimum of 6.3 million young people [18 to 34] have given up on this country and left. This is a 'brain drain' that bodes ill for the future. And this is not to mention the millions of more senior citizens who have done the same. Do you think the vilified 1% cannot take their money and leave? Ask yourself why?

  • Anonymous on November 25, 2012 6:20 PM:

    If there were ever a case of the pot calling the kettle black, it was statists claiming that advocates of limited government use euphemistic double speak. To find out the actual effect of any government initiative, just reverse the name:

    "Patriot Act"="Craven Relinquishing of Rights Founders Fought for for Illusion of Safety Act,"

    "War on Drugs," "War on Terror," "War on Poverty"=drugs, terror (both the emotion and the tactic), and poverty win. a.k.a. the "Permanent Employment for Drug Enforcers, Prison Guards, Military Industrial Complex, and Social Workers Acts"

    "Affordable Care Act"=Ensuring Cost of Insurance will Skyrocket and Care will be Rationed Act"

    "Republicans want to take away your birth control"="Republicans are against forcing your company to compensate you with a particular type of health insurance that is government mandated to cover birth control, even if you are a man, infertile, celibate, etc."

    "'Asking' the rich to pay their fair share to help save 'the economy'"=demanding the people who would be investing most of their income in ways that grow the economy and make everyone better off, and who already shoulder the majority of the tax burden instead flush more resources down the ever widening toilet of destructive government programs and political payoffs to campaign contributors like the above-described."

    And so on and so on.

    Compare this to
    "Free markets"=markets where people are free to transact in any way they voluntarily choose

    "Right to work"=laws preventing use of government compulsion in negotiations between employer and employee=anyone who wants to work has the right to work on whatever terms he and his employer find amenable.

    Now, I'm not saying people on the right NEVER engage in rhetorical subterfuge and double-speak, but the problem is much, much worse with the so-called Progressives, who, as the article even states, believe the ends justify the means.

  • Col Bat Guano on November 25, 2012 6:29 PM:

    Good to see all the RCP trolls show up and embarrass themselves.

  • Rick on November 25, 2012 6:44 PM:

    There is a difference between fiscal and social conservativism, a fact which seems to have escaped the author completely. I, like many so-called "conservatives," am very much socially liberal. I do not want the government telling me or anyone else who I can marry or whether a woman must carry an embryo to term.

    Fiscal conservativism, on the other hand, is simply acknowledgement of reality. Of course it would be nice if the government could pay for everything for everyone and eliminate all pain and suffering for every person on the planet. But, doing such things costs money, which is finite. Our national government cannot afford our entitlement society. Europe is proving that every day. Britain is going to make people Skype to interact with a doctor, for crying out loud, to save costs.

    The federal government really ony has a duty to protect it's citizens from external dangers, be they natural disasters or foreign powers. It is unfortunate that so-many "wingnuts" (as the author so eloquently describes them) have co-opted the Republican party with their social conservativism. Because the social conservativism is costing Republicans elections, and we need fiscal sanity to preserve our nation.

  • John Carlson on November 25, 2012 6:46 PM:

    C'mon, this stuff is what you'd expect from an ideologically driven college freshman, not a writer for Washington Monthly. To reduce "State's Rights" i.e. federalism and the 10th Amendment, to nothing more than "racism" is both shallow and 45 years out of date. The language of politics is a fascinating topic. It deserves far more intellectually responsible analysis than this.

  • Tercel on November 25, 2012 6:53 PM:

    Small government: services better, more efficiently and more compassionately performed by the private sector, individuals and charities. Not performed by unfeeling, uncaring bureaucrats paid for their services at a job they hate but offered by those who feel an obligation to their fellow man out of compassion.

    Right to Life: all humanity has a God given right to life and respect from the smallest to the elderly and the infirmed. No man has the right to "choose" who lives and who dies. A government's right to punish the guilty is another debate.

    State's Rights: Did Colorado and Oregon have the "state right" to choose to legalize pot against federal law? Was that racist? Each American has the right to vote with their feet. The United States is just that: a republic made up of individual states. If you are liberal and want to live in a state that provides cradle to grave social services then you should vote with your feet and move to one. You pay the taxes and live with Big Brother making rules for your every action. But those that wish to be more self-reliant including taking care of their own family and community should be allowed to do so. As long as the state law is not EXPRESSLY unconstitutional it's citizens should be allowed to live under the laws it passes. If you don't like them, move!

    Family Values: this is an individual term and an argument can be made as to what is best for the betterment of society. The social sciences have conducted studies that prove that ideally children are better off in a two parent home with their biological parents. Studies have also shown that if you finish high school, get married and have children, in that order you have a better than 90% chance of avoiding poverty. This is the ideal and people do many selfish, self-destructive things. See States Rights as to where you choose to live and what kind of outcome you wish to pursue.

    Judicial Restraint: we elect politicians to make laws to govern us based on our wishes within the confines of the Costitution. Judges are unelected men/women given to presiding their will/whimsy over others if not limited by judicial restraint.

    Free Markets/Right to Work: No one in America is a slave. Free markets are proven to be the most efficient use of capital both human and financial to provide the most affluent society in history. Note any Communist/Socialist country with any Capitalist country. The level of the living conditions of the poor is undeniably better in Capitalist nations. The poor in America vs the poor in China. The prospect of moving up in America vs the prospect of improving your status in the Middle East (except Israel...perfect example).

    Religious Freedom: guaranteed by the Costitution. It is freedom OF religion not freedom FROM religion. No one is requiring anyone to believe anything they do not wish to but that does not give you the right to deny me the public practice of my religion even if it offends you.

    Liberals claim to be "non-judgemental" and open minded to everyone as long as you adhere to their views. Get out and actually meet some conservatives instead of making up straw men to hate.

  • Dave Thomas on November 25, 2012 6:53 PM:

    The bottom line is when will liberal Democratic policies reduce unemployment and promote meaningful economic growth?

    Unemployment under President Obama has never fallen below 7.8% in four years.

    The economy is completely recovered from the recession though. Q3 2012 surpassed Q4 2007 (the pre-Recession peak.)

    Yet the output of Q3 2012 was accomplished with 3.75 million FEWER workers than Q4 2007.

    A "truth" not addressed in this piece- raising the price of labor reduces the number employed.

    Attempts to force companies to keep too many workers has another undesirable consequence, bankruptcy like Hostess.
    Requiring minimum numbers of workers, or workers of a selected pay rate to perform tasks, or goods being hauled on a particular companies trucks lead to bankruptcy just like feather-bedding at GM did.

    Not liberals can call me a troll or whatever they want, but the fact remains.

    When will liberal Democratic policies reduce unemployment and promote meaningful economic growth?

    This has always been the Achilles' Heel of liberal policies. They do not produce growth and reduce employment.

    We tried the liberal combination of tax and spend under FDR in the Great Depression and unemployment never fell below 14% from 1933-1939.
    LBJ tried it with his Great Society policies that created the Stagflation decade of the 1970's.
    Obama spend $4 1/2 trillion more than we brought in during his first term yet didn't reduce unemployment below what it was on January 20, 2009, and didn't get economic growth above 2.5% in any year.

    In 2008, Americans voted for change. In 2010, they voted against the kind of change they received. In 2012, they voted to give Obama a second chance. The 2014 election will be another disaster for liberals if their rhetoric doesn't produce results.

    In eight years under George W. Bush unemployment averaged 5.25%. In eight years under Bill Clinton unemployment averaged 5.25%.

    President Obama and the liberals better produce a lot of jobs in the next two years if they want to avoid a political catastrophe.

  • Patrick on November 25, 2012 7:00 PM:

    “States’ rights” = Racism. Period. Though I guess these days it could also mean homophobia."

    I think you need to revisit this one. It is ignorant, evil and such a gross stereotype it makes you sound like a carping toothless partisan in what was otherwise a good article. You really want a federal government so big and bloated the states have no rights? This race charge is really lazy, untrue and wrong. Stop it!

  • MuddyLee on November 25, 2012 7:23 PM:

    I see some of "y'all" don't know any Southern conservatives who like to talk about states rights. If you did, you would realize how much racism there is among the Southern conservatives. I see it and hear it all the time, and most of it is NOT subtle. Put the taxes back to where they were when Clinton left office and start putting white collar criminals in jail. If you're anti abortion, you need to be pro contraceptives. And let's take a look at how Canada and Australia provide for health insurance - hint - it'll mean taking the PUBLIC interest just as seriously as letting the rich get richer.

  • Oh my on November 25, 2012 8:06 PM:

    The stupidity on display provided by our dear friends over at RCP is why I stopped voting Republican eight years ago. That's now quite right, actually Bush's abject stupidity is why I stopped voting Republican. The mindless cheerleading of these types, however, as Bush blundered into one catastrophe after another is why I have grown ever so tired of talking to the proverbial "kitchen table" that is the mind of 21st century conservative. Fiscal conservatives, bah. I'm fiscally conservative. I count a $trillion plus war based on bad intel to be a pretty big fuck up. We got NOTHING for it. No WMDs. No Al-Qaeda. No nothing but a no-bid contract tax dollar sucking way to lose 4,000 plus American lives. We were on track to be debt free by 2012, but paying our bills was considered an atrocity that needed fixing by two huge tax cuts that disproportionately favored the wealthiest among us. No serious spending was cut during this period, rather overall spending was greatly accelerated. I was told worrying about the ballooning deficit was anti-patriotic. The list of head scratching financial incompetence is just too long to recount, but on the grounds of fiscal conservatism alone, I'll happily never vote Republican again. Bush 2000 was the last 'R' I'll ever punch.

    Ms. Geier has shone a light on 21st century conservative bullshit, and witnessing the cockroaches scurry is proof enough for me that her arrow is very close to the mark.

  • thebewilderness on November 25, 2012 8:15 PM:

    Pro abortion people bring up rape and incest because they are the most egregious examples of forced pregnancy. No woman should ever be forced to bring a pregnancy to term against her will. No woman! Ever!
    We are not human resource production units. We are human beings.

  • Conrad Baylor on November 25, 2012 9:01 PM:

    �States� rights� = Racism. Period. Though I guess these days it could also mean homophobia.

    When was the last time you heard any public official or candidate for public office talk about "states' rights"?

    This is just one example of how the author jerry-rigs her "case" against conservatism.

    Conservatives advocate the principle of federalism. You'll search long and hard to find anyone equating federalism with "states' rights." Federalism, by the way, has a respectable pedigree dating back to the Federalist Papers.