That’s ‘Conservative’?

Texas Eagle Forum, a chapter of the national far-right organization founded by Phyllis Schlafly, has released its “Legislative Scorecards” for the recent legislative session in Austin. TEF’s scorecards rate the conservativism of state lawmakers based on their votes on selected issues. Most of the issue areas are standard right-wing stuff, such as allowing concealed handguns on college campuses (failed), requiring a woman to submit to an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion (failed), enacting restrictive voter ID requirements (failed), and opposing the expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (succeeded).

But we found two issues particularly interesting (although not really surprising). Labeling the issues “Judeo-Christian Beliefs on Trial,” TEF dinged any state senator who didn’t vote to confirm the nominations of Shanda G. Perkins to the Board of Pardons and Paroles and Don McLeroy as chairman of the State Board of Education.

They can’t be serious. To rate someone’s conservatism based even partly on those two votes is simply a joke.

Perkins gained notoriety in 2004 because of her alleged involvement in the arrest of a Burleson businesswoman for hosting “Passion Parties” in her home. Guests were able to buy sex toys and erotic clothing at the private parties. Perkins apparently thought that was naughty and violated a state law (later thrown out as unconstitutional), so the businesswoman and her supporters said Perkins pushed the issue on local prosecutors. (More about that here.)

Senators, however, noted that Gov. Rick Perry had simply appointed someone completely unqualified for a spot on the Parole Board (a position that comes with an annual public salary of $95,000). They said Perkins lacked a college degree and any criminal justice experience. Nearly all senators apparently agreed, with Democrats and Republicans voting  27-4 to reject her nomination.

McLeroy’s nomination for a second term as chairman of the State Board of Education was also controversial. Since his appointment as chair in July 2007, McLeroy had presided over one divisive “culture war” battle after another on issues like sanitized and politicized reading lists in language arts classes and teaching about evolution in science classes. Senators opposed to McLeroy’s nomination said they were tired of seeing him promote “culture war” battles over the education of Texas schoolchildren. Although some Republican senators privately expressed their opposition to McLeroy’s confirmation, none ultimately voted that way. Still, the nomination failed to get the required two-thirds approval.

TEF claims that the votes against Perkins and McLeroy were based on religious discrimination. “Some senators questioned her experience with Prison Fellowship Ministries,” the group’s scorecard reads. Regarding McLeroy: “Some senators found his Christian beliefs reasons to oppose his appointment.”

Those are baseless smears. Perkins was absurdly unqualified and McLeroy’s tenure as chair was a self-inflicted black eye for public education in Texas. Texas Eagle Forum thinks supporting such nominations defines someone as “conservative.” We think, on the other hand, voting against both simply defines someone as responsible.

6 thoughts on “That’s ‘Conservative’?

  1. How could this moron be against the Children’s Health Insurance Program? Oh, it’s because it covers poor kids where many happen not to be white.

    She has campaigned vigalently against womens rights. If you listen to her, women should be kept home barefoot and pregnant. No need to educate women, they aren’t going to get jobs anyway, that is a man’s responsibility.

    Women don’t need financial independence in order to escape abusive relationships and marraiges. Just pray harder that he won’t hit you or your kids again. It’s all her fault anyway that he is mad…or drunk.

    This woman is 85 years old. She is stuck in a time and culture that no longer exists. When she was a little girl in the 1920’s women had won the right to vote but many didn’t vote because they thought it was wrong and against God’s will. The conservative argument was that men were head of the family and one family means one vote.

    What a moron.

  2. Interesting article by TFN—but I need to go away for a while and do some thinking. The need to do this was prompted by several things:

    1) My wife has had a phrase that she uses, I think half in jest and half in truth, that says, “The Internet is of the devil.” I think she means that anything we touch can be used for good or evil—but the free-wheeling environment on the Internet, where you can say or do just about any wild thing you want with impunity, has crossed some sort of line where it is being used more for evil than good. It is a place where the worst side of ourselves can go “hang out” and be bad.

    2) I visited the websites of two people recently—one of which was highly critical of TFN. Apparently, she visited TFN Insider just briefly, was horrified at what she saw, and had to right a post describing it on her own blog spot. Her principal complaint was that TFN Insider posters attack “people” rather than “ideas.” She is apparently a conservative Christian and some sort of psychological therapist who dabbles in creative writing. On the other hand, her husband has a very politicizedblog that seems to be dedicated to the overthrow of the Obama administration for the moral betterment of mankind—or something like that. In my opinion, it oozes hatred for the things TFN believes in and the people who believe in those things. When not in church or working, they enjoy shooting guns for fun:

    3) I like Mr. Obama and voted for him. It’s not a political thing really. I just liked him. I still like him and believe that he has the best interests of our country at heart, and it is refreshing to see someone who is smart, well-read, articulate, and capable of working with ideas in our highest office. However, I have visited a number of conservative websites lately, and I have to report back that most of what I have seen—how did Khan say it in Star Trek II, “I hate thee with a perfect hatred.” That is the message to Mr. Obama and the people like me who like him. They do not just want this man out of office. I believe they want this man out of office and dead. The virulence operates at such an incredibly high pitch that it says, without really saying it, “Please do something now!!! Someone step in and save us!!!” Mind you, I am not talking about KKK or skinhead websites. I am talking about the conservative website or blogspot operated by the guy who lives two doors up the street from you. Nice people. Church-going people. I have never seen anything quite like this, and I am deeply concerned that the virulence is leading headlong towards an assassination. It troubles me deeply.

    4) Based on Items 1-3 above, I think we are plunging head-long into a second American Civil War. I really do—not being provocative here. Our economy is falling to pieces, the country is deeply in debt, two expensive wars go unresolved, people are incredibly angry and overwhelmed by ignorance (town hall meetings), conservative websites are seething. Liberal websites are seething back. People are talking passed each other rather than to each other. Fifty or 100 years from now, long after the civil war is over, I think historians will look back on it and blame the Internet for starting the war and feeding it day in and day out. Every can of gasoline needs a spark.

    5) The theocracy that everyone has been fearing here may be just around the corner. I say that because the civil and political discourse is playing out in precisely the way that the Christian reconstructionists said it would so as to sweep them into power. All they need is a country that is going to hell in a handbasket, storing up gun powder, and waiting for a spark—like say the killing of our first black President.

    6) Get ready to buy yourself and your family airline tickets to Brazil or New Zealand. I think the unthinkable may be headed our way, which is why I need to go off and think about all of this and my further participation at TFN Insider.

  3. Charles, I wish I had answers for you, but I’ve been anxious about how things have been sounding for a while now, and my depression isn’t much help. I do wonder why someone as intelligent as you would feel that the messenger is to blame for the hatred/misinformation/divisiveness. These games have been played by the far-right for a lot longer than we’ve had electronic communications, as I’m sure you’re aware. As far as the theocrats are concerned, this is a battle they will never give up on. Never.

    Perhaps, as I did until a month ago, you should take a break from the “battlelines”. It certainly helped my disposition, and I’m able to see things a little less morbidly, though how long that’ll last, meh.

    In any case, good luck to you.

  4. Wow, Charles, it’s both comforting and disturbing to know someone else is thinking just like me. You just articulated our thoughts so much better than I have been able to.

    I agree internet and townhall hatred is due more to unspoken racism and religious bigotry than to actual concerns about health coverage. As if nobody is concerned about loss of insurance coverage. That there are so many who are losing coverage is no longer the concern – if it ever was.

    If you think hatred of Obama is plentiful on the internet, the same applies to antisemitism. Hatred of Jews is alive and well living in America and everywhere, including the internet. All you need do is look for it, and you will find it. “Seek, and ye shall find.”

    But the problem extends beyond just hating Obama and his policies. As if that wasn’t bad enough. It extends to the way the right wing (both religious and libertarian) are terrorizing the uninformed with unfounded protests of “socialism.” I’ve had a few days’ Facebook conversation with a couple of libertarian whack-jobs. They want NO TAXES! NO GOVERNMENT REGS! The one woman says she wants FREEDOM FROM GOVERNMENT. OK, lady, then you’re going to have to accept the consequences of freedom from government. Allow me to describe just one aspect of freedom from government regulations:

    I am a cytotechnologist by profession. I screen pap smears for the early detection of cancer. Back in the good old days of NO GOVERNMENT REGULATION, employers (unscrupulous ones who were only interested in the bottom line of their balance sheets) would make cytotechnologists screen 300 paps a day. (Places of employment such as these were called “pap mills.”) I guarantee you it is impossible to screen 300 paps/day without making errors. And were there errors? Oh, you betcha!! That’s exactly why the government stepped in, setting up CLIA ’88, which prohibits cytotechs from screening more than 100 paps per 24-hour period. We cytotechnologists are just human beings. We get tired and lose concentration just like anyone else. It would be marvelous if we could screen 300 paps/day and screen them properly. But you know darn well that you cannot cut your lawn properly by cutting corners and not overlapping your rows. Imagine what would happen if we didn’t overlap our rows when scanning a slide and ALL THE ABNORMAL CELLS HAPPENED TO BE IN THAT ROW WE MISSED! And to screen 300/day means you are probably making one sweep across a slide, then signing it out. That would be like cutting your lawn by cutting just one row across it. Imagine. In cytodiagnosis, the result of missing abnormal cells is called a “false negative.” Because of YOUR miss, a woman can die.

    Granted, your company’s bean counter will LOVE 300 paps/day. Your company’s shareholders are making huge profit which makes them very happy. No doubt about it. And, because your profits are so high, you can afford the malpractice suits that will come your way. It’s just tough toenails for the people you hurt, both your client’s patients and your cytotechnologists. If your cytotechs don’t like their professional reputations being destroyed by false negatives, they can just frickin’ well leave.

    This is the kind of society libertarians want. Granted, NO GOVERNMENT REGS means high profits. Ain’t no doubt about it. But at what cost? I guess, to the woman who wants NO GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS, it will be fine – as long as it’s someone else’s pap smear that gets misdiagnosed. Not HERS!

    And, in actual fact, NO GOVERNMENT REGS does NOT necessarily guarantee more jobs as the right-wingnuts are telling you. In cytotechnology, the opposite is true. Because we are restricted to 100/day, the company must hire MORE cytotechs, not less, to maintain their baseline business.

    Furthermore, even though I don’t have kids, I am happy to pay my taxes for public schools because I DON’T WANT TO LIVE IN AN ILLITERATE SOCIETY. Or a society where only the rich can get their kids educated because they are the only ones who can afford an education for their kids since private schools will be the only ones available in the libertarian brave new world. These libertarian whack-jobs call public schools “communist.” Anything public is communism for them.

    Likewise, I’m happy to pay my taxes to keep bridges upright. I’d prefer to be taxed to repair the bridge than to have the bridge collapse underneath me. That doesn’t sound attractive to me at all but, apparently, it is to a libertarian.

    In addition to all the above (both Charles’ comments and mine), consider that secretive institution so powerful and influential yet which nobody knows about. It’s called The Family (aka The Fellowship). They are the institution behind the National Prayer Breakfast. SO many congressmen are affiliated with The Family/Fellowship that we really do have a virtual religious government. That it is secular and non-sectarian is a myth.

    As for a second civil war? The opposition isn’t restricted to states or regions. It’s scattered everywhere, through and through. Which makes matters even more dire.

    Like the oft-quoted movie line: I’m afraid. Very afraid. I’m just thankful I never had children who will suffer the consequences of the society being left to them.

  5. “But the problem extends beyond just hating Obama and his policies.”

    The bugbear is that there’s so much hate of “policies” that are either fabricated or imaginary. George Orwell should be promoted to Prophet status……