Friday, February 03, 2012

And What Happened Next? The Komen Tale Continues

As this Salon article shows, the Susan G. Komen Foundation is a babe-in-the-woods when it comes to the power of the social media.

I think the top officers lived in a tiny forced-birth bubble and were quite unprepared for the thousands of messages from quite ordinary people of all sorts who actually care about poor women's access to breast cancer screening.

So the Komen Foundation had to backtrack a bit. Do NOT take this as a complete surrender. Note the slippery language:
Komen for the Cure just released the following statement from Nancy Brinker and the Susan G. Komen Board of Directors:
We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives.
The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.
Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.
Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer. Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process. We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.
It is our hope and we believe it is time for everyone involved to pause, slow down and reflect on how grants can most effectively and directly be administered without controversies that hurt the cause of women. We urge everyone who has participated in this conversation across the country over the last few days to help us move past this issue. We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics - anyone's politics.
Starting this afternoon, we will have calls with our network and key supporters to refocus our attention on our mission and get back to doing our work. We ask for the public's understanding and patience as we gather our Komen affiliates from around the country to determine how to move forward in the best interests of the women and people we serve.
We extend our deepest thanks for the outpouring of support we have received from so many in the past few days and we sincerely hope that these changes will be welcomed by those who have expressed their concern.
Bolds are mine. See here for more discussion on the slipperiest bits.

Despite all this, this is a victory for those who want all women to get access to breast checkups, and we should not short-sell ourselves. What really matters should not be forgotten. The Komen people did.

Finally, think how little the money is that was at stake here. The totality of the Planned Parenthood grants on a national level is not even twice the compensation Nancy Brinker gets from running the Foundation! And even with that puny sum much could be done. Now imagine if we could install more mammography machines in the poorer areas! How about that, Komen people?

Nancy Griffith

Thursday, February 02, 2012

How Awkward...

Now this is interesting:
The Susan G. Komen Foundation, which recently announced that it is ending grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening because of a controversial investigation launched by an anti-abortion Republican congressman, currently funds cancer research at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center to the tune of $7.5 million. Like Planned Parenthood, Penn State is currently the subject of a federal government investigation, and like the Planned Parenthood grant, the Penn State grant appears to violate a new internal rule at Komen that bans grants to organizations that are under investigation by federal, state, or local governments. But so far, only the Planned Parenthood grants appear to have been cancelled.
And so very awkward for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Having Forced-Birth Values Increases The Risk of Prostate Cancer in Men!

That's absolutely and totally true, my friends. I can prove it easily. Just call lots of men, ask them about their abortion views and then about whether they have prostate cancer or not, and I'm willing to bet you anything that you find a positive correlation between being opposed to abortion and having prostate cancer. This obviously means that forced-birth views cause prostate cancer. QED.

Except, of course, for that little problem which is that both anti-abortion views and prostate cancer increase with age. Drat.

But such considerations as bad study design never hold people back when it comes to women's cooties and other issues of no interest to anyone else but women. The august Washington Post decided to use the Susan G. Komen case to bring back the idea that abortions cause breast cancer in women. The piece concludes, after admitting that the "research is spotty (hah! blood in the panties)":
But the bulk of evidence appears to argue against abortion’s causing breast cancer. That’s according to the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, which offer overviews of existing research and conclusions scientists have come to after examining those studies. While research suggests a slight increased risk of breast cancer among women currently using oral contraceptives, that’s not the case with abortion and breast cancer risk. As the American Cancer Society’s Web site concludes: “Linking these 2 topics creates a great deal of emotion and debate. But scientific research studies have not found a cause-and-effect relationship between abortion and breast cancer.”
Komen’s decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood will certainly revive this debate.

Err. You just revived the debate, you idiot. I should have realized when the Washington Post published an utterly misogynist opinion piece of crap about the inanity of all women that it's not a newspaper that exactly cares about being objective on the topic of women (half of humanity and all that). I'm going to start attacking them from now on, by the way, because enough is enough.

Let's explain to that WaPo writer why all proper studies have failed to establish any kind of correlation between abortion and breast cancer. It's not terribly hard to do, and Googling can help you. Honest.

For instance, it's important to understand that retrospective surveys have serious problems in this context. "Retrospective" means that you look at the data at a point in time when at least some women already have developed breast cancer, and then you ask the women whether they ever had had abortions (including spontaneous abortions) or not in the past.

The bias that is introduced by this method goes like this: First, women in general under-report abortions because of societal disapproval. But second, those women who have breast cancer are less likely to under-report abortions. This is because it is human to try to explore one's past for possible reasons for the cancer, to repent all sorts of stuff and so on. These two things combined can create a spurious (false) correlation between breast cancer, and various types of abortions.

It's not difficult to see how an ideal study of this question should be performed. It needs to be prospective, meaning that the data on abortions is entered when they take place, not at the later time when breast cancers are diagnosed. And it should not be based on the memory and responses of the women themselves but actual medical records.

And you know what? Those ideal studies do exist! Here's what they have found:
Results from major prospective studies
The largest, and probably the most reliable, study on this topic was done during the 1990s in Denmark, a country with very detailed medical records on all its citizens. In this study, all Danish women born between 1935 and 1978 (a total of 1.5 million women) were linked with the National Registry of Induced Abortions and with the Danish Cancer Registry. All of the information about their abortions and their breast cancer came from registries – it was very complete and was not influenced by recall bias.
After adjusting for known breast cancer risk factors, the researchers found that induced abortion(s) had no overall effect on the risk of breast cancer. The size of this study and the manner in which it was done provide good evidence that induced abortion does not affect a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.
Another large, prospective study was reported on by Harvard researchers in 2007. This study included more than 100,000 women who were between the ages of 29 and 46 at the start of the study in 1993. These women were followed until 2003.
Again, because they were asked about childbirths and abortions at the start of the study, recall bias was unlikely to be a problem. After adjusting for known breast cancer risk factors, the researchers found no link between either spontaneous or induced abortions and breast cancer.
The California Teachers Study also reported on more than 100,000 women in 2008. Researchers asked the women in 1995 about past induced and spontaneous abortions. While the women were being followed in the study, more than 3,300 developed invasive breast cancer. There was no difference in breast cancer risk between the group who had either spontaneous or induced abortions and those who had not had an abortion.

So how about that revival of a discredited hypothesis, Washington Post?

The Danish study, in particular, is as good as a study of this kind can be. All the data came from medical records and everyone knows that the Danes keep excellent records. It also looked at the one question forced-birthers are focused on which is induced abortions.

What is the theory the forced-birthers have in mind when they keep arguing that abortions cause later breast cancer? Probably a theory of divine retribution. The sluts are punished for their sluttery.

But the actual medical hypothesis is something quite different, and would apply equally to all women who have never had children and all women who have had miscarriages. That hypothesis is about the possible protective role that pregnancies before a certain age might have against later breast cancer, and it asks questions about how, exactly, being pregnant might convey such protections.

But those protections are not dependent on just one single pregnancy. Note that women who have had abortions or miscarriages are very likely to also have had completed pregnancies, with all those benefits. After all, many women who have abortions have already had children. Thus, what the hypothesis is really about is the possibility that a woman who has an abortion, whether induced or spontaneous, and no more children during that beneficial time window might have the same higher average risk of breast cancer as women who have no children.

Makes you see the whole thing a bit differently, right?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure. For Some, Not For All.

You probably already heard that Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the largest breast-cancer charity in the country, has decided to defund Planned Parenthood:
According to the AP, the move will mean “a cutoff of hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, mainly for breast exams.”Planned Parenthood confirms that Komen is the first, and only, organization to cut off funding since the Congress began debating the issue in earnest last winter.

Komen said it could not continue to fund Planned Parenthood because it has adopted new guidelines that bar it from funding organizations under congressional investigation. The House oversight and investigations subcommittee announced in the fall an investigation into Planned Parenthood’s funding.
The linked source suggests that Kamen folded under Republican hammering about abortion and Planned Parenthood and so on. And perhaps that is the case.

On the other hand, one of the top officers at Susan G. Komen for the Cure is Karen Handel, the senior vice-president of public policy. She is known for her forced-birth views. When she unsuccessfully ran in the Republican primaries for the governorship of Georgia she wrote this on her campaign site:
I believe that each and every unborn child has inherent dignity, that every abortion is a tragedy, and that government has a role, along with the faith community, in encouraging women to choose life in even the most difficult of circumstances. And while I will not seek to prohibit abortions in the extremely rare cases of rape, incest, or where there is a real threat to the life of the mother, I will do everything in my power to encourage and promote alternatives to abortion in these tragic situations. In this respect, I strongly support the noble work of crisis-pregnancy centers across the state and those who compassionately and lovingly counsel women on a daily basis.  Finally, I oppose embryonic stem cell research, which creates life solely for the purpose of destroying it. I do, however, strongly support adult stem cell research, which has produced numerous scientific achievements without terminating innocent lives in the process.
My opponents have recently recycled old attacks against me concerning Fulton County’s funding of some programs through Planned Parenthood.  They are doing so without providing any context and continue to omit several key and important facts.  First, let me be clear, since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood. During my time as Chairman of Fulton County, there were federal and state pass-through grants that were awarded to Planned Parenthood for breast and cervical cancer screening, as well as a “Healthy Babies Initiative.”  The grant was authorized, regulated, administered and distributed through the State of Georgia.  Because of the criteria, regulations and parameters of the grant, Planned Parenthood was the only eligible vendor approved to meet the state criteria. Additionally, none of the services in any way involved abortions or abortion-related services.  In fact, state and federal law prohibits the use of taxpayer funds for abortions or abortion related services and I strongly support those laws.  Since grants like these are from the state I’ll eliminate them as your next Governor.

Bolds are mine.

Planned Parenthood is an important source of reproductive health care checkups for lower-income women, including breast examinations. Does Komen have an alternative plan to make sure that the necessary screening services that would be cut by this defunding are still available in those communities? I wonder.

Echoes of Egypt?

If this is true it brings to mind the virginity tests carried out on Egyptian demonstrators:
The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (NLGSF) condemns Oakland Police (OPD) and Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) violence, mass arrests and abuses against Occupy demonstrators at Saturday’s demonstration. Police violently attacked activists with chemical weapons, so called Less-Lethal munitions, and physical assaults. Hundreds were arrested unlawfully, without opportunity to disperse, and then detained for many hours on the street and then in buses, in stress positions, and without bathrooms, food or water. Once in jail, protesters faced inhumanely crowded conditions, abusive treatment and were denied access to legal counsel. Many remain unaccounted for, though certainly arrested and awaiting booking two days after being detained.


Once in Alameda County custody, the arrestees have been held for a prolonged period under horrendous conditions, often remaining overnight in holding areas with no beds or blankets. Some arrestees were apparently held in a shower room. NLGSF has received many reports of injured persons being denied medical care and arrestees denied access to necessary medications. Women arrestees were forced
to give urine samples in front of male officers, ostensibly for pregnancy testing.
Bolds mine.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

David Brooks Loves Charles Murray. A Marriage Made in Hell

Do you remember Charles Murray? One of the authors of the infamous Bell Curve book about the presumed lower intelligence of blacks? The man who has argued that a) blacks, b) Latinos and c) all women are intellectually inferior creatures. The man who has argued that poverty cannot be helped by anything the government could do, because that breeds indolence and poor work habits and in any case poverty is caused by the innate stupidity and bad work ethics of the poor.

Guess what. Murray has written yet another book, and this time even white guys can join the rest of us in Murray's humongous group of cretins. But only if they are not rich. The book, titled Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 was reviewed by Joan Walsh. She concludes:
At bottom, Murray’s old genetic fatalism undoes him in “Coming Apart.” Clearly the new lower class can’t be helped by government programs, but Murray doesn’t seem to think they can climb into the upper class by hard work and self-discipline either. Ultimately, he believes the sorting and separation of the classes is inevitable, given the cognitive intelligence differences between them. And here we’re back to IQ again.
Walsh's review is good. But it doesn't go deep enough. To review the final product of someone like Charles Murray (who has shown himself biased in the past) you can't simply assume that his data is good and reliable. Instead, you have to go and poke around in the garbage dumps where he might have found his data, and whatever you find must be taken home in plastic bags and subjected to careful forensic scrutiny. Then you have to go out again to acquire all the data he will have excluded, on purpose.

That's the job for someone in a hazmat suit and a couple of decades of time.

All this is background to explain to you why my holy inner rage flared like a volcano this morning when I read the introductory sentence in David Brooks' column "The Great Divorce":
I’ll be shocked if there’s another book this year as important as Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart.” I’ll be shocked if there’s another book that so compellingly describes the most important trends in American society.
Murray’s basic argument is not new, that America is dividing into a two-caste society. What’s impressive is the incredible data he produces to illustrate that trend and deepen our understanding of it.
And Hitler was the up-and-coming world leader of the 1930s, too. I keep being reminded of this quip about David Brooks:
When you want a truly vile opinion dressed up to sound innocuous, Brooks is your guy.
Indeed. My righteous anger left me stuck there, in those first few sentences. For the whole day.

Charles Pierce has a funny review of the rest of Brooks' ramblings. Brooks carries out the usual high-school class level analysis of what he calls the two tribes of America in Murray's book: The industrious rich people with 1950s values and the poor fat slobs who spend their days watching television and having children out of wedlock:
Murray’s story contradicts the ideologies of both parties. Republicans claim that America is threatened by a decadent cultural elite that corrupts regular Americans, who love God, country and traditional values. That story is false. The cultural elites live more conservative, traditionalist lives than the cultural masses.
Democrats claim America is threatened by the financial elite, who hog society’s resources. But that’s a distraction. The real social gap is between the top 20 percent and the lower 30 percent. The liberal members of the upper tribe latch onto this top 1 percent narrative because it excuses them from the central role they themselves are playing in driving inequality and unfairness.
It’s wrong to describe an America in which the salt of the earth common people are preyed upon by this or that nefarious elite. It’s wrong to tell the familiar underdog morality tale in which the problems of the masses are caused by the elites.
The truth is, members of the upper tribe have made themselves phenomenally productive. They may mimic bohemian manners, but they have returned to 1950s traditionalist values and practices. They have low divorce rates, arduous work ethics and strict codes to regulate their kids.
Strict codes to regulate their kids? Whooah. And 1950s traditionalist values and practices? A housewife in every kitchen? Racist and sexist beliefs? McCarthyist fear of the communists? Is that really the way Brooks sees the top 20% of American earners (assuming that this is what the upper tribe might be based on)? Pierce responds:
(Mmm, word salad. "Postmodern neighborhoods"? Do you know what some of those elites "worked arduously" at in the first decade of the 21st century? Devising complicated financial instruments by which they could steal most of the money from the rest of the country and get away with it. They haven't "returned to 1950's traditionalist values and practices." Too many of their wives are working and taking the pill, which is covered by the gold-plated health-care plans The Firm offers to its most valued employees. I'd like to see data on how well they're "regulating" their kids, too, and find another verb, fool. Kids are not water heaters. David Brooks is impressed that Charles Murray, career hack, has found some white people he can treat like black people, and just in time, too. The country was beginning to notice that some of the fundamental economic unfairness built into the society, largely through policies that people like David Brooks supported. Save me, Racist Data Man!)
In Brooks' world values are odd things. The ones he likes he attributes to the 1950s conservative era. The ones he doesn't like he attributes to the 1960s hippies. Given that divorce rates are the lowest in places such as Massachusetts, the Sodom and Gomorrah of conservative imagination, I resent that false linkage. But what do you expect from the go-to-guy when vileness needs to be garbed in innocence?

The overall topic is well worth discussing. But Murray has pretty much poisoned the well, given his basic approach. What we really need is a good and objective survey of the statistical data and a concerted effort by many researchers to explain the various theories for what we observe. But the role of rising income inequality, the role of outsourcing, the role of dying factory towns, the role of poor schools, the role of cutbacks in the government safety nets, the death of good unionized jobs and the role of the flaws in the traditional patriarchal marriage certainly should enter the conversation.

Brooks wants to keep all that outside the door, to mute what the media sells us (soaps, scandals, sex and serial killers), to ignore the fundamental role of Americans as consumers for the products of global firms. He pretends that values are something fairy godmothers (well, probably fairy godfathers) offer people and all the people need to do is to pick the right ones! Then you, too, can be rich though you won't enjoy it very much, given Brooks' description of those austere and rigid church-goers who adamantly regulate their children.

I have not read Murray's book yet, so I cannot tell what kind of data mining he has carried out. But I do note a selective flavor in Brooks' quote, this one:
His story starts in 1963. There was a gap between rich and poor then, but it wasn’t that big. A house in an upper-crust suburb cost only twice as much as the average new American home. The tippy-top luxury car, the Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz, cost about $47,000 in 2010 dollars. That’s pricy, but nowhere near the price of the top luxury cars today.
More important, the income gaps did not lead to big behavior gaps. Roughly 98 percent of men between the ages of 30 and 49 were in the labor force, upper class and lower class alike.
That reference to the income inequality is the extent of Brooks' nod to the economic realities. He quickly moves on to everyone in 1963 having egggzactly the same values! Men were out there working very hard. Women are not mentioned because they are supposed to be in the kitchen, for the benefit of the country.

But what really drew my attention was that reference to the labor market participation rate of men between 30 and 49. If you want to find out the group of men with the highest participation rate you would zone in on that age group, sure. So picking that number is intended to provide a high estimate of the great work ethics of men in those days.

But note that we are not told what the corresponding percentage would be today. Neither are we told that economic opportunities have changed, some for the better (such as more men and women perhaps studying rather than working, even in this age group) and some for the worse (manual and many service jobs leaving the country) and that there are now families where the man might be a stay-at-home dad while his wife works full time. We are simply given that one number as a sign of how horribly everything has changed.

I must hand it to these guys. Their task is to make us look away from the ever increasing income inequality of this country which is happily turning into a banana republic, and they are so good at that! Here I sit actually arguing with David Brooks! As if arguing with word salad makes any sense. Just stick a fork in it already.

What Murray really says is that the poor are at fault because they are stupid, fat, lazy and without sexual morals. The rich deserve their wealth because they are smart, slim, monogamous and rigid parents. Brooks chimes in about the proper guilt liberals and progressives should feel about this, presumably because they advocate sloth and obesity and group sex, and about the crucial role of the 1960s hippies. Those are the groups which really caused the obesity epidemic, the increasing income inequality and the high divorce or non-marriage rates of the less wealthy Americans. Probably the global climate change, too.

That's miraculously inane.
Added later after some calming down: The basic problem in most of Brooks' pseudo-sociological and pseudo-psychological theories can be clarified with this particular example: If poorer people have different values, hobbies or interests then Brooks assumes (without even mentioning that it's an assumption) that it is those values, hobbies and interests which are the cause of poverty. That a somewhat more likely explanation goes in the other direction, from poverty to particular lifestyles, hobbies and interests, is completely ignored. The true explanation is most likely even more complicated, given the vicious cycle aspect of poverty.

Jeanette Winterson v. Henry Miller (by Suzie)

You must read Jeanette Winterson reviewing a new biography of Henry Miller by Frederick Turner in the NYT.
Miller was obsessed with masculinity but felt no need to support himself or the women in his life. Turner sympathizes with the Miller who must sell his well-cut suits on the streets of Paris for a fraction of their worth, but is apparently indifferent to the fact that [his wife] June was selling her body on his ­behalf. ...

It never occurred to him that no matter how poor a man is, he can always buy a poorer woman for sex. It does not occur to Turner either, who calls Miller throughout a “sexual adventurer.” This sounds randy and swashbuckling and hides the economic reality of prostitution. Miller the renegade wanted his body slaves like any other capitalist — and as cheaply as possible. When he could not pay, Miller the man and Miller the fictional creation worked out how to cheat women with romance. What they could not buy they stole. No connection is made between woman as commodity and the ­“slaughterhouse” of capitalism that Mil­ler hates.
Winterson ends with this:
The question is not art versus pornography or sexuality versus censorship or any question about achievement. The question is: Why do men revel in the degradation of women?
Her biography, "Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?", comes out in March.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Contraception Wars. Preliminary Negotiations by E. J. Dionne

E.J. Dionne at the Washington Post ended up in a pretzel shape trying to explain why Obama wasn't sufficiently fawning towards the US Catholic bishops* in the contraception wars:
One of Barack Obama’s great attractions as a presidential candidate was his sensitivity to the feelings and intellectual concerns of religious believers. That is why it is so remarkable that he utterly botched the admittedly difficult question of how contraceptive services should be treated under the new health care law.
His administration mishandled this decision not once but twice. In the process, Obama threw his progressive Catholic allies under the bus and strengthened the hand of those inside the Church who had originally sought to derail the health care law.


As a general matter, it made perfect sense to cover contraception. Many see doing so as protecting women’s rights, and expanded contraception coverage will likely reduce the number of abortions. While the Catholic Church formally opposes contraception, this teaching is widely ignored by the faithful. One does not see many Catholic families of six or 10 or twelve that were quite common in the 1950s. Contraception might have something to do with this.


And it was offered a compromise idea to do just that by Melissa Rogers, the former chair of Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. (Rogers and I have worked together on religion and public life issues over the years, though I played no role in formulating her proposal.) In The Washington Post’s “On Faith” forum in October, she pointed to a Hawaii law under which “religious employers that decline to cover contraceptives must provide written notification to enrollees disclosing that fact and describing alternate ways for enrollees to access coverage for contraceptive services.” The Hawaii law effectively required insurers to allow uncovered individuals to secure this coverage on their own at modest cost.

As I've written before, the bishops' stance is not logical. They want the religious right not to offer contraception to any worker at a Catholic institution, whether that person is a Catholic herself or not. A more logical argument for them to make would be that no Catholic person should be provided such insurance, wherever she happens to be working. I'm not advocating that point of view, just stating it as the more logical interpretation of the demands of the Roman Catholic church.

But what would that "modest cost" of the contraceptive pill be, the arrangement Dionne appears to favor? How much would the women working for Catholic universities and hospitals have to pay out of pocket? Who would subsidize that cost?
What does this mean? Let's break it down another way. Technically, the poverty line in the US for a four person family is $22,350. That's $1,862.50/month. Nearly half of the women previously mentioned in the "sexually active, but not interested in having children" bucket fall below that poverty line. Having an infrastructure that forces a woman to pay up to $50/month for contraception in that budget is a huge burden on families.
I doubt anyone would subsidize the cost of contraceptives for the workers whose choices would be determined by the US Catholic bishops. They'd be on their own and would have to pay more for their contraceptives than others, simply because of the religious identity of their employer.
For some odd reason that term in my mind is now inextricably linked with all those Monty Python "Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition" skits. Probably because these guys suddenly appear from nowhere and appear to take over the political process.

The Return of Feudalism

Digby shows us an interesting graph about income inequality in selected countries in 1980 and 2008. The income shown omits capital gains but otherwise reflects the income share of the top 1% of all earners:

The conclusion is pretty obvious: The United States leads the race towards a banana republic. Or perhaps the return to a feudal society, given that upward class mobility in this country is weaker than in those socialist old-Europe countries.

Is this a fair development? According to Fox News, it is! Quelle surprise as the French surrender monkeys would say:
Fox Blasted Obama's Speech On Inequality By Accusing Him Of "Class Warfare." Fox News figures responded to Obama's December 6, 2011, speech on inequality in American by accusing him of engaging in class warfare. [Media Matters, 12/6/11]CARLSON: I think, so when the president says "fair share" there's a couple points here, and earlier last hour I said maybe there should be a disclaimer underneath, which is the reason that we're putting up this graphic for you. Because if in fact you're paying tax on ordinary income, and you're in the highest tax bracket, then you're paying 30-some percent. But then if you take that money that you've already paid taxes on, and you go and invest and you make a profit, a long-term profit, more than a year of investment, then you pay another 15% on top of that. And by the way, with the "fair share" argument, 47% of Americans don't pay federal income tax.
KILMEADE: That didn't get into the State of the Union.
CARLSON: But that didn't get into it, but that is also part of the fair share. So if we are going to be fair to everyone, should those people then starting paying at least something?
DOOCY: Kick in a buck, kick in something!
KILMEADE: And in many cases some are getting refunds on money they haven't earned, They go beyond the money they earned for the year come April, so that's where a lot of that tax money's going. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/25/12]

America: Love It Or Leave It

That's what hippies used to be told. Or so I have been told. It was fun to see the same argument used now:
Speaking to a Lincoln Day Dinner in West Palm Beach for the Palm Beach County GOP, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla) fired off a humdinger of a line that within minutes drew recriminations from Democrats on Twitter.
"We need to let President Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, (audience boos) and my dear friend the chairman of the Democrat National Committee, we need to let them know that Florida ain't on the table," West said. "Take your message of equality of achievement, take your message of economic dependency, take your message of enslaving the entrepreneurial will and spirit of the American people somewhere else. You can take it to Europe, you can take it to the bottom of the sea, you can take it to the North Pole, but get the hell out of the United States of America."
Contrast this to the often-heard false equation politicians make between the government and the family. We must all tighten our belts! We must decide if granny gets her heart fixed or if the children get dental care! Just like a real family.

That parable doesn't work. Families can't print money and don't have private military forces. Families don't have the same tasks and functions as governments do, and arguing that governments should tighten their belts in a recession simply makes the recession much worse.

But still. If the United States is seen as a family, then surely it is a most dysfunctional one when a politician suggests that some members of the family should just get the hell out of here.

This is a trivial post. But it's a nice way to show the two common angles in political debates: The "Murkan People All Want The Same Thing" angle and the "Kill The Opposition" angle. Neither is very adult.