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For many years social conservatives have sought to limit reproductive rights for women and deny equal rights to sexual minorities in the name of “family values.” Now Republican legislators in Iowa want to limit divorce rights, saying that such limits are necessary to stop the daughters of divorced couples from becoming promiscuous (see Daily Kos, Huffington Post). I can easily see this latest conservative attack on sexual and marital rights catching on in other states. What will they think of next?

It’s obvious why grassroots religious conservatives support such efforts: Their religious beliefs dictate heterosexual marriage and parenting as the only valid way of life. Republican politicians and their financial backers obviously benefit from these efforts as a way of drawing religious conservatives to the polls to vote Republican. Less obvious are the potential economic incentives for rich conservatives to support the “family values” crusade. For employers and the wealthy, the “family values” crusade can help to ensure a surplus of low-paid labor through forced childbirth, limit employment choices for workers and tie workers to their jobs, cultivate a more docile and obedient workforce, and promote “family-style” mass consumption and consumerism.

Ensure a surplus of low-paid labor:

Forced childbirth helps to ensure a surplus of labor, including a reserve supply of unemployed workers, which benefits employers by keeping wages down and reducing workers’ bargaining power. With high unemployment, workers desperate for jobs will accept low pay and unsatisfying conditions just to have a job. When any job opening attracts hundreds or even thousands of applicants, employers can demand higher qualifications, discriminate against applicants on any basis they like, and offer little in the way of pay or benefits. High unemployment forces workers to take temporary and part-time jobs with no benefits or job security. The growth of unpaid “internships” that should be paid jobs attests to the fact that some workers now will even work without pay for the sake of getting their feet in the door somewhere. Discrimination against unemployed workers further pushes them to accept unpaid or low-paid jobs just to be able to say that they are “employed.” Unemployed workers can also be used as scabs in the event of a strike.

For all these reasons and more, employers and the wealthy have a vested interest in limiting women’s reproductive rights, limiting access to family-planning services, and cutting budgets for all tax-supported public services used by poor and working-class people. Any limitations on reproductive rights and access to family-planning services at the state or federal level will have little effect on the wealthy, who can simply jet-set to another state or another country or hire discreet private doctors for any reproductive needs they might have. De-funding family-planning services and cutting budgets for other tax-supported services—health care, education, welfare, etc.—also helps to cut taxes for the wealthy. Allowing employers to deny insurance coverage for birth control likewise helps them to cut costs. Employers and the wealthy have a vested interest in forcing the rest of us to have babies, cutting tax-supported public services of all kinds, and keeping working-class people at the poverty line or below, so desperate for a job that they will accept anything.

Limit employment choices and tie workers to their jobs, cultivate a more docile and obedient workforce:

For those so inclined, being married with children can be wonderful, and I don’t wish to disparage that way of life. After all, I’m a product of that way of life on the part of my parents. Marriage with children is also, however, a powerful coercive mechanism for getting people to work and making them work harder for less pay. Single people and people without children are far freer than the family-bound to leave a job they don’t like and seek preferable alternatives elsewhere. They are far freer to tell their employers, “I want a raise or I’m leaving,” and far freer to take the risk of union organizing or going out on strike. The family-bound have fewer options and less bargaining power with employers, and this is obviously benefits employers.

The conservative war on reproductive rights and family-planning services is related to the conservative war on public education: Cutting public education budgets, downgrading the quality of public education, demonizing unionized teachers, and making an enemy of “elitist” public higher education obviously helps conservatives to cut taxes for the wealthy. At the same time, it helps them to limit choices for working-class people by limiting their access to quality public education. The wealthy can send their children to exclusive private schools and private universities, where they will receive a quality education. Working-class people and their many children, meanwhile, will be trapped in a life of taking whatever jobs they can find. Overworked, under-educated, desperate workers are also less likely to make trouble for their bosses and easier to manipulate at election time—just wave the American flag and the Holy Bible and tell them to vote Republican and then get the hell back to work. Just think: If all those college students who volunteered and voted for Obama in 2008 had instead been putting in 12-hour days at a meat processing plant, John McCain might be president right now. As with reproductive rights and family-planning services, employers and the wealthy have a vested interest in enjoying quality education for themselves while denying it to the rest of us.

Promote "family-style" mass consumption and consumerism:

Just as single people and people without children have more choices on the job market, they also have more choices regarding consumption. The single and the childless can get by on less money, live in smaller homes, drive smaller cars or no cars at all, and make other consumer choices that are not necessarily the most profitable for the corporate establishment. Families with children have larger homes, drive larger automobiles, shop for children’s clothing and toys, and stock their kitchens with mass-market food items purchased at supermarket chains. Corporate consumer advertising mirrors the “prosperity gospel” of evangelical megachurches: In both, the ideal American family consists of Mom, Dad, and the kids living in an energy-gobbling single-family home and driving a gas-guzzling family van or SUV to the mall to stock up on eco-unfriendly consumer items—not some single or childless person living in a small apartment and riding a bicycle to the local hippie fair-trade shop.

In short, promoting “family values” helps employers and the wealthy to ensure a large, captive population of worker-consumer units with a limited range of options based on what is most profitable for employers and the wealthy: Force poor and working-class people to have as many babies as possible, then deprive them and their children of any tax-supported means of improving their lives. Reserve reproductive and educational choices for those who can afford them. Keep wages low. Keep working-class people poor, desperate to find a job, and then desperate to keep their jobs. Blast advertising at them so they’ll work even harder to buy those all-important consumer items you’ve convinced them they need to have. Turn them into debt-slaves and make them work still harder to pay it back. Cut their Social Security and Medicare, so you can work them until they drop dead. Why should longer life spans for working-class people mean anything but more years with their noses to the grindstone? The wealthy can enjoy a long, happy retirement, and the rest can work until they die.

Rich conservatives have an obvious political motive for their support of the religious "family values" crusade: It helps them to bring grassroots religious conservatives to the polls to vote Republican. Like the conservative war on public education, meanwhile, the "family values" crusade has many potential economic benefits for employers and the wealthy: "Family values" ties in effectively with efforts to cut taxes for the rich, to ensure a surplus of labor through forced childbirth, to limit employment options and bargaining power for workers, to cultivate a more docile and obedient workforce, and to promote a standard form of mass consumption and consumerism. For rich conservatives, “family values” is all about profit and power.

Discuss

Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 11:22 PM PST

The Right Secedes from American Culture

by eades

As my recent posts on the teabag Right's response to current trends in American popular culture attempt to illustrate, right-wing America is increasingly isolating itself in an angry little bubble.

While most of the U.S. media saw Michelle Obama's video appearance at the Academy Awards as a pleasant surprise and complimented her style, conservatives reacted with predictable fury, calling it an intrusion and and even a hijacking of the award ceremony. Meanwhile, a WWE characterization of professional wrestlers (or rather rasslers) as anti-immigrant villains in mortal combat against a Mexican hero provoked howls of rage, as though the WWE had never done anything like this before.

Increasingly, the Right seems to be finding it harder and harder to live in the same country and the same culture as the rest of us. For most of us, it seems perfectly normal for the President and the First Lady to play a visible role in American public life, including appearances at sports and entertainment events, because this is what presidents and first ladies have always done. For the Right, however, it is an unforgivable intrusion into the Obama-free world they wish they lived in. For most of us, any caricature of contemporary events such as the immigration debate is to be expected, whether on Monday Night Raw or Saturday Night Live, however controversial it may be. The entertainment industry feeds on controversy. For right-wingers, however, it is more evidence of their persecuted status to cry and scream about.

The Right already has its own radio and TV networks, its own forms of conservative entertainment, its own collection of approved conservative authors and commentators, and promotes homeschooling as a way of protecting the next generation of conservatives from the influence of mainstream liberal-secular ideas. They have seceded from mainstream American culture and inhabit a quasi-Confederacy of the mind. Conservative media figures and religious leaders actively discourage their followers from exposing themselves to any other point-of-view, and rarely do right-wingers emerge from their self-imposed bubble to see what the rest of us are doing or thinking. When they do emerge - such as to watch the Oscars or a WWE rasslin' match - they immediately recoil in horror to the safety of their little bubble and send out a stream of angry tweets. Increasingly, it seems, everything the teabag Right sees or hears in American culture is confirmation of their deepest fear: It's not their country anymore.

To right-wingers, American popular culture today is full of people who don't look like them and don't share their values. Pop music, movies, TV, and now even WWE rasslin', are full of liberals spouting liberal ideas and abusing poor hard-working conservative Americans like themselves. Any acknowledgement they receive in mainstream culture is - like those anti-immigrant villains of WWE - a ridiculous caricature.

So they whine and moan and throw temper tantrums, then they retreat to their bubble and turn on Fox News or Rush Limbaugh or the Christian Broadcast Network. Here, they can see only what they want to see and hear only what they want to hear.

This is sad, of course - particularly if, like me, you have relatives or friends who subscribe to the conservative worldview I've described. As a progressive, however, I would far rather see conservatives being disgruntled losers than swaggering, triumphalist winners, as they were during the Reagan and Bush eras. Nothing would have sickened me more than seeing them get their swagger back with a Romney win in 2012.

If the angry, intolerant attitudes many conservative express are as deep-seated as they seem, then there's no way we're going to convince them otherwise, and no way of finding political common ground with them. All that we can do is our best to defeat them. Then one day, perhaps, they'll get tired of their angry little bubble and join the rest of us in the 21st century.

Discuss

The "culture war" and the debate on immigration played out on stage at WWE's Monday Night Raw tonight as Tea Party-inspired villains Jack Swagger and Zeb Coulter played up anti-immigrant fears, Mexican hero Alberto Del Rio defended the immigrant heritage in America, and Glenn Beck was called out as a chicken for refusing to show up (see video, Bleacher Report, Cage Side Seat).

Recall that Glenn Beck and Alex Jones' Infowars recently accused WWE of "demonizing" the Tea Party with its "racist" characterization of "Real Americans" Swagger and Coulter. The "Real Americans" then shot back at Beck, challenging him to appear with them on WWE's Monday Night Raw to speak his piece, which Beck declined. Tea Party website Liberty News took offense also and said "WWE fans should speak up about this outrage." Recall also that Swagger is due to face Del Rio at this year's Wrestlemania.

Shortly before the beginning of tonight's show, Zeb Coulter tweeted: "T minus 4 minutes to #WWE #RAW mustache groomed and quivering with anticipation like a bride on her wedding night ready to drop more truth." This follows Coulter's real-life fictional adventure on the US/Mexico border with the Patriot Patrol, beer, and nudie magazines.

As expected, Swagger and Coulter appeared in full character as Tea Party villains. Coulter first derided Beck for chickening out of his appearance on the show, then launched into a full-on Tea Party rant against undocumented immigrants, insisting on his right to call them "illegals," accusing them of taking jobs from "real Americans," denouncing immigration reform as "amnesty," and calling undocumented immigrants "criminals." Someone in the crowd held up a sign reading: "I took Zeb's job." This won't go over well with teabaggers, who will again accuse WWE of "demonizing" them.

Del Rio responded as the true patriot in the room, telling Coulter that America doesn't belong to him but to everyone. Del Rio reminded Coulter that he and Swagger are the also the descendants of immigrants, called them "bullies" who "hide behind the Constitution," and described America as a land of opportunity for people from all over the world. Before departing, Del Rio challenged Swagger to settle their differences on the spot, but Swagger cowered and told Del Rio that they would see him again at Wrestlemania (see video). The entire exchange played out like an old-fashioned melodrama. Just to hammer the point home, WWE then showed a recent video rant from Swagger and Coulter featuring the iconic Gadsden flag ("Don't Tread on Me"), which has become an emblem of the Tea Party. Here is video of the exchange between Del Rio, Coulter, and Swagger:

Simplistic, certainly, but it will be seen as a direct assault on the Tea Party and right-wing notions of what constitutes a "Real American." Swagger and Coulter presented an image of teabaggers as intolerant bigots, and Del Rio voiced the liberal vision of America as a country that belongs to everyone.

After his appearance Coulter took to Twitter, still in full-teabag mode, denouncing liberal reactions to his rant as "Lies all lies, according to my copy of The Picture History Of The US." Coulter continued: "My mustache is amazing isn't it? All #RealAmericans should grow one like it, womenfolk included.... Watching replay of me and @RealJackSwagger damn I look great, my mustache is so masculine so virile!"

Meanwhile, WWE attempted to interview Glenn Beck at his studio for his reaction. WWE was turned away by Beck's staff (see also Raw Story, Wrestling Inc.):

Now I await the reaction from Beck and the teabaggers. Then I can go back to my usual habit of NOT watching rasslin' and observing right-wing meltdowns elsewhere (such as in response to Michelle Obama's appearance at the Oscars). Small and un-serious though they may be, such episodes illustrate the Right's increasing isolation from the mainstream of American life. They're also a lot of fun to watch.

Discuss

On cue, wingnut heads exploded when First Lady Michelle Obama appeared live from the White House to present the Academy Award for Best Picture.

"FLOTUS INTERRUPTUS," the headline at Breitbart cheekily announced, "Obamas Hijack the Oscars." Yes, just like terrorists according to Breitbart, the Obamas hijacked the Oscars! Here, Christian Toto called the First Lady's appearance "an unprecedented cultural power grab by the Obamas, almost daring conservative viewers to adore her as much as progressives already do." Come on, conservative viewers - you know you want to!

The headline at Glenn Beck's The Blaze screamed: "Oh My God: Yes — The Oscars Really Did Have Michelle Obama Present the Best Picture Honors." Why, yes they really did! Fox News, meanwhile, said that the First Lady's appearanced "sparked debate" (meaning that it sparked impotent rage among conservatives), quoting some anonymous industry source who called it a "suck job."

Moaned Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post: "It is not enough that President Obama pops up at every sporting event in the nation. Now the first lady feels entitled, with military personnel as props, to intrude on other forms of entertaining (this time for the benefit of the Hollywood glitterati who so lavishly paid for her husband’s election)." So if Democrats stop hanging out with Hollywood glitterati, does that mean Republicans will stop hanging out with Wall Street bankers and Texas oil billionaires?

Frustrated tweets from right-wingnuts across This Great Land of Ours may be enjoyed at The New Civil Rights Movement. "Are you still watching communist propaganda a.k.a. Oscars?" some lost soul calling himself John Galt tweeted, "Obama & his gang of parasites is about to merge with terrorists." It must hurt to be so full of dumb, twisted rage.

Wingnuts: So offensive, yet so easily offended. Such petulant, whining babies. I think this is called "losing."

(thanks to Roadbed Guy for Scanners pic)

Discuss

As I said in my previous post on this topic, I've never been a fan of professional rasslin' (or even of real wrestling). I've so enjoyed watching Glenn Beck make a paranoid ass of himself over the "demonization" of the Tea Party by WWE rassler Jack Swagger and manager Zeb Coulter, and so enjoyed watching Beck get roasted in turn by Swagger and Coulter, that in spite of myself I can't stop watching.

Now WWE villain the Iron Sheik has gotten involved, unleashing a profanity-laced Twitter tirade on Beck for his cowardice. Recall that Glenn Beck and Alex Jones' Infowars recently accused WWE of "demonizing" the Tea Party with its "racist" characterization of "Real Americans" Swagger and Coulter. The Real Americans then shot back at Beck, challenging him to appear with them on WWE's Monday Night Raw to speak his piece. Beck declined WWE’s invitation, and has now drawn the wrath of the Iron Sheik.

Among other insults, the Iron Sheik said that "the @glennbeck have raisin balls and rice crispy dick" and "deserve to be waist deep in dog shit." These were among the Iron Sheik's most polite comments. Those who care to see others may refer to the Iron Sheik's Twitter page or the reaction at Glenn Beck's The Blaze.

Beck doesn't appear to have changed his mind about appearing on Monday Night Raw, and I expect (hope) that Swagger and Coulter will take advantage of his absence to subject him to further abuse from the ring. According to Wrestling Inc., "WWE will likely go hard on the angle this Monday night" (see also Examiner.com).

On the other hand, if Beck were to show up at Monday Night Raw, perhaps it would look something like this:

(Photo: New York Magazine)
Discuss

"I'm such an American I piss Budweiser...." -Jack Swagger

The artificial world of professional rasslin’ (as opposed to the real sport of wrestling), has always employed stock parody characters designed to offend and excite audiences with incendiary statements and unsavory behavior from the ring. I’m not a rasslin’ fan, but have some familiarity with the rasslin’ world from the years I spent living in the South, so I know that being offended and riled up from the ring is all part of the rasslin’ experience.

A new teabagger-inspired duo created by rasslin’ organization WWE, however - "Real Americans" Zeb Coulter and Jack Swagger – appears to have touched a raw nerve for hypersensitive right-wingers always on the lookout for something to be outraged about. Glenn Beck and Alex Jones' Infowars accused WWE of "demonizing" the Tea Party with its "racist" characterization of these two "Real Americans," and the right-wing twitosphere erupted with predictable faux-rage (See also Atlantic Wire, Daily Caller, Huffington Post, Mediaite, Red Alert Politics, Slate, Washington Times).

WWE insists that the characterization of Coulter and Swagger is for entertainment purposes only, but it's hard not to see this as a deliberate dig at the Tea Party and the paranoid far-Right. Online teabaggers and Glenn Beck certainly see it that way, and are in an absolute froth about it. Zeb Coulter's "We the People" page at Youtube contains several funny video clips of Coulter and Swagger as a pair of blathering anti-immigrant Neanderthals, complete with Gadsden flag ("Don't Tread on Me"); and Coulter's Twitter profile describes him as a "Lover Of Freedom, Apple Pie, God, Good Ol Detroit Rollin Iron, 8 Year Auto Financing, Guns. Real Patriot, Proud American." Jack Swagger's Twitter profile says of him: "I'm The 2 time All American American! I'm such an American I piss Budweiser and headbutt Bald Eagles!"

Coulter and Swagger have treated teabaggers to an only slightly exaggerated version of what teabaggers actually are, and now their feelings are hurt! Fingers of teabag blame are being pointed at WWE owners Vince and Linda McMahon, who will now join Karl Rove and other establishment Republicans on the ever-growing teabag GOP enemies list.

As Coulter and Swagger's video comments suggest, and as Connor Simpson details at Atlantic Wire, the pair are posing as villains against good guy Mexican champion Alberto Del Rio in the lead-up to Wrestlemania, the biggest rasslin' event of the year (see also Cage Side Seats, Latinos Post). While this match-up will have special appeal for WWE's large Latino audience, teabaggers will undoubtedly see it as a sell-out akin to "amnesty." As establishment Republicans in Washington sell out to Latinos on immigration reform, teabaggers will think, the McMahons are selling out to Latino rasslin' fans.

WWE is milking this manufactured controversy for all it's worth at Beck's expense, and has challenged Beck to appear with Coulter and Swagger on its show Monday Night Raw. Beck has tartly declined WWE’s invitation, but continues to cast stones at WWE from afar, making a paranoid ass of himself as usual (see also PoliticsUSA). Alberto Del Rio's personal ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez has gotten in on the act, taunting and prodding Beck via Twitter to accept WWE's invitation to appear on Monday Night Raw.

As I said, I'm not a rasslin' fan, but I'm a big fan of anything that further isolates and enrages teabaggers, sows further division between teabaggers and establishment Republicans, and further provokes the likes of Glenn Beck into demonstrating what an abject buffoon he is. For just this once, therefore, maybe I'll enjoy watching a little teabag-rasslin' (yee-hah!).

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