Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Stupid Liberal Tricks

I do a fair bit of conservative-bashing in this space. Because I think the American conservative agenda (which includes demonizing anything you don't agree with by branding it an "agenda") is wrong-headed in many ways.

This leads some people to conclude I am a liberal.

Also, I am not left-handed. Oh, wait, I am.
Because the definition of "liberal" is "not conservative"...right?

I mean, left. I mean, as you're looking at it, it's left,
but it's right. Right? Skip it.
Actually, I consider myself pretty moderate. That means everyone can hate me. I'm a traitor to every belief system. I have no ideals. I can't be trusted to walk the party line, no matter which party you're talking about.

Not even if I'm sober.
So to prove my utter loathesomeness to anyone who still needs proof, today I'm going to present a pair of news stories from a "liberal" perspective that I find pretty damn stupid. Frankly, if you think being a liberal means agreeing with these pieces, I think you're nuttier than John Boehner with an Almond Joy up his wahoo. Feel free to agree or disagree with my views. Be aware that your core constituency, whatever it is, will probably lambaste you as a result. Because if there's one thing that unites both the left and the right, it's their fear and distrust of the center.

Here we go.

Kenneth Cooper: Pass a statewide smoke-free workplace law

Kenneth Cooper, MD is the father of jogging and aerobics. Yes, there actually is a single person to blame for Jane Fonda workout videos and people wearing track suits as if they were real clothing. Dr. Cooper is an unrepentant health nut who, at the age of 81, is still going strong right here in Dallas. And in a recent column for the Dallas Morning News, he supported the idea of a state law prohibiting smoking in any private or public workplace. Even though numerous employer- and city-specific policies already exist, a statewide ban is necessary, he argues, because significant portions of Texas remain Godless, lawless backwaters unincorporated rural areas needing the protection of a state statute.

Please understand that Dr. Cooper's opinions come from a public health perspective. I don't know what his politics are - in fact, I couldn't find a single piece about him in which he stopped babbling about cholesterol and treadmills long enough to discuss his political views. But the belief that government can and should act as an arbiter of people's choices is a classically liberal view: Businesses and individuals can't be trusted to make decisions that benefit the greater good, so the state should legislate those decisions.

Let's all say it together: Smoking is bad. Cigarettes are full of cancer-causing tar and chemicals and produce second-hand smoke that puts bystanders at risk, and many of the costs of smoking-related ailments end up being borne by taxpayers.

Vaping, on the other hand, is awesome, and
not just because Johnny Depp does it and anything
he does is hotter than butane.
I don't want to eat in a restaurant where people are smoking. I don't want to work in an office where people are smoking. Neither do a lot of other people, which is why so many bars, restaurants, office buildings, and employers have banned smoking on their premises. Let's face it, nonsmokers outnumber smokers, so their preferences are going to drive economic decisions for those businesses.

I would just as soon see cigarettes banned everywhere. Cigarettes, the physical product, not smoking, the human behavior. But that's not going to happen. Ever. Why?

Here's one reason.

Contributions to state legislatures by tobacco companies over 21 years.
I know it's hard to read, so see the data from here.
Here's another reason.

Also read their fact sheet "Tobacco Tax Increases Are a Reliable Source of Substantial
New State Revenue." I couldn't have said it better myself.
I don't oppose Dr. Cooper's stand because I think it's government overreaching. I oppose it because the whole issue of whether and where people are allowed to light up is a - you should pardon the pun - smoke screen. Whether the right solution to the public health problems presented by smoking is more government intervention or less, regulation of the product or prohibition of the activity, is a moot point. State and federal legislators are completely hamstrung by their financial dependence on the tobacco industry. There will never be a meaningful or effective policy formulated beyond the local level as long as our elected officials' balls are in Big Tobacco's pocket.

Some of those balls belong to so-called liberals. And until they retrieve them, I don't want to hear any left-wing claptrap about "safeguarding our children" or "my right to clean air."

More Americans Believe Obama is Muslim Than in Theory of Evolution

A recent Gallup poll, titled "In U.S., 46% Hold Creationist View of Human Origins," found that...uh, well, 46% of Americans hold Creationist views of human origins. Gallup gets points for straightforward poll titling. In a nutshell, those 46% said they believed God had created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years, which is the traditional Christian, Bible-based view of things. At the other end of the spectrum, 15% said they believed humans had evolved over millions of years and that there was no deity involved in the process. Finally, 32% of respondents believed that humans had evolved over millions of years, but that the entity they call God had guided the process in some form.

Interestingly, the poll found almost no difference among self-identified Democrats, Republicans, and Independents who believed in the evolution-guided-by-God theory: about one-third of each group held that belief. Full disclosure: This Independent also favors the Darwin-with-a-shot-of-God approach to life on Earth. Because I'm not taking any chances. What if it turns out we're all worm meat, but God is a worm?

Gallup put together a nice, unbiased little poll. It took snarky, hipper-than-thou website to conflate Gallup's results with those of a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, which found that 16% of Americans continue to believe that President Obama is a Muslim. Then they did a little fancy math - equating evolution-plus-God proponents with strict Creationists - and boom! Enlightened science is outgunned by religious nutjobs who see secret Muslims in the White House and (probably) Jesus on their French toast.

Blasphemous to eat, but not to sell on eBay.
It's a cute, tongue-in-cheek little article. But its tone drifts into that tiresome attitude adopted by a lot of too-cool-for-the-room liberals: "A lot of terrible things have been done throughout history in the name of religion. Therefore, people who believe in God are assholes." Because while humanistic liberalism may be awesome, understanding syllogisms and logical fallacies clearly is not.

I respect the right of anyone to believe in God, or not to believe in God. I just want you to stay out of my face with it. That goes for conservative Bible-thumpers who want to know if I've "met" Jesus yet (like, in the express checkout line?), and it goes for rabid secularists who can't be comfortable with their own skepticism unless I share it (please look up "integrity" before I beat you to death).

Yeah, it's a little ridiculous (to me) that nearly half of Americans think the story of Genesis is literally true. But who cares? I'm not voting the God vs. Darwin issue. I'm not voting the gay vs. straight issue. I'm not voting the Closet Muslim vs. Christless Mormon issue. Those are fringe issues. I'm going to the center, where the real problems facing this country live.

Join me. I'll be serving Jesus toast and electronic cigarettes.

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