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The Iron Law of Birtherism

Crooks and Liars
http://crooksandliars.com/node/30355
Tuesday August 11, 2009 10:00 am
The Iron Law of Birtherism
By Jon Perr


As tax cut-receiving Tea Baggers and town hall hecklers continue their tirades over health care reform, their kin in the Obama birth certificate denial crowd perpetuate their mass delusion. But lost in the fury is what might be deemed the Iron Law of Birtherism. That is, the birther movement is strongest in precisely those states where Republicans poll best and health care is worst. And as it turns out, there is a Birther Corollary: education, working conditions and myriad other indicators of social failure are generally most dismal in the most red of states.

In the staggering DailyKos/Research 2000 poll released 10 days ago, a stunning 58% of Republicans did not believe (28%) or were unsure (30%) that President Barack Obama was in fact born in the United States. (Nationally, only 11% of Americans denied Obama's natural citizenship, with another 12% in doubt.) This is a uniquely Southern pathology, a region home to 69% of all birthers and the only part of the country to increase its Republican presidential vote in 2008. And to be sure, the old times there are not forgotten. As Dave Weigel of the Washington Independent concluded, "as many as three-quarters of Southern whites told pollsters that they didn't know where Obama was born."

That the birther movement would take hold in the states of the old Confederacy should come as little surprise. While Americans rejected George W. Bush's Republican Party on Election Day in November, in counties across much of the South voters actually increased their support for the GOP candidate John McCain over Bush four years earlier. The interactive New York Times map above tells the tale of November's losers still fighting their failed 2008 campaign by other means:

That helps explains why when it comes to the delusion over Obama's citizenship, as Steve Benen observed, one of these things is not like the other:

"Outside the South, this madness is gaining very little traction, and remains a fringe conspiracy theory. Within the South, it's practically mainstream."

But that brand of racial flat-earthism is not all that's practically mainstream in the South.

Consider, for example, abysmal health care.

A 2007 Commonwealth Fund report, "Aiming Higher: Results from a State Scorecard on Health System Performance," examined states' performance across 32 indicators of health care access, quality, outcomes and hospital use. Topping the list were Hawaii, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. Bringing up the rear were the Bush bastions of Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, Arkansas, Texas, with Mississippi and Oklahoma. The 10 worst performing states were all solidly Republican in 2004; 8 voted for McCain in 2008. (In a sad irony, despite Oklahoma being ranked the worst of the worst, its congressional delegation led by James Inhofe, Tom Coburn and John Sullivan has been waging an all-out war to prevent the health care reforms their constituents of all Americans need most.)



The extremes in health care performance are startling. For example, 30% of adults and 20% of children in Texas lacked health insurance, compared to 11% in Minnesota and 5% in Vermont, respectively. Premature death rates from preventable conditions were almost double (141.7 per 100,000 people) in Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi compared to the top performing states (74.1 per 100,000). Adults over 50 receiving preventative care topped 50% in Minnesota compared to only 33% in Idaho. Childhood immunizations reached 94% in Massachusetts, compared to just 75% in the bottom five states. As the report details, federal and state policies, such as insurance requirements and Medicaid incentives, clearly impact health care outcomes.

(In May, the Washington Post rightly noted it would be blue state residents funding health care reform for their red state brethren in an article titled, "A Red State Booster Shot." The grandstanding of Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal et al notwithstanding, the same one-way flow of taxpayer dollars from Washington to red states, of course, is a permanent feature of federal spending in general. And yet a 2008 survey predictably showed 68% of Republicans believe the U.S. has the best health system in the world, compared to only three in 10 Democrats.)

Then there's working conditions. A December 2005 study by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts showed that Americans' working conditions generally follow the 2004 electoral map. The report's Work Environment Index (WEI) rated the quality of Americans' working lives by a weighting of three factors: job opportunities, job quality, and job fairness. The top five states were Delaware, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Vermont and Iowa, the bottom five were South Carolina, Utah, Arkansas Texas and Louisiana. Unsurprisingly, all five of the cellar-dwellers are so-called "Right-to-Work" states featuring outright hostility towards union organizing. (Click the following links for maps of WEI by state and right-to-work states.)



(It is worth noting that since the Work Environment Index was published, the new federal minimum wage was boosted to $7.25 an hour, well above the $5.15 level previously in place in most Southern states at the time. It is also worth noting that since the recession began in December 2007, decidedly blue states like Michigan, Rhode Island, Oregon and California have been among those hit hardest by unemployment.)

When it comes to education, faithfully Republican red states do a little (but not much) better. In 2007, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a study titled "Leaders and Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on Educational Effectiveness." The report looked at seven different performance categories, including return on education investment, workforce readiness, teacher skills, and academic achievement of low-income and minority students. Again, the top five states (Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont and New Jersey) backed Democrat Obama in 2008. Only two of the bottom 15 states similarly supported John Kerry; five voted for Obama four years later.

The same disturbing pattern applies to a wide array of measures of social dysfunction and pathology. In 2007, 7 of the top 10 states with the highest murder rates were squarely in Red America; conversely, 7 of the 10 states with the lowest murder rates were in the Obama column. (Interestingly, six of those states have no death penalty statute.) The 10 states with the highest divorce rates in 2002 went for Bush two years later. (More recent data suggests an improvement in the Bible Belt.) In January 2009, a new report from the CDC showed teen birth rates increased for the first time in 15 years. Topping the list was Mississippi; again, 8 of the other 9 states in the top 10 went Republican in 2008. By almost any measure of societal breakdown that so-called Republican "values voters" decry, it is Red State America where moral failure is greatest.

Perhaps greatest among those moral failures is the simple unwillingness to accept the empirical truth. Like it or not, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and was legitimately elected President of the United States. This objective fact is not merely a case of Colbert's Law, in which "reality has a well-known liberal bias." The paranoia and not so thinly veiled racism of partisans from the underachieving red states, aided and abetted by their feckless Republican representatives, is the Iron Law of Birtherism.

Note: None of the above is to equate correlation with causation, or to ignore the central roles of economic development, demography and history in impacting the social indicators described here. While a state with an overall political preference may exhibit high rates of a given social dysfunction, that does not mean the supporters of that political viewpoint endorse or engage in the behavior in question. That said, when it comes to living standards, culture, politics and public policy matter.

(An earlier version of this piece appeared at Perrspectives.)


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Added: Aug-11-2009 
By: dogbutt
In:
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Tags: rightwing, nutbars
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  • LMAO at the libs. Stupid people write some stupid things. Please do you part to curb mental retardation by making sure you spay and neuter your libs.

    Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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  • The blatant partisan hackery outweighs any legitimate points you may have, thus I dismiss this entire post.
    Re-approach from a more neutral perspective, or continue to be dismissed as a lunatic.

    Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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    • we dont have that on LL

      Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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    • And the overtly pro-conservative posts? Partisan hackery, I suppose?

      "You have an opinion, therefore you are not worth listening to." Good call. You'll get far in life.

      Retard.

      Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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    • "And the overtly pro-conservative posts? Partisan hackery, I suppose?"

      Yes they are, when they try to pass off opinion as facts. Typically by the time I find those posts, there has already been such an opposing response that any contribution I may have would be akin to throwing a cup of gas on a refinery fire, so I usually pass them by.

      "You have an opinion, therefore you are not worth listening to."
      Typically when quoting, it is wise to use the exact words of the per More..

      Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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    • Speaking of two bit hacks, how's it going hack?

      Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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    • I don't recall chiding you, so what's your issue? Is the username an acronym for 'can't quite make sense'?

      Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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  • I just wasted 5 minutes of my life.

    Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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  • I certainly don't know if he's legit or not, but why is there no proof to put all this junk to rest. Ya gotta admit it all seems pretty fishy.

    Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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    • google "birth certificate", "real", and "obama" (yawns)

      let me know how many experts saw the real one and not just the copy. then let me know how you feel about this issue still being promoted -- and why you think certain people are still promoting it

      i'll tell you one thing: the Department of Health in Hawaii must have a real psychic working there. not very easy to produce a birth certificate, that far ahead of time, knowing that that one person will become Presi More..

      Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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  • Yeah, idiots who voted for Obama. 2 million unemployed and a president who rules by dictate, just like Hitler, hiring and firing CEO's, dictating pay and forcing socialized medicine on a country that does NOT WANT IT.

    Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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    • So quick with the Hitler references. Your depseration is showing you, delusional birther, creationist, deather, tin-hatter.

      Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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    • Well he WAS elected on that platform... so I would think whether you happen to like the voters or not, the choice was made by a majority of Americans. So waiting until AFTER the election to voice your opinion is kinda pointless...

      Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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    • Thats the far right lunacy in a nut shell!! And nutty they are!
      Racist, conspiracy loon, and every false narrative known to a wingnut all in one short remark.
      Can a human pretend they're a parrot?? Repeating regressive drivel like a parrot proves just that.

      Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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    • What's that Willy? The kettle's black? You don't say...

      Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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    • nice one. do you think byron is one of the %18 of americans who believe the sun revolves around the earth?

      Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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  • Best phrase: racial flat-earthism. So funny!

    Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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  • why doesnt he just release his birth certificate

    Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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  • Heres one for you, Obama could & would not Qualify to be in the FBI or Secret Service, he would not be even considered for either service, because of his past. So how can he be President? This is a true fact.

    Posted Aug-13-2009 By 

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  • So what I hear you saying is there's no doubt in your mind he's for real.

    Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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    • Prove he wasn't born in Hawaii, you and all the rest of you birther clowns just cannot.

      Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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    • First of all, ass wipe, you don't know me. I'm not a birther. Second, can you prove he is? Third, if you go back to my original comment...

      Why am I wasting my time on someone who obviously has there head up their ass!

      Posted Aug-12-2009 By 

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  • I seem to remember a SHIT LOAD of democrats questioning John McCain's citizenship.

    LOL at lefty birthers and douchebaggers.

    Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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  • Shit, yes, it's biased, but less so than a lot of the crap the righties post, e.g. Beck and O'Reilly, and it does have some factual basis. (Yeah, I know, there's lies, damn lies, and statistics.) I voted for the asshat, and I admit I am somewhat disappointed, but I don't believe I ever claimed that he was anything but another Clinton of a different hue. I would still do the same thing, because I still believe that McCain/Palin was the worse choice, by a long shot. I used to kind of like McCa More..

    Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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  • Either way, the Truth will come to light.

    Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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  • Buzzwords.

    Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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  • Thanks Jon Perr, you do good work. Sad, it will not sink in since some only hear or see what they want to (or are told to) see. Lets enjoy the death throes of the Republican party, they have brought it on themselves.

    Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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  • Life: It possibly begins before conception and never ends, even after you die.

    Teach-the-controversy.

    Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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  • Exposed. The astro-birthers are freaks.

    Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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  • Good post Dog.

    Posted Aug-11-2009 By 

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