Is it just me, or does the recent rash of anti-LGBT measures remind other people of Finding Nemo?

If memory serves (and at my age, it may not) the “Dory” character would be pursuing a goal when suddenly she would be distracted by something unrelated and unimportant. Her head would swivel, and shouting “squirrel,” she’d forget what she’d been doing and follow the distraction instead.

Sort of like Mississippi, one of the most recent states to enact homophobic legislation.

According to a story in USA Today, Mississippi’s “well-being” scores are abysmal:

> Well-being index score: 63.7
> Life expectancy: 75.0 years (the lowest)
> Percent obese: 35.4% (the highest)
> Median household income: $37,095 (the lowest)
> Percent with high school diploma: 82.3% (3rd lowest)

Nowhere else in the U.S. did people feel as negative about their work environment as in Mississippi. But this was just one of the problems facing state residents. Respondents were among the most likely in the nation to lack access to basic necessities. More than a quarter of people surveyed in the state indicated they did not have money for food at some point in the previous 12 months, while nearly as many lacked money for health care. By a number of measures, the state was one of the absolute poorest in the nation. The median income in Mississippi was just $37,095 in 2012, lowest in the U.S. Also, 24.2% of people lived below the poverty line, more than in any other state. With limited access to basic needs and poor healthy behaviors, the state was among the worst in the nation in physical health assessments. Last year, no state had a higher obesity rate than Mississippi. In 2010, no state had a higher rate of death from heart disease or a lower life expectancy at birth than Mississippi.

So–rather than keeping their eye on the task at hand–which should be ameliorating these appalling negatives–Mississippi’s lawmakers chose to yell “squirrel!” and point to the (nonexistent) menace posed by that state’s gay and transgender citizens.

This actually seems to be a favored tactic in several states, including Mike Pence’s Indiana. (Not very good at governing? Quick–pick a distraction!)

As someone recently noted, the current bathroom hysteria is particularly misdirected, since there is no record of any transgender misbehavior in a public restroom–something you certainly can’t say about Republican lawmakers’ public restroom activities.

In fact, the more we learn about the private conduct of our most homophobic “family values” office-holders, the more interesting it gets: Dennis Hastert (recently convicted of abusing young boys when he was a coach) led the fight against same-sex marriage–not to mention the effort to impeach Bill Clinton for his sexual improprieties. In Alabama, Robert Bentley, another “pious” GOP Governor of a backward state who supports “religious liberty” legislation, is embroiled in a tawdry sex scandal. And so it goes.

What do you do when you’re caught with your pants down–either literally or figuratively?



  1. Just a different, more blatant, form of dog whistle politics practiced so well by Ronald Reagan and others. Always fear and loathing of the “Other,” whether it’s the “Big Buck or the “Welfare Queen.”

  2. There is a small group of affluent white males behind that stand of trees unloading and releasing squirrels from a semi trailer just as fast as they can.

  3. Let’s face it, Hoosiers. Indiana, aka The Mississippi of the North, is the squirrelist state in the union.

  4. Brenda H,

    “There is a small group of affluent white males behind that stand of trees unloading and releasing squirrels from a semi trailer just as fast as they can.”

    Where EXACTLY is that semi trailer located?

  5. It’s all about cover and deception. We should all start playing a new internet game, let’s call it COUNTER-DECEPTION. Any number can play. However, I must warn you that women can play the game better than men, since collaboration is the key.

  6. The elected officials in this state need to beware of squirrels; they have an inborn affinity for finding all nuts in this state.

    Here is my personal “Squirrel” for today; and one that makes me feel better about my too frequent typos. The subheading on a major front page article on the USA Today section of the Indianapolis Star today reads; “Faceboo CEO lays out 10-year plan, takes swipe at Trump”

    Yes; it does say “Faceboo” that is not my typo, could this be a Gannett “squirrel” to distract us from the “swipe at Trump” part of the article?

  7. JoAnn,

    Exactly. “Faceboo” is the COVER in order to use the DECEPTIVE use of “swipe,” which minimizes Trump’s actions.

    It’s not the Martians who we should be worried about. It’s Sheila’s squirrels. As you pointed out, they thrive on “NUTS.”

  8. Seems like Mississippi’s record gives Mike Pence and his buddies a goal to strive for. With 4 more years, they can achieve the levels of well-being that Mississippi now has.

  9. This is an old game. Distraction works. Those using it successfully these days are Cruz (he uses religion) and the old hard right governor of Ohio (who took money from education to give to corporations while shutting down Planned Parenthood). He masquerades as a moderate. He is only a moderate when compared with his competition, who have jumped over the political cliff (carpet bombing, no Muslims etc.). These people are appealing to the basest of our nature, and with some success. We must not be distracted by distraction.

  10. Marv:
    Watch pronoun spelling: Who or whom.
    (1)”It’s not the Martians who we should be worried about.”
    (2)”It’s not the Martians about whom we should be worried.”
    Or, if Hoosierspeak, return to (1).

  11. Democracy gives citizens the government that they deserve.

    Freedom allows people the lives that they deserve.

    Ignorance gets ignorant government.

    There are lots of ways to say the same thing but they all boil down to the same thing. Democracy only gives voters the possibility of competent government. The rest is up to us.

    When we dispair at the specter that Donald Trump or Sarah Palin have slithered from empty celebrity to possible governmental official they are not the problem. We are as they could possibly win.

    Our attention needs to be focused not on them but us. What culturally is out of whack that robs so many of us of cognitive quality control?

    Generally there are many cultural forces. Three biggeys are parenting, education, and advertising. Some would add government to that list.

    I think that parenting is the hardest to fix.

    Education in my opinion is largely a function of individual teachers. The best are extraordinarily influential the worst are counter productive.

    Advertising is thought of a legitimate business but hard to regulate in a free speech country.

    Government just means that the effects of poor voter judgement are self sustaining. They last longer and are harder to fix.

    It’s hard to do but most of us have no choice but to write off Mississippi and Texas and the like.

    But how about Indiana?

  12. Occasionally I read a current event article or a blog post and am reminded of some snippet from my past, from my childhood memory where my mother dragged me weekly to the First Methodist Church for Sunday School classes.

    Pence, Cruz, and the other assorted evangelical Christian politicians all bring to mind something from the New Testament (don’t ask me for an exact Biblical citation, please) where one of my favorite nouns of address is followed by a biting, stinging reproval from Jesus (or so the story goes).

    My paraphrase ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites, who snarl and swat at a gnat and then swallow a camel.”

    Yep, we’ve got a bunch of scribes and Pharisees who are good at presenting shiny, clean exteriors while forgetting their interiors are not so shiny and clean and are not aligned with their exteriors, totally incongruent.

  13. Your commentary makes many good points. A number of politicians, but not all, and too many people in the media, especially the national tv network and cable people, are into the squirrel syndrome, but I like squirrels! Rocky was one of my favorite cartoon characters. Can’t we use another name? Flatworm, perhaps?

  14. OMG,

    Thanks. I never studied English in high school. All I did was play sports, nothing else. I never opened a book until examination time. Consequently, I was held back from graduating. Fortunately, I was very good at cramming for exams. They gave me a special examination, so I finally graduated.

    The entire public school system in Jacksonville was discredited when I was growing up. Most of the top administration positions were manned by coaches or former coaches. As I remember, you had to take a special exam to go to the state colleges. I was lucky. I took the spatial relationship part of the college entrance exams and according to MIT, I had the highest score for that year. My spatial relationship score, balanced against something a little better than zero, still allowed me to be admitted to an Ivy League college. I have an Economics Degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. All I did there was major in accounting, which was all about numbers and continued to play sports and be a part of the ROTC program.

    I was elected co-captain of the greatest team in Penn history in a disputed election. Penn was founded by Benjamin Franklin. That to me was my greatest accomplishment other than being voted #1 at ROTC summer camp my Junior year which included Texas A & M, University of Texas, and California State College of Pennsylvania.

    I was first in my law school class at the University of Florida but was required to take a remedial English course in English. However, I was getting a little better all the time. I received a “C.” Fortunately, the “C” wasn’t included in my law school rankings. I escaped the problem again when I was practicing law by being a trial attorney.

    The moral of this story is you don’t cram English. A few years ago, I had an English teacher friend who had me speak before her class on the dangers of what I did.

    I’m really glad you corrected me. I’ve never explained my problem before in public. There are two types of attorneys: The WRITING and the TALKING. I do a lot better in person. Many people are DECEIVED by the level of my writing ability. That’s not always such a bad thing.

  15. In an interesting passage toward the end of “Dark Money” the lead propagandist for the Kochtopus made a point at one of their secret annual meetings that the message was too negative for most of the middle third of American voters who were not zealots of the left or right. He advised them to repackage the message to a more positive one of “well-being”. Instead of beating the drum of “all government is bad” in their efforts to reign in government social programs should be restated to one that sold anti-government sentiment as good for the well-being of the poor and middle class. It was all distraction and has succeeded very well.
    They may have succeeded too well as they now have two monsters who have co-opted the message into one of authoritarianism or dominionism.

  16. Marv,

    Don’t fret over OMG’s grammar Nazi comment and especially don’t respond with a needless explanation.

    Actually, OMG is a member of the Online Grammar Nazi organization whose devotees and followers find greater personal reward in identifying and in correcting grammatical errors than in listening to the thoughts behind the words.

    I always remember the sage words of a professor in a Grad School linguistics class (textbook by Chomsky) who said something to this effect…’Never discount the man who begins his statement with “I seen…” because he truly may have seen something extremely important.’

  17. The people of Mississippi and Indiana are simply too simple not to fall for the squirrel routine. They are not capable of governing themselves effectively. What remains to be seen is if the magic of our governmental system will produce better outcomes anyway and eventually bring the quality of the voter up to the level needed for self-governance. I am not holding my breath.

  18. Question: at it’s core the idea of conservatism is that humans are individual actors with free will and should be held responsible for their actions (and if you are a Cruzian (not an actual Christian) they are even responsible for their maladies, as that clearly is the punishment of the creator for something). Liberalism is about recognizing that humans are clever animals who are, like animals, not in charge of the circumstances of their births, their genetics, their upbringings, and circumstances beyond any human’s control, so are largely not responsible for their own actions and should be treated with compassion. Sort of the actual Jesustianity. So as a liberal who has given up all hope of changing this lousy world, why would I not just succumb to elitism, hoard what I can, and take care of my family? I wouldn’t allow a lion to eat them, so why should I allow a dumb animal that calls itself human drag them down to its level? And how many “conservatives” among the elites are similarly cynical liberals who simply see the futility of it all and have decided to save their little corner of hell instead of trying to save it all?

  19. I think we need to avoid using the term “conservative” to describe these politicians. If they were conservative, they would respect the institutions of government and the role and importance of government in our lives. In a public TV program called “Ten That Changed America”, the one about parks, it was mentioned that government established parks even before revolutionary times for the common good (http://www.pbs.org/video/2365003524/). They didn’t let private enterprise rule, or our ancestors would be dead by now from cholera and other pollution. We simply wouldn’t be here. That is conservative. These people are radicals. Instead of calling Cruz, or others of his ilk, “conservative”, it should be “radical”.

    When you have a discussion with a wingnut about something, I suggest that you begin your response with “I’m much too conservative to go along with that idea….” Then you can have a discussion about conservatives and radicals. It’s funny how people don’t want to think about their beliefs as being crazy.

  20. @Over It, thank you for a post that makes me think, makes me delve into some comprehension skills, primarily inferential.

    Yes, I’ve occasionally entertained a private thought or two that I’m tired of feeling like an Atlas type citizen, tired of being expected to carry the weight of others’ considerable problems on my shoulders via any money that I or my family might earn based upon our relative productivity as citizens. Of course, you DO remember that Atlas shrugged. He finally could not bear the weight of the world, and he simply shrugged his shoulders. By the way, John Galt is accepting reservations.

  21. Stuart, traditionally a radical person was a left wing nut. A reactionary person was a right wing nut. The people we are dealing with are reactionary, not conservative or radical. But I don’t expect them to understand the language, so your point is well taken.

    BSH, I’ll give Paul Ryan a call and see if he knows the way. 😀

  22. Thanks, Marv…yours doused the firestorm started by mine. I enjoyed your response to my nit-picking.
    I didn’t study anything in high school either. After a stint in the Philippines, I took classes in German, French and Italian. . It was through those languages that I learned some rules which turned out to be pretty universal.
    More recently I coached two immigrant families in ESL. They now correspond with me by E-mail from P. R. China. While residing here, one of them became a U.S. citizen.
    You went to a great school. My B.A. is from Cornell U.

  23. Indiana doesn’t have OMG DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME! to serve as squirrel now, soooo……….

  24. Over it, my observation is that conservatives have an excess need for control and therefore believe politics is a path to power.

    Liberals celebrate freedom and rights. Freedom at all is freedom for all. They assume that there exists empathy and mutual responsibility that when given improves the greater good.

    FDR said it better than I can.


  25. Further, liberalism is like insurance. Those without insurance but with responsibility must be in position to pay for the worst case scenario. Insurance and liberalism spread the risk. Everybody takes on a share that in total covers the worst case scenario for those few with the misfortune of having it dealt to them.

  26. Pete,

    “Further, liberalism is like insurance. Those without insurance but with responsibility must be in position to pay for the worst case scenario.”

    That’s really hit’s a “bulls-eye” for me. I’m for domestic peace of mind.

  27. Over It, your point is well-taken. I figured that if we are talking to people who don’t know the difference between conservative and plain crazy, they won’t know the difference between radical and reactionary. I figure that label is more likely to get their attention and maybe open up some discussion. At any rate, calling Cruz and those people “conservative” is so overly generous that it’s not even in the ball park, and puts them in the sane camp. We need to be honest about this before the whole works is in the toilet. Thanks.

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