At least 46% of Mississippi Republicans are overt racists

And who knows about those too embarrassed to express their views:

When usual Republican primary voters in the state of Mississippi were asked if they think interracial marriage should be legal or illegal, a whopping 46 percent said it should be illegal, compared to 40 percent who think it should be legal. The remaining 14 percent were unsure.

There seems to be a pattern here. Roughly 40% of voters in 1998 (South Carolina) and 2000 (Alabama) voted against removing defunct bans on interracial marriage from their constitutions. I have no stats which break down how many of these people were Republicans, but who thinks they were mostly Democrats? The GOP is doing a heck of a job as solidifying itself as the party of racists, particularly in the South. I may have to throw out that old saying, ‘Republicans may not be racist, but racists vote Republican.’ The data suggests the first clause to be false.

Whites favored over blacks? When has that ever been racist?

Gov. Haley Barbour recently pardoned a whole bunch of prisoners on his way out the door in Mississippi. Many of them had served out their sentences, so those pardons amount to little more than making it easier for the people in question to get jobs. (And, of course, if they commit more crimes, their punishments will be less in all likelihood.) A few of them, though, were given to people still serving time for crimes such as murder. Needless to say, the issue has been controversial. Overlooked, however, has been the racial makeup of those pardoned:

Barbour granted 222 acts of clemency in his tenure to 221 individuals: one convict’s sentence was initially suspended in 2008 and he then received a full pardon last week.

Of those, roughly two of three were white, according to data from the Mississippi Department of Corrections and a search of public records. The racial makeup of Mississippi’s prison population is the inverse: about two-thirds’ black.

Whites make up about 59 percent of the state’s population as a whole and blacks about 37 percent.

Barbour is saying race played no role, and in fact, it wasn’t even listed on relevant applications. It sounds like he may be off the hook on this one, but the Parole Board isn’t. The people who run that are responsible for most of the recommendations for pardons and it’s hard to believe they’re all blind.

But, hey, maybe it’s just a coincidence, right?

“The odds of a random sample of the prison population coming out with the same or greater disparity in racial proportions as the pardons list is less than one in a trillion, if race were truly unrelated to pardons.” [said University of Georgia statisticians Kim Love-Myers]

I know most conservatives will be apt to say race really isn’t a factor here, presumably because they want to make my brain explode, but it’s obvious that there are pervasive racial issues at play. There are some mitigating factors, of course. For instance, just as money equals power outside prison, it equals empowerment inside prison. Whites will tend to have more money to explore all their legal options. But this is a relatively trivial issue in this context. The fact is, whites are inherently more favored than blacks when requesting pardons:

Love-Myers and Reeves also found that based on Mississippi’s prison demographics, white prisoners were about four times more likely to be pardoned than black prisoners. That echoes a recent examination of presidential pardons under President George W. Bush by public interest non-profit news organization ProPublica.

In an analysis released last month of 1,918 applications for pardons during Bush’s administration, ProPublica found that white criminals seeking presidential pardons were nearly four times more likely to get them than minorities.

“It is, to say the least, astronomically unlikely that Barbour’s selection was color-blind,” said Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on Wrongful Conviction. “Now whether that’s Barbour’s fault or the review board’s fault, is a different question. It was somebody’s fault. It’s not color-blind.”

What’s perhaps the most unfortunate thing in all this is that now even fewer pardons will be given out due to political pressures. Whether the percentages change in any appreciable way remains to be seen, but if things continue to trend as they have been, the fact is the sheer number of blacks getting pardons is going to decrease.

I suspect in conservative la-la land, though, none of this has a thing to do with race.

Good news for Maine

A recent Gallup poll “asked representative samples in 143 countries and territories whether religion was an important part of their daily lives.” The United States, despite the religiously-driven anti-science movement, does not rank as having an especially high number of individuals who say religion is an important part of their lives. For all the countries surveyed, the median response was 82%. The U.S. came in at 65%.

This does not mean the U.S. is unreligious. The interesting thing about this survey is that it is strongly correlated with poverty. In nations where poverty is higher, so is the rate of positive respondents to the poll. That is, poor people cling to their religion. It makes sense that someone who has lost hope, or at least been placed in the dismal position of being desperately poor, would turn to mysticism as a last resort. Of course, this has not helped the people of Sri Lanka or Eygpt gain much wealth. Religion simply isn’t the helpful. In fact, it isn’t really helpful at all.

So what’s rather shocking, at least statistically, about this poll is America’s amount of wealth and rate of religiosity.

Social scientists have noted that one thing that makes Americans distinctive is our high level of religiosity relative to other rich-world populations. Among 27 countries commonly seen as part of the developed world, the median proportion of those who say religion is important in their daily lives is just 38%. From this perspective, the fact two-thirds of Americans respond this way makes us look extremely devout.

Of course, the obvious point to be made is that this seems to directly contradict the issue of correlation. In fact, it does not. This is because as poverty increases by state, so does religosity. Alabama, the slack-jawed center of the South, comes in at 82% answering positively. Mississippi, the well-established cesspool of stupidity, Mr. 50 in Everything Bad, as it were, comes in a smidge higher than the worldwide median, at 85%. These two poverty-rich states are roughly equal to Iran with their rate of response.

It should be of little surprise, then, that all six states of New England fill out the top ten. In fact, the top four are, in order, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts. Tending toward less general poverty, these states also tend toward less religiosity. Of course, it’s important to also consider the more liberal, more moral, less evil leanings in this area as well. Such people – the ones concerned with reality – often have a liberal bias. Freed from the shackles of sheepdom as wrought by religion, these states have generally better standards of living and education. No big news there.

Vermont rated healthiest state; Maine 9th

Vermont tops states in health, Louisiana ranks last.

It was the second straight year that Vermont topped the rankings. It was followed by Hawaii, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Utah, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Idaho and Maine.

Louisiana fell from 49th to 50th, replacing Mississippi. Rounding out the bottom 10 were South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nevada and Georgia.

California, the most populous state, ranked 24th and New York 25th.

Vermont, with the second smallest population of any state, had the third-highest public health spending and an obesity rate of 22 percent, four points below the national average.

It also had low child poverty and violent crime, a large number of doctors per capita and good high school graduation rates.

Hawaii had similarly low obesity, the highest public health spending, little air pollution, low rates of uninsured people, a low rate of preventable hospitalizations and low rates of death from cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Mississippi led the nation in obesity at 33 percent of the population, while Colorado was lowest at 19 percent.

22% is the obesity rate in the healthiest state. That’s absolutely absurd. But let’s keep outspending every nation combined on our military. Health certainly isn’t relevant or important to life.

By the way, is it any surprise the South makes up the whole of the bottom 10?