More reason to respect Jon Huntsman

It seems like this is the only guy in the Republican field with any common sense:

The conservative news magazine Newsmax announced Friday that it would co-sponsor a Republican presidential debate moderated by media personality and real estate tycoon Donald Trump on Dec. 27th in Des Moines, Ia., but they may have trouble convincing candidates to show up.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is the first to send his regrets.

“We look forward to watching Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich suck up to Trump with a big bowl of popcorn,” Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller told Yahoo News.

It is beyond me why so many of these candidates have taken the time to meet with Trump. He’s a doofus with nothing to add to anything. He knows less about taxes and foreign policy than Herman Cain, he isn’t the least bit intelligent, and every show he has ever done has been shitty. But maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s his ignorance, his stupidity, and his inability to entertain that draws so many Republicans to him. After all, who do Republicans like? People like Bush and (until the recent news about how he uses his wiener) Cain – stupid and/or ignorant people. People like Steve Doocy and that guy on Fox & Friends who isn’t Steve Doocy – people who can’t entertain. Maybe it all does make sense.

Thought of the day

Let’s review: The Republicans hampered the success of the stimulus, they increased the deficit without benefit (again) by giving rich people more money (which will not be used to hire anyone without demand), they caused world volatility by causing gridlock about something as routine as increasing the debt limit, and now their very nature of being the Party of No has contributed, in part, to the world markets performing poorly because no one has any confidence they will pass President Obama’s jobs bill (something most economists say will be a great success).

Defunding health care for women

I find myself more and more torn. On the one hand, it’s so hard to say Republicans are motivated by a hatred of women. There are legitimate arguments to be made in some of their actions. But on the other hand, the majority of their actions are asinine and condescending, backed by no grain of rationality or intelligence:

Last week, Indiana lawmakers voted to approve a measure that would defund the state chapter of Planned Parenthood by $2 million, the amount the group gets each year in federal dollars. The bill would also ban abortions following the 20th week of pregnancy unless a woman’s life is in jeopardy. The measure would also require abortion providers to tell women seeking abortions that life begins at conception, that the procedure is linked to infertility, and that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks or earlier…

The bill’s author, state Rep. Eric Turner (R), defended its passage, telling The Indianapolis Star Thursday that it means “pregnant ladies will have a better-informed decision to make.” Representative Turner also said, “The net result will be less abortions in Indiana, and I’m pleased about that.”

First, I’ve never had a problem with recognizing that Republicans are by-and-large anti-science. That’s a given, and this requirement to force doctors to make up stuff to tell pregnant women only confirms it. Second, women are NOT children and they are NOT making these decisions lightly, you condescending piece of shit, Eric Turner. Unfortunately, this douche isn’t alone in not getting that. Pick any random inbred state that’s been attempting to destroy individual autonomy and the idea that sexual maturity is a good thing: invariably there will be some ass who pretends that his motivation is to make sure women really know what’s going on. “Make them look at an ultrasound! Clearly women have no fucking clue what’s going on inside their bodies!”

No, you anti-abortionists, get it through your thick fucking skulls: People aren’t rejecting your shit arguments out of ignorance or a desire to murder babies. We aren’t rejecting it because we’re in the dark about all the emotionally manipulative (and emotionally false) images. We’re rejecting your horseshit because human beings – real live persons – are not defined by merely being cells. We’re rejecting it because consciousness matters, and making up that fetuses can feel and understand anything, including pain, is fundamentally dishonest. We’re rejecting it because it devalues human life to lie and claim a ball of developing cells is on the same playing field as someone who is 2 or 122 or anything between. Get better arguments.

The only glimmer of hope I can see in all this is that the Republicans, despite being the cause of much of our economic woes, were only elected to deal with the economy. Now that they’re showing their true colors, hopefully their human-hurting agendas will be rejected next time around.

Update: Oh, and a helpful reminder:

Thought of the day

Where are all the jobs?! This is a Republican economy now! They’ve been in power for over two days! Come on!

Or does the ridiculous impatience of pundits and even Americans at large not apply to this Congress?

Can’t we have our bigotry? Pleeeaaassse?

Republicans in Iowa want their judges to be purely political figures, making their decisions based upon lay opinions, not law.

Several Republican state lawmakers said Friday that they will try to impeach four Iowa Supreme Court justices who joined in a unanimous 2009 ruling that legalized gay marriage in the state.

The effort, led by newly elected House member Kim Pearson of Des Moines, comes about six weeks after voters removed three other justices from the seven-member court after a campaign that focused on the gay marriage ruling. Those three justices were up for retention elections, in which voters have the option of ousting judges near the end of their terms.

Pearson said the remaining justices should be impeached because they overstepped their authority and violated the state constitution when they overturned a state law that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. She claimed the court ruling infringed on the Legislature’s role in making laws.

This is a political stunt that isn’t going to go anywhere given 1) the fact that Democrats, the party of mostly non-bigots, still control the Iowa state Senate and 2) any amendment needs to pass in two elected Legislatures back-to-back. It won’t happen and these Republicans know it. What they’re doing is preying on the anti-gay fears of voters in a traditional mid-Western state.

There are dozens of states which passed pro-bigot amendments to their constitutions after gay marriage became legal in Massachusetts. Even though it isn’t any fun to give praise to states that are literally ruining lives, they made the smart decision in terms of how to stop two people of the same sex from getting married. The Republicans in Iowa need to suck it up and accept that sometimes women love women and men love men and they deserve the legal protections that can only be had in marriage, and too bad if you didn’t pass your own pro-bigot amendments years ago.Your supreme court made the correct legal and moral decision.

Republicans and being just a little fat

In my daily news trawl, I came across two articles listed right next to each other. Here’s the first:

House Republicans have temporarily blocked legislation to feed school meals to thousands more hungry children.

Republicans used a procedural maneuver Wednesday to try to amend the $4.5 billion bill, which would give more needy children the opportunity to eat free lunches at school and make those lunches healthier. First lady Michelle Obama has lobbied for the bill as part of her “Let’s Move” campaign to combat childhood obesity.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has also taken a swipe at the first lady’s campaign, bringing cookies to a speech at a Pennsylvania school last month and calling the campaign a “school cookie ban debate” and “nanny state run amok” on her Twitter feed.

It has been abundantly clear for a long, long time that Sarah Palin is intellectually inferior to most people. I really don’t see how this can even be debated. But it hasn’t always been clear that she’s also just a bad person. Now it is.

Now, if she was scientifically literate, maybe this second article would have an impact on her thinking:

The latest research involving about 1.5 million people concluded that healthy white adults who were overweight were 13 percent more likely to die during the time they were followed in the study than those whose weight is in an ideal range.

“Having a little extra meat on your bones — if that meat happens to be fat — is harmful, not beneficial,” said Dr. Michael Thun of the American Cancer Society, senior author of the study.

The study’s conclusions, published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, are similar to three other large studies, said the lead author, Amy Berrington of the National Cancer Institute.

“Now there’s really a very large body of evidence which supports the finding that being overweight is associated with a small increased risk of death,” Berrington said.

This is what I’m talking about when I say human beings are more important than the abstract ethical principle of liberty. Letting kids get fat is going to have real world consequences that no one wants. Human lives matter.

But kids do like cookies.

Young voters, education, and tuning out the GOP

There is an article up at the pro-conservative FrumForum which talks about how the GOP did extremely well during last week’s elections among general voters, but when it comes to well-educated young people, they failed horribly.

The blue line is the trend for Tompkins county (see link for chart; Cornell University is in Tompkins County). Again, a negative score implies that Republicans do better than they do nationally, a positive score that the Democrats to better. In 1960 – admittedly an odd year – Nixon beat Kennedy by 33 points in what was nationally a tied election. In 2008 Obama beat McCain by 42 points, 35 points more than the national average. The trend is not quite linear – apart from the 1960 election, there is a relatively flat trend between 1964 and 1980 – on average, Republicans do a little bit better than Democrats relatively. Then there is a new level between 1984 and 2000, where Democrats are up by 20 points compared to the national average. Finally, there is a jump in the last two elections, with Democrats up around 35 points. This implies a swing of 40 points from the 1970s – and a whopping 68 points from 1960.

And even this second chart (see link) understates the Republican problem with top students.

It isn’t any surprise that the GOP does poorly with young students. There’s a social and economic disconnect. Students tend to be more socially tolerant of others than the GOP in general. The GOP’s base is made in large part of an older generation that didn’t need higher education at the rate required today, so there is an education gap there that negatively impacts things such as women’s rights and civil rights for gays. This older generation then further negatively impacts the things that matter to young voters by voting in favor of social programs which are in need of fiscal retooling; a lack of retooling is fine for now, but will become an issue later – when these older voters are mostly dead. (The U.S. really needs a version of the Australian law which says everyone must vote or face a fine.)

But it isn’t just that the GOP absolutely does not serve the financial interests of young people (or most people who aren’t wildly wealthy, but I digress). It’s also that well-educated young people care about, well, education. In this area, the GOP unarguably fails. A second FrumForum article gets to the heart of the matter.

Let me advance another hypothesis. Today’s top students are motivated less by enthusiasm for Democrats and much more by revulsion from Republicans. It’s not the students who have changed so much. It’s the Republicans.

Under Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, Republicans championed science and knowledge. But over the past 30 years, national Republicans have formed an intensifying alliance with religious conservatives more skeptical of science and knowledge. I don’t know whether discarding evolution goes against common sense; but I’m pretty sure it goes against most Ivy League-educated senses.

To advance this alliance, national Republicans have derided elite universities as dangerous and hostile places.

This anti-intelligence movement among Republicans is long-standing. I think part of it stems from the emphasis the party placed on social values in recent years, especially throughout the 90’s. A lot of the concern there was fair, even if wrong-headed. But there was a hidden correlation among those with more socially liberal (i.e., fair and equal) values; some of what brings one to certain social values also brings one to more liberal economic policies. Given the unfortunate nature of politics, we often find ourselves arguing the polemic even though we may have plenty of common ground. This can lead to an us-vs-them mentality which in turn polarizes the political atmosphere. Now we have Republicans, resting on the shoulders of those who came to power over socially conservative values, who are also forced into other positions, including economic hostility towards science and education. And of course, there is the real hostility that exists among religious conservative who rightly recognize the threat science and education pose to their pre-conceived notions; it isn’t just politics now – much of the power of the GOP is locked up in the hands of those who really are anti-science and anti-education. (To be fair, I’ll grant that they are only generally anti-education in practice; idealistically I think most everyone is pro-education.)

And even though they didn’t win in every instance, now we have those annoying Teabaggers promoting anti-intelligence views.

via Why Evolution Is True

‘AsMaineGoes’ user gets it wrong

From time to time I find that someone links to FTSOS from some right-wing, teabagging, anti-common sense site called AsMaineGoes.com. I usually just ignore it because there isn’t really any substance being added; the user will just link back here because he* can safely assume that everyone will agree that whatever I’ve said is disagreeable. But now someone has made a thread based on my post about Libby Mitchell being great for education, and while he basically just does the standard practice of quoting me with the assumption that all his right-wing friends are on board with what he thinks, he did have to make a thread title.

Disagree wtih (sic) Libby? You’re ‘Hostile Towards Science’

Why, Michael, you say, do you really believe people are hostile towards science for disagreeing with Libby Mitchell? No. Here’s what I actually said (and even what this guy actually quoted):

Whereas LePage and the Republican party are hostile towards science, Mitchell recognizes its crucial importance to the future of the state.

It isn’t that hard to get. LePage and Republicans aren’t hostile towards science because they disagree with Libby Mitchell. That would be ridiculous. They just disagree with Libby Mitchell because they’re hostile towards science.

*I normally use “he” in my writing when I could use either gender (or both – “he or she”) because I’m not usually looking to make a point about gender equality, at least not in a way that constitutes a literary distraction for most people. But I think in this case of using “he” for users at AsMaineGoes, I have pretty high odds of using the correct pronoun.

Bigots defeat bill containing anti-bigotry

The GOP/Tea Party/Bigots prevented the passage of a major defense spending bill because they’re sexually immature.

Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked an effort by Democrats and the White House to lift the ban on gays from serving openly in the military, voting unanimously against advancing a major defense policy bill that included the provision.

An estimated 13,000 people have been discharged under the law since its inception in 1993. Although most dismissals have resulted from gay service members outing themselves, gay rights’ groups say it has been used by vindictive co-workers to drum out troops who never made their sexuality an issue.

As usual, the party of hate and ignorance is advancing an agenda which is actively harmful to the lives of fellow humans. The worse part, I think, is that (with very few exceptions) this isn’t being done with the plausible explanation that the Republicans honestly think their policies will be good for most people. They just hate gays.

Thought of the day

I don’t much get into debating Obama’s policies because the political environment is so polarized and thus not conducive to discussion with most people, but I do rather hate the FOX Noise-driven rhetoric I constantly hear. From “socialist” to “death panels”, there’s a lot of lying. There’s certainly plenty of the same from Democrats, but the Republicans are just better at it. They demonstrate as much in the way they’ve convinced people that the stimulus bill failed. In fact, without the stimulus unemployment would be another 2 points higher. But the Republicans aren’t going to mention that figure.