Republicans Lose Support in Rural America

I’ve commented frequently on the decline of the Republican Party. Increasingly it seems they are limited to the south and rural areas. Scratch that. Not even the rural areas are safe for them any more. A poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for the Center for Rural Strategies shows that support for Republicans is declining even in the rural areas. NPR’s Morning Edition reports:

“I think there are two big headlines out of this poll,” says Anna Greenberg of the Democratic polling firm of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. “The first is ‘Republican Collapse in Rural Areas.’ And the second is ‘Rural is the Battleground in 2008.”

Republicans very well many still win the ex-burbs and rural areas, but they will not win by overwhelming margins as in the past, making Democratic victories statewide more likely. Republicans may also need to place more resources in areas which they previously took for granted.

Before Democrats count on a 1964 type landslide, keep in mind that a lot can change between now and election day. Iraq was the major factor cited for the hostility towards the Republicans. If Democrats are not perceived as doing enough to end the war, traditional Republican voters might not see them as a valid alternative. Right now we are expecting a big show down in September This better not turn out to be as disappointing as The Soprano‘s finale.

Republicans Firm In Their Convictions–The Flat Earth Philosophy Will Not Die

There is yet another poll out which reduces science to a matter of public opinion. Gallup reports that a majority of Republicans do not believe in evolution. Results are much better for independents and Democrats, but still much lower than I would hope. Several other polls have shown the same finding, and polls have also demonstrated that the United States lags behind most of the world in acceptance of science. This is hardly a surprise in a country where 25% expect to see the second coming this year.

There was some inconsistency in the latest Gallup poll:

It might seem contradictory to believe that humans were created in their present form at one time within the past 10,000 years and at the same time believe that humans developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life. But, based on an analysis of the two side-by-side questions asked this month about evolution and creationism, it appears that a substantial number of Americans hold these conflicting views.

I’m not really surprised by such inconsistencies. The only explanations for disbelief in the basis of modern biology are ignorance or the lack of an ability to critically analyze information and reach coherent conclusions. In many cases both problems are present, which would actually make such contradictory poll findings to be expected among those with this flat-earth mentality.

These findings are important for a number of reasons. They show the necessity not only to block attempts by creationists to block teaching of legitimate science in the school room, but to find ways to better educate the rest of the population. If only we could have more Carl Sagan’s and less of American Idol on television. We must educate people not only about evolution, but of the entire scientific method as a means to determine facts about the universe. Once people believe that basic matters of science are a matter of their own personal opinion and debate, this leaves the door open to futher denialism. Therefore we see the vast majority of Republicans denying the consensus of scientific thought on climate change.

The Republican disconnect with reality goes well beyond science. It took quite a while for many people to realize that Saddam didn’t threaten us with WMD, and that he was not involved in 9/11. Some Republicans continue to hold on to such delusions. Blogging is largely a personal exercise influenced by the beliefs and priorities of each blogger. Many liberal blogs concentrate on political horse races and getting their favorite Democrats elected in the next election. Liberal Values, while still looking at politics, is far more interested in the greater ideological battles of the day. This includes defending liberty over authoritarianism and science over superstition. While long term I am far more an independent than a member of any political party, at this point we have one party which poses a great risk of spreading both authoritarianism and superstition, providing common ground in opposing the current Republican leadership.

Moonbats to The Left, Moonbats to the Right

In one of today’s blogosphere debates, Moonbattery has taken on The Democratic Daily for promoting some of the nutty conspiracy theories regarding 9/11. I can’t argue with Moonbattery‘s take on these “tinfoil-hat ravings” and this is consistent with many other posts there which exclude The Democratic Daily from the reality based community.

If only Moonbattery could limit themselves to debunking such conspiracy theories. Ok, I’d even forgive a few chuckles. Unfortunately Moonmattery is guilty of quite a bit of moonbattery of their own. They portray the views expressed at The Democratic Daily as representing the “raw insanity driving today’s Democrat Party.” As long time readers here know, I left The Democratic Daily months ago finding that some of the views there were out of touch with both reality and liberal thought. I’m clearly not alone in that assessment as both readership and links to the site have dropped tremendously since I left. Moonbattery is practicing serious moonbattery in suggesting that the moonbat views at The Democratic Daily are representative of liberal belief.

Moonbattery also uses this to smear John Kerry, citing Pamela as “Hanoi John’s official blogger.” Early in the campaign, Pamela did have occasional posts on the Kerry campaign’s official blog. However, during the campaign she was removed from this position, and even banned from posting at the campaign’s official forum. (To be fair to Pamela, the latter was partially a matter of problems with the forum administrator who had a bad habit of banning Kerry supporters who got on his bad side. He even banned me on one occasion, but the campaign quickly overruled that and reduced his authority. Pamela did remain banned.)

The reference to “Hanoi John” is not the only slur on John Kerry, who has absolutely nothing to do with the these conspiracy theories. Moonbattery could do a much better job at debunking moonbat ideas if they stuck to the facts as opposed to promoting their own moonbat theories on John Kerry and on “liberal profs” teaching history classes.

There is also more on this at Screw Loose Change, The Jawa Report, and Mein BlogVault

Update: Pamela has gone into her “poor innocent me” act in a post at The Democratic Daily accusing me of harassing her. What she doesn’t admit is that she launched two attacks on me in the past few weeks and has been smearing me for months. I have made it clear that I intended to ignore her as long as she ceased her constant attacks on me. I have also warned her of the consequences if she did not.

Pamela denies taking any controversial positions. Maybe in her mind our disagreements do not represent controversial positions, but most would see it differently. We’ve disagreed over her belief in astrology, her belief in ghosts, her support for anti-evolution writings, her dismissal of holocaust denial, and her defense of Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitism.

Pamela also writes, “I am deeply saddened that I feel the need to distance myself from my blog at this time…” If I only had a nickle for every time she has said she was giving up blogging, including when she began having the above noted problems with the Kerry campaign and virtually every time we’ve had a dispute. One of the advantages of blogging is that the views and actions of others don’t really matter. When I found The Democratic Daily intolerable to remain at, it was an easy matter to start my own blog and what goes on there barely matters (other than for ocassionally having to defend myself from Pamela’s attacks.)

Update II: Pamela insists on keeping this going with post after post. She has once again assumed her role of blog police, saying it is never right for a liberal blogger to criticize anything said by another liberal. As should be clear to readers here, I call them as I see them, even if it means disagreeing with a liberal or agreeing with a conservative when they are right. It is also rather hypocritical of Pamela to complain about my responses to Kos for his attacks on Kerry now when she similarly criticized Kos over this herself. As usual, Pamela just loves to twist the facts to portray everyone but her as in some way evil. To Pamela, the fact that I have disagreed with other liberals justifies any type of attack from her.
Most of Pamela’s nonsense is not worth the time to respond too, but one other item is so illustrative of the absurd way she thinks that I cannot help but to note it. Pamela writes, “Since Ron professes to not believe in astrology I question why this is in his Blogger profile: Astrological Sign: Aquarius, Zodiac Year: Sheep.”

The reason it is in my profile is simple. When I signed up for Blogger, the form asked for my birthday, or maybe even for my sign, and I filled out the form. Astrology for most is a meaningless diversion and if Blogger put it in my profile it wasn’t an issue. Most people can have a laugh reading their newspaper horoscope while realizing that astrology is bunk, but Pamela sure went ballistic when I first mentioned that opinion at The Democratic Daily. As to why an understanding of science, as opposed to promotion of pseudo-science, is important, see the post I wrote after the initial post here.

This does not mean we can’t find amusement with astrology and other forms of fortune telling. I did get a laugh from opening a fortune cookie at lunch last week. The fortune said I should take a trip to the west, and I have recently planned a trip to San Francisco and vicinity. Of course I understand coincidence while others may not.

Pamela also takes a portion of a comment from me out of context to attack in her last post, and makes up some nonsense about blocking her trackbacks, but again, that is just typical Pamela being Pamela. No truth or fair play is ever to be expected.

Update III: Will the laughs never end today? We even have a commenter (who just must be a friend of Pamela’s) who is responsible for a first here at Liberal Values. I thought I’ve been hit with virtually every insult imaginable (in comments which usually don’t make it through moderation). Today we have a new one as someone came here to both defend astrology and to call me a “poopie head.” I’m afraid that admitting to a belief in astrology pretty much excludes one from being able to meaningfully insult anyone.

As moonbattery is the topic of the day, I’ll also note that a reader has emailed a tip that Deepak Chopra is at it again. This time he babbles about quantum theory and consciousness. Fortunately the commenters at Huffington Post usually do a good of debunking his nonsense and I might just leave this to them. I don’t know if I can handle the polling results on belief in evolution, astrology, and Chopra in one day.

Update IV: More in the email bag. A reader from Northern California wishes me a good trip to his region and requests to point out that “not all Californians are astrology-believing moonbats.” I never doubted that, but will still pass on his recommended links. Check out The Astrology Defense Kit from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and the section on astrology at Bad Astronomy.

Update V: Showing that liberals and conservatives can join together in common cause, The Jawa reports on how I “was attacked by Pamela” and comes to defend against “the Twoofers and their ancillary legions of astrologers, Holocaust deniers, liars, huxters, frauds, film school dropouts and pizza delivery boys.” Now I’m awaiting input from the Ewoks.

Update VI: Shouting The Loudest In the Blogosphere

Update VII: New evidence came out debunking 9/11 denialism, frustrating the conspiracy theorists at The Democratic Daily leading to new round of personal attacks. My replies are here and here.

Update VIII: World Net Daily Attacks The Democratic Daily Over Violence and Porn–What Irony

Powell Questions Handling of Iraq War; Not Willing Yet to Endorse a Republican For 2008

Colin Powell is not going to be very popular in Republican circles after his appearance on Meet the Press.


He states that without weapons of mass destruction there was no justification for going to war in Iraq:

MR. RUSSERT: In light of the fact that we did not find the weapons of mass destruction, the president still describes the war as a war of choice—war of necessity, rather than choice. Vice President Cheney said we would do the same thing all over again. Knowing what you know today, would you do the same thing all over again?

GEN. POWELL: If we knew today—or knew then what we know today, that there were no weapons of mass destruction, I would’ve had nothing to take to the United Nations. The national intelligence estimate, which was the basis of my presentation and, by the way, was the basis of the intimation that was given to the Congress that caused them to vote a resolution of support four months before my UN presentation, we rested our case on the existence of weapons of mass destruction that were a threat to us and could be given to terrorists, making it another kind of threat to us. I think without that weapons of mass destruction case, the justification would not have been there, even though Hussein was a terrible person, human rights abuses abounded, he was cheating on the UN food, Oil for Food program. But I think it is doubtful that without the weapons of mass destruction case, the president and Congress and the United Nations and those who joined us in the conflict—the British, the Italians, the Spanish, the Australians—would’ve found a persuasive enough case to support a decision to go to war.


Powell also discussed the pre-war warnings of the consequences of going into Iraq and admits, “we didn’t prepare ourselves well enough for the kinds of challenges that occurred in the aftermath of the fall of Baghdad.” (more…)

The Death Penalty and Deterrence

AP has a story out which will probably create a lot of discussion. They state that a series of academic studies over the past six years show that the death penalty does act as a deterrent to other crimes. They argue that between three and eighteen lives would be saved with the execution of each convicted killer. These results could force opponents of the death penalty to reassess their views:

The studies’ conclusions drew a philosophical response from a well-known liberal law professor, University of Chicago’s Cass Sunstein. A critic of the death penalty, in 2005 he co-authored a paper titled “Is capital punishment morally required?”

“If it’s the case that executing murderers prevents the execution of innocents by murderers, then the moral evaluation is not simple,” he told The Associated Press. “Abolitionists or others, like me, who are skeptical about the death penalty haven’t given adequate consideration to the possibility that innocent life is saved by the death penalty.”

Sunstein said that moral questions aside, the data needs more study.

Others question the validity of the data:

Some claim that the pro-deterrent studies made profound mistakes in their methodology, so their results are untrustworthy. Another critic argues that the studies wrongly count all homicides, rather than just those homicides where a conviction could bring the death penalty. And several argue that there are simply too few executions each year in the United States to make a judgment.

“We just don’t have enough data to say anything,” said Justin Wolfers, an economist at the Wharton School of Business who last year co-authored a sweeping critique of several studies, and said they were “flimsy” and appeared in “second-tier journals.”

The authors of the study argue that critics of their work are more concerned with defending their position than seeking the truth.

Several authors of the pro-deterrent reports said they welcome criticism in the interests of science, but said their work is being attacked by opponents of capital punishment for their findings, not their flaws.

“Instead of people sitting down and saying ‘let’s see what the data shows,’ it’s people sitting down and saying ‘let’s show this is wrong,'” said Paul Rubin, an economist and co-author of an Emory University study. “Some scientists are out seeking the truth, and some of them have a position they would like to defend.”

It is certainly possible that some opponents of the death penalty might allow their opinions to blind them to contrary evidence. There is another group which is also showing a propensity for defending their position rather than seeking truth–the conservative bloggers who are already citing this as proof of their beliefs.

As someone who is accustomed to reading studies in academic journals as well as seeing their coverage in the mainstream media, one lesson is clear. Journalists do a terrible job of evaluating academic literature and their reporting is frequently inaccurate. A newspaper article which focuses on one study can be particularly misleading as conflicting results can often be found in research studies. It takes closer evaluation of each study’s methods, and often larger studies, to determine the truth.

This article is of interest as it does present a reason for the reality based community to question one of its beliefs, but it does not represent a final answer on the subject. In the spirit of tonight’s major event, even if it proves nothing, I should also note that the death penalty sure never deterred Tony Soprano!