Boys Cast Out by Polygamists

Anyone who watches Big Love realizes that one of problems with polygamy is that young boys are thrown out so that they won’t compete with the older men for teenage brides. The New York Times reports on efforts to help boys who have been cast out. Besides those who are cast out to avoid competition for brides, many are cast out for “sins” such as watching movies. They start with this example:

Woodrow Johnson was 15, and by the rules of the polygamous sect in which his family lived, he had a vice that could condemn them to hell: He liked to watch movies.

When his parents discovered his secret stash of DVDs, including the “Die Hard” series and comedies, they burned them and gave him an ultimatum. Stop watching movies, they said, or leave the family and church for good.

With television and the Internet also banned as wicked, along with short-sleeve shirts — a sign of immodesty — and staring at girls, let alone dating them, Woodrow made the wrenching decision to go. And so 10 months ago, with only a seventh-grade education and a suitcase of clothes, he was thrown into an unfamiliar world he had been taught to fear.

Others have been cast out for attending public schools. The article ends with this story:

“I was a good boy, working 13-hour days,” he said. But he had been raising questions, especially after his father’s four wives were assigned to other husbands. Then Marc got caught driving to a nearby town to watch a movie.

One evening as he was making a chicken sandwich, he recalled, “My two older brothers came and said that because I’d gone to the movies, Warren said I’m out.”

“I went into my bedroom and my mother was already packing my things, and crying,” he said. “That night they drove me to a relative’s home in St. George.”

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How Conservatives Think

There’s two somewhat related posts worth reading this evening. Neurophilosophy reviews a study from Nature Neuroscience which suggests there might be a cognitive explanation for the differences in how conservatives and liberals think.

Research suggests that liberals and conservatives have different personality traits and “cognitive styles”: while liberals

The Denialism Blog notes that “one common tactic one sees from denialists is whole-hog cut-and-paste rebuttals without attribution. For instance, on finds when arguing with evolution denialists that they’ll just cut-and-paste tired creationist arguments into comment threads.” They find similarities between the global warming deniers and creationists:

We wrote briefly about the latest attempt by global warming denialists to suggest that the scientific consensus does not support climate change. To start with, it was little more than a repeat of the previous debunked attempts, and was hardly original.

Well, for more proof they can’t think originally, write originally, or do anything other than rehash debunked arguments, check out Lambert’s coverage of Shulte’s reply to criticism that he’s engaging in more typical denialist nonsense. It’s a cut-and-paste job from Monckton without attribution! Not only is it total nonsense – nearly every citation is miscategorized or misrepresented – but it’s almost word-for-word lifted from another global warming hack’s writing, without attribution or citation.

So continuing the long tradition of hack responses to criticism, the latest global warming denialist nonsense looks just like the same nonsense that was debunked in years past, and just like the kind of nonsense one sees from creationists.

Update: The Los Angeles Times is now reporting on the “left wing brain” versus the “right wing brain.” They add this analysis of the findings:

Frank J. Sulloway, a researcher at UC Berkeley’s Institute of Personality and Social Research who was not connected to the study, said the results “provided an elegant demonstration that individual differences on a conservative-liberal dimension are strongly related to brain activity.”

Analyzing the data, Sulloway said liberals were 4.9 times as likely as conservatives to show activity in the brain circuits that deal with conflicts, and 2.2 times as likely to score in the top half of the distribution for accuracy.

Sulloway said the results could explain why President Bush demonstrated a single-minded commitment to the Iraq war and why some people perceived Sen. John F. Kerry, the liberal Massachusetts Democrat who opposed Bush in the 2004 presidential race, as a “flip-flopper” for changing his mind about the conflict.

Based on the results, he said, liberals could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas.

“There is ample data from the history of science showing that social and political liberals indeed do tend to support major revolutions in science,” said Sulloway, who has written about the history of science and has studied behavioral differences between conservatives and liberals.

This might apply to conservative denial of the science of evolution and climate change, but there are other factors involved.The statement on John Kerry requires some correction. Kerry opposed going into Iraq unless it was proven we were threatened by WMD. As there was no such evidence, he did object to the war prior to the start of the war so there was not any significant difference between his pre-war beliefs and his opposition to the war during the 2004 campaign. The real difference is that liberals were less likely to have a problem with a nuanced position of supporting going to war under certain circumstances, such as if we were threatened by WMD, and opposing the war when the threat described by the Bush administration was not found to be valid. In contrast, once conservatives decided upon war they were less likely to change their views based upon the facts.

Ron Paul And The Loss of Liberty

The Agonist shares many of my reservations that a victory for Ron Paul would have the effect of reducing rather than increasing liberty in the United States. While Ron Paul has libertarian ideas in some areas, ultimately he is a social conservative which places him on the wrong side of many of today’s most important issues. As I’ve previously written:

While I sympathize with Paul’s opposition to the war and some of his other positions, his absurd claim that “The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers” prevents me from considering him as a candidate, or believing his rhetoric of being a strict defender of the Constitution. Paul has supported keeping “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, has co-sponsored the school prayer amendment, and supported keeping the Ten Commandments on a courthouse lawn. As with the other Republicans, Paul shows that he will cite the founding fathers and the Constitution when convenient, and ignore their principles when not.

With the balance on the Supreme Court tilting to the right, and with the religious right increasingly imposing their views on others through legislation, it is essential that we have political leaders who are willing to defend the ideas of separation of church and state which this nation was founded upon.

Today’s post at The Agonist is actually the second of two.The first post (which I missed while I was on vacation) concentrates on Paul’s opposition to abortion rights. This may be the most clear cut example of where the election of a social conservative such as Ron Paul could result in the loss of a liberty we now possess, assuming he picks Supreme Court justices who agree with him.

Today’s post at The Agonist is more broad based. Both stress a problem seen both by Paul and many more mainstream Republicans of arguing based upon federalism as opposed to considering outright restrictions upon the power of government. In order to guarantee liberties it is necessary that this be done at the national level. The same principles of defending liberties against the will of the majority at a federal level must apply at all levels of government. Allowing fundamental liberties to be decided by a majority on a state or local level viiolates the rights of the individual no less than if this was imposed from Washington. As The Agonist concludes:

I believe that the people’s rights should be secured at the highest level and maintained with ferocity. When you send decisions on issues such as abortion down to lower levels, you encounter greater and greater amounts of variation in outcomes. This is actually an inherent property of statistics: The smaller a given sample size, the larger the standard deviation. Some states will exercise petty tyranny over the lives of their citizens, while others will become bastions of freedom…

As decision making on basic rights devolves to lower levels, petty tyranny has a very good chance of taking hold. It’s often better to solidify our gains at the highest level (in our case, the federal government) and then use that as a springboard toward further liberty.

As I’ve mentioned previously, Ron Paul is not really on the side of liberty. He is on the side of strict constructionists who adhere to a literal reading of the constitution. Much of the rest of his politics flows from that. It’s mostly accidental, in my opinion, that some of his policies may bring the people more liberty.

I have no doubt that Paul believes he is “really on the side of liberty” and in some areas his policies would intentionally, as opposed to accidentally, result in more liberty. Unfortunately Paul defines liberty too narrowly, concentrating primarily on economic liberties and opposing “big government” at the federal level. Paul’s social conservativism and failure to differentiate between infringements on liberty at the local as opposed to the federal level would result in a decrease in individual liberty for many Americans.

The Fascism Delusion

The Valve has a great satire on many of the reviews of Richard Dawkins’s book, The God Delusion. Imagine if instead he had written The Fascism Delusion and the same arguments were used against him.

Edwards Questions If Obama Is Qualified to Be President

John Edwards, who is probably the least qualified candidate from either party to have a shot at a presidential nomination in recent history, has questioned whether the far more experienced Barack Obama is qualified to be president. New York 1 reports:

Edwards admitted he’s unsure if his other Democratic rival Senator Barack Obama is qualified for the job, but called him talented, young and charismatic.

Hat tip to Think On These Things who had an excellent reply to this:

Wow. I can’t believe JOHN “All rhetoric, no record, least number of years in political office than any other Democratic nominee, co-wrote the Patriot Act and the bill that sent our troops into Iraq, did less work in his full single term in the U.S. Senate than Obama has done in his half term” EDWARDS, said that.

There are several additional items to add to this. Obama spent years working as a Constitutional law professor, community organizer, and member of the state legislature before entering the Senate. Edwards sought a single term in the Senate which he primarily used to run for the 2004 nomination. When he had to settle for the vice presidential spot, he placed his own plans for a 2008 run ahead of the interests of the 2004 campaign.

Bob Shrum may have summed up Edwards best when he called him “a Clinton who hadn’t read the books.” When the National Journal took a survey of the most overrated candidates, Edwards led the Democratic field.

Edwards’ term in the Senate is hardly anything to call one qualified to run for president. The blog I quoted above already noted Edwards’ blunders on the war and the Patriot Act. George Stephanopoulos also noted many additional areas where Edwards has changed his views from when he was in the Senate.

While Edwards made healthcare a cornerstone of his campaign we found that Edwards doesn’t even know that Cuba has a government run health care system, and he even asked this just a few days after recommending that people watch Sicko which looked at the Cuban system. His ideas on health care looked even more absurd when he started talking about making preventative care mandatory.

Obama sure showed he knows more about separation of church and state, with his comments sounding much more like those of someone qualified to be president than Edwards’ statements on religion and gay marriage. Obama’s experience in Constitutional law is also more pertinent to becoming president than Edwards’ experience in using junk science to convince juries that problems caused by fetal brain injury long before the onset of labor were due to alleged malpractice at time of delivery.

Obama also shows a better understanding of dealing with poverty than Edwards, as I’ve discussed here and here. Edwards’ use of the poverty issue appears much less sincere after the exposures of how he used his Poverty Center as a means to keep supporters on the payroll after 2005 and to avoid FEC regulations. His claim that he had no idea that the mortgage company he worked for was foreclosing on Katrina victims does not say much about his intelligence after he claimed he worked for the company to learn the business.

I’ve previously quoted Brad Warthen, editorial page editor of The State as showing examples of what a phony Edwards is. Edwards supporters replied here and elsewhere that he was just a right winger who would attack any Democrat. However this defense didn’t hold up when I checked for his writings on Obama:

The 23-year-old who still gasps somewhere within me is convinced that Barack Obama is completely for real when he channels JFK via Jimmy Carter…
I first spoke to Barack Obama — very briefly, because of cell phone problems while I was traveling through mountains — a month ago. He only wanted to talk about one thing: Clean. He was unveiling his plan for “the most sweeping ethics reform in history,” — “Closing the Revolving Door,” “Increasing Public Access to Information,” and other Clean Government 101 stuff.

But with that overflow crowd of college kids providing better reception than my Treo, I realized that for this candidate, such yadda-yadda basics were more than just the talking points of that one day.

Warthen’s writings about Edwards being a phony appear much less partisan after seeing his comments on Obama and reading of his past support for Jimmy Carter.

There’s no doubt that Obama has less experience than many others who have run for president, but he has far more experience than John Edwards. Obama has also shown that he is far more knowledgeable than Edwards. Edwards has no business questioning whether anyone else is qualified to be president.

Related Post: Edwards Evades Question, Then Attacks Clinton for Triangulation. Not only is Edwards the least qualified candidate, he’s also the most hypocritical.

Washington Post Speculates on Gore Endorsement

I wonder if this means the media is moving on from all the stories about whether Gore will run. Instead The Washington Post wonders who Gore will endorse. They note that Obama, Edwards, and Dodd have all met with him. Clinton has not, and they assume Gore will not support her following “the falling out between Gore and the Clintons.”

I believe they might be exaggerating the significance of a Gore endorsement:

Gore is, without question, the biggest “get” when it comes to the fight for endorsements on the Democratic side. Since his loss to George W. Bush, Gore has been transformed from a has-been politician to a happening global messenger on the dangers of climate change.

Gore’s endorsement was not enough to help Howard Dean win despite Dean’s lead in the polls. While Gore is even more popular now than in 2003 when he endorsed Howard Dean, I question how many people will vote based upon Gore’s recommendation. As we saw in 2004, the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire made up their minds at the last minute, often based upon seeing the candidates personally. A key endorsement in these states who can get out the vote could be more important than Gore’s endorsement.

Gore’s endorsement might have the most impact on the campaign of one of the second tier candidates who are struggling to be taken seriously. People who are not paying attention to a campaign such as Dodd’s might consider such a candidate if endorsed by Gore. The candidate would still need to convince voters in Iowa and New Hampshire to vote for them,  but at present many aren’t even considering the second tier candidates.

Member of Clinton Cabinet Joins Obama

Federico Pena, who headed the transportation and energy departments under Bill Clinton, has decided against supporting Hillary Clinton. Pena is backing Barack Obama and becoming a co-chairman of his presidential campaign. Pena responded to the criticism that Obama does not have enough experience to be president:

“I have come to conclude that Barack Obama has the depth of judgment that our country needs to usher in a new era of global leadership,” Pena said. “For me, judgment and wisdom are far more important than experience.”