John McCain Continues His War on Science

I guess that with George Bush leaving office John McCain felt it was up to him to continue the Republican War on Science. Ryan Grim reports that McCain is repeating the same ignorant attacks on science that Sarah Palin used during the presidential campaign:

John McCain reached back into the presidential campaign on Wednesday to pull out a scientific critique that had first been made by his running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, when she ridiculed funding for fruit fly research. In a late-October speech, Palin noted that the research was going on in “Paris, France” and added “I kid you not.”

On Wednesday, McCain himself grabbed for the fruit-fly swatter at a press conference to unveil his new anti-earmark legislation.

After a long takedown of research into lobsters by the University of Maine that involves a “Lobster Cam,” McCain, a Senator from Arizona, turned on the fruit flies, saying, “also, there’s one in Paris that — yes — $212,000 for Olive Fruit Fly research in Paris, France.”

During the campaign, Palin’s criticism of fruit-fly research was heavily attacked by the scientific community, which argued that fruit flies, because of their brief life-spans, make up a cornerstone of scientific and medical research. In 1933, Thomas Hunt Morgan won a Nobel Prize for his work with fruit flies, which showed how genes are passed on through chromosomes.

Democrats, Independents, and Values

Earlier I noted a study from The Cook Political Report which found that education has become the most significant predictor of party identity. In the recent past others have found that religious adherence was the strongest predictor, with those who attend religious services multiple times a week being more likely to vote Republican. In contrast, those who attended once a week or less were more likely to vote Democratic. Marc Ambinder has reviewed some data which is  influenced by the older religion-based division between the parties to examine the 2008 election.

Throughout the election (along with my analysis of the 2006 elections) I have been arguing that the major trend has been for voters including the young, affluent, and more educated to become disenchanted with the Republican Party. In the past I’ve discussed this in terms of groups such as Starbucks Republicans and South Park Republicans abandoning the GOP to vote Democratic.

These trends have been due to Republican support for the Iraq  war and social conservatism, their adoption of McCarthyist tactics and the anti-intellecutalism seen in conservative talk radio and Sarah Palin, and the general Republican incompetence in governing. This fueled an independent movement which both helped remove the Republicans from office and helped Obama beat the Clintonistas. I have warned in several posts that the success of the Democrats has been fueled largely by opposition to the Republicans as opposed to actual support for the Democratic Party. The data reviewed by Ambinder both shows the trend towards identification with the Democratic Party and towards independents:

More voters identify with the Democratic Party today; Democrats, even after the election, maintain a nine point lead in terms of party identification. For voters under 30, the trend is striking: the party ID lead is 20 points for Democrats. Additionally, a running sample of battleground state voters sureyed from 2004 through 2008 shows a slow but pronounced migration from Republican to Democrat. Of the 11 percent of voters who were new to electorate, 62% of them were under 30, and they identify as Democrats by a margin of two to one — about more new voters under 30 identify as independents as they do Republicans.

Under normal circumstances I would not be certain that the Democrats would remain in power for long as many have failed to learn the lessons of 1994. The Democrats do have the ability to blow their current advantage. Fortunately for them, the Republicans, at least at the moment, seem intent upon committing political suicide by trying to become even more conservative and backing candidates such as Sarah Palin. By continuing to back policies which are intolerable to most educated voters, the Republicans fail to offer a viable alternative even if we should be unhappy with the return of Democratic rule.

Back in 1994 I hoped for the Republicans to take control of Congress in response to the disaster of HillaryCare and to provide greater checks an balances upon the Executive Branch, but that turned into a fiasco. I would certainly not make that mistake again, and I doubt many of the new Democratic voters who helped elect Obama will make that mistake after witnessing the Republicans in recent years.

If the Democrats do over-reach and lose the backing of their new supporters, I would not be a bit surprised if the reaction turns out to be support for a third party effort as the Republicans have made themselves so toxic. Developing a viable third party is far more difficult than for swing voters to bring the opposition party back into power, so perhaps the Democrats do have considerable breathing room. Perhaps the major division will be between the new Democrats who backed Obama and the old line Democrats leading Congress, with disputes such as what we are seeing over the economic stimulus plan becoming more common.

There is a second point in Marc Ambinder’s post which is of significance to Liberal Values. The name for this blog was chosen partially in response to the absurd conventional wisdom during the Bush years that being a values voter meant voting Republican and accepting their warped values system. Liberals as much as conservatives, and often more so, hold to a set of values.

Ambinder bases his post on an interview with Cornell Belcher who worked for Howard Dean and for the Obama campaign. He writes:

Belcher makes a distinction between “faith” voters and “values” voters, writing that “[t]hose
who place a high importance on faith in their voting choices still swing heavily Republican. But although nearly all faith voters (93 percent) are also values voters, the reverse is not necessarily true. Only half (53 percent) of values voters agree that religious faith was a very important influence in their voting choices. In short, many voters see their values as being about more than solely their religious faith.”

Republicans made the mistake of thinking that they could adopt the values of the religious right without losing the support of younger and more educated voters. Now will the Democrats truly defend the liberal values which led many new voters to support them?

Fact Checking Karl Rove on The Mortgage Crisis

It has been commonplace for Bush-apologists to attempt to rewrite history to hide fact that the current mortgage crisis largely is a consequence of the incompetence of the Bush administration. They often even attempt to shift the blame to Bill Clinton, taking no responsibility for their own actions over the past eight years. On Wednesday Karl Rove repeated many of the Republican fairy tails about the mortgage crisis. Barry Ritholtz tears apart Rove’s arguments.

You Might Be A Liberal If…

Kiera Butler of Mother Jones looks at characteristics of liberals versus conservatives:

You may be a liberal if…you were the Tracy Flick of your nursery school. Confident, dominating preschoolers grow into liberals, while fearful and easily victimized tots turn conservative.

You may be a conservative if…you alphabetize your underwear drawer. Conservatives are more likely to have neat and tidy rooms, and liberals messy ones.

You may be a liberal if…you’re up all night. 28% of liberals have insomnia, compared with 16% of conservatives.

You may be a conservative if…you’re a woman who craves chocolate chip cookies. Liberal ladies prefer theirs fruit filled.

You may be a liberal if…you’re in the mood for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie-Dough Cheesecake. Liberals’ chain eateries of choice are the Cheesecake Factory, Panera Bread, and Starbucks, while conservatives dine at Hardee’s and Fuddruckers.

You may be a conservative if…you’re happy with tap water. Domino’s Pizza claims Republican customers are less likely to order beverages.

You may be a liberal if…you’re too lazy to walk to the pizza place. The Domino’s survey found that Democrats rely on delivery more than Republicans.

You may be a conservative if…you have a son. Parents of boys are more likely to be conservative than parents of girls.

You may be a liberal if…you possess Obama-like calm. When shown a picture of a spider on a human face, most conservatives jump in fright; liberals react roughly the same as when they’re shown a picture of a bunny.

You may be a conservative if…your dreams are chaste. Nearly half of liberals report having erotic dreams; only 38% of conservatives admit to it. (This was before Sarah Palin.)

For the most part the liberal characteristics fit, but I do love chocolate chip cookies. I’ve also never had an erotic dream about Sarah Palin, but seeing a picture of her in someone’s face might make me react roughly the same way as when shown a picture of a spider.

Recent Florida Bowl History

With their victory in the BCS Championship Game last night, Florida has won two national championships in the past three years. Here is their recent bowl history (years given based upon main season with the bowls actually taking place at the start of the following year):

2006 BCS Championship Game:  Florida 41 Ohio State 14
2007 Capital One Bowl: Michigan 41-Florida 35
2008 BCS Championship Game: Florida 24 Oklahoma 14

I couldn’t resist pointing this out–us Michigan fans didn’t have very much good news in 2008. By the way, Michigan also beat Florida 38-30 in the 2002 Outback Bowl.

Peggy Noonan Meet Peggy Noonan

Peggy Noonan is one of the conservative columnists I read often,  frequently disagreeing with her and sometimes even agreeing. Regardless, I do respect her talents as a writer. I did find the conclusion of today’s colunn a bit odd coming from Noonan:

The Founders, who were awed by the presidency and who made it a point, the early ones, to speak in their inaugural addresses of how unworthy they felt, would be astonished and confounded by the over-awe with which we view presidents now. We treat them as if they are the Grand Imperial Czar of the Peacock Throne, and we their ‘umble servants. It’s no good, and vaguely un-American. Right now patriotism requires more than the usual candor. It requires speaking truthfully and constructively to a president who is a man, and just a man. We hire them, we fire them, they come back for photo-ops. They’re not magic.

It’s not that I disagree with Noonan, but this conflicts with  much of her other writing. It’s been a while since I looked at her book (which I do have in my library at home), What I Saw At The Revolution, but I do believe there was a fair bit of hero worship of Ronald Reagan in it. Not having the book handy, if I had more time I’d look through her columns for examples of hero worship, along  with examples  about George W. Bush before she began to lose confidence in him, but I see that Blue Texan has saved me the trouble.

I don’t mind seeing Peggy Noonan try to tone down hero worship of Barack Obama, but it doesn’t work to back hero worship selectively for presidents with an R after their name.  I guess we will be seeing a lot of flip-flops of this nature this month. Peggy Noonan reverses her view on hero worship of presidents. Fox will flip from a Pravda-type defender of the White House and return to the stance of constant attack they held eight years ago. MSNBC (at least during certain hours) will do the reverse.

Tim Tebow Big Winner


Congratulations to Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators on winning the BCS National Championship, beating Oklaoma 24-14.

As the game began I noted how a post which included a a picture of a girl rumored to be Tim Tebow’s girl friend (reposted above) has been bringing in record numbers of hits whenever Tebow has been involved in a major game. There have been reports that she never really was his girl friend, along with pictures of other potential candidates. Here are a couple of additional pictures floating around the web:



All this, the  Heisman last year, and two National Championships in three years!

Posted in Sports and Games. Tags: . 3 Comments »

Education and Party Identity

I have pointed out several times since the 2008 election, such as here, that the move by educated (and affluent) voters to the Democratic Party was a major reason why Barack Obama won. During 2008 both Hillary Clinton and John McCain embraced anti-intellectualism and went down to defeat as their charges of elitism failed to take hold. A majority of educated voters agreed with Jon Stewart that elitism in government leaders is good, and understood when he said, “not only do I want an elite president, but I want someone who is embarrassingly superior to me.”

The Cook Political Report has found that education has become the most significant predictor of party identity. The actual report is available only to subscribers but Taegan Goddard has a summary:

The Cook Political Report mines voting and census data and finds that “in the past decade, the most significant predictor of a county’s shift in partisan preference has not been existing partisanship, or even income. It is level of educational attainment. Democrats have gained ground in places where those with at least a bachelor’s degree comprise high shares of the electorate, and have seen their fortunes fade elsewhere.”

The trend line in the nation’s 3114 counties: “Each year, the Democratic candidate performed progressively better as shares of degree-holders rose.”

It  should come as no surprise that most educated voters have moved towards the Democratic Party considering the increasing anti-intellectualism in the GOP. As Republicans  lost the battle of ideas, they lost the support of educated voters.

Contrary to the common stereotype, most educated voters would not prefer to have a beer with George Bush, and even if they did have learned better than to actually vote for someone like him. This also means that Republicans are committing suicide if they should nominate Sarah Palin.

Most educated voters are also repelled by the hatred and ignorance which spew from people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Ann Couluter.

Most educated voters will not vote for a political party which contains members who believe in creationism, and is not willing to laugh any and all creationists out of the party. Anyone who believes in creationism is not capable of reaching a rational decision in the 21st century, period.

Most educated voters might wish that global warming wasn’t true, but deep down are smart enough to know that just because you wish it doesn’t mean you can ignore virtually every scientist in the field. Pretending that a handful of weathermen who dissent from the scientific consensus are qualified climatologists doesn’t make the Republicans look any smarter.

Most educated people have become wary of anyone who claims the Iraq war was justified, especially if they believe that Saddam had anything to do with 9/11 or that we were really threatened by WMD. Using made up words like Islamo-Fascism doesn’t help Republicans with educated voters either. (Even Frank Luntz realizes this.)

Most educated voters have figured out that Fox News is neither fair nor balanced, and that those who claim that every outlet of the mainstream media shows liberal bias are themselves a bit unbalanced.

The Republicans have degenerated into a party lacking in ideas which substitutes McCarthyist attacks for rational political debate. This worked for a brief time, aided by fear of terrorism after 9/11, but is not enough to sustain a political party which has repeatedly shown itself incapable of governing.