The translations are ok, but the speeches at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) do sound the best in the original German.

(My current Facebook status)

Almost One Third Of Texans Believe “The Flintstones” Showed Real Life

Those Texans are really misinformed (as are far too many other Americans). The Texas Tribune reviewed how ignorant many are of science, including widespread belief in young-earth creationism and that humans and dinosaurs coexisted:

Nearly a third of Texans believe humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time, and more than half disagree with the theory that humans developed from earlier species of animals, according to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

The differences in beliefs about evolution and the length of time that living things have existed on earth are reflected in the political and religious preference of our respondents, who were asked four questions about biological history and God:

• 38 percent said human beings developed over millions of years with God guiding the process and another 12 percent said that development happened without God having any part of the process. Another 38 percent agreed with the statement “God created human beings pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago.”

• Asked about the origin and development of life on earth without injecting humans into the discussion, and 53 percent said it evolved over time, “with a guiding hand from God.” They were joined by 15 percent who agreed on the evolution part, but “with no guidance from God.” About a fifth — 22 percent — said life has existed in its present form since the beginning of time.

• Most of the Texans in the survey — 51 percent — disagree with the statement, “human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.” Thirty-five percent agreed with that statement, and 15 percent said they don’t know.

• Did humans live at the same time as the dinosaurs? Three in ten Texas voters agree with that statement; 41 percent disagree, and 30 percent don’t know.

Needless to say, there were partisan differences with Republicans showing far greater ignorance regarding science than Democrats. Despite the differences, the frequency with which even Democrats hold false beliefs regarding evolution is disturbing. Hopefully Texas Democrats are not the same as those in the blue states.

With all the young-earth creationists in Texas, there should be plenty of business for this “museum.” Unfortunately these beliefs are not limited to Sarah Palin.

Obama’s First Year In Review

The Republicans have a strategy of screwing up the country as badly as possible, doing everything possible to keep the Democrats from doing anything, and then crying that the Democrats cannot get anything done. Despite this I’ve already noted how extraordinarily successful Obama and the Congressional Democrats were during Obama’s first year in office. I’ve come across another blog post on this topic which is well worth reading by J.E. Robertson, which was written even before the data came out showing how successful the stimulus plan was.

Robertson gave a very detailed account of Obama’s record for the first year noting that Obama has ” the most extensive record of success in fulfilling specific campaign promises in US history. We can expect this fact will not be widely
reported, as the mainstream news media appear determined to posture “objectivity” by refusing …to report successes Obama’s opponents refuse to acknowledge.” He also wrote:

This is one of the most accomplished records of any first year in office, and it has come with considerable difficulty in working with and around a Congress fraught with obstructionism and distracted by its own mythology regarding specific points of policy, and in the face of the most uniform and inflexible opposition any president in recent decades has faced.

Big Brother Is Watching You–Check Out the Webcam

Remember reading in George Orwell’s classic 1984 how television might be watching you? In reality televisions have not been adapted in such a manner but this is not needed with webcams. BoingBoing reports on how a school used webcams to spy on students in their own home:

According to the filings in Blake J Robbins v Lower Merion School District (PA) et al, the laptops issued to high-school students in the well-heeled Philly suburb have webcams that can be covertly activated by the schools’ administrators, who have used this facility to spy on students and even their families. The issue came to light when the Robbins’s child was disciplined for “improper behavior in his home” and the Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence. The suit is a class action, brought on behalf of all students issued with these machines.

If true, these allegations are about as creepy as they come. I don’t know about you, but I often have the laptop in the room while I’m getting dressed, having private discussions with my family, and so on. The idea that a school district would not only spy on its students’ clickstreams and emails (bad enough), but also use these machines as AV bugs is purely horrifying.

What is amazing, beyond the invasion of privacy, is that the school officials apparently did not even think they were doing anything wrong as they demonstrated their actions in using the webcam pictures as evidence.

Dick Cheney turned on the Olympics…

Dick Cheney turned on the Olympics last night but quickly turned it off. He was disappointed when he realized snowboarding was on, not waterboarding.

(Current Facebook status with version with shortened version on Twitter)

Conservative Paranoia Over Books

I generally avoid responding to arguments which are limited to the conservative blogosphere as opposed to more prominent conservative politicians or writers but I cannot resist this considering the attention it is receiving and the absurdity of it.  Say Anything is publicizing this picture of books selected by Michelle Obama for the White House library. They use the presence of books mentioning Socialism and Communism in the titles, along with many other bogus conservative arguments raised in the past, to further the right wing meme that the Obamas are conspiring to establish Communism in the United States.

The books might include words like Communism in the title but that hardly demonstrates anything about Michelle Obama’s beliefs. As Matthew Yglesias pointed out, “Nathan Glazer, author of the book on Communism depicted on the picture, is a well-known anti-communist intellectual from the original ‘neoconservative’ social/political circle with Daniel Bell, Irving Kristol, and Patrick Moynihan.”

I imagine that by their logic it is liberals who should be concerned that Michelle Obama is secretly a neoconservative.

Of course the presence of books in one’s library tells nothing about one’s political or economic beliefs. This would be true even if Michelle Obama’s book on Communism was in support as opposed to opposition. A photo of my home library would show books by Karl Marx as well as Friedrich von Hayek and Ayn Rand, along with books by authors with views in between.

The books pictured do not demonstrate any support for Marxism but the conservative reaction does show a lack of respect for freedom of expression, along with suggesting a possible reluctance of conservatives to read books other than those which support their own narrow views. This would explain the widespread ignorance of history and economics in recent conservative writing and the frequency with which conservative bloggers repeat right wing talking points which are counter to fact.

Update: Here is yet another example of how the right wing blogosphere repeats items which are contrary to fact to support their world view. These books weren’t even chosen by Michelle Obama as claimed. They have been in the White House library going back to 1963.