The Republican Party and Ideas

Late last week an internal Republican National Committee memo leaked out which shows that at least the Republican leadership acknowledges a problem I have been writing about for a while–the lack of ideas being promoted by the party. As Steve Benen points out, admitting you have a problem is the first step towards recovery. The memo states:

Republicans have grown accustomed to having our party recognized as the “Party of Ideas,” but we must acknowledge that many Americans today believe the party is stale and does not deserve that label. This is not a critique of our principles of a strong national defense, growth-focused economics, constitutionally-limited government, and a defense of traditional values. Rather, it is a reflection that we have not used our principles to provide solutions to the kitchen table concerns of middle-class America.

The Republicans lost because the Democrats were felt to have the better ideas on virtually all issues by a majority of Americans. Republicans found in 2008 that they could no longer win by relying on distorting the views of their opponents and raising meaningless attacks. False claims that Obama planned to redistribute the wealth in a Marxist sense or planned a government takeover of health care no longer fooled the voters. Attacks based upon discredited attacks such as Obama’s connections to William Ayers and Reverend Wright, and appeals to anti-intellectualism from Sarah Palin, were no longer effective. Republicans have become experts at raising McCarthyist style attacks but in the process began to ignore providing actual reasons to vote for them.

After the election The Economist summed up this problem by referring to the Republicans as a Ship of Fools. The economic collapse strengthened the conventional wisdom that the Democratic Party is stronger on economic issues, making most other issues irrelevant in the 2008 election. Even if other issues were considered, they did not work for the Republicans. At one time the Republicans were felt to be stronger on advocating a sound foreign policy. Now Republicans are the party advocating a reckless foreign policy while Democrats have taken the center. Republican denial of science and support for the social policies of the religious right are costing them the support of young voters as well as many affluent and educated Americans who have voted Republican in the past. Many voters no longer see the Republicans as either the party of ideas or of values, and are now voting Democratic based upon both values and self-interest.

The problem for the Republicans is not only that they lack ideas but that they have the wrong ideas. For years the Republican establishment took advantage of votes from the religious right but privately referred to them as the nuts. Now “the nuts” appear to control the party. For a moment it appeared that the Republicans might be turning towards moderation in nominating John McCain, but instead McCain increasingly adopted the positions of the extremists in the party. Republican voters see Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee as their two preferred choices for 2012. Red State has announced a war against Republicans who have not supported Palin. David Frum might be willing to abandon Sarah Palin, but still sees the mindset of Joe the Plumber as the future of the GOP.

The Republicans now face the dilemma that their strongest support comes from the religious right but these views will probably prevent them from being a majority party in states outside of the deep south and a handful of sparsely populated western states. A growing number of principled conservatives and libertarians who do not accept the views of the religious right are increasingly supporting Democratic candidates. There continue to be supporters of other ideas in the part, but their role is becoming increasingly trivial. William Kristol has recently admitted that conservative talk of small government has little relationship to the reality of Republican rule. Perhaps now that they don’t feel obligated to back the policies of George Bush, more Republicans will be consistent in backing civil liberties and restrictions upon the power of government.

It is hard to see any fate for the Republicans other than going the way of the Whigs if they don’t open themselves up to modern thought. A party which includes members who believe in creationism has no place in the twenty-first century. There have been some voices in the Republican Party which has resisted its current extremist tendencies.  Colin Powell recently warned Republicans against listening to Rush Limbaugh. It is also necessary for them to reject the entire fantasy world of conservative talk radio. In recent weeks I’ve also note that some Republicans such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Christine Todd Whitman, along with columnists such as Kathleen Parker, have taken a more moderate stand than is common in the Republican Party, but I’ve also noted how resistant many Republicans are to moderating their views.

The mind set of the religious right, and why they are unlikely to moderate their views, can be seen in this response to my writings supporting modernization of Republican viewsin this response by Robert Stacy McCain at The American Spectator:

The real question isn’t the influence of Dobson, but rather the influence of God, and if you’re waiting for God to moderate his views, I suspect you’ll be waiting a long time.

I discussed the absurdity of this argument, along with the importance of a secular government as wisely advocated by the Founding Fathers, in this post last week. This concept is an important part of our heritage, and is necessary to allow all to worship, or not worship, as they choose. While this view is clear in the writings of the Founding Fathers, along with many court decisions, the religious right has been promoting a revisionist history which denies this. Although many of the Founding Fathers were Deists, who had a radically different view of the role of God in human affairs compared to Christianity, many Republicans, including the supposedly moderate John McCain, also falsely claim that the United States was founded as a Christian country.

As I’ve discussed in many previous posts, such as here, religious beliefs do not provide sufficient justification under our system of government for public policy decisions. I’ve also noted that Barack Obama has expressed similar views. This presents the fundamental difference in belief between supporters of modernity and the religious right. The real issue is not one of life style as many liberals live an essentially conservative life style, but a question of whether one believes the power of government should be used to impose life style choices upon others.

As Republicans search for ideas they might look back to promises of Ronald Reagan to get government off our backs. Instead of applying this solely to allowing business to go unregulated, they must reconsider their views on reproductive rights, embryonic stem cell research, end of life decisions as in the Terri Schiavo case, same-sex marriage, and other issues where personal morality should not be regulated by government. Barry Goldwater rejected the religious right and in his later years considered himself a liberal. If Republicans want to provide a viable alternateve to the Democratic Party, the Republicans should follow Barry Goldwater’s lead on this matter and reject the influence of the religious right. They cannot develop and promote good ideas until they face reality and reject the bad ideas which have destroyed their party.

Bush Acts To Enable Social Conservatives To Deny Health Care

Bush might be a lame duck, but he is still able to do harm. The Washington Post reports:

The Bush administration yesterday granted sweeping new protections to health workers who refuse to provide care that violates their personal beliefs, setting off an intense battle over opponents’ plans to try to repeal the controversial measure.

Critics began consulting with the incoming Obama administration on strategies to reverse the regulation as quickly as possible while supporters started mobilizing to fight such efforts.

The far-reaching regulation cuts off federal funding for any state or local government, hospital, health plan, clinic or other entity that does not accommodate doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other employees who refuse to participate in care they find ethically, morally or religiously objectionable. It was sought by conservative groups, abortion opponents and others to safeguard workers from being fired, disciplined or penalized in other ways.

But women’s health advocates, family planning proponents, abortion rights activists and some members of Congress condemned the regulation, saying it will be a major obstacle to providing many health services, including abortion, family planning, infertility treatment, and end-of-life care, as well as possibly a wide range of scientific research.

The article concludes with further information on how this ruling could be used to deny health care:

Leavitt initially said the regulation was intended primarily to protect workers who object to abortion. The final rule, however, would affect a far broader array of services, protecting workers who do not wish to dispense birth control pills, Plan B emergency contraceptives and other forms of contraception they consider equivalent to abortion, or to inform patients where they might obtain such care. The rule could also protect workers who object to certain types of end-of-life care or to withdrawing care, or even perhaps providing care to unmarried people or gay men and lesbians.

While primarily aimed at doctors and nurses, it offers protection to anyone with a “reasonable” connection to objectionable care — including ultrasound technicians, nurses aides, secretaries and even janitors who might have clean equipment used in procedures they deem objectionable.

Fortunately this ruling, along with many others from the Bush administration, are likely to be overturned after Obama takes office:

On abortion and related matters, action is expected early on executive, regulatory, budgetary and legislative fronts.

Decisions that the new administration will weigh include: whether to cut funding for sexual abstinence programs; whether to increase funding for comprehensive sex education programs that include discussion of birth control; whether to allow federal health plans to pay for abortions; and whether to overturn regulations such as one that makes fetuses eligible for health-care coverage under the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Women’s health advocates are also pushing for a change in rules that would lower the cost of birth control at college health clinics.

Obama aides will have to settle many of these questions in issuing their first budget in February.

“We have a lot of work to do to fix the damage the Bush administration has done,” said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

As one of his first actions, Mr. Obama is likely to issue an executive order lifting President George W. Bush’s restrictions on funding for research using embryonic stem cells, a move with bipartisan support.

Women’s health advocates also expect early action on the “global gag rule,” which bars foreign organizations from using their own money for abortion services or advocacy if they accept U.S. aid for family planning. This policy was instituted by President Ronald Reagan, immediately overturned by President Bill Clinton and then reinstated by Mr. Bush.

Vatican Issues Position Statement Opposing 21st Century Science

The Vatican appears to be as resistant to modernization as members of the religious right I noted earlier today. The New York Times reports on their current position on bioethics, “taking into account recent developments in biomedical technology.” In this case “taking into account” means more additions to the things to oppose:

The Vatican issued its most authoritative and sweeping document on bioethical issues in more than 20 years on Friday, taking into account recent developments in biomedical technology and reinforcing the church’s opposition to in vitro fertilization, human cloning, genetic testing on embryos before implantation and embryonic stem cell research.

The Vatican says these techniques violate the principles that every human life — even an embryo — is sacred, and that babies should be conceived only through intercourse by a married couple.

The 32-page instruction, titled “Dignitas Personae,” or “The Dignity of the Person,” was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s doctrinal office, and carries the approval and the authority of Pope Benedict XVI.

Under discussion for six years, it is a moral response to bioethical questions raised in the 21 years since the congregation last issued instructions.

It bans the morning-after pill, the intrauterine device and the pill RU-486, saying these can result in what amount to abortions.

The Vatican document reiterates that the church is opposed to research on stem cells derived from embryos. But it does not oppose research on stem cells derived from adults; blood from umbilical cords; or fetuses “who have died of natural causes.”

Extremist Views Doomed the GOP

Ross Douthat joins the ranks of Republicans who think they can remain a viable national party in the 21st century while embracing the mind set of the middle ages. He takes offense from the advice of Republicans who reject the social conservatives:

Pro-choice Republicans, in particular, know exactly whom to blame for their party’s showing. As Christie Whitman, the former New Jersey governor and Bush administration E.P.A. chief, explained after the election, it lost because “the party was taken hostage by ‘social fundamentalists,’ the people who base their votes on such social issues as abortion.” The conservative columnist Kathleen Parker made the same point more vividly: “The evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the G.O.P. is what ails the erstwhile conservative party.” The neoconservative writer Max Boot was diffident about the matter (“I don’t think Republicans need to panic,” he wrote, but “one area where I do see some room for adjustment is on the issue of abortion”) and the right-wing humorist P. J. O’Rourke was blunt (pro-lifers should “give the issue a rest”). The message is clear: If the Republican Party would only jettison its position on abortion, it would be back on its feet in no time.

Maybe they wouldn’t be back on their feet very quickly considering how many ways the Republicans screwed up the country while in power, but their association with the religious right will make it much harder for them to ever recover. The views of the religious right are increasingly making the Republicans an unacceptable choice to affluent educated voters as well as the young, making it very hard for them to win a national election in the future. Their views on abortion are a part of this, but the problem goes beyond abortion. Douthat fails to give enough consideration to the problems faced by the Republicans due to their overall opposition to science and reason, including the belief of many in creationism and the manner in which they allow their ideological views to lead them to denial of the scientific consensus on climate change.

Douthat tries to portray opponents of abortion rights as being fair minded people willing to compromise. They have even stopped trying to kill those who perform abortions, after all! Such willingness to compromise was not seen when Sarah Palin opposed abortion under any circumstance, or when John McCain mocked the very idea of allowing abortion to save the life of the mother during the third presidential debate. Nor does the right wing appear willing to compromise when they oppose also oppose contraception and embryonic stem cell research. Nobody with any real understanding of the science will buy Douthat’s claims that those on the right are more knowledgeable on the subject because of their support for adult embryonic stem cell research. This is no replacement for embryonic stem cell research.

Douthat sees overturning the Supreme Court decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey as being the “very purpose” of the conservative movement. As long as they define their movement in terms of such a return to the past they are not likely to regain power nationally. While there have been periods of back sliding, the general trend of our history has been to enable greater individual freedom. A movement which opposes this, along with embracing ignorance and opposition to science, is doomed to becoming a relic of the past.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek & Lost Trailers; Beyoncé as Wonder Woman; Whoopie on Mars; and the Future History of the Obama Administration

Ain’t It Cool News has a couple of reports on a new trailer for the upcoming Star Trek movie to be released next Friday. From one of the descriptions:

We start out with a muscle car tearing ass down a dirt road. Eventually it careens off a cliff, but not before the driver jets himself out – he’s a young boy, couldn’t be older than 11. Suddenly what I can only describe as a space-cop asks him, “what is your name sir?” The young boy replies, “James Tiberius Kirk.”

Then Chris Pine takes over as we see him being angsty, driving down the road on a motorcycle. We hear some voice over from someone else that confirms his angst saying things like, “You’ve never really been happy have you?” and etc. Then we see him drive up what looks like a smelting factory – probably more of that ship construction we got in the earlier trailer.

Then we really kick into trailer mode as we get quick images of Spock as a kid. Spock all grown up. Leonard Nimoy. A vulcan council. Space cadets. And the crew alone with some quick, flashy space fighting.

There is a financial cost to new and better technology. After first buying all the previous Star Trek movies on videocassettes and then on DVD’s it might be hard to resist getting them in Blue-ray. Reportedly they might come out on Blue-ray in 2009. At least the Blue-ray HD-DVD war is long over so there is no doubt as to which format to buy.

A new Lost trailer was also broadcast during the election night coverage on ABC. IO9 has the video.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Beyoncé is interested in playing Wonder Woman:

Beyoncé is ready for an Amazon-sized challenge — the pop superstar wants to be the first actress to wear Wonder Woman’s famed red, white and blue bathing suit on the silver screen.

“I want to do a superhero movie and what would be better than Wonder Woman? It would be great. And it would be a very bold choice. A black Wonder Woman would be a powerful thing. It’s time for that, right?”

Beyoncé says that she has met with representatives of DC Comics and Warner Bros. to express her interest in a major role in one of the many comic-book adaptations now in the pipeline following the massive success of “The Dark Knight,” “Iron Man” and the “Spider-Man” and “X-Men” franchises. Beyoncé’s acting to career to date has included a comedic role in “Austin Powers in Goldmember” and two notable music world roles, the first as a quasi-Diana Ross character in “Dreamgirls” and as the defiant and heroin-addicted Etta James in the upcoming “Cadillac Records.”

I’ve previously noted that the ABC version of Life on Mars might not be using the same explanation as on the BBC series as to why Sam Tyler is in the 1970’s. The initial episode seemed to have people from the present talking around him, suggesting that possibly he is in a coma dreaming of life in the 1970’s. We’ve seen robots with no clear explanation.  From time to time the 1970’s and the present have blurred, such as with newspapers fluctuating between pictures of Richard Nixon and George Bush. This week’s episode, Things to Do in New York When You Think You’re Dead, suggests that Sam could be dead or in purgatory. While this has been entertaining so far I fear that they might be putting in different possible explanations without a clear idea as to where the show is going.

In the episode, Sam meets both his future mentor and Whoopie Goldberg. It is a shame that Whoopie wasn’t playing Guinan from Star Trek: The Next Generation. She showed in Yesterday’s Enterprise an ability to sense problems involving time and might be able to figure out what is going on with Sam.

This week included an election of great historical significance. Some with an interest in both politics and techniques of science fiction have already been looking at the “future history” of the Obama administration. Nerve takes a “look back” at the Obama administration:

Obama’s election marked the moment in American history when a human being could be judged not for the color of his or her skin, but for the content of his or her character. Not coincidentally, it also marked the moment when the United States turned definitively from a fortress of self-interest to a peaceful emissary of freedom and human rights. These are the principles that the pax Americana has been built on, and an inheritance that we hope to keep as a legacy for our children.

Future Blogger looks back on How the Nanobama Administration Accelerated Technology, but I believe he will reverse George Bush’s ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research soon after taking office as opposed to 2010 as in this post. The post looks back on the tremendous changes to come as a result, including nanotechnology, concluding:

Now, in 2013, as the Nanobama Administration embarks on its second term, it is clear that the benefits of nanotech have already greatly changed the lives of every human, and for the better. Still, the ethical and existential implications continue to boggle the mind.

In particular, the primary neo-luddite argument against the pursuit of nanotechnological development is the fear that intelligent machines will one day spell the doom of mankind. There could come a point, critics continue to warn, where tech ceases to be an extension of humanity, or worse, turns against it’s maker, a possibility made more dangerous by the likelihood that, by the time it happened, humans will have become complacent and helpless.

Still, it looks as thought the Nanobama forces will continue to embrace acceleration, sticking to the critical path laid out by Bucky Fuller. The argument is that the knowledge base of any intelligent species must expand proportionately to the growth of its population, to survive past a critical survival threshold (a potential confrontation with rogue AI?). It’s evolve or die, though that same evolution is likely to bring about the forces that could bring us to the brink.

While many are optimistic about a better world with Obama replacing the Republicans, Focus on the Family released a Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America prior to the election with scare stories of “Terrorist strikes on four U.S. cities. Russia rolling into Eastern Europe. Israel hit by a nuclear bomb. Gay marriage in every state. The end of the Boy Scouts.”

Pushing Daisies is rumored to be at risk of cancellation. I think the idea would have worked far better as a movie than a weekly television series. I tried it both last season and then again at the start of this season. While somewhat entertaining I just couldn’t get into it enough to watch week after week. Rumor also has it that if the show is canceled Bryan Fuller will return to work on Heroes.

It was bound to be considered after the success of the first movie, and there are far more product placements to sell. Kim Cattrall has said in an interview that a sequel to the Sex And The City movie is planned. While possible, it doesn’t look like the other stars are on board yet. If they are to continue playing these roles it is a shame that they couldn’t have done an additional television season for HBO. The movie lacked much of what I found entertaining in the television show, but then I wasn’t the intended audience for the movie.

Republicans Lost By Fighting the Wrong Battles

The Republicans lost not only because a majority of voters rejected their views but because they were fighting the wrong battles. Voters didn’t so much disagree with Republicans but simply found that their views were irrelevant to the 21st century world.The old Republican arguments no longer worked.

Republicans won in 2002 and 2004 by capitalizing on fear of terrorism and portraying themselves as being stronger on foreign policy. The failure of Bush’s policies in Iraq have made the Republicans far less attractive on foreign policy. Fareed Zakaria pointed out how the view of Republicans on foreign policy has changed when interviewing Brent Scowcroft today. While a transcrpt is not yet available, the gist came down to Zakaria saying that Republicans were perceived as delivering a pragmatic internationalist foreign policy in the past but have now been taken over by ideologues.

Liberals now represent pragmatism on foreign policy. The same is true on economic policy. Voters did not accept the outrageous and untrue claims that Democrats favored socialism and redistribution of wealth. The battle between socialism and capitalism is long over with capitalism coming out victorious and supported by members of both political parties. Most voters did not vote based upon this false choice between capitalism and socialism. For those who did, Republicans made for poor representatives of a free market philosophy even before the current response to the financial crisis. I have not taken Republicans seriously as defenders of the free market since I saw Richard Nixon institute wage and price controls. While few current voters are likely to remember this, some may have considered factors such as Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force and the K-Street Project as examples of Republican hypocrisy on the free market. Most voters simply are looking for the party with the most pragmatic answers on the economy.

Republicans came to office promising to cut the size of government but instead have given us a bigger government. After cutting taxes they continued to spend, borrowing money instead of cutting the size of government. Between seeing this failure to cut the size of government, along with decreased concern for cutting government in all cases after Katrina and the recent financial crisis, Republican arguments based upon cutting government were no longer as meaningful. Many voters simply wanted smarter government and were less concerned about the size.

After seeing Republican government, many voters also became more sophisticated, realizing that cutting the size of government is not the real issue. The impact of government on the lives of the individual is far more meaningful than the size of government. Even if Republicans delivered in cutting the size of government this would not necessarily be a victory for liberty. Voters increasingly see Republicans as the party which desires to restrict civil liberties, eliminate abortion rights, intervene in end of life decisions as in the Schiavo case, prevent funding of embryonic stem cell research, block the medicinal use of marijuana (even in states where it is legal), and promote the agenda of the religious right. These are far more concrete issues than the size of government.

It is the association of Republicans with the religious right which has done the most to marginalize them into primarily a southern regional party. Both the nonreligious and sensible religious individuals understand the reasons why our founding fathers considered separation of church and state to be so important. This association also resulted in the loss by Republicans of suburban and affluent educated voters. Educated voters would have difficulty backing a party which backs creationism, regardless of whether they have total agreement with the opposing party.

Republicans tried to make issues of the patriotism of their opponents, but voters have become more sophisticated and ignored such attempts to revive what Mark Halperin and John Harris have described as the freak show. Most voters ignored these arguments and concentrated on which candidate they thought could best solve our problems. Many of those who did consider these arguments questioned how the Republicans could dare challenge the patriotism of Democrats when they were the ones who acted in opposition to our American heritage of separation of church and state, freedom of expression, and freedom of association. You cannot claim to be patriotic Americans while opposing such basic American values. It is a virtue of Barack Obama that he listens to a wide variety of views, and some association with those whose views he does not share was not considered reason to base ones vote by voters beyond the extreme right.

Voters ignored the Republican arguments and looked for pragmatic solutions to problems. After having backed a president who was clearly unqualified for the position for the past eight years, the Republicans further harmed their credibility by pretending (until they began to speak out after the election) that Sarah Palin was qualified to be VP. Support for Sarah Palin, along with her views on creationism and ignoring the position of the vast majority of scientists on climate change, only emphasized the anti-intellectuaism of the current Repubican Party. As Nicholas Kristoff wrote today, after Obana’s race, the “second most remarkable thing about his election is that American voters have just picked a president who is an open, out-of-the-closet, practicing intellectual.” Voters wanted a pragmatic, intelligent candidate who would attmpt to solve problems without being blinded by ideology.

Conservatives lost not because of any specific issue but because their entire world view is not relevant to the modern world. They campaigned against Obama not based upon his actual positions but out of a distorted sense of what non-conservatives believe after years of listening to their own rhetoric. To see how out of touch with reality the conservatives are, read the view of Peter Hitchens that the election of Obama represented the end of “our last best hope on Earth.” He repeats the conservative line that voters for Obama were cultists when in reality most were voting for a pragmatic centrist. While he accuses Obama supporters of being like “Moonies, the Scientologists or people who claim to have been abducted in flying saucers,” it is conservatives like him who have adopted a philosphy which is not only extremist but out of touch with reality. Voters awoke to this reality in 2006 and 2008 and the Republicans arguments based upon a fantasy-world failed to resonate with them.

Victories on Stem Cell Research, Medical Marijuana, And Sunday Beer & Wine Sales

Besides being happy with a victory for Obama in my neighboring state of Indiana, the night also went well on local matters. The two state ballot proposals I backed, allowing embryonic stem cell research and the medical use of marijuana, both passed. Locally in Ottawa County the ban on Sunday sales of beer and wine has been lifted.

Reagan Speech Writer Backs Obama

Jeffrey Hart, a former writer for The National Review and speech writer for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan has written that he plans to vote for Barack Obama, calling him the real conservative. He discussed conservative views as related to a few issues, including the Iraq war, and went on to some domestic issues where he prefers Obama’s views:

Social Security has long been considered one of the most successful New Deal programs, working well now for 70 years. Yet in 2005, the Bush plan to establish private accounts that could be invested in the Stock Market got nowhere. McCain, too, has embraced this idea. In 2008 it looks ridiculous. The Stock Market! Again, this is a radical proposal, not a conservative one.

Ever since Roe vs. Wade, abortion has been a salient controversy in our politics. But the availability of abortion is linked to the long advancement of women’s equality. Again, we are dealing with social change, and this requires understanding social change, a Burkean imperative that Obama understands.

On my Dartmouth campus, half the undergraduates are women. They do not want to have their plans derailed by an unwanted pregnancy. In Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, the Court ruled that the availability of abortion “enables women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the country.”

Though there is a tragic aspect to abortion, as Obama recognizes, women’s equality means that women have control of their reproductive capability. Men don’t worry about that. The fact is that 83 percent of elective abortions occur during the first trimester, and decline rapidly after that.

Both Obama and McCain support federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, Obama more urgently. The conservative movement publications, following Bush, have been fiercely opposed. Such opposition required a belief that a cluster of cells (the embryo) the size of the period at the end of this sentence is as important (more important?) than a seriously ill human being.

I myself cannot fathom such a mentality.

In fact, embryonic stem cell research is being energetically pursued in the following nations: Israel, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, China cooperating with the EU. Privately funded and state funded laboratories are moving ahead vigorously.

Recently, Harvard announced a program that will be part of a multi-billion dollar science center to be established south of the Charles River, and will be able to supply stem cells to other laboratories. I call that Pro-Life.

This analysis could be extended, but it seems clear to me that Obama is the conservative in the 2008 election.

A couple of nitpicks: I don’t consider the idea of having a portion of Social Security money in the stock market as a radical idea. Bill Clinton even considered this. The real problem is that, since money from current workers is used to finance benefits to current beneficiaries, doing so would have reduced further the money available for the program. Like so many of Bush’s ideas, this was a fiscally irresponsible idea as he did not have a satisfactory plan to account for the decrease in payroll taxes available for benefits. Therefore I agree that this plan was not conservative by traditional definitions, even if for a different reason.

Funding for embryonic stem cell research is an even more important issue where I agree with Hart. A second nitpick is that, although McCain has been more supportive of this than most  conservatives in the past, during this year’s campaign he has hedged on support for embryonic as opposed to adult stem cell research. I fear that he would give in to pressure from the religious right on this issue if elected.

I doubt many conservatives would agree that Obama has the conservative viewpoint on abortion, but Hart does make an important point that most abortions occur in the first term. Later term abortions are rare, and Obama opposes them except for when the health of the mother is at risk. Conservative attacks on Obama based upon infanticide and “partial birth abortions” are total nonsense.

With so many conservatives backing Obama we see once again that Obama’s views are really in the mainstream of both liberalism and conservatism as practiced in this country for the past few decades. The current conservative movement is an extremist, authoritarian philosophy which has little to do with the views of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

Liberal Values Backs Iniatives For Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Medical Marijuana, and Sunday Beer & Wine Sales

Unless the polls are way off or things change dramatically in the final day of the campaign, we pretty much know how Tuesday will turn out. Obama should win, either by just over 270 electoral votes if McCain manages to win in the states which remain close, or by a landslide if Obama picks up many of the contested states which now lean towards him. The Democrats will get close to sixty seats in the Senate, but watching if they achieve sixty will provide some drama. The Democrats will also pick up several House seats as well as victories in many state races. Questions remain with regards to the ballot initiatives, with some being of importance.

Here in Michigan there are two key iniatives on the ballot, both of which I support. One is to allow research in embryonic stem cells. I have not seen polling on this, but not unexpectedly a glance at signs being displayed shows heavy support in Ann Arbor and opposition here in conservative West Michigan.

The other initiative will allow for medical use of marijuana. There are many other states as well as local governments with similar initiatives, with providing a summary. The election of Obama over McCain will also have a major effect on reducing the drug war. Currently the DEA has been raiding users of medical marijuana even in states where it is legal (in a situation which shows how conservatives only back Federalism when it helps promote their beliefs). Obama supports an end to such actions while McCain supports continuing them. Obama has also supported reform of sentences for drug offenders, and appears much more open to other reforms to end the drug war.

In Ottawa County where I live there is also a proposal to allow beer and wine sales on Sunday. (I did say that West Michigan is conservative). We currently have an unusual situation here where restaurants can sell mixed drinks but not beer or wine, which both makes no sense and which is foolish in a region which depends upon the tourist trade. I also knew someone who, while he was still working, had done quite well with a store selling beer and wine just past the country border.  Incidentally, because of the wording of the proposal, it is necessary to vote No to prevent continuation of the current ban.

Sarah Palin Found Guilty of Abuse of Powers

An investigation has found Sarah Palin guilty of abuse of powers in the Troppergate scandal:

A legislative investigation has concluded that Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power in pushing for the firing of an Alaska state trooper who was once married to her sister.

The report by investigator Steve Branchflower was made public late this afternoon by a 12-0 vote of the Legislative Council, which authorized the investigation.

Branchflower’s report contains four findings. The first concludes that Palin violated the state’s executive branch ethics act, which says that “each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.”

Branchflower was investigating whether Palin abused her power by pushing for the firing of state trooper Mike Wooten, who was involved in a nasty divorce from Palin’s sister. Palin and her husband, Todd, have accused Wooten of threatening Palin’s father.

The response to this report will prove valuable in showing the nature of the Republican Party. Over the last eight years while we have witnessed abuses of power by George Bush but some Republicans have claimed they retain honor by claiming that the abuses of Bush and Cheney did not reflect upon the entire party. Some conservatives, who speak of opposing abuse of power while while all too often looking the other way, even claim that George Bush is not a conservative.

This report provides fair warning that the vice presidential candidate of the Republican Party has abused her power and is unfit to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. John McCain and the Republican Party, if they have any honor and any concern about restraining the power of government, have no choice but to remove Sarah Palin from the ticket. Should they fail to do so they will be demonstrating that the abuses of power under George Bush and Dick Cheney are not an aberration from Republican views but that abuse of power is sanctioned by the party. Should this be the case, they are unfit to govern. This will also be a good litmus test of conservative writers and bloggers as we see which support principle and which support party over principle.