Attacking Afghanistan made far more sense than to attack Iraq as George Bush did following the 9/11 attack. * I could see an attack to disrupt al Qaeda and was happy to see bin Laden killed, but questioned if we would see any long-term benefits from installing a government there. This somewhat confirms my skepticism–Afghanistan is now planning to restore the Taliban policy of stoning women for adultery:
Afghanistan is planning to reintroduce public stoning as punishment for adultery 12 years after the Taliban was ousted from power, according to a new draft penal code.
The move has shocked human rights campaigners and will dismay donors who have poured billions of pounds into the country for reconstruction.
It will be viewed as another backwards step at the end of a year that has seen women’s rights undermined, with a slew of legislation and murders of prominent women.
Human Rights Watch called for international donors to withhold funding if the government goes ahead with the plan.
“It is absolutely shocking that 12 years after the fall of the Taliban government, the Karzai administration might bring back stoning as a punishment,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW…
As repulsive as both groups are, stoning is far worse than the forced vaginal probes and restrictions on reproductive rights which are supported by the American Taliban.
(* I would hope that by now the whole Truther line that 9/11 was an inside job by the Bush administration instead of a terrorist act by al Qaeda has been forgotten. In case anyone is still interested in that nonsense, Noam Chomsky has recently joined many others in debunking that conspiracy theory. Chomsky mocked “people around who spend an hour on the Internet and think they know a lot physics.” On the other hand, that is how the Internet works. How many other people on the far right with no knowledge of biology or climate science are coming up with arguments against evolution and global warming?)
If you check out street view on Google Maps at Earlham Green, Greater London Nr5 8DQ, United Kingdom you will see a blue police call box on the left side of the street. Place the mouse near it and then click on the double lines which will appear. This will allow you to enter the TARDIS. You will find that it is smaller on the outside than on the inside. Once inside you will be able to move around the control room. Unfortunately you cannot go further inside the TARDIS but I assume Google Maps will be working on extending their coverage of interior spaces.
Arrow show runner Mark Guggenheim discussed introducing The Flash on Arrow:
“I feel like I’m just following Bilson and DeMeo. Whatever they do, I seem to follow in their footsteps,” Guggenheim laughed. The writer told CBR that from comics to TV, the goal of the “Arrow” production team is to expand out the DC Universe while keeping the tone and feel of their show its own unique story platform.
“Honestly, I’m just excited to help be a part of expanding the DC Universe,” he said. “I think one of the big thing that appeals to me about comics in general is the idea of the shared universe. It’s a lot of fun to be able to do that in television, and growing up one of the things I enjoyed was the ‘Six Million Dollar Man’ and ‘The Bionic Woman’ and the way those two shows would interact with each other. We’re at least a season away from ‘Arrow’ interacting with ‘The Flash,” but the potential for that is really exciting for me.”
Kreisberg, who serves as Guggenheim’s show running partner on “Arrow,” will develop Barry Allen’s character in writing each of those three episodes this season on “Arrow,” and Guggenheim said that is all part of a masterplan that stretches back before their recent run of announcements. “Andrew is taking the lead on ‘The Flash.’ This has been in the works for a while and had been in the works since before Comic-Con. But we made the decision, as these things are announced in a rollout, to take a strategy where we’d announce Black Canary, Bronze Tiger and Brother Blood at Comic-Con. We felt like, ‘That’s a lot for Comic-Con. Let’s save something back for when T.C.A. comes around.’ I want to disabuse anyone of the notion that we decided to do Flash after Comic-Con. We’re just capable of keeping secrets every now and again.”
And overall, the writer wanted to stress that an additional superhero – and one with some more super powers – won’t change the core of what “Arrow” is. In fact, Guggenheim leaned on a comparison with DC’s main competitor to explain how each series will develop over time. “I think a lot of people are justified in asking ‘What does this mean for Arrow in terms of its tone?’ And my answer is that the trick that we have – and this is a challenge we’ve discusses a lot and have an awareness of how to face it head on – is the fact that ‘Arrow’ is like ‘Iron Man’ where ‘The Flash’ will be ‘The Hulk.’ And just as ‘The Hulk’ coming out did not change the tone of the Iron Man movies, ‘The Flash’ will not change the tone of ‘Arrow.’ We’re very cognizant of what ‘Arrow’ is all about, and I think the Marvel movies demonstrate that each piece of a universe can have its own feel. ‘Thor’ is consistent with the tone of Thor while ‘Captain America’ is consistent with the tone of Captain America’s character. ‘Arrow’s’ tone will remain consistent much in the same way, and we are looking forward to expanding our canvass a bit. And judging from the announcement, I think the fans are looking forward to it as well.”
While Barry Allen will be on Arrow for a few episodes, he will not have his superpowers, at least not at the start. Despite not having true superpowers, Arrow does feel like a superhero show, including having the common problem of the hero being just too powerful. I just watched the first season of the show over the past week and found it to be entertaining as long as you ignore the multiple implausible aspects. On Arrow, a person with bow and arrows can easily defeat multiple people with guns. This includes not only Oliver Queen, but two other characters who use the same weapon. Oliver Queen does have fighting skills beyond this weapon. He also has an amazing ability to disappear. Typically when he is surrounded inside a closed area and anyone else would be captured, he gets away with no difficulty or even on-screen explanation. Arrow is not up to the quality of the most impressive new genre shows of the season on regular cable and broadcast television ( such as The Americans, Orphan Black, and Hannibal) but still worth watching.
There were aspects of the writing style of Arrow which makes me confident they will do a good job of gradually introducing characters. Rather than quickly giving an origin and then moving on to the main story, Arrow had flashbacks over the entire season to the island where Oliver Queen was stranded for five years and learned his skills. Rather than immediately introduce the sidekick and those who knew his secret identity, characters were gradually brought into Oliver Queen’s inner circle.
There are also a couple of reasons for Doctor Who fans to watch. John Barrowman is a recurring character all season and Alex Kingston was on a few episodes. I was hoping for the two to interact but that did not occur. Incidentally, most Barrowman fans probably know that Torchwood is an anagram with the same letters as Doctor Who. By coincidence, the name of the television show he appeared in last season is also in Barrowman’s name.
More on crossover characters from other DC comics here.
The Mandarin appears in this deleted scene from Iron Man 3.
I’m glad to see Under the Dome turn more to the mystery of the dome, not that I’m all that confident of a satisfactory resolution. Apparently when they say “the monarch will be crowned” they are speaking of an actual monarch within the small dome. I have read that one of the major differences between recent episodes and the book has been that Big Jim and Junior work together in the book. Last week’s episode may signal a reconciliation between the two.
Last week’s episode of True Blood contained the battle which we might have expected for the season finale. There are still questions. Will Sookie keep her promise to become Warlow’s vampire bride? (I bet she does not). Is the war between humans and vampires now over, or just beginning? Will those vampires who indirectly fed on ferry blood continue to be able to be out in daylight? Is Bill now returning to his normal self? Considering how poor recent seasons of the show had become, it is a good sign that, despite some ongoing problems, the show is now able to maintain interest in such questions.
Homeland writers revealed information on their plans during season two. I’ve been questioning since the end of season one how long they could plausibly continue to have Brody around. The writers may have been thinking the same thing:
Though the show’s creators already copped to plotting an untimely end for Lewis’ character way back in season one, that is until more merciful voices at Showtime prevailed, Gordon admitted that, going into season two, the writers intended to send Brody to the chopping block yet again, and were once more persuaded otherwise by the network. “We had sketched out this plan in the early parts of season two which called for Brody’s demise, which may have been premature, and they asked us to reconsider,” which Gordon credits as “the happy accident of having very good partners.”
If it seemed like a sudden reversal for Carrie to have decided not to leave the country with Brody, it was also a reversal of the writers’ plans:
According to Steihm, who has since left Homeland to run FX drama TheBridge, the writers all wanted Carrie (ClaireDanes) to go with Brody across the border in the season two finale instead of returning to the CIA. In fact, in the first draft, she did. After much debate, they ultimately decided it was more in character for Carrie to stay and carry out her mission with the Agency after helping Brody escape safely to an underground network.
Besides being a great show, Orange Is The New Black has supported science over religious fundamentalism, such as in the scene above with partial transcript below:
Piper: I can’t pretend to believe in something I don’t, and I don’t [believe in this]… I believe in science. I believe in evolution. I believe in Nate Silver, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Christopher Hitchens, although I do admit he could be kind of an asshole. I cannot get behind some Supreme Being who weighs in on the Tony awards while a million people get whacked by machetes. I don’t believe a billion Indians are going to hell. I don’t think that we get cancer to learn life lessons. And I don’t believe people die young because God needs another angel. I think it’s just bullshit. And on some level, I think we all know that.
There are a number of reports, along with a denial, that Laura Prepon will be leaving Orange is The New Black to work on a new show. If true, this would leave a major hole in the show. The reports claiming this do say that Prepon will still be present at the start of the season to tie up Alex’s storyline and she will be written out in a way which would allow her to return.
Two of the top television shows premiering in 2013, Orphan Black and Orange Is The New Black, have been combined in this mash-up giving us Orphan Is The New Black.
Fake Sherlock will be going to England in their opening episode. Maybe they will meet the “real” Holmes and Watson of Sherlock. (Ok, probably not). More news on the second season of Elementaryhere.
We expect The Newsroom to mix in major news stories with each episode. Last week they included plot elements reminiscent of other real events from The Today Show botching the editing on George Zimmerman’s 911 tape to the real life release of nude photos from Oliva Munn’s phone. The manner in which World Net Daily reported a rumor without any fact checking also is based on reality, along with being an excellent commentary on the unreliability of WND and the entire right wing noise machine.
William Shatner joins those arguing that Star Trek belongs on television in this interview:
Karl Urban, from the new Star Trek films said that “Star Trek, as envisioned, was about space exploration. And it would be really wonderful to harness the spirit of that and apply it to the next film”. Is that something that you would like to see? A greater focus on discovery in these films.
Shatner: I’m not goona second guess JJ Abrams, he’s a great director and he’s so talented. But I’ll tell you that I am going to the Lowell Observatory in a couple of weeks to deliver a speech that I wrote about Star Trek and its capacity to stir the imaginations of young people.
The idea is, that so many people’s lives have been touched by the imagination of Star Trek and children’s imaginations are so vital to the rest of their lives that… this is an aspect of Star Trek that I’m focused on.
Now let me ask you, trying to bring in new viewers, new younger viewers to expose that world to young kids and teenagers alike and really spur that imagination — is a TV show a more viable vehicle for that? Is it sad that we don’t have something like that right now, a Star Trek TV show that could really seize on the exploration part of the thing that the original series and Next Generation, that those things did?
Shatner: You know, I think you’re right. Because, JJ Abrams has found the key to getting a large audience into the movie theater, and that’s the ride. So you get a lot of the CGI effects, which is the epic movie making aspect of today, whereas in Cecile B. Demille’s time, you had to use real people. Now you don’t need to use real people and you can have infinity for God’s sake.
That’s in order to get you into the theater, because the majesty of the movie is shown by the large screen. But when you get into the small screen, you need stories… entertaining, interesting, vital stories that have a philosophy and also have an excitement about them, so that the viewer stays with it, but recieves the philosophy as a byproduct. Those were the best of Star Trek, those kinds of stories. And that kind of thing, there is always room for that. That kind of imaginative approach that stirs young people into wanting to be connected with science.
Ideally the economy would recover quickly and voters would heavily support Obama for reelection. While desirable, this is not much more likely than another scenario: voters embrace science and reason over superstition and abandon the Republicans now that they have become dominated by a party which promotes the use of government to impose fundamentalist religious views upon others. Neither is likely to happen. Conservative Voodoo economics have messed the economy up too badly to recover in only four years and we have a country where, according to a recent Gallup poll, forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years. Naturally those who believe this tend to vote Republican: “While 58% of Republicans believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years, 39% of independents and 41% of Democrats agree.”
This week’s poor jobs numbers just might be the wake up call that Democrats need and we are fortunate that this came early enough in the election year for the Obama campaign to alter strategy. It is not safe to wait and hope that the economy will improve. As Dan Baltz wrote, “the election remains primarily a referendum on his record and that their path to victory may lie less in trying to discredit Republican Mitt Romney and more in winning a battle of ideas with their Republican rival.”
Challengers always prefer to frame elections as a referendum on the incumbent. Obama needs to convince voters that we have two competing views of the role of government, and demonstrate that his view is better for the country. He must do so before Romney succeeds in repeating the usual Republican lies mischaracterizing Democrats as supporting big government and the welfare state. In reality it is Republicans who have been responsible for increasing the size of government and the deficit. Voters must be shown that when Republicans promise smaller government they wind up creating bigger government, except with cuts in infrastructure which promote economic growth, and cuts in the programs that actually help them, such as Medicare, Social Security, and education.
If Romney disagrees, press him to show where he will cut the budget. Debunk the other common Republican canards. When Republicans talk about freedom, they mean freedom to impose their religious views upon others. When Republicans speak of getting government off of people’s backs, they are not referring to freedom for the individual. They are speaking purely of reduced regulation of Wall Street, polluters, and other areas where some degree of regulation is necessary.
The jobs numbers are bad, but increasing jobs too slowly is far preferable to the tremendous job losses of the Bush years. Under the best of circumstances it was not realistic to correct this in four years. Matters are made worse by an irresponsible Republican Congress which set defeating Obama as its major priority, over improving the economy. If Obama is to be measured by the unemployment rate, we must consider how much lower unemployment would be if not for cuts in government workers. Despite these cuts, Obama’s record for creating private sector jobs is far superior to Bush’s record.
In the column I noted above, Dan Baltz also pointed out:
Romney has not broken with broad outlines of the tax-cutting policies of former president George W. Bush’s eight years in office. He wants to go further, with deeper tax cuts. Bush’s policies did not produce economic growth or job creation to match Clinton’s record in the 1990s, and his term concluded with the collapse of the economy.
Obama demonstrate that it makes no sense to respond to a sluggish recovery by voting for Romney and the same policies which caused the collapse of the economy to begin with. Baltz argued that Obama must both make his first term record more clear and provide a clearer explanation of his second term plans:
What Obama hasn’t yet done is offer any clear idea of what his second term would be about. He argues that the country should not go back, but what his real goals are for a possible second four years in office remain cloaked largely in campaign generalities.
The meager jobs report puts additional pressure on him to do more than bemoan the possible consequences of turning the White House over to the Republicans. If he is campaigning on a new agenda to lift the economy, most voters couldn’t describe it. If he hopes to come out of the campaign with a mandate for particular policies, he hasn’t talked much about them.
Obama must also attempt to get voters to look at a bigger picture than how the economy is doing today. Do we have policies which strengthen the middle class and promote economic growth, or do we return to Republican economic policies which encourage the concentration of wealth in a tiny plutocracy and stifle the economy? Do we preserve our social safety nets with Medicare and Social Security, or do we elect Mitt Romney who will rubber stamp the Ryan budget which destroys these programs as we know them.
The campaign has extended into social issues recently. While the economy will dominate the election, Obama must also point out that voting for Romney means the entire conservative Republican agenda, extending government control over the private lives of individuals. Preventing the Republicans from controlling all three branches of government is essential to preserve reproductive rights as well as to preserve the middle class.
“President Obama came out with approval of same-sex marriage. He said that over the years, he has been going through an evolution on the issue. That makes opponents on the far right doubly angry. They don’t believe in gay marriage OR evolution.” –Jimmy Kimmel
The most remarkable thing about the conservative movement is not their opinions, which most ethical individuals find repulsive, but that they have their own facts, which make most intelligent individuals cringe.
Conservatives have developed their own “news” sources such as Fox and right wing talk radio to protect them from hearing actual facts about the outside world. When the wish to hide the fact that they are promoting views which directly contradict the views of the Founding Fathers on subjects such as separation of church and state, they promote their own revisionist history. They ignore sound economic principles to promote their brand of Voodoo Economics, regardless of how often their economic view fail in the real world. Conservatives especially concentrate on rejecting science when the facts contradict their views, including on creationism, denying geology and cosmology when it contradicts their views on the creation of the earth and the universe, and denying climate change.
I’ve had numerous discussions with conservatives who have openly rejected science, believing scientific evidence can be ignored when it contradicts their religious beliefs, but political leaders are rarely as open in their contempt for science. Rick Santorum is an exception in his open hostility towards science. He opposes keeping religion out of government, but does want to keep science out. According to the Des Moines Register, while discussing controversial subjects such as evolution and global warming, Santorum suggested that “science should get out of politics.”
Yes, it would not serve conservative goals to base public policy upon facts, including facts established by the scientific method. As Steven Colbert has said, ” reality has a well-known liberal bias.”
Ross Douthat has unintentionally demonstrated that one cannot be a successful Republican candidate without rejecting science (or at least hiding their beliefs) in a post on why Jon Huntsman’s campaign for the Republican nomination has been unsuccessful. Douthat says that Huntsman has failed because, “He picked high-profile fights on two hot-button issues — evolution and global warming…” He considers this to be “political malpractice at its worst.”
In other words, it is now political suicide in the Republican Party to openly acknowledge acceptance of science. Evolution is firmly established as a factual explanation for the development of complex organisms from simple organisms and is the foundation of modern biology. The science behind global warming is accepted by well over ninety percent of scientists in the field. Despite this, conservatives reject both fields of science. The typical conservative not only rejects, but is totally ignorant of the evidence for evolution, and considers creationism to be a valid alternative. Conservatives see climate change as a conspiracy and a hoax while creating their own hoax with the bogus claims surrounding “Climategate” which have been debunked by five separate investigations.
I sometimes think that the Democratic Party is the most inept political organization in the history of mankind, barely being able to capitalize on an opposing party which is attempting to destroy Social Security and Medicare, and making absolutely no attempt to benefit from the hostility towards science and reason in the right wing. At least sources outside of the Democratic Party are responding to the ignorant rants from GOP leaders such as Rick Perry and those with similar beliefs.
A politician’s attitude to evolution is perhaps not directly important in itself. It can have unfortunate consequences on education and science policy but, compared to Perry’s and the Tea Party’s pronouncements on other topics such as economics, taxation, history and sexual politics, their ignorance of evolutionary science might be overlooked. Except that a politician’s attitude to evolution, however peripheral it might seem, is a surprisingly apposite litmus test of more general inadequacy. This is because unlike, say, string theory where scientific opinion is genuinely divided, there is about the fact of evolution no doubt at all. Evolution is a fact, as securely established as any in science, and he who denies it betrays woeful ignorance and lack of education, which likely extends to other fields as well. Evolution is not some recondite backwater of science, ignorance of which would be pardonable. It is the stunningly simple but elegant explanation of our very existence and the existence of every living creature on the planet. Thanks to Darwin, we now understand why we are here and why we are the way we are. You cannot be ignorant of evolution and be a cultivated and adequate citizen of today.
Darwin’s idea is arguably the most powerful ever to occur to a human mind. The power of a scientific theory may be measured as a ratio: the number of facts that it explains divided by the number of assumptions it needs to postulate in order to do the explaining. A theory that assumes most of what it is trying to explain is a bad theory. That is why the creationist or ‘intelligent design’ theory is such a rotten theory.
After an explanation of the importance of evolution, Dawkins concluded:
There are many reasons to vote against Rick Perry. His fatuous stance on the teaching of evolution in schools is perhaps not the first reason that springs to mind. But maybe it is the most telling litmus test of the other reasons, and it seems to apply not just to him but, lamentably, to all the likely contenders for the Republican nomination. The ‘evolution question’ deserves a prominent place in the list of questions put to candidates in interviews and public debates during the course of the coming election.
Last week’s clip from Bill Maher showing how Christine O’Donnell dabbled in witchcraft was amusing but not of much consequence. This week’s clip should be sufficient to demonstrate that Christine O’Donnell is not qualified to be in being in the Senate. Unfortunately her ignorance about evolution is shared by far too many Republicans.
O’DONNELL: You know what, evolution is a myth. And even Darwin himself –
MAHER: Evolution is a myth?!? Have you ever looked at a monkey!
O’DONNELL: Well then, why they — why aren’t monkeys still evolving into humans?
Evolution, of course, rather than being a myth has been proven to be true and has become the basis of modern biology.
Bill Maher, while far ahead of Christine O’Donnell, has never been the greatest on scientific issues. He knew enough to realize the O’Donnell was wrong, but his response also is not entirely correct. Yes, as he said, evolution is slow, and we could not expect observe this in monkeys. He missed the point that evolution is not about monkeys evolving into humans. Monkeys and humans have common ancestors. Monkeys and humans are continuing to evolve (at too slow a rate to observe), but modern monkeys are evolving into something totally different from humans.
It also appears that O’Donnell was going to repeat a claim made by some creationists that Darwin ultimately decided against evolution. This claim, as with pretty much all claims made by creationists, is false.
It looks like the flat-earthers on the right wing have been right all along–they have not evolved. Sleeping Under Enon explains:
Creationists have often argued that they did not come from apes, a view usually ridiculed by the scientific community. Recent evidence, however, suggests that they may have actually been right. Scientists think that at the dawn of mankind, when the rest of the human race was busy evolving and adapting to their environment, creationists were refusing to take part in the evolutionary game, and as a result of this are therefore thoroughly unevolved human beings. The DNA of those who deny the glaringly obvious seems to be much more basic in structure. Instead of a double helix make-up like normal human beings, theirs is a single, thread-bare strand of pseudo philosophy. ‘What’s interesting’, says Dr. Spengler, ‘is that their DNA pattern is very unreactive, virtually ignoring everything that’s going on around it’. He went on to say that ‘anything more complicated than a black and white environment becomes too much for this type of organism, forcing it to, evolutionarily speaking, stick its fingers in its ears shouting ‘Blah blah blah, I can’t hear you”.
‘We didn’t believe it when we first checked the fossil records, but thinking about it, it makes sense’ commented Dr. Ray Stantz. ‘You might recall that human DNA shares significantly similar DNA to a banana. Well, creationists are much closer in genetic structure to an inanimate piece of fruit than other humans, it’s simply amazing we didn’t realise this before!’
Perhaps we should have realized this before, but some defenders of evolution are taking this well pointing out “it’s at least a silver lining to learn I don’t share a chromosome with those who watch Fox News’.”
It is an embarrassment to the “reality-based community” when The Huffington Post is found to be worse than Fox in promoting anti-scientific thought, at least with regards to homeopathy. I would bet that if other areas of science were included the comparison would be different–such as with climate change. It is hard to predict which would be worse with regards to evolution considering all the material from Deepak Chopra at The Huffington Post.
The Washington Post describes how the Democrats are digging harder than ever to find dirt on Republican opponents. This is a clear sign not only that the Democrats face some political difficulties but that they are badly out-matched by the right wing noise machine in the spin war. It is sad that the party which far more often than not has been right on the issues feels compelled to rely on finding dirt.
The problem with relying on uncovering dirt is that, even if it helps against particular candidates, it does little to build long term support for the party. The Republicans are far smarter, even if dishonest, in basing their attacks on distorting overall Democratic viewpoints and policies. This hooks their ditto head supporters for years.
The Republicans do have some advantages over the Democrats in the spin war. They dominate far more of the mass media, as they adroitly play the refs with their bogus claims of “liberal bias.” They have a far smaller tent, making it easier to define and defend a narrow set of views. They have a following which is not particularly concerned over whether their claims are reality-based as long as they support their biases. They are also far better at spin than the Democrats.
If the Democrats were willing to actually promote their views and demonstrate the differences with Republicans they would have a far better chance of developing a permanent base of support. They have been successful in building support among the educated which, along with their support among the young, will pay off long term. Short term they need to do a far better job of connecting the dots.
Democrats need to campaign against the flat-earth and anti-science views which dominate the GOP. The fact that the Republicans are full of candidates who believe in creationism, deny climate change, and oppose stem cell research is far more damaging than scandals involving a handful of individual candidates. If you go purely by the polls it might be argued that supporting evolution is not a winning issue in this country. I do believe that if one party had been defending science and reason during all these years the conservatives were screaming about birth certificates and imaginary conspiracies these poll results would be a little different.
Democrats need to point out far more clearly that the Republicans were virtually absent from the major political debate of the recent past. Relying on false claims that health care reform represented a “government take over of health care” while uniformly voting to allow the insurance industry to continue their abuses is a clear sign that the Republicans are not fit to govern.
Democrats need to do a better job of defending their record on the economy and presenting a coherent philosophy. They need to make it clear they support a market-based economy while showing the need and justification for government action at times. They have generally acted in a pragmatic fashion but, failing to explain their beliefs, they have opened themselves to being falsely defined by the right as supporting “tax and spend” government policy, and even socialism.
A primary difference between the left and the right is support for individual liberty, but the Democrats need to be more consistent. Emphasizing support for individual liberty would be a far better way to frame some of the issues which have harmed Democrats in the culture wars. Some of those who oppose abortion rights and gay marriage might eventually be able to understand support for a woman’s right to control her own body and for any individuals to decide for themselves who they want to marry. A more consistent emphasis on individual liberty would also give the Obama administration a stronger basis for more rapidly reversing the abuses of the Bush administration, with less fear that this would be distorted to mean weakness on national security.
Conservatives are getting excited about a survey which purports to show that conservatives and libertarians know more about economics than liberals. I do have a problem which tries to break everyone down into such groups considering the wide amount of variation in beliefs in people thrown into such categories. There certainly are people on the far left who have as little understanding of economics as conservatives have of science. In general l I’ve found mainstream liberals do gave a better grasp of economics due to the conservative movement being increasingly dominated by those who think they can bend reality to their ideological wishes.
A major problem with the survey is that it is really it is really a test of agreement with conservative economic theories, written under the assumption that their views are correct regardless of how disastrous application of their views has been in the real world. As Jonathan Chait wrote, “The only thing this study demonstrates is the ideological hackery of its authors.”
Using the same technique, one could “prove” that conservatives know more about science than liberals. Here is a sample test written from such a conservative perspective. To make things simple I’ll make this a true or false test, with all answers true from a conservative perspective on science:
1 ) An intelligent designer is responsible for the development of complex organisms.
2 ) Darwinists believe men descended from monkeys.
3 ) Evolution is just a theory–there is no evidence for it.
4 ) The earth is 6000 years old or less.
5 ) The Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s flood.
6 ) Global warming is a hoax.
7 ) The earth is cooling, not warming.
8 ) Dinosaurs and humans both lived together, like on The Flintstones.
9 ) The earth is the center of the universe.
10) The earth is flat.
Conservatives who answer true to all these questions could claim to understand more about science than liberals who would get these questions “wrong.” This would be as meaningful as their claims of knowing more about economics.
Bradley Byrne is running for the Republican nomination for governor in Alabama but is not conservative enough for those responsible for the above attack ad. Byrne is being attacked and even mocked for supporting teaching evolution in the schools and for saying “there are parts of the Bible that are meant to be literally true and parts that are not.”
Byrne is being attacked for views which would be rather sane coming from a Republican. Rather than defending such views Byrne insists he is as big a kook as those attacking him:
As a Christian and as a public servant, I have never wavered in my belief that this world and everything in it is a masterpiece created by the hands of God. As a member of the Alabama Board of Education, the record clearly shows that I fought to ensure the teaching of creationism in our school textbooks. Those who attack me have distorted, twisted and misrepresented my comments and are spewing utter lies to the people of this state.