More Republicans believe in demonic possession than global warming

Yeah.

Alternet reports on a Public Policy Polling Hallowe’en poll (pdf) and cross-references this poll on global warming:

A staggering 68 percent of registered Republican voters stated that they believe demonic possession is real. Meanwhile, only 48 percent of self-identified Republicans believe in another equally if not more scary natural phenomenon: climate change.

I would say it’s more scary, because it’s real. And the evidence provided by actual scientists is ironclad.

The scientists are unanimous, as long as you include actual climate scientists and not geologists or meteorologists or other pretenders at authority on the complex subject of climate. And yet, only 45% of all people agree that scientists generally agree about global warming. The misinformation efforts by liars like “Lord” Christopher Monckton are working.

To make matters even worse, 49% of Democrats also believe in demonic possession, even while 85% of Democrats say there’s solid evidence for global warming. It’s not that they’re smarter, it’s that they’re only marginally less prone to superstitious belief and more prone to trusting scientific evidence.

I’d say “let the mouth-breathers secede”, but it’s not like they’re all Republican secessionists.

Why are Republicans and media pundits really trying to eviscerate Social Security?

These accusations are interesting, plausible, and if true, potentially damaging to one of the greatest successes Democrats (and the beneficiaries of the program, of course) have had in the States. The few facts I know about Social Security are that a) it is not in danger of bankruptcy, the retirement age was raised from 62 when started in 1938 to 67 today (including deferment benefits for workers that keep working til 70), and that according to Milton Friedman, a demigod amongst conservatives, it actually disproportionately benefits the rich.

Friedman claims this is by virtue of the pay-in cap where you only have to pay a percentage of your wages into Social Security up to a certain salary, after which you no longer get “taxed”. You get the full benefit of payment regardless of how close to the pay-in you actually managed to make, so high-income folks get to withdraw much more than they made. Additionally, where mean life expectancy is determined by how much money you have to pay into hospitals, poor people live shorter, and may never collect from the social security fund while rich people who live longer will likely withdraw more than they paid in.

Since this is one of those memes best combatted by information, I’m happy to spread this message, though I’m skeptical without the real numbers. If there’s a risk of insolvency, why couldn’t they just lift the cap since even Lord Friedman suggests it’s configured unfairly? Why must the program be gutted and old people be put even more at risk of dying poor, underfed and without medical care?

Repeal of DADT sends right-wingers into apoplexy

I am amazed that it took as long as it has to bring a bit of sanity back to America’s policies with regard to sexuality of serving members, but they finally repealed “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. Yesterday the US Senate voted 63-33 to end cloture, then voted 65-31 (including eight Republicans) to repeal the strange law.

It’s one thing to forbid people from investigating, or discriminating against, gay soldiers. It’s another thing entirely to forbid people from serving while out. There’s a scene in the movie Across the Universe, set during the Vietnam War, wherein someone is expressly NOT refused entry into the army for claiming to be gay. “As long as you don’t have flat feet,” the recruiter says. Reality under DADT, however, expressly forbade any knowledge of a person’s sexual orientation, such that anyone openly gay could not serve, and anyone serving could not come out.

I can kind of understand, in the political climate of the 90s when being gay was only just becoming slightly less taboo — a bit of progress that was slowed with the misinformation around the spread of AIDS. The creation of the law in that climate was obviously intended to allow gays to join, to serve their country alongside straight soldiers — because if someone wants to risk their life fighting for what may or may not be a good cause, it damn well shouldn’t matter what gender or orientation they happen to be.

Except, naturally, to the esteemed and totally sane members of the Party of Family Values.

The new Marine motto: “The Few, the Proud, the Sexually Twisted.” Good luck selling that to strong young males who would otherwise love to defend their country. What virile young man wants to serve in a military like that?

If the president and the Democrats wanted to purposely weaken and eventually destroy the United States of America, they could not have picked a more efficient strategy to make it happen.
Bryan Fischer, American Family Association

“Today is a tragic day for our armed forces. The American military exists for only one purpose – to fight and win wars. Yet it has now been hijacked and turned into a tool for imposing on the country a radical social agenda. This may advance the cause of reshaping social attitudes regarding human sexuality, but it will only do harm to the military’s ability to fulfill its mission.
Tony Perkins, Family Research Council

If the lame-duck Congress succeeds in ‘gaying down’ our military this weekend, it will take a disastrous leap toward “mainstreaming” deviant, sinful homosexual conduct – not just in the military but in larger society — thus further propelling America’s moral downward spiral.
Peter LaBarbera, president of “Americans For Truth About Homosexuality”, a virulently anti-gay organization

Ain’t that just precious. What is it about the right wing that makes them so xenophobic and self-defeating that they’d deign decree who’s allowed to give their lives for their country? They can’t honestly think that being gay makes you less capable of killing people, can they?

Colbert actually has a point on immigration

I have to say, I absolutely love the way Stephen Colbert constantly injects himself into the political discourse. Even though he’s making fun of the Republicans, he’s able to stick the shiv right under their ribs by pretending to be one of them. And over this particular comedy routine, making fun of the blanket Republican stance against foreigners, the Grand Old Party has absolutely lost their shit over the fact that he was invited to deliver this five-minute counterargument to the committee on immigration directly by the Democrats in charge.

Even some of the stodgier Democrats are incensed that they got upstaged by a comedian. For some totally unexpected and unpredictable reason, making fun of the patently ridiculous stance that a country built out of immigrants should close the borders to immigration, is turning out to be a better strategy than taking their patently ridiculous stance seriously.

For those of you that don’t recognize Colbert as having an actual point here, let me boil it down for you. It’s really very simple.

1. Immigrants are working dirt-cheap jobs under terrible living conditions, and the fact that they are not citizens means they aren’t afforded protections.
2. Because they aren’t afforded protections, their employers can keep paying them next to nothing and treating them like shit.
3. If they were afforded protections, they might not be in such dangerous and shitty conditions working for next to nothing, so maybe “real Americans” would do those jobs again.
4. If that were the case, some of the artificially lowered prices for farm produce might rise again, spawning more farms to replace the millions of farm jobs that have been lost over the past few decades to big agribusiness and south of the border.

Take the invisible hand’s thumbs off the scale, and equality and sanity returns, at the expense of the bigger agribusinesses that are profiting hand over fist at the expense of the country, and at the expense of the immigrant labour they’re exploiting. By doing that, you might actually cure the illegal immigration problem.

But that’s just crazy bleeding-heart liberal talk!

Congratulations on health care reform!

It’s obviously the talk of the world, so I might as well weigh in. Congratulations on passing a modicum of health care reform and taking care of about half of your uninsured! It’s definitely a step in the right direction, and one of the first I’ve seen your nation make pretty well since I’ve become politically aware.

Sure, 15 million people are still without any form of health insurance and will still go bankrupt should something unforeseen happen to them or their loved ones. Sure, you’re now mandated to buy health insurance from one of those vulture companies that stand between you and your doctor presently or face stiff fines. And sure, there’s no guarantee that in the four years grace time where the health insurance companies are still allowed to deny your claims due to pre-existing conditions that your idiot compatriots might vote someone into office that will push to repeal every scrap of forward movement you’ve made. But you’ve made a single tiny insignificant step forward! And that’s something to celebrate. To celebrate, and to rest on your laurels.

Or not. Because every shred of progress you’ve made is in danger of being wiped out before they even become active. Most provisions in the bill passed last night won’t take effect until at least 2014. All you have to do is elect a Republican to office in 2012 and the vast majority of your progress will be lost, because this bill, though it contains lots of bones thrown to the health insurance industry (like their ability to cap expenditures per capita, or the fact that if they break the law they’re fined a mere $100 a day!), does cut into their profits. And though the GOP has watered down the bill as much as they could (some describe it as akin to Romneycare now — after some 200 amendments proffered by Republicans and still not a single Republican voting yea on it), they’re hurting from this, what David Frum calls their Waterloo. And they’ll be out for blood.

They already are, in the Tea Party movement as fomented by luminaries like Glenn Beck. And at this point, they are the staunchest Republicans. All you have to do to backslide is elect a few of them. Just a few. The House vote was 217-210 — it passed by seven votes, with not a single Republican voting for it. Just let a few of your House Democrats get defeated by anyone with an ideology like Bart Stupak at the absolute furthest right, and you’re done. No shining gold medal of single-payer like the one Canada’s had since 1962 on the horizon. And you have to admit, on reading about Canada’s system, that for all its flaws, at least we didn’t leave another 15 million people behind just to appease our corporate paymasters. What’s an oddity up here is endemic still down there, and will be for quite some time until you hammer out the problems as quickly as possible and buttress them against the corporate-funded attacks that are coming.

Please don’t backslide, folks. Don’t rest on your laurels. I hate to be the rabble-rouser on the outside, but I can’t stand to watch your less fortunate — the people you welcomed into the country that fall into the category of “huddled masses” — keep dying needlessly.

RCimT: This Week, Without Gods

This is long overdue, but this week’s Cool Atheist of the Week is awarded posthumously to George Carlin, who veiled his insight into humanity under the guise of being a comedian — as in Shakespeare’s plays, the Fool is the one freest to speak to the King without fear of retribution.

You know who I pray to? Joe Pesci. Two reasons: First of all, I think he’s a good actor, okay? To me, that counts. Second, he looks like a guy who can get things done. Joe Pesci doesn’t fuck around. In fact, Joe Pesci came through on a couple of things that God was having trouble with.

For years I asked God to do something about my noisy neighbor with the barking dog, Joe Pesci straightened that cocksucker out with one visit. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a simple baseball bat.

So I’ve been praying to Joe for about a year now. And I noticed something. I noticed that all the prayers I used to offer to God, and all the prayers I now offer to Joe Pesci, are being answered at about the same 50% rate. Half the time I get what I want, half the time I don’t. Same as God, 50-50. Same as the four-leaf clover and the horseshoe, the wishing well and the rabbit’s foot, same as the Mojo Man, same as the Voodoo Lady who tells you your fortune by squeezing the goat’s testicles, it’s all the same: 50-50. So just pick your superstition, sit back, make a wish, and enjoy yourself.

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RCimT: Catch-up

I told you last time I still had a ton of crap in my tabs. It’s exploding again, so here we go, one more time. (I really gotta stop ctrl-clicking on everything interesting!)

First up and above the fold, Stephanie Zvan got good-but-complicated news with regard to her biopsy, suggesting the lesions she has on her cervix are not invasive cancer and can be treated. The blogosphere heaves a collective sigh of relief.

Much more below the fold.
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Two boats tethered together on a lake

I’m going to extend Greg Laden’s metaphor proclaiming (rightly, in my opinion) that the so-called “New Atheists” and the so-called “accommodationists” are in the same boat and bickering about what amounts to be the 1% difference between their philosophies. But first I’m going to set the stage for this rant, and I’m also going to do what a number of people in this Internet High Dudgeon have done — define all my terms (favorably to my argument, naturally).

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Blogging the Election, Part 3

new democrats ascendant

It was a complete and total rout.

ns2009results

An interactive version of this map is available via CBC.

Before the election — please note this corrects an incorrect tally for Liberal seats in my Part 1:

Party Seats Leader
PC 21 Rodney MacDonald (premier)
NDP 20 Darrell Dexter
LIB 9 Stephen MacNeil
GRN 0 Ryan Watson
IND 1 (Independent)

(1 seat vacant)

Afterward:

Party Seats Leader +/- Vote %
NDP 31 Darrell Dexter (premier) +11 45.26%
LIB 11 Stephen MacNeil +2 27.22%
PC 10 Rodney MacDonald -11 24.52%
GRN 0 Ryan Watson n/a 2.33%
IND 0 (Independent) -1 0.67%

Liberals have gone from “also-ran” to “official opposition party”. NDP has gone from “official opposition party” to “government”. The government itself has gone from minority to majority, majority being 27 seats. PC bled 11 seats, 12 if you count “independent” Fage who’s only independent because he was politically radioactive after his hit-and-run. Plus the vacant seat is now filled, finally.

Expect the Liberals and PC to develop an uneasy alliance in opposition to the majority NDP, and a lot of hand-wringing whether the NDP does a good job or a bad one. Also, like every single political party taking office for the first time, expect them to do a pretty good job at first, then suddenly and sharply hit a wall of some kind, whether of their own design or that of their opposition. How they handle the crisis is paramount. Setting expectations is important for holding a realistic worldview!

Reader links roundup

Another quick link roundup.  What do you guys think of the really-short, nearly-content-free postings I’ve been doing over the past several days?  They’re easier to slap together quickly, which is what I need given that my free time has been so tight.  I promise I won’t abandon longer posts altogether, either way.

Courtesy of Jason Pickles: this video must have some provenance given the douchenozzle Rob’s reaction to having someone ask three questions — “are you a volunteer?  are you paid?  what do you do?” to the “paid walkers” of the Florida Republican GOTV effort.

From Bob: this might be a way to get off of oil dependency — or it might be snake oil, yet another bit of bad science.  I don’t know enough about the technology behind this yet, but I’ll revisit it as soon as I do.  I have a feeling it would take more energy to run the engine than the engine would generate.  Also — how the hell are these “gold nanoparticles” attracted to cancer cells?  This guy sounds like a quack through and through, frankly.

Also from Bob: what if the whole world could vote on the 2008 US election?  So far the only country John McCain is carrying is Macedonia, but feel free to vote for whomever you’d like to see as the next “leader of the free world” (if you can call the president that any more).  Hilariously enough, evidently this link has only gotten around to the Democrats in the States, because this poll has Obama winning there 80.8-19.2%.

From Groklaw‘s NewsPicks: why exactly is it that Microsoft is trying to muddy the “free software” waters lately?  Why do they want us all confused?  The obvious answer is that they can’t compete on merits, because an open source project will achieve a level of stability and features to rival their own products in extremely short order, due to the meritocratous nature of the open source programming model, and all without any monetary input.  The long answer is in the article.

And finally, courtesy of Huffington Post: apparently Palin’s $150,000 shopping spree for designer clothes pales in comparison to the graft that Obama is guilty of, for having used a 767 to visit his grandmother on her deathbed.  This asshat should be punched in the teeth.