GOP senior officials quietly trying to restore science to their agenda

By Phil Plait | October 4, 2011 7:00 am

If you’ve read this blog for more than a few nanoseconds, you know how incensed I am over the blatantly antiscience trend in the Republican leadership. As I have pointed out before, supporting the reality of global warming or evolution is akin to political suicide if you are a candidate for office in the GOP. The attacks on science by the far right are not new, but the openness and outspoken nature of it are fairly recent. Even Newt Gingrich, who used to a be a strong supporter of science, is making Michele Bachmann-level misstatements about it.

So I was very glad to read an article at the National Journal saying that older leaders of the Republican party are trying to re-establish the role of science in the GOP:

But quietly, many acknowledge a deepening GOP schism over the issue, as many moderates grow increasingly disturbed by their party’s denial of proven science. A number of influential Republicans who have left the battlefield of electoral politics are now taking action in an effort to change the GOP’s stance.

And we’re not talking about lightweights, either. People like former (under Bush I) Secretary of State George Shultz, who said this:

"My own opinion is that this [climate change] problem is very real," Shultz told National Journal. "I recognize there’s a lot of people pooh-poohing it. Whether they like the science or not, there’s a huge problem coming at us. There’s a huge melt coming in the Arctic regions. There’s melting taking place." Of Republicans like [Presidential candidate Rick] Perry who deny climate science, he said, "They’re entitled to their opinion, but they’re not entitled to the facts."

Oh my. That is very heartening to hear. Of course, they have an uphill battle ahead of them. And by uphill, I mean like climbing out of the event horizon of a black hole, given how loud the antiscience noise is. The article acknowledges this, saying these leaders have kept quiet

in part because acknowledging climate change puts them out of sync with the tea party base that has so energized their party, and because climate-change legislation stands no chance of passing Congress in the current political environment.

The far-right Tea Party is mired in a radical religious agenda, and has become the de facto voice of the GOP. I have serious doubts that the more moderate wing of the Republican leadership can do much about it; that whirlwind has been sown, and they are now reaping it… as are we all. Once an audience is whipped into a frenzy that is not based on reason, corralling it will be nearly impossible. Just look at the editorial climate scientist Michael Mann wrote for the Vail Daily, defending his research against oft-repeated falsehoods about it — which sometimes come from people as lofty as Congressmen in the House of Representatives. That kind of stuff won’t stop overnight, or even in the next few years. It’s a foregone conclusion antiscience will play its role in the 2012 election, too.

So while I’m glad to hear that some members of the Republican Party are fighting to get their party back, I despair of their chances of actually doing it.

Tip o’ the beaker to Steve Silberman (via JenLucPiquant), and reddit.


Related posts:

- Erasing false balance: the right is more antiscience than the left
- Republican candidates, global warming, evolution, and reality
- The increasingly antiscience Republican candidates
- Michele Bachmann needs to check her ID
- Next up for Congress: repeal the law of gravity
- Antiscience party

Comments (80)

  1. Hal

    My first-hand experience with the Tea Party is that they are not, generally, far religious right. And polling data shows they are less culturally conservative than the GOP base. The problem is that the Tea Party, such as it is, is comprised of a huge collection of different groups and the Religious Right is the loudest. They aren’t a majority; but they are a plurality. Most TPers are suspicious of CO2 restriction schemes, which they see — not unreasonably — as bad for the economy. This tends to propagate backwards into climate denial. They’ve also been far too tolerant of the Religious Right radicals in their midst.

    I think the sane wing of the GOP needs to take the position Huntsman and Christie have: acknowledged the reality of AGW but disagreeing with the proposed policies. That can at least lurch things back to sanity.

  2. James Miller

    “The far-right Tea Party is mired in a radical religious agenda”

    The Tea Party has gone out of its way to avoid religious issues. The key to science is letting evidence not a blues/greens approach dominate one’s analysis.

  3. Bubba

    Since the majority of Americans don’t vote, and those who do are often uninformed enough to just throw bozos back into office because they recognize their names on the ballot, we eliminate the chance to make real change. If the majority of Americans actually cared about the country, and wanted people in office who may possibly do what they promised to do while campaigning, then we would hold them accountable by dumping them after one term in office. Ideologues never have to be the winners. They are often the biggest liars. And the most immoral. But if they win (e.g. Tea Partiers), then they win in their own little, insulated, bizarre Tea Party districts. America can change, but because so many people don’t vote, they expect change to come from the top down. The weird thing about Tea Partiers is that they are the ones who understand that the opposite is true. However, that is the ONLY thing they got right. We can all change what is happening in American gov’t. IF we, as a country, choose to act to make change. In this way, science and truth can re-emerge as greater than religious belief in our society. This is not denigrating religion, this is just avoiding becoming like a backwards, Middle Eastern theocracy.

  4. Dipfeleschisser

    Wish there were more in the GOP like this. Having left the States when Clinton was still president, it’s been scary to see the Republican party drift even further to the right over the years.

    A quick correction: Shultz was Secretary of State under Reagan.

    An (unrelated) article for you, Phil, on misidentified astronomical objects. (An RAF search helicopter being sent to investigate a flare, which turned out to be Jupiter.): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-15165928

  5. dmbeaster

    These guys have zero chance of reforming the party. They have already been kicked out in every practical sense, and have no power. Plus the id of the party is to value tribal loyalty over independent thinking. Science denial is just one aspect of a bigger mindset.

  6. occupy_boulder

    Ya Phil, Christianity and the GOP are stupid. I think you’ve made that point. Why don’t you ever say anything about Blue State nutters? I live in Colorado too, and this place is lousy with spiritual dreamers, psychics and other anti-rational kooks. If you live in Boulder, these are your neighbors. Why don’t you ever go after them?

    Also, it’s not exactly rocket science to blog about how some hick politician like Michele Bachmann is dumb. My high school age nephews laugh at idiotic GOP politicians too. What else you got? Cuz Wonkette does Republicans-Are-Dumb better than you.

  7. “They’re entitled to their opinion, but they’re not entitled to the facts.”

    I think Secretary Shultz sort of messed up the Daniel Patrick Moynihan quote which I think says it so much better:

    Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

    Basically the ideologues are very guilty of manufacturing their own “facts” out of thin air, and creating a Manufactroversy.

  8. REAL planetlover

    It’s the exploiting climate change scientists that should all be charged with treason for leading us to yet another false war against a false enemy of climate variation. These lab coat consultants have condemned billions of children to a CO2 death and I urge everyone to phone your local D.A. and have justice done.
    Climate science was a consultant’s wet dream and they will be jailed sooner or later. This needless panic will not go unpunished.

  9. Al Bore

    Boycott Discovery and all the other “remaining” fear mongering climate blame media.

  10. Dragonchild

    People talk all the time. I really stopped caring what both parties SAY a long time ago. I don’t even watch debates or speeches — not because I want to be uninformed, but because listening to them blah-blah doesn’t get you even a nanometer closer to knowing what they’re up to. To gauge the GOP, you have to look at what they’re DOING.

    The GOP doing is not FORMER Secretary of State George Shultz’s blah-blah. The doing is trying to gut NASA like a fish.

  11. tallnginger

    I would agree with you all, but as much as I’d like to, I’ve seen the tea party at work in the south, and they aren’t just in their bizarre tea party districts. Its the majority of thought in the south. Dispelling creationism, or simply acknowledging that evolutionism could be right can get you laughed at, Bible verses shoved in your face or worse. Its much worse than I think y’all imagine. Here in the south I sadly don’t see that sort of change happening until some radical change occurs

  12. QuietDesperation

    Ideologues never have to be the winners.

    But that’s all that is on the ballot, even in the primaries. You can rail about voter turn out and throwing the bums out all you like, but our system guarantees a slate of narcissistic sociopaths at every election.

    Plus the id of the party is to value tribal loyalty over independent thinking.

    It’s part of the human condition to value tribal loyalty. Look at the world. All people do is divide themselves into various tribes based on everything from religion to sports teams.

  13. Daniel J. Andrews

    Sort of curious that anti-science hasn’t tackled geology yet. After all, it offers a great deal of evidence the earth is far more than 6000 yrs old. I wonder if part of it is that geologists help find oil and mineral deposits, and therefore any attacks on geology would not likely receive the support of the fossil fuel or mining industries.

    Which leads to another bit of idle speculation–is one of the reasons for NASA’s funding being cut because they too offer evidence for a universe billions of years old?

    Continuing with the idle speculation, why are we all in this hand-basket, and where are we going?

  14. Tom

    “The far-right Tea Party is mired in a radical religious agenda…”

    Wow. If you say it often enough, maybe it will make it so.

  15. don gisselbeck

    I just read the comments on the National Journal piece. Teh Stoopid is strong there. They have clearly forgotten that physics trumps ideology.

  16. James

    “They’re entitled to their opinion, but they’re not entitled to the facts.”

    I love this, I think I will post it on my whiteboard in my classroom.

    @ Tom I don’t think it will make it so, since it already is so. Saying it often enough might get people to start believing it though.

  17. Mark

    I’m glad to hear this, though it was bound to happen eventually. You can only bring in so much stupid before some old guy shakes his head and realizes, “They’re making us all look like idiots.”

    It might be too late to stem the tide, and who knows how long the effects of this will last.. will the GOP ever regain the meaning of the “G”? It will be impossible until they get their most media-friendly members a basic education.

  18. fredR

    I always love it when they say “Some scientists disagree with the man-made global warming theory, so we should hold off on judgement” (I’m paraphrasing here).

    If 90% of the people voted for (let’s say) Rick Perry, would he say “well, some of the people didn’t vote for me, so maybe I shouldn’t be declared the winner”?

    Somehow, I doubt it.

  19. Nigel Depledge

    Bubba (1) said:

    If the majority of Americans actually cared about the country, and wanted people in office who may possibly do what they promised to do while campaigning, then we would hold them accountable by dumping them after one term in office.

    Or maybe even impeaching them for lying during their campaigns?

    Hey, a man can dream…

  20. Nigel Depledge

    Daniel J Andrews (6) said:

    Sort of curious that anti-science hasn’t tackled geology yet. After all, it offers a great deal of evidence the earth is far more than 6000 yrs old.

    Oh, yes it has. It just made a terrible, terrible hash of it.

    Google “institute of creation research” and read some of their website. But do it in small doses, as your head might explode.

  21. Paul

    Its truly sad that the Gop has to do this on the down low.

  22. Daffy

    George Shultz has long been a voice of dissent in the Republican party—from calling for drug legalization, to opposing the Cuba embargo. Still, since his boss Ronald Reagan was instrumental in causing this problem, I find his comments to be at best 30 years too late. The damage has been done.

  23. SLC

    OT but I assume that Dr. Plait is going to comment today on the three astrophysicists who were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of the acceleration of the expansion rate of the universe.

  24. Aubri

    You don’t seem to understand what “Tea Party” means. The whole point is that it’s NOT based on religion, or race, or anything other than economics…

  25. Tw

    >>far-right Tea Party is mired in a radical religious agenda<<

    Wow…Dr Phil.

    You really have bought into the media BS.

  26. Wow Phil – Looks like Hank Campbell at Science 2.0 wrote a piece about this and addressed you specifically.

    science20.com/science_20/left_more_antiscience_right_unless_right_more_antiscience_left-83176

    Interesting stuff!

    Personally, I think both parties pretty much suck at science.

  27. occupy_boulder

    Ha ha, thought so. Just a state university gravy train funded Democrat party hack posing as a “scientist,” oblivious to his own hypocrisy. Comment censorship too, real liberal Phil.

  28. PeteC

    @5 QuietDesparation
    “But that’s all that is on the ballot, even in the primaries”

    Personally I think any election should always have the option “none of the above”. If “none of the above” wins then every candidate that stood is banned from standing again for the position, either permanently (let’s be honest, it’s not like there really are only a few dozen people of the intellectual status of Bachman, Obama, Perry, Clinton or Palin available in the USA capable of doing the job) or for at least the next election term. “None of the above” shoud translate to “They’re all unacceptable – give me new candidates to choose from, please”.

  29. Daniel J. Andrews

    Thanks Nigel (13), that just makes my day. sigh. :)

    I was thinking more along the lines of what we’ve seen with evolution where YEC are actually trying to change the curriculum in schools in regards to teaching evolution/creationism, and where it has become fodder for political officials who try and pass legislation to support creationism; or for those like the South Dakota representatives passing a resolution that global warming isn’t happening and if it is, it is all due to cosmological and “astrological”* reasons. Please don’t tell me they’re coming up with legislation and changing the curriculum in geology too(?). E.g. We legislate that geology is only a theory….

    *I was told they changed the “astrological” to “astronomical” in the final version of their resolution so it wasn’t like they meant to promote astrology itself.

  30. 16. Aubri Says:
    You don’t seem to understand what “Tea Party” means. The whole point is that it’s NOT based on religion, or race, or anything other than economics…

    Have an explanation for this?

    http://liberalvaluesblog.com/2011/08/17/academic-study-confirms-tea-party-dominated-by-far-right-xenophobic-and-racist-theocrats/

    or this?

    http://exiledonline.com/exposing-the-familiar-rightwing-pr-machine-is-cnbcs-rick-santelli-sucking-koch/all/1/

  31. Daniel J. Andrews

    @occupy_boulder (27). Strawman, and red herring. Very good, but I’ve seen more packed into less so please try again.

  32. mike burkhart

    ”It’s the economy stupid” Thats the reson for people accepting the GOP take on climent change ,with high unemployment and with Democrats wanting cap and trade ,and other regulations it is no wonder that many buy the Gop line about this killing jobs ,and also many are thinking that funding Science is a waste of money in a bad economy.

  33. Brett

    And then you read the comments in the article, and it’s evident why all of this is a waste of time: these guys will get labelled as RINOs by the extremists and will be ignored. *shrug*

    But, hey Phil, I can’t blame you for trying to find a glimmer of hope…

    But, I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: we, as a species, will do nothing about AGW. We will simply have to do our best to adapt, because as a species, we’re simply not equipped to handle a problem of such subtlety and magnitude.

  34. TerryEmberson

    Phil, Love you as a writer, and love the political topics, but the same posting where you quote someone as saying

    “They’re entitled to their opinion, but they’re not entitled to the facts.”

    and you say

    The far-right Tea Party is mired in a radical religious agenda.

    It’s rife with a special kind of irony.

    The Tea Party may be full of religious people, but the agenda is not religious. It would be the same as saying that the Academy of Science is mired in a radical leftist agenda, just because the majority of them are leftist. I dislike the Tea Party for being inconsistent in their calls for economic freedoms alongside calls for kicking out the illegals and calls for protecting medicare rates where they are. They are absolutely confused, but they are very much an economically focused group.

    The core values of one of the national Tea Party groups, Tea Party.org are

    NON-NEGOTIABLE CORE BELIEFS OF THE TEA PARTY
    1. Illegal Aliens Are Here Illegally.
    2. Pro-Domestic Employment Is Indispensable.
    3. Stronger Military Is Essential.
    4. Special Interests Eliminated.
    5. Gun Ownership Is Sacred.
    6. Government Must Be Downsized.
    7. National Budget Must Be Balanced.
    8. Deficit Spending Will End.
    9. Bail-Out And Stimulus Plans Are Illegal.
    10. Reduce Personal Income Taxes A Must.
    11. Reduce Business Income Taxes Are Mandatory.
    12. Political Offices Available To Average Citizens.
    13. Intrusive Government Stopped.
    14. English As Core Language Is Required.
    15. Traditional Family Values Are Encouraged.

    The core values of the Tea Party Express are

    The Tea Party Express is proud to stand for six simple principles

    * No more bailouts
    * Reduce the size and intrusiveness of government
    * Stop raising our taxes
    * Repeal Obamacare
    * Cease out-of-control spending
    * Bring back American prosperity

    For the Tea Party Patriots, it is apparently all about the cutting of spending.

    No where in any of these core organizations does it say God. There are plenty of God focused events, but you don’t have to attend them to be a part of the group. And 41% of all Tea Partiers say that government should not have a part in enforcing social values. You’d be hard pressed to find that number in a left leaning movement.

    The closest they come to social conservativism is among Tea Party.orgs calls for “traditional family values” which is couched anti-gay marital rights language, which is another reason I won’t support them, but even left-leaning California doesn’t support gay rights in that regard, so we can’t call that a Christian Right thing entirely.

  35. Regarding the comments about the demographics of the Tea Party. I am sure that those who disagree with Dr. Plait’s description of them have old data in their minds. The Gallup Poll data from 2010 did indeed represent a much more diverse demographic that had a much broader appeal.

    Sadly, in politics a year is a great deal of time core membership has indeed shifted. They are now much more likely to be old, white, evangelical males (Source: CBS Poll):

    - When it comes to age, 60% of tea party Republicans are 50 or older, compared with 42% of non-tea party Republicans.

    - As for religion, 46% of tea party Republicans identify themselves as “born again,” compared with 40% of non-tea party Republicans.

    - And 62% of tea party Republicans are male, compared with 45% of non-tea party Republicans.

    - Tea Party identifiers are overwhelmingly white – 97% are white

    The hyper-partisan nature of the loudest members of the party (and the ones who get all the media attention) has caused any semblance of a balanced demographic to get kicked to the curb.

    @ TerryEmberson (#33), looking at the list of things they stand for, I notice some are self-contradictory (Spending on Military doesn’t count? By large, the biggest contributor to our current debt. What have we spent on the wars lately? Over $6 Trillion?)… And apparently the 41% that say “government should not have a part in enforcing social values” ignore core belief item #15? I also note that there is no actual PLAN to accomplish their goals. Granted, neither the GOP or Democrats seem to have a plan either that measures up. And using partisan language such as “Obamacare” in principles is uncalled for. Why not simply state “Repeal National Healthcare”?

  36. toyotabedzrock

    Maybe they should not support tax breaks for the corporations that fund the anti science movement?

  37. CR

    Comment censorship? Seems to me that cry gets made a lot by people don’t post here regularly enough to know that there are times when comments go into moderation approval automatically, and then the comments show up posted a little later. (I’m sure there are cases where they don’t get approved, say if they are containing links to porn sites or are advocating violence against specific individuals or some such, but I hope that people aren’t posting such things here…) Anyway, MOST blogs I’ve seen have comments go into moderator approval before posting, and the ones that don’t allow retroactive moderator editing, so pretending that Phil is somehow stamping on people’s rights is a bit silly.

  38. TerryEmberson

    Larian,

    It’s not about demographics. It’s about what they are actually promoting.

  39. TerryEmberson, see edit. :)

    EDIT: A while back I did do a blog post that did address some scince and budget thing (not especially well thought out mind you, I was just ranting a bit). One of the bits in there was: “When Congress authorizes any deceleration of war, there will be an automatically enacted “War Tax” which will cover the expected expenses beyond the currently approved DoD budget. Any military action taken by the President as Commander in Chief shall also enact a “War Tax” as to be budgetary neutral.” I wonder how long this $6Trillion pricetag would have run had we actually considered how we were going to pay for it (instead of issuing further tax cuts)?

  40. TerryEmberson

    @Larian LeQuella:

    @ TerryEmberson (#33), looking at the list of things they stand for, I notice some are self-contradictory

    Yet another reason I don’t buy into their hype. They are confused and unfocused, much like this current group of Occupy Wall Street. What they want is unclear and far reaching.

    What is more important is that they generate hype and that hype can be focused by a political entrepreneur into something powerful. Ron Paul and son are among those trying to shape the Tea Party their way, but there are just too many entrepreneurs to count and many of them have had messages more familiar to the traditional republican sphere, such as expelling illegals and making English the official language.

    They are just more of an example that our nation is in a populist era which can lead to dangerously irrational decisions. We can no more afford the right to end Welfare than we can afford the left to hamper free markets. Welfare has problems that need to be addressed, and free markets can’t do everything to address them.

    We need to find balance and right now it needs to be towards more freedom, social and economic. We need to prevent government from getting into these incestuous relationships with companies. We need to make corporations more responsible for their actions, but protect them from over-taxation and excessive regulatory confusion and burdens.

    We need to get government out of the business of regulation social behavior, to include everything from the right to marry to the right to eat fat if we want to eat fat.

    Edit: @Larian LeQuella:

    I could get behind that amendment, as long as it was part of an amendment that made Congress have to balance its budget and forced every program in the government be similarly linked to a tax. Might be good if we just made these sales taxes too so that it was actually taxing the economy rather than any specific individual. Use something like the FairTax to give subsidies to everyone so that the cost of living expenses aren’t taxed.

  41. @TerryEmberson (#40):

    Well said. (Need a little “applaudy” emoticon.)

    I would add to the list:

    - We need to find a way to keep the media from giving an innordinate amount of coverage to the loudest versus the mainstream.
    :)

  42. TerryEmberson

    Also, Larian, on your point from your blog about a chain of stores where nothing is inspected? I would buy there. Everything will be MUCH cheaper and probably just as safe because its in the company’s interests to protect their market share. The store would be forced to close quickly though, all of the campaign contributions from the other regulated stores would make that certain.

    - We need to find a way to keep the media from giving an innordinate amount of coverage to the loudest versus the mainstream.

    That is a social issue that I would not get behind. Its a freedom of speech thing. I think we need to remind individuals that they need to be more personally discerning.

  43. @fredR,

    When science that a politician doesn’t like is supported by 95% of scientists in that field, the politician says: “The jury is still out and we need to wait and see.”

    However, if a politician is elected by 51% of the people, then the politician says: “We have a clear mandate! The people want us to push through our policies with as little compromise as possible.”

  44. tacitus

    The far-right Tea Party is mired in a radical religious agenda

    Yes, equating the Tea Party’s stated goals as a “radical religious agenda” is inaccurate, but there is no doubt that the leaders of the Tea Party and the large majority of the Tea Party supporters are the same people who were actively involved in promoting and voting for the radical social agenda of the religious right in previous elections.

    And the results are the same — the election of ultra-conservative politicians around the nation who have spent more time pushing through anti-abortion and other “pro-family” legislation than doing anything to help get America back to work.

    Tea Party supporters aren’t stupid. They know that if they succeed in getting a bunch of ultra-conservatives elected on a purely ultra-conservative platform of policies, the radical social and religious conservative agendas will be along for the ride.

    And by the way, if one could expand the “Traditional Family Values” bullet point in the Tea Party agenda, you would find that it lists every single item on the religious conservative’s social agenda. They are just being a little coy about it, that’s all.

  45. @occupy_boulder,

    Phil has commented plenty on the psychics and other people. When NASA was crashing a probe into the Moon and some spiritualist complained that we hadn’t asked the Moon’s permission (if the Moon starting talking to me, I’d question my sanity), he posted about it. He has dealt endlessly with Homeopathy, anti-vax and the like. Phil is an equal opportunity debunker.

    It just so happens that, in this current political season, the GOP has a spotlight on them. Everyone knows who the Democrat’s candidate for President will be. His positions on issues (both bad and good) are pretty well-known. But this crop of GOP candidates are new to a lot of people. When one of these people (or some GOP higher-up) says something anti-science, it calls attention to itself. When a lot of them go on an anti-science bender, those of us who are pro-science get worried.

  46. I wish the best of luck to the GOP officials trying to restore a pro-science agenda. It would be nice to not have to worry every time a Republican is elected whether he’ll slash science funding because he thinks the world is 6,000 years old and this science stuff is from the devil. The glory days of the USA didn’t come from young earth creationist beliefs (or from old earth creationism). It came from industriousness, science, technology and engineering. We can’t hope to regain our glory days by dismantling our scientific institutions and making religion reign supreme.

  47. @TerryEmberson,

    Given how companies have responded to inspections rules, I don’t think I’d trust them to voluntarily inspect their goods. If inspections were voluntary, then companies would treat them as just another expense and corner to cut. Why go with Inspection Company 1 who charges a lot but does an extremely thorough job when you could go with Inspection Company 2 who isn’t as thorough but is a lot cheaper? If any issues come up, you can deny them and claim they are isolated incidents. When no denial is possible anymore, you can blame the inspection company, fire them, and replace them with Inspection Company 3 who is identical to #2 but a different company.

    Furthermore, how would customers know the quality of the goods they are getting? Bad goods might not make them sick right away. You might give your child toys to play with that seem safe and your child doesn’t get sick upon touching it, but issues crop up after years of use. (It’s hard for the free market to guide things when the penalty comes 10 years after the purchase.) The goods might say they were inspected, but how do we know by whom and how good a job they did? With companies so focused on their next quarter, I doubt few would really worry about issues that might crop up 10 years down the line.

  48. Dragonchild

    @38 TerryEmberson -
    It is VERY much about demographics. In democracy, there is little else. The “core values”? THAT’S the blah-blah. That’s the stuff that can be ignored out of hand. I recall much of the same blah-blah about “compassionate conservatism”. To reiterate, it comes down to what they’re actually doing. And while there is some truth to the Tea Party’s austerity fever (as destructive as their policies are, they are remarkably doing what they promised to do), there’s no mistaking them for libertarian atheists. The agenda really hasn’t changed. But to be fair, let’s take a look at those self-proclaimed values:

    5. Gun Ownership Is Sacred.
    14. English As Core Language Is Required.
    15. Traditional Family Values Are Encouraged.

    If this is an economics-driven movement, it’s a strange one. I notice #3 directly contradicts #6 and #14 directly contradicts #13, but I digress. #15 also is contradictory to #13 (“Intrusive Government Stopped”) considering these are “non-negotiable”. . . or if “encouraged” means it’s really just a “nice to have” then we’re back to utterly meaningless blah-blah. But take a third look at #15. Who says “traditional family values”? Where do you think that phrase came from? The GOP. It’s a nonsensical phrase (like “compassionate conservatism”) that’s been focus grouped to death to do nothing but appeal to the religious. I’m not picking nits here; this is their own list of CORE values YOU pulled from their website.

    It’s the demographics. The gun ownership thing is straight out of the NRA, the anti-immigration “values” aren’t exactly subtle, and then they use a fundie GOP cliche. The message is controlled to cater to libertarians and independents, but the base can’t help but be who they really are. Political movements generally try to bury the uglier faces to broaden their appeal. This is a very old — ancient — political art. The GOP knows the Tea Party very, very well; in terms of social policy it’s pretty gullible to embrace the message when the demographics are THIS bloody obvious. The ONLY thing distinctive about it is that the GOP — which is really corporatist and meant for austerity to be ITS “blah blah” — finally lost control of a base they’d been exploiting for decades.

    If Phil’s wrong, it’s only in the most technical sense. Which could be a concession on my part, but honestly, I care more about what the Tea Party is than whatever “blah blah” it says it is. But they’re not even doing a half-decent job of hiding their true colors.

  49. kirk

    Yeah, look how far Trotsky got with Lenin. That went well.

  50. Carollian

    Sorry GOPers, but the Tea Party and it’s positions will be identified with the positions of those who proclaim their allegiance most loudly: Bachman, Glen Beck, Palin, and other dimwits. It was a great idea, and I’d love to see an independent party in this country, but it should be a party of the CENTER, with moderate policies that strive to include our diverse population and promote forward-thinking philosophies, not misguided regressive policies back to a mythical rosy colored past.

  51. This is really a good thing. The GSS data suggests that in terms of basic science knowledge conservatives and liberals do about as well, and in terms of having beliefs that jibe with reality, aside from evolution issues they look identical. (The GSS data actually strongly suggests that moderates are by far the most ignorant.) The GOP has been hijacked by a vocal minority that is getting progressively larger. If that pattern can be stopped and the leadership can realize that they have moderates in their party who care about science, this can be stopped.

    But I’m not optimistic. Huntsman is pulling at around 2% for example in the Republican primaries. It may be that anti-science wing has already won.

  52. Yojimbo

    @42. TerryEmberson Says:

    Everything will be MUCH cheaper and probably just as safe because its in the company’s interests to protect their market share.

    I think you might be forgetting why inspection and regulation came about to begin with. It wasn’t because of some overwhelming need government has to control things. True it may be in a company’s interest to not do things that would lose market share, but you won’t lose market share just from having a few customers sick, maimed, or dead if your competitors have just as many. If there really were a market-driven tendency for safety, quality control, and looking out for your customer’s best interests, there would never have been a call for regulatory agencies in the first place.

    I think sometimes that when people call for the removal (or reduction) of regulations and freeing up the market place, they forget the 19th and early 20th centuries.

    Not to mention fly-by-night operations dumping unsafe products for a quick profit and heading for the hills. “Protect our market share? We doan need to protect any steenkin’ market share! We got our market share”.

    No, I’ll pay the extra and buy the inspected stuff, thank you very much.

  53. CGD

    “The far-right Tea Party is mired in a radical religious agenda”
    The Tea Party has gone out of its way to avoid religious issues.
    [And other visceral reactions to Plait's - accurate - summary.]

    For a short but accurate take on “tea party” and religion, just see:

    http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/08/the-tea-party-as-a-christianist-force.html

    And for both the far-right and religious aspects, just see:

    http://digitaljournal.com/article/289821

    Sullivan quoting the NYT:

    “Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.”

    But there’s no lack of details – data, facts, in fact, but also explanations, even hypotheses – that further support the characterization as both “far right” and “mired in a radical religious agenda”, of which these links are just smatterings:

    http://www.npr.org/2010/11/22/131512631/culture-war-brewing-within-tea-party
    http://colorado.tenthamendmentcenter.com/2010/12/the-fourth-tea-party/
    http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/149572/new_study:_tea_partiers_three_times_more_likely_to_say_violence_is_warranted._exhibit_a:_glenn_beck
    http://www.theatlantic.com/daily-dish/archive/2011/01/the-tea-party-more-anti-gay-than-all-seniors/177062/
    http://www.theatlantic.com/daily-dish/archive/2011/01/the-tea-party-on-prohibition-lovin-it/177056/
    http://www.alternet.org/economy/150097/tea_partiers_have_a_very_mixed-up_notion_of_what_the_american_revolution_was_about
    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2011/0324/Planned-Parenthood-showdown-could-reveal-true-nature-of-tea-party
    http://www.theatlantic.com/daily-dish/archive/2011/03/race-the-tea-party-and-conservatism/173650/
    http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/04/ygl.html

    And

  54. Add this republican too:

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-10-02/conservative-means-standing-with-science-on-climate-bob-inglis.html

    I don’t agree with everything he says, but I have more respect for him than most Republicans.

  55. Mike Oliver

    You can’t fight in a manner that forces your opponent to lose face. They will become even more entrenched. If I could speak directly to climate change deniers, this is what I’d say:

    The ironic thing about global warming, is that it is a direct measure of our success. We should be strangely proud that we are able to affect the entire earth in some way. But we can’t stop halfway. With great power comes great responsibility.
    We are the masters of the earth, as far as we can be. Whether or not you believe it ordained by God, or that evolution put us in this position, that is the case. But what kind of leader behaves so irresponsibly? How would a business run in this way prosper? It wouldn’t. As industrial children we made our mess, now as science minded adults, we must be responsible and manage our affairs and clean up the mess.
    The science is there. The science that, too, is a measure of our success. The same science that powers our industry and feeds the world. With knowledge also comes responsibility. We can’t blame the farmers who created the Dust Bowl, because they didn’t know that their farming practices would lead to massive erosion. That is a genuine man-made ecological catastrophe in recent historical times, and yet no one remembers it. That event killed thousands and displaced thousands more, and drove America deeper into the Depression.
    But with knowledge also comes fear. Fear of the unknown, because now we know that there is a great unknown ahead of us. To deny what we do know, that which we fear, is to give in. We can be masters of our fate, and the masters of the responsibility that we have taken on by our knowledge.

  56. Daffy

    You know what I like about Republicans? They are so flexible. When Obama bailed out the banks, they all screamed bloody murder (I agree) with great passion; when George W. Bush first proposed bailing out the banks they were all for it (I disagreed) with great passion.

    Deficits under Reagan and the Bushes, good. Deficits under Obama, bad.

    I mean, really, you have to admire such gymnastic ability.

  57. Joe G.

    Not really going to comment on much other than news sources that are anti-Tea Party to begin with aren’t really reliable sources of information. Remember the fraud Dan Rather participated in that caused him to lose his job. News sources have political agendas, and 99% of them are left leaning. I really laughed when someone above used *NPR* as a resource. That’s almost as silly as using Huffington Post. And for the poster who posted a link to a site that actually said *liberal* in it, all I can say is “Really? You call that unbiased?”

  58. TerryEmberson

    @47. TechyDad:

    Given how companies have responded to inspections rules, I don’t think I’d trust them to voluntarily inspect their goods. If inspections were voluntary, then companies would treat them as just another expense and corner to cut. Why go with Inspection Company 1 who charges a lot but does an extremely thorough job when you could go with Inspection Company 2 who isn’t as thorough but is a lot cheaper? If any issues come up, you can deny them and claim they are isolated incidents. When no denial is possible anymore, you can blame the inspection company, fire them, and replace them with Inspection Company 3 who is identical to #2 but a different company.

    So, that’s why all of the electronics brands are quickly ditching Underwriter’s Laboratories, huh? Its as much about the brand of the inspection company. Today, that inspection is a government monopoly. If USDA vegetables come up to have e. coli they don’t get the blame, the growers do. Their inspection regime failed because it was too cozy with the growers. I want separation of powers.

    Furthermore, how would customers know the quality of the goods they are getting? Bad goods might not make them sick right away. You might give your child toys to play with that seem safe and your child doesn’t get sick upon touching it, but issues crop up after years of use.

    Almost all of the recent cases where this exact kind of delayed threat exist were caught by company inspectors, not government inspectors. They were protecting their own brand from third party manufacturers.

    @48. Dragonchild:

    It is VERY much about demographics. In democracy, there is little else. The “core values”? THAT’S the blah-blah. That’s the stuff that can be ignored out of hand.

    So back to my original point that the Academy of Sciences should not be trusted because its all about demographics.

    I recall much of the same blah-blah about “compassionate conservatism”. To reiterate, it comes down to what they’re actually doing. And while there is some truth to the Tea Party’s austerity fever (as destructive as their policies are, they are remarkably doing what they promised to do), there’s no mistaking them for libertarian atheists.

    Not all Libertarians are atheists and most of their agenda is not libertarian, only the spending cuts, calls for smaller government, and gun rights are libertarian, and they aren’t even consistent in those.

    The agenda really hasn’t changed. But to be fair, let’s take a look at those self-proclaimed values:

    I already pointed out much of their inconsistencies, so thank you for validating it, but I’d like to critique one point. I never argued that the Tea Party weren’t Republican, I argued that they weren’t primarily a religious organization. If they were libertarian, than I believe that their stance of gun ownership would only be more central, rather than a sign that they are Republicans.

    If Phil’s wrong, it’s only in the most technical sense. Which could be a concession on my part, but honestly, I care more about what the Tea Party is than whatever “blah blah” it says it is. But they’re not even doing a half-decent job of hiding their true colors.

    Words matter. If the words they are using alienate members of the crowd, than they are not united on that issue. The issues that the movement is united on are primarily (though not entirely) fiscal. If you don’t buy it, fine.

    @52. Yojimbo:

    I think you might be forgetting why inspection and regulation came about to begin with. It wasn’t because of some overwhelming need government has to control things.

    You sure? Why are they raiding organic food stores then when everyone going there KNOWS that the foods haven’t been treated per inspection requirements. I would never shop at an organic food store, but I absolutely support the right of other people to make foolish decisions.

    True, we need regulation to protect us from abusive practices. Problem is we are not protecting ourselves from abuses, we are protecting ourselves from ourselves.

    I think sometimes that when people call for the removal (or reduction) of regulations and freeing up the market place, they forget the 19th and early 20th centuries.

    I think that people also should take the 19th and early 20th stories of abuses with a grain of salt and research it more fully. The abuses were no where near as widespread as claimed, and many cases were used a red herrings to increase power. I’d go so far as to suggest that cases of inspection failure have not gone down as a result of it.

    As a note, I am a liberal and wholly support the need of the state to protect us from fraud and abuse, but not from ourselves.

    Not to mention fly-by-night operations dumping unsafe products for a quick profit and heading for the hills.

    Again, laws and regulations have a place.

    No, I’ll pay the extra and buy the inspected stuff, thank you very much.

    More power to you. Can I have freedom to choose as well?

  59. MikeB

    At some point, we all need to step back, take a deep breath, and have a good laugh at the way people view data/evidence. Not claiming that misinterpretting data is good, but sometimes all you can do is shake your head and laugh. Of course, come back and keep fighting the good fight, but take a break every now and then just to keep from have a conniption.

    As such, when anyone is in need of a chuckle, I highly recommend looking at the videos for potholer54 on youtube. Granted, given most people’s opinions that post here, it will mostly be preaching to the choir, but they are still well done. And, since creationism/age of the Earth has been mentioned by others, I think this video is a great place to start:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APEpwkXatbY&feature=channel_video_title

    He provides a good amount of information to show how creationists (in this case) misuse results. A little NSFW (language) but if you just need a laugh, start the video at 4:25 and watch for 1 minute (really, you need to get to 5:30). Just don’t blame me if you laugh out loud and people want to know what happened (especially if you work with other scientist).

    Still makes me smile even though I have shown this to folks… many, many times.

  60. Yojimbo

    @58. TerryEmberson

    To be honest, I’m not following you. But pursuing it would be pretty far off topic, so we should probably just agree that we don’t :)

  61. Daniel J. Andrews

    Can I have freedom to choose as well?

    Absolutely–as long as it doesn’t impinge on my or my family’s safety. Also, as long as it doesn’t increase costs to society by a significant amount (e.g. skyrocketing medical bills that insurance, tax-payers have to help cover). Problem is how do you have a set of regulations for one company that won’t apply to another company? I’d go with regulation vs non-regulation even if the regulation is overkill. And if it fails at times then it is often because their budget had been cut and the regulatory agencies can’t actually make inspections. Food and drug inspectors have been upset about that for quite some time now.

    The food issues are relatively minor though. If you want to see what non-regulation looks like for other industries, visit some of the former Soviet bloc countries. Or read about the multinational companies that set up shop in countries without such strict regulations (India, countries in Africa, China, Mexico, etc). Massively polluting the environment and harming/killing people there is a common occurrence rather than an isolated occurrence. Or read up on what happened here in the 50s and 60s and how the people of whole communities suffered from poisoned air and water supplies.

    Sure, the market may drive those industries out of the market (perhaps due to class action lawsuits, not necessarily because they’re making inferior products) but not before they’ve done a lot of unnecessary damage and harmed people, sometimes for decades.

    No company wants to spend millions of dollars protecting the environment and people who depend on that environment especially in remote areas. Without regulations that require them to do just that, they very likely would not. In fact, even with the regulations companies still try and take short-cuts and downplay the damage they do. E.g. the tar sands and the leaking of contaminants into the river–it took famed limnologist Dr. David Schindler to highlight the contamination and for the first few months the company said contamination was all natural and not their fault. In the meantime, people in the communities were dying of cancer and the tar sands project isn’t going bankrupt any time soon…instead it is expanding on a massive scale and even with tight regulations, it will pollute on a much larger scale. Hate to think what they would do without any regulatory agency.

    Yojimbo had it right when he said there was a very good reason for regulations being enacted in the first place. It is just that we’ve forgotten how bad bad can get…sort of similar to the way people forget how bad polio was and now claim we don’t need to vaccinate against it.

    The abuses were no where near as widespread as claimed, and many cases were used a red herrings to increase power. I’d go so far as to suggest that cases of inspection failure have not gone down as a result of it.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong here, but these do sound like extraordinary claims (abuses used as red herrings to increase power, and inspection failures have not gone down). Do you have some links or other reading for that? How often did it happen? Which abuses were not as widespread as claimed? No snark here–I really want to know as it would be important information to incorporate into the material I learned in university classes.

  62. Steve

    “The far-right Tea Party is mired in a radical religious agenda”

    Sorry but this is untrue. I know many who caucus with the “tea party” who are more libertarian and not religious at all. The “tea party” was formed to combat economic decline and deficit spending.

    Phil you are regurgitating the Democratic party line.

  63. CG

    “Spanked. Both parties are anti-science:”

    Except it doesn’t. Wake me when a Democrat controlled state legislature wants to remove the requirement for vaccines or ban animal research.

    In comparison, how many Republican legislatures have tried to add intelligent design?

    People may be equally scientifically illiterate on both sides, but the Democrats in power rarely attempt to legislate anti-science.

  64. Joseph G

    @#1 Hal: Most TPers are suspicious of CO2 restriction schemes, which they see — not unreasonably — as bad for the economy. This tends to propagate backwards into climate denial.

    See, that’s the kind of thinking that pisses me off. How can someone willfully be so irrational? “I don’t like the way some people are proposing that we deal with problem X, so I’m going to stick my fingers in my ears and pretend that problem X doesn’t exist.” Just because we understand how their train of thought lines up doesn’t mean it’s any less stupid.

    Believing that “cap and trade” is a bad idea is a valid opinion. Believing that the best course of action on climate change is to do nothing right now and deal with it as it comes is a valid opinion. Generally speaking, any belief about what people should do is a valid (if possibly misguided) opinion. Choosing to deny the whole damn thing, though… As Mr. Schultz said, “They’re entitled to their opinion, but they’re not entitled to the facts.”

  65. Nigel Depledge

    Cheyenne (26) said:

    Personally, I think both parties pretty much suck at science.

    Maybe so, but candidates don’t have to publicly deny firmly-established science to get the Democrat nomination, do they?

  66. Nigel Depledge

    PeteC (28) said:

    Personally I think any election should always have the option “none of the above”. If “none of the above” wins then every candidate that stood is banned from standing again for the position, either permanently (let’s be honest, it’s not like there really are only a few dozen people of the intellectual status of Bachman, Obama, Perry, Clinton or Palin available in the USA capable of doing the job) or for at least the next election term. “None of the above” shoud translate to “They’re all unacceptable – give me new candidates to choose from, please”.

    I kinda like this idea.

    However, the option already exists (at least, it does if US elections are anything like those in the UK). You can deliberately “spoil” your ballot paper, by striking through the whole list, or any other means that isn’t simply putting a cross in a box – or you can even write “abstention” on it. (Of course, this is not possible with computerised voting – does anyone know if the computers allow you to abstain?)

    Sadly, I don’t see this idea getting any traction, mainly because most people don’t care enough about the individual candidates and simply vote for a party (except, obviously, in presidential primaries).

  67. Igor Kornilov

    It is a moving honour to be up against the forces of ignorance, greed, fanaticism, religious extremism, private violence, social darwinism, etc… that the GOP has chosen to incarnate.

    The defenders of a Mad Max society have coalesced with the Old Testament followers to create an alternative to civilized rational western society. Obama must understand that times are not for “triangles” but for a democratic, self-controlled, compassionate, reasonable -but determined and bold- crusade against this real threat to the wellbeing of human kind.

  68. Nigel Depledge

    Terry Emberson (34) said:

    The Tea Party may be full of religious people, but the agenda is not religious. It would be the same as saying that the Academy of Science is mired in a radical leftist agenda, just because the majority of them are leftist. I dislike the Tea Party for being inconsistent in their calls for economic freedoms alongside calls for kicking out the illegals and calls for protecting medicare rates where they are. They are absolutely confused, but they are very much an economically focused group.

    The core values of one of the national Tea Party groups, Tea Party.org are

    NON-NEGOTIABLE CORE BELIEFS OF THE TEA PARTY
    1. Illegal Aliens Are Here Illegally.
    2. Pro-Domestic Employment Is Indispensable.
    3. Stronger Military Is Essential.
    4. Special Interests Eliminated.
    5. Gun Ownership Is Sacred.
    6. Government Must Be Downsized.
    7. National Budget Must Be Balanced.
    8. Deficit Spending Will End.
    9. Bail-Out And Stimulus Plans Are Illegal.
    10. Reduce Personal Income Taxes A Must.
    11. Reduce Business Income Taxes Are Mandatory.
    12. Political Offices Available To Average Citizens.
    13. Intrusive Government Stopped.
    14. English As Core Language Is Required.
    15. Traditional Family Values Are Encouraged.

    Interesting. Numbers 1, 2 and 15 are also claimed as core values of the British National Party, which is widely recognised as a neo-fascist (or at least, so far right-wing that they verge on fascism) organisation.

    “Traditional family values” is a code for strict and institutionalised patriarchal homophobia (woman’s-place-is in-the-kitchen-barefoot-and-pregnant / gays-should-be-”cured”-or-jailed), enforced with routine corporal punishment (“spare the rod and spoil the child”). Do you consider Victorian social values to be a good thing for a 21st-century technological society?

    So, which part of the Tea Party isn’t dominated by the ultra-conservative religious far-right?

  69. solius

    Daniel J. Andrews (#13) wrote:

    Sort of curious that anti-science hasn’t tackled geology yet.

    Oh, but they did. About 10 years ago, when Peak Oil was in the news, the geological community was attacked, in mass, by those that declare ignorance and stupidity a virtue(some of whom have posted in this very thread).
    I guess other issues dominate main stream media, these days, but geologists have known for 60 years that a calamity is lurking just over the horizon.

  70. Nigel Depledge

    @ Mike Oliver (55) -

    Ooh, can I pinch that for future use?

  71. Nigel Depledge

    Joe G (57) said:

    Not really going to comment on much other than news sources that are anti-Tea Party to begin with aren’t really reliable sources of information. Remember the fraud Dan Rather participated in that caused him to lose his job. News sources have political agendas, and 99% of them are left leaning. I really laughed when someone above used *NPR* as a resource. That’s almost as silly as using Huffington Post. And for the poster who posted a link to a site that actually said *liberal* in it, all I can say is “Really? You call that unbiased?”

    So . . . does this mean you believe in some kind of divine plan that means liberals don’t have access to facts, or what?

  72. Nigel Depledge

    Terry Emberson (58) said:

    Almost all of the recent cases where this exact kind of delayed threat exist were caught by company inspectors, not government inspectors. They were protecting their own brand from third party manufacturers.

    This may be the case for recent examples, but the concept of regulation and inspection of industry was introduced by government to protect the people from a multitude of unscrupulous traders.

    Or would you recommend heroin for a sore throat, and thalidomide for morning sickness?

  73. Nigel Depledge

    Terry Emberson (58) said:

    I think that people also should take the 19th and early 20th stories of abuses with a grain of salt and research it more fully.

    And when you do research it, you will find that there is very little exaggeration. People really did sell chalk as flour. They really did adulterate goods in all sorts of ways (which is one of the reasons brand names arose). They really did sell all sorts of stuff that was hideously toxic – in some cases through ignorance, but sometimes knowingly.

    Government regulation of – for example – medicines really was necessary. Not only to protect people from stuff that was actively toxic, but also to prtect people from unknown hazards, and to protect people from “medicines” that were no such thing. This last point is a battle that is still ongoing.

    The abuses were no where near as widespread as claimed, and many cases were used a red herrings to increase power.

    Nope, from what I have read and heard, from sources I consider at least reasonably reliable, the reasons for the introduction of government regulation of industry were sound.

    If anything, there is too little government regulation of industry – after all, it was a relaxing of regulation that allowed the banks to land us in the hole we are all still trying to climb out of. And yet bankers still award themselves massive bonuses, despite making a complete hash of looking after their customers’ interests.

    . . . As a note, I am a liberal and wholly support the need of the state to protect us from fraud and abuse, but not from ourselves.

    Well, government regulation of industry is the main tool for protecting the consumer from fraud and abuse. As for protecting us from ourselves, if you refer to what I think you refer to, it seems that the need for this to occur has arisen from the American litigation culture. I mean things like warnings on a cup of coffee that it is likely to be scalding hot, and so on.

  74. RL

    “The far-right Tea Party is mired in a radical religious agenda”
    As soon as I read propaganda like that, I stop reading. The rest of the article becomes suspect. But 2012 elections are getting closer so I expect more of that here, just like in 2008.

  75. Hrune

    Well, I kinda suspected it. How can a reasonable person participate in a movement that turns stupidity into ideology? By choosing one semi-resonable aspect of the movement, declaring it central and ignoring the rest.

  76. MoMan

    Let’s look at just one result of a Republican take over. For years, the Democrats have controlled politics in North Carolina (too long, perhaps, since many of them became very lazy and corrupt, even more so than most Southern politicians), but now the Repugs are in control. Do they work on The Economy? No way!

    They focus on an amendment to the constitution regarding marriage, and then they let a one cent sales tax expire that was meant for education. This meant laying off a few more thousand teachers, and other cuts to the schools. It is so hard to recruit science and math teachers to this state (along with others in the South) that there is a company called VIF (Visiting International Faculty) that gets $10,000 for each teacher it brings in, the majority of which are from the Philippines and thus very happy to get the relatively low wages paid in the South.

    They get a three year contract, which the state can cancel at any time, and the state makes no effort to keep these teachers, so at the three year mark, if not before, the teachers either go back to Asisa or to Texas (another third world country?) which is so desperate for science teachers that it offers assistance with citizenship for these visitors. On a personal level, I can be quite fond of a Republican neighbor, but as decision makers, they are a disaster (and admittedly, the Dems are not worthy of worship, but at least they approach rationality and compassion and some focus on the future).

    Although I taught at the college level for forty years, the only expertise I feel that I have is recognizing intelligence (grade a few thousand papers and it comes with the territory), and that left me with the conclusion that conservatives and logic and intelligence and compassion are not likely to be found in the same room. And we are the poorer for it.

  77. Keith Bowden

    @55 Mike Oliver
    Brilliant! Well-written.

  78. Anchor

    I don’t understand the logic expounded here and elsewhere.

    WHY “despair” that a political party or cult of idiocy has decided as a matter of political strategy to disrespect scientific evidence – that can inform us of our real-world situation and which pertains crucially to our future welfare and prosperity – if there is another political party which does not?

    Why would anybody in their right mind ever wish to PRESERVE such a political party or cult of idiocy? WTF? Haven’t you noticed? These people don’t want you to look at any evidence. They want to obtain and maintain positions of power, and they don’t care about how they obtain it. They are contemptuous of the real world of nature and the science which reveals it. They fully expect to obtain their power through a studied reliance on voter ignorance and apathy. They are not interested in testing their ideas and policies against the actualities of the natural real world, but are only interested in shaping a fantasy world specifically designed to enhance their interest, power and wealth.

    Are we to presume now that there is some ridiculous conservation ethic at work to be observed? Is a political party or cult of idiocy or opinion entitled to special protection because it is endangered? Is that a valid concept now??? Can a political tradition now be as important as the welfare of the people? Of the country? Of the world?

    Can it possibly get any more insane?

    Oh yes. Can it evar.

    We can read about how awful it is that a cult of idiocy has infected a political party…and then actually be presented with the proposition that the party which so easily sells itself to management by the cult of idiots might be saved.

    As if the idiocy (namely, a disrespect of evidence and nature and the science which reveals it) was a precious and valuable virtue to be protected and nurtured.

    Tradition, you know.

    Yet the solution is so simple, so obvious. You wanna REALLY “fix it”? Then QUIT IT. One chucks crap. You flush it. You throw trash away, you don’t hang onto it as a keepsake. DON’T try to “fix” it. That’s assinine-caliber stupid. One fixes them by getting rid of them, and the way to do that is by not voting for them, not by helping them to return to the center. They’re GONE. Exterminate them by refusing to preserve them. DON’T VOTE FOR THEM. Knock off all of the imbecilic accomodationist appeals and let the political/religious cults of idiocy DIE already.

    Vote for those who respect real-world evidence and the science that actually reveals it. Vote for those who sincerely support science funding. Vote for those who respect evidence that comes from nature. Vote for those who love science and nature and human beings

    And be smart. Be a well-rounded human being aware of your astonishingly ancient natural heritage and environment. Be what best makes a fully-competent human being: DON’T listen to a-holes who want to bamboozle you with an idiotic dichotomy which doesn’t reflect the authentic human condition. The dichotomy doesn’t exist. Be BOTH a Free-Thinking “LIBERAL” (THAT’s what the word means, related to the word LIBERTY) AND an authentically careful and practical “CONSERVATIVE” (which is a virtue in any real human being not screwed up by imposters who LIE about what it means just to keep you under control). Why not be YOURSELF instead of their idiotic characatures that make you less than a complete human being?

    Return to your natural aptitudes as a complete human being, and tell all those political schmucks who want to mess with your mind to shove it and take a flying leap.

    THEN, vote for yourself for a change.

    We can’t afford to be so damned stupid and naive any longer.

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