The devolution of rational thought

I guess we all just showed up one day (from The New Yorker):

While 54 percent of the members of the more God-fearing party believed “humans and other living things have evolved over time” in 2009, only 43 percent do now, according to a new Pew Research Center poll. The rate of Democratic belief in the concept went up slightly, from 64 percent to 67 percent. Meanwhile, only 60 percent of American adults believe in evolution, regardless of political affiliation, so you can’t blame it all on the increased prominence of Rick Perry.

It’s a good thing we have places like the Creation Museum here in Kentucky to straighten stuff like this out. I think this is the best part of its “man lived with dinosaurs” exhibit.

(That joke never gets old.)

One nation … indivisible

You can blame the religious right for this:

One-fifth of U.S. adults say they are not part of a traditional religious denomination, new data from the Pew Research Center show, evidence of an unprecedented reshuffling of Americans’ spiritual identities that is shaking up fields from charity to politics.

But despite their nickname, the “nones” are far from godless. Many pray, believe in God and have regular spiritual routines.

When a group insists on imposing their religion on our political system, people who want to believe in a higher power don’t tune out politics. They tune out religion. Think I’m kidding?

The study presents a stark map of how political and religious polarization have merged in recent decades. Congregations used to be a blend of political affiliations, but that’s generally not the case anymore. Sociologists have shown that Americans are more likely to pick their place of worship by their politics, not vice versa.

Some said the study and its data on younger generations forecast more polarization.

“We think it’s mostly a reaction to the religious right,” said Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, who has written at length about the decline in religious affiliation. “The best predictor of which people have moved into this category over the last 20 years is how they feel about religion and politics” aligning, particularly conservative politics and opposition to gay civil rights.

Here’s a link to the complete study.

Lies: part 6, a view from abroad


Condi Rice, one of the few people with any melanin at last weeks GOP pep rally, talked about how the rest of the world has lost respect for America since Obama has been president and said the Romney-Ryan ticket would restore our country’s standing in the world.

She said it without even bringing an empty chair on stage, but her view on how the U.S. is viewed outside our borders did border on the surreal of Clint Eastwood‘s Invisible Obama.

Look people, this is Condi Rice we’re talking about. As Fred Kaplan at Slate said:

Condi Rice — a top adviser in the most disastrous, reputation-crippling foreign-policy administration in decades — has no business lecturing anybody on this score.

I was in Europe during the past administration, and if you wanted to see a riot in any country break out, all you had to say was: “George W. Bush is coming to town.”

I’ll let Kaplan take it from here:

According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 53 percent of British citizens had a favorable view of the United States in 2008, the last year of Bush’s presidency. Today the figure is 60 percent. In France, the figure rose from 42 percent to 69 percent; the Czech Republic, from 45 to 54 percent; Germany, from 31 to 52 percent; Japan, from 50 to 72 percent; Mexico, from 47 to 56 percent. Only in the Arab countries (Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan) has the rating declined (and do the Republicans really care much about that?).

Another Pew poll, released just this week, about global attitudes toward President Obama as a leader makes Rice’s concerns seem ridiculous. As summarized by CNN, 87 percent of the Germans, 86 percent of the French, 80 percent of the British, and 74 percent of the Japanese have confidence in Obama—in each case, more confidence than they have in their own leaders. More striking still, 92 percent of the French, 89 percent of the Germans, 73 percent of the British, and 66 percent of the Japanese want Obama re-elected.

I can’t emphasize enough how much most of the world HATED the Bush administration. I was flying to Austria the day after the 2008 election, and when I showed my passport on the way to Vienna, airport staff just wanted to talk about how great it was that Americans didn’t vote for four more years of Republican rule. The Obama election was a big deal overseas, and America’s standing went up immediately.

Not that the Republicans care about any of that.


Going over the cliff, as intended

Ezra Klein makes this observation on the economic advantage of a Romney presidency:

Even if you disagree with every one of Mitt Romney’s policies, there’s a chance he’s still the best candidate to lift the economy in 2013.

That’s not because he has business experience. For all his bluster about the lessons taught by the private sector, his agenda is indistinguishable from that of career politician Paul Ryan. Nor is it because he’s demonstrated some special knowledge of what it takes to create jobs. Job growth in Massachusetts was notably slow under Romney’s tenure. It’s because if Romney is elected, Republicans won’t choose to crash the economy in 2013.

If the consensus is that the GOP intends to destroy the country if it doesn’t get the presidency, then that’s the perfect argument for why it’s imperative to stop the GOP.

Why? Because they’re willing to drive that bus off the cliff and into a river of hungry crocodiles next to a nuclear plant during an earthquake just as the tsunami wave reaches 50 meters carrying a school of piranhas being chased by great white sharks with al-Qaeda tatooed on their dorsal fins and plutonium bombs between their teeth.

An exaggeration? Consider this tidbit of compassionate conservatism from the Pew Research Center:

[W]hen it comes to the social safety net, the drop in support has been driven largely by a substantial shift in the values of Republicans and, to a lesser extent, independents. At the same time, views among Democrats have remained relatively constant. …

Since 2007, Republican support for the safety net has declined significantly even as Democrats continue to support government assistance to the poor and needy as they have over the last 25 years. As a result, although the safety net has long been one of the areas where the opinions of Republicans and Democrats most diverge, the current party gap is now larger than ever.

Majorities of Republicans now say they disagree that the government should guarantee every citizen enough to eat and a place to sleep (36 percent agree, 63 percent disagree) and take care of people who can’t take care of themselves (40 percent agree, 54 percent disagree). As recently as 2009, Republican opinions on these questions were more evenly divided.

They just don’t want to destroy themselves. They’re willing to take the rest of us down with them.

But this is the most annoying thing about the poll:

Eight-in-ten (80%) Americans now agree with the statement: “I like political leaders who are willing to make compromises in order to get the job done,” and support for compromise –framed in this way – is little changed over the last 15 years.

Today, an overwhelming majority of Democrats (90%) find compromise appealing in a political leader, as do 68% of Republicans. Over the past 15 years, more Democrats than Republicans have preferred political leaders who compromise.

And that is why Democrats lose. Until the voting population shows it is committed to crushing a party that defines compromise as “You agree with everything I say, or else,” compromise is not an option. It’s a lesson President Obama has probably learned too late.