19-year old takes on war on science

The silliness of some conservatives seems to have no limits. We have people building museums showing cavemen living with dinosaurs, and of course we have Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, who is obsessed with finding ways to let teachers inject creationism into the classroom. Now he has to go up against a pissed off 19-year-old kid.

For Zack Kopplin, it all started back in 2008 with the passing of the Louisiana Science Education Act. The bill made it considerably easier for teachers to introduce creationist textbooks into the classroom. Outraged, he wrote a research paper about it for a high school English class. Nearly five years later, the 19-year-old Kopplin has become one of the fiercest — and most feared — advocates for education reform in Louisiana. We recently spoke to him to learn more about how he’s making a difference.

Kopplin, who is studying history at Rice University, had good reason to be upset after the passing of the LSEA — an insidious piece of legislation that allows teachers to bring in their own supplemental materials when discussing politically controversial topics like evolution or climate change. Soon after the act was passed, some of his teachers began to not just supplement existing texts, but to rid the classroom of established science books altogether. It was during the process to adopt a new life science textbook in 2010 that creationists barraged Louisiana’s State Board of Education with complaints about the evidence-based science texts. Suddenly, it appeared that they were going to be successful in throwing out science textbooks.

Jindal got some press after the 2012 election for saying that the GOP should stop being the “stupid party,” but he’ll have his own stupidity to address if he decides to run for president.

Have the culture wars flipped?

For years, Republicans used the culture wars to bludgeon Democrats as issues like abortion and gay marriage were used to rally their base.

Now we’re seeing Democrats get much more energized about these issues as Republicans have gone so far to the right on issues like abortion and contraception.

This election will provide an interesting test as to whether this strategy will work. Take a look at the Obama ad above calling out Mitt Romney for some of his more extreme statements he made on the subject of abortion.

Republicans vs reality

The Todd Akin fiasco is just another example of how many Republicans, and far right conservatives in general, seem to have a problem with science, facts, math and reality in general. This is what happens when your ideology becomes so entrenched that you start believing your own bullshit. You get elected officials saying that raped women can’t get pregnant, that Obama’s birth certificate is forged or that humans once lived side by side with dinosaurs.

As usual, Bill Maher has no trouble calling out this BS, arguing that the symbol for the Republican Party “shouldn’t be an elephant — it should be a unicorn.” Here’s more from Maher, as he calls out the absurd Ryan budget, which has nothing to do with balancing the budget but everything to do with worshiping conservative dogma:

Paul Ryan is their tough guy on spending but he doesn’t want to touch defense — that’s right, a budget hawk who doesn’t think there’s anything bloated about the Defense Department’s budget. It’s like being a health inspector and finding nothing wrong with the Asian place that has the chicken hanging in the window. This is how low we’ve put the bar for political courage — that you can just write, “I want a pony” in a binder and call it the “Plan For Restoring Vision For the Future of America’s Greatness” or some shit, and then everyone has to refer to you as the serious one in Congress. It reminds me of health care. Republicans are for all the popular things, like covering people with pre-existing conditions, but they’re not for the part where you pay for it, like the mandate. Just like they were for our recent wars, but not for paying for them. For the prescription drug bill, but not for paying for it.

The GOP has courted their lunatic fringe for years, and now Americans are getting a close look of exactly what some of these nuts think.

Health care high fives

Yesterday was a good day for those of us who want universal health care coverage. It was also a good day for those of us who think CNN and Fox both suck. The video below from Politico mashes up some of the funniest reactions to the Supreme Court decision and the massive fail by CNN and Fox News.

Bring on the social issues

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaks to supporters during a campaign appearance in Fallon, Nevada February 2, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

You can practically hear the champagne corks popping in the White House as the Republicans in Congress and the presidential candidates start talking about social issues. Rick Santorum wants to go back to 1949, and suddenly the angry right is talking more about contraception that jobs.

While most GOP strategists are horrified by this development, James Taranto tries to argue that this is a good thing for the GOP. Really.

If you’re a Republican in New York or another big city, you may be anxious or even terrified at the prospect that Rick Santorum, the supposedly unelectable social conservative, may win the GOP presidential nomination. Jeffrey Bell would like to set your mind at ease.

Social conservatism, Mr. Bell argues in his forthcoming book, “The Case for Polarized Politics,” has a winning track record for the GOP. “Social issues were nonexistent in the period 1932 to 1964,” he observes. “The Republican Party won two presidential elections out of nine, and they had the Congress for all of four years in that entire period. . . . When social issues came into the mix—I would date it from the 1968 election . . . the Republican Party won seven out of 11 presidential elections.”

Read the whole thing. It’s a staggering example of selectively picking facts to suit your argument. Listening to this argument, you would think that the Cold War, the economy and the Iranian hostage crisis had nothing to do with Reagan’s win in 1980 (let alone Ted Kennedy’s challenge to Carter in the primaries).

This simplistic view might placate some Republicans, and hopefully enough of them will jump on this bandwagon. Perhaps we’ll see a fall campaign with Rick Santorum railing against contraception and online gambling.

Newt Gingrich freaking out many on the right


You can’t really blame Ann Coulter and others on the right for their reactions to Newt’s victory in South Carolina. But the right deserves this. They’ve been built on hatred and contempt for the left and for Barack Obama, so this is what they get.

Newt’s desire for an open marriage

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It’s been a mixed bag for Newt Gingrich today. Rick Perry dropped out of the race and endorsed him, but now his second wife, Marianne Gingrich, has come forward to give details about their marriage.

You can watch the video above, and the full interview will air tonight on Nightline.

Basically, Newt Gingrich was having an affair during his second marriage with Callista, who later became his third wife. According to Marianne, Newt wanted an “open marriage” so that he could continue the affair.

I’m not a big fan of the private sexual life of a politician being an issue in campaigns. There are plenty of men who have had affairs who managed to be good presidents. The hysteria over Bill Clinton’s personal shortcomings was idiotic, as it led to impeachment hearings.

But we know that these things matters to some voters, particularly conservative and religious voters. Newt’s marital problems are well-known, but this salacious detail regarding his desire for an open marriage will certainly garner attention. Had Bill Clinton run again, his personal life and the Monica Lewinsky affair certainly would have been issues as well.

Also, there are few people as contemptuous as Newt Gingrich. He’s always willing to pass judgement on others, often in the harshest terms, so if anyone deserves this scrutiny it’s him. He doesn’t have a warm personality or a record of good will to fall back on.

It’s going to be fascinating to see how this plays out. Gingrich has a real shot at derailing Mitt Romney, but he needs to get past this story. If he can’t, then perhaps Rick Santorum can emerge as the last obstacle to a Mitt Romney nomination.

Rick Perry acknowledged that Newt isn’t perfect and he stressed the importance of forgiveness and redemption. Let’s see how the evangelical voters of South Carolina feel about it.

Rick Perry drops out

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry participates in the ABC News, Yahoo! News, WMUR Republican Presidential Debate on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire on January 7, 2011. New Hampshire will hold the first-in-the-nation primary on January 10. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Rick Perry’s embarrassing foray into national politics will end today according to multiple press reports. In one of the worst fields of presidential candidates in modern political history, Rick Perry stood out as one of the chief yahoos in the confederacy of dunces.

This shouldn’t have been a surprise, as Perry’s main claim to fame leading up to 2012 was his suggestion that the State of Texas might secede from the union.

His debate “performances” have become legendary. He made George W. Bush sound like Lawrence Olivier. He consistently made outrageous statements, like this past week when he suggested that the leaders of NATO ally Turkey were “Islamic terrorists.”

Perry hoped that right wing hysteria might sweep him to the nomination, but Republican voters recoiled at his utter incompetence. You can’t rally voters if you can’t manage a coherent sentence. This week, Erick Erickson of RedState.com urged Perry to drop out. Understandably, conservatives do not want Mitt Romney as their nominee. Newt Gingrich is also a disaster for the GOP, but at least he has some credibility among conservatives and can handle himself in a debate.

Rick Perry finally realized that he had no chance in South Carolina and conservatives needed to stop splitting the anti-Romney vote. Perhaps he’s not quite as dumb as he sounds.

The “oops” candidate now leaves the national stage as one of the biggest laughing stocks in American politics.

John McCain’s 2008 ad against Mitt Romney

The Mitt Romney flip-flop ads just write themselves as Romney is the most brazen flip-flopper in modern political history. He’s a total opportunist.

While John McCain has now endorsed Romney, it’s fun to see one of the ads he ran against him back in 2008.

The Radicalism of Newt Gingrich

How crazy is this guy?

Newt Gingrich loves to accuse his political opponents of being “radical,” and yet he tosses around radical statements on a regular basis. His latest comments on judges even have conservatives howling.

Now he’s talking about using the capital police or U.S. Marshals to arrest judges that he deems to be out of line. Here’s a statement to FOX News from Michael Mukasey, a former U.S. Attorney General under George W. Bush, who said Gingrich’s comment were “dangerous, ridiculous, totally irresponsible, outrageous, off-the-wall and would reduce the entire judicial system to a spectacle.”

The man is a complete buffoon, and it’s easy to see why the conservative establishment is horrified at the thought of this clown becoming the nominee.

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