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.

Four more years for Barack Obama

President Obama was re-elected last night with an impressive margin in the electoral college. The popular vote margin was much narrower, but it looks like he’ll be over 50% with roughly a 2 point margin.

I’ll have much more to say about this, but most of us will acknowledge that this was a very important election. The pundits liked to mock both campaigns for not discussing big issues, but that truly missed the point. Both sides offered very different paths for our future, and most voters understood the profound differences.

With an Obama victory, his signature accomplishment from his first term, health care reform, will now be fully implemented. Mitt Romney would have either repealed or gutted Obamacare, but now the notion of universal health care will be cemented as part of the social compact. We’ll all have to wait and see how Republicans react to Obama’s victory, but hopefully on health care we’ll see a shift away from a reflexive attempt to overturn Obamacare to constructive negotiations to improve it and cut medical costs in general. We’ve heard Republicans pontificate for years about malpractice reform. Perhaps now we’ll actually get some constructive proposals.

We may have a continuation of the political wars, but now we know that any deal will have to be more balanced than the GOP plan of just hacking away at spending on the elderly and the poor. We’ll see how that plays out.

It will also be interesting to see if some conservatives will break out of the right wing media bubble. Conservatives were told to ignore the poll numbers that pointed to an Obama victory, and that the “real” numbers would lead to a Romney landslide. These projections were pure fantasy, just like the Romney/GOP budget numbers that claimed you could miraculously balance the budget by slashing taxes. We live in a divided country and many on both sides are guilty of just listening to their own partisan news sources, but the dogma and partisanship on the right has become absurd. Even respectable pundits like George Will and Micheal Barone drank the Cool Aid and ended up looking just as clueless as partisan hacks like Dick Morris with their predictions of the Romney landslide.

Finally, conservatives and Republicans need to stand up to the lunatic fringe. You can’t encourage the crazies on your side, and then lament when idiot candidates like Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin say stupid things about rape and abortion. You can’t cater to the haters who demonize illegal immigrants and then complain that you got crushed by the Latino vote. We’ll see if there’s anyone in the GOP who has a spine. Chris Christie is an obvious candidate as he’s called out the crazies before, but now he’s on serious probation with the right for saying something nice about President Obama. Perhaps Marco Rubio can help on that front. We can expect serious fireworks within the GOP as they hash out these issues. If they don’t work it out, I’ll be happy to see them forfeit the Latino, African American, Asian and much of the female vote in future elections.

This spoof ad is hilarious

For Mitt Romney, if you court the lunatic fringe, you risk being tied to the lunatic fringe. Here’s Mitt Romney and his new friend, Richard Mourdock.

Paul Ryan the ideologue

It’s pretty obvious why the far right is thrilled over the Paul Ryan pick. He’s the poster-child of right wing extremism wrapped in a choir boy package. He’s a well-groomed and fit guy with a big smile and a polite demeanor.

But liberals are equally excited, and also terrified in case he wins. With Paul Ryan, the nation can now have a real discussion of some of the policies that Ryan, Mitt Romney and the Tea Party want to inflict upon America.

We’ll hear a lot about Medicare. It’s a complicated subject and both parties will hammer the other, but the charge that Ryan put forward a plan to “end Medicare as we know it” is essentially true. Taking away the Medicare entitlement and replacing it with a voucher system is extreme, and most Americans will not support it. The question is whether the Romney/Ryan campaign can blur the issue by hammering the President on his own Medicare cuts, which target providers as opposed to beneficiaries.

The Ryan Medicare cuts are even more stark when you consider the incredible tax cuts included in the Ryan budget. Ryan would basically eliminate taxes for capital gains, dividends and estates. Forget Mitt Romney’s absurd 14% tax rate. Under Ryan’s plan, Romney would have paid around a 1% tax rate in 2011!! It’s absurd.

Ryan is not a budget hawk. He’s an ideologue that worships Ayn Rand and is obsessed with cutting taxes and cutting entitlements. Ryan’s budget is a joke when it comes to tackling the budget or our long term debt.

But Ryan’s extremism isn’t limited to economic issues. This country is certainly divided on the abortion issue, but nobody is more extreme than Paul Ryan on this issue. He introduced the personhood amendment in the House, which would make a fertilized egg a person under the constitution, criminalizing all abortions, in vetro fertilization and many forms of birth control. This notion is so extreme that it couldn’t pass a referendum in Mississippi. He’s against abortion even in cases of rape and incest. He also sponsored the Ultrasound Informed Consent Act.

Ryan is also a hypocrite. Like many Republicans, he’s a self-proclaimed deficit hawk when a Democrat is in office, but he’s happy to spend like a drunken sailor in the name of party loyalty. Ryan rubber-stamped all of the ridiculous spending in the Bush years, including a new Medicare drug entitlement that wasn’t paid for.

Finally, he’s a neocon who supported Bush’s wars, and he’s unwilling to cut the defense budget as part of his budget.

Already, the Mitt Romney team is putting the clamps on Ryan, trying to turn him into a Mitt clone who says nothing. At least Ryan was willing to discuss budget numbers in the past, but now he hides behind Mitt’s vague plans.

As for Ryan’s character, he seems like a good family man etc. But his answers on Ayn Rand display a level of dishonesty that seems absurd. He idolized Ayn Rand and her philosophy, but when Catholic organizations criticized him for it, he suddenly disavowed her for her atheism, as if he never knew that after trumpeting her philosophy for years. At some point he’ll face an interviewing outside of Fox News who will hammer him on this (assuming the Romney campaign doesn’t hide him from the press like the McCain team did with Sarah Palin).

Maureen Dowd can be hilarious, and her take on Ryan is memorable.

Skirmish on the lunatic fringe

Grover Norquist is a right wing extremist when it comes to taxes and his “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” but in some circles on the far right he’s not to be trusted because he married a Palestinian Muslim. That’s right. The hero of many in the Tea Party has incurred the wrath of neoconservative nutjob Frank Gaffney, the high priest of conspiracy nuts on the right. You can read this article for a summary of the feud between these guys.

Gaffney is one of those neocons that helped sell the Iraq War and is now convinced that the Muslim Brotherhood is infiltrating the US government. To get some perspective on how nutty this guy is, watch the clip above where he tries to tie Saddam Hussein to the Oklahoma City Bombing!!! Even Pat Buchanan dismisses Gaffney as a nut.

Gaffney is the source behind the recent crusade by wingnuts Michele Bachmann and Louie Gohmert against Huma Abedin. But Gaffney doesn’t limit his conspiracy allegations to liberals as he’s proven with his allegations against Norquist. I guess it’s bi-partisan lunacy.

I don’t agree with Grover Norquist on anything, but this crusade against him is outrageous . . . and a little funny. It shows just how far off the deep end some on the right have gone, when even taxes and partisan politics won’t stop their wild conspiracy allegations.

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.

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.

Rick Perry’s negatives rising

Republican Presidential candidate Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks at a news conference in New York September 20, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Thayer (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS)

Say crazy stuff, and people will start to notice. Say that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and should be transferred to the states, and people listen up some more.

Rick Perry’s surge in the GOP race is being fueled by the Tea Party, but everyone else is paying attention as well, and his negatives are starting to go up in polls.

For the GOP, right now he looks like their Howard Dean or their George McGovern.

Chris Christie is “tired of dealing with the crazies”

Governor Christie talks about Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed.

If you’re someone who is worried about Sharia law or you’re afraid of all Muslims, please watch this video.

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