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.

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.

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.

George Will is getting desperate

Donald Trump (L) speaks to members of the media after a meeting with Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich at Trump Towers on 5th Avenue in New York, December 5, 2011. REUTERS/Andrew Burton (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS BUSINESS)

Newt Gingrich spent some time today kissing the ring of reality TV star and goofball birther Donald Trump. Meanwhile, establishment conservatives like George Will are recoiling in horror watching these clowns hijack the conservative movement.

This past weekend, George Will actually suggested that conservatives ought to take a second look at Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman given the prospect of Newt or Mitt Romney as the GOP nominee. Yes, he’s desperate. Rick Perry sounds like George W. Bush after downing a 12-pack, and Huntsman is stuck in single digits in the polls after trying to run as a moderate.

But Will has to turn somewhere, as he has no use for flip-flopper Romney and he can’t stand Newt. With his usual rhetorical flair, Will eviscerates the former Speaker:

Gingrich, however, embodies the vanity and rapacity that make modern Washington repulsive. And there is his anti-conservative confidence that he has a comprehensive explanation of, and plan to perfect, everything.

Granted, his grandiose rhetoric celebrating his “transformative” self is entertaining: Recently he compared his revival of his campaign to Sam Walton’s and Ray Kroc’s creations of Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, two of America’s largest private-sector employers. There is almost artistic vulgarity in Gingrich’s unrepented role as a hired larynx for interests profiting from such government follies as ethanol and cheap mortgages. His Olympian sense of exemption from standards and logic allowed him, fresh from pocketing $1.6 million from Freddie Mac (for services as a “historian”), to say, “If you want to put people in jail,” look at “the politicians who profited from” Washington’s environment.

His temperament — intellectual hubris distilled — makes him blown about by gusts of enthusiasm for intellectual fads, from 1990s futurism to “Lean Six Sigma” today. On Election Eve 1994, he said a disturbed South Carolina mother drowning her children “vividly reminds” Americans “how sick the society is getting, and how much we need to change things. . . . The only way you get change is to vote Republican.” Compare this grotesque opportunism — tarted up as sociology — with his devious recasting of it in a letter to the Nov. 18, 1994, Wall Street Journal (http://bit.ly/vFbjAk). And remember his recent swoon over the theory that “Kenyan, anti-colonial” thinking explains Barack Obama.

Gingrich, who would have made a marvelous Marxist, believes everything is related to everything else and only he understands how. Conservatism, in contrast, is both cause and effect of modesty about understanding society’s complexities, controlling its trajectory and improving upon its spontaneous order.

Most people would agree with Will, as Newt is widely regarded as a mean-spirited buffoon. But in today’s Republican Party, the fear and loathing caucus calls the shots, and contempt for Obama and the left is by far the most important quality. In that area Newt is unmatched and he has a long track record, so his flaky deviations from conservative policies are more easily forgiven by those eager to see someone stick it to Obama in the debates.

Perry is toast, so Will won’t get his wish there. As for Huntsman, Will and other writers like Erick Erickson of RedState.com have been pointing out how conservative Huntsman is when it comes to policy. Yet Huntsman shows more contempt for the far right than he does for Obama, and that’s why he’s been going nowhere. Perhaps he can change the tone of his campaign, but he has mocked conservatives for not believing in global warming, and stuff like that will make it difficult for him to win GOP primaries.

I think Will is stuck with Mitt or Newt.

Herman Cain’s non-traditional campaign

This ad from the Herman Cain campaign is getting a ton of attention and ridicule, and every traditional method of analysis tells us that this is another nail in the coffin of his campaign.

Yet Cain continues to lead in the polls. He keeps making ridiculous gaffes, but he still has significant support.

He’s also going very slowly with traditional campaign methods like building staff in the early primary states. He doesn’t have any organization focused on getting people to the polls.

He claims he’s running a “national” campaign, yet critics charge he’s just promoting his book or angling for a TV show on Fox.

Regardless of your politics, the Cain insurgency is fascinating to watch, and in a political climate where the Tea Party seems to love candidates more the less they look like traditional politicians, we have to ask ourselves whether this guys can actually win! It sounds nuts, but anything is possible. He doesn’t need much more than 30% support to win out.

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