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Category: politics (page 2 of 19)

Stuff Republicans don’t like

I was checking out this Gallup pollAmericans, Including Catholics, Say Birth Control Is Morally OK.

That’s interesting, but what’s more, they provide a breakdown of what people think is okay and what’s not. Here’s the list.

Okay, so people mostly approve of birth control, divorce, and gambling, and they disapprove most of suicide, polygamy, and (for some reason) cloning humans. Singled out for special condemnation is people who have affairs, which is surprising because haven’t a lot of people done that? Gallup says that’s their most consistently disapproved item. Interesting.
But the best part is that they break it down by political tendency. This chart shows the same things, but it’s  sorted by Republican minus Democrat approval. In other words, the top of the chart is things Democrats don’t approve of, but Republicans do (comparatively), and the bottom of the chart is stuff Republicans don’t like, but Democrats are like ‘meh’.
Top of the list of things Republicans like: the death penalty, medical testing on animals, and wearing fur. (Although I actually approve of medical testing on animals — not cosmetic testing.)
Cloning animals is a wash.
Most revealing, however, is the bottom of the list — the stuff that Democrats don’t mind, but that Republicans don’t approve of. I notice suicide — not many people like it, but GOPers slightly less. So let’s take a look at the issues that cut across the political divide more than suicide:
  • Porn — I doubt the Republicans are using less porn than Democrats, but maybe they disapprove more while still looking at it.
  • Sex between an unmarried man and woman
  • Having a baby outside of marriage
  • Gay or lesbian relations

In short, anything having to do with people having unauthorised sex. So really, Republicans don’t just hate gay sex — they hate straight sex too, if it’s not sanctioned by marriage. On the other hand, Democrats approve of unmarried straight sex about as much as they approve of (probably unmarried) gay sex — at 66% approval for both, it’s all the same to them.
Could this explain why conservatives are fighting gay marriage so hard? For them, marriage is what legitimises sex. So if gay people can get married, for them that’s like saying gay sex is okay. And for them, that’s not okay.
I’m trying not to read too much into these results, but this is an idea I hadn’t thought of before. Am I onto something?

Talk the Talk: The Persabian Gulf

Did Google plan to be in the middle of international conflict when they started Google Maps? Perhaps not — and yet, here we are. Labelling it the ‘Persian Gulf’ gets the Arabs mad, and calling it the ‘Arabian Gulf’ irks the Iranians. And that’s just one of many trouble spots around the globe.

It’s kind of our fault, though. Google wouldn’t be such an authority if we didn’t all rely on it so much.

It was a pleasure to talk to the effervescent Stacy Gougoulis this week. Check us out!

One-off show: Here
Subscribe via iTunes: Here
Show notes: Here


I haven’t seen this usage before:

Huntsman gaslights GOP, compares the party to communist China

Via Zeke Miller, Jon Huntsman poured gasoline onto the national Republican Party tonight, then struck a match.

The author means something like ‘immolates’, but that’s not how most people use it. The reference comes from the movie ‘Gaslight‘, in which a husband tries to make his wife question her judgment by (among other things) lowering the lights while insisting that she’s imagining it. In modern usage, it means ‘to make someone think they’re crazy’.

This is the usage I’m familiar with.

Attempt to Gaslight Women Will Blow Up Republicans

Does Romney drop his G’s in the South?

I’m a bit of a G-dropper. I have a habit of dropping my participial g’s sometimes. If I say “doing” and “working”, it can come out as “doin'” and “workin'”. (Although really, there’s no /g/ there in the first place. It’s alveolarisation of the velar /ŋ/. But I’m going to call it G-dropping anyway.)

This is a pretty common pattern that shows up in many dialects of English, be they British, Australia, or USAian. For me, it seems to get more pronounced the closer I am to the USA.

Nowadays, G-dropping is tied to lower socioeconomic status (but it used to be a high-prestige feature), or to certain regions. Which is why it interested me to see this little story:

Mitt Romney wishes Mobile ‘good mornin”

Although he didn’t mention grits or his growing like of the word “y’all,” Romney’s awkward bid to connect to Southern voters was still evident. He wished the crowd a “fine Alabama good mornin’’” — dropping the letter “g” at the end of some words.

So is Romney doing some linguistic pandering with the locals? I thought I’d check by watching stump speeches — one in the North, one in the South — and compare the number of dropped g’s.

This meant watching videos of Romney on the stump, which is not entirely without risk.

When my boys have asked about Romney, I’ve said that although I don’t want him to be president of the USA, he’s not one of the crazy ones, and that there were loads of people in the race who were more stupid (Santorum, Perry, Bachmann, Cain) or evil (Gingrich, um… Cain) than Romney. But the weird thing about Romney is that he is capable of saying stupid, evil things while seeming perfectly sensible. Call it his gift.

So I’ve watched a bit of Romney doing the usual Republican schtick: bashing Europe, vowing to repeal health care, hammering away at unions, and claiming that the free market will fix everything. While watching these speeches, I was left with one over-arching impression: If you want to know what Romney’s stump speeches are like, just picture a giant penis in a suit, saying “I believe in freedom!” I’m sorry for that mental image, but tell me if you don’t find it accurate.

To the counts.

New Hampshire

ing in’
enduring value


ing in’
(ain’t that somethin’?)

Well, just from these two speeches, it seems like Romney doesn’t do a lot of G-dropping in either place. I have no doubt that he tried it out in Mobile, but it doesn’t seem to be a feature he uses often, no matter where.

I realise this is a small sample. I tried to watch more, but there’s only so much moral vacuity that one can stand.

Deep political discussion

The man who made too much sense

I’m a Yellow Dog Democrat — I’d vote for a yellow dog in the road before I’d vote for a Republican — but I’m kind of bummed out about the end of the Huntsman campaign. Not because it signals the end of moderate Republicans; those days are long gone.

From what I saw of Huntsman, he was a smart guy who took his party to task for ignoring science. He believed the science on climate change (although he seemed to backtrack a little). He didn’t take his Mormon religion too seriously. And he had foreign policy experience. Unlike other Republicans, who were either evil (Gingrich), stupid (Santorum), crazy (Bachmann), or a mix of the three, Huntsman stood out as a sane person. No wonder he only ever polled in the single digits with Republican voters.

Could it be that he was a guy I could have voted for, under the right circumstances? Naw, there are lots of yellow dogs out there. But I would have had something other than a beer with him. And if by some chance he had won, I’d think, well, maybe this won’t be a disaster.

Big Dog gets the last word:

ESQUIRE: It’s remarkable that there would have been a time in living memory when someone like Jon Huntsman would have been regarded as the most conservative candidate in the field. Maybe even unacceptably conservative. But because of his insistence on having a grown-up discourse, he’s somehow seen as a moderate.

CLINTON: Huntsman’s economic record — and his positions on the abortion issue and other things — is every bit as conservative and considerably more consistent than the two front-runners’. But he also doesn’t make any bones about being willing to work with people and thinking you ought to put your country first. When the president asks you to serve — to go to China, and you speak Mandarin Chinese and you think you can help American business and America’s national strategic interest by doing it — you do it.

But all of a sudden that’s disqualifying. So I think that it shows you, we’re, you know, we’re living in a time when the Republicans have only pushed harder and harder to the right. And every time the president adopts a plan that they once advocated, they abandon it and push farther to the right. But the voters can push them back.

Still a wonderful life

Last night I sat down with the boys and Miss Perfect, and watched It’s a Wonderful Life. It may not be my favourite Christmas movie (that would be Brazil), but I find it lives up to its feel-good status.

And what’s not to feel good about? George Bailey is a heroic everyman who’s not out to gouge the people who borrow from him. Mr Potter is an old-school plutocrat.

Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about… they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well in my book, my father died a much richer man than you’ll ever be!

Remember when wealthy “fat cat” bankers were villains in movies, instead of being held up as paragons of virtue and job creation? And when George is down and money goes missing from the bank, the 99% step in and save his building-and-loan from closure and him from arrest. Thanks goodness these themes are becoming relevant again.

For me, though, the peak is George’s new-found elation at being alive, his joy for life, even with its unmet ambitions and frustrations. Okay, so there’s a warning for religious themes (what the hell was Zuzu’s teacher thinking, telling schoolkids that?), but all that aside, it’s still worth a watch if you haven’t seen it for a few years.

She’s just a

Is Michele Bachmann a lyin’-ass bitch? The Roots (of Jimmy Fallon fame) seem to think this is an appropriate assessment; the other night, they used the amazing Fishbone song of the same name to play her on.

But isn’t that a little harsh? Whether she’s a lyin’-ass bitch depends on whether she actually believes the insane things she says. If she sincerely believes them, then she’s a crazy, wrong-headed, god-soaked, log-stupid, vicious, callous, deluded, vaccine-denying, dangerous historical revisionist that has no business sitting on a local school board, much less voting in Congress or running for President of a major country.

But not a lyin’-ass bitch.

Well, she might be a bitch.

I’m just glad they played the song because I haven’t thought of it in ages.

Hey, why don’t we throw it on?

You will exercise your right to choose.

I’m a big fan of compulsory voting. And I’m not the only one. Here’s Lisa Hill, from the University of Adelaide.

The most decisive means for arresting turnout decline and closing the socioeconomic voting gap is mandatory voting: in fact, it is the only mechanism that can push turnout anywhere near 95 percent. Places with mandatory voting also have less wealth inequality, lower levels of political corruption and higher levels of satisfaction with the way democracy is working than voluntary systems. Here in Australia, where we love freedom as much as anyone else, we have a mandatory voting regime that is well managed, corruption-free, easy to access, cheap to run and has an approval rating of more than 70 percent.

And when everyone votes, the outcome is much less dependent on turnout. Electoral swings to this or that party aren’t flukes of turnout; they’re big changes in the overall national mood.

But if everyone votes, including low-information voters, doesn’t that just mean that everyone votes stupidly? That’s the view of Jason Brennan, who argues that — dear heaven! — too many people vote already.

The median voter is incompetent at politics. The citizens who abstain are, on average, even more incompetent. If we force everyone to vote, the electorate will become even more irrational and misinformed. The result: not only will the worse candidate on the ballot get a better shot at winning, but the candidates who make it on the ballot in the first place will be worse.

He doesn’t want a democracy. He wants a cabal of elites to make wise choices for everyone.

I once talked to an angry young man who made exactly this argument. I told him that he was a clever person, but (quoting Douglas Adams) “you make the same mistake a lot of clever people do of thinking everyone else is stupid.” Of course, some people are stupid, but there’s no reason to think that all the stupidity or ill-informedness is always located in one or the other party. The stupidity is likely to be somewhat evenly distributed. Random bad answers will be randomly distributed, and they’ll cancel each other out. And along the way, you’ve gotten input from as many people as you can. If we have to err, let it be on the side of more participation.

Romney: Religious test “dangerous”

Mitt Romney says it’s “dangerous” to select a presidential candidate on the basis of faith:

“The concept that we select people based on the church or the synagogue they go to, I think, is a very dangerous – and an enormous departure from the principles of our Constitution.”

Unless it’s the Religion of Secularism. Then it’s okay.

But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They are wrong.

And you can be certain of this: Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me.

Anybody else, not so much.

But, to be fair, Romney said that last part in 2007, so he may have changed his mind by now.

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