The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 12, 2013: There’s Truth, and There’s What Some People Believe

We have a serious problem in America. Too many of our fellow countrymen believe things that are just plain demonstrably untrue. I’m not referring to religious beliefs, which presents its own set of misguided believers (did you know that over the past thirty years, Gallup polls have consistently shown that around 45% of Americans believe that God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so?), I’m talking simple facts. It sure surprised me to learn that about one in five Americans believes the Sun revolves around the Earth. I always thought that one was a “no-brainer” and I guess for those one in five, it’s true – they have no brain.

That’s not to say that intelligent people can’t believe something highly unlikely or, in the opinion of some people, highly implausible. A National Geographic poll from last year found that about 80 million Americans (about 36%) believe UFOs exist. Scientists will tell us this is highly implausible. They are certain no intelligent, sufficiently advanced life exists elsewhere in our own solar system, so any extra-terrestrial life forms must come from another star system. But because of the vast distances between stars (our nearest neighbor is roughly 25 trillion miles away), it would require faster-than-light travel to get here, and that, they claim, is scientifically impossible. FTR, I am not of this belief. I believe that vast distances can be traveled, but we just haven’t figured out a practical way to do it yet. And while I am not one of those who believes aliens crashed landed in Roswell, NM, over 65 years ago and our government covered it up, I do believe we are not alone in the universe and that it is entirely possible that we have been visited before by extra-terrestrial life. When I was a kid, my mother and sister came home from shopping saying there were three green lights in the sky that seemed to follow them home. Of course, many people perceive lights in the sky to be following them, especially when those lights are far away. I looked outside and could see them myself. To this day, I have no idea what they were, but since there were three of them, and not one, and they were much bigger than a small dot, I knew they couldn’t be the object most commonly mistaken for a flying saucer.

The good news is that while roughly 36% of Americans believe that UFOs exist, only about a fourth of that number (8%) identify themselves as Tea Party people. This is way down from April 2010 when 24% proudly called themselves Tea Party people. The things they believe make no sense at all, and what’s worse is that they’ll desperately hang onto those false beliefs no matter what we try to tell them. One of their heroes is a charlatan named David Barton. Barton is a self-professed “historian” who looks for ways to distort the historical record in an attempt to convince people that the United States of America is not a secular nation but a Christian one, not simply because three-quarters of our citizens self-identify with some form of Christianity, but because the Founding Fathers were Christians, not Deists, who wanted everybody to practice Christianity. (Which version is never made clear.) His most recent book, “The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson,” was so full of errors that the publisher withdrew the book from publication. (Barton apparently bought back all his books from there original publisher, Thomas Nelson, and then tried to pass them off as coming from Barton’s own publishing company, Wallbuilders.) Barton claims that “much of the disputed material within his book could easily be clarified if not for the editing performed by publisher Thomas Nelson. Much of the removed material, Barton argued, contained supporting information for those facts which have been questioned.” Did that deter Barton or his followers? No. One of his most ardent supporters, one who quoted him all the time and gave him a forum to spew his lies, is Glenn Beck. Beck has decided that his publishing company, Mercury Ink, will publish Barton’s book. Barton said the new edition “will not include any substantive changes, but I will rephrase some things to remove any potential confusion.” I’m pretty sure the only confusion that exists is in your own mind, David, where you believe yourself to be a legitimate historian. It doesn’t help your case that Newt Gingrich, a known distorter of facts and reality, thinks highly of your work as an historian. I also wouldn’t be proud to have Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas and presidential candidate, introduce you with comments like, “I almost wish that there would be something like a simultaneous telecast and all Americans would be forced, forced—at gunpoint, no less—to listen to every David Barton message.” Gee, I should be forced to listen to David Barton at gunpoint? And this from an ordained minister?

David Barton is just one glaring example, but there are others. Sadly, some of them walk the Halls of Congress in between writing and voting on laws that govern the entire nation. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), when asked in an interview with GQ magazine, “How old do you think the Earth is?” ducked the question and gave a lame answer which simply proved he had no idea and couldn’t be bothered to find out:

I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.

Rep. Paul Broun, speaking at the 2012 Sportsman’s Banquet, which was held in a church, told the crowd, “God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, the big bang theory; all of that is lies straight from the pit of hell.” The article goes on to say, “Broun, a Republican from Oconee County, is a medical doctor and running unopposed in District 10 on the November ballot. He serves on the Congressional science and technology, and homeland security committees.” A medical doctor who thinks that stuff he was taught about embryology was a lie serves on a Science committee.

Worse still is the right wing denial of climate change, which is unquestionably real and caused by human activity, something about 97% of climatologists who took part in an online surveyed confirmed. Let me try to explain this as best I can. Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been burning a hell of a lot more coal and oil than they did before. When the coal and oil stays in the ground, the carbon within it stays in the ground with it. When you burn it, the carbon dioxide goes up into the atmosphere and eventually comes down into the Earth’s oceans. Carbon dioxide holds heat very well (which is why it’s called a greenhouse gas), and this means the Earth’s oceans are warmer. When storms form out over the ocean, they get energy from warm waters, so as they pass over warmer waters, the storms tends to pick up in intensity. This is what produces those intense summer and winter storms we’ve been seeing in recent years. It’s not that climate change is causing the storms (which is one way right wing climate change deniers distort the facts), it’s that climate change is making the storms we get stronger. Climate change is one reason why Hurricane Sandy was so devastating. But having climate change deniers sit on Congressional committees that deal with Science is a recipe for a nation ill prepared to deal with the effects of climate change, which include rising sea levels that threaten everybody who lives on the coasts. It’s almost as if these people equate having an opinion with having a valid opinion. Science, and reality, don’t work that way.

So what can we do? I don’t know. The challenge we face is that telling people the truth doesn’t seem to work, especially when it comes to political matters (which ought to be based on facts and science). Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt (whose great paper “What Makes People Vote Republican?” I highly recommend) said in a recent interview

Political views aren’t like views about factual matters. If you believe that it’s faster to drive to the airport than take mass transit, and I give you evidence that mass transit is faster, there’s a good chance that I’ll change your mind, because your goal is actually to get to the airport more quickly. With political and moral questions, our goal isn’t “the truth.” That’s why it’s always vital to bear in mind the importance of group membership when trying to understand political differences. Political beliefs act as badges of membership, badges that say who we are and give us a sense of meaning and purpose. They’re badges that we display to show our moral character. So simply refuting someone’s views about global warming or needle-exchange programs or abortion or anything else will have little effect, because people aren’t going to betray their team because you show them evidence that they’re wrong.

The only solution I see is to not vote for Republicans until they start accepting that Reality is not what you decide it is, but what it actually is, no matter how much it contradicts what you would like it to be.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Reality, climate change, Republican refusal to accept facts, or any other you choose. Just don’t lie to me.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, July 5th, 2012: Odds and Ends

Since I couldn’t come up with any one topic to write about today, I’m presenting a few articles that I’ve collected over the past couple of weeks:

From back in January, when I was researching one of my Pawling Press columns, here’s a piece from the New York Times about Sheldon Adelson (in the context of Adelson’s contributions to Newt Gingrich.)

Next, a more recent column from the New York Times; this article was published after Sheldon Adelson started throwing millions of dollars at Mitt Romney.

Now here’s a trio of articles about Mitt Romney that I thought were interesting. (I think that someone here recently linked to that last one, but it bears re-reading.)

Finally, to help wash away the bitter taste of RMoney, here’s something about President Jimmy Carter, who still serves as a shining example of an American public servant. Enjoy!

This is our daily open thread — talk amongst yourselves!

The Watering Hole: Super Tuesday, March 6th – Is this really important?

Image found at Funny Pictures

In a way the Republican Primaries tonight are important, they will need a nominee eventually. Presumptive Candidates fall all over each other in Marx-Brothers-Sans-Brains fashion and it is more or less entertaining. Or, it would be entertaining, if this wasn’t supposed to be the choice of the man who was to lead one of the World’s remaining superpowers. The last time around they have presented us Sarah Palin and we thought it was a horrible abberration. This time around they stacked the whole deck with similar dunces and treat the world to a first class train crash to watch.

On the other side of the intellectual divide there is this cool and collected man, doing what needs to be done for your country in a very pragmatic and undogmatic way.

For many Europeans the re-election of President Barack Obama is a no-brainer. If we seriously look at the difference of the four vs the one, the Republican Primaries tonight are not really important after all.

This is our Open Thread. What is important to you?

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, January 25, 2012: BREAKING GNUS — RNC TO CANCEL REST OF PRIMARIES!

In a stunning move, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus informed the Florida Secretary of State that his party was cancelling the Florida Primary, as well as the rest of the primaries set for later this spring. He held a press conference at 5:a.m. Eastern time to announce his decision.

“I’m glad you all could make it on such short notice” Priebus began, addressing the lone reporter who happened by on his way to a nearby Dunkin Donuts. Priebus continued:

We have three candidates, each of whom has won a primary. But their attacks on each other have been so dead-bang accurate that none of them are electable in a general election. I am therefore suspending the rest of the primary season to prevent the further destruction of the Republican Party.

Right now, the polls show that the only Republican Candidate who does not have a 50% plus disapproval rating from independent voters is Stephen Colbert. While I understand he has dropped out of the race for the President of the United States of South Carolina, it is my hope that I can convince him by the time we have our Convention to toss his hat into the ring for President of the United States of America. He alone can save the Republican Party.

The reporter immediately called Stephen Colbert for his comment on this startling revelation. “F— you, Stewart!” Colbert said, “Do you know what time it is? I am not coordinating with you on my Super PAC!”

Later, Colbert gave a prepared statement, “I am deeply honored by Reince Priebus’ call to serve this great country of ours. But before accepting, I would like to know if I get to choose my running mate, because Jane Fonda is hot. Next, I would like to know if I was elected, could I re-design the Oval Office to have some corners? Because I can think of a few Congressmen I would love to see stand in the corner.”

This be the Daily Open Thread. HAPPY HUMP DAY.

The Watering Hole: January 13 — When Mitt Romney Came To Town

This is an anti-Romney video paid for by Winning Our Future, a Super PAC that apparently supports Newt Gingrich.

It exposes Mitt Romney’s vulture capitalism with Bain — something we need to know about!  But this is coming from a rightwing PAC, and we should consider the source.  No, I don’t think we need to give Romney any quarter, but I’m suspicious of the motivation behind this video.

A quote early in the video is this, “but in the wrong hands those dreams can turn into nightmares.”  Hello!?  The people making the video are exactly the people who supported those very actions by every politician coming down the pike for the last thirty years.

Sure, I’m happy Mitt Romney is being exposed, but we need to keep focus on the source.

This is our daily open thread — Thoughts?

Sunday Roast: Newt Gingrich, a legend in his own mind

GOP nominee for president hopeful, Newt Gingrich, thinks he’s this guy:

But he’s actually quite a despicable person:

“It doesn’t matter what I do. People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”

~Newt being a hypocrite, since he was cheating on his wife, while hypocritically being horrified that Bill Clinton cheated on his wife.

“What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]? That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior….

….I think Obama gets up every morning with a worldview that is fundamentally wrong about reality. If you look at the continuous denial of reality, there has got to be a point where someone stands up and says that this is just factually insane.”

Newt being a racist.

“There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate. And what I can tell you is that when I did things that were wrong, I wasn’t trapped in situation ethics, I was doing things that were wrong, and yet, I was doing them.”

Newt being a liar (who fucks the nation while fucking his staffer).

“I repudiate, and I call on the President to repudiate, the concept of the 99 and the 1. It is un-American, it is divisive, it is historically false…You are not going to get job creation when you engage in class warfare because you have to attack the very people you hope will create jobs.”

Newt hating most of the people in this country.

“The idea that a congressman would be tainted by accepting money from private industry or private sources is essentially a socialist argument.”

Newt letting us know he’s as corrupt as he ever was, if not more.

“Gingrich — Primary mission, Advocate of civilization, Definer of civilization, Teacher of the rules of civilization, Leader of the civilizing forces.”

Newt assuring us that he’s a bona fide megalomaniac.

With each of these quotes — and so many more — Newt Gingrich is telling us who he is:  Hypocrite, Racist, Liar, Cheater, Assholierthanthou, Mental Patient.  I think we should BELIEVE HIM.

Republicans, as well as Democrats, should be horrified that Gingrich is polling so well before the primaries.  Hopefully, he’ll pass like a nasty case of gas.

This is our daily open thread — Dish!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, December 15th: Newt Gingrich + Citizens United = $$$$

While researching bizarre quotes/items about Newt Gingrich for the last few days, I ran across a reference to “Newt Gingrich to Star in Citizens United Movie about ‘American Exceptionalism’…”, which caused me to do a double-take. Newt Gingrich and that ‘Citizens United”?

Am I the last person in the world to know that Newt and Callista Gingrich have been ‘starring‘ in some of Citizens United productions, which claim to be “documentaries”, such as “We Have the Power“, and were working on a new “documentary” earlier this year? The “Cast” list for “We Have the Power” certainly has some familiar conservative names on it, and the “Credits” list shows the Executive Producers as: Newt Gingrich, Callista Gingrich, Lawrence Kadish and David N. Bossie. Lawrence Kadish provided (see this Alternet article from 2002**) some of the financial backing for Frank Gaffney’s CSP. David N. Bossie is the President and Chairman of the Board of Citizens United.
(**Check out the names/agencies interconnected in the article–keep in mind that this is from 2002.)

I did not know any of this – where have I been?

Small wonder, though, as Newt has been quoted in the past, when discussing campaign finance reform, as stating “The problem isn’t too little money in political campaigns, but not enough.” Then there’s this one: “The idea that a congressman would be tainted by accepting money from private industry or private sources is essentially a socialist argument.” The combined implication of ‘a congressman is above such temptations’ and ‘anyone who thinks otherwise is a socialist’ is so very Newt-y. Gingrich has always been about selling ideas, and, unfortunately, there have always been buyers.

Right now, some lawmakers are working to overturn the SCOTUS “Citizens United” decision; for instance, Senator Bernie Sanders, I-VT, is proposing a constitutional amendment. However, we need faster action if the flood of money sweeping away our democracy is to be dammed.

This is our open thread — so talk about this or anything else that comes to mind.

Under Their Scheme

Please don’t sue me, Disney. I just wanted to warn people about the dangers of what the Republicans are trying to do, and I thought a catchy little tune might help. This also happens to be one of my all-time favorite Disney songs.

Under Their Scheme
Original words and music “Under The Sea” by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, 1989
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider, 2011

Sebastian (spoken): Ariel, listen to me. The Ayn Rand world is a mess
Life under their scheme is deader than anything you’d want out there

(singing) The sequence is always greener, in somebody’s else’s take
You dream about growing up there, but that is a big mistake
Just look how their view confounds you, they scare you and want you poor
Such powerful things astound you, what good is they working for?

Under their scheme, under their scheme
Medicare’s deader, not getting better, take it from me Continue reading

The Humbug Express

The Humbug Express by Paul Krugman (The NY Times)

Hey, has anyone noticed that “A Christmas Carol” is a dangerous leftist tract?

I mean, consider the scene, early in the book, where Ebenezer Scrooge rightly refuses to contribute to a poverty relief fund. “I’m opposed to giving people money for doing nothing,” he declares. Oh, wait. That wasn’t Scrooge. That was Newt Gingrich — last week. What Scrooge actually says is, “Are there no prisons?” But it’s pretty much the same thing.

Anyway, instead of praising Scrooge for his principled stand against the welfare state, Charles Dickens makes him out to be some kind of bad guy. How leftist is that?

As you can see, the fundamental issues of public policy haven’t changed since Victorian times. Still, some things are different. In particular, the production of humbug — which was still a somewhat amateurish craft when Dickens wrote — has now become a systematic, even industrial, process.

Let me walk you through a case in point, one that I’ve been following lately… [Continue to read here.]

(If you can’t get to the article at The New York Times, read it here.)

Mr. Krugman ends with this thought:

So in this holiday season, let’s remember the wisdom of Ebenezer Scrooge. Not the bit about denying food and medical care to those who need them: America’s failure to take care of its own less-fortunate citizens is a national disgrace. But Scrooge was right about the prevalence of humbug. And we’d be much better off as a nation if more people had the courage to say “Bah!”

It is amazing to me just how many “Scrooges” we have in office, making decisions that will affect every single person in this country, and how many of those “Scrooges” all seem to congregate in pretty much one party.. You know, the ‘party of values’… Though, those ‘values’ seem to center entirely around greed, promoting war, and pleasing their corporate sponsors. (How ‘Leftist’ of me to say.. Leftist? Or just observant..)

This week Newt Gingrich said one of the dumbest, the most insensitive and hypocritical things I’ve heard yet..

“I’m opposed to giving people money for doing nothing,” he told the crowd of 250 cheering GOP activists in a state with a 10.6 percent unemployment rate.

This said from a man who makes his money “as a direct-mail scam artist”..

Continue reading

The Clinton Curse…

OooOoooOoo….

Mark Sanford joins other victims of ‘the Clinton curse’ like Bob Livingston, Larry Craig and Newt Gingrich.. (I can think of several more names he could have added to this list, though the show IS only half an hour long..)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Curse of 2012: GOP Presidential Hopefuls Are Having A Terrible Year

If its not in-fighting with their own party, some have been caught having affairs, and then one gave such a horrible speech that he had to step out of the public eye.  The field is getting mighty thin for the GOP.  It is going to be entertaining to see who they will come up with next and if they can manage to not foul it up.

Newt Gingrich Criticizes Obama On Anti-Catholic Values…Please!

David Schuster mocks Newt Gingrich on his segment “Hypocrisy Watch” for a statement that he  ‘Twittered’.  Newt Gingrich said, “It is sad to see Notre Dame invite President Obama to give the commencement address since his policies are so anti-Catholic values.”

Newt lecturing on Catholic values, a man who isn’t even Catholic yet, a man who is on his third marriage and has committed adultery, as if he is some kind of moral compass..

Conservatives Bailin’ & Blaming McCain

This is just too funny.  Jed Report has captured everyone that is bailin’ on McCain.  He has Bill Kristol, George Will, Paul Gigot, Newt Gingrich, Matt Lewis, and even Brit Hume.  Watch as the “mighty conservatives” fall and play the blame game.  It is a little over two minutes but guaranteed to put a smile on your face this morning.

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Sunday Talking Heads

ABC’s This WeekNewt Gingrich, Bill Clinton; roundtable with Torie Clark, Donna Brazile & George Will

NBC’s Meet The Press – Bill Clinton; roundtable with Dan Balz, Pat Buchanan, David Gregory & Tavis Smiley

CBS’s Face The Nation – Bill Richardson

FOX’s Fox News Sunday – Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), David Yepsen, James Pindell, roundtable with Brit Hume, Mara Liasson, Juan Williams, & Bill Kristol

CNN’s Late Edition – foreign ministers of Iraq and Sudan, Seymour Hersh

~ Egreggious