Whack Whack Whack

The Economist takes a plank to the Republican Party, in effect calling it the party of, and for, stupid people. And me without a fresh-baked Schadenfreude Pie. Sigh.

Oh, don’t look at me like that. I don’t think individual Republicans are stupid (or even ignorant, which is not the same thing), but it’s pretty obvious that these days the party itself is not being led by the smartest kids in the class. And outside of the party proper, when your political movement’s public intellectual faces are the passive-aggressive fumers at The Corner, you have a problem. I suspect it’s going to get worse for the GOP before it gets better.

175 thoughts on “Whack Whack Whack

  1. I continue to have a problem with equating level of education to level of intelligence (or even how informed a person is), as this article does. It’s arrogant and based upon too many broad-reaching assumptions about both the value of our education system and the nature of human intelligence.

  2. Here’s a Republican who also gets it…

    “[T]he evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.

    Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth — as long as we’re setting ourselves free — is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.” —Kathleen Parker, conservative columnist for the Washington Post, in Giving Up on God

    (link might pester you to login – so remember that bugmenot is your friend)

  3. I blogged about a topic certainly related to this yesterday…

    Considering how it’s idiot Christians who have taken over the Republican party (and also how it’s the hyper-emotional defence of Republican values that often winds up making Christians idiots) these are perhaps more related than I’d like to think they are…

  4. I don’t. some jobs should simply demand a higher standard of person than others. We’ve seen what happens when you put chummy, cheerful but unintellectual people in The Big Chair.

    I think the Republican party’s been pushing “One of the Folks” type people as part of a marketing strategy designed to draw attention from the old-money old-boy-network system they seem to like. It’s a flawed strategy in a complex, rapidly-changing world.

    Intelligent, insightful, educated people in the habit of learning and evaluating before making informed decisions are required. If they happen to be people who would be great to have a beer with as well, then fine – but having that as the primary deciding point is just (sorry) stupid.

  5. Skar – don’t you find it bothersome that the poll was completely one-sided?

    Back in 2004, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, PIPA found that Bush voters were less likely than Kerry to know his political positions. It’s not like Bush’s policies were much of a moving target.

    If Zeigler’d done that poll of McCain voters in a red state, how many of them would have said that Obama was a Muslim?

    There’s no question that there are “low-information voters” out there. I think there are more of them on one side than the other, and the presence of them on one side doesn’t do anything to disprove that. But if you believe that bs non-scandals or quasi-scandals are more important than substantive political positions, I have a political party for you.

  6. It’s frustrating. I am a Republican based on a belief in small government and the fewer taxes associated with small government. I am also pro-life but I acknowledge it’s a very tricky issue due to the difficulties in separating government and religion.

    But I have found my party to be hijacked by the Church Crazies; the people that dehumanize and demonize gays, the people that insist the evolution not be taught in school, the people that think that they are saved and everyone else can, should, and will go to hell. The people that make normal, IMO intelligent, hard working people like myself look bad because they are also religious (I’m Catholic).

    Somehow, probably a result of the Bush debacle, the GOP got it into their heads that the ONLY way to win an election is to make sure the religious nut jobs vote like it’s the Second Coming. Thus we got Palin who any rational person can clearly see got nominated by nothing less than a miracle as she was a walking, talking time bomb for the McCain Campaign.

    McCain was originally a moderate Republican who was very open to the press and willing to compromise to get things done. Then the Church Nazi’s got ahold of his campaign and he turned into a shadow of his former self which wasn’t seen again until his concession speech.

    It’s just so infuriating that the religious right is so blinded by their faith that they can’t see the irreperable damage they are doing to themselves and their agenda. I want my party back!

  7. Dear Patrick,
    At least you recognize that, like Chris Buckley (and Reagan), you didn’t leave the party, it left you. The proper SAT analogy here is McCain2008:McCain2000 as Vista:XP.

  8. And what does this really say?
    It says that moderates need to leave the Republican party, leave it to the ultra right (stupid)fringe that has taken over, and develop a new party more in line with what the middle works for.

    I will admit that labeling the Democrats as “tax and spend” seems to ring hollow after the last 8 years. What galls me is that the leadership expected us to still buy this crap.

    I voted for more Democrats in this last election than in any prior election. Not that I have somehow become a “damned Liberal” like some of the folks back in Nebraska thought I had become, but because the GOP message was stuck in the early 80’s and did nothing to address todays issues.

    I know this comment is a little rambling, and I apologize for it. I’m just highly pissed off at the GOP. I’m also pissed off by people I know and love who are still voting for the party of the “Gipper” even though he’s dead and hasn’t been president in quite awhile. They can’t even see that while they have not changed,as far as their beliefs or needs, the party left them a long time ago. They don’t believe in moderate Democrats any more than they still believe in the tooth fairy. I used to describe the folks back there as “provincial”, I use a stronger term these days… 8(

    Thanks for letting me vent. I’m going to get some coffee and relax.

  9. The problem is the two party system.

    Elections are no longer about who is the candidate you want to vote for. Unless you abstain, or vote third party (which is the same as abstaining, let’s not kid ourselves), you are forced to choose not between you like more, but who you hate or fear least. My vote for Bush was not a vote for Bush but a vote against Gore and against Kerry.

    A legitimate third party demands thought (or slightly more thought at the least). Or get rid of parties all together.

    The stupid thing is that the GOP made the dumbest possible move in the election. Obama and McCain were fighting for the moderate center. There is no way in hell that the right was going to vote for Obama and his gay-loving, religion hating, African American ways (obviously not true). So McCain left the center to Obama and starting prancing around the right with Palin. This was McCain trying to be someone he wasn’t and it showed.

  10. *Patrick – I agree with virtually everything you said. I lean Republican (traditional Republican as opposed to the frothing crazies that now seem to run it) on a lot of things. I believe that people should be responsible for their own actions and its not my duty to bail them out just because they made a poor decision (homeowners who overbought but wagered it would be ok, I am looking at you).

    On the other hand, I also think that the government needs to be involved in any situation where the free-market cannot operate, anywhere where the bar to gain entry and thus create competition is too high. Oil companies and Banks are a good example – you can’t simply start a new oil company or bank because you are unhappy with their practices, thus the free-enterprise system needs oversight to protect the public from predatory practices.

    I don’t think it is as far gone as you think, if the invasion of Iraq had been done differently and President Bush had a higher approval rating, Mccain would probably be pres-elect, but the Republican party does seem to be the party of “Church Crazies” these days.

  11. @Christian Seehausen, #3:

    You claim that Lexington’s column equates intelligence with education (by which you apparently mean schooling, not education), but I see precious little support for that in the text. At the strongest he seems to be saying there’s a correlation, which is hard to deny. But he mainly focuses on the rise and sometimes celebration of anti-intellectualism, faux folksiness, and incompetence.

  12. Patrick:

    “Elections are no longer about who is the candidate you want to vote for.”

    I don’t know about that. I wanted to vote for Obama, and did. I wanted to vote for Gore in 2000, and did that too. Same with Clinton, both times. And the two times I voted against someone (in 1988 and 2004), I was reasonably content with the alternative.

  13. So do you guys think I am stupid because I am an Evangelical Christian? It kind of reads that way. And it frankly sounds like pure, unadulterated bigotry.

    I appreciate discussions and disagreements with things I believe, but labeling me stupid because of my spirituality strikes me as the kind of bigotry that most of you would say you abhor.

    Trey

  14. @Seth Gordon, #13: I know you’re kidding, but I’m frequently surprised how many aren’t. People on the left complain about The Economist‘s rightist bias, and people on the right complain about its leftist bias.

    That’s not to say they don’t have some pretty strongly held viewpoints. But having subscribed for quite a while, I think a firm statement of left or right bias says more about the speaker than the magazine.

    Personally, I’d say that this particular columnist, Lexington, leans somewhat right-ish, which made this article especially delicious for me.

  15. Huh. I’m a Christian, a religious conservative, and a social conservative. So I guess I’m what’s wrong with the GOP… except that I haven’t voted for the GOP in this election, or in any of the past two. The biggest reason for this is that outside of a handful of life issues, I find their policies abhorrent. The other reason is that despite lots of talk, the GOP doesn’t actually do much for social conservatives. It’s the carrot that they use to keep the base appeased while they go off and implement kleptocratic economic policies, pillage the environment, and start unmotivated foreign wars.

    Do I sound bitter?

    I’m a little concerned about what Obama might do about abortion, but I still voted for him because I want to have someone with sense in the White House. The GOP hasn’t done jack squat about the parts of their platform that I actually sympathize with, while they ran a series of destructive know-nothings that tarnished our national honor. Which they are purportedly the party of.

    I hope that the GOP does some hard thinking during its forthcoming time in the political wilderness. It’s possible that it will turn into something I might vote for again. Until then, I guess I’m a moderate Democrat.

  16. @ John

    Well, you were never presented with Bush as the representive for your party. Imagine that and I think you will see my point.

    Your point is valid, though.

    While not an absolute truth, some of us (particularly on the Republican side) are faced with choosing between candidates we don’t like.

    I personally liked McCain before his continuity reboot but the idea of Palin in the White House scared the hell out of me. I feel I would be more qualified as VP, and my only governmental experience is watching The West Wing on DVD.

  17. @Trey

    No one is saying that all evangelical Christians are stupid.

    I am saying is that some evangelical Christians are stupid and they are running the GOP into the ground. Some Democrats are stupid too. They lost to Bush, twice!

    The government of the United States is meant to be representative of the people. Of all the people. If one group tries to prioritize their agenda at the cost of all others they cannot win, unless the one group is a huge majority. The Republican party has become focused on a very small platform of issues and a lot of people feel like they no longer have a legitimate voice in the two party system.

  18. Trey, no, I don’t think you’re stupid if you’re an evangelical. I don’t agree with evangelism, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’re stupid.

    I think you’re stupid if you’re a fundamentalist, but that’s not necessarily the same thing as being an evangelical.

    I want politicians who can think. If you believe the universe is only about 6,000 years old, you’re lacking critical thinking skills.

  19. Another former conservative, former Republican here. White, male, middle class, evangelical-ish Christian. Voted for Bush Sr. The GOP left me.

    You see, under Clinton, I was against secret courts, wiretapping/CALEA, v-chips, optional foreign wars, and corrupt lobbyists. You can see how well I did under Bush Jr.

    [Rant: Torture? Less tax and more spending? WTH kind of conservative is that? And how is suppressing votes patriotic?]

    I am also anti-abortion, but after 20 years of Republican presidents plus 4 of a Southern Baptist failing to do anything about it* there’s no reason to believe that the GOP is interested in overturning Roe vs. Wade. (I’ve become much more interested in the practical efforts to increase coverage for/access to sex ed and contraception, as a result, but wait, that makes me a conservative traitor too!)

    *Nixon/Ford should be on the hook here too, but I’ll give them a pass this time.

  20. Patrick @ 15:

    I suspect a two-party system is a natural result of a stable political climate and a (relatively) homogeneous electorate.

    Thought experiment:

    On any given issue, there is usually a range of approaches from radical extremes on either end, to a set of mushy compromises in the middle.

    If you plot where most people fall on that issue, a bell curve results. Depending on the culture and the times, that “hump” in the bell curve will be more to one side or the other, of course.

    A two party system results when you split the “hump” down the middle and one side takes about 40 percent and the other side takes about 40 percent.

    To this extent, there’s nothing nefarious about a two-party system. If you abolished it somehow, something similar would arise.

    More fractured societies would not trend this way, I think.

    Of course, once the parties develop, they tend to institutionalize themselves, by gerrymandering and other techniques! That should end, I agree. But I think a two-party system is more a reflection of where most people fall than some kind of plot.

  21. Here’s a site to educate the reactionary leftist stereotypers here:

    http://proteinwisdom.com/

    Jeff G. is classical liberal, and one of the funniest guys on the internet.

    Go.

    Learn something.

    Oh…..

    “Here’s a Republican who also gets it…

    “[T]he evangelical, right-wing black, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOPDemocrats is what ails the erstwhile conservative leftist party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.”

    How’s that sound? Better?

  22. Trey:

    My problem with evangelicals isn’t that they’re stupid, it’s that the majority of them seem to be so anti-gay and anti-abortion that they not only want to deny gay marriage and abortions to themselves, but to everyone else, too.

    Let’s face it, that’s forcing other people who don’t share evangelical Christian beliefs to follow the tenets of that faith anyway. Quite frankly, it’s vile.

    I’m not saying that you, personally, are trying to impose this nonsense on the world, but that your co-religionists most assuredly are.

  23. I’m an evangelical Christian, and I have no problem with most evangelicals being described as idiots. Why? Because generally, from my limited experience at least, it’s true.

    We can put our heads in the sand and pretend there isn’t a serious brain-drain happening among people of faith (and also pretend that the quest for political power as a distinctly Christian aim hasn’t contributed to this) or we can look at reality, and maybe, just maybe, undo what centuries of Constantinianism and polarisation have done.

    The choice is ours, I suppose, but I sincerely hope that Evangelicals as a perceived voting bloc does become a thing of the past. I think Jesus would be celebrating.

  24. @ CJ in 26

    I don’t think it’s sometype of plot or that it fails everyone. It definitely works.

    However, look at the presidential succession in the modern era. It’s more of a same/change choice. If you like what the sitting/last president did the party gets to put the new guy in the house. See Reagan 2, Bush Senior, Clinton 2, George W. 2. However, if you don’t like what the economy is doing or how the president is behaving the parties switch. See Clinton 1 (Bush’s economy), Dubya 1 (Clinton’s sex life)

    A vote for Obama is a vote for change. A vote for McCain is just more of the same.

    That was the rallying cry of the Democratic party. And while it is change, there is good change and bad change. If the economy is fixed and the war ends peacefully and everyone is happy and eco-friendly, then thats a good change. If the economy stays on the floor and terrorism starts up again thats a bad change. If Obama were actually a secret Muslim and decides that Allah will guide all of his executive decisions (he’s not and he wouldn’t) that would be a bad change two.

    With a three party system you would have 2 candidates of change (you can’t say McCain was a legitimate candidate of change because of the Republican stigma). Then you have to decide which course of action is better for the country. It also marginalizes attack adds because if Candidate 1 attacks Candidate 2, Candidate 3 looks better because he was neither attacker nor victim.

  25. N. O’Brain:

    “How’s that sound? Better?”

    Not really, since making a cheap equivalence that doesn’t actually reflect the relative positions of the major parties at this moment in time doesn’t add anything of value except to suggest that the person making the cheap equivalence doesn’t actually get what’s going on, and possibly doesn’t want to.

  26. Clearly, what people want from the Federal Government is not so different now than from when the Republican Congress took over in Clinton’s first term.

    Republicans just haven’t delivered it. Or more precisely, Republicans strayed so far from it that people (starting in 2006) said “Let’s try something else.”

    So we are.

    We’ll see how Democrats do about that.

    They sure as hell won’t have Republicans to blame two and four years from now.

    Me? I’m waiting to wait, watch and see what happens.

  27. Mark @15:

    People can and do found new banks and oil companies. Both are quite capital intensive. However I grew up in a comunnity funded by wildcatter oil profits with friends whose parents had founded wildcat companies. Just because you don’t see them, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Raising the first million is the hardest part.

    Also, intellectual !=intelligent. It gets far too widely applied, as does the anti- version. Many people who get placed in both categories are really non-intellectual; meaning not particularly dedicated to rigorous and logical thought.

  28. I continue to have a problem with equating level of education to level of intelligence (or even how informed a person is), as this article does.

    That’s because you’re not The Economist. If you mentally substitute “the gin-drinking classes” for any place where they talk about “rednecks” or “the uneducated,” you get a clearer picture of where their heads are at.

  29. Trey@19,

    Yes, that’s exactly what a large number of people think. And yes, it is pure, unadulterated bigotry. But it’s a bigotry that the coastal elites of both parties approve of, so it’s ok.

    To bring this back to topical, it’s no big surprise that the economist, which is pretty much socially progressive when it covers those issues at all, would postulate that the problem with the Republican party is that it was too socially conservative. It would have been a shock if they thought otherwise. And since right after a crushing defeat is the time to move the party in the direction you want, of course they would do this now.

    The Republican coalition over the last few decades has been made up of three different groups of people. The first group is a group of people who are socially progressive and fiscally conservative. Think Giuliani, Governor Arnold, and any number of what we’d call liberal northeastern Republicans. They make up probably 20-30% of the party coalition by my estimates.

    The second group is fiscally progressive and socially conservative. Think rural South, very socially conservative but don’t mess with their farm subsidies. Once again, it’s probably 20-30% of the coalition.

    The third group is both fiscally and socially conservative. It’s actually probably smaller than the first two groups, but because all three groups consider themselves ‘conservatives’, Republicans who win the nomination have traditionally run as this group, regardless of their actual beliefs.

    After 9/11 a fourth group was added, which I would call ‘national security/homeland defense’ guys. Many of them agree with virtually nothing else on the Republican platform, but have voted with the Republicans for the past few elections because of the complete and total abrogation of this duty by the post-Vietnam anti-war Democratic party. This group is only very lightly associated with the Republicans – if the Democrats can ever show themselves to be actually serious on national security issues they’ll be gone in a flash. Fortunately for the Republicans (but very unfortunately for the country) the Democrats have shown no signs of this so far. Had the Democrats nominated Hillary, these voters would have already left. So while this group is probably 5-10% of the coalition right now, I wouldn’t really consider them in decisions as to the party future.

    So what the economist author wants to do is to take a portion of the party that’s very clearly a minority portion to have the rest of the party subjugate itself to them. That’s not going to happen, at least explicitly. The coastal elites need to decide what’s more important to them, their social progressivism or their fiscal conservatism. If it’s the former, then no coalition is possible any more. I understand their frustration, because President Bush ran his campaign as a member of the social and fiscal conservative group, but then governed as a member of the socon-fiscally progressive group, which is pretty much antithetical to them. So they want their turn.

    Now, it’s entirely possible that they can produce some other coalition that can produce a majority, but it won’t be in any way, shape, or form similar to the current Republican coalition.

  30. Patrick, I agree your three-party scenario would be nice. However, I think the actual real-world result would be a collapse into a de facto two-party system. Two of the three parties would tend to be closer on issues, and would tend to split the votes that would oppose the third party. With the current electoral college system for selection of president, that would at best throw things into the college – which would be a hoot, I admit.

  31. Brett @ 33, I don’t have a problem with people not being intellectuals. In fact, I don’t even have a problem with people not being intelligent – what I do have a problem with are people who aren’t both being placed in a position of power over anyone. Especially me.

    Intelligence and critical thinking generally leads to the better things in life, and mankind’s overall advancement as a species. Following emotions, doctrine and dogma tends to lead toward the more excrable end of human behaviour, as a rule.

    This leads to a fundamental disconnect when people expect their opinions all to be equally valid, when one approach provides repeatable and provable results, whereas the other’s based on apocrypha and wishes. Sadly, under those circumstances, not everyone’s opinions are the same.

  32. US politics is funny. And not always “funny, ha-ha.” But that’s an outsider’s view.

    I have a natural aversion to a two-party system simply because it appears to condone and reify a dichotomy that doesn’t really seem to exist.

    That is, even when a multi-party system appears to serve only two of the parties (as it has in many multi-party systems the world over — though the parties in question often change up over time) it is a lot harder to draw a simple political dichotomy between them. It just seems a weak way to present complex political ideas in a modern world.

    Those other parties tend to carve up the space in their own way, with plenty of overlap.

    And, yes, I know that the US has more than two parties. I mean places with more than two parties where the other parties get a measurable percentage of votes, and actually have a say in how things are run even if they don’t “win.”

    I think to those of us on the outside, it can reall ybe hard to actually tell the difference between your two parties. It is obvious to a naturalized citizen, but not so much to us (at least, once you strip away the bogus liberal/conservative dichotomy.)

    But what do I know? Crypto-religious Fundamentalists and free-market zealots alike scare the shit out of me. Both seem to believe in a magical invisible hand guiding us toward some sort of apocalyptic denouement.

  33. Personally, I think this is well beyond the problem of the republicans belonging to the “Right-wing Christian nutjobs.”
    I know 4 people that are fiscally conservative Republicans that have continued to support the Republican party.
    These are people that are not religious, are not outspoken on the issue of abortion (either way), and have no issue with gays being treated as human beings.
    But,they still see Dems as tax and spend and don’t wont to listen to any arguments otherwise. Nor will they listen to how impractical the current Republican spending “plan” is.

    This may be a rather warped analogy but I see being a fiscally conservative republican still supporting the party like being a recovering alcoholic staying in AA if AA suddenly became Alcoholism ‘r’ us and started throwing binge drinking parties.

    But then I’ve never been a “joiner,” so I do not understand supporting a group simply because I am a member of it.

  34. Frank @ 32:

    “Republicans just haven’t delivered it. Or more precisely, Republicans strayed so far from it that people (starting in 2006) said “Let’s try something else.”

    So we are.”

    So WE are?

    Hmm… in the course of various political discussions over the past year, while completely toeing the Republican line, does anyone else remember Frank emphatically saying he’s not a Republican?

  35. Patrick @15

    If you only look at the role of putting people in power voting for a third party is a hopeless cause, especially at the national level. In that case yes voting for a third party candidate is functionally equivalent to abstaining. However thiird parties have a bigger role in politics than just presenting candidates for public office. They provide alternative points of view, which then cause the 2 main paties to react and co-opt or reject elements of the third party platform. Third party candidates also have much more influence at the state and local level where it is much easier to see how the candidate aligns with specific issues that are important to you, rather than where they follow the party line.
    In Minnesota the 3rd party candidate for senate took about 16% of the vote, while the major party candidates almost exactly split the remainder. With around 3 million votes cast the latest report shows a difference of less than 160 votes separating the Democrat and Republican candidate. I think this shows that 3rd party candidates can have a significant impact without necessarily being elected or gaining power.

  36. Mark @37,
    didn’t see you comment before I posted mine, but apropos to you comment I would like to share my all time favorite Harlon Ellison quote:
    “You are not entitled to your opinion, you are entitled to your informed opinion. If you are not informed on the subject, then your opinion counts for nothing.”

  37. There was a brilliant post about this four years ago – I Miss Republicans on Kung Fu Monkey’s site.

    I don’t believe all evangelical Christians are stupid, nor all Republicans. Some of the smartest people I know are Republicans, who, like some of the earlier posters in this thread, are deeply dismayed at the dumbing down of their party.

    I’ve found it both frightening and sad that, in the past eight years, there’s been a proud public disdain for scientific inquiry and the kind of fact-finding that used to be the hallmark of courageous journalism.

    And Patrick – like John, I had the pleasure of voting for someone I really wanted to vote for in this election. I was thrilled to vote for a professor of Constitutional law who speaks in complete sentences, writes his own books and many of his own speeches, and has the intelligence to understand the different perspectives on different issues – and to understand the VALUE of seeing those varied perspectives.

    John Rogers (Kung Fu Monkey) also had a great post about how non-Democrats are sick of feeling like Democrats are calling them dumb: Learn to Say Ain’t. As he says, “the art of politics is convincing people to connect with you. When you have an idea, and the other guy has an idea — if you don’t connect in some primal way with the listeners your idea is never even going to get considered, no matter how much better it is on a rational level.” I think Obama does a wonderful job of connecting with people, and striving to include everyone in his vision, rather than saying “we’re the good guys and we know better than those dummies.” I think his appreciation for knowledge, his humility before wisdom, and his respect for even those who disagree with him will go a long way toward undoing the harm of the anti-intellectual stance of the current administration.

  38. Patrick@15: you are forced to choose not between you like more, but who you hate or fear least. My vote for Bush was not a vote for Bush but a vote against Gore and against Kerry.

    Yeah, had Gore been president on september eleven, two thousand one, this country would have been so much worse than it is now. Thank God we missed that axe fall.

    Thank you for voting for George W. Bush twice. America is what it is today because of #^@%##@&$ like you.

  39. Regarding the third party issue—with instant run–off elections, third party candidates would be viable.

    As Argonel mentioned, we had a third party candidate in the MN Senate race who got a serious percentage of the vote. We elected a third party candidate as gov a few years ago, but that is without the electoral college issue.

  40. “I suspect it’s going to get worse for the GOP before it gets better.”

    Can I have a slice of that pie? And maybe some popcorn; this looks to be a good show.

  41. My problem comes with the anti-intellectual wing of the Republican party and its linkage with the religious right. It’s an ugly combination that feeds divisiveness. There are two factors at work here: first the religious side making the case that ones political opponents are not just opponents but evil because their positions are opposed to the revealed Word; and second the anti-intellectual side which leads to acceptance of arguments from authority with no concern for facts.

    Declaring either one’s opponent or their beliefs ‘evil’ removes any possibility of compromise or a middle ground, and politics is the art of the possible. Moderate should never be seen as a synonym for Quisling.

    On one SF board known for right-wing views, there are people posting as if Obama is the second coming of Lenin. That scares me because they are not giving democracy a chance.

    I really hope that practical fiscal conservatives come back to the reins of the Republican party or whatever succeeds it and get off the social/religious agenda.

  42. Patrick wrote: “No one is saying that all evangelical Christians are stupid.”

    Cool!

    “I am saying is that some evangelical Christians are stupid”

    We agree, I know plenty of Evangelicals and fully half of them have below average IQ. 8)

    “and they are running the GOP into the ground.”

    You lose me here. McCain was not our choice, is it the abortion issue that you believe is running the party into the ground? I am a conservative, not a Republican, they lost me with their rejection of a smaller, less intrusive government.

    “The government of the United States is meant to be representative of the people. Of all the people.”

    Yes, but not all at one time. President Obama will likely represent you more than me, but I promise he will still be my President and I will pray for him daily and treat him with the dignity he deserves as a child of God and our President. I HATE those idiots with the “Charleston Heston is my president” bumper stickers.

    “If one group tries to prioritize their agenda at the cost of all others they cannot win, unless the one group is a huge majority. ”

    I concur. And there are certainly times where the huge majority was dead wrong and sinful. Slavery pops to mind. I believe the same thing about the 1.21 million abortions performed in 2005 is all.

    “The Republican party has become focused on a very small platform of issues and a lot of people feel like they no longer have a legitimate voice in the two party system.”

    Amen brother. I think what we are not discussing are gay rights and abortion. For me, the word marriage is already taken, it means the joining of a man and a woman. I completely support legal rights for same sex unions, but marriage is something different.

    As for abortion, this is a deeply personal and religious issue for most of us. I am anti-choice on this issue! I will vote anti-choice too as part of my freedom to vote my conscience as a free person in America. If it were put up to a vote in the whole country, I would lose. But I have to vote my heart, just as you.

    I guess I just ask your continued tolerance of my superstitious nonsense and that you and others here do not paint me with a broad brush because of what I believe. But thanks so much for the reply, I appreciate the way you think.

    Trey

  43. Dave wrote: “There are two factors at work here: first the religious side making the case that ones political opponents are not just opponents but evil because their positions are opposed to the revealed Word”

    I hear you, but that is bad Christian theology and the people who spread it are heretics. Scripture is quite clear that everyone is sinful. And while you and I likely disagree on many things, I bet you are no more evil than I!

    “and second the anti-intellectual side which leads to acceptance of arguments from authority with no concern for facts.”

    Well, my beliefs are supported by my experience. It is tricky, because Christianity is at its heart a supernatural world view. You may be more materialistic (not in the greedy sense, in the demand for data sense) than I, and the supernatural aspects of religion are not something you are buying. Fair enough!

    But please understand that my belief and trust in God is based on my experience, not on some authority or family tradition. And while we likely disagree about some of the fundamental assumptions concerning the world, the universe, and everything in it, I bet we both try to apply similar logic.

    Personally, I love the facts. They are my friend.

    Trey

  44. @Trey: “So do you guys think I am stupid because I am an Evangelical Christian?”

    No, not on that basis. “Evangelical Christian” covers a pretty broad group of people. But what do we call the thinking of the most vocal representatives of Evangelical Christianity? How else, besides stupid or ignorant (or some synonym) should we describe people who think:

    * That the earth is roughly 6,000 years old?
    * That gay people can be prayed out of their sexuality?
    * That gay people don’t deserve the same rights as everyone else?
    * That birth control is just pre-abortion?

    I mean, seriously, what the hell? You know?

  45. Hmm, I’m quite conservative and I’d never heard of The Corner before today. Saying that it’s the “political movement’s public intellectual face” is a little like assuming Jeremiah Wright is the official voice of the Democratic Party.

    Oh, I’m also an “idiot Christian” (as one comment phrased it) and I’m just as disgusted with the Republican party as everyone else, but I admit it’s for the opposite reason. The GOP is floundering not because it’s being destroyed from within by religious zealots, but because it’s turned its back on the core, basic, yes “fundamental” values that attracted those zealots to begin with. You know, radical right-wing extremist things like accepting personal responsibility for your actions, admitting when you’ve screwed up, stepping in as individuals to help those who are less fortunate before the government needs to take over and do it for us, being open about personal and financial dealings, and keeping promises.

    Whoops. Sorry. I forgot that as a conservative Christian I’m not allowed to want to help others or to hold my own party to the same standard as all others and I’m especially not allowed to enjoy reading this blog (and Scalzi novels and SF in general) as much as I do. I’ll just go snap my mind closed again. Thanks for your time.

  46. J:

    “Saying that it’s the ‘political movement’s public intellectual face’ is a little like assuming Jeremiah Wright is the official voice of the Democratic Party.”

    Actually, it’s nothing like that at all, inasmuch as The National Review is a long established chronicle of conservative thought (founded by William F. Buckley) and the writers of The Corner include editors of TNR and some of its writers, including some who have had recent bestselling political books.

    Your unfamiliarity with The Corner says more about you (and nothing bad, I assure you) than it does regarding its representation of what passes for Republican/conservative intellectual thought at the moment.

  47. “You know, radical right-wing extremist things like accepting personal responsibility for your actions, admitting when you’ve screwed up, stepping in as individuals to help those who are less fortunate before the government needs to take over and do it for us, being open about personal and financial dealings, and keeping promises.”

    Gotta say the Rs have not been doing much of any of that for at least the last eight years. A responsible Republican party that was grounded in reality and whose leaders followed the tenets J lays out would be kinda neat to see. And I think rigorous application of electoral therapy will help them get there. Someday.

  48. John, thanks for reading and actually responding. I guess my point was that neither pundits nor extremists accurately reflect the opinions of either party’s base. For that matter, the politicians themselves think/act/speak nothing like the people they claim to represent. The problem with both parties is that they’re riddled with career politicians. At the very least they’re riddled with humans and we all know that no political or economic system is foolproof once you throw humanity into the mix. You can only hope we’ll arrive at the arrangement that sucks the least for the largest number of people.

  49. Eddie Clark @40

    So WE are?

    Hmm… in the course of various political discussions over the past year, while completely toeing the Republican line, does anyone else remember Frank emphatically saying he’s not a Republican?

    We as in “We Americans”

    And I would like to point out that exit polls during the Primaries showed that there roughly as many evangelical Christians who vote Democrat as Republican: about 30% each.

    This accounts for how it is that Obama got elected by the same folks who voted for Prop 8.

  50. @CJ

    The third party solution is by no means perfect. Especially with the current electoral college. I just think that multiple viable candidates creates challenges and discussion that the two party system does not specifically relating to undecided voters and negative ads.

    If you are decided (like Mr. Scalzi or Kristi in 43) then you obviously have someone you like/agree with. If you are undecided you either like both or don’t like either. At this point it can turn into a vote of who do you dislike least. Which was the decision I faced in 2004 and partly in 2008.

    Three way attack ads would just be funny.

    @Argonel

    Yes 3rd party candidates can influence elections but they do not win them at the national level. They play the spoiler. Nader ruined things for Gore (who is now one of the most out-spoken supporters of green initiatives). A vote for Nader was equivalent to a vote for Bush.

    @ Trey

    It not necessarily the evangelicals that are ruining the party. It’s the people that think all evangelicals are stupid and right-wing and that the

    There’s no one group that is responsible for all of it. If anything

    The most positive thing to come out of Obama’s victory for the Republican party is the evidence that the general population is thinking somewhat about their country and its leadership. This means that in 2012 the GOP should be able to field a much more viable pairing than McCain/Palin. Just relying on the religious right voter base isn’t going to cut it anymore. And if Palin is the candidate, I will vote Obama.

    I have similar stances on gay marriage and slightly differing on abortion.

    I think that gay couples should be entitled to the same rights as all straight married couples in terms of taxation, health care, etc. I think that the term marriage is overly religious and people are going to fight it every step of the way because of that. Why can’t we call the unions something else, give the homosexual community the rights the want (and are entitled too) and give the religious groups the rights to the term “marriage”

    Abortion is a tricky matter. Based on my beliefs, life begins at conception, and abortion is a mortal sin. I am completely pro-life. However, that is my religious view, not everyone elses. I support this view and wish it to be the majority. But the Supreme Courts declaration of separation of church and state rears its ugly head here. Life is a poorly defined term scientifically and things get tricky with mandating people to hold the same beliefs as you do. Then again there might be people that believe that certain groups of born, murderable people are invalid as well. Should we infringe on their beliefs? There is no easy answer, although IMO Partial Birth Abortion is and should be legal declared as the equivalent to murder.

    @ Greg

    Yes, I voted for Bush. So did the electoral majority. Anyone who thinks the economic problems are solely the result of one man is over-simplifying things. Would things be better if Gore or Kerry were president? Maybe, Maybe not… Any claim that things would be better or worse is conjecture at best. That’s not the point of this discussion.

    And let’s try to keep the discussion rational and intelligent shall we?

  51. In the first world, the United States has the absolute highest rate of unplanned pregnancies, and one of the higher rates of abortion precisely because of the evangelical conservatives who have a stranglehold on GOP policy

    In any sane nation, birth control would be available nearly free of charge, as would STD prevention, and education about preventing disease. Because of the religious wing of the American conservative movement, it’s not the case. Hell if it hadn’t been for liberals, many states would have kept a ban on birth control being available to unmarried people.

    If you’re concerned about reducing the rate of abortion, and not punishing women for being sluts and keeping people ignorant about STDs, you’ll vote for the liberal candidate. Conservatives suck when it comes to actually reducing the rates of abortion.

    So, yes. In certain areas, I do think Evangelical Christians by and large are remarkably stupid. Willfully so. If you’re an Evangelical Christian who’s OK with better distribution on birth control and comprehensive sex education, this isn’t about you. The rest of the movement, by which I mean the majority, are incredibly stupid about this issue.

    I have no problem with a belief in the supernatural. It’s the stupid ideas about public policy that encourage me to equate Evangelical Christians with stupidity. Trey is not the public face of Evangelical Christianity. He’s not the one with power, money or fame. By and large, the idiots are in the ones influencing the GOP.

  52. Josh

    I figured it was a mistake. While you have a tendency to be strongly vocal which comes out in print, I figured the bold stuff was a mistype. You don’t usually yell, just snark a bit. Well, maybe more than a bit, but you know what I mean.
    8D

  53. @Myself

    There are a couple of incomplete thoughts in my last comment. Incomplete as in not complete sente

    Before my brain switched gears onto other topics, I was trying to say it was the fault of everything being aimed at the lowest common denominator and people being okay with that. People are fine to accept what they are told in elections at face value and not ask relevant questions. They are more concerned with the clothes a candidate buys and wears than what they actualy have to say or how they are going to go about doing the things they promise.

    “I’m going to fix the economy” is easy to say but difficult to do. But people like sound bites and news channels and refuse to think for themselves.

    Palin was nomitated to appease a certain percentage of the electorate and as such the media began to treat her as a caricature of what she really was.

    It’s all out of control. I’m scared for what is going to happen when Obama fails to fix the economy on January 20th, 2009 (just like McCain would have failed to do) and people freak out.

    But it will be okay. As long as we still get our People magazine and we know that Brad and Angelina are still together, life will go on. Sigh.

  54. I can’t believe I forgot to applaud the title of this post. I want to remedy that now but I don’t know how to clap verbally.
    And @Patrick 67 – I would venture to say that the only reason anyone on the opposing side cared what a certain candidate was wearing was because we grew tired of the easy sport of dissecting the statements (scripted or not) made by that candidate. It’s not that we didn’t care about what the candidate said, it’s that working with so little substance is tedious.

  55. *Ponders*

    I like beer. I often find sentience to be quite a burden, and so I sometimes drink beer with cheerful abandon to lighten that load by making myself a bit more stupid. Then, the weight of the world isn’t so burdensome, and the idiocies of the many don’t make me want to scream so badly.

    However, when I’ve been drinking beer, I don’t expect anyone to pay any attention to me. I won’t be rational, and I won’t make much sense, and I know it. If I’ve taken the temporary solution to Doctorow’s Quandary (“Would you rather be smart or happy?”), then I know I’m not in complete command of my faculties and anything I say should be treated as entertainment, not fact.

    The difference between this behaviour and, random example, religious behaviour is that when I’m indulging myself in my reason-deadening process, I don’t expect to be treated as though I were fully rational. That kind of applies across the board, really.

  56. @Josh

    I agree for the most part about abstinence, sex ed, birth control, etc. For many praticing Christians using birth control is a religious no-no. However, this should be a moot point when it comes to politics. Christians who can’t use birth control due to religious views shouldn’t be having premarital sex in the first place. If they are going to sin, they might as well sin responsibly. Likewise, the people that aren’t restricted on either front by personal beliefs should have the appropriate materials available to them.

  57. Trey 50: No, being an Evangelical Christian doesn’t make you stupid. Only being stupid and believing stupid things can do that.

    For me, the word marriage is already taken, it means the joining of a man and a woman. I completely support legal rights for same sex unions, but marriage is something different.

    This is a stupid thing for you to believe. That doesn’t make you stupid, necessarily, but if too many of your beliefs are of this quality, the stupidity will seep out of the beliefs and onto you, finally becoming a sign and a witness on your forehead, on your arm, and on your doorpost. It’s not even intrinsically stupid to believe the above; it’s stupid for YOU because you’ve been here and read all the reasons why separate can never be equal, why the word itself is a source of discrimination, and how foolish it is to believe that marriage “has always been” much of anything. I’m not going to rehash those now; in a nutshell, it’s stupid for you to believe this because you ought to know better by now.

    (It’s not stupid, either, to understand and believe all these arguments, but to still hold that homosexuals just should be denied the benefits, legal and social and relationship-dynamic, of marriage because of the arbitrary rules of a religion that you feel should be privileged above all others (that is, become “an establishment of religion”) in America. A person who believed that would be evil and unAmerican, but not stupid.)

    Now, the fact that you say those beliefs come from your Evangelical Christianity may mean, to you, that they aren’t subject to the arguments presented here. To be fair, you haven’t said so, but there are many who would. There is a kind of stupidity that has nothing to do with lack of native intelligence; it’s a process of rejecting new information when it might modify your beliefs, of ignoring data that doesn’t fit your model of the world, and of acting as if something simply has not been said, or evidence not presented, if there’s no way to interpret it in favor of your worldview.

    That kind of stupidity is a continual choice that the person must make each time dissonant information comes into hir awareness. In that case, the person is stupid in the same sense that someone is a Republican (or a Democrat), or, say, a vegetarian (like me). It may be difficult to change, but it’s always possible, because you could stop doing it and do something else instead.

    When such a person clearly does NOT lack native intelligence (whatever that is, which is another whole can of worms), they’re much more responsible for stupid behavior, because they have much less excuse. So I will say to you, which I wouldn’t say at all if I thought you were intrinsically or habitually stupid:

    Stop being stupid about same-sex marriage. You’re better than this. Stop choosing to be stupid on this topic.

    You will note that I’m not making comments about abortion. In that case, one could make the argument that another human life is at stake, and though I disagree I don’t think people who think so are stupid or being stupid.

    Patrick 61: I think that gay couples should be entitled to the same rights as all straight married couples in terms of taxation, health care, etc. I think that the term marriage is overly religious and people are going to fight it every step of the way because of that. Why can’t we call the unions something else, give the homosexual community the rights the want (and are entitled to) and give the religious groups the rights to the term “marriage”?

    Because that won’t work. I’m not sure how much you’ve been here, so unlike Trey’s case I won’t call that a stupid thing for you to believe, but the only way that would result in equal rights for the gay community is if the government stopped issuing anything called a “marriage license” to anyone, regardless of the polarity or symmetry of the couple involved; if all laws at the national, state, and local level were amended to say “union” (or whatever the new name is) wherever they now say “marriage” (and “married” and so on, and what about words like ‘spouse’ and ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ et cetera ad bugfuckiam); and if new laws were enacted on all those levels barring any benefits being accorded anyone based on being “married” as opposed to “unioned,” including rules for all public accommodations.

    That is not going to happen. Ever. The word ‘marriage’ is deeply ingrained in law, in custom, and in virtually every social institution we have. There’s no way to give us the rights we’re entitled to as citizens (and residents!) without having the word. Period. Therefore to oppose our having the word is to oppose us having the rights, and opposing my having the rights you (generic) take for granted makes you (generic) my enemy.

  58. @ Patrick, 61

    I think that gay couples should be entitled to the same rights as all straight married couples in terms of taxation, health care, etc. I think that the term marriage is overly religious and people are going to fight it every step of the way because of that. Why can’t we call the unions something else, give the homosexual community the rights the want (and are entitled too) and give the religious groups the rights to the term “marriage”

    One of the problems with this that came to my mind while reading this is that this solution denies that there are those of the LGBT community who are religious, and who take comfort from their church, in spite of some churches position on the matter. There have always been gay people, they are now not hiding anymore and claiming equal rights. Treating them as a bloc is exactly like equating evangelicals as ‘stupid’, or Republicans as ‘losers’.

  59. “Skar – don’t you find it bothersome that the poll was completely one-sided?”

    Huh? The only point I was making was that although people were labeling Republicans as “idiot christians” (@5) there were plenty of idiots voting for The Obama as well. John went out of his way to point out that he did not think individual Republicans were all stupid but given the rest of the comments I felt that shining a little light under the rocks on the other side was in order too.

    The poll measured exactly what it claimed to and was not a “push poll.” http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.cfm?ID=1642#Anchor-37902

  60. MarkHB 69.

    I would argue that faith is another continuum of thought, along with emotion and logic, rather than a form of impairment. The three are distinct, yet not fully independent.

    That being said, I’m in no way defending the behavior or policies of portions of the religious right.

  61. In referring to idiot Christians (distinct from intelligent ones) I was trying to identify one of the Republican party’s most notable banes.

    No single sect, faction or demographic has a corner on the market of stupidity. To be sure, most every group of people on this Earth can point to idiots in their midst. Stupidity does, however, adversely affect some groups more than others, especially when those idiots get a louder and louder voice.

  62. @ Jim, through basing one’s actions on a non-rational basis – that is, the dogma and teachings of what is utterly unprovable and untestable, one jetissons the tenets of reason and therefore lives one’s life by – effectively -irrational methods.

    I know when I’m putting myself in an irrational state. What worries me is that religious people seem not to, to a greater or lesser extent.

    Take, for example, the most dangerous of these: Mr. Bush believes that, as a Christian, his God will forgive him all his sins. Therefore, it doesn’t matter how badly he screws up, how many people he kills, how badly he bollixes the planet – as long as he’s genuinely sorry then his big invisible friend will forgive him his naughties, and it’ll be OK in the end.

    This is not the attitude to bring to leading the United States of America. Reason and Mercy, this is not the attitude to bring to owning a toothbrush!

  63. Regarding the word “marriage” being taken, or that any one group has the “right” to it —

    This is from Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. Chapter Seven, “Thanksgiving,” page 104, about the events of May 12, 1621:

    In accordance with “the laudable custom of the Low Countries,” Edward (Winslow) and Susanna (White) were married in a civil ceremony. (Pilgrim leader William) Bradford, who presided over the union, explained that “nowhere …[sic] in the Gospel” did it say a minister should be involved in a wedding. In the decades to come, marriages in Plymouth continued to be secular affairs, one of the few vestiges of their time in Holland to persist in New England.

    To those who believe this country was founded as a Christian nation (specious, I say), there’s your precedent in the matter at hand.

  64. As a social liberal, fiscal conservative, I have in the past been drawn to both parties, and when election day rolled around, I always had a tough choice to make. But now that the Republican party has gone insane and abandoned fiscal conservatism, my ballot is easy to fill out. I miss having two viable choices.

  65. Good post, John. I agree with your assessment of GOP leaders. I’ve been registered Republican for forty-one years myself. I put it that way because I have always voted for who I though best.
    I think the last time I voted Republican in a presidential election was ’88.
    The state of the party has gotten such that I am changing my affiliation to Independent. I can no longer think of the clowns leading the party as competent. They don’t represent the people any longer, just the corporations and the wealthy.

  66. “Take, for example, the most dangerous of these: Mr. Bush believes that, as a Christian, his God will forgive him all his sins. Therefore, it doesn’t matter how badly he screws up, how many people he kills, how badly he bollixes the planet – as long as he’s genuinely sorry then his big invisible friend will forgive him his naughties, and it’ll be OK in the end.
    This is not the attitude to bring to leading the United States of America. Reason and Mercy, this is not the attitude to bring to owning a toothbrush!”

    Unfortunately, I believe Mr. Obama has made some claim to being a Christian as well…http://www.barackobama.com/2006/06/28/call_to_renewal_keynote_address.php

  67. To be honest, I am largely unfamiliar with the gay marriage issue. I am operating under the impression that homosexuals are mainly concerned with having their unions recognized as official and the religious community is largely concerned with protecting marriage as a religious sacrament rather than marriage as a legal union.

    I think this is the distinction that has people confused. Less intelligent people think marriage –> church –> gay people getting married at my church –> !!!!!!!!

    Some people don’t want their church to start performing gay marriages and see these ammendments as was to prevent that.

    But I could be reading the whole situation wrong. I’m not that familiar with it other than John’s rantings (which I agree with) and the brief sound bites (which I ignore)

  68. And let’s try to keep the discussion rational and intelligent shall we?

    If you wanted intelligent and rational, you can’t say stuff like this:

    Would things be better if Gore or Kerry were president? Maybe, Maybe not. Any claim that things would be better or worse is conjecture at best.

    Yeah, right. That’s called the God of the Gaps argument. With no direct observable evidence available, you claim “Gee Wally, since Gore was never president, we can never know for sure”. And inside that microscopic gap of knowledge, you insert the myth that there is any real doubt to the answer.

    You can teach the controversy to someone else. I’m not buying it for a second.

  69. @Mark HB

    “Take, for example, the most dangerous of these: Mr. Bush believes that, as a Christian, his God will forgive him all his sins. Therefore, it doesn’t matter how badly he screws up, how many people he kills, how badly he bollixes the planet – as long as he’s genuinely sorry then his big invisible friend will forgive him his naughties, and it’ll be OK in the end.
    This is not the attitude to bring to leading the United States of America. Reason and Mercy, this is not the attitude to bring to owning a toothbrush!”

    You do realize that you can say the same thing about athestic or agnostic followers and that as such your point is meaningless?

    President Dawkings believes that, as an atheist, there is no afterlife which judges what you do on this planet. Therefore, it doesn’t matter how badly he screws up, how many people he kills, how badly he bollixes the planet – because when he dies he will become worm food, and it’ll be OK in the end.

    If you said that the Bush was pushing Christian values on everyone that would be an issue. But as stated your argument is worthless.

  70. “Stupidity does, however, adversely affect some groups more than others, especially when those idiots get a louder and louder voice.”

    Yes, but I’ve heard plenty of people say similar things in reference to liberalism. The nuts, extremists, and dangerous people are the ones with whom any given person disagrees the most.

    I know some astoundingly intelligent, well-educated people who have come to the conclusion that religion is unfounded. I also know some astoundingly intelligent, well-educated people who have come to the conclusion that God is real and knowable. I don’t think intelligence/education or the lack thereof can be the final arbiter of the question.

  71. Patrick @ 83:

    No, that’s not even slightly the same. If you say “this is my one life, and everything I do is everything I own” then you have to perforce take responsibility for the consequences of your actions, not be able to fob it off on absolution or saying that your invisible friend told you to do it. That personal responsibility tends to evoke a more thoughtful approach to matters.

    And if Bush wasn’t pushing Christian values, then the first bronchial transplant genegineered from a donor’s stem cells would have happenned in America, not Spain.

    To quote the Pope, speaking to American voters: “Obedience to the Doctrine of the Church is the foundation of your faith”. Not to the Constitution, not to the Bill of Rights, not to one’s own conscience, not to one’s fellow man – obedience to the Church first, everything else in obeisance.

    That’s fine for your everyday lay-person, but for the boss of the country, it’s utterly unacceptable. Frankly, getting an agnostic into office would thrill me far more than getting a black guy in. Then again, I’m still somewhat nauseated that it’s a big deal that a black guy got it. What the hell is the problem with that, anyway? Sheesh.

  72. @ Greg

    We get it. You hate President Bush. Congratulations.

    And the God of the Gaps argument doesn’t apply. That’s referring to any argument where you reason a mystical power is behind something you don’t understand. For example, reasoning that the Big Bang had to come from God would fall under this argument.

    I am not arguing that Bush is better or worse. All I’m saying is that there is no way to know. If you want to invent a way of seeing all possible futures based on one point of time and point it at the 2000 election and all of the come back and say Gore beats Bush then I will concede the point.

    So if you can explain to me what the God is and what the gap is, then I’ll let you have your intelligent and rational card back. Don’t go throwing around argument titles, just to sound smarter.

  73. If you said that the Bush was pushing Christian values on everyone that would be an issue. But as stated your argument is worthless.

    Understanding someone’s personal motivation is useful and can be a valid predictor of future behaviour. If someone believes they are doing God’s will, are answering God’s call, and God is never immoral or wrong, then that individual can do some pretty drastic things. Holy wars, jihads, you name it.

    Saying “Bush believes his god will forgive him” isn’t he same as “Atheist Xyz believes there is no afterlife” because “no afterlife” doesn’t automatically translate to “I don’t care about anything that happens after I”m dead”.

    Bush truly believes he is doing God’s work, that God will forgive him all his mistakes,and probably that God won’t let him make any mistakes too big because Bush believes in the End Times. Can’t have a nuclear war and wipe out all life on the planet before the End Times or God will be wrong.

    That is an indicator of his motivation.

    Dawkins not believing in the afterlife doesnt automatically indicate that his motivation is “I don’t care what happens after I die”. You added that part.

    Bush’s motivation has been publc knowledge for years now. Mark didn’t just make it up. Therefore Bush’s motivation is a valid premise for an argument.

  74. @ Mark in 86

    “No, that’s not even slightly the same. If you say “this is my one life, and everything I do is everything I own” then you have to perforce take responsibility for the consequences of your actions, not be able to fob it off on absolution or saying that your invisible friend told you to do it. That personal responsibility tends to evoke a more thoughtful approach to matters.”

    The way you worded your argument it is the same. (anyone else care to weigh in?) I understand what you were trying to say about Bush letting his faith make the decisions for a country of mixed beliefs.

    Your attempt to recover is to put a certain style of agnostic belief into practice in which you have a responsibility (to what?) to take the consequences for your actions. You can do that with Christianity The popular Christian belief is that you should live according to the testament of Jesus Christ who preaches love and understanding and responsibility (not saying everyone following this). I don’t know too many Christian churches that say “Do whatever the $*&# you want because God will forgive you anyways. ”

    But as I said in my original post if you had mentioned Bush pushing Christian values rather than saying Bush was commiting sins because he believes in forgiveness then you would be correct. I openly acknowledge that Bush is pushing Christian values on the American public. BUT, you didn’t mention that in your OP you just said that he doesn’t care who he kills because he will be forgiven. An atheist could not care who he kills because there is ultimately no higher power to create objective morality.

  75. if you can explain to me what the God is and what the gap is

    God of the Gaps is an argument from ignorance: We don’t know “blah”, so I can say “yadda” is true. Or: “blah” would disprove “yadda”, but since “blah” isn’t proven to be true, “yadda” must be true.

    In your case,

    “God” is your notion that Bush is better than Gore and Kerry.

    The “gap” is you saying “since Gore wasn’t president, we can’t know”.

    Anyone who thinks Gore would have a 25% approval rating right now had he won 2000 and remained president to this point is smokin crack.

    But you argue that since Gore was not elected, that we can never know with certainty (your gap), therefore you can hold on to some delusion that Bush (your god) is realistically better than Gore.

  76. I’ve been picking on religion, because it’s easy to whale on. It’s fear-based, and blatantly obviously nonrational given thirty second’s thought.

    That’s not the only stupidity that the Republican Party jumped on during this excrable election cycle. It’s really not. It played on race, it played on fear, it played on every lowest-common-denomenator key in the octave of sentience. It was rum, truly rum.

    Ignorance, and lacking the habits of rational thought, are the greatest dangers to America today. Not terrorists (sorry, terrists), not The Midleast, not even China – everything China’s getting that America doesn’t have is something that America gave away with both hands. They’re teaching their kids hard science and math and they’re building spaceships.

    You cannot battle that with faith, or a faith-based system. You can only beat science with science.

    Or with a holy war where you slaughter millions of people, and set light to the fucking planet. So frankly, I’d rather we base it on superb education and having the freedom to have really cool ideas that you then have the math to back up. Because that’s how I roll.

  77. An atheist could not care who he kills because there is ultimately no higher power to create objective morality.

    I think you just lost the “intelligent and rational card”.

    longer: don’t be a stickler for other people’s exact wordings when you throw out little gems like that one.

  78. Saying “Bush believes his god will forgive him” isn’t he same as “Atheist Xyz believes there is no afterlife” because “no afterlife” doesn’t automatically translate to “I don’t care about anything that happens after I”m dead”.

    It is the same. Both are operating from the same flawed premise which is placing generalizations on the actions of human beings based on sometype of caricature based on their beliefs. I am not saying that all atheists don’t care about what happens after they are dead. I was making a point. You take the same exception with my statement as I take with yours.

    If every Christian went around doing whatever the heck they wanted because God will forgive them then this would be not a nice place to live. Fortunately, this is not how the majority of Christians behave.

    I am also not saying that Bush doesn’t let religion influence his decisions. I was speaking solely about MarkHB’s point in 76 which was that believing in a forgiving God influences your morality to the point that you feel no responsiblity for your actions.

  79. Patrick – I am operating under the impression that homosexuals are mainly concerned with having their unions recognized as official and the religious community is largely concerned with protecting marriage as a religious sacrament rather than marriage as a legal union.

    The religious communities involved in opposing same sex marriage have almost all (90% or more) been opposed to legal recognition of same sex marriages that has absolutely no impact on church function. Many (most? I should research this) of the state amendments against same sex marriage have prohibited civil unions as well.

    It’s like the anti abortion crowd also trying to limit access to birth control and education about safer sex.

    It’s quite probable you’ve been lied to about it. Churches involved in suppressing same sex marriage lie about the intent of same sex marriage advocates, and the potential effects of same sex marriage. Almost all of the anti same sex marriage advocacy contains lies of one form or another (coincidentally violating the commandment against false witness, especially in courts) and is passed on as the “word of god”.

    I think this is the distinction that has people confused. Less intelligent people think marriage –> church –> gay people getting married at my church –> !!!!!!!!

    This is because the churches have been deliberately lying to them. That idea didn’t spring from out of nowhere. It’s been propagated by conservative religious groups.

    Some people don’t want their church to start performing gay marriages and see these ammendments as was to prevent that.

    But I could be reading the whole situation wrong. I’m not that familiar with it other than John’s rantings (which I agree with) and the brief sound bites (which I ignore)

    You’ve got it partially right – you left out the part about church leaders lying to whoever they can about it.

    Trey @ # 50 – Without looking at a list, describe a number of the rights that separate this “marriage” thing from “civil unions”. Can’t? Then you don’t know the difference.

    Professional lawyers I know of who help set up trusts and wills for same sex couples in states run by bigots that ban civil unions can’t name all of the federal and state rights granted by marriage.

    Which rights go to married people, and which rights go to civil unions?

  80. me: Saying “Bush believes his god will forgive him” isn’t he same as “Atheist Xyz believes there is no afterlife”

    patrick@93: It is the same. Both are operating from the same flawed premise which is placing generalizations on the actions of human beings based on sometype of caricature based on their beliefs.

    Uh, no. Bush’s beliefs have been public knowledge for some time now. Mark didn’t make that part up. Bush believes he is answering God’s call. Bush has stated that he has God tell him what to do. These are not caricatures. They’re straight from Bush’s mouth. So, they’re valid premises for an argument about Bush’s behaviour.

    You on the other hand made up a belief about Dawkins that he is an atheist therefore he doesn’t care about what happens after he’s dead.

    Dawkins is an atheist=>valid premise.

    Therefore doesn’t care what happens after he’s dead => invalid logic.

  81. @ Greg

    Don’t put words in my mouth (or post). I said “Maybe. Maybe Not.”

    Most likely, Gore or Kerry would have done a better job. That’s a perfectly reasonable conjecture to make. Bush has helped to erode our national reputation, started a war, and our economy is in the toilet. Bush’s approval rating is about as low as it gets without punching babies.

    What I said is that as probable as that is, you can’t know that for sure.

    You are arguing certainty from a hypothetical situation, I am not. If anything you are arguing God from the gaps, not me.

    @ Greg in 92

    I said “could” under the pretense of throwing out irrational characterizations of groups based on false stereotypes. I did not say “All atheists are immoral beings because they do not believe in God and God is the only reason for morality”

    I’m just playing off the stereotype in comment 86. You can make up the same stereotypes about any large group. The idea that a forgiving god excuses personal responsibility is as same as the argument that the lack of a higher power excuses personal responsiblity.

  82. Patrick @89, if I listed every horrible thing done in the name of religion, and tabulated it in such a way as to counter your lovingly worded little post – are you a lawyer? – then I’d have to wear out several keyboards before hitting “Submit Comment”.

    I’m not attempting to recover a darn thing, my dear sir. I don’t have to. After all, I can just ask a rational person to look over my shoulder and say “Am I doing this right?” I don’t need a priest or a god to be my moral compass.

    Anyway. Time to answer Doctorow’s Quandary. G’night.

  83. There are two things that bother me about the whole über right-wing are as follows:

    • There is a big difference between a rational argument and a rationalized argument. This distinction seems to elude many on the right and understanding of this reality gets harder to identify the further you crawl out the right side of that tree.

    • Principle may or may not be rational. Much of what seems to stir this base are issues that at their roots nothing more than matters of principle rooted in culture or cultural heritage. I’ll rely on the following anecdote to illustrate. During the campaign Sarah Palin and other made comments to the Republican base that she was glad to be in “real” America with “real” Americans. The implications of these statements are obvious; however, the underlying principle is elusive. Essentially this is a Nationalistic sentiment. And as any German, Italian or Korean can attest Nationalism is not necessarily rational. It’s the “we’re-the-best-because-we-say-we-are” attitude which ignores consequence in pursuit of a principled or even moral goal. Logic cannot enter this line of reasoning because it denies what everyone implicitly knows about being American.

    Ultimately, while thinking of this variety doesn’t qualify any individual as “stupid” it is a form of mass foolishness that leads to a ridiculous and sometimes reality. Ask yourself this question, when a poor and uneducated person in a “belt” region of this country votes for a Republican who has consistently exported that individual’s future and potential to the lowest bidder elsewhere in the world, what are they really voting for?

  84. Patrick: “(anyone else care to weigh in?)”

    Sorry man, the prevailing belief by those who are arguing with you is, as far as I can glean from their posts, that Christians/Religious people are ignorant, incapable of rational thought, and more bloodthirsty than, say, Stalin or maybe Pol Pot.

    You can’t fight that kind of bigotry, you just have to ignore it and vote against it.

  85. Dawkins is an atheist=>valid premise.

    Therefore doesn’t care what happens after he’s dead => invalid logic.

    Bush is a Christian => valid premise.

    Therefore doesn’t care what he does because God will ultimately forgive him => invalid logic.

    That’s why I put the atheist thing in 86. Atheistic people can be just as good as bad as anyone else. I just said that because your ire demonstrates how off base that kind of reasoning is.

    You obviously hate Bush. I’m not a huge supporter of his and I don’t like many of the things that he has done. However, I have never seen him go on national TV and say that he is going to bring about the end times because God told him to. If he does that then you’ve got something but until then you are using your views of Bush to support twisted logic.

  86. Aw hell no, Skar! I’m not saying you’re incapable of rational thought. I’m assuming it’s a choice.

  87. @ Skar in 99

    Wait a second. You aren’t anyone else. You made the original argument. Sorry MarkHB I originally attributed it to you.

    My argument boils down to the following statements being faulty.

    Dawkins is an atheist=>valid premise.

    Therefore doesn’t care what happens after he’s dead => invalid logic.

    Bush is a Christian => valid premise.

    Therefore doesn’t care what he does because God will ultimately forgive him => invalid logic.

  88. And MarkHB and Skar, I’m trying to have a rational arguement with you.

    Greg on the other hand seems to be a little angry. I think Bush might have his stem cells.

  89. Patrick@93: Don’t put words in my mouth … What I said is that as probable as that is, you can’t know that for sure.

    Dude, you just put words in your own mouth. If you read your original post, you never say anything about it being “probable” that Gore would have been better than Bush. You said only that we can never know.

    Now you’re telling me that from the beginning, you’ve been saying Gore was probably better than Bush? I seriously cannot find it anywhere in our interactions. Maybe in some other post to someone else?

    I did not say “All atheists are immoral beings because they do not believe in God and God is the only reason for morality” I’m just playing off the stereotype in comment 86.

    But Bush’s beliefs and actions aren’t stereotypes. We know his beliefs because he’s made them public. And we know his actions because some of us read the news.

    You’re comment about Dawkins was a complete fabrication about his beliefs.

    You can argue whether or not Mark made a logical error, but he started with a valid premise about Bush’s beliefs and his actions.

    You started with a false premise and went downhill from there.

  90. I haven’t brought Dawkins up in this discussion. Dawkins is a human, and fallible – just like me. It’s people who insist their team can do no wrong because of divine infallibility which makes the big vein in my forehead swell up.

  91. I’m a socially liberal, fiscally conservative, national-defense focused confused and dissapointed mostly-republican, but I voted for Obama this time.

    I voted for McCain in 2000, in the primary, and I think we’d have been much better off post 9/11 with him as president. I disagree with those who think Al Gore would have done well – he is a decent guy, I think, but not good on national security, and Clinton’s administration wasn’t good on it either.

  92. The premise that Bush kills whoever he wants in the belief that God will forgive him, because he’s Christian, is crap.

    Bush may believe that, (I personally don’t think so) but it doesn’t follow directly from his being Christian.

  93. @Mark in 97

    I am by no means saying that people who are religious are perfect or better than atheistic people at all.

    Tons of horrible things have and will be done in the name of religion.

    Please understand that I don’t condone Bushes actions. Or hate atheists or believe them to be evil in any way.
    He has done some very questionable, very unconstitutional, and evil things (or at least let them happen, I don’t think Bush is personally waterboarding anyone)

    The only point I was trying to make is that Bush being a Christian while influencing his agenda DOES NOT mean he doesn’t care about killing people or commiting sins. Maybe he does actually believe this. However, arguing this line of logic implies something about the Christian faith that is untrue.

  94. My religion holds that marriage is a legal contract of no particular interest to the divine, but I’m not rude enough to go around insisting that everyone else agree with me.

    I wish the anti-marriage-equality Christians had the same respect and consideration for my faith that I’m willing to grant theirs.

  95. @Skar in 109

    That’s all I was trying to say.

    @Greg in 106

    I said Maybe. Maybe Not. You assumed that I meant Bush would have better than Gore. All I meant is that there is no way to know.

    And you must be watching a different news station than I am. Because while Bush has certaintly brought his faith up in speeches and interviews, I’ve never seen or heard him saying anything about doing whatever he wants because God will forgive him. I’m pretty sure the left would bring that up.

    @Mark in 107

    I brought up Dawkins solely to make the point I more clearly laid out in 100. I obviously wasn’t clear enough because everyone now thinks I hate atheists or think Christians can do no wrong or something of the sort.

  96. First, Skar I apologize for my cheap shot.

    Second,Patrick I read you. But I say that the principle of Divine Forgiveness is too big a safety net in the Big Chair for my comfort.

    Also, the Pope taking a voice in a Democratic election in a different country… Wrong. Just wrong.

  97. Patrick@103, uh, wait, that’s your argument in total?

    You’re not even responding to Mark’s original point then.

    He was talking about acting from a rational basis rather than dogmas that are unprovable, untestable, etc.

    Bush was an example of that.

    Bush’s belief about the afterlife and doing God’s will and all that was an example of the irrational basis for action.

    You then latched onto the “afterlife” part and ignored the “rational” part, and then tried to say since Dawkins doesn’t believe in an afterlife, blah blah blah.

    Except Dawkins is a hell of a lot more rational than Bush.

    Oh, wait, I can’t prove that 100%, so you’ll say we can’t use that bit of information.

    Whatever. The point is rational versus irrational decision making. Bush has an entire, publicly known, mythology around his decision making. He says god tells him what to do and that he’s doing gods will and what not.

    That is not “rational” by any stretch of the imagination.

    Whether some atheist or agnostic has some belief about the afterlife or the lack thereof doesn’t mean they use irrational mythology to make life and death decisions for themselves and others. You just argued that since everyone has some belief about what happens after we die (afterlife or no afterlife) that they are equally irrational.

    What you did was a false equivalence, saying that the “beliefs” of Bush and Dawkins are both beliefs, so they both the same.

    If someone says they hear voices, that isn’t rational. If someone says god tells them what to do, that isn’t rational.

    If someone who hears voices in their head takes actions based off those voices, that is decidedly NOT the same as someone who is an agnostic and tries to build a rational understanding of the world and make decisions based off of that system.

    The question is whether a person is basing their actions off of some rational understanding of the world or not. And in Bush’s case, we know he’s launched two wars while he thinks he’s doing gods will.

  98. Back on the whole gay marriage line of thought. I’m just thinking its based on the multiple uses of the word marriage which has people confused. This may be (probably is) aggravated by the extreme right.

    It’s gay marriage (legal) vs. gay matrimony (religion).

    The arguement about gay matrimony has nothing to do with rights and has to do with religious beliefs. Government should do nothing within this realm.

    Gay marriage (legal) and all the rights that go along with the marriage license should be allowed. The two arguments against this that I’ve heard are

    1. Gateway marriages: Soon we will be marrying cats and toasters and bacon.

    2. Invalidates heterosexual marriage (legal).

    Point 1 is stupid as long as the legal restrictions continue to be two people. No animals, no multiple partners (as the financial benefits, etc. would get too complicated)

    Point 2 is stupid. You can have sham heterosexual marriages for money or green cards or tax shelters or whatever. These do as much if not more damage to marriage as anything else.

    However, if you are going to have gay marriages then two people of the same sex who are not homosexual should also be able to get a gay marriage (legal) as well. If you can have sham marriages you can and will have sham gay marriages.

  99. @Mark in 113

    Sorry for the confusion.

    I will agree that the Pope getting involved does create a spicy situation.

    Unfortunately, the Pope is under no legal obligation to not do this AND we as Americans can use any mean we choose to pick who we vote for.

  100. patrick@112: You assumed that I meant Bush would have better than Gore. All I meant is that there is no way to know.

    I didn’t assume anything. I’m specifically responding to your post at 96:

    patrick@96: What I said is that as probable as that is, you can’t know that for sure.

    Just tell me where in this thread prior to #96 where you said it was “probable” that Gore would have been better than Bush.

    That’s all I want to know.

    “Will it rain tomorrow? maybe. maybe not” is not the same as saying “It will probably rain tomorrow”.

    As far as I can tell, you’re retconning your story.

  101. Well, that’s why I’ve not married my partner of the last 13 years. My love for her’s between she and me, nothing to do with gh0d or State. Don’t see either having any damn business in my bedroom.

  102. @ Greg

    I’m not retconning my story. Tell me where I said that Bush would be better than Gore. Or Kerry.

    Maybe I misplaced my commas. Probablilty or no, what I said is “Maybe. Maybe Not” which doesn’t mean one way or the other. If you asked me if I think our economy would be better if we had someone else as president I would say yes. If we would be further along in green initiatives I would say yes. Would national security be better? Maybe, it’s hard to say. Would our national reputation be better, most likely.

    You ASSumed that I made a statment one way or the other. I did not. Unlike most everyone in this comment thread you are the only one who is unwilling to understand other people’s point of view.

  103. Re 116

    It does highlight the danger of religion and government, though. Regardless of legality, the Pope saw no moral qualm with influencing millions of voters in a foreign democracy.

    Again, the Invisible Friend can do no worng, and those who hear His voice are His agents. Whether it’s right or wrong.

  104. Actually, Jerry Pournelle has repeatedly said something to the effect “Alas, I belong to the stupid party.” whenever the Republican leadership (who he dispairs of as Country Club Republicans) did something particularly breathtakingly inept.

  105. patrick@119: Tell me where I said that Bush would be better than Gore

    Dude, I can’t be any more direct. At post 96 you said this:

    @96: Most likely, Gore or Kerry would have done a better job. That’s a perfectly reasonable conjecture to make. Bush has helped to erode our national reputation, started a war, and our economy is in the toilet. Bush’s approval rating is about as low as it gets without punching babies. What I said is that as probable as that is, you can’t know that for sure.

    And I’m asking you to show me where in this thread before 96 that you said it was “probable” that Gore was better than Bush.

    You accuse me of putting words in your mouth at 96 as if I’m misrepresenting your position, and you tell me you’ve been saying all along that Gore probably would have been better than Bush. And I’m just asking you, where did you say that before 96?

  106. Patrick@119: Tell me where I said that Bush would be better than Gore. Or Kerry.

    you@15: My vote for Bush was not a vote for Bush but a vote against Gore and against Kerry.

    I assume voting for Bush in 2000 and 2004 meant that you thought Bush was better. Did I simply ASSume that?

  107. Patrick @ 116 – Back on the whole gay marriage line of thought. I’m just thinking its based on the multiple uses of the word marriage which has people confused. .

    You might want to look into who’s intentionally creating that confusion. It’s right wing religious groups. As I said, they’re provably lying.

  108. *hands popcorn to waltzinexile @ 127*

    About 50 years ago, I think Obama would have made a fine Republican. Back when, you know, being a Republican actually meant fiscal conservatism rather than torture, wire-tapping, big government, stupid wars, etc.

  109. @ Josh

    Oh, I don’t doubt the confusion is on purpose. For all of the “unintelligent” evangelicals that believe in [insert ridiculous statement here] there are also very smart, very manipulative right wing extremists that are very good at what they do.

  110. Patrick, I’ll save you the trouble of looking up at least one of the things various churches are lying about concerning gay marriage. The anti-gay marriage crowd has repeatedly claimed the government will force their clergy to marry same-sex couples even if it goes against their faith. The government won’t because the government CAN’T. Even now, churches can and do deny their services to people who want to hire them for their wedding. Some churches want the couple to be part of the congregation. Others just want them to part of their sect. Some don’t want to marry mixed-faith couples. Some don’t want to marry couples that are currently living together or even those that have just had sex before marriage. And the government’s attitude on all of those? “Fine, church – it’s your business. The couple will just have to get married someone else.”

    Who does the government force to perform marriages despite any moral problems they may with the match? Judges who legally recognize a marriage contract as a routine part of court business. Because the government is paying the judge paycheck, and he doesn’t like the job, then he can quit.

    The flip side is that churches can and do perform marriages that the state doesn’t recognize as valid. There are polygamous religious sects active in the country, and there are churches that will happily marry gay couples already. And the government’s attitude toward these folks? “The ceremony didn’t break any laws. So as long as no actually laws were broken here, then we don’t care. Just don’t try to claim them on your tax form. Oh, and don’t expect the judges on my payroll to give it any legal weight.”

    So, why I am not willing to give any ground on having the government recognize a gay union as anything other marriage? Because that’s my sister and her wife we’re talking about, and anyone who doesn’t think they’re a married couple is simply wrong. I’m more than willing to fight for them, which is a much more worthy cause than anyone wanting deny them their rights has.

  111. My only point is that it seems like there is an awful lot of posturing over the word “Marriage”

    Everyone wants to define it their own way.

    I realize gay couples want to get married.

    Religious groups don’t want their marriages to be associated with “sinful behavior”

    I just think that the gay community could gain a lot if they would be willing to compromise on the term marriage. I understand why they don’t want to though. The word “marriage” is loaded with meaning.

    But ultimately it is just a word.

  112. Patrick,
    No word is “just a word.” And in this case, that is especially true, or the yes on 8 team wouldn’t need or want “the gay community” to give up on it (nice try), they could just cede THEIR right to it. Sure it would be nice if those of us who are against Prop 8 would just quietly go away and compromise…but we’re not going to and we don’t have to. And as for “religious groups [who] don’t want their marriages to be associated with ‘sinful behavior,'” I have this to say: this heteronormative married woman in the Indiana isn’t terribly sure she wants HER marriage associated with such bigotry. Nobody OWNS the word; the church co-opted it. But any word present in US legal and tax codes, with attendant benefits, belongs to EVERYONE. So we’re just coming to take it back.

  113. Religions do not own the word “marriage.” Not to mention the fact, that a number of religions do marry gays. Why don’t the bigoted religionists come up with another word to describe their religious marriage-like institution? Then they can then exclude gays from their word to their heart’s content.

  114. “Marriage” is just a word the same way “Love” is just a word.

    Effectively, religion needs to go where it’s elected, and have power over the who elected it. And get the hell out of everyone else’s lives.

    Again, though, the religious aspect is just a facet (albeit a smegging massive one) of the current Republican system of doctrinaire, unthinking leader-following.

    Don’t get me wrong, the Democrats are guilty of that as well, just to a somewhat lesser extent. It’s just way more obvious that the Republican platoform is emphasising unthinking compliance and drinking the Kool-Aid at this point in history. I realise that Hope and Change flavour Kool-Aid is still Kool-Aid, but at least it’s one which seems to be least opposed to science, technology and all those other things that humans are really good at, which improve loads of lives.

  115. Patrick @116: that’s why it’s properly “same-sex marriage,” not “gay marriage”. It’s not a sham marriage if two bisexual men marry, is it?

    By the way, in the law – and we’re talking about the legality of marriage – words have meaning. Calling something a marriage rather than a union means something.

    I’ve been picking on religion, because it’s easy to whale on. It’s fear-based

    Would you kindly not fall for the paleo-right propaganda that only fundamentalist Christianity is “religion”, whereas everybody else is an unbeliever of various stripes of delusion? There is an awful lot of belief of various sorts stuffed under the label “religion,” and I promise, not all of it overlaps with those people you can get to be angry at you about Richard Dawkins’s latest.

  116. Sorry, sorry. *Most* religions are *largely* fear-based.

    I’m standing by them being easy indicators of nonrational thought-processes, though.

  117. I want to modulate that last remark. It’s *an* indicator of nonrational thought processes to be big into religion. There are plenty of agnostics and atheists who manage to be utterly irrational in their own special ways.

  118. Couple of points here:

    Being religious is not the same as being a religious extremist, and the majority of Republicans are not religious extremists. However, some certainly are extremists and their beliefs have been ending up on the political agenda with depressing frequency.

    I don’t believe these people are necessarily stupid either, though I do believe they are anti-intellectual and anti-rational. At base this is a defense mechanism. Their beliefs are being attacked through intellectual methods, empiricism, evidence and rational thought. Rather than re-examine their beliefs, some people choose to dismiss the evidence and declare the conclusions irrelevant. Not all religious people do this, but some do and they are more common among the extreme religious right than the rest of society.

    This is not a mindset I want to see in anyone running for or holding high office. It’s not simply that they’re religious, that’s irrelevant to the question. I don’t want to hand the keys to the ship of state to a person who does not believe in making decisions based on the evidence and situation before them just because they don’t like what the evidence is saying. I want someone who can make the tough decisions even when they don’t like what the evidence says.

    As to the gay marriage thing: my take is simple. The state provides for ‘civil marriage’ and that should be what provides all legal rights. The church provides for ‘religious marriage’ or ‘holy matrimony’ and that’s up to the church.

    Since ‘separate but equal’ has been repeatedly demonstrated to be a crock of shit, we need to use the same word for all civil unions, regardless of the sex of the participants. So the civil authorities keep the word marriage. Call it a ‘civil marriage’ if you want, but the word stays because it is the right word for the relationship regardless of the gender of those involved. Churches can call theirs marriage too, or they can call it something else if they want to distinguish it from what the state calls marriage.

  119. Patrick @ 131 – I just think that the gay community could gain a lot if they would be willing to compromise on the term marriage. I understand why they don’t want to though. The word “marriage” is loaded with meaning.

    Except that’s not true. You’re now reciting one of the other lies that anti same sex marriage groups are putting out – that the word it all that matters.

    In as many states as they could manage, santi same sex marriage groups attacked and destroyed all chance of equal civil unions. In the most heavily conservative states, they destroyed any chance of anyone getting any equal benefits. Even health insurance.

    This has been a systematic program of stopping any same sex couples from getting rights, and deleting them where they had the chance.

    There has not ever ONCE been a “civil union” that’s been equal in rights granted to marriage between heterosexuals, so it’s a sham statement to even say you’d be OK with “separate but equal”. What we’ve got is separate, unequal, and slowly eroding rights. Those rights are eroding because of the conservative Christian movement in the US.

    Also, what does your own church say about legal recognition for same sex marriage? Does it leave it up to you? is it OK with it? Is there no central opinion? I’m curious.

  120. Thanks for the comments everyone. You’re really helping me understand the views and the sticking points.

    I am also not against same-sex marriage. I am just trying to understand where exactly the conflict lies. I am exposed to mostly second and third hand comments about the topic. I was not aware that the fight was so much about the word marriage itself as it was the legal rights associated with it. I thought the demand for the word marriage was mostly on the religious side. I stand corrected.

    I apologize if my comments offended anyone. I wasn’t try to imply anything about the meaning of marriage, I was just supposing that if we called legal marriages “zoogolbies” since they were created and religious marriages “trabokops” since the first time one occurred would the conflict be the same? Or would it be easier to resolve?

  121. Patrick – not at all. You’ve been polite throughout. It’s good to re-enforce the fact that not all evangelical Christians would vote to hold back same sex marriages.

    , I was just supposing that if we called legal marriages “zoogolbies” since they were created and religious marriages “trabokops” since the first time one occurred would the conflict be the same? Or would it be easier to resolve?

    Well, as I mentioned before, this has been tried. Everywhere that conservative Christianity has held sway, they’ve acted in opposition to civil unions. Frequently, they’e removed rights form people in existing ones, just like they did with marriage in CA.

    Legal civil unions or “domestic partnerships” have never been equal to marriage in terms of rights granted, but despite that, conservative Christianity, including the evangelical movement has acted to destroy them where they can. There are no examples I’ve been able to find of those groups acting to help create more rights for same sex couples.

    So, based on that evidence, the answer would be to your question would be: “No. It would make no difference whatsoever.“.

  122. MarkHB @76

    I think you are oversimplifying things. Everyone I’ve ever met bases part of their actions on a non-rational basis – emotions, instincts, genetics among others. (There may be explanations for why these things exist, but that doesn’t make the associated behavior rational.)

    Many people (most, I hope), use rational thought to shape their behavior, particularly how they interact with society. There is nothing inherent in faith that precludes that – it might shape the premises from which they operate, but that is a different issue.

    There definitely exist people who use “being saved” as an excuse for any sort of action. From my point of view, the issue isn’t religion, but responsibility and accountability. I’m not a Republican, but I think one of the biggest failings of Bush (and some other Republicans) is refusal to accept responsibility & accountability. That is bad enough from any leader, but it smacks of hypocrisy coming from a party that is supposed to champion it.

  123. Patrick@142

    Part of the problem does arise from the fact that civil and religious marriage have been conflated through the use of the same word to refer to both. So if we had used different words for the two forms of union we would not have the same issues we have today, though we would have similar ones.

    However in your case above – the issue would depend on whether the word ‘zoogilby’ applied to both same and opposite-sex unions. In order to allow equality same-sex and opposite sex legal unions need to have the same name and the same attached rights.

    Anything else gets us into ‘separate but equal.’

    Centuries of historic usage mean that neither side is really able to give up the use of the word marriage. That means the only way to resolve the issue is to extend the meaning to include any two adults.

  124. One point of clarification. I am a Christian, not an evangelical Christian.

    And I’m asking hypothetically, not based on past occurrences.

    If you had a legal document that once was called a zoogolby license and it was issued regardless of legal ceremony or a religious ceremony (which were called trabokops) between two people of any sex.

    This zoogolby license was issued to everyone regardless of same sex/different sex, and this is what guaranteed/legalized all of the rights granted through the legal zoogolby. No separate but equal. One document regardless of pairing.

    The religious trabokops was something unregulated by the government and it was up to each individual church to decide who could trabokate within their walls. This would maintain the prerequisite separation of church and state. Certain trabokations would be recognized by the government and these people would be granted a zoogolby license.

    Ignoring the word marriage and the connotations associated with it, would this be a plausible solution? Is the word marriage itself and the meaning behind the most critical factor in this conflict?

  125. But ultimately it is just a word.

    That’s like saying “separate but equal” is just a phrase.

    I was just supposing that if we called legal marriages “zoogolbies” since they were created and religious marriages “trabokops” since the first time one occurred would the conflict be the same?

    Let’s say, as an exercise, that you get the law changed so that legally recognized unions are called “zoogolbies” and that every law in the nation is rewritten so that the word “marriage” appears no where on the books and is instead replaced wiht the word “zoogolbies”.

    Do you think that will make the people who think homosexuality is a hanging offense to change their minds? Do you think it will make these people stop trying to prevent gay people from having gay sex? Do you think it will make these people stop trying to prevent gay people from living together in “sin”?

    Bigots have hijacked the law in an attempt to enforce their religion on everyone else. If the law endorses gay marriage but calls it “zoogolbies”, do you think that these very same bigots will suddenly stop and say “Oh, OK”?

    You are proposing that if gays just give up calling it marriage, that a solution might be possible. But the problem isn’t language, the problem is a relentless group of religious zealots insisting on enforcing their religion on everyone.

    If you call it zooglebies, these same bigots will start campaigning to outlaw zooglebies, because their god told them that gays are immoral, their god told them that being gay is wrong

    Their point isn’t to deny gays the right to marriage or the right to zooglebedom. Their point is to deny gays the right to exist.

    You think a guy at a gay marriage protest holding a sign that says “God hates fags”* is simply looking to disagree on the definition of the word “marriage”?

    Or do you think he is trying to force gay people to hide among society? To push them to the back of the bus? To make them eat in the “gay” section of the diner? To deny them their existence? To do whatever it takes to enforce his God on the rest of the world?

    If you think the debate will end if we call it zooglebies, you are far more naive than I originally thought.

    (*) I have a real picture of a real guy at a real protest holding that very sign to remind me that these knuckleheads are nothing but bigots

  126. @Greg

    I’m really not sure why you have it out for me. But it’s obvious you do.

    I am aware that there are some irrational people that hate gays. However, there are irrational people that hate African Americans, Jews, and other people. The issue is whether or not these people are the majority. As evidenced by the California Prop 8 passing, one of two things are occurring. Either everyone is against gays have the rights guaranteed by a zoogolby (marriage license) which would be unconstitutional OR voters are confusing the zoogolby with the trabokop and they think that somehow they will end up watching same sex couples get married in Church on Sunday.

    As Josh pointed out earlier, the religious right extremists are actively trying to associate the two in people’s minds so people see gay rights as an attack on their religious beliefs. The legal ability for homosexuals to have the same rights as heterosexuals should be distinct from someone’s religious beliefs.

    So if it were possible to more clearly separate the issues in voter’s minds to eliminate the influence of the extreme religious right, it might be enough to change things.

  127. What gay people are fighting for is to have the right to the same thing under the same traditional name as straight people. Different names for civil and religious unions would only work if the names had been different from the beginning.

    Because people have been using the same name for both unions they are just going to have to suck it up, play nice, and learn to share.

    It’s either that or accept that some people are more equal than others.

  128. On a wholly-unrelated note:

    A well-educated person explains the current fiscal crises. The cause: The War on Christmas (and the secularization of the culture.

    It’s not really a matter of education and intelligence. Plent of intelligent and educated people are total whack-jobs (like the writer of the piece linked above). It’s a matter of being “reality-based.”

  129. @Dave

    I’m not saying we should rename anything, it’s very clear that the term marriage has enough symbollic importance that no one is willing to part with it. I’m saying that if the name gets taken out of the situation, it’s much easier to see IMO, what everyone wants. And if people understand what everyone is concerned with it is easier to come to a solution.

    There is no way we can get rid of the term marriage.

  130. Patrick: I’m really not sure why you have it out for me

    you@15: I voted for Bush because he was better than Gore or Kerry.

    me@44: Gore was WAAAAY better than Bush.

    you@61: Maybe. Maybe not. That’s conjecture and you can’t prove it.

    my@82: That’s an god of the gaps argument

    you@87: Who’s the god and where is the gap?

    me@90: “Bush better than Gore” is the god and “It’s just conjecture” is the gap

    you@96: I said Gore was probably better than Bush, but we can’t know for sure.

    me@106: you never said Gore was probably better than Bush.

    you@120: You ASSumed that I made a statment one way or the other. I did not. Tell me where I said that Bush would be better than Gore. Or Kerry.

    me@124: uh, in #15 when you said you voted for Bush instead of Gore or Kerry.

    you@148: I’m really not sure why you have it out for me.

    Jumping jehosifat.

    I don’t have it out for you other than I”m responding to the words you actually typed.

    You seem to be having a conversation based on some imaginary words you think you typed.

    You start with conjecture that Bush was better than Gore or Kerry. (I ASSume that’s why you voted that way, right? Because you thought one was better than the other?)

    When I say Gore was better, you dismiss it as conjecture.

    Say what? Then why did you get a free pass on “Bush better than Gore” conjecture, and then turn into the “conjecture hall monitor” when anyone else disagreed with you?

    You then play dumb with “what’s argument from ignornace”.

    You then try to say that you’ve been sayign all along that Gore would probably have been better than BUsh. You never said that all along. You were asserting the opposite up to that point, saying you voted for Bush instead of Gore, dismissing other opinions as conjecture.

    You then can’t even remember stating anywhere in this thread even a single time of sayign Bush was better than Gore. So I point out your very first post on this thread which said exactly that.

    And then rather than admit (1) you really did say Bush was better than Gore or (2) you had not in fact been sayign all along that Gore was better than Bush or (3) responding to anything I actually said based on anything you actually said, Instead of any of those options, you (4) complain that I “have it out for you”.

    Whatever dude.

    In post #83, you go after Mark by saying he isn’t making a valid logical argument. In #87, you attack “argument from ignorance” as sayign it doesn’t apply. You’ve been a stickler for logical accuracy to myself and other people here on this thread.

    Meanwhile you say you voted for Bush over Gore, then can remember ever saying Bush was better than Gore. You assert conjecture about Bush being better than Gore, then deride me saying Gore was better as nothing more than conjecture. And then at post 96, you suddenly try to tell me that you’ve been saying all along that Gore was better than Bush, when you actually said the exact opposite back at #15.

    If you’re going to be a stickler for logical accuracy, you might want to demonstrate some yourself.

  131. Was my comment up above simply tl;dr? I hope it didn’t chase Trey away completely; I was trying not to do that.

  132. (((((MarkHB)))))

    Seriously, people were saying things I said in that comment, and no one had mentioned it at all. Feeling like chopped liver a little there.

  133. It had great stuff in it too, like

    if too many of your beliefs are of this quality, the stupidity will seep out of the beliefs and onto you, finally becoming a sign and a witness on your forehead, on your arm, and on your doorpost.

    and

    et cetera ad bugfuckiam

    Sigh. Oh well.

  134. Can I get credit for having not entered this thread up until now?

    And no, I am not sure I have anything to add.

    Other than that I agree the Republican leadership is in a pickle of its own devising, and that significant housecleaning and restoration of rigorous economic guidelines is in order.

    The evangelical quotient is almost a whole separate issue. Would I be opposed to seeing the GOP shed the evangelicals? And run solely as a small government party?

    No.

    Would this be electoral suicide and demote the Republican Party to eternal 3rd party status?

    Yes.

  135. Xopher,
    I should have at least thanked you for expanding the lexicon chez Waltz. We immediately adopted (read: stole) “et cetera ad bigfuckiam” and have been using it here in Exile. So thanks.

  136. Xopher,

    With Republicans eternally demoted to 3rd party status, would you be comfortable with the Democrats taking over as a Single Party Dominator in U.S. federal politics?

    NOTE: not a loaded question, I am actually curious to know the answer, and why.

  137. Patrick – However, there are irrational people that hate African Americans, Jews, and other people. The issue is whether or not these people are the majority. As evidenced by the California Prop 8 passing, one of two things are occurring. Either everyone is against gays have the rights guaranteed by a zoogolby (marriage license) which would be unconstitutional OR voters are confusing the zoogolby with the trabokop and they think that somehow they will end up watching same sex couples get married in Church on Sunday.

    I’m sorry, but that’s a false analogy. There are no civil unions in the US that grant rights close to what you can get by full marriage. Groups opposed to same sex marriage are provably opposed to civil unions that aren’t even close.

    So if it were possible to more clearly separate the issues in voter’s minds to eliminate the influence of the extreme religious right, it might be enough to change things.

    That is provably not true. The religious right is opposed to granting lesser rights in the form of civil unions that don’t even come close to full on marriage. You’re imagining these people are being reasonable. They’re not.

  138. waltzinexile 159: Yay! *jumps up and down clapping hands together*

    Sub-Odeon 160:

    It wouldn’t go that way. The system is designed for two major parties, and if the GOP lost its major party status, another would take its place. Perhaps the Democratic Party would split into more conservative and more liberal parts, or perhaps the Libertarian party would step up to become the new “small government” party, or maybe something horrible (“the Christian Values party”) would happen.

    But I do think having the GOP driven out of any effective role in American politics would be a good thing, other things being equal. Their crimes are too grave to allow them to stay.

    And of course, the pony goes without saying.

  139. “if too many of your beliefs are of this quality, the stupidity will seep out of the beliefs and onto you, finally becoming a sign and a witness on your forehead, on your arm, and on your doorpost.”

    That’s totally plagiaro in flagrantum delictio, or somthing.

    All these phrases are yours except bugfuckium
    Attempt no landings there.

  140. @Josh

    “I’m sorry, but that’s a false analogy. There are no civil unions in the US that grant rights close to what you can get by full marriage. Groups opposed to same sex marriage are provably opposed to civil unions that aren’t even close.”

    I wasn’t trying to imply that there were. I was saying the opposite. That there should be ONE legal document applicable for two people regardless of same/different sex.

    Josh – “That is provably not true. The religious right is opposed to granting lesser rights in the form of civil unions that don’t even come close to full on marriage. You’re imagining these people are being reasonable. They’re not.”

    I know some people are unmoveable. However, I doubt that everyone falls into that category and that some people are voting due to ignorance of the real issues rather than stupidity. Now some people are hopeless causes and will always hate gays, minorities, religious groups. But I think some people (not the extremist right) are capable of rational thought. Maybe I am giving too much credit to humanity. Which makes me sad.

  141. @Greg

    First of all your first quote isn’t even a quote. I didn’t say that.

    What I did say is “Elections are no longer about who is the candidate you want to vote for. Unless you abstain, or vote third party (which is the same as abstaining, let’s not kid ourselves), you are forced to choose not between you like more, but who you hate or fear least. My vote for Bush was not a vote for Bush but a vote against Gore and against Kerry.”

    I don’t deny that at the time, I thought that Bush would be better than Gore. I also don’t deny that during the 2004 election I thought that Kerry would abandon Iraq in an unsafe way. I voted for Bush both times. Also noted that I didn’t really like either candidate.

    Just because I voted for him then DOES NOT mean I still think Gore or Kerry would have been worse. It’s pretty obvious that the state the country is in that it would have been hard to be worse. It’s called hindsight and it’s something you don’t have when you are making a decision in the present.

    If I could vote with some type of ability to go 4 years into the future for each candidate and see what the country would be like I could.

    And stop calling it a God from the Gap argument. It’s not. I wasn’t even making an argument other than saying that you can’t know with certainty what would have happened. John, you were a philosophy major,weren’t you? Care to clarify?

    You have been attacking me for no reason other than the fact that I said I voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004 (and did so reluctantly). I had the information I did at the time, no more.

    Post 44: Also not a quote. You did, however, leave out the part where you resorted to unintelligent vulgarity

    Post 61: Explain to me how Gore being a better President Bush is a indisputable fact other than your very strongly held opinion

    Post 82: God in the gap. It’s not a god in the gap argument.

    My conjecture was that in 2000, I thought that Bush was better than Gore. That was my opinion. Not fact

    Your conjecture is that in 2008, it is now a fact that Gore would have been better than Bush.

    I start with the conjecture that at the time, I believed one path into the future would have been better. And as I said in Post 15, it was choosing which path I thought would be less worse.

    Greg -“Say what? Then why did you get a free pass on “Bush better than Gore” conjecture, and then turn into the “conjecture hall monitor” when anyone else disagreed with you?”

    I am treating conjecture as conjecture and that you don’t know it with certainty. You are treating conjecture as fact and that somehow you can know the contents of an infinite number of multiverses.

    Then we get into the whole Christians/Atheists argument where I was proving a point that the stereotyping of Christians as amoral people based on the idea of a forgiving god was just as ridiculous as the stereotyping of atheists as amoral people because they don’t believe in a higher power.

    “You then can’t even remember stating anywhere in this thread even a single time of sayign Bush was better than Gore. So I point out your very first post on this thread which said exactly that.”

    No, I said that AT THE TIME I thought Bush was the best choice between two unfavorable candidates, in my opinion. A lot of people thought the same thing. That’s why Bush won.

    Greg – “And then rather than admit (1) you really did say Bush was better than Gore or (2) you had not in fact been sayign all along that Gore was better than Bush or (3) responding to anything I actually said based on anything you actually said, Instead of any of those options, you (4) complain that I “have it out for you”.”

    1) I said that, AT THE TIME, I believed this. Not that I still did.
    2) I didn’t clarify my current opinion one way or the other. You argued from the assumption that I blindly support Bush.
    3) At that point I started ignoring you and started discussing same-sex marriage with people that were willing to have a rational conversation with me.
    4) Then you continue your attacks toward me into a completely different line of conversation. Which implies that your problem is with me is somehow personal.

  142. Patrick

    Sorry for getting your intent wrong. With all the invented names, it’s hard to keep track of what you were saying.

    I know some people are unmoveable. However, I doubt that everyone falls into that category and that some people are voting due to ignorance of the real issues rather than stupidity. Now some people are hopeless causes and will always hate gays, minorities, religious groups. But I think some people (not the extremist right) are capable of rational thought. Maybe I am giving too much credit to humanity. Which makes me sad.

    The extremist right, by definition, is extremist, and not capable of rationality on these issues. If they were capable of being rational, they’d stop being extremist. As things stand, these were the ones in favor of sodomy laws, tattooing gay people to keep them from spreading AIDS and legalizing the murder of abortion doctors in some cases.

    But the main problem is how influential and wealthy they are. Without the millions of dollars raised, many of the anti same sex marriage amendments would never have passed.

    Presumably, if Jesus had a spare $40 million, he’d actually have fed the hungry instead of ruined people’s marriages because they happened to have been the same gender.

  143. @Josh

    No problem, it’s hard to have a discussion via comment thread. I tried to separate the legal and religious parts of the issue with imaginary words. There was no intended separation of legal rights between mixed and same sex marriages.

    I wasn’t talking about the extremist right (i.e. the people that protest that “God hates fags” etc.). I am talking about people who are influenced by the extremist right’s propoganda without realizing it.

    I feel like there are at least some people out there that believe the same-sex marriage thing involves their churches and not marriage certificates. I feel like that these people may be swayed.

  144. Patrick,
    The thing is, I can’t seem to find any of those potentially swayable people. I am not trying to pick on you; it’s a great idea…except I am starting to think they don’t exist. If they do (like the ROUSs) I wish someone would show me where they are (I’d even brave the fire swamp for a chance to reason with them.)

  145. Maybe they are mythical. And that makes me sad. And probably ties back to the original problem; that there are a lot of ignorant, gullible people in this world.

  146. I wasn’t talking about the extremist right (i.e. the people that protest that “God hates fags” etc.). I am talking about people who are influenced by the extremist right’s propoganda without realizing it.

    Bizarrely, Fred Phelps (the “God hates fags” wackaloon) ran in Democratic Party Primaries. AFAIK he’s still a Democrat. Which underscores your point that we should be careful generalizing about people opposed to same-sex marriage. (While there are others on the extremist right expressing similar sentiments re. gays, “God hates Fags/America/The World/…” is the calling card of the Phelps family cult).

  147. Patrick – I wasn’t talking about the extremist right (i.e. the people that protest that “God hates fags” etc.). I am talking about people who are influenced by the extremist right’s propoganda without realizing it.

    I feel like there are at least some people out there that believe the same-sex marriage thing involves their churches and not marriage certificates. I feel like that these people may be swayed.

    I have no proof of the matter, and much proof to the contrary. People like that are against as much as they can get away with. As for the “extremist right” you’re talking about here, I was thinking more the Southern Baptist Convention and the Mormon Church. Those are both fairly large, well funded groups that have spent millions to overturn LGBT rights, and prevent progress on even the most minor issues of civil partnerships. It’s nice to be able to think of the “extremist right” as a small group of loons, but the behavior I’m talking about is form a large group of well funded, well organized people who have a stranglehold on the GOP nationwide. And it’s not just same an anti sex marriage agenda they’re pushing. It’s far ranging policy influence.

  148. Its my take that the swing portion of the electorate is fiscally conservative and has been punishing the Republicans for the last 2 election cycles for not being fiscally conservative. They have not embraced the Democrats but are using them as a rod to beat the Republicans with.

    If Obama governs as a fiscal conservative (unlikely) he’ll win them over for the Democratic party. If not, the swing voters will eventually bring the Republicans out of the wilderness.

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