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What's the matter with [fill in the name of your state here]?

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 15:29
cartogram map for the county-level election returns This map tells only part of the story Goal Thermometer

Every state has its little ideological quirks, and knowing those quirks is important for politicians who need to be a good fit for their state, or at least who want to message in a way that's appealing to as many of their constituents as possible. Some states are pretty liberal on the balance, but of those states, some might be more open to populist messaging on the economy but have some socially-conservative streaks, while more affluent states might be particularly liberal on social or environmental issues while being more economically conservative. Similarly, some states with conservative reputations may be very socially conservative but open to populist appeals, while others are primarily economically conservative but laissez-faire on social issues.

It's hard to get a quantitative feel for that kind of concept, though; pollsters often just stick with numbers in the contested races and don't explore broader policy questions. When they do, it's often only in certain states, and in an inconsistent manner, at different times and using differently-phrased questions. So a direct comparison of every state on a wide array of issues is hard to find.

The online pollster YouGov has been partnering with the New York Times this year, though, to do a panel of polls on a monthly basis. It's a huge undertaking, with a significant number of respondents in every state, many of whom get polled again and again each month (which guarantees an adequate number of participants and also lets you track changed minds over time). The good news, too, is that YouGov isn't just asking Senate and gubernatorial numbers, but also a wide variety of policy questions too. So now we actually can see the same question asked at the same time of respondents in every state, start drawing comparisons, and look for states that are outliers from their broader liberal/conservative status on particular issues. (You can see the original memo here [warning: huge pdf], but to make it easier to work with I've moved all the relevant information to a Google Doc.)

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Attention, Michael Savage: PTSD is not a weakness

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 14:15
Iraq in 2007 If they come home broken, we need to fix them. Running up to mid-term elections I really wanted to keep a laser focus on the horrible job Scott Walker has done as governor of Wisconsin. It is really pretty easy to point out his lies because he does it do often. However, this past week a conservative hate-mongering radio host shot off his mouth and pissed me off.

On his October 14 program, Michael Savage said "What are you, the only generation that had PTSD? The only generation that's depressed? I'm sick of it. I can't take the celebration of weakness and depression."

I am veteran. I served in Germany on the East/West German border during the Cold War. I served in the 101st Airborne Division. I was honorably discharged one year prior to the Gulf War. Many of my friends, my brothers, also served in the Gulf War. Some of them came home with various illnesses, Gulf War Syndrome, others came home with PTSD.

More below the fold.

The 11 top lies of Mitch 'Myth' McConnell

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 13:00
Goal Thermometer

With Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell facing a tough re-election battle back home in Kentucky, Washington Post columnist and Fox News regular George Will rushed to the defense of his fellow human-turtle hybrid. Returning the 30-year veteran to Capitol Hill, Will proclaimed, is about nothing less than the "restoration of the Senate's dignity."

Will's warning would be hilarious if it weren't so grotesque. Mitch McConnell, after all, is the man most responsible for the GOP's unprecedented obstructionism during President Obama's tenure. Under his leadership, Senate Republicans shattered the record for filibusters and blocked Obama's judicial and executive branch nominees at rates unimaginable before 2009. Nevertheless, the same Mitch McConnell who on November 4, 2010, declared, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president," less than a year later complained about Democrats' "storyline" that "there must be some villain out there who's keeping this administration from succeeding."

But McConnell's unique parliamentary skills are only one weapon in his kamikaze campaign to sink the Democratic agenda under President Obama. As it turns out, Mitch McConnell is also the GOP's mythmaker-in-chief, a hyper-partisan more than willing to tell the biggest lies on the biggest issues in order to mislead the American public, all in the service of his Republican Party.

Whether he's discussing taxes, health care, the economy, the debt, or pretty much anything else, virtually all of Myth McConnell's talking points are tried—and untrue.

Click a link to jump to the details for each below

  1. "The [Kynect] Website Can Continue, But In My View the Best interests of the Country Would Be Achieved by Pulling Out Obamacare Root and Branch."
  2. 47 Million Uninsured Americans "Don't Go Without Health Care."
  3. "Any President's Judicial Nominees, After Full Debate, Deserve a Simple Up-or-Down Vote."
  4. "Obama Made the Economy Worse."
  5. Public Sector Layoffs Are a "Local" Problem
  6. "No Evidence Whatsoever That the Bush Tax Cuts Actually Diminished Revenue."
  7. "Punishing Job Creators."
  8. "We Look a Lot Like Greece Already."
  9. The Debt Ceiling "Is a Hostage That's Worth Ransoming."
  10. The Public Option "May Cost You Your Life."
  11. Democrats Are "Sticking It to Seniors with Cuts to Medicare."
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The battle for the senior vote

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 11:44
Jon Jon "Bowzer" Bauman stumps for Florida Democrat Gwen Graham Goal Thermometer

With the fate of the U.S. Senate on the line and with a number of critical House seats and governorships coming down to the wire, both parties are concentrating hard to turn out their voters and make inroads with the other side's base. Each side is working especially hard to win over the critical senior citizen bloc. Voters over 65 tend to vote in disproportionate numbers in midterm elections, and they helped propel the Republicans to victory in 2010. For the moment, senior citizens are considerably more conservative than the general population, and as long as they vote Republican in huge numbers, they put Democrats at a big disadvantage in non-presidential election years.

Democrats are unlikely to outright win senior voters, but they know they need to make inroads. Team Blue is running ads hitting the GOP on cuts to vital programs, as well as accusing the Republicans of working to turn Medicare into a voucher program and privatize Social Security. Democratic candidates across the country have also turned to Jon Bauman, better known as "Bowzer" formerly of the band Sha Na Na, to act as a surrogate with older voters. Bauman, co-founder of the advocacy group Senior Votes Count, remains popular with many older voters and his celebrity status helps give him an opening to talk about issues that matter to seniors.

Republicans aren't taking this lying down, though. They've been running plenty of ads accusing the Democrats of trying to endanger Social Security and cut Medicare. GOP party strategists know that if they can run the table with senior voters again, they have the advantage in 2014. Both parties are spending plenty of time, money, and energy on older voters, and control of the Senate could very well be decided by which message gets through.

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Defeat Mitch McConnell in just two hours. Sign up to make GOTV calls to Democrats. Head below the fold for a look at why the senior vote matters and what both parties are doing to try and win older voters.

When will the American people finally get fed up with the media-hyped right wing fearmongering?

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 10:30
fearful; eyes Have you had enough? Are you tired of being played? Have you figured out that the members of the major media are not your friends, and that they exist to mesmerize and manipulate so that you can serve their owners' ends? When was the last time a major news story made you feel better? How long did it last? Do the major media ever go 24/7 with something inspiring, or is it easier to suck you in by playing on your fears?

Goal Thermometer

Remember ISIS? It was just weeks ago that a bunch of vicious terrorists videotaped themselves cutting off the heads of a few captured humanitarian Britons and Americans, and suddenly people halfway around the globe were terrorized into thinking it could happen to them. The media hyped it and the Republicans slavered over what they saw as a political opportunity. Then suddenly a man traveling from Liberia became the first person in the United States to become symptomatic with the Ebola virus, and ISIS was forgotten. A pandemic was coming! Break out your HazMat suits! Once again, the media obsessed, the Republicans with despicable cynicism tried to play the political angle, and much of the public was dutifully terrified.

This is what the major media so often do: terrify and terrorize. That's what Republicans always try to do: prey on people's deepest fears. And never mind that no American who wasn't traveling to Iraq or Syria ever was in any danger from ISIS, and never mind that Ebola is so difficult to transmit that not even one person who flew on a transcontinental plane or even lived in a small apartment with the one man in the United States who subsequently died from it ever came down with it. The major media held people enthralled, the Republicans sought to blame it all on President Obama and the Democrats, and in neither case was the general public ever at any risk.

Are you sick of it yet? Do you enjoy living in fear? Are you going to continue to fall for the hype and the lies and forget all about this week's false terror as soon as next week's false terror appears? Haven't you yet figured out that the terror has a thousand faces, but almost always it is concocted and marketed and politicized and almost never is it more dangerous than things we take for granted as normal aspects of modern existence. Like driving in motor vehicles. Or eating. What kind of people try to cash in on such sick fear-mongering? Do you continue to watch them and listen to them, and in some cases even vote for them? Are you as foolish as they presume you to be?

As you ponder these questions, jump below the fold for more.

Republicans are running for Congress on their 'jobs plan.' Slight problem: It won't create any jobs.

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 09:15
Mitch McConnell's jobs plan is a plan to save his own.    
Goal Thermometer

"It’s a jobs-and-economy election." That's what House Speaker John Boehner's pollster and adviser David Winston said recently. Republicans, Winston argued, can't just be against everything President Obama is for, they have to offer "alternatives if people are going to give us the responsibility to govern." Let's ignore the fact that being just against Obama is so ingrained in the collective Republican mind that they'd oppose a cure for Ebola if the president was the one who discovered it. What exactly are the alternatives on jobs and the economy the GOP has put forth, and what effect would they actually have?

On the first question, it's a bit murky. Boehner has been going on about the 46 "jobs" bills that the Republican-dominated House has passed in recent years. He even has come up with his very own hashtag to promote them: #StuckInTheSenate. And only most of the positive responses and tweets are from Republican elected officials or party organs. Senate Republicans have a different list, consisting of only 10 (the New York Times article says nine, but there are 10 on this list posted July 29 to the website of the Senate Republican Policy Committee) from the 46 offered up by Mr. Boehner. Whatever the number of bills on the list, Republicans have a problem: the bills won't do very much to create jobs. And that's according to Republican economists.

Matthew J. Slaughter is on the economics faculty at Dartmouth College. George W. Bush had Professor Slaughter on his Council of Economics Advisers. What did he think? He thought the business tax cuts will "help" (Republicans have never met a business tax cut they didn't like, of course), and then added:

“But...it just struck me as sort of a compendium of modest expectations. If you ask me, ‘What’s your ballpark guess for how many jobs are going to be created?,’ it’s just not many.” Slaughter lamented the omission of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, a measure that, according to CBO estimates, would add 3.3 percent to our Gross Domestic Product over 10 years, and 5.4 percent over 20. The CBO also estimates that such a bill would reduce federal deficits by $197 billion in the first decade after enactment, and by another $700 billion in the second. That's a bill, according to Slaughter, "that should be on anybody’s list.” Do you want to make sure to keep the Senate in Democratic hands? Then we need to beat them at the ballot box. Remember that if we turn out, we win. Chip in $3 to help GOTV for Daily Kos-endorsed candidates.

Vote Button Voting by mail is convenient, easy, and defeats the best of the GOP's voter suppression efforts. Sign up here to check eligibility and vote by mail, then get your friends, family, and coworkers to sign up as well. Oh, and if one Republican isn't enough for you: Douglas Holtz-Eakin was John McCain's chief economic adviser during his run for the White House in 2008. He's now running a conservative economic think tank, and has slammed Obamacare a number of times, calling it "fiscal folly." Here's what Holtz-Eakin had to say about the various jobs-related plans Republicans have put forth this fall: "I don’t think any of these are particular game changers." For good measure, the co-founder of the forecasting outfit Macroeconomic Advisers, Joel Prakken, also looked at the Republican plans, and commented: "I don’t think you would get a rush of hiring from passing these bills."

Please follow me beyond the fold for more about jobs, the economy, and the all-important midterm elections.

Nuns on the bus. Ride on!

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 08:00
Screenshot of Vice President Joe Biden with Nuns on the Bus in Iowa Vice President Joe Biden with Nuns on the Bus in Iowa Goal Thermometer

In a 10-state, 36-city, 75-event tour, called We the People, We the Voters, they crisscrossed the U.S. in a brightly painted tour bus, covered with autographs of people encountered along the way, in an all-out effort to get people registered and fired up to vote on Election Day. Not rock stars or Merry Pranksters, or a Magical Mystery Tour.

They are nuns.

Nuns who have dedicated themselves to social justice issues—like economic justice, health care, and immigration reform and, like the rest of us, they know that if we don't get registered and then get people out to the polls to support candidates who are advocating for our rights, we'll be headed towards hell in a hand-basket.


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Defeat Mitch McConnell in just two hours. Sign up to make GOTV calls to Democrats. The bus tours, now in their third year, are organized by NETWORK, a National Catholic social justice lobby, founded over 40 years ago, which you can learn more about below the fold.

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Holy Papal Concern Troll Edition

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 06:00
Papal emblem over Confederate battle flag Most of the time, I try to get what I view as the most important story of the day at the top of the APR charts. But sometimes... you just have to go with the most ridiculous.

Ross Douthat, is very, very concerned for the pope.

... it helps to understand certain practical aspects of the doctrine of papal infallibility.

On paper, that doctrine seems to grant extraordinary power to the pope — since he cannot err, the First Vatican Council declared in 1870, when he “defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church.”

In practice, though, it places profound effective limits on his power.

Those limits are set, in part, by normal human modesty: “I am only infallible if I speak infallibly, but I shall never do that,” John XXIII is reported to have said. But they’re also set by the binding power of existing teaching, which a pope cannot reverse or contradict without proving his own office, well, fallible — effectively dynamiting the very claim to authority on which his decisions rest.

Not surprisingly, then, popes are usually quite careful. On the two modern occasions when a pontiff defined a doctrine of the faith, it was on a subject — the holiness of the Virgin Mary — that few devout Catholics consider controversial.

Ah, so popes are only infallible when they are careful to say things that don't contradict anything that any pope has ever said in the past, and in confirming things that everyone already believes. What a lovely, conservative box you've built for the pontiff, Mr. Douthat. But what if a pope should want something to change? Say, an end to two millennia of mistreatment of homosexuals, or an end to the ridiculous and demeaning treatment of people who choose to end a marriage? But something very different is happening under Pope Francis. In his public words and gestures, through the men he’s elevated and the debates he’s encouraged, this pope has repeatedly signaled a desire to rethink issues where Catholic teaching is in clear tension with Western social life — sex and marriage, divorce and homosexuality. yes, and... Over all, that conservative reply has the better of the argument. Oh, of course they do. You see, if the church were to admit that homosexuals were not living in sin, or that the annulment system wasn't utterly idiotic, it would mean admitting that some pope, at some time in the past, was... wring. I mean worgn. I mean... oh, you know.

Hang on. We're coming to the best part.

Such a reversal would put the church on the brink of a precipice. Of course it would be welcomed by some progressive Catholics and hailed by the secular press. But it would leave many of the church’s bishops and theologians in an untenable position, and it would sow confusion among the church’s orthodox adherents — encouraging doubt and defections, apocalypticism and paranoia (remember there is another pope still living!) and eventually even a real schism. Yes, folks. Ross Douthat, henceforth known as the Jefferson Davis of Catholicism, has nailed his Sunday morning missive to the editorial page of the New York Times. He's declared that, should His Holiness, the  Bishop of Rome and the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church, seek to use his power for more than decorative purposes, his papal bulls are... bull. And unless Francis sits down and stops noticing that it's not the sixteenth century, Ross is going to march his boys over to Mater Ecclesiae monastery, drag Benedict away from his oatmeal, and declare him the once and future Pope. So there.

If you're not a catholic, this may seem like an esoteric (though hilarious) argument. However, I'm not sure I've ever seen a better capsule summary of the conservative world view: I have a huge respect for the system—Mr. President, Your Honor, Your Holiness—so much so, that if you don't agree with me you're simply wrong. And I'll bring the system down to prove it.

Okay, enough. Come on inside.

Sunday Talk: There's no cure for stupid

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 23:00
First, let me state my credentials: I am not a scientist.

Truth be told, I don't even believe in science (especially not the so-called "soft sciences" like psychology).

That being said, I think Americans' fears about catching Ebola from a "terror doorknob," or at a cocktail party, are completely rational.

You see, I've recently learned a few things about epidemiology from Alex Jones; enough to know that Ebola has, in fact, gone airborne (it even produces chemtrails!)—contrary to what those propagandists in the "expert" community are telling you.

Nevar forget: America was founded as an Ebola-free nation, and it remained one until shortly after Obamacare (which the American Medical Association endorsed) took effect—and that can hardly be a coincidence!

Open thread: Nuns, seniors and PTSD

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 17:00

What's coming up on Sunday Kos ...

  • The battle for the senior vote, by Jeff Singer
  • When will the American people finally get fed up with the media-hyped right wing fearmongering, by Laurence Lewis
  • It's time for Myth McConnell to go, by Jon Perr
  • Your second-most important state official is up for re-election, too: An attorney general roundup, by Jeff Singer
  • Nuns on the bus. Ride on, by Denise Oliver Velez
  • Attention, Michael Savage: PTSD is not a weakness, by Mark E Andersen
  • 'Crazy is the new normal,' James Risen on our never-ending war on terror, by Susan Grigsby
  • Wendy Davis Texas TV news media bias in full vogue, by Egberto Willies
  • Republicans are running for Congress on their 'jobs plan'. Slight problem: It won't create any jobs, by Ian Reifowitz
  • What's the matter with [fill in the name of your state here], by David Jarman
  • The California ballot, part 1: Statewide and Congressional races, by Dante Atkins

Spotlight on green news & views: Climate talks, Politico amplifies BP's lies, livestock antibiotics

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 15:00
Co-chairs Artur Runge-Metzger and Kishan Kumarsingh during Day 4 at the Bonn climate talks. Many environmentally related posts appearing at Daily Kos each week don't attract the attention they deserve. To help get more eyeballs, Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The most recent Wednesday Spotlight can be seen here. So far, more than 19,860 environmentally oriented diaries have been rescued for inclusion in this weekly collection since 2006. Inclusion of a diary in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.
Day 4 at the UN climate talks in Bonn—by TierneySmith: "There are just two days of negotiations left, and much work remains. On Thursday afternoon, the talks’ two co-chairs took stock of how far the negotiations had moved since the start of this session, offering government negotiators a stern reality check. Their main tasks were to deliver clarity of what countries’ climate action commitments should include, and clarity on how to ramp-up climate action before those commitment periods take effect (ie between now and 2020, or ‘pre-2020 ambition’). But with time quickly running out, co-chair Artur Runge-Metzger acknowledged that the 'ambition to finalise the two decisions is no longer possible in Bonn, they will have to be finalised in Lima'; when countries meet again at COP20 in December. He stressed that while 'extensive exchanges' had taken place on many issues, countries had 'not touched on many important things' and that co-operation must accelerate in the coming days. Much of the current frustration in Bonn focuses on delegates attempts to find common ground on the pledges they will submit as part of the 2015 global climate agreement - their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). After discussions yesterday were characterised by some as 'demoralising,' divisions between countries remained strong throughout the morning. Frustrated, co-chair Kishan Kumarsingh called on delegates to 'look yourselves in the eye; ask yourself if we are on track.'" green dots BP's Politico puff piece wasn't just shady journalism ethics—it was mostly a lie—by Stuart H Smith: "BP, with a huge assist from the popular Beltway-insider website Politico, stirred up the muddy waters of the Deepwater Horizon spill aftermath this week when it published a corporate-love-letter-disguised-as-news entitled, "No, BP Didn't Ruin the Gulf." Anyone expecting humility from a firm whose court-certified wanton negligence killed 11 people and seriously polluted America's most precious natural resource clearly hasn't followed the story lately. The story hit the Internet Wednesday morning and caused an immediate stir—but mostly on the topic of journalism ethics. For one thing, the story initially had the trappings of a news article, without the large label of 'Opinion' that such an op-ed is expected to carry (that changed after the outcry); readers got to the bottom of the piece before learning it was written by BP's in-house spin-doctor-in-chief, corporate spokesman Geoff Morrell. [...] But the ethics controversy wasn't what troubled me the most. What bothered me about the piece—and should bother all readers—is that the claims by Morrell are sometimes dubious, sometimes misleading, and much of the time just an old-fashioned lie. Those of us who've followed the story for the last four years can feel pretty confident in saying this: Yes, BP actually did ruin the Gulf."
green dots Big Oil spends big money to stop fracking ban in Santa Barbara County—by Dan Bacher: "The struggle by proponents of Measure 1  the initiative to ban fracking and other extreme oil extraction techniques in Santa Barbara County, is a David vs. Goliath battle that parallels the No on Proposition 1 campaign. Big oil companies are dumping millions into the coastal county to defeat the measure, just like corporate agribusiness, billionaires and oil companies are spending millions to pass Governor Jerry Brown's water bond. The Yes on Measure P campaign had a war chest of about $284,000 as of October 16, 2014, largely from hundreds of individuals and county residents, according to the Santa Barbara Independent. This amount notably mounts to only a small fraction of anti-Measure P funds. The same article reported that Measure P opponents have raised $7.6 million. 'Californians for Energy Independence' has funneled over $5 million of its $7.6 million war chest to the 'No' side."
green dots Worse Than Those Boy Scouts That Tipped Over a Rock—by ban nock: "Remember those overweight adult Boy Scouts that tipped over a rock in Utah? Well, a woman from NY has gone one better. Traveling to many National Parks throughout the country she has painted on rocks then taken selfies and posted to various social media sites. Some paintings are just graffiti [...] Others are in more visible places [...] She paints in acrylic so it doesn't come off with the weather. Below the fold for some photos where she shows some skin. The National Park defacer has the where  with all to travel to most National Parks you might have heard of. Below she is in desert country. She hit Rocky Mountain National, Zion, Canyonlands, J Tree, Yosemite, Crater Lakes, Bryce, Grand Staircase, I love the photos where she is crawling all over the petroglyphs in J Tree to get her selfie. Probably she is in karmic touch with those other artists hundreds, or thousands of years ago." One of vandal's acrylic drawings. That is Crater Lake in the background. One of the prolific vandal's acrylic drawings. That is Crater Lake in the background. You can find more rescued green diaries below the orange garden layout.

This week in the war on workers: 'We suck' on minimum wage, labor secretary says

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 12:55
Raise the minimum wage rally with a man holding sign saying Goal Thermometer

Pushing back on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's minimum wage rant, Labor Secretary Tom Perez highlighted some actual New Jersey workers, as opposed to the imaginary parents around a kitchen table Christie won't stop talking about:

“I’ve met with minimum-wage workers in New Jersey,” Perez said today at a Bloomberg News event in Washington. “I’ve met with folks who—the only raise they got, they’re baggage handlers at Newark Airport, and the only raise they got was when the voters increased the minimum wage.” But, you know, Chris Christie says people aspire to more, so screw those workers and their actual real-life raises. Christie is only representative of a bigger problem, though, and Perez didn't mince words on that:
The U.S. federal wage floor ranks third-lowest—as a percentage of median wage—among the 34 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a status that Perez said was embarrassing.

“I mean, we suck,” Perez said. “We really do.”

By any measure having to do with the minimum wage, it's hard to argue that one. You know Republicans aren't going to raise the minimum wage. We need to elect Democrats to make that happen, so please chip in $3 to Daily Kos' endorsed candidates.

Defeat Mitch McConnell in just two hours. Sign up to make GOTV calls to Democrats. Continue reading below the fold for more of the week's labor and education news.

Saturday nutpick-a-palooza: Was the world created 6,000 years ago?

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 12:00

Today's source material:

 "WAS WORLD CREATED 6,028 YEARS AGO TODAY? Exclusive: Joseph Farah takes on atheist who says gravity is the author of life" No.

No it wasn't.

Why do I think it matters how old the Earth is?

There are two reasons:

I take the Bible literally – and seriously. And the Bible strongly affirms a date in the neighborhood of 6,000 years, at least for the age of man, who was created on the sixth day, according to Genesis. If that’s not true, it calls into question the rest of the Bible’s accuracy.

Atheists like Dawkins and Hawking are every bit as dogmatic about their theories of the age of the Earth as I am. They know they need lots of time to give their fairy tales about life spontaneously generating any credibility at all. Godless miracles require time, you know, lots of time.

Science equals fairy tales, but a book is FACT? But this is my favorite part:
I know what some of you are thinking: “Farah, what about the dinosaurs that were tens of millions of years old? How do you explain that?” Quite simply, I don’t believe it. Throughout man’s history, in every culture, we have stories, pictures and sculptures depicting dragons and leviathans and sea serpents. Are we to believe these were all concocted in man’s imagination? Even the Bible references such observations. If behemoths like the one described in chapter 40 of the Book of Job somehow threatened the Bible account of history, I don’t think it would be there. Throughout history, we also have accounts of wizards and hobbits and Godzilla and nymphs and centaurs and Zeus and Thor and hydras and lots of other creatures that have to be true because otherwise someone wouldn't have written about them.

Phew! Fun! Now let's see the crazies respond, below the fold.

This week in the war on voting: Colorado's mail-in voter law changed candidates' campaign approach

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 11:00
NC voting suppression protest This Week in the War on Voting is a joint project of Joan McCarter and Meteor Blades.

Georgians in court over allegedly missing registrations:

By the NGP's estimate, some 800,000 Georgians—"people of color, voters between the ages of 18 and 29, and unmarried women—what the group calls the 'Rising American Electorate'" weren't registered to vote at the beginning of this year. Since then the group—founded by state Rep. Stacey Abrams, Democratic leader of the Georgia House—says it and 12 partner groups have registered around 116,000 new voters. But earlier this month, NGP complained that the registrations in five counties—all of them surrounding large Democratic strongholds in Atlanta, Columbus and Savannah—had not processed some 40,000 of these registrations. Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp said the claim is wrong. • Garrett Epps sharply questions Chief Justice John Roberts' commitment to non-discrimination as a consequence of ruling on Texas voter ID case.

GOP officials withheld data on voter ID:

[The] state officials working to pass a voter photo ID law in 2011 knew that more than 500,000 of the state’s registered voters did not have the credentials needed to cast ballots under the new requirement. But they did not share that information with lawmakers rushing to pass the legislation.

Now that the bill is law, in-person voters must present one of seven specified forms of photo identification in order to have their votes counted.

Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UCI School of Law, says Supreme Court erred badly in Texas voter ID ruling: The Supreme Court’s decision Oct. 18 to allow Texas’ restrictive voter identification law to go into effect is deeply disturbing and simply wrong. [...]

There are so many things that are troubling about the court’s action. It is the first time in decades that the Supreme Court has allowed an election law to go into effect after a federal trial court found it to be unconstitutional race discrimination. Appellate courts, including the Supreme Court, are supposed to defer to the fact-finding by the trial courts. Here, the district court held a trial, engaged in extensive fact-finding and wrote a very detailed opinion.

Also, this continues a trend in recent weeks of the Supreme Court deciding which election systems can go into effect in unsigned orders without written opinions.

Jesse Richman and David Earnest argue that voting by non-citizens is high enough that it could alter the results of some close races.

Colorado's new voting law means candidates must make their final arguments earlier: By Friday, more than half a million Coloradans had already mailed in their ballots. By Nov. 3, the day before Election Day, it's quite possible that the majority of those who going to vote will have already voted. Every registered citizen received a ballot in the mail, and those who aren't registered can do so right up through election day.  

"Now you gotta get the vote out for literally almost three weeks," said Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who signed the election changes passed by his party and is now running for re-election against Republican Bob Beauprez, a former congressman.

Beauprez is feeling the same urgency.

"You pretty well have to have your whole game plan out there and your case made so early now," he said.

Sixth Circuit Court rejects an appeal over the right to vote absentee of Ohioans jailed but not convicted: The decision was predicated on the view of two judges on the three judge panel that the coalition of 22 churches that brought the case did not have standing. Chief Judge R. Guy Cole dissented, arguing that the coalition was right to assert standing because it had had its limited get-out-the-vote resources diverted by having to train its canvassers about the problem for "late-jailed voters" who missed the absentee deadline by being arrested and would not be able to cast a ballot in person on Election Day because they have not yet been released. Cole also stated he agreed with the district court's ruling that late-jailed people have the same right to cast a ballot as late-hospitalized people even though they have missed the absentee ballot deadline.

Right-wing True the Vote group claims elections will be stolen this year: Among the reasons: same-day registration, Department of Justice attacks on voter ID laws, Homeland Security's blocking of information that might identify non-citizens who vote, failure of electronic equipment and the alleged pre-marking of ballots.

Jonathan Chait on how Republicans justify poll taxes:

During the Obama era, the Republican Party has made the modern revival of the poll tax a point of party dogma. Direct poll taxes have been illegal for 50 years, but the GOP has discovered a workaround. They have passed laws requiring photo identification, forcing prospective voters who lack them, who are disproportionately Democratic and nonwhite, to undergo the extra time and inconvenience of acquiring them. They have likewise fought to reduce early voting hours on nights and weekends, thereby making it harder for wage workers and single parents, who have less flexibility at work and in their child care, to cast a ballot.

The effect of all these policies is identical to a poll tax. (Indeed, a study found that the cost they impose is considerably greater than existing poll taxes at the time they were banned.)

Emily Badger calls out Rich Lowry's take on voter ID: The National Review editor argues that voter ID doesn't hurt many citizens, a small percentage at most wind up not having their votes count. Writes Badger: What stands out about this argument is the idea that any disenfranchisement would be OK, when a central rationale for voter ID laws in the first place is that any voter fraud is not.

This week at progressive state blogs: Ohio job growth way behind, infighting in Beauprez camp

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 10:00
megaphone Just as states with progressive lawmakers and activists have themselves initiated innovative programs over a wide range of issues, state-based progressive blogs have helped provide us with a point of view, inside information and often an edgy voice that we just don't get from the traditional media. This week in progressive state blogs is designed specifically to focus attention on the writing and analysis of people focused on their home turf. Let me know via comments or Kosmail if you have a favorite state- or city-based blog you think I should be watching. Inclusion of a diary does not necessarily indicate my agreement or endorsement of its contents.

At Plunderbund of Ohio, John Michael Spinelli writes—Economic Research Expert: Ohio Job Growth Has Trailed The Nation “For The Last 23 Months”:

Plunderbund blog logo Earlier today we reported that Ohio now ranks 45th in the country for job creation (out of 50, in case you were wondering) according to Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business.

Ohio job data miners say the actual job growth rate in Ohio year-over-year for September was 0.6 percent compared to a 2 percent growth rate for the USA.
“The gap between Ohio and the USA widened in September once again, unfortunately,” said Economic Research Analyst George Zeller, who keeps tabs on the scoreboard of job growth information.

Based in Cleveland, an important region of the state for manufacturing jobs, Zeller told OhioNewsBureau via email today that “we are in recovery in Ohio, which is the good news. The bad news is that it continues to be… too slow and well below the national average.”

Zeller said he and ASU peer into the same data and are on the same page but in a slightly different way. According to Zeller, Ohio needs to desperately speed up the recovery in order “to recover the jobs that we lost since 2007.”  He said the poor performance in September is not a one month data fluke. “It has happened every month for the last 23 months consecutively.”

At My Left Nutmeg of Connecticut, ctblogger writes—Malloy must come clean on his attempt to end collective bargaining rights: As someone who is disgusted with the stream of lies from the uniuon leadership and Gov Malloy on this issue, I hope the media will start asking questions about this subject -ctblogger
In defense of its endorsement of Governor Dannel "Dan" Malloy, the Connecticut Education Association is using its EXAMINE THE FACTS campaign to tell teachers that Malloy, "Supports teachers' rights to collectively bargain and negotiate contracts, benefits, and working conditions."

At the same time, most of Connecticut's other unions are trying to persuade their members that if elected, Republican Tom Foley will follow Wisconsin's right-wing, anti-union governor and destroy collective bargaining altogether.

But the fact remains that Governor Malloy is the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose unilaterally eliminating collective bargaining rights for a group of public employees.

In Malloy's case, as part of his corporate education reform industry initiative, he proposed repealing collectively bargaining rights for public school teachers working in the poorest schools. [...]

With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, Governor Malloy has an obligation to come clean about his position on collective bargaining.

There are more excerpts from progressive state blogs below the orange doohickey.

Obama again devotes weekly address to calming Ebola fears

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 09:19
President Obama dedicated his weekly address to the fight against Ebola, both outlining steps being taken by the government to combat the disease and re-emphasizing that Ebola is in fact "very hard to catch."
[T]his week, we remained focused on our fight against Ebola.  In Dallas, dozens of family, friends and others who had been in close contact with the first patient, Mr. Duncan, were declared free of Ebola—a reminder that this disease is actually very hard to catch.  Across Dallas, others being monitored—including health care workers who were most at risk—were also declared Ebola-free. [...]

Here’s the bottom line. Patients can beat this disease. And we can beat this disease. But we have to stay vigilant.  We have to work together at every level—federal, state and local. And we have to keep leading the global response, because the best way to stop this disease, the best way to keep Americans safe, is to stop it at its source—in West Africa.

To read the transcript in full, check below the fold or visit the White House website.

This week in science: Games and ... BRAINS!

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 08:00
Image at AUfeminin News, h/t to serendipityisabitch in comments for tracking it down

Happy upcoming Halloween, guys and ghouls! There are many creepy-crawlies that go bump in the night. Some man-made, some man-made-up; some all too real. On the latter, sure the Brazilian wandering spider is an unwelcome sight, some of its ancient, giant relatives, especially the Eurypterida, were even larger. But if you want to see something totally extant and really scary, check out this newly discovered bad-ass mama. And remember tonight, as you're drifting off peacefully, she's so creepy that you might hear her and even feel her, before you see her:  

Known as South American Goliath birdeater, the humongous eight-legged creepy crawly creature has a body the size of a fist and a leg span the size of a small child. Harvard entomologist Piotr Naskrecki recently encountered one while taking a nighttime stroll through a rain forest in Guyana.  

... Size isn’t the spider’s only chill-inducing quality. It makes loud clicking sounds with its front claws when threatened and defends itself by rubbing its back legs together to shoot clouds of microscopic barbs through the air that are highly irritating to the eyes and skin. If it chomps down on you with its 2-inch-long fangs, you probably won’t die, unless you are allergic. But its bite contains enough venom to make you sick for days.  

  • Google is hungry for brains, and they're gonna use those gooey, yummy sweet brains to build even bigger, artificial semiconductor brains that will no doubt enslave us all, or at least keep us company and stop us from writing hot checks. The horror!
  • Speaking of brains, I've been waiting for the debunking of "Brain expanding games" to begin in earnest for a awhile.
  • From the tangential field of technology and gaming comes a truly worthy diatribe, nay, a world class rant, from former Minnesota Viking Chris Kluwe, which expertly utilizes our newish digital medium almost as well as it skewers a small cohort of loud-mouthed, misogynist gamers who have no brains: There’s this herd of people ... who feel that somehow, their identity as “gamers” is being taken away. Like they’re all little Anne Franks, hiding in their basements from the PC Nazis and Social Justice Warrior brigades, desperately protecting the last shreds of “core gaming” in their unironically horrible Liveblog journals filled with patently obvious white privilege and poorly disguised misogyny. “First they came for our Halo 2’s, and I said nothing.” These paint-huffing shitgoblins think they’re “gamers,” and it pisses me the fuck off.
  • Via Maddow, Darrel Issa could clearly use a visit to The Wiz to get some brains. To put GOP Ebola hype into perspective, here's a blast from Daily Kos and Halloween's past: Don't Let the Bed-Bugs Bite! Way back in the 'good ole days' of 1347, those carefree times of wanton slaughter, religious torture, and massive infant mortality, another abomination arose far more gruesome than any mere manmade method of killing. It swept across Eurasia, smothering it like a thick blanket, leaving many of the dark, foreboding icons we’ve come to associate with All Hallow’s Eve still hidden and lurking in its deadly wake ...

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Quarantine controversy

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 06:30
Is it finally over? State Supreme Court rejects McDaniel appeal #mssen  http://t.co/...
@samrhall northjerseycom: New Jersey officials have quarantined a woman who arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport from a West African country and reported having had contact with Ebola victims, a source familiar with the matter said.

The woman, a U.S. citizen and healthcare worker who began her travel in Sierra Leone, did not show any symptoms. But state officials ordered the quarantine Friday afternoon, the source said, because she reported during questioning having had contact with people who had died of Ebola. She also said she was wearing protective equipment at the time of the contact, according to the person.

Potential downside would be if auto quarantine deters health care volunteers. Africa & world desperately need them: http://t.co/...
@SuzyKhimm .@JohnJHarwood Craig Spencer did everything right, as per protocol. Brave, caring and considerate. Nice model for a doc.
@DemFromCT WaPo: Those in favor of strict quarantines argue that the current federal requirement — that travelers without symptoms take their temperatures regularly and report them to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — are too lax, and that it’s foolish to allow people with potential exposure to Ebola to move freely throughout society.

But those who oppose automatic quarantines insist that proper self-monitoring removes almost any likelihood of transmission, given that Ebola typically is contagious only after symptoms appear. They say that requiring a three-week quarantine would deter some aid workers from traveling to West Africa to fight the unprecedented epidemic. Hundreds of health-care workers have been cycling in and out of Africa to care for Ebola patients .

The Obama administration said it was weighing the dilemma.

More politics and policy below the fold.