On the American Flag at Political Conventions

I cannot help but notice how many on the right equate patriotism with the size and number of flags you can cram onto a stage. Far-right conservatives are proud of their American flag: a field of pure whiteness, covered by streaks of red protecting a handful of white stars held aloft by the divine protection of the blue heavens. Far-right conservatives see flags like guns and cars and women: the more you have and the bigger and better looking they are, the more “American” you must be.

True patriotism, however, is not simply about the mere symbol, but about what that symbol represents: policies and actions. The flag must represent the actions of standing up, acting on behalf of your fellow Americans, serving them, treating them fairly, and the willingness to give your life for them, as so many of our veterans have done. It must also represent the establishment of policies, both personal and civil policies, that bring about our ideals.

The flag is a symbol, and symbols represent ideas and ideals. And if your ideas are bad ideas—if they are divisive, and bigoted, and harmful—then it doesn’t matter how many flags you have. You can line up a row of massive flags from one end of the stage to the other—if your ideas are bad ideas, and your ideals do not treat all Americans equally and with respect, you cannot simply paper over selfish ideals and bad policies with the American flag. Because when you do, the symbol becomes an idol—an end in itself. And much like the crosses on the walls, and around the necks and wrists, and on the car bumpers of those who do not live lives reflective of the teachings of the man associated with that cross, the idol comes to represent nothing at all. And this is why those that worship their star-spangled idol flood their stages with the idol: they hope that none will notice that their idol is empty, and that their lives do not reflect the selfless service that the idol once represented.

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump receiving his party’s 2016 nomination in Cleveland, Ohio.

New Pew Poll Shows Republicans, Evangelicals Least Likely to Accept Evolution

A new Pew research poll on the “Public’s Views on Human Evolution” was released presenting data that backs up what many political and religious scholars have suspected for some time: that white Evangelical Republicans (particularly older ones) constitute the group that most rejects the basic scientific principle of human evolution via natural selection.

The results are simultaneously unbelievable and yet quite typical, or at the very least, expected.

While only 33% of adult Americans still don’t accept human evolution via natural selection, opting instead to believe that “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time”, THAT NUMBER NEARLY DOUBLES TO 64% among white evangelical protestants(!) AND, of those white evangelical protestants that did accept evolution, half of them said that a “supreme being guided [the] process.” As a point of comparison, a majority of Catholics (both white, 68%, and Hispanic, 53%) accept human evolution.

But what is truly disturbing is the continued religio-political marriage between the Republican party and white Evangelicals (the most fundamentalist of whom are spearheading the even more conservative Tea Party movements). While a majority of Independents (65%) and Democrats (67%) accept evolution as the origin of humankind, A MAJORITY OF REPUBLICANS NOW REJECT EVOLUTION – with 48% of Republicans saying that humans “existed in present from since the beginning”, and only 43% of Republicans accepting evolution. And incredulously, unlike trends in nearly every other demographic where science and science education appear to (finally!) be taking root and acceptance of human evolution is increasing, THE PERCENTAGE OF REPUBLICANS ACCEPTING EVOLUTION IS ACTUALLY DOWN 11%(!!) over the past four years, from 54% in 2009 to 43% in 2013.

No wonder many think the Republican party is out of touch. Statistically, Republicans are actually getting DUMBER scientifically! Then again, look at the recent major Republican political candidates and their religious views. Good grief!

Also of note in the survey:

  • Men accept evolution more than women (65% to 55%).
  • Not surprisingly, college graduates accept evolution far more than those with a high school or less education (72% to 51%).
  • And again not surprisingly, younger demographics consistently accept evolution more than their older counterparts, with 68% of those ages 18-29 accepting evolution, roughly 60% of those ages 30-64, but only 49% of those 65 and older accepting evolution. This is likely due to a number of factors, including an increased acceptance of science and scientific principles among high school and college students, the rise of the Internet and the availability of credible information about evolution – information that is not always taught by parents and pastors, and it is also likely a reflection of the increasing rejection of traditional religious institutions by younger generations.

In sum, we now have hard data to support what many of us have observed for some time now: a correlation between older generations, white Evangelicals, the Republican party, and a rejection of one of the basic principles of science, namely human evolution via natural selection.

We can take hope, however, that among both Christian and non-religious groups alike, there is an overall increase in the acceptance of human evolution via natural selection, and that those still rejecting evolution appear to be limited to groups that are lesser educated, Evangelical, and of older ages. Again, this is likely due to an increased acceptance of science and scientific principles among younger generations, the Internet’s ability to provide increasingly credible information about evolution and information demonstrating the fallacies (both scientific and religious) of Creationism, and the increasingly pervasive stigma that Creationism is associated with old, white, conservative, Evangelical Republicans who are out of touch with science, reality, and the majority of the people.


UPDATE: I had the wrong URL in the initial link to the Pew study. It now correctly links to the study.

the art of saving face: u.s. house rejects tax deal

Monopoly Poor TaxThe Democrats have finally outmaneuvered the Republicans (for once).

And everyone’s a winner, because saving face while getting nothing done has become an art form in Washington. Just look at the results of how the debate concerning the extension of the Bush tax cuts transpired.

The Republicans will take control of the House just as the nation’s taxes go up. And while they will blame the outgoing Democratic leadership for the increase (they rejected the deal after all), the Republicans will be stuck in the unenviable position of having to argue for tax breaks, which will grossly increase the nation’s deficit, after they’ve spent the past year saying we should reduce the deficit. However, Republicans can claim credit for championing tax breaks for all Americans, can take credit for the inevitable reduction of the deficit (due to increased tax revenues) as they take control of the House, and now can rally their conservative base by claiming that the evil Democrats are responsible for the nation’s tax increase. It’s a win-win for Republicans.

President Obama comes out looking good, because despite not getting the tax cuts he claims he wanted for some of the American people, he rode into town to save the day and worked in a bi-partisan way with Republicans in an effort to keep taxes down, which should help him garner some votes among moderates and Republicans in the upcoming 2012 Presidential election. But, since the House rejected his deal, taxes do indeed go up (which is what President Obama wanted for at least the wealthy), and as the economy continues to recover, he’ll be in line to both take credit for improving the disastrous economy he inherited from his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, and get credit for working with Republicans to cut taxes. It’s a win-win for the President.

House Democrats win too. They can now go back to their districts and claim that they defeated the Republican minority (for once) and even stood up to their own President, which will earn them fervent support from those on the left. Taxes will go up on the wealthiest Americans (which Democrats want) and everyone else as well, but Democrats can blame a sell-out President and the evil Republicans for the tax increase, which will please their liberal base. It’s a win-win for House Democrats.

This is the art of saving face and it’s hard to imagine that something akin to the deal described above was not discussed somewhere in some back room at some high level.

Everyone gets what they want, everyone’s base is energized, everyone saves face, and everyone wins…except us, the taxpayers, who pay more taxes while nothing gets done.

This is the state of modern politics in America.

olbermann suspended indefinitely from msnbc – how long until he runs for office?

Keith Olbermannmsnbc’s keith olbermann has been indefinitely suspended without pay for making contributions to democrats.

cnn is reporting:

Keith Olbermann, MSNBC’s primetime firebrand host, has been suspended indefinitely for violating the ethics policies of his employer earlier this year when he donated to three Democrats seeking federal office, MSNBC announced Friday.

“I became aware of Keith’s political contributions late last night. Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay,” MSNBC President Phil Griffin said in a statement.

i like olbermann (and not just because he was a sportscenter anchor). he’s wicked smart, clever, and sharp witted. he’s on air persona is over the top, but that’s because he’s attempting to balance to fox’s o’reilly and hannity. it was foolish, however, to let him do the election coverage. while cnn and fox did their best to make attempts at impartiality, msnbc attempted a bizarro world version of fox news’ pundit shows. it works for the ratings, but not on election night.

maybe fox news will offer him a contract like they did juan williams. it would make great publicity for fox news and would be a brilliant move on murdoch’s part.

the problem for olbermann and msnbc is not just the donations, which will cause some to cry conflict on interest although olbermann makes no attempt to disguise his liberal leanings on air just like fox news’ sean hannity makes no attempt to disguise leanings in the other direction. the problem is that olbermann railed against fox news’ donations to the republican governor’s association, which now appears hypocritical.

my only question is: how long until olberman runs for office? where does he live? i will say this for olbermann: it’s the quickest way out of his msnbc contract. in that regard, it’s a brilliant move if he wants to make the jump to politics (running, not commentating).

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