Friday, May 29, 2009


One of the above was not a conservative and thought for himself, both in the areas of science and politics. The other is a fan of the Rush Limbaugh radio program. Can you tell them apart?

----- Original Message -----
From: Jim Finkelstein
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Sent: Friday, May 29, 2009 12:10 AM
Subject: well, duh!

It's kind of hard to read this with a straight face. I've always told my friend Glenn that the phrase "intelligent Republican" is an oxymoron (Glenn is, in fact, both intelligent and a Republican). But if the shoe fits.... check out THIS

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Here We Go Again... [Jonah Goldberg]

The calipers are out and, lo and behold, conservatives are stupid according to the latest scientific research. Study here, skeptical commentary here.

Conservatism and cognitive ability HERE

References and further reading may be available for this article. To view references and further reading you must purchase this article.

Lazar Stankova,
National Institute of Education (NIE), 1 Nanyang Walk, Singapore

Received 17 July 2008;
revised 7 December 2008;
accepted 8 December 2008.
Available online 3 February 2009.


Conservatism and cognitive ability are negatively correlated. The evidence is based on 1254 community college students and 1600 foreign students seeking entry to United States' universities. At the individual level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with SAT, Vocabulary, and Analogy test scores. At the national level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with measures of education (e.g., gross enrollment at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels) and performance on mathematics and reading assessments from the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) project. They also correlate with components of the Failed States Index and several other measures of economic and political development of nations. Conservatism scores have higher correlations with economic and political measures than estimated IQ scores.

Keywords: Conservatism; Intelligence; Multi-level

Wayne S. replied:

That doesn't bother me . I am a registered "Independent". I was a Democrat years ago.
I, a conservative, am not gullible enough to accept this "study" at face value. Good try though , Jim.

Jim's riposte to Wayne S.:


There are essential differences between conservatives (the modern American equivalent, not the Barry Goldwater or Dwight Eisenhower examples) and non-conservatives. I won't use the word "liberals" because that word has become a pejorative term and a false comparison used by conservatives. Non conservatives are all of the people who don't label themselves as a conservative. They include- but are not limited to- people who consider themselves libertarians, independents, or Colin Powell Republicans.

Here is where the key difference lies between conservatives and non-conservatives: means and ends. In most cases, conservatives and non-conservatives have the same goals (ends). For instance, in the case of crime, conservatives and the rest of us can have the same goal, which is to reduce crime and reduce illegal drug use. Conservatives have one means- strict enforcement of the law (except for crimes which typically involve people like them, which is why no indictments have issued yet for bankers and financiers who crashed the American economy by engaging in massive fraud))- coupled with harsh punishment (except for people who look like them). If that doesn't work over, say a 40 year period, they will never change the means- only ratchet them up. Conservatives decry "technicalities" that get criminals off- unless the technicality is a Fifth Amendment violation and the criminal is Oliver North, who got his criminal conviction overturned. Criminals rail against the dangers of drug use and against judges who coddle criminals, unless their name is Rush Limbaugh, the drug is Oxycontin, and all charges are dropped for serious felonies because he completed a pretrial diversion program.

A non-conservative would look at the crime problem and see what works. If rehabilitation and job training of prisoners with smaller and less restrictive detention facilities reduces recidivism, then great, we'll try that. If increasing recreational opportunities and job programs in the community reduces overall crime, then put money in that direction. If legalizing drugs works in Switzerland and Portugal and greatly reduces violent drug related crime, then a non-conservative is willing to try it here. If it works, great. If not, then try something else. It's not an ideological issue, because if it doesn't work, then be willing to acknowledge reality (which a conservative won't or can't do) and try something else.

A conservative answer for a good economy is to cut taxes. For a bad economy it is to cut taxes. If terrorists attack, the answer is to cut taxes. In other words, the answer is always to cut taxes- most importantly, taxes which affect only the super rich- such as estate taxes, which at present only hit estates greater than $7 million. Their only means of fixing any economic problem is to cut taxes. At the same time, conservatives want to increase military spending even when the spending could not possibly be related to current or foreseeable national security threats (i.e. F-22 Raptor fighters and Seawolf nuclear attack submarines, both designed to go to war against a country which has not existed for 20 years- the Soviet Union). And yet conservatives claim to want a balanced budget. Their brains are apparently incapable of or unwilling to comprehend the inherent incompatibility of cutting taxes, increasing defense spending, and balancing budgets. They wax nostalgic for a return to the disastrous deficit spending which occurred during President Reagan's time in office, as he tried to do all three.

Or take reforming the health care industry to provide more access. Every so called "conservative" solution involves either unfettered, unregulated competition in the marketplace (except where monopolies are granted to large corporations- i.e. a "certificate of need" requirement that kept one local hospital from delivering babies while the other hospital jacked up fees which were among the highest in the state) or "medical savings accounts" which are available to the poor as well as the rich. Of course, the poor can't take advantage of them, because to actually create a medical savings account, the citizen must have a relatively large amount of discretionary income and have a high enough tax bracket to profit from the attractive tax breaks. A non-conservative looks at other countries which use single payer plans and national health insurance programs that expend pennies compared to our dollars for far better health services than what Americans have. If it works, great. And by "works" I mean lowering total health care costs in the country while affording coverage to more than the current population covered by private health insurance.

These are just a few examples, but it goes right on down the line. Conservatives may or may not be stupider than the rest of us.. But without question, they are more closed minded and intolerant. Their politics is the politics of fear, not of hope. They are united primarily to demonize groups which are perceived as "others:" Arab Muslims, Mexican immigrants, gay people, any non-English speaking people. When is the last time a conservative railed against all of the Canadians and Australians- white, English speaking, Anglo-Saxons- who are taking jobs away from hard working Americans? Never.

Finally, a key difference is that non conservatives don't unquestioningly accept assertions by their leaders. In fact, many non-conservatives prefer to do their thinking for themselves and routinely question and challenge their so called leaders. Witness the firestorm of criticism which has landed on Barack Obama for reneging on campaign promises to close Gitmo and to end the use of military commissions and preventive detention. In comparison, conservatives will accept and blindly repeat talking points handed down to them. In fact, many of them will proudly call themselves "dittoheads" when calling in to their favorite radio show, a term which in any context defines a person incapable or unwilling to think for himself, even when the talking points are blatantly false or incompatible with observable reality.

Now prove me wrong.

Jim Finkelstein

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Usually the photos I pick are a wry or pertinent insight into the point of the article. That may also be true this week, but I picked this one mainly because I get a kick out of seeing the words "Sean Hannity" and "douchebag" in the same caption

Next time you go to the polls, ask yourself which political party most closely reflects your views and should get your vote, PARTY 1, or PARTY 2. Here's a quick summary of their positions:


PARTY 1 is for punishment- severe punishment up to and including the death penalty- because there is no reason to coddle criminals or to show mercy to scumbags who didn't show any mercy to their victims. In fact, public executions would be a salutary way of deterring other persons from committing those crimes. Accused criminals should have to prove their innocence, and no petty technical details should get in the way of punishing the guilty. There should not be a privilege against self incrimination, no suspects should be warned that they have a right to remain silent, and evidence illegally seized should not be thrown out of a trial. Hearsay evidence, if it comes from the government, should be allowed in trials. Military commissions should be used to try enemies of the State.

PARTY 2: let the punishment fit the crime, and in some instances, the accused. Be rational, reasonable, and show respect to the accused and to his or her rights under the law. Those rights include Due Process of law, including the rights to counsel, to confront witnesses, to subpoena witnesses, to proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and to trial by jury in all cases- even those involving foreign terrorists. The death penalty is inhumane and can never be administered fairly, so it should be abolished, along with all other cruel and unusual punishments, including anything approaching torture.


PARTY 1: the government, not the woman or her doctor, makes decisions concerning a woman's reproductive choices. Abortion is a crime, and the woman who engages in it should be criminally prosecuted.

PARTY 2: a woman's body is hers and she should make decisions concerning her health and whether she wants to bear a child or take a pregnancy to term.


PARTY 1: the government can and should regulate public morals, including prostitution, pornography, indecent dress by women and men, indecent music lyrics, and other forms of expression which are sexually deviant. Homosexuality should be illegal and criminally prosecuted.

PARTY 2: people have the right to make their own choices as to which adults they have sex with, what they want to watch, what they wear, and what music they listen to, and it's none of the government's business.


PARTY 1: The government should prohibit all private consumption of mind altering drugs, even those drugs such as marijuana which may be prescribed by a physician for chemotherapy or glaucoma patients.

PARTY 2: So long as a person does not injure another human being, what an adult ingests is his or her own business and the government should not be involved.


PARTY 1: The country was founded on the basis of the majority religion of the country, and that religion should be recognized in official government places and in the morality of all government decision making, including judicial decisions.

PARTY 2: Religious choices- including the choice to have no religion or believe in no god- are the private decisions of individual citizens. The government should be completely religion free and strictly neutral in all its aspects, never favoring one religion in any decision.


PARTY 1. War is a necessary component of foreign policy. Maintaining a nuclear arsenal is an essential element of that policy, and those who want to dismantle nukes or who want to renounce the use of nuclear weapons should shut up- they are unpatriotic. During war collateral damage of persons who are a different religion and a different culture is not as significant as saving the lives of our citizens. Sometimes nasty actions on foreign soil have to be carried out to preserve our homeland security and our sacred way of life.

PARTY 2: War is a choice of the last resort, and should never be engaged in casually. All human beings are equally significant, and there is no such thing as "collateral damage," a euphemism for killing innocent civilians, which should be avoided at all costs. We should reduce our nuclear arsenal and etch in stone a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons.


PARTY 1: There is no room for dissent in the party. Either you are completely with the program, or you are out and should expect no sympathy or support from leaders of the party.

PARTY 2: There is plenty of room for dissenting opinions and no one will ever be drummed out for not being ideologically pure.


So, have you made your decision yet? Do you plan on voting for PARTY 1 in the next election because PARTY 1 most closely reflects your views, and their candidates are most like you? Congratulations! You have just chosen the party platform of the Taliban-- and also of the ruling Iranian Religious Party. Oh, you thought that you were voting Republican? That's OK, that's their platform, too. Don't believe it? Just go back and compare the public positions of the Taliban and the Iranian Government with those of the Republican Party on the above 7 issues. If you can find any significant differences between what I wrote and their positions, let me know and I'll buy you lunch if you can back it up. But don't count on it, and if you are a diehard Dick Cheney/Rush Limbaugh Republican, please don't let your head explode from the cognitive dissonance.