More bad news for the embattled governor

Aiming to revive his sagging presidential fortunes, Chris Christie is boasting to donorsabout his characteristically pugnacious performance before last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference. Of course, Christie’s media-bashing, faux-populist CPAC pitch didn’t move voters in the conference’s presidential straw poll: He finished tenth, with just 2.8 percent of the vote. While the New Jersey governor’s approval ratings haven’t sunk that low at home, a new poll shows him at the lowest ebb of his five-year tenure — a finding that underscores the difficulties Christie will have as he seeks to breathe new life into his likely presidential bid.

This is likely the end of Chris Christie

Rand Paul wins CPAC straw poll...again.

It makes me smile to think about how this must get under the skin of the GOP establishment.  

from USA Today:

Rand Paul won a high-profile straw poll for a third straight year Saturday, capping an annual conservative conference at which delegates argued about how to turn their ideas into a presidential victory in 2016.

The Kentucky senator carried 25.7% in the Conservative Political Action Conference poll, while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker finished second with 21.4% — a closer-than-expected tally in this early test of political strength among conservative Republican activists.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, finished third with 11.5%, followed closely by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 11.4%.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush — perhaps the most criticized candidate at this conservative conclave — finished fifth at 8.3%.

Other potential presidential candidates — including Marco Rubio, Chris

Christie, and Rick Perry — had less than 4% in the straw poll. Paul also won

CPAC contests in 2013 and 2014.

The straw poll highlighted the four-day conference at which conservative delegates generally agreed they need to elect one of their own to the presidency in 2016, but disputed the best way to go about it.

read the rest

I have to laugh at how poorly Jeb Bush and Chris Christie did in this.

In their annual End of Year survey, Win/Gallup International found that the United States is considered the number one “greatest threat to peace in the world today” by people across the globe.  The poll of 67,806 respondents from 65 countries found that the U.S. won this dubious distinction by a landslide, as revealed in the chart above. (x)


[from this earlier post]

Actually, those almost seem like fair questions, HOWEVER:

  • Voting is a valuable and cherished right that many people have fought and died for. Other comparisons tend to fail because voting is not a purchasable, nor an easily revoked privilege like flying or driving —how many people were tarred and feathered or murdered because of fighting for their “right” to fly or drive?
  • The 24th Amendment makes poll taxes illegal. Requiring someone pay —directly or otherwise— for the right to vote is neither democratic nor patriotic
  • Voter ID laws disproportionately impact disabled, the poor and the elderly —all groups that often lack “proper ID.”
  • Many college students (and older people) simply do not drive —and thus have no need for a state issued driver’s license. I know people who live in New York who have never, ever owned a license or a car
  • Students have used their college IDs to vote in elections for decades. But suddenly, after the 2008 and 20012 election results, Republican led legislatures have found cause to suppress their votes. Additionally, it is worth noting such Voter ID restrictions tend to be more lax in districts that have consistently voted for Republicans. Why is that?
  • Many states requiring an “official government ID” to vote have simultaneously reduced drivers license office hours and/or completely closed many offices, thereby making it even harder to obtain the very type of ID they’re mandating
  • Some elected Republican officials like Mike Turzai have said that Voter ID laws were being passed for the expressed purpose of rigging an election. Other elected Republicans like Bill O’Brien, have openly stated they simply do not want college students voting because they tend to vote for Democrats
  • ALEC, a GOP/Koch Brothers political organization, is directly responsible for the surge of voter suppression laws seen in the last decade. ALEC’s founder, Paul Weyrich, was quoted as saying, “I don’t want everybody to vote. Our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
  • There have been more elected GOP officials found guilty of Election Fraud than actual voters committing voter fraud
  • Voter ID laws are “solutions” to a problem that does not exist. Voter ID laws are a Republican response to Republicans losing elections, not to fixing voter fraud. There has been a comprehensive study—at the behest of many Republicans—which showed that in more than a decade of voting, exactly 10 people engaged in voter fraud. That’s 10 people out of the millions who voted since the year 2000. And some of those likely did so unknowingly (ie, voted at the wrong voting precinct, or were genuinely unaware they were ineligible to vote, etc.)

I’m just a teenage girl, who is more privileged than at least 1/3 of the country, I acknowledge that. I am straight, white, and my family is middle class. But I am also scared for the future that these election results may bring. I know, I know, “What do you know about politics?” I admit that I don’t know half as much as I should, but it doesn’t mean that I’m ignorant to what party now practically controls the government. 

I am a high schooler, in a country where school shooting drills now have to happen just as often as fire drills. And Republicans don’t care for any gun laws, in fact, they fully support the NRA. 

I am a girl, in a country where our new leaders say that ‘God plans rape’ and that a fetus is more important than the welfare of women. Where certain Republicans have said that if women are allowed to the rights to their own body, then men should be allowed to rape them. 

I am almost a college student, and I can guarantee there won’t be any breaks for college loans, as they’ve voted against it before. 

My best friend is a lesbian, and my uncles are gay, in a country where our new lawmakers say that gay marriage is a sin. Where they might have their barely gained (not even in all 50 states) marriage rights taken away. 

But it isn’t just about me. It’s about my entire generation, and that includes people of every religion, ethnicity, color, size, shape, sexual orientation, and gender (or lack thereof). Many people are going to be negatively affected by this power switch in the government. Much more than I will be. 

I know I’m just a teenage girl and I must know nothing about all of this, but I myself fear for what comes next. It might be overdramatic, I might be overreacting, but I am afraid. 

This is undoubtedly an amusing headline, but it actually touches on a serious issue in democracies: How can policymakers sell and implement necessarily policy when the general public is almost comedically misinformed about what policy is needed? The poll cited showed that Britons believe that 24% of jobless benefits are fraudulently claimed (the actual number is .7%); that violent crime is rising (it’s falling); that immigrants comprise 1/3 of the population (more like 13%); and that teen pregnancy is roughly 26 times higher than it actually is. “Politicians need to be better at talking about the real state of affairs of the country, rather than spinning the numbers,” said one of the pollsters involved. In addition, “the media has to try and genuinely illuminate issues, rather than use statistics to sensationalise.” So, in other words, the incentives structure of politics and the media needs to do a complete 180 from where they are now. Awesome, that should be a quick fix. source

Figure caption with the NPR political article/source:

"A display of a series of skeletons showing the evolution of humans at the Peabody Museum, New Haven, Conn., circa 1935."

That, and copying Huxley’s famous figure, might be what the museum exhibit creator had in mind, but these 80 or so years later we’re all done recklessly and inaccurately insinuating that we evolved from gorillas, that evolved from chimps, that evolved from orangutans, that evolved from gibbons. 

A row of primate skeletons does not depict human evolution any more than a row of dog skeletons depicts the evolution of beagles. 

It’s images like this that perpetuate misunderstandings that contribute to the obstacles to evolution acceptance. And of all places to mislead readers about evolution, an article about evolution denial is definitely not one. 

edit (added after initial post): If NPR readers don’t see a problem with this depiction of human evolution but still feel superior to the evolution deniers in the article, then Darwin help us. 

More white people than ever think police aren’t racist 

The new attention to the impunity with which the police can kill young black men has elicited concern from huge swathes of the public and even conservative icons like Sen. Rand Paul and George W. Bush. But a Washington Post round-up of polls suggests that white America’s faith in the police to treat people of different races equally is on the rise.

A majority of U.S. millionaires think rising income inequality is a “major problem” and almost two-thirds favor increasing taxes on the wealthy and raising the minimum wage to reverse the trend, according to a new survey.

Not only don’t Republicans represent the majority of Americans on economic issues, they don’t even represent the majority of millionaires.

Congress more popular than meth labs, less popular than Nickelback

Recently, Public Policy Polling sought to discover just how low the public’s opinion of Congress had fallen, testing the popularity of the U.S. Congress against twenty-six different, typically unpopular things. We all know that the American people have a less-than-favorable opinion of Congress (9% favorable and 85% unfavorable), but damn. The results weren’t pretty.

Here’s the outcome of PPP’s survey, in a handy illustrated form, from most to least popular thing:



When presented with a choice between Congress or Brussels sprouts, respondents gave a higher favorable rating to Brussels sprouts (69%) versus Congress (23%).



Survey takers had a higher opinion of lice (69%) than Congress (19%).



Respondents held colonoscopies in higher regard (58%) than Congress (31%).



Used car salesman beat out Congress 57% to 32%.



Respondents had a higher opinion of actual traffic jams (56%) versus the metaphorical traffic jam of Congress (34%).



The NFL’s much-maligned replacement refs did better than Congress by a rate of 56% to 29%.



Root canals were chosen over Congress 56% to 32%.



The perceived snub launching “freedom fries” must be forgiven — 46% of people held a higher opinion of France, while Congress received a favorable rating of 37%.



Cockroaches have a remarkable ability to adapt to a changing environment. Perhaps this helps explain why they edge out Congress 45% to 43%.



It was nearly a tie between the Donald and Congress for a higher opinion rating. But Trump edged out Congress 44% to 42%.



Respondents held a higher favorable opinion of Genghis Khan (41%) versus Congress (37%).



Carnies fared better than Congress in PPP’s popularity poll — 39% to 31%.



I know, right? But PPP assures us that 39% of people hold a higher opinion of Nickelback than Congress. Respondents held Congress in higher esteem than the Canadian scourge at a rate of 32%.



Political Pundits were favored over Congress 37% to 34%.

But all is not lost. Here’s the choices with a lower favorability than Congress:





As PPP explains:

Congress did manage to beat out telemarketers (45-35), John Edwards (45-29), the Kardashians (49-36), lobbyists (48-30), North Korea (61-26), the ebola virus (53-25), Lindsay Lohan (45-41), Fidel Castro (54-32), playground bullies (43-38), meth labs (60- 21), communism (57-23), and gonorrhea (53-28).

Job well done, 112th Congress.

113th Congress, you’ve got some big shoes to fill.

51% of Americans support torture — here’s why

The horrors detailed in the Senate Intelligence Committee torture report released last week have not swayed most Americans’ opinion on its morality. A Pew poll conducted in the days after the report was made public reveals that a majority of Americans believe the CIA’s interrogation practices after 9/11 were justified.  

Among those polled, 51% said the methods were justified, while 29% believed it wasn’t and 20% said they didn’t know. A majority (56%) also believed that those methods provided intelligence that prevented terror attacks. A narrow plurality (43%) said the decision to release the report was the wrong decision.

It’s all in the framing 

Gallup asks people in more than 120 countries each year whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied with the freedom to choose what they do with their lives. In 2006, the U.S. ranked among the highest in the world for people reporting satisfaction with their level of freedom. After seven years and a 12-point decline, the U.S. no longer makes the top quartile worldwide.

More here.