Ouch, the stupid

It really is shameful that people this stupid can get elected to Congress.  Apparently Georgia Republican Paul Broun knows more about the Constitution than former Constitutional Law Professor Barack Obama.   Really, the hubris of this is just astounding.

President Obama has “no concept” of the U.S. Constitution, despite his previously being a constitutional law professor, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) told theAtlanta Journal-Constitution. Rather, he said, the president upholds the constitution of our old Cold War foe.

“I think my role is to uphold support and defend our Constitution,” Broun said. “The Constitution I uphold and defend is the one I carry in my pocket all the time, the U.S. Constitution.”

Obama on the other hand? Not so much.

“I don’t know what Constitution that other members of Congress uphold, but it’s not this one,” he added. “I think the only Constitution that Barack Obama upholds is the Soviet constitution, not this one. He has no concept of this one, though he claimed to be a constitutional lawyer.”

In the post, the Journal-Constitution‘s Jim Galloway included a few lines from the preamble of the most recent constitution of the Soviet Union (which of course is no longer the Soviet Union). It reads: “The Great October Socialist Revolution…overthrew capitalist and landowner rule, broke the fetters of oppression, established the dictatorship of the proletariat, and created the Soviet state, a new type of state, the basic instrument for defending the gains of the revolution and for building socialism and communism.”

If the name Paul Broun rings a bell, it might be because you read about him claiming that the Big Bang and Evolution are “lies straight from the pit of Hell.”  Seriously, do Democrats who say stuff half this dumb get elected to Congress?

Why do Republicans hate democracy?

What the VA Republican Party has done is just so, so wrong, and so inimical to democracy.  From the Post editorial:

IN A SNEAK ATTACK notable more for its deviousness than its strategic acuity, Virginia Republicans engineered a bald-faced power grab Monday that would radically redraw the state’s electoral map without so much as a “yea,” “nay” or “maybe” from anything so trivial as a voter.

Taking advantage of the absence of a single Democratic state senator, GOP lawmakers in Richmond rammed through a radically gerrymandered map designed to hand them control of the 40-member state Senate, which is now split evenly between the two parties.

They were able to do so, on a vote of 20 to 19, because one Democratic senator was in Washington to attend President Obama’s inauguration. Touche, Republicans! Count that as a new low for hyper-partisanship, dirty tricks and the unaccountable arrogance of power.

The Republican move was executed in the style of a putsch, arising from a conspiracy and with no warning, public input or debate. Pressing their momentary numerical superiority, GOP lawmakers amended a routine House bill by tacking on a new map, devised in secret. Although this is one of the most partisan redistricting plans in Virginia’s history, the Republicans then cut off debate after 30 minutes.

Now, here’s the thing, I’m sure many a person read this and defaulted right to, “well Democrats do it, too.”  But do they?  If Democratic legislatures (in recent times– there’s little in common between the old Southern Dems and today’s Democratic party) are guilty of such egregious violations of democratic norms as this, I am unaware.

Photo of the day

Very cool In Focus gallery of great shots from Obam’s first term.  I love this one of the First Lady:

First lady Michelle Obama flexes her arms in response to a joke about her habit of wearing sleeveless dresses during the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in Washington, D.C., on May 9, 2009. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

Chart of the day (and an invitation)

Well, it’s pretty much too late to give any actual warning, but I realized I ought to promote this year’s American Values speaker on my blog.   Tim Noah, former Slate columnist, now TNR writer, and all-around expert on inequality will be speaking about his fascinating work on inequality in America on campus at 5p today (details here or here).   Anyway, I invited Tim to be our speaker because his work on inequality 1) is very timely; 2) very interesting; and 3) most definitely speaks to fundamental issues of American values.

His original Slate series is here.   And here’s the great slideshow that goes along with it.  Lots of great charts.  I think this one is my favorite:


Yeah– that’ s not good.  So, if you’re in the neighborhood try and come out and see Tim Noah’s talk at 5p today.


Pro-life and Pro Roe

I think public opinion on the issue of abortion is fascinating as I think there’s a naive assumption that Americans have firm, emotionally-based attitudes about abortion.  In reality, most Americans seem to be in a mushy middle where they have a vague unease about the morality of abortion and a vague unease about excessively regulating it.  I think the latest Gallup data confirms the point.  Let’s start with pro-life v. pro-choice:

Trend: U.S. Adults' Position on Abortion

In theory, it’s a big deal, that pro-life has shot past pro-choice this year.  That would, potentially, be a big deal if Americans’ underlying policy preferences– rather than how they like to label themselves– had actually undergone a dramatic change.  One could argue that the most fundamental policy issue is– is there a Constitutional right to an abortion?  On this matter, Americans have long answered, and continue to answer, “yes.”

U.S. Views on Overturning Roe v. Wade

Also note, that while this majority has shrunk to a bare one in recent years, the proportion of Americans actually wanting to overturn Roe basically hasn’t budged, rather, it is those with no opinion.  Among other things, the data suggest there’s a non-trivial portion of the population that is “pro-life” but supports Roe.  Short version– it’s important to remember that their can be a fairly significant disjunction between a political identity and actual policy views.  Some day I’ll get back to my long-forgotten research on abortion and social identity.

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