Author: The BPI Squirrel

Furthermore! – My Noise Problem

Someday they’ll invent ear plugs that accommodate ear tufts. By then I’ll probably be deaf. (More) Not from construction work at BPI. The new Venerable Hall is almost done and you can take a peek. They’re still waiting on the painters and decorators to spiffy up the place, but at least they’re finished with the bulldozers and cement mixers and cranes and saws and hammers. So that’s not my noise problem. No, my noise problem is the media. Take yesterday’s CBS News headline – Poll: Romney has slight edge over Obama. It’s true that their most recent poll shows presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney leading President Obama 46-43. It’s also true that the CBS/New York Times poll has a 4% margin of error, and the head-to-head preference question has shown them within the 4% margin of error in every month but one. That six-point Obama lead in February is an outlier in an otherwise close national race. The changes within the margin of error look a lot like statistical noise. Within the poll, President Obama’s declaration of support for marriage equality last week seems like a slight political risk. About six-in-ten voters say that issue will not affect their decision, but President Obama’s support did drop 5% among both independents (he now trails 43-36) and moderates (he still leads 50-39). Two-thirds of voters think the president made the statement...

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Furthermore! – The Desperate Stand of the Right Wing

Voters passed North Carolina’s anti-equality Amendment One yesterday. It was another act of desperation. (More) Animals understand desperation. Take Robo-Squirrel, who isn’t actually an animal but can mimic some behaviors of my cousin the ground squirrel: Why do ground squirrels raise their tails up straight and flick them back and forth when they see a rattlesnake? As it happens, adult ground squirrels are immune to rattlesnake venom and agile enough to avoid the strike. But adult squirrels know their babies are not yet immune. The squirrel also heats up its tail while flicking it around – rattlesnakes sense heat more than they see light – to send a warning: “I see you and I’ll fight to defend my burrow.” Like animals, people will also fight when they’re desperate. Back in December we saw that “Losing feels worse than winning feels good,” and that humans will take excessive risks when faced with long odds. From the unpopular House Republican budget to ousting six-term Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) for a Tea Party hardliner, from radical ‘personhood’ bills and mandatory ultrasounds to proposing to let employers fire women who use contraception, from draconian anti-immigration bills to ever-stricter voter suppression laws … Republicans are acting out of desperation. Part of that is changing demographics. Single-race whites are projected to become a minority in the U.S. by 2050, and younger voters are more progressive...

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Furthermore! – Conservatism, Religion, Society, and Data

I took a break from 21st Century Political Nuttitude to watch a discussion about the science of 21st Century Political Nuttitude. Oh well. (More) It happened because Mrs. Squirrel noticed that I’d gained an ounce, because I’ve gone back to noshing macadamias when my research makes me too grumpy. Mrs. Squirrel reasoned that my old new diet plan wasn’t soothing me as much anymore, and she heard that University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt and Center for American Progress science writer Chris Mooney were on MSNBC’s Up With Chris this weekend to discuss the science of political reasoning. Mrs. Squirrel knows I like science, so she thought watching their discussion might ease my grumpiness with less weight gain. I followed the BPI discussion of Dr. Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind last month, so I was already familiar with his research. BPI hasn’t yet discussed Chris Mooney’s new book The Republican Brain, but he has met a lot more media pushback because he follows the data and the data don’t support the “both parties are equally wrong about science” fallacy. So I watched the discussion, which was very informative and didn’t make me want to reach for snacks: I’d been following Dr. Haidt on Twitter, and just after I watched that discussion he tweeted a link to a new article at his website titled “What Evangelicals can Teach Democrats about...

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Furthermore! – Right Rejects Obama as Commander-in-Chief

It may surprise you to learn that I’m really not big on titles. I use “The BPI Squirrel” in public because my real name, Regis Phlyphytyphts Fluffytail III, sounds too stuffy even to me. (My middle name comes from the Welsh side of the family.) I call my wife “Mrs. Squirrel” because her real name is Catherine and the nickname we use at Árbol Squirrel would confuse Pootie the Precious. Your lowly mail room clerk refers to the rest of the staff by their titles and everyone seems to prefer that, so I do that too. Yet while I’m usually more informal, I realize there are times when titles matter. President of the United States, for example. And with respect to the military, Commander-in-Chief. So I was more than a bit upset to read that Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) dismissed President Obama’s trip to Afghanistan as “an attempt to shore up his national security credentials, because he has spent the past three years gutting our military.” That fit the Republican narrative that has emerged over the past few days as the GOP pushed back against the anniversary of the Bin Laden raid. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey wrote this in Monday’s Wall Street Journal: Consider the events surrounding the operation. A recently disclosed memorandum from then-CIA Director Leon Panetta shows that the president’s celebrated derring-do in authorizing the operation...

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Furthermore! – Right Waves Red Tin Foil Flags

The twins, Nancy and Michelle, were musing aloud yesterday about why they’re red squirrels and not grey squirrels. They’re in school now and learning color concepts like red stop signs and grey clouds, but they don’t think of themselves as stop signs or their grey friends as rainy. Mrs. Squirrel explained that red squirrels have red squirrel babies, while grey squirrels have grey squirrel babies. “Yes,” Nancy chittered dubiously, “but what does that mean?” For a moment, she sounded like a right-wing pundit. By now you’ve probably seen President Obama’s new campaign video introducing his 2012 slogan: “Forward.” It’s a brilliant video that reminds us of the depth of the challenges he inherited when he took office, and summarizes the scope of his accomplishments during his first term. The ad concludes with his vision for the future: This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. Because what’s at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, and secure their retirement. I believe this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules. And I believe America is on the way up. Thank you. God bless you....

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