Friday, August 31, 2007


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The New Republic


Hillary's Negatives
by Josh Patashnik
Only at TNR Online
Post date: 08.30.07

Karl Rove made waves earlier this month with his assertion that HillaryClinton's bid for the White House will be hampered by the negative views ofher that a sizable chunk of the public holds. "She enters the generalelection campaign with the highest negatives of any candidate in the historyof the Gallup poll," Rove said. "It just says people have made an opinionabout her. It's hard to change opinions once you've been a high-profileperson in the public eye, as she has for 16 or 17 years."

Clinton's negatives are indeed unusually high, averaging in the mid-40percent range, 10 to 15 points higher than those of most of the other majorpresidential candidates. But are high negatives early in a campaign reallyfatal? And if not, what can candidates do to lower those numbers? The NewRepublic asked several well-known campaign consultants. Here's what theysaid:

Guy Molyneux

My sense is that over the course of running for Senate there that hernegative ratings probably did decline there from the time she first became acandidate until now. If so, that would be pretty strong evidence that it ispossible for her particularly to lower her negatives, and others have talkedand written about what she did in that campaign to get voters to reevaluateher. I do think that if she becomes the nominee that she'll have anopportunity to do that. There's a substantial portion of those who currentlyhave a negative view of her who would be willing to revisit their opinion ifthey realize that she is one of only two choices they have to become thenext president of the United States.



The New Republic


Of Dog Fights and Men
by Ben Crair
Only at TNR Online
Post date: 08.29.07

On Monday, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick plead guilty to federalcharges of dog fighting, including charges that he personally endorsed theexecution of underperforming dogs by hanging or drowning. For insight intothe reaction to Vick's case, The New Republic spoke with ethicist PeterSinger, the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University.His book Animal Liberation, first published in 1975, is considered thefoundational text of the animal rights movement. He discussed the sorrylives of the American pig, the ethical difference between hunting and dogfighting, and why both of those are minor cruelties in the scale of things.

What do you make of the public reaction to Michael Vick's involvement inillegal dog fighting?

Well, I think in a sense it's quite fair. It seems from the allegation thatMichael Vick did horrible things to dogs. If he did what's alleged, peopleshould be disgusted and revolted by it. From my point of view, what isregrettable is that people only react so strongly to such things when theyoccur with dogs. If something similar had been done with pigs or chickens,the reaction probably would have been much milder. That seems to me to bewrong. I think pigs suffer just as much as dogs, and, in terms of what we doto pigs in this country in general, they suffer a lot more cruelty than dogsdo because there are so many of them in factory farms in appallingconditions. That's the incongruity. It's not that there's an overreaction tothe Vick business, it's rather that there's an underreaction to what'shappening elsewhere.

Basketball player Stephon Marbury was widely criticized for tellingreporters, "We don't say anything about people who shoot deer or shoot otheranimals. You know, from what I hear, dog fighting is a sport." Do you thinkhis comparison was valid?


Pew Research Center

How the Public Resolves Conflicts Between Faith and Science
On Subjects such as Evolution, Many Americans Are Aware of -- but Reject --the Scientific Consensus
by David Masci, Senior Research Fellow, Pew Forum on Religion & Public LifeAugust 27, 2007

The relationship between faith and science in the United States seems, atleast on the surface, to be paradoxical. Surveys repeatedly show that mostAmericans respect science and the benefits it brings to society, such as newtechnologies and medical treatments. And yet, religious convictions limitmany Americans' willingness to accept controversial scientific theories aswell as certain types of scientific research, such as the potential use ofembryonic stem cells for medical treatments.

Science and religion have traditionally, and often incorrectly, been viewedas enemies. This perception has been fueled in part by a number of famousepisodes in history that have pitted scientists, like Galileo and Darwin,against the prevailing religious establishments of their time. But moreoften than not, scientists and people of faith have operated not at crosspurposes but simply at different purposes.

Today the situation is much the same. Certainly, there are modern scientists
who are actively hostile to religious belief. British biologist RichardDawkins, for instance, in his best-selling book, The God Delusion, arguesthat many social ills - from bigotry to ignorance - can be blamed, at leastin part, on religion. In addition, a significant number of scientists -roughly a third according to a 2006 Rice University survey of more than 750professors in the natural sciences - do not believe in God, compared withonly one-in-twenty in the general population. But regardless of theirpersonal views, most scientists tend to view the two disciplines asdistinct, with each attempting to answer different kinds of questions usingdifferent methods. The late evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gouldfamously referred to this complementary relationship as "non-overlappingmagisteria."


Inside Higher Education

If Not Religion, What?
By Alan Contreras

In a variety of arenas, from politics to high schools, from colleges to themilitary, Americans argue as though the proper face-to-face discussion inour society ought to be between religion and science. This is amisunderstanding of the taxonomy of thought. Religion and science are indifferent families on different tracks: science deals with is vs. isn't andreligion, to the extent that it relates to daily life, deals with should vs.shouldn't.

These are fundamentally different trains. They may hoot at each other inpassing, and many people attempt to switch them onto the same track (mainlyin order to damage science), but this is an act of the desperate, not thethoughtful.

It is true that a portion of religious hooting has to do with is vs. isn'tquestions, in the arena of creationism and its ancillary arguments. However,this set of arguments, important as it might be for some religious people,is not important to a great many (especially outside certain Protestantvariants), while the moral goals and effects of religious belief are a farmore common and widespread concern among many faiths. I was raised in Quakermeeting, where we had a saying: Be too busy following the good example ofJesus to argue about his metaphysical nature.

Until recently, most scientists didn't bother trying to fight with religion;for the most part they ignored it or practiced their own faiths. However, inrecent years Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris havedecided to enter the ring and fight religion face to face. The results havebeen mixed. I have read books by all of these authors on this subject, aswell as the interesting 2007 blog exchange between Harris and AndrewSullivan one of the best writers active today and a practicing Catholic, andit is clear that a great deal of energy is being expended firing heavyordnance into black holes with no likelihood of much effect.

The problem that the scientific horsemen face is that theirs is the languageof is/isn't. Their opponents (mostly Christians but by implication observantJews and Muslims as well) don't use the word "is" to mean the same thing. Toa religious person, God is and that's where the discussion begins. To anonreligious scientist, God may or may not be, and that is where thediscussion begins.


Pew Research Center

44% - Evangelical Approval of President Bush

White evangelical Protestants have been one of the groups consistentlybacking George W. Bush throughout his presidency -- as recently as December2004, more than three-quarters of white evangelicals gave the president apositive performance review -- but a June survey found just 44% of whiteevangelicals expressing approval of the president's job performance; roughlythe same number (46%) say they disapprove. However, among evangelicals whoturned out to vote last November, exit polls found President Bush's approvalrating was 70%, far higher than among the electorate as a whole. Overall theGOP did very well among white evangelicals voters in 2006: nationwide, 72%voted Republican in races for the U.S. House. Evangelicals split from othervoters in 2006 in the very high level of importance they attached to valuesissues such as gay marriage and abortion: 59% of evangelicals said theseissues were "extremely important" to their vote, compared with just 29% ofother voters. Still, 41% said they were glad that Democrats won control ofCongress in November, although that was substantially fewer than among otherreligious groups and seculars. Read more


The Washington Post

A Precedented Scandal
By Ruth Marcus
Friday, August 31, 2007; A15

He was an important political figure, arrested for engaging in lewd conductin a public men's room. Married, with children, he told no one. Instead hepleaded guilty without even hiring a lawyer, hoping the problem wouldquietly disappear.

When, as was inevitable, the press got hold of the story, his erstwhilesupporters quickly distanced themselves -- and commissioned a poll to assessthe political damage. His career in politics was over.

This man was not Idaho Sen. Larry Craig but Walter Jenkins, the aide LyndonB. Johnson called "my vice president in charge of everything." Jenkins wasarrested in October 1964 for having sex in the men's room of the WashingtonYMCA.

So much has changed for the better since Jenkins's day. But the story ofCraig's encounter with a police officer in an airport bathroom underscoresthe continuing grip of homophobia on American society.

"I am not gay. I never have been gay," Craig proclaimed. And while it washard -- after the police report, the guilty plea, the Idaho Statesmanstory -- to credit that assertion, it was easy to understand how importantit was for the senator to maintain that position.

It may be safe to be gay on "Will & Grace." It's a lot less acceptable forpeople in public life.


Pew Research Center

Black Enthusiasm for Clinton and Obama Leaves Little Room for EdwardsClinton's Image Up among Liberals, Down among Conservatives; Obama ScoresBest among College Educated

by Michael Dimock, Associate Director for Research, Pew Research Center forthe People & the Press
August 30, 2007

The exceptionally strong support for both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obamaamong black voters (and, for Clinton, among liberal Democratic andlower-income white voters as well), may help explain the relatively limitedappeal of presidential hopeful John Edwards, whose populist platform has nottranslated so far into support from these key segments of the Democraticelectorate.

While wide majorities of Democratic voters rate all three of the leadingDemocratic candidates favorably, there is less enthusiasm for John Edwardsthan the other leading candidates. The difference is driven mainly by a lackof excitement, and even some doubts, among black voters.


The New York Times

August 31, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Katrina All the Time

Two years ago today, Americans watched in horror as a great city drowned,and wondered what had happened to their country. Where was FEMA? Where wasthe National Guard? Why wasn't the government of the world's richest, mostpowerful nation coming to the aid of its own citizens?

What we mostly saw on TV was the nightmarish scene at the Superdome, butthings were even worse at the New Orleans convention center, where thousandswere stranded without food or water. The levees were breached Mondaymorning - but as late as Thursday evening, The Washington Post reported, theconvention center "still had no visible government presence," while "corpseslay out in the open among wailing babies and other refugees."

Meanwhile, federal officials were oblivious. "We are extremely pleased withthe response that every element of the federal government, all of ourfederal partners, have made to this terrible tragedy," declared MichaelChertoff, the secretary for Homeland Security, on Wednesday. When asked thenext day about the situation at the convention center, he dismissed thereports as "a rumor" or "someone's anecdotal version."

Today, much of the Gulf Coast remains in ruins. Less than half the federalmoney set aside for rebuilding, as opposed to emergency relief, has actuallybeen spent, in part because the Bush administration refused to waive therequirement that local governments put up matching funds for recoveryprojects - an impossible burden for communities whose tax bases haveliterally been washed away.


The New York Times

August 31, 2007
Report Showing Rise in Iran's Nuclear Activity Exposes Split Between U.S.and U.N.

VIENNA, Aug. 30 - A report released Thursday showing a slow but steadyexpansion of Iran's nuclear technology has exposed a new divide betweenUnited Nations arms inspectors and the United States and its allies over howto contain Tehran's atomic program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in its report that Iran wasbeing unusually cooperative and had reached an agreement with the agency toanswer questions about an array of suspicious past nuclear activities thathave led many nations to suspect it harbors a secret effort to make nucleararms. The agency added that while Tehran's uranium enrichment effort isgrowing, the output is far less than experts had expected.

"This is the first time Iran is ready to discuss all the outstanding issueswhich triggered the crisis in confidence," Mohamed ElBaradei, the I.A.E.A.director general, said in an interview. "It's a significant step."

But the Bush administration and its allies, which have won sanctions in theUnited Nations Security Council in an effort to stop Iran's uraniumenrichment, saw the latest report as more evidence of defiance, notcooperation.


The New York Times

August 31, 2007
Justice Dept. Inquiry Focuses on Gonzales's Claims

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 - The Justice Department's internal watchdog disclosedThursday that he was investigating whether sworn statements to Congress byAttorney General Alberto R. Gonzales were "intentionally false, misleadingor inappropriate."

The disclosure, by Glenn A. Fine, the department's inspector general, camein a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee and was the first officialconfirmation that Mr. Gonzales was under investigation within the executivebranch over the truthfulness of his testimony. The committee's chairman,Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, had requested the inquirythis month.

For weeks, lawmakers from both parties have questioned whether Mr. Gonzalestold the truth in sworn statements to Congress on a number of issues,including his involvement in efforts to preserve the National SecurityAgency's program of wiretapping without warrants, as well as his role inlast year's dismissals of several United States attorneys for what appearedto be political reasons.


The New York Times

August 31, 2007
Governor Commutes Sentence in Texas

HOUSTON, Aug. 30 - Hours before his scheduled execution as a disputedaccomplice in a 1996 murder, Kenneth Foster won a rare commutation to lifein prison on Thursday after Gov. Rick Perry followed the recommendation ofthe Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and granted a death row reprieve.

The case had raised international protests because Mr. Foster, 30, was notthe gunman but the driver of a getaway car in a San Antonio robbery spreethat ended in murder. He was convicted under a Texas law that makesco-conspirators liable in certain cases of homicide.


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