Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Watch what happens when a Canadian politician says he doesn't believe in evolution

Rick Nicholls is the Progressive Conservative Member of the Ontario legislature representing the riding of Chatham-Kent-Essex. (Ontario, is a province in Canada. Each province has it's own provincial government. The members of provincial parliaments are called MPP's.)

Watch the video where he says he doesn't believe in evolution and listen to the questions that the reporters ask.

The Globe & Mail reports that Rick Nicholls was quickly reigned in by party leaders [Ontario PCs distance themselves from MPP who denies evolution].
On Wednesday, Mr. Nicholls stood behind his comments.

“[Ms. Sandals] was very flippant in her response to my colleague and I gave a flippant response back to her,” he said, adding that evolution “is one’s personal belief set.”

Within an hour, he followed up with an emailed statement saying he’d been given a talking-to by PC House Leader Steve Clark: “I acknowledge that my comment is not reflective of Ontario PC Party policy,” he said of his anti-evolution remarks.
Here's how the views of Rick Nicholls are covered in the Toronto Star: Tory MPP Rick Nicholls says he doesn’t believe in evolution .

And here's how it is covered in Huffington Post Canada: Rick Nicholls Says He Doesn't Believe In Evolution, PC Colleagues Distance Themselves.

In Canada, it's pretty much political suicide to admit that you don't believe in evolution.

In other news, there's a debate going on in Ontario's House of Commons on introducing a new sex education curriculum into public schools (including the Roman Catholic schools). Another Progressive Conservative MPP, Monte McNaughton, said "it’s not the Premier of Ontario’s job, especially Kathleen Wynne, to tell parents what’s age-appropriate for their children."

Our Premier, Kathleen Wynne, is openly gay. She was a bit puzzled by the comments so she addressed Mr. McNaughton with the following questions.
"What is it that especially disqualifies me for the job that I’m doing? Is it that I’m a woman? Is it that I’m a mother? Is it that I have a master’s of education? Is it that I was a school council chair? Is it that I was the minister of education?" Ms. Wynne thundered. "What is it exactly that the member opposite thinks disqualifies me from doing the job that I’m doing? What is that?"

PC MPPs sat ashen-faced as Liberals heckled them and applauded Ms. Wynne.
Not a good day for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.


59 comments :

  1. Come now ... I doubt she was puzzled at all.

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    1. She wasn't indeed. This is a master stroke from someone who is revealing herself to be quite a savvy politician. The Tories were already trying to figure out a way to make political hay out of the discomfort a few voters feel regarding the revised sex-ed program, while avoiding coming across as a bunch of bigoted hayseeds. Wynne (with a big assist from Nicholls and McNaughton) has just made that task all the more difficult.

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  2. Still, I will admit to a bit of schadenfreude that you have creationists in the Ontario parliament at all. That and Denyse O'Leary.

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    1. You had to mention O'Leary, right? Can you not see a belt without wanting to hit below it?

      On the other hand, the premiers of both the largest and smallest provinces in the country are openly gay. May not totally make up for Denyse, but not a bad start ...

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    2. All I'm saying is that when we have misfortunes, we can take some comfort in the similar misfortunes of our friends. I'll see your gay premiers and raise you a black president.

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    3. O'Leary is worth 5 or 6 American kooks. At least. Jibbers Crabst the woman's bats.

      She should move to Florida. That kind always does. Florida is the colostomy bag of North America.

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    4. :-) I'll be sure to share that with my Floridan friends.

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    5. All I'm saying is that when we have misfortunes, we can take some comfort in the similar misfortunes of our friends.

      Of all the ways you could have interpreted my post, that's the one you picked? Anyway, I'm glad it was of some comfort to you.

      I'll see your gay premiers and raise you a black president.

      Let me know when you elect a woman. Canada isn't much better. Both of our countries are pretty backward when it comes to electing women to the highest office. At least we've had one.

      We've had quite a few Prime Ministers whose native language isn't English. Can you match that? :-)

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    6. Pretty sure Obama's native language is Kenyan. I think I read that somewhere. As for the woman thing, check back in a couple of years; I hear it's inevitable.

      And I wasn't interpreting your post. I was interpreting my reaction to it, or perhaps indulging in lighthearted badinage.

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    7. In all seriousness, the US did have Martin Van Buren as its eighth president, and he wasn't a native English speaker as he was from the Dutch-descended minority in New York which hadn't assimilated yet.

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    8. On the other hand, the premiers of both the largest and smallest provinces in the country are openly gay. May not totally make up for Denyse, but not a bad start ..

      Until about a year ago (when Anne Hidalgo was elected Mayor of Paris) the two largest cities in France had homosexual mayors, one openly (Paris) and the other (Marseilles) still in the closet, though everyone knows.

      Not the same point, but both the current Mayor of Paris and the Prime Minister of France were born in Spain as Spanish citizens, and both are Spanish speakers. I wonder how many mayors or major politicians in the USA or Canada were born abroad and are speakers of foreign languages. (Not counting Obama, of course, as everyone knows that he was born Kenyan and has Indonesian as his first language -- in case any IDiots are reading I should add that this last point is not serious.) (I realize of course that French is not a foreign language in Canada.)

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    9. Just about every country in Western Europe is socially and ethically more advanced than the USA. As usual, Canada is stuck in the middle.

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    10. If it's Spanish-speaking politicians you want, they aren't as uncommon as you may think in the US. Unfortunately, a lot of them (e.g. Senator Cruz from Texas and Senator Rubio from Florida) are very conservative in part arising from their religious beliefs.

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    11. Agree completely. Support for post-secondary education lacking (education being the greatest engine of social advancement, and a post-secondary education being considered necessary these days for that purpose); the scientific pursuit of knowledge derided as something for nerds and snobs, and its results discounted; incarceration of non-violent offenders at ridiculously high rates; capital punishment; the gun culture; on and on....

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    12. Re Jonathan Badger

      Hey, Ted Cruz is a native Canadian!

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    13. Re judmarc

      The lack of support for post secondary education in the US is a relatively recent phenomena. At one time the publicly supported university system in the US was the envy of the world. As evidence, when I was a freshman at UC Berkeley, the tuition charge was $50/semester. Today, it's becoming hard to tell the difference between UC Berkeley and Stanford (or UCLA and USC) in terms of tuition charges. This is a result of penny wise and pound foolish actions of governors and state legislatures in California and most of the other states.

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    14. At one time the publicly supported university system in the US was the envy of the world.

      When was that? Lots of countries offer "free" university education today. Was there a time in the last 50 years or so (when you were an undergraduate) when the USA was the only country to offer cheap university education?

      My tuition in Canada in the mid 1960s was $150 (Cdn) per semester and that was pretty typical.

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    15. "Just about every country in Western Europe is socially and ethically more advanced than the USA"

      Germany comes to mind. And Ireland. And Italy. Now there's a bastion of Enlightenment. England is being pressured to pardon 49,000 people that were imprisoned for homosexuality. And is facing a scandal that it's top police force covered up a child sex abuse ring. The United States gave Women the vote before England and did.

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    16. For a minute there I thought Larry said "Just about every country in Western Europe is socially and ethnically more advanced than the USA". But no, it was ethically.

      Look, I oppose rah-rah America #1-ism. However, Larry's anti-Americanism is not particularly rational. I don't mean to demean other people's countries, but the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain) and also Italy have serious social and "ethical" problems as Larry must admit.

      Italy, obviously, kept re-electing a molester and out-and-out millionaire criminal Berlusconi as their PM and let him control all their media. That guy'd be dead in the USA. Whatever America's other problems, starting from Bobby Kennedy on, the US government kicked the mafia's ass. The Italians still have a big problem with organized crime.

      Greece's political and economic disasters and its incompetent mishandling of the Olympics are outside the norm in the USA.

      As for Ireland, they recently had a real estate bubble exacerbated by free- market policies that was worse than America's. And their religion not only led to widespread terrorism, but all kinds of negative policies. Until just a few decades ago, Irish doctors, when delivering babies, would cut the mother's pelvic bone in two with a bone saw to make a larger opening for the baby-- note that this horror did not obviate the need for C-sections-- because Catholic doctors following church policy wanted to increase fertility. The subjects of enslavement of orphans in orphanages and sexual abuse of children by the Church are too huge to even cover here.

      The Irish did not begin addressing these subjects of Church sex abuse until several years after American began grappling with them. Are they "ethically more advanced"? Was Catholic-Protestant religious terrorism "ethically more advanced"?

      Having said all of that, I'm a strong opponent of rah-rah USA #1-ism and insist that the US should learn from the better aspects of other people's cultures. German industry is clearly doing something right, and we should learn from their social democracy and/or their apprenticeship system. As for health care, it's still absurdly expensive and we still need to learn from other countries, perhaps adopt a single payer system or something. USA #1 exceptionalism is stupid, but the reverse, America as Dystopia, is not much of an improvement.

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    17. "Hey, Ted Cruz is a native Canadian!"

      Well, THAT explains it. Only one thing to do.

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    18. Petrushka says,

      The United States gave Women the vote before England did.

      Get back to me when Americans stop obsessing about nudity and sex and when the USA bans capital punishment, allows gay marriage in every state, permits assisted dying, stops whining about abortion, allows universal health care, controls guns, has a decent minimum wage, and stops putting so many people in prison.

      I'm also waiting for the USA to convert to the metric system.

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    19. Still, I will admit to a bit of schadenfreude that you have creationists in the Ontario parliament at all. That and Denyse O'Leary.

      And don't forget Robert Byers!

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    20. Re Prof Moran

      Convert to the metric system? It''s been a long time since I heard about this issue. This was supposed to happen in the 1970s and 1980s but Ronnie the rat put the kibosh on it.

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    21. Byers!!

      Also, the founder of Flood Geology, George M. Price, was from Newfoundland.

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    22. I'm also waiting for the USA to convert to the metric system.
      I'm also waiting for Canada to guillotine Elizabeth. After all, the metric system was created by the same system that guillotined Marie Antoinette.... BTW, please adopt the metric calendar as well. I've written an Android app for that and could use the downloads.

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    23. @Jonathan Badger

      I'm pretty sure that you would be upset and offended if I were to suggest that America should murder President Obama.

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  3. Well, for one small snippet as least as remarkable as what's gone before, 6 of the last 8 prime ministers have been Roman Catholic, with barely a hint of religious-based angst.

    And we have blackflies, too ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f389hIxZAOc

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  4. Not sure why anyone would say that they don't believe in evolution, because it's not clear what that means.
    Does he mean that he doesn't believe in change over time, which cannot be a very commonly held opinion. Or does he mean that he doesn't believe in (universal) common descent?

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    1. What he means is that his firmly held religious beliefs causes him to reject anything that he was told when he growing up does not comport with the book of the universe, the bible.

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    2. Personally I doubt the average religious person throughout much of history has given much thought to the Noah's ark dilemma and have always viewed things from the point of Genesis, and would have believed that god created all things as is. But religion, despite its claims of inerrant truth, gradually bends to the arc of scientific knowledge else runs the risk of becoming more and more ridiculous. One day not accepting common ancestry, speciation, and dramatic morphological change will be rare even amongst religious adherents. God, of course, will remain, hidden down there below the roots of life. There will always be a place for god for those so inclined.

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    3. Hey Andy,

      At the very least it means that he thinks that his invisible friend poofed some intangible boogy man ectoplasm into a pair of human beings, possibly more than 6,000 years ago.

      Just like the pope.

      Much as you do as well, I suspect.

      He also probably gets the homophobia that Premier Kathleen Wynne alluded to from the same big book of bad ideas that you hold so dear.

      Well the moral zeitgeist be a changing, a few generations ago this sort of knuckle dragger would have been using his holy book to justify slavery and Jim Crow laws and apologists of your ilk would have been providing these miscreants protective cover, much as you do today.

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  5. In Canada, it's pretty much political suicide to admit that you don't believe in evolution.

    Nice to see by and large an absence of that famous US politician "I'm not a scientist so I can't answer that question" dodge.

    I'm not so sure that the rate of overall religiosity differs amongst US and Canada because most everyone I run into in Canada is religious to some degree or another. What differs is the evangelical aggressiveness of adherants I guess.

    I've always noticed that in US, you must make a show about your faith in god to get elected, while in Canada that is one sure path to not being elected.

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    1. The differences between Canada and the USA are more interesting than the similarities. Nobody has a really good explanation.

      The differences between New York and Texas are even more interesting and more important, Canada is not so very different from the populous Northern states although Wisconsin is trying to be an exception and nobody is like Vermont.

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    2. One minor thing in favor of th US is that you can mov freely betwee Vermont and New York and Califotnia and Texas , and you can find a state or a community that suits you. All the world is gradually recovering from religion. Religious militants exist primarily because young people are ignoring the old rules, or would like to. Diversity enables cultural evolution.

      That Colorado can defy national law and experiment with marijuana means the effects can be noted on a small scale before making changes national. The same "states rights" policy that allows local fights regarding science teaching or gay marriage also allows local experimentation.

      Scientists should be aware of the value of variation and natural selection. Now if we had laws restricting travel between cities and states, I could understand the outcry.

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    3. Wisconsin is particularly a tragedy because historically it was one of the most progressive states in the US. Walker seems bent on destroying everything that makes Wisconsin Wisconsin much as Harper seems to want to do to Canada.

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    4. I'm not so sure that the rate of overall religiosity differs amongst US and Canada

      I was using "religiosity" in the sense of "excessively or obtrusively religious" (from Merriam-Webster). I didn't see that in Canada, but do all the time in the US, and from the rest of your comment it appears your experience is the same.

      I'm not sure it's true that "nobody has a really good explanation." I've previously recommended Max Weber's "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism." In this work, Weber traces the roots of capitalism to Calvinist theology. Calvinists fleeing the established English church were important in the founding of the US, so religion, capitalism, and the governing ethos of the newly independent nation as it separated from England were bound up together to a great extent. I don't know whether this would be as true of Canada. Anyone?

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    5. Re Larry Moran

      There's also Alberta, known in these parts as the Texas of Canada.

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    6. I don't know about religiosity, but I think Canadian taxpayers pay for schools that teach there were a literal Adam and Eve. Assuming they are Catholic schools. Schools that require religious instruction.

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    7. The differences between Canada and the USA are more interesting than the similarities. Nobody has a really good explanation.

      The differences seem to go back a long way. My grandfather, who was farming at Menteith, Manitoba (why Menteith, of all places? Because it was as far west as the railway went), wrote the following to one of his sisters in 1893: The more I read the more it seems to me that our American cousins are getting more shamefully lawless, criminal, and vagrant every year... I don’t understand why the Dominion under the British flag is, I believe I am right in saying, the most law abiding country in the world, while as soon as the line is crossed and the further south you go, you have the most disgracefully lawless country in the world...

      One explanation I read, though you will no better than I do if it stands up to scrutiny, Larry, is that when the settlers went west in Canada they always found that the RCMP had got there first, whereas when they went west in the USA they established their settlements first and thought about law enforcement later.

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    8. I'm not sure it's true that "nobody has a really good explanation."

      I am. See below.

      Calvinists fleeing the established English church were important in the founding of the US, so religion, capitalism, and the governing ethos of the newly independent nation as it separated from England were bound up together to a great extent.

      The Thirteen Colonies were almost as diverse as America is today. I don't think that the leaders in 1776 were any more Calvinist than the leaders in Great Britain at that time and certainly much less so than the leaders in Switzerland.

      But that's not the most important point. Very few countries have the same moral, social, and economic attitudes as they did 240 years ago. You can't explain the modern culture in America by invoking what people believed back in 1776 or 1676 even if you get it right. (You don't.)

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    9. There's also Alberta, known in these parts as the Texas of Canada.

      I don't consider Alberta to be part of Canada. It's an opinion shared by many people in Alberta.

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    10. Re Prof. Moran

      I don't consider Alberta to be part of Canada. It's an opinion shared by many people in Alberta.


      Well, as to the second part of that, there are a lot of folks in Texas who think likewise relative to Texas being part of the US (including the former governor of that state). In fact, they were so adamant about it 154 years ago that they went to war over it.

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    11. You can't explain the modern culture in America by invoking what people believed back in 1776 or 1676 even if you get it right.

      Of course it's not sufficient. I think it's helpful. What's your opinion of Weber's thesis?

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    12. The cultural differences between Americans and Canadians are complex.

      To start with, Canadians believe that a good person should defer to authority, while Americans think a hero should defy authority.

      Compare the difference in the way that anti-science works in Canada vs. the USA. In Canada, as we've seen under the Harper government, anti-science policies-- e.g. suppressing evidence of environmental damage from oil extraction, toxins in cetaceans, etc.-- antiscience works by having some pompous officials trot out and say, "Oh, those scientists who say we should reduce use of fossil fuels are SPEAKING OUT OF TURN. It's not their proper place to make policy or express their values or beliefs. Those scientists need to learn their proper place, and defer to the establishment."

      In America, anti-science works by employing the exact opposite, 180 degrees opposite, argument. In America, the anti-scientist will say, "Oh, those scientists who believe in evolution constitute an all-powerful orthodoxy. I AM SPEAKING OUT OF TURN. By opposing scientists, I am a brave hero who will not defer to the establishment."

      They're both assholes, but the asshole style is different. The American asshole is like, "Yah I'm an asshole, I'm in your face. You got a problem with that?" The Canadian asshole is like, "I'm standing on your neck, and if you speak up and complain, then you are the asshole."

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    13. judmarc asks

      What's your opinion of Weber's thesis?

      I know nothing about it.

      If what you say is true ...

      Weber traces the roots of capitalism to Calvinist theology.

      Then it's crap. I think capitalism began long before Calvin and it flourished in Great Britain after the enlightenment. At the time, Great Britiain was not particularly Calvinist.

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    14. I fear I did Weber a disservice by using the word "roots" unmodified. It would have been more reflective of what Weber actually wrote to say the growth of capitalism in the West has roots in (in the sense of "was nourished and supported by") Protestant theology, particularly Calvinism.

      The book itself is very much worth reading. It's rightly considered to be a tremendously significant, seminal sociological work. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Protestant_Ethic_and_the_Spirit_of_Capitalism

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    15. At the time, Great Britiain was not particularly Calvinist.

      Or at any time, as far as I know.

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  6. Meanwhile, south of the border, not a single one the dozen most likely Republican presidential candidates has expressed acceptance of evolution, with at least four openly rejecting it:

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/another-republican-politician-ducks-question-of-whether-he-accepts-evolution-making-a-full-slate-of-gop-candidates-who-wont-affirm-the-truth-of-evolution/

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  7. Actually, I think the aspect of this story that more clearly delineates the differences between Canada and the US is the second part, on the exchange between the premier and Monte McNaughton. Could that happen today in the US? Could an openly gay state governor call out another politician on an implied homophobic slur, while he sits "ashen-faced" and silent, and then tries to deny that he meant anything homophobic at all?

    What do any Americans think?

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    1. First, American liberal politicians are pussies. They want to be liked, and they do not confront. Right wingers say, "You liberals are socialists, you hate America, you oppose all moral values, you are degenerates, you are closet Muslims who want the terrorists to win..." and liberal politicians bleat "It's not unpatriotic to criticize the system..." which sounds insufferably defensive. Liberals elected to public office in the USA do not hit back. They do "complexity" and "nuance".

      Liberal politicians in the USA want their enemies to like them. They labor under the delusion that if they reasonably and calmly say things like, "I don't hate America, I just think criticism can be patriotic too," that Rightists will like them. Even Obama suffers under this delusion. They don't grasp that Rightists love hate for hate's sake, that Rightists need enemies and narratives about "traitors" to distract the voters from learning about their abysmal plutocratic policies, and that much of the appeal of rightism is conspiracy theorizing, Appeal to Motive fallacy, the belief that violence really does solve problems, and that those who disagree are unpatriotic or secretly hate America or are terrorist sympathizers.

      The Right in the USA routinely states that our President, who killed Osama bin Laden and Anwar al Awlaki and launched thousands of sorties against ISIS, secretly hates America and is a closet Muslim who wants the terrorists to win. Liberal American politicians believe that they can reason with the conservatives by making themselves likeable and harmless looking.

      The most confrontational liberals do humor and satire, like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Cobert took satire to giddy heights of genius, but he did so because liberals do not hit back. They have not developed a language with which to hit back against accusations of unpatriotism, socialism, sympathizing with terrorists etc. (In case you're wondering, I'm working on it.)

      Jon Stewart sometimes yells at Barack Obama: "THEY WILL NEVER LIKE YOU! THEY WILL NEVER LIKE YOU!"

      Liberals don't need to be liked. They need to be feared.

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    2. As for the status of gay politicians, it was ubiquitous for conservative politicians to equate homosexuality with bestiality and/or pedophilia. In recent years, conservatives have backed away from pedophilia equations, but bestiality references are still common, e.g. former Sen. Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum.

      Still, the extreme Right (WorldnetDaily, RenewAmerica, Bryan Fischer/AFA) accused Obama of being a homosexual who years ago murdered his gay roommate over a drug deal.

      Sen. Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, has been openly gay for many years, was repeatedly re-elected, and thus a target of countless slurs. Here is a typical one.

      In 2008 or 9, on Fox News, Bill O'Reilly is discussing Sen. Frank with right wing has been comedian Dennis Miller. Frank was involved in overseeing Fannie Mae, a quasi private loan institution that went bust during the 2008 crisis. O'Reilly wants to pin the blame on Frank.

      "Will he go to jail?" O'Reilly asks of the has been comedian.

      "I think Barney Frank wants to go to jail," says Dennis Miller.

      Ha ha. And thus is Sen. Frank's sexuality introduced into every discussion.

      In O'Reilly's defense, he seemed to cringe a bit at that "joke."

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  8. It shows the poWER of the creationist revolution. People in power must be held accountable for conclusions on origin issues even amongst obscure prov members.
    Excellent. Its that damn important. This would never have mattered ten years ago.
    If it matters at the place of power then the whole public must be involved and have our say and get our way.
    Rgey should leave sleeping dogs lie.
    How do these politicians know whats true/
    jUST GET NEW POLITICIANS,

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  9. So, Larry, have you heard the story about the creationist MP from BC?

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    1. So, Larry, have you heard the story about the creationist MP from BC?

      Yes. I read about it this morning. At one time the LEADER of the Conservative Party (Canadian Alliance/Reform) was a creationist of the sort that's unacceptable in Canada.

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    2. Yes. I read about it this morning. At one time the LEADER of the Conservative Party (Canadian Alliance/Reform) was a creationist of the sort that's unacceptable in Canada.

      But he had to downplay it. Whereas it seems to me in the US, at least if one is a member of the GOP, it's unwise to clearly state that you accept evolution, even if you do.

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  10. I don't believe in evolution either cause there's no evidence to support this pseudo-science based theory.

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