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Sun Nov 04, 2012 at 12:21 PM PST

The Big Lie about the "Tie"

by SiliconKossack

Allow me to vent. I am sitting here watching David Gregory on MSNBC incessantly repeat that "the race is tied". Just a few mouse clicks away and I can see Sam Wang's Princeton Election Consortium Report as giving Obama a 98% chance of winning; I can click to Nate Silver's 538 blog and see an 85% chance of reelection.

This race is NOT tied. We elect presidents by the electoral college, and unless, as Sam Wang argues, all the state polls are biased statistically against Romney, this race is OVER. Wang sees an Obama electoral college win of 319-219  and Silver has a 307-231 Obama advantage.

On Gregory's Meet the Press panel, he has the arrogant conservative Morning Joe Scarborough (ask his co-host Mika Brzezinski) sitting there, as well as GOP operative Mike Murphy, with Cory Booker as the lone Obama supporter and then  he brings on the deceitful Eric Cantor, whose state of Virginia will narrowly go to Obama on Tuesday. Tom Brokaw sits there to mumble that he agrees with Scarborough that the race is tied, and of course there is NO mention at that point about Romney-Ryan's near-impossible path to victory in the only race that matters, the Electoral College. Chuck Todd comes on late to make the case that both candidates have credible routes to victory. But for Romney, it means taking Pennsylvania where Romney has never been ahead or Ohio where he appears to be trailing by 3 to 6 points and has not led there.

Brokaw then opines that there has been "no sign" anywhere of bipartisanship in this campaign, fully ignoring the Chris Christie-Obama tour of New Jersey this week, and as well as the endorsement by Mayor Bloomberg.

Of course, they chime in at the end with the President 's First Debate, and no mention that Romney did not parlay that into a lead, and that the "momentum" they claimed lasted but a week or two.

Tied race? No, not at all. Students in the future will look at the 70 to 100 point Obama electoral college margin and never imagine that astute observers would call this a "tie" just two days before voting day.


So is the presidential race tied?

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Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 10:39 PM PDT

Romney the Patriot

by SiliconKossack

Romney's bizarre comments on the tragic events in Libya bring to mind an earlier era, the time when another Massachusetts governor was running for the Presidency. That's right, we're talking about Mike Dukakis. I was wondering what it would have been like for Romney running back in those days and making the kinds of comments he has been making lately. Without doubt, he would have been labeled as "unpatriotic". Come to think of it, that is a monniker that seems to fit him just fine. Why, this French-speaking plutocrat who parks his wealth in off-shore tax shelters, who slashed and burned through dozens of American companies and thereby helped to destroy our manufacturing base, he has gone ahead and slammed the USA while we are under attack.

On the other hand, perhaps "unpatriotic" may be too kind. I would think that back in 1988, if Dukakis had taken such a position, he would have been decried as "a traitor?.

I will leave it up to you all. Which label best describes Romney: "unpatriotic", 'traitor' or something else?


Given Romney's comments on Libya, which label best describes him?

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Romney's latest gaffe comes at the very moment when the glare of the media lights is brightest. Thousands of dollars were spent, hundreds of consultants and aides were engaged in creating the perfect ambiance for this historic announcement. The setting, the entrance to the moth-balled USS Wisconsin, in supposed deference to the boy-child-like Ryan, enfant terrible of the far right wing. The location, a key swing state that is slipping out of reach for the candidate from Bain & Company. The timing, at a point of desperation as Romney has sunk even in the Fox News poll, to a 9-point deficit, at the Dukakis-like figure of 40%.

Ignoring history, as all desperate men do, Romney caved to the likes of Erik Erikson, the and Human Events fringists and the Wall Street Journal, and chose the only VP possibility who could upstage himself, the House Budget Chairman and architect of the plan to destroy Medicare. Just seven months before in the primary debates, Romney had sought to kookify and marginalize Gingrich by defending Medicare in the face of Newt's radical reform proposals to follow the Chilean model.

Now this morning, his campaign in free fall just weeks before the Tampa nominating convention, Romney introduced Ryan to the crowd: "Join me in welcoming the next president of the United States, Paul Ryan." And he promptly, even sheepishly, walked off the stage, coatless and in full deference mode, before the startled media and supporters. He managed to scamper back just before Ryan began his speech to try to recover from his bungled announcement, perhaps sent back out there by a furious Ann Romney, who had witnessed the full demasculation of her ambitious spouse.

Ryan, looking emboldened by Mitt's mistake to make that crowd his crowd, stood tall and confident, not betraying the least stage fright, and in full realization that his running mate had his arm twisted so hard by the hard-right extremists that he had no choice but to say, "Uncle!", or in this case, "the next President of the United States, Paul Ryan." From Ryan's standpoint, that would actually be the ideal outcome, and perhaps the only reason to accept a spot on this year's GOP slate: to play the role of VP candidate on a losing ticket for a few months and then to pivot after the November election, to being the journey to succeed the termed-out Obama in 2016, rather than suffer the humiliating political death sentence of being Vice President for four or eight years. As he gazed out into the crowd, one could imagine that Ryan did not see his role to carry water during this campaign for the amoral and politically rudder-less Romney.

Unlike the 2000 campaign where Clinton and Gore seemed to have never wanted to break apart from the fraternity-like atmosphere of their first bus trip together, in this case the clever Mr. Ryan will take leave of Big Mitt as early as Monday. He will make a solo appearance at--how interesting!--the Iowa State Fair, as if he were taking his first steps toward his own 2016 campaign, unfettered by his toxic, undisciplined and value-free running mate. Ryan, always a quick study who has been promoting his own ideological agenda throughout his seven terms in Congress, seems to have carefully studied Game Change, and is determined to not suffer the same fate as the hapless Palin, who was ultimately blamed for McCain's loss.

Neither the mainstream Beltway pundits, nor the right-wing partisan bloggers and propagandists are seeing Ryan's selection as something that removes the stench of likely defeat from Romney. Watch Ryan's moves as he continues to build the case for his ascendancy to the 2016 nomination, without even having to leave his safe Janesville seat. Far from being simply a Freudian slip of the tongue, Romney's gaffe was really more the wish fulfillment of his younger colleague. Looking back, the man from Bain may very well see his choice of Paul Ryan as the moment when he lost all possibility of moving into the White House next January. All the more reason, Willard, to build that mansion in La Jolla and the elevator for Ann's Cadillacs.


Why did Ryan accept the running mate slot?

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In a major upset, State Senator Deb Fischer tallied 40% of the Nebraska GOP US Senate Primary vote to earn the right to face ex-Senator Bob Kerrey in the race to replace retiring Ben Nelson. Kerrey has been lagging way behind the expected GOP candidate, so perhaps this is the break he was waiting for--now he can run against Sarah Palin directly. I can see the ads now: "The War Hero vs. Palin's Puppet: Who Do you Trust?".  This win literally came out of nowhere, and it was only with Palin's robocalls that Fischer could win this nomination.

It's a race between a candidate who says Democrats should not be afraid to vote for good Replublican ideas and Republicans should not be afraid to vote for good Demcratic ideas. He favors retaining ObamaCare, Fischer vows to repeal it.  Fischer is a far right candidate from the Palin wing.  The race is on in Nebraska--and we may have been given a wonderful gift, courtesy of our friend Sarah Palin.


Will the victory of Sarah Palin's candidate in the GOP Senate primary in Nebraska enable Bob Kerrey to win this seat?

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Our political opponent Andrew Breitbart leaves four kids and a wife in Brentwood. He was out for a midnight walk and collapsed. Life is fragile, folks. Tomorrow I will have major surgery for rectal cancer, as I have written in a recent diary, "ObamaCare Saved My Life".  So I am seeing this through a different prism.

As much as Breitbart's work infuriated me, I remember at this moment the quote from St. Augustine loosely translated that I learned from the Quakers: "Love the sinner but not the sin".  Or "Hate the sin, not the sinner".  At a moment like this, we can say that one of our most disturbing political opponents is gone from the scene. We can choose to villify him, as he did of Ted Kennedy immediately after his passing.

But I would like to think that most of us will not sink to that level of behavior. We have an opportunity to build a movement that uplifts and inspires others--a movement that will truly represent the 99% of Americans and people the world over--or slash and trash our opponents, thus giving even more inspiration to the new Andrew Breitbarts who will take up his fight.

Maybe we can use this moment to renew our commitment to fighting for what we believe, with the degree of passion Breitbart had for his beliefs, but with the kind of messages and tactics that will draw millions more to our causes. I believe if we do so, our progressive movement will emerge from the 2012 campaign stronger than any similar movement in American history.

We have unprecedented tools to organize, communicate and mobilize that Saul Alinsky would have envied and Breitbart knew how to use so very well. Recall that Breitbart helped Arianna Huffington create her HuffingtonPost website, after she changed from being a Republican to a liberal Democrat, because they had been friends during her ex-husband's California Senate bid.

I prefer to regard Breitbart as someone who was politically deluded,  whose assumptions about people and the world were radically different from mine, and whose tactics were often antithetical to the kind of political dialogue that sustains a free society. But I refuse to demonize him, particularly at this moment, because it demeans me as a human being and retards the growth of our progressive cause.


Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:36 AM PST

Four Fissures of the GOP

by SiliconKossack

There are as many articles written about the possibility of a new GOP candidate or a brokered convention now than articles about the race itself. There is a reason why caucus and primary turnout among the Republicans is so low--this clown car stinks to high heaven, and Republican voters can smell it. Whether we are talking about the smelly Santorum calling on  people to avoid sending their kids to college, Romney bragging about the Cadillacs his wife keeps in the garage of two of their several homes, Gingrich pontificating about the newest thing that is "the most profound", or Ron Paul giggling about the person denied medical services because they are too poor, a good portion of GOP voters are turned off.

And they do not have many alternatives beyond this weird group. Jeb Bush--just the name is a loser in and of itself. Palin? Even worse than the Clown Car. Christie? Angry and incoherent--better suited for a Hollywood movie role than the presidency. Daniels? The architect of Bush's whacky budgets. They've got nothing, and it irks them,and you can't beat Something with Nothing. The GOP is indeed the Lost Party.

News travels too fast these days, and it is so hard to hide the reality from the masses behind a smokescreen of hate-mongering or blatant lies. It is very revealing when one of the principal candidates is actually telling parents, in all seriousness, to hold their kids back from getting a higher education so that their minds will not be exposed to different mental models and theories about why things are the way they are.

These four remaining, pitiful candidates actually represent the four fissures within the Republican Party, and the degree of attacking and carping going on among these four candidates is more like a brutal war in divorce court than a competition of ideas within a party that has some common principles. The emerging thought leader for this group is Charles Murray, whose new book "Coming Apart" reveals more about the wrong-headed thinking of the Republicans and Libertarians than it does about American society itself.

I see these four candidates representing four irreconcilable groups. Romney, representing the corporatists, what the deluded Murray himself terms the "Overeducated Elitist Snobs". Romney, more than anyone on the American scene, is the poster boy for this group. Santorum is the would-be inheritor of the Reagan Democrats as well as the Catholic right wing. Remember what Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito have in common? All right-wing Catholics. Gingrich in all of his pomposity and bloviation still understands that his only electoral base is among the most racist sectors of the southern GOP. Hence his lone victory in South Carolina and his retreat to Georgia as his last bastion of refuge. Paul represents the party's libertarian lunatic fringe who envision an anarchic Ayn Randian world of toll roads, no taxes, and isolationism.

These four groups dislike and distrust each other, and even a common hatred for Barack Obama is not enough to get them to cooperate.

One can envision a massive GOP loss this fall, with possible change of majority in the House of Representatives and Democratic gains in the Senate as the Republican Party spins further out of control. A Romney candidacy would lead to a profound funk in the three other fissures, with the key players sitting on the sidelines awaiting 2016. I would anticipate a reorganization of the Republican Party, as they continue to wage war among these four irreconcilable camps. As Obama moves into his second term in this scenario, there would be opportunities for the Democratic Party to move more in a populist, non-elite, non-corporate direction and to more boldly build a sustainable majority for the future.

It is time for us to mobilize and go all out. This is a rare opportunity to exploit a deeply weakened Republican Party, as they continue to move toward their Perfect Storm.


Wow. This no longer sounds like political hyperbole. There is something wrong with Santorum that suggests that he has totally cracked.

Here's his latest rant.

Rick Santorum laced into Mitt Romney in a speech in Michigan this morning, hitting his rival's efforts to paint him as an inconsistent conservative as "laughable" and saying he's modeling his current speech patterns on the Occupy Wall Street language:

"Don't worry, we'll limit deductions for the top one percent. The top one percent. Hmm, where have I heard that?" Santorum said, via POLITICO's Juana Summers. "We have a Republican running for president who is campaigning as an Occupy Wall Street adherant. What's he going to do? He's going to limit charitable deductions on the top 1 percent."

The GOP Establishment took the car keys away from Bachmann, Cain and Perry. Maybe the defeated Pennsylvania Senator will be next.

Sun Feb 26, 2012 at 08:51 AM PST

Santorum Wants "To Throw Up"

by SiliconKossack

You may want to pass on watching Rick Santorum's appearance on this morning's "This Week" unless you can handle his comments on what makes him want to "throw up". This time, it is the doctrine of the separation of Church and State, invoked historically by figures such as John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, and in modern times, by President John F. Kennedy.  

What really raises Santorum's dander is JFK's comment referenced above, in which he argues that no Catholic official could tell the President what to do and no religious school could receive federal funds.

I wonder whether Dr. Gingrich, the "historian" will weigh in on this. Then again, maybe not, unless you pay him $1.6 million for his historical advice. One also has to wonder whether Christian fundamentalists are going to worry that a "papist" like Santorum would be a secret agent of the Vatican.

Santorum's sanctimonious approach to religion, politics and morality are painting him into an ever-narrower corner. No wonder the White House delights each time he gains in the polls. But I don't think the GOP would ever let him become the nominee. Or would they? One GOP pollster calls this a "Democratic pipe dream":

Still, some strategists argue that Santorum’s outspokenness on religion and cultural issues would make it impossible for him to beat President Barack Obama in November, and unlikely he would win the Republican nomination.“It’s a Democratic pipe dream,” Whit Ayres, a Republican polling expert, said of the prospect that Santorum will be the party’s nominee, because he would be “easier to demonize” than Romney, who Ayres said is the “odds-on favorite” to win the party’s nod. Santorum has “said some nutty things.”
“These issues rise and fall with Rick Santorum,” Ayres said, referring to abortion rights and gay marriage. “If he loses, they will recede.”

Given Santorum's rhetoric on going to college and separation of church and state, what impact will this have on the race?

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If I hadn't heard it with my own ears I wouldn't have believed it.

Santorum in Michigan today said, "President Obama once said he wants everyone in America to go to college....What a snob!"

You've got to see this to believe it. The former Senator whose last general election campaign in Pennsylvania ended in the largest-ever Republican defeat for a Senate race in that state went on to say that Obama wants Americans to go to college so that "liberal professors can remake them in his image." Santorum went on to say that instead of sending people to go to college, he wants to give them jobs, so that they can "remake your children in your image".

Great thinking, Rick! Folks, get less education than you want so you can be better prepared for one of Rick's jobs. As altar boys and church chimney sweeps? Yet another example of how Santorum is mouthing the words of Charles Murray's new book, "Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010".  The precise term that Murray is using is "Overeducated Elitist Snobs".


Thu Feb 23, 2012 at 06:12 PM PST

ObamaCare Saved My Life

by SiliconKossack

The latest Quinnipiac Poll indicates that 52% of those polled want the Affordable Health Care Act to be repealed:

46. Do you think Congress should try to repeal the health care law, or should they let it stand?

                           Tot       Rep     Dem    Ind      Men     Wom      Wht     Blk     His

Should repeal it      52%    88%    19%    50%    58%    46%    58%    24%    44%
Should let it stand  39         8        71       38       36      41        34       68       42
DK/NA                   10         5        11       12        6       13         9         8       14

To me, these are not just poll numbers. They represent a threat to my life--and although you may not yet know it--perhaps you or your loved ones. Let me explain.

Last fall, I went in for a routine colonoscopy at a small local gastro-intestinal clinic. After the procedure, the doctor excused himself and came back a few minutes later to ask that my wife come into the examination room to join us. He informed us that I had an unusual number of polyps in my colon and rectum, that it might be necessary for me to have a total proctocolectomy, and that he also recommended that I get a genetic test to determine whether I had a type of familial polyposis that had a near 100% risk for cancer. He then told me, "Two years ago I would not have advised you to get a genetic test. But with ObamaCare, now you can't be denied coverage if you change jobs. Otherwise, I would have been afraid to even suggest this."

I decided to go get the genetic testing at a major cancer center with a very distinguished medical school. The doctors there advised a second colonoscopy--and this time, they detected a cancerous polyp in the middle of my rectum. The genetic test uncovered that I had a relatively rare condition called MYH Associated Polyposis, confirming the hypothesis of my local gastroenterologist. The pathway was clear--radiation, chemotherapy and then proctocolectomy--removal of my entire colon and rectum. I will have this procedure next Friday.

If I had not had this second set of tests, I would have definitely delayed any surgery, as I was feeling fine. But thanks to ObamaCare, I got the additional tests that I would have never known about. Like many thousands of men who die from colon cancer, I would have likely avoided getting treatment for what seemed to be a minor problem.

So for me, seeing this Quinnipiac Poll is not just another set of numbers I can choose to accept or reject on an intellectual basis. It makes me wonder how many other men and women out there in our nation unknowingly suffer from what I have and how many would become victims of the knee-jerk radical Republican ideology should President Obama be defeated this fall. We have work to do--even 19% of Democrats want this health care law to be repealed, if Quinnipiac is to be believed.

ObamaCare saved my life. And I hope it will continue to save the lives of millions in the years to come.

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Tonight in the Arizona GOP debate, Santorum weirdly answered a question about his opposition to contraception by referring to Charles Murray's new book "Coming Apart", and went on to lament the rise of "out of wedlock" children:

KING: So let's focus the time -- let's focus the time we spend on this on the role of the president and your personal views and question the role of government.

And Senator Santorum, this has come up -- yes, it has come up because of the president's decision in the campaign. It's also come up because of some of the things you have said on the campaign trail. When you were campaigning in Iowa, you told an evangelical blog, if elected, you will talk about what, quote, "no president has talked about before -- the dangers of contraception." Why?

SANTORUM: What I was talking about is we have a society -- Charles Murray just wrote a book about this and it's on the front page of "The New York Times" two days ago, which is the increasing number of children being born out of wedlock in America, teens who are sexually active.

What we're seeing is a problem in our culture with respect to children being raised by children, children being raised out of wedlock, and the impact on society economically, the impact on society with respect to drug use and all -- a host of other things when children have children.

And so, yes, I was talking about these very serious issues. And, in fact, as I mentioned before, two days ago on the front page of "The New York Times", they're talking about the same thing. The bottom line is we have a problem in this country, and the family is fracturing.

Over 40 percent of children born in America are born out of wedlock. How can a country survive if children are being raised in homes where it's so much harder to succeed economically? It's five times the rate of poverty in single-parent households than it is in two-parent homes. We can have limited government, lower tax -- we hear this all the time, cut spending, limit the government, everything will be fine. No, everything's not going to be fine.

There are bigger problems at stake in America. And someone has got to go out there -- I will -- and talk about the things.

So let me get this straight: He is against contraception--which was John King's original point of inquiry.  And yet he is shocked at a 40% rate of "out of wedlock" children. Maybe he thinks the stork brought these babies into the world. Or maybe Santa Claus.

And note that Santorum is using the confused Charles Murray as his reference. As we used to say in Silicon Valley, "Garbage in, garbage out".


What is Rick Santorum's strategy?

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After I saw Dylan Ratigan heap praise on Charles Murray for his new book, Coming Apart: The State of America, 1960-2010, I rushed to buy it. Ratigan seems determined to project his own independent voice in the debate over egalitarianism in American life, and I respect his opinions. Although I had read Murray’s poorly-researched The Bell Curve back in my graduate school days and ripped up his fragile arguments, I figured that Ratigan’s full-throated endorsement ought to be heeded. I was looking forward to hearing Murray’s viewpoints with an open mind, because it is very important these days to carefully sift through diverse perspectives in order to stay optimally informed.

Not surprisingly, I was roundly disappointed. Flimsy logic, weak data sources and Murray’s unfortunate inability to resist partisan attacks on what he terms “doctrinaire liberals” roll up to produce a wrong-headed, confusing story that ultimately adds less light and more heat to an important topic, the state of our American society in the early twenty-first century.

Murray’s decision to try to excise all “non-white” Americans from his analyses raises the obvious question of what is the definition of “white” and in what way does it retain the same meaning that it may have had in 1960, the starting point for his commentary. If there ever was a valid reason to utilize the concept of “whiteness” as anything more than a U.S. Census report, in today’s America, it has increasingly less value as an explanatory device. The underlying assumption is that somehow, “whites” in your community are going to behave in ways that are qualitatively different than others. The definition of whether or not I am “white” relies on how I mark that census form, which these days we typically complete in the privacy of our homes and not face-to-face with a real-life census taker at our front door. I know of many people who purposely define themselves on these forms as “Other” because of their disdain for the very idea of racial classification. The independent validation of this data no longer takes place, as the process has become virtual.

To naively assume that one can undertake the kind of analysis that Murray attempts without presenting a more nuanced discussion of the validity of his selected demographic categories begs the reader’s indulgence in a way that is unseemly in a work that claims to be social science. Murray’s failure to probe into the concept of “whiteness” is a major obstacle in his logical argument, particularly if he is indeed writing on “the state of white America”. How do I understand the growing percentage of “white” Americans who are married to “non-white” spouses, for instance, to cite just one example of where we should begin to suspect the validity of Murray’s sociology. In a mixed marriage of a “white” and a “non-white”, for instance, would Murray be able to determine whether the decision to buy a home in a SuperZip code be made by the “white” spouse or the “non-white” spouse. Murray’s admitted defensiveness over his earlier stated writings on race seems to have contaminated his research design by attempting to refrain from making comments on race and education and achievement.

Then there is the question of the data sets on which Murray rests his principal argument, the connection between the social class origins of whites and their ultimate destination; for what he chooses to describe as “the New Upper Class”, at one point he makes mention of the “SuperZips” (affluent zip codes) where the “Overeducated Elitist Snobs” reside. He states that the primary database he used for this exercise were the home zip codes for graduates of Harvard, Yale and Princeton from the classes of 1989 through 2010.

His secondary database consisted of the graduates of Wesleyan University during the 1970s. The original source he used for his analysis of Wesleyan alumni is Wesleyan’s 1996 alumni directory. As I am a member of this Wesleyan cohort myself, I happen to own this particular alumni directory. Comparing where members of my own class year from the 1970s reside now, as opposed to where they lived in 1996, reveals massive changes. We turned out to be a very mobile group of people. In addition, many of the zip codes listed for my classmates are actually their parents’ home addresses and not where they were in 1996, because the Alumni Office did not have contact with about twenty percent of them.  Leaving aside Murray’s snide depiction of us as “Overeducated Elitist Snobs”, aside from the emotionally-charged language he is using there is also the empirical fact that while at Wesleyan, 50% of us received financial aid. In my case, 75% of my college expenses were paid by Wesleyan scholarships. I come from the family of a machinist and a “homemaker” (Murray’s term), I do not live in a SuperZip, and while I do have a Ph.D. in a social science, as does Murray, my employer does not consider me “overeducated”, as it was the expected degree for my current position.

Finally, one should read Murray’s magnum opus with a few grains of sea salt. As he did back in 1984 with The Bell Curve, he weaves a political argument throughout these pages. He describes himself as a “libertarian”, and one would have to say he is a liberal-hating one who frames his arguments in ways that are currently being used by GOP presidential candidates. His “solutions” to the “new kind of segregation” driven by the choice of home town by “overeducated elitist snobs” includes his discussion of “the American project versus the European model”. The implication is that well-educated liberals are somehow anti-American or perhaps Euro-wannabes.

While Murray attempts to describe himself as a "libertarian", his real agenda seems to be to become a GOP thought leader. Pat Buchanan and Newt Gingrich would relish his treatise. Romney oddly and awkwardly tries to talk about the "European model". Rick Santorum can use it as the raw material for his campaign speeches and even cite this as "solid science" to bolster his dogmatic and intolerant religious and cultural arguments. Murray’s hidden agenda to use his “research” as a tool to slam those who he opposes on the political front exposes his book as, sadly, something more akin to a political diatribe. No impartial, refereed social science journal could accept this work as legitimate scientific research. Caveat emptor!


Why would Dylan Ratigan praise Charles Murray?

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