Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Homestead Act-150 Years Later

Weekend Edition Sunday:

WERTHEIMER: I think, and historians like yourself, don't you believe that this was the beginning of the middle class in the heartland of the country?
EARLE: I absolutely do believe that. I mean, the two great significant aftereffects of the Homestead Act are this growing and burgeoning and exploding rural middle class; mostly white, a lot of immigrants, although you could file for a homestead if you were an ex-slave or a single woman head of household. And the other is when you're looking down from an airplane from seven miles up, you see the landscape that the Homestead Act created - that grid of quarter sections...
WERTHEIMER: That checkerboard, yes.
EARLE: Exactly, with a farmhouse in the corner and fields in the rest of it. It literally etched itself onto our landscape.
Also, this:
 One hundred and fifty years ago, the Morrill Act was signed into law, transforming the face of American higher education. The Act, officially titled An Act Donating Public Lands to the Several States and Territories which may provide Colleges for the Benefit of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts had as its main purpose the creation of “at least one college in each state where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific or classical studies, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts . . . in order to promote the liberal and practical education of industrial classes.”

     Introduced by Vermont Congressman Justin Morrill, the Act laid the groundwork for a national system of public universities. It granted each state 30,000 acres of federal land for each member of the Congress the state had. This land, or the proceeds from its sale, were to be used to establish and fund universities that focused on agriculture and engineering. Many of our leading universities (including MIT, Cornell, the University of California at Berkeley, and other universities that figure in U.S. News and World Report’s top twenty-five list) were born of this law.

     The Morrill Act also made higher education more democratic. Prior to the Morrill Act, higher education was largely the domain of the elite. The Act’s support for practical studies in agriculture and engineering helped other groups in the population, including farmers and working people, obtain a university education.
Is it a coincidence that some of the most significant legislation in U.S. history, the Homestead Act, the Morrill Act, and the Pacific Railroad Acts, all were put in place at a time when the South wasn't a part of this country?  How many other progressive measures have been fought tooth and nail by the folks from Dixie?  Besides the legacy of slavery, why is that region so different from the rest of the country?  And finally, why is one political party so dedicated to the ways of this particular region?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Interesting Song Selection

The Roper

The Roper from Lucid Inc. on Vimeo.


From Jared Bernstein:


Worst Airpower Loss Since Vietnam

John Hudson:
The Taliban attack on an air base in southern Afghanistan on Friday drew coverage for the way the insurgents cloaked themselves in U.S. army uniforms to gain a tactical advantage, but few have taken note of the historical proportions of the damage inflicted. John Gresham, at the Defense Media Network, has published a detailed account of the attack on Camp Bastion, in which two Marines were killed, six U.S. Marine Corps jet fighters were destroyed, and two more  "significantly" damaged. Those facts were all carried in most reports, but if that just sounds like a typical damage report from a decade-long war, you're wrong. Gresham explains the devastating damage done to VMA-211, the name of the Marine Corps attack squadron that was most affected last week, noting that it is "arguably the worst day in [U.S. Marine Corps] aviation history since the Tet Offensive of 1968." Or you could go back even further. "The last time VMA-211 was combat ineffective was in December 1941, when the squadron was wiped out during the 13-day defense of Wake Island against the Japanese."
He spells out some more of the details of the attack:
Eight irreplaceable aircraft (the AV-8B has been out of production since 1999) have been destroyed or put out of action – approximately 7 percent of the total flying USMC Harrier fleet. Worse yet, the aircraft involved were the AV-B+ variant equipped with the APG-65 radar and AAQ-28 Litening II targeting pods – the most capable in the force. Given the current funding situation, it’s likely that the two damaged AV-8Bs will become spare parts “hangar queens” and never fly again. A Harrier squadron commander is dead, along with another Marine. Another nine personnel have been wounded, and the nearby Marines at Camp Freedom are now without effective fixed-wing air support. The USMC’s response to this disaster will be a telling report card on its leadership and organizational agility.
It just goes to show how desensitizing a decade of war can be. With casualty counts streaming in the news every day, it's easy to miss historically devastating milestones that crop up.
I didn't read the story very far this week when I saw it online, but I couldn't understand how a handful of insurgents did $200 million in damages in one attack.  Now I know.  These wars have been such an idiotic boondoggle, it is just heartbreaking.  I can not believe that anyone is seriously thinking that we should start a war with Iran.  Thank God we haven't yet.

A Conservative History

Jack Hitt has a little fun with the strange things conservatives say.  Some Revolutionary era history:

1775: Paul Revere “warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells and making sure as he was riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.”—Sarah Palin. 1775: New Hampshire starts the American Revolution: “What I love about New Hampshire… You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world.”—Michele Bachmann 1776: The Founding Synod signs the Declaration of Independence: “…those fifty-six brave people, most of whom, by the way, were clergymen.”—Mike Huckabee 1787: Slavery is banned in the Constitution: “We also know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.”—Michele Bachmann 1801: “Thomas Jefferson creates the Marines for the Islamic pirates that were happening.”—Glenn Beck
There's quite a few more funny ones over there.

Damn Those Crows

Discover Magazine:
Researchers described how they tested the crows’ reasoning in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. First, they let eight New Caledonian crows figure out how to use a tool to remove food from a hole in a box. Then the experiment began. The crows watched as a human entered their enclosure and stood by the box. But this motionless figure, eyes closed and hands in a neutral position, did not pose as much of a threat as the blue cloth hanging over one side of the enclosure. Through a gap in this bird blind, a stick emerged and poked at the hole in the box 15 times. Finally, the stick stopped moving and the non-threatening observer left the aviary.
Because the birds had to turn their heads away from the bird blind—where the probing stick had emerged—in order to nab a treat from the box, they were understandably cautious after the stick withdrew. Although they gradually went back to extracting food, they first inspected the bird blind and abandoned some preliminary probes of the food box. However, the birds were less wary and exhibited less testing behavior when they saw a second human enter the bird blind before the stick started moving, and leave the blind after the stick’s motion stopped. They recognized that the hidden human was the cause of the moving stick (even though, for consistency with the single-human situation, the stick was actually under the control of an experimenter outside the enclosure).
Understanding that a human was moving the stick, and that it would stop moving in the human’s absence, is more than a knowledge of cause and effect. Because the experimenter was invisible behind the bird blind, the crows did not actually see anyone moving the stick. And yet they could still infer that the human presence was responsible for the stick’s motion, which indicates that they can recognize even a hidden causal agent. This is a very impressive ability—until now, the authors write, “Although [research had suggested] animals can reason about the outcomes of accidental interventions, only humans have been shown to make inferences about hidden causal mechanisms.”
Geez, those birds have to be stopped.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Makers And Takers

Derek Thompson:
First, if you live in the United States, you're a Taker. It's not the 47%. It's the 100%. Government provides services and benefits that are impossible not to take, from national defense, to infrastructure, to food and drug safety. We're all beneficiaries of not getting invaded, having roads, and not getting poisoned by our dinner and over-the-counter medication.

Second, if you work in the United States, you're a Maker. It's not the 15 million -- that 10% households who owe most federal income taxes. It's the 155 million -- the labor force, not counting the millions of people who want but cannot find a job. It's true that richer people pay more. But they also earn more. The top 1% pays more federal taxes than the bottom 60% combined. That sounds outrageous. But the top 1% also makes more than the bottom 40% combined.

Here are two nice graphs, from Tax Policy Center data. On the left: This is how the income pie is sliced for each quintile. The richest 20% earns more than 50% of the income. On the right: This is how the tax pie is sliced for each quintile. The richest 20% pays about 66% of total federal taxes. Upshot: High income inequality combined with a progressive tax system means the burden of paying for government falls heavily on the top 20%.
 I fall into that top 20%, and there is no way in Hell I would want to trade places with the bottom 20% for any reason, but especially so that I wouldn't pay any federal taxes.  Maybe I'm a fool, but I'm not going to complain about being wealthy enough that I have to pay a significant amount of taxes.

Chart of the Day

From the Dish:

Not extremely progressive.  What percentage of his income does somebody making $25 million a year like Romney pay in gas tax or sales tax.  I bet it is a very, very small amount.  Also, while we are on the subject of taxes and the wealthy, how come Mitt Romney doesn't move to Texas or Florida or another state with no income tax?  Why have his most recent homes been in California and Massachusetts?  It makes one wonder about the long-pushed Republican talking point that the wealthy will choose to reside in a state with a lower tax rate.  I know one thing, I will never live in Indiana or Kentucky no matter how much lower their taxes are than Ohio.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Will The Campaign Get Uglier?

Charles Pierce thinks so:

We are coming rapidly toward a devastating confluence of two colliding panics. The Romney campaign is panicking about itself, and the Republicans are panicking about the Romney campaign. He cannot come back from this, honestly. This is who he is. This is what he believes the world to be. Half the electorate already thinks he's a fake, which means he's not a very good one. There's really only one campaign left to him now.
Unfortunately for American politics, that means only one thing. It's going to get extraordinarily dirty extraordinarily fast. There is going to be pale birtherism and barely covert racism. The body of Ambassador Christopher Stevens is going to be exhumed and used as a bludgeon. There is going to be poor-baiting, and gay-baiting, and ladyparts-baiting, and probably baiting of things I haven't thought of yet. The polite part of the campaign is going to be Romney's effort to convince You that he was really talking about Them when he was calling people moochers and sneak thieves. He wasn't talking about Your Medicare or Your Social Security. Naw, he was talking about Their greed for what You have. That's going to be the polite part of the rest of the campaign, reinforced in the lower registers by a few million in ads to make sure You remember who They are.
I'm not sure what will be uglier, the rest of the campaign, or the aftermath of an Obama victory?  I'm leaning toward the aftermath.  All the people I've heard berating the President have taken for granted that, now that his "socialism" has been exposed, he's bound to lose.  When he doesn't, I think they will react very poorly.  But don't get me wrong, I think the rest of the campaign will be much uglier than the nastiness raised by Sarah Palin's "Real America" campaign in 2008.

Will Folks Find This To Be Satire?

Or will they think it is just what they are thinking?:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wow, Sully Is Pissed

The Dish:
The offense was calling 47 percent of Americans moochers, and saying that Obama's voters were simply voting for more money from the makers. And this horrible, callous, contemptuous, Randian sentence:
"[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
He did not say: "I'll never convince them they should vote for me." He accused 47 percent of Americans of choosing not to "take personal responsibility and care for their lives." He's describing half the country as parasites, bleeding the productive half dry. Half the country. He includes me, an Obama supporter, who pays three times the tax on my income that Romney does, who immigrated at 21, whose parents never went to college, and whose blog now employs six other people.
You know what, Mitt? Fuck you.
Mitt's getting a little personal?  You would think the anti-gay marriage issue might piss him off too.

Look Out For 2013

Businessweek, via Ritholtz:
Whether it’s Barack Obama or Mitt Romney taking the presidential oath of office in January, someone will have the misfortune of overseeing an economy that looks a lot like the one we have today: low growth, persistently high unemployment, and huge amounts of debt. Depending on what happens with the “fiscal cliff,” there’s at least a chance the U.S. will be in recession. The mere threat of $600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts is already delaying business spending. Yet even if Congress does broker a deal and the worst of the fiscal cliff is postponed, 2013 is shaping up to be a rough year.
Big economic forces, both domestic and abroad, are combining to dampen growth. Fundamentals such as demographics and household finances that helped spur past recoveries are now slowing things down. These trends aren’t affected much by policy, so fixing them will be beyond the immediate grasp of an Obama or Romney administration. “No matter who wins the election, from a truly economic standpoint, 2013 will be an extremely challenging year,” says David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff + Associates.
Things are going to suck ass, and the gridlock in DC will make things worse.  We're going to get punched in the gut, and then we'll have to listen to four more years of idiot Republicans saying things suck solely because of Obama.  I'm afraid I'm going to punch John Boehner before things are over (I'd much rather punch Jim Jordan, but he was an NCAA champion wrestler, so the only way I'd take him on would be with a pickax handle from the blindside).

Another Romney Lie

Mark Thoma:
When Romney talks about the people who don't pay taxes and tries to make you believe that 47 percent of us are moochers living off the system, it's important to recognize that the people who don't pay federal income taxes are mostly the elderly and students. And notice how narrow the category is -- it's only federal income taxes -- but there are lots of other types of taxes. When all things are considered, "nearly 100 percent of Americans pay taxes in some way, shape or form"
So Romney says all those old folks are voting for Obama, because they are moochers?  I think he underestimates the racial acceptance of the elderly. Romney is a lying sack of shit who is most likely going to lose big.  Unfortunately, Republicans won't understand that it isn't just Romney that voters don't like, it is the entire Republican party.

Breaking Amish

I missed this bit of reality TV exploitation, but luckily Grantland covers for me:
Speaking of Jeremiah, how's his language now that he's out of Amish country?
First words, upon leaving Penn Station:
"No more bishop looking after me. Fuck that. Holy shit, finally fucking free."
Well, OK then. How about you, Abe?
On the ladies of New York City:
"There's a lot of skanks."
Noted. Anything else?
"Her ass cheek was there and her dress stopped right there."
"I thought about throwing a quarter out and letting her pick it up."
All. Gentlemen. Everything.
Gosh darn, it sounds entertaining, but I'm just not going to tune in.

Aflatoxin Threatens Corn Crop

Scientific American:
Continuing heat and drought are withering corn crops across the Midwest, creating prime conditions for a fungus that produces a toxic carcinogen causing health problems in livestock, according to Purdue University researchers.
The fungus, Aspergillus ear rot, infects corn ears through silks or wounds. Fields most at risk, researchers said, were planted in late March or early April.
"Aspergillus ear rot is out there, but it varies greatly from field to field," said Kiersten Wise, a Purdue University Extension plant pathologist. "There is no field without some potential for the disease."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates how much aflatoxin is allowed in livestock feed and corn for human consumption. Corn destined for humans and dairy cattle has the tightest limit, at 20 parts per billion. Corn destined intended to finish beef cattle can contain the fungus at concentrations up to 300 parts per billion.
It's a good thing beef cattle can take much higher limits on the stuff, because I'll probably be storing some corn in a gravity bed wagon this winter.  Hopefully nobody dies.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hybrid Seeds and GMO Seeds

Janisse Ray spends a lot of her time with seeds, thinking about them, writing about them and (of course) planting them in the ground. Her new book is called "The Seed Underground."
Ray explains that it's only in the last hundred years that farmers have shifted from caretakers to "renters" of genetic material in the form of high-tech seeds.
"With the advent of patenting laws and the ability to patent life, basically, a patent supercedes the rights of a farmer to save his own seeds," says Ray. Seeds have always had value, but the legal right to plant is a new phenomenon -- thanks to "G.M." or genetically-modified seeds.
"The Seed Underground" also takes readers to farms and neighborhood gardens around the country where people are cataloging and cultivating the seeds their families have planted for generations.  Ray says this underground movement (made up of those she has dubbed "quiet revolutionaries") is one way to preserve varieties of fruits and vegetables for the future.
Ray herself is "not opposed to technology," but she believes science should be used for "the good of all humanity" over the long haul.
"I'm opposed to science or technology being used for short-term profits," she sums up. "I can say that hybrid seeds have brought us a lot of good, and perhaps [genetically-modified seeds] could."
Wait a second:
The 1970s marked the first time when scientists patented methods on their biotechnological inventions with recombinant DNA. It wasn’t until 1980 that patents for whole-scale living organisms were permitted. In Diamond v. Chakrabarty, the U.S. Supreme Court established the patentability of living matter, provided it was truly "man-made." The subject for this particular case was a genetically engineered bacterium that was specifically modified to help clean up and degrade oil spills.
Since that 1980 court case, there has been much patenting of genetically modified organisms. This includes bacteria (as just mentioned), viruses, seeds, plants, and even non-human animals. For example, a genetically modified mouse, dubbed the Oncomouse, that is useful for studying cancer, was patented by Harvard University.
So what happened a little less than 100 years ago?  How about the development of hybrid seed:
 In agriculture and gardening, hybrid seed is seed produced by cross-pollinated plants. In hybrid seed production, the crosses are specific and controlled. The advantage of growing hybrid seed compared to inbred lines comes from heterosis. To produce hybrid seed, elite inbred varieties with well documented and consistent phenotypes (such as yield) are crossed and the resulting hybrid seed is collected. Another factor that is important in hybrid seed production is the combining ability of the parent plants. Although two elite inbred parent plant varieties may produce the highest yields of their crop, it does not necessarily mean that crossing these inbreds will result in the highest yielding hybrid. Combining ability is the term used to describe the level of heterosis that the parents will generate in the resultant seed. Higher combining ability between the parents results in increased performance in the resulting hybrid seed. Hybrids are bred to improve the characteristics of the resulting plants, such as better yield, greater uniformity, improved color, disease resistance, and so forth. Today, hybrid seed production is predominant in agriculture and home gardening, and is one of the main contributing factors to the dramatic rise in agricultural output during the last half of the 20th century. In the US, the commercial market was launched in the 1920s, with the first hybrid maize. All of the hybrid seeds planted by the farmer will be the same hybrid, which causes the first generation of seed from the hybrids planted to be inbred. This is why hybrid seed is generally not saved from subsequent generations and is purchased for each planting. Hybrid seeds are much dearer than normal seeds, due to the technology, time and effort put in to produce them. (emphasis mine)
 Hmm, the 1920s. Let's take a look at a chart:

So farmers could have continued to use open-pollinated varieties of corn they used from the beginning of time until really the mid '30s or so, or they could start buying better yielding hybrid seeds which would yield much more grain, even though they wouldn't be able to reuse the seed. 

It is true that farmers can't reuse the patented GMO soybeans (yet), but they knew that was part of the deal going in.  But considering how much benefit they have seen from the hybrid seeds, I'm not surprised they took that deal.  Saving seed is beneficial, but improved genetics is more beneficial.  Patents weren't the things that killed open variety corn.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

George Brett On His Brawls

At Grantland:

George Brett makes me laugh. My favorite George Brett freakout here.

NASA Photo of the Day

September 11:

Milky Way Over the Bungle Bungles
Image Credit & Copyright: Mike Salway
Explanation: Which part of this picture do you find more interesting -- the land or the sky? Advocates for the land might cite the beauty of the ancient domes of the Bungle Bungle Range in Western Australia. These picturesque domes appear as huge layered beehives and are made of sandstones and conglomerates deposited over 350 million years ago. Advocates for the sky might laud the beauty of the Milky Way's central band shown arching from horizon to horizon. The photogenic Milky Way band formed over 10 billion years ago and now includes many well-known nebulae and bright stars. Fortunately, you don't have to decide and can enjoy both together in this beautiful 8-frame panorama taken from the dark skies of Purnululu National Park about two months ago.

Is Kansas Crazy?

The Kansas State Objection Board is weighing whether to remove the current U.S. President from the fall election ballot:
A GOP-controlled board in Kansas is trying to decide whether to remove President Obama from the state ballot over objections about his birth certificate.
The State Objections Board -- consisting of three of the state's top Republican elected officials -- ruled Thursday it did not yet have enough information and postponed a decision until Monday.
"I don't think it's a frivolous objection," Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach told the Topeka Capital-Journal. "I do think the factual record could be supplemented."
Kris Kobach is a clown.  That is why he is a rising star in the Republican party.  How do such morons get put in place to run entire states?

The Salton Sea Mess

Wired looks at the history of the accidental American lake:
This week, Los Angeles got a whiff of the future.
A heinous rotten-egg smell settled into the metropolis, a stench more familiar to residents lining the Salton Sea, some 150 miles to the east. It was this 376-square-mile body of water, created by accident in the middle of the desert over a century ago, that belched up the fetid cloud. And such episodes will continue to plague Southern California as the collapse of the Salton Sea ecosystem accelerates over the coming years.
Considered to be among the world’s most vital avian habitats and — until recently — one of its most productive fisheries, the Salton Sea is in a state of wild flux, the scene of fish and bird die-offs of unfathomable proportions. It was the resulting sea-bottom biomass that a storm churned earlier this week, releasing gases that drifted into Los Angeles.
This is just the latest episode in the Salton Sea’s long, painful history of sickness and health and booms and busts — a stinky side effect of a great American experiment to civilize the western deserts. By economic measurements, this experiment has been an astounding success. By environmental measurements, it’s shaping up to be pure disaster.
These days, in the 115-degree heat of summer the Sea stinks so bad that the reek sticks in your throat like Elmer’s Glue. Chemical-laced dust kicked up from its rapidly receding shoreline contributes to an asthma rate for local children three times higher than the state average. It’s been variously called a natural wonder, a national embarrassment, paradise, and the ecological equivalent of the Chernobyl disaster.
The whole story is interesting, and a warning about man's struggle with nature.  More on the Salton Sea here.

A Wall Street Truthteller?

The NYT on Sandy Lewis:
Mr. Lewis wants to flip over Wall Street’s paving stones and search for worms. He relies on his singular strength: he discerns patterns where most see random data. He forecast the financial meltdown of 2008 that vaporized Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers. In 2006, he warned a Bear Stearns executive: “Bear is toast. Get out now!”
Lehman Brothers, he notes, certified it was in good health in June 2008 and issued stock, attracting investment, including from the New Jersey Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund. Secretly, Lehman was on an intravenous drip, poisoned by bad debt.
“My respect for their brains is too great to think Lehman’s top guys didn’t know they were conveying the cynical impression of health,” Mr. Lewis said.
He is no less suspicious of Goldman Sachs, which has alumni sprinkled across the upper reaches of government. In a tough spot, Goldman obtained extraordinary permission to make an overnight metamorphosis from investment bank to traditional bank holding company.
“Can I prove this was a wired deal? Absolutely not,” Mr. Lewis said. “Am I certain of it? Only 100 percent.”
As for the whirling, three-million-shares-per-second casino of Wall Street? He sees it as rigged. “I would not risk stocks under any circumstances,” he said, “because we don’t know when this thing is going to blow.”
The guy is definitely fascinating.  The story about how he got prosecuted by Rudy Giuliani is amazing.  I would agree with him that there's still another shoe to drop in the economy.

UW-Whitewater Loses

Mary Hardin-Baylor and Linfield each won Top 10 battles on Saturday, but it was a surprising loss that steals the headlines.
Buffalo State drove the length of the field and Casey Kacz found Ryan Carney in the front corner of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown with 3.2 seconds left as the Bengals snapped No. 1 UW-Whitewater's 46-game winning streak, defeating the Warhawks 7-6.
Kacz drove the offense 75 yards for a touchdown after the Bengals got the ball back with 1:35 left. The key play was a hook-and-double-lateral that converted a fourth down and long.
"That's a play we practice every week," said coach Jerry Boyes, "because it's our last play-type of a play. The kids executed it to perfection."
Whitewater was limited to a pair of Eric Kindler field goals, the last with 1:35 left to give the Warhawks a 6-0 lead. Each team missed two field goals.
That is a pretty big upset. A 46 game winning streak is pretty damn impressive, though. I guess that means Mount Union will return to a familiar place, the number 1 ranking.

Well Said

Rick Santorum at the Value Voters Summit:
Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum attacked the media and "smart people" for not being on the side of conservatives in a speech to the Values Voter Summit on Saturday.
"We will never have the media on our side, ever, in this country," Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, told the audience at the Omni Shoreham hotel. "We will never have the elite, smart people on our side."
The media "doesn't like the other side," Santorum said. "And not necessarily, I would argue, because they agree with them, but because they can influence the country.
"If just a few people make decisions about what this world looks like, what this country looks like, then you have people sitting in offices at major media outlets and Hollywood who think they can deal with a small group of people, to get them to jump through the hoops they want you to," Santorum said.
Yeah, Rick, smart people aren't going to be on your side.  Seriously, when did being intelligent become a bad thing?  I could understand somebody saying that somebody in book smart, but lacks common sense, but Republicans have completely undermined any possibly claim they have to utilizing common sense.  When your solution to the global economic meltdown is cutting taxes and getting rid of regulations, you've veered far away from common sense.  I understand that Republican voters enjoy being told that they are better people than the rest of the country, but why do they like being told they aren't smart?