Old Blind Dog

Location: Texas

Sunday, November 28, 2004

High-tech ID cards raise privacy issue

His crew cut shiny with hair gel, 10-year-old Cody M. King hopped aboard his school bus at Bammel Elementary School and waved a high-tech identification card across a card reader.

Information about the time, location and bus he boarded was instantly recorded in a database that police and other officials can access.

When he got off the bus at his north Harris County home, he scanned the card again and the computer recorded the details. He said he's glad the police know where he is.


The card-reader system is being touted as the latest safety tool for students at Bammel Elementary in the Spring Independent School District. By tracking students, officials say they will be able to get a quicker start on finding children reported missing.

"We can't keep them (completely) safe," said Spring ISD Police Chief Alan Bragg. "But if they get off at the wrong stop or don't go home after getting off the bus, we know where to start looking."

Some worry, however, that the new technology poses privacy concerns and offers a false sense of security.

"Big Brother is watching you for your own good," said Katherine Albrecht, founder and director of Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering, a consumer privacy group. "That's the camel's nose in the tent."


Spring ISD officials think they are the first to use the system to monitor students on buses in the Houston area and beyond. A charter school in Buffalo, N.Y., uses the technology to take student attendance, and two schools in Japan use the system to log when students arrive at and leave campus, according to news reports.

Beth Elliott, mother of Bammel fourth-grader Taylor Doyle, said she didn't let her daughter ride the bus until the district installed the tracking system because of concerns that Taylor would be lost or abducted.

Instead, she would dash from work each day to pick Taylor up from school or arrange for someone else to do so, and take her to a baby-sitter.

"Now, she rides the bus every day," Elliott said. "Since they put the system in, that's when my comfort level went up."

And that's part of the problem, said Robert Smith, a privacy security consultant near Boston. He said students might be safer if school buses were equipped with seat belts instead of the ID card system.

Note the complete willingness to give up essential freedom for a perceived level of safety which bears little relationship to reality.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
-- Ben Franklin

Friday, November 26, 2004

Ancient bison done in by climate, not hunters

Thousands of years before white and Indian hunters drove the buffalo of America's Great Plains to virtual extinction, the ancestors of those lordly animals suffered a similar fate -- but it was major climate change, not hunting, that did them in, says an international research team.

Moving in huge herds, more than 20 million bison roamed the American West before white men arrived. For centuries, the Indians hunted them with bows, arrows and spears for food, clothing and shelter.

But within a few brief years after 1850, the guns of the white men -- and of the Indians -- drove the American buffalo to near extinction. By 1889, naturalists could find only 550 left, giants 6 feet high at their massive shoulders and weighing more than a ton.

In contrast, the extinction of the buffalo's ancestors took thousands of years longer, according to the scientists who analyzed their fossil bones, and it was periodic climate change and the appearance and disappearance of vast ice sheets that virtually wiped out the ancient herds.

A few subspecies of the ancient bison may have survived briefly in the far north, but eventually they all vanished, the scientists believe. However, larger groups farther south survived, and their descendants were the ones that eventually populated the Great Plains.

Okay, sounds reasonable to me. But wait, there's dissent in the ranks.

Extinction by climate change is a controversial idea, and John Alroy, a population biologist at UC Santa Barbara, disagrees strongly with the Oxford- led group, arguing that there is "solid evidence" of large human populations in America by at least 13,400 years ago.

"The climate model makes no sense whatsoever," Alroy insisted in a phone interview. "It's all overkill, and even the early human populations of the region were capable of decimating the large animals that were heading for extinction at the end of the Pleistocene," the geologic period that began about 1.8 million years ago and ended about 11,000 years ago.

Not just bison, but moose and red deer also fell prey in huge numbers to the rapidly growing population of early human hunters, Alroy argues.

"Human population growth and hunting almost invariably leads to a mass extinction," he wrote in an earlier article that, like the current work, was published in the journal Science.

Sounds like your typical leftist agenda to me, i.e. people are bad, hunting is worse, and actually eating what you kill....blechh!!!

But sanity prevails:

But Cooper had a response to Alroy's argument in an e-mail interview:

"We think that for many species, the small population sizes that had been produced by environmental changes were very vulnerable to human hunting," he said. "Basically, humans turned up at exactly the wrong moment -- just when many species were already in deep trouble due to the changes in the environment.

"We wouldn't argue that humans didn't kill the last survivors of many populations and species, but the important point is that these groups had already been dramatically reduced in population size and genetic diversity by climate changes over the preceding 25,000 years. This has major implications for understanding the likely impact of global warming trends -- and they don't paint a pretty picture."

More here.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Evolution in the headlines...

....according to Donald Sensing, who links two articles critical of evolution and neo-Darwinism that fail to make the case.

The conclusion to the second article:

An experience-based analysis of the causal powers of various explanatory hypotheses suggests purposive or intelligent design as a causally adequate--and perhaps the most causally adequate--explanation for the origin of the complex specified information required to build the Cambrian animals and the novel forms they represent. For this reason, recent scientific interest in the design hypothesis is unlikely to abate as biologists continue to wrestle with the problem of the origination of biological form and the higher taxa.

In other words, absent all the facts and failing a complete understanding, we will once again resort to superstition.

Update: A thorough fisking of the Meyer article is here.

A small sample:

Meyer’s paper predictably follows the same pattern that has characterized “intelligent design” since its inception: deny the sufficiency of evolutionary processes to account for life’s history and diversity, then assert that an “intelligent designer” provides a better explanation. Although ID is discussed in the concluding section of the paper, there is no positive account of “intelligent design” presented, just as in all previous work on “intelligent design”. Just as a detective doesn’t have a case against someone without motive, means, and opportunity, ID doesn’t stand a scientific chance without some kind of model of what happened, how, and why. Only a reasonably detailed model could provide explanatory hypotheses that can be empirically tested. “An unknown intelligent designer did something, somewhere, somehow, for no apparent reason” is not a model.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Running Extra Mile Sets Humans Apart in Primates' World

Endurance running, unique to humans among primates and uncommon in all mammals other than dogs, horses and hyenas, apparently evolved at least two million years ago and probably let human ancestors hunt and scavenge over great distances. That was probably decisive in the pursuit of high-protein food for development of large brains.

The apparently crucial role of running in human evolution has been largely overlooked in previous research. But today, the two scientists, Dr. Dennis M. Bramble of the University of Utah and Dr. Daniel E. Lieberman of Harvard, report in the journal Nature that their analysis of the fossil record found striking anatomical evidence for the capability of prolonged running in the Homo genus, beginning about two million years ago.

"Today, endurance running is primarily a form of exercise and recreation, but its roots may be as ancient as the origin of the human genus," the scientists conclude in the article.

Descent of Man

Scientists have long believed that modern humans, the species Homo sapiens, coexisted in parts of Europe and western Asia with another species, Homo neandertalis. For reasons unknown, the Neanderthals died out about 30,000 years ago, leaving the planet to the single species of genus Homo that now accounts for all 6.3 billion people on the planet.

That, at least, is what anthropologists thought, until Australian and Indonesian researchers gave the family tree a mighty shake last month with the reported discovery of some unusual bones in the limestone caves of Flores, a volcanic island 300 miles east of Bali.

The bones in the Liang Bua caves — seven individuals in all — were unlike anything scientists had encountered before. The bones were those of creatures that stood 3 feet high, about the size of a 21st-century toddler. Despite thick brows and "nutcracker" jaws, they clearly weren't apes. Femur and pelvis bones showed that they walked upright, but more like earlier human ancestors than modern humans.

From their worn molars, it was clear that despite their small stature, they weren't children. And from the tiny, grapefruit-size brain of one intact skull — that of an adult female that Michael Morwood and his colleagues dubbed Ebu but quickly renamed "hobbit" — it was clear they weren't pygmies either. Pygmies have brains proportionately as large as other humans.

Buried in the cave floor, the archaeologists also found ample evidence that the little people of Flores — now known as Homo floresiensis — made stone tools, hunted, fished and used fires for cooking, all activities associated with human intelligence.

The real shocker, however, was the discovery that although some of the bones were 90,000 years old, some dated to less than 18,000 years ago — a time by which modern man is thought to have inherited the earth. All of it.

"This gives us a whole new perspective on human evolution," said Rick Potts, director of the human origins program at the National Museum of Natural History.

Modern man, the Neanderthals, and now Homo floresiensis are all thought to have descended from a common ancestor, Homo erectus, which migrated out of Africa and spread throughout Europe and Asia within the last 1 million to 2 million years.

Recent and controversial discoveries elsewhere in Indonesia, however, suggest that Homo erectus may have existed there as recently as 50,000 years ago. That finding, coupled with the Flores discoveries, suggests that, for a time, at least four human species roamed the planet.

But if there were four kinds of humans, why not more? Morwood says human evolution — especially in isolated settings like Flores — may prove to be much more diverse than anyone has imagined.

"I think we're going to have a plethora of human species showing up," he said. "Some may be really weird."

Archaeologists say Flores' little people may have been small as a result of "island dwarfing," a process observed in some animals that evolve smaller forms that are better adapted to a restricted island environment.

They also suspect that the isolated island population, which may have inhabited Flores for tens of thousands of years, probably died out during a period of intense volcanic eruptions there, about 13,000 years ago.

There is no evidence that the Lilliputian people of Flores survived until modern times, although Morwood says there are tales in local folklore of a diminutive group of cave-dwelling people who disappeared about the time that the Dutch began colonizing the islands in the late 1500s.

Scientists don't have a clue about how humans managed to reach the southern end of the Indonesian archipelago. Potts and others say it's unlikely that humans could have deliberately navigated open water so early in time, but he says they might have accidentally drifted there on crude log rafts.

Nor is it clear exactly where Homo floresiensis branched off the human family tree — or how many other twists and turns in the evolution of the human species remain to be discovered.

Scientists today distinguish 12 to 19 species of early humans, but there is widespread disagreement about how they are related, which are ancestors of modern humans and which represent lineages that simply died out.

The oldest fossil of a hominid — a humanlike creature called Toumai who had the smallish brain case of an ape but sported a skull and teeth with human characteristics — was unearthed in central Africa two years ago. It is between 6 million and 7 million years old, a period when anthropologists say the human lineage was becoming distinct from that of chimpanzees.

Numerous fossil discoveries from more recent times suggest that distinctively human traits emerged gradually over the last 5 million years as nature experimented with the evolution of the human species. Most of the experiments proved to be evolutionary dead-ends.

By 4 million years ago, human ancestors were walking upright, but they had brains only about one-third the size of modern humans. As early as 2.5 million years ago, they were making and using crude stone tools.

By 2.2 million years ago, the emergence of Homo habilis in Africa showed a clear trend toward larger brains — a development followed about half a million years later by the appearance of the first fully human species, Homo erectus.

Anthropologists differ over exactly how and where Homo sapiens appeared.

Thoroughly modern man — the subspecies known as Homo sapiens sapiens, with a lighter build and a bigger brain — emerged in Africa about 130,000 years ago and spread worldwide.

Until now, however, there was nearly universal agreement that, with the disappearance of the Neanderthals 30,000 years ago, only a single species of humans remained.

A fertile field of study, no?

Scientists find possible missing link in Spain

Scientists in Spain have discovered fossils of an ape species from about 13 million years ago that they think may have been the last common ancestor of all living great apes, including humans.
The new ape species and its possible place in prehuman evolution were described in Friday's issue of the journal Science by a research team led by Salvador Moyà-Solà of the Miquel Crusafont Institute of Paleontology in Barcelona. The fossil remains were found near Barcelona, and named Pierolapithecus catalaunicus.
In the report, the researchers concluded that the well-preserved skull, teeth and skeletal bones promised "to contribute substantially to our understanding of the origin of extant great apes and humans."

Yet more evidence for evolution.

Monday, November 15, 2004

He's dead now!

Besides getting the facts wrong the Sunday Mirror also gets the reaction wrong:

A US marine has sparked world-wide revulsion after being seen shooting an injured and helpless Iraqi.

Fox News is carrying the actual video of the incident and cautions that feigning death or injury is a common tactic of the terrorists who then attack Marines that approach closely.

The real reaction is "Good job, Marine!"

At least in Red State America, anyway.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Okla. Law Allows Guns on Company Property

Whirlpool Corp. (WHR) has sued to block a new law that allows employees to keep guns in their locked vehicles on workplace parking lots. The law was scheduled to take effect Nov. 1, according to the Associated Press, but a federal judge blocked it.
Whirlpool, which is trying to save its ban on firearms (search) on company property, believes workplace safety should override the rights of gun owners.

"This is a standard company rule that's intended to protect employees," Whirlpool said

Heh! And the Second Amendment is a standard rule that's intended to protect U.S. citizens.

Friday, November 12, 2004

WHAT kind of world order do we want?

Europeans do not fear that the US will seek to control them; they fear that they have lost control over the US and, by extension, the direction of world affairs.

Old Europe is dead. The U.S. need not seek any approval for anything we undertake to accomplish. They owe us their souls. The idea that they might control the world by controlling us shows the extent of the rot.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Evolution is "a theory, not a fact"

ATLANTA — A sticker in suburban Atlanta science textbooks that says evolution is "a theory, not a fact" is being challenged in court as an unlawful promotion of religion.

The lawsuit, filed by six parents and the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (search), begins Monday and is expected to last four days.

Cobb County (search) school officials adopted the disclaimer after science textbooks it adopted in 2002 were criticized by some parents for presenting evolution as fact. More than 2,000 people signed a petition opposing the biology texts because they did not discuss alternative theories, including creationism (search).

The school district placed the sticker despite the evidence against it. And in spite of Edwards v. Aguillard (1987):

Louisiana's "Creationism Act" forbids the teaching of the theory of evolution in public elementary and secondary schools unless accompanied by instruction in the theory of "creation science." The Act does not require the teaching of either theory unless the other is taught. It defines the theories as "the scientific evidences for [creation or evolution] and inferences from those scientific evidences." Appellees, who include Louisiana parents, teachers, and religious leaders, challenged the Act's constitutionality in Federal District Court, seeking an injunction and declaratory relief. The District Court granted summary judgment to appellees, holding that the Act violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Court of Appeals affirmed.


1. The Act is facially invalid as violative of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, because it lacks a clear secular purpose. Pp. 585-594.

(a) The Act does not further its stated secular purpose of "protecting academic freedom." It does not enhance the freedom of teachers to teach what they choose and fails to further the goal of "teaching all of the evidence." Forbidding the teaching of evolution when creation science is not also taught undermines the provision of a comprehensive scientific education. Moreover, requiring the teaching of creation science with evolution does not give schoolteachers a flexibility that they did not already possess to supplant the present science curriculum with the presentation of theories, besides evolution, about the origin of life. Furthermore, the contention that the Act furthers a "basic concept of fairness" by requiring the teaching of all of the evidence on the subject is without merit. Indeed, the Act evinces a discriminatory preference for the teaching of creation science and against the teaching of evolution by requiring that curriculum guides be developed and resource services supplied for teaching creationism but not for teaching evolution, by limiting membership on the resource services panel to "creation scientists," and by forbidding school boards to discriminate against anyone who "chooses to be a creation-scientist" or to teach creation science, while failing to protect those who choose to teach other theories or who refuse to teach creation science. A [482 U.S. 578, 579] law intended to maximize the comprehensiveness and effectiveness of science instruction would encourage the teaching of all scientific theories about human origins. Instead, this Act has the distinctly different purpose of discrediting evolution by counter-balancing its teaching at every turn with the teaching of creationism. Pp. 586-589.

(b) The Act impermissibly endorses religion by advancing the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind. The legislative history demonstrates that the term "creation science," as contemplated by the state legislature, embraces this religious teaching. The Act's primary purpose was to change the public school science curriculum to provide persuasive advantage to a particular religious doctrine that rejects the factual basis of evolution in its entirety. Thus, the Act is designed either to promote the theory of creation science that embodies a particular religious tenet or to prohibit the teaching of a scientific theory disfavored by certain religious sects. In either case, the Act violates the First Amendment. Pp. 589-594.

Also in defiance of the law:

GRANTSBURG, Wis. — The city's school board has revised its science curriculum to allow the teaching of creationism (search), prompting an outcry from more than 300 educators who urged that the decision be reversed.

School board members believed that a state law governing the teaching of evolution (search) was too restrictive. The science curriculum "should not be totally inclusive of just one scientific theory," said Joni Burgin, superintendent of the district of 1,000 students in northwest Wisconsin.

Last month, when the board examined its science curriculum, language was added calling for "various models/theories" of origin to be incorporated.

The decision provoked more than 300 biology and religious studies faculty members to write a letter last week urging the Grantsburg (search) board to reverse the policy. It follows a letter sent previously by 43 deans at Wisconsin public universities.

"Insisting that teachers teach alternative theories of origin in biology classes takes time away from real learning, confuses some students and is a misuse of limited class time and public funds," said Don Waller, a botanist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Wisconsin law mandates that evolution be taught, but school districts are free to create their own curricular standards, said Joe Donovan, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Instruction.

There have been scattered efforts around the nation for other school boards to adopt similar measures. Last month the Dover Area School Board in Pennsylvania voted to require the teaching of alternative theories to evolution, including "intelligent design" — the idea that life is too complex to have developed without a creator.

The state education board in Kansas was heavily criticized in 1999 when it deleted most references to evolution. The decision was reversed in 2001.

In March, the Ohio Board of Education narrowly approved a lesson plan that some critics contended opens the door to teaching creationism.

Update: Clayton Cramer has more on this.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Evolution Is A Fact

More evidence for those that will listen:

When non-biologists talk about biological evolution they often confuse two different aspects of the definition. On the one hand there is the question of whether or not modern organisms have evolved from older ancestral organisms or whether modern species are continuing to change over time. On the other hand there are questions about the mechanism of the observed changes... how did evolution occur? Biologists consider the existence of biological evolution to be a fact. It can be demonstrated today and the historical evidence for its occurrence in the past is overwhelming. However, biologists readily admit that they are less certain of the exact mechanism of evolution; there are several theories of the mechanism of evolution. Stephen J. Gould has put this as well as anyone else:

In the American vernacular, "theory" often means "imperfect fact"--part of a hierarchy of confidence running downhill from fact to theory to hypothesis to guess. Thus the power of the creationist argument: evolution is "only" a theory and intense debate now rages about many aspects of the theory. If evolution is worse than a fact, and scientists can't even make up their minds about the theory, then what confidence can we have in it? Indeed, President Reagan echoed this argument before an evangelical group in Dallas when he said (in what I devoutly hope was campaign rhetoric): "Well, it is a theory. It is a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science--that is, not believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was."
Well evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts don't go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's in this century, but apples didn't suspend themselves in midair, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered.

Moreover, "fact" doesn't mean "absolute certainty"; there ain't no such animal in an exciting and complex world. The final proofs of logic and mathematics flow deductively from stated premises and achieve certainty only because they are not about the empirical world. Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and then attack us falsely for a style of argument that they themselves favor). In science "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent." I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

Evolutionists have been very clear about this distinction of fact and theory from the very beginning, if only because we have always acknowledged how far we are from completely understanding the mechanisms (theory) by which evolution (fact) occurred. Darwin continually emphasized the difference between his two great and separate accomplishments: establishing the fact of evolution, and proposing a theory--natural selection--to explain the mechanism of evolution.

- Stephen J. Gould, " Evolution as Fact and Theory"; Discover, May 1981

Gould is stating the prevailing view of the scientific community. In other words, the experts on evolution consider it to be a fact.

And for those that won't listen:

"... there are many reasons why you might not understand [an explanation of a scientific theory] ... Finally, there is this possibility: after I tell you something, you just can't believe it. You can't accept it. You don't like it. A little screen comes down and you don't listen anymore. I'm going to describe to you how Nature is - and if you don't like it, that's going to get in the way of your understanding it. It's a problem that [scientists] have learned to deal with: They've learned to realize that whether they like a theory or they don't like a theory is not the essential question. Rather, it is whether or not the theory gives predictions that agree with experiment. It is not a question of whether a theory is philosophically delightful, or easy to understand, or perfectly reasonable from the point of view of common sense. [A scientific theory] describes Nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And it agrees fully with experiment. So I hope you can accept Nature as She is - absurd.

I'm going to have fun telling you about this absurdity, because I find it delightful. Please don't turn yourself off because you can't believe Nature is so strange. Just hear me all out, and I hope you'll be as delighted as I am when we're through. "

- Richard P. Feynman (1918-1988),
from the introductory lecture on quantum mechanics reproduced in QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter (Feynman 1985).

Clayton Cramer blogs on intelligent design and quotes my e-mail to him.

Unteachable Ignorance

I don't usually agree with commie wankers but this part of Jane Smiley's screed is right on the money.

Here is how ignorance works: First, they put the fear of God into you—if you don't believe in the literal word of the Bible, you will burn in hell. Of course, the literal word of the Bible is tremendously contradictory, and so you must abdicate all critical thinking, and accept a simple but logical system of belief that is dangerous to question. A corollary to this point is that they make sure you understand that Satan resides in the toils and snares of complex thought and so it is best not try it.

Next, they tell you that you are the best of a bad lot (humans, that is) and that as bad as you are, if you stick with them, you are among the chosen. This is flattering and reassuring, and also encourages you to imagine the terrible fates of those you envy and resent.

The rest of it is barking moonbat leftist hatred.

Not all conservatives are this closed-minded. But having a discussion with an evangelical Christian that thinks like this is just as difficult as having a discussion with a Democrat. Evolution is to the evangelical as abortion is to the liberal. One insists that God created the world and the other insists that socialism works. Neither will listen to factual arguments that contradict their worldview.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Textbook Publishers Define Marriage to Appease Texas Board

The Left continues to lose ground.

AUSTIN, Texas — The State Board of Education approved health textbooks for Texas (search) high school and middle school students on Friday, after publishers changed the wording in some of the approved textbooks to reflect marriage as being between a man and a woman.


Board member Mary Helen Berlanga (search) asked the panel to approve the books without the changes.

"We're not supposed to make changes at somebody's whim," Berlanga said. "It's a political agenda, and we're not here to follow a political agenda."

The decision could affect dozens of states because books sold in Texas, the nation's second-largest textbook buyer, often are marketed elsewhere.

The elected board, which includes 10 Republicans and five Democrats, is allowed to reject books only because of factual errors or failure to follow state-mandated curriculum.

I'm sorry but these were factual errors that were corrected. Berlanga is correct that there is a "political agenda" in play here, however. The changes she wanted to keep were put in at the whim of the Left and she certainly is here to follow that political agenda.

Privacy Experts Shun Black Boxes

Some safety and privacy experts are reacting with apprehension, others with all out condemnation over a recent ruling by the National Transportation Safety Board (search) to require electronic data recorders or "black boxes" in all new cars manufactured in the United States.


Proponents, including the NTSB and road safety advocates, say the data collected on these black boxes is valuable for studying how accidents happen and how to make roads and cars safer. EDR data has been used for years to fine tune air bag efficiency.


Privacy experts warn that once cars are outfitted for the most limited data recording, the government will find a way to argue it’s for drivers’ "own good" to collect more. They point to a push in recent years to install GPS in all cars so that emergency officials can easily find incapacitated accident victims.

"When you are telling someone it is for their own good, then it should be their own choice, they should be able to say ‘no,’" said professor Yale Kamisar of the University of Michigan Law School. "None of these things work out the way they are supposed to. Why should we believe all of these assurances when they haven’t been honored in the past?"


Thursday, November 04, 2004

Juvenile Left

It is my impression that at least a part of the reason that the Republicans won the election was that the electorate is fed up with the juvenile antics of the left. Everything from slashed tires to sour grapes. More here.

Update: Election Reflections

It's the morality, stupid! While the punditocracy blathered on about the impact of the war in Iraq and the economy on the election, something else was happening: A broad portion of the electorate was fretting over what it saw as the moral decline of the country. It was an issue that few journalists talked or wrote about, yet exit polls show it was a top issue for Republican voters -- more important than the economy and more important than Iraq. Call it the guns, God and gays vote. Call it whatever you want, but moral-issues voters came out in droves and supported Bush and the Republicans.

Just look at an electoral map. The red states stretch across the South and cover nearly all of the nation's midsection. That red swath is representative of a set of values shared by conservative voters. It's apparent to me that the cultural divide has deepened even further than Democrats and the inside-the-Beltway crowd imagined.

Also see here and here.