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There's Still Time to Move

From "Bush by numbers: Four years of double standards" [via Dr. Menlo at American Samizdat]:

Factors in his favour

3 Number of companies that control the US voting technology market.

52 Percentage of votes cast during the 2002 midterm elections that were recorded by Election Systems & Software, the largest voting-technology firm, a big Republican donor.

29 Percentage of votes that will be cast via computer voting machines that don't produce a paper record.

17 On 17 November 2001, The Economist printed a correction for having said George Bush was properly elected in 2000.

$113m Amount raised by the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign, the most in American electoral history.

$185m Amount raised by the Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign, to the end of March 2004.

$200m Amount that the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign expects to raise by November 2004.

268 Number of Bush-Cheney fund-raisers who had earned Pioneer status (by raising $100,000 each) as of March 2004.

18 Number of Bush-Cheney fund-raisers who had earned Ranger status (by raising $200,000 each) as of March 2004.

$64.2m The Amount Pioneers and Rangers had raised for Bush-Cheney as of March 2004.

85 Percentage of Americans who can't Name the Chief Justice of the United States.

69 Percentage of Americans who believed the White House's claims in September 2003 that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 11 September attacks.

34 Percentage of Americans who believed in June 2003 that Saddam's "weapons of mass destruction" had been found.

22 Percentage of Americans who believed in May 2003 that Saddam had used his WMDs on US forces.

85 Percentage of American young adults who cannot find Afghanistan, Iraq, or Israel on a map.

30 Percentage of American young adults who cannot find the Pacific Ocean on a map.

75 Percentage of American young adults who don't know the population of the United States.

53 Percentage of Canadian young adults who don't know the population of the United States.

11 Percentage of American young adults who cannot find the United States on a map.

30 Percentage of Americans who believe that "politics and government are too complicated to understand."

Another factor in his favour

70m Estimated number of Americans who describe themselves as Evangelicals who accept Jesus Christ as their personal saviour and who interpret the Bible as the direct word of God.

23m Number of Evangelicals who voted for Bush in 2000.

50m Number of voters in total who voted for Bush in 2000.

46 Percentage of voters who describe themselves as born-again Christians.

5 Number of states that do not use the word "evolution" in public school science courses.

But as everyone knows, numbers can be used to lie all sorts of ways. The world just doesn't understand America and has nothing to fear.

[the following added 09.10.04]
While we're on the topic of figures here's some more I came across from PollingReport.com [via Trevor Blake at American Samizdat]:

"Do you believe that it is proper or improper for the Ten Commandments to be displayed in a government building?"

Proper 72%; Improper 23%; Unsure 5%

"Do you personally believe in the existence of each of the following?..."

Believe InDon't BelieveNot Sure
The Devil71245

"I'm going to ask about a few stories in the Bible. [See below.] Do you think that's literally true, meaning it happened that way word-for-word; or do you think it's meant as a lesson, but not to be taken literally?"
"The story of Noah and the ark in which it rained for 40 days and nights, the entire world was flooded, and only Noah, his family and the animals on their ark survived."

Literally: 60%; Not Literally: 33%; No Opinion: 7%

"The creation story in which the world was created in six days."

Literally: 61%; Not Literally: 30%; No Opinion: 8%

"The story about Moses parting the Red Sea so the Jews could escape from Egypt."

Literally: 64%; Not Literally: 28%; No Opinion: 8%

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more questions, all pointing to the same conclusions. And, to me, these constitute the #1 reason why 1) Murka is on the fast-track to hell, and 2) why all decent, thinking people should seriously consider leaving the country while they can.

I'm all for anyone wanting to believe whatever nonsense and fairy tales they wish to believe. But it's easy to understand how anyone who believes in miracles and angels would have no trouble believing whatever other absurdities they're told to believe, from Iraq's "imminent threat" to America to how cutting taxes for the wealthy benefits the working man.

My problem, though, is that people who hold such absurd beliefs do so with tenacity, a tenacity they are willing to die for. (And, even more importantly and readily, to kill for!) They are unfortunately imbued with a mind that the great American historian Richard Hofstadter referred to as the 100% Mentality: "...a mind totally committed to the full range of the dominant popular fatuities and determined that no one shall have the right to challenge them." And they are determined, whether they know it or not, to have an effect on the way I, and most other people in the world, wish to live life.

And now these benighted citizens of the Benighted States of Murka are entrusted with the responsibility to determine who will become the most powerful leaders in the world?! leaders who can poise their zealous born-again dry-drunk twitchy fingers on the buttons of the world's most numerous and powerful WMDs?! No fucking wonder the world is shitting twinkies! The fate of the world rests (actually, would rest, if there was actually going to be an election) in the hands of cretinous yahoos who shop at Wallmart, people who don't know how long the earth takes to orbit around the sun, people who admire a man who was going to kill his beloved and only son to demonstrate his fealty towards his capricious god, people who believe in talking burning bushes as literal reality.

It's time for a few of my favorite quotes:

'As long as people continue to believe absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities.'

'The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holder's lack of rational conviction. Opinions in politics and religion are almost always held passionately.'
   —Bertrand Russell

'A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.'
   —Saul Bellow

'The believing mind is externally impervious to evidence. The most that can be accomplished with it is to induce it to substitute one delusion for another. It rejects all overt evidence as wicked...'
   —H. L. Mencken

'It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of what he was never reasoned into.'
   —Jonathan Swift

'Religion. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.'
   —Ambrose Bierce

'Faith means not wanting to know what is true.'

'The existence of religion is rooted fundamentally in human ignorance.'
   —Encyclopedia Britannica article on Religion

'When you look at the holy books of other religions, you find fantasy and bizarre supernatural events that do not commend themselves to reasonable people. But the Bible is actually authenticated by history.'
   —Pat Robertson

I think some concluding reflections from Noam are appropriate:

Michael Albert: What do you think religion is?

Noam Chomsky: Obviously, it means something to people, a lot. It doesn’t to me. I don’t understand it. I sort of understand it, but I can’t empathize with it. To me it’s just another set of irrational beliefs. You can believe this, you can believe that if you want. I don’t understand why people should need irrational beliefs. Apparently many people seem to find a good deal of fulfillment in it.
Michael Albert: It’s remarkable how religious this country is.

Noam Chomsky: It’s unbelievable. It’s not just that it’s religious ... if you look at the comparative studies, there’s a lot of comparative studies of religious beliefs. The U.S. is off the chart. It’s like a devastated peasant society.
Michael Albert: But what does that mean? Deeper, what does it mean if you go up to somebody on the street and they say, I’m one of those 75%? What does that mean?

Noam Chomsky: Either it means that they think they have to say it or they literally believe it. Either way it’s the same. It shows that there are features of the society which are off the chart with regard to industrial societies. I have a feeling that it may be related to the sense ... there are other things which are striking, too. There is an increasing sense that nothing is responsive to me. The institutions don’t work for me at all. In fact, that figure goes higher and higher every year. It’s now hitting over two-thirds of the population, which is astonishing. 83% of the population thinks that the entire economic system is inherently unfair.

Michael Albert: But the two together ... think that the economic system is unfair, they also think that there’s nothing that they can do about it.

Noam Chomsky: That’s why I think they’re connected.

Michael Albert: Religion is the ...

Noam Chomsky: That’s why I say it’s like a devastated peasant society. In a society where people feel, I can’t do anything, you turn to something supernatural. It’s happening in Central America right now. The evangelical churches coming down with the story, Don’t worry about this miserable existence. It doesn’t matter anyway. Things will be better later. They’re gaining considerable success in the wake of murderous destruction of social reform movements.