If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then us Liberals should be blushing up a storm right now.

Seems the Conservatives are envious of some our best liberal websites and are trying very hard to come up with their own versions in a similar image. I wonder if it’ll be as successful as their attempt to ape The Daily Show with Jon Stewart?

Republican operatives launch group that tries to imitate most Democratic groups, blogs

Ben Smith reports in Politico that Republican operatives, and bloggers Michael Goldfarb and Matthew Continetti, are launching a new organization called the Center for American Freedom.

Remarkably they are modeling it on the Center for American Progress, and will have their own blog, imitating ThinkProgress.org. If that wasn’t enough, the Center for American Freedom will also attempt to be like the Center for American Progress Action Fund (which does more political messaging and research), Me…

On the issue of hateful and violent outbursts at rallies.

Here’s another video from a McCain/Palin rally that shows some of the racism and contempt of the supporters present:

What struck me while watching the video is that the Obama supporters present at the location simply chanted his name the entire time. You can hear them in the background and see them several times during the course of the video. They’re in a line, holding up signs, and chanting “Obama” over and over again. Near as I can tell none of them says anything else nor do any of them step out of the line in an aggressive way. Not only is all the vitriol coming from the McCain/Palin supporters, but more than once various people make aggressive motions toward the Obama supporters.

Now I realize it’s entirely possible that the video has been edited to remove anything that might reflect poorly on the Obama supporters, but it seems to me based on personal experience and from news reports over the passing months that if someone is making racist or violent statements the majority of the time it’s coming from the McCain/Palin camp. I also realize that this may be confirmation bias on my own part.

So I did some digging and it turns out there’s been some Obama supporters who have had some angry words of their own to share. It meant forging onto various Conservative websites such as the always annoying Michelle Malkin blog to find them, but those are the most likely places stories like that would be collected and there’s certainly no shortage of people on the left acting out. Some of the complaints raised on the right seem a little over-hyped – they want to claim calling McCain a lair and that booing Palin is hate speech – but there’s plenty of wackos who have assaulted Republicans and come up with some pretty hateful and, yes, violent imagery. There’s the guys with the Sarah Palin is a cunt t-shirts which are definitely hateful, but hard to get too upset about considering McCain has called his own wife a cunt. There’s the artwork that designates Sarah Palin as a M.I.L.P. or Mother I’d Like to Punch which is definitely a violent image. It’s from a webcomic and as such is meant as a joke and I’m guilty of such hyperbole myself having once said that I want to punch Tony Sinclair in the mouth which was also meant as a joke, but I can see how fans of Sarah Palin (and Tony Sinclair) could take the statements as indicative of actual desire. There’s the two idiots who torched a McCain/Palin campaign sign with Molotov cocktails. And there are other examples such as the “Abort Sarah Palin” bumper stickers that have been floating around.

The emotional side of me wants to protest that the examples from the left, with a few rare exceptions, aren’t meant to be taken seriously whereas too many of the examples on the right seem to be very sincere and real, but that would be giving in to confirmation bias again. The truth is there are angry and hateful people on both sides and it’s easy, as humans, to let our frustrations boil over into hateful rhetoric if we’re not careful. We should strive to be mindful of this fact and work to remind not just ourselves, but each other when we’re stepping over that line. The hecklers on both sides should be challenged and chastised if they are sincere in their hate. Note that isn’t to say they should be suppressed as that would just drive the hate underground, but the art of shunning is one we could use a bit more of in these heated displays.

I seriously dislike what McCain has done to his principles in the pursuit of the Presidency and I dislike Sarah Palin’s political stance on just about every issue, but I don’t hate either person and I don’t wish harm on them or their supporters. Hopefully there are more folks out there who share that viewpoint on both sides of the debate than the ones who espouse violence and hate. It speaks to my optimism in humanity that I’d like to believe that that is the case.

New Poll shows slight majority favors keeping religion out of politics.

It’s a very slim margin—only 52% of respondents—but it’s a majority just the same and hopefully the start of a continuing trend. The big surprise was in regards to where the shifts in opinion occurred:

The results suggest a potentially significant shift among conservative voters in particular. In 2004, 30% of conservatives said the church should stay out of politics while today 50% of conservatives today express that view.

Conservatives are now more in line with moderates and liberals when it comes to their views on mixing religion and politics. “Similarly, the sharp divisions between Republicans and Democrats that previously existed on this issue have disappeared,” Pew reports.

Increasingly voters say they are uncomfortable listening to politicians express religious views. In 2004, 40% said it made them uncomfortable versus 46% today.

Perhaps there’s a silver lining to the past seven and a half years after all. The best bit of news is that there may be a bit of a backlash in the Republican party. Though it seems us godless liberals are being held to similar standards:

The Democratic Party also made notable gains among voters who view the party as religion-friendly—a belief generally associated with the Republican Party. In 2006, 26% of voters said Democrats were religion-friendly, today 38% of voters said the same. More voters, 43%, also believe that non-religious liberals have too much sway over the party, versus 37% in August 2007.

The Republican Party still dominates as the friendliest toward religion, according to 52% of voters surveyed. However, that view also comes with backlash. Nearly half, 48%, said religious conservatives hold too much sway in the party ranks, up from 43% in August 2007.

I wish we had as much influence as some of these people seem to think, but it’s still good to see that the pendulum is swinging our way for a change.

New study shows Liberal and Conservative brains are wired differently.

Here an interesting study on how liberal and conservative brains differ:

Dozens of previous studies have established a strong link between political persuasion and certain personality traits.

Conservatives tend to crave order and structure in their lives, and are more consistent in the way they make decisions. Liberals, by contrast, show a higher tolerance for ambiguity and complexity, and adapt more easily to unexpected circumstances.

The affinity between political views and “cognitive style” has also been shown to be heritable, handed down from parents to children, said the study, published in the British journal Nature Neuroscience.

Intrigued by these correlations, New York University political scientist David Amodio and colleagues decided to find out if the brains of liberals and conservatives reacted differently to the same stimuli.

So they set up an experiment where they took a bunch of people and presented them with a scenario that involved some form of daily routine, such as driving home from work, which you do so often it’s almost automatic. Then they presented them with an interruption to that routine, say an automobile accident on the road, that required them to respond to the interruption in routine and then monitored their brains with electroencephalographs to see what they could see.

The match-up was unmistakable: respondents who had described themselves as liberals showed “significantly greater conflict-related neural activity” when the hypothetical situation called for an unscheduled break in routine.

Conservatives, however, were less flexible, refusing to deviate from old habits “despite signals that this … should be changed.”

Whether that is good or bad, of course, depends on one’s perspective: one could interpret the results to mean that liberals are nimble-minded and conservatives rigid and stubborn.

Or one could, with equal justice, conclude that wishy-washy liberals don’t stick to their guns, while conservatives are steadfast and loyal.

Or one could say that conservatives are just fucked in the head.

OK, that’s probably a tad bit unfair. Still the differences would go a long way to explaining why both sides often look at the other and wonder how in the hell the other side manages to tie their laces in the morning without drooling all over their shoes in the process. I think a lot of folks probably suspected as much to begin with (that our brains work differently, not the shoe thing) so the real question becomes how to we communicate in a way that overcomes these differences in response and results in at least some form of compromise? It would probably help if I didn’t make jokes about conservatives being brain damaged, but it’s what I do.