Day: December 29, 2010

Study: Conservatives have larger ‘fear center’ in brain

University College London

Image by stevecadman via Flickr

This is perhaps the silliest news story of the day.  But…if this study is valid, it explains a lot!

Raw Story

Political opinions are considered choices, and in Western democracies the right to choose one’s opinions — freedom of conscience — is considered sacrosanct.

But recent studies suggest that our brains and genes may be a major determining factor in the views we hold.

A study at University College London in the UK has found that conservatives’ brains have larger amygdalas than the brains of liberals. Amygdalas are responsible for fear and other “primitive” emotions. At the same time, conservatives’ brains were also found to have a smaller anterior cingulate — the part of the brain responsible for courage and optimism.

If the study is confirmed, it could give us the first medical explanation for why conservatives tend to be more receptive to threats of terrorism, for example, than liberals. And it may help to explain why conservatives like to plan based on the worst-case scenario, while liberals tend towards rosier outlooks.

“It is very significant because it does suggest there is something about political attitudes that are either encoded in our brain structure through our experience or that our brain structure in some way determines or results in our political attitudes,” Geraint Rees, the neurologist who carried out the study, told the media.   More…

Christine O’Donnell Investigation: Criminal Probe Into Campaign Finances Reportedly Underway

When the accusations about Delaware Tea Party Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell’s alleged campaign finance abuses first surfaced, I wondered why the Feds ignored them.  So, this comes as good news…

Huffington Post

Federal authorities have opened a criminal investigation of Delaware Republican Christine O’Donnell to determine if the former Senate candidate broke the law by using campaign money to pay personal expenses, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to protect the identity of a client who has been questioned as part of the probe. The case, which has been assigned to two federal prosecutors and two FBI agents in Delaware, has not been brought before a grand jury.

Matt Moran, O’Donnell’s former campaign manager, did not immediately respond Wednesday to questions from The AP. He said earlier this month that the campaign had not been contacted about any investigation and criticized what he called “lies and false-attack rumors.”

The U.S. Attorney’s office has confirmed that it is reviewing a complaint about O’Donnell’s campaign spending filed by a watchdog group, but officials in the office and the FBI declined to say whether a criminal investigation was underway.

O’Donnell, who set a state record by raising more than $7.3 million in a tea party-fueled campaign this year, has long been dogged by questions about her finances.

At least two former campaign workers have alleged that she routinely used political contributions to pay her personal expenses in recent years as she ran for the Senate three consecutive times, starting in 2006. The Washington-based watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission making similar allegations and asked Delaware’s federal prosecutor to investigate.

O’Donnell’s campaign has denied wrongdoing, but acknowledged she had paid part of her rent at times with campaign money, arguing that her house doubled as a campaign headquarters.   More…

Antonin Scalia, R-Supreme Court, Joins Michele Bachmann’s New Caucus

I already addressed this issue when Justices Scalia and Thomas were attendees at a conservative event, which appeared to be squarely outside the realm of Judicial decor to say the least and at best actionable in terms of possible impeachment. 

Not to mention Scalia’s hunting trip with then Vice President Cheney just three weeks after the court agreed to take up the vice president’s appeal in lawsuits over his handling of the administration’s energy task force.   Now this…

The Nation

Ten years ago, in a display of judicial activism unprecedented in American history, Justice Antonin Scalia engineered the Bush-v-Gore ruling that handed the presidency to a Republican who had lost the nation’s popular vote and was threatened with defeat in a Florida recount. Scalia’s moves removed any serious doubt about his partisan preference.

Now, however, the justice has removed any doubt about his ideological preference within the Republican Party, with an announcement that he will be meeting with—and, undoubtedly, providing talking points for—Michele Bachmann’s Tea (Party)-stained “Constitutional Conservative Caucus.”

Scalia, the most determined activist on a high court that has been redefined by its results-oriented conservative majority, will deliver the inaugural address to the right-wing representatives as part of a speaker series that features no less a constitutional scholar than Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Sergio Gor, a spokesman for Bachmann, revealed Tuesday that his boss—a Minnesota Republican so extreme in her views that her fellow Republicans rebuffed her run for the chairmanship of the House Republican Caucus—has been meeting privately with Scalia. It was at one such session that the congresswoman invited the justice to address her new group.   More…

Tucker Carlson: “I Think Personally [Michael Vick] Should Have Been Executed”

Sometimes I believe that Tucker Carlson has this unending determination to say the most ignorant things just to assure he gets noticed.

If Carlson thinks Michael Vick should have been executed because of his abhorrent treatment of animals, how does he feel about the GOP and their equally disgusting treatment of the middle class?

And why all the uproar over President Obama calling the Eagles’ owner, Jeffery Lurie and commenting on the fact that Lurie gave Michael Vick a second chance at playing football AFTER a substantial probationary period and certainly AFTER going to jail and serving time  for cruelty to those animals?

Isn’t it time for America to forgive Vick for his past youthful indiscretions?

Mediaite

Tucker Carlson again filled in for Sean Hannity on Hannity tonight, and couldn’t resist, as others already had, delving into the issue of President Obama praising Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie for giving quarterback Michael Vick a second chance following Vick’s prison sentence for dog fighting. And while Carlson said he “believe[s] fervently in second chances,” he didn’t in Vick’s case. At all.

Carlson differentiated between Vick and others because Vick “killed dogs…in a heartless and cruel way.” This is true. But what Carlson believed to be the proper punishment for Vick is sure to get some attention:

“I think, personally, he should have been executed for that.”

Whoa. The conversation eventually turned to whether it was appropriate for Obama to weigh in on this matter at all (although, as the White House said, the primary focus of Obama’s discussion with Lurie was alternative energy) – golfer Ben Crenshaw, on the panel for some reason, came off as a Vick supporter but sounded unsure of whether the president should be discussing the matter. Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez voiced similar views, whereas Fox News contributor Doug Schoen didn’t see an issue with Obama’s comments.

The most notable aspect of the discussion, though, was still Carlson’s “executed” line, for the sheer extreme nature of it. There’s no question Vick has done terrible things, but to hear a pundit openly opine that a prominent person should have received the death penalty – and being completely sincere in doing it – is not something you’ll see too often.

Video of the clip, via Fox News, below.