Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Larry Craig admits he was cruising?

My emphasis added ("Appeals Court Rejects Craig's Attempt to Pull Back Guilty Plea in Sex Sting" by Ben Pershing at The Washington Post, 2008-12-10):
In his appeal, Craig argued that the district court fundamentally erred in its decision, that the state's disorderly-conduct statute was unconstitutionally broad and that his behavior in the airport bathroom stall should be considered legally protected speech. The court rejected those arguments.
Poor Larry "Wide Stance is Free Speech" Craig!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

The UK is suburbanizing?

Mark Easton writes in the BBC ("Life in UK 'has become lonelier'," 2008-12-01):
Community life in Britain has weakened substantially over the past 30 years, according to research commissioned by the BBC.

Analysis of census data reveals how neighbourhoods in every part of the UK have become more socially fragmented.

The study assesses the health of a community by looking at how rooted people are in their neighbourhood.

Academics created "loneliness indices", to identify where people had a "feeling of not belonging".
Wow, just like the American 'burbs.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Kentucky: God before safety

Kentucky is officially stupid ("Anti-terror law requires God be acknowledged" by John Cheves, Lexington Herald-Ledger, 2008-11-28):
Under state law, God is Kentucky's first line of defense against terrorism.

The 2006 law organizing the state Office of Homeland Security lists its initial duty as "stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth."

Specifically, Homeland Security is ordered to publicize God's benevolent protection in its reports, and it must post a plaque at the entrance to the state Emergency Operations Center with an 88-word statement that begins, "The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God."

State Rep. Tom Riner, a Southern Baptist minister, tucked the God provision into Homeland Security legislation as a floor amendment that lawmakers overwhelmingly approved two years ago.

As amended, Homeland Security's religious duties now come before all else, including its distribution of millions of dollars in federal grants and its analysis of possible threats.

The time and energy spent crediting God are appropriate, said Riner, D-Louisville, in an interview this week.
I'm sure al-queda would agree. 9/11 was, afterall, a faith-based initiative.

Jerusalem Syndrome

This is hilarious. From Jerusalem Syndrome by Judith Fein (featured on The Savvy Traveler):
The malady called Jerusalem Syndrome is no joke. Afflicted tourists have been found wandering in the Judean desert wrapped in hotel bed sheets or crouched at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, waiting to birth the infant Jesus.


[Dr. Yair Bar-El of Jurusalem's Kfar Shaul Hospital] explains that there are three categories of tourists who get Jerusalem syndrome.
Dr. Bar El: "We speak first about clearly mentally ill people in their country. They arrive to Jerusalem with psychotic ideas. The second, the biggest group, tourists, pilgrims with deep religious convictions."
Dr. Bar-El: "We have a little third group, the REAL Jerusalem syndrome. Completely sane persons without psychiatric history, without drugs, and arrive here as normal tourists. Here they develop this specific, imperative psychotic reaction that is the real Jerusalem Syndrome."
The same clinical picture always emerges. It begins with general anxiety and nervousness, and then the tourist feels an imperative need to visit the holy places. First, he undertakes a series of purification rituals, like shaving all his body hair, cutting his nails and washing himself over and over before he dons white clothes. Most often, he lifts the white sheets from his hotel room. Then he begins to cry or to sing Biblical or religious songs in a very loud voice. The next step is an actual visit to the holy places, most often from the life of Jesus. The afflicted tourist begins to deliver a sermon, demanding that humanity become calmer, purer, and less materialistic.

In Israel, Jerusalem Syndrome is taken very seriously. Everyone involved in security, tourism, or health is on the lookout for afflicted visitors. In an average year, three or four tourists develop real, palpable Jerusalem Syndrome. In l999, more than 50 visitors were diagnosed, the increase possibly attributed to millennial activities.

From a religious point of view, the Syndrome seems to favor Protestants, who account for 97 percent of all cases. Almost all of them were raised in ultra-orthodox homes where the Bible was the book of choice for family reading and problem-solving.
Maybe this explains Jesus's behavior.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Moderates: Rick Warren?

I keep running across this pudgy, kind of insincere sounding Rick Warren character. I had only vaguely heard of him before Barack Hussein Obama and John bin McCain were interviewed by his plump, smug self over the summer. Besides the fact that he strikes me as incredibly insincere, he seems to get a free ride in the mainstream media.

Now, Buzzflash has some lovely news about him honoring smirking clown President George W. Bush ("The resurrection of President George W. Bush as presided over by Pastor Rick Warren, By Bill Berkowitz for BuzzFlash," 2008-11-28):
On World AIDS Day, Monday, December 1, Rick Warren, pastor of the Lake Forest, California-based Saddleback Valley Community Church and who is well on his way to becoming one of the most recognizable and powerful pastors in America, will be hosting his Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health at the Washington, D.C.-based Newseum. As part of the event, Warren will be giving President Bush the first "International Medal of PEACE" from the Global PEACE Coalition, in recognition of Bush’s “unprecedented contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS and other diseases,” a Saddleback Church press release announced.
Horrifying as it sounds, I find you almost sort of do have to give credit to George W. Bush for his anti-HIV initiatives. It certainly doesn't eclipse all the evil things George W. Bush did over the years, but he did handle HIV/AIDS sort of well.

Back to Warren: who is he? Says the Buzzflash spiel:
Warren, recently dubbed a “celebripastor” by DMN News, is the author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” a book that has sold over 50 million copies. He recently announced a partnership with the Reader’s Digest association that will pool their international resources to develop an entity called The Purpose Driven Connection, a multi-media “platform to help people who are seeking their purpose in life and wish to interact with others on their spiritual journeys.” The will be “The Purpose Driven Connection” quarterly magazine; study materials delivered in DVDs, workbooks and downloadable discussion guides; and a state-of-the-art Christian social networking website.

Earlier this month, Warren “released his first book since his best-selling “Purpose Driven Life” as part of a special three-tool outreach for the Christmas season,” The Christian Post reported. The new book is called “The Purpose Driven Christmas.” “People are more open to the Gospel at Christmas than any other time,” said Warren.

According to The Christian Post, “All three tools are based off a Christmas message Warren had delivered two years ago at his Southern California megachurch that drew around 4,000 people and saw more than 2,000 accept Christ.”

Warren said that “Fox News then showed it on their television show the next year. The year after that, the Armed Services Network asked to show it to their entire Armed Services network around the world, so I decided, ‘Why don’t I turn this into a little booklet – kind of a handout for evangelism?’”
He's also apparently afraid of (surprise!) gay marriage (see "Rick Warren Surprises Nobody With His Support of Prop 8," Rightwing Watch, 2008-10-24):
It was a good question, considering that back in 2004, Warren declared the question of where presidential candidates stand on the issue of "homosexual marriage" to be one of the "5 issues that are non-negotiable" to Christians.
So where should they stand? Well, they should be against it, naturally! According to creepy sounding
The well-known Christian author says people in California need to vote "yes" on Proposition 8 because for "5,000 years, every culture and every religion...not just Christianity...has defined marriage as a contract between men and women."

And Warren says "there is no need to change the universal, historical defintion of marriage to appease two percent of our population." As Warren puts it: "This is not a political issue -- it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about."
Well, that makes sense. Let's oppress 2% of the population because less than 1% of the population (creepy, smug evangelical pastors) say they don't like change. While we're at it, let's slaughter some Indians and lynch some negros. Because, violence is a tradition too.

The Buzzflash article also had snippets about his homophobia:
In August Warren said: “I have never been considered a part of the religious right, because I don't believe politics is the most effective way to change the world.” However, a week before the election, Warren told his congregation: “Here’s an interesting thing: there are about 2% of Americans [who] are homosexual, gay, lesbian people. We should not let two percent of the population determine—to change a definition of marriage that has been supported by every single culture and every single religion for 5,000 years. This is not even just a Christian issue, it is a humanitarian and human issue, that God created marriage for the purpose of family, love and procreation. I urge you to support Proposition 8 and to pass that on.”


A mid-November piece at The Daily Beast, Max Blumenthal, one of the most intrepid reporters covering the Religious Right, pointed out that “In the past, Warren’s crusading against gay rights was generally ignored. When Warren shepherded his congregants to the polls in 2000 to vote for Prop 22, a California ballot measure banning same-sex marriages … [overturned by the state Supreme Court earlier this year; a decision that led to Proposition 8 being placed on the ballot], he hardly caused a stir outside evangelical circles.”

At the time Warren received a “letter of gratitude” from the Christian right godfather James Dobson, Blumenthal noted.
Conclusion: Warren is a Christian supremacist with a smiley face.

Patton Pissing

Patton pissing in the Rhine (I found this linked from a poorly cited WWII facts page).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

American politics: how much does blue subsidize red?

I took a table showing total appropriations by state from Federal Dollars: What Came to and Left Your State in 2005 and color-coded each row by whether the state went for Bush or Kerry in 2004. Sadly, I couldn't find post-2006 numbers yet. I would have been interested to see how things changed after the 2006 election, but those numbers probably won't be available until 2009 or 2010.
State Rank1Per dollar expenditures2Total Expenditures (millions)3 IRS Collection (millions)4 Total Expenditures per Capita
United States N/A $1.01 $2,284,760 $2,268,895.12 $7,568
New Mexico 1 $3.10 $20,604 $6,642.05 $10,698
Mississippi 2 $2.96 $26,181 $8,859.59 $9,001
West Virginia 3 $2.94 $16,087 $5,469.75 $8,868
Alaska 4 $2.62 $9,230 $3,519.75 $13,916
North Dakota 5 $2.26 $6,608 $2,928.61 $10,413
Montana 6 $2.17 $7,814 $3,596.11 $8,359
District of Columbia 7 $2.08 $37,859 $18,189.10 $65,045
Alabama 8 $2.06 $42,061 $20,398.81 $9,248
Maine 9 $1.99 $11,356 $5,717.40 $8,615
South Dakota 10 $1.95 $7,481 $3,844.24 $9,655
Hawaii 11 $1.90 $12,699 $6,680.48 $9,974
South Carolina 12 $1.89 $32,044 $16,972.41 $7,545
Kentucky 13 $1.82 $34,653 $19,035.72 $8,305
Virginia 14 $1.75 $95,097 $54,430.45 $12,572
Wyoming 15 $1.55 $4,782 $3,086.24 $9,399
Louisiana 16 $1.55 $39,628 $25,647.32 $8,792
Arizona 17 $1.53 $44,639 $29,177.14 $7,498
Maryland 18 $1.42 $66,720 $46,824.58 $11,936
Vermont 19 $1.40 $4,645 $3,311.37 $7,463
Utah 20 $1.27 $14,823 $11,648.47 $5,952
Idaho 21 $1.23 $9,598 $7,808.79 $6,715
Missouri 22 $1.22 $48,273 $39,555.06 $8,326
Iowa 23 $1.19 $20,345 $17,167.63 $6,860
Florida 24 $1.16 $134,544 $115,562.30 $7,572
Oregon 25 $1.16 $22,792 $19,713.74 $6,263
Tennessee 26 $1.15 $48,288 $42,060.54 $8,108
Indiana 27 $1.12 $42,347 $37,751.79 $6,758
Kansas 28 $1.09 $20,492 $18,798.43 $7,457
Pennsylvania 29 $1.05 $99,503 $95,087.60 $8,021
New Hampshire 30 $1.02 $8,331 $8,205.04 $6,375
Washington 31 $1.01 $46,338 $45,996.76 $7,365
North Carolina 32 $0.98 $59,162 $60,525.67 $6,822
Oklahoma 33 $0.97 $27,637 $28,510.40 $7,799
Michigan 34 $0.95 $64,787 $68,500.02 $6,414
California 35 $0.91 $242,023 $265,783.66 $6,694
Georgia 36 $0.91 $59,846 $66,063.78 $6,553
Wisconsin 37 $0.89 $33,749 $37,973.25 $6,105
Texas 38 $0.88 $148,683 $169,392.72 $6,485
Massachusetts 39 $0.87 $55,830 $64,373.14 $8,678
Rhode Island 40 $0.87 $8,423 $9,712.56 $7,846
Arkansas 41 $0.85 $20,387 $24,012.31 $7,345
Nevada 42 $0.84 $14,089 $16,710.69 $5,840
Colorado 43 $0.83 $31,173 $37,769.49 $6,685
Ohio 44 $0.80 $77,881 $96,836.57 $6,790
Nebraska 45 $0.79 $12,785 $16,121.65 $7,272
New York 46 $0.73 $144,876 $198,562.27 $7,500
Illinois 47 $0.68 $80,778 $119,182.24 $6,328
Connecticut 48 $0.67 $30,774 $46,131.12 $8,791
New Jersey 49 $0.57 $58,617 $101,997.48 $6,735
Minnesota 50 $0.46 $31,067 $67,148.61 $6,060
Delaware 51 $0.42 $5,495 $13,227.40 $6,528
Other N/A $2.45 $40,837 $16,672.85 N/A
(1) According to Ratio of Amount Returned per Dollar Paid in Taxes. (2) Expenditures in State per Dollar Paid by State Taxpayers. (3) CFFR in millions. (4) IRS Total Collection (in millions)

Red states received $1,177,262 million (almost $1.2 trillion) back from the federal government, after sending $1,009,904.48 million ($1 trillion) collected by the IRS.

Blue states received $1,066,662 million in federal spending (approximately $1 trillion). The IRS collected 1,242,317.82 million ($1.24 trillion) from blue states. That means a total outflow of $175,655.82 million, or approximately $176 billion dollars. And as you can see from the chart above, many of the harder core blue states are the biggest losers.

Pass that chart around to all your smug neocon friends!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Republikans on cities and political independence

Not-so-bright "conservative" wingnut Glenn Beck wrote a commentary on CNN about how U.S. cities shoot themselves by how they keep electing Democrats. He strongly implies that cities need more Republikan leadership. Complains Beck:
The only two cities in the top 10 that I didn't mention (Miami, Florida, and El Paso, Texas) haven't had Republicans in office either -- just Democrats, independents or nonpartisans.
I was rather surprised that his definition of non-Democratic leadership doesn't include independents and non-partisans.

Of course, there is a reason why Republikans rarely rise to power in traditional cities: the GOP has nothing but contempt for cities. National Democrats aren't exactly great either, but Republikan urban policies almost exclusively support raiding the wealth generated in major cities and transferring it to Republican jurisdictions. Oh, and putting city residents in jail for non-violent crimes.

Beck also seems to put a great deal of city's problems on their shoulders. While certainly city governments are far from perfect, they also have rather limited means to solve their own problems. A few cities, like New York, Chicago, and perhaps even Boston and Philadelphia have etched out unique niches for themselves in areas like finance, culture, and advertising. This gives them wealth to address their own problems. Buffalo, Baltimore, and St. Louis don't really have those advantages, and even New York, et al, barely manage to invest in new infrastructure — the kind that will be needed to compete in the 21st century.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

McCain: the guy who thinks for himself

I really, really hate it when the word "independent" is used in American political discourse. Let's be honest about what it means when the American press (whether a "journalist" or a pundit) uses the word: it's used to describe a politician who acts like a Republican, but maybe has had one or two disagreements with the party brass. Hence, John McCain is an "independent." In the rare instances it isn't used to describe a Republican or non-affiliated person who may as well be a Republican, it's used to describe a Democrat who votes like a Republican.

Of course, it's not really debated whether or not McCain is "independent." It's just assumed. For instance, take this nugget of poop from CNN ("Analysis: McCain's best shot is stressing independence," 2008-07-22):
At home, McCain and Co. are smoldering. They consider the press complicit in a Teflon Obama candidacy.

"McCain is getting covered like he's a speed bump on the road to history," a top McCain adviser griped to me.


"Obama has calculated every utterance he's ever made on Iraq," this adviser says. "And McCain risked everything in his support for the war."

That, in fact, is the key to McCain's appeal. He was for the surge before President Bush was for the surge. But it's an argument he and Obama will never resolve.

As for Afghanistan, McCain will argue it's become a haven for terrorists precisely because we have succeeded in Iraq, and they are fleeing.


McCain risked -- and almost lost -- the nomination because of his support for immigration reform. No doubt about it, McCain has beliefs, and adheres to them. Sometimes, he angers conservatives -- as when he was among a bipartisan group in the Senate standing against filibusters for Supreme Court nominees. Or when he supported stem cell research. And liberals don't like him much for the war or his stand against abortion.

But independent voters -- who most likely will determine the outcome of this election -- like the maverick in McCain.

So here's the question: Why isn't McCain emphasizing his independent credentials more?
Besides the fact that there's nothing independent about McCain? Well, for starters, you don't win elections in the U.S. by being "independent." Republicans understand this better than Democrats. The reason for this is the number one way people in the U.S. vote is by staying home. So when Democrats pretend to be Republicans, as they often do (usually without being called "independent" by the press), they turn off Democrats. They don't really win more Republicans that way either, because Republicans generally already have a Republican to vote for.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

U.S. to cut farm "aid"?

From The Washington Post:
GENEVA - The United States is ready to cut its ceiling for trade-distorting farm subsidies to $15 billion a year to help unblock talks for a global trade deal, U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said on Tuesday.

The long-awaited offer was contingent on other partners at the World Trade Organization making offers to open up their markets for agricultural and industrial goods, Schwab said.

The United States currently has a limit on subsidies which stands at more than $48 billion, although actual payments last year were only around $7 billion because soaring food prices meant U.S. farmers were in less need of support.
More here.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Baucus and Tester against Real ID

Another stupid government program that hopefully won't come to pass:
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Amid the reports of yet another delay in the implementation of the federal Real ID Act, Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester reaffirmed their opposition to the national identification system.

The federal Real ID Act calls for drivers’ licenses to be used as a national identification networking system, requiring extensive private information from all U.S. citizens. It would also require states to standardize their drivers’ licenses at their own expense.

The Department of Homeland Security announced today that states would have until May 2011 to implement new regulations that would require its citizens to submit a digital photograph, birth certificate and other information to their department of motor vehicles. Today’s delay marks the second time in a year that implementation has been pushed back by the Bush administration as concern has grown about how the states could reissue all 240 million existing licenses.
More here.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

In the market place of ideas, the currency is stupidity

I already complained that William Kristol (Wikipedia article) is now an op-ed contributor at The New York Times. Today, the public editor, Clark Hoyt, wrote a softball article defending the decision, heavily comparing Kristol to William Safire. Safire, of course, was The Times' token conservative with a long legacy of being sloppy at best.

In The Times, the columnists seem to be given something akin to tenure. They write about what they want with little fear of reprisals; factual errors aren't corrected by the paper. Tenure, of course, isn't necessarily a bad thing. In academia, tenure provides protection from reprisals when a professor makes an unpopular statement. Likewise, judges get a similar benefit in the political system. Nobody wants judges to be afraid to be impartial because they'll be fired by biased politicians. But does the idea work for newspapers? The flip side of tenure is obvious: while somebody can't be tossed out for being unpopular but right, they also can't be tossed because they're insipid, stupid, dishonest, counterproductive, etc.—and that's whether they're right or wrong. As Salon notes, Safire seemed to take advantage of that ("William Safire, minister of disinformation," by Barry Lando, 2005-02-21).

First of all, the flow of the article went from specific to general reasons why Kristol's contribution isn't the end of the world. Most generally, The Times itself (not the public editor, but the editor of the paper) felt they wanted "a columnist who brought to our pages a deeply held and well articulated point of view in line with what you might call the conservative Republican movement. ... Our Op-Ed page is a marketplace of ideas. He’ll strengthen the discussion." The article implied that the paper was on a mission to find such an individual, and as such Kristol only gets a year-long contract as a test-run before he really gets tenured next to Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, David Brooks, and the rest. Much as I personally despise the "conservative Republican movement" (I would describe so-called conservative thought as as "Republican movements"), I can't argue with hearing them out—I feel it's best to know what people are thinking, not least of all dangerous people like William Kristol. On the other hand, Hoyt describes the choice as "a decision I would not have made." Amongst his reasons, Safire has made statements to the effect that the The Times should be prosecuted for reporting on government activities. He goes on to say, "But it is not the end of the world. Everyone should take a deep breath and calm down."

So, The Times wants to expand the "marketplace of ideas," a phrase we've heard before in reference to some other rather insidious things. But does hiring Kristol meet that goal? As the public editor makes clear, Kristol isn't hard to find for those looking for him. He's on Fox News, and he's in The Weekly Standard.

So, how much is The Times expanding the "marketplace of ideas" with this decision? I would say, not very much. As a matter of fact, I'd say it's doing quite the opposite. By giving people like Kristol a soap box to stand on in a respectable newspaper, they're taking dangerous and dishonest hegemony to a whole new level. Safire was pretty bad, but Kristol is probably worse. Ideas like Kristol's have been around a while, and haven't exactly served us well. Kristol is one of the "intellectuals" who helped draw the United States into Iraq.

Finally, remember, nothing I'm saying here constitutes censorship. Censorship is legal suppression of information by lawful authorities. I'm not calling for that. I'm just calling for the fourth estate to use its powers responsibly.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

President Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel?

William Kristol is now a contributor to The New York Times. Good, they haven't had a sufficient hardcore liar since William Safire retired. Kristol says ("President Mike Huckabee?" Jan. 7, 2008):
Who, inquiring minds want to know, is going to spare us a first Obama term? After all, for all his ability and charm, Barack Obama is still a liberal Democrat. Some of us would much prefer a non-liberal and non-Democratic administration. We don’t want to increase the scope of the nanny state, we don’t want to undo the good done by the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, and we really don’t want to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory in Iraq.
Well, uh, there seems to be a bit of a disconnect here. Nanny state? Isn't that the kind of state that keeps an eye on you to make sure you don't do anything wrong? But I digress.
After the last two elections, featuring the well-born George Bush and Al Gore and John Kerry, Americans — even Republicans! — are ready for a likable regular guy. Huckabee seems to be that.
Blah! Likable? Isn't that what we were promised with the current numbskull? Why, yes, yes it was. George W. Bush, born with all the advantages in the world and able to be defeated to victory twice, was supposed to be a likable, regular dude who'd be fun to have a drink with. Al Gore and John Kerry were stuffy intelligent types who were out of touch with the rest of the country (whatever that means).

I say that's all BS. Having a nice guy president doesn't get you a job. Liking hunting isn't a qualification for fixing the healthcare system. Wearing cowboy boots instead of suits and ties isn't going to help the stock market.

Maybe if we had one of those silly, out of touch, intellectual types, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in now, or at least not as badly. We wouldn't be spending the economy of a small, wealthy western European country on Iraq every year. We might have a rational healthcare system (single payer or not, anything that provides universal coverage is an improvement over the current mess which has us spending more and getting less than just about anyone).

In the interest of reducing the nanny state and increasing competence, here are some qualities that would be nice in the next president:
  • doesn't hunt
  • when cutting taxes, reduce the federal transfers to states that already get more back from the federal government than they send (that mostly means red states)
  • doesn't wear a cowboy hat
  • end highway funding; let the states handle it
  • supports rational healthcare; single payer, universal, socialized, public-private partnership, whatever—anything is better than what we have now

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bad parenting

From CNN ("'Meanest mom on planet' sells son's car," January 9, 2008):
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Jane Hambleton has dubbed herself the "meanest mom on the planet."

After finding alcohol in her son's car, she decided to sell the car and share her 19-year-old's misdeed with everyone -- by placing an ad in the local newspaper.

The ad reads: "OLDS 1999 Intrigue. Totally uncool parents who obviously don't love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for three weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat. $3,700/offer. Call meanest mom on the planet."
This is pretty damn sick. What kind of irresponsible parent gets their kid a two-ton killing machine anyway?

Kids: don't drive. Just stick with booze.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Okay, I guess I got to stop writing about what an asshole Mitt Romney is:
But most Mormonism-related discomfort with Romney may, in fact, reflect less a view of religious truth than a sense that there is something vaguely troubling or unfamiliar in the Mormon manner or worldview. .... [S]uch reservations are not simple prejudice; they are a complicated outgrowth of the tortured history of the faith’s relationship to mainstream American political life over the nearly two centuries since God first spoke to Joseph Smith.
I find it even more troubling that Romney is a Republican.

I'm glad Romney lost the Iowa Caucuses, though I'm a little saddened that Huckabee won. I don't say that because I think Huckabee is worse than the others (he's arguably better than any Republican in years), but he's still a Republican and the less prima facie repugnant Republicans are, the more the media promotes them as the best candidate.

See "What Is It About Mormonism?" in The New York Times for a verbose, yet somewhat educational, article.