Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The News and the Politics

This bit on the Daily Dish sums up how politics have been seen in the MSM for too many years now.

Drum explains why the TV networks are obsessed with the Dow:

...nobody makes or loses money based on betting on the unemployment rate. And we don't have exciting video of traders going nuts on exchange floors when hourly wage numbers are announced. And anyway, all that stuff is only available on a monthly basis. You can hardly run a 24/7 cable show based on that, can you?
They also need winners and losers, as their treatment of politics has become indistinguishable from their treatment of sports. I'm happier online myself.


Pres. Obama gave a hell of a speech tonight.

Here is the text of the speech.

Video here.

It is lovely to see Jindal's big shot went flat following on the president. Hmm, a future opponent's sabotage? Text for speech.

And you know it's bad when the folks at Fox think Jindal blew it.


Though I have to say this. I have started people today begin mocking Jindal through the use of his original Hindi name. Let us agree to not go there, okay? Doing to to Pres. Obama was bad. It demonstrated a nastiness and ugliness in Reps. If we go there and use his changed name (he apparently changed it out of a love for the Brady Bunch), how are we better? Cause we don't mean to be bigoted? Are we sure? He is an ass. He jumped into his faith as he got older in a creepy way (see exorcism). Let us be sure not to raise him up as a hero to conservatives and an example of how mean Dems and Liberals are. We are better than that.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

There has to be a line

In the debate about religion, there has to be a lines, frontiers, points where we can't all go. All faith and lack their of, deserve scrutiny, debate, and healthy arguments. When it is too far, when it is dangerous to people, when it drives cruelty upon others, we have to stand up and say no.

But there are lines. There are plenty of problems in Islam, but not all Muslims are the same. Their are friendly neighbors, obnoxious bores, pricks, shy thinkers, doting parents, etc. The same is true of Christianity, and its sects, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, etc. When you have large and spread out populaces, you have diversity. To blindly jump at any possible opening is fraught with great risk for any honest person looking to bolster secular society. We have stories arise of atheist being threatened with being fired from jobs, but going in half cocked to find the person exaggerated a more complicated trouble cannot help but make us look bad. It is bad enough, through works like Expelled, Creationist try to spread false claims about science. We need to be better.

Which takes us to Bill Maher. Not exactly a poster boy for any positive cause. He is loud arrogant and abrasive, and more contrarian than debater. Put works like Religulous can open the questioning of religion to a few more...perhaps (Though I did really enjoy the monologues on the DVD).

But with the opening episode of this season of Real Time, he had on one Brigitte Gabriel. Who apparently sees all Muslims as a threat, and can never be trusted. That is not someone you turn to have a sane discussion on an issue, like the recent murder and beheading that have caused quite a stir. Where a Muslim husband viciously murdered his wife. Some have jumped to the assumption that it is yet another honor killing. But it does not seem so clear yet. It seems more likely that a husband was being left by his wife, and he took on the role of complete an utter fucking bastard, murdering her. It doesn't take faith to do this...ask Scott Peterson. But Maher likes to do his thing and she was the perfect choice to lay into the story. This murderer deserves scorn and punishment. But let us be sure we actually understand what happen. Let's not become Brigitte Gabriel, that helps no one. We need to be better.

Crooks and Liars:

I was wondering if Maher even realized who he was bringing on his show to comment on the beheading of a Muslim woman. Talk to Action's Chris Rodda has more on that in his post Maher Season Premiere Includes Islamophobe Who Said Muslim-Americans Shouldn't Hold Public Office:

But, while Maher was just exploiting the irony of the story, his via satellite guest for the segment, Brigitte Gabriel, was given a forum to further her fear-mongering cause. And, although as more of the facts emerge, the murder of Aasiya Hassan is looking less and less like an "honor killing," and more and more like just a horrible case of domestic violence in which the perpetrator happened to be a Muslim, this story is pure gold to someone like Gabriel, whose mission is to spread a message that no Muslim-American, no matter how "assimilated" they may appear, can be trusted. With her glee in proclaiming on Real Time that Muzzammil Hassan had called the police to "brag" that he had murdered his wife (something that is not true), Gabriel came across to the audience as a funny, personable guest joining Maher in a bit of sarcastic repartee about the story. To those of us familiar with Gabriel, however, her glee was taken as something quite different.

The real Brigitte Gabriel is a woman who has said that Muslim-Americans shouldn't be allowed to hold public office; instructs people to contact the F.B.I. if they see a mosque being built in their neighborhood; and has said that Muslim-Americans "are good at nothing but complaining about every single thing" and that "Every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim."

The Post and Global Warming.

Many of us have noted the odd failure of the Washington Post to hold George Will massively inaccurate global warming pieces in check.

WaPo Loves Them Some Will-Full Deceit

But the Ombudsman of the Post has come out to make things worse.

Washington Post Ombudsman Compounds Global Warming Misinformation In Response To Reader Protests Over Will's Column
Lucky Andy Alexander. Even before he introduced himself as the new Washington Post Ombudsman, replacing the embattled Deborah Howell, he has already stepped into a rather steaming pile of dung. Sadly, instead of discerning the truth for the readers of Washington Post, Alexander opted to compound the error...

You see he claims that the ACRC report that Will quoted as supporting his position, despite the fact it doesn't, does support Will and is in line with the claims printed in the paper. What does one say when the vaunted middleman for the press and public says something like this? You call them a LIAR.

The Loyal Opposition

So what is happening among the Republicans these days?

Taking out vendettas against those that vote with the president.

Getting high level jobs at CBS News.

Trying to be hip, in the way ones parents occasionally try and fail.

Blocking another Dem from getting to the Senate by any means.

Being pissy about helicopters.

Trying to have their cake and eat it to.

Interesting note on strategy.


Matthew Yglesias has some thoughts on why Jindal is doing this in his post Bobby Jindal's Hostages.

My other thought is that there may be a “beggar thy neighbor” strategy going on here. If Louisiana makes its unemployment benefits less generous than what’s available in other states, then maybe unemployed citizens will leave Louisiana for Texas and other neighboring states, thus creating an artificial appearance of an improved economic situation. It would be the equivalent of Mike Bloomberg fighting poverty by demolishing all the low-income housing in New York and hoping the poor people all move elsewhere.

It's hard to say whether that might be true or not but since that was pretty well the response to Hurricane Katrina nothing would surprise me from the Republicans. The other possibility is that Ray Nagin is right and it's Jindal putting his presidential ambitions before the interest of his state. Not that I'm any fan of Ray Nagin but I'd have a lot of trouble disagreeing with him on this point and that it isn't just all politics for Jindal.


Making stupid comments (though that story looks exaggerated now) and claims about the presidents citizenship.

Being post-racial in the most old school ways. Thanks for reminding us Pat.

Claiming THEY are out to get them.

Relying on decades outdated strategies to knock down a president.

Ah, the Republicans. Not getting it since the 1920's.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Religious test two step

PZ Myers has taken note of a couple maneuvers across the country, involving how to treat faith and the absence.

Arkansas - Surprisingly there is a move to allow atheist in.
It's an ugly little open secret that Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas have constitutions that explicitly forbid atheists from holding state office. These laws are archaic and unenforceable in principle — they were all ruled unconstitutional in 1961 — but of course they're still in effect across all 50 states in practice, since public opinion makes it almost impossible for an atheist to get elected to high office.

Now, though, a representative in Arkansas has submitted a bill to amend the Arkansas constitution and remove the prohibition of atheists. ...

Washington - Don't disrespect my faith, and don't forget to acknowledge it.
While Arkansas takes a small step forward, a few people in my home state of Washington want to take a great leap backwards. Some crank named Kimberlie Struiksma, who is apparently associated with education, has proposed to put a remarkably clueless measure onto the ballot. Behold Initiative Measure No. 1040:
Ballot Title
Initiative Measure No. 1040 concerns a supreme ruler of the universe.

This measure would prohibit state use of public money or lands for anything that denies or attempts to refute the existence of a supreme ruler of the universe, including textbooks, instruction or research.


Deny? What does that mean. If a text contradicts "your beliefs", it's out? If research would bring troubling, to "your beliefs", realities of science to light, is it to be blocked? If I want to put up a Christmas display at the capitol that challenges "your beliefs, it is banned? Oh, you bet.

Iraq and Afghanistan

Informed Comment on Iraq:

McClatchy is alarmed at the rapid deterioration of relations between Kurds and Arabs in the north of Iraq. The victory of the Sunni Arab nationalist party, al-Hadba', in Ninevah Province has dealt a setback to the Kurds, who initially controlled the province's governing council and whose paramilitary, the Peshmerga, was deployed in parts of the province with Kurdish populations. The Kurdistan Regional Government has already erased the provincial divisions among Dohuk, Irbil and Sulaymaniya, and would like to absorb much of Ninevah Province, as well. The Green Line separating Kurdish territory from Arab is being redrawn and challenged, to the benefit of the Kurds.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a centralizer, has come into conflict with the Kurds over his desire to restore an effective central government.

Some of the alarmism on this issue derives from Iraqi-Kurdistan Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, who says that Obama should intervene to settle outstanding Kurdish/ Arab disputes before the US troops draw down.


Informed Comment on Afghanistan:
President Barack Obama has decided to send 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, on the grounds that "the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan demands urgent attention". Civilian deaths from political violence increased about 40% in 2008 over 2007, reaching over 2000. They will be sent to the Pushtun south and east of the country, where guerrilla fighting is expected to pick up with the advent of warm weather. The BBC says, "The deployment will be made up of 8,000 marines, and 4,000 army soldiers, plus another 5,000 support staff." The Marines will begin arriving in May.

What we saw in Iraq was that the sheer number of troops did not matter so much as how they are deployed and for what purpose. I hope that these troops are used well.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Michael Shermer and the Builders of the New Ark.

Interesting trip, can't help but be reminded of an episode of Johnathan Creek with a group of religious nuts building an ark in the center of Britain.

During the first week of February, 2009, on the occasion of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday celebrations at various locals around England (including his birthplace city of Shrewsbury — see photo montage below), my hosts Andrew Kelly (a science writer who authored a gorgeous coffee-table book entitled Darwin: For the Love of Science) and Bruce Hood (a University of Bristol cognitive psychologist and author of the forthcoming book Supersense), arranged for a visit to Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Bristol, run by a kindly creationist gentleman named Anthony Bush. (Yes, in addition to being a zoo for the public to tour, it is a working farm.)


Think positive

Daily Dish:

Britain comes up with a plan to save its economy:
For exactly two minutes on March 6th at 11.00am our consortium of psychics and healers will act as a channel for the positive thoughts of the entire country...

It is a proven scientific fact that thinking about something often causes it to happen. Some call this quantum physics.
See everything will be improving. I love Doctor Who, but England has to know better.

Monday, February 16, 2009

McCain and King celebrate a Pres. McCain victory

TPM notes a charming headline that CNN had up on its site yesterday.

Obama off to bad start...

So says Senator, and two time presidential run loser, John McCain. Yeah, getting the presidency, getting the stimulus through, passing SCHIP, etc. What a loser. YEESCH!

But not to worry. Not to worry. John King was there to help...McCain.

Crooks and Liars:


KING: Well, if it’s the old business as usual, didn’t President Obama promise a new way of doing things in Washington? You say it was a terrible start. Are you sitting in your office these days saying, "I told you so"?

This from the man who warned Obama about being too liberal.

Forehead, meet keyboard. What I wouldn't give to see an intellectually honest discussion of the stimulus bill...obviously, it will not be found on "State of the Union".
Yeah, thanks King and CNN. And I noticed a segment title last night on CNN. Apparently since Obama is going to Denver to sign the stimulus into law, he's "snubbing" Washington.

...snubbing? So every time a President goes out into the world to sign a bill, like a national park, they have just snubbed Washington. After the work Obama has begun to connect political Washington to that place people actually work and live...snub? CNN, how full of shit can you be?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I know officially Valentine's Day is over. But for some of you...[wink]

So be sure to check out for your further education...

Smartaxe and Sex in Space.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Don't worry the beltway pundits are in the know.

TPM has noted the dissonance between the polls and opinions of people across the country and what pundits and the news people in Washington and NYC think. Seems the country is more than willing to trust Pres. Obama for now and let him work, and applaud his attempts at bipartisanship, and hold the Reps accountable for their actions. But that ways so lightly on the pundits and MSM.

"It's eerie -- I read the news from the Beltway, and there's this disconnect with the polls from the Midwest that I see all around me."

That's from Ann Seltzer, the Iowa pollster who's an expert on public opinion throughout the midwest, as quoted by Ben Smith.

It really is the big story of the first weeks of the Obama administration. In Washington, it was a battle royale between the new president and an emboldened Republican minority. At times they seemed to have him on the ropes. And yet in the country at large, Obama remains super popular. And the GOP is wildly unpopular.


But there's a very big problem with this strategy above and beyond the absurdity of the argument. "Congress" may be really unpopular. And the Democrats now control Congress. But politics is a zero sum game. At the end of the day, in almost every case, you've got to pick a Republican or a Democrat when you vote. And if you look at the numbers, congressional Democrats are pretty popular. And congressional Republicans are extremely unpopular. If you look at the number, the Dems are at about 50% or higher in most recent polls, while the GOP is down in the 30s.

The city remains wired for the GOP. Not that it's done them a great deal of good of late. But it remains a key part of understanding every part of what is happening today.

More from TPM:
So John McCain says that Obama needs to work on bipartisanship, which is about par for the course from McCain and for other Republicans these days. I just heard a reporter on MSNBC say that the Republicans have emerged from this battle with their reputation for fiscal discipline strengthened while Obama has had his reputation for bipartisanship tarnished.

As annoying as it is to hear this stuff, I can't say I'm losing a lot of sleep over it. Because in addition to being nonsensical on its face, I really don't think most people around the country are seeing any of this that way. The primary aim of this is to work the refs, the refs being DC political reporters, who are usually pretty easy to work. And they seem to be so in this case. But I don't think this is what most people see. I think the number of people who are into bipartisanship is greatly overstated. However, the number of people who are into it are heavily correlated with those who are politically gettable. So it's not nothing. But Obama has made repeated overtures to Republicans and included probably more of their goodies than I'd like in his bill. And he's been greeted by a phalanx of opposition, nonsense and trash talk.

It's true that many voters without strong partisan attachments want to see politicians 'get some things done' and not just get into political fights. I think what most people see here is one side of equation trying to put together a bill with big majorities, which means necessarily ones that wouldn't be his own parties wish list. The other party has used the overture exclusively as a vehicle for scoring political points and, more poetically put, being dicks.

For my part, I don't think there's any problem with having party line votes where both parties really fundamentally disagree on the policy question at hand. But to the extent that there's a question of who's making an effort to operate in a bipartisan manner, this one is really not even close. Reporters' idea that the entire 'bipartisan' enterprise is Obama's responsibility, as though Republicans, in their depleted state, actually get to dictate the content of bills -- I don't think people buy that. Which is probably why Obama's still really popular and congressional Republicans are extremely unpopular.
And I do love that, "I just heard a reporter on MSNBC say that the Republicans have emerged from this battle with their reputation for fiscal discipline strengthened while Obama has had his reputation for bipartisanship tarnished." Really? I love the one sided read. Global warming and evolution, they want to have both sides heard. But on the president's endeavors, they just need the talking points. Why is that?

They'll just be happy in private.

Looking at Crooks and Liars, it seems that a number of Republicans weren't as resolute in opposing the stimulus bill. They know what is best for their populace and the country, they just won't vote to do it. That is today's Republican party.


Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), who broke with his party to support President Obama's stimulus package last week, said before the final vote Friday that more of his colleagues would have joined were they not afraid of the political consequences.

"When I came back to the cloak room after coming to the agreement a week ago today," said Specter, "one of my colleagues said, 'Arlen, I'm proud of you.' My Republican colleague said, 'Arlen, I'm proud of you.' I said, 'Are you going to vote with me?' And he said, 'No, I might have a primary.' And I said, 'Well, you know very well I'm going to have a primary.'"


"I think there are a lot of people in the Republican caucus who are glad to see this action taken without their fingerprints, without their participation," he said.

Gutless, gutless wonders....they allegedly agree on the need for the stimulus, but are afraid to stand up for what's right. Ladies and gentlemen, once again, I give you today's GOP. Explain to me why Democrats keep expressing the need for bipartisanship...


Critiquing Olbermann

Orac and some others have noted a bothersome misstep from Keith Olbermann on Countdown this last week.

Now have have to disagree with Orac's opinion of Olbermann. He has been looking at him a lot like Limbaugh and now seems to have a lower opinion. Now it seems he sees Limbaugh as a fool and worth a laugh over an afternoon. I can't see it that way. Let's just say, "I hope he fails." Okay. Olbermann has been willing and eager to go after Bush and criticize, but, unlike Limbaugh, it isn't about trashing the country to just win a fight (over being more right than others). Rush is a mean fool who takes pleasure in building himself up on the misfortune of others. Ridicule of the poor, the ill, the unfortunate is par for the course. So to even trying to put him on par with Olbermann, even if you consider him all ego and bragger, is insulting and dubious. And knocking his sense of humor was cheap, though a matter of an individuals opinion.

But Olbermann has been drawn in to do anti-vacc dirty work. Last week he pointed to reports of how work of one of the main opponents of vaccination was in question, it looked to be fake. Big news. Then his people got a word that the one reporting on the story was suspect. He reported this as well. But the reality of this idea is not true. So Olbermann is in the wrong. Pushing forward a claim without merit.

Keith Olbermann: Played for a fool by the antivaccine movement

Too bad tonight Olbermann let himself be played like a fiddle by antivaccine propagandist David Kirby, the man who, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., was instrumental in launching the American version of the MMR scare, namely the thimerosal/mercury scare that roared into the states in 2004 and is now maintained by Jenny McCarthy--still aided and abetted by David Kirby. No, Kirby played Olbermann like Itzhak Perlman playing a goddamned Stradivarius. Indeed, Kirby played on Olbermann's hatred of Rupert Murdoch...

Brian Deer responds to Keith Olbermann

Olbermann needs to make amends admit to the mistake and call those who played him out for yet another of the denier's games.

New Skeptics' Circle

Time for another skeptics' circle.

Skeptics’ Circle #105: The Shakespeare Edition

In honor of the 105th edition, we’re going to take a look at William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 105. Although of course it’s actually about the beauty, gentleness, and loyalty of one’s beloved, I think we can give it a skeptical reading if we try hard enough. And with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, a love poem seemed appropriate. So let’s get right to it!


Judging vaccs

Dr. Novella:

Autism Court Ruling - Vaccines Didn’t Cause Autism
The much awaited decision on the first test case of the Autism Omnibus was just announced - and it’s good news. They have found that the petitioners failed to make their case that vaccines caused their children’s autism, and that therefore compensation was not appropriate.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Oh no! Bipartisanship!


I told Joe half an hour ago that some knucklehead in the media would claim that this was another sign of how not-bipartisan Obama really is. And here you go, from Politico:

New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg has abruptly withdrawn as President Barack Obama’s nominee to run the Commerce Department, another blow to an administration trying to build a bipartisan cabinet.
Ah, Politico. Trying so hard to be wrong.


Yes, after Gregg pulls out, Obama "only" has two remaining Republican members of his Cabinet. I believe that would be a historic high for opposition members serving in a presidential cabinet (the usual number is "one"). Does Obama get credit for trying to add a THIRD Republican, putting him at 300% of the usual members of the Cabinet one chooses from the other side? Hardly. And when Gregg decides to pull out, apparently because Obama wouldn't just hand the entire stimulus bill over to President Gregg, he grabs his marbles and goes home. And somehow, this is a "blow" to Obama's efforts to be bipartisan - that Judd Gregg is a spoiled brat, and as a result, President Obama is stuck with "only" 200% of the normal number of opposition members in his Cabinet. Uh huh.
And this has been a call from so many corners of the media. Republicans don't like a bill, where is Obama's promise? Obama calls Reps on be obstructive, why is he so unbipartisan? Obama won't do what Reps tell him, why's he such a meany?

Apparently trying to work with the opposition means you're always in the wrong.

Judd Gregg

Andrew Sullivan has an interest look at this affair, with the whole hockey pokey in Commerce.

Gregg Was Pwned

It gets clearer. When Judd Gregg approached the Obama administration to see if he could be a part of it, he was assuming that his own party wasn't going to adopt a policy of total warfare against the newly elected president in a time of enormous economic peril. Between that moment and the current all-out ideological assault on Obama, his position became untenable. His recusal on the stimulus package provoked fury at home (check out the comments here) and dyspepsia among the GOP who are intent on responding to an open hand with a clenched fist.

Gregg And The GOP's War On Obama

Ambers and I discuss the Gregg pull-out, under partisan Republican pressure not to cooperate with the president...

The Census Canard

Again, this is not a real issue. It's an issue driven by the paranoid GOP base. The census has not been removed from the Commerce Department's purview, as Ambers explains below. And past censuses have long been conducted with coordination from the White House staff...


This issue was championed by Republicans for the usual "the-darkies-are-taking-over!" reasons. And Gregg's broad support for the kind of stimulus bill Obama has just got through the conference is a matter of public record. So the real reason for Gregg's departure is that he simply couldn't handle the backlash from his own party for providing bipartisan cover for Obamanomics. I guess they believe that assaulting the new president as he tries to reach out is their ticket for future relevance. Hello to all this ...

So to sum.

The GOP Has Declared War On Obama
This much is now clear. Their clear and open intent is to do all they can, however they can, to sabotage the new administration (and the economy to boot). They want failure. Even now. Even after the last eight years. Even in a recession as steeply dangerous as this one. There are legitimate debates to be had; and then there is the cynicism and surrealism of total political war. We now should have even less doubt about what kind of people they are. And the mountain of partisan vitriol Obama will have to climb every day of the next four or eight years.

He said Darwin...5 points

PZ Myers was nice enough to link to the video of Pres. Obama at the Lincoln dinner last night.

One thing that was a surprise last night was that Pres. Obama was actual able to, willing to, and eager to segue for a moment to one Charles Darwin, which I can't remember other presidents doing (not segueing from Lincoln to Darwin, but just talking Darwin...I was afraid it was in that taboo area you find Taiwan and Israeli nukes).

But this is the trend following on his continued references to nonbelievers in religious conversations and comments. Atheist have been leery of getting caught up just because the president is willing to acknowledge them as citizens and relevant. Though it was interesting to see some comments that nonbelievers wasn't the ideal term, then some suggested the term humanist, which was followed a short time later when the president used that term (again, something you just never hear from presidents). It is nice to hear, and as with the mention of Darwin it was meant to acknowledge him and hive accolades to the importance of science for the nation. It seems he is eager to support it. Real science. And while he has supported faith based initiatives, the president has also made comments about the value of secular charities and their place in this process, which I hope leads to this concept being expanded to incorporate the far wider selection of charities in this program.

Perhaps we can end up with a country where the occasional shout out is unimportant, as we are inundate with good science and a more secular society. But I'm not an optimist so I won't be saying it.


Some video that PZ Myers is pointing to.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oh, Dianne...

Crooks and Liars is taking note of Sen Dianne Feinstein's work to add a little something to the Stimulus package.

Is Diane Feinstein trying to sneak draconian internet control legislation into the stimulus bill? It sure looks that way.

The Register:

US Senator Dianne Feinstein hopes to update President Barack Obama's $838bn economic stimulus package so that American ISPs can deter child pornography, copyright infringement, and other unlawful activity by way of "reasonable network management."

Clearly, a lobbyist whispering in Feinstein's ear has taken Comcast's now famous euphemism even further into the realm of nonsense.

According to Public Knowledge, Feinstein's network management amendment did not find a home in the stimulus bill that landed on the Senate floor. But lobbyists speaking with the Washington DC-based internet watchdog said that California's senior Senator is now hoping to insert this language via conference committee - a House-Senate pow-wow were bill disputes are resolved.


Anniversaries - NAACP

Today is the 100th anniversary of the creation of the NAACP, in the aftermath of a race riot.

100 years of hard work. Happy anniversary.

Anniversaries - Abraham Lincoln

Today is the 200th Birthday of Abraham Lincoln's birth.

Happy B-Day.

Anniversaries - Charles Darwin

Today is the 200th Birthday of Charles Darwin's birth.

Happy B-Day.

It's global cooling...cause I hand picked a bunch of people to support me.


Politico has run a story, unsurprisingly, just going along with the RNC talking points. Apparently, global warming/climate change, particularly the man made bit, is totally suspect and not worth much. As their article suggest, the evidence of global cooling IS MOUNTING. Climate change is growing particular in the way it supports capping business pollution output (Should have figured that would be in there.). As is fun to notice with climate change deniers is how like the creationist they do sound (the evidence against is mounting, the prevailing opinion is on the way out).

But is just so nice to see that they are so open to support the attack on science. Of course...

More than 31,000 scientists across the world have signed the Global Warming Petition Project, a declaration started by a group of American scientists that states man’s impact on climate change can’t be reasonably proven.


Again, how many like petitions of "scientists" are out there in opposition to Evolutionary Theory.

They make some try at balance after quoting CATO, the Reps, and an alphabet of right wing groups.

Despite the growing science, the world’s leading crusader on climate change, Al Gore, is unconcerned.

“Climate deniers fall into the same camp as people who still don’t believe we landed on the moon,” said the former vice president’s spokeswoman, Kalee Kreider. “We don’t think this should distract us from the reality.”

Note they go in claiming "the growing science" should be swaying him.

TPM also interestingly notes that some like Fred Barnes are building there arguments to attack the prevailing science through...the former producer for Rush Limbaugh. He is the point person for the deniers in pumping out every misleading piece of info that can be accessed and spread.

Expect a rife and shit filled argument in Congress on climate change. Who is helping get good science into the hands of Congress?

Being a professional dick

Crooks and Liars looks at Alex Castellanos latest dickish behavior, in particular the fact that Nobel prizes are a joke as people like Krugman and Gore have dared not to mouth Republican talking points. How whiny.


Digby reminds us what type of man Catellanos is :

You remember Castellanos. He's the guy who made Jesse Helms' infamous "Hands" ad. He is, in fact Karl Rove's biggest rival for most negative campaigner in the GOP, which is quite a feat.

This person was on CNN throughout the presidential campaign, which makes some sense since he was in the capacity of "Republican campaign consultant." But he has no business being on television commenting on anything but dirty campaign tactics, which is where his expertise lies. He is a professional liar who admits to doing anything necessary to back his team and who even village "polite society" is squeamish about cable.

Why is CNN still giving this jerk a platform from which to do this kind of dirty work for the GOP? He should be on Fox where he belongs, alongside the other creepy political sociopaths.
I agree completely. As Glenn Beck turns creepier every day on FOX I think Alex needs to join him in a segment where they both can cry over the economy to the song "The Tears of a Clown."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gibbs jab

I have to like the light jab Press Secretary Robert Gibbs gave the White House reporters.


Case in point: White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, on the presidential plane today, directly targeted cable news as out of touch with America when asked about polling on the stim package. From the White House transcript:
I think it’s illuminating because it may not necessarily be where cable television is on all of this. But, you know, we’re sort of used to that. We lost on cable television virtually every day last year. So, you know, there’s a conventional wisdom to what’s going on in America via Washington, and there’s the reality of what’s happening in America.
That’s not all. In response to another question about Obama’s scheduled rally today in Elkhart, Indiana, Gibbs directly attacked the White House press corps. “We’ll get to measure whose questions were better over the course of the day — the voters of Elkhart or the reporters of Washington,” Gibbs says.

There’s still more. According to the pool report, senior Obama adviser David Axelrod ran with this ball on the campaign plane, too, saying that the new Gallup poll proves how out of touch Beltway insiders are.

It is nice to see the light, but pointed, points to the media. Even last night some reporters seems to show that they do not get it. Baseball steroids? Consumers are to blame for this trouble? But hey, Ed Schultz lucked into a front row seat by Helen Thomas. I noticed that some reporters are peeved at having to effectively draw straws for seating, and...having to allow the likes of Huffington Post. I don't recall much interest in the old days when Gannon was in the scrum with them. Eh. cut?

PZ Myers looks at a funny comic about the path of Republicans.

If you have watched Republican talking points over the last decade and earlier it is amazing how consistent the call is. Whether in or out of power, in a boom or bust, with surpluses or deficits. The same damn choice offered. That, and increased military spending.

Measle mania

As certain groups seek to attack and avoid the critical need for vaccination, trouble brews around the world.

Dr. Plaitt:


However, for the outbreak in Switzerland, it does look like antivaccination insanity is to blame:
Switzerland has been affected by measles outbreaks more than other European countries in recent years because of the relatively low level of vaccinations and the presence of educational and religious communities that decline vaccination.

The outbreak described here indicates that anthroposophic communities are an at-risk group, because many parents in these groups choose not to vaccinate their children with the MMR [measles, mumps, rubella] vaccine. Anthroposophy, based on the writings of the social philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), combines human development with an investigation of the divine spark found in all of nature. Anthroposophical doctors emphasize nature-based therapies that support the body’s innate healing wisdom.

Antivaxxers. For whatever reasons they believe what they do, they’re wrong. A previously healthy 12-year-old girl died of measles-induced encephalitis in a Geneva hospital last week. In 2008, a child in Minnesota died due to a disease that was preventable through a vaccine. Measles is on the rise in the UK. And some people are all too happy to spread the lie that the vaccines are causing all sorts of health problems, when it’s been shown pretty conclusively that they aren’t.


I see a horoscope in your future.

Dr. Plaitt takes a further look at the hooey of horoscopes.

Apparently there has been attempt to prove its validity through the Amazing James Randi.

Randi had thoughts on all this.

EDIT: To note, the horoscope part starts around the 5 minute mark, according to Plaitt, but the rest of the video is good, if you are a fan of Randi or the topics he commonly covers.

Brain dead, but good to go.

Feministing and PZ Myers have noted a troubling stand in Italy (well, one of many).

Italy is experiencing its own version of the Terry Schiavo case. A woman, Eluana Englaro, was in a car crash 17 years ago that caused catastrophic brain damage — she's been in a vegetative state ever since, and the family has been engaged in a legal fight for many years to pull the plug and allow her to die with a little dignity. They finally won that battle recently, and are easing her off life support and a feeding tube.

Cue the right wing. Silvio Berlusconi, Bush-like Prime Minister of Italy, has rushed to impose an emergency decree blocking the suspension of life support, a decision made after consulting with the Vatican. Here's a good rule: never consult the priesthood of a death cult before making a life-and-death decision. They always give stupid and evil advice.

Ah, Berlusconi stepping in and forcing his opinions yet again. Seems he and the Church are in agreement, if you can make use of a woman's body to produce children...she's good to go. But this is the church, what other use to they really ever see in women?

... The fact that the Italian Prime Minister (after consulting the Vatican, which was obviously a terrible idea) is using her reproductive capacity as a reason to deny her the right to die is absolutely absurd. This kind of logic really makes me wonder if more people than I'd previously thought really do see women as fetal containers.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Making nice with deniers.

As you may have seen the Pope wants to make nice with a sect of the church that was pushed aside in the past for various issues, including denying the holocaust. Yup, priests who refuse to accept fault on the part of Nazi for the deaths of Jews, and others, in those chambers in those camps.

After pressure it seems the Vatican is demanding a recanting of the claims. The response, he'll look into it. Can't even lie about his bigoted beliefs. He's dedicated, to being asinine. And he will take his look at the really don't hear about this type looking at or being shown this evidence and actually changing their minds, it's already well set. And now he is given a huge platform to spread his position and piss poor arguments. Great.

But Ratz wants to be all but the secular world. They he wishes to Hell. To bad it doesn't exist.


What does the whole of the Republican party want at this time. Mainly, POWER. Obama is in the way, so they attack. They lack a congressional majority so they clog the works. Reality is not on their side, so the try and clog the airwaves.

To this end, they try and scare any moderate from working for solutions, as bad as the solution may look from the left end.

Calling them wusses. Top GOP Strategist: Saving the economy through bipartisanship is for "wussy Republicans"

Turning to talk radio and Rush's army to do the dirty. The RNC begs for help on right wing talk radio

Plus they have got their new chairman out saying stupid things. Steele Address: Cut Taxes, Don't Spend, To Stimulate The Economy. Yeah, great idea. Keep using our ideas until things go bad. Then keep using our ideas until things are better. See our ideas are the right ones. Rinse and repeat.

Followed by the twit McConnell and his vow.
Mitch McConnell has released a statement saying that while he hasn't seen the full compromise plan, he has seen enough to say that Senate Republicans will still oppose it. ...

But now something more palatable.

An excerpt on jobs creation, noting what's going to happen in different states:

From the beginning, this recovery plan has had at its core a simple idea: Let's put Americans to work doing the work America needs done. It will save or create more than 3 million jobs over the next two years, all across the country – 16,000 in Maine, nearly 80,000 in Indiana – almost all of them in the private sector, and all of them jobs that help us recover today, and prosper tomorrow.

Jobs that upgrade classrooms and laboratories in 10,000 schools nationwide – at least 485 in Florida alone – and train an army of teachers in math and science.

Jobs that modernize our health care system, not only saving us billions of dollars, but countless lives.

Jobs that construct a smart electric grid, connect every corner of the country to the information superhighway, double our capacity to generate renewable energy, and grow the economy of tomorrow.

Jobs that rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges and levees and dams, so that the tragedies of New Orleans and Minneapolis never happen again.

Stein the Martyr

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article on Stein's ouster from speaking in Vermont.

The commentary is almost funny, if not so sad. This is a academic journal about academia, but the comments seem to have amazingly quickly devolved into a the big mean evolutionist and elite liberals pout fest. Apparently Dr. Fogel of the university is one of the main villains.

You sometimes forget the reach of ignorance.

Where is support for the package now? has been looking at polling on support for the Stimulus package. Newsreaders and conservative pundits have been harping on a drop in support. Though the Gallup poll has remained steady, but that one isn't fitting the media narrative.

Of note:


Second, notice that both CBS and Gallup changed the dollar amounts, Gallup on their second of three surveys and CBS this week. Perhaps more important: CBS also made a subtle change in their verbiage. The old CBS question references a "775 billion dollar economic stimulus package." The new question calls it an "economic stimulus bill costing more than 800 billion dollars" (emphasis added). They needed to change the amount, but why change the sentence structure? And more important, does adding "costing" make some respondents realize that proposal is not a government giveaway but rather something they might have to pay for someday? Without a split-form experiment, it is hard to know for certain.


... Thanks to the reader who caught something I missed. Rasmussen also changed the wording of their stimulus question. In their first test in early January, the question identified only "Barack Obama" as the sponsor. Beginning with their 1/27-28 survey, that changed to "Barack Obama and the Congressional Democrats" (emphasis added). I have corrected the table above to reflect the changed wording

That change is important: While "congressional Democrats" are earning slightly better ratings than their Republican counterparts, their numbers are nowhere near as positive as Obama's. On the CBS survey, or example, Obama 62% approve of his performance as president, but only 48% rate the "congressional Democrats" favorably. Nancy Pelosi's favorable rating, using the tougher CBS format (that encourages respondents to report when they are unfamiliar), has dropped to just 10% favorable, 30% unfavorable).


Trouble in AntiVac world?

Dr. Plaitt is noting indicators that that godfather of the anti vaccination hysteria may not be so clean. I say that, but of course the research before and since his has already shown the fault in the opinions he's put forward. But it seems to be one more damaging point against them of the No pointy and No ouchies sect.

On the plus side for them it gives the nutters a new fact to deny and/or ignore.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Go! Barbara! Go!

With all the two faced whiny episodes with Lindsey Graham and others we just need to be so happy we have people with gumption like the grand Barbara Boxer. She calls out all the theatrics.


Imagine. After six years of Democrats being shut out of conference committee meetings, Lindsey has the audacity to clasp his bosom and clutch his pearls. (Here's the smelling salts, Lindsey!)

On Hardball, he was also crying to Tweety that the American people were opposed to this bill - as if, you know, the right-wing talk radio demigods didn't whip people up into a frenzy for that specific purpose.

So I really enjoyed watching Barbara Boxer call him "theatrical" and remind him of how few objections he had when George Bush sent enormous bills to the Senate, calling for a same-day vote.

"I will put my ability to speak my mind to my party up against anybody," Lindsey retorted, "including you, Senator. I have been up on this floor many times about policies I disagreed with."

Well, here's the thing. Much like my own Senator, Arlen Specter (R-Self Interest), Graham is most famous for his posturing on the floor, his principled indignation in front of the TV cameras - and his very reliable vote for the very legislation that seemingly so troubled him.

Painting himself as a "moderate, reasonable" Republican is his schtick!

So yes, Barbara Boxer is right when she calls his tactics "theatrical." That's the Republican game. It's never because they're obstructionists, it's that the Democratic bills are always without merit. They're not opportunists, it just so happens that they'd love to work on legislation with the Democrats - as long as they don't include anything that isn't a tax cut.

What makes me sicker the patent lies and fakery of Reps these days, or watching the likes of CNN and MSNBC newsreaders sopping the crap up like a fine sauce.

Setting the stage

It has been annoying seeing the media pushed seemingly willingly to embrace a conservative opposition of the stimulus package and economics in general. But to start to take on a Dick Cheneyesque approach to our defense is getting to be a bit much. Politico, looking for easy stories and having a former VP down the hall seem to be in hog heaven.

As Glenn Greenwald notes for Maddow, it seems to be about laying out an argument for why Obama is a failure in the aftermath of a potential terrorist attack. Now, GW wasn't after 9/11 for some reason, he even gets some strange cred for it, but the argument is being made preemptively against Obama. Really that is SO Dick Cheney.

Beck continues being a mad clod.

Glen Beck is a twisted jerk wad. He has given us all plenty of examples of it. And he has been trying to build a goofy little point of the socialist/communist ends of Obama's plans. But now he has veered back over to Stein territory, the Nazi's are back. And they are Al Gore.

Al Gore is creating another Hitler Youth, Glenn Beck feverishly warns

Gore has a gain went to kids to improve the world, go out and be active. To Beck this is mind control and Orwellian...asking kids to get active. You may know that this is a motif of Gore's going way back. He likes to talk at schools at inspire the young to know they have a voice and an impact.

Now when Rick Warren blantantly says he wants to have youth rise up exactly like those in Nazi Germany or Mao's China, nothing, no comment. But Gore is apparently evil.

Blair explains it all

In AMERICAblog, they have taken note of Tony Blair's "great advise to the world. Bring More Religion.


Tony Blair gave an extraordinary speech about the global importance of religion yesterday, telling an audience which included the newly-inaugurated President, Barack Obama, that faith should be restored "to its rightful place, as the guide to our world and its future."


Yeah, more religion. More prevention of family planning, more ignorance of disease control and prevention, more stoning people for defying religious commandments, more blasphemy laws, etc. Yeah, Tony, sharp thinking.

Monday, February 02, 2009

New Deal/Big Deal

Crooks and Liars looked at the continued claims being made against the FDR era New Deal. It deals often with a claim that they spent all that money back then, and it did nothing.

But as noted it is not so. Roosevelt was convinced to cut back on spending, to our lament.


You can read the mandatory rebuttal from Paul "Unlike Right-Wing Hacks, I Actually Won A Nobel Prize for Economics" Krugman here (I know, it's silly and old-fashioned of me to think Krugman might actually know more about the subject matter):

Net stimulus of around 3 percent of GDP — not much, when you’ve got a 42 percent output gap. FDR might have been more of a Keynesian if Keynesian economics had existed — The General Theory wasn’t published until 1936. Note in particular that in 1937-38 FDR was persuaded to do the “responsible” thing and cut back — and that’s what led to the bad year in 1938, which to the WSJ crowd defines the New Deal.

Implications for Obama: be inspired by FDR, but don’t imitate him slavishly. In particular, your economic policy should be bolder, not more cautious.


Bothersome is that a number of skeptics agree with this misread of history. People like Michael Shermer, who I generally find myself in agreement with, have a certain strange streak that leads them to be critical here and more partial to an embrace of just stepping back and letting the invisible finger and the mysterious forces of mercantilism make things right. It is odd. Reminds me of hearing Hitchens talk wittily about the flaws of religion and then segue into Middle East politics, he just veers into madness.

The conservative voice

Bernard Goldberg, has chosen to be a crank for a number of years now. He's been making the right wing rounds. The outright manipulation in his books have been noted, though not on these shows he visits. But he looked to be ready to go to talk to an actual media critic, Howard Kurtz, on CNN's Reliable Sources. Then he cancelled. Crooks and Liars looks at Kurtz's sharp reaction and challenge (Bonus points for adding Lou Dobbs to the list of conservatives that Goldberg feels safe with.).

Then you have Dick Army, who is noted now for his nasty demeanor to a female opponent. Are conservative so dried out of ideas they just have the cheap shots. What a Scarborough.

Having clout

Recently the University of Vermont announced that Ben Stein would be the Commencement speaker. This displeased a whole lot of people. Not because of his dilly economic opinions, or bashing of Obama. No, it was Expelled, and the all the bad science and bad attitudes he worked damn hard to spread. So scientist on campus and around the country complained. But it seemed to be of no avail.

But PZ Myers has noted a change of heart. Incredibly it may be that one voice in particular had an impact, Dr. Richard Dawkins. He sent a letter of complaint, explaining the concerns so many have with Stein, a staucn opponet of science recently, and he got a response back apologizing and conceding. Apparently, he had to bad out. We owe a big thanks to him. As well, we have to marvel that there are still places in this country that esteemed, sharp, and witty people have some sway. Ironically, in a different speech Stein occasionally likes to give I think he would applaud that idea. Then again, maybe not.