Friday, October 27, 2006

Politics: Hillary Clinton is a political opportunist

As much as I admire Hillary's intellect and hard work in public office, she has fallen into the trap of political opportunism. She, and other Democrats (and Republicans, for that matter) need to stand up firmly for their principles, not cow to whatever the prevailing senitmental winds are. When will politicians stop worrying about getting elected, and start working toward making America and Americans better. Perhaps I am too idealistic. Yes, yes, I know politicians don't have the opportunity to make changes unless they get elected. Yes, yes, I know the election is important to worry about. But at what point does that balance with your principles? Hillary has flip flopped in the wind to get elected as much or more than most. The latest is her position on *gasp* Gay Marriage! In 2000 when she was running for congress, she was absolutely against it. Now, her position has "evolved". But not really.
"I believe in full equality of benefits, nothing left out," she said. "From my perspective there is a greater likelihood of us getting to that point in civil unions or domestic partnerships and that is my very considered assessment."
If she really believed in full equality, she would believe in marriage rights, not appease her conservative supporters. She's trying to make everyone happy and, in doing so, is sacrificing her principles.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Religion, Hypocrisy: It wasn't rape, he liked it

It seems Mark Foley's Holy Abuser seems to think that fondling teenage boys is ok if they like it. I guess the fact that Mark's priest, Father Anthony Mercieca, was in a position of power over him means nothing. Just like Mark never used his power and influence to get anywhere with the pages. Of COURSE it's abuse! Of COURSE it's wrong to use your stature and power to gain sexual favors. UGH - hypocrisy. This is typical of the denial in the Catholic Church on this issue - abuse is such a harsh word - we like to call it helping our kids.
Mercieca, however, rejected the idea that he sexually abused Foley, saying, "See abuse, it's a bad word, you know, because abuse, you abuse someone against his will. But it involved just spontaneousness, you know?"

"Let's say it was 40 years ago, almost 40 years ago, so why bring this up at this late stage?" Mercieca asked. "Anyway, he will overcome it, with a psychiatrist you know. Mark is a very intelligent man."

Politics, Hypocrisy: GOTV

GOTV - Get Out The Vote. Both parties say they're for it. But a Republican campaign in California is trying to frighten people into not voting.
SANTA ANA, Calif. - State investigators have linked a Republican campaign to letters sent to thousands of Orange County Hispanics warning them they could go to jail or be deported if they vote next month, a spokesman for the attorney general said.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Politics: We're all Terrorists and Sexual Predators

If you listen to FBI Director Robert Mueller, you might think that. Why else would they want Internet Service Providers to record and track their customers' online activities?
"Terrorists coordinate their plans cloaked in the anonymity of the Internet, as do violent sexual predators prowling chat rooms," Mueller said in a speech at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Boston.

Science: Can you believe I'm siding with Bill Frist?

While my political views obviously lie on the left side of the spectrum that society has created, I believe there really is no such thing as a Republican or a Democrat. We all have ideas and positions on issues and they don't always align with whatever political parties we see every day. On the issue of Science Funding, this is definitely a bi-partisan (multi-partisan?) issue and people from all sides can have solid reasonable ideas. These party wars do not solve the problems of our society, they interfere with efforts to solve problems. I was very happy to read this morning an article by Bill Frist published in the Inside Higher Education on-line magazine about congress' efforts to increase funding for basic science. He makes some very accurate arguments.
"While I have nothing against applied research — as a doctor, I never did any other kind — we ultimately need to do more basic research if we want to retain our position as a world leader. The invention of devices like the iPod, a wonderful machine that has changed the way we listen to music, will never result in a Nobel Prize. Without new fundamental discoveries about the nature of the universe and our world, the United States can’t remain the world’s economic and technological leader."
This is truly a bipartisan effort and one that I think Bill takes too much credit for. While I applaud Bill for making the case I do wonder how much he truly believes and how much he is using for political gain. I think back to the Terry Schiavo fiasco and that causes me to pause a bit in my praise for Bill. Never the less, the message is right this time. On a similar note, the Bush administration, and even Sen. Frist, have stood by as the NIH changed it's fundamental support mechanisms away from basic science endangering a whole generation of young scientists trying to get established. Although the NIH budget has doubled from 1999-2003 (initiated during the Clinton administration), the number of individual RO1 grants, the ones that really support researchers in basic biomedical sciences, has, alarmingly, decreased. So, I think we need to do more to fix the NIH, not just increase NSF funding.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Religion, Politcs: If you preach the politics, you gotta pay the taxes

What these religious nuts don't understand about separation of church and state is that it's just as much about preventing government from interfering with religion as it is about preventing religion from interfering in government. The IRS rules are very very clear. If you invite political candidates to your church and promote their platform on your pulpit, you are not eligible for tax exempt status. Well, the holy shit has hit the fan in Minnesota after Michele Bachmann, preaching from the stage at Living Word Christian Center in Brook Park, MN, told the parishoners that God called upon her to run for congress. Now, if that is not bad enough, the pastor of the church told his flock that the church should be wholly involved in politics. You can watch it all here on youtube. For more on this story, see the posts at Minnesota Monitor and Dump Michele Bachmann.

Update: Here's the first 9 minutes of Michele's appearance at Living Word on youtube.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Religion: This time I agree with Hannity and Colmes.

There is absolutely no way to reach people like this.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Politics: Byron and Steve

I should have posted this earlier. I didn't watch Bryon live, but I found the youtube video. I'd say he handled himself well with Steve. Earl? Your turn!!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Religion: PZ and Me

There is a reason why PZ Myer's blog, Pharyngula, was named the top science blog of 2006 by Nature. It's darn good and on my daily reading list. Today I had the pleasure of meeting PZ when he came to NDSU to present a talk entitled, "Accommodation isn't enough: why scientists need to speak out against religion".

He started his talk discussing the poor arguments against religion:
  • Science has NOT disproven God - it is silly to make that argument
  • Atrocities done in the name of religion - there are certainly atrocities done by atheists as well as many good deeds done in the name of religion. This is a very weak argument.
He then presented even worse arguments for religion:
  • Scripture - it is not validated
  • Morality - both religious and non-religious may be moral or immoral
  • Consolation - use religion to console, fear of death
  • Inspiration - Bach could be argued to be inspired by religion. Sure, but was he inspired by God or did that come from himself. PZ had a great comeback for this one - "Have you ever listened to Christian Rock these days?"
  • Non-overlapping ideas - Religion and science can't mix.
PZ then went on to discuss why we should oppose religion, particularly extremist religion. He makes a case for why it should not be a basis for public policy or governance. He discussed a bit of the books by Ken Miller and Francis Collins.

He did have a funny "top 10" list of why Religion is Just Like Pornography. It was amusing and you can read all the details on his blog.

I think the highlight of the talk was his statement:
"Religion has been granted an exalted, priveleged position in our culture. What it deserves is laughter."
We had a nice discussion after the talk, but certainly nothing as heated as I epected. I guess the religious nutjobs stayed away from this one.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Hypocrisy, Religion: Cover thy genitalia

(Thanks to the folks at for posting this story)

Art, to Sydney McGee, reflects civilizations past and present and is a thing of utlimate value. For years she has shared her love of art with her 5th grade class in Frisco, Texas. Now, after 28 years of teaching she has been suspended for daring to take her class *gasp* to the Dallas Museum of Art. Of course she should be exposed for the evil person she is! Taking children to such a den of iniquity where they might be exposed to *shudder* nude figurines from ancient mediterranean cultures. All kidding aside, this is a serious issue. Do should we really censor art and elevate it to something grossly sexual when it is not? I think the religious fundamentalists have had a hand in this one. Maybe there's more to this story, but claims of "performance issues" by the school board are not supported by Ms. McGee's record of excellent job evaluations over the last 28 years.

Read the NY Times article.

So . . I'll let you be the judge. Below is a picture of the nude piece in question at the Dallas museum. Next to it a piece of 'art' I found on the prayerful woman's web site. Which would you rather have your children see?

Politics: Today the Conservative Revolution Takes Over

Yes, today the Conservative Right takes over control of the Supreme Court. The new Court opens today without Sandra Day O'Conner leaving a court that is now tipped towards the conservative ideal. Chief Justice John Roberts pushed back a number of important cases until this year when the conservatives will be able to overturn precedent.
President Bush's two conservative appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, give opponents of abortion and affirmative action reason to hope the high court will move in their direction. It was only a few years ago that a different mix of justices seemingly settled some of these questions in high-profile cases.
Take a listen to Nina Totenberg's NPR report on the issue.

Politics, Hypocrisy: The Culture of Corruption Continues

Well, if Friday's news wasn't bad enough, it appears the story is much deeper than we thought. Pages were warned by Republican staffers five years ago to watch out for Mr. Foley.
Matthew Loraditch, a page in the 2001-2002 class, told ABC News he and other pages were warned about Foley by a supervisor in the House Clerk's office.

Loraditch, the president of the Page Alumni Association, said the pages were told "don't get too wrapped up in him being too nice to you and all that kind of stuff."
Republican House Speaker, Dennis Hastert, at first, denied knowing anything, then changed his tune once Tom Reynolds came out saying he had informed Hastert of inappropriate emails in 2005. This sure stinks of a coverup. Why nothing was done is beyond me. It looks pretty obvious that the Republicans cared more about covering up their dirty laundry so the election was not affected and could care less about victimized teenagers.

Oh, and today Mr. Foley is blaming it all on alcohol! . . . Talk about the apology that wasn't!