Clinton’s Fumbling and Blog Trolls

Workout Notes yoga plus a 5 mile walk (plus) in 1:08; this included one gooseloop lap and an out and back on the dam. I saw lots of geese. It was also in the high 30-low 40’s; crisp and clear.

Blog Trolls: what good are they? I’ve had one visitor who frequently attempts to jerk my chain. But I am so hard up for traffic (why, I would care, I don’t even know! 🙂 ) that I admit that I sometimes include a line or two just for him!

Though he reads only a small percentage of what I write, he tried to catch me saying that Halliburton was still in Iraq; in fact one of their former subsidiaries ( Kellogg, Brown and Root, mostly known as KBR) has taken over since March 2007 (note: I brought up Halliburton as a joke about bilking money from the government; I didn’t even mention Iraq). So, this person didn’t really “get me” on anything. But it did leave me to discover this cool site: Halliburton Watch. For a good synopsis of their treachery and how they turned over operations to KBR (and fled to Dubai, so as to evade accountability), go here.

Thank you Vonster! 🙂

Politics: Clinton Fumbles. The common wisdom is that the last debate was Clinton’s weakest performance so far. People disagree on exactly what that means. Some wonder if she was being unfairly picked on (“piled on” is a phrase I’ve frequently heard) and some said “hey, discussing the issues is fair, and you’ve got some explaining to do“)

But what is clear is that Hillary Clinton made a major blunder during her debate. I’ll let the Tennessee Guerilla Women tell the story:

Regarding Bill and Hillary Clinton’s alleged refusal to release documents held by the National Archives, Tim Russert did not provide all the details by a long shot.

MR. RUSSERT: But there was a letter written by President Clinton specifically asking that any communication between you and the president not be made available to the public until 2012. Would you lift that ban?

Hillary Clinton’s answer was to say that the archives would be ready when the regular archive process had made them ready. She was asked the question again and she gave the same answer.

This lead to this response by Barack Obama (totally fair, given what was known at the time and Senator Clinton’s response, in my opinion)

And this response, among with several others, lead her to being openly ridiculed:

The sad part is that, in this “records case”, there was actually less than meets the eye! Back to the Tennessee Guerilla Women’s telling of the story:

The letter that Tim Russert held in his hands during last night’s debate was written by Bill Clinton all right. But it was written in 1994. The way Russert waved the letter in the air, I thought Bill Clinton had written it just to protect Hillary’s presidential bid.

According to Taylor Marsh, right after Bill Clinton left the presidency, he asked that his documents be released immediately. It was George W. Bush who “decided that presidential papers would be kept secret indefinitely, something Bill Clinton openly fought against, including opposing Bush on the 12 year secrecy procedure, but especially on the new indefinite stand.”

All Hillary Clinton had to do was to say “that letter was written during the President’s first term, and he later made the decision to release ALL of the records.” That would have ended this issue, then and there. But instead, for some reason known only to her, she waffled. Did she not remember the letter? If not that is understandable; she should have at least asked when it was written.

In any event, she blew it.

And now, her campaign is in the process of blowing it again! She, or at least her campaign, is whining about all of “those guys” piling it on her.

Taylor Marsh, in a piece titled “Russert Leads the Boys in All Out Clinton Assault” very nearly accused the other candidates and Tim Russert of attacking Clinton because she is a woman.

Russert’s goal was to provide the headlines the media was salivating to see. He intended to diminish and discredit Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, using her former president husband Bill Clinton to help do the job, which included a document waving drama that was all for show. I’d say Russert has a problem with a woman being president, but that can’t be the case. Nah, he was just doing his job.

Clinton herself has even called presidential politics a boys club.

Clinton, at Wellesley, says, “This all-women’s college prepared me to compete in the all-boy’s club of presidential politics.”

Let me get this straight. The other candidates (and Tim Russert) are not allowed to criticize Hillary Clinton on issues because she is female? Is that truly what Taylor Marsh is saying? As a feminist, I agree with RJ Eskow over at Huffington Post.

When is a feminist not a feminist? Apparently, when the goal is defending Hillary Clinton. In the Senator’s defense, she has never said that it’s unfair or bullying for men to take aggressive stances against her. I suspect she has too much self-respect for that.* But if her defenders continue to play the gender card like Taylor Marsh does in this piece, they could set the feminist cause back by decades.

It really damages the cause of feminism if the first “viable” (according to the media) female candidate for president is going to complain that she’s being unfairly attacked every time someone disagrees with her on an issue. Hillary is not being attacked by the other Democrats in an unfair way. She’s being questioned because she is wrong or inconsistent on issues (in their view, anyway). There is a big difference, and if she wants to be taken seriously as a leader, she had better start acting like a leader and be willing to stand up for what she believes in (whatever that may be).

In fact, I will go so far as to say that as a woman who has sometimes faced real gender discrimination, I am very angered by the Clinton campaign’s response that seeks to marginalize the real issue concerns of her opponents by complaining that she’s being singled out and unfairly attacked. American voters deserve to know her positions on these issues. It is not fair to us, or to women in particular, if the response to questions on the issues is dismissive of dissent, and it’s worse if the response even comes close to seeming to be “you’re just mean boys beating up on a girl.” If she is truly prepared to compete in what she calls the “boys club,” then she had better be prepared for substantive debate on the issues.

As Joan Walsh at Salon points out, Hillary Clinton can take it, or at least, she certainly SHOULD be able to. Furthermore, if she can’t take reasonable critiques on the issues from Democratic candidates, how is she going to be able to confront Republican attacks?

Never mind Republican attacks. Is she going to whine about those Al Qeada boys being mean to her? Yes, her whining will help her win points in women’s studies departments, but not elsewhere. And it will get her absolutely killed in the general election.

Now my disclaimer: I support Barack Obama, and he too recently shot himself in the foot by having the “gay but thinks he has been cured of his gayness by Jesus” singer Donnie McClurkin perform on one of his promotional tours; by the time this came out, if Obama disinvited McClurkin, he’d alienate many African Americans, and if he didn’t withdraw the invitation, he’d alienate many gays.

So no candidate is perfect, and Hillary Clinton still leads, and the Republicans are still afraid of her.

Note: they put it out there that Obama being African American can hurt him with independents and “Reagan Democrats in Ohio, Florida and in other swing states who won’t vote for an African American”.

Other interesting topics:

Olberman: goes after Bush for his hissy fit against congress; Pelosi responds very well.

Olberman again: wonders why our homeland security would give extra attention (and pat downs) to a member of the British Government!!!

Right Wing Watch: reports that many Christians won’t vote for non-Christians. And they call US haters? (only in the world of the wingnuts!)

So says former Republican National Committee official John Lofton:

“This is ridiculous on its face to say that Christians can vote for non-Christians. It’s Christ denial, its something that’s very serious, And in fact, in a way things have gotten even worse by saying that religion doesn’t matter. Well, that’s the same as saying, whether they know it or not, that Christ doesn’t matter. He is the King of kings, he is the Lord of lords — which means Lord over politics, and no Christian can be complicit in having an unbeliever, who God calls wicked, rule over us.”

Science: Cosmic Variance explains what an honest to goodness “alternative theory” must do in order to be accepted by the mainstream of science. In this case, he is discussing “dark matter” and “alternative gravity” theories.

We’re faced with the same choices today, with galaxies and clusters playing the role of the Solar System. Except that the question has basically been answered, by observations such as the Bullet Cluster. If you modify gravity, it’s fairly straightforward (although harder than you might guess, if you’re careful about it) to change the strength of gravity as a function of distance. So you can mock up “dark matter” by imagining that gravity at very large distances is just a bit stronger than Newton (or Einstein) would have predicted — as long as the hypothetical dark matter is in the same place as the ordinary matter is.

But it’s enormously more difficult to invent a theory of modified gravity in which the direction of the gravitational force points toward some place other than where the ordinary matter is. So the way to rule out the modified-gravity hypothesis is to find a system in which the dark matter and ordinary matter are located in separate places. If you see a gravitational force pointing at something other than the ordinary matter, dark matter remains the only reasonable explanation.

And that’s precisely what the Bullet Cluster gives you. Dark matter that has been dynamically separated from the ordinary matter, and indeed you measure the gravitational force (using weak lensing) and find that it points toward the dark matter, not toward the ordinary matter. So, we had an interesting question — dark matter or modified gravity? — and now we know the answer: dark matter. You might also have modified gravity, but one’s interest begins to wane, and we move on to trying to figure out what the dark matter actually is. […]

recent paper by Brownstein and Moffat claims to fit the Bullet Cluster using modified gravity rather than dark matter. If that were right, and the theory were in some sense reasonable, it would be an interesting and newsworthy result. So, you might think, the job of any self-respecting cosmologist should be to work carefully through this paper (it’s full of equations) and figure out what’s going on. Right?

I’m not going to bother. The dark matter hypothesis provides a simple and elegant fit to the Bullet Cluster, and for that matter fits a huge variety of other data. That doesn’t mean that it’s been proven within metaphysical certainty; but it does mean that there is a tremendous presumption that it is on the right track. The Bullet Cluster (and for that matter the microwave background) behave just as they should if there is dark matter, and not at all as you would expect if gravity were modified. Any theory of modified gravity must have the feature that essentially all of its predictions are exactly what dark matter would predict. So if you want to convince anyone to read your long and complicated paper arguing in favor of modified gravity, you have a barrier to overcome. These folks aren’t crackpots, but they still face the challenge laid out in the alternative science respectability checklist: “Understand, and make a good-faith effort to confront, the fundamental objections to your claims within established science.” Tell me right up front exactly how your theory explains how a force can point somewhere other than in the direction of its source, and why your theory miraculously reproduces all of the predictions of the dark matter idea (which is, at heart, extraordinarily simple: there is some collisionless non-relativistic particle with a certain density).

Please read the whole article; it also has some cool pictures and posters. Keep in mind that this is written by a successful research cosmologist.


November 2, 2007 - Posted by | hillary clinton, obama, Peoria/local, politics/social, religion, science, walking

1 Comment »

  1. Too bad it takes me pulling your chain to get you to fact check but then you wouldn’t be a true moonbat if you did. 🙂

    Comment by vonster | November 2, 2007 | Reply

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