My attitudes, why I like Obama, and a local observation

Workout notes My 10.5 mile course in 2:17:07 (just under 13 minute miles; last 3+ uphill was in 39:33 (marker behind the Gateway building). Cool (40’s) with some wind; still I really enjoyed this walk. I was about 1:20 slower than last week.

The birds are nesting (especially the ducks and the geese); it is a matter of time before the red winged blackbirds start to dive bomb me. 🙂

Yet another reason why I like Barack Obama: trust. Yes, I know, he is human and has made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes. But, on the whole, I really believe that he wants what is best for all of us. Lest you think that I am naive, I have thought this about others: Bill Clinton (until his health problems), the George Herbert Walker Bush, Jimmy Carter and yes, even Ronald Reagan.

But my trust in Obama goes beyond my thinking that he wants what is best for us: unlike the others that I have mentioned (with the exception of WJC), BHO has the intellect, creativity, originality and the people skills to get it done. GHWB had the intellect but not the creativity and originality; and in my opinion, HRC is more or less cut from the same cloth as GHWB.

Anyway, this is why this is important to me: sometimes, conservatives are right; sometimes their ideas really are better. And I believe that BHO (like WJC) will run with a conservative idea if it is the right one (pardon the bad pun) for the situation at hand.

Yes, I know, conservatives were (and are) wrong about most things: race relations, women’s rights, gay rights, religion, creationism, etc. But on occasion, they are right: for example, a lack of standards plagues our higher education. Sometimes, well intentioned regulation can suffocate promising businesses and kill incentive.

And here is what is interesting to me: yes, I do have a few conservative friends, and much to my astonishment, I agree with them far more than I disagree with them. As BHO says, we are not as divided as our politics suggest. But when most conservative politicians talk about these ideas in public, I get skeptical right away; I think “yeah, right, they just want their rich cronies to get even richer at our expense”.

Yes, I know, on the whole, BHO is a liberal, and that is good! 🙂 But I don’t see him as being ideologically bound. So, to me, he, and not HRC, is the one to bring back what was good about the Clinton years.

Obama-Wright: Dick Morris thinks that Obama can use this situation to his advantage.

At the start of his campaign, Obama ran in counterpoint to the previous candidacies of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

Here was a black man running for president on issues that had nothing to do with race as he rose above the victimization rhetoric that characterizes so many speeches of African-American political figures.

Now, in attacking the Rev. Wright as he did Tuesday, Obama can further define himself in contrast to Wright, just as he did earlier vis-à-vis Jackson and Sharpton.

So if, as the Chinese ideogram suggests, crisis is a synthesis of danger and opportunity, the controversy surrounding Wright presents plenty of both for Obama.

In his statement Tuesday, Obama moved decisively and well to seize the opportunity that Wright’s wrongs pose.

The danger Wright presents is obvious enough. He has come to epitomize everything white Americans fear in an African-American public figure, secular or clerical. He is anti-white, anti-American, and avidly embraces and propagates all manner of bizarre conspiracy theories. […]
But if Wright has come to be the poster child for what America fears in a black public figure, he gives Obama an opportunity to be the opposite. By playing off Wright, by attacking his views in depth and detail, Obama can define himself as the un-Wright, reassuring Americans and carving out his identity in opposition to the reverend’s rantings.

Obama has always implicitly defined himself as the opposite of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. He runs not as a black man seeking the presidency, but as a post-racial political leader who happens to have a dark complexion. But that positioning is now obsolete in the face of the challenge Wright poses to his candidacy. […]

Nor will Obama solve his Wright problem by subtly distancing himself from his pastor and condemning his views, in general, as “offensive” or “not representative of my campaign.”

Rather, he needs to seize the opportunity Wright presents and rebut the pastor’s views, point by point — as he began to do Tuesday — and, in the process, define himself and his candidacy. He needs to rebut all of the spurious points Wright raised in his now-famous “chickens coming home to roost” sermon and speak up for America, our record and our values. […]

At times, it almost appears that Morris (a Republican and a former Bill Clinton adviser) is cheering Obama on. Part of it might well be that Morris just loves politics and loves to chat about what is what, make predictions and the like, and part of it might be that he just doesn’t like Hillary Clinton.

Anyway, I really enjoy his columns, though I trust him as far as I could throw him. 🙂

My attitudes Frazz is one of my favorite cartoons; it is written by a triathlete.


I have to admit that I get these thoughts every time I pass a golf course while on a training walk; I see the rotund golfers getting in and out of those golf carts, and I automatically pick up my pace! 🙂

Speaking of self righteous rants against “popular culture”, check out this one at the Daily Kos. This rant was so good, even many Kossacks were offended by it! Frankly, I loved it; I laughed out loud several times. Of course, some of the time, I was laughing at myself, which is ok too.

The redneck of today is much different from that old stereotype. They appear educated and well-to-do. They have good jobs, and good salaries. They live in large towns and cities. Some of them are our co-workers, our neighbors, and even our friends. […]

(and sometimes “they” are “me”, but that’s ok…) 🙂

They never point the finger at themselves. Yet, every aspect of their lives is contributing to the downfall of the American way of life.

They are the ones failing to prepare their children to be educated. Little Johnny is pampered and told he is special until he is 25 and wonders why he can’t keep his job.

They are the ones buying more and more useless electronic goods, using more and more electricity, and then complain when their electric bill goes up.

They are the ones who eat poor diets and feed their kids processed foods, and wonder why they are too tired to exercise at the end of the day, and why their kids gain weight.

They are the ones who are offended by Barack Obama’s statement that people are bitter and hang on to guns and religion; and then decide they need to start going to church and to purchase a handgun for the home.

They are the ones who decide to take their kids to Six Flags on vacation rather than taking them camping in beautiful parks and recreation areas. Their kids sit in the backseat watching a DVD on the way to the park. They no longer talk to their kids, which is why their kids have no vocabulary.

They are the ones who were traumatized by 9-11, not just because of the awfulness of that day, but because they really didn’t see it coming. They have no idea where Afghanistan is, and still don’t know that most of the hijackers were Saudis. They think all Muslims are the same, and that is why they believe leaving Iraq is surrendering to terrorists.

In simple terms, these people don’t educate their kids and aren’t informed about what is going on in the world. They waste gasoline and electricity. They vote out of fear and concern over change. They rail against intellectual critique of American policies, because they believe America is still the “Greatest Country on Earth”.

They don’t understand that there are young people in China and India reading and learning and doing whatever they can to succeed. They still think their child is smarter and more talented than those children, by default. […]

You know, I suppose that I think highly of America too; that is why I hold America to a higher standard than I do other countries. If some tiny, impoverished country makes a mistake, few are hurt. If we blunder, hundreds of thousands pay the price.

In a nutshell: recently, some university students put firecrackers under the bedroom door of another student. When these didn’t go off, they put even more under the door. They ended up burning up the room and killing the student.

So, they ended up going to jail for a few months. Now guess what? They were denied reinstatement to the university (upon finishing their jail terms).

So far so good, right? Well no, believe it or not, some of their parents don’t understand why the university won’t let their little darlings back in. Peoria Pundit writes:

The parents are livid, because they say they were promised their offspring would be allowed back in school after their finished their six-month sentence for killing their friend and fellow soccer-team member xxx yyyy. Naturally, the parents of these convicted killers think their kids are the victims. Here’s the money quote, as far as I am concerned:

XXX XXXX[one of the parents] agrees (university) officials have not fully explained their reasoning.

“The thing that is pretty amazing and shocking about the whole situation is if the other parents didn’t reapply for readmission, we probably would not know anything about this until the three students got out of jail,” he said. “That’s the really sad part about it.“

Oh, bullshit. The “really sad part” is that (the dead student) doesn’t have a future. Your son does. But thanks to your son’s OWN actions, it includes a six-month stint in jail (a sentence many people consider lenient) and probably not a college degree.

My note: these kids can get a degree; they just have to get it elsewhere. Note that they were denied reinstatement; technically speaking they weren’t expelled for disciplinary reasons, as what may well would have happened had they been reinstated. Hence, as far as their college record goes, they have no record of having been expelled; they are free to transfer with a clean academic slate.

April 30, 2008 Posted by | hillary clinton, obama, Peoria/local, politics/social, republicans, walking | 1 Comment

John McCain 2008: Health Care, Foreign Policy (More of the Same)

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Ok, this is the McCain Health Care ad. This is what he has to say:

My Friends,

Today, there are 47 million uninsured individuals in the U.S., and nearly a quarter of them are children. High costs and limited access are the underlying, fundamental problems in our healthcare system.

As you know, both Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are touting outrageously expensive and unrealistic universal health care plans – a government monopoly over health care.

Unlike my opponents, I do not believe that all of our nation’s problems can be solved by turning control over to our government, with all the tax increases, new mandates and government regulation that come with that idea.

Today, our campaign began running a television ad focused on health care – that you can view by following this link – to ensure all Americans hear the truth about how I plan to tackle the challenges facing our nation’s health care system. To ensure this important ad is aired in as many markets as possible, I’m asking for your immediate financial assistance.

I believe the key to real reform is to restore control over our health care system to the patients themselves. Americans need new choices beyond those offered in employment-based coverage.

That’s why, as president, I will seek to encourage and expand the benefits of Health Savings Accounts, tax-preferred accounts that are used to pay insurance premiums and other health costs. These accounts put the family in charge of what they pay for.

In addition, I will reform the tax code to provide every family the option of receiving a direct, refundable tax deposit – effectively $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 cash for families to offset the cost of insurance.

The reality is that both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama, in their haste to garner support for their so-called “solutions,” are promising more than they can deliver. And, once again, they are simply out-of-touch with the real problems facing our health care system and how to solve them.

Here are the facts: Under the Democrats’ plan, we will have all the problems, and more, of the current health care system – rigid rules, long waits and lack of choices – and we risk degrading the system’s great strengths and advantages, including the innovation and life-saving technology that make American medicine the most advanced in the world.

My friends, this is not my definition of real reform. I hope you will join me in my fight to tackle the real problems facing our nation’s health care system by making a contribution of $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000, or $2,300 to help fund this important ad.

I hope to hear from you soon.


John McCain

Ok, more of the same. Competition? The problem is not with the folks who are healthy; it is with those who are uninsurable; that is, those who have conditions that make them a bad monetary risk for the companies. “Competition” won’t solve that problem; that is why government intervention is a necessity.

This article gets it right.

But McCain (when he can differentiate between Sunni and Shiites) really has it together on foreign policy, right? Well, not exactly:

On March 26, McCain gave a speech on foreign policy in Los Angeles that was billed as his most comprehensive statement on the subject. It contained within it the most radical idea put forward by a major candidate for the presidency in 25 years. Yet almost no one noticed.

In his speech McCain proposed that the United States expel Russia from the G8, the group of advanced industrial countries. Moscow was included in this body in the 1990s to recognize and reward it for peacefully ending the cold war on Western terms, dismantling the Soviet empire and withdrawing from large chunks of the old Russian Empire as well. McCain also proposed that the United States should expand the G8 by taking in India and Brazil—but pointedly excluded China from the councils of power. […]

What McCain has announced is momentous—that the United States should adopt a policy of active exclusion and hostility toward two major global powers. It would reverse a decades-old bipartisan American policy of integrating these two countries into the global order, a policy that began under Richard Nixon (with Beijing) and continued under Ronald Reagan (with Moscow). It is a policy that would alienate many countries in Europe and Asia who would see it as an attempt by Washington to begin a new cold war.

I write this with sadness because I greatly admire John McCain, a man of intelligence, honor and enormous personal and political courage. I also agree with much of what else he said in that speech in Los Angeles. But in recent years, McCain has turned into a foreign-policy schizophrenic, alternating between neoconservative posturing and realist common sense. His speech reads like it was written by two very different people, each one given an allotment of a few paragraphs on every topic.
The neoconservative vision within the speech is essentially an affirmation of ideology. Not only does it declare war on Russia and China, it places the United States in active opposition to all nondemocracies. It proposes a League of Democracies, which would presumably play the role that the United Nations now does, except that all nondemocracies would be cast outside the pale. The approach lacks any strategic framework. What would be the gain from so alienating two great powers? How would the League of Democracies fight terrorism while excluding countries like Jordan, Morocco, Egypt and Singapore? What would be the gain to the average American to lessen our influence with Saudi Arabia, the central banker of oil, in a world in which we are still crucially dependent on that energy source?

The single most important security problem that the United States faces is securing loose nuclear materials. A terrorist group can pose an existential threat to the global order only by getting hold of such material. We also have an interest in stopping proliferation, particularly by rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea. To achieve both of these core objectives—which would make American safe and the world more secure—we need Russian cooperation. How fulsome is that likely to be if we gratuitously initiate hostilities with Moscow? […]

Keep in mind that Fareed Zakaria (the author, who I respect) is a conservative.

April 30, 2008 Posted by | mccain, politics/social, republicans, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Obama Denounces Reverend Wright’s Remarks

I honestly don’t know what to think. I’ve talked about Wright in the past; frankly he was over the top in some of his sermons (“US KKK of A”) and he made idiotic statements from time to time (U. S. government responsible for aids) but mostly his sermons were on point.

As far as the nutty stuff that Wright said: why is Obama responsible for that? Talk about double standards! How I wish that John “more of the same” McCain were held to the same standard.

Nevertheless, the Wright stuff didn’t really worry me, but then again, I don’t know people.

I suppose that there may be some truth here.

Jeremiah Wright is like the return of the repressed, a last desperate lunge of the undead 60s toward center stage. Wright represents a longing for enduring relevance so deep that it is willing to sabotage the very possibility of setting out on the long road that runs past race in order to preserve the claims of a certain righteousness, a certain rhetoric, a certain stance — a familiar and heroic sense of self-in-the-world.

It’s so hard to get old. It’s so hard to watch history pass you by. It’s so hard to look out across a public landscape in which your style of being once loomed so large and to realize that somehow — you are suddenly yesterday.

People who say Obama needs to confront Wright are correct. But he needs to do it simply, he needs to tell the truth. He needs to say, kindly but firmly: old man, I love you and I thank you for your service — but your day is done.

My two cents: Oh well, I didn’t expect this campaign to go smoothly the whole way. To be honest, I didn’t pay THAT much attention to Wright’s recent remarks; I figured it was a well intentioned older curmudgeon vying for attention. But at times I think that I exist in a parallel universe compared to most folks; what I see as trivial, idiotic matters, others find important.

I’ll never understand the average person in 1,000 years.

I think that this is a reasonable discussion.

In his Philadelphia speech last month Obama couldn’t openly repudiate Wright without risking a negative reaction from voters, especially African Americans, would see him as an ingrate, willing to cast aside people who’ve become inconvenient. Now, however, as Wright goes around the country performing as a caricature of what many white voters will perceive as “The Scary Black Man,” Obama has an obligation to repudiate Wright. Failing to repudiate Wright risks allowing the GOP (and until then presumably the Clinton campaign) to use Wright as the Black proxy with which to scare off white voters. White people who aren’t solid GOP voters aren’t personally scared by Obama, but they could be scared away from Obama if they’re afraid that as President he’ll bring a bunch of “Scary Black Men” along with him in to the White House.

As long as Wright continues to blab, Obama not only has the obligation to repudiate him, he has the opportunity. This afternoon, he took advantage of the opportunity.

Also read:

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright went to Washington on Monday not to praise Barack Obama, but to bury him.

Smiling, cracking corny jokes, mugging it up for the big-time news media — this reverend is never going away. He’s found himself a national platform, and he’s loving it.

It’s a twofer. Feeling dissed by Senator Obama, Mr. Wright gets revenge on his former follower while bathed in a spotlight brighter than any he could ever have imagined. He’s living a narcissist’s dream. At long last, his 15 minutes have arrived…

The thing to keep in mind about Rev. Wright is that he is a smart fellow. He’s been a very savvy operator, politically and otherwise, for decades. He has built a thriving, politically connected congregation on the South Side of Chicago that has done some very good work over the years. Powerful people have turned to him for guidance and advice.

So it’s not like he’s naïve politically. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Forget the gibberish about responding to attacks on the black church. That is not what the reverend’s appearance before the press club was about. He was responding to what he perceives as an attack on him.

This whole story is about Senator Obama’s run for the White House and absolutely nothing else. […]

Faster than anyone could have imagined, the young Mr. Obama became Senator Obama and then the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Then came the videotaped sermons and the roof caved in on Rev. Wright’s reputation. Senator Obama had no choice but to distance himself, and he did it as gently as he felt he could.

My guess is that Mr. Wright felt he’d been thrown under a bus by an ungrateful congregant who had benefited mightily from his association with the church and who should have rallied to his former pastor’s defense. What we’re witnessing now is Rev. Wright’s “I’ll show you!” tour.

For a lively discussion, go here.

Just a bit of comic relief:


April 29, 2008 Posted by | humor, obama, politics/social | 3 Comments

Workout notes 29 April

Workout notes yoga class, 2:17 worth of walking (somewhat over 10 miles); Michael Bridge, 4 x 1 mile (gooseloop miles) 12:00, 11:35, 11:35, 10:55 with 1 lap “recovery” (sort of). It went ok, though I was very sluggish.

Note: when I drove to the Riverplex, there was a duck couple (male/female pair; the green headed kind) in our neighborhood! Perhaps they mistook our driveways for water? (they were about 1 mile away).

From 3-quarks daily:

I just like the photo.

Barack Obama: we are Americans first, Democrats second.
Obama admits that he allowed himself to be pulled into the mud a bit.

Redstate Update sells out!

April 29, 2008 Posted by | hillary clinton, humor, mccain, obama, Peoria/local, politics/social, science, walking | Leave a comment

My Daily Kos Rant

Ok, I’ve seen the bickering, the fighting, and the mudslinging.

Frankly I am getting tired of it. I’ve heard the idea that Hillary Clinton is planning to damage Obama so badly that he loses to John “more of the same” McCain in the general election so she can run against McSame in the 2012 election.

So I have an idea: concede. Let her win the primary. More below the fold.

Think about it: all HRC has done in this election is start with a huge lead in name recognition, the polls, and yes, in money too:

Not many months ago, Clinton was the consensus front-runner, with a 30-point lead in national polls, $118 million raised in 2007 and the backing of most Democratic power brokers.

Today she trails Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in convention delegates, campaign cash and the popular vote.

But yet, she is the “ready on day one” candidate, the “one with the experience”. Evidently, this message sells with many.

After all, she is “tough”! (though some might say that she is “nasty”, not “tough”)

But I digress.

Ok, if she is so “tested” and “ready”, let her prove it in the general election!!

Why not? After all, I am too old to rejoin the military, I live close enough to walk to work, and I am healthy enough to bicycle for up to 100 miles at a time (ok, only one “century ride” to my credit), and have a job with ok job security. The house is paid off and I love peanut butter sandwiches (so cost of food isn’t a huge issue with me).

I can survive 4 years of John “more of the same” McCain; the person who thinks that we are better off after having Bush (about 5:30 into this video)

And so he has a bit of a White supremacist problem:

From the many years he rejected a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday (pretty much the entire 70s and 80s) to his serial flip-flops on the Confederate Flag in 2000 (which he admits he did for political reasons — no way, not you Johnny!) to his close association with a white supremacist named Richard Quinn, who found himself hired as a political advisor by McCain in 2000 (and still is from what I can tell) after openly praising David Duke (he called him a “maverick”) selling t-shirts praising the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and writing/editing for a magazine (Southern Partisan) that reminded us that slave masters just really weren’t all that bad.

But hey, I can live with that for 4 more years.

Let HRC have it, and, well, you’ve got to admit that it would be fun to watch her lose 40-45 states; maybe that will shut her up for good!

I discussed this “strategy” with my wife and she told me “that is the dumbest thing that I’ve ever heard.”

Oh well, I guess that I’ll phone bank for Indiana this weekend. 🙂

April 29, 2008 Posted by | hillary clinton, humor, mccain, obama, politics/social, republicans | 2 Comments

Raw Replay – Revisiting History: Obama with a voter, Good old Alan Keyes, etc.

Hmmm, what do you think? I’d recommend caution.

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Do you miss Alan Keyes? Have some more; he compares himself to an aborted fetus!

Yes, he takes shots at Obama. 🙂

Candidate books: a set of reviews here (Clinton, McCain, Obama)

Going to Mecca: does it mellow out Muslims? A study seems to indicate that. (hat tip: 3-quarks daily)

Last December, more than 2 million Muslims from around the world converged on Saudi Arabia to participate in the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to the holy site of Mecca. The Hajjis spent a month performing religious rituals, mingling with Muslims from all walks of life, and, in some cases, taking part in communal chants of “Death to America” led by Islamic extremists. This was understandably unnerving to the 10,000 or so Americans who made the pilgrimage, not to mention those who didn’t. Such behavior raised concerns that the Hajj is a breeding ground for anti-Western sentiment—or worse.

Then again, the spirit of friendship and community that typically prevails during the Hajj has also been known to promote tolerance and understanding across peoples. Malcolm X famously softened his views on black-white relations during his pilgrimage to Mecca, where he witnessed a “spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.”

So does the Hajj open minds, or does it expose Muslims to radical views that unite them against the non-Islamic world? To find out, researchers David Clingingsmith, Asim Khwaja, and Michael Kremer surveyed more than 1,600 Pakistanis, about half of whom went on the Hajj in 2006. In a recent, as yet unpublished study, they report that those who went to Mecca came back with more moderate views on a range of issues, both religious and nonreligious, suggesting that the Hajj may be helpful in curbing the spread of extremism in the Islamic world. […]

April 29, 2008 Posted by | hillary clinton, obama, politics/social, religion, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Still don’t believe evolution?

Yes, this is what it appears to be:

A male orangutan, clinging precariously to overhanging branches, flails the water with a pole, trying desperately to spear a passing fish.

It is the first time one has been seen using a tool to hunt. […]

Speaking of evolution: try making heads or tails out of this line of reasoning (on an alleged attack on “natural selection”):

What Fodor wants to know is whether the polar bear’s coat was selected-for because it’s white or because it matches its environment. According to Blackburn et al., the familiar adaptationist account, which they do not see as in need of revising, would have it that “[i]n some ancestral population there was a variant type that differed from the rest in ways that enhanced reproductive success. (White polar bears, for example, more camouflaged than their brown confrères, were better at sneaking up on seals, were better fed and left more offspring.) If the variant has a genetic basis, its frequency increases in the next generation.” For Fodor however, this is a “potted polar bear history,” since “for any trait X that was locally coextensive with being white in the polar bear’s evolutionary ecology[, s]election theory is indifferent between ‘the bears were selected for being white’ and ‘the bears were selected for being X.’” A good theory, Fodor thinks, should be able to generalize over possible but non-actual circumstances, that is, it should be able to support relevant counterfactuals, and this is something that natural selection doesn’t do.

I’m sorry, but this is downright stupid. Sure, I get it that not all mutations that survive have some sort of adaptive purpose (ring species prove that), but this has to be one of the lamest examples of reasoning that I’ve ever heard.

Gene Therapy helps combat blindness Check this out:

For the first time, researchers have used gene therapy to improve vision in patients who were virtually blind, offering new hope to hundreds of thousands with inherited forms of vision impairment.

The research, some of which involves Seattle biotech Targeted Genetics, marks a major milestone for gene therapy, a discipline many scientists find promising but that so far has failed to produce a marketable product in the U.S.

It also casts a positive light on the Seattle company, a gene-therapy research firm that was shaken last July by the death of an Illinois woman enrolled in its lead drug candidate’s clinical trial. Federal investigators eventually determined gene therapy was not the culprit and allowed the trial to resume.

Although the six patients studied have an extremely rare form of blindness called Leber’s congenital amaurosis, researchers believe the approach ultimately could be used for a broader spectrum of disorders, including retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration.

“It’s a landmark”

“In the field of retinal dystrophies, this is, I believe, the most important therapeutic discovery” in four decades, said Dr. Morton Goldberg, an ophthalmologist at John Hopkins University’s Wilmer Eye Institute. “It’s a landmark.”

The rarity of the disease could also help propel the launch of a commercial product by the Seattle company, as so-called orphan drugs — designed to treat diseases that affect relatively few — get preferential treatment with regulators.

“We’re making plans and evaluating that now,” said Targeted Genetics Chief Executive H. Stewart Parker. If everything goes well, approval could come “as quickly as 18 months,” she said.

The treatment, so far meant only to prove the safety of the technique, “made a real difference in patients’ lives,” said geneticist Robin Ali of University College London, the senior author of one of two reports presented Sunday at a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. Targeted Genetics worked with the British researchers. […]

Score one for science!

Keep that thought in mind while you watch this:


Ok, here is a DNC ad that hits below the belt (note: McCain’s “100 year” remark didn’t mean “100 years of war”; he did admit that regular citizens wouldn’t like 100 years of violence. Rather, he meant “indefinite period of occupation or deployment” (think: our bases in Japan, Germany) which, in my opinion, still isn’t a good idea, but it is a different issue.

I still think that McCain means “more of the same”. Check that; in some ways, he is actually worse than Bush!

One would have to strain to be shocked that a racist ad is finding its way out of the bowels of conservativism in North Carolina. For political observers from the 1980s and 1990s will remember that Senator Jesse Helms was a master of using divisive tactics inject race into just about everything he did outside of brushing his teeth — whenever he wasn’t straining through the holes in the sheet he was wearing to see his Jefferson Davis emblazoned toothbrush.

Yet, racism for electoral gain obviously did not go away with Helms’ retirement from politics. And neither has Republican timidity in doing anything to control the extreme elements in the party–or their base if you will. So once again, just as other conservatives sat idly by and claimed Jesse was just being Jesse, now John McCain throws his hands up in the air as if there is nothing he can do when a racist ad is run by the North Carolina GOP against Barack Obama:

ABC NEWS’ Bret Hovell and Russell Goldman report: Sen. John McCain said Thursday that if elected president — and becomes the de facto head of the GOP — he would not demand a change in the leadership of the North Carolina Republican Party despite condemning its plan to air an ad attacking Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill, and his controversial minister.

It’s good to know where the Senator stands on this issue (at least today). In my book, The Real McCain: Why Conservatives Don’t Trust Him And Why Independents Shouldn’t, I recount McCain’ questionable past on issues of race his entire career. From the many years he rejected a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday (pretty much the entire 70s and 80s) to his serial flip-flops on the Confederate Flag in 2000 (which he admits he did for political reasons — no way, not you Johnny!) to his close association with a white supremacist named Richard Quinn, who found himself hired as a political advisor by McCain in 2000 (and still is from what I can tell) after openly praising David Duke (he called him a “maverick”) selling t-shirts praising the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and writing/editing for a magazine (Southern Partisan) that reminded us that slave masters just really weren’t all that bad.

That’s The Real McCain for you. Now I’ll be waiting for the media to do their job and report on his close association with a white supremacist just as they have every aspect of Barack Obama’s life (and I’ll most assuredly be holding my breath).

April 29, 2008 Posted by | creationism, mccain, obama, politics/social, religion, republicans, science | Leave a comment

Early Morning

Workout notes: my long walks sometimes screw up my sleep patterns; hence I am up super early.

Science and public science

This video attacks the producer of a creationist film. Note the part that shows that science has greatly improved people’s lives (longevity, sanitation, etc.)

Colliding galaxies 3-quarks daily.

Social Soldier sues because of discrimination against atheists in the military.

When Specialist Jeremy Hall held a meeting last July for atheists and freethinkers at Camp Speicher in Iraq, he was excited, he said, to see an officer attending.[…]

Note: it has been my experience that the military does NOT encourage freethinking, though the people that I served with were not unusually religious.

But minutes into the talk, the officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, began to berate Specialist Hall and another soldier about atheism, Specialist Hall wrote in a sworn statement. “People like you are not holding up the Constitution and are going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!” Major Welborn said, according to the statement.

Major Welborn told the soldiers he might bar them from re-enlistment and bring charges against them, according to the statement.

Last month, Specialist Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group, filed suit in federal court in Kansas, alleging that Specialist Hall’s right to be free from state endorsement of religion under the First Amendment had been violated and that he had faced retaliation for his views. In November, he was sent home early from Iraq because of threats from fellow soldiers.

One one hand, I am glad that he was sent home, but yes, someone’s religious choice shouldn’t be held against them, even if they are crazy enough to want to stay in Iraq.

Elections Who is out of touch? John “more of the same” McCain says that Obama is. Yet he claims that we are better off after having had Bush for 8 years: (about 5:30 into this 10 minute video)

Speaking of McCain: note that many Republicans voted in the Pennsylvania primary, and:

The Republicans had a primary in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. And nobody noticed. But a lot of people came. In fact 807,000 registered Republicans went to the polls and of these, 215,000 came to vote against John McCain. They voted for Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee. All these people went to the trouble of voting in an election that didn’t matter at all. Maybe they were trying to send a message to the Republican Party. The Paul voters could easily defect to the likely Libertarian Party candidate, Bob Barr, and the Huckabee voters might decide to skip voting and go to church on election day and pray that their man is the nominee in 2012. Frank Rich has a column about McCain’s Pennsylvania problem today.

From the Rich column in the New York Times:

Those antiwar Paul voters are all potential defectors to the Democrats in November. Mr. Huckabee’s religious conservatives, who rejected Mr. McCain throughout the primary season, might also bolt or stay home. Given that the Democratic ticket beat Bush-Cheney in Pennsylvania by 205,000 votes in 2000 and 144,000 votes in 2004, these are 220,000 voters the G.O.P. can ill-afford to lose. Especially since there are now a million more registered Democrats than Republicans in Pennsylvania. (These figures don’t even include independents, who couldn’t vote in either primary on Tuesday and have been migrating toward the Democrats since 2006.)

For such a bitterly divided party, the Democrats hardly show signs of clinical depression. The last debate, however dumb, had the most viewers of any so far. The rise in turnout and new voters is all on the Democratic side. Even before its deathbed transfusion of new donations, the Clinton campaign trounced the McCain campaign in fund-raising by 2.5 to 1. (The Obama-McCain ratio is 3 to 1.)

On Tuesday, a Democrat won the first round of a special Congressional election in Mississippi, even though the national G.O.P. outspent the Democrats by more than double and President Bush carried this previously safe Republican district by 25 percentage points in 2004. A Gallup poll last week found Mr. Bush’s national disapproval rating the worst (69 percent) for any president in Gallup’s entire 70-year history. For all his (and Mr. McCain’s) persistent sightings of “victory” in Iraq, the percentage of Americans calling the war a mistake (63) also set a new record.

Obama’s Primary Battle:

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Local Notes I got our new property tax bill: they jacked up our taxes by $500.00 over last year. Yes, a FIVE HUNDRED DOLLAR tax increase.

Why? They jacked up our house assessment by almost 20,000 dollars from last year; so much for house values declining. Here is what is going on:
1. The city badgered us into doing repairs on our garage. We probably should have had it torn down instead.
2. The local university has expanded a bit and, though they deny this in public, they may well decide to eat our property as well.

So, this summer we’ll have our house professionally appraised to see if the city is out of line. If they aren’t, we’ll either eat the taxes or move (to a neighboring village that is almost across the street). If they are out of line, we’ll contest.

The cynic in me thinks that they are just out to raise revenue while claiming that they are not raising taxes, but the cynic in me has been wrong before.

April 28, 2008 Posted by | creationism, education, hillary clinton, morons, obama, politics/social, religion, republicans, science, walking | Leave a comment

Long Walk plus: Raw Replay – Revisiting History (Obama on Fox)

Workout notes 26 mile (plus) walk in 5:59; 1:30, 1:29 (CVS to the 1.5 mile mark on the East Peoria to Morton leg). One short shower, light wind on the down hill stretch. 4:36 at 20 mile. In short, I had a training marathon, though it was just me, the bike path, and a bottle of tea. 🙂

A few notes: one older lady laughed and said “you can walk faster than that”. I said “not right now” with a smile (I was at mile 24.5 at the time). Near the end, some little girl asked me “why do you swing your arms?” and I replied “because it makes it easier to walk faster”.

Wildlife/animals: I saw a braying mule, chipmunks, and a couple of white tailed rabbits.

Social Stuff

A Daily Kos member talks about his heartfelt reaction to Obama’s speech on race.

A note about myself: when I was driving back from my long walk, I turned into my alley. I stopped the truck because a rabbit darted in front of me. I stopped because I didn’t want to kill it; and I didn’t resent it at all. I thought “oh, that poor bunny might get killed.”

A few days ago, my wife was driving when a youth walked out in front of our car; she stopped and then honked the horn. He flipped us off. I thought “too bad we didn’t run him over”, though I realize that was my ugly self talking.

Yes, this youth was African American; yet those who did this in Austin were white and I didn’t like it then either. (think: Urban Cowboy, Dustin Hoffman, and the “I am walking here” scene.)

But think of how I reacted: I showed far more compassion for the rabbit than I did for the human! Sure, if you asked me “would you kill the rabbit to save this guy’s life?” I’d say “sure”, in a heartbeat. Of course!

My point is that often, when I react to a situation, I am reacting to what I think that the other person is thinking rather than to what they are DOING. After all, the effect that the rabbit and the human did was exactly the same, as far as I was concerned.

Election stuff (what else?) 🙂

Obama takes on the idiotic “elitist” label.

Hat tip to Jackbauer8393.

Karl Rove: gives Obama some advice. I’d caution BHO against taking it; after all BHO’s “base” is very different that Bush’s base. Obama can’t throw Wright under the bus: in part his is because it will alienate African Americans, and in part, because many of us know that Wright was right about much of what he said.


1. Your stump speech is sounding old and out of touch. You made a mistake by not giving the bored press (and voters) something new last Tuesday when you lost Pennsylvania. Come up with something fresh that’s focused on the general election. Recapture the optimistic tone of your start and discard the weary, prickly and distracted tone you’ve taken on.

2. When you get into trouble, pick one, simple explanation. And stay with it. […]

3. Your lack of achievements undercuts your core themes. It’s powerful when you say America is not “Red States or Blue States but the United States.” The problem is, you don’t have a long Senate record of working across party lines. So build one. In the coming months, say that you’ll appoint Republicans to your cabinet and get a couple to say they’d serve. […]

4. You speak of the “fierce urgency of now” that calls leaders to confront important challenges. Sounds good, but people are asking, what urgent issues have drawn your enormous talents? It’s counterintuitive, but spend less time campaigning and more time working the Senate. Pick a big issue and fight hard for it. […]

5. Stop the attacks. They undermine your claim to a post-partisan new politics. You soared when you seemed above politics[…]

6. To answer growing questions about your inexperience, people need to know, in concrete and credible ways, what they can expect from you as president. That’s missing now[…]

Yes, I sometimes quote Karl Rove and Dick Morris. No, I don’t like their public policy positions. But they do understand people. (and I don’t)

Bill Clinton: I am not the only one that thinks that “he has really lost a step”, so to speak.

Notes from the ground in Indiana. Not all of the news is good.

[…] 3. I helped bus local voters to the polls and noticed something very disturbing. The people entering the polls were divided between Obama’s core constituencies (African-Americans, young voters) and Clinton’s (older white women). We drew not one, but many, dirty looks from Clinton supporters as we drove up to the building. I’m hoping this simply reflects the enthusiasm for those motivated enough to vote early, but I’m afraid the calcification of support runs deep, and so does the enmity. I find comparisons to past primaries completely delusional at this point, and I’m afraid super-delegates may not be in touch with what’s going on on the ground. Anyone who thinks this campaign is comparable to the enmity between Deaniacs and Clarke supporters in 2004 has spent too much time in the DailyKos bubble.

4. From what I can tell, Obama supporters are extremely disturbed by Clinton’s tactics and will sit out the election in the fall if she wrestles the nomination away from him. This is not a joke–every single person I talked to stated this. And their understanding of the situation was extremely nuanced. Far from being “sore losers’, they are upset about what they feel is Clinton’s sense of entitlement and, yes, her attempts to tarnish Obama’s image as the only path to the nomination. […]

My two cents: yes, the animosity is real. Yes, the Clintons are responsible for the ugly tone of the campaign.

I’ll be blunt: in Borders, I noticed that there were a ton of “It takes a Village” (ghostwritten for Hillary Clinton) CD’s on sale and I thought about buying one for my upcoming road trips. But the thought of hearing her voice now makes me react in the same way that I react to George Bush’s voice. Seriously.

I’ll admit that I view Bill a bit differently: I really feel sad for what he has become; I think “how sad that one of the great political minds has come to this.” But to be honest, though I had never hated Hillary, I was never that big of a fan of hers; I always thought that she was a bit overrated.

Now, I am completely appalled at her lying and at how incompetently she has run her campaign, and at how she refuses to take responsibility for her manifold failures.

Hillary Clinton’s current ads seek to portray her as the tough leader who is ready on Day One to handle crises. Borrowing from a line made famous by Harry Truman, the tag line trumpets, “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.” The sub-text, of course, is that she will dish out a full plate of heat and if Obama can’t respond on her gutter level, he can’t handle heat.ᅠ

The truth is almost exactly the opposite. Hillary is nasty, but she is not tough. In fact, Hillary is a classic whiner. She and Bill whine about everything that doesn’t go well for them. Unlike Harry Truman, who also said, “the buck stops here,” she and Bill accept responsibility for nothing and blame others, especially the media, when things go wrong or their deceptions are exposed.ᅠ

Hillary and Bill whine about Democratic Party activists, young voters, running as a female, the media in general, the media catching her fabricating her history (bringing peace to Ireland, opposing NAFTA, facing sniper fire in Bosnia, etc.), the appeal of hope, Obama’s eloquence, money, donors, Democratic Party rules. Last week, Hillary blamed the “activist base” of the Democratic Party — and MoveOn, in particular — for many of her electoral defeats, claiming, without a shred of evidence, that activists had “flooded” state caucuses and “intimidated” her supporters. Rather than accept responsibility for her campaign’s well-documented failure adequately to plan for the caucus states, and despite her repeated claim she is the candidate “ready on Day One,” she attacked core Democratic Party supporters. Rather than take responsibility for her inability to inspire the activist base with her ideas, she whined about their support of a more thoughtful, inspirational candidate. Candidates normally celebrate high levels of voter activism in the primaries, knowing these activists will work for the party’s nominee in the general election, but Hillary is willing to burn the peasants in order to win the village for herself.

Hillary and Bill whine about young voters. Last week, Bill said in Pennsylvania that young voters are easily fooled and older voters are wiser — too wise to be fooled by Obama’s inspiring rhetoric. Of course, he forgot to mention that the most well-educated voters — young and old — heavily favor Obama over Hillary. Most candidates, and both political parties, yearn for support from young voters because young voters represent not just the present, but also the future. And, certainly if young voters were supporting Hillary, she wouldn’t be whining about them. But since she is not very good at inspiring young voters, she chooses to whine about them. Thankfully, she has not yet proposed raising the voting age to 60, but that could be next. […]

Caught dead-on lying about being under “sniper fire” as she landed in Bosnia — when absolutely no danger existed — she claimed she simply had “misspoke” [seven times?], then claimed she was tired by “lack of sleep,” then Bill chimed in to attack the media for even covering the story. This was all taking place as she asserted her competence to answer that mythical 3 am phone call. So if we believe the Clintons, her “lack of sleep” caused her to fabricate a story about landing in Bosnia into hostile sniper fire and risking her life like a seasoned military veteran, but this fabrication should be disregarded because, despite her history of sleep deprivation, if a crisis occurs at 3 am, we can trust her to be awake and alert and respond truthfully and with good judgment. With leadership like this, we’ll all be awake at night.

Hillary whines about Obama’s inspiration and eloquence. Hillary whines about the very nature of hope. Despite the Clintons’ history of playing the Hope Card (we all remember Bill’s 1992 campaign biopic, “The Man from Hope”), when the other guy is offering it, all of a sudden, hope is suspicious. In fact, it is downright delusional. “I could stand up here and say, let’s get everyone together, let’s get unified and the sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing, and the world will be perfect,” she said in mock sarcasm of Obama’s message of conciliation and hope.

Hillary whines about the fact Obama has engaged more donors and raised more money than she. Of course, she didn’t think it was unfair in 2007 when she had twice as much money as any other candidate. But as soon as she fell behind, Little Miss $100+ million War Chest was whining about being outspent. But isn’t the ability to inspire donors and raise money part of being a successful presidential candidate? Isn’t that a measure of electability, not something to be disdained?

Obama on Fox News.

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April 27, 2008 Posted by | hillary clinton, marathons, obama, Peoria/local, politics/social, republicans, Uncategorized, walking | Leave a comment

Indecision 2008 – McCain’s Sweet Talk Express | The Daily Show With Jon Stewart | Comedy Central

The Daily Show: gives John “more of the same” McCain scrutiny that the rest of the media isn’t giving him; they sure give it to Obama though.

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April 26, 2008 Posted by | mccain, obama, politics/social, republicans | Leave a comment