Scientists, Science Magazines and Science Bloggers for Obama.

From Cosmic Variance

Most interesting to me is that Nature has endorsed Obama for President. (Thanks to Alex Witze.) It’s interesting because Nature has been around a long time as one of the world’s premier scientific journals, and has never before endorsed a candidate for the U.S. Presidency. And their reasons sound pretty similar to mine…

And evidently, the rank of Nobel Prize winners has swelled from 61:

ps: this physicist came up with the idea of the quark. 😉

Of course, don’t forget the mapper of the human genome, Francis Collins. (yes, he is a committed Christian; he remains one of my favorite scientists).

Ok, no one else will care, but it excites me. Woo Hoo!

October 31, 2008 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, science | 4 Comments

Last Pre-2008 Election Friday


Blogger Brotherpeacemaker has some truly scary Halloween thoughts.

Funny spoof story about Richard Dawkins:

Confirmed atheist Richard Dawkins was forced onto the defensive yesterday after he died but subsequently rose from the dead in a miraculous resurrection, much like that of the son of God Jesus Christ.

‘There are a number of perfectly logical scientific explanations for what has happened’ he told journalists flocking to hear his story or just touch the hem of his clothing. ‘Although I was pronounced dead after the unfortunate incident on Friday, the doctors clearly made a mistake. The fact that there was thunder and lightning, and those around claim to have heard the sound of angelic voices is completely irrelevant.’ […]

Ed Current

Oh now…things look bleak! Cheer up; it might be the end of the world! 🙂

Now to see that Ed Current’s satire isn’t that different from reality (PBS-NOW special)

And a wingnut gets irritated at what Obama says (hey wingnut: Obama understands the Bible much better than you do!) I post a playlist of the whole talk below.

This guy is pretty much on my wavelength

Update This is supposed to be serious.

Palin told WMAL-AM that her criticism of Obama’s associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks. Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate’s free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said.

“If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations,” Palin told host Chris Plante, “then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”

Got that? Governor Palin says that the media criticizing her campaign behavior is a violation of First Amendment rights. Uh…you have that backwards. What a moron!

Now my candidate Barack Obama talks about his view of faith and society and politics. We don’t see totally eye-to-eye here; however we do agree on much of what he says, and I acknowledge that he does not seek a theocracy. And I agree on his “moral problem” view (e. g., “holes in the heart”) but I don’t agree that somehow embracing some religious myth as “truth” fixes this.

He also points out that some of the biggest proponent of separation of church and state were the religious types. That makes sense; after all, one form of wooism is not much different than some other form. But what is religion to one person might be apostasy to another.

Or put another way: if I mutter a prayer to a deity, it doesn’t matter to me whether it is Zeus, Baal, Wotan, Allah, Ganesh, Yahweh or Satan. To me, these are all fictional. But to someone else, saying a prayer to another deity is considered a “sin” or a moral wrong.

More on the state of the race

The GOP is in meltdown. (Jed Report) Here a Reagan official endorses Obama.

John McCain: has to campaign in Arizona; Obama runs ads in North Dakota, Arizona and in Georgia too!

Reporting of the election: CNN is talking about “buyers remorse”; Obama’s support slipping?

They should read their own website: the state of the race at the moment. (yes, they have a calculator so you can make your office pool prediction)

Current polls at CNN.

For good measure, look at the Gallup trackers.

Election: common misconceptions about this election, and who is backing who.

Here are some interesting findings from the above article:

Among Hispanic voters, Kerry had a 9 point lead over Bush. Obama has a 26 point lead over McCain.
Among those with graduate degrees, Kerry lead by 11, Obama by 28.
Among moderates, Kerry lead by 9, Obama leads by 26.
Among college grads with no postgraduate degree: Bush lead Kerry by 6, Obama leads McCain by 11.
Among those whose household income is 100,000 per year or more, Bush lead by 17; Obama and McCain are tied.
Among white voters, Bush lead by 17, whereas McCain leads by 5.
Among white voters with only a high school education: Bush lead by 4, and McCain leads by 5.

October 31, 2008 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, humor, John McCain, mccain, obama, politics, politics/social, religion, republicans, sarah palin | 2 Comments

Barack Obama: post ideological candidate. John McCain: reaches to independents

Workout notes 4000 yards; 5 x 100 on 2 warm up; 2000 in 33:15 (8:22, 8:20, 8:13, 8:20), 10 x 50 (drill/swim zoomers), 5 x 100 (25 fly, 75 free) on 2 (1:43-1:47), 5 x 100 (paddle, free, p, f, p) in 8:33.

The pool was packed; there were tons of dog-paddlers. Then again, by a real swimmer’s standards, I would be a dog paddler. After all, my 2000 came at just under 50 seconds a lap, rather than at 30 seconds a lap. 🙂

As far as that 2000: I wasn’t that tired though I lost concentration a bit during the last 500. I wouldn’t call it a race effort but a “concentrated” effort; I tried to swim with as good of form that I was capable.

I am going to structure this in three parts:

1. John McCain’s softening ads and why he is doing this (my best guess anyway)

2. The state of the race: now versus this time in 2004

3. Barack Obama: how he is really not an ideologue but rather a pragmatist.

John McCain targeting Independent voters
Check out two of McCain’s latest ads:

Notice that this concludes that “he isn’t ready, YET”. As I said previously, the ad “gives permission” for a voter to see potential in Barack Obama and to even like him, and still not vote for him. Frankly, this is one of McCain’s best ads, IMHO.

Notice that McCain uses praise from Obama as a selling point! Note also that McCain talks about the environment and greenhouse gasses. This ad is clearly aimed at the independent voter and not at the “drill baby drill” crowd.

Why is McCain doing this?

Check out the data from the Daily Kos poll (research 2000) crosstabs:

We see that Obama is polling at 88 percent among Democrats and McCain is polling at 92 percent among Republicans. These numbers are very similar to the 2004 numbers which had Kerry winning Democrats at 89 percent and Bush winning Republicans at 93 percent.

But among independent voters, things are very different this year:

Obama is polling at 49 percent and McCain at 44 percent.

In 2004, Kerry got 49 percent and Bush got 48 percent.

But the news is even worse for McCain: there are more Democrats this year (in terms of percentage of the electorate) than there were in 2004. Hence 88-89 percent of Democrats is a larger percentage of the electorate than it was in 2004.

He is in a hole; he has no choice that to close the gap among the independents and flip a few of them. If McCain doesn’t win the independents, he loses.

The Current State of the Race Versus 2004

First check out the map in 2004, at roughly this time in the election:

One sees that 95 electoral votes were “safe” D, and 147 were “safe” R. This indeed held up on election day.

There were 101 electoral votes that “leaned” D, and 82 that “leaned” R. That held up on election day as well.

The rest were essential toss-ups: of these toss ups Kerry had a statistically insignificant lead in states worth 87 electoral votes (6 states); he ended up winning 3 of these states and 48 electoral votes. Bush had such a lead in one state with 13 electoral votes; he won it.

This year, things are very, very different.

Obama has a “safe” lead in states with 264 electoral votes; McCain has 118.
Obama has 47 electoral votes worth of “leaners”; McCain has 24.
Among the toss ups, states with 53 electoral votes have Obama with a statistically insignificant lead, McCain is in the same situation in states which total 29 electoral votes.

In short, McCain basically has to hold all of his leaners, sweep Obamas and win every single toss up state.

It could happen, but it isn’t likely.

Barack Obama, the Post Ideologue Candidate

I watched the interview that Barack Obama had with Rachel Maddow last night; you can see it here. The interview dealt with some interesting topics (electrification, the military situation in Afghanistan and why more troops are needed, etc.).

But the one that struck me was the part when Maddow asked him why he hadn’t used his success (so far) to repudiate conservatism as a failure. (about 4:45 into the video).

Obama smiled and mentioned that Maddow appeared to want a fight of some sort; he also said “we are winning, so we are doing something right.”

That wasn’t a direct response to her question but it got me to thinking: those who view Obama as some sort of a “liberal” standard bearer in a war against conservatism will be very disappointed.

Obama has never been about ideological warfare.

1. Remember the 2004 DNC speech that made him famous? You can hear it and read it at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

Here is the crucial part:

A belief that we are connected as one people. If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandmother. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It’s that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sisters’ keeper — that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. “E pluribus unum.” Out of many, one.

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America — there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?

There is nothing there about taking it to the conservatives and banishing them from power.

Read what he wrote to the Daily Kos in 2005 (he wrote this himself; a staffer didn’t write this) This was in response to angst that he and the other Democrats weren’t doing enough to oppose the appointment of Justice Roberts to the Supreme Court:

There is one way, over the long haul, to guarantee the appointment of judges that are sensitive to issues of social justice, and that is to win the right to appoint them by recapturing the presidency and the Senate. And I don’t believe we get there by vilifying good allies, with a lifetime record of battling for progressive causes, over one vote or position. I am convinced that, our mutual frustrations and strongly-held beliefs notwithstanding, the strategy driving much of Democratic advocacy, and the tone of much of our rhetoric, is an impediment to creating a workable progressive majority in this country.

According to the storyline that drives many advocacy groups and Democratic activists – a storyline often reflected in comments on this blog – we are up against a sharply partisan, radically conservative, take-no-prisoners Republican party. They have beaten us twice by energizing their base with red meat rhetoric and single-minded devotion and discipline to their agenda. In order to beat them, it is necessary for Democrats to get some backbone, give as good as they get, brook no compromise, drive out Democrats who are interested in “appeasing” the right wing, and enforce a more clearly progressive agenda. The country, finally knowing what we stand for and seeing a sharp contrast, will rally to our side and thereby usher in a new progressive era.

I think this perspective misreads the American people. From traveling throughout Illinois and more recently around the country, I can tell you that Americans are suspicious of labels and suspicious of jargon. They don’t think George Bush is mean-spirited or prejudiced, but have become aware that his administration is irresponsible and often incompetent. They don’t think that corporations are inherently evil (a lot of them work in corporations), but they recognize that big business, unchecked, can fix the game to the detriment of working people and small entrepreneurs. They don’t think America is an imperialist brute, but are angry that the case to invade Iraq was exaggerated, are worried that we have unnecessarily alienated existing and potential allies around the world, and are ashamed by events like those at Abu Ghraib which violate our ideals as a country.

Emphasis mine. The point appears to be that people, in general, aren’t interested in ideological battles; they want solutions to our problems.

In some sense, I am that way as well. Yes, I am a liberal; that is how I see the world. That my outlook is thus may well be a function of genetics (see the video at the end of this post). But government ought to be running the country rather than keeping the faith with some ideological outlook. And hey, maybe, just maybe, the conservatives might be right from time to time.

Think about it: in my opinion, Bill Clinton was an effective president. What was the main criticism of him (aside from his personal behavior)? Time and time again, he was accused (by both the left and the right) of “not having convictions.”

In fact, biographies of him have stated that Bill Clinton did not want to be a slave to conviction; he wanted to do what was best for the country, period. (See Nigel Hamilton’s first book on Bill Clinton; of course one has to wade past the pages and pages of psychobabble about Clinton’s sex life to get to the good stuff)

I’ll add one further piece of evidence: where it is conventional wisdom that candidates “play to their base” during the primary and “move to the center” during the general election, Barack Obama talked about not being a slave to ideology during the primary!

Check this video at 30-35 seconds and at 1:05-1:20 into it; remember that this was prior to the South Carolina primary.

He also learns from his political adversaries; here he talks about how Ronald Reagan transformed the country in a way that even Bill Clinton did not (even though Bill Clinton was a more effective president, IMHO)

Update This youtube playlist takes about an hour (the whole playlist) but this shows Obama’s philosophy.

Liberals versus Conservatives: genetic basis for the world view?

October 31, 2008 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John McCain, mccain, obama, politics, politics/social, republicans, swimming, time trial/ race, training | 2 Comments


I have to admit that I am not real big on giving candy out on Halloween. 🙂

We might be at a movie tonight instead.

Last night, I saw the Rachel Maddow interview with Barack Obama; if you missed it you can catch it here. For some reason, the MSNBC videos don’t embed in WordPress that well.

What struck me is that Barack Obama is not an ideologue; he isn’t one to say that “this is a war between conservatism and liberalism and we need to vanquish the conservatives.” He doesn’t like the attitude of many who control the Republican party (currently) be he is not out to “prove the case” for one ideology or another. Instead he appears to be a pragmatist who merely “leans liberal”; he wants no part of an ideological war.

Today’s polls and yesterdays. There is no good news for McCain (or the PUMAs) here; you can tell when a cause is lost when the opposition starts “cherry picking” an isolated result while ignoring the 7 other results (e. g., as the PUMAs are doing in Pennsylvania).

October 31, 2008 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, obama, politics | Leave a comment

You know that things are looking good when you see stuff like this:

(from here via watertiger)

October 30, 2008 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama | Leave a comment

Excellent Political Junkie Screensaver

A Political Junkie’s dream come true: the Electoral Vote screensaver. It puts the current EV estimate on your screen, and goes between the various states while flashing the poll numbers from that state. 🙂

Woo Hoo!

October 30, 2008 Posted by | 2008 Election, humor | 1 Comment

The Word – I Endorse Barack Obama | Wednesday October 29 |

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More Comedy

Where did Joe the Plumber go?

Even more comedy: From a PUMA blog
Pennsylvania tied?

NBC/Mason Dixon Poll: Pennsylvania BO 47, McCain 43, Undecided 9%, Statistical TIE 10/30/08

Uh, the margin of error is 4 points and being right at the margin of error means that there is an 84 percent probability that Obama is ahead. 🙂

For more information: see Mano Singham’s article. Of course, many other recent polls show BHO at 51-55 percent.

But hey, that is what math illiterates do: they cherry pick data that they have no understanding of.
That might explain their political views!

October 30, 2008 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, humor, John McCain | 4 Comments

3quarksdaily: Obama on Jon Stewart

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For More Comedy, check out Dick Morris

Iraq isn’t the only place where the surge seems to be working. John McCain’s gains over the last five days are remaking the political landscape as Election Day approaches.

The double-digit leads Barack Obama held last week have evaporated, as all three of the top tracking polls (the most current and reliable measurements out there) show McCain hot on Obama’s heels. […]

Then there’s the so-called Bradley effect – where white voters lie to pollsters and say they are backing the black candidate when they’re not.

To date, it’s been a myth: As The Wall Street Journal reported, Tom Bradly had lost his lead in the polls by the time California voted on his bid to become governor. But it may be real this year. […]

So we approach Election Day with the possibility of a rerun of 2000 plainly before us. McCain has closed to a point where the race will likely be very, very close – and we’ll have to stay up very, very late on Election Night.

Yeah, sure.


October 30, 2008 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, humor, John McCain, mccain, obama, politics, politics/social, republicans, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Play the DemConWatch Election Prediction Game

Make your predictions here. Here are mine (so I can’t weasel out)

Colorado Obama
Florida Obama
Georgia McCain
Indiana Obama
Minnesota Obama
Missouri Obama
Montana Obama
Nevada Obama
New Hampshire Obama
New Mexico Obama
North Carolina Obama
North Dakota McCain
Ohio Obama
Pennsylvania Obama
Virginia Obama
West Virginia McCain

Total: Obama 378 McCain 160
Popular: Obama 52.5, McCain 46.0

You can play with a cool map here.
The MSNBC consensus is 364-174, with the consensus giving McCain Montana and Indiana.

Intrade sees it just as the MSNBC users see it.

Just for fun Here is one prediction:

This was made by the kids who read Weekly Reader. They have been right 12 of the last 13 times.
Weekly Reader Election website.

From 1956 until now, they’ve gotten it right except for 1992; note however they picked a George Bush landslide in 2004.

Does this mean anything? In 2004, Kerry won single voters by large margins but Bush won the married/family vote. This year, Obama is doing well with singles (again) and probably with families as well.

But I doubt if the above map is accurate. 🙂

Update: one reason I am glad that I don’t live in Texas anymore.

A University of Texas poll to be released today shows Republican presidential candidate John McCain and GOP Sen. John Cornyn leading by comfortable margins in Texas, as expected. But the statewide survey of 550 registered voters has one very surprising finding: 23 percent of Texans are convinced that Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is a Muslim.

Anyone who knows anything about Texas won’t be surprised by this. I’m sure that those in Austin know the story, but as far as the blood-red areas of the state? IGNORANCE is the norm; heck, it is considered a virtue!

October 30, 2008 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, humor, John McCain, mccain, obama | 2 Comments

October 30 2008: Early AM

I am about to go out for an early morning run (leave at 5:15 or so and run for about 1 hour). Update: my modified West Peoria 5.3 mile course (52 minutes) then 12:10 walking mile on the treadmill. It all felt good; crisp air and diamond skies.

I don’t like going out in the dark, but I don’t have much of a choice; I want to get it in prior to work. I might take a “sanity walk” during daylight (stroll, really).

McCain closing the gap!
We are starting to hear about how McCain is “closing the gap”. Reality check:

Number one, John McCain is NOT closing Obama’s margin as quickly as he needs to (if indeed he is closing it at all). This appears to be a 6- or 7- point race right now … that’s where we have it, that’s where RCP has it, that where has it. In order to beat Barack Obama, John McCain will need to gain at least one point per day between now and the election. Our model does think that McCain has pared about a point off Obama’s margin — but it has taken him a week to do so. Now, McCain needs to gain six more points in six more days. And he needs to do so with no real ground game, no real advertsing budget, and no one particularly strong message. Not easy.

Number two, John McCain is NOT gaining ground in the states that matter the most. The top tier of states in this election are Virginia, Colorado and Pennsylvania. There is lots of lots of polling in these states, particularly in Virgnia and Pennsylvania, and it’s all coming up in roughly the same range, showing Obama leads in the high single digits (in VA and CO) or the low double digits (in PA). The second tier of states is probably Ohio, Florida and Nevada. McCain seems to be getting a bit stronger in Florida; Obama seems to be getting a bit stronger in Ohio and Nevada. McCain does seem to have halted Obama’s progress in some of the third-tier states, particularly Missouri and North Carolina. On the other hand, some other third-tier states, like New Mexico and particularly New Hampshire (where Obama is getting some insane numbers lately), now appear to be off the table.

Or put another way: a whole batch of new polls came out. McCain leads in:

Alaska, Kansas, Idaho and Utah (by 16-23 points), Missouri (by 2) and Arizona (by 2) and Georgia (by 4). That’s it.
Follow the link and see for yourself.

Still, it isn’t over and I am still making my GOTV out of town trip. And yes, I made my final campaign donation.

Humor: McCain tried to hammer Obama for having some ties (e. g., having a conversation) with Rashid Khalidi. But McCain helped fund his work!

[Seth Colter Walls] A 1998 tax filing for the McCain-led group shows a $448,873 grant to Khalidi’s Center for Palestine Research and Studies for work in the West Bank. (See grant number 5180, “West Bank: CPRS” on page 14 of this PDF.)

The relationship extends back as far as 1993, when John McCain joined IRI as chairman in January. Foreign Affairs noted in September of that year that IRI had helped fund several extensive studies in Palestine run by Khalidi’s group, including over 30 public opinion polls and a study of “sociopolitical attitudes.”

Of course, there’s seemingly nothing objectionable with McCain’s organization helping a Palestinian group conduct research in the West Bank or Gaza. But it does suggest that McCain could have some of his own explaining to do as he tries to make hay out of Khalidi’s ties to Obama.

October 30, 2008 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, John McCain, mccain, politics, politics/social, republicans | Leave a comment