Finals Day One Fall 2012

I know that blogging has been lighter than normal, at least at this blog.

I’ve had some “fun” at my math blog though.

Posts of the day
Senator DeMint is leaving the Senate (with 4 years left on his term) to head the Heritage Foundation. This might be good news for Senator Lindsey Graham in terms of NOT being primaried from the right; Senator DeMint’s replacement will be chosen by the governor and the seat will be contested in a special election in 2014…at the same time Senator Graham comes up for reelection. There is almost no hope of a Democratic pick up here.

Thinking of trying “meth”? Look at these photos first.

How delusional are some Republicans? Well, some are saying that the hit piece on President Obama (the film 2016) would have been nominated for an Oscar had Hollywood not been run by liberals. Salon calls BS on this claim…with good reason.

Speaking of delusional Republicans: Some time ago (2009) a doctor published this letter:

Dear Mr. President:
During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ringtone.

While glancing over her patient chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as “Medicaid”! During my examination of her, the patient informed me that she smokes more than one pack of cigarettes every day, eats only at fast-food take-outs, and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer. And, you and our Congress expect me to pay for this woman’s health care? I contend that our nation’s “health care crisis” is not the result of a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. Rather, it is the result of a “crisis of culture” a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one’s self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. It is a culture based in the irresponsible credo that “I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me”. Once you fix this “culture crisis” that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you’ll be amazed at how quickly our nation’s health care difficulties will disappear.


Hmmm, anecdotal evidence should drive policy? Sorry…the problem is that too many of the working poor couldn’t get health insurance and people with preexisting conditions couldn’t get it…and if you got really sick, the health insurance companies found every reason they could to not pay (rescission). Of course there were other problems; but this doctor blamed it all on a few slackers (and yes, slackers DO exist).

The irony: I saw this on a facebook page of a Naval Academy graduate (educated at tax payer expense) who is now on disability (government aid)…and is….chronically obese!!!

Oddly enough, many of those on public aid decry others being on the same or similar aid…..

Unfortunately, it isn’t just the “rank and file” Republicans who don’t know what they are talking about. True, many average people think that the fiscal cliff will lead to exploding deficits right now…when in fact it means tax increases and sharp spending cuts. Yes, that will slow (or stop) economic growth at a time where we need growth. Ok, not everyone is up on the issues. But you’d think that a sitting governor would be…but oh no:

As Jonathan Chait points out, Bobby Jindal — who is supposed to be one of the intellectual leaders of his party — has just published an op-ed on the cliff that sure looks as if he has no idea whatsoever what the cliff is about. There’s nothing in that piece even hinting that the looming problem is spending cuts and tax increases that will shrink the deficit too soon; and his big policy ideas would actually make the lurch to austerity worse. It’s not just the idea of a balanced budget amendment, which would force harsh austerity every time the economy goes into recession; putting a cap on spending as share of GDP would do the same, because you’d have to cut spending whenever GDP went down.

You really have to wonder how someone who’s a major political figure could be this uninformed — but you have to wonder even more about the state of mind that induces you to write an op-ed about a subject you don’t comprehend at all.

But this isn’t the first time something like this has happened to a supposed GOP star. In the early stages of the Republican primary, Tim Pawlenty — a supposed thoughtful conservative — published an op-ed based on the premise that public-sector employment was booming; in fact, it was plunging. And, of course, Mitt Romney made statements — about the 47 percent, about Benghazi — that he clearly thought were smart and well-informed, but were in fact flatly false.

The Republican party: where, in political leadership positions, ignorance and failure are rewarded.

December 7, 2012 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, political/social, politics, republicans, social/political | | Leave a comment

I’ve Seen the Error of My Ways…

I’ve thought about it long and hard and now I finally understand.

1. In 2012, I will either support:

Sarah Palin


Or Bobby Jindal


Or maybe even:

Mike Huckabee


2. I now see that these people are right:

Dick Morris

Sean Hannity

3. I now see that atheism and evolution are absurd.

This will be my favorite site:



Though I might visit the Discovery Institute from time to time.

4. I’ve decided to quit running, walking and swimming long distances.

5. No more of this for me:


April 1, 2009 Posted by | 2008 Election, April 1, Barack Obama, Bobby Jindal, creationism, evolution, huckabee, obama, politics, politics/social, religion, republicans, sarah palin | 2 Comments

Saturday Evening 7 March 2009

This was a good evening for the History Channel. They had a special on Einstein and now are showing a special on the history of astronomy and cosmology and how superstition held the science back.

I love the internet and the stuff that I have access to. But of course, there is a price to be paid:

Someone who writes about hot-button issues such as vaccination, prescription drugs, complementary medicines and “health” foods such as raw milk – as has been known to happen in this column – gets a lot of interesting mail.

That people are passionate about health issues is not at all surprising. Hopefully, that will never change.

What has changed a lot over the years, however, is the nature of correspondence and the nature of scientific debate more generally.

Prior to the Internet and e-mail – a time not long ago, remarkably – people were sometimes moved to write letters in response to an article. These missives were infrequent, but usually thoughtful and thought-provoking.

Today, quality has largely given way to quantity.

Irked about something you read in the paper or online? You can fire off a vituperative missile by e-mail or in an anonymous posting on the Web.

Then you can post the article and choice comments on a listserv or blog.

If you read scientific literature and health research with an open mind and still conclude that vaccines are not poisons, that chelation therapy will not cure heart disease, that realigning someone’s chakra is not going to clear up a bladder infection, or that strange concoctions of vitamins and minerals cannot cure bipolar disorder – all theories that have pretty broad followings on the Web – then you are dismissed as an agent of an evil empire.

Those who promote these bogus therapies – and often profit from them – will, paradoxically, dismiss you as a paid shill for Big Pharma, oppressive government or some other branch of the devilish military-industrial complex.

Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, pharmacologists, biochemists, immunologists, geneticists and journalists are not to be trusted. They are all on the take.

Medical journals that publish peer-reviews research: They are nothing but promotional tools for Big Pharma and researchers are their puppets and profiteers.

So who do you trust?

Well, you depend on chiropractors and Hollywood stars to give you advice about vaccinating your baby; you trust the guy at the health-food store to offer up a sure-fire cure for arthritis; and you take as gospel the e-mail that warns ominously that if new food safety rules are adopted by government, storm troopers will soon be busting down your front door to seize the chamomile tea.

Yes, there are times when the big companies are ruled by greed and produce bad things. But the established scientific community (with its peer reviews and checks) usually catches this.

Also, those who believe in nonsensical things can often find some now-discredited article which “buttresses” their quackery; Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub provides such an example.

Social stuff The mainstream media is picking up on that more of us “godless” types are speaking out and are being recognized. This article misses some basic points but it is worth reading.

In the past, politicians in Washington and elsewhere could largely ignore the Godless, whatever their numbers. Nonbelievers lacked the consciousness of a political movement; to the extent they were organized at all, it was mostly as members of an intellectual club, reflecting on the meaning of a life without God (and the patent absurdity, as many of these folks think, of a life with God).

But those days are over. Now the Godless are making a crucial transformation toward the status of a my-time-has- come movement with a political and legislative agenda to enact — and with this shift, a host of contentious national issues is being engaged, with the potential to ignite a new round of culture wars in American society.

In taking their cause to the political arena, the Godless are cheered by the passage of the Dark Age, as they see it, of the George W. Bush era — a time conspicuous, in their minds, for its faith-based, willful abandonment of sound policy in science and other domains. “The climate is right in the country today for a major expansion of humanist ideals and humanist thinking — atheism, free thought,” Louis J. Appignani, an aging Florida tycoon who is the Godless movement’s No. 1 sugar daddy, said in a rare interview. “I think we are on the threshold of a counter-revolution from the Bush years.”

Some religious institutions are undeserving of respect
I was a Roman Catholic at one time in my life. To be honest, I left because I no longer believed in the myths and the fairy tales. But that church still has some noxious social views.

In Brazil, a 9 year old girl was raped. She became pregnant. Her body was too small and undeveloped to carry the fetus; hence her mother took her to a doctor to get an abortion.

She (the mother) and the doctor were excommunicated by the church in Brazil and the Vatican backed them up. The rapist was NOT excommunicated.

A senior Vatican cleric has defended the excommunication of the mother and doctors of a nine-year-old girl who had an abortion in Brazil after being raped.

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, head of the Catholic church’s Congregation for Bishops, told the daily La Stampa on Saturday that the twins the girl had been carrying had a right to live.

“It is a sad case but the real problem is that the twins conceived were two innocent persons, who had the right to live and could not be eliminated,” he said.

Re, who also heads the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, added: “Life must always be protected, the attack on the Brazilian church is unjustified.”

The row was triggered by the termination on Wednesday of twin foetuses carried by a nine-year-old allegedly raped by her stepfather in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco.

The regional archbishop, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, pronounced excommunication for the mother for authorising the operation and doctors who carried it out for fear that the slim girl would not survive carrying the foetuses to term.

“God’s law is above any human law. So when a human law … is contrary to God’s law, this human law has no value,” Cardoso had said.

He also said the accused stepfather would not be expelled from the church. Although the man allegedly committed “a heinous crime … the abortion – the elimination of an innocent life – was more serious”.

Social Issues

Gay Marriage

At the Daily Kos, there was a diary by Michellebird who endured abuse as part of a lesbian partnership. The author laments the showy “our partnerships are loving” front that many gay activist adopt in order to sell the idea to the public. In reality, gay relationships are prone to many of the same foibles that straight ones are.

The marriage equality movement’s focus as described by that political consultant implicly calls on same-gender couples to make objects of ourselves for public consumption. This is not at all a new dynamic. but it is significant to me to see it. We are supposed to show how loving and caring we are in order to prove our political case.

As with various sorts of political objectification of an oppressed group, we implicitly have to prove that are nearly perfect in order to stave off a view of us as deviant.

But. The truth I see is is that our relationships span the same kind of spectrum that all relationships in this society span. For couples, this spectrum includes everything from deep respectful love on one side to abuse in the name of “love” on the other.

Locally, I know that at least some LGBT organizations have services for members of the community who are abused by partners. Nationally (and in other local contexts), I also see an increasing push from the marriage equality movement’s political dynamics to objectify our relationships into some unreal perfection that invisibilizes the realities of members of our communities who experience abuse.

One of the specific problems with being abused in a same-gender relationship, in my experience at least, is that you don’t want to talk about it in any context where straight people might hear — don’t want to give them the chance to link bad relationship dynamics with same-gender relationships.

There was more at the Daily Kos. Lizard People wrote a post about a recent Bill Maher show that was well worth watching. You can see the whole episode (in 10 minute chunks) there; I’ll post the ending in which Maher accurately describes how many liberals (myself included) view things:

He interviewed many smart, accomplished people in this program. One of them is a conservative: Boone Pickens (who is currently working with the Obama energy team)

You can see Pickens’s website here.

Rush Limbaugh
Here is a skeptical look at those claims that Limbaugh’s “ratings” have skyrocketed.

Some conservatives lament that Limbaugh has become the face of the current Republican party:

And for the leader of the Republicans? A man who is aggressive and bombastic, cutting and sarcastic, who dismisses the concerned citizens in network news focus groups as “losers.” With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence—exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party. And we’re cooperating! Those images of crowds of CPACers cheering Rush’s every rancorous word—we’ll be seeing them rebroadcast for a long time.

Rush knows what he is doing. The worse conservatives do, the more important Rush becomes as leader of the ardent remnant. The better conservatives succeed, the more we become a broad national governing coalition, the more Rush will be sidelined. […]

We need to modulate our social conservatism (not jettison—modulate). The GOP will remain a predominantly conservative party and a predominantly pro-life party. But especially on gay-rights issues, the under-30 generation has arrived at a new consensus. Our party seems to be running to govern a country that no longer exists. The rule that both our presidential and vice presidential candidates must always be pro-life has become counterproductive: McCain’s only hope of winning the presidency in 2008 was to carry Pennsylvania, and yet Pennsylvania’s most successful Republican vote winner, former governor Tom Ridge, was barred from the ticket because he’s pro-choice.

We need an environmental message. You don’t have to accept Al Gore’s predictions of imminent gloom to accept that it cannot be healthy to pump gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We are rightly mistrustful of liberal environmentalist disrespect for property rights. But property owners also care about property values, about conservation, and as a party of property owners we should be taking those values more seriously.

Above all, we need to take governing seriously again. Voters have long associated Democrats with corrupt urban machines, Republicans with personal integrity and fiscal responsibility. Even ultraliberal states like Massachusetts would elect Republican governors like Frank Sargent, Leverett Saltonstall, William Weld and Mitt Romney precisely to keep an austere eye on the depredations of Democratic legislators. After Iraq, Katrina and Harriet Miers, Democrats surged to a five-to-three advantage on the competence and ethics questions. And that was before we put Sarah Palin on our national ticket.

Every day, Rush Limbaugh reassures millions of core Republican voters that no change is needed: if people don’t appreciate what we are saying, then say it louder. Isn’t that what happened in 1994? Certainly this is a good approach for Rush himself. He claims 20 million listeners per week, and that suffices to make him a very wealthy man. And if another 100 million people cannot stand him, what does he care? What can they do to him other than … not listen? It’s not as if they can vote against him.

But they can vote against Republican candidates for Congress. They can vote against Republican nominees for president. And if we allow ourselves to be overidentified with somebody who earns his fortune by giving offense, they will vote against us.

As someone at the Daily Kos said: Limbaugh really is the face of much of the current Republican party.

Speaking of Limbaugh, Brotherpeacemaker wonders why Reverend Wright’s “failure” remarks were widely viewed as treasonous whereas Limbaugh’s were not.

He also goes on to smackdown Governor Bobby Jindal and his parroting the standard Republican “know-nothing” attitude toward science.

In a speech full of criticism for the stimulus plan, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal singled out volcano monitoring as an example of government spending running amok. Mr. Jindal said that instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, deriding the $140 million appropriated to the U.S. Geological Survey as little more than pork in the stimulus package that tops three quarters of a trillion dollars. That probably doesn’t sound very prudent to people who live down in Galveston, Texas. But to those who live a little closer to the threat of flowing lava, it was a poor example to use.

There are five volcano observatories in the country. They are in Alaska, Yellowstone National Park, Washington, Hawaii, and Long Valley, California. Each has a series of seismic networks and other equipment for the specific purpose of monitoring a number of volcanoes in their vicinity. If a volcano is showing signs of activity, it could be the first signs of an eruption. So scientists follow that up by looking at other data from webcams, radar data and satellite imagery; fly overs from airplanes and etcetera. They pull all of that information together to give people the best information about what’s likely to happen so that people can plan. Sort of like what happens with pending hurricanes these days. Unfortunately, when it comes to monitoring volcanoes, we are more likely closer to the capabilities of weather forecasters in 1900 than weather forecasters of today.

It’s pretty obvious that people who live close to a volcano will be worried about flowing lava and mud. People who live further away can be affected by ash fall, which can typically travel distances measured in hundreds of miles. But many of us have little appreciation for our susceptibility to a full scale eruption from the Yellowstone Supervolcano. Hundreds of millennia ago, scientists believe that the Lava Creek eruption ejected well over two hundred cubic miles of rock and dust into the sky. That’s enough volume to fill a space twenty miles long, ten miles wide, and more than a mile high. Geologists are closely monitoring the rise and fall of the Yellowstone Plateau, which averages movement of plus/minus a little more than half an inch on a yearly basis depending on changes in magma chamber pressure. However, the upward movement of the Yellowstone caldera floor, almost three inches per year in recent years, is more than three times greater than ever observed since such measurements began in 1923. The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory maintains that they see no evidence that another cataclysmic eruption will occur at Yellowstone in the foreseeable future. But the issue is worth monitoring, hence the need for more investment in volcano monitoring.

He makes other points as well.

March 8, 2009 Posted by | 2008 Election, atheism, Barack Obama, Blogroll, Bobby Jindal, creationism, Democrats, economy, evolution, Personal Issues, politics/social, religion, republicans, Rush Limbaugh, science | 1 Comment

Final Post for the Day (3 March 2009)

Science and Technology: Nuclear power has its problems; the mining process is messy and storage of waste is a problem. But there is a current technology that uses a certain type of waste to make fuel to burn in such a manner that the reactor never needs to be refueled: this is called a traveling wave reactor:

Enriching the uranium for reactor fuel and opening the reactor periodically to refuel it are among the most cumbersome and expensive steps in running a nuclear plant. And after spent fuel is removed from the reactor, reprocessing it to recover usable materials has the same drawbacks, plus two more: the risks of nuclear-weapons proliferation and environmental pollution.

These problems are mostly accepted as a given, but not by a group of researcher­s at Intellectual Ventures, an invention and investment company in Bellevue, WA. The scientists there have come up with a preliminary design for a reactor that requires only a small amount of enriched fuel–that is, the kind whose atoms can easily be split in a chain reaction. It’s called a traveling­-wave reactor. And while government researchers intermittently bring out new reactor designs, the traveling-wave reactor is noteworthy for having come from something that barely exists in the nuclear industry: a privately funded research company.

As it runs, the core in a traveling-­wave reactor gradually converts nonfissile material into the fuel it needs. Nuclear reactors based on such designs “theoretically could run for a couple of hundred years” without refueling, says John G­illeland, manager of nuclear programs at Intellectual Ventures.

Gilleland’s aim is to run a nuclear reactor on what is now waste. ­Conventional reactors use uranium-235, which splits easily to carry on a chain reaction but is scarce and expensive; it must be separated from the more common, nonfissile uranium-238 in special enrichment plants. Every 18 to 24 months, the reactor must be opened, hundreds of fuel bundles removed, hundreds added, and the remainder reshuffled to supply all the fissile uranium needed for the next run. This raises proliferation concerns, since an enrichment plant designed to make low-enriched uranium for a power reactor differs trivially from one that makes highly enriched material for a bomb.

But the traveling-wave reactor needs only a thin layer of enriched U-235. Most of the core is U-238, millions of pounds of which are stockpiled around the world as leftovers from natural uranium after the U-235 has been scavenged. The design provides “the simplest possible fuel cycle,” says Charles W. Forsberg, executive director of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Project at MIT, “and it requires only one uranium enrichment plant per planet.” […]

Here is a short video from MIT which gives a very brief explanation.

Red States vs. Blue States: one of the interesting facts is what makes a red state red and a blue one blue. It turns out that the major factor is how the wealthiest vote (household incomes of $150,000 or more).

Middle is $40,000 to 75,000 and poor is $20,000 or less:


Go to the linked article for caveats and the analysis of the methods.

Note: even when one accounts for race, there is a remarkable similarity in the way the poor people vote from state to state; that is, a poor white person in Arkansas doesn’t vote all that differently from a poor white person in Illinois; there is a big difference in the way that rich voters in those states vote though.

Rush Limbaugh: Leader of the Republican Party:


Note: someone needs to photoshop Aaron Schock’s head into the place where Michael Steele’s head is.

But yes, the mainstream Republicans think that he is a great leader:

Of course, President Obama and the Democrats are using this fact wisely:

DCCC “Rush apology page”

And this is nothing new; President Obama campaigned against Limbaugh!

And lest we forget Limbaugh’s “greatness”:

Oh what the heck, I’ll reproduce it all here: (via Media Matters):

In light of Limbaugh’s continued prominence as a major figure among conservatives, Media Matters for America looks back at Limbaugh’s history of inflammatory, controversial, and “ugly” remarks:

* In a January 22 interview on Fox News’ Hannity, Limbaugh said of media coverage of Obama: “We are being told that we have to hope he succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles, bend over forward, backward, whichever, because his father was black, because this is the first black president.” Limbaugh had previously declared in June 2008 that Obama’s “only chance of winning” the presidency “is that he’s black.” During the 2008 presidential campaign, Limbaugh also called Obama “an affirmative action candidate” and asserted during the May 14, 2008, broadcast of his show, “If Barack Obama were Caucasian, they would have taken this guy out on the basis of pure ignorance long ago.”

* Limbaugh has repeatedly invoked right-wing conspiracy theories that the Clintons were involved in the death of then-deputy White House counsel Vince Foster, whose body was found in Northern Virginia’s Fort Marcy Park on July 20, 1993, despite multiple official investigations that determined Foster committed suicide. On July 8, 2008, while discussing reports that a plane carrying then-Sen. Obama had been forced to make an emergency landing in St. Louis, Limbaugh referred to Obama’s flight “aboard Fort Marcy Airlines.” Limbaugh later commented on a “conspiracy theory” that “Mrs. [Hillary] Clinton, through Mr. [Terry] McAuliffe, is gonna massage things out in Denver so that [Obama] doesn’t get the nomination.” He added: “You couple this with Obama’s plane, Fort Marcy Airlines, having to take a detour to St. Louis for a mechanical problem.”

* In September 2007, Limbaugh characterized service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq “phony soldiers.” He later argued he had been taken out of context by Media Matters and claimed he was not talking about “the anti-war movement generally,” but rather about “one soldier … Jesse MacBeth.” To support this, Limbaugh purported to air the “entire” segment in question from the September 26, 2007, broadcast of his show, but, in fact, the clip he aired had been selectively edited. Limbaugh later included Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA), a Vietnam veteran, in the group of “phony soldiers.”

* On the August 21, 2007, broadcast of his show, a caller said to Limbaugh: “I know I’m no expert in foreign affairs, but what really confuses me about the liberals is the hypocrisy when they talk about how we have no reason to be in Iraq and helping those people, but yet everybody wants us to go to Darfur.” Limbaugh responded by claiming Democrats “want to get us out of Iraq, but they can’t wait to get us into Darfur.” He continued: “There are two reasons. What color is the skin of the people in Darfur? It’s black. And who do the Democrats really need to keep voting for them? If they lose a significant percentage of this voting bloc, they’re in trouble.” The caller responded, “The black population,” to which Limbaugh said, “Right.”

* Responding to a Reuters report on a University of Chicago study that found that “a majority of young blacks feel alienated form today’s government,” Limbaugh asserted on February 5, 2007: “Why would that be? The government’s been taking care of them their whole lives.”

* Discussing Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) speech following her election as the country’s first female speaker of the House, Limbaugh stated on January 5, 2007: “[L]ook at Ms. Pelosi. Why, she can multitask. She can breastfeed, she can clip her toenails, she can direct the House, all while the kids are sitting on her lap at the same time.”

* Limbaugh has made numerous controversial remarks about women, including frequently referring to feminists as “feminazis.” For example, on the November 30, 2006, edition of his radio show, Limbaugh proclaimed: My “cat’s taught me more about women, than anything my whole life” because his pet cat “comes to me when she wants to be fed,” and “[s]he’s smart enough to know she can’t feed herself. She’s actually [a] very smart cat. She gets loved. She gets adoration. She gets petted. She gets fed. And she doesn’t have to do anything for it.”

On January 24, 2008, Limbaugh claimed that then-Sen. Hillary Clinton is “in the Northeast. She is surrounded by her good old, white female — white female new castrati male base, while her husband [former President] Bill [Clinton] pays penance — left to deal in South Carolina, while she’s up with her people, the whites and the less-than-blacks.” Later in the broadcast, referring to Clinton, Limbaugh asked: “How did that woman go from inevitable, to down-and-dirty, to the testicle lockbox, to her red-faced husband showing that even he, too, gets PMS?”

On January 10, 2006, Limbaugh suggested that some women “would love to be hired as eye candy.”

On March 1, 2005, Limbaugh claimed that “[w]omen still live longer than men because their lives are easier.”

* In October 2006, Rush Limbaugh accused actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson’s disease, of “exaggerating the effects of the disease” in a campaign advertisement for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who was then a Senate candidate. In the ad, Fox endorsed McCaskill for supporting embryonic stem cell research, which her opponent at the time, then-incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Talent, opposed. Noting that Fox is “moving all around and shaking” in the ad, Limbaugh declared: “And it’s purely an act. This is the only time I have ever seen Michael J. Fox portray any of the symptoms of the disease he has.” Limbaugh added that “this is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn’t take his medication or he’s acting, one of the two.”

Later in the broadcast, Limbaugh stated, “I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong, and I will apologize to Michael J. Fox if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act, especially since people are telling me they have seen him this way on other interviews and in other television appearances.” However, Limbaugh then returned to criticizing Fox, stating that “Michael J. Fox is using his illness as a way to mislead voters into thinking that their vote for a single United States senator has a direct impact on stem cell research in Missouri. It doesn’t, and it won’t.”

* On August 23, 2006, discussing the CBS reality TV program, Survivor, in which contestants were originally divided into competing “tribes” by ethnicity, Limbaugh stated that the contest was “not going to be fair if there’s a lot of water events” and suggested that “blacks can’t swim.” Limbaugh stated that “our early money” is on “the Hispanic tribe” — which he said could include “a Cuban,” “a Nicaraguan,” or “a Mexican or two” — provided they don’t “start fighting for supremacy amongst themselves.”

Limbaugh added that Hispanics have “probably shown the most survival tactics,” that they “have shown a remarkable ability to cross borders,” and that they can “do it without water for a long time, they don’t get apprehended, and they will do things other people won’t do.” When the Survivor producers decided to dissolve the show’s racially segregated “tribes” after only two episodes, Limbaugh declared that “[t]here can only be one reason for this … that is the white tribe had to be winning.”

* On February 14, 2006, Limbaugh invented a racial component to explain Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett’s departure from the Ohio Democratic Senate primary race. While reporting on Hackett’s decision to withdraw from the race against then-Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Limbaugh asserted: “And don’t forget, Sherrod Brown is black. There’s a racial component here, too,” adding that “the newspaper that I’m reading all this from is The New York Times, and they, of course, don’t mention that.” In fact, Brown is white — a point on which Limbaugh was corrected later in the program.

* Following the disclosure of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib, Limbaugh claimed in 2004 that the U.S. military personnel involved were just “having a good time,” and that their actions served as an “emotional release.” Limbaugh called the abuse “hazing,” referred to it as “an out-of-control fraternity prank,” and agreed with a caller that the abuse “was like a college fraternity prank.”

* In 2003, Limbaugh made controversial comments about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, which led to Limbaugh’s resignation as a commentator on ESPN. During the September 28, 2003, edition of ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, Limbaugh said that “[t]he media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well” and, therefore, that McNabb “got a lot of credit for the performance of this team [the Eagles] that he didn’t deserve.”

* According to a June 7, 2000, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) article, “[w]hen Carol Moseley-Braun (D-IL) was in the U.S. Senate, the first black woman ever elected to that body, Limbaugh would play the ‘Movin’ On Up’ theme song from TV’s ‘Jeffersons’ when he mentioned her. Limbaugh sometimes still uses mock dialect — substituting ‘ax’ for ‘ask’– when discussing black leaders.” FAIR also reported that “[i]n 1992, on his now-defunct TV show, Limbaugh expressed his ire when Spike Lee urged that black schoolchildren get off from school to see his film Malcolm X: ‘Spike, if you’re going to do that, let’s complete the education experience. You should tell them that they should loot the theater, and then blow it up on their way out.’ ”
* The late columnist Molly Ivins reported:

On his TV show, early in the Clinton administration, Limbaugh put up a picture of Socks, the White House cat, and asked, “Did you know there’s a White House dog?” Then he put up a picture of Chelsea Clinton, who was 13 years old at the time and as far as I know had never done any harm to anyone.

When viewers objected, he claimed, in typical Limbaugh fashion, that the gag was an accident and that without his permission some technician had put up the picture of Chelsea — which I found as disgusting as his original attempt at humor.

March 4, 2009 Posted by | 2008 Election, Aaron Schock, Barack Obama, Bobby Jindal, Democrats, John McCain, mccain, morons, obama, republicans, Rush Limbaugh, science | 1 Comment

20 Mile Fail: Head Games and Training (and other topics)

Workout notes I started off with a slowish 7 minute run 3 minute walk for the first 10 miles of the East Peoria Trail. It was chilly (23 F) with a chilling breeze. The first 10 miles didn’t go as easily as I had hoped; evidently stepping up my training for 2 weeks didn’t turn me into a Kenyan Olympic runner. 🙂

When I went out for my second 10 mile lap; I just up and started to quit a quarter mile into it. I stopped; started to head back and then told myself “walk it out”. I got to the first mile marker; stopped, almost turned around and then asked myself: “are you injured? No. Are you overly tired? No. ”

In fact I was

1. Cold
2. Bored.
3. Disappointed in my pace.

So I told myself to keep moving and so I did. I thought about turning around at mile 2. I didn’t. I kept moving forward with a brisk walk. Finally at mile 3 I started to feel better, and the last 7 miles were downright pleasant.

Ok, it didn’t hurt that the sun came out and the temperature rose into the 30s. 🙂

The numbers: 57 minutes out, 59 back, 1:15 out (walk), 1:12 back (walk), 4:24 total. No, I wasn’t that tired when I finished; in fact I felt better at the end than I did at mile 10. That means I can “recover while moving forward”, which is a necessary ultramarathon skill.

Politcs President Obama puts the big-money interests on notice!

Bobby Jindal: exaggerated his Katrina story.

Typical hypocrisy. From

Jindal had described being in the office of Sheriff Harry Lee “during Katrina,” and hearing him yelling into the phone at a government bureaucrat who was refusing to let him send volunteer boats out to rescue stranded storm victims, because they didn’t have the necessary permits. Jindal said he told Lee, “that’s ridiculous,” prompting Lee to tell the bureaucrat that the rescue effort would go ahead and he or she could arrest both Lee and Jindal.

But now, a Jindal spokeswoman has admitted to Politico that in reality, Jindal overheard Lee talking about the episode to someone else by phone “days later.” The spokeswoman said she thought Lee, who died in 2007, was being interviewed about the incident at the time.

This is no minor difference. Jindal’s presence in Lee’s office during the crisis itself was a key element of the story’s intended appeal, putting him at the center of the action during the maelstrom. Just as important, Jindal implied that his support for the sheriff helped ensure the rescue went ahead. But it turns out Jindal wasn’t there at the key moment, and played no role in making the rescue happen.

Yes, there is a lesson: you can tell when a Republican is lying if they are moving their mouth! Jindal had nothing to refute President Obama with so he just made stuff up.

Academia: A student describes a “typical” literature discussion class:

It really is funny. Yes, it takes an appropriate swipe at faculty too.

Speaking of funny, here is a typical whine made by a student; evidently the tone of her professor hurt her tender feelings. Note: what these modern snowflakes call “being yelled at” amounts to being spoken to in a “not friendly” tone. These tender snowflakes wouldn’t last 5 minutes at a Marine boot camp. 🙂

Blogger wars: PZ Myers relates some whining that has been directed at him because he links to some religious woo websites.

February 28, 2009 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Bobby Jindal, Democrats, economy, education, free speech, obama, politics, politics/social, ranting, running, training, ultra, walking, whining | Leave a comment

President Obama’s Address, Jindal’s Response, Republican Crackpottery


My favorite lines:

I understand that when the last administration asked this Congress to provide assistance for struggling banks, Democrats and Republicans alike were infuriated by the mismanagement and results that followed. So were the American taxpayers. So was I.

So I know how unpopular it is to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions. I promise you – I get it.

But I also know that in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger, or yield to the politics of the moment. My job – our job – is to solve the problem. Our job is to govern with a sense of responsibility. I will not spend a single penny for the purpose of rewarding a single Wall Street executive, but I will do whatever it takes to help the small business that can’t pay its workers or the family that has saved and still can’t get a mortgage.

That’s what this is about. It’s not about helping banks – it’s about helping people.

About secondary education

It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country – and this country needs and values the talents of every American. That is why we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

I’ll post videos of President Obama’s speech and the Republican rebuttal. The full text is here. First I’ll mention that I am watching the PBS Lehrer News hour discussion. After listening to some of the newspaper editors, I can see why newspapers are in trouble; these editors are morons.

One wondered how we would lower the deficit while doing all of this stimulus spending. Here is a hint, moron: if we get out of Iraq, we will save a huge amount of money! Also, forget this canard that “this spending is not stimulus”; the idea is something like this: no one is buying. So the government buys thereby putting money into businesses thereby getting money to workers, so they can spend. That stimulates.

Now my take: of course I loved the speech; but then again it was pitched to people like me. Then again, so did many others. 82 percent of speech watchers approved of Obama’s plan and 68 percent saw the speech in a positive manner, and 24 in a somewhat positive manner.

But here is where I am cynical: many people like government intervention when they are hurting but don’t like it when they are doing well; the idea is “government help for me but not for thee”.

Liberalsmustdie (a poe blog) put it well when they boiled down the essence of the Palin-Biden VP debate:

So, even thought I didn’t watch the debate, I know what was said… let me recap:

Palin: I will fight for every day Americans

Biden: I love Al Queda, homosexual marriage, and I want our troops to die in Iraq so that I can use it as a talking point to get elected.

Palin: I love America, and I trust in God.

Biden: I hate America and wish I lived in France. There is no God, and if there was I would worship Satan.

Palin: I want to give tax cuts to all Americans.

Biden: I want to take all your money and force you to live next to blacks and mexicans.

So you see, Palin won. End of discussion.

So when Americans are well off, we don’t want our money going “to them”. But we want it for us when we need it. 🙂

Now for the videos themselves:

Obama’s Speech

This lasts 53 mintues.

Governor Jindal’s Republican rebuttal

Part I

Part II


One Daily Kos member (wmtriallawyer) noted that the Republicans in Congress started to clap more and more as the speech went on…

The beginning of the speech concentrated on the passage of the stimulus plan, so you saw the Republicans essentially sit on their hands in terms of applause.

But as the President continued his speech, you could see Boehner and McConnell visibly panic. “Damn,” they thought, “this guy is really good.”

Cue the vibrations of Blackberrys going off in the chamber. A text message to the Republican caucus:

“Guys, if we don’t clap at what the President has to say, we are going to look like real assholes. Get up outta your seats.”

So what did we get?

Republicans giving a standing ovation to more banking regulations.(!)

Republicans giving a standing ovation to health care reform.(!!)

Republicans giving a standing ovation to the end of torture.(!!!)

Um, hello? Seriously? Forget Obama triangulating the right. These guys just essentially wholeheartedly applauded the repudiation of their rule from the past eight years.

Jindal’s Rebuttal was widely ridiculed.

Even many conservatives were disgusted.

There were some who questioned some of the factual details of what Jindal said. I won’t get into that but I will address one specific topic. Nate Silver comments on Jindal’s “volcano monitoring” quip:

While some of the projects in the [stimulus] bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes … $140 million for something called ‘volcano monitoring.’ Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, DC.

— Bobby Jindal

Before the cataclysmic eruption, roughly one million people lived in the region around Mount Pinatubo, including about 30,000 American military personnel and their dependents at the two largest U.S. military bases in the Philippines–Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Station. The slopes of the volcano and the adjacent hills and valleys were home to thousands of villagers. Despite the great number of people at risk, there were few casualties in the June 15 eruption. This was the result of intensive monitoring of Mount Pinatubo by scientists with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) and the USGS.

The first recognized signs that Pinatubo was reawakening after a 500-year slumber were a series of small steam-blast explosions in early April 1991. Scientists from PHIVOLCS immediately began on-site monitoring and soon declared a 6-mile-radius danger zone around the volcano. They were joined in a few weeks by USGS scientists from the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program, a cooperative effort with the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The USGS and PHIVOLCS estimate that their forecasts saved at least 5,000 lives and perhaps as many as 20,000. The people living in the lowlands around Mount Pinatubo were alerted to the impending eruption by the forecasts, and many fled to towns at safer distances from the volcano or took shelter in buildings with strong roofs. Additionally, more than 18,000 American servicemen and their dependents were evacuated from Clark Air Base prior to the June 15 eruption. In the eruption, thousands of weaker roofs, including some on Clark, collapsed under the weight of ash made wet by heavy rains, yet only about 250 lowland residents were killed. Of the 20,000 indigenous Aeta highlanders who lived on the slopes of Mount Pinatubo, all but about 120 were safely evacuated before the eruption completely devastated their villages.

In addition to the many lives saved, property worth hundreds of millions of dollars was protected from damage or destruction in the eruption.

Paul Krugman (a Nobel Laureate in Economics) had a few things to say:

What should government do? A Jindal meditation

What is the appropriate role of government?

Traditionally, the division between conservatives and liberals has been over the role and size of the welfare state: liberals think that the government should play a large role in sanding off the market economy’s rough edges, conservatives believe that time and chance happen to us all, and that’s that.

But both sides, I thought, agreed that the government should provide public goods — goods that are nonrival (they benefit everyone) and nonexcludable (there’s no way to restrict the benefits to people who pay.) The classic examples are things like lighthouses and national defense, but there are many others. For example, knowing when a volcano is likely to erupt can save many lives; but there’s no private incentive to spend money on monitoring, since even people who didn’t contribute to maintaining the monitoring system can still benefit from the warning. So that’s the sort of activity that should be undertaken by government.

So what did Bobby Jindal choose to ridicule in this response to Obama last night? Volcano monitoring, of course.

And leaving aside the chutzpah of casting the failure of his own party’s governance as proof that government can’t work, does he really think that the response to natural disasters like Katrina is best undertaken by uncoordinated private action? Hey, why bother having an army? Let’s just rely on self-defense by armed citizens.

The intellectual incoherence is stunning. Basically, the political philosophy of the GOP right now seems to consist of snickering at stuff that they think sounds funny. The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead.

Hey, what did you expect from someone who has an exorcism on his resume? 🙂

The Republican Party has been taken over by “flat earthers”, creationists and assorted crackpots. Jindal-Palin, 2012!!!! 🙂

February 26, 2009 Posted by | Aaron Schock, Barack Obama, Bobby Jindal, Democrats, economy, IL-18, morons, obama, politics, politics/social, republicans | 1 Comment