Archive for the '[Politics]' category

Bobby Jindal hates lifesaving research!

Feb 25 2009 Published by under [Politics], Science news

This one's been bugging me all day, and although others have tackled it admirably, I wanted to give my perspective, and an amateur would-be vulcanologist.  In the Republican response to President Obama's speech last night, in which he strongly defended the stimulus bill, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal had the following to say:

While some of the projects in the [stimulus] bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a 'magnetic levitation' line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, and $140 million for something called 'volcano monitoring.' Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C.

There's a lot wrong with this statement; for instance, as pointed out by Steven Benen, the quip about a rail line from Las Vegas to Disneyland is pure Republican fantasy.  What really angered me, though, is the mocking tone Jindal had for 'volcano monitoring'.

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Bush finally gets that monument in Iraq!

Jan 30 2009 Published by under [Politics], Silliness

Well, right-wing pundits were convinced that Iraqis would be so grateful to Bush for liberating their country that they'd construct statues and name streets after him.  It's taken some time, but finally a monument related to Bush has shown up in Iraq (via CNN):

shoemonument

Quoting CNN,

For the war-beaten orphans of the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit, this big old shoe fits.

A monument to a shoe thrown at former President Bush is unveiled at the Tikrit Orphanage complex.

A huge sculpture of the footwear hurled at President Bush in December during a trip to Iraq has been unveiled in a ceremony at the Tikrit Orphanage complex.

Assisted by children at the home, sculptor Laith al-Amiri erected a brown replica of one of the shoes hurled at Bush and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki by journalist Muntadhir al-Zaidi during a press conference in Baghdad.

You know, I've always had great sympathy for the Iraqi people and the suffering they've undergone, but stuff like this really just makes me think they're awesome.  It puts them in the same league as the folks who tried to get a wastewater treatment plant named after Bush in San Francisco.  That proposition failed at the ballot, but the arguments against it were none too flattering to Bush either.

Incidentally, the shoe-thrower himself, Muntadhir al-Zaidi, is still incarcerated in Iraq.  His employer, al-Baghdadia television, keeps a prominently displayed picture of him on their home page.

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You know who blogs might have stopped? HITLER!!!

Dec 11 2008 Published by under [Politics]

This was just so entertaining I had to comment on it.  Via The Huffington Post, we learn that the Nobel winner in literature, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, suggested that blogs might have prevented Hitler's rise to power in Nazi Germany:

The spread of information on the Internet has given the world a new tool to forestall conflicts, Nobel literature prize winner Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio said Sunday.

In his Nobel lecture to the Swedish Academy, the 68-year-old Frenchman said an earlier introduction of information technology could even have prevented World War II.

"Who knows, if the Internet had existed at the time, perhaps Hitler's criminal plot would not have succeeded - ridicule might have prevented it from ever seeing the light of day," he said.

Between this and recent research in the science of vision that suggests that FPS video games actually improve vision (I blogged about it here), my whole existence is rapidly being validated at the highest levels of science and society!

In all seriousness, though, it is nice to see blogs acknowledged by distinguished persons as a potentially powerful and positive force.

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The auto industry - a play

Dec 02 2008 Published by under [Politics]

I'm workin' on some spiffy new posts.  In the meantime, I note that a commenter, JasonF at Balloon Juice, wrote up the auto industry conundrum as a play in three acts.  It's quite excellent: read it here.

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How good is your civics knowledge?

Nov 24 2008 Published by under [Politics]

Via Daily Kos, I learned that there was a U.S. government civics test given to elected officials by the National Civic Literacy Board at ISI.  The results were pretty embarrassing:

US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday.

Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).

It's easy to laugh at such results, but how did I fare?  I took the test, and scored 90.9% (30 out of 33 correct).  To be fair, some of the questions seemed more historical than really 'need-to-know' civics (like a question concerning FDR's battles with the courts over the New Deal).  But there's really no excuse for getting less than 50% on a test like this.

How do you, the reader, compare?  Take the test here.  Feel free to post your scores in the comments -- if you dare!

10 responses so far

The perfect metaphor for the D's response to Lieberman

Nov 21 2008 Published by under [Politics], Silliness

Of course, we're all familiar with how boldly the Democrats stood up to Joe Lieberman, the man who campaigned not only for the Republican presidential candidate but also numerous down-ticket Republicans.  In the end, the Democrats welcomed him back with the same powers and privileges, even though he's quite likely to use those powers against them in the near future.

The last 20 seconds of the following video gives a good impression of what the negotiations were probably like:

Try to imagine the Democrats as Ted and Lieberman as Dr. Kelso. If you like, you can also imagine Dr. Cox as Obama, but that's stretching the analogy a bit too far, I think.

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Yay, North Carolina!

Nov 06 2008 Published by under [Politics]

I just learned, via Americablog, that my home state has come through for Obama; the AP reports:

President-elect Obama has won North Carolina, a symbolic triumph in a state that hadn't voted for a Democrat in more than a generation.

The Associated Press declared Obama the winner Thursday after canvassing counties in North Carolina to determine the number of outstanding provisional ballots.

That survey found that there are not enough remaining ballots for Republican John McCain to close a 13,693-vote deficit.

North Carolina's 15 electoral votes brings Obama's total to 364 — nearly 100 more than necessary to win the White House. Missouri is the only state that remains too close to call.

Obama's win in North Carolina was the first for a Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter won the state in 1976.

This was a damn close race: out of some 4,200,000 votes cast, less than 14,000 made the difference.  I really feel like my vote mattered this time around!  (Though I still don't really like the electoral college system.)

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I voted! Early!

Oct 29 2008 Published by under [Politics], Personal

Well, it took 1 1/2 hours, but I got my early voting in!  And I didn't get tricked by the abysmal design of the NC ballot.

For me, the occasion was chock full of symbolism and happy coincidences.  When I got in line, it was cold out and rather gloomy looking, but by the time I exited the polling place, the sun was shining and warm.  I celebrated my vote (and my car not getting towed where I parked it) by stopping by a nearby Vietnamese restaurant for lunch.  Sitting at the bar, I was just in time to catch CNN's live coverage of Obama speaking to North Carolina voters.  He may as well have been speaking directly to me at that point (though I didn't see any starbursts shooting through the screen, alas).

I'm feeling pretty good about this election.  The early voting numbers support my feeling.

Update:  Just to round off this good feeling, I threw a little more money to progressive candidates online: some to Kay Hagan, who's working to bump out Liddy Dole in NC, and some to Gary Trauner of Wyoming, who is trying to take Dick Cheney's old seat for the Democrats.

2 responses so far

John McCain: Angry, anti-science miser

Oct 09 2008 Published by under ... the Hell?, [Politics], Science news

As the economic crisis has deepened, McCain's biggest talking point about the economy has been the proliferation of "earmarks" in government, those state projects that legislators add to Federal budget requests for their home states.   For me, a discussion of earmarks during the current economic crisis has made McCain look incredibly out-of-touch, evenly dangerously so.  After all, as Obama pointed out, earmarks amount to $18 billion, and the current economic crisis will cost at least $700 billion.  McCain sounds very much like a man who, when he sees the wheels coming off his moving car, comments on how the cigarette lighter needs to be fixed.

One comment jumped out at me during the second debate, and I was reminded of it by a post on The Greenbelt; railing against earmarks again, McCain said,

He voted for nearly a billion dollars in pork barrel earmark projects, including, by the way, $3 million for an overhead projector at a planetarium in Chicago, Illinois. My friends, do we need to spend that kind of money?

The problem is, that "overhead projector" that McCain refers to is in fact the primary planetarium projector for the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, the country's first planetarium, built in 1930.  The Planetarium issued the following statement in response:

To clarify, the Adler Planetarium requested federal support - which was not funded - to replace the projector in its historic Sky Theater, the first planetarium theater in the Western Hemisphere. The Adler's Zeiss Mark VI projector - not an overhead projector - is the instrument that re-creates the night sky in a dome theater, the quintessential planetarium experience. The Adler's projector is nearly 40 years old and is no longer supported with parts or service by the manufacturer. It is only the second planetarium projector in the Adler's 78 years of operation.

Science literacy is an urgent issue in the United States. To remain competitive and ensure national security, it is vital that we educate and inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Senator McCain's statements about the Adler Planetarium's request for federal support do not accurately reflect the museum's legislative history or relationship with Senator Obama.

So McCain apparently thinks that funding a building that promotes science education is something to be ridiculed.  His statement wasn't accidental; he's criticized planetarium funding as "foolish" before.

I couldn't imagine my respect for McCain sinking any lower than it already had, but his stance that science education for kids is a waste of taxpayer money dropped him into the category of "vile, angry, anti-science miser."

If I were the Obama camp, I would be hammering the McCain campaign about this:

McCain: science education is "foolish"

4 responses so far

Don't vote! Reverse psychology at its finest

Oct 02 2008 Published by under [Politics]

Via Americablog, I found this wonderful video which lays down the importance of voting... by having Hollywood-types encouraging you not to vote!  It's nice to see a video which is entertaining and pointed simultaneously.  Posting this video is my way of passing along the message to '5 friends':

P.S. I got my updated voter registration card in the mail yesterday, which prompted me to dance around, mocking the fiancée (whose new card has not yet arrived), "I get to vo-ote... you do not get to vote!"

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