Thursday, May 31, 2007


President Bush envisions a long-term U.S. troop presence in Iraq similar to the one in South Korea where American forces have helped keep an uneasy peace for more than 50 years, the White House said Wednesday.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
"The White House announcement that they view South Korea as the model for a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq is further evidence of how dangerously out of touch with reality this administration is.

"On a strictly historical level, the comparison is comical. A high school student could tell you that there are virtually no similarities between the Korea and Iraq. The administration's inept attempts to come up with tortured historical analogies to try to justify a failed policy should be another reminder just how little credibility they have on the issue.

"The frightening truth is that there are obviously people within the Bush administration who believe that it is a good idea to occupy Iraq military on a permanent basis, which is why we have fought so hard in Congress to establish a clear policy to prevent permanent military bases in Iraq.

"The overwhelming majority of Iraqis want an end to the occupation, and for the White House to suggest that it will continue for another fifty years, or perhaps permanently, only fuels the insurgency and further endangers our troops.

"The American people are also calling for an end to the occupation, and the fact that the administration has responded by saying they think the occupation should be permanent just underlines not only how out of touch they are, but how critical it is for Congress to intervene to bring an end to this failed policy."
Georgie Anne Geyer writes today in the Dallas Morning News about President Bush’s strange behavior during a recent meeting with “[f]riends of his from Texas.”

But by all reports, President Bush is more convinced than ever of his righteousness.

Friends of his from Texas were shocked recently to find him nearly wild-eyed, thumping himself on the chest three times while he repeated “I am the president!” He also made it clear he was setting Iraq up so his successor could not get out of “our country’s destiny.”
From the beginning it seems their was a plan to keep us their, no matter what. The embassy, is a colossal one to act as a base of operations in the region. And the hope of establishing long term bases has been clear, as it was assumed Iraq would be the first domino of many to fall before us.

Climate change denial

NASA administrator Michael Griffin
I have no doubt that … a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change. First of all, I don't think it's within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown. And second of all, I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take.

There is a word for this...FLUMMERY. What twaddle. What a great series of question no one asks or are interested in. The best climate? What is the affect of the poles melting away again? Who is that great for? The Atlanteans? Great job of obscuring the issues. It is little wonder that the Bush administration put him in charge at NASA. I bet he loved putting those gag orders in place on his scientists.

Houston, you have a problem.

Here is some advice on conversing and understanding denialist.

How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic
Below is a complete listing of the articles in "How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic," a series by Coby Beck containing responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming. There are four separate taxonomies; arguments are divided by:

Stages of Denial,
Scientific Topics,
Types of Argument, and
Levels of Sophistication.

TPMtv returns...

Shock and disappointment seemed to be the prevalent reactions to the recent Democratic compromise on the Iraq funding bill. Whether you agree or disagree with the bill itself, it makes little sense to be surprised when the Democrats were telegraphing the move in advance. We explain in today’s episode of TPMtv ...

The Separation of Hogwarts and State

PZ Myers:

Laura Mallory wants to ban the Harry Potter books from public schools, and she took her case to court. This is a perfect example of a mixed message:

At Tuesday's hearing, Mallory argued in part that witchcraft is a religion practiced by some people and, therefore, the books should be banned because reading them in school violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

"I have a dream that God will be welcomed back in our schools again,"
Mallory said. "I think we need him."

Everyone will be relieved to know that she lost.
How did she even get a hearing on this?

Mexico's first test


Some potentially bad news. Mexico's Supreme Court is going to hear a challenge to the the landmark law that legalized abortion in Mexico City.
To backslide, or not.

"White, Christian, male power structure"

I'd explain, but it defies it.

Watch Bill O'Reilly and John McCain discuss immigration.

Latin America and Abortion

And when we talk about these 2 things, we are also forced to bring up the RCC. If they want to try and set the agenda, they get to take on some of the blame.

Just weeks after Pope Benedict denounced government-endorsed contraception during a visit to Brazil, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva unveiled a program on Monday to provide inexpensive birth-control pills at 10,000 private drugstores across the country.

Silva said the plan will give poor Brazilians “the same right that the wealthy have to plan the number of children they want.”
Way to go, Silva. Brazilian has an astoundingly high abortion rate — higher than the U.S. rate — and abortion is generally illegal there. Unsurprisingly, about 4,000 Brazilian women die from illegal abortions every year, and many more are injured. Accessible birth control will certainly help. But attitudes about birth control and sex can be pretty influential. The Catholic Church isn’t doing much to help on that end.
That is nice of the church. Thousands are dying, but the Church knows where the fault is and where the priorities are.


Pro-lifers: They love children so much, they’ll do everything in their power to force an 11-year-old rape and incest victim to give birth against her will, after she was impregnated by her step-father.

Anti-choice activsts staged a protest against abortion rights in Colombia this week — to mark the one-year anniversary of a legal decision that allows abortion for rape and incest survivors and women who face serious health- and life-threatening complications if they carry the pregnancy to term.

The article I linked to, from an anti-choice website, says that “Abortion was legalized on May 10, 2006, when the court decided to allow abortion in cases of rape and in case of any risk to the mother’s health. The ambiguity of the ruling effectively made room for abortion in almost any situation.”

That actually isn’t true at all, but the fact that anti-choicers will straight-up lie isn’t exactly news. And while these fine “pro-life” individuals are protesting the rights of incest and rape survivors to terminate pregnancies and of pregnant women taking steps to preserve their own health, Colombia — and Latin America in general — continues to face a substantial public health crisis with regard to clandestine abortion. According to the last available statistics from the World Health Organization, unsafe abortion is the third leading cause of maternal death in Colombia. Despite the total illegality of abortion in Colombia before last year, one in four Colombian women between the ages of 15 and 55 has terminated a pregnancy. Almost half of adolescent Colombian girls under the age of 19 has had an abortion.

Before the ruling a year ago, Colombia, Chile and El Salvador where the only three countries in Latin America to prohibit abortion entirely — no exceptions for rape, incest, health or life. Now Colombia is off that list because it offers these very limited exceptions. Unfortunately, it’s been replaced by Nicaragua.

Colombia’s restrictive abortion policies did nothing to decrease the abortion rate. Making abortion accessible to rape and incest survivors and to women whose health and lives are threatened by pregnancy is a small step in the right direction, but it’s a significant one. It’s a decision that has undoubtedly saved lives.

And yet “pro-lifers” oppose it. They organize against it. They’re so pro-life that they would rather have rape and incest survivors, and women who face serious physical consequences from pregnancy, seek out illegal abortions that are known to be physically harmful or even deadly. I really shouldn’t be surprised by this stuff anymore, and I suppose I’m not — but I’m still thoroughly disgusted and deeply repulsed.

These are the same “pro-life” people who:

-Opposed the right of a nine-year-old rape victim to terminate the pregnancy that resulted from her assault. After a trying bureaucratic process the little girl was finally allowed to have an abortion (while this is common sense, it should probably be pointed out that a nine-year-old’s body is not usually particularly well-equipped for childbirth, and having a baby could have done her serious harm). One cardinal went so far as to excommunicate everyone involved with the girl’s abortion. Then the Nicaraguan Catholic bishops sent out a letter comparing abortion to terrorists bombing buses. At the time this case was at issue, Nicaragua had a law permitting therapeutic abortions to save the pregnant woman’s life — a law that many “pro-life” leaders didn’t love, but said was sufficient. Between 1991 and 2003, a grand total of 10 legal abortions were performed in Nicaragua. In the meantime, 36,000 illegal abortions were being performed every year. Last year, Nicaragua completely illegalized abortion, even to save the life of the pregnant woman. Women who terminate pregnancies may now go to jail for six years — not quite as steep as the outgoing president’s ideal of 30 years, or the Church’s proposal of 20. Abortion remains a leading cause of death for women in Nicaragua.

-Imprison Chilean women for terminating pregnancies — mostly poor women who seek out dangerous clandestine abortions. Abortion is completely illegal in Chile, and yet it has twice the abortion rate of Canada — and half the population. When women’s health advocates offered sexual health education and contraception to women impoverished communities, the abortion rate in those communities dropped as much as 82 percent.

-Support policies that lead to situations like this:
A community organizer in Argentina told me: “You will not believe what women end up putting in their uteruses to abort.” I wish I didn’t.

I have spoken to women who used knives, knitting needles, rubber tubes, even pieces of wood to pry open their uteruses. Some got access to abortive medicines that in theory lower the possibility of direct infection but that caused serious complications when they took them without medical assistance. Affluent women suffered fewer traumatic ordeals, often traveling to the U.S. for the procedure or sneaking off to upscale private Latin America clinics where, on paper, they had surgery for appendicitis.
I’m sure the “Jill the abortion blogger” thing gets old.* I know regular readers have read the same “pro-lifers don’t actually care about life” statement a million times, supported by the cruel and often deadly pro-life policy or position du jour. I know there’s a whole lot more to feminism, and to reproductive rights, than abortion laws. But damn. You’ve gotta have a special kind of cold heart to not be deeply disturbed by some of this. And you have to be a special kind of depraved to support this vision of a “pro-life” world.

*This is perhaps obvious by now, but reproductive justice is pretty much what I want to spend my professional life working on. Hence the continued obsession with international reproductive rights — it’s not because I think it’s the only important aspect of feminism or even the most important one, it’s just the one that I’m the most interested in and the one that I have the most information about. Which hopefully explains “Jill the abortion blogger” (but please don’t start calling me that).
With all that Colombians have to go through, persisting in allowing this type of suffering to continue is unconscionable.

Especially when it is on religious grounds.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Abstinence programs, will Democrats finally draw a line in the granite?

Sand blows away, like the ground in Congress. It is long since time to take a stand and affix themselves firmly.
As has been attested on this blog, other blogs, and in the annals of science and medicine...Abstinence programs neither lead to abstinence nor better sex ed. Not that that stops the faithful.

Spending billions for medicine, nurses and doctors makes sense and should be fully supported and globally, the PEPFAR program is great. Where Congress needs to draw the line is Bush's continuing funding for abstinence programs. HIV rates in Africa are in excess of 24 million people, with some countries in Southern Africa experiencing rates of 20%-30% of the population. Education is obviously important and stressing safe sex is critical but much of the funds for education are for funding the favorite abstinence programs of the US religious right.

The issue today is finding enough medicine to address those in need as well as finding doctors and nurses who can tend to the needs of very sick people. Shortages of medical care workers in these heavily impacted countries are all too common, the end result being overwhelmed staff and people dying unnecessarily. The initial results of the abstinence programs have shown no results whatsoever, with even Uganda (the original case study) showing a resurgence in HIV.

Congress really needs to stand up to Bush and his failing religious experiments that are taking money away from saving people. Let the religious right fund their theories on their own dollar but let's put American tax dollars to work helping people with science, medicine and medical staff.

NEW Sugar Free Life

PZ Myers has an interesting look at the work SynBio. They are trying to create life in the lab.

For theistic scientist like Francis Collins, it is a waste. Leon Kass thinks they lack an understanding of life, living it. The Pope thinks it is flummery...Rich.
Weiss is right: no magic, no vitalism, no ghosts puttering about in the cytoplasm. I highlighted that one sentence because it's so absurd: we don't deal in proofs, for one thing, but if there's anything we can be certain of, it's that cells are biochemical machines, tiny reaction chambers burbling away and churning through metabolic processes. If Kass and Collins really are clinging to uncertainty about that — and I'm inclined to expect that it's actually the reporter imputing those ideas to them — then they'd have to be bigger knuckleheads than I imagined. I'm unclear what they expect will happen when investigators assemble the machinery of the cell — that it will sit there inert until infused with the sap from lignum vitae, or that it will need to be kick-started by a blessing from the local priest? Piffle. It's physics and chemistry. Get the recipe right, and that's all that matters.

Francis Collins is a brilliant scientist. But when his theology gets involved, when the converasation turns to a question of LIFE, or the place of Humanity...he goes fuzzy. That is the trouble with dealing with many theistic evolution supporters. Want to claim that evolution was a rock started down a hill by a deity? Fine, that is your fantasy. But then he will harp on the special magic that God put in us and no other animal. How we have morality embedded in us. How we are special, per the bible. What does this have to do with science? How is this supported in anthropology, sociology, or biology? Simple. It ain't. It is just his personal wish. So his disdain of the chances of whipping up a new batch of life falls more in his theological standing, than his scientific. That is sad. And the burden of dealing with theistically minded scientists and thinkers.

It is like dealing with a pothead. All they want to talk about is what if their were dragons living in the clouds...And how cool that is.

Best line:
The Newsweek cover story is on recent efforts to create life in the laboratory, and of course they call this "playing God". Haven't they got the message yet? "Playing God" is where you do absolutely nothing, take credit for other entities' work, and don't even exist — scientists don't aspire to such a useless status.

Being gay in the Administration's family

On May 23, Mary Cheney had a baby boy. This is noted by many people is Washington for 2 reasons. She is the daughter of Dick Cheney, VP-USA. And also, she is gay, living in a committed relationship with Heather Poe.

So in this administration, eager stand for Christ, morality, and the hetero ways. But the Veep is quite happy to have the child in the family, and happy for his daughter.

From the White House webpage, an interesting admission.
Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne Cheney, welcomed their sixth grandchild, Samuel David Cheney, Wednesday, May 23, 2007. He weighed 8 lbs., 6 oz and was born at 9:46 a.m. at Sibley Hospital in Washington, D.C. His parents are the Cheneys’ daughter Mary, and her partner, Heather Poe. White House photo by David Bohrer

Interesting. Heather Poe is a parent, per the White House staff. Now if only Bush could say that.

And if only the party base could keep from swallowing their own tongues as they rage.

And the far-right got upset that we criticized Jerry Falwell after his death. That doesn't even come close to dissing a newborn baby. But there you have it, Stephen Bennett, a spokesman for the Concerned Women for America, one of the largest religious right groups, today blasted Vice President Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter, Mary, and her partner Heather Poe for having a baby out of wedlock. As we reported yesterday, the White House published a baby announcement on the Vice President's portion of the White House Web site, noting that the Mary and Heather were both "parents" of the newborn child.

(Bennett is the same guy who, only four months ago, was angling for a meeting with President Bush. Funny, I'm guessing that isn't going to be happening now.)

Well, that set the religious right off, big time. Here is what Bennett had to say about Mary and Heather having a baby, then I've posted his press release in its entirety - it's a must-read of venom.

SBM PRAISES parents and individuals - mothers and fathers - who have taken on the noble task of adopting children and giving them a chance at life in the God ordained family unit including a Daddy and Mommy. Every child deserves a Daddy and Mommy. We understand, sometimes through death or divorce, that unit is broken - and parents do the best they could to raise and nurture their child or children. That's where we as the Body of Christ step in to help and be there for the
family and child. We celebrate these individuals and families. Sometimes in a second heterosexual marriage, children are adopted. We praise these men and women who do all they could to raise these children. THESE ARE REAL PARENTS. This is NOT playing "house."

Homosexual parenting though is something TOTALLY different. It "mimicks" the real and the natural....

Should Dick be embarrassed by his daughter and shun her? I think some of his backers would say yes.

Again, aligning with these sorts of conservatives is good?

Some TPMtv

Much to President Bush's dismay, the US Attorney investigation doesn’t appear to be wrapping up anytime soon. We give you the rundown of what’s to come in the approaching weeks in today’s episode of TPMtv ...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Enjoying a rant

On Real Time, Ben Affleck went on a little tear about the Democrats caving on war funding.

It was pleasant to hear, mirroring my own disgust at the backtracking by so many Democrats elected to act on matters just like this.

How many said they would go back to Congress, during their last campaigns, and promised to go back and fight, and vote, to bring this war to a conclusion, to bring oversight back, and to represent the sense that was burgeoning across this country.

But what we got was resignation. Hey, we tried the president won't listen, so we just want to give in and stop fighting.

How weak kneed.

Affleck had it right. They wanted to go home, wanted to get out, and didn't want to be mocked by conservatives. And has been noted, they were anyway.

Democrats in power are going to have to go a long way to rebuild the respect they got sweeping into power. Cause they expended it all, doing Bush's bidding.


The mysteries of Faith

Their is always a way to make things fit:

PZ Meyer:

Stephen Jossler has made a dazzling breakthrough in reconciling science and religion. He believes evolution occurred by natural mechanisms during the whole of the history of the earth (science!), except during the Triassic period, when a creator god intervened to create the diversity of life during that 40-50 million year interval. Before: genetics. During: God. After: genetics again.

It sounds crazy, but then…

Everything about the Triassic period points to divine involvement. Let me ask you this: Could some kind of random genetic chance make the population of shelled cephalopods grow significantly? No, of course not. So the only logical explanation is that there was an infinite and all-knowing cephalopod creator who modified their mollusk foot into a muscular hydrostat that eventually, on the sixth day, became tentacles.

And a great white light shone upon me from the heavens, and I fell to my knees shouting, "Hallelujah, O Great Triassic Cephalopod God!" And I was as one stricken, writhing in the Glory of the Lord, and when I arose I was not lost, but was consecrated to the Truth and the Way and the Divided Foot, Amen.

Hmm. Amazing how that works.

Religion in the news

Crooks and Liars:

I've traveled the country coast to coast and found that most Americans are very moderate when it comes to religion. Check out this study.

But as this study documents, coverage of religion not only overrepresents some voices and underrepresents others, it does so in a way that is consistently advantageous to conservatives.

The media makes sure you hear from Bill Donohue as often as possible because he is considered a voice of reason and gets as much airtime as he needs.

Some religious people are speaking out against this, but they will be ignored…
When you see a conversation on religion on the news, they are going to call Donohue, or Dobson, or one of the various leading Evangelical leaders. When a more moderate voice is brought on, it is an odd moment, or an odd bit. Or an excuse to have to clergy persons go at it.

And I remember one time Russert, or Matthews, was pretty much claiming that conservatives are more religious and pious. When he was called on it he laughed and said it was true.

If this questionable stereotype, that you have to be conservative to be religious is so, maybe it is time for more people to question the value and good of being all that religious.

Bush, Rove, Gingrich, Boehner, and Delay. Is this herd you want to be in?

Behind the Pink Curtains

In the lands that once laid behind the Iron Curtain, there are some not so pleasant acts in government.

Gay rights, gay scares.

Polish government investigating whether Tinky Winky is gay (not joking)

It's time the European Union started getting tough with Eastern European overnments that aren't ready for prime time. If they want to rejoin the civilized world, they should start acting like it. This is just embarrassing for Poland, and it's sad that the country hasn't learned from its experiences with the Nazis or the Soviets; the dehumanization of your citizens is a bad thing. It's also a harbinger of the problems European integration faces when some of those wanting to integrate don't live in the same century as the rest of us. Will the EU water down its commitment to civil rights and human rights to appease the lowest common denominator of hate and backwardness in its midst? If Poland isn't ready and willing to join the modern era, it shouldn't be permitted to.

It really seems it is time for these new comers to the EU to stand up themselves, and grow the fuck up.

After all they have been through and done to move passed the Soviet days, this sad look inside worries me.

It's nice to see that the hate and bile of now-dead bigot Jerry Falwell lives on. And actually, I'll bet that the Poles learned the news of Tinky Winky's homosexuality from the increasing evangelizing religious right extremists are doing in the former Eastern bloc. These countries have no idea who they're dealing with, and thus accept the religious right's hate wrapped in God at carte blanche. Well, it's now biting them in the ass.

So, it is so nice of American Evangelicals to get out in the world. They are doing so much to help the world with this garbage. Thankfully they are also helping to scare men from using protection during sex, and giving out all sorts of bad advice about medicine. Finally, Protestants and Catholics acting together to act for Christ.

Thanks guys!

In Russia:
Moscow police sit by as far-right extremists violently attack European members of parliament at gay pride rally

This is what Russia is becoming again - or still is - as George Bush and Condi Rice sit idly by. Eastern Europe, from Moscow to Warsaw, is still struggling to understand freedom and democracy, and not doing so well it would seem, as we ignore them. Rather than rely on the reports of gay advocates present at the event, let's read what the independent mainstream media had to say - it's hideous.


Yes, the police sat by while European members of parliament were violently attacked. The police then proceeded to arrest the members of parliament and others who were victims of the violence.


Alekeyev and two other organizers of the march - dubbed the “Moscow Gay
Pride Three” were detained overnight Sunday awaiting a court hearing and sources
close to them told UK Gay News that they feared he may be sent to prison: "We
really fear that Nikolai Alekseev will be sent to prison for 15 days as the
'figurehead' of the Gay Pride organising team...Unofficially, we received
confirmation that this is what the General Prosecutor already asked. We are not
very optimistic about the result of the court hearing. We can say that all three
have been provided with legal assistance."

The sources allege: "[It is] becoming very clear that orders are being
given to court and militia directly from [the] Kremlin."

So, the attackers get a light treatment, but the gay rights advocates get cracked down on. Nice.

It seems pretty clear who the police and government sees as the enemy and problem in Russia.

And so it begins

Down below, I looked at September. Their is a lot of buzz about it. A time of change. The Republicans are itching to jump the GW Titanic and grab the first lifeboats...women and children, out of the way!!!

But what was a repeated point in their claims?
significant changes
What will that mean? Their is also talk of change from the Iraqis. But would it be the first time that the Republicans shifted their own goal post?

Crooks and Liars:
It was more of an implicit strategy than an explicit one, but holding September out as the key moment for Iraq analysis was a way for Republicans to push off their short-term problems. Dems wanted a withdrawal timeline now. By insisting that policy makers wait until Gen. David Petraeus reports on Iraq’s progress in September, the GOP bought itself four months.

Now that everyone realizes that September will not show any real progress, the trick for the administration is figuring out how to lower expectations — and redefine “success.”

U.S. military leaders in Iraq are increasingly convinced that most of the broad political goals President Bush laid out early this year in his announcement of a troop buildup will not be met this summer and are seeking ways to redefine success.

In September, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, is scheduled to present Congress with an assessment of progress in Iraq. Military officers in Baghdad and outside advisors working with Petraeus doubt that the three major goals set by U.S. officials for the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki will be achieved by then.

Enactment of a new law to share Iraq’s oil revenue among Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish regions is the only goal they think might be achieved in time, and even that is considered a long shot. The two other key benchmarks are provincial elections and a deal to allow more Sunni Arabs into government jobs.
Be prepared for a series of almost comical examples of “progress.”

Monday, May 28, 2007

For the Republican candidates...

On Memorial Day 2007, it's well-established that George Bush led us into war based on lies. Bush, Cheney and Rove used terrorism and war for political advantage to win elections in 2002 and 2004. Politics was always more important than policy for the Bush team. The current crop of GOP candidates for President are using Bush's political scare tactics -- invoking Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. Paul Krugman explains what should be the appropriate response:

The truth is that the nightmare of the Bush years won’t really be over until politicians are convinced that voters will punish, not reward, Bush-style fear-mongering. And that hasn’t happened yet.

Here’s the way it ought to be: When Rudy Giuliani says that Iran, which had nothing to do with 9/11, is part of a “movement” that “has already displayed more aggressive tendencies by coming here and killing us,” he should be treated as a lunatic.

When Mitt Romney says that a coalition of “Shia and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda” wants to “bring down the West,” he should be ridiculed for his ignorance.

And when John McCain says that Osama, who isn’t in Iraq, will “follow us home” if we leave, he should be laughed at.

But they aren’t, at least not yet. And until belligerent, uninformed posturing starts being treated with the contempt it deserves, men who know nothing of the cost of war will keep sending other people’s children to graves at Arlington.
Every time the GOP candidates invoke Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, they are also highlighting Bush's failure to defeat the actual enemy who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001. And, they must be held accountable for the reality that Bush's Iraq war has created a terror training ground in Iraq.

Foreign Policy

TPM:'s worth noting that after years of saying talks with Iran would be reckless and irresponsible, the Bush gang is grudgingly accepting the reality that Dems have been pushing for quite a while.

Would it be rude to point out how often this has happened of late? Dems said Bush should talk directly to Syria; Bush said Dems were weak to even suggest it; and Bush eventually came around. Dems said Bush should talk to North Korea and use Clinton's Agreed Framework as a model for negotiations; Bush said this was out of the question; and Bush eventually came around. Dems said Bush should increase the size of the U.S. military; Bush said this was unnecessary; and Bush eventually came around.

And Dems said Bush should engage Iran in direct talks, particularly on Iraq. It took a while, but the president came around on this, too.

For years, all we've heard from the right is that Bush is a bold visionary when it comes to foreign policy, and Dems are weak and clueless. And yet, here we are, watching the White House embrace the Dems' approach on most of the nation's major foreign policy challenges.

Now, if Bush could just bring himself to accept the Democratic line on Iraq, too, we'd really see some progress.


September, September, something something...

Anyway, a lot is being made of the month. A hope that the Republicans in Congress will break away. That they will stand, if the Surge does not succeed by some clear way.

Anyone else see a way to talk tough now, and buy time now?

In addition to Sessions, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) recently said he "won't be the only Republican, or one of two Republicans, demanding a change in our disposition of troops in Iraq" by September. Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said he'll need to see "significant changes" by September. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) wants a change if the policy isn't working "by the time we get to September." Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) said, "There is a sense that by September, you've got to see real action on the part of Iraqis. I think everybody knows that, I really do."

We'll see. Anyone who has ever bet on congressional Republicans bucking the White House on war policy has lost money. Either way, whether war supporters like it or not, September is circled on DC's calendar.
So. How much success will be needed to keep the Republicans quiet? Will the continued losses of near to current, but slightly lower, bring a smile to them?

Will a New Surge, or new whatever plan, be good enough? Cause, gosh, if they have a new foolproof plan, how can we stand in the way? ...Support the troops...

We will see. And my money is still on almost every Republican grumbling now, weaseling out of challenging the president then.

That's their record.

Looking at the Creation Museum

If you are not up on the Creation Museum, birthed from Ken Ham's complete lack of understanding of science, and complete faith in the bible, you may wish to catch up. It is all Young Earth Creation Science. Dinosaurs and Man side by side on Earth and on the Ark. And the attitude that science supports these ideas. He is a part of Answers in Genesis. A ridiculous organization, living by these ridiculous tenets.

Utter bunk.

PZ Meyer has a run down on the museum, the folly and troubles of creationism.

Does the opposition to creationism matter? Yes, it does. Answers in Genesis is a predatory organization: it thrives on ignorance, and it misinforms and misleads and lies specifically to inculcate the kind of gullibility and fear and desperation that will send more donations to its coffers.

It's not just children who are scammed. Read my father knew no science for an example of what Ken Ham really feeds on.

He needed more care, himself, but there was no money left to pay for a homemaker, or even a cleaning woman. I went out weekly and did as much as I could; church people mended his clothes and brought food, neighbours checked on him. But there was always a shortfall.

When he died, at 92, and I picked up the reins of his finances, I found that month's bill from AIG: $70. For DVDs. To give away, of course; Dad had no TV, no DVD player, no video player: he was almost blind.

That's what the museum is all about: fleecing the poor, the weak, the ignorant, the confused.

Too many people get bled dry by religious organizations. And they do so eagerly and happily. What a lovely con.

Unlike the NYT, here is a good response to the museum and Ham.

That says all you need to know of the merit of this museum.

Adults have to pay $19.95 to enter the museum and hear pseudo-science. Those same adults can stop by a public library and check out books about real science for free.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Republican Reasoning

A nice summary of the White House's Iraq reasoning from Maureen Dowd:
The president said an intelligence report (which turned out to be two years old) showed that Osama had been trying to send Qaeda terrorists in Iraq to attack America. So clearly, Osama is capable of multitasking: Order the killers in Iraq to go after American soldiers there and American civilians here. There AND here. Get it, W.?

The president is on a continuous loop of sophistry: We have to push on in Iraq because Al Qaeda is there, even though Al Qaeda is there because we pushed into Iraq. Our troops have to keep dying there because our troops have been dying there. We have to stay so the enemy doesn’t know we’re leaving. Osama hasn’t been found because he’s hiding.

The terrorists moved into George Bush’s Iraq, not Saddam Hussein’s. W.’s ranting about Al Qaeda there is like planting fleurs du mal and then complaining your garden is toxic.
Today's must-read story comes by way of the Boston Globe's Peter Canellos, who reports on the highly misleading, if not downright false, rhetoric coming from the Republican presidential candidates on Iraq, al Qaeda, and the terrorist threat.

In defending the Iraq war, leading Republican presidential contenders are increasingly echoing words and phrases used by President Bush in the run-up to the war that reinforce the misleading impression that Iraq was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In the May 15 Republican debate in South Carolina, Senator John McCain of Arizona suggested that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden would "follow us home" from Iraq -- a comment some viewers may have taken to mean that bin Laden was in Iraq, which he is not.

Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani asserted, in response to a question about Iraq, that "these people want to follow us here and they have followed us here. Fort Dix happened a week ago." However, none of the six people arrested for allegedly plotting to attack soldiers at Fort Dix in New Jersey were from Iraq.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney identified numerous groups that he said have "come together" to try to bring down the United States, though specialists say few of the groups Romney cited have worked together and only some have threatened the United States.

"They want to bring down the West, particularly us," Romney declared. "And they've come together as Shia and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda, with that intent."

It's a very strong piece. Canellos treads ground that may be familiar to those who follow the issue closely, but he details what the leading GOP candidates are saying and contrasts it with the truth. Not surprisingly, Rudy McRomney has been playing fast and loose with the facts, hoping that audiences won't recognize their carelessness. Somewhat surprisingly, Canellos notes that these three have been willing to go even further than the Bush White House, which isn't exactly known for its veracity on the issue.

Judith Yaphe, a former CIA Iraq analyst, told the Globe, "There's a tendency to exaggerate in a debate. You push the envelope as far as you can."

The GOP's top tier, at this point, is pushing that envelope to the breaking point.


I am loathe to enter in a discussion on American Idol, but this issue makes it worthwhile.
Is this girl...obese?
Meme Roth - National Action Against Obesity

She believes this young lady is obese and an bad example that will lead girls everywhere to eat them selves into diabetes and early deaths.

This girl? Really! The girl?

Apparently since the country is so overweight on average, we can't see the real problem here. Girls as morbid as this. This!

Curves are bad. Not showing ribs is bad. Being healthy is...

Talk about a misuse of BMI. Talk about an extreme approach to healthier living. Watch the video, Roth lives in a sick world.

If that isn't enough, the lady apparently should not be given any laurels or glory, as long as her weight is not to NAAO's standards. They need to learn the difference between larger people who are healthy and those that aren't.

Here is some of the organizations work at spreading shame and self-loathing, to end fat.

Second Annual Wedding Gown Challenge: "Women Should Fit Into Their Wedding Gowns Year After Year," Says MeMe Roth

Lies Women Tell About Their Weight--Anti-Obesity Advocate MeMe Roth Lists Top 3

You should stay at your wedding day weight all your days, or your a failure. You should not gain any permanent weight from pregnancy. and if in your life you ain't as thin as me, you are living a lie.

Just plain ignorant.

There is a weight problem. The number of people that are larger and less healthy is growing. We all overindulge, I sure as hell do. We need to better educate ourselves, and teach our kids better.

Shame, ridicule, and derision are not an answer.

That is the Dr. Phil thing to do.

Where do little girls come from...

Dr. Leonard Shlain, a San Francisco surgeon and author of “Sex, Time and Power: How Women’s Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution,” speculates that ovulation had to be concealed because women wised up and realized sex led to pregnancy, which led to childbirth, which often led to death for the woman. “Once women understood they could die as a result of having sex, why wouldn’t they abstain from sex?” But if women did not know when they ovulated, they wouldn’t know when they had to abstain in order not to risk dying nine months later (a theory that assumes they had a choice about whether to have sex).


Shlain believes orgasm is a reward to women, a little something to entice them to have sex rather than focus on the prospect of death in childbirth. “Once she knows death is associated with sex, she needs to have an impetus to keep having her do it,” he says.

“Women have orgasms because men do,” insists Katherine Dettwyler, an anthropologist and colleague of Rosenberg’s. “The clitoris is the homologue of the head of the penis. I think orgasms are a reward to men to [have sex] as much as possible and also the muscles contracting shoot ejaculate out and so it gets as far it can. Women have a clitoris because that’s what’s left of the head of penis, like men have nipples.”


“When we stood up,” he says, referring to our early ancestors, “the anatomy of the pelvis changed. The vagina oriented itself more toward the front.” But this was a problem because most mammals, including primates, have sex doggie style. Hence the big red butts advertising “Sexy girl here!” meant to appeal to our visual sense. (Primates do not smell as well as, say, dogs.) So, since males began facing females for sex, the rough equivalent of big red butts “were transposed to the front of a woman” and became the breasts we know and love.


Ovulation is a trick on women.
Orgasms because women fear death.
The clitoris is a mini penis.
And breasts are breasts for the convenience of men...


Isn't the default state of every little life nugget female? So wouldn't the penis derive from the female equivalent? Like the nipples? Maybe women have breast because men have nipples...RIGHT...

I should introduce him to the eye doctor who thinks the eye disproves evolution. And the LSE political science chap who thinks The Time Machine future is the fate of mankind. It'd be a WACKY TIME.

Congressional Oversight and Responsibility


Following up on an earlier post for a moment, it may seem odd that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is just now, in mid-2007, producing a report on the White House ignoring warnings about Iraq in 2003. The war is already in its fifth year. Where has this information been? And wouldn't it have been a lot useful before, say, before the 2004 presidential election?

Let's take a stroll down memory lane. The Senate Intelligence Committee began a comprehensive investigation on the use (misuse) of pre-war intelligence towards the end of 2003. Initially, the committee was prepared to release one authoritative document on the intelligence, what it said, and how it was handled.

With the 2004 presidential election looming, and Bush's chances for a second term in doubt, then-Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) decided to split the report in two -- Phase I would document how wrong the intelligence community was (which was released quickly), while Phase II would report on how the White House used/misused/abused the available information.

And that's when the stonewalling began. First Roberts said publicly that he'd "try" to have Phase II available to the public before the 2004 election. He didn't. Roberts then gave his word, in writing, that members of the Senate Intelligence Committee would have a draft report on controversial "public statements" from administration officials. That didn't happen either. Then Roberts indicated that he might just give up on the second part of the investigation altogether, because, he argued, there was nothing left to learn.

Under pressure to release Phase II before the 2006 elections, Roberts agreed to release subparts of the report, which documented what Ahmed Chalabi and other well-paid Iraqi exiles told the administration before the invasion, but nothing about the White House's mistakes.

In January 2007, after the Senate changed hands, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) agreed that it was finally time to take this investigation seriously.

As for why Rockefeller and committee Dems decided to release the report on a Friday afternoon before Memorial Day weekend ... well, I can't figure that one out.
Releasing this info is, apparently, so pre-9/11. Why point out the administrations faults? Who wants to learn? Who wants NOT make the same mistakes? Who wants people held accountable. I know Republicans have always been open to being lacks on transgressions. Why quibble...


It's one thing to read intelligence reports; it's another to take the reports' warnings seriously.


In other words, the White House managed to reject what intelligence agencies got right and embrace what the agencies got wrong. How exquisitely true to form.

In a strong dissent, Sen. Christopher Bond (R-Mo.), the committee's vice chairman, said the inquiry itself was "a bad idea," and called on the committee to stop asking questions about how badly the administration screwed up before and start focusing on "the myriad of threats we face today."

Of course. What’s done is done; let’s not dwell on who cherry-picked what in order to kill whom. Please. Accountability demands answers. Even more importantly, the same White House that made these tragic mistakes before is still at it. If we don't take note of how tragically wrong the Bush gang was in 2003, some may forget why they lack credibility in 2007.
This government today is able to sustain itself, to an extent, on the nationwide ignorance of history, even going 5 and 6 years back.

It's time to be an aware and active populace. To those unlearned, catch up. To those unwilling to see, open your eyes.

A reminder of the works of a post-9/11 government.


When it comes to Middle East policy, career U.S. intelligence officer Patrick Lang is hardly a slouch. He was in charge of the Middle East, South Asia, and terrorism for the Defense Intelligence Agency in the 1990s, and was later tapped to run the Pentagon's international spying operations.

So when he sat down in 2001 with Doug Feith for a job interview, Feith probably should have been anxious to bring someone with Lang's experience, stature, and expertise into the young Bush administration. Feith needed someone to run the Pentagon's office of special operations and low-intensity warfare, and Lang had been recommended for the position. The interview didn't go well. (via TP)


"He says, 'Is it really true that you really know the Arabs this well, and that you speak Arabic this well? Is that really true? Is that really true?'

"And I said, 'Yeah, that's really true.'

"That's too bad," Feith said.


Says it all. If you go and take the time to read Imperial Live on the Emerald City, you will see how deeply embedded this attitude was in the government and those it choose to lead, act, and think.

This is the opposition to pre-9/11 thought? Ideology over skill. Ignorance over experience. Blind devotion over passionate debate.

And they want 4 more years...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Obama responds

Obama responded to McCain, and the rest, on his votes for funding.


Cheney supports the troops


In a blatant lie, Cheney tells West Point grads they'll have the equipment and supplies they need

As John notes below, the Bush administration refused to provide IED-proof vehicles that troops in Iraq desperately wanted. Think Progress has the video of a last night's CBS News report on "the outrageous delay" in getting the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to Iraq. These types of stories about sending troops to the Iraq war without proper equipment have been pervasive. Yet, today, Dick Cheney had the audacity to assure the graduating class at West Point that he and George Bush would make sure they had "all the equipment, supplies, manpower, training and support" they needed for "victory."


It is funny. Lack of Humvee armor, year after year. The same with personal armor. Some many stories have been written, since the start, of families and towns sacrificing and giving to get equipment to troops in the field. They are Feel Good stories. To me, they are What Is Wrong Here stories.

And still the administration and Republicans in Congress patted themselves on the back. They blamed others and were satisfied to lambaste doubters and stonewall questions. They support the troops, in their hearts. Getting the wallet out is a different matter...Where's the camera?

One more look at the aftermath of The Vote


When Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama joined 12 other Democratic senators in opposing Bush's war-funding package, Republican presidential candidates pounced. If Dem presidential hopefuls are willing to reject funding for the troops in a time of war, we now have proof, the GOP concluded, that they must hate the men and women in uniform.

* Giuliani: Obama and Clinton have "moved from being not just anti-war, but to being anti-troops."

* McCain: "[I]t is so irresponsible to tell these young men and women who are serving in uniform with the orders of their commander in chief that you're not going to give them the necessary ability to defend themselves."

* Romney: "Voting against our troops during a time of war shows the American people that the leaders of the Democrat [sic] Party will abandon principle in favor of political positioning."

Got it. But I have a quick follow up question: If opposing money for the troops in a time of war is necessarily anti-military and un-American, why did Bush reject war funding less than a month ago? If supporting the military means supporting funding measures, didn't the president deny those in uniform the resources they need?

Or is it more likely that rejecting funding for the troops in a time of war is perfectly acceptable to Republicans, just so long as they think there's a good reason to do so
This issue is a continuous, and unfair, one.

At the start of the war, when Kerry and others were preparing a bill that would have put...expectations, on the president, he threatened to veto. He suffered none from a vow to block military aid. But Kerry later acts hurt him.

Bush, just last week, VETOED aid. And now, apparently, the only ones at fault are the Democrats that acted this week. McCain voted against funding last week, but he's a hero, in his own mind. But he think body armor a troop around and birds over head is a quiet nice and safe day and place. And Giuliani thinks he is a foreign policy savant because he was the mayor on 9/11.

Justice in Ohio

Some troubling business at a recent execution in the state of Ohio.

The 16 minutes it took Christopher Newton to die once chemicals began flowing into his veins was the longest stretch that any of the state's inmates executed since 1999 has endured, an Associated Press review shows. During that span Thursday — more than twice as long as usual, and 5 minutes longer than the state's previous longest on record — Newton's stomach heaved, his chin quivered and twitched, and his 6-foot, 265-pound body twice mildly convulsed within the restraints.

State prison records show that other Ohio inmates died within an average of 7 minutes, 30 seconds, and that the entire process typically takes about 20 minutes. The state did not compile that information for two inmates.

The execution team at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville stuck Newton at least 10 times with needles to find suitable veins for the shunts where the chemicals are injected. He died nearly two hours after the scheduled start of his execution.


These adds to the many other troubling stories of the flaws in the execution methods used.

What is worse? The attitude of the prison officials is worse.
...prison officials said Friday that Newton's execution was properly handled and considered successful...

With the suffering inflicted on him, a success? Well, he is dead.

Good enough?

How should the military celebrate Memorial Day?

With a religious spectacle obviously.

A scheduled three-day celebration of the US Air Force's 60th anniversary, sponsored in part by evangelical Christian organizations, has prompted a military watchdog group to threaten legal action against the Department of Defense.

The controversial event, sponsored by Task Force Patriot USA, an evangelical organization, and LifeWay Christian Resources, the publishing house of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), was described by the official publication of the Robins Air Force Base as "an official US Air Force 60th Anniversary event." The paper stated that the religious groups and the United States Air Force "have joined together to create a three-day celebration ..."

Slated for the Memorial Day weekend, the "Salute To The Troops, Memorial Day Celebration" will take place at Stone Mountain, an Atlanta, Georgia theme park. The event is supposed to feature hourly flyovers by Air Force planes and parachute jumps by the US Army's Silver Wings Parachute Jump Team. Scheduled speakers include former SBC President Bobby Welch and US Air Force Major Brian "Jethro" Neal, a B-2 pilot, who will speak during a worship service that was to feature a flyover by a stealth bomber. SBC officials stated that special Bibles for military personnel would be disseminated at the gathering.


Lynn added, "Military personnel and veterans come from many religious traditions and no religion at all. So it is wholly disingenuous for the organizers of this evangelical Christian gathering to promote it as a salute to all our troops. It is anything but."


In preparation for the lawsuit, Weinstein told Truthout: "I'm advising the DOD to save all their emails and all of their correspondence relating to the planning of this event." He warned the DOD not to "try and pull a Karl Rove and get rid of any of these emails. If that happens, we will move forward with obstruction of justice charges."

Weinstein is intimately familiar with military law. Serving as White House counsel, he defended the Reagan administration during the Iran-Contra investigation. Since he launched his watchdog organization 18 months ago, Weinstein said he has been contacted by more than 4,000 active-duty and retired soldiers, many of whom served or serve in Iraq, who told Weinstein that they were pressured by their commanding officers to convert to Christianity.

"The rise of evangelical Christianity inside the military went on steroids after 9/11 under this administration and this White House," Weinstein said in an interview. "This administration has turned the entire Department of Defense into a faith-based initiative." He recently published a book on the issue: "With God on Our Side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military."

The Air Force and Army issued statements amending their previous endorsement and coordination, and scaling back their equipment demonstrations. The statement issued by the Air Force said that it is "not a sponsor" of the event and that the Air Force was "not aware until recently of the religious connotations surrounding Task Force Patriot's participation."

According to Task Force Patriot USA's web site, the organization exists "for the purpose of sharing the fullness of life in Jesus Christ with all US military, military veterans and families." The web site states that "Christ is our Commander-in-Chief."

According to the Washington Post, the Air Force will still participate in the event, but its flyovers "will not be timed to coincide with religious services." Also, according to Air Force representatives, active-duty Air Force officers will not be allowed to wear their uniforms while speaking during the prayer services. It is unclear whether Air Force recruiters will attend as previously scheduled.

The Army has canceled participation of the parachute team and said it is "unaware of any other Army involvement."


The fact the army has pulled out in full is nice. But the fact they were so casually eager to join in at the start is something to be sure the military and public do not forget. And the Air Force...What do we say. They have been too entwined with Evangelicals for a while now. Many are based in Colorado Springs, and easily commune with the academy there. And their influence is easy to see.

It is sad to see the stories of volunteers, eager to serve, being pushed to join someone elses faith, and/or warned that the choice may affect their chances of promotion.

What is it we are fighting for again? What is it that the administration says the terrorist hate about us?

The dawn of the Christian sports workers

At University of Gloucestershire , they have a new masters degree. It deals with sport and Christian outreach. I have to agree with Dr. Richard Dawkins' thoughts on it.

"I'm in favour of universities running real subjects for degrees and I cannot believe that the University of Gloucestershire is actually running this course for Christian sports workers. I can only imagine it is some kind of Monty Python sketch," he said.

Darn straight it is right out the Flying Circus. What sports? Crucifix Vaulting, Water Walking Relays, Resurrectathons?

It is rich humor, and right for joking of...

The £3,000-a-year course, which is the first of its kind in Britain, has the backing of the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey. It is designed to help Christians build community relations through sport.


Dr Andy Pitchford, a lecturer in sports development at the university, said: "I think Richard has some interesting things to say, but he doesn't understand the history between sport and churches in this country.

Oh, talk about rich and ripe, ready for the comedy to be picked off and consumed.

To help Christians build community relations? What the hell is the Anglican church

Will we have trendy vicars relating the last the AC Milan and Liverpool final to the Resurrection? How about Manchester's loss and the Prodigal Son? Then he can do a lovely lovely song on his guitar.

Lovely. I guess they can help promote giving God and Jesus credit for victories on post game interviews and chats.

What an empty bit of fluff this is. Sure the church and the religious have helped start and fund sports...but notice they didn't have to make up a funny little degree to do it.

Just silly.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Media on Evolution

Here is some coverage of evolution by the media.

Chris Matthews:

On yesterday's edition of the MSNBC chat show Hardball, host Chris Matthews had the following surreal discussion with Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention...

The ecumenism of Land and Matthews is charming, but the fact remains the sort of Christianity to which both claim to adhere has as one of its main dogmas that non-Christians will spend eternity in Hell. I'd say someone's passing judgment on which religions are, er, kosher, and which are not.

Bill O'Reilly:
Matthew and Land look like Nobel Prize winners compared to Bill O'Reilly. He had Kirk Cameron on to discuss the vexing questtion of whether God exists. The video is available here. The interview opened
with O'Reilly boasting of having defeated Richard Dawkins in their recent debate. Dawkins couldn't tell him where the universe came from, you see.

To set this up, O'Reilly asked Cameron to prove, in a minute, that God
exists. Cameron answered with his stadard child's version of the argument from design. Then the following remarkable exchange occurred...

The New York Times gives us sneak peek at the big Creation Museum opening in Kentucky this weekend:

The entrance gates here are topped with metallic Stegosauruses. The grounds include a giant tyrannosaur standing amid the trees, and a stone-lined lobby sports varied sauropods. It could be like any other natural history museum, luring families with the promise of immense fossils and dinosaur adventures.

But step a little farther into the entrance hall, and you come upon a pastoral scene undreamt of by any natural history museum. Two prehistoric children play near a burbling waterfall, thoroughly at home in the natural world. Dinosaurs cavort nearby, their animatronic mechanisms turning them into alluring companions, their gaping mouths seeming not threatening, but almost welcoming, as an Apatosaurus munches on leaves a few yards away.

And so begins one of the most vapid and credulous newspaper articles you will ever see on this subject. Given the pathetic way in which the mainstream media usually covers this subject, that's really saying something.


So I watched Nightline tonight, buoyed by the fact that the clips that appeared on the website earlier today were not too bad from the atheist standpoint (as I described here.) I should have known better. Having just watched the actual show, it is clear that they had no intention of giving any sort of accurate picture of what either side said. Instead, the goal was to play in to the standard script in which the fanatical Christians are presented as lovable, but simplistic, while the atheists are presented as dogmatic and obnoxious.

Nature magazine:
And speaking of bad science journalism, here's Nature's take on the Gonzalez situation:

He's a young astronomer with dozens of articles in top journals; he has made an important discovery in the field of extrasolar planets; and he is a proponent of intelligent design, the idea that an intelligent force has shaped the Universe. It's that last fact that Guillermo Gonzalez thinks has cost him his tenure at Iowa State University.

Gonzalez, who has been at Iowa State in Ames since 2001, was denied tenure on 9 March. He is now appealing the decision on the grounds that his religious belief, not the quality of his science, was the basis for turning down his application. “I'm concerned my views on intelligent design were a factor,” he says.

Advocates of intelligent design are rallying behind Gonzalez in the latest example of what they say is blatant academic discrimination. “Academia seems to be in a rage about anything that points to any purpose,” says Michael Behe, a biochemist and prominent advocate of intelligent design at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “They are penalizing an associate professor who's doing his job because he has views they disagree with.”
And after three paragraphs of puffing him up, do we now get the other side? Do we now hear about the dramatic drop-off in his publication record in the last few years, his lack of any external grant, the fact that most of this wonderful work that is being described was done prior to his arrival at Iowa State, the fact that he hasn't graduated any students, or the fact that he has aligned himself with anti-science groups like the Discovery Institute and anti-science publishers like Regnery? No....

The conspiracies

There are many conspiracies and conspiracy theories. One of the newer ones was birthed by the events of September 11th, 2001. It involves what happened in NYC. One theory involves evil Jewish plotting and no Jews being in the buildings or planes. This is easily refuted, but holds on. Another involves remote controlled planes, no victims, and, well, it doesn't get any more plausible.

Then you have the Loose Change business. This revolves around a TRUTH, steel won't weaken or be enfeebled by fire. And it is amazing the numbers who so happily grab on to this, and repeat this notion as if it where a damning and conclusive point. It is bunk. Watch the news, plenty of steel works fall in fire. But, like the Jewish jeers, this one persists, with people on the streets and the famous.

For many the idea the US government, and specifically, George Bush, would kill thousands, mostly Americans, for a political end is sound and reasoned. I don't like the man, find his policies to be poor, and leadership to be lacking. But even with my contempt for the administration I can't believe this. Now, if there was some sort of evidence to support it, things may be different. And like UFO sightings and New World Orders, the conspiracy holds no weight.

So, Novella, at Neurologica had a dialogue with one of these theorist. Take a read a learn a little about the thinking and thought processes.


Below is an e-mail exchange I had recently with someone who takes offense that we are not more skeptical of the official version of what happened on 9/11. Their letters to me are in italics, and mine follow. It is a fairly good representation of the typical thought processes employed by the conspiracy theorists.


It may be of interest to look at the thinking at arguments of conspiracy theorists. If you want to get into the field, a bit of advice. Logical fallacies are a bad way to start. Ad hominim attacks gain you no points. And making claims against someones family member to damn them is feeble. Finally, saying some crime was once committed by some government at some time in history is not an argument or proof of a current government committing a crime. What is worse is if the claimed historic crime never even occurred. Kind of obfuscates ones own obfuscation....And it is bad form.

After the vote

And the bashing goes on...

TPM on John McCain:

John McCain's latest wild and wacky claim: The only people who support withdrawal timetables and enforceable benchmarks are "MoveOn and liberals." that makes up about 70% of the country. That's heartening.

AMERICAblog on John McCain:

The man who laid out the red carpet for Al Qaeda to enter Iraq in the first place is now accusing us of enabling Al Qaeda. News flash, angry man: If it wasn't for you, Al Qaeda wouldn't even be in Iraq. And now you want to kill more US troops for a failed lie because you're not man enough (or sane enough) to admit the truth. It's over. You wanted this war, and you lost this war. It's on your increasingly disturbed head now.
He knows the history of al Qaeda's movements and when it actually came into Iraq...but he continues with these half-truths...and he continues to seek others to blame...those champagne lunches and cushy express rides have really put an impermeable hide on him. Congrats, you are well on the way to being a worthy followup to this administration.

TPM and Rudy following along behind McCain:

Rudy follows McCain, accuses Hillary and Obama of being "anti-troops." That and other political news of the day in today's Election Central Happy Hour Roundup.
TPM and how conservatives just still don't get it:

Where the right is on the war. From TPM Reader JDG ...

Yes, our war in Iraq is very much like the one in Viet Nam, but not the way its opponents mean the comparison. What's similar is this: Both of these war efforts by the United States have been sabotaged, probably on purpose, and we will probably lose this one as we lost Viet Nam, by the media's practice of showing us the daily body count in color on the nightly news every single day, again and again and again
and again!

It is simply impossible for a democratic country to pursue any war, no matter how justified, to a successful conclusion under those conditions.

No matter what you think of the merits of the present war, it's obvious that two choices lie before America: either we go back to our pre-1950 policy (which most countries in the world still follow) of wartime censorship -- not just of information that would help enemy commanders, but also of information that would undermine our own public's morale -- or we may as well pack it in and invite China to rule our country, since we can never possibly win another war.
Telling on many levels. Perhaps the most revealing is the assumption that we'd be better off, in a better position to bring the endeavor to a successful conclusion if we were still under the illusion that Doug Feith, Paul Bremer and Don Rumsfeld were doing a bang up job -- and in all likelihood that they were still running the show.

As death toll mounts now, Bush says war will get "bloody" -- in August

Six more U.S. soldiers dead in Iraq. Bush has his blank check now, still no plan to get out of Iraq, still no accountability -- just a soaring death toll.

The great war commander, George Bush, said the war could get "bloody" in August. In August?


And if this Bush quip ain't enough to invoke a gag reflex...What more did the administration know back then, before entering the war, about what would be coming?


Intelligence agencies, yes, U.S. government intelligence agencies, warned their boss, George Bush, that Iraq would embolden Al Qaeda and Iran. Of course, that's proven to be true. Funny, cause that's exactly what Bush is accusing his political opponents of doing now. Bush was so determined to go to war against Iraq, he was willing to sacrifice the safety of the country. And, that's what has happened.

The Associated Press reveals what Bush was warned about in 2003. Amazingly accurate. Figures Bush ignored it:


Edwards on Gay Rights

AMERICAblog has the run down on John Edwards positions on gay rights.

Here is Edwards' response to the questionnaire from the Human Rights Campaign.


We don't have a favorite yet for president. What we have is one candidate who is paying a hell of a lot of attention to the Netroots(Edwards immediately sent us his statement on the Iraq supplemental yesterday), and two others who don't seem to care what you think (not a word on what Hillary or Obama had to say about the supp). I think that's interesting. I hope you do too.

And without further ado, here are Edwards' answers to the gay civil rights questionnaire:


61st Skeptics Circle

The 61st Skeptics Circle is being hosted on today.

Check out a bevy of skeptic blogging.

The vote is in

No, not American Idol again...who even cares about that,

No, it is in Congress. No surprise, the Republicans gave their better all the money with no strings, and most of the Democrats followed suit. No surprise.

Clinton and Obama did vote against. But they were tight lipped until they went up to vote. And they both only voted after the majority had already done so, so passage was fate comple. No profile in courage or conviction on ether's part.

Pelosi was the only Representative leader to take a stand against the bill, and she had promised to long before the vote. So she deserves some credit there.

For thoughts on this bill and the vote:

Jon Stewart (Ah. Finally fixed.)

Stephen Colbert

Keith Olbermann with a Special Comment

Juan Cole of Informed Comment

Thursday, May 24, 2007

What kind of atheist are you?

There is a new quiz out there.

What kind of atheist are you?

You scored as Scientific Atheist, These guys rule. I'm not one of them myself, although I play one online. They know the rules of debate, the Laws of Thermodynamics, and can explain evolution in fifty words or less. More concerned with how things ARE than how they should be, these are the people who will bring us into the future.

Scientific Atheist


Spiritual Atheist




Apathetic Atheist


Angry Atheist


Militant Atheist




What kind of atheist are you?
created with

I like the balance. Not too "angry" or "militant", more "thoughtful". I fume, but it is more to power my passion, not burn me out.

Let's discuss the differences, let's debate and look at each others positions. Let's have an open discourse...but don't freaking tread on or defame science, medicine, or reason...OKAY. We have to all work together, but I won't abide replacing science with magic thinking.

I won't stand for it.

It is just a game, but it does reflect the reality that atheists are diverse and complicated folks, with varying histories, stories, demons, backgrounds, ends, and stands.

I am shocked. Shocked!

Just shocking.


As AMERICAblog points out.

Congratulations Dems, you caved and Bush just bashed you on TV for it.

Well that little surrender of yours on the Iraq supplemental was quite effective. Bush just went on TV, praised how all of your bad un-American ideas were struck from the bill, and then he told the country that you still have too much pork in the bill.

So, basically, he just made fools of you. He attacked, you caved in order to stop the attack, and he attacked again. No one could have predicted that.


Good job there. Did not see that coming...really.

And Atrios also has an excellent point.
It really is the case that elite opinion has solidified around the idea that come September all the responsible Republicans (who are they? I have no idea) are going to decide that enough's enough and it's time to start putting an end to the boy king's little crusade.

It really is the case that, once again, elite opinion is completely fucking wrong.

Yes. Why do we even think Republicans are on the cusp of a switch? What will have changed? If their was no NEW PLAN in the works already, maybe...maybe, I could see a chance.

But, as per their existing process, their will always be a NEW PLAN. So their will always be an excuse to not break can we quit a plan without seeing if it will work?

How can the big thinkers not see this? Sure, come September their will be some rumblings. But the RNC will send out people and yell and twist arms, and most everyone will AGAIN get back in line.

How is this not obvious?

So what will change in September?

They know the Democrats will either cave, or be bought off.


It is almost zero hour, when Congress bows to the president and his cronies.

Almost time to give Bush all he wants, money and legislative humiliation.

What tool has Bush relied on in this time?


Have you watched Bush over the last few weeks? What phrase has he used, more than even Giuliani, time and again like a hammer. 9/11. Once it was a rally cry. Something to unite Americans. Something to remind us of a painful scarring loss in this nation.

Now it is a large large cudgel to bash about the heads of the populace.

Disagree with Bush? 9/11. Want to make radical changes in our Iraq policy? 9/11. Think Bush is close minded? 9/11. Worried about Bush's unresponsiveness? Did you know they want to kill your children?

And the effect? None, in the population. The people are sick of a policy argument. (In the Republican presidential campaign, it is being lapped up as it flows four "America's Mayor".) Coming from Bush it is seen more and more as cheap words, the treading on the corpses of those lost, a desperate grab for power.

The people are becoming inoculated. Unfortunately, history shows that it will wear off in too short a span.

So who is being swayed? Congress. They don't want to be at risk of being blamed. Even if the people agree with the stand (to a point), even if they can clearly show that it is the president who is being obstinate.

TPM - Election Central:

Democrats said they did not relish the prospect of leaving Washington for a Memorial Day break — the second recess since the financing fight began — and leaving themselves vulnerable to White House attacks that they were again on vacation while the troops were wanting. That criticism seemed more politically threatening to them than the anger Democrats knew they would draw from the left by bowing to Mr. Bush.

Oooooooooooooo, scary! If we didn't give Bush his way, the White House would have criticized us!

Seriously, the Times account dovetails with what we've heard from multiple Dem staffers. And it has to be said that this is, like, soooooooooo June 2006. Recall that last spring many Dems were terrified of taking on the GOP and the White House over Iraq because they worried that the Republicans would tell the electorate an irresistable story: Dems are weak, and Republicans are strong. When Dems finally realized that Republicans would tell this story no matter what they did, they started telling the story their way: The war in Iraq is a disaster; it has made us weaker; Dems want to end it, and Republicans don't. The rest is history. Dems won the argument.

Now Dems appear to have let their own worries about the potential story that Republicans will tell -- Dems are on vacation while the troops are wanting! -- largely shape their course of action here. Sure, you want to game out what the opposition will do. But Dems, Republicans are going to keep telling the story this way no matter what you do. Indeed, the President just reminded everyone at today's presser that some Dems didn't want to support the troops -- even though the Dem leadership has already agreed to give him his no-timelines funding. Why not start by deciding what the right policy is, and then tell your story as forcefully as you can? Dems can win arguments, as 2006 showed.

So what do we get after all this? The war is fully funded. The reconstruction funding is at risk. Reconstruction funding is not at risk, as Bush can just ignore that bit and spend the money. And, a bunch of pork (some good - Minimum Wage increase) is in to buy up some added Democratic support.

Congrats representatives, you've just been bought.

Some people will stand against this. Pelosi is opposed and will vote against. How many others will stand by their earlier words? Where will the presidential candidates in office stand when it is time to be heard, on the record?