Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Bible Promotes Child Abuse... Again

The parents of an 11-year-old girl who died Sunday from an untreated form of diabetes prayed for the girl's health rather than seek medical intervention, police said.

According to police, Madeline Kara Neumann of the town of Weston died of diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition that develops when a person's body has too little insulin. She reportedly had not received medical treatment since she was 3 years old, said Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin, whose department is investigating.

Interesting. Here again, we have people deciding to pray instead of seek medical help. But these are the people who truly believe what is in the bible... not the people who would have taken the child to the doctor, which would have undoubtedly prolonged the child's life. After all, John 16:23 contains that phrase "...Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." So these people believed the lies in the bible, asked, but did not receive.

Oh, sure, they are nut balls. But anyone who believes what is in the bible is a nut ball IMHO. The parents deserve the fate that befalls them. One dead daughter and the rest of their children taken away from them. But things like this should jar the "faithful" awake and make them wonder "Hey, just what the fuck do we actually believe here?" I mean, if we are a "Christian nation" as the right wing wants us to believe, why would these parents need to have their children taken away from them? After all, they are just following their christian faith.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Barack Obama is Not a Muslim

Barack Obama is Not a Muslim

Barack Obama is Not a Muslim

Barack Obama is Not a Muslim

Barack Obama is Not a Muslim

Barack Obama is Not a Muslim

Barack Obama is Not a Muslim

Barack Obama is Not a Muslim

Barack Obama is Not a Muslim

Barack Obama is Not a Muslim

Barack Obama is Not a Muslim

Barack Obama is Not a Muslim

Barack Obama is Not a Muslim

Barack Obama is Not a Muslim

That is for the search engines! I post it here because of a recent poll showing: One in 10 voters believes Barack Obama is Muslim, a mistaken impression that lingers across party lines, a poll showed Wednesday. And you'd think with all of the furor over Jeremiah Wright - a christian preacher - that people would know better, wouldn't you?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Is Al Gore The Answer?

I just ran across this very interesting opinion piece (by Joe Klein) and thought I'd share it with everyone here:

Unlike Barack Obama, Bill Clinton does not believe in "the fierce urgency of now." The former President has an exquisitely languid sense of how political time unfurls. He understands that those moments the political community, especially the media, considers urgent usually aren't. He has seen his own election and re-election - and completing his second term - pronounced "impossible" and lived to tell the tale. He remembers that in spring 1992 he had pretty much won the Democratic nomination but was considered a dead man walking, running third behind Bush the Elder and Ross Perot. He knows that April is the silly season in presidential politics, the moment when candidates involved in a bruising primary battle seem weakest and bloodied, as both Hillary Clinton and Obama do now. It's the moment when pundits demand action - "Drop out, Hillary!" - and propound foolish theories. And so I'm rather embarrassed to admit that I'm slouching toward, well, a theory: if this race continues to slide downhill, the answer to the Democratic Party's dilemma may turn out to be Al Gore.

This April promises to be crueler than most. The two campaigns have started attacking each other with chainsaws, while the Republican John McCain is moving ahead in some national polls. At this point, Clinton can only win the nomination ugly: by superdelegates abandoning Obama and turning to her, in droves - not impossible, but not very likely either. Even if Clinton did overtake Obama, it would be very difficult for her to win the presidency: African Americans would never forgive her for "stealing" the nomination. They would simply stay home in November, as would the Obamista youth. (Although the former President is probably thinking: Yeah, but John McCain is a flagrantly flawed candidate too - I'd accept even a corrupted nomination and take my chances.)

Which is not to say that Clinton's candidacy is entirely without purpose now that she is pursuing a Republican-style race gambit, questioning Obama's 20-year relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah "God damn America" Wright. Democrats will soon learn how damaging that relationship might be in a general election. They'll also see if Obama has the gumption to bounce back, work hard - not just arena rallies for college kids but roundtables for the grizzled and unemployed in American Legion halls - and change the minds that have turned against him. The main reason superdelegates have not yet rallied round Obama is that the party is collectively holding its breath, waiting to see how he performs in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Indiana.

He will probably do well enough to secure the nomination. But what if he tanks? What if he can't buy a white working-class vote? What if he loses all three states badly and continues to lose after that? I'd guess that the Democratic Party would still give him the nomination rather than turn to Clinton. But no one would be very happy - and a year that should have been an easy Democratic victory, given the state of the economy and the unpopularity of the incumbent, might slip away.

Which brings us back to Al Gore. Pish-tosh, you say, and you're probably right. But let's play a little. Let's say the elders of the Democratic Party decide, when the primaries end, that neither Obama nor Clinton is viable. Let's also assume - and this may be a real stretch - that such elders are strong and smart enough to act. All they'd have to do would be to convince a significant fraction of their superdelegate friends, maybe fewer than 100, to announce that they were taking a pass on the first ballot at the Denver convention, which would deny the 2,025 votes necessary to Obama or Clinton. What if they then approached Gore and asked him to be the nominee, for the good of the party - and suggested that he take Obama as his running mate? Of course, Obama would have to be a party to the deal and bring his 1,900 or so delegates along.

I played out that scenario with about a dozen prominent Democrats recently, from various sectors of the party, including both Obama and Clinton partisans. Most said it was extremely unlikely ... and a pretty interesting idea. A prominent fund raiser told me, "Gore-Obama is the ticket a lot of people wanted in the first place." A congressional Democrat told me, "This could be our way out of a mess." Others suggested Gore was painfully aware of his limitations as a candidate. "I don't know that he'd be interested, even if you handed it to him," said a Gore friend. Chances are, no one will hand it to him. The Democratic Party would have to be monumentally desperate come June. And yet ... is this scenario any more preposterous than the one that gave John McCain the Republican nomination? Yes, it's silly season. But this has been an exceptionally "silly" year.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Time For Hillary to Withdraw

Many of you will remember that I was a Hillary Clinton supporter at the beginning of the primary season. And I still like her. I do, however, think she has made some mis-steps in her campaign. And I do think it is time for her to withdraw from the race; that is, if she has the best interests of the Democratic party in mind. I'm not sure anymore if she does.

OK, what mis-steps has she made? Well, talking about non-existent sniper fire to boost her foreign policy experience was a mistake. And the contant negative barrage against Obama was not a good idea either. I'm a firm believer in a candidate talking up their positives, not in talking up the competition's negatives (or trying to create negatives where none, or few, exist).

And all the crap about experience is just that, crap! Hillary Clinton is well within her rights to talk about her experience, but is mistaken to try to tear down Obama's. The current edition of Forbes does a good job of breaking this issue down: "(Clinton) often boasts about her long resume and has used the phrase "35 years" (frequently to talk of her experience). That time frame accurately reflects her career in public service and policy-making dating to 1973, when she went to work for the Children's Defense Fund. But her math is off when she compares her own experience with that of her Democratic rival...He has spent three years as a community organizer; four years as a full-time attorney handling voting rights, employment and housing cases; eight years representing Chicago in the state Senate; and three years representing Illinois in the U.S. Senate. That's a total of 18 years in public policy matters - and Obama is 14 years younger than Clinton." So don't let her kid you, Obama has a significant amount of relevant experience.

OK, so why do I think she should withdraw? Well, it is next to impossible for her to overcome Obama's delegate lead given the remaining primaries and the rules for allocatin delegates. So Obama will have more delegates. That should give him the nomination as long as the super delegates cast their votes for the candidate with the most delegates. If that does not happen, and Hillary would win, it almost assuredly would sour the young and new voters that Obama has so successfully drawn upon to bring him to this point.

So here is the scenario that should happen. Hillary withdraws, immediately if not sooner. Unconditionally. And publicly declares her support for Obama in the general election. Then, the super delegates should work with both the Obama and Clinton camps to secure the VP slot for Hillary. No, Obama and Clinton are not the best of buddies at this point, but they would make a very formidable Democratic ticket in November. Both Obama and Clinton should embrace this ticket for the good of their party. And they should do it now!

Monday, March 24, 2008

What Does $720 Million Buy?

The daily cost of the Iraq War is estimated at $720 million. The Iraq War supplemental funding bills passed by Congress comes to $410 billion for four years or about $280 million/day. The additional $440 million/day represents the costs already incurred but not yet paid for such as paying the interest on the war debt, caring for the wounded, replenishing military equipment and rebuilding Iraq. These future costs are based upon the work of Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

Does anybody think this is a wise expenditure at this point? Think about what $720 million could buy instead:

Are we any safer for having invaded Iraq? I don't think so. Add in the cost of the lives lost and the billions squandered and it is a sorry fucking state of affairs that this administration (and the rubber stamp Congress) has gotten us into.

Here's hoping Obama wins and gets us out of Iraq quickly.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

On Evolution, Part 2 - Transitional Fossils

One of the regular claims of evolution-deniers is that there are "no transitional fossils" or missing links. This claim is absurd. There are many, many transitional fossils. Some deniers claim that transitional has to mean that one fossil is a direct ancestor (or descendant) of another. But such direct lineages are not required -- and they could not be verified even if found. A transitional fossil shows a mosaic of features from an older and more recent organism.

There are dinosaur to bird transitional fossils, including perhaps the most famous transitional fossil, archeaopteryx.

What about whales? There are many transitional fossils available that show the evolution of whales from one form to another. Click on the graphic below for additional details on whale evolution.

On a smaller scale, consider eocoelia, a small brachiopod ("lamp shell") from lower Silurian-age rocks. It is found world-wide. In several of these locations, a succession of 4 species has been recognized (as shown below). Besides the species succession, statistical variations in the properties of the species can be observed.

And then there are the transitional horses. Click here to see the incredible transitional fossils we have tracking the evolution of the modern horse from a small dog-sized animal that lived about 55 million years ago.

And, of course, there is the recent discovery of the tiktaalik, which is thought to be a transitional form between fish and amphibian. Unlike many previous, more fishlike transitional fossils, Tiktaalik 'fins' have basic wrist bones and simple fingers, showing that they were weight bearing.

What many evolution deniers do is look at these and then say, well, show me how (a) got to (b)... there are not transitions there. Then when one is found, they pick another so called "gap" to complain about. The bottom line is that there is ample evidence that evolution has, does, and will continue to occur. It is the difference between "feeling it in your bones" and having the bones to back up your knowledge!

Happy Easter: 2008 Years and...

...Jesus is still dead.

And James Cameron wants to make a film of it.