Politics: 31 August 2010

You may have noticed that I have changed the format of this blog. This is due to the fact that most of what is happening on a day to day basis really isn’t that interesting or important. I have only two things to talk about today. The first is tragic but fascinating—even funny. The second is a round up of my flame war over at NewsOpi. I’m rather proud of my sarcasm, so I hope you will read it and enjoy.

Death to Environmentalists!

A 29-year-old electric motorcycle designer, Matthew Dieckmann, was killed on one of his no-emision bikes yesterday—by a man in a Toyota Prius. Get that: two environmentally friendly vehicles collided. This is sad, but ironic. That’s not the whole story, however. Three years earlier, Dieckmann’s mother—an avid bicyclist—was killed less than a mile from where her son died. A recycling truck colided with her on her bike. So we have four groups—all trying to do right by the environment—a mother and son. This is so sad, but in a sense, inspiring. Maybe it is an indication that more people are living lives of lower impact. And it is at least nice that both of the victims died doing what they loved and were passionate about. Read Julie Johnson’s Press Democrat story about it; it has some nice details I didn’t include.

Flame War!

I shouldn’t be doing this, but it is highly addictive. As I reported before, NewsOpi ran a story about the attendance at the Glenn Beck rally. Here are some more of my exchanges:

Kelly Kuhn on August 28, 2010 at 4:40 pm:

Okay, I have no idea who you are but your early numbers are so pathetic. I have attended dozens of organized events in Washington DC over the last three decades. This is clearly the largest gathering of people I have ever witnessed. We arrived at the Lincoln Memorial at 5:15 this morning and there were already tens of thousands of people, peacefully awaiting the event.

By the time the event started at 10 AM there were easily over 500,000 people and by my humble guess, judging on the amount of people in front of the Memorial, clear down to the Washington Monument, would be somewhere between 650,000 and 750,000 people.

The event was a celebration of America’s past and a prayer for future leaders to emerge to continue what the founders started in the mid to late 100’s. The entire event will be on CSPAN tomorrow and I hope that many more can watch the event and judge for themselves the message that Glenn Beck and his guests were delivering.

God Bless America!

Frank Moraes on August 31, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Again and again and again and again! “There were already tens of thousands of people”! “There were easily over 500,000 people”! “Somewhere between 650,000 and 750,000 people”! You are just guessing–not even estimating. I dare say that based upon what you wrote you have no clue how to make such estimates.

And about those tens of thousands of people, peacefully awaiting the event: really? I mean, I’m not saying they weren’t, but are you really able to monitor tens of thousands of people? Don’t you think you just might have missed some kid pulling his sister’s hair because she took his favorite Hot Wheels car? Or a young couple getting into a fight because he was checking out that cute chick with the low-cut tank top over near the reflecting pool? And are your powers of policing limited to tens of thousands? Can we assume that much murder and mayhem occurred when the crowd reached 650,000?

Finally, I don’t think people like Thomas Paine would be too thrilled with people praying that future leaders continue his very secular vision for this country.

Frank Moraes on August 28, 2010 at 5:55 pm

The number comes from CBS and is based upon aircraft photographs at the peak of the event. The error is +/- 9,000. It is easy to over-estimate crowds from inside. Compare the pictures of today with those of 1963. You will see that there were more people then. There were over 200,000 people at that rally. Thus, today’s rally must be somewhat less. 87,000 sounds about right.

Allan on August 28, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Interesting that you did more research than the author of this article or he just neglected to site his sources.

Frank Moraes on August 29, 2010 at 11:28 am

The 87,000 number comes from CBS as I stated. I doubt that if Aidama Jaber had mentioned this that there would have been any change in the reaction. People would have just said, “Oh, that’s just the liberal media.” People seem to have some kind of emotional stake in the size of the rally. It really doesn’t matter. Glenn Beck has a lot of listeners and viewers. But he isn’t the Messiah and yesterday was not the Sermon on the Mount.

J on August 29, 2010 at 6:04 pm

check this pic out. way more than 87,000. the areas unde trees were completely full too so its even more people than u can see. also this is only in front of the WWII memorial, crowds were backed up past the washington monument. there was even more crowd density under the trees because you couldnt walk anywhere under them, once you got a spot under the trees you werent going to find a way out until it was over. there were sooo many people, way more than 87,000, which would fill less than half of the reflecting pool

Frank Moraes on August 31, 2010 at 7:42 am

Thank you for a reasonable reply. I’ve seen that picture before. It is not of high enough resolution for me to make a very good estimate. But I have tried. Now don’t get all mad. Assuming that the density of people under the trees to be the same as out in the sun, the number is between 50,000 and 200,000. (This is not hard to do. Try it yourself and see what numbers you get. That would at least have some validity.)

I don’t have an ax to grind in this matter. I don’t like Beck; I think he is bad for the country. But I know he is very popular. If no one had shown up at the event, it would not have made me feel better; if a million people showed up, it would not have made me feel worse.

What does make me feel bad is the anti-scientific bias on most of the comments here. There is a lot of science I’m not real happy about. Quantum mechanics bugs me, for example. But after eight years of studying it, I don’t dismiss it because I feel like classical mechanics just seems right.

tom on August 30, 2010 at 11:07 am

I’ve been to stadiums that hold 60,000-80,000 people, races that were full and those amounts were dwarfed by what i saw at the rally. Oh, since the number comes from CBS it must be true. It’s also easy to under estimate crowds from a communist’s eyeballs. CBS+communist mindsetXnew math=87,000

But you’re a me-so-smart elitist, so I guess I’ll go with your math.

Frank Moraes on August 31, 2010 at 3:52 pm

You are correct: I am an intellectual elitist: a PhD physicist. The number did not come from CBS. They simply hired a company to make the estimate. Why didn’t Fox do the same? Perhaps because facts don’t much matter on their “news” programs?

I hope you will go with my math. Based upon your comment, I assume you are an ignorant ideologue. How could you possibly know that I have “communist’s eyeballs”–whatever that might mean?

Have you read Common Sense, Rights of Man, The Age of Reason, The Federalist Papers, or even The Constitution of the United States? My experience with people who going around shouting “communist” at people they don’t like is that they haven’t read any of them–that they know next to nothing about what really is great about this country.

There I go again with that “me-so-smart elitist” thinking thing.

Pat on August 29, 2010 at 8:24 am

Talk about egomaniacs. Most everyone posting in support of Beck is calm polite and excited. Those of you who were bamboozled by Barack Obama and his smooth talk seem to have something to prove and think that you are “smarter” than the teapartiers. Really you are not that bright and Beck has history on his side to prove the TRUTH of what he says, you liberals have history on your side as well only it puts the Lie to your foolish social policies. Sharpton, Jackson, and Obama have never been about equalness they are about Sharpton, Jackson, and Obama. People like that could never understand MLK’s dream of people doing right out of care for their fellow man, considering they do things soley based on greed.

Frank Moraes on August 31, 2010 at 8:16 am

So let me get this straight: what you just wrote is calm and polite? It is offensive. It is off-topic. It is historically inaccurate.

Are repeated comments about liberals being from Cuba calm and polite? Are repeated attacks on Obama calm and polite? Is it calm and polite to respect the President–as long as he isn’t Obama?

No one on this page has countered anything I’ve written. I assume because there is no debate. But getting over 30 thumbs-down for a comment that simply cited the source for the 87,000 number does not indicate that people are being calm and polite to me.

I already posted this one, but “tom” responded, so I thought I would provide the whole exchange.

Frank Moraes on August 29, 2010 at 10:58 am

I notice that my very reasonable and factual post was hidden because I received a 6/32 rating. I take this to mean that no one had any problem with what I wrote, but simply with the fact that I relating information that the readers of this page did not want to hear. If people wish to live in an echo chamber where facts are the enemy, nothing can be done.

People do not vote on the quality of comments; they vote on whether they agree with what is said. This is madness and is why I do not allow “ratings” on my site (franklycurious.com or Frankly Curious). Unpopular comments add to the discussion. On this page, we see the same idea over and over: the rally was HUGE. Well it was huge; 87,000 is a large number of people. Why is it necessary to claim more?

I find almost all of the posts here fall into one of two categories. First: there were hundreds of thousands of people at the rally. (Wrong.) Second: Glenn Beck rocks. (Opinion, but I’m willing to listen.) How many times do these ideas have to be repeated. We know (1) Glenn Beck was probably wrong when he claimed that there would be over 100,000 at the rally, and (2) that Glenn Beck has millions of fans.

Could we please discuss something interesting? Here’s an idea: how is it that Beck managed to attract less than 100,000 people to an event that was nightly advertised on cable TV over the course of months, while MLK attracted well over twice that number without the ad campaign when the US population was half what it is today?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

tom on August 30, 2010 at 11:51 am

Because it is not true Frank. They are not respectable and certianly are not to be believed. I was there, it was way more than that. Believe what you want, more Kool-Aid is on the way. I never compared the MLK to 8/28 and never will. Two different times, two different events. Both were “AMERICAN” though. At least in my eyes.

Frank Moraes on August 30, 2010 at 11:15 pm

There has been one scientific study of the size of the rally. It was performed by a legitimate company that has been doing this sort of thing for over ten years. All other “estimates” are simply people guessing. I am more than willing to change my opinion when some actual facts are brought up that conflict with the only facts we have. Your statement that you were there is meaningless. Were you in a position to see the majority of the crowd? Did you do a count of a small area and extrapolate? At least that would be a start–but even that would have an extremely high uncertainty. The 87,000 +/- 9,000 estimate is based on high-resolution photographs taken from balloons. These photographs where then independently analyzed by three experts. Given the choice between this methodology and your “Gee, there sure are a lot of people here” estimate, I’ll go with the former.

Isn’t it enough that a couple million people watch Glenn Beck on TV every day? He is hugely popular. Why do his followers always have to pretend that they are some kind of victims of some conspiracy? Poor Mr. Beck: those liberal meanies just won’t let him get his message out.

Big Rob on August 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm

87,000 is laughable. There was a permit for 300,000 and it is known that X amount of people can fill a certain areas of the mall. The attendance was enough to meet the approximation of 300,000 AND THEN SOME.

Frank Moraes on August 30, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Based upon what? A group of scientists perform a test and you (and many others) dismiss it out of hand. Do you even know where the 87,000 figure comes from? Do you know what the error is on that number? Is “AND THEN SOME” the error on your “estimate”?

A 100 sq ft space can be filled with ten people. Or it can be filled with 100 people. I suggest you go back and look at the photographs of the MLK rally and see how little elbow room there was. (Answer: not much.) At Beck’s rally there was lots of elbow room. And the people were (how can put this gently) better fed.

Dan on August 30, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Well I guess someone has to believe Fox Network for entertainment purposes. After all the head of a Newscorp the parent of Fox comes from a socialist country (Australia) social medicine and so on. Also the largest common stock holder of New Corp is the Saudi Prince a Muslim. And I never hear mr beck bring that up to the listeners when he speaks of God, I didn’t hear him reach out to the other religions or discuss Allah? Did you? Tom?

Frank Moraes on August 30, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Since you are about the only reasonable person around here, Dan, I am curious why you are wasting your time with these fools. I ask because I cannot figure out why I am doing so. Almost every comment is, “I was at the rally and it was way bigger than 87,000.” Clearly, this is not a political discussion. This is religious. These people think that Glenn Beck is a prophet. I do not, of course. But there are things about him I admire. He is a seeker. Unfortunately, he is looking for knowledge in all the wrong places.

My question is sincere: why waste the time here? No one here is looking for knowledge. No one here is even listening.

LaNell Babbage-Torres on August 30, 2010 at 6:07 am

As a black American I can say yes I was there. Yes Iam a supporter of Glenn Beck. Again as stated on my facebook page, the Dream is for everyone! Dr. King died for theDream that the Constitution established by our founding fathers. The Tea Paty is the new Civil Rights movement! Glenn is calling Americans back to it’s beginings.
Back to the Bible and back to Honor that Dr. King stood for, that the founding fathers outlined for us all!!!
LaNell Babbage-Torres

Frank Moraes on August 30, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Most of the people Glenn Beck follows hated MLK. If Glenn Beck had been an adult during the voting rights movement, he would have been against it. Just because you are black does not mean that you know anything about MLK, Glenn Beck, or the movement. Ignorance comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Check out wacko Cleon Skousen to learn everything you need to know about Glenn Beck…

Beck and King both have dreams–but they are not the same.

I think this one is very funny, but there is no accounting for taste.

Mary Westlie-Jones on August 30, 2010 at 11:56 am

“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20 (NIV)

Frank Moraes on August 30, 2010 at 11:53 pm

“But 87,000 is right out!” -Monty Python

Bill on August 30, 2010 at 7:41 pm

God is with all of us…especially when we are alone.

What went on on the surface at Beckstock was great. Personal responsibily…charity..faith…all great stuff.

If you go a little deeper…all these wonderful things are being twisted in an attempt to form a mutated Far right domestic agenda which would leave the vast, vast majority of americans behind & betrays what the founding fathers wanted this country to be….it’s pyscho world…with the biggest psycho leading the way.

Do you know what MLK was doing in Memphis to begin with? He was marching and advocating for Mostly black UNIONIZED sanitation workers to get increases their wages. Sounds like social justice to me.

So many people who espouse to the gospel of Beck..Limbaugh and the like are being used like pawns in a chess game to vote republican so the Corporatocracy, which is our government, can be maintained and the massive redistribution of wealth.. (to the top 1%) can continue like it has for the last 30yrs….that’s what all this is about…creating the social issues to get folks terrified so they will vote in conservatives schills to keep corporate america in power over THE PEOPLE. Your right about one thing…our government is broken…but not for the reasons you think.

WAKE UP!!!

Frank Moraes on August 31, 2010 at 12:05 am

I was wrong: Dan is not the only non-fool here.

Well put. You have summed up the conservative strategy perfectly.

Don’t you think it’s interesting how the really angry Tea Party people are generally well-off economically? Shouldn’t it be the poor who are really angry? Is this why it is more important to keep inflation down than to keep unemployment down. If you’ve already got the cash, you don’t need a job; you just need your cash to maintain its value.

Damn! I’ve become another Paul Krugman created liberal zombie. Stop me before I think again!

Kellyjo on August 30, 2010 at 9:36 pm

America is freedom, but this is taken away when your entire life is governed… Keep God in your heart, and He will keep you safe…

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”
Proverbs 16:3

Frank Moraes on August 31, 2010 at 2:26 pm

I’m confused. Am I to trust in the Lord to tell me how many people were at the rally? I don’t need to think about it, reason it through, or create and run tests? I just need to pray and God will tell me that there were over a half million people at the rally?

Truly, my God has much more pressing issues.

Politics: 30 August 2010

I don’t want to keep hammering this, but the media coverage of the estimates of the attendance of Glenn Beck’s rally are really bugging me. Let’s look at what News Provider has to say:

Beck says that the attendance could have been between 300000 (low end) and 650000 (high one).

Some firms that were hired to estimate the attendance said that the attendance could have been between 78000 and 96000. The average of what analysts said was around 87000.

What’s the truth? Impossible to say.

My emphasis!

What we have here is a contrast between Glenn Beck’s self-aggrandizing estimate and actual scientific measurements taken by an established company, AirPhotos Live, that has been doing this kind of work for over a decade. How did they do it? They took high-resolution images of the event from balloons. Then, they gave the images to three independent technicians to make estimates. Their result: 87,000 +/- 9000.

In the end, it will be reported that there were 300,000 people at the rally. Why? Because that is the middle number between the low scientifically derived 87,000 and Glenn Beck’s “more than twice the legal number allowed” guess. We all know our Aristotle, right? The truth is somewhere in the middle. So it must be 300,000.

I’m going crazy!

Yes, I know it is the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. And I am sad for this suddenly very white city. You know the blues is really a white art form. Just listen to Albino Tommy Johnson who sold him stock options for supernatural guitar prowess.

I gotta go now.

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

Clapping HandsAccording to my favorite online dictionary, a koan is “a paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train Zen Buddhist monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and to force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment.” And the most famous koan is, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” The idea is that there is not a rational answer—the monk must come to an intuitive answer to the question.

As the best monks will tell you, this is pure nonsense. I thought about the sound of one hand clapping for a couple of decades and I came to an answer that is both rational and spiritual. The most common answer to the question is that it is (with apologies to Paul Simon) the sound of silence. The idea has something to do with hearing the sound of no sound. Again, as the best monks will tell you, this is pure nonsense.

According to the Zen Community of Oregon, “It asks us to undertake deep listening, to listen as we never have before, to listen not only with our ears but with our entire being, our eyes, our skin, our bones and our heart.” Wisdom or nonsense? You decide. But first consider this: what does the word “sound” mean?

This brings up the old (and boring) philosophical “riddle,” “If an Oldsmobile backfires and no one (human, squirrel, whatever) hears it, does it make a sound?” This is no riddle. The backfire creates compression waves—not sounds. Sounds are things that ears and brains turn compression waves into. So no: no hearer, no sound.

Similarly, there is no sound of one hand clapping. The question would be better posed: “What is the effect of one hand clapping?” Ah! This is a question I can sink my teeth into. To understand, however, we must first acknowledge that there is no reasonable question here. It is very much like asking, “What is the orange of one apple?” It is a nonsense question—but one that raises important sensical questions.

There is no sound of one hand clapping, because one hand cannot clap. What does this say about clapping? It requires two or more hands. The essence of the question is that clapping is a form of communication—an act or instance of transmitting. Because a hand is a complex thing, it can do many things alone. It can pick objects up, for example. The clapping question reduces the hand to a single function—this is helpful for the purposes of this discussion.

Just as a lone hand cannot clap, a lone person cannot live. It is only through our interconnectedness that we exist. We are both separate and inseparable. Without this interconnectedness, we are alone—we are our own universe. Thus, it is only through our interconnectedness that the universe exists. The sound of one hand clapping is loneliness. The sound of one hand clapping is nihilism. The sound of one hand clapping is nothing.

If this answer makes no sense, take two aspirin, and call me in two decades.

Politics: 28 August 2010

I will have more to say tomorrow (or even tonight). For now, nothing more need be said.

Update

There were 87,000 people at Glenn Beck’s rally. This compares rather poorly with MLK’s 1963 rally that drew over 200,000 without the months of cable advertising. When the readers of NewsOpi read this number, they went crazy. These people really believe that their movement is much bigger than it is. I posted the following:

The number comes from CBS and is based upon aircraft photographs at the peak of the event. The error is +/- 9,000. It is easy to over-estimate crowds from inside. Compare the pictures of today with those of 1963. You will see that there were more people then. There were over 200,000 people at that rally. Thus, today’s rally must be somewhat less. 87,000 sounds about right.” They will, of course, flame me skinless.

Update 2

A number of people at the 47th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech yelled to the teabaggers, “Don’t drink the tea!” I’m afraid it’s too late.

Update 3

Back to my battle on NewsOpi:

I notice that my very reasonable and factual post was hidden because I received a 6/32 rating. I take this to mean that no one had any problem with what I wrote, but simply with the fact that I [was] relating information that the readers of this page did not want to hear. If people wish to live in an echo chamber where facts are the enemy, nothing can be done.

People do not vote on the quality of comments; they vote on whether they agree with what is said. This is madness and is why I do not allow “ratings” on my site (franklycurious.com or Frankly Curious). Unpopular comments add to the discussion. On this page, we see the same idea over and over: the rally was HUGE. Well it _was_ huge; 87,000 is a large number of people. Why is it necessary to claim more?

I find almost all of the posts here fall into one of two categories. First: there were hundreds of thousands of people at the rally. (Wrong.) Second: Glenn Beck rocks. (Opinion, but I’m willing to listen.) How many times do these ideas have to be repeated. We know (1) Glenn Beck was probably wrong when he claimed that there would be over 100,000 at the rally, and (2) that Glenn Beck has millions of fans.

Could we please discuss something interesting? Here’s an idea: how is it that Beck managed to attract less than 100,000 people to an event that was nightly advertised on cable TV over the course of months, while MLK attracted well over twice that number without the ad campaign when the US population was half what it is today?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Politics: 27 August 2010

Most of the news is not very interesting. Here are two pieces that are.

  1. Thirty years ago, Nettleton Middle School in Nettleton, Mississippi, enacted rules to assure that there was racial diversity in the student council. They did this by doing things like requiring that only white students could run for president and only black students could run for vice-president. I mention this only so you don’t get the idea that the school board is or was made up of a bunch of racists. They were trying to do good. Anyway, as of last Friday, the school board changed its policy. Wow! I’m so glad there’s no racism in America.
  2. Here’s the thing about illegal immigrants: they are victims on many levels. Every day, I am grateful that I was born who I am where I am. Those who risk their lives to come to the US are looking for just a small bit of what I have during my worst times. And if they are lucky, they get to work really hard to get a fraction of my birthright. Set aside for the moment all of everything else, and look at what I happened upon in the Examiner yesterday: 72 dead may be migrants. According to the BBC, during a 6-month period, 10,000 illegal migrants have been kidnapped by drug cartels. The money are forced labor are apparently critical to the workings of these operations. Do these sound like people coming to America to drop anchor babies?

Politics: 26 August 2010

There’s not a lot today. It may be that the more news I read, the more I see that none of it much matters. But I have included to nice videos.

  1. Former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman has admitted he’s gay. Good for him—kind of. He’s moved from using homophobia to help the Republicans win elections to using islamophobia. It seems that Islam is, “the greatest anti-gay force in the world right now.” In other words, it doesn’t matter who you hate, as long as you vote Republican.
  2. State regulators said that Anthem Blue Cross could raise premiums by an average of 14%. This is better than the 39% rate hike they had wanted. It sure is a good think that we can’t have a single-payer health insurance system. After all, a large majority is for it, but the rich aren’t. So, gooo team!
  3. A new Harry Reid ad that is pretty good:

  4. And an ad to encourage people (mostly women) to vote):

Faith and Politics

Senator John Danforth has written a book, Faith and Politics, which is subtitled: “How the ‘moral values’ debate divides America and how to move forward together.” It sounds hopeful enough. Indeed, had it been a magazine article I would have liked it well enough. As an 80,000 word book, it is a disaster.

As a magazine article, it would have worked as a moderate’s plea to extremists. You see, Danforth is a social moderate. Although he is an ordained Episcopal priest, he is definitely one of the “let’s leave religion in church” variety. To him, Christianity is all about reconciliation. This is a priest, after all, who finds ostentatious displays of religiosity embarrassing. He doesn’t like saying grace in public, for example. I’m with him on all that.

Just the same, I can see why radical Christians would simply disregard what he has to say. He doesn’t speak for them. What’s more, he doesn’t seem to understand them any better than I do—and that’s saying a lot.

So even as a well-focused magazine article, what the Senator has to say would only resonate with other social moderates. It is always interesting to be reminded that not all religious people are extremists. But other than that, what exactly does a polemic such of this accomplish?

The big problem with the book is that Danforth does not have a great deal of material. As a result, the book is heavily padded with anecdotes from his life—anecdotes that are, almost without exception, boring. How could a man with the career he has had, have lived such a mind-numbingly tedious life?

I think the answer is in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. In it, he asks a couple how they manage to make their relationship work. The woman says, “I’m very shallow and empty and I have no ideas and nothing interesting to say.” The man then adds, “And I’m exactly the same way.” I thus conclude that Senator Danforth is a happy man, but he’s not a carrier.

Politics: 25 August 2010

I’m getting tired of doing this. It takes me two to three hours each day to put this together. Admittedly, I would spend the time anyway, but it is a drag knowing that even when I’m tired or sick, I’m still obliged (if only by myself) to determine what is most interesting and important and to write it up. Hopefully it is a good exersize. I’m sure it will eventually end.

  1. Acronym of the day: IOKIYAR. It means, “It’s OK If You’re A Republican.” Thanks for Professor Krugman for that one.
  2. After Alan Simpson claimed that Social Security was a “milk cow with 310 million tits,” many people are calling for his firing from the deficit commission—include Paul Krugman.
  3. I’m sure you’ve heard about the Florida Church—The Dove World Outreach Center!— planning an “International Burn a Quran Day” on September 11. To protect the event, an armed Christian organization—Right Wing Extreme—has stepped in. Don’t you love these names?
  4. Despite what I said yesterday, incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski seems to have lost to teabagger Joe Miller. This may be good for the Democrats, however; Miller’s positions are extreme and may be harmful in the general election.
  5. Rick Scott beat attorney general Bill McCollum for the Florida GOP governors primary. Scott won in the way that is the fashion of modern American politics: he is rich and has spent many millions of his money to buy the election. Again, there is good news: he is a deeply flawed candidate.
  6. Officials are telling the trapped miners to get lots of exersize so they will be able to get through the escape tunnel they are drilling. On the plus side, some experts are saying that they could be out within a month. Thus far, no one has told the miners that the current estimate is four months. Not as well reported is the fact that the mining company did not install a ladder that was required by law. If they had, the miners would have been out in 48 hours.

Politics: 24 August 2010

There isn’t much news today. I don’t feel like going into all of the political machinations, like John Boehner’s ridiculous speech today. I’ll include anything really important from today tomorrow.

  1. According to Rachel Maddow last night, of the 324 congressional primaries, the incumbent has won 317 times. That’s right: only 7 incumbents have lost in this “anti-incumbent revolution.” And no incumbents are expected to lose today. We’ll see how it goes in the general.
  2. The stock market fell over 100 points after news that existing home sales went down 27% compared to the previous month. This is the fourth day in a row that the market fell. It’s hard to get worked up about any of this. Things are so bad, nothing phases me.
  3. Over 150 NIH stem cell grants will be frozen as a result of Judge Lamberth’s blocking of Obama’s expanded research funded. The administration announced today that they will appeal the decision.
  4. When all the world is looking down into Chile’s copper mine, astronomers using a 3.6-meter reflecting telescope have discovered an extraordinary planetary system: “Astronomers have discovered a new solar system that appears to have almost as many planets as our own. They found up to seven planets orbiting a star that is of a similar type to the Sun, including one that is likely to be rocky and less than 1.5 times the size of the Earth.”

Politics: 23 August 2010

The level of intolerance in this country is really bothering me. Was I embarrassed through eight years with Bush? Yes. Am I even more embarrassed by the current anti-Islamic dust up? Yep.

  1. March of last year, President Obama signed an executive order repealing the Bush restrictions on stem cell research. Today, Judge Royce C. Lamberth granted a preliminary injunction to stop federal funding against such research. He claims that the Dickey-Wicker Amendment prohibits such research. This seems to be the case. The US is a dying empire. Sigh.
  2. Thirty-three men, trapped for 17 days in a Chilean copper mine were discovered alive yesterday. They say it will take four months to get them out. Wow.
  3. I keep seeing a bumper sticker that reads, “Freedom Isn’t Free.” This bugs me. I think defenders of it would claim that it is an acknowledgment of the sacrifices that our military people have made for the freedom of our country. This is hogwash. How have any of our recent wars made us freer or ever safer? But what most bugs me is that “freedom isn’t free” really means, “Spend tons on the military.” I like this button that reads, “Freedom isn’t free. In fact, you have to be really rich.”
  4. You gotta see this. A black guy with a quasi-Asian hat is walking through the anti-Muslim protest and almost gets beaten up. According to the guy who uploaded the video, this menacing black man was a union carpenter who works at Ground Zero. A related matter: I saw at the demonstration a sign that read, “No Mosque, No Way!” This so reminds me of the KKK anti-integration signs, “Never, Never, Never!” And why not? They are exactly the same.
  5. RNC committee member Kim Lehman says that Obama told Muslims that he was one of them—and she’s sticking by it! Back on Thursday, she tweeted, “[H]e personally told the muslims that he IS a muslim.” When asked about it by the Huffington Post on Monday, she stood her ground—sort of. She said, “[H]e made it, in my opinion, clear he was partially Muslim.” (Love that, in my opinion, syntax!) What did Obama say that kinda-sorta-on Mondays when the moon is full would make her think that? “Now part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I’m a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims.” Infidel!
  6. The US isn’t the only country that gets crazies. After being fired due to charges of extortion, Manila Police Captain Rolando Mendoza took a bus full of tourist hostage. He was demanding his job back. He ended up killing 8 of the 24 passengers. After 12 hours of negotiations, Mendoza was killed during a second SWAT assault. Sad.
  7. I can’t believe that the state is moving forward with the charges against Dr. Conrad Murray for the death of Michael Jackson. Jermaine Jackson said all that need be said, “Dr. Murray’s the fall guy. This is bullshit.”

Politics: 21 August 2010

On Thursday, there was a hijack or bombing threat on American Airlines flight number 124 out of SFO. It came to nothing. But the FBI picked two passengers to escort off the plane in handcuffs. They claimed they were picked randomly. But the passengers seem to have been visiting from Pakistan. So the “random” claim is just more police lying. But the big question is: why is it necessary to treat our guests in this way? I understand that people from Pakistan might be more suspect; it does, after all, seem to be the Al Qaeda capital of the world. This does not explain why it was necessary to publicly humiliate these people. Was there any reason other than their nationality? What is wrong with our country? Have we really reached the point where anyone can yell “terrorist” and cause any person from the Middle East and environs to be handcuffed and led away?