Saturday, October 25, 2008

McCain's science advisors off to a bad start

Actually, McCain doesn't seem to have any science advisors yet (what? after 26 years in the senate?), so the science described by Sarah Palin in the McCain Campaign speech she recited Friday was misunderstood, misrepresented, and, of course, politicized. This was to be a speech calling for more Federal assistance for children with disabilities such as autism (read: "redistribute the wealth"), paid for in part with the money saved from cutting back on scientific research. In particular, Palin referred to fruit fly (Drosophila sp.) research, which she called an "earmark."

Sarah, I'll quote Rabelais: Thy Bung hath flung some dung at us!

Fruit flies are one of the workhorses of biological research, and they are important economically (remember the Medfly problem, and fruit quarantines?). The specific fruit fly research Palin was critical of is described here, and involved the olive industry, Pierce's Disease of grapevines, and Sudden Oak Death in the United States. The McCain campaign wishes to trivialize important, applied scientific research, exploiting the appeal of esoteric-sounding work to the scientific illiterates that the Bush administration, Creationists, and wingnuts have been engaged with for lo these many years. How Mavericky is that?

Palin's foolish attitude toward science caught my eye in a post by Mike the Mad Biologist; tristero had more details on the subject, and PZ Myers had more on it. I wish the "mainstream media" could be savvy enough to notice, but then, they'd probably figure they had to give the anti-science crowd equal time. Or maybe not--David Ryan, writing for the Napa Valley Register half a year ago, had the good sense to read the statement by (Democratic) Congressman Mike Thompson, responsible for gaining funding of the research.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sarah Palin -- Abused power, violated law

The independent investigation by Stephen Branchflower submitted to a bipartisan Alaskan legislative council concluded that Governor Sarah Palin abused her powers as governor in violation of Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a).

The abuse stems from Palin's sister's divorce from State Trooper Michael Wooten, which upset Palin. Palin wanted Wooten fired, and pressured Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan to do so. Apparently, Shadow Governor Todd "First Dude" Palin voiced most of the complaints about Wooten, but the actual firing was, of course, Sarah Palin's responsibility. The affair came to be known as "Troopergate."

When it began to look like this could be a seriously embarrassing situation for the vice-presidential nominee, she decided to stonewall the investigation. The Alaska judicial system, however, would not allow the matter to be dismissed. Palin conducted her own investigation by a hand-picked group of toadies and, to absolutely no one's astonishment, determined that she had done no wrong.

Our nation has suffered enough damage from a vice president who believes himself above the law and who has abused his powers. Would Todd Palin expect to continue his shadowy work as Spouse of the Vice President? And the last thing we need is someone a heartbeat away from the Presidency who already has a track record of covering up illegal actions.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Bait and Switch

I went to the Metropolitan Opera recently for a performance of "Salome."

I took my seat. The lights went down, and James Levine stood up. But instead of conducting the opera overture, he announced to the audience:
Doggonit, I'm not gonna do this opera stuff--it's too elitist. I'm just gonna entertain Joe Sixpack directly, with what Americans, ya know, really love. Watch me juggle instead!

The audience booed and hurled rotten tomatoes and cabbages at him, forcing him to leave the building. If audiences would more often show their disdain for such dishonest behavior, perhaps we would see less of it.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Sarah -- Another Big Dick?

Well, it appears that Palin has figured out what the vice president does. Or at least what she would like to do as vice president. An "expanded role"--sort of like what Cheney had in mind.

Thursday night's debate highlighted a major problem with the format of debates over the past few election cycles, namely, that it is way too easy for one of the debaters to skip difficult or embarrassing questions, and there is insufficient opportunity to challenge statements that are misleading or false.

When I was a wee pup, the bigger kids would often let me play in their ball games. But I did not like it when they said "But his runs and outs don't count." After seeing Palin's interviews with Gibson and Couric, I wondered if the pundits would agree that Palin's "runs and outs" don't count. After the debate, I suspect the Republicans will want to claim her strikes don't count, but her balls do. I think she has to show she can speak her own mind. After all, Hollywood is full of actresses who can deliver scripted lines better than Palin can.

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