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Archive for January 2012

Florida craziness: Newt on Mitt’s anti-Holocaust survivor policies?

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Things have officially gotten crazy in Florida. From a robocall making the rounds in Florida, on behalf of Newt Gingrich:

Holocaust survivors, who for the first time, were forced to eat non-kosher, because Romney thought $5 was too much to pay for our grandparents to eat kosher. Where is Mitt Romney’s compassion for our seniors? 

I’m not sure what this is symptomatic of: The stupidity of robocalling as a campaign tool or the willingness of Gingrich supporters to do anything (ANYTHING!) to defeat Mitt Romney. Either way.


Written by Christopher ZF

January 31, 2012 at 15:17

Behold! Ignorance in its purest form: Sen. Stacey Campfield

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I don’t live in Tennessee and their local politics is there own. But back in April, I posted about a piece of legislation that is being called “Don’t Say Gay.” I couldn’t help it. It is the kind of ignorant homophobic legislation that riles up the blood here at TRC. But then I pretty much forgot about it.

Until this week. When the author of that legislation, Mr. Stacey Campfield, gave an interview that is so ignorant, so homophobic, so racist, that I have to come back to it. For my own sanity.

So here is Sen. Campfield. He looks like a regular guy. And by his definition of regular, well, I guess he is. Here are some of the gems from his Sirius radio interview:

Most people realize that AIDS came from the homosexual community. It was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men. It was an airline pilot, if I recall.

My understanding is that it is virtually — not completely, but virtually — impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex.

“A lot of people trying to gloss over and say it’s an every-person disease but really it’s just those high-risk people that are most likely to contract or spread that disease. The odds of a regular man getting it from a regular woman are very low,” he said.
We asked, “What do you mean by ‘regular?'”
He said, “someone who is not from Africa, someone who is not a homosexual, someone who is not an IV drug user, someone who is not sleeping with someone who is one of those things.”

What’s the average lifespan of a homosexual? it’s very short. Google it yourself.

So just to be clear, because clarity matters, according to Stacey Campfield, a regular person is not: African, gay, a drug user, or having sex with an African person, a gay person, or a drug user.

In an attempt to educate out of this nastiness, the wonderful bloger Abbie Smith at ERV, who is not a state Senator but a scientist studying molecular and biochemical evolution of HIV, actually gives some history and reality to the statements above. One note from Ms. Smith I wanted to highlight:

The virus was originally introduced into the homosexual community in the US via an unlucky founder event. However in the areas where HIV is an epidemic, and in the US present day, heterosexual women are the group hardest hit.

And because I’m worked up about this asshole, here are some other gems of ignorant hate, from the Huffington Post:

That bullying thing is the biggest lark out there.

[Homosexuality]  has not been proven that it is nature. It happens in nature, but so does beastiality That does not make it right or something we should be teaching in school.

Homosexuals represent about 2 to 3 percent of the population yet you look at television and plays and theaters, it’s 50 percent of the theaters, probably more than that, 50 percent of the theaters based on something about homosexuality.

This is the first time I have heard a straight guy decry the involvement of gays and lesbians in theater.

It’s not hard to see why the son of a bitch was refused service at a restaurant.

Written by Christopher ZF

January 31, 2012 at 11:52

TRC Regrets its acknowledgment of the WSJ Op-Ed on Climate Denial

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Sorry about that.

I’m not quite sure what possessed me to open the pages of TRC to the opposition argument on climate change presented by the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed page. The editorial, signed by 16 scientists, makes a terrible argument against climate change. I guess I was just feeling that day like that was a reasonable thing to do.

Of course it isn’t. I stated in that post that there is nothing new in their argument, and nothing that has not been thoroughly discredited. But still. If you want more proof, Bad Astronomy takes down the boldest of the mis-information pieces.

Needless to say, the Wall Street Journal op-ed page won’t be represented here as an open and fairly treated source. Because they are unwilling to do the same. It is no surprise that they posted a global warming denialist editorial. It is actually a surprise that they won’t publish science-based reality in the same pages.

An editorial page that does not open its arms to the opposition makes them hacks. We all know that the WSJ op-ed page is an obvious supporter of Republican and Conservative politics, which is fine. We all have our biases. But I actually did not think that the WSJ was willing to stoop to such embarrassment for the purpose of political absurdity. Shit. If the NY Times will publish Robert Bryce-the fossil fuel funded “expert” on a mission to oppose any environmentally friendly energy development, you can find a place for reality.

So, when I heard that the WSJ accepted an op-ed piece signed by 16 scientists (4 of whom are climate-related) that based itself on claims that have been scientifically refuted over and over, and then turned around and rejected an op-ed signed by 255 scientists from the field in support of the accepted science of climate change, I regretted my decision to post fairly about their published ‘scientific’ editorial. WSJ, I tried to give you the benefit. What a terrible decision.

From Forbes:

The most amazing and telling evidence of the bias of the Wall Street Journal in this field is the fact that 255 members of the United States National Academy of Sciences wrote a comparable (but scientifically accurate) essay on the realities of climate change and on the need for improved and serious public debate around the issue, offered it to the Wall Street Journal, and were turned down. The National Academy of Sciences is the nation’s pre-eminent independent scientific organizations. Its members are among the most respected in the world in their fields. Yet the Journal wouldn’t publish this letter, from more than 15 times as many top scientists. Instead they chose to publish an error-filled and misleading piece on climate because some so-called experts aligned with their bias signed it. This may be good politics for them, but it is bad science and it is bad for the nation.

The letter, from Science Magazine.

WE ARE DEEPLY DISTURBED BY THE RECENT ESCALATION OF POLITICAL ASSAULTS ON SCIENTISTS in general and on climate scientists in particular. All citizens should understand some basic scientific facts. There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything. When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.

Why I hope Representative West (Tea-Party, FL) loses his re-election race.

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I hope that Rep. Allen West, the outspoken Florida Tea Party darling, does not win reelection to the United States House of Representatives. It’s not so much because he is a Tea Party darling who imbues almost everything about politics that I find, well, gross. I can live with that.

No the reason I hope that he is removed from his position as elected representative in the US Congress is because he said this to our President:

Take your message of equality of achievement, take your message of economic dependency, take your message of enslaving the entrepreneurial will and spirit of the American people somewhere else. You can take it to Europe, you can take it to the bottom of the sea, you can take it to the North Pole, but get the hell out of the United States of America.

This may not be that bad. I don’t know. I’m sure this kind of thing is a winning political statement. It is probably market-tested to annoy people like me, who value equality and fairness. It is probably work-shopped to drive us fucking insane. Well, it worked. And I don’t care if you meant it to drive me crazy. I hope voters remove you from Congress.

After which, you are more than welcome to stay in the US.

Written by Christopher ZF

January 30, 2012 at 14:16

The opposition argument: No Need to Decarbonize, say 16 scientists

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TRC works daily on behalf of and cares greatly about the future of this planet and its human and non-human inhabitants. As a result, TRC take seriously the dangers inherent in pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in volumes that we do. We believe the scientific community when it says: climate change is real, and we are causing it. The results stand over and over. This is our position.

But not everyone agrees. In fairness to the science of climate change, TRC feels it is worthwhile to post this editorial from the WSJ, signed by 16 scientists, arguing against the need to take drastic action on climate change.

Titled No Need to Panic on Global Warming, the op-ed is a cool and considerate argument that there is no evidence in the science that points towards a need to decarbonize our global economy. There are many problems in the argument presented here, in my opinion, but I will note that the main reasons this group of scientists do not want to take action boils down to very familiar arguments: CO2 is good for the planet, scientists are strong-armed by the alarmists into submission, and the benefits of carbon-free investment are not worth the costs.

Here’s some excerpts.

  • The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere’s life cycle. Plants do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse operators often increase the CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to get better growth. This is no surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about 10 times larger than they are today. Better plant varieties, chemical fertilizers and agricultural management contributed to the great increase in agricultural yields of the past century, but part of the increase almost certainly came from additional CO2 in the atmosphere.
  • Although the number of publicly dissenting scientists is growing, many young scientists furtively say that while they also have serious doubts about the global-warming message, they are afraid to speak up for fear of not being promoted—or worse. They have good reason to worry. In 2003, Dr. Chris de Freitas, the editor of the journal Climate Research, dared to publish a peer-reviewed article with the politically incorrect (but factually correct) conclusion that the recent warming is not unusual in the context of climate changes over the past thousand years. The international warming establishment quickly mounted a determined campaign to have Dr. de Freitas removed from his editorial job and fired from his university position. Fortunately, Dr. de Freitas was able to keep his university job.
  • There is no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to “decarbonize” the world’s economy. Even if one accepts the inflated climate forecasts of the IPCC, aggressive greenhouse-gas control policies are not justified economically.
  • A recent study of a wide variety of policy options by Yale economist William Nordhaus showed that nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls. This would be especially beneficial to the less-developed parts of the world that would like to share some of the same advantages of material well-being, health and life expectancy that the fully developed parts of the world enjoy now. Many other policy responses would have a negative return on investment. And it is likely that more CO2 and the modest warming that may come with it will be an overall benefit to the planet.

Written by Christopher ZF

January 27, 2012 at 12:02

can either of these guys win?

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Erik Erickson, from Red State, on the ugliness of the Newt v. Romney Primary Battle for Destruction:

The fight has gotten so bitter and acrimonious with only three states chosen because neither side thinks the other side can win. Gingrich supporters understand that the secularists in the media — not the Democrats, but the media to the extent it can be separated from the Obama Machine — will spend six months creeping out independent suburban voters about Mormons, holy underwear, Kolob, postmortem baptism, and views on black people and then, as the coup de grace, Barack Obama will fire up millions of dollars of ads on Bain Capital raiding pension funds forcing the government to cover the debt so Mitt Romney could make millions whether he won or lost a deal.
Romney supporters understand Newt Gingrich will open his mouth.
Mitt Romney will find it very hard to beat Barack Obama because of what Barack Obama will do to him. Newt Gingrich will find it very hard to beat Barack Obama because of what Newt Gingrich will do to himself. That’s the simple truth. 

Sounds okay to me.

Erickson is getting pretty pessimistic about the chances of beating Barack Obama this year, it would seem to me, and it’s not hard to understand why. Both Gingrich and Romney have their own special set of problems, and those problem sets are huge. Not to mention that President Obama is pretty good on the campaign trail, will have a lot of money to spend, and will also, for better or worse, have Super PACs of his own that will attack at will. And despite it all, don’t forget, Obama is still pretty well liked.

For what it’s worth.

Written by Christopher ZF

January 26, 2012 at 17:03

More Required Civil War and Ron Paul Reading from Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Ta-Nehisi Coates has a three part series at his Atlantic blog on the Civil War and comments Ron Paul made about whether the Civil War was necessary. If it seems I am coming back to this often, it is because I think this is important work, and it is worth your time to read it. I’ve been particularly interested in Lincoln in the past 12 months or so since reading Team of Rivals, and Coates has much to offer those interested in the history. But beyond the importance of understanding history, Ron Paul is a candidate for the Presidency, and represents a growing movement in American Conservatism. To have such a figure claim that the Civil War was unnecessary and should not have been fought should not go unquestioned. Having an honest and sober response to such interpretations is invaluable.

For context, here is the relevant quote from Ron Paul, during a 2007 interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press:

Thus spawned three posts from Coates looking at the history and making his case against Paul’s asserstion that the Civil War was unnecessary loss of American lives rather than a necessary war to end the evils of slavery.

1. Lincoln

 I have come to a fairly recent regard for Lincoln. He rose from utter frontier poverty, through self-education and hard work, to the presidency and the upper reaches of American letters. His path was harsh. His wife was mentally ill. His son died in office. He was derided in newspapers as ugly, stupid, a gorilla and white trash. For his patience, endurance, temperance and industry in the face of so many troubles, Lincoln was awarded a shot to the head. 

2. Economics

When slaves were worth only a cool $300 million, property in man was an “unhappy influence.” When that number skyrocketed in excess of $3 billion, suddenly it was a “positive good.” Perhaps this is to (sic)deterministic. I leave it to my fellow commenters to color in the portrait. At any rate the notion that such an interest–by far the greatest collective asset in the country at the time–could be merely incidental to the war is creationist quackery.

3. Violence

If you are faced with a system which was–at its core–rooted in horrific torture. (sic) murder, and human trafficking, and then told that it was all made to go away via faerie dust, you should be skeptical. If someone then generalizes and says that this system was ended everywhere by such means, you should be double so. Ron Paul’s rendition of history depends on a lack of that skepticism among his audience, and a faithful belief that they know nothing of Nanny, Toussaint, or Zumbi and have no sincere interest in finding out. Ron Paul is banking on your incuriosity. 

4. Morality
It is often said that Americans aren’t interested in history, but I think it’s more accurate to say that people–in general–aren’t interested in history that makes them feel bad. We surely are interested in those points of history from which we are able to extract an easy national glory–our achievement of independence from the British, the battle of Gettysburg, our fight against Hitler, and even the campaign of nonviolence waged by Martin Luther King. For different reasons, each of these episodes can be fitted for digestibility. More importantly that can be easily deployed in service our various national uses. 

Written by Christopher ZF

January 26, 2012 at 12:28