Monday, December 26, 2011

Michelle Bachman is a Bad Person

First in an ongoing, occasional series on the 2012 presidential election.

Michelle Bachman - My first foray into research on her just tells me she is truly a bad person. I usually think people are mostly good but deluded or good but under educated. Like that. This person, though, might truly be evil. Let's start with global warming. This from Wikipedia:

Bachmann has charged that global warming is a hoax[82] and has been a vocal skeptic of global warming.[83] She has asserted that since carbon dioxide is "a natural byproduct of nature", it is a beneficial gas required by plant life. She stated that because life requires carbon dioxide and it is part of the planet's life cycle, it cannot be harmful. In a statement she made on the House floor on Earth Day, April 22, 2009, Bachmann stated she was against the cap and trade climate legislation, stating: "Carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas, it is a harmless gas. Carbon dioxide is natural; it is not harmful.... We're being told we have to reduce this natural substance to create an arbitrary reduction in something that is naturally occurring in the earth.

Wow. This is just gross ignorance or gross pandering to an ignorant segment of society, i.e. Republicans. Maybe Ms. Bachmann would like to breath a big bag of carbon dioxide for severall minutes? Of course Cabon Dioxide is needed for life but how much? UV light is necessary for some chemical reactions but how much? Plus, to say that global warming is a hoax would imply that someone has something to gain by promoting such a hoax. Who? The entire scientific community is in on some grand practical joke? (See a very nice, concise article on reasons to conclude that global warming is real from NASA.) A hoax from NASA? What do they have to gain by claiming that the earth is warming up? I think Bachman just says the word 'hoax' to gain attention and votes from the idiotic conspiracy crowd that have infected the Republican party.

I find several examples of Bachman being a champion of the new political methodology of 'my way or nothing'. Here's an example.

On August 31, 2009, Bachmann spoke at an event in Colorado, saying of Democratic health care overhaul proposals that: This cannot pass. What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn't pass.

Not much room for debate there is there?

Similarly -

Bachmann has characterized the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as "ObamaCare", and has continually called for its repeal.

No honest debate. No entering of actual bills. Just calling for a repeal.

Now how about evolution. From the Huffington Post:

Not only is Bachmann a fan of creationism and its anti-intellectual offshoot, intelligent design, she's made some outlandish claims about the pseudoscientific subject. For example, she's asserted, "there is a controversy among scientists about whether evolution is a fact ... hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel prizes, believe in intelligent design."

OK, there is no controversy among scientists. There is a "controversy" only because there is a large group of evangelicals who can't accept a simple scientific fact because it might mean that we are no more special than aardvarks. The best news about her claim is how it was shot down by a high school student, Zack Kopplin:

Zack has now challenged Bachmann on her claims. Using a poker analogy and the huge number of scientists who have endorsed evolution, in general, and his repeal effort, in particular, Zack has written, "Congresswoman Bachmann, I see your 'hundreds' of scientists, and raise you millions of scientists."

Given the strength of the hand he has, he doesn't stop there.

For the next hand, I raise you 43 Nobel Laureate scientists. That's right: 43 Nobel Laureate scientists have endorsed our effort to repeal Louisiana's creationism law. ... Congresswoman Bachmann, you claim that Nobel Laureates support creationism. Show me your hand. If you want to be taken seriously by voters while you run for President, back up your claims with facts. Can you match 43 Nobel Laureates, or do you fold?

No response ever from Bachman. But, this is her method. She makes outrageous claims with no supporting evidence, gets her name in the paper and her face on TV. . . and moves on.

How about gay and lesbians?

gay and lesbian people “live a very sad life” that is “part of Satan” with “sexual dysfunction and sexual identity disorders.”

"We need to have profound compassion for the people who are dealing with the very real issue of sexual dysfunction in their life, and sexual identity disorders. This is a very real issue. It's not funny, it's sad. Any of you who have members of your family that are in the lifestyle-we have a member of our family that is. This is not funny. It's a very sad life. It's part of Satan, I think, to say this is gay. It's anything but gay."

Bachman's husband is some sort of counselor and runs a business where you can pray the gay away and get 'cured' of that particular affliction. Here's her response to a hidden camera foray into his counseling business:

HOST: What is your opinion on reparative therapy and is it something that’s conducted in that center?

BACHMANN: Well, I’m running for the Presidency of the United States and I’m here to talk about job creation and that we do have a business that deals with job creation. I’m very proud of the business that we created and I’m here today in Indianola, Iowa….

HOST: But of course the issue today is about this reparative therapy and about what this hidden camera caught and their opinions are going to be aired on tonight’s news. And you don’t want to comment on that and give your side?

BACHMANN: Well, I’m here to talk about the Presidency of the United States. As I said again, we’re very proud of our business and we’re proud of all job creators in the United States. That’s what people really care about.

OK I think we've seen enough. She's a bad person. I think she's so bad that she has no chance. No one can make this many undefendable, crazy statements and survive the scrutiny of a run for the presidency. That would be like if George Bush could get elected! Wait. . .

We need to keep her feet to the fire. When she claims things we HAVE to ask for the evidence. Show your cards. Don't let her just spout off and then get back on the plane to the next sound bite option. I hope she does many more interviews because anybody who has read anything can take her apart easily.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2012 Presidential Race

Here we go again!

I’m disgusted with the current state of our government. It is a do nothing, CYA, pit of hollering at each other. It is impossible for anyone to simply have a good idea. If a Republican has an idea it is BAD as reported by the Democrats and visa-verse. By definition! No one can break ranks without being ostracized by his or her own party. There is no real debate and no real consideration of what is best for the country as a whole. All proposals are looked at ONLY in the light of ‘what does this do for me and my party’. The hell with ‘the people’.

In that light I’m tempted to just ignore the whole thing. The process upsets me. The bickering is annoying and really the whole thing just becomes depressingly boring. Tempted.

But here comes a new year ending in said election. So, I need to buck up, do a little reading and try to sort out what the candidates really say (should they actually say something) from all the hollering and posturing. I think I’ll start by just reading up on one candidate at a time and writing about them.

I’ll try to keep and open and reasonable mind as I read and write but from the outset I’m going to be leery of anyone who thinks he has an upper hand just because he is more pious than another. I don’t expect America to elect an atheist anytime soon but I’d at least like to find a candidate who, 1. Understands the essence of the separation of church and state and, 2. one who is not anti-science nor anti intellectual. I know that by saying those two things I’ll not find a candidate at all but I’d like to keep banging the drum for reason and for keeping myths out of government.

Now. . .who shall I start with. . .

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jesus Toast!

Tired of waiting for the savior of mankind to appear on your morning toast? Who isn't. Well wait no more!

Jesus Toaster

Just goes to show you - you can sell some people anything! (I kind of want one though)


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Anthropic Principle

One time a theist friend challenged my atheism by asking me, “How do you explain goodness”? A flippant answer would be, “How do you explain badness”? but I think there’s a better answer.

Think of proto-humans. Short, slow, no claws or fangs. We had sizable brains but not early on. About the only remaining way for the humanoid branch to continue to grow was for packs of us to stick together. Evolution would select cooperation over eating our young or our neighbor’s young for example. This is not unlike the anthropic principle in cosmology. The physical constants and age of the universe are apparently just right for consciousness because we’re here to observe them. Because we’re here at all ‘proves’ that what we now call ‘goodness’ must have evolved naturally - was naturally selected. I put proves in quotes because I haven’t proven anything in a truly slam dunk logical way. On the other hand, which scenario seems more reasonable? That a magical entity whose existence cannot be demonstrated imbued humans with ‘goodness’ and that’s why we’re good and don’t kill each other, or drop bombs on each other, or lie to each other, or steal from each other OR that overall we are more good than bad (regardless of the evening news) because evolution would pick that otherwise I wouldn’t be here to make this clever argument!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What's Next?

I'm reading an article on CNN about the controversy on what to call a 'Chirstmas tree'. It was a holiday tree in Wisconsin's capital and now it's a Christmas tree again. In Rhode Island it's no longer a Christmas tree but is now a holiday tree. Lots of loud talking from theists and atheists alike on what's proper.

This past year has seemed especially busy in the formation of free thinking student alliances on campuses around the country and by the multitude of atheist billboards going up. Of course each of these is accompanied by the usual loud talking and fist shaking by both sides.

And I tire of it.

I started this blog about 6 years ago. I've been reading other atheist blogs, I've read Daniel Dennet and Christopher Hitchens. I read Friendly Atheist every day. Now, I can't help but wonder what is next? The writing, the arguments, the billboards all seem the same, same, same.

And I tire of the rhetoric.

I'm all for and excited about the modern atheist movement but it seems stuck in 'billboard' mode. While I think it's important for the message to continue to go out I yearn for something more. What would that be?

The only thing I can think of that would really stir the pot is if atheist numbers and organization could get to the point to support and promote a truly free thinking, free speaking, atheist political candidate at the senate or governor level. I think we're years away from that but I'd like to think that it is going to happen sometime.

How great would it be for a reporter to ask the candidate about his religious affiliation and have him look straight into the camera and say, 'Atheist'. Follow this by asking the reporter in what way belief, faith, adherence to myths, etc is connected to governing?

In the meantime I guess we just keep banging the drum and speaking our minds. Freely and reasonably.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Magic Sweatshirt

I’ve been running better lately. A little farther. Maybe faster and just generally feeling better while running. Yesterday I had my first bad run in a while. Only went a quarter mile and turned around and came walking/jogging back.

But I had my longest run in a long, long time today (4 miles!) and felt pretty darn good too. What the hell happened yesterday? Hmmm….

I know! Of all those recent runs it was the only one where I didn’t wear my old Maine East High School sweatshirt. So what have we learned children?


The same logic works for prayer. When you pray for someone or something and it ‘works’ we’re happy to celebrate the magic while ignoring the millions of other explanations for the outcome. Our prayers were ‘answered’. One reinforcement of a magical hypothesis tends to make many of us ignore other possibilities and conclude that the hypothesis has been proven to be true. This is especially true if you WANT the hypothesis to be true because you’ve already made a philosophical and monetary commitment to magical happenings and their trappings.

So, besides lacking my magical sweatshirt what else could have been different about yesterday’s run? What did I eat the night before? How much sleep? What time of day did I run? Temperature for the run? Wind? There are hundreds of variables and thousands of combinations of those variables that work for or against us runners. We sort out some as we learn about our own running bodies. I cannot run before 7. I can’t and there is not enough magic in any shirt to change that. I can’t run 2 days in a row (very often). My body needs an easy day between runs. Things like that.

When someone is prayed for AND they recover from an illness some think they’re prayers have been answered. Well, they were ‘hoping’ for such and outcome (I can’t find a real difference between hoping and praying) and they got it. It certainly is tempting to conclude that one caused the other but there’s no logical reason to do that and a million other factors to consider. The drugs worked. The doctors diagnosis was correct. The body heals itself sometimes and so on.

Does praying for someone make the one doing the praying feel better? I think it does. I think it makes them feel like they're doing something in a time of maybe feeling helpless. That's fine and I'd never interfere. But ease up on schools and government involvment with church and prayer ok? And don't get on your high moral horse with me if you're praying for someone and I'm just hoping.

Well tomorrow is an off day for running but I'll be back on it come Saturday. I better remember to get that sweat shirt in the wash!