February 2004
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Day February 28, 2004

The Unlikely Coalition

A good reason why the Democrats have a real chance this year comes from an observation made by Blake over at American Footprint, when he said the following about the Republican press and editorial crowd:

They wake up every morning knowing full well that their job is to pretend that an alignment between religious fundamentalists, business executives, gun nuts, and libertarians makes any kind of logical sense.

After reading Judis and Teixiera’s Emerging Democratic Majority, I think Blake has a good point here.  The coalition between religious fundamentalism, economic conservatives, and other aspects of the “right wing” has proven to be a persistent but only meta-stable grouping.  Reagan flirted with this coalition in 1980, as did Bush 41 in 1988, but it seems like the “weak” aspect to this coalition is keeping the interests of economic centrists and conservatives and the interests of religious fundamentalists aligned at the same time.  And I’m coming to believe that Bush 43 is starting to falter.  Of course, he hasn’t really started campaigning in earnest yet, but in a sense he campaigns all the time, since there’s little evidence that his administration does anything without an eye towards “the base.”  

As I wrote last night about layoff numbers and in particular, the situation in Ohio, I started to think that the real chink in the armor here is going to be manufacturing states.  There’s a strong case to be made that the coalition could fall apart in Ohio purely over the economy, and that would possibly give Kerry 20 electoral votes.  Combined with the 2000 electoral map, if Ohio goes to the Democrats, it’s game over.  If I were Kerry, I’d seriously consider planning my campaign travel straight out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports every month.    


Just when you think you understand…

…you discover that the world is even weirder than you thought.  This is from 2001, and I don’t remember where I saw the link for it. 

State Senator Kay O’Connor of Kansas was asked in mid-September 2001 whether she was planning to attend the League of Women Voter’s “Celebrate the Right to Vote” luncheon.  O’Connor publicly said that she does not support the 19th Amendment, which extended suffrage to women, and that if it were up for ratification today she would not vote for it.

Huh?  A State Senator, an elected official, and vice-chair (at that time) of the elections and government committee, isn’t in favor of women having the right to vote?

When asked about the 19th Amendment, O’Connor said: “I’m an old-fashioned woman.  Men should take care of women, and if men were taking of women today we wouldn’t have to vote.”

My head hurts, and I need a martini after reading that.  


The attack on science and a free press, part 3

This week’s Nature (19 Feb 2004, p. 663), features an article on the Treasury Department’s embargo on scientific manuscripts from Iran, Libya, Sudan, and Cuba.  What the hell happened to the First Amendment, as Blake at American Footprint points out? 

How exactly does this protect our national security?  How does it encourage the governments and citizens of these countries to embrace democratic principles, when we’re not following them ourselves? 

My good friend and colleague, Carl Lipo, was scheduled to leave for Iran next week, as part of the first archaeological expedition to that country in 25 years.  Through the Pinpoint Foundation, a project of Pinpoint Venture Group, we’d just finished funding acquisition of new ground-penetrating radar equipment for use on this (and other projects).  The State Department imposed restrictions recent on “sensitive equipment” such as GPS, magnetometers, ground-penetrating radars, and other gear which is crucial for archaeological research today.  The project may – or may not – get permission to continue in the autumn of 2004.  I certainly hope so. 

The attack against science, free thought, and open discussion of issues such as genetics, stem cell research, and climate change is well underway and clearly going to be an issue in this election (behind jobs and national security).  I hope everyone concerned about this makes their worries known to the Kerry campaign, along with their campaign contributions.   

The attack on science continues, part 2

 Thanks to Kevin Drum for the reference.  Bush has replaced two members of his Council on Bioethics yesterday – Elizabeth Blackburn from UC San Francisco, and moral philosopher William May of SMU – who were both advocates for stem cell research.  White House spokesperson Erin Healy said that “we’ve decided to go ahead and appoint other individuals with different expertise and experience.”


In fact, she was correct.  The new folks do have different expertise and experience.  The kind that should scare the living crap out of anybody who does biological or medical research.  Or anybody who eventually wants a cure for cancer.

The first new appointee is Benjamin Carson, director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins.  Carson is also a motivational speaker who talks about how “we live in a nation where we can’t talk about God in public.”  The second appointee is Diana Schaub, chairman of Pol Sci at Loyola College.  In a 2002 public forum on cloning, she discussed research in which embryos are used as “the evil of the willful destruction of innocent human life.”  The third appointee is Peter Lawler, chairman of Government at Berry College in Georgia.  For those of us who don’t know Berry College, it’s an undergraduate college which “emphasizes a comprehensive, educational program committed to high academic standards, Christian values, and practical work experience…” 

Lawler is a piece of work, which is why I saved him for last.  In a more coherent moment, Lawler wrote in the conservative Weekly Standard in 2002 that if the US doesn’t “become clear as a nation that abortion is wrong,” then women would eventually be compelled to abort babies with genetic defects.  In his less coherent moments, Lawler is known for his hilarious classroom comments.  Among the gems in his “top 50”:

“Reading the introduction to books will make you dumber.”

“If a country is bad enough to embargo, it is bad enough to conquer.”

“I don’t want to point fingers, but women stay alive a lot longer than they need to.”  

“Darwin is kinda corny.”

“Machiavelli is a Sinatra kind of guy.”

We just turned over our country’s bioethics policy to these people?  I’m speechless.  I had to rewrite this sentence a couple of times to remove all of the swear words, in fact.  

If you’re not scared yet, you’re not paying attention.

Washington Post link