News and Politics


From the NYT:

“Pushing back against the Democratic-led Congress, President Bush vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have eased restraints on federally funded embryonic stem cell research.”

Let’s hear it for politicians’ infinite wisdom when it comes to science. Being in the current situation that I’m in, I am acutely aware of the lasting implications of legislators’ pen strokes. They push dollars around, and people’s lives (not theirs, though) are heavily impacted. Science has become an unneeded commodity in our current political climate. My advisor was awarded a Guggenheim a few years ago, and now there’s not a cent to be found. Not from the NIH, NSF, ACS, AIP, heck I’d even ask AA or AAA for money at this point. But the source of all of these organization’s funding (Uncle Sam) has deemed them “discretionary,” and has treated them as such. So as the war rages on, our sciences fall further behind, and my paycheck goes to the pentagon.

And now with W.’s latest blunder, he has single-handedly set the timeline for finding a cure for cancer back about a decade, while simultaneously vilifying geneticists and dissuading a generation of youths from scientific careers. Yesss. Man, he’s good. Four more years!?

W. has used his veto power three times while in the white house. Two vetoes limited funds available to scientists, and the other made an open ended affair of the Iraq war. It’s like a modern day reversal of Robin Hood. Someone must have had a really bad science teacher in high school.

The latest Democratic candidate debate was held yesterday in NH. One of the most profound quotes came from Joe Biden when he said, “You need 67 votes to end this war.” Chew on that for a second. All it takes is 67 people to end US involvement in this mess, to bring our citizens home, out of harm’s way, and stop killing innocent Iraqis. I can walk down the street and find that many people with the corresponding sentiment.

Hillary toed the line on every issue, as usual, trying not to let the vitriole eat them from the inside out. It’s great that she is trying to keep everyone together, but in doing so she sidesteps making unpopular decisions at every turn.

John Edwards stood out as a hero of the masses, or at least a champion of my own beliefs. On the war of terror he put it succinctly, “But what this global war on terror bumper sticker — political slogan, that’s all it is, it’s all it’s ever been — was intended to do was for George Bush to use it to justify everything he does. The ongoing war in Iraq, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, spying on Americans, torture, none of those things are okay. They are not the United States of America.” Nice. Then on the subject of health care, it is clear that he has the most feasible plan to insure the most people for the least amount of money (rolling back tax cuts for those who net >200K) among the three front runners. But Kucinich brought up a very important point. He noted that, “What Senator Clinton, Senator Edwards, Senator Obama are talking about, they’re talking about letting the insurance companies stay in charge. They’re talking about continuing a for-profit health care system.” And that is exactly why US health care is so decrepid. Evidently Kucinich and Conyers can fix it all with HR 676. I’ll have to give it a read.

Obama utterly falls flat on health care, letting his blue blood show through. He says, “Everybody who wants it can buy it and it’s affordable. If we have some gaps remaining, we will work on that.” Huh? Sounds a bit ‘let them eat cake-ish’ to me.

My overall impression is that all of the candidates are seriously out of touch with the realities of making less than $10 million a year.

oh, and Paris Hilton is a jail-bird.

When asked about W.’s refusal to sign the Kyoto accord Condi Rice had this gem to offer, “the president of the United States was not elected to sign treaties that are not in America’s interest.”
I’d argue that preventing the human-induced degradation of our environment into one that is incapable of supporting human life (even Americans fall into this category) is absolutely in this nation’s interest. But hey, I’m just in the majority on this one, and not one of W.’s yes-men who love their jobs so much they are willing to disavow their responsibility to uphold the will of the citizens.

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W. has vowed to use his veto power to strike down any bill that contains protection for gays under the hate crime amendment, essentially condoning violence against people based on sexual orientation. He says that people should have the religious freedom to criticize the gay community’s liffestyle and choices. Hmm. His interpretation of his own religion (and let’s be clear that he is motivated solely by his own religious beliefs and couldn’t care less about anyone else’s) also puts worshiping any god other than his on the same footing as homosexuality. So where’s the religious freedom to criticize other religions? Oh that’s right, they are protected. And it isn’t even protection against verbal criticism that is sought. They want protection from hate crimes that endanger the lives and well being of US citizens. W. says that it’s ok to direct hate crimes towards gays? And uses religion to justify it?? Huh? I’m completely baffled.

Hate crimes against people with disabilities will also be stricken down with the amendment. I have yet to hear a justification for this, but I can only imagine how horribly twisted the logic will be. Why don’t we cordon off some land and we’ll put all of those “citizens” that the founding fathers didn’t really intend to have full rights, but had to include in the constitution and bill of rights, on it. We’ll give it a name that evokes the diversity of all of those misfits, but highlights their underlying unity. How about: The United States. Yeah, and then we’ll take all of the “real citizens” (white, heterosexual, non-disabled males of western European descent) and put them in their very own shangri-la where they can unite in their disdain for everyone else. We’ll call it…Kansas. Or Alabama.

What do the United States, Lesotho, Liberia, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland all have in common?

They are the only countries in the (somewhat) civilized world that do not have guaranteed paid maternity leave. Let’s hear it for the free market taking care of people. What incentive could businesses possibly have for providing paid maternity leave when the guy down the street doesn’t.

In other news the US has said that having aircraft carriers and other various warships in the persian gulf is not antagonistic. Cue Twilight Zone theme. Not antagonistic?? These machines are made with the sole purpose of blowing things up. What would you think if your neighbor went out and bought an anti-neighbor cannon and pointed it right at your front door?

I just looked out my window to the parking lot entrance from an intersection just below my office to see a man lying in the middle of the entrance in a pool of blood and a mangled bike next to him. No car in sight, though. One man ran over from an adjacent office to help hold the man down until EMTs arrived. Whatever happened, this guy was drenched.

They need a pedestrian overpass at this intersection. The bike path system runs right through it. It is seven lanes wide and has the highest speed limit in town. Last year I saw the carnage after a woman on a bike was run over and killed there. My best friend was hit by a car not 10 feet from where this guy was just maimed. I routinely see people blast the red light at full speed, at least twice a week, to potentially run over any pedestrians crossing with the light in their favor. It’s a mess.

I used to be impressed with how bike-friendly this town appeared to be, as city officials loudly touted. But after commuting on bicycle over the last few years I’ve become disenchanted. I almost get hit by careless drivers not checking the bike lanes before turning or pulling out into the road almost weekly. The above incidences add to it, and I can rattle off a list of people I know who’ve been hit on bikes here. Yes this town has a high volume of bicycle traffic and lanes, but is it truly biker-friendly? I’m starting to think not. You can put in all the infrastructure you want, but until motorists are willing to use it and are consious of it at all times, it is useless. So get with it drivers, I’m a biker, not a speedbump. Don’t hit me.

But the mayor of DC snubbed the first lady’s invitation to sit with her at the state of the union address last night. And then showed up with Nancy Pelosi. He just wasn’t that into her.  The scandal.

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