July 26, 2006

It’s about time — Mainella stepping down as National Park Service director

Mainella said she is leaving to spend more time with her family. If I had known that would have done the trick, I would have air-mailed her a couple of adoptable children.

The Yahoo article notes that people have criticized her for a proposed new management plan emphasizing recreation over conservation and allowing more snowmobile and ATV use in parks.

But that’s just the half of it. Her Fran Mainella said she is leaving politicizing of upper-middle management hiring for positions such as park superintendents, with a Bush political appointee sitting in on the hiring process, her signing off on increased NPS commercial tie-ins, more cell phone towers in the parks, etc., have all been horrendous.

So, Fran, don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out. Instead, stop in the doorway, and wait there until I can slam that door on your backside myself.

July 25, 2006

Slick Willie campaigns in Connecticut for JoePa, conducts political revisionism

Kos gives the Slickster the kid-glove treatment for his JoePa support

Shock me that the Slickster, Democratic Leadership Council darling that he is, would campaign for Joe Lieberman in the tight Connecticut primary.

Read the Slick Dog’s obfuscation of the Iraq issue, as reported by the AP:
Democrats “don’t agree on everything. We don't agree on Iraq," Clinton said, calling the conflict the "pink elephant in the living room."

But "the real issue is, whether you were for it or against it, what are we going to do now. And let me tell you something, no Democrat is responsible for the mistakes that have been made since the fall of Saddam Hussein that have brought us to this point.”

Just what all did this ignore?
First of all, how Lieberman is failing to distance himself enough from Bush even to say what he would do differently.

Second, and much worse His Slickness ignores that Democrats, especially those like Lieberman who are almost the Democratic version of neocons, have made the war worse by giving Bush carte blanche on every detail.

Third, and perhaps even worse yet, Tricky Slicky lets people like JoePa totally off the hook for “collateral” damages … i.e. Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, etc.

And, to borrow a phrase, about the “kewl kids” of the knee-jerk pseudo-progressive blogosphere, let’s see what Chief Kewl Kid Kos says about his Slick Dog hero schilling for the rightly-disliked JoePa.

As you might expect, it’s a mix of Clinton suck-up, Lieberman bashing, and working on other political scores (such as Barbara Boxer) with a shiv. It’s not pretty.
The cynic might say that Bill Clinton is going to Connecticut, despite being trashed by Lieberman during the impeachment saga, to protect a fellow member of the elitist establishment's insider's club. They may say that the DLC called in the biggest favor it can offer Lieberman (its patron saint) — a visit by a former popular president. They may try to find a tortured explanation of why this helps Hillary.

B. Clinton's visit may have been arranged by the DLC (didn't they have some sort of "annual conference" this past weekend? Did anyone care?), but what it tells me is that Bill is a far bigger man than Lieberman ever was or can be.

Despite being on the withering receiving end of Lieberman's sanctimonious public screeds during the impeachment saga, on the floor of the Senate AND in television studios all over the place, Clinton is willing to come to the senator's aid. He could've held a grudge and none would think less of him.
Instead, he repays Lieberman's backstabbing with kindness.

So I actually respect Bill for doing this one event for Lieberman. In a funny way it makes Lieberman look even smaller, pettier, and pathetic than he already does.

On the other hand, Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is sneaking into Connecticut today for a Lieberman fundraiser, hoping that Clinton's visit overshadows hers and no one notices she's in town, is suddenly a profile in cowardice.

First, note that Boxer is sneaking, while Clinton isn’t. Of course, Kos has also occasionally come off in the past as a misogynist; I don’t get why he doesn’t label Boxer (whom I agree is wrong-headed) as “bitchily sneaking.”

Second, she and Clinton have the exact same stance on Lieberman re Iraq: The war isn’t THAT big of an issue and the Democratic Party is a big tent. So it’s not OK for Boxer to say that, but Slick Dawg can?

Third, claiming that Connecticut Democrats won’t be swayed by Clinton. Then why doesn’t he, in the same breath, outrightly say, “Slick, you should have just stayed home?” Again, Slick gets the slick glove treatment, not the Boxer gloves. (Elsewhere, Kos shows thin skin when Mickey Kaus chides him for giving former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner the Slick treatment, not the Boxer one, when he campaigned for JoePa.

Fourth, Clinton ignores that JoePa has done a fair amount of Bush enabling on domestic issues, too, but Kos doesn’t nail him there either.

Fourth, the amount of spin, that Clinton might be getting an underhanded pound of flesh by making Lieberman looke “smaller, petter, and more pathetic.” It is “reaching” for an incumbent senator to call in a former president for primary help, I’ll agree, but “smaller, petter, and (more) pathetic”? I think not.

If anybody is that, it’s Kos, for the way he must turn everything his own point of view.

July 23, 2006

Pharyngula tees off on religion in higher ed, courtesy of a post of mine

A throwaway comment by Pharyngula himself, PZ Myers, about getting religion out of academia, posted here as a response to my own blog post about Southern Baptist litmus tests at universities, has drawn plenty of fire.

Here’s my comments in the fray:

I'm an atheist with a graduate divinity degree, so I guess I have a special insight on these issues from the religion and philosophy side.

PZ's "substitute religion for fundamentalism" comment is certainly provocative. But, to the degree every religion claims that certain metaphysical truths are a priori true, his comment is also perfectly valid.

This post reminds me that everybody should be required to take a class on critical thinking in high school. Textbook would be Bob Carroll's The Skeptic's Dictionary plus a book on informal logic.

Contrary to Rob, science does not have a contrary a priori that supernatural items do not exist. It rather simply says they are not amenable to scientific study and therefore outside of consideration. It's not the same thing at all.

Beyond that, Rob, nobody says scientists must approach everything in life with a scientific POV. I don't approach Beethoven or Shakespeare, or my own poetry writing or nature photography that way.

Indeed, PZ, I did a newspaper column about that, including how I can experience "inspiration" in a naturalistic sense, poignant emotions that could be considered ineffable, etc., all without any need for supernaturalistic explanation.

Mnemosyne said:

"Religion falls into the same realm as art -- it's a spiritual, intangible thing. Do you really think the best way to appreciate the Mona Lisa or Michaelangelo's David is with a spectrometer?"

NO. But, do my eyeballs have to have read some religious books, or my chemically vitalized carcass have to have been in a church/synagogue/mosque/temple/ashram to appreciate Mona Lisa or David as much as a religious person?

NO, again.

People like you, who insist something about the human spirit/striving/personality/aesthetics/emotions/values DEMANDS a religious antecedent are the ones who "don't get it," not people like me.

I addressed this issue, as well, in the newspaper column I wrote.

Vacation time!

It’s vacation time for me! I’ll be gone to Northern California/Pacific Northwest July 26-Aug. 6. So, to whatever loyal readers I have, I’ll be on hiatus. And, for those of you who have said you appreciate my nature photography, I’ll have some new Yahoo albums up a week or two after I’m back.

In addition to national parks and other nature sites, I plan on doing some San Andreas Fault hunting in San Francisco and up north as far as Cape Mendocino, since this is the centennial of the earthquake. I’ll also be dropping in on some Sonoma-area dairies for some of the best cheese imaginable, or not imaginable if you haven’t had it. Vella’s raw milk sharp cheddar is indescribable.

One less reason to buy a Hummer

The new Hummer “Restore Your Manhood” commercial (I hope only one was made) is definitely off-putting and arguably sexist.

It’s official — Democrats jazz up start of primary season

But New Mexico, sentimentally to me, would have been better that Nevada, if it had applied

The Democratic National Committee awarded Arizona a caucus a week after Iowa’s and South Carolina a primary the week after New Hampshire’s, in an attempt to broaden the base of early voters.

I’m definitely with South Carolina. It’s got the largest-percentage black population of any state, plus it’s a Southern state.

But Nevada? New Mexico has a much larger Hispanic population, percentage-wise, and a larger American Indian population as well. It also has a more diverse mix of big city (Albuquerque), medium cities, Santa Fe and Las Cruces, small cities such as Farmington, etc.

New Mexico, though, didn’t apply for either of the two slots. Of course, Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson is touted as a presidential hopeful, and perhaps he didn’t want to seem too grasping.