Monthly Archives: March 2012

We Must Wrestle Congress from the Republicans!

As many of you know, because you’ve not seen me around as much as usual, I’ve been devoting a considerable amount of my time to volunteering for a political campaign in my district. I’m trying to help Sharon Sund replace Erik Paulsen in the Third Congressional District of Minnesota. Erik is the Republican who took over the seat held by Jim Ramstad, who was a moderate Republican.

I wrote a blog post during the last congressional race addressing the question: Who is Erik Paulsen, anyway? Go read it if you have a chance, but I can summarize it for you: Have you seen the old Mission Impossible TV show, where the guy reaches down to his neck and pulls off a mask and it’s somebody else? If Erik Paulsen did that, he’d look like this when the mask came off:

Minnesota Third District Congressperson Erik Paulsen, after he takes off the mask.

Scary, huh?

There are three reasons that I’m supporting Sharon, and this has evolved over time so pay attention:

1) She is an Unabashed Liberal Progressive. I feel that we need more people like her in Congress, and I feel that running a “moderate” against a “Bachmann Clone” is a doomed strategy.

2) Although I tend to agree with Sharon on issues across the board, I’m particularly interested in her work in Health Care (that thing we used to have until the SCOTUS gutted it, I kid nervously?) and Green Energy and the related Green Economy. She was trained as a scientist and worked in Green Energy, as well as information technology and has experience in the medical device industry.

3) I’ve been watching her, as well as other candidates for various positions in various settings (the latter, over many years) speaking to audiences and small groups, and there is something Sharon does not ever do: She does not adjust her story on the issues depending on whom she is speaking with. She won’t tell environmentalists that she’s for saving the forests, spotted owl collectors that she’s against saving the forests, and Union representatives that she wants to turn the forests into jobs at any cost. (She is generally pro environment and pro jobs, I quickly add. Not sure how she stands on the Spotted Owl specifically, but I’m not worried.)

4) Some issues are hard, difficult, tricky, and approaches to them have to be nuanced and correspondingly complex. Sharon is reluctant to simplify her position on these issues into a sound bite, and prefers to discuss the complexities and hear what people have to say about them. (See the part above about having a background in science.)

5) After watching her campaign for a while, I’ve realized that Sharon has the campaign organization in place to win in November. She is running for the nomination against another DFLer, Brian Barnes (Brian is a really nice guy and is good on the issues too) so there is a campaign going on now for us to observe how she does. And, Sharon Sund is ahead in delegates (we are almost done with the nomination campaign … the last “convention” is Saturday) and had a great showing last Saturday when nine conventions happened on the same day, even winning in her worthy opponent’s home district.

Here is the list of people I’ve had the pleasure to meet working as a volunteer on this campaign; note that the campaign staff has grown as Sharon’s campaign gains momentum, and various experts have flocked to join. Here is the growing list of endorsements Sharon has received. This is a long list considering that endorsements don’t really start happening until after the nomination, or even the primaries, in Minnesota (we have a complicated system).

And now, the moment you have been waiting for. Here is the web page you can go to in order to donate to Sharon’s campaign.

When Sharon or any other person running for office asks for money, they have to be all nice and stuff. I don’t. IF YOU DON’T GIVE SHARON MONEY I WILL BE REALLY MAD AT YOU. I will, of course, be relying on the honor system to see if you’ve donated or not. But I know when you are telling me the truth and when you are not, so don’t even bother resisting. Just click there now and send Sharon 10 bucks. Or 25, if you can.

ORDER BY MIDNIGHT! … It turns out that if you give some money to Sharon’s campaign right now, by the end of the day Friday, there is a person who will match your donation.

That is all, thank you very much.

I'm really excited about Skeptically Speaking this week

Marie-Claire Shanahan is going t be interviewing David Dobbs about his book, Reef Madness: Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Meaning of Coral on Skeptically Speaking.

So, that would be one of my favorite people interviewing one of my favorite authors about one of my favorite books which is, in turn, about one of my favorite topics, on my absolutely favorite radio show/pod cast which is usually run and operated by one of my favorite people. Holy crap!

As you know, I interviewed David about this book on Bloggingheads a while back.

The interview will be on April 1st, Sunday at 6:00PM Mountain Time, and will be a podcast available on Friday of the same week. You can be part of the “live audience” on Sunday, and join the chat room. I’ll see you there!

All the details can be found here.

Michael Mann on Climate Scientists and Smear Campaigns

Climate scientist Michael Mann is no stranger to smear campaigns. Man has the distinction of having made important contributions to climate science, for which he shared the Nobel Peace Prize. He is famous to many of you for having come up with the “hockey stick” metaphor.

Michael Mann is a good scientist who has done honest, important, and high quality work, but there are those who don’t want to hear about the results he and other climate scientists have come up with. So, they hate him. And by “hate” I don’t mean that they sit there not liking him. I mean, they actively hate him. They wake up every morning and try to think of things to do to ruin his life, and they conspire with each other to carry out these nefarious acts, and in some cases, they are paid by special interests to do these things.

We all get this hate, to one level or another. I was amused the other day when one of the haters, someone who had made death threats against me, had apparently pressed the button on his Linked In account to “find people to link to” and thus accidentally sent me an invitation to “Link In.” I get an email that says “I want to kill you” then I get an invitation to link up. Made me laugh.

But in reality this is no laughing matter. Even though we all take a certain amount of crap for either being a climate scientist or a person who teaches about climate change or a blogger or journalist who covers these issues honestly and critically, no one has taken the crap that Michael Mann has had to take. I don’t know how he does it.

Anyway, Michael has written a commentary for CNN that covers not so much the attacks on him, but rather, the attacks on climate science more generally. He talks about the theft of emails and subsequent dissemination and misuse of their contents and related events:

In the most infamous episode, somebody stole thousands of e-mails and documents from leading climate researchers, including me. They cherry picked key phrases from the e-mails and published them out of context, like a black-and-white political attack ad with ominous music. Fossil fuel industry-funded groups gleefully spread the e-mails online and badgered the mainstream media into covering the “controversy” they had manufactured.

It was no accident that this happened on the eve of a major international climate change meeting. … The dozen independent investigations that did follow — all of which exonerated the scientists — got much less media coverage than the original nonscandal.

Go read his essay. Also, please, please check out the comment section and say something not horrible there to help diffuse the crap that I’m sure is going to appear there over the next few days!

Michael Mann is the author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines.