Monthly Archives: March 2012

"Monkey Bill" Passes

Tennessee “monkey bill” passes legislature

House Bill 368 passed the Tennessee House of Representatives on a 72-23 vote on March 26, 2012, the Chattanooga Times Free Press (March 26, 2012) reports. The bill would encourage teachers to present the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of topics that arouse “debate and disputation” such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning”; it now proceeds to Governor Bill Haslam, who will have ten days to sign the bill, allow it to become law without his signature, or veto it. Haslam previously indicated that he would discuss the bill with the state board of education, telling the Nashville Tennesseean (March 19, 2012), “It is a fair question what the General Assembly’s role is … That’s why we have a state board of education.”

Opposing the bill have been the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Nashville Tennessean, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the National Earth Science Teachers Association, the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, and three distinguished Tennessee scientists and members of the National Academy of Sciences who recently warned, in a column published in the Tennessean (March 25, 2012), that the legislation was “misleading, unnecessary, likely to provoke unnecessary and divisive legal proceedings, and likely to have adverse economic consequences for the state.”

freeDOS site redesign

Click Here to explore freeDOS’s new site design, now in testing stage. I think it looks much much better than the old site and is noticeably more functional. It is actually a good model for other similar software supporting sites. The thing I like about it most is that you need to do very little work to find out what the heck the software is, if, why, and how one might install it, and what you can use it for . I would add a single sentence or two to the context material, but otherwise it looks nearly done.

i-d9e186f11361ae0a0eeafc7fb7239142-7-14-2010-2-12-53-PM-thumb-280x179-73431.pngWhile you are there, visit the bottom of the page to find links to the freeDOS facebook page and twitter feed.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about here at all, that’s OK. Just move along. Nothing for you to see here. But just remember. The world wasn’t always the way it was when you found it.

Limbaugh Advertisers Continue to Flee; Starbucks Boycott Backfires

I consider these two things to be related, and good:

Rush Limbaugh Advertiser Exodus Continues With Kohler Pulling Content

Rush Limbaugh’s advertising woes continue, as kitchen and bath fixtures company Kohler is the latest company to pull its content from the radio program.

On Monday, Kohler responded to pressure from customers who wanted to know if the company advertised on Limbaugh’s program. Kohler tweeted that the company does not support Limbaugh’s comments and pulled its advertisements from his show.


Starbucks Boycott Over Marriage Equality Spurs Tenfold Backlash

The National Organization for Marriage’s decision to boycott Starbucks for the company’s support of the freedom to marry has turned out to be a dismal failure. In the five days since NOM launched its “Dump Starbucks” petition, it has only gotten 19,000 signatures, compared to the nearly 250,000 individuals who have signed SumOfUs’s retaliatory “Thank You, Starbucks” card. In fact, SumOfUs has gotten over 8,000 new signers since 8:30 this morning.


Running a Well Organized Political Campaign in Minnesota

I have participated in Minnesota Democratic Party (officially known as the DFL1) activities in the past, but never as intimately as this year. In doing so, I’ve observed a number of very interesting things about how a political campaign works, and I’d like to share those observations with you. In particular, I’ll contrast the campaign I’m volunteering for whenever I have a chance (Sharon Sund for US Congress) with the opposing campaign (Brian Barnes for US Congress).
Continue reading Running a Well Organized Political Campaign in Minnesota

Denise Dittrich will Not Seek Re-Election; Why is this a good thing?

Denise Dittrich is a Democratic member of the Minneosta House, and is in fact my representative in that legislative body. She lost my confidence as a representative when she broke with the central ideals of the DFL (our term for the Democratic Party) and voted in favor of limiting marriage to a man and a woman in Minnesota. She was one of the only Democrats to do that. On looking more closely at her, I found out that she also pushed for the Northstar Rail, which as our second major rail commuting effort in the Twin Cities is a good thing, but also, that she had a personal financial interest in that project.

Dittrich surprised everyone at our local Senate District Convention on Saturday (click here to find out what the heck a Senate District Convention is) and announced that she would not be running for re-election. She spoke in a statement that “As my youngest child graduates from high school, my family and I are beginning a new chapter in our lives.” Indeed. Run for office, get a bill passed that personally benefits you financially, get lucky that the party in power at the moment is your own so they don’t press for an ethics investigation, then just as the party control of the legislature shifts, vote against your party on a major issue (were you ever a real Democrat, Denise?) and then bug out of there while everyone else is distracted with other issues.

We are not amused.

Running an Effective Political Campaign

I have participated in Minnesota Democratic Party (officially known as the DFL1) activities in the past, but never as intimately as this year. In doing so, I’ve observed a number of very interesting things about how a political campaign works, and I’d like to share those observations with you. In particular, I’ll contrast the campaign I’m volunteering for whenever I have a chance (Sharon Sund for US Congress) with the opposing campaign (Brian Barnes for US Congress).

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Tennessee, the Laughing Stock State becomes … A Laughing Stock

Tennessee is where the famous Scopes Trial of 1925 played out, and more recently two state level state bills (one house and one senate) are in play in a move by legislatures to further enhance Tennessee’s reputation as a place where people don’t value education and would not know of valid scientific theory if it bit them on the ear.

You’all knew that if you’ve been following the news from there. Yesterday, an editorial was printed by four scientists who are rather fed up with Tennessee’s playing fast and loose with reality, and it is worth a look.

… Even the religious mainstream has accepted the theory of evolution as the scientific description of how living things change over large time scales. Over 12,000 Christian clergy in the U.S. have endorsed a statement acknowledging that “the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests.”

In opposing the legislation, the American Association for the Advancement of Science explained, “There is virtually no scientific controversy among the overwhelming majority of researchers on the core facts of global warming and evolution. Asserting that there are significant scientific controversies about the overall nature of these concepts when there are none will only confuse students, not enlighten them.”…

Read the whole editorial here, it is quite good.

About that $8 Billion Abortionplex

The Onion ran this spoof:

Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex

TOPEKA, KS—Planned Parenthood announced Tuesday the grand opening of its long-planned $8 billion Abortionplex, a sprawling abortion facility that will allow the organization to terminate unborn lives with an efficiency never before thought possible.

During a press conference, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards told reporters that the new state-of-the-art fetus-killing facility located in the nation’s heartland offers quick, easy, in-and-out abortions to all women, and represents a bold reinvention of the group’s long-standing mission and values.

etc etc etc

Then, John Fleming, Jr. a Louisiana physician and Republican U.S. Congresspreson from Louisiana’s 4th district, posted it on Facebook with this note:

[original story from HERE]

The post has since been taken down.

Now, anybody can make a mistake. I suppose. But this kind of mistake is funny enough to tell you about.

John Fleming, famous for opposing taxes on the rich because they are not really rich, and for being something of an idiot.

Flemming is actually somewhat famous as that guy who said that millionaires should not be taxed because they have less money than people think they have. From Wikipedia:

“In a September 19, 2011 interview on MSNBC, in which Fleming criticized President Obama’s proposed plan to increase taxes on the wealthy, Fleming told host Chris Jansing, “The amount that I have to invest in my business and feed my family is more like $600,000 of that $6.3 million…. So by the time I feed my family I have, maybe, $400,000 left over to invest in new locations, upgrade my locations, buy more equipment.” When Jansing asked Fleming if he thought the “average person” might be unsympathetic to Fleming’s position, Fleming responded, “Class warfare never created a job…This is not about attacking people who make certain incomes. You know in this country, most people feel that being successful in their business is a virtue, not a vice, and once we begin to identify it as a vice, this country is going down.””

Huh. Turns out the Supreme Court matters

Beginning today and likely running through midweek, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments will hear arguments pertaining to the Affordable Health Care Act, otherwise know affectionately as Obamacare.

The question that will ultimately be addressed is this: Who is in charge here, conservative Supreme Court justices and the Rush Limbaugh-led Republican Party, or the people? We’ll see. Stay tuned.

Either way, just so you know in case you are an American Citizen who is naive on civics: The Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life by the President but only with the “advice and consent” (= approval after a long period of public interrogation) of the Senate. Furthermore, the Supreme Court justices are often selected from the body of judges that make up the Federal system, which were also appointed in a similar manner. Who sits in the Oval Office and the Senate thus determines the long term make up of the court. Keep that in mind when you go into the voting booth (or as you are contemplating staying home) this November.

Belvedere vodka ad is highly questionable

Or, should I say … was highly questionable, as I believe it was pulled very quickly after the consumer reaction to it.

The ad showed what looked more or less like a rape in progress, sort of, or at least a guy being a real jerk and a women being visible terrified by him, with the caption “Unlike some people … Belvedere always goes down smoothly.”

I’m told they make good Vodka, but really, Vodka is just ethanol with some water. Not that I’m recommending ethanol, but you might want to lay off the Belvedere for a few weeks (if you are a regular Vodka drinker) and let them see a dip in their sales. If corporations actually were really people, you could just slap it upside the head, but since they are not, speaking with your feet, as it were, is in order.

Hat tip Asha. Here’s the source.

A DFL Walking Caucus

This is what a Democratic Party Walking Caucus looks like. It is a thing we do in Minnesota. It is so arcane and complicated that the press never covers it, so no one has any idea that we are doing this to select our nominees for political office. We have a fake “primary” at the beginning of the process, and that is what the press reports, but the “primary” result has nothing to do with the outcome of the process.

In this particular caucus, in my State Senate District, one of the main issues was selecting delegates for US Congress. In this race, Sharon Sund‘s team more or less wiped the floor with her opponent, Brian Barnes, even though the politics and demographics here would have suggested a more even outcome.

Prior to that event, there was a very interesting race between a member of the infamous Anoka-Hennepin School Board and a local teacher for State Senate. The former was well connected politically and had a well organized campaign, the latter an impassioned argument and a homey family-run campaign. The former wiped the floor with the latter.

And that is more evidence of the press’s failings. Anoka-Hennepin School district politics was interesting enough this year to get a write-up in Rolling Stone, but one of the outcomes, that particular political contest, was inaccessible to the press because, again, the press can’t really handle the complexity of Minnesota DFL party politics. (Nor can most Minnesotans, actually.)

Obamacare vs. The Affordable Health Care Act

I was recently at a political debate in which one of the debaters, Brian Barnes, said he did not like the term “Obamacare,” lamented that the Republicans are better at coming up with catch phrases than we Democrats are, and suggested that instead of “Obamacare” we call it “The Affordable Healthcare Act.” The person debating against him, Sharon Sund, didn’t really agree or disagree.

As a side note I’ll mention that one of the reasons we have this health care is because of the tireless activism of lots of people including Sharon. Thanks Sharon.

Obamacare Baby Suit

Anyway, I always liked “Obamacare” as a term … I wanted to take that term right from the hands of the Republicans from the beginning. In fact, I made Obamacare Baby Suits and Adult Tee-Shirts, though nobody bought any from me. (Click here to rectify this situation).

And today, I got an email from Barack and Joe: They want to take back the term Obamcare and use it to refer to the Affordable Health Care Act.

Most people eventually catch up to my blog … took two years this time, though, that’s kinda long.