McCain is an Embarrassment

Yesterday, John McCain said this:

We know there has been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall Street. And people are frightened by these events. Our economy still, the fundamentals of our economy are strong.

“The fundamentals of our economy are strong,” is a standard cliche politicians use when faced with a shock to the economy. It is one of those useful, empty statements that sounds intelligent and can be used to deflect political blame in the face of bad economic news.

Sometimes it’s even true. There are times when a shock to the economy causes short-term hardship, but the only real solution is to just ride it out.

That’s not this time. Even Alan Greenspan has described the recent meltdown of the nation’s largest financial institutions as a once ina century event. Tim Fernholz of Tapped provides some details. Spiking unemployment. Decreased median income. Low consumer confidence. Increasing inflation. Falling markets. Exploding defiicits. Tepid growth.

So, it seems McCain stepped in it pretty badly. This is all the worse since McCain boasted a while back of his ignorance of the economy, and since he has a reputation for being out of touch. Something had to be done. So someone in his campaign sent him out to say this:

But let me say something: this economic crisis is not the fault of the American people. Our workers are the most innovative, the hardest working, the best skilled, most productive, most competitive in the world. My opponents may disagree, but those fundamentals of America are strong. No one can match an American worker.

What a shameless scumbag. The phrase “fundamentals of the economy” has nothing to do with the character of American workers. The Great Depression was a time when the fundamentals of the economy were weak. Does McCain think the problem then was that workers had simply lost their drive?

If McCain manages to win this election it will be the ultimate proof that the mindless segment of the population has grown so bloated that democracy is dead as a workable governing philosophy. Neither McCain nor Palin has the first foggiest clue about the nature of any of the major problems facing the country. McCain seems utterly clueless any time he tries to say something that is not a mindless right-wing cliche, and Palin made a complete fool of herself trying to answer a handful of substantive questions from Charlie Gibson. (Her next public interview, incidentally: Sean Hannity.) If things have reached the point where more than half the country can’t see through such idiocy, then it frankly doesn’t matter what the government does in the next four years.

Comments

  1. #1 Chelonian
    September 16, 2008

    Not only is he wrong in terms of what the phrase he used means technically, but what kind of a statement is that? “No one can match an American worker”…? How does one define an archetype of American worker anyway? There is such great diversity in American workforces, with various strengths and weaknesses clustered at different levels and in different industries, that kind of statement is just meaningless, baseless drivel. Moronic ego-stroking for the mindless chumps who think there is, and should be, an automatic equation of American = superior; sheeple who who feel gratified by hearing their baseless egotistical biases confirmed, and cannot tolerate being told otherwise. *sigh* Doesn’t it make more sense to acknowledge problems and try to resolve them, rather than prance around saying “we’re the best in the world, lalalaaaala”?

  2. #2 Rose Colored Glasses
    September 16, 2008

    I’m not worried. This is exactly what anti-trust legislation was created to prevent.

  3. #3 slpage
    September 16, 2008

    But… but… but… He had all his bones broken.. as a POW!… for 5 years! 30 years ago… so, um… he is TOTALLY qualified to be president!

  4. #4 MarcusA
    September 16, 2008

    When McCain admitted his ignorance of computers I thought he lacked curiosity, an essential tool for being a good leader. I’ve met octogenarians who take advanced computer classes. So McCain is perhaps an old dog who is unwilling to learn any new tricks. Adaptability is another quality good leaders ought to possess. The only thing McCain has going for him at this point is salesmanship, the prized conservative value.

  5. #5 patrick
    September 16, 2008

    Please give us the rest of what McCain said, where he EXPLAINED THAT TO HIM, THE FUNDAMENTALS OF THIS ECONOMY ARE THE INDIVIDUAL WORKERS AND ENTREPENEURS.

    It never fails to amaze me that political idiocy so often trumps scientific honesty.

    And this is coming from someone that is probably not going to vote for McCain.

  6. #6 Aygerinos
    September 16, 2008

    What really frightens me is that the kind of rhetoric that people like McCain and Palin spout actually appeals to a shockingly large segment of our population, whether it happens to be about economics, “values,” or whatever the buzz topic of the moment happens to be. I think this takes us back to how incredibly crucial it is for the types of people who frequent this community to help the rest of America take off the blinders that both the media and candidates attempt to put on the public so people can truly make an informed vote. One that isn’t just based on the fact that a particular candidate claims to share their “small town values.” Whatever the hell those are anyway…

  7. #7 Tyler DiPietro
    September 16, 2008

    “Please give us the rest of what McCain said, where he EXPLAINED THAT TO HIM, THE FUNDAMENTALS OF THIS ECONOMY ARE THE INDIVIDUAL WORKERS AND ENTREPENEURS.”

    That’s not exactly “the rest of what McCain said.” That was ad hoc bullshit thrown out in desperation after the fallout from his comments commenced.

  8. #8 drdave
    September 17, 2008

    Comments from Obama and the “McCain Embarrassment”

    Today in the battleground state of Colorado, Obama turned up the heat on McCain. Obama reminded us that in Febuary of 2006 he introduced legislation to stop mortgage transactions that promote fraud risk and abuse.

    If you want to understand the difference between how Senator McCain and I would govern as President, you can start by taking a look at how we’ve responded to this crisis. Because Senator McCain’s approach was the same as the Bush Administration’s: support ideological policies that made the crisis more likely; do nothing as the crisis hits; and then scramble as the whole thing collapses. My approach has been to try to prevent this turmoil. In February of 2006, I introduced legislation to stop mortgage transactions that promoted fraud, risk or abuse. A year later, before the crisis hit, I warned Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke about the risks of mounting foreclosures and urged them to bring together all the stakeholders to find solutions to the subprime mortgage meltdown. Senator McCain did nothing.

    Once again Obama shows he was on the right side of the issue. Like Iraq he shows he has the judgment to lead this country. He continues:

    Last September, I stood up at NASDAQ and said it’s time to realize that we are in this together — that there is no dividing line between Wall Street and Main Street — and warned of a growing loss of trust in our capital markets. Months later, Senator McCain told a newspaper that he’d love to give them a solution to the mortgage crisis, “but” — he said — “I don’t know one.”

    Obama then turns McCains own words against him. These quotes need to be made into some devastating ads.

    This March, in the wake of the Bear Stearns bailout, I called for a new, 21st century regulatory framework to restore accountability, transparency, and trust in our financial markets. Just a few weeks earlier, Senator McCain made it clear where he stands: “I’m always for less regulation,” he said, and referred to himself as “fundamentally a deregulator.”

  9. #9 heddle
    September 17, 2008

    If McCain manages to win this election it will be the ultimate proof that the mindless segment of the population has grown so bloated that democracy is dead as a workable governing philosophy.

    I really love this increasingly common argument. Perhaps you should simply return to the idea of IQ tests at the polling stations, so that we bumpkins are denied the legal right (er, I mean generous privilege) to vote?

    If Obama wins, I’ll wake up the next day with this quaint notion that it means: Bummer. I’m in the minority. Of course, I took civics in the 20th century. Now I see the Fundamental Theorem of 21st Century American Civics: democracy will be falsified if the candidate anointed by the smart people (and Matt Damon and Pamela Anderson and Lindsay Lohan) loses; it will be the final proof that the common folk cannot be trusted with the privilege to vote, because they do it so badly.

  10. #10 *
    September 17, 2008

    Do you know you were quoted in the New Zealand monthly skeptics magazine?

  11. #11 Dunc
    September 17, 2008

    But let me say something: this economic crisis is not the fault of the American people. Our workers are the most innovative, the hardest working, the best skilled, most productive, most competitive in the world.

    Translation: you suckers work longer hours for less pay than anybody else, so we’ll be fine.

    Even if it were true, it’s not exactly something to shout about. See also “labour market flexibility”…

  12. #12 Oldfart
    September 17, 2008

    Heddle, you miss the point. If McCain/Palin were actually equivalent to Obama/Biden and not to Bush/Cheney, then we might have a real contest going on. Instead, for whatever reason, a large portion of the American populace seem to be ready to vote for the same guys who put us here! Given the proposition that insanity consists of trying the same action over and over and expecting different results, just what do YOU think that says about the American public?

  13. #13 heddle
    September 17, 2008

    Oldfart,

    Yes, I understand the point, exactly as you explained it. That is, anyone who votes for McCain/Palin is insane. That’s ever so clear. And I must say, I think that is a swell talking point, and encourage all to proclaim it as loudly and as often as you can. But don’t forget to add Jason’s corollary, that a victory for McCain proves that democracy sucks.

  14. #14 Tercel
    September 17, 2008

    Who was it that said something to the effect of “democracy is the worst form of government… except for everything else” ?

    In any event, it is pretty sad that so much of the country can be so troubled that they really think McCain would be a good idea. I’d agree that it demonstrated a flaw in democracy, but then again I don’t know what we could use in it’s place. I suspect that fixing our current democracy is a faster, easier, and better solution than replacing it.

  15. #15 Valhar2000
    September 17, 2008

    Oldfart, Heddle’s point is very easy to get. How can you not see it? American democracy is on its way to instituting christian theocracy, therefore it is good. All this talk about human rights, constitutional guarantees and justice is just flapdoodle that the leftist god-haters put out to confuse you. Clearer now?

  16. #16 Valhar2000
    September 17, 2008

    Tercel:

    but then again I don’t know what we could use in it’s place.

    Anhk-Morpork’s Patrician, obviously! Best goddamn leader I’ve ever heard of!

  17. #17 heddle
    September 17, 2008

    Valhar2000,

    American democracy is on its way to instituting christian theocracy, therefore it is good.

    Yes, that’s me in a nutshell. All those posts on my blog and comments on Dispatches where I argue passionately against theocracy, dominionism, and Christian reconstructionism, where I argue passionately for separation of church and state, and ridicule, in no uncertain terms, Christians who have “political” ministries–Dobson, Hagee, Gary North, Rushdoony, Robertson, etc. All that was just a ruse. Damn, I’m outed.

  18. #18 SLC
    September 17, 2008

    Re Heddle

    I really love this increasingly common argument. Perhaps you should simply return to the idea of IQ tests at the polling stations, so that we bumpkins are denied the legal right (er, I mean generous privilege) to vote?

    Having a high IQ is no guarantee of somebody being smart. Kurt Wise has a high IQ (one doesn’t get a BA in geology from U. Chicago and a PhD in paleontology from Harvard by being dumb). However, Prof. Wise quite obviously isn’t very smart as he has allowed himself to be brainwashed into insisting that the earth is 6000 years old, among other fantasies. Prof. Heddle has a high IQ (one doesn’t achieve a PhD in nuclear physics at a reputable university by being dumb; take it from someone who earned a PhD in elementary particle physics at a reputable university). However, much like Kurt Wise, Prof. Heddle has brainwashed himself into believing that Governor Palin is qualified to be vice-president by virtue of her being a born again Christian. So it would appear that Prof. Heddle isn’t very smart either.

  19. #19 heddle
    September 17, 2008

    SLC,

    Well then, maybe we could have a combined IQ/brainwashing poll test:

    1) Fail the IQ test outright and you can’t vote–that’ll get rid of a lot of the three-rows-of-buck-teeth fundy bumpkins who are either racists or voting for McCain because Palin can kill and field-dress a moose.

    2) If you happen to pass the IQ test, you must answer the question: Do you like Sarah Palin? If you answer yes, then you have obviously been brainwashed, because no smart person of sound mind could answer yes, and therefore you forfeit your right to vote.

    Perhaps this way we can preserve democracy.

  20. #20 Bee
    September 17, 2008

    Well, heddle, understandably you frequently end up speaking defensively in comments on SB, but I personally have never seen you explain why McCain and Palin would be a better choice. Granted, I live in another country, but lines like McCain’s regarding the superiority of American workers are indeed just dumb and pointless rhetoric, and offer no clue as to the solution to the current economic mess we see happening in the US.

    I later saw Palin speechifying where she completely contradicted herself; in one moment saying the regulatory system needed fixing, in the next making the usual promise to keep the government from meddling with business. Luvvamike, if ever there was a case for a little government meddling, surely it would be now.

  21. #21 Nemo
    September 17, 2008

    Heddle, you lost your right to comment on this subject when you admitted in a previous thread that you didn’t vote rationally.

  22. #22 Coriolis
    September 17, 2008

    Man heddle here too? Here’s a hint: the only one claiming that anyone wants to restrict voting by IQ is you. Most liberals I know don’t even think IQ is a particularly good basis for judging “intelligence”, I certainly don’t.

    On the flip side, I think it’s a widely acknowledged fact that having a strong democracy is based on having a somewhat well educated and civics-minded populace. Good, widely available public education, knowledge of the basics of government, has always been a part of a good democracy. This, along with the supposed scrutiny of the media is supposed to prevent demagogues from lying their way into positions of great power.

    Well, the scrutiny of the media is pretty much gone – we have right-wingers, we have left-wingers, and in the middle we have people who are completely incapable of challenging either side on their bullshit. The only thing that’s left is the supposed knowledge of the american people. And if they can be lied to so easily, than that’s pretty much gone too. Although maybe not quite yet, recent polls show Palin’s popularity is dropping like a rock after the initial orgasm passed, we’ll see if more polls confirm it.

  23. #23 SLC
    September 17, 2008

    Re Nemo

    From Prof. Heddles’ point of view, he’s being perfectly rational. He supports the McCain/Palin ticket because Governor Palin is a born again Christian. Period, end of story.

    Re Heddle

    The trouble with Prof. Heddle is that he breathes in but he doesn’t breathe out.

  24. #24 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    September 17, 2008
  25. #25 pough
    September 17, 2008

    I later saw Palin speechifying where she completely contradicted herself; in one moment saying the regulatory system needed fixing, in the next making the usual promise to keep the government from meddling with business.

    IMO, you (and John Stewart, BTW) got this bit wrong. She didn’t contradict herself, she was consistently stupid. When she said it needed fixing, she meant it needed to be less restrictive, not more.

    Nothing heals corruption like the increased opportunity for corruption.

  26. #26 Jason Rosenhouse
    September 17, 2008

    * -

    I did not know that! Is it available online anywhere?

    heddle -

    I read your post about how taken you were with Ms. Palin’s speech at the Republican convention. Has your opinon of her changed at all in light of her incessant lying on the campaign trail? Or in light of what we now know about how she presided, both as mayor and as governor, over administrations rife with cronyism and corruption? Does it bother you at all to support a campaign that, for example, accuses it’s opponent of supporting comprehensive sex education for five year olds when that claim is flatly untrue?

  27. #27 pough
    September 17, 2008

    Last night’s Daily Show deals with the latest economic talk. It has both McCain’s “fundamentals” clips as well as the Palin supposed contradiction. I can’t provide a link because up here in Canada we have to watch a different source, but it would be in clip 2 of the Sep 16 show.

  28. #28 Science Avenger
    September 17, 2008

    “Do you like Sarah Palin? If you answer yes, then you have obviously been brainwashed, because no smart person of sound mind could answer yes…”

    Heddle’s basic problem is he can’t fathom that it could actually be true that anyone who supports Palin is either ignorant, hopelessly partisan, or nuts. It is de facto false in his world view. That’s why he has little to use in defense of his position except sarcasm and misrepresentation of what the rest of us are actually saying. In that respect, he fits right in with the Palin crowd.

  29. #29 heddle
    September 17, 2008

    Jason,

    The answers, without agreeing to you premise, are no, no, and no.

    How about you? Given that Obama lied about FISA, public finance of hos campaign (boy did he ever! $28K per plate to party with Babs and other beautiful folk! Party of the people, indeed.) Born Alive, and given that he chose a plagiarist for a running mate, one who, it turns out, gives almost nothing to charity, have you changed your mind?

    Let’s talk about sex education.The bill in question actually states:

    Each class or course in comprehensive sex education in any of grades K through 12 shall include instruction on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including the prevention, transmission and spread of HIV.

    Obama is the liar here–the bill does not limit the instruction of K students to “bad touches.” McCain is righteous on this one.

  30. #30 Jim Harrison
    September 17, 2008

    Since the Republican Party devotes considerable resources to the suppression of the votes of black and poor citizens, its claims to support the ideals of democracy are pretty hollow.

  31. #31 SLC
    September 17, 2008

    Re heddle

    and given that he chose a plagiarist for a running mate,

    I really get a kick out of asshole Prof. Heddle. Senator Biden acknowledges Neil Kinnock on 38 occasions as the author of the comment in question and then forgets once to do so and that makes him a plagiarist.

    Re Jason Rosenhouse

    There is nothing that will change Prof. Heddles’ opinion of Governor Palin. She’s a born again Christian that’s all he has to know.

  32. #32 heddle
    September 17, 2008

    SLC,

    Then is should be easy for you to provide a transcript where Biden says those same biographical statements (“First Biden in 1000 generations,” v. “First Kinnock in 1000 generations…”, those statements that got him in trouble, with the attribution to Kinnock. For those statements (or equivalent). Not for other things that he may have attributed to Kinnock, but for those statements. Frankly I don’t see how he could rewrite Kinnock’s biography to be about himself, and then attribute it to Kinnock, (“Neil Kinnock asks, ‘Just like me, why is Joe the first Biden in 1000…”) But maybe he can. At any rate you should be able to clear that up. A link to a transcript. Not a link to a page that says such references exist, but a link to a transcript. 1987 was not pre-recorded history; one of those 38 should be available.

    (While you are at it, explain why Biden allowed his campaign to be thrown in the toilet when he had 38 examples of using the same comments with attribution? It seems to be that had he said: look folks, 38 out of 39 times I screwed up just once, here’s the evidence, that he could have weathered the storm.

  33. #33 StuV
    September 17, 2008

    heddle, do you at all realize how you are getting more and more shrill, defensive and irrational with each thread?

  34. #34 StuV
    September 17, 2008

    Also, of course heddle left this part of the bill out:

    All course material and instruction shall be age and developmentally appropriate

    He damned well knows it’s there, but it since it completely destroys his argument, it’s cherry-picking time. What a deluded, mendacious douche.

  35. #35 heddle
    September 17, 2008

    StuV,

    heddle, do you at all realize how you are getting more and more shrill, defensive and irrational with each thread?

    I’m trying! It’s nice to hear that it’s working!

    He damned well knows it’s there, but it since it completely destroys his argument, it’s cherry-picking time. What a deluded, mendacious douche.

    (No shrillness there, just sound, rational, good faith Harvard-Debate-Squad-level arguing! You sure do present a lofty standard!)

    Oh, It doesn’t change anything. Nobody denies the age-appropriate provision. Perhaps you could explain how:

    (Each class or course in comprehensive sex education in any of grades K through 12 shall include instruction on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including the prevention, transmission and spread of HIV.) + (age appropriate) == “no bad touches”

  36. #36 StuV
    September 17, 2008

    Nobody denies the age-appropriate provision.

    That must be why you didn’t mention it.

    How, exactly, is “don’t let an adult touch you there” not an age-appropriate way to teach K-level children about the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases? Are you being willfully obtuse again?

    Fine, heddle, you love Palin because she’s a fundamentalist Christian. Can you at least see that it scares the crap out of people who have been paying attention over the past 8 years with one at the helm?

    Do you truly feel someone’s charitable contributions are more important than proven incompetence at governing? Than proud, deep ignorance of science and foreign policy?

  37. #37 Kevin
    September 17, 2008

    “Perhaps you could explain how:”

    That’s easy:

    (prevention, transmission and spread of HIV.) + (age appropriate) == “no bad touches”

    If five years old kids are informed that Uncle Heddy is a syphylis-deranged AIDS infected SARS vector and that they shouldn’t sit on his lap and let him play the “bad touch” game, then that would be age appropriate instruction.

  38. #38 Robert O'Brien
    September 17, 2008

    Kevin,

    You’ve already demonstrated that you are a moron; there is no need to beat it into the ground.

    As for Obama, last time I heard, he is not an economist either, and he does not know any better than John McCain how to improve the economy. He will rely on advisers just as much as John McCain.

  39. #39 Jason Rosenhouse
    September 17, 2008

    heddle -

    Unless you think that the many newspapers that reported at the time that Biden had properly credited Kinnock on many occasions are engaged in a cover up, I’d say it’s pretty well established that Biden routinely gave the correct attribution. And he did not “let” the issue drive him out of the campaign. He was hounded out by a scandal hungry media desperate for a story in what had been up to that point an exceedingly boring primary race.

    Frankly, though, it’s a pretty pathetic thing to bring up here anyway. I’m not worried that the next President will crib a few lines without attribution in his state of the union address. I am worried that the next President will treat the government in the same way the current one has: as a vehicle for transferring wealth to the already rich, while neglecting all of the major responsibilities of government and lying repeatedly about really important things.

    Concerning Palin, there was no premise to be agreed to, only facts to be acknowledged. She did not say “Thanks but no thanks” to the bridge from nowhere. She publicly supported it until long after it became a national embarrassment and then used the money for other purposes. Likewise for all of the other lies McCain and Palin have been telling, to the point where even many conservative columnists (even Karl Rove, for heaven’s sake!) have noticed. It is not up for debate that McCain and Palin have been lying through their teeth over one issue after another. The only issue is whether folks like you care.

    Your little list about Obama is, unsurprisingly, wide of the mark. On public financing, even if I accepted the version of reality most favorable to the right-wing view (which I don’t), that would be a flip-flop, not a lie. Not noble, but no comparison to what McCain has been doing. If you’re worried about flip-flops, McCain has changed his position on one issue after another since Bush was elected. The difference is that Obama changed his view on one issue related to campaign strategy, and switched from the wrong view to the right view. McCain, by contrast, has flip-flopped on important issues of national policy, and always to the dopey position from the smart position (on the merits of the Bush tax cuts, for example.)

    Concerning the sex education bill, you are out of your mind. The bill says nothing about teaching comprehensive sex ed to five year olds. It lays down certain criteria that have to be met by any sex education class offered in public schools. The only reference to Kindergarten is in saying that the bill applies to any sex ed class offered in any grade from K-12. It talks a lot about preventing sexually transmitted diseases and about age-appropriate material. It gives parents the right to opt out of any sex-ed class at any grade level. The line about “inappropriate touching” was offered in reply to a reporter’s question about what sort of sex ed would be age-appropriate for a five year old.

    Concerning the other two, even attempting to view things from your warped persepctive, I’m not sure what you are talking about. He voted in favor of FISA, which I wish he hadn’t done, but when did he lie about it? And he voted against something called, “The Born Alive Infant Protection Act” in Illinois, but, again, when did he lie about it? He was right to vote against the bill, and I think it took great courage to do so given the political implications. The bill did a lot more than just try to protect babies born alive after botched abortions. It was typical Republican sleaze: use an incredible rare but highly emotional issue as a cover for pressing a right-wing agenda that would not pass if it were presented forthrightly. Voting against a bill does not indicate that you oppose every single aspect of a bill.

    Frankly, I might be inclined to overlook McCain and Palin’s incessant lying if I had any confidence that they could provide leadership through our current woes. But when the economy is crashing on all fronts, how can you support a candidate who trumpets his ignorance of economics and laughably says the fundamentals of the economy are strong? How can you support a candidate who thinks drill baby drill is a sound energy policy? Or whose VP choice has proven herself to be a near total vacuum on any foreign or domestic policy of any importance? Or who has shown no understanding of the importance of Pakistan and Afghanistan to the war on terror, but whose foreign policy seems to be, in its entirety, the dubious claim that, “The surge worked.”

    In short, you are hardly a counterexample to any assertion regarding the general mindlessness of McCain supporters.

  40. #40 Kevin
    September 17, 2008

    Robert, name calling and ad-hominem attacks are in-effective and uncalled for.

    “He will rely on advisers just as much as John McCain.” hmm yes.. and who’s economic advisor was instrumental in forcing deregulation onto us? or insisted on exempting CDSs from regulation….oh a.. was it Obama , I don’t think so …wait who called us a nation of whiners…? oh its Phil Graham! McCain’s main economic advisor and mentor.

    or maybe he’ll rely on his OTHER economic advisor HP Killer Carly Fiorina… or not since she just said he wan’t qualified…

  41. #41 heddle
    September 17, 2008

    Jason,

    The Born Alive criticism is not that he voted against it in the Illinois senate, but that he then voted for the same (worded) bill in the U.S. Senate. (But I think you knew that.)

    I’ve read mediamatters report on Biden (I can follow Wikipedia links too.) I want to see just one transcript–that report is very Clintonesque–perhaps he did refernece Kinnock for portions of his stump speech many times, but what about those statements that got him in trouble? Many, mnay times and no transript to back it up? Color me unimpressed,

  42. #42 Jason F.
    September 17, 2008

    Jason,

    If things have reached the point where more than half the country can’t see through such idiocy, then it frankly doesn’t matter what the government does in the next four years.

    Actually, it may show that in a country where 65% or less of the eligible voting population has voted in the last 60 years, “democracy” may not be the most accurate description.

    The lowest turnout rate in the last 60 years was 1996 (between 49 and 52%, depending on how you look at it). And who did we get? Newt Gingerich and the “republican revolution”.

    Was that “democracy in action”, or “apathy/inaction”?

  43. #43 StuV
    September 17, 2008

    heddle, I assume by not addressing any of the concerns raised over Palin you admit she is a corrupt, incompetent liar? I mean, you’re whining over a 20-year old speech plagiarism case here. That’s beyond grasping at straws.

  44. #44 Jason Rosenhouse
    September 17, 2008

    heddle -

    Concerning Biden, I don’t have transcripts to offer you, and I don’t care enough to try to find them. Quite a few newspapers at the time reported that on various occasions even before he got called out on the issue Biden gave the correct attribution. Do you have some reason for thinking those newspaper accounts were false?

    On the Born Alive act, as it happens I didn’t know that Obama voted for the same bill in the U.S. Senate. I’d be surprised if the bills really were the same in all relevant aspects. But even if they were exactly the same, that would again be a flip flop, not a lie. The right-wing websites I’ve been reading seem to think the issue is Obama voting against the bill in the Illinois senate.

    I would certainly think twice about nominating Obama for sainthood. But then, I can’t imagine what politician would be eligible for that role. Politics is a dirty business, and inevitably you make compromises to your principles for the sake of political expediency. Sometimes you even have to say nasty things about your opponent. But even given all that the McCain campaign has really set a new low (hard to do after the swiftboating affair). Obama isn’t even in the same ballpark.

    That so much of McCain’s support comes from self-identified values voters is all the more galling. These are the folks who have been hectoring working mothers for years about how they shirk their responsibilities to their families, but then have nothing but praise for Sarah Palin. They tell us that we must respect the personal decision made by Palin’s daughter to keep her child, while not respecting the personal decisions made by countless other families in similar situations. They constantly lecture us about the importance of character and integrity, and then routinely support the sleaziest, and most dishonest politicians they can find.

    I find that vexing.

  45. #45 JimCH
    September 17, 2008

    I’m a little confused. While acknowledging that Obama is no saint, as indicated; let me see if I have this straight…..
    If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you’re “exotic, different.” Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, a quintessential American story. If your name is Barack you’re a radical, unpatriotic Muslim. Name your kids Willow, Piper, Bristol and Track, you’re a maverick. Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable. Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you’re well grounded. If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate’s Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran’s Affairs committees, you don’t have any real leadership experience. If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you’re qualified to become the country’s second highest ranking executive. If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 children, all within Protestant churches, you’re not a real Christian. If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you’re a Christian. If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society. If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state’s school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you’re very responsible. If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family’s values don’t represent America’s. If you’re husband is nicknamed “First Dude”, with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn’t register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.
    OK, much clearer now.

  46. #46 SLC
    September 17, 2008

    Short Rosenhouse on Heddle.

    Prof. Heddle is a lying sack of shit.

  47. #47 Leni
    September 17, 2008

    Kevin wrote:

    If five years old kids are informed that Uncle Heddy is a syphylis-deranged AIDS infected SARS vector and that they shouldn’t sit on his lap and let him play the “bad touch” game, then that would be age appropriate instruction.

    That was a little crude, but I don’t think it’s all that off the mark.

    I could see telling children that sexual molestation can hurt them both emotionally and physically, and that’s why they need to tell someone. I don’t know if they do or not, but it doesn’t sound that outlandish to me.

    I think what galls me most about this whole “Sex Ed” freakout is that it is a near perfect example of why it’s so hard for kids to tell anyone about abuse in the first place. If adults can’t handle even the most sanitized, barest mention of it, who could blame them? By a very young age they’ve figured out that it’s shameful. Our inability to talk sensibly about the issue does nothing but help pedophiles.

    At this point we should all thank McCain for doing the child rapists favor.

  48. #48 heddle
    September 17, 2008

    Jason,

    Do you have some reason for thinking those newspaper accounts were false?

    I don’t think they are false. I think Biden did reference Kinnock. Just not for the quotes that got him in trouble. The reason I think so is circumstantial. 1) Nobody produces a transcript–that should be easy enough to do and 2) If it had been a 1 time out of 38 error, he would have easily weathered the storm.

  49. #49 Leni
    September 17, 2008

    So now all of a sudden you care about “issues” and (circumstantial) evidence.

    Isn’t that…convenient.

  50. #50 Tyler DiPietro
    September 18, 2008

    fongooly, are you actually morphing to harass Leni now?

  51. #51 Leni
    September 18, 2008

    No, Tyler. No morphing occurred. Unfortunately he’s still the same stupid motherfucker that he’s always been.

    Oh, ohh… You mean his name, don’t you? Hmm. Well, yeah. I suppose that does seem different. Now that you mention it.

  52. #52 Caliban
    September 18, 2008

    Fongooly, Go away. You are a crazy person.

    No one here cares or respects anything you have to say about anything. Go see a doctor and get the meds you need.

    Until you do, you are nothing more than a creepy freakshow. Your deranged obsession with Leni makes you look like a stalking sicko.

  53. #53 Valhar2000
    September 18, 2008

    I wonder, Heddle, if you wrote so many comments in Dispatches criticizing the Right wing christina political leaders and advocating for separation of churh and state, how come every time I red comments of yours you were agreeing with whatever diarrhea happened to be coming out of mrobert’s mouth?

    And, given your brilliant track record of being honest and sticking to the point rather than going off on meaningless tangents about attributing quotes, well… please do excuse me for being a little skeptical of you.

  54. #54 heddle
    September 18, 2008

    Valhar2000,

    I defy you to produce one instance where I agreed with mroberts on some clear separation of church and state issue.

    Otherwise you will be known as a baldfaced liar.

    As for my own blog, here are a couple of relevant posts:

    http://helives.blogspot.com/2008/04/i-really-really-do-not-like-theonomy.html

    http://helives.blogspot.com/2006/12/now-thats-one-cool-baptist.html

    I am confident that, should he care too, even Jason could confirm that I have a unambiguously pro church-state separation track record.

    You sir, are a level one jackass.

  55. #55 Caliban
    September 18, 2008

    Heddle & his critics, This comment is off topic, but i find it interesting that while Heddle has been posting on Science Blogs for quite a while now and gotten his fair show of folks who disagree with him, it seems that lately, there’s been a lot more fire and ire going back and forth in the comments.

    I find it interesting because Heddle hasn’t been posting about religion, but politics. It seems that (at least here on Science blogs) politics is a more emotionally charged issue than religion is.

    As for Heddle, i don’t agree with much of what he writes, but in fairness to him, i have also seen a lot of very dumb comments directed at him these past few weeks.

  56. #56 Ed Brayton
    September 18, 2008

    I’m with Caliban. This comment by Valhar2000:

    Oldfart, Heddle’s point is very easy to get. How can you not see it? American democracy is on its way to instituting christian theocracy, therefore it is good. All this talk about human rights, constitutional guarantees and justice is just flapdoodle that the leftist god-haters put out to confuse you. Clearer now?

    Is wildly off the mark. Heddle and I don’t agree on much, of course, but it is highly inaccurate to paint him as even your average religious righter on issues like this and absolutely absurd to claim that he’s an advocate of theocracy. He has been outspoken in his criticism of theocrats and dominionists in the comments on my blog and on his own blog for years. He’s also been outspoken in his opposition to the Discovery Institute and the ID crowd’s dishonesty. It may fit one’s preconceptions to presume that everyone who is a Christian or who disagrees with us politically must be everything evil that we wish them to be, but it’s also highly unfair and dishonest.

  57. #57 Kevin
    September 18, 2008

    OK I’m sorry for the STD joke. I thought it was funny and please note that I didn’t actually SAY it was true or anything…

  58. #58 Jason Rosenhouse
    September 18, 2008

    heddle –

    I don’t think they are false. I think Biden did reference Kinnock. Just not for the quotes that got him in trouble. The reason I think so is circumstantial. 1) Nobody produces a transcript–that should be easy enough to do and 2) If it had been a 1 time out of 38 error, he would have easily weathered the storm.

    Your second point is nonsense. In a crowded primary campaign even a whiff of scandal can easily derail you. Too many people don’t even bother to try to glean the facts, but just think, “Biden? He’s the guy with the scandal.”

    As for your first point, no one is denying that Biden, at least once, cribbed Kinnock’s line without attribution. The question is whether this was some malicious act of plagiarism or whether he was just sloppy in some small number of speeches. (I neither know nor care about the precise statistics). It seems clear that it’s the latter. And to bring this up now as if it provides some sort of counterpoint to the sleaze in which McCain and Palin have been engaged is just ridiculous.

    SLC –

    Nowhere did I accuse Mr. Heddle of lying. Kindly don’t shorten my comments in the future.

    Leni -

    I’ll delete fongooly’s comments as soon as I see them, but I’d appreciate it if you would lay off the profanity.

  59. #59 SLC
    September 18, 2008

    Re mothergross

    Much against my will, I have to rise in defense of Prof. Heddle. I think it is very unfair to pair him with Mr. Jon S. From everything I can glean from his comments on this blog and on Ed Braytons’ blog, he appears to accept methodological naturalism and therefore exhibits a sound scientific point of view. Like Ken Miller, Charles Townes, Francis Collins, and Francisco Ayala, he is a philosophical theist, albeit rather more fundamentalist in outlook then they. On the other hand, Mr. Jon S is an incompetent and ignorant religious nutcase whose scientific ideas are totally insane (Tyrannosaurs were vegetarians before the fall, the universe is 6000 years old, etc.). On the issue of science, there is, in no way, shape, form, or regard any legitimate comparison between the two of them.

  60. #60 Timcol
    September 18, 2008

    ” really love this increasingly common argument. Perhaps you should simply return to the idea of IQ tests at the polling stations,”

    Well, perhaps we should start with an IQ test for the candidates? This is the problem with American “anybody can be what they want” culture today. No, not everybody can be what they want – some people simply do not have the intellectual or moral acumen (e.g., current incumbent in the White House). Just like not everybody can win American Idol, because most people are simply not good enough.

    I agree with Jason that if McCain/Palin win it will be a sign that our democracy is basically broken, because they simply had a better emotionally-driven campaign then the other side. Sure, it’s great that a hockey mom can run for a VP, it does not take a lot of critical thinking to realize her current experience and expertise (let alone appaling track record), will not make for a good VP. Sure, she can look terrific on the stump and she has great charisma, but that will not be of much use when she has to negotiate with the likes of Iran.

    Isn’t it scary that Americans will vote for somebody simply based on how they deliver a speech (and one which they probably didn’t even write!)

  61. #61 Coriolis
    September 18, 2008

    Caliban, the reason for the much heightened ire towards heddle is I think pretty clear – his views on religion are actually moderate enough that while we can have philosophical disagreements, I at least, don’t find them dangerous. The ability to compartmentalize your religious and naturalistic beliefs like that is interesting, and it’s a fun argument as to whether that really works, but there isn’t much that hinges on it.

    The same cannot be said about these political issues. Mccain, and much more so Palin, would be a complete disaster for many reasons and at many levels. Personally I’m still not a citizen of the US (I’ll probably get citizenship a few months after the election), but since I would like to have some future in this country, I’d really rather we don’t have a catastrophic failure. Probably the most heartening recent news is that it seems that the intellectual part of the republican party does agree to some degree – many of the sane republican columnists have now come out against Palin. It seems recently that she has plummeted in the polls as well, and she remains very popular only in the religious right base of her own party.

    The bad thing is that heddle seems like he should be part the smarter wing of the republican party – and yet he’s not. Unlike mroberts, with whom I don’t think many people would bother arguing, I would’ve expected better from heddle. And yet both his position, and the “arguments” he uses to defend it are refelctive of the worst of the republican party. I guess he has admitted to be mostly politically apathetic (apparently until we have another born-again like bushy) and perhaps that explains it.

  62. #62 heddle
    September 18, 2008

    Jason,

    OK, I declare, after this to lay off Biden’s plagiarism. I have been thinking about it, and I have to agree that it is way too old to be relevant. Statute of limitations. It was 1987. (Although McCain is taking a “1982″ hit, but I digress.) So no more “Biden the plagiarist” from me. After this last point.

    I disagree that he couldn’t have easily weathered the storm if, as some have alleged on here, he gave proper attribution many (I believe the number is 38) times.

    Imagine Palin gave proper attribution in her stump speech 38 times, but forgot on the 39th. As much as many on here despise her, I suspect that most of you would concede that this was a trivial matter. At the very least that you would realize that you will not get much mileage out of attacking her for a one time out of 39 lapse. The argument that was an innocent mistake would be too strong. You’d (I suspect) pass on that one, and search for more substantive fish. At least I think so.

    All the more so for Biden, who is not such a polarizing figure, or at least wasn’t at the time. He should not, would not, have had his campaign shut down (by his fellow democrats, no less!) for such a trivial 1/39 error. It seems more likely that knew he didn’t have a great defense and then he then kind of lost it and self-destructed.

    That’s the last you’ll hear from me on that incident. Unless someone asks me a direct question.

    I reserve the right, however, to continue ridiculing Biden for other shortcomings, such as giving virtually nothing of his substantial income to charity.

  63. #63 mothergross
    September 18, 2008

    SLC,
    Yes, Heddle and Jon S are poles apart as to relative ignorance and rationality. But I was noting that they both are extremely civil in their discourse and both are as honest as they can be, given what they have need to “rationalize” in the process. Neither is pretending an intellectual status or arguing from a pretense of authority that is essentially fictitious.

    Nice to see that another foulmouthed poster has been at long last reprimanded.

  64. #64 Adam
    September 18, 2008

    Jason: “Has your opinion of her changed at all in light of her incessant lying on the campaign trail? Or in light of what we now know about how she presided, both as mayor and as governor, over administrations rife with cronyism and corruption? Does it bother you at all to support a campaign that, for example, accuses it’s opponent of supporting comprehensive sex education for five year olds when that claim is flatly untrue?”

    Heddle: “The answers, without agreeing to your premise, are no, no, and no.”

  65. #65 SLC
    September 18, 2008

    Re mothergross

    Neither is pretending an intellectual status or arguing from a pretense of authority that is essentially fictitious.

    I am going to have to disagree with Mr. mothergross relative to the application of the above comment to Mr. Jon S. Mr. Jon S., in previous threads, has strongly implied that he speaks for god. As proof, he has stated that god is not impressed with Richard Dawkins. How would he know that unless he is convinced that god is speaking to him and giving him direction. That sounds like somebody who thinks that he has considerable authority.

  66. #66 mothergross
    September 18, 2008

    Yes, but he is not pretending an authority that he knows he either doesn’t have or shouldn’t rely on. Somebody else, or several some-bodies, made up his Oz like authority, but Jon S doesn’t know it’s fictitious. The poster I was concerned with knows her authority is fictitious, for example.

  67. #67 Jon S
    September 18, 2008

    SLC: I’ll be brief since this is off-topic. I don’t speak for God, nor have I ever claimed to speak for God. Please don’t make gross assumptions or twist my words. If you’re confused, just ask.

  68. #68 Leni
    September 18, 2008

    Jason wrote:

    I’ll delete fongooly’s comments as soon as I see them, but I’d appreciate it if you would lay off the profanity.

    I will. Sorry. I just couldn’t resist that last jab.

  69. #69 mothergross
    September 18, 2008

    Now see if you can resist that last jibber jabber.

  70. #70 Kevin
    September 18, 2008

    Heddle wrote…

    “Jason,

    OK, I declare, after this to lay off Biden’s plagiarism. I have been thinking about it, and I have to agree that it is way too old to be relevant. That’s the last you’ll hear from me on that incident. [NOT EVEN if] someone asks me a direct question.

    Posted by: heddle | September 18, 2008 3:57 PM ”

    EXCELLENT POST Mr. Heddle. I don’t think that Joe B is the issue. knows a lot, talks a lot, have some weak spots such as the bankruptcy bill, certainly an old pro at this and so no one should be suprised if he owes a favor here and there.

    THe issue is a sickly demented McCain letting a spritely demented Palin run the show from day 1.

  71. #71 SLC
    September 19, 2008

    Re Jon S

    SLC: I’ll be brief since this is off-topic. I don’t speak for God, nor have I ever claimed to speak for God. Please don’t make gross assumptions or twist my words. If you’re confused, just ask.

    Mr. Jon S is a liar. He specifically stated that god was not impressed with Richard Dawkins, in addition to not being impressed with other distinguished scientists such as Steven Weinberg and Julian Schwinger. I think it is a fair conclusion that Mr. Jon S is telling us that he is speaking for god in making such assertions. I suggest that Mr. Jon S allow god to inform us as to his opinions himself. God certainly hasn’t informed me that he is unimpressed with these folks. As we sit here today, we can only conclude that Mr. Jon S is claiming that god tells him and he tells the world.

  72. #72 slpage
    September 20, 2008

    Dr. Heddle,

    I’m just curious – do you think Palin was against the ‘bridge to nowhere’?
    Do you think that McCain being a POW qualifies him to be commander in chief?
    Do you think that those professing superior moral standards guided by their Christian values should be held accountable when they repeatedly engage in immoral behavior?

    Thanks.

  73. #73 heddle
    September 20, 2008

    splage,

    1) at first, no
    2) no
    3) yes

  74. #74 *
    September 20, 2008
  75. #75 *
    September 20, 2008

    I’ll try e-mail.

  76. #76 w3 technology
    September 21, 2008

    thank you..

  77. #77 tek Link film
    September 21, 2008

    te?ekkürler..

  78. #78 Jon S
    September 21, 2008

    SLC says “Mr. Jon S is a liar. He specifically stated that god was not impressed with Richard Dawkins, in addition to not being impressed with other distinguished scientists such as Steven Weinberg and Julian Schwinger.”

    You’re quick to call others liars while demonstrating your own ignorance. Perhaps you’re the one lying, because you claimed you know bridge engineers that can design a human spine superior to the one God made, but you still have failed to demonstrate any truthfulness. When will you reveal to the world your ‘miracle worker’ engineers?

    However, although I don’t speak for God (as I’m not a prophet), I do believe what God says, and in a very real sense God does say he’s not impressed with Richard Dawkins. 1 Corinthians 1:25 says “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” So when when Richard Dawkins says anything that contradicts what God has already said, then I think it’s safe to say that God is not impressed by his claims. And neither is he impressed by your claims or wisdom.

  79. #79 by-stander
    September 21, 2008

    Jon S,
    You’re such a hopeless idiot.

  80. #80 SLC
    September 22, 2008

    Re Jon S

    Mr. Jon S also stated that god wasn’t impressed with Steven Weinberg and Julian Schwinger, both Nobel prize winners in physics. Would Mr. Jon S care to inform us in what way god takes issue with their claims. And let us restrict ourselves to scientific claims here. As Saint Augustine said, non-believers can also have correct ideas about the workings of the natural world (to be fair, I have no idea as to the religious ideas of the late Prof. Schwinger, if any). But of course, Mr. Jon S is no more competent to pontificate on the scientific claims of the aforementioned physicists then he is on the scientific claims of evolutionary biologists.

    And by the way, as to the human spine, orthopedic surgeons who perform back operations also agree with the bridge engineers about the poor design it entails. And of course, the reason it is inferior is because it was adapted from quadrupedal ancestors. Dogs, horses, and cows don’t have back problems as the spine is perfectly adequate for such an animal. I would suggest that Mr. Jon S consult a treatise on orthopedic back surgery, rather then a quack chiropractor who he referred to as an expert.

  81. #81 by-stander
    September 22, 2008

    ^ In other words, Jon S is a hopeless idiot.

  82. #82 Leni
    September 23, 2008

    Jon S wrote:

    When will you reveal to the world your ‘miracle worker’ engineers?

    When will you admit that your Adam-has-no-mutations “theory” explains nothing we see in the natural world??

    Especially since you know we share mutations with other species.

  83. #83 mothergross
    September 23, 2008

    The question is, of course, how does Leni know this, as she’s never revealed her area of study or expertise.

  84. #84 JimCH
    September 23, 2008

    mothergross (or, whomever you are)…
    Please seek help.

  85. #85 mothergross
    September 24, 2008

    We share characters, not the mutations themselves. And of course we share jibber jabber.

  86. #86 perde
    March 7, 2009

    good thanks