September 27, 2008

Bears to Blame for Failing Economy

I'm taking a short break from my NYC trip today to bring you a post about reality and rationality. If you watched the first presidential debate last night you saw a lot of talk about the economy.

When questioned about what to do about the financial crisis in the US John McCain fired away at the government for funding a $3 million study on the DNA of bears in Montana.  This was his first attack on the financial subject and of course as a science guy I was a little pissed that he would go after the funding status of science agencies (which have seen stagnation and declines in funding under Bush).  Here's a nifty chart put together to keep funding and government excess in perspective when you hear the candidates speak about stuff like this.

3 million is 0.0005% of 600 billion (cost of Iraq war so far).  Perspective and priorities noted.

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September 26, 2008

61 Nobel Laureates Endorse Obama

Back to the science posting while I have a second. Yesterday, Obama's campaign released a letter of endorsement signed by 61 Nobel Laureates. This is the largest number of Nobel prize winners to ever endorse a Presidential candidate and it shouldn't be surprising.

Obama's answers to the ScienceDebate2008 questionnaire were scientifically sound and gave the impression that he had a very good scientific advising team. This was confirmed last week when Wired detailed the five members on Obama's scientific advising team (which included 2 signees of the Nobel letter). The team is very strong, with a former NIH director and some well respected researchers.

McCain has yet to release his scientific advisory committee members.

A short blurb from the endorsement letter:

During the administration of George W. Bush, vital parts of our country’s scientific enterprise have been damaged by stagnant or declining federal support.  The government’s scientific advisory process has been distorted by political considerations. As a result, our once dominant position in the scientific world has been shaken and our prosperity has been placed at risk. We have lost time critical for the development of new ways to provide energy, treat disease, reverse climate change, strengthen our security, and improve our economy.
Senator Obama understands that Presidential leadership and federal investments in science and technology are crucial elements in successful governance of the world’s leading country. We hope you will join us as we work together to ensure his election in November.

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September 24, 2008

McCain Suspends Campaign

McCain is apparently putting his campaign on hold in response to the economic crisis at hand. He is calling for a meeting of both party's leaders, himself, and Obama to address the financial meltdown and the governments response.

Seems very level headed, responsible, and surprisingly bipartisan. Damn. So that means the post about McCain's unacceptably partisan tone during this crisis that I have been writing is now worthless.

We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved.I am directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the commission on presidential debates to delay Friday night's debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.

I know, its from Drudge. It hurts me to even admit that I read that garbage. But damn, the man breaks some stories.

So, is this some cheap trick to give McCain some breathing room for the debate he is about to lose and to give him further excuse to keep Sarah "Delicate Little Flower" Palin out of the harsh, scary media sunlight? Doesn't seem so at first blush. This does actually sound like a smart idea. As the economy veers towards the cliff of depression, maybe a little time away from soap opera politics and some focus on nuts and bolts legislation is a good thing.

Or perhaps what we need is precisely that, a focus on the politics that will determine the next 4 or 8 years of our country's future. Honestly, I cannot think of a more pertinent question to this crisis than which governmental philosophy we will follow going forward.

I am not ready to make a pronouncement yet, but my political lean obviously makes me slightly skeptical of this new-found love of legislation that John "Absentee Senator" McCain has developed.

I eagerly await Obama's response.

Update: Obama wont play McCain's game.

"I believe that we should continue to have the debate," Obama said. "It's my belief that this is exact time when the American people need to hear form the person who in approximately 40 days will be responsibly for dealing with this mess and I think that it is going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once."

Obama said that unlike McCain, he will not suspend ads, or campaign events scheduled between now and Friday's debate.

"I think it's very important that the American people see the people who potentially could be in charge of this problem within the next couple of months and so my attitude is that we need to be focused on solving the problems, as I have been," Obama said. "It's also important that we communicate where we need to go in getting us out of the situation."

Obama said he will stay in Florida for the time being and will not return to Washington unless asked by Congressional leadership.

"I've told the leadership in Congress is that if I can be helpful then I am prepared to be anywhere at anytime," he said.

Emphasis mine. I like it. I'm still not sure if McCain's idea is a good one or not, but it is nice to see a Democrat not asking "How high?" when a Republican says "Jump."

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September 22, 2008

Elitism Definied

Via Kos. I love it.

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