Friday, October 26, 2012

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) Between his support of Richard Mourdock and this, Mitt Romney ought to drop out now:
Look, when he was in Massachusetts, a woman in his own church, he tried to stop her from having an abortion. Her pregnancy was threatening her health and then she developed blood clots that were threatening her life. He couldn't talk her into stopping the abortion. She had permission from the Mormon hierarchy to terminate this life threatening pregnancy. He went to her parents. What he said to this woman, and this is key, cameras not rolling and what Mitt Romney says to this woman, why should you get off easy? Why should you get off easy? Why should you get off easy? Other women don't get off so easy. Talking about getting off easy to terminate the pregnancy. I think that Mitt Romney absolutely does not want any exceptions to criminalization of all abortion.

2)  Eid al-Adha has started with a bang. Sadly.

3)  How desperate is the Romney campaign? They're chewing the legs of Bush officials!

4) Burp.

5) Florida Republicans tried to disenfranchise the old fashioned way: by misinforming them about when the election is. The FBI is on it.

6) Update on that "hormone" story I posted about yesterday: "It didn't go through channels." Um, what?

7) Your photo of the day:

8) Who wants to live forever? These folks, apparently.

9) I say this because I figure I'll be pretty safe: Sandy looks like it could be a lot of fun. See you on the other side.

10) Finally, for the day when Jurassic Park becomes a reality and the world is overrun by our lizardian to butcher a Triceratops. No. Really!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How Do You Make A Hormone?

CNN stirred up a foofaraw yesterday by posting the results of a scientific study that indicated a woman's hormone levels may affect how strongly she feels about a particular candidate. They have since pulled the article, possibly because of the stir, but more likely because it may have been junk science.
That didn't stop nearly everyone from talking about it:

In an Internet survey of 502 women, “researchers found that during the fertile time of the month, when levels of the hormone estrogen are high, single women appeared more likely to vote for Obama and committed women appeared more likely to vote for Romney, by a margin of at least 20%.”

"Internet survey" should have been a warning flag from the get-go. Internet surveys are only as good as the paper they're printed on.

So we now have a survey that claims horny women are more likely to vote for one candidate over the other based on the status of their relationships.

Um, what?

Now, it's true, women have hormonal cycles, and it's also true that those cycles can play a role in social interactions. It seems unlikely those cycles would play any more of a role in a decision making process than the hormonal cycles that men have.

Ours are daily, however. You'd think if there was anything to cyclical hormone, men would be all over the map in supporting one candidate over the other.

Keep in mind that this study, such as it is, was produced by a marketing professor, Kristina Durante at UTexas/San Antonio.

Some in Blogtopia (© Skippy) have taken a more balanced approach to the study, pointing out that the study doesn't say single women are all about Romney until those juicier days and then BAM! all about Obama, or vice versa for "women in committed relationships". It seems to point out that on those days, women are firmer in their choice of candidate.

Still, this doesn't really address the whys and wherefores and how a woman's relationship status plays into this, which to me is the truly sexist aspect of the idiotic report. The suggestion is that a woman in a relationship is somehow buying into the patriarchy more, but that could be a function more of how that woman was raised, which may make her biased to being in a relationship because she is more conservative and adheres to those values.

Now THAT would be an interesting study to make.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mourdock: "More Dick"

I'm not sure what it is about rape that Republicans find so attractive.
No, I'm sure: rape is not about sex, it's about power, but Republicans want to pretend it's about sex:
[Indiana Senate candidate Richard] Mourdock, who's been locked in one of the country's most expensive and closely watched Senate races, was asked during the final minutes of a debate Tuesday night whether abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest.
"I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen," Mourdock said.
You may remember Mourdock as the Teabagger who ousted Senator Richard Lugar from re-election mostly by painting Lugar as too moderate and too willing to compromise.
Compromise: after Teabaggers are gone from Congress, I think they'll realize a harsh lesson has been given to them. Governing and legislating 330 million people demands compromise because you can't have an army of goose-stepping sheep agreeing with every extremist position you pull out of the Koch brothers' asses.
Mourdock is the second Teabagging candidate to say something repulsive about rape and its consequences. You may recall Todd Akin and his comments about the impossibility of pregnancy during a "real rape."
It's an interesting trope to believe, to be frank: by allowing for degrees of rape, you immediately deflect any challenge from people who's feelings about abortion are more flexible and compassionate than yours. You basically take compassion out of the argument by claiming, in effect, "she had it coming."
It doesn't matter if she was pinned to the ground by a man twice her size, had a knife held to her throat and brutally assaulted, penetrated over and over again: if she got pregnant, she wanted to have sex.
I've never been much for bondage fantasies, and I can't imagine too many women would find this exciting and welcome. I wonder if Akin or Mourdock were in a prison shower and this happened to them, would they still believe in "illegitimate rape"?
Akin at least had the good timing to reveal his disgusting lunacy before the campaign geared up and allowed Romney the opportunity to decry him and to put distance from Akin. Mourdock, however, is currently running television and radio ads featuring both Mitt Romney AND Paul Ryan.
Romney can't be sitting comfortably with this. The whole Akin affair took the entire Republican ticket down a peg in polls, and to re-energize the population of women is going to not only hurt Mourdock's chances, but the story will remind women across the nation of the GOP antipathy towards anything in heels.
So Richard Mourdock? Thank you. Thank you for being a heartless dickless bastard. 


Tuesday, October 23, 2012


If Mitt Romney believed he could credibly pull off being both a statesman and a Teatard, well, I've got some used horses to sell the army:

Republican Mitt Romney entered Monday night’s debate on foreign policy with the goal of presenting himself as a competent, plausible alternative to President Obama as commander in chief.

But Romney appeared to cede many positions to Obama, moving closer to the president on a range of issues and presenting them in a softer way.

[...] “I’m glad that Governor Romney agrees with the steps that we’re taking,” Obama said at one point. “There have been times, Governor, frankly, during the course of this campaign, where it sounded like you thought that you’d do the same things we did, but you’d say them louder and somehow that would make a difference.”

One of any number of zingers that President Obama got off during the night and this time, he inflicted wounds on his opponent, rather than stand back and let Mitt swallow his own foot.

The foreign policy debates are the most difficult for both the candidates and the audiences.

Yes. Audiences. I'll get back to that in a moment.

Foreign policy requires a deep understanding of issues that concern other nations as well as the interdependent interplay between nations that most of us don't even pay attention to.

Which is why Romney's comments on Iran are deeply troubling:

Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world. It's their route to the sea.
The Strait of Hormuz might have a word with the governor. It's not even like you have to go that far back to know that Iran has a navy, if you just paid a little more attention to the world and a little less attention to outsourcing jobs, Governor.
Like I said, you the audience might have missed it, but for a Presidential candidate to fumble this ball speaks volumes about their competency. And therein lies the nub of Romney's failure to look Presidential.
Now, if someone could botch an easily Googled fact-- and since you know Iran is going to come up, you might want to do that ahead of time-- then how likely is it their "deep intelligence" is accurate?
10,000 centrifuges? Really? And while even 2,000 is perhaps too many, it speaks even more about your paranoia and determination to take this nation to a war footing again.
I understand there's an economic benefit to war: it's saved us in the past from disastrous economic times and while it did nothing during the Bush administration (despite fighting two wars), war has always been coupled with sacrfice at home, particularly on the part of those who have.
For my part, I'd rather skip the war bit and head straight to the sacrifice.
Most people remember the "horses and bayonets" line, which was a classic. To me, what was more important was the way Obama schooled, slapped and then spanked Romney like the petulant unruly student he is.
By the way, the butthurt on the right will point out that the Marines still use bayonets. The army still has horses too, but what Obama said was they have fewer of them because they need fewer of them. Chuck Todd is particularly egregious in pointing this out but it speaks to the idiocy of having someone stay up past his bedtime.
This was the key exchange in the entire debate. I'm not an expert debater. I've never mass debated. But there are people who have, and there's a school of thought that says Romney might have lost any chance to win the debate and by extension the election in this exchange:

The question was posed to Romney on how he would pay for his proposed $2 trillion increase in military spending, and he flat out didn't answer it. He was busy finishing his previous answer. So by the time it was the president's turn, Obama actually said, "You should have answered the question."

Obama then asserted that the United States spends more on its military than the next 10 countries combined. That's a great attention grabber. By the time Romney finally answered, he simply said we needed a stronger military, and the Navy needs more ships because it has fewer ships than it did in 1916.

But Obama countered with the most memorable line of the night. "We also have fewer horses and bayonets." Obama's debating point was that the nature of our military has changed. He continued by saying that the U.S. has things like submarines and aircraft carriers that should suffice, and reminded viewers that the nation needed to study what its threats are and put money into things like cybersecurity and space. Obama said that the military neither wants nor has asked for this extra $2 trillion.

This was terrible for Romney for three reasons. First, it was the original area of real disagreement, and Romney couldn't afford to be bested. Second, no matter what he may actually know, Romney looked like a neophyte when it comes to military spending, as though he were repeating old Republican talking points. Viewers could be left unsure whether he knew what century this is.

And finally, it's two freaking trillion dollars! They both talked about the budget deficit and the need to balance the budget, and over three debates, this -- $2 trillion on military spending -- was the biggest difference on offer. Axing Big Bird would net a President Romney next to nothing in savings, but adding $2 trillion to defense sounded excessive, especially if it's true that the U.S. already spends more than the next 10 countries combined. Point Obama.

Sorry for the extended quote, but Graham's point was excellent, which brings me to the nub of this post.

Foreign policy debates always speak to two audiences: the voters, and the world. Most nations can safely ignore the town hall and economic debates (China and our trading partners have some vested interest, but...)

Foreign policy lays out a candidate's vision of the world, and its future. If a challenger can be seen as a credible President, it will help nations like China and Russia-- and Iran-- figure out how best to deal with him or her.

You have to speak both diplomacy outwardly but inwardly speak to the American people about strength and security. Obama has an huge advantage. He's a known quantity on the world stage. He can speak more to the American people if he so chooses, knowing that his actions already speak for him. He can even bully Iran a little, given that he's lined up Russia and China, both reluctantly, behind him.

Romney's strategy for presenting himself to the world was pretty clear: agree with the President where he could. After all, Obama has been a success on the foreign policy front, and to disagree with him is to raise the spectre of a return to the cowboy diplomacy under the Bush administration.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine he'd toady up to Obama, which is what I think triggered Obama's snark and condescension. Kudos, Mr. President. You did a nice job as a professor, even using the student's own arguments back against him when he agreed with you.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Picking At A Dead Carcass

The final chapter in the Lance Armstrong saga has been written:

GENEVA—Lance Armstrong was officially stripped of his titles Monday by cycling's governing body in the latest chapter in the doping allegations against the seven times Tour de France champion.

The International Cycling Union, or UCI, the sports governing body, acted following a damning report by the U.S. antidoping authorities which said Mr. Armstrong was at the center of "a massive team doping scheme, more extensive than any previously revealed in professional sports history."

The UCI said it accepted the findings and punishments handed out by the U.S. Anti Doping Agency which included stripping the 41-year-old of all results dating back to Aug. 1, 1998, including his record run of seven Tour de France wins from 1999 to 2005, and banned him from competitive cycling for life.

Long time readers of Simply Left Behind know that I support Armstrong fully, not just for some dishwater reason like his charitable works (which alone should suffice to place him in the good graces of Americans everywhere) but because he is the greatest cyclist to ever click into a set of pedals.

Long time readers of Simply Left Behind know that I also would not ban the use of performance enhancing drugs and that this latest "Captain Reynaud" moment on the part of authorities-- who are shocked, SHOCKED, to find cheating going on-- is an utter cowardly scam designed to foist upon the American people the mythology that somehow sports are cleaner than politics.

Anytime you put money or power on the line, people will cheat and not get caught. Period.

That Armstrong cheated does not take a single thing away from his wins, and to say otherwise is hypocrisy: he beat at least six other athletes who at times in their own careers were caught and stripped of their results. To say that Armstrong cheated is to say that if no one had cheated, he'd have seven wins in his pocket anyway.

I mean, it's not like he nosed past the cleanest athletes, and doping doesn't give you that enormous an advantage over the course of a grueling three week race.

A quick look at the evidence the USADA has presented reveals heresay testimony of at least eleven teammates who testified under oath that they doped and that Lance Armstrong doped. Here's the thing: that testimony was taken two and three years ago but only released now.

The deal was that those athletes would not be punished in exchange for testifying truthfully. And yet, many of them admitted to the same "crime" that Armstrong is accused of, and nothing happened. Some were even allowed to retire gracefully with their own honors unstripped. (Likely, that will now change.)

Indeed, George Hincapie's testimony was so key to the Armstrong investigation that it's probable that the results were not released until he had ridden his final time trial in the Vuelta a Espana this year. An honorable man would have testified, and immediately retired if he felt that his privacy was so sanctified as to warrant immunity.

At least one of the riders has his own hell to pay in this matter, to be sure. Levi Leipheimer has been kicked off his current squad, Omega Pharma Lotto, and will have a very hard time latching onto another team, which is appropriate.

But here's the thing: a lot of people made a lot of money off Lance Armstrong, and not once did anyone launch a serious investigation into whether or not he doped.

Sure, he's been tested hundreds of times (some say 500, some say only 200 but he remains the most tested athlete of all time and not once have those tests revealed doping) and sure, factually there's no basis for the charges, so people let him slide.

He brought fame and fortune to a huge number of people in the sport. Because of Lance, the Tour de France has a regular spot on American television. Because of Lance, bike manufacturers around the world saw a boom in their sales. Because of Lance, Bicycling Magazine had something to write about three months out of the year which means Rodale made a boatload of money. Because of Lance, Trek Bikes, Nike, and other products that Armstrong endorsed made tens of millions. Because of Lance, George Hincapie has a line of clothing and has made millions, as have nearly all of Armstrong's teammates from the US Postal squad.

I mean, quick, name the only other American to win the Tour de France?¹

Suddenly, they're racking their brains, wondering "if only".

Here, let me tell you what "if only." If only you had done your job and investigated, Lance Armstrong wouldn't have been a huge force in cycling, he wouldn't have won seven Tour de France titles, he wouldn't be Lance Armstrong. And he wouldn't be such an "huge disappointment" to your hypcritical tut-tutting cadre right now.

Face facts, you created this man that you now call a monster and climbed on his back and rode him as far as you could before he finally gave up.

In fairness, you also helped create a charity that helps more than 28 million people in the nation who suffer from cancer in all its nasty forms. That would never have become as big as it has if not for this faux-Lance you created. Unless, of course, he won cleanly.

Which he probably would have.

Armstrong has been scapegoated by the very people who lifted him on their shoulders and carried him to new heights, and for that, those people should be given life time banishments jsut as Armstrong has. They created a false idol and now that it lies smashed at their feet, they look anyplace but at themselves for blame.

There's a mirror. Go point there.



¹ Greg Lemond, 1986, 1989, 1990