Anti-Science

Please Don’t Vote for Rick Perry

Ugh.

Iran executes 3 men for sodomy

TRIAL BY FIRE (must-read article about Cameron Todd Willingham)

Colbert on Rick Perry

Incredible realization that Jesus died because of the death penalty courtesy of Videogum

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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47 Comments

  1. There are so very many reasons not to vote for Perry. His anti-science, appointing creationist to the school board, praying for rain (and economic relief), cutting funding for fire-fighters, laying off teachers, and so much more.

    But the number one reason to not vote for him is this: if enough people do vote for him, he will become president of the US. And then I think we will have to leave.

  2. Just one little point: Galileo wasn’t executed… You probably mistaken him in this instance for Giardio Bruno.

    For the rest I would even go so far as saying: “please, don’t vote Republican. The democrats are 4% less evil.” Scientifically proven using the Discovery Institute method.

  3. Rick Perry? What a bellend. I am quite biased (being an atheist, bisexual medicine major) but he seems like the kind of person that is planning on making the United States a very uncomfortable place to live for people like me (using any of the above adjectives). Not necessarily putting me in mortal danger via state execution, but like sitting on the bus next to somebody who whispers “come the day” for the entire journey. He might not actually kill me but I am fairly certain that given the chance, he would.

    Thankfully, even in the nightmare world where he actually gets elected (fingers crossed that it’s not this one), it is harder to implement your policies than it is to get elected (as we can see with the current administration). Having had a butcher’s at how legislation comes to be, I am happy to say that the likelihood of anything really happening is pretty slim. Even if it does happen, there will have to be compromises out the ass, so it won’t come out looking like Perry originally imagined it to be. AP US Gov in high school has done a lot to keep my pants urine-free in situations like this.

    Never thought I’d say this about any candidate ever but could we trade him back and, I dunno, risk having Palin as a president? She might be a more despicable person, but everybody knows that she couldn’t figure out an episode of the Teletubbies, so even if she did get elected, I doubt that she’d be able to get anything passed.

  4. Yeah, the church didn’t execute Galileo. They only confined him to house arrest for life, and by the way, showed him the instruments of torture so he’d know what was coming to him if he wrote any more of those evil science books.

    1. Also, didn’t the church actually know that what Galileo was saying was probably correct? That’s what creeps me out even more,and I see parallels with some in power today, who publicly deny things, that privately they know to be most likely true, for the sake of “keeping the faith” (read getting reelected!).

    2. How the church treated Galileo, reprehensible as it was, does not affect the incorrectness of saying “the church executed Galileo” whatsoever.

      Were they demented little bastards towards him? Yes. Were they stupid? Yes. Did they execute him? No. Does their bad behavior change the fact they didn’t execute him? No.

      At the very least, there should be an addendum to the post stating that Rebecca’s statement to that effect was in *fact*, incorrect. That is how this whole science/skeptic thing is supposed to work, right? When you’re proven wrong, you admit it, right?

      1. “At the very least, there should be an addendum to the post stating that Rebecca’s statement to that effect was in *fact*, incorrect. That is how this whole science/skeptic thing is supposed to work, right? When you’re proven wrong, you admit it, right?”

        The video has, since ten minutes after it was first uploaded, included a flagged annotation at 3:15 calling out that I was incorrect. Apparently those don’t show on embedded videos? I don’t know. Panties: untwist.

        1. The video has, since ten minutes after it was first uploaded, included a flagged annotation at 3:15 calling out that I was incorrect. Apparently those don’t show on embedded videos? I don’t know. Panties: untwist.

          You may want to doublecheck that then. Just checked on the youtube version at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsP0713Ptnc&feature=player_embedded and the embedded version. Doesn’t seem to be showing up. Could be a youtube issue.

          Maybe a line of text, just as a backup, since YouTube isn’t perfect. Single points of failure and all that.

  5. How does the US even survive having all these knuckleheads running the country? Seriously?

    In a nation with so many brilliant people, you’d think something better than this shit floated to the surface. Yeah, Perry, you’re a floater …

  6. Neither I, nor any member of my family or circle of friends would ever consider casting a vote for Perry. I know, I know, don’t be a dick. Keep it civil. BUT THE GUY IS FREAKIN SCAREY! We don’t need another president that gets messages from god telling him to send young people to die. I have to believe he will flame out. His outrageous behavior might actually galvanize the ho hummers out there who don’t want to get involved.

  7. I have been not voting for Rick Perry since I moved to Texas six years ago. But I would like to find some positive things to say about our governor. I’ve been compiling a list.

    #1 He can, on occasion, be bribed into doing the right thing. (For example after a major contribution from Merck, he tried to get HPV vaccinations a requirement).

    #2 He has better hair than Rod Blagojevich, with whom he shares a similar balance of commitment to public service versus personal ambition.

    #3 (I forgot what this one was, I really should have been writing these down as I come up with them).

    #4 Some of his policies are extremely effective. For example, he doesn’t like educated people, and he has been working quite successfully to ensure that Texas doesn’t produce any more.

    #5 His commitment to law and order is unshakable; he will use every legal mechanism at his disposable in order to execute people.

    So the next time you hear people say that there really is nothing good to say about Rick Perry, please keep these in mind.

  8. Not that it changes your argument about execution being wrong, but I’m a bit tired about people getting the facts wrong about Galileo, specially people that should know better. First, and as people said before, Galileo wasn’t executed. What hasn’t been said is the reason why he wasn’t executed, and that is because he was in very good terms with the pope. The pope liked Galileo because earlier, Galileo had discredited a Jesuit priest on his essay on the nature of comets. This essay was essentially correct, but Galileo used scorn and ridicule (not science) to discredit him, making the pope very, very happy.

    Also, Galileo was tried by the church for the implications that publicly discrediting scripture could have on social order. The validity of his scientific claims were judged by his academic piers!!! So, other academics of the time did not agree with Galileo regarding heliocentrism, unlike what you mention in your video. There are letters predating the trial, exchanged between Galileo and other respected academics of the time in which they tell Galileo they could not see what Galileo claimed to be there using his telescope. Some people claim that the reason for this is because Galileo telescope was very rudimentary, and essentially single focus. Because of differences between different peoples eyesight (Galileo was probably shortsighted) the same telescope would not provide the same images for different people.

    So please, please, stop saying that Galileo was a champion of empiricism (he wasn’t, as he had no problems using scorn and ridicule to discredit people who were right for his own personal gain), and stop saying the church executed him for something all the scientists agreed it was right. Not that I disagree with you on the matters of execution. But distorting history will do no one any favours. You don’t want to be a Sarah Palin in the end, do you?

  9. So there are a lot of misconceptions about Galileo. Rebecca repeats one of the larger misconceptions in this video (that Galileo was executed). Curiously, the truth about Galileo in many ways makes Perry’s statement even worse.

    A lot of people think that there was this big final showdown between the Ptolemaic (geocentric) system and the Copernican (heliocentric system). But that’s not what happened. In the early 1600s there were a lot of different systems floating around. You had Copernicus, and you had Ptolemy, but you also had others. There was Tycho Brahe’s system where the planets revolved around the sun and the sun revolved around the Earth. And there were hybrid systems also. Some people wanted all the planets to revolved around the Earth but for Mercury and Venus which revolved around the sun. This system does surprisingly good job of handling the qualitative data.

    The system which ultimately triumphed wasn’t the Copernican system. The Copernican system used epicycles (miniature circles inside circles which planets orbited on) just like Ptolemy. (Also, apparently Chrome doesn’t think that “epicycles” is a word.) Kepler’s system wasn’t just heliocentric, but also had planetary orbits in the form of ellipses.

    By the time Galileo was on the scene much of this was already settled. Kepler’s system was in ascendancy among astronomers and those who needed to use astronomy for practical purposes like navigation. This was due to a variety of issues. First, Kepler’s laws demonstrated a deep elegance in his system. The third law especially did this by showing a relationship between planets which hinted at much deeper connections. Second, Kepler’s system gave much more accurate predictions. His Rudolphine Tables were unambiguously more accurate than any other table of planetary bodies. This was due not just to Kepler’s orbits but to a large extent due to the fact that Kepler had access to Tycho’s meticulous observations which were more precise and accurate than pretty much any other observations. This combination allowed Kepler to not only make generally accurate predictions but also make some that were strikingly visual, such as a 1632 prediction of a transit of Mercury across the face of the sun where he was able to predict the correct day of transition.

    Galileo doesn’t publish his dialogue until 1632, by which point the winner for astronomers was in many ways clear. The main actual contribution by Galileo to the actual science end of this was his observations of the phases of Venus in 1610 which were one of the final blows to the Ptolemaic system but didn’t actually distinguish between any of the other rival systems. By the time the Inquisition got involved, the whole thing was done.

    This of course makes Perry’s statement all the more silly. Not only was Galileo persecuted by the Church not scientists, but he was persecuted well after scientists had already accepted heliocentrism.

    1. Sorry, one other important clarification: Not all astronomers who accepted Kepler’s idea of elliptic orbits accepted the rest of the system. Some of them tried to model elliptic orbits with other rules of motion such as uniform motion or motion proportional to the distance to non-solar focus of the ellipse. But the basic acceptance was there, and even those who were not accepting the model used the Rudolphine Tables for practical purposes because the tables were just that good.

  10. That’s yet another misconception about Galileo, that he was a lonely visionary who had a perfect view of the universe in opposition to everybody else. He wasn’t, with Kepler being much more instrumental to the correct description of the solar system, as was mentioned. But in the actual trial, the validity of his views in “Dialogues” was judged by academics and not priest with no knowledge of astronomy. The point can be made (and I would definitely do) that these academics were not politically impartial, but neither was Galileo, and that is the point (even today, if you want to publish you should carefully choose the journal to try and avoid being handled by political rivals).

    In addition to this, it should be mentioned that Galileo actually claimed that scripture agreed with his vision of the solar system. This, more than anything, particularly infuriated pope Urban. Interpreting scripture was the job of the church in the end, not academics. Galileo was not a godless perfect scientist, but very much embraced scripture in his handlings of the matter (yes, I know, you had to at the time, and that is also my point!).

  11. Billy – here’s a quote I pulled from that link you posted, something which applies equally to Rebecca and seemingly all of the commenters on this thread:

    “This is not a Galileo moment, but a James Madison moment. The point of the House legislation is not to ‘repeal science’ but to reassert the separation of powers, preventing the EPA from imposing through regulation what congressional Democrats could not achieve through legislation.”

    The sum total of the comments here seem to be: Perry is dumb, moreso, if possible, than Bush. Perry is scary. Perry has interesting hair. And one commenter seemed to suggest that, given the change, Perry would actually kill him.

    I fully understand that I’m wading into a political discussion with extreme left-wing liberals but I do want to ask a question: so what?

    I’m not defending Perry’s stance on creationism – he is completely wrong on the issue. But if the teaching of creationism in school is something you’re primarily concerned about, then you should all hope he wins the Presidency because he can do far more damage as a governor. Presidents have next to nothing to say about what is taught in state-run, funded, and manned schools.

    Obama doesn’t believe in intelligent design, but he does believe in God. He’s not an atheist, yet I see no hand-wringing about that fact. Obama opposed same-sex marriage in 2008 (his position may have ‘evolved’ since then), but I see no hand-wringing about that either. And there’s little a President can do anyway since Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.

    Perry doesn’t think global warming is settled science, and doesn’t think we should enact policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Obama, even with a filibuster proof majority in Congress, decided that health care was a higher priority than that.

    Perry is a cowboy who’s going to send people to their death in misguided wars around the world? Obama ordered a surge in Afghanistan and authorized a war in Libya all by himself without going to Congress. Scary?

    So tell me again exactly what is it about Rick Perry that frightens you?

    Could it be the Texas economy? Coincidentally, that’s one thing a President has some control over…Obama’s done pretty well in that department the last few years, right?

    Skeptics talking politics is turning into a huge pet peeve of mine, especially when their critical thinking skills, forces for good when used against things like homeopathy, are completely shoved aside in favor of partisanship.

    You don’t like Perry? Fine, I have no issues with that. Perry’s really SCARY and going to literally KILL you given a chance? C’mon…

    1. major,

      Obama hasn’t been great. Perry will be orders of magnitude worse.

      Presidents have next to nothing to say about what is taught in state-run, funded, and manned schools.

      Presidents have a lot of influence in indirect fashions. One of the primary things a President has is the attention of America. If he decides to vocally push for creationism that will be influential. This is definitely not the only thing a President can do that would be relevant. He can appoint both federal judges and Supreme Court Justices who are sympathetic to creationism and intelligent design. Edwards v. Aguilard was a 7-2 decision which is a strong result but the court has moved rightward in the last few years. If that decision occurred today it could easily by 5-4 or even 4-5 the other way. It isn’t that hard to see a President appointing justices and judges who will allow creationism back into our schools.

      Obama doesn’t believe in intelligent design, but he does believe in God. He’s not an atheist, yet I see no hand-wringing about that fact

      For what it is worth, I’m not at all convinced that Obama actually believes in God. But even if he does there’s no need for hand-wringing about that. Belief in God by itself is pretty harmless. It is what people do because they believe God wants something that causes the problems.

      Obama opposed same-sex marriage in 2008 (his position may have ‘evolved’ since then), but I see no hand-wringing about that either. And there’s little a President can do anyway since Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.

      Right. Obama has been extremely weak on LGBTQE issues. But it should be pretty obvious that Perry would be a lot worse.

      Perry doesn’t think global warming is settled science, and doesn’t think we should enact policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Obama, even with a filibuster proof majority in Congress, decided that health care was a higher priority than that.

      Right. This annoyed some people. But Presidents do have a limited set of things they can work with. If Perry was President he would actively block any attempt to deal with global warming. Let’s be clear: leaving euphemisms about Perry not thinking “global warming is settled science”- he thinks the evil scientists are engaging in systematic “manipulation” of data (his word, not mine). Anyone who thinks this is likely going to have such a distorted and negative view about science that it will negatively impact their ability to handle any science issue not just global warming.

      Perry is a cowboy who’s going to send people to their death in misguided wars around the world? Obama ordered a surge in Afghanistan and authorized a war in Libya all by himself without going to Congress. Scary?

      Here you have hit on something that Obama did that was scary. And I don’t know if Perry would do worse. But given how belligerent Perry’s stated foreign policy is, it doesn’t take much imagination for him to do even worse.

      I agree that he would be unlikely to actually kill anyone here given the chance. Some of the rhetoric is over the top. But let’s not forget that this is the same candidate who accused Bernanke (a Bush appointee) of being “almost treasonous” for disagreeing with Perry’s desired monetary and fiscal policy, and then proceeded to make a thinly veiled lynching threat. Perry’s rhetoric is so bizarrely over the top that it is hard to tell what he actually wants, and it is very clear what sort of things that sort of rhetoric has on people who listen.

      There are somewhat reasonable Republican candidates out there. If Romney or Huntsman win the primary, I could see myself voting for one of them under the right circumstances. Huntsman would in fact get my vote pretty easily. But Rick Perry is clearly an ignorant, dangerous nutcase. I generally try to realize that disagreeing with my politics doesn’t make someone stupid or evil. It often takes a lot of effort, and people across the political spectrum often have trouble with this for anyone in a different area of the political spectrum. But in this particular case it is clear: Rick Perry is either stupid or ignorant, and possibly both. Some of his problems are due to old fashioned cognitive biases that impact all of us. But if that’s what is happening he is clearly making no effort to minimize those biases.

      I like the US a lot. I’m still naive enough to believe that in the right circumstances the US maybe can be a shining beacon on the hill of liberty and prosperity for the rest of the world. Since 9/11 we’ve very much failed at that goal. Rick Perry would be one more step in the wrong direction.

      1. Josh – you started out fine but went off the rails there at the end. We can debate the extent to which the court has moved to the right, if it has at all after accounting for its most recent additions. But I find statements like this disturbing:

        “Perry is clearly an ignorant, dangerous nutcase.”

        WTF?

        Skeptics like to back up judgements like that with facts, and you offer none. If he’s ‘clearly’ a nutcase, then it should be fairly easy to assemble a list of policy positions he holds which are so far out of the mainstream of conservative political thought as to make him unfit to be running for President. Or even governor of a huge state for that matter.

        You say you might vote for Romney, but make a statement like that about Perry – those two don’t jive. To the extent those two disagree about policy, it’s minor compared to the degree of difference between them and Obama.

        And for the record the US has never given up its status as the shining beacon on the hill of liberty and prosperity for the rest of the world. If, by implication, you’re referring to the Iraq war, then I would ask you to think about this question: what other nation in the last 100 years has spilled more of its own blood on behalf of other nations, with the expressed intent of returning that nation to independant sovereignty? Take a look at the two halves of Korea and let me know who is evil (China, N Korea) and who is that shining beacon you speak of (US, S Korea). Here’s a partial list of countries the US has conquered in wartime and then returned to the people of that country – Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Morroco, Algeria, Japan, Philippines, S Korea, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan.

        1. Major, the evidence for that statement is clear: his attitude towards climate change falls under the “ignorant” part. His willingness to accuse politicians he disagrees of treason and making implied lynching threats fits in the “dangerous nutcase” category.

          And yes, as far as I’m concerned most of the Republican candidates are acting extremely ignorantly.

          The saving grace about Romney is that he’s pragmatic enough that he might do the right thing simply because it is the best thing to do. For example, Romney’s actual record on environmental issues when one looks at his time as governor makes him look quite reasonable.

          Romney isn’t accusing people of treason for having policies he disagrees with. This is a big positive.

          As to the matter of being a shining beacon of liberty- why don’t you look at how the rest of the world views us. Much of the world was sympathetic to the US in October of 2011. We’ve pissed that away. Iraq is not the only example of how we’ve screwed up. Guantanamo has destroyed our moral standing. Our heightened airline security has made people from many countries unwilling or unable to visit the US. And I’ve seen that actively impact scientific and mathematical conferences where invited speakers are unable to show up. This has real negative effects on the US itself and on the attitude of others towards the US.

          1. Josh – I believe your premise is flawed. If ‘the rest of the world’ viewed us this way then we wouldn’t have an illegal immigration problem, and people wouldn’t still flock to this country to find freedom and opportunity.

            Our airline security has zero to do with foreign policy, and everything to do with radical fundamentalist terrorists.

            If Guantanamo dropped our moral standing at all (which I would dispute), it only means we’re 999 notches ahead of China or Russia or Saudi Arabia or Cuba instead of the 1000 notches we were before.

            I believe what you’re actually saying is ‘the rest of the politically liberal world’ viewed GWB’s policies in response to 9/11 poorly (of which Obama has continued almost all of them). In that you and I are in agreement.

      1. P.S.

        Not to derail this into my own personal hang-ups and causes or anything, but our friend up there who mentioned the possibility of Ricky Perry killing him if given the chance did mention that he was bi. While Perry may or may be the type of guy who’d actually pull the trigger on someone himself, the attitudes and beliefs he actively supports do directly contribute to LGBT people getting literally, actually killed. Through suicide, negligence and, yes, murder. Whether or not he’d really kill Cabbageman if he had the chance and the legal immunity, men like Rick Perry absolutely have blood on their hands… and to get a lot less abstract here, he IS very, very keen on the death penalty.

        So, the whole “kill me if he had the chance” thing might have been a bit of an exaggeration, but I don’t think it’s really all that far from the truth, and I don’t think it’s as silly a notion as you’re making it out to be. At the very least, I think he certainly wouldn’t mind if some of us happened to disappear.

        1. Natalie – I don’t want you to take this the wrong way because I find devoutely religious people (on the left and on the right) who discriminate against LGBT despicable.

          But saying ‘men like Rick Perry absolutely have blood on their hands’ in my mind is equally dispicable. Why does he have blood on his hands? Because he adheres to a religious belief? Or is he out there advocating for wholesale LGBT slaughter and somehow the NYT missed it?

          Its a very seductive notion to ascribe the worst motives to those with whom you disagree politically. And for a passionate personal issue like this it’s even more seductive.

          But there is a grand canyon-wide gap between people who disagree with your position politically and people who actively discriminate, murder, rape, etc. You could make an argument that the latter is exclusively a subset of the former, and I might agree with you. But you can’t equate the two politically or morally.

          In my opinion statements like yours don’t tend to persuade people, they tend to entrench them more deeply in their current positions. If the LGBT community desires broader acceptance – which it will eventually receive, struggles like this tend to be multi-generational – it should shy away from saying things like ‘Rick Perry is going to kill me’ when that’s clearly not the case.

          1. I’m not actually trying to persuade anyone. This isn’t an issue of appropriate tactics for persuading people to not vote for Rick Perry, because I’m on a website where pretty much no one is actually going to vote for him.

            The reason I’m saying “he has blood on his hands” is because the bigoted positions that leaders of the right take directly support the mentalities that lead to the actual murder of people. You know: real people, getting murdered, in real life. When people in positions of power deliberately adopt a stance that certain kinds of people are sick, flawed, inferior, sub-human, THAT is what allows other people to feel justified in assaulting or killing those kinds of people. That’s why he has blood on his hands.

            A powerful person offering conceptual support, justifications and standing idly while people get killed is partly responsible for those deaths.

            In my opinion. You’re welcome to disagree, of course, since it’s one of those iffy subjective ethical thingies. I just don’t think Cabbageman’s statement was really all that silly. Fun fact: I belong to the minority group statistically most likely to get murdered in a hate crime! When that’s the actual life you’re living, knowing that at ANY point you could get attacked or killed just for being who you are, and people like Mr. Perry are proudly supporting the mentalities that create that hostility, yeah, you end up feeling pretty screwed over, and sometimes like they must “want” you dead if they’re that willing to just go along with that climate of hatred that is actually threatening your life.

            And then there’s also the whole death penalty thing. You know… everyone who got executed under his watch. He’s got that blood on his hands too.

          2. P.S.

            You think a “blood on his hands” remark on a blog is EQUALLY despicable to hatred and discrimination towards a persecuted minority group? Equally?! Really?!

  12. Josh – I believe your premise is flawed. If ‘the rest of the world’ viewed us this way then we wouldn’t have an illegal immigration problem,

    What? Huh? No. This makes no sense. You are confusing different groups in different situations. The people who are trying to immigrate are trying to immigrate primarily for economic reasons and because their countries are really badly off. The people who see the US as morally bankrupt are pretty much everywhere else.

    Our airline security has zero to do with foreign policy, and everything to do with radical fundamentalist terrorists.

    Um, I just explained to you why our airline policies have an impact. Please reread what I wrote.

    If Guantanamo dropped our moral standing at all (which I would dispute), it only means we’re 999 notches ahead of China or Russia or Saudi Arabia or Cuba instead of the 1000 notches we were before.

    There’s a lot wrong with this. First of all, China and Russia and Saudi Arabia aren’t trying to or claiming to be bastions of morality and liberty. So if they fuck things up it isn’t the same problem. Second of all, it is pretty clear that Gitmo, Abu Graib and other US events empirically damaged the US standing in the world- http://www.pewglobal.org/2005/06/23/us-image-up-slightly-but-still-negative/ http://www.globescan.com/news_archives/bbc06-3/index.html are good examples. The general trend is pretty clear: There was a slight bump in favorable attitudes towards the US right after 9/11 and then it started going drastically down until 2005 where it leveled off or inclined slightly. Since then attitudes have been flat or grown slightly but they still aren’t as positive as they were in the late 1990s. There’s a lot of statistical data about this.

    As to Obama continuing Bush policies- yes, this is a bad thing. The fact that Obama has been bad doesn’t magically make other candidates somehow better. Points against Obama are not points for Perry when Perry will do the same thing.

    1. Josh – hard to have a debate if we can’t agree to terms.

      Your original point was: the US used to be a beacon of liberty before we invaded Iraq, now we’re not and the rest of the world looks down at us. I countered that by saying I believed your premise to be flawed, and were that indeed the case and the rest of the world viewed us differently now, we wouldn’t still have people flocking to this country. And then you tell me my argument makes no sense…and then shift the goalposts and say that the people flocking here really weren’t the ones you were talking about. Who’s not making sense?

      And exactly why again are we morally bankrupt? Because we’re holding detainees in a humane facility in Cuba? As opposed to what, executing them outright? Setting them free to be picked up and executed by their home countries? Have you looked into the legal status of combatants as defined by the Geneva conventions? There are very good reasons why Obama is continuing with Bush’s policy in this regard. We’re already way off topic so I’m not going to outline them here, but if you’re serious about doing some actual learning in this arena I suggest you do some reading.

      And you’re seriously proposing that our airline security standards effect our foreign policy based on a couple people you know? Seriously? Id like you to explain one scenario where airline security prevented a speaker from attending a conference, and I anxiously await your column in Foreign Policy magazine or your presentation to the Council on Foreign Relations on this topic.

      Sorry, that was a little snarky but I find it hard to believe you’re serious.

      And finally, I think you did acknowledge that, relative to the rest of the world, the US is indeed the clear leader in morality and liberty. It was backhanded, but at least an acknowledgement. I’m less interested in the opinion polls of the rest of the world than I am in the actions the US takes. And you are correct, Abu Grahib was an atrocious, horrific series of events and a blemish on our otherwise good record in Iraq.

      But here’s the thing – the difference between that event and things like Tienamen Square, terrorists like Al Qaeda, dictators like Saddam, Mullah Omar, Castro, China, etc., is that for the US that is aberration. For all of those others, atrocities like that are a matter of policy.

      We prosecuted those involved. Al Qaeda celebrates mass murderers who kill innocent women and children by the hundreds. We correct our mistakes through legislative or legal action. Dictators like those mentioned above use the legal system to justify their atrocities. We’re more of a shining beacon of liberty because we make mistakes, and then endeavor mightily to fix them (note that I don’t include Guantanamo as one of those mistakes).

      We’re not perfect – no country is. But I would submit to you that no other country has done as much good for the rest of the world in the last 100 years, and that includes what we’re currently doing in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

      I most likely won’t respond again – with a couple exceptions I understand your position but judge it completely differently. And even if your can’t agree with me, I’d at least like you to acknowledge I have a point.

      1. But what exactly is your point?

        You started out by pointing out Obama’s failings. Sure. We’re all okay with that. Contrary to what seemed to be your assumptions, not everyone on the left has blind faith in Obama and views him as an infallible messiah. In fact, quite a lot of us are very disappointed in him.

        But what do Obama’s failings have to do with Ricky Perry’s? Unless you’re actually trying to claim Obama is worse, and I don’t think you were, those are two more or less unrelated things.

        Then there’s still stuff about America… sure, there are other countries out there that are much worse. There are some HORRIBLE regimes in the world. But that doesn’t excuse America’s faults, or invalidate criticisms of it. There are ALSO nice countries we could compare America to. Countries that, depending on your personal values and judgement, may do certain things “better” than America. Canada, for instance, has what I consider a better healthcare system, better human rights policy, better foreign policy, better social safety net and a better electoral system.

        But really, whether or not there are worse countries or better countries doesn’t matter. Criticisms of America are criticisms of America.

        It’s like… just because Jeffrey Dahmer was a worse person than I am doesn’t mean I’m absolved of all my own faults. Sure, pancreatic cancer may be more devestating than breast cancer, but breast cancer research is still a noble, deserving cause. You know what I mean?

        If we’re talking about Rick Perry we’re talking about Rick Perry. “But Obama sucks too!” and “North Korea does way more unjust things than America!” aren’t valid ways of arguing against claims that Rick Perry sucks and that America does unjust things.

      2. majortom,

        Natalie responded to most of your points pretty well. Natalie’s two points you should really take home are that bashing on Obama doesn’t make Perry better and that other countries engaging in immoral behavior doesn’t make the US turn into a saint. So, given that, I’ll just handle the remainder. First, contrary to your assertion, I didn’t mention the Iraq war. The first person to mention Iraq in this thread is you.

        There’s also no goalpost moving going on. Please reread what I wrote. I’m not talking about Mexicans and other foreign nationals from the developing world who are trying to get to the US. That you didn’t read my point correctly is not the same thing as moving goalposts.

        And you’re seriously proposing that our airline security standards effect our foreign policy based on a couple people you know? Seriously? Id like you to explain one scenario where airline security prevented a speaker from attending a conference,

        Two of the creator of the AKS primality testing algorithm, Neeraj Kayal and Nitin Saxena didn’t end up speaking on their work on the US because there was trouble obtaining visas for them so only the lead spoke. Later, all of them eventually came to do stuff in the US I think, but the point should be satisfied. This isn’t the only example. Simply talk to people who run any math or science department at a university and they’ll be able to tell you about problems they’ve had involving far less famous people.

        See, this is what skeptics are good at. Having viewpoints that are supported by data.

  13. One of the problems with evaluating candidates is sorting out what they truly believe with what they are willing to say in order to get votes. Perry is ostensibly a evangelical Christian, but the extremity of his true views on religion versus science get obscured somewhat by his courting of votes from the religous right. To take their votes from Michelle Bachman, he needs to come off as a true believer, but not so much that he loses votes from folks with less extreme religious views who might view him as a loon. Any candidate who expects to win the presidency does this to some extent. I doubt for instance, that Obama is really against gay marriage, but taking that position publicly comes with a net political price that he didn’t want to pay.

    I would have a hard time voting for Perry simply because I think his rhetoric fosters a climate where the irrational anti-science beliefs of the religious right would be encouraged. Likewise with their seeming fixation on the evils of homosexaulity. I mean why not fixate on the destructive greed of the Wall Street Investment bankers that were so instrumental in bringing out the financial crisis? Seems like the latter would be a much more egregious sin in the eyes of god, but I’ll bet you don’t hear too much about that on Sunday from the pulpits of evangelical ministers.

  14. P.S. His position on social issues nonwithstanding, Obama is a huge douche, IMO. When it comes to getting down on both knees for Wall Street they know they can count on him. Of course, we the taxpayers are the ones who will take it arse later on when they leverage up the next Ponzi scheme by 100:1 and then come crying “too big to fail” when it collapses on them (they all personally cash out before the collapse or bet against the house, of course).

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