Antique Celestial Chart early 1700s – Perhaps the greatest utopia would be if we could all realize that no utopia is possible

Antique Celestial Chart early 1700s. The illustrations of the constellations are amazing, but the chart is also great piece of science history. Mapping the heavens in a very rational and exacting manner was one of the milestones of science and empirical unbiased observation.


Newt Gingrich (Serial Adulterer) Rises as Herman Cain (Alleged Adulterer) Falls. The Cain train served its purpose for a while – some observers believe it allowed conservatives to say, see we’re not racists. While it is true that not all conservatives are racists, because race still looms as a large part of white conservative resentment and imagined unfairness, Cain as a phenomenon was bound to come back to haunt them. Newt and Cain are great examples of the slippery rationalism of which the conservative mind is capable. Those “values” they claim to have. It turns out they are made of play-dough, easily malleable to accommodate whatever twisted reasoning pleases them on any particular day. I’m sure that conservatives are convinced they have values. Just as many wife beaters are convinced they did not hit their wife that hard, even as the prosecutor shows the jury the x-rays of the broken bones.


A libertarian economist admits he was wrong – I Was Wrong, and So Are You By Daniel B. Klein

But one year later, in May 2011, Buturovic and I published a new scholarly article reporting on a new survey. It turned out that I needed to retract the conclusions I’d trumpeted in The Wall Street Journal. The new results invalidated our original result: under the right circumstances, conservatives and libertarians were as likely as anyone on the left to give wrong answers to economic questions. The proper inference from our work is not that one group is more enlightened, or less. It’s that “myside bias”—the tendency to judge a statement according to how conveniently it fits with one’s settled position—is pervasive among all of America’s political groups. The bias is seen in the data, and in my actions.

While I’m willing to give Klein some credit for noting his own bias, he still gets it wrong in that his question model has a built in bias. There is also some built in survey begging or question begging, abet far more sneaky than the question begging Rupert Murdoch Fox News does – i.e. Do you believe that Obama is a mild or hard core socialist, their version of the how many times a week do you kick your kids question begging. Klein too briefly notes Jonathan Chait’s objections – Insult Retractions: A (Very) Occasional Feature

The structure of the survey was such that agreement with the neoclassical economic model was deemed “correct,” even on issues (such as the notion that the minimum wage costs jobs) where the evidence is far from clear. Klein announced the findings in a Wall Street Journal op-ed declaring “the left has trouble squaring economic thinking with their political psychology, morals and aesthetics.” Conservatives widely trumpeted the findings. I wrote a fairly nasty blog item about it. (I know! I can’t believe it, either.)

If you did not give the answer Klein thought was correct you were ig-nor-rant. If you think that supply-side economics are the living nightmare of hard working Americans who cannot make any progress because all they’re getting is the crumbs the top 10% let trickle down, you’re an economic moron. If you think that utter laissez faire economics is like trying to have a professional sporting events without referees, than you’re an econmic dounce, not a realist. Let’s say Robert Reich or Paul Krugman designed the test, I’m betting libertarians and conservatives would flunk that reality based test.

Must We Permit the US Military to Detain Americans without Trial? – The National Defense Authorization Act before Congress threatens further erosion of US citizens’ civil liberties

Three years ago, former Guantánamo Bay detainee Mustafa Ait Idr cautiously sat with me in a Sarajevo café, spilling hot coffee as he brought the cup to his lips. Though it was seven months after his release, he was still nursing a broken finger – punishment, he said, for refusing to strip naked in his cell – and was unable to fully grasp the cup due to his loss of dexterity. His face was also partially paralysed from beatings, and he told me how his head was held in a toilet for prolonged periods of time.

Upon his release, he met his youngest son for the first time. Ait Idr was one of “the Algerian Six”, a group of European (mainly Bosnian) citizens unlawfully detained at Guantánamo Bay for seven years. In 2008, a US federal judge ordered the release of five of the six men during the first-ever Guantánamo Bay habeas corpus trial. Just to obtain that trial, the men had to prevail in a 5-4 decision from the US supreme court. No charges were ever filed against them.

If the new National Defence Authorisation Act is enacted into law as it is currently written, many believe that American citizens would be in danger of enduring similar indefinite military detention without cause. Last week, the US Senate passed the NDAA, a massive $662bn defense bill with provisions that would amplify the role of the military in the seizure and detention of terror suspects, including US citizens. The act, a lovechild of Senators Carl Levin (Democrat) and John McCain (Republican), would permit the indefinite military detention of US citizens without charges or a trial. While the confusing bill is still a work in progress (the Senate and the House have yet to settle upon a final bill that will go to the president), it is already drawing fierce controversy across the country.

Most legislation is written in somewhat arcane language, such is the nature of legal nomenclature. This is one of those times where absolute clarity is essential. Too many Americans will look at the Mustafa Ait Idr example and say that can’t happen to me, my last name is Jones or Thomas. Try arguing you’ve made a terrible mistake, can’t you see I’m a good American citizen, when they come for you. For some people that is what it takes. Historically if we are at that point, it is too late. You’ll be crying to your cell mates about the injustice of it all.

I’m still leaning on the unscientific Fox News barometer to see who will win the conservative presidential nomination. As of today the winds have shifted to the Newster –  New York Times Explains How Fox News Has Hijacked The Republican Primary

Stanley suggests that Fox News coverage is at least partly responsible for Newt Gingrich’s surge in the polls and she notes that only 12 percent of Iowa Fox viewers support Mitt Romney. If Gingrich does in fact win Iowa that will certainly help to reinforce such a conclusion. The conservative Daily Caller pointed out five days ago that Gingrich’s “ground game has been non-existent in Iowa until just recently.” On the other hand, Romney, Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul are cited as having the strongest ground organizations there.

I remain a little dubious about Newt’s chances. Romney has not gotten particularly combative yet. He might never, getting surrogates such as Ann Coulter to do the dirty work. Not only does Newt’s baggage have baggage according to the reality based community, but the far Right “intellectuals” at The National Review agree. Last but not least, Newt has very little support from conservatives in Congress – Political winds shift to Democrats

“[Gingrich] says outrageous things that come from nowhere and he has the tendency to say them at the exact time to undermine the conservative agenda,” former Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.), who is backing Romney, said in a conference call Thursday. “If the nominee is Newt Gingrich, the election is going to be about the Republican nominee, which is exactly what President Obama and the Democrats want.”

Gingrich’s campaign says the criticism shows that Romney is panicking, and getting desperate.

Romney’s supporters are not the only ones worried about Gingrich. “The people who’ve worked with him the most are the ones who are least likely to support him, and that says something,” said one Republican congressman who has not endorsed a candidate.

Some examples of what the far Right considers one of their great thinkers – Newtisms. A glossary of Newt Gingrich’s historical references and out-of-nowhere terminology.

Lean Six Sigma
“If we were serious,” said Gingrich in the Nov. 23 debate, “we would apply Strong America Now’s model of Lean Six Sigma. We would save $500 billion a year by having an efficient effective federal government.” He’s been saying this for months, ever since he encountered Strong America Now—a “grassroots” group created by Lean Six Sigma designer Michael George—and signed its pledge, promising to implement the business-efficiency program. Lean Six Sigma’s tenets include a reorganization of federal employees, with 1 percent of them becoming “white belts” and 3 percent becoming “green belts.”

Newt’s message: I can save more money in one year than those stupid debt plans would have saved, just by making people wear belts.

Conservatives setting at home collecting their Social Security and Medicare, watching Fox propaganda all day, eat up that government efficiency stuff. They’re positive that just a few cuts here and there and, everyone would have a great job and  the nation would be transported to the magic land of Fiscal Nirvana.


“Perhaps the greatest utopia would be if we could all realize that no utopia is possible; no place to run, no place to hide, just take care of business here and now.” – Jack Carroll