National Figures Who Don’t Believe in Evolution

Evolution, Much Like Dry Land, Is Not a Myth

I had the idea to make a list of all the prominent people who don’t believe in evolution, but quickly found that would be too big. Unless it’s just a list of names, then there isn’t enough room in one essay to put everybody in there. Instead, I’ll periodically add people in other entries, and eventually compile a basic list. I start with the usual suspects – the conservative leaders that so many millions in the United States go to for advice.

Christine O’Donnell

“Evolution is a myth,” O’Donnell said as the others piped up incredulously. She repeated herself, then added: “Well then why aren’t monkeys still evolving into humans?”

This lady was the gift that kept on giving. In much the same way I like Rod Blagojevich, I loved her. I sure as hell didn’t want her getting elected, but having her around filled my heart with comedic joy. We haven’t heard much out of her in a while, but this quote was what got me thinking about this essay.

I want to catalogue all the nationally prominent people who either don’t believe in evolution, believe in creationism, or believe in intelligent design.  I’ll list his or her name, provide some kind of proof for what they said, and explain why what they say is flawed.

On to Ms. O’ Donnell. The funniest part of this quote is where she calls evolution a myth.

Oh My God I'm Lizzing! Lizzing!!!

Maybe if I say stupid things and wear these glasses people will think I'm Sarah Palin.

Creation myths are a dime a dozen. When I say “creation myth” most people probably think of some Native American story that says the earth was molded out of clay by a grumpy raven. You may also think (deep down) that this creation myth is silly. A raven making the earth out of clay? Sounds like a Far Side cartoon! Well, the Christian creation story is also just that, a story (or myth) – and many would consider it just as absurd. All opinions aside, there is no scientifically testable evidence that either my made up Native American myth or the Christian myth are true. If you believe either one of them you believe them on faith – faith that whoever told them was writing the truth. You might believe faith comes from god somehow channeling truth into your mind. Within the realms of science, there is no way to prove that. After hundreds of years of testing, it is not an observable phenomenon. Unless new evidence comes up it’s just faith, not fact, and because it isn’t testable it has no place in a science classroom.

She also says that if evolution were true, then monkeys would be evolving into humans. I think what she’s saying is we evolved from monkeys, which isn’t exactly true. Modern monkeys – and all other primates – evolved from a common ancestor. Modern monkeys aren’t exactly the same as that common ancestor. They’re just genetically closer to that ancestor than we are. New species emerge when they’re isolated (either by distance or some physical boundary) from others in their old species. Then a change in their environment has to affect their ability to survive in their previous form. Whatever the case, that comment shows a complete lack of understanding of natural selection, speciation, and sex in general. That last one might explain this.

Michele Bachmann

“There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design.” – Michele Bachman

She may be right. There may be “scientists” who believe in some kind of Intelligent Design, but that doesn’t mean they don’t believe in evolution as well*. Let’s say she’s right about these people she’s referencing though. That doesn’t mean they’re biologists – or even remotely connected to a branch of science that studies evolution. I would be surprised if an astronomer or geologist believed in ID. But a Chemist who works for Proctor and Gamble? Maybe one making the next popular male “enhancement” drug? Who knows? Maybe.

*You could interpret Intelligent Design different ways. For example, your version of god might have just applied a divine spark to start life. Once that happened the accepted version of evolution took place. By my count that’s as ludicrous as the guiding hand, but not as crazy as strict Creationism. I guess a very, very loose interpretation of ID could be that an even more remote god set up the basic laws of the Universe, and therefore set them up to result in evolution. That, however, is almost bordering on agnosticism.

Bachmann holds many, many flawed views of evolution. You can read them here.

Sarah Palin

She “didn’t believe in the theory that human beings – thinking, loving beings – originated from fish that sprouted legs and crawled out of the sea” or from “monkeys who eventually swung down from the trees.”Palin in Going Rogue from a NY Times Article

It's fun to make believe and play dress up. It's even more fun to kill things for a TV show!

Of course these things – being thinking, loving beings and also part of the evolutionary tree – aren’t mutually exclusive. Her argument here – and I admit I don’t have the whole excerpt – seems to rest on this. Semantics aside, her dumbing down of evolution is typical. It usually goes something like this: “I look nothing like a fish. How can we be descended from fish?” or “I’m way smarter than a monkey. You saying I’m descended from one is an insult!” That jump of logic ignores basic facts of evolution – like the complex mechanisms that underlie its theories – and appeals to the insecurity inherent in everyone.

In a competitive society, we all want to be the best – the smartest, the best looking , the tallest. If you imply that someone resembles something that does not have those traits –or at least doesn’t have attributes that are attractive to other human beings – they get upset and defensive. If you haven’t already figured it out, the argument is pretty darned ironic*. It appeals to the same mechanism – natural selection – that the theory of evolution hinges on. Because we reproduce sexually, we want to be attractive to those of the opposite sex and pass on our genes. Attractive traits are ones that make us healthy and productive members of society. Most of the people I know aren’t attracted to monkeys or fish. Like other attacks on evolution, it’s also based on the audience’s lack of understanding – or unwillingness to understand – evolution and the scientific method.

*Would that be hypocritical? Or just not self-aware? Maybe stupid? Probably all of the above.

Glenn Beck

“I don’t think we came from monkeys. I think that’s ridiculous. I haven’t seen a half-monkey, half-person yet. Did evolution just stop? Did we all of sudden – there’s no other species that’s developing into half-human?
It’s like global warming. So I don’t know why it is so problematic for people to just so, I don’t know how God creates. I don’t know how we got here. If I get to the other side and God’s like, ‘You know what, you were a monkey once,’ I’ll be shocked, but I’ll be like, ‘Whatever.’
They have to make you care. They have to force it down your throat. When anybody has to force it, that’s a problem. You didn’t have to force that the world is round. Truth is truth. You don’t have to force the truth.” –
Glenn Beck

I hate Glenn Beck like I love Christine O’Donnell. He’s either just as dumb or just as

Is he dressed up like a Nazi or a Soviet? Because both of those countries committed genocide. Who the fuck does this? And who supports a guy who does?

pandering to the willfully ignorant as she is. He ‘s scary though because people follow him. He’s unstable, charismatic, and batshit crazy – a scary combination of traits. His mid-life conversion to Christianity* makes me think he believes everything he says. Converts are the craziest, right?

*Well, Mormonism, which is like the newer, wackier Christianity.

There’s some Christine O’Donnell in this quote. He doesn’t understand the evolutionary relationship between monkeys and humans. He also asks why there isn’t a half-human, half-monkey, which is the same problem. One could argue that, within his twisted evolutionary model, the other great apes are those half-human/half-monkeys. Our evolutionary line diverged from the chimps’, gorillas’, orangutans’, and gibbons’ more recently than from the monkeys’.

I would also be surprised if Glenn Beck got to “the other side” and God told him he used to be a monkey. No informed scientist has ever implied that any human being was once a monkey. Evolution does not occur within one generation. It’s idiotic, and lots of anti-evolution people say it. Beck might say that he was being rhetorical, that he was being over the top on purpose to make a point. But people will believe him. He is portraying science as nonsensical and illogical. If that’s true, then why wouldn’t people believe some scientists think this? He implies that there are competing – and moronic – lines or reasoning within the scientific community on this topic. There aren’t. Anyway, I’m pretty sure if heaven exists and there is a god, the only reason he* would want to meet or talk to Glenn Beck would be to smack him in the face.

*If we’re pretending there’s an all-knowing being that lives in another dimension, hears all of our prayers, and sends people to a place like heaven if they do his bidding after he whispers to a few random people we might as well give that thing a gender.

Rush Limbaugh

“We now officially came from a monkey, 47 million years ago. Well, that’s how it’s being presented here. It’s settled science. You know, this is all BS, as far as I’m concerned. Cross species evolution, I don’t think anybody’s ever proven that. They’re going out of their way now to establish evolution as a mechanism for creation, which, of course, you can’t do.” – Rush Limbaugh

Limbaugh Is a Hypocrite, Scum Bag, Draft Dodging, Drug Addict Scum Bag

No.

Rush Limbaugh is like Glenn Beck but less charming. Limbaugh’s talent is continuous, loud talking. Maybe it’s because he works on radio, but he just keeps going, blabbering unsubstantiated nonsense. Beck likes melodrama – conspicuously significant pauses that work well on TV. Limbaugh likes anger and yelling. Anyway, what he says here is silly. Cross-species evolution? That’s not a thing*.  I think what he’s saying is there isn’t any proof that evolution created speciation. That goes to another common anti-evolution argument – that it’s just a theory and can’t be proven.

*Two different species shouldn’t be able to mate and create reproductively viable offspring although it doesn’t always work that way because definitions of species have changed over the years.

Technically, that’s true. According to the scientific method you never know anything with absolute, 100% certainty. That’s because for thousands of years people came up with ideas for why things were the way they were… but were very wrong. Then some smart people realized that every time somebody came up with a new explanation they eventually turned out to be wrong. Since these folks didn’t want to seem stupid to future generations, they came up with a back-up plan*, the scientific method. Basically, it says that observable phenomena and testable hypotheses lead to theories. That was different from how it used to be, when people just made up cool stories that sounded good around a campfire. Unfortunately, it also meant all conclusions are just theories – not facts or laws. All evidence out there might strongly point to a theory being true, but it’s still just a theory. For example, we understand how evolution works better than we do gravity. But they’re both theories.

*Not exactly true, but brilliant and hilarious if it were.

Bill O’Reilly

“Science is not always incomplete and I’ll give you an example. There are twenty-four hours in a day. Alright. That’s science.” – O’Reilly Factor.

The interesting thing here is O’Reilly doesn’t deny evolution; he just says intelligent design

You are the evidence, Bill. It's like the end of the Da Vinci Code, which I'm sure your network views as a work of fact-based historical fiction.

should be taught alongside it. He does so in an interview with a Professor of Biology, and also in an editorial he wrote for FoxNews. You should read the interview. O’Reilly isn’t a journalist. Journalists ask questions and gather facts. O’Reilly regularly speaks – or yells – over his guests, not allowing them to continue when they make rational arguments against his views. He keeps going, not even acknowledging a rebuttal if the guest gets a chance to give one.

Anyway, the quote above is O’Reilly’s. He likes to paint himself as a moderate, and I suppose compared to the other people on FoxNews he is. The problem with this quote is that he’s flat-out wrong. He says that, because there are always 24 hours in a day and we’re sure of that, that’s proof that sometimes science isn’t just a theory, it’s fact. Well, first of all an hour is just a proportion of a day, so yes, there will always be 24 hours in a day. And it would be ridiculous to think that we might discover a day is longer or shorter than we thought it was. What? That happened last year?

Oh.

Anyway, my flawed argument is beside the point. The point is science says we don’t know anything at 100% certainty. Some “theories”, like the fact that you and I exist, are at a very, very high level of certainty. Pretty much everything is lower than that one. Others, like the hollow earth theory, are significantly lower.

Besides that, Intelligent Design has no business being in a science classroom. There is no evidence to support the theory and it’s an un-provable hypothesis. Well, maybe it’s not entirely un-testable. If God is somehow changing genetics to suit his design then we would see some crazy, unexplainable phenomena acting on living bodies. One could argue that we have been doing significant biological and chemical research and experiments for many years and have never, ever come close to witnessing something like this going on. Meanwhile, there is a metric SHIT-TON of evidence for evolution. The two theories aren’t in the same ballpark. Hell, they’re not in the same universe. Without new evidence, there is no reason to take Intelligent Design seriously.

Mike Huckabee

“But I think schools also ought to be fair to all views. Because, frankly, Darwinism is not an established scientific fact. It is a theory of evolution, that’s why it’s called the theory of evolution. And I think that what I’d be concerned with is that it should be taught as one of the views that’s held by people. But it’s not the only view that’s held. And any time you teach one thing as that it’s the only thing, then I think that has a real problem to it.” Mike Huckabee

I’m leaving Mike for last because if you made me bet, I’d probably take Huckabee as the favorite to be the Republican nomination for president in two years. I’ve said enough already, so I don’t need to explain again why his statement is garbage.

All that being said, I’m planning on doing this with many more national figures in future posts. Hope you enjoyed this, and here’s a parting thought:

Why do those who believe in evolution have the burden of proof? Those who doubt evolution should have to explain why there is so much evidence for evolution and against creationism. In science, the burden of proof is on Creationists and those who believe in Intelligent Design. That’s why any classroom that teaches either of those two things alongside evolution is not teaching science.

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Maybe Hall of Fame Voters Feel Guilty for Their Role in the Steroids Era

I’ve already written about my picks for the Hall of Fame this year. Since writing this, Peter Gammons convinced me Jeff Bagwell was deserving of induction. Other than that, my choices haven’t changed. I would still abstain from voting for Roberto Alomar.

Yesterday Alomar, along with Bert Blyleven, was elected to the Hall of Fame. Blyleven was in his 14th year of eligibility. Alomar was in his second. Every eligible player who was connected to steroids – even through hearsay or conjecture –failed to gain induction. Blyleven was long overdue. Alomar’s election was hypocrisy on the part of most voters.  Tim Marchman writes about this in detail. He’s a better writer than me, so read his story for a good argument.

While Alomar may be completely innocent, the same could be said of almost every suspected steroid user. I don’t know many people who would argue that knowingly doing steroids, which hurts only yourself, is worse than knowingly putting other people at risk of death. That being said, I need to be convinced that a player in the steroid era truly excelled and stood above the rest of the league. Time will give us perspective on some of these players. So if a writer is waiting to pass judgment on Jeff Bagwell, generally considered a clubhouse leader and good guy, then why not just wait on Alomar too?

More confusingly, Alomar’s legal problems were not the most talked about reason writers

Alomar spitting

Maybe sports writers don't understand you can't transmit HIV through spit.

pointed to for not being inducted in his first year of eligibility. That distinction when to an incident when he spit in an umpire’s face. If we’re talking about morals and character, spitting in someone’s face isn’t going to get you points, but it’s not as bad as giving someone HIV. I guess the voters are less queasy about pre-emptively judging someone for steroids use than for criminal negligence.

It’s widely known that amphetamines were used by untold numbers of players for decades. There are undoubtedly a number of Hall of Fame players who used them as often as modern players used steroids. One might argue that steroids users were more conspicuous – it’s easy to see somebody bulking up and hitting more home runs. I don’t see it. It’s really easy to notice when someone has way more energy and speed – I’ve been around enough people on drugs to know that.

All your base are belong to Rickey

All your base are belong to Rickey. That's an internet joke, right?

Rickey Henderson stole a ridiculous number of bases in the 80’s. No one is pointing to that speed and saying, “OK, we don’t know for sure he took amphetamines. But look at how fast he was running! I mean, come on. Henderson didn’t just break the single-season stolen base record… he blew the old one away!”*

*Yeah, he was amazing. He stole 130 bases in 1982. Lou Brock’s previous record was 118. More amazingly, since 1900 there had only been three other seasons in which a player had stolen over 100 bases – Brock’s, Maury Wills in 1962 (104), and Henderson in 1980 (100). Henderson was consistent too – he stole over 100 bases three times in four years.

Rickey was one of the greatest ballplayers of all timeand should have gotten into the Hall unanimously. I don’t know if he took amphetamines just like I don’t know if he took steroids or held up a bank. For that matter, there is as much evidence for his using

No, he didn't use steroids. He's just in his forties. Lucky bastard. I got fat in my 20's.

Russell Crowe's bulked up a lot. Look how much bigger his head is! No Walk of Fame for you.

amphetamines as for Jeff Bagwell doing steroids. Paul Molitor was an admitted cocaine user. Gaylord Perry admittedly used spitballs, which was illegal in baseball. Both were easily elected to the Hall. Furthermore, there is a long list of known scumbags and ass-holes who are already in the Hall without question.

Some voters have openly said they’re leaving morality out of it entirely. They’re making their picks based entirely on the numbers. I respect that. They’re being consistent. Other voters have decided to judge players for one moral outrage while completely ignoring others. That’s either hipocrisy or these writers have terrible morals themselves.

I wonder if there’s something else going on here though. Maybe these BBWA voters feel guilty. By now we should all recognize it wasn’t just the players who were at fault during the steroids years. Ultimately it was their decision to use, but the system allowed them to make that decision – one which many of us would make too if we needed to feed a family. That system included the administration of Major League baseball, the fans who cheered the huge home runs, and the writers who glorified them.

I can imagine the questions these writers may have asked themselves (or maybe just repressed) in the past decade:

  • I enjoyed the home runs as much as anybody. Should I feel bad for that joy?
  • Why didn’t we notice these players bulking up?
  • Well, we kind of did, so why didn’t we say anything?
  • Was it because it was a good story?
  • Was it because more people were reading my stories?
  • Was it because I was profiting off their use of steroids too?
  • Did my lack of action make me an unknowing – or unaccepting – accomplice?

I felt that guilt, and I’m just a fan. I watched in 1998 with as much joy as anyone. It was awesome. When I saw it as being tainted, I wanted to point fingers too. I even remember writing a column in my college newspaper about it. I think.*

*I tried to find this article, but got bored after reading ten or fifteen of my weekly columns, an entertainment gossip piece called “Info-tainment!”. Example:“Crowe goes crazy, Elvis impersonators pure evil”

Once I got sick of being angry I just wanted to forget about the steroid problem. Ignore it. Wish it hadn’t ever happened.

That’s what most of the writers did, too. They mercilessly attacked the players they perceived as taking steroids for years – some of them continuing to do so to this day. Sometimes they’d take the time to acknowledge other guilty parties – the owners, Bud Selig, the fans, and even themselves. This was usually done in passing. Mostly, they attacked the same players they themselves had built up. After all, nothing’s better than building someone up to tear them down.

Now they’re pretending it didn’t happen by ignoring the problem. Instead of making tough decisions they’re ignoring them. Many writers have said they won’t vote for any player from this era, as if it never existed. I guess that’s the easy way out. Instead of taking a hard look at what really happened, they can blissfully – or angrily – absolve themselves of any responsibility.

I hope their behavior comes from guilt.* If it is, then maybe through years of therapy they’ll be able to get past it. After all, if it is guilt then that means they feel bad about it. And if they feel bad about it, maybe their “integrity, sportsmanship, [and] character” isn’t as twisted as I’m arguing#.

*Then again maybe these writers are immune to moral failure. I doubt any have ever cheated on their spouses. None of them have ever lifted something from another writer into their own story. Surely they haven’t ever bent the facts to suit the needs of a narrative.

# From my third-story, south-side apartment tower of judgment.

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Senate Passes Smaller 9/11 First Responders Bill and START Treaty; Roll Call for Original 9/11 and START Cloture

The senate voted to pass the 9/11 First Responder’s Bill today by voice vote. In case you haven’t heard anything about this, Republicans have blocked passage of this bill for weeks now. Congratulations to those who fought to get this passed, especially to the first responders themselves and, to a lesser degree, Jon Stewart and the Senators who championed it.

Let’s be clear on what this bill was. It ensures health coverage for the first responders at 9/11 in New York. Many of those individuals have gone on to have major health issues that were most likely connected to the fumes and dust they inhaled at Ground Zero. It would also compensate them for the damage done to their bodies.

Originally, Republicans said they would not address this bill until the tax deal was finished. So that means they were not only holding middle-class tax cuts for ransom, they were also doing the same for 9/11 first responders’ compensation.

Then, the tax deal for the rich was passed. So naturally one of the Republicans’ first orders of business would be to pass this bill. Right? They have traditionally been the first ones to trumpet 9/11 whenever discussing national security, so one would assume they would want to pay back the people who inadvertently helped them so much. That didn’t happen though.

So why were they still dragging their feet? Was the bill actually detrimental to the responders’ health? Did it not go far enough? Did it really channel money into corporate America’s pockets instead of the people who needed it? [Add Health care reform to the second two questions]. Nope.

Per John Ensign of Nevada, “That was more spending that was not offset”. This was an untrue statement, of course. Spending was offset by closing tax loopholes. So it’s not that it’s offset – it’s that the spending’s offset by closing a tax loophole his constituency, the richest people in America, use.

Then there was John Thune of North Dakota: “The difference I think with the tax bill is there is a deadline, January first. We have to get this done. Taxes go up on January first.” God forbid the richest Americans have to wait another minute for their tax cuts. Livelihoods are on the line for God’s sake! Somebody might have to dip into their savings to pay their country club bill and you bleeding heart liberals are yelling about firemen dying of cancer? How dare you. Really.

And John McCain? Read all about it here. It’s disgraceful. He thinks this is just a bunch of “fooling around”.

Then – and this is one of my favorites – some nameless prick filling in for Sean Hannity referred to the bill as “sentimental”.

Originally, the media pretty much ignored this bill and the fact that the GOP was blocking health care for heroes. Then Jon Stewart did the right thing and got into the act. It took a comedian to get ABC, CBS, and NBC to act on this. The White House’s Press Secretary  even acknowledged that. Thanks largely in part to him, the media started picking up on it.

So what did the Republicans say then? Shepherd Smith, a Fox News anchor (!?), couldn’t even get a GOP Senator to come on his show to talk about the bill. Smith has been very critical of the GOP’s lack of support for this bill. When was the last time you’ve heard of a GOP member avoiding coming on FoxNews? That should tell you everything right there.

Long story short, the bill passed today in the Senate by voice vote*, and quickly thereafter passed in the House by a margin of 206-60. Unfortunately, total allocation dropped by nearly three billion dollars, about 40% of the original bill. Still, it’s something. What ticks me off though is that, because it’s a voice vote, the Senators who blocked its passage aren’t recorded or counted. So guess what. Republicans got what they wanted – to not be accountable for their actions and a shrunken bill.

*Yeah, I didn’t know exactly what this meant either. Here you go. voice vote – A vote in which the Presiding Officer states the question, then asks those in favor and against to say “Yea” or “Nay,” respectively, and announces the result according to his or her judgment. The names or numbers of Senators voting on each side are not recorded.

In lieu of that list, check out who voted against cloture on this bill the first time, on December 9th. The vote was on strict party lines. Every Republican voted against cloture, essentially against passing the bill, and every Democrat voted for it. Harry Reid voted against cloture in a procedural move so he would be allowed to bring the bill up again in the future (today).

YEAs —57
Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Conrad (D-ND)
Coons (D-DE)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Manchin (D-WV)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Specter (D-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs —42
Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brown (R-MA)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kirk (R-IL)
Kyl (R-AZ)
LeMieux (R-FL)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Reid (D-NV)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Wicker (R-MS)
Not Voting – 1
Brownback (R-KS)

START Treaty

Below is the Senate Roll Cloture vote for Cloture of debate on the START Treaty, which passed 67-28. The treaty was passed soon after by a wider margin of 71-26. Senators Gregg (R-NH), Johanns (R-NE), Bayh (D-IN), and Wyden (D-OR) did not vote for Cloture but voted for Ratification. Obviously the cloture vote is what matters. If that doesn’t pass you don’t get to vote on ratification. However, if these four guys knew the Democrats had enough votes without them it doesn’t really matter if they miss the cloture vote. They could have been in the basement of the Senate playing ping pong. I imagine that’s what happened with Bayh, Wyden, and Gregg. They’re known as the Ping Ping Clique in the Upper Chamber. [Update: Wyden was, apparently, in the hospital after being diagnosed with cancer. He’s not in that club.] However, Johanns actually voted against cloture before he voted for it. So what changed in the forty minutes between the cloture vote and ratification? Who knows. Looks like Mr. Johanns is a flip flopper trying to play both sides. Anyway, here are you Yea’s and Nay’s for cloture with party-line breakers highlighted.

On the Cloture Motion (Motion to Invoke Cloture on Treaty Doc. 111-5 (The START Treaty)

YEAs —67
Akaka (D-HI)
Alexander (R-TN)
Baucus (D-MT)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Brown (R-MA)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Coons (D-DE)
Corker (R-TN)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lugar (R-IN)
Manchin (D-WV)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (D-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (D-VA)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
NAYs —28
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kirk (R-IL)
Kyl (R-AZ)
LeMieux (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)
Not Voting – 5
Bayh (D-IN)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Gregg (R-NH)
Wyden (D-OR)
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Why Furries Are Like Sarah Palin and Pat Robertson Is the Devil

I’ve had a lot of time to waste lately. When I read something and wanted to learn more I wrote a note to look it up on-line. What follows is that journey.

Investigation!

A Chris Moore Project

What’s up with leprosy? We never hear from it anymore.

Still a big problem Internationally apparently. Wasn’t aware. Apparently India’s got a shit-ton of leper colonies. Looks like it’s mostly isolated to equatorial countries though, which is interesting. There were only 166 cases reported in the US in 2005.

What the hell is the Alternative Minimum Tax?

OK. At some point I had a vague understanding of this but lost it somewhere along the line. I have now regained it. The gist is: rich people have been getting away with not paying their fair share of taxes forever. This isn’t in reference to actual tax rates on the richest, which are historically very low right now. The problem is they pay experts to find tax loop holes and end up paying nowhere near the normal rate. That’s why the AMT rate was set – to make sure that everybody paid their fair share.

Now, from my understanding the rate has not changed with inflation, so there are a lot of people in the 100k-200k a year rate who are now supposed to be paying this. Originally, the tax was designed for the richest of the rich but now affects even the poorest of the rich. I don’t see why it shouldn’t. If you make that much money in America you’re in pretty damned good shape and – I would still say – are close to being rich. More importantly, why should anyone get out of paying their fair share of taxes?

What do Sarah Palin, Furries, and Scientology have in common?

They are all endlessly fascinating and horrifying to me at the same time. I lump Sarah

Sarah Palin, a Furry, and a Scientologist walk into a bar.

I don't know how you got there either, Sarah Palin. When you look up furry on google images, most of the hits are of a sexual nature. In Scientology, you get a medal like that for every ten million dollars you give.

Palin with these two because I really dislike her but am endlessly fascinated by her words, actions, and popularity. It’s like watching a train wreck where nobody dies and the conductor is Daffy Duck. I’ve spent hours reading about these three odd, disturbing phenomenons and still find them endlessly fascinating.

Furries are people who have a fetish for anthropomorphic animal costumes. They have conventions, so it’s a surprisingly large group of people. This is something that, at least to me, resembles an innocence fetish. Clearly the people who wear these things like the idea of being an animal – or at least part animal. It only follows that, being an animal, they would be attracted to other people who dress up like animals. It’s very unsettling. Animals have a kind of innocence that these people must be attracted to. It’s not as creepy as middle-age men having school girl fetishes, but it’s definitely going down that road.

Scientology is a batshit crazy religion that draws parallels to pretty much every other modern religion in some way. They’re a cult by any definition of the word, but newer religions probably most often look and behave like cults*. Their creation myth, while cartoonish in its goofiness, is in a lot of ways less ridiculous than the Christian creation myth. From what I’ve read, Scientology doesn’t aim to explain how the heavens and earth were created – it explains in the most nonsensical, insane way how our bodies came to have souls.

*I like Mormons. They’re really nice people, and I’m not trying to single them out for having ridiculous doctrine. Absolutely every major religion’s doctrine, creation myth, etc is ridiculous to me. See, there’s another creation theory that makes much, much more sense and actually has evidence to back it up.

You know who Sarah Palin is. Read Going Rogue and you’ll understand why she’s like a furry.

King Philips’ War and The Proclamation of 1763

I’ve been reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, so expect more of this type. King Philip’s War was part of the European’s continued war on Native Americans. King Philip was not a European; that was the name given to Metacom, a Native American leader of the Wampanoag tribe that inhabited present-day New England. The war was sparked by the English/Colonies’ continual expansion into “the frontier,” or as the natives called it “where we live and call home.” Thousands of Native Americans were killed and things largely ended with Metacom’s death. This was just one of many wars that were fought between the original inhabitants of the land you and I call home and (at least for most of us) our forebears.

The Proclamation of 1763 set a limit on westward expansion and left certain part of what’s now North America to the Native Americans. It was signed by the British*. It’s said that the Colonists were not happy they wouldn’t be able to move into more land, and this was one of the reasons for the Revolutionary War. That shouldn’t really be up for debate. What follows is the exact text from the Declaration of Independence in America’s from the less-interesting list of grievances of King George: “He has… endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” Basically, Tom Jefferson is saying Native Americans are sub-humans who indiscriminately kill innocent people. Kind of hypocritical don’t you think? Also kind of questionable that we hold this document, which contains such a racist, awful message, with such high regard.

*Without a doubt, the British would have broken this treaty too. They did in Canada.

Interesting facts about the founding fathers

Half of these people were cool with owning other human beings.

 

More Zinn. John Adams defended the perpetrators of the Boston Massacre. During the trial he referred to the mob as “a motley rabble of saucy boys, negroes, and molattoes, Irish teagues and outlandish jack tarrs.” Now, I don’t know what a jack tarr is, but I sure know what molattoes, irish, and negroes* are and those terms are usually only used to classify someone as a menace if the classifier is a bigot. Three cheers for John Adams the bigot!

*I also thought I knew what a “saucy boy” was, but I can’t imagine that’s what Adams meant in this quote.

Lots of our founding fathers, including George Washington, owned slaves. That’s not news, but I think it should be brought up every President’s Day and July Fourth. If we’re going to celebrate the things we consider good about these men – and yes, they were all men – then we should be really embarrassed by the bad. All of them were also rich, Washington being one of, if not the richest person in the country.

Foreign Legion says what?

I never knew what a Foreign Legion was. Apparently it’s just another term for mercenary – someone participating in another country’s war. The French Foreign Legion was the French version, and they mostly helped France propagate early colonialism in North Africa. They went on to do less awful things in later years.

Boy, the US Senate is a really un-democratic, un-representative institution.

The most powerful law making body in our country is pretty whacked. That’s the Senate. To this day it’s an undemocratic, unrepresentative body. Each state gets two Senators no matter the size. If you live in California, which has 36,961,664 people citizens, each senator represents approximately 18,000,000 people. If you live in Wyoming, which has 544,270 citizens, then each Senator represents 272, 135 people. That means people in Wyoming theoretically have 67.91 times as much of a voice in the Senate as someone from California. Pretty nuts, huh?

The Senate’s ridiculousless affects the executive branch, too. As we all know, the President is not voted in by popular vote*. He or she is voted in by electors. Each state gets one elector per Congressperson. So let’s do the math again for California and Wyoming. California has 55 electors. Wyoming has three. That means for every 615,848 Californians they get one vote in the Presidential election. But if you live in Wyoming it’s one vote for every 164,594. That means if you live in Wyoming your vote for President is worth 3.74 times as much as someone living in California. To say that isn’t democratic or representative is an understatement, right? This is all in a handy table on Wikipedia if you want to see how much more or less representation you get than your friends in other states.

*Because for some reason nobody’s gotten around to changing a system that was put in place before we had telephones.

Furthermore, state’s populations change between censuses. Congressional allotment is based on population numbers that are gathered every ten years. So in 2008, many states had a higher percentage of the US population than they did in 2010 and rightfully should have had more representatives in the House and therefore more electoral votes. You know what would solve all of these problems? Abolish the Senate, which more closely resembles the House of Lords than the House of Lords does nowadays, and make all public elections by popular vote. It seems so easy…

Prayer Warriors? Tell me more.

Sarah Palin apparently uses these Prayer Warriors for support. It’s a two way street. Palin gets a false sense of security and they get to pray for something they believe in. The term itself is just as silly to me as Sarah Palin. Their purpose – and it looks like there are a many of these groups – is to use prayer as a weapon of change*. How adorable.

*I’m thinking of starting an on-line community called the Swear Warriors. Send me a request with someone’s name and I will curse them using a wide array of cleverly strung together obscenities.

This isn’t just a radical right thing either. According to Wikipedia, “During the Iraq War, one aspect of the debate over U.S. involvement was a “prayer battle,” with one side praying in support of the policies of the Bush Administration and the other taking an anti-war stance.” Yes, I’m laughing on the inside right now. You might even call it a prayer laugh because absolutely no one knows I’m doing it and it will have no effect on the world.

There are also Prayer Warriors who take prayers from the public. One is the Christian

A Prayer Warrior after a long, hard day of work.

Prayer Warriors. I was feeling a bit saucy, so thought about having some fun with them by requesting a prayer. It went something like this: “Please pray that god stop The Idiot, Sarah Palin, by any means necessary and make in her a great feeling of diarrhea whenever she comes on Fox News so that she will defile her clothes any time when thy camera (Fox News’ camera is obviously yours, my Christian God Jesus) is upon her.” Then I noticed they do prayers for people suffering from child abuse, sexual abuse, drug abuse, etc. I felt really guilty and didn’t hit send. I don’t believe in prayer. I also believe believing in God is a pointless endeavor and generally causes more harm than good. However, I don’t believe having sympathy for those going through distress is a bad thing. Prayer is just that – a thought – but it’s a start. It’s the absolute least common denominator, but sometimes that can lead to something real, like action.

Bob Feller is dead. Long live Bob Feller.

If you want to read something beautiful about Major League Pitcher Bob Feller, who died last week at the age of 92, look no further than Joe Posnanski’s column. Feller was one hell of a ballplayer, but what surprised me most is that his productiveness declined drastically after the age of 29.

From the age of 17 to 28 he averaged 18 wins, over 200 strikeouts and a 138 ERA+ per season. From 29 to 35, he averaged 15 wins and only 100 strikeouts and a 106 ERA+ per season. Most notably, his strikeouts per nine innings dropped from 7.5 to 4.2, and his K/Walk ratio went from 1.62 to 1.21 per nine innings in that same span. Still good, but his power dropped a lot and quickly.

Of course he lost three and a half years to World War Two, but he started playing long before modern pitchers do. In 2010, there were no pitchers under 21 who pitched more than 20 innings in the major leagues. Feller had already pitched 785 innings through his age 20 season. It was a different era, and it’s unfair to compare players across eras. For example, he didn’t pitch to an African American player in the major leagues until he was 28. It does beg the question of whether his early success and high innings totals led to his relatively early decline.

Good ballplayer who lead a long and successful life. Cheers to Bob Feller.

What was the Barbados Servant Rebellion? Does it have anything to do with Pat Robertson’s insane views on Haiti?

More Zinn. There were at least four major slave rebellions on Barbados. One of these took three years to plan, and was only foiled by a traitor who sold them out to the slave owners. In fact, there were tons of slave rebellions during slavery’s hey day, but the only successful one was in Haiti. Quite famously, Pat Robertson said… well, actually I’ll leave it to him. He clearly said it best:

“They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third and whatever.

Pat Robertson

"Look at all the smile wrinkles I've gotten from laughing at the horrible things I've done!" or "The evil Pat Robertson makes fun of Asian people on his tremendously popular show the 700 Club."

 

And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.’ True story. And so the devil said, ‘Ok it’s a deal.’ And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got something themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another.”

Let’s be clear: this is not a true story. Let’s make something else clear: the continued failure of Haiti probably had more to do with the racism of the leading colonial powers that continues to this day than anything having to do with god, the devil, or Pat Robertson. He is saying that the only slaves to (somewhat) independently break their bonds only did so with the help of the devil. That implies… well, it implies a whole lot of crazy shit which is what lead me to my next inquiry.

Is Pat Robertson the Devil?

Well, I’m agnostic so I don’t believe in the devil. There certainly isn’t any scientific evidence of its existence, so I’ll take this question metaphorically. After extensive research and soul searching, I’ve concluded that yes, Pat Robertson is the devil.

Now, Conspiracy Planet, perhaps America’s finest news source, says he’s secretly a Satanist, but their evidence is be pretty thin. Plus, that would imply he only worships the devil and isn’t the devil incarnate. Still, the guy takes money for prayers. Granted, it’s not quid pro quo, but  it’s certainly implied. That’s really, really bad.

Oh, and then there’s the little fact that the guy mines blood diamonds, and used what was supposed to be aid money to ship mining equipment. When George W. Bush offered two million dollars to capture the violent dictator of Liberia, who happened to be Robertson’s diamond business buddy, “Robertson accused President George W. Bush of ‘undermining a Christian, Baptist president to bring in Muslim rebels to take over the country.’” This is a guy who makes George W. Bush look moderate. And who could forget when he and Jerry Falwell blamed gay people and feminists for 9/11? Class act. Probably the devil.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Senate Roll Call Votes on Tax Extension, DREAM, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

Below are the roll call votes for the three biggest votes in the Senate over the past few weeks and my thoughts on the outcomes of those votes.

Please take a moment to note who in the Senate voted for the Tax extension for only those under $250,000 per year. Those who voted against this were saying that those making over one quarter of a million dollars per year. They decided that the only way anyone was getting tax cuts was if the top 1.5% of earners also received one. They were willing to sacrifice cuts for 98.5% of the citizens of our country because the extreme tip top, richest people in the country didn’t want to have to pay a little bit more in taxes.

Below that are the votes for the DREAM Act and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Tax extension only for those making under $250,000 per year.

Motion to Invoke Cloture on Motion to Concur in the House Amdt. to Senate Amdt. With Amdt. No. 4727 to H.R. 4853; To change the enactment date.

YEAs —53
Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Conrad (D-ND)
Coons (D-DE)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lincoln (D-AR)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Specter (D-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs —36
Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brown (R-MA)
Brownback (R-KS)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Feingold (D-WI)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kirk (R-IL)
Kyl (R-AZ)
LeMieux (R-FL)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lugar (R-IN)
Manchin (D-WV)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Nelson (D-NE)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Thune (R-SD)
Webb (D-VA)
Wicker (R-MS)
Not Voting – 11
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Sessions (R-AL)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)

I highlighted the “No” votes from the Democratic caucus. I’m surprised and disappointed that Feingold voted against this – especially considering he already lost the election. However, even with these five the vote would have only been 58 for, and unfortunately in the wholly un-representative and un-democratic United States Senate, that does not constitute a win. Remember that a failure to vote on this bill is essentially a vote against. Because of this, no one from the Republican caucus voted for this bill.

I was going to post the roll call of those voting for or against the bill extending tax cuts to those with annual income under $1,000,000/yr, but it’s a bit misleading. Dick Durbin (IL), Jay Rockefeller (WV), and Tom Harkin (IA) all voted against this version after voting for the extension for only those under $250,000/yr. I imagine these were protest votes from traditionally populist Senators. Even with their support this measure would have lost by four votes.

Onto the DREAM Act, which would have allowed undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children a path to citizenship for serving in our military or attending college. The thought is these people committed no crime by coming here; their parents made the brutally difficult decision to leave their lives and move to the US. They grew up here and want to be productive, involved members of our society but are unable to because of their status.

Below is the Senate Roll Call on the DREAM Act, with those voting against from the Democratic caucus and those voting for in the Republican caucus highlighted.

On the Cloture Motion (Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment No. 3 to H.R. 5281 )

YEAs —55
Akaka (D-HI)
Bayh (D-IN)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Conrad (D-ND)
Coons (D-DE)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Specter (D-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs —41
Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brown (R-MA)
Brownback (R-KS)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hagan (D-NC)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kirk (R-IL)
Kyl (R-AZ)
LeMieux (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Tester (D-MT)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Wicker (R-MS)
Not Voting – 4
Bunning (R-KY)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Manchin (D-WV)

I’m tremendously disappointed that so many Democrats voted against this. Again, an abstention is a vote against. Manchin (WV) is no surprise. He’s from my home state, and I knew he would be next Ben Nelson. He has not let me down. From what I heard, Hagan (NC) would have voted in favor had she been the 60th vote. Most disappointing is that unlike the tax extension, if the five Democrats who voted against and Manchin had supported the DREAM Act it would have passed.

Lugar (IN), a Republican, has championed this for some time, and deserves a lot of credit for consistently going against his party. It’s also interesting that Murkowski (AK) and Bennett (UT) bucked the party line. They were both challenged by Tea Partiers this past election. I hope their independence from the party was created by the push to the right by the Tea Party. I’m not generally a fan of either Senator, but I applaud them for voting for a just bill. It also confirms the ever so slight feeling of happiness I felt when radical Tea Partier Joe Miller lost to Murkowski this past election. I’d also like to point out that Orrin Hatch (UT) sponsored this bill in 2001. Sam Brownback (KS) and Chuck Grassley (IA) were cosponsors. I wonder what changed since then.

The good news is the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal passed. I couldn’t be happier for the movement. It’s disappointing, however, that the human rights movement has to use fighting in our military to gain legitimacy and respect in our culture. If that’s what has to happen though I support it. What’s disappointing is DADT has less overall impact on the minority in question’s lives than the DREAM Act would. While a homosexual can now serve in the military, they did not face the fear of deportation if it had the repeal not passed.

Below is the Senate Roll Call on the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, with those voting against from the Democratic caucus and those voting for in the Republican caucus highlighted.

On the Cloture Motion (Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2965 )

YEAs —63
Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Brown (R-MA)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Coons (D-DE)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kerry (D-MA)
Kirk (R-IL)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (D-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (D-VA)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs —33
Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
LeMieux (R-FL)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)
Not Voting – 4
Bunning (R-KY)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Manchin (D-WV)

Six Republicans broke ranks. The three most notable “centrist Republicans” – Snowe, Collins and Brown – apparently decided to go against bigotry for this one. Mark Kirk, my Senator and someone who may join those three in the middle, also voted for the repeal. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Kirk ends up voting more often with the democratic caucus on key issues than Joe Manchin, who once again did not vote, basically voting against the measure. Also notably, Murkowski supported the repeal. She may be moving more towards the center. We’ll see.

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Barry Bonds Was Already a Hall of Famer

I’m disappointed about Barry Bonds. I’m not mad, just sad for what we might have been. Clearly, the guy did some kind of performance enhancing drug. The physical transformation he went through was too hard to ignore. The same goes for guys like Mark McGwire, Juan Gonzalez, and Sammy Sosa. But those three? They were only good players – maybe great on occasion. Would they have been without PED’s though? Who knows, but they probably wouldn’t have been anywhere near what they became. Bonds though? He was already well on his way to being one of the best of all time.

Barry before and after. Maybe if he'd kept the mustache he would have been more likable.

Scratch that. He was already one of the best of all time. It’s pretty well-established that he started using around 1998. If he had retired after ’98, at age 33, he would have had a very strong case for the Hall of Fame. He already had three MVP’s (and probably should have had at least one more); 8 All-Star Games; over 400 home runs, doubles, and stolen bases; over 1,200 RBI’s and runs scored; and 103.4 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). By career WAR alone, he would have been number 25 all-time if he’d stopped right there. Given another four or five years of productive ball he was well on his way to being one of the top players of all time.

What happened next is well-documented in statistics. It’s also well-documented in the

Sosa definitely loses points for trying to be white. What the hell?

book “Game of Shadows,” by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams. He was frustrated because Barry Bonds, being a sports superstar, had a huge ego. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were getting all the attention. Barry, who had more raw talent than either one, was understandably upset. In 1998 he had the highest WAR of any player in the majors (9.4 to McGwire’s 7.3 and Sosa’s 6.5), but came in eighth in MVP voting. Home runs were sexy. Being an above-average defender, great baserunner, and quality power hitter were not. WAR wasn’t popular at that point, but looking back Barry was a much better, well-rounded player. He was already the best position player of his generation. But to be considered the best he was going to have to have to do something else.

So he started working with Greg Anderson, a trainer who increased Bonds through good old fashioned body building and good old fashioned steroids. The rest is history. Bonds started getting bigger, and his numbers exploded.

I remember people wondering what would have happened if previous superstars like Hank Aaron or Ted Williams had done PED’s. Well, take a look. Barry was on par with those guys already, and after steroids he put up some of the best numbers anyone will ever see. From 2001-2004, he got on base more often than he didn’t. His slugging percentage was over .800, which would be an above average On Base plus Slugging (OPS) in any given year. He hit 73 Home runs in one year! He did exactly what he wanted to do, eclipsing the big home run hitters.

But by that point we all knew what was going on. It was an empty chase. When he hit number 71, most of us shrugged. Barry came in after the novelty had worn off. He missed the good part, and ended up sticking around long enough to become the biggest target we could find. We knew players were supposed to decline in their mid-30’s, but Barry was somehow getting better. Not only that, but he was eclipsing one of the most hallowed records of all time, Hank Aaron’s home run record.

Aaron was one of the living saints of baseball* – and this cheater was going to pass him?

They say steroids give men boobs. Maybe this wasn't his best PR move. Should've stuck with the 'stache.

Aaron got to 755 home runs the hard way. He never hit over 50 home runs in a season, but year in year out he was a great ballplayer. He battled racism and death threats all while playing in the Deep South in the ‘60s and ‘70s. This guy was a true role model and hero. And a cheater was going to take down his record.

*And still is. He’s a living legend.

So Bonds was vilified. It didn’t help that his public relations skills were absolutely shit. To be honest, he always struck me as kind of spoiled. The guy was clearly raised in a life of privilege. His dad was a star baseball player, and Barry grew up in that limelight – a rich kid. Everybody knew he was an ass-hole and a bad clubhouse guy, too. But Ty Cobb was a violent, ass-hole racist, and nobody questions his place in baseball history.

Now let’s look at some other alleged steroids users. I’ll start with Roger Clemens, because he’s probably the best analog to Barry. He was a great player who then took steroids and got even better. He continued to play amazingly when he should have been declining in his late 30’s and early 40’s.

Clemens started working with Brian McNamee after the 1996 season. Over the previous three seasons he had a 25-23 Win-Loss record and a 3.53 ERA. In 1996, he was 33. In 1997, at 34, he got much better in a hitter’s park (Toronto). He won the Cy Young and lead the league in wins, ERA, ERA+, innings pitched, and strikeouts.

Until 1996, Clemens had a career 192-111 Win-Loss Record with 74.8 Wins Above

Clemens was also a scumbag. He allegedly cheated on this lady, his wife, with a 15-year-old girl, Mindy McCready. Statutory rape is worse than Barry Bonds doing steroids.

Replacement. Good, yes. He was probably in the Hall of Fame already, but somewhat questionable. The important thing to note is that Clemens was clearly declining when he allegedly started using. Bonds hadn’t even remotely slowed down.

McGwire is a tough case. He’s been accused us using for his entire career. He has personally admitted to using in 1998, when he broke Roger Maris’ single-season home-run record. Considering that his numbers started inflating three years prior, following two injury-plagued years, it’s easy to draw the conclusion that he was using prior to that as well. Let’s say, however, that he didn’t start till 1998. If we cut him off there, his career marks are under 400 home runs, and only 45 WAR. Not Hall of Fame numbers. He was also a very one-dimensional player.

Rafael Palmeiro is hard to figure out because there isn’t a timeline on when he started using. Same goes for Sammy Sosa. Here’s a perfect example where equalizing numbers would help. I tried to do this already. It’s complicated. The problem is, everyone wasn’t using at the same time, and different eras have drastically different outliers. For example, if you equalize individual numbers in a season to the average home runs per game over the modern era, Babe Ruth would have had 131 (to 54 actual) home runs in 1920 compared to Barry Bonds 42 (71 actual) in 2001. It’s a somewhat complicated stat, so I don’t want to get into it. The real moral if you look at the numbers is that Babe Ruth was, by any definition, the greatest outlier in baseball history.

My point is, without steroids Bonds was a stellar ball player. Clemens was good, but could

Kind of odd that this was the first picture of McGwire on Google images. Also, all indications are he never cheated on this lady with a 15 year old girl. McGwire>Clemens.

have easily ended up being much closer to Dwight Gooden than Greg Maddux in terms of career performance.* McGwire, Palmeiro, and Sosa were probably superstars because of steroids.

*Seriously. Look at the numbers. It’s pretty close.

It’s easy to see what Bonds might have been. We have a perfect example right now. Albert Pujols’ numbers sometimes seem too spectacular to be true. His consistent high level of performance is on par with, and possibly better than, guys like Frank Robinson and Hank Aaron. I consider it a privilege to live in an era with a player like him. If St. Louis were New York, the guy would probably be one of the most famous athletes in the world. Yes, he’s got a long way to go. Who knows what will happen? We could’ve said the same thing about Alex Rodriguez a few years ago, and we know what happened there. But I’ve got a feeling that’s not the case. I want to believe Pujols is a once in a generation type guy. I want to see him break records and redefine consistent, clean baseball.

Barry could have been that. He was probably better than that. Watching Pujols play and perform at his current level is what I imagine watching Aaron and Mays in their hey-day was like. I wish we’d appreciated Bonds more in the mid ‘90s. Instead of revering one-dimensional guys who could hit a ball really far but do little else, what if we’d really recognized the level of historic talent we were witnessing? Maybe Barry wouldn’t have felt the need to juice. Maybe he would have kept on being great, slowed down after five or six years, and retired a grumpy – but clean – icon.* Instead we’re wondering what he would have been. Instead of being a fake Babe Ruth, he might have been a real DiMaggio… or Aaron… or Mays.

*Is that what happened with Ken Griffey Jr? Maybe, but that’s another 1,500 words.

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My 2010 MLB Hall of Fame Ballot

Before I get to the ballot a few things. There are a number of players who should be in who are no longer on the ballot. In no particular order they are: Keith Hernandez, Lou Whittaker, Ron Santo, Dick Allen, and Curt Flood. I won’t get into details on anyone but Curt Flood. He wasn’t a HOF-level player, but he absolutely changed the game, and deserves to be in for that reason alone.

Update (11/6): I forgot one player: Pete Rose. I made an agreement with a coworker that I would now support him for the Hall as a write-in. I’ve been strictly anti-Rose in the Hall for a while now, but he convinced me otherwise (I’d had a very drinks). Anyway, it seems the gambling Rose did was never against his own team, which only makes him dumb, not a cheater. Also, he’s no worse than the  guy he replaced as hit king. Ty Cobb was a ridiculous racist, extremely violent, and was accused of fixing ball games. So we could, have, and I’m sure will put much worse guys in there.

Of the Veteran’s Committee ballot this year, I would pick Ted Simmons and Marvin

Marvin Miller should be in the Hall of Fame. Oh, wait... unions are the problem. Because working class people having a say in what happens at work is what's destroying this country.

Miller. Simmons was a catcher on par with Gary Carter and Carlton Fisk. He was overlooked. Marvin Miller changed the game. How many executives who regularly screwed over the fans and the players are in the hall? Marvin Miller helped the players take away some of their power, and whether you agree with unions or not he changed the game. I obviously think for the better, and hope he finally gets in.

A few things before I move onto the writers’ ballot. When evaluating steroids cases, I think it has to be case by case. I prefer to fall on the side of letting steroid users in. Reality is, some people were using and others weren’t. I tried equalizing the counting stats across the board, but that doesn’t really work. If I think the player did steroids I try to mentally equalize the stats. If they’re still up to par, then I’m probably going to say Yes. You can’t discount that many, many players used speed and cocaine in the decades before steroids got popular. Players from that era are already in the hall. Ty Cobb was a racist, mean sonofabitch. Spitballers are in the hall, too. So don’t try to say it’s a holy place; there are tons of cheaters in there already.

I also think a player’s character should be taken into account. Andre Dawson is a perfect example. Great guy. Good hitter, but probably not HOF material. I think because of who he was, he deserves to be there. Then again, if he’d stayed in Montreal he probably wouldn’t be. Playing at Wrigley certainly helped his case.

Roberto Alomar – Maybe. Not this year though. He’s easily one of the best second basemen of all time. By the numbers, he should have been in last year with a slam dunk. Still, this guy’s got a pretty fucked up personal life [Insert Link]. He allegedly has AIDS and knowingly exposed two women to it. PED’s only physically hurt yourself in the long-run. I’ve made the argument that drunk driving [Insert Link] is a worse example for kids. Considering his actions could have killed two women, I’m preferring to wait a couple years to let this drama play itself out. Surprisingly, before writing this I was sure I was a Yes.

Carlos Baerga – No. This guy had an interesting career though. He was terrific in his early 20’s then fell completely off the map. He was out of the game by the time he was 30, but had a moderately successful comeback at 33.

Jeff Bagwell – Maybe. OK, here’s the first possible steroids case. His physique was prototypical for the era. Still, this guy was extremely good. Let’s get the steroid era behind us, and then I’ll probably be a yes.

Harold Baines – No. He had a great career, but not quite Hall of Fame material.

Bert Blyleven – Yes, yes, yes. A thousand times yes. This guy is suffering from playing in small markets and pitching at the same time as Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, and Nolan Ryan. I tend to appreciate players who can be very good for an extended period of time. His career stats are ridiculous, and smarter writers than me have written plenty on why he should be in [Insert Link].

Bret Boone – No. Career stats aren’t even close. Perfect case of a pronounced peak surrounding the steroids years. Maybe if he’d used his entire career like McGwire it would look differently, which is an odd thing to say but true.

Kevin Brown – No. He was good, but no. Other than to point to steroid use, I don’t have much other argument.

John Franco – No. Relief Pitcher. See Smith, Lee.

Juan Gonzalez – No. He was good, but overall didn’t have a Hall-of-Fame career even if you ignore steroid accusations.

Marquis Grissom – No, but had a great career and managed to hang on for a long time.

If smiles could put you in the Hall of Fame, Lenny Harris would be there.

Lenny Harris – No. I can’t believe this is his first year of eligibility though. I would have guessed he was out of the game by the late ‘90s.

Bobby Higginson – No. I remember liking him as a kid – probably because of his funny name. Still, after looking at his stats he had a better career than I remembered.

Charles Johnson – No. He only played 11 seasons. That’s surprising. Seemed like he hung around as a backup catcher for longer than that.

Barry Larkin – Yes, but not by as much as you’d think. I have always thought he didn’t play enough. The guy was hurt a lot. Still, he had very high WAR numbers and played a tough position. He gets a bonus for being a team icon.

Al Leiter – No. Always seemed like a solid pitcher and a smart guy though.

Edgar Martinez – Maybe. A DH has to over-perform to get consideration. Martinez certainly did. Considering that this is only his second year, and I’m on the fence, I’ll give it a few more years to think about it.  I’m guessing I’ll end up saying yes, just like Bagwell.

Tino Martinez – No. And not because I don’t like the Yankees. I had a lot of respect for the mid to late-‘90s Yankees teams, and Martinez was a big part of that. Reality is, Paul O’Neill was probably a better player, and I wouldn’t have thought hard about that one.

Don Mattingly – No, but not as much as I thought. ‘80s players are very under-rated and under-represented in the HOF. Still, he just didn’t put up great numbers for long enough. In the hall of Very Good with Marquis Grissom.

Fred McGriff – Yes. I was a huge fan of him when he played for the Braves. He was a star before the steroids era, and from the late ‘80s to the mid-90’s he was a top player. Extra points for staying very good for a long time.

Mark McGwire – Maybe. This is going to be the same conundrum I have with Roger Clemens but don’t with Barry Bonds. For Bonds, he was already a slam-dunk HOF’er when he started juicing in the late ‘90s. Not so for Clemens. McGwire was probably juicing the whole time he was playing though. Clemens and Bonds were not. There’s a clear moment in time for both of them when they started using. For McGwire, his entire career was clouded by steroids. Add that to the fact that he was a very one-dimensional player, and I have to hold off for now.  I really, really want to say yes though, and ultimately probably will.

Raul Mondesi – No. The guy was only good, and he pissed me off when he played for the Pirates.

Jack Morris – No. And this isn’t because he shut down the Braves in 1991. Just not quite good enough.

Dale Murphy – Yes. Surprised myself by writing that. He was clearly one of the best players over a ten-year span. Unfortunately, that was the 1980’s.

John Olerud – No, but I really want to say yes. He’s a Mark Grace-type. A solid player for an extended period of time, but not quite great. These are my favorite types of players.

Rafael Palmeiro – Maybe. I want to stress that we shouldn’t punish him just because he got caught. Gotta put him in the exact same category as McGwire at this point. Give it time.

Dave Parker – No, but I’d like to say yes. I don’t like making comparisons to players already in the hall, but it’s odd he gets such little attention while Tony Perez did. Parker played in similar markets – Pittsburgh and Cinci – and won a World Series. He was a very good player but not quite Hall-of-Fame in my book.

Tim Raines – Yes. He wasn’t Rickey Henderson, but who was? Had some drug problems, but came clean and got straight. Some writers have pointed out that this is being held against him while a guy like a Paul Molitor, who had exactly the same issues, walked in. Some of this probably has to do with racism, and some has to do with the fact that he as a superstar in Montreal. I think he’ll eventually make it, but it’ll be a couple years.

Kirk Rueter – No. I had to go back and see if he was a relief pitcher or starter, which says something about his mediocrity. Decent starter for a couple years, but shouldn’t be on the ballot.

Benito Santiago – No. Had a good, long career. Deserves to be on the ballot. I’m guessing he gets two votes.

Lee Smith – No. I always liked Lee Smith, but he’s the definition of a one-note reliever. To get into the Hall as a reliever, you need to be a special case. Eckersley and Smoltz, for example, dominated in both reliever and starter roles for extended periods – Smoltz more so than Eck. Mariano Rivera is a very, very special case. Wilhelm and Gossage weren’t just one-inning save-machines. Guys like Smith, Billy Wagner and Trevor Hoffman fall short for me right now. Maybe with time I’ll think otherwise, but I doubt it.

B.J. Surhoff – No. All I can think of for him is the 1987 Topps Future Stars Baseball card.

This card. I remember this card.

I really liked it.

Alan Trammell – Yes, and it’s a crime Lou Whittaker was off the ballot after a year. I can’t figure out why Whittaker is off and Trammell continues to get support. They have almost the exact same stats, and Whittaker actually has a higher career WAR. Racism? Maybe. I wonder how many of these players from the eighties, once we view them outside of the perspective of the steroids years, will be inducted by the Veterans Committee. Trammell and Whittaker are probably the best two examples I can think of unless Raines doesn’t eventually get elected.

Larry Walker – Maybe. Part of the steroids era, so I need more time to judge his stats.

Total Yeses: Blyleven, Larkin, McGriff, Murphy, Raines and Trammell

Total Maybes: Alomar, Bagwell, Martinez, McGwire, Palmeiro, Walker

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