Governor Gregoire had a few words to offer just before signing the domestic partner bill into law:
The United States of America is truly one of the greatest countries on earth. A shining example is our higher education system, which doubles as the world’s greatest producer of science. The fundamental right to free speech combined with a strong culture of academic freedom have fermented into a higher education system unparalleled in both academic training and research productivity. The American research university is truly the envy of the world.
One of the profound privileges that members of university communities experience is the free exchange of ideas between scholars from all over the world. Frequently this comes about by inviting scholars from other institutions to visit and speak. On any given day at a major university campus, there will be dozens of talks on topics ranging from sub-atomic particles to comparative cross-cultural cosmologies. (For example, today I attended at seminar by Harvard’s renowned political scientist Dr. Gary King on statistical methods for measuring public opinion through blogs.)
For weeks now, I’ve been looking forward to attending a talk by Dr. Riyadh Lafta, a well-known Iraqi epidemiologist. Dr. Lafta was scheduled to give a talk at Kane Hall on Friday evening at the University of Washington campus. The talk is on the recent rise in cancer rates among Iraqi children. Things went awry something over a week ago:
“The University of Washington wanted him, but the U.S. denied his entry,” said his colleague at [Simon Frasier University (SFU)], Tim Takaro….”best they’re going to get is a video feed.”
Once in Canada, Dr. Lafta will present estimates that paint a damning portrait of the war’s ravages on children: that birth defects are on the rise since the war began, and that the number of children dying from cancers such as leukemia has risen tenfold.
Dr. Lafta had tried for six months to get a visa into Seattle to speak in Washington, and was ignored a half-dozen times, Dr. Takaro said.
Apparently, the Bush administration is willing to sacrifice academic freedom on their alter of wingnut ideology. How is it that the Bush administration even noticed Dr. Lafta? Do they really scrutinize the content of every epidemiological talk given by a foreigner? In this case it seems clear that Dr. Lafta is being targeted by the Bush administration because he is a coauthor on a couple of controversial epidemiological studies: the two “on the ground” studies that estimated the increase in all forms of mortality in Iraq since the U.S. invasion.
Okay, so the Bush administration gets to partially suppress the talk. It is now scheduled to be done by video link from Canada. Within the last day, however, the plans have changed once again.
After he couldn’t get a visa to tell Americans about an alarming rise in cancer levels among Iraqi children, a renowned Iraqi epidemiologist has been told he can’t fly through Britain en route to give a similar talk in Canada.
Riyadh Lafta — best known for a controversial study in the respected medical journal The Lancet that estimated Iraq’s war dead at more than half a million — said in an e-mail to his U.S. research colleagues that he had two choices: Fly to England without the transit visa, or turn around and go home.
“[British consular officials] refuse to give us a transit visa just to change airplanes,” Dr. Lafta wrote from Amman to colleagues at the University of Washington, and to B.C.’s Simon Fraser University, where he planned to give a talk on Friday.
You don’t think the British government would deny a scientist a 4-hour “transit visa” just because he has co-authored a peer-reviewed scientific article? Well…maybe. I mean, the article estimates that, following the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, mortality rates increased to genocide-levels (the article was published in The Lancet, one of the most respected biomedical journals in the world).
The suppression of Dr. Lafta’s visit goes beyond an inconvenience of free exchange of ideas at a University. These actions will also impede the bread-and-butter research of Dr. Lafta and his colleagues at SFU and UW:
With Dr. Lafta are scores of documents that will help researchers from Simon Fraser, Washington and Iraq determine how badly the U.S.-led war in Iraq affects children — whether birth defects in Iraq are on the rise, and whether Iraqi children are suffering a tenfold increase in cancers such as leukemia, said Simon Fraser professor Tim Takaro.
So…I guess the “culture of life” doesn’t apply to childhood cancers and child mortality in Iraq. What a bunch of fucking hypocrites!
The pattern is clear. The Bush administration has a single guiding principle: ideology is everything! Nothing else is sacred. They have attempted to destroy everything that offers the least resistance to their ideology: our national reputation, the lives of our young people, a CIA nuclear weapons counter-proliferation program, our justice system, our national emergency response, the national coffers, and several parts of the constitution to name a few. Of course, they have launched a number of well-known assaults against science, higher education, and academic freedom as well.
In the end, the Bush administration will lose this battle. A U.S.-based coauthor on the mortality paper is prepared to step in for Dr. Lafta. That will change the focus from childhood cancers to the astonishing increase in overall mortality following the U.S. led invasion of Iraq. Ultimately technology will completely circumvent the wishes of the Bush administration—video link-ups are not rocket science.
The Bush administration has charted a course back to the medieval dark ages where, as the joke goes, we are all mushrooms—kept in the dark and fed bullshit. If this attack on academic freedom pisses you off as much as it does me, please take a moment to write to your Representative and Senators (find contact information here).
(Hat tip: SeattleJew, cross-posted at HominidViews.)
The Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally meets tonight (and every Tuesday), 8PM at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E.
Come joins us for some good beer and spicy politics. Tonight we’ll celebrate the opening of the 200th chapter of Drinking Liberally, with the arrival of the Pagosa Springs, Colorado chapter.
Not in Seattle? Liberals will also be drinking tonight in the Tri-Cities and Vancouver. A full listing of Washington’s eleven Drinking Liberally chapters is available here.
Today is Goldy’s birthday!
That makes it a good day to raise a toast to Goldy for his political activism—for using his sense of humor, writing skills, and his ability to engage in thoughtful and intelligent debate, to change the world for the better. I suppose there are others who will see it differently—who see Goldy as a foul-mouthed, treasonous, political hit-man, who probably organizes and practices election fraud while being paid by the Democrats. Whatever.
You are reading this. You probably came here hoping Goldy left something to entertain, inspire, educate, or outrage you. So take a moment to leave a comment for the birthday boy.
And, while you’re at it, today is an excellent day to buy Goldy a birthday beer. (It’s easy using the tools on the right sidebar.)
It virtually (in the neologistic sense of the word) sinks.
Washington State Department of Transportation has the videos:
Dino Rossi was interviewed by Liz Mair at the oxymoronically titled GOPProgress.com. And Rossi is sure sounding like a 2008 gubernatorial candidate.
Two things struck me about the interview. First, Rossi is no moderate. He is a typical voter-disenfranchisin’, truth-twistin’, anti-guvmint, gimmicky Republican. All tricks and no leadership—just like we’ve come to expect from Washington state Republicans.
But what struck me most of all is that Dino is still a sore loser:
We won 34 out of 39 counties, all the non-Seattle, King County ones, Snohomish County–first time in 20 years for a Republican, Pierce County–first time in 40 years for a Republican, and we were certified the governor-elect–first Republican governor-elect in 24 years, twice, actually…[laughs] Apparently, as a Republican, you have to win three times.
Yeah…34 out of 39 counties…as if it was counties that voted instead of, you know…voters!
The other bit of sore loserism is the suggestion that he had to win “three times.” As Judge Bridges so elegantly put it, Rossi led after the initial count, he led after the first recount, and Gregoire led after the manual recount. There was only one person declared the winner of the 2004 gubernatorial election, and that was Christine Gregoire.
Does Rossi really not understand the election process? Or is he intentionally being disingenuous? Either way, man…what a sore loser!
Later on, Rossi offered this remarkable claim:
In the end, we ended up with hundreds more votes that were counted in King County than they could attribute to human beings who actually voted. Which is why we said, and I don’t think I was going too far out on a limb by saying this, but that maybe each vote should have a voter. I don’t think that’s asking too much.
I mean, yeah, we expect this kind of bullshit from a blatant propagandist like Stefan Sharkansky. But Rossi is supposed to be a real politician. To make such an outrageous claim suggests that either Rossi is such a sore loser that he would knowingly perpetuate a blatantly dishonest statement to undermine the electoral process that hurt his feelings in 2004, or else he suffers from delusions.
Rossi was whining about the voter crediting process. During the election contest trial, it became amply clear that the voter crediting process has a higher error rate than the ballot counting process. As Bridges stated in his oral opinion (pg. 6):
The crediting system in Washington is not an accurate reflection of the number of persons who actually voted.
Presenting a credible challenge will be tough enough for Rossi in 2008 if only because many of the issues that gave his campaign strength in 2004 won’t even be relevant anymore. (And the tarnished Republican brand name won’t help.) But could it be true? Will Rossi Mk II be running on a “we wuz robbed!” platform?
Yes! Please, go for it, Dino! I want to see the Rossi 2008 “We Wuz Robbed” campaign tour!
Look out! The sore loser express is coming through, and you better get out of the way. Whooo woooo!
Hey…I hear that Mike!™ McGavick even has a mobile home available for the tour.
The White House lawn was abuzz with children and a giant rabbit this morning.
The annual White House Easter Egg Roll, started by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878, typically has been a rite of spring in Washington. But on Monday, it was afflicted by winter’s parting bite — cold air and even colder grounds. Undaunted by any of this, the young guests sprang into action under the watchful eyes of their families, hostess Laura Bush and several Bush administration Cabinet secretaries.
Vice President Dick Cheney even made a brief appearance:
Let me start this post by pointing out that I don’t believe all Republicans are deranged morons. I mean, I personally know some individual Republicans who are terrific people. But Republicans are limping with a couple of achilles heals right now.
Nationally, the Republicans have been hijacked, derailed, used, abused, snookered, and tarnished by BushCo and his neocon sidekicks. Maybe they’ll recover sometime in the next two or three decades. But much damage has been done.
In Washington state, Republicans have a different sort of problem. Their most prominent members are a bunch of tricksters:
[T]he state Republicans have lost standing with voters following a string of stunts, pranks, and dirty tricks. Voters have watched the Sotelo voter challenges, the sex offender postcards, Tim Eyman and his right-wing initiatives, the John Birchers and their right-wing initiatives, the secretive U.S. Chamber of Commerce hit on Deborah Senn (not really state GOP, but it worked for their side), and even the election contest with all of the “election fraud” hyperbole, BIAW “signature checks,” and Rossi dissing the Supreme Court. The Washington State Republicans come off looking like jealous tricksters trying to snatch power away from the Democrats by any means available except by honestly winning elections.
(And, man, are they ever sore losers after defeat in a close election!)
On Thursday the Washington state House Republicans did it again:
House Republicans lambasted trial lawyers during raucous debate Thursday but when one lawmaker singled out the Democratic House majority leader’s husband for scorn, the place erupted in shouts.
Rep. Dan Roach, R-Bonney Lake, said it is “very, very concerning” that only trial lawyers are pushing the bill.
“This is not for the consumers,” he said. “This will increase costs to the consumer. It is a sad day.”
After being gaveled down for impugning the sponsors’ motives, he said, “Look out! The train is coming through! The Keith Kessler train is coming through and you better get out of the way.”
“Whooo woooo!” Roach cried, mimicking a train conductor tooting a whistle.
Keith Kessler is one of the state’s most prominent trial lawyers, a former president of the state trial lawyers and the husband of House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam.
Lovick sternly admonished Roach again for breaking House rules of decorum. Lawmakers aren’t supposed to refer to colleagues by name or criticize members’ families.
(* Sigh *). This isn’t really going to help the Republicans shake their image as a bunch of angry goofsters.
So…um…I’m wondering. Do they do random drug testing for state Representatives? I mean…this seems like the kind of wacky shit that comes from being all hopped-up on goofballs or something.
(Cross posted at Hominidviews.)
In a surprise announcement on Saturday evening, Congressman Dave Reichert declared that he has switched political parties. “The time is right for me to switch to the Democrat Par…I mean, the Democratic Party,” said Riechert who represents Washington’s 8th congressional district. “This is a move I’ve considered seriously since early last November, when I suddenly realized my independent-minded values were more in line with those of the Democrats. As my critics have pointed out, I’ve increasingly become indecisive, and that is a reflection of the inner conflict.”
When asked why he waited nearly six months to make the change, Reichert responded, “I was waiting for the right time. Today is Joel Connelly’s birthday, and I guess I saved it as a birthday surprise for him.” Also, my investigations of global warming are now complete. I’m convinced that Al Gore is right—we really do need to be manufacturing and dropping giant ice cubes into the ocean.”
Reichert’s former spokesperson Kimberly Cadena resigned last week fueling speculation that the Congressman might be considering a jump to the Democratic party. Reichert announced that Cadena will be replaced by Sandeep Kaushik, currently the part-time Deputy Communications Director for King County Executive Ron Sims.
When asked about the reaction of his former Republican colleagues Reichert replied, “Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I’ve stared down the barrel of a loaded pistol and saw my name inscribed on the tip of the bullet…you can believe I can stare into the eyes of any disgruntled Republican colleague without flinching.”
Reichert told reporters that his first priority as a new Democrat will be to “figure out how they want me to vote.” Reichert also expected he might be called upon to personally provide security for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-08). “I moonlighted a bit as a Republican in protecting her footwear. Now, if she wants me to, I’ll be acting more as a personal sheriff for the Speaker. And let me be clear, here, that school bus drivers are on notice—you respect the Speaker because this sheriff is watching.”
Rep. Pelosi was not available for comment.
This morning on KUOW’s Weekday the topic of discussion was “Who Won in Iraq?” Steve Scher’s first guest was Neocon posterchild David Frum. While Frum was discussing Iraqi deaths, he rather casually threw out the statement (at 8:14) that “the Lancet study [of Iraqi mortality] has been pretty thoroughly discredited.”
No, Mr. Frum, it hasn’t.
The Lancet study has been widely misunderstood, but not discredited. There are many batshit crazy neocons like Mr. Frum who wish, in their heart of hearts, that the grim reality uncovered by the Lancet study wasn’t so. But, if wishes were horses, neocons could ride…in a new crusade to world dominance….
The Lancet study [Burnham et al. (2006) Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq:a cross-sectional cluster sample survey, Lancet 368(9545):1421-8.] found that there were 654,965 excess Iraqi deaths (with 95% confidence that the true number falls between 392,979 to 942,636) in the post-invasion period. The study used a standard epidemiological method of cluster sampling—methods that have been used in thousands of studies without controversy.
What is largely misunderstood about the Lancet study is that the estimates reflect a change in all forms of mortality between the pre-invasion period to the post-invasion (July, 2006) period. The excess deaths are mostly violent, but they also include non-violent excess deaths, like those resulting from increases in disease or resulting from destroyed health care infrastructure, etc. Other estimates, like counting media reports of deaths (i.e. the Iraq Body Count project) are not only attempting to measuring a subset of the mortality of the Lancet paper, but the IBC project method vastly underestimates all war-related mortality, just because every fatality is not reported in the Iraqi press. (In other words, because the estimates are substantially biased downward, the IBC body count would never be considered valid scientific estimates of total mortality in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.)
Frum’s statement is just another wingnut talking point that was directly disseminated by George W. Bush the morning the Lancet article was covered by the media. Bush came out swinging: (hear it here) “Six hundred thousand or whatever they guessed at is just, it’s not credible.” And then he defined the administration-approved wingnut talking point that the study was “pretty well discredited.”
Uh-huh. A newly published paper in one of the top scientific and medical journals in the world, “pretty well discredited” within hours of publication? Not!
You see, the opinions of politicians and pundits are irrelevant—they have no bearing on the validity of a scientific study. It is scientific review by the people who are qualified to evaluate the work (you know, people with PhDs in statistics, demography, or epidemiology) that determine whether or not the science is valid.
So far, there has been little scientific controversy over the findings. Because science is a constant game of oneupsmanship, a number of skeptical scientists have probed the methods for potential flaws and biases. Scientists consider this kind of skepticism extremely healthy—no paper is above scrutiny and there are large rewards in the community of science for uncovering fundamental flaws in a published paper. As a result, every now and then flaws are found that lead to the retraction of a paper.
Not so in this case. Despite a number of spirited attempts by qualified scientists to uncover scientific flaws in the paper, nothing of substance has been demonstrated that substantially challenges the scientific findings. If and when flaws in the paper can be demonstrated, the paper will be retracted. But for now, the scientific community considers that the paper’s findings are valid.
I just thought I would help clear up Mr. Frum’s misunderstanding…even if it means kicking the legs out from under his warrior horse.
TheHim over at EFFin’ Unsound takes Eric Earling to the woodshed for refusing to correct his statement about Valerie Plame Wilson. One of the points at issue is whether Ms. Wilson was or was not “covert” when she was outed to the press by senior administration officials.
Eric writes: “…let me amplify the original point: there is no evidence Plame was covert. ” Yeah…right.
The Republican disinformation machine has long attempted to throw up a smokescreen by disseminating the meme that Ms. Wilson was not really covert. But given the evidence uncovered in the Libby trial and evidence introduced by Plame’s testimony before the House Committee for Government Oversight and Reform, it could only be willful ignorance or unadulterated batshit crazy wingnuttery that could keep someone believing the discredited talking point.
I mean, there are really only two credible sources as to Ms. Wilson’s status. The first is the CIA. The fact is, the CIA called for the investigation in the first place. If Ms. Wilson’s status had not been classified, the CIA would have had no reason to call for an investigation.
As former CIA intelligence officer Larry C. Johnson points out, CIA director Michael Hayden approved a statement, read into the congressional record, that established Ms. Wilson as under cover, and her status at the CIA as classified when she was outed.
Even during the Libby trial, Patrick Fitzgerald made a statement confirming that Wilson was a CIA officer and that her position with the CIA was classified on the day she was outed.
The other credible source is Ms. Wilson, who obviously knows what her status was on 14 Jul 2003. She testified under oath that her status was covert and that the information about her status was classified. When asked whether she had traveled overseas as a covert operations officer within the last 5 years, she responded affirmatively. Her testimony before the committee can be seen here: Part I, Part II, and Part III.
She even pointed out that most of the individuals working in the CIA Counterproliferation Division were covert. Yeah…that includes people who went to CIA headquarters every day and worked behind a desk.
Eric apparently misunderstands the meaning of “testimony under oath” when he quipped, “Valerie Plame has her right to say whatever she’d like under oath.” Umm….no she doesn’t, Eric. The whole point of testifying under oath is that you give up your right to make untruthful or mislead statements. And, as we know from Scooter Libby’s failure to testify truthfully, the consequences for lying are severe. It defies credulity to imagine that Ms. Wilson would go before Congress and make false statements under oath—statements that were pre-screened by the CIA to avoid divulging remaining classified details—about her status at the CIA on a particular date.
Eric can close his eyes, clenched his fists, hold his breath, and wish with all his might that it ain’t so. But it is so. In fairness to Eric, I suppose we should chalk this up to willful ignorance…but, man, it sure makes Eric look no brighter than the kooky commenters over at (u)SP when he digs in on this.
Sen. Pam Roach has an anus problem. Last night as the Senate passed bill 5297 that requires medically and scientifically accurate sexual health education, Sen. Roach clenched her…her…fists, and proclaimed:
What does the word anus have to do with sex ed when we’re talking to fourth graders? No parent wants their child to be talking about sex and anuses.
Sen. Roach was outraged by instructional materials for a 4th-6th grade curriculum she found on the King County website that includes the word “anus.” (Sen. Roach has a point—hearing your kid talk about sex and anuses is probably not high on the list of parental moments to savor. But it helps if your kid at least uses scientifically accurate terminology….)
Roach’s problem is that she, apparently, doesn’t understand the difference between sexual health education and “talking about sex.” Apparently, there is no room in her world view for an objective discussion of other anatomical structures as part of an education in reproductive anatomy. Might this attitude come from a belief that sex is only for procreation?
Here is a figure from the King County website that is part of a typical lesson in the 4th-6th grade curriculum that includes “talking about sex and anuses.”
Clearly, there is a leftist agenda at play here–I mean sneaking the bladder, urethra, and anus into the same diagram as the female reproductive system is a pernicious attempt to promote promiscuity and homosexuality (while giving in to the terrorists). The agenda could only have been more blatant by including the G-spot….
I think it’s revealing that Pam Roach found “anus” objectionable in the anatomy lesson, but not “bladder”—revealing about the state of Pam Roach’s own anal sphincter. And I think we can all agree that thinking about Pam Roach’s sphincter is inappropriate at any age.
Sen. Roach may have a point. From what I understand about trends in teen sex, the diagram emphasizes the wrong end of the alimentary canal. [–Goldy]
You may remember Initiative 831, written by Goldy, that declared Tim Eyman a horse’s ass. In the end, the initiative had enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, but Goldy’s efforts were thwarted by a meddling Attorney General by the name of Christine Gregoire. She felt that this brilliant initiative was not suitable initiative material (“frivolous,” I think she called it).
Huh? Is there is some kind of truth in anatomical attribution principle that is only known by law students at Gonzaga University? Too bad…by many accounts this was the single best initiative offered since the Rosellini administration.
So you can imagine my surprise and delight today when I learned that…
[o]n a 90-3 vote, with five lawmakers excused, a measure designating the Pacific chorus frog as the state amphibian. “I have not heard from the newt or salamander lobbies,” said bill sponsor, Rep. Brendan Williams, D-Olympia, before passage of the bill, which now heads to the Senate.
Hmm… Pacific chorus frog is the common name for Pseudacris regilla, meaning something like splendidly dishonest locust, which, if you think about it, sounds an awful lot like Tim Eyman. On the other hand, calling Eyman a lying locust is an insult to locusts and other agents of plagues, rusts and pestilences everywhere. I mean, locusts don’t steal money from donors and then lie their supraanal plate off about it, do they?
This House measure got me to thinking that, perhaps, Goldy’s initiative would have succeeded if, instead of declaring Eyman to be the body part of an animal, he had declared Tim Eyman an official state organism—the whole organism. That’s not frivolous, is it? I’m thinking maybe the official state Myxogastria (i.e. slime mould). Or how ’bout the official state Spirogyra (pond scum)? I can’t decide.
In this era of scientific enlightenment, all life forms have equal value. So think of it as an initiative to celebrate biodiversity. I think even the new Attorney General could get behind it.
I-831 had about 60,000 signatures by the time the AG obtained an injunction — pretty impressive for a joke initiative with no money or organization. It still would have been a long shot, but had we managed to qualify it for the ballot, I’m pretty sure the measure would have passed. [–Goldy]
(Hat tip: Aritist Dog Boy)