Nature abhors a Trump

What does the scientific establishment, as represented by the journal Nature, think of Trump? I think you can guess.

Science advocates worry that Trump’s broader anti-immigration stance could pose a threat to US research dominance. Roughly 5% of all students in the United States hail from other countries — including more than 380,000 people studying science, engineering, technology or mathematics. “We’ve always been a nation which has welcomed scientific brainpower from other countries,” says Mary Woolley, president of Research!America, a science-advocacy group in Alexandria, Virginia. “We don’t want that to turn around now.”

Scientific issues have scarcely been mentioned on the campaign trail so far. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front runner, has pledged to boost support for research into Alzheimer’s disease, and has pushed back against Trump’s anti-immigration and anti-Muslim stance. When she was a senator, Clinton backed health and research-related bills, and as first lady to former president Bill Clinton, she advocated for research on women’s health.

Trump is a wealthy real-estate mogul with no political legacy to mine for clues as to his scientific opinions. In the course of the campaign, he has linked autism to childhood vaccines, and dismissed climate change. (It’s called weather, he said.) In October, conservative radio host Michael Savage suggested on air that if elected, Trump should appoint him as head of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Well, you know you’d get common sense if that were the case, that I can tell you, Trump replied, during the light-hearted conversation. Because I hear so much about the NIH, and it’s terrible.

It’s terrible? Trump keeps shrinking his constituency. He’s alienated women, minorities, and now educated people. All he’s got left are ignorant, angry white guys. How is he going to win the election?

Also, the lack of discussion of scientific issues is a problem. Science and engineering are important drivers of technological advancement, so even if all you care about is the economy those should be significant topics of conversation; if nothing else, climate change ought to be a major concern. Where is our Science Debate? We haven’t had a candidate for high office this stupid since Ronald Reagan Dan Quayle George W Sarah Palin — aww, heck, since any Republican. It ought to be great blood sport.

Did you all miss Andrew Sullivan?

Just in case you didn’t get enough of a gay Catholic man scribbling apologetics for the conservative establishment, he is trying to stage some kind of comeback as a pundit (although, actually, he seemed to pop up all the time anyway — it’s like he was on Maher all the time, which may be a misapprehension on my part, since I so rarely watch Maher). Anyway, the existence of Donald Trump has driven him to pontificate, and you will not be surprised to learn that Trump Is All Liberals’ Fault, and that the solution is for Democrats To Unite With The Good Republican Party.

No, I don’t think so. Just as he was wrong about the Iraq War, we all have to realize that he is still wrong about everything.

I totally missed Loyalty Day

I forgot. I never knew about it. And if I had, I would have spit on the idea.

Did you know that yesterday was Loyalty Day?

In order to recognize the American spirit of loyalty and the sacrifices that so many have made for our Nation, the Congress, by Public Law 85-529 as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as “Loyalty Day.” On this day, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the United States of America and pay tribute to the heritage of American freedom.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2016, as Loyalty Day. This Loyalty Day, I call upon all the people of the United States to join in support of this national observance, whether by displaying the flag of the United States or pledging allegiance to the Republic for which it stands.

Like so many evil things*, this bad presidential tradition came out of the 1950s, the Red Scare, that knee-jerk anti-Commie crapola that still fuels the fevered brains of conservatives. Of course it is on May Day, or International Workers’ Day, because there’s nothing our wealthy overlords would like to do more than replace autonomy and self-respect with mindless obedience.

I do not pledge allegiance to anything. Sometimes the greatest loyalty is a willingness to change old institutions to make them better.

*Like, say, me.

Why do people want to deny genocide occurred?

The Wall Street Journal featured a full page ad from a group denying the Armenian genocide.

The content of the ad itself is pretty bland (“Truth = Peace” and a peace sign could be swapped in for almost any cause), but its purpose is not: To deny that as many as 1.5 million Armenians were systematically rounded up and murdered by the Ottoman government in what is now Turkey, mostly in the year 1915. The modern Turkish government has famously scoffed at the truth of this historical event, despite a century of scholarship and eyewitness accounts. Measures in the United States to officially recognize the genocide (through a congressional resolution, for example) have gained wide support but ultimately failed, mainly because of Turkey’s role as a regional military ally.

[Read more…]

Commies everywhere!

I’ve just discovered the literary works of Mildred Houghton Comfort, a woman who wrote a number of biographies of Important Men of American Capitalism, back in the good old days of the 1950s. William L. Knight, Industrialist. Walt Disney, Master of Fantasy. John Foster Dulles, Peacemaker. Little Punk, the Baby Elephant. She was a prolific supporter of the conservative status quo.

These aren’t exactly popular books any more, but you can still find a few old used copies for sale. She also wrote J. Edgar Hoover, Modern Knight Errant, and there are a few pages from that scanned and available on the interwebs. It’s horrifying.


Disclaimer: I was born in the 1950s, but I was tiny and innocent and unaware and had no idea what was going on. I became conscious in the late 1960s, a much more copacetic decade. This kind of crap was more the product of The Greatest Generation, which I’ve heard was perfect and admirable in all ways, unlike all other generations of Americans.

I haven’t been able to find out much about Ms Houghton Comfort, other than when she lived: 1886-. That emptiness after the en dash is rather disquieting, and lacking in closure.


I am not happy to see Sanders sliding further away from the nomination — and I am not enthusiastic about Clinton. But I have to agree with George Takei.

I am not saying that Sanders should surrender — he should keep fighting for his cause as long as possible, and he should be doing his damnedest to shape the party platform (and maybe, as hope keeps whispering in my ear, maybe he’ll make a miraculous victory), but we have to focus on crushing the Republican party in all branches of government, and also on keeping the pressure on a certain conservative Democrat who is likely to be the nominee.