Paul Kuliniewicz » Politics After all, it could only cost you your life, and you got that for free. Mon, 28 Jan 2013 03:25:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 I called it! Thu, 21 Aug 2008 02:03:57 +0000 Unnamed Republican official, August 2008:

Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic Party’s vice presidential candidate in 2000 and now an independent who is one of John McCain’s strongest supporters, will speak at the Republican National Convention, an official said.

Lieberman will deliver a speech when Republicans gather in St. Paul, Minn., to nominate McCain for president, a party official told The Associated Press today. The official requested anonymity because a formal announcement had yet to be made.

Me, November 2006:

In fact, I’ll go one further. I predict that Joe Lieberman will speak at the 2008 Republican National Convention. You can write that down.

Take that, hypothetical people who thought I was wrong!

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The Political Genius of Stephen Colbert Tue, 23 Oct 2007 03:14:26 +0000 As everyone knows by now, Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, DFA, is running for president of the United States. In South Carolina.

Some people might think that Stephen Colbert’s chances of becoming president are negligible, just because South Carolina only has 8 electoral votes, whereas 270 are needed to win (unless someone intervenes, of course). Some might even write his candidacy off as a joke.

Well, some people are wrong.

Stephen Colbert is a trans-media powerhouse, almost as though he were a white, male Oprah. At least, I’m told he’s white. Like Stephen Colbert, I don’t see color. People tell me he’s white, and I believe them, since taxis in New York stop for him.

Besides his award-deserving cable news program The Colbert Report, his syndicated talk radio show Colbert on the ERT, his autobiography I Am America (And So Can You!), his unpublished novel Stephen Colber’s Alpha Squad 7: Lady Nocturne: A Tek Jansen Adventure, his spin-off animated series Stephen Colbert Presents: Stephen Colber’s Alpha Squad 7: The New Tek Jansen Adventures, and his spin-off comic book Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jansen, he also has his own ice cream and line of premium man-seed.

With that kind of unstoppable juggernaut power, most people would be content to rake in the cash. But not Stephen Colbert. He uses his media power for worthy causes in addition to raking in the cash, such as raising wrist awareness, helping us better know our congresspersons, enriching our lexicon, and reminding us all of the #1 threat to America.

Really, when you think about it, Stephen Colbert has done all he can do for this nation without having control of the executive branch.

And when you think about it, only running for president in South Carolina is a masterwork of political genius that would drive Karl Rove into a jealous rage. While other candidates recognize the value in campaigning only in the handful of states that matter, only Stephen Colbert has the fortitude to focus on a single state, avoiding entirely the risk of squandering his corporate sponsorship money on campaigning elsewhere covering a campaign in other states on his cable news program, in accordance with federal election law.

Besides, the prospect of only getting 8 out of 270 electoral votes isn’t really an issue, if you remember your American history. Did you actually think it’s just happenstance that he picked South Carolina to run for president in? Hardly! Remember what happened last time South Carolina didn’t get its way in the presidential election?

You didn’t think calling his fanbase the “Colbert Nation” wasn’t meant to be taken literally, did you?

While the other candidates are focusing on winning one election across all 50 states, Stephen Colbert is clearly going to take the long view and instead win 50 consecutive elections, one state at a time. At that rate, in January 2205, Stephen Colbert will become president of Stephen Colbert’s United States of America. The Colbert Nation will have no 22nd Amendment to stop him!

And lest you think Stephen Colbert won’t have the votes to pull this off, are you kidding me? When Hungary held a poll to choose who to name a new bridge after, Stephen Colbert received over 17,000,000 votes. Not only was this roughly 15,000,000 more than the runner-up, but it was also roughly 7,000,000 more votes than the population of Hungary itself. The people cry out for Stephen Colbert to lead them!

Or at least, to be able to vicariously drive over him. But in contemporary American politics, isn’t that really the same thing?

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Not So Fast Thu, 09 Nov 2006 04:50:48 +0000 If you believe the so-called liberal media, you might think that the Democrats just won control of the Senate. This is not true.

Assuming the current projections hold, including Webb‘s win in Virginia, that only gives the Democrats 49 seats, which makes them tied with the Republicans, who also will have 49 seats. That’s not even a plurality, let alone a majority.

But what about those other two seats, you ask? One will be held by Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, an independent, self-proclaimed socialist. It’s probably safe to say he’ll be more likely to side with the Democrats than the Republicans, which would make it effectively 50-49 in favor of the Democrats.

And then there’s Joe Lieberman, who everyone seems to keep lumping in with the Democrats, just because he was a Democrat before ditching his party after losing his primary to Lamont. But consider the following.

First, even as a Democrat, Lieberman has largely been a conservative anyway, siding with the typical Republican position on many issues. A particularly cynical person might even say he’d be a Republican if he weren’t Jewish. [Editor's note: lest someone somehow misinterpret this, this is a slam against the Republicans, not Jews.]

Second, Lieberman’s support in the election came from the Republicans, not the Democrats (much to Schlesinger‘s dismay, I’m sure).

So, considering that Lieberman was hardly a liberal to begin with, and his newfound power base lies in the Republicans, it’s foolish to just assume he can safely be counted with the Democrats. (And that’s not even counting whatever bad blood may now exist between Lieberman and the Democrats thanks to beating Lamont, plus whatever wooing the Republicans start throwing at him, assuming woo can be thrown.) In fact, it may prove more accurate to consider his voting to lean towards the Republican side, which would give you a 50-50 split in the Senate.

And since ties in the Senate are broken by the Vice President, who last I checked is very much a Republican, that means that any votes essentially along party lines will still go to the Republicans. That’s not what I’d call Democratic control.

(If my reasoning seems a bit precarious, keep in mind I haven’t also factored in the fact that several of the seats taken from the Republicans in this election were won by conservative Democrats. Social conservatives need not worry about having insufficient strength in the Senate to push their agenda, unfortunately.)

In fact, I’ll go one further. I predict that Joe Lieberman will speak at the 2008 Republican National Convention. You can write that down.

[Editor's note: the author lacks any qualifications for making any of the above statements.]

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Democracy Backfires Tue, 31 Oct 2006 03:58:30 +0000 I think I’ve found a flaw in cunning plan to vote by absentee ballot: I now appear to be on just about every campaign’s mailing list. Oh joy.

(And lest you think I’m just being paranoid, more than one of the campaign letters I’ve received make explicit mention of the fact that they got my name from the absentee voter list.)

A few interesting observations (not to be confused with fun facts, as while these may be facts, they aren’t really fun) from the mailings:

  • The attack ads are purely negative, as in they avoid any mention of who they want you to vote for, just who they want you to vote against. And I’m cynical enough about politics to take this to mean that the candidate I’m supposed to not vote against has the exact same flaw he’s attacking in his opponent. (Especially when it’s a Republican ad accusing the Democratic candidate of increasing spending, when the Republicans of late haven’t exactly been paragons of fiscal responsibility themselves.)
  • All of the Republican ads have been pure attack ads. Only some of the Democrat ads have been pure attack ads.
  • All the Democrat ads are addressed to “Paul Kuliniewicz”, whereas all the Republican ads are addressed to “The Kuliniewicz Family”. I guess they didn’t get the memo; the former lives in Maryland, whereas the latter lives in Missouri, and I’m pretty sure the Maryland State Board of Elections wouldn’t like the latter voting in a Maryland state senate race. Plus, one of my cynical rules of thumb as far as politics go is to be suspicious as soon as someone says the word “family”.

(And lest you get the wrong impression from the above list, no, I’m not voting straight Democrat. And no, that’s not just because in one of the races a Republican is running unopposed (yes, in Maryland!). Who taught you to be so cynical about politics? Sheesh. It’s just that the Republican ads so far have been easier to poke at.)

Also, one thing you learn from perusing the ballot is the races with people you’ve never heard of for offices you never even knew existed. I mean, everyone knows about the races for governor or Congress or the state legislature, and even if they don’t, it’s pretty well-known what those people do. But then you run into something like electing the Register of Wills. I’m not entirely sure how that’s a partisan office. And wait, I’m supposed to pick three out of a pool of six people to be a Judge of the Orphans’ Court? Which doesn’t even have anything to do with children?

And if you think that’s weird, try this on for size: the Libertarians, Greens, and Populists are all backing the same candidate for the U.S. Senate! How exactly does a Libertarian, a Green, and a Populist agree on anything?

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To my Maryland readers Thu, 19 Oct 2006 03:09:37 +0000 Did you know that Maryland voters can vote by absentee ballot, no questions asked? Just send in the request form by the end of the month and you’re good to go.

Why would you want to do this? Two reasons spring to mind:

Fun fact: Maryland’s governor is encouraging voters to use absentee ballots instread of Diebold’s machines as well. And being an election year, people will argue about why that is.

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Disenfranchised Wed, 13 Sep 2006 01:53:25 +0000 Two strikes against Maryland elections:

  1. Only voters who declared a party affiliation on their voter registration form are allowed to vote in primaries. (What’s your excuse for not voting today?)
  2. Maryland uses Diebold voting machines anyway, so it’s not like there’s any assurance the votes wouldn’t be tampered with anyway.
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Good News on HB 1266 Thu, 13 Apr 2006 03:19:49 +0000 According to NCSE (third item down), HB 1266, this year’s anti-evolution bill in Missouri, is effectively dead. Its supporters are claiming it’s just because the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee can only submit so many bills to the House per year, and they dropped HB 1266 to make room for others. No idea if that’s the only reason, or if the opposition from teacher and school organizations also played a role.

Whatever the reason, it’s good news for science education in Missouri. We’ll see what happens next year.

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HB 1266 Update Sat, 18 Mar 2006 04:33:35 +0000 Remember HB 1266, the Missouri bill that would gut science education? Well, it emerged from committee with a thumbs up.

Memo to Missouri: we’re supposed to be a bad influence on Kansas, not the other way around.

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Missouri Legislature v. Establishment Clause Mon, 06 Mar 2006 19:26:30 +0000 Behold HCR13, which if passed would move Missouri towards establishing Christianity as the state’s official religion.

Ed Brayton has a good point-by-point analysis, but he misses one important if subtle point:

Whereas, as elected officials we should protect the majority’s right to express their religious beliefs while showing respect for those who object;

Besides fanning the religious right’s martyrdom complex, note how Christians have the “right” to express their beliefs but others merely should be “show[n] respect” for theirs. Clearly, those proclaiming how their religious beliefs are under attack are reluctant to extend the protection they demand to those who might think their beliefs are under attack by, I don’t know, the legislature wanting to establish an official state religion.

But since HCR13 would be such a blatant and egregious violation of the Establishment Clause, why would anybody even propose it in the first place? Joshua Holland has the right idea:

But people who write bills like this aren’t trying to make law. Their intent is to further the right’s narrative that Christians are a persecuted minority under siege. They want to guarantee that the good folks at the Anti-defamation league, the ACLU and Americans United fight to have their silly legislation overturned, proving that those civil rights groups have an anti-Christian agenda (and perhaps even a direct association with Satan). And bills like this — you couldn’t write a piece of legislation that more obviously violates the Establishment Clause –are meant to give those groups a victory in court, thereby proving the existence of out-of-control activist judges dedicated to stymieing the popular will of the Christian majority.

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Aftertaste the Democracy Fri, 24 Feb 2006 05:22:13 +0000 Since Ryan asked, here’s the text of the letter.

And for the record, I refrained from dotting my i’s this way.

Dear Rep. Schoemehl:

I am writing to you in regards to the proposed “Missouri Science Education Act” (HB1266) currently sitting in the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee of the Missouri House of Representatives. Even though this bill is not yet up for a vote, I believe the consequences of it passing are so severe that I must exhort you to strenuously oppose it.

As you are no doubt aware, the teaching of the scientific fact of evolution is under a concerted attack nationwide. Supporters of a rebranded, watered-down variant of creationism called “Intelligent Design” have been pushing for its inclusion in science curricula as an allegedly scientific alternative to evolution. But with Judge Jones’s recent ruling in the Kitzmiller case in Dover, Pennsylvania, having rightly found ID to be scientifically vacuous and a disingenuous ploy to sneak religion into the science classroom, creationists are currently changing tactics yet again, this time advocating so-called “critical analysis” of evolution.

Alas, with HB1266, Missouri risks becoming yet another front on the ongoing war on evolution and, even more disturbingly, on science education in general. At first glance, the bill seems to be an attempt to improve the accuracy of science education in public schools. However, a closer reading reveals it to be a vicious attack on science education itself.

For example, the bill deliberately confuses the colloquial meaning of “theory” — a guess or conjecture — with its scientific definition: a
falsifiable statement that makes testable predictions and is supported by evidence. The theory of gravity, the germ theory of disease, the heliocentric solar system, and evolution are all theories, and all are supported so well by the vast preponderance of evidence that they are considered to be true. Without theories, science is reduced to a dry collection of facts without ever understanding how they fit together into a cohesive view of the natural world. Adopting such a gravely flawed meaning of “theory” in the science classroom, as this bill would do, would prevent students from understanding the very fundamentals of the scientific method, upon which all modern science is based.

HB1266 invents the term “verified empirical data” to refer to raw, uninterpreted experimental data in order to cast aspersions on “theories,” which it lumps together with terms like “conjecture” and “speculation.” Its intent is to suggest that theories are not verified, which is hardly the case for those being taught in the science classroom. Few would argue that gravity is merely a “conjecture,” yet according to HB1266 even it is not “verified” and thus deserves to be eyed with suspicion and distrust.

Yet HB1266 goes further still. It mandates, through a creative definition of the term “substantive amount,” that any scientific theories that make predictions about the future or the distant past — that is, all scientific theories — must be balanced with equal time for “critical analysis.” This goes far beyond attacking evolution, which is singled out in particular. Not only does the language of the bill implicitly target other well-supported scientific facts often criticized for non-scientific reasons, such as global warming, the age of the Earth, and the Big Bang, but it also impacts every other topic in science. If HB1266 passes, at least half the time spent in the science classroom must be spent attacking the science taught during the other half.

Lest I be misunderstood, I am not claiming that scientific theories are flawless. By their very nature, scientific theories are always tentative explanations subject to change or even falsification pending new evidence. However, evolution is hardly a flawed theory “on its last legs,” as creationists would have you believe; in fact, evolution is the foundation upon which all of modern biology rests. While scientists continue to refine the details of our understanding of evolution, there is no controversy over the validity of evolution itself within the scientific community. The “controversy” ID supporters continuously clamor about is nothing more than a public relations campaign.

The enemies of evolution attack it because of the social, ethical, and religious messages they erroneously read into it. They claim their
objections are based on science, but if that it true, the burden of proof falls upon them to collect and establish the scientific evidence to support their position. Intelligent Design is a total failure in this regard, offering only a handful of specious analogies and easily debunked arguments against evolution. The so-called “design hypothesis” advanced by ID advocates is not even a scientific hypothesis, let alone a theory, because it is unfalsifiable; any conceivable observation can be explained away by saying “that’s just the way the designer made it.” It is no wonder, then, that they have relied upon political pressure, not science, to force attacks on evolution into public schools.

If HB1266 comes to a vote, the debate surrounding it will almost certainly be highly contentious and even vicious, if similar efforts in Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere are any indication. Nevertheless, it is essential that you take a strong stand against this bill, and I encourage you to urge your colleagues to do likewise.

The future of science education in Missouri’s public schools is at stake.

Paul Kuliniewicz

P.S. Lest my return address mislead you, I am a fellow resident of Oakville. I am currently finishing studying for my master’s degree in
computer science at Purdue University, thus the West Lafayette, Indiana return address.

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