Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Last Call For Rise Of The Planet Of The Morons

How to be a Republican, by NY state Senate candidate Jim Coughlan:

1) Go after MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry with an obvious racial slur like "damned dirty ape" on Twitter.

2) Plead ignorance to the fact that Melissa Harris-Perry is black, state that you've never seen her show, and basically say you've never heard of her when you get called out on it.

3) Wonder what the big deal is when you were just quoting Charlton Heston from a movie.

4) Wonder why are liberals so obsessed with race all the time.

5) Ignore the fact that you got in trouble for retweeting insulting, racist, and misogynist tweets three weeks earlier and that you deleted your Twitter account because of it.

6) Accuse intolerant, politically correct liberals of trying to drive you out of politics and claim your aggrieved white guy status.

7) Repeat as necessary until you win your election, or end up getting a lucrative job offer from the Right-Wing Outrage Machine.

It's that easy!

Time To Thai One Off

I've noted the ongoing crisis in Thailand in StupidiNews involving the corruption charges against Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra and the months of sometimes violent protests there.  All that got taken to a new level today as Thailand's highest court has now found her guilty on those corruption charges, and has immediately ordered her to step aside.

A Thai court ordered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down on Wednesday after finding her guilty of abusing her power, prolonging a political crisis that has led to violent protests and brought the economy close to recession.

The decision is bound to anger supporters of Yingluck, but the court did allow ministers not implicated in the case against her to stay in office, a decision that could take some of the sting out of any backlash on the streets.

After the ruling, the cabinet said Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan, who is also a deputy prime minister, would replace Yingluck, and the caretaker government would press ahead with plans for a July 20 election.

"The caretaker government's responsibility now is to organize an election as soon as possible," said Niwatthamrong, a former executive in a company owned by Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck's brother and himself a former prime minister who was ousted by the military in 2006.

"I hope the political situation will not heat up after this," Niwatthamrong said of the court ruling.

If all this seems very chummy and weird, that's because it is. Thailand desperately needs election and governmental reforms, but graft and favors are a way of life here (not that the legalized lobbyist version of this is any better here in America.)   But Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck's brother, has basically been running the country in exile since 2001.  Forcing Yingluck out is certainly a step in the right direction, but the country has a long way to go.

She Blinded Science With Me

Sam Stein notes the latest effort by anti-science Republicans to strip funding from federal agencies that might actually conduct science rather than bow to the GOP corporate masters.  The bill is called the FIRST Act, and it would subject all projects for federal funding for the National Science Foundation to be reviewed by politicians, and not the scientific community for merit.

Titled the “Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act of 2014," the bill would put a variety of new restrictions on how funds are doled out by the National Science Foundation. The goal, per its Republican supporters on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, would be to weed out projects whose cost can't be justified or whose sociological purpose is not apparent.

For Democrats and advocates, however, the FIRST Act represents a dangerous injection of politics into science and a direct assault on the much-cherished peer-review process by which grants are awarded.

"We have a system of peer-review science that has served as a model for not only research in this country but in others," said Bill Andresen, the associate vice president of Federal Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania. "The question is, does Congress really think it has the better ability to determine the scientific merit of grant applications or should it be left up to the scientists and their peers?"

In recent weeks, the Obama administration and science agencies have -- in less-than-subtle terms -- offered up similar criticisms of the FIRST Act. At an American Association for the Advancement of Science forum on Thursday, presidential science adviser John Holdren said he was "concerned with a number of aspects" of the bill.

"It appears aimed at narrowing the focus of NSF-funded research to domains that are applied to various national interests other than simply advancing the progress of science," Holdren said.

And of course this bill designed to "combat waste and fraud" in federal science projects would really exist to allow Republicans to shut down things they don't like:  climate change research, green energy projects, and research into the social costs of things like firearms, pharmaceuticals, our food supply and anything else the GOP's corporate masters might be opposed to.  Republican politicians would be running America's science research.  If that sentence doesn't terrify you, nothing will.

Another part of the bill stipulates that if an investigator receives more than five years of funding from the NSF, he or she can only get additional funding by contributing "original creative, and transformative research under the grant." Ensuring that the government doesn't plow resources into stalled projects may be laudable. But scientists shudder at the idea that they, let alone politicians, can definitively tell whether research will pay dividends after half a decade.

These quips merely feed a larger problem that Democrats and the White House have with the bill. Rather than offering a single budget level for the NSF, the FIRST Actauthorizes levels for individual directorates, or sub-agencies, within the foundation. The big winners in this equation are the Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering and the Directorate for Engineering. The loser is the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate, which is poised to get a 22 percent budget cut from fiscal year 2014 levels.

So yes, the bill is designed to crush long-term projects like climate science, social science, and green energy and instead empower the stuff corporations can use to make big money fast.  That's what "science" means to Republicans.


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