Doug Lerner reports from Tokyo and St. Louis, and points beyond…

Archive for September, 2008

Pigs and lipstick?

This from the McCain campaign is over the top:

Obviously Obama was taken out of context and was referring to issues and not Sarah Palin herself. But it was an unfortunate choice of phrase considering her famous “lipstick” joke, which got a lot of play.

But Obama really has to make it clearer what he means by change. In the context Obama was speaking, he was saying that McCain and Palin do not represent change. It is still not clear to me why Obama does represent change. He doesn’t exactly have a record for bucking his party or reaching across the aisle. As far as his record goes, he’s always been pretty much a by-the-book Democrat.

The level of discourse in the campaign needs to rise. And Obama needs to explain himself more clearly. Dumb stuff like this gets press and youtube play and nobody cares about the original context anymore.


Large Hadron Collider Goes Online Today

Best and Worst Case Scenarios

Best Case: The Large Hadron Colliders’ ALICE experiment successfully creates quark-gluon plasma, a substance theorized to have existed just milliseconds after the Big Bang. By generating temperatures more than 100,000 times hotter than the sun, scientists hope to watch as this particle goo cools and expands into the particles that we know. That could help scientists answer why protons and neutrons weigh 100 times more than the quarks they’re made of.

Worst Case: Scientists inadvertently make a micro black hole, and the earth is quickly erased from existence. Scientists at CERN and elsewhere have ruled out the possibility that the LHC will create any kind of doomsday scenario. The black holes that the LHC could theoretically create don’t even have enough energy to light up a light bulb. On the other hand, the U.K.’s Astronomer Royal put the odds of destroying the world at 1 in 50 million (which puts it in the realm of possibilities but still not as likely as hitting the lottery).

Women in (Japanese) Politics

As you know, the Japanese Prime Minister resigned last week and the ruling LDP party will hold elections on the 22nd to choose a new leader, who will also become Prime Minister.

One of the 5 announced candidates is a woman, former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike. If she wins, she would be become the first female Japanese prime minister.

Anyway, she is certainly covering all bases with her platform. From today’s “Daily Yomiuri”:

Koike, a TV news anchorwoman-turned-lawmaker, said: “What I will aim for is to change this world, the system of Japanese society. On the other hand, I would like to preserve tradition, family ties and the solidarity of community, which should be preserved.”

Sounds like Koike, Obama and McCain are all using the same campaign literature software.


The gender card

This one is funny – from the Daily Show.


Abortion, Sarah Palin, the Bushes, the McCains and Barack Obama

Both Laura Bush and Cindy McCain apparently disagree with Sarah Palin on abortion in two respects:

1. They both disagree with her position on banning abortion even cases of rape and incest. John McCain and George Bush disagree with Palin on that too.

2. They both disagree with overturning Roe v Wade (even though both their husbands, and Sarah Palin, are in favor of that).

So if you were making a list of Republicans and their range of views on abortion and Roe v Wade it would look like

Overturn Roe v Wade:
George Bush-yes, John McCain-yes, Laura Bush-no, Cindy McCain-no, Sarah Palin-yes

Allow abortion to protect the life of the mother:
George Bush-yes, John McCain-yes, Laura Bush-yes, Cindy McCain-yes, Sarah Palin-yes

Allow abortion in the case of rape or incest:
George Bush-yes, John McCain-yes, Laura Bush-yes, Cindy McCain-yes, Sarah Palin-no

It seems that both Laura Bush and Cindy McCain, even though they say they are in the “pro life” camp, when it comes down to specifics are actually in the “pro choice” camp.

While Sarah Palin is off in an extremist anti-abortion world of her own.

As far as Obama goes, he’s off in a world of his own too, in the other direction. He blocked the Illinois version of the BAIPA (Born-Alive Infants Protection Act), which would protect babies who are unintentionally born alive after a failed abortion. The issue is that such infants were being “shelved” – ignored until they died after being born. As stated in a “Jerusalem Post” editorial, “Obama’s position essentially boils down to this: a woman who contracts for an abortion is entitled, one way or another, to a dead baby.”

Abortion is really an intractable issue. If you believe that human life begins at conception, it follows that abortion is infanticide and it is natural that you would want to prevent that. I can understand that if you believe that infanticide is taking place that it is too simple to argue that you, as a pro-lifer, are trying to force your moral views on others. It is more a case that you believe that something really morally, intolerably wrong is going on that affects another human being. That would be something that goes beyond personal privacy, or issues involving adults engaging in mutually consensual behavior. It would be more like abolitionists who fought against slavery.

If you believe that human life doesn’t begin at conception then you are more likely to take a so-called “pro-choice” view.

Religions don’t all agree on when human life begins. Some say at conception, some say “when the soul is invested” (some say at 40 days, some say later). Some people say when the fetus becomes “viable”. I believe even the Christian church has evolved different positions on this over the centuries, but I’m not a religious historian.

My conclusion? I said it is an intractable problem, so I don’t have an answer. I think it is more complicated than the slogans that both sides want you to believe. Thus we see Laura Bush and Cindy McCain straddling the fence, both claiming to be “pro life” while they are really “pro choice”.

I wish I understand Obama’s position more though. I am not able to follow the morality or humanity or logic in his line of thinking on the issue.



The GOP in all it’s diversity – this photo from page one of today’s New York Times.


Sarah Palin and the Alaska Independence Party

Read this entry on the Alaska Independence Party, which has promoted the succession of Alaska from the U.S. Note the entry on Sarah Palin, who apparently used to be a member.

A little “iffy” in the post-civil-war era for a vice-presidential candidate, I would think…


The real relevant question for Sarah Palin

Forget “Babygate”. It’s bogus and a distraction. I also think getting into a debate about Palin’s experience is a minefield that could backfire on the Obama campaign, because truth be told Palin’s experience compares well with Obama’s, and he is at the head of the ticket.

However, one relevant fallout from the whole episode is a very reasonable question to ask Governor Palin in a debate, or any upcoming interview:

“Governor – you have expressed opposition to sex education in schools and have promoted an ‘abstinence only’ policy to avoid unwanted teen pregnancies. Do you still feel such a policy is wise and effective?”



I’m not a McCain supporter by any means, but what on earth does Palin’s daughter Bristol’s pregnancy have to do with the campaign?

From what I’ve read, there was an ill-fated bloggers’ attempt to discredit Palin with an outrageous smear that she was trying to cover up Bristol’s pregnancy by falsely claiming to have given birth to her 5th child and that she was “really” the grandmother and not the mother.

To stop the smears, Palin ended up providing the actual facts about what the media should have left alone as a private family matter.

Palin did nothing wrong here. The bloggers show themselves to be muck-raking scandal mongers of the worst kind. And as for Bristol? What? Nobody has ever heard of a 17 year old becoming pregnant and marrying the father? Geez. Obama’s mother herself was just 18 years old when she was pregnant with Barack and married her first husband, Barack Obama senior. So what?


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