Monday, January 28, 2008

Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell wrote what is probably the best account of the racial-prowess-at-sports debate that I've ever read. He also brings the perspective of increased genetic variance to a few other issues to which it is relevant. (This line of reasoning is to me particularly reminiscent of the Larry Summers scandal at Harvard, which the article predates.) He also includes social science evidence for possible mechanisms of positive feedback involved in these selection processes. Good stuff.

He also has an interesting series of blog posts of the silliness of the anti-performance-enhancing-drugs crusade in professional sports:
Part 1, 2, 3, 4.





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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wow, That's a Good Idea

A few decades after idealists dreamed of a virtual vehicle by which useful information and informed opinions could be shared digitally around the world, the internet has begun to realize its potential. There have been a few hiccups along the way, but finally Big Think is here.

A random sample:



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What Are They Waiting For?

What?




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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Aussies

Are now running neck-and-neck with Brits for the funniest people that speak my language.






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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Kucinich

I like him for exactly the same reasons he will never be president; chiefly, the sumbitch just won't play ball. More here.

A judge ruled against his suit. While I find that unfortunate, I think the court is correct in allowing parties to enforce their own reasonable rules internally; it's the Democrats that are the assholes. Signing an unconditional oath of support? Falling in line behind the honcho, come what may? That's how the Republicans got where they are, and I want no part of it.





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Friday, January 11, 2008

The Dirt on Romney

Taibbi's got it, again.

Take home:

The most common thing you hear from voters after a Romney event is how impressed they are by his demeanor and delivery, his obvious vitality, by the fact that he looks like he could do this twenty-four hours a day and twice on Sunday, taking off only twenty-six minutes once a week to make monogamous, missionary-position love to his baby-factory wife. And that's precisely the way Romney wants it: He wants voters focused on him the man, this unblemished, in-control Example for All who, unlike his Republican rivals, is in no danger of collapsing onstage, or getting caught on camera with his cock in some bruise-covered stripper or Jack Russell terrier.
[snip]

You can learn a lot about a candidate by what his leadoff line is, and in Romney's case, when he's not in New Hampshire (where he unfailingly kicks off every event with a Red Sox reference; I actually clocked him at one stop mentioning the Sawx as early as three seconds after grabbing the microphone) he plunges right into his I-know-the-way-because-I've-made-shitloads-of-money act.

"The challenges we face are beyond the scope of just a politician," he says. "It's going to take somebody who's been able to live in the private sector, who learns how the economy actually works, who knows how to get the job done. It's going to take someone like that to get America on track again."
[snip]

Only in America do audiences not burst out laughing when a guy worth $250 million gets up onstage and says he and his CEO buddies spend their spare time racking their brains to find ways to help people.
[snip]

In a delicious detail that says a lot about the nature of Romney's morality, the investor had no problem making piles of cash off companies that executed mass layoffs or defrauded the government, but he balked when asked to invest in a Bain deal to acquire a video distribution company called Artisan Entertainment. "I didn't want to profit from a studio that made R-rated movies," he huffed.
[snip]

The real question is this: If you're gunning for the GOP nomination, where do you run these days? Do you strap on your medals, limp into VFW halls and do a Band of Brothers act, a la John McCain? Do you stand up before suburban crowds, tell horror tales of hairy Muslims lurking near reservoirs and promise to bomb them all back to the Stone Age, like Rudy Giuliani? Do you wear your WWJD cap and quote the Bible, like Mike Huckabee, or freak out about rape-hungry Mexicans, like Tom Tancredo? Or do you do what Romney does: Look smooth, keep your nose clean and tour the country talking about business being the answer to all the world's ills?

It's a conundrum, and the problem isn't just that the current batch of ruling Republicans have horrified the whole world through their insane invasion of Iraq, run up record deficits despite campaigning on a platform of fiscal restraint, punted the ethics issue deep into Democrat territory with a parade of staggering corruption indictments and turned their pompous emphasis on personal morality into a late-night punch line through their hilarious high-profile pursuits of little-boy pages and anonymous bathroom sex. It's also that America is getting older, and yesterday's liberalism is slowly but surely turning into a new generation's conservatism. So when some starched-up, smooth -talking, TV-ready creature like Mitt Romney, who made his fortune laying off factory workers, walks onto college campuses and starts bashing cohabitation and having children out of wedlock, he loses young people who are tired of watching our leaders fuck things up on a grand scale and then turn around and blame our problems on stoned teenagers. Back when the Gingrich revolution was hot, even college kids bought into the reactionary rhetoric. But now that Bush and Cheney have blown that revolution to itty-bitty pieces, the Republican morality line sells like warmed-over horseshit; on college campuses, Romney comes off like a parent trying to maintain his moral authority after a messy divorce in which the kids got to watch Daddy shacking up with his secretary and Mommy hauling out the lawyers to repossess Dad's fridge.


His interesting ethical stances in his lucrative business ventures were, for me, the most interesting and illuminating (though hardly surprising) details of the story.

Here is an oddly prescient piece.



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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Lashing Out

I love Matt Taibbi.

Then there's this whole business of liberals who are accused of "rooting" for failure in Iraq. I'm sorry, but the next pundit who whips that one out should have his balls stuffed down his throat. You cocksuckers beat the drum to send these kids to war, and then you turn around and accuse us of rooting for them to die? Fuck you for even thinking that. We're Americans just like you. You don't have the right to get us into this mess and then turn around and call us traitors. Your credibility is long gone on this issue. Shut up about us.

Beyond that, what you say doesn't even make any sense. For most of us, if we thought there was any chance this thing could work, we'd have been for it, or at least not so violently against it. Instead, our opposition to the war was based on our absolute conviction that it would end in disaster -- which it incidentally has. But according to Klein, if we see a guy step off the top of the Empire State Building, we're supposed to root for him to nail the dismount. The whole issue is irrelevant and absurd. This is a catastrophe, not a baseball game. "Rooting" is a kid's word; grow the fuck up.

But that's not exactly what the article is about.
I think they're all full of shit -- Klein, McCain, Kerry, all of them. But especially Klein. He is the living, breathing incarnation of American "conventional wisdom" -- and what American "conventional wisdom" is is a spineless, slavish, power-worshipping watcher of polls who has no problem whatsoever denying today what he said yesterday, and is mostly interested in making sure he still has invitations to the right Beltway parties.

The war, you might have noticed, has not budged very many of these people from their places. Many of them now claim to be against the war. But they're the same people they were three or four years ago, and they're still quite openly sneering at the people who really were right all along. They seem to hate us even more, now that we've so obviously been proven right.

Which tells us: if they're going to end this Iraq thing, they're going to try to do it without admitting either that they were wrong or we were right. And we'll take that, I guess -- but Jesus, is it infuriating.


Here's some more from Taibbi (from a different piece). I love him because he is so astute in putting his finger on exactly how a given political stance is bullshit. Check him ripping the dems (my emphasis):
The Democrats, God bless them, came out with yet another calculated media attack last week, following up Hillary Clinton's August ambush of Don Rumsfeld with the calling for the defense secretary's resignation. From almost the moment that Rumsfeld gave a speech early last week comparing Bush's Iraq war critics to pre-WWII Nazi "appeasers," the Democrats started whaling away at him, filling the front pages of big dailies across the country with "Top Dems Blast Rumsfeld" headlines.

Almost the whole roster of prominent Democrats was in on the effort, with everyone from John Edwards to Chuck Schumer to Nancy Pelosi to Ike Skelton to Jack Reed seemingly reading from the same gloatingly self-righteous "Rumsfeld is a real dick" script. It was one of those groan-out-loud coordinated media-sandbag jobs, now standard procedure in American politics, where the various politicians separately make exactly the same pre-prepared "jokes" in their respective "extemporaneous" public remarks, delivering their message with all the wit and spontaneity of a Speak N' Spell:

Pelosi on Rumsfeld: "If Mr. Rumsfeld is so concerned with comparisons to World War II, he should explain why our troops have now been fighting in Iraq longer than it took our forces to defeat the Nazis in Europe."

Biden: "The most significant comparison with World War II is that we soon will have been in Iraq as long as World War II, with much less success."

Yuk, yuk. In any case, this anti-Rumsfeld broadside is a classic political canard, a perfect expression of everything the modern Democratic Party stands for. Politically, it makes perfect sense, as Rumsfeld is much less popular even than Bush; this is a figure whose approval ratings were down in the thirties two years ago, back when Bush was still capable of winning a national election.

The attack will work, because so many voters out there will see in it a reflection of their own animosity towards the hoary defense secretary, not thinking about the real underlying meaning of the Democrats' campaign. Because what Rumsfeld actually represents to the Democrats is a means of attacking the Republicans on the Iraq issue without having to explain their own vote in support of the invasion.

Essentially the Democrats will call Rumsfeld a bunch of names for the sound bite, and then, in the fine print, state their real "objections" to Rumsfeld's record, which will amount to something like the fact that he invaded Iraq on a Thursday instead of a Tuesday, used too few troops to needlessly destroy Iraq's national infrastructure, failed to distribute free milk and cookies to the Mahdi army, etc. A typical comment will be one like Chuck Schumer's of last week: "There are growing doubts about how competently he's conducted the war." (How do you competently invade the wrong country?) And so the Democrats once again will make an effort to sound antiwar out of one side of their mouths, and pro-war out the other side; they will then close their eyes and hope that they pick up sixteen seats before anyone notices. If that ain't leadership, what is?


And of course, a righteous repudiation of the media, wrapped in a story that's so much more.

One more. An all-opinion piece.




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I'm Doing This



HELLLL YEAH.


More info.



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Jimmy

While the same clowns who bitch about Hollywood actors opining on politics want to dig up Dutch, the question remains: How did he ever beat this guy?

Seriously, WTF?

[Sans research, I recall that Jimmy Carter was a Naval Academy alum, nuclear physicist, down-home peanut farmer, genuine Christian with serious human rights and humanitarian aid cred (I'm against religion, especially in public life, but at least he's lived up to the principles he espoused as a candidate before, during, and after his political career), prophet of energy policy, Nobel Peace laureate, etc. He lost to Reagan, the American-born predecessor of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Seriously.]


Non sequitir: Are you kidding me?




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Dr. Wii

I'm going to lean on this really hard during medical school.


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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

New Hampshire




Here's one on Tenet that's great. I must have missed it.



If I had known that you could write a book about sucking at your job and then calling your boss a dumbass, I could have writ thousands of books!






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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Show Us The Body

For if we allow that to happen to anyone
then we invite it to happen to us.
If our freedoms can be suspended
they can be ended, and we must not pretend it's
okay that our rights can be taken away.
For in that notion, tyranny is reborn.
Be warned: America will fall or rise as we defend it.
It's what we do, not what we intended.


Sound familiar? (?)

By the way, this whole ACLU-inspired/promoted spoken word project is freakin awesome. This is probably my other favorite, but they are all incredible.




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Oh God





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Healthcare Wars

By far the most famous feud in medicine, the DeBakey-Cooley schism was almost certainly a primarily personal affair at its core. But this NYT article places the argument in a healthcare policy context, and does quite a job of making that context just as interesting as the ego clash itself. Good read.

On one side is Michael E. DeBakey, 85 years old and still practicing. Many operations that are now routine first took place under his knife, including the bypass procedure that has kept millions of failing hearts throbbing.

But now he is on the defensive, intent on preserving the traditions of American medical research, training and treatment. He says the pressure to contain medical costs endangers not only patients on the operating-room table today but also those who would someday benefit from the expensive research, like his, that has made American medicine arguably the best in the world.

He mocks the growing number of physicians who are accepting prices and practice standards dictated by Government bureaucrats or insurers. When someone from an insurance company -- "some clerk," he says -- called recently to urge him to discharge a 90-year-old stroke victim, he snapped: "You come here and tell the patient's relatives you want her transferred to your care. Otherwise, butt out."
Needless to say, I'm with Debakey. In fairness, I did not find the article particularly friendly to Cooley. Whether it was his fault or the reporter's, his case looks weak and he looks like an asshole. There are much better advocates of his position (which is not nearly as true of DeBakey), but not ones that have legendary status in medicine, and of course a great backstory in a legendary feud.

[Note: This article is quite old. Debakey is STILL practicing at a hair away from 100 years old. I don't know what Cooley is up to, but about a year ago they formally reconciled and, for sake of appearances at least, let much of the bad blood dissipate.]





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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Huckster

Read me.

Related article.

More on Huck. A review of his governorship and character by an unadmiring Arkansan.

This is also a very thoughtful article (and entirely unrelated to the presidential race).

This is interesting too.

This is interesting...and very disturbing.



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Friday, January 4, 2008

Moore on Iowa

I've said that I think the early caucus mania is a three ring circus of bullshit, but if I had to comment on it, it would sound something like what Michael Moore says here:



"It's the War," Says Iowa to Hillary -- And a "Happy Blue Year" To All! ...from Michael Moore

January 3, 2007

Friends,

There was no doubt about it. The message from Iowa tonight was simple, but deafening:

If you're a candidate for President, and you voted for the war, you lose. And if you voted and voted and voted for the war -- and never once showed any remorse -- you really lose.

In short, if you had something to do with keeping us in this war for four-plus years, you are not allowed to be the next president of the United States.

Over 70% of Iowan Democrats voted for candidates who either never voted for the invasion of Iraq (Obama, Richardson, Kucinich) or who have since admitted their mistake (Edwards, Biden, Dodd). I can't tell you how bad I feel for Senator Clinton tonight. I don't believe she was ever really for this war. But she did -- and continued to do -- what she thought was the politically expedient thing to eventually get elected. And she was wrong. And tonight she must go to sleep wondering what would have happened if she had voted her conscience instead of her calculator.

John Edwards was supposed to have come in third. He had been written off. He was outspent by the other front-runners six to one. But somewhere along the road he threw off the old politico hack jacket and turned into a real person, a fighter for the poor, for the uninsured, for peace. And for that, he came in a surprise second, ending up with just one less delegate than the man who was against the war from the beginning. But, as Joshua Holland of AlterNet pointed out earlier today, Edwards is still the only front-runner who will pull out all the troops and do it as quickly as possible. His speech tonight was brilliant and moving.

What an amazing night, not just for Barack Obama, but for America. I know that Senator Obama is so much more than simply the color of his skin, but all of us must acknowledge -- and celebrate -- the fact that one of the whitest states in the U.S. just voted for a black man to be our next president. Thank you, Iowa, for this historic moment. Thank you for at least letting us believe that we are better than what we often seem to be. And to have so many young people come out and vote -- and vote for Obama -- this is a proud moment. It all began with the record youth turnout in 2004 -- the ONLY age group that Kerry won -- and they came back out tonight en force. Good on every single one of you!

As the only top candidate who was anti-war before the war began, Barack Obama became the vessel through which the people of this Midwestern state were able to say loud and clear: "Bring 'Em Home!" Most pundits won't read the election this way because, well, most pundits merrily led us down the path to war. For them to call this vote tonight a repudiation of the war -- and of Senator Clinton's four years' worth of votes for it -- might require the pundit class to remind their viewers and readers that they share some culpability in starting this war. And, like Hillary, damn few of them have offered us an apology.

With all due respect to Senator Obama's victory, the most important news out of the caucus this evening was the whopping, room-busting turnout of Democrats. 239,000 people showed up to vote Democratic tonight (93% more than in '04, which was a record year), while only 115,000 showed up to vote Republican. And this is a red state! The Republican caucuses looked anemic. The looks on their faces were glum, tired. As the camera followed some of them into their caucus sites, they held their heads down or turned away, sorta like criminals on a perp walk. They know their days of power are over. They know their guy blew it. Their only hope was to vote for a man who has a direct line to heaven. Huckabee is their Hail Mary pass. But don't rule him out. He's got a sense of humor, he's downhome, and he said that if elected, he'd put me on a boat to Cuba. Hey, a free Caribbean vacation!

Bottom line: People have had it. Iowa will go blue (Happy Blue Year, Hawkeyes!). Whomever your candidate is on the Dem side, this was a good night. Get some sleep. The Republicans won't go down without a fight. Look what happened when Kerry tried to play nice. So Barack, you can talk all you want about "let's put the partisanship aside, let's all get along," but the other side has no intention of being anything but the bullies they are. Get your game face on now. And, if you can, tell me why you are now the second largest recipient of health industry payola after Hillary. You now take more money from the people committed to stopping universal health care than any of the Republican candidates.

Despite what your answer may be, I was proud to sit in my living room tonight and see you and your family up on that stage. We became a bit better tonight, and on that I will close by saying, sweet dreams -- and on to that other totally white state of New Hampshire!

Yours,

Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com
MichaelMoore.com


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Zapping Cancer

I talked a bit about the technology before, and today I have discovered that the situation is actually somewhat more complicated than I had thought. (That's how scientists admit to being wrong.) The full Nature article is here. And an additional excerpt:

The work is intriguing, says Hongjie Dai, from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who is using near-infrared radiation with nanotubes in similar systems in mice. “If indeed effective, it would be more desirable than the near-infrared laser heating method,” he says.

But Dai says that the reasons why the nanotubes get so hot need more investigation before the system can be advanced. “The physics behind the radio-frequency heating is not clear,” he says.

In test experiments, a suspension of nanotubes in water got as hot as 45ยบC within 25 seconds when treated with radiofrequency waves. “I was really amazed by the amount of heat that was released by these nanoparticles,” says Curley.

He attributes the phenomenon to the “unique electronic properties” of carbon nanotubes. It might also be that the tubes align themselves into antennae-shaped arrangements to conduct heat better. Curley says that he has as-yet-unpublished evidence to better explain his findings.
[snip]

Part of the remaining challenge is to remove the two to three millimetre “zone of damage” around the nanotube-containing cells, he says.

And the intention is to one day create nanoparticles that seek out cancerous cells, rather than having to inject them into tumours. This would be done by sticking targeting molecules on the outside of the tubes: antibodies or proteins designed to recognize a site on a cell that is cancerous, says Curly. This would mean that nanoparticles could infiltrate cancer cells selectively, before the radio waves are applied. The team is working on this.

The Onion weighs in.



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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!



"These people are very, very dedicated. They're also very smart, in their own way."

You could eat the irony with a fork.

It reminds me of one of my favorite contemporary political philosophers, Peter Griffin, who reminded us that "It doesn't really matter where you're from, as long as we're all the same religion." Amen.


Update...kind of:



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Stuff Dump



Here's what I'm thinking today.

This is what keeps me awake at night...when I'm not on meth. Cuz then it's the meth.


From Michael Moore:

Who Do We Vote For This Time Around? A Letter from Michael Moore

January 2, 2008

Friends,

A new year has begun. And before we've had a chance to break our New Year's resolutions, we find ourselves with a little more than 24 hours before the good people of Iowa tell us whom they would like to replace the man who now occupies three countries and a white house.

Twice before, we have begun the process to stop this man, and twice we have failed. Eight years of our lives as Americans will have been lost, the world left in upheaval against us... and yet now, today, we hope against hope that our moment has finally arrived, that the amazingly powerful force of the Republican Party will somehow be halted. But we know that the Democrats are experts at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and if there's a way to blow this election, they will find it and do it with gusto.

Do you feel the same as me? That the Democratic front-runners are a less-than-stellar group of candidates, and that none of them are the "slam dunk" we wish they were? Of course, there are wonderful things about each of them. Any one of them would be infinitely better than what we have now. Personally, Congressman Kucinich, more than any other candidate, shares the same positions that I have on the issues (although the UFO that picked ME up would only take me as far as Kalamazoo). But let's not waste time talking about Dennis. Even he is resigned to losing, with statements like the one he made yesterday to his supporters in Iowa to throw their support to Senator Obama as their "second choice."

So, it's Hillary, Obama, Edwards -- now what do we do?

Two months ago, Rolling Stone magazine asked me to do a cover story where I would ask the hard questions that no one was asking in one-on-one interviews with Senators Clinton, Obama and Edwards. "The Top Democrats Face Off with Michael Moore." The deal was that all three candidates had to agree to let me interview them or there was no story. Obama and Edwards agreed. Mrs. Clinton said no, and the cover story was thus killed.

Why would the love of my life, Hillary Clinton, not sit down to talk with me? What was she afraid of?

Those of you who are longtime readers of mine may remember that 11 years ago I wrote a chapter (in my first book) entitled, "My Forbidden Love for Hillary." I was fed up with the treatment she was getting, most of it boringly sexist, and I thought somebody should stand up for her. I later met her and she thanked me for referring to her as "one hot s***kicking feminist babe." I supported and contributed to her run for the U.S. Senate. I think she is a decent and smart person who loves this country, cares deeply about kids, and has put up with more crap than anyone I know of (other than me) from the Crazy Right. Her inauguration would be a thrilling sight, ending 218 years of white male rule in a country where 51% of its citizens are female and 64% are either female or people of color.

And yet, I am sad to say, nothing has disappointed me more than the disastrous, premeditated vote by Senator Hillary Clinton to send us to war in Iraq. I'm not only talking about her first vote that gave Mr. Bush his "authorization" to invade -- I'm talking about every single OTHER vote she then cast for the next four years, backing and funding Bush's illegal war, and doing so with verve. She never met a request from the White House for war authorization that she didn't like. Unlike the Kerrys and the Bidens who initially voted for authorization but later came to realize the folly of their decision, Mrs. Clinton continued to cast numerous votes for the war until last March -- four long years of pro-war votes, even after 70% of the American public had turned against the war. She has steadfastly refused to say that she was wrong about any of this, and she will not apologize for her culpability in America's worst-ever foreign policy disaster. All she can bring herself to say is that she was "misled" by "faulty intelligence."

Let's assume that's true. Do you want a President who is so easily misled? I wasn't "misled," and millions of others who took to the streets in February of 2003 weren't "misled" either. It was simply amazing that we knew the war was wrong when none of us had been briefed by the CIA, none of us were national security experts, and none of us had gone on a weapons inspection tour of Iraq. And yet... we knew we were being lied to! Let me ask those of you reading this letter: Were YOU "misled" -- or did you figure it out sometime between October of 2002 and March of 2007 that George W. Bush was up to something rotten? Twenty-three other senators were smart enough to figure it out and vote against the war from the get-go. Why wasn't Senator Clinton?

I have a theory: Hillary knows the sexist country we still live in and that one of the reasons the public, in the past, would never consider a woman as president is because she would also be commander in chief. The majority of Americans were concerned that a woman would not be as likely to go to war as a man (horror of horrors!). So, in order to placate that mindset, perhaps she believed she had to be as "tough" as a man, she had to be willing to push The Button if necessary, and give the generals whatever they wanted. If this is, in fact, what has motivated her pro-war votes, then this would truly make her a scary first-term president. If the U.S. is faced with some unforeseen threat in her first years, she knows that in order to get re-elected she'd better be ready to go all Maggie Thatcher on whoever sneezes in our direction. Do we want to risk this, hoping the world makes it in one piece to her second term?

I have not even touched on her other numerous -- and horrendous -- votes in the Senate, especially those that have made the middle class suffer even more (she voted for Bush's first bankruptcy bill, and she is now the leading recipient of payoff money -- I mean campaign contributions -- from the health care industry). I know a lot of you want to see her elected, and there is a very good chance that will happen. There will be plenty of time to vote for her in the general election if all the pollsters are correct. But in the primaries and caucuses, isn't this the time to vote for the person who most reflects the values and politics you hold dear? Can you, in good conscience, vote for someone who so energetically voted over and over and over again for the war in Iraq? Please give this serious consideration.

Now, on to the two candidates who did agree to do the interview with me...

Barack Obama is a good and inspiring man. What a breath of fresh air! There's no doubting his sincerity or his commitment to trying to straighten things out in this country. But who is he? I mean, other than a guy who gives a great speech? How much do any of us really know about him? I know he was against the war. How do I know that? He gave a speech before the war started. But since he joined the senate, he has voted for the funds for the war, while at the same time saying we should get out. He says he's for the little guy, but then he votes for a corporate-backed bill to make it harder for the little guy to file a class action suit when his kid swallows lead paint from a Chinese-made toy. In fact, Obama doesn't think Wall Street is a bad place. He wants the insurance companies to help us develop a new health care plan -- the same companies who have created the mess in the first place. He's such a feel-good kinda guy, I get the sense that, if elected, the Republicans will eat him for breakfast. He won't even have time to make a good speech about it.

But this may be a bit harsh. Senator Obama has a big heart, and that heart is in the right place. Is he electable? Will more than 50% of America vote for him? We'd like to believe they would. We'd like to believe America has changed, wouldn't we? Obama lets us feel better about ourselves -- and as we look out the window at the guy snowplowing his driveway across the street, we want to believe he's changed, too. But are we dreaming?

And then there's John Edwards.

It's hard to get past the hair, isn't it? But once you do -- and recently I have chosen to try -- you find a man who is out to take on the wealthy and powerful who have made life so miserable for so many. A candidate who says things like this: "I absolutely believe to my soul that this corporate greed and corporate power has an ironclad hold on our democracy." Whoa. We haven't heard anyone talk like that in a while, at least not anyone who is near the top of the polls. I suspect this is why Edwards is doing so well in Iowa, even though he has nowhere near the stash of cash the other two have. He won't take the big checks from the corporate PACs, and he is alone among the top three candidates in agreeing to limit his spending and be publicly funded. He has said, point-blank, that he's going after the drug companies and the oil companies and anyone else who is messing with the American worker. The media clearly find him to be a threat, probably because he will go after their monopolistic power, too. This is Roosevelt/Truman kind of talk. That's why it's resonating with people in Iowa, even though he doesn't get the attention Obama and Hillary get -- and that lack of coverage may cost him the first place spot tomorrow night. After all, he is one of those white guys who's been running things for far too long.

And he voted for the war. But unlike Senator Clinton, he has stated quite forcefully that he was wrong. And he has remorse. Should he be forgiven? Did he learn his lesson? Like Hillary and Obama, he refused to promise in a September debate that there will be no U.S. troops in Iraq by the end of his first term in 2013. But this week in Iowa, he changed his mind. He went further than Clinton and Obama and said he'd have all the troops home in less than a year.

Edwards is the only one of the three front-runners who has a universal health care plan that will lead to the single-payer kind all other civilized countries have. His plan doesn't go as fast as I would like, but he is the only one who has correctly pointed out that the health insurance companies are the enemy and should not have a seat at the table.

I am not endorsing anyone at this point. This is simply how I feel in the first week of the process to replace George W. Bush. For months I've been wanting to ask the question, "Where are you, Al Gore?" You can only polish that Oscar for so long. And the Nobel was decided by Scandinavians! I don't blame you for not wanting to enter the viper pit again after you already won. But getting us to change out our incandescent light bulbs for some irritating fluorescent ones isn't going to save the world. All it's going to do is make us more agitated and jumpy and feeling like once we get home we haven't really left the office.

On second thought, would you even be willing to utter the words, "I absolutely believe to my soul that this corporate greed and corporate power has an ironclad hold on our democracy?" 'Cause the candidate who understands that, and who sees it as the root of all evil -- including the root of global warming -- is the President who may lead us to a place of sanity, justice and peace.

Yours,

Michael Moore (not an Iowa voter, but appreciative of any state that has a town named after a sofa)
MMFlint@aol.com
MichaelMoore.com






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