spacebawl (the blog)

We thought about it. Now you have to read it.

Monday, April 30, 2007

"We don't argue with cranks."

Finally, some ground rules. We don't argue with cranks. Part of understanding denialism is knowing that it's futile to argue with them, and giving them yet another forum is unnecessary. They also have the advantage of just being able to make things up and it takes forever to knock down each argument as they're only limited by their imagination while we're limited by things like logic and data. Recognizing denialism also means recognizing that you don't need to, and probably shouldn't argue with it. Denialists are not honest brokers in the debate (you'll hear me harp on this a lot). They aren't interested in truth, data, or informative discussion, they're interested in their world view being the only one, and they'll say anything to try to bring this about. We feel that once you've shown that what they say is deceptive, or prima-facie absurd, you don't have to spend a graduate career dissecting it and taking it apart. It's more like a "rule-of-thumb" approach to bad scientific argument. That's not to say we won't discuss science or our posts with people who want to honestly be informed, we just don't want to argue with cranks. We have work to do.

- Mark Hoofnagle, intro post to ScienceBlogs: Denialism

Oh, Snap! I do believe I will be visiting Denialism frequently, in a manner of speaking. ;-)

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

FL-24: (Re)Introducing Clint Curtis.

In the 2006 election, I did a small amount of volunteer work on the U. S. House (District 24) campaign of Clint Curtis, the man who challenged Republican incumbent Tom Feeney and intends to do so again in 2008. Over the past few days, a plethora of stories has appeared in the traditional news media and the blogosphere about the FBI finally having a chat with Feeney regarding his relationship with former corrupt powerhouse lobbyist and current convicted felon Jack Abramoff. Here's a tiny sampling in case anyone needs to catch up:I can think of no better time to reintroduce Clint. Some of you may know Clint as the man who testified under oath before a voting forum initiated by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) in December 2004. This YouTube video has Clint's entire testimony:

Rigged USA Elections Exposed (length: 12 min)

It's difficult to condense Clint's story because of all the bizarre twists and turns it's taken since he met Feeney in the year 2000. Here are the most basic details:
Curtis is a programmer who worked for Yang Enterprises (YEI) in Oviedo, Florida until February 2001. Curtis is notable chiefly for making a series of "whistleblower" allegations about his employer YEI and powerful Republican Congressman Tom Feeney.... At the time of the alleged incidents, Feeney was simultaneously YEI's corporate attorney, a registered lobbyist for YEI, and a member of Florida's House of Representatives. He also maintained his election office in the YEI building....

In September 2000, at the behest of Rep. Feeney, [Clint] was asked to write a program for a touchscreen voting machine that would make it possible to change the results of an election undetectably. This technology, explained Curtis, could also be used in any electronic tabulation machine or scanner.... Curtis spoke about this to the Conyers Voting Forum, after Conyers left the forum and turned over the dais to a local politician, on 2004-12-13....

On March 3, 2005, Curtis took a polygraph test.... The test did not detect any attempt at deception on the part of Curtis in any of his responses. Curtis has stated that the test was based on all the allegations in the affidavit that was provided to Conyer's Voting Forum.
Please refer to Clint's dKosopedia entry for a more complete story and numerous links to outside sources.

Unfortunately, Clint is still not very well known beyond the sphere of people and groups particularly concerned with election manipulation. (I mean no disrespect here; all progressives are very much worried about the sad state of this country's electoral system. I'm referring, though, to the people involved with the "nuts and bolts" of elections.) Clint ran against Feeney in the 2006 election, but "lost" the election to Feeney, 58% to 42%. Sixteen percent is a sizable margin, to be sure, until one considers the following:
  • Clint didn't enter the race until March 2006, a painfully short time to raise money and gain support in time for the fall elections
  • Clint had to expend resources defeating a Dem primary challenger, while Feeney had no primary opponent
  • Clint's campaign warchest was a fraction of Feeney's (I don't have exact figures, but I've heard it was something like $100,000 vs. over $3 million)
  • Clint received little or no financial or other assistance from the DCCC or other prominent national groups
You may be wondering why I enclosed the word lost in quotes in the above statement about the 2006 election. This is because Clint has not conceded the election to Feeney and has called for an independent investigation into voting irregularities he and his team believe they've uncovered:
Curtis did not concede the race because the 16% loss did not reflect the Zogby Poll taken just weeks before the election nor the polling conducted by the online vote verification tool . Instead, he enlisted a dedicated group of grassroots election integrity volunteers who have been Walking For Democracy by canvassing the 24th District since November. They have interviewed individual voters and gathered data. In every precinct studied, the data shows that Curtis received 12-24% more votes than stated in the official result. Unlike Christine Jennings in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, which has 18,000 missing votes that can not be verified, the group has gathered hard evidence that shows exactly where the election results are inaccurate. [emphasis mine]
Brad Friedman of Brad Blog interviewed Clint in March on the Walking For Democracy effort.

All these considerations lead me, at least, to believe that if Clint can gather grassroots/netroots and national support starting now, 18 months before the 2008 election, and with Feeney's name now plastered all over the place in connection with Jack Abramoff, Clint has an excellent chance of winning the FL-24 seat.

There are some rumors floating around that Clint is unhinged, delusional, paranoid, etc. I've met the man, having done a small amount of volunteer work on his 2006 campaign, and I can tell you he's none of these things, although I can certainly say he's "insanely committed" to election honesty and integrity, something we sorely need in today's political climate. He's an honest man who works tirelessly on election fraud issues. And he has a sharp, dry wit and a silly sense of humor. (I once stopped by his campaign office in Daytona Beach wearing my uniform for my tai chi school, and he tried to get me to "attack him" so I could demonstrate some moves. After I explained that tai chi is purely a defensive martial art and I could not fight back unless someone attacked me first, he then attempted to enlist an elderly man standing nearby to attack me instead.)

Clint Curtis basically ended up in a bizarre situation very few of us could imagine. But instead of just "getting over it" as his detractors might hope, he decided not to take it lying down. Clint could have easily made the decision to protect himself and his reputation by fading into the woodwork, but because he's an ethical man who loves America, he decided to make immense personal and professional sacrifices to bring the truth to light. Wow, could I possibly have used any more cheesy cliches in this paragraph? Tee hee. Sorry, but it's true.

At any rate, who would you rather have in Congress - an "unhinged" Democrat who fights like hell for election integrity, or just another corrupt Republican resident of the House that Jack Built? ;-)

Please donate to Clint if you can. You don't have to live in the FL-24 district to do so. All you have to do is care about fair and honest elections.

Clint Curtis for Congress

Race tracker wiki: FL-24

[crossposted with minor modifications to DailyKos]

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Life Imitates Art.

Or politics imitates satire. Either way.

The Onion, 11/7/2006:
Republicans Blame Election Losses On Democrats

The Carpetbagger Report, 4/21/2007:
Low-down, conniving "Democrat Party" plans to steal House seat by running candidate for it

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pigs fly. Hell freezes over.

I like a Republican.

Most Florida felons who complete their sentences will have their voting and other civil rights more quickly restored under a rule approved Thursday by Republican Gov. Charlie Crist and the state clemency board.

All but the most violent felons would avoid the need to get on a long list for a hearing before the board, which sometimes takes years. The board voted 3-1 on the immediate change, which also requires felons to pay all court-ordered restitution to their victims before becoming eligible to get their rights back.

Full story:
State clemency board votes to automatically restore felons' rights

I was cautiously optimistic when Crist got elected. I liked several of his campaign promises, but as with many politicians, they're often just empty promises which go right down the toilet after they take office. So far, though, Crist seems to be living up to them.

Attorney General Bill McCollum mounted passionate opposition, calling it "a sad day for Florida," "a big mistake," and later describing Crist's actions as "liberal." McCollum said that the changes Crist favored would have allowed John Couey, the killer of Jessica Lunsford, to regain his civil rights....

Excluded from the automatic category are criminals who have committed murder, manslaughter, DUI manslaughter, sexual battery, lewd and lascivious crimes, child abuse, treason and terrorism.

Full story:
A titanic clash of philosophies

Of course, leave it to a far more typical wingnut Repukelican to a) not bother to read/comprehend/care that the automatic category specifically excludes scumbags like Couey, and b) use the term "liberal" as if it were an insult.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A wingnut's dilemma.

It seems that in his haste to denigrate Al Gore and his relentless efforts to help people understand the climate change crisis and its not-so-difficult solutions, religious right leader and supreme wingnut Tony Perkins of Family Research Council kinda sorta forgot he's supposed to take the bible literally:

During the session, Gore's "Chicken Little" scenarios were met with skepticism, particularly from Senate Republicans like Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who said he, like many scientists, believed the dire global warming projections were a "hoax." On the House side, the former vice president was called a prophet by some Democratic members but his revelations were challenged by others. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, cited 600,000-year-old scientific evidence that Gore's carbon dioxide claims are false.

Ah, Tony? Doesn't the bible say the earth is only around 10,000 years old? Aren't all scientific discoveries that claim to prove otherwise simply false
"evidence" planted by Satan to mislead us (or false evidence planted by God
to test our faith, depending on which version of the bible you believe or
which religious charlatan you follow)?

I'm eagerly waiting to see which contradictory extremist fallacy prevails
here. Will Perkins condemn Rep. Barton for citing evidence that, by the
bible's definition, can't possibly be true? What's more powerful - the right
wing extremists' love of the bible, or their fear and loathing of Al Gore
and everything he represents?

Personally, I'm betting on the fear and loathing. Hate always seems to win out with these people.

h/t slacktivist

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