Saturday, September 24, 2011

Nailed the Trifecta!

Don't Ask Don't TellBefore I write about anything else, I want to mention that somehow, one of my blog entries got added to StumbleUpon. I don’t know if one of my friends did it, or if it was merely random, but let me just say “Thank you!” On the day it happened (I believe it was for my entry about Bachmann and the HPV vaccine), I got almost 1,400 page views. Whoa! I’ve gotten a lot more hits after that (although nothing at that level), and I don’t know if it will continue, but I really appreciate the traffic. Thank you, friend, or anonymous stranger, who liked what I wrote!

Okay, here’s the deal. I’ve been watching the Republican debates when I’ve been able to, and we’ve seen some rather interesting [exaggerated finger quotes] moments. In one, the crowd cheered for Rick Perry’s stellar execution record in Texas. Over 200 executed on his watch! Yeehaw! In the next debate, the crowd cheered at the prospect of letting a 30-year-old without insurance (by his own choice) die rather than the state or federal government financing his poor decision at not obtaining health insurance. Yay, death!

At the most recent debate, we didn’t get cheers from the audience about a particular topic. In a video question, a gay soldier, Stephen Hill, who was finally able to serve openly only this week asked how any of the candidates would deal with the recently repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. In yet another What The Fuck moment, there were people in the crowd who booed. Yes, they booed this soldier who is currently serving in Iraq. See for yourself:

Paul Begala wrote, “I may start a betting pool on what the Republicans will boo in the next debate: puppies? Ronald Reagan? Ronald Reagan’s puppies?” Ha!

I watched someone trying to say that it was only a couple of people in the audience who booed the soldier, and the rest of the people in the audience were booing those people. It sure doesn’t sound like that to me, and knowing how many of these people feel about the repeal of DADT, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if several booed the soldier. And if so many Republicans condemn these people disrespecting this soldier, as many have said (and good for them for speaking up), why didn’t one single person on that stage step up and say, “Whoa, wait a minute there. This guy is serving his country in Iraq right now, so show some goddamn respect! How dare you boo this soldier?!” Instead...crickets.

Rick Santorum answered the question, though.
Hill: “In 2010, when I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie about who I was, because I'm a gay soldier, and I didn't want to lose my job. My question is, under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress that's been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?”
Santorum: “Yeah, I — I would say, any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military. And the fact that they're making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege to — to — and removing 'don't ask/don't tell' I think tries to inject social policy into the military. And the military's job is to do one thing, and that is to defend our country.
“We need to give the military, which is all-volunteer, the ability to do so in a way that is most efficient at protecting our men and women in uniform.”
“And I believe this undermines that ability.”
Moderator Megyn Kelly: “So what — what — what would you do with soldiers like Stephen Hill? I mean, he's — now he's out. He's — you know, you saw his face on camera. When he first submitted this video to us, it was without his face on camera. Now he's out. So what would you do as president?”
Santorum: “I think it's — it's — it's — look, what we're doing is playing social experimentation with — with our military right now. And that's tragic.
“I would — I would just say that, going forward, we would — we would reinstitute that policy, if Rick Santorum was president, period.
“That policy would be reinstituted. And as far as people who are in — in — I would not throw them out, because that would be unfair to them because of the policy of this administration, but we would move forward in — in conformity with what was happening in the past, which was, sex is not an issue. It is — it should not be an issue. Leave it alone, keep it — keep it to yourself, whether you're a heterosexual or a homosexual.” (source)
That’s right. Santorum would tell this man, who not only has the courage to serve in the military and serve in a war zone but also has the sheer balls to come out in front of the entire country on national TV, that he is incapable of serving and is not wanted by the U.S. military. And he would tell every other homosexual that they are not acceptable to the U.S. military, simply because of their sexual orientation. He also seems to think that a person’s sexuality should not be mentioned at all, that you need to keep that to yourself, so I presume he would issue a rule stating that no one is to mention their husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, and while we’re at it, no one should mention their kids, either, because that implies that they have had sex. (Believe a former Air Force wife, and based on comments from other friends who have served or been military spouses, if you think there isn’t rampant fuckery going on in the military, you don’t know jack.) Stephen Hill

“Special privilege?” Really? “Inject social policy” into the military? Really? Oh, you mean like Harry Truman issuing an executive order in 1948 that desegregated the U.S. military so that blacks could serve with full benefits and honors? Kind of like that?

For all those people who think those dirty homersexticals shouldn’t be allowed to serve, I wonder why you haven’t gotten riled up about the numerous charges of rape occurring among heterosexual men raping female soldiers? Rapes that either are reported and not prosecuted, or not reported because the women know that it will probably ruin their career if they do. Where is the outrage? I find it infuriating (and humorous in a disgusting sort of way) that some people--both military and non-military--don’t get all that upset about female soldiers being abused, but if there is the slightest possibility that an openly serving gay man will slip up behind them in the shower for a booty call, they scream bloody murder. Like being able to serve openly is a license for getting all rapey and junk. Women have been putting up with such abuse for decades, so pardon me if I don’t have much sympathy for you and your whiny heterosexual ass.

Santorum subsequently came out (so to speak) and said that he did not hear those boos, and if he had, he’d have told those people not to do that, that we should be thanking him for his service. You know what, Ricky? I don’t believe you. I think you heard those boos loud and clear, and you just stood there with all your other lame colleagues and chose not to say anything. Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson (it was his first debate in this race) said, “That’s not the Republican party I belong to.” Oh, yes it is, Governor.

And until people like you start stepping up and soundly renouncing such bigoted behavior, doing it at the time rather than after you find out that many Americans were appalled by it, you and your party will continue to own it. It’s really not hard to do. I’ve done it quite a few times. You just step up and say, “You know what? That is wrong of you to say, and I completely disagree with you.” Basically, you have to have courage and stand up for what you think is right.

Kind of like the courage that soldier that you booed displayed.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Another fruit fly moment

HPVAnderson Cooper recently discussed the endless parade of Michele Bachmann gaffes and errors, culminating in her assertion the day after the latest debate that the HPV vaccine has serious side effects, including “mental retardation.”

Setting aside the fact that she seems to be confusing “mental retardation” with brain damage, there is no case for either consequence from this vaccine. I was reminded of the infamous Sarah Palin fruit fly moment (and no, I will NEVER let it go!), in which she ridiculed “fruit fly research in Paris, France.”

It might sound like a strange thing to trigger that last straw, but that was it for me. After that, I stopped being nice about Palin, because I saw that she had no intelligence when it came to science, and even worse, she had no desire to learn. Anything that was beyond her scope of knowledge was deemed foolish and a waste of money. (Never mind that research using fruit flies has numerous applications, including upon autism research.)

I’ve never given Bachmann a break; I recognized from the very beginning that she was a homophobic moron who wants to institute a theocracy in my country. Her remarks about the HPV vaccine, however, put her on a whole other plane of ignorance and irresponsibility. Her initial point in the debate about Governor Perry possibly involved in pushing the vaccine in order to benefit the manufacturer, Merck, was a legitimate one. Her assertions that it was a “dangerous injection” were not legitimate, and the following day, she took it up a notch and mentioned a woman who came up to her and tearfully told her that her daughter became “mentally retarded” after being vaccinated for HPV.

Bachmann tried to portray the vaccine mandate as government overreach, and I have no doubt that she preyed on typical conservative Christian fears that a vaccine for a sexually transmitted infection will lead to promiscuity. Just like free condoms lead to sexual promiscuity. Never mind the fact that it can keep a young woman (and with the new guidelines for vaccinating young boys, it protects them as well) from getting not only genital warts, but it can keep her from getting cervical cancer down the road.

HPV TableThink about that for a moment. I still remember how exciting it was when we first started checking for HPV in my lab, because of the numerous studies that showed a correlation between HPV infection and subsequent cervical cancer. Showing the presence of the virus (and certain strains, which are stronger predictors of cancer risk) allowed for earlier detection and more aggressive treatment, resulting in greater survival rates. When the vaccine came out, it was even more of a breakthrough, because we were essentially vaccinating against cancer. This is astounding to me, and I honestly cannot understand anyone who would place the nebulous possibility of their children having premarital sex earlier than usual (or who thinks that their kids wouldn’t have premarital sex if it weren’t for those pesky free condoms and protection against a sexually transmitted cancer-causing virus) above the childrens’ long-term health and protection against cancer.

There has been no proof that vaccines cause autism. I’ve written about this extensively. For Bachmann to suggest that the HPV vaccine causes “mental retardation” is not just ignorant, it could possibly cause many parents to forgo the vaccine for their children and leave them open to this very common sexually transmitted infection and later cervical cancer. As someone who lost a very dear relative, my Aunt Bert, to cervical cancer, I take it seriously. So should Bachmann, if she can manage to think of the greater good when it comes to public health rather than pandering to the anti-government teabagger loons.

Bachmann made her pronouncement after speaking to one
tearful mother who was certain that a vaccine caused her daughter to suddenly develop “mental retardation.” There are very real, genetic causes for such impairment, and vaccines aren’t one of them. Bachmann’s bizarre insistence on giving full credence to one parent and ignoring numerous studies, extensive research, and thorough vaccine trials should rightfully doom her candidacy. She is obviously someone who just does not want to learn and who does not trust scientists...or even science.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

And on Sunday, she rested

ND football2Whew, what a whirlwind weekend! (And one filled with alliteration!)

My awesome niece Heather, her equally awesome husband Rey, and their awesome² son Liam are in town for a visit from San Diego, so they came over Friday evening to check out Nutwood. We took a walk out back, and Liam (4 years old) occupied himself by finding turkey feathers throughout the yard. The turkeys had been hanging out the previous day, and I’ve never seen them leave behind so many feathers! They even made an appearance on Friday, walking through the front yard. Thank you, made a little boy very happy! (You made ME happy, too, by cooperating so nicely!) We also took a little walk through the marsh and out to the woods. I love doing that with visitors. Seeing Nutwood through others’ eyes makes me appreciate it even more.

After our little nature outing, I think we were all feeling pretty famished, so we headed out for some dinner at Macri’s. We had some pasta and pizza (their pizza is pretty darn good), and Liam had a little nap, but woke up in time for food. We called it an early night, since we had a game to go to the next day!

I made some wrap sandwiches in the morning, we filled up the cooler, and headed out for some tailgating. It was truly one of the most perfect days for football I’ve ever experienced. About 68°, sunny, with a slight breeze. We had our sandwiches, drank some beer, and played some cornhole with our nifty new Notre Dame set. (I was soundly trounced...I’m sure the beer had something to do with that!) The Fightin’ Irish did their part for a perfect game day, beating Michigan State 31-13. The best part was their attitude. They seemed to have a confidence that they were previously lacking. They still need to work on cutting out the turnovers, but it was a good game and they played well.

After the game, we headed over to my sister’s house for a birthday party for her husband, Tom. (Thanks for the Thomas Jefferson book loans, Tom!) It had been going on for a while, but I think we caught up nicely! We had a great time visiting family, and stayed pretty late talking with Tom and Diana. We headed home and didn’t crash until 4 or 5 this morning. Slept late and took it easy today, and I’m still not fully recovered. My “bounce back time” has definitely gone up as I’ve gotten older!

It was a fun weekend. I hope yours was as pleasant!