Make McCain see stars

By Phil Plait | October 15, 2008 9:28 pm

So I missed the debate tonight, but approximately an Avagadro’s number of people have IMed, emailed, or tweeted to me that Senator McCain, once again, made fun of the venerable and honorable Zeiss planetarium projector at Adler.

Obviously, McCain is not up on his intertoobs.

I have said all I can about McCain’s ridiculous lies about this topic. I’m done being negative about this particular subject. Y’all will get a chance to be positive about it on November 4.

But why wait? Turns out, the Adler planetarium in Chicago has a page where you can donate to help them renovate the Zeiss. I suggest you do what you can; remember, despite what McCain has implied, Adler never got any money for this much needed upgrade.

Millions of kids go through that theater, and they learn about the wonder of the sky, the fun of science, and the sheer joy of understanding. Some people don’t get that.

But a lot of people do. And you know what? I think we’ll prevail.

Tip o’ the dew shield to Meg Kribble for pointing me to the Adler page.

Comments (88)

Links to this Post

  1. Post-debate [Pharyngula] | October 16, 2008
  1. Meg Kribble
  2. Phil, what scared the bejeebers out of ME was his out-of-left-field suggestion that we put returning soldiers into classrooms as teachers without any kind of certification to teach (something he actually seemed to sneer at (the certification)). I think this is some kind of connection to programs in place in many states where not just returning military, but retired folk from nearly any walk of life can (with some minimal training) return to teach. I do think many of those programs do require some educational training and screening to make sure that appropriate people are in there teaching kids. Whether this was what Grampy McCain was referring to is hard to tell. It just came flying out of nowhere like a UFO and then disappeared.

    However, McCain’s attitude toward the schools, certification, and teachers just oozed disgust, and he didn’t seem to have a full grasp of what it is that Head Start does, what the DC schools are trying to accomplish, and what else it is that education is required to do. Lots of McCain UFOs buzzing the stage, but not much definition otherwise.

  3. Jonathan Strickland

    I sure hope you’re right. I think you are, but complacency is an attitude I just can’t afford to have right now (thankfully in my case that’s not literally true). The planetarium = overhead projector was just one of several statements made by McCain that got me all het up. He also managed to casually dismiss the importance of women’s health. That was awesome. Glad he could clarify what’s really important.

    You know, you say you missed the debate. But you didn’t really MISS it, if you catch my drift.

  4. JKH

    Perfect. That is how it SHOULD BE DONE!! Not by government… but by we who have money to donate to causes about which we care.

  5. Viewer 3

    So I hear there’s rumors on the internets…

  6. zpt

    For the record, he did call it a “planetarium projector” during tonights debate. A slight improvement I guess you could say, but as a planetarium employee myself the whole concept that we shouldn’t be funding methods to get kids involved and excited about science is just unbelieveable.

  7. I’ve had to explain this to the cool-aid drinking masses down here so often that I’m turning blue in the face… Can you PLEASE take a beach trip to the Panhandle of Florida, and do some events here? Really, we need you! The hicktards here are so bloody ignorant that the bliss must be causing dopamine overloads in their sorry excuses for brains.

  8. Tim Froehlich

    Heh. Sorry for helping to overflow your inbox, Phil :)

  9. We even got the debate here in Oz. The troops to the classroom made me guffaw. A real OMFG moment. What would they teach? IED 101, Insurgency suppression, Lock’n'load…?
    The other funny thing was his suggestion that if a public school was under performing or not up to standard the parents have some sort of right (vouchers?) to move them to another school. What is wrong with spending some money to “fix” the school?
    The moderator mentioned that the US spends more per capita on education than any other country but your test results are one of the worst. What is going on with that?

  10. What we need is an illustration. Here’s one.

  11. Lionel L.

    Phil, you’ve got a link issue. This link http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2008/10/08/mccains-planetariophobia/ resolves to a blank page. But this link http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2008/10/08/ resolves to the correct page. Just a heads up.

  12. It’ll be my great satisfaction to vote for President Obama a second time (the first being the Virginia primary). I hope he can get something done about the Electoral College. It’s long since time to abandon that sorry institution. I’m amazed to see him still on the anti-planetarium warpath. He just doesn’t get it. Sorry excuse for a presidential candidate.
    Rich in Charlottesville

  13. Andrew

    Phil for president!

  14. I corrected the text of the post; I didn’t see the debate so I didn’t have the wording correct.

    The link issue us bugging some folks but not others; I have alerted the Hive Overmind at Discover.

  15. hale-bopp

    From the cnn.com transcript of the debate…

    ” McCain: But I would fight for a line-item veto, and I would certainly veto every earmark pork-barrel bill. Sen. Obama has asked for nearly $1 billion in pork-barrel earmark projects…

    Schieffer: Time’s up.

    McCain: … including $3 million for an overhead projector in a planetarium in his hometown. That’s not the way we cut — we’ll cut out all the pork.”

    So “overhead projector” was the wording again. My head hurts.

  16. Quiet Desperation

    The hicktards here are so bloody ignorant that the bliss must be causing dopamine overloads in their sorry excuses for brains.

    Seriously, while I sympathize with the frustration, is this level of hate helpful or productive? And if you don’t think it’s hate, start replacing “hicktards” with other groups of people. And it was Flavor-Aid they used in Jonestown, FYI. Grape flavored, with chloral hydrate, I think.

    It’ll be my great satisfaction to vote for President Obama a second time

    I’ll probably vote for him, but don’t expect me to feel any satisfaction. I didn’t get two degrees, spend years of overtime and study and sacrifice getting to a peak in my field and career only to have him come along and rape my early retirement plans, but I just can’t deal with Palin anywhere near the White House.

    This election sucks, and the sycophants for both candidates suck harder.

    I don’t even care what McCain says or does. I hate him for the simple act of running for President at his age.

  17. Let me give a different perspective. It’s clear that this issue of a planetarium projector has irked Phil, mainly I believe, simply because he’s an astronomer and it’s personal to him. I agree that we need to promote science and planetariums are one good place to do that, but what if there are better places to spend money?

    I’m a computer guy, and it was a computer lab that got me into science. Maybe 3 million towards a computer lab in that community’s schools would be more effective. Or a new math workshop series. Or more direct funding in that state for science teachers.

    Now look at this planetarium projector. Was there any debate over it? No. Was there any review to see if the money was being spent in the most effective way? No. The only reason it was funded was because Obama singlehandedly chose to add the earmark to a bill without review or debate. That’s not good government. That’s the *same* government we’ve had for years, not change.

    So I ask, is it *really* that out of line to criticize the projector funding as an example of a broken, corrupt system of earmarks that Obama proudly took advantage of?

  18. Jeremy

    “The only reason it was funded was because Obama singlehandedly chose to add the earmark to a bill without review or debate.”

    Before engaging in debate about a subject it’s really your obligation to self-educate a bit. First, the projector hasn’t been funded. Second, Obama was not single handedly responsible for this by any stretch of the imagination.

  19. Quiet Desperation

    The troops to the classroom made me guffaw. A real OMFG moment. What would they teach? IED 101, Insurgency suppression, Lock’n’load…?

    Wow. That’s just a really ignorant thing to say. I suppose you buy into the stereotype that all soldiers are dumb robots who only joined the military as a last resort? And you assume there would be no training to teach? Did you think it through at all before guffawing?

    Does anyone actually guffaw anymore? Last guffaw I saw was in something by Oscar Wilde from 1891. ;-)

    Programs like this already exists as a joint effort between the DOD and DOE.

    And you folks wonder why elitist is considered an insult. It’s because too many people express their elitism in an ignorant manner or by trafficking in stereotypes.

  20. Ijon Tichy

    Anti-intellectualism has a long and prominent history in the USA. One of its pernicious effects is the low standard in education. And currently the Republicans are by far the worst offenders in this respect. As recent Nobel Prize winner, Paul Krugman, recently wrote:

    What I mean, instead, is that know-nothingism — the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there’s something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggests otherwise — has become the core of Republican policy and political strategy. The party’s de facto slogan has become: “Real men don’t think things through.”

  21. JustAsItSounds

    Wow. That’s just a really ignorant thing to say. I suppose you buy into the stereotype that all soldiers are dumb robots who only joined the military as a last resort? And you assume there would be no training to teach? Did you think it through at all before guffawing?

    The missing context, I believe, is that McCain said that Soldiers should be re-assigned as teachers, but not be required to sit exams to evaluate their teaching ability. I would charitably assume that he either got his tongue-tied, or didn’t understand the brief on that particular initiative, or was distracted by the flies that seemed to be buzzing round his head (McCains Bug eyes)

  22. Daniel

    Quiet Desperation: I think you should read your own posts once in a while.

    “is this level of hate helpful or productive?”

    “This election sucks, and the sycophants for both candidates suck harder… I hate [McCain] for the simple act of running for President at his age.”

    Take your own comments into consideration, especially seeing as you made yourself a hypocrite all in one breath.

  23. IVAN3MAN

    Phil Plait, how about asking the “Hive Overmind” at Discover to provide a preview facility for people’s comments prior to submission, as is available on some other blogs/forums like JREF, or is that too much to ask? You have the luxury of being able to edit your own comments when you make an error, but for the rest of us, when we don’t our HTML tags just right, it’s FUBAR!

    Excuse me for being cranky, but it’s bloody 7:20 a.m. here in the UK and I haven’t had any sleep yet. Furthermore, I’m pissed off with McCain’s stubbornness over this planetarium business, and the realization that that crazy cow, Sarah Palin, could become President and plunge the World into a nuclear war just because the visiting Russian President at the White House left the bloody lavatory seat up!

    I’m off now to get some sleep. Goodnight, Phil, or should I say, Good morning?

  24. QD, when the average person thinks of the military they automatically think of the grunt. Not that that is an excuse for stereotyping. McCain said that they would be put straight into the class room without wasting time on little things like certification. What is your average grunt trained for? Even the specialists have no particular training in the education of youngsters. What are they going to teach? How are they going to teach? What procedures will be put in place scrutinise what will be taught? What military training would be specifically appropriate for the classroom? Why are ex-soldiers more qualified to teach than any other member of the community? The impression McCain gave was that a teacher shortage was going to be filled with ex-military types – readin’, ritin’ n’ rifmatic – and not extra credit social studies courses. I think the ignorant populism here is coming from McCain.

    Now if he had said the boys and girls back from a stint in the military can get a free education to enable them to enhance their experiences gained in the military to become qualified teachers that is a whole other thing.

    I don’t know where the guffaw came from. I suppose I also could have been agape with disbelief, snorting with derision, slack jawed – not as in yokel though. I loves me a quaint turn of phrase. :-)

  25. Quiet Desperation

    @Daniel
    If you can’t see the difference between hate based of a false sense of superiority for a stereotyped group, and hate for specific individuals for specific idiocies, then, well, good luck with that.

    @shane
    Google is your friend. You answers are out there.

  26. Eric

    hale-bopp: the CNN transcript is wrong, McCain specifically said ‘projector’ not ‘overhead projector’, I was listening for it. I don’t get he’s ‘anti-science’ from it. I think he keeps bringing it up because the reason Shane P Brody mentions a few posts up.

    Basically this election (most of them in the last 25 years) come down to capitalism vs socialism/communism regardless of the actual candidates. In that arena I’d have to pick capitalism. It’s geared toward people doing more for themselves and less on a welfare state mentality. I’m not against helping the truly needy, but I see so much abuse of the welfare / health care / social security systems I’m just sick of it. I don’t support all ‘capitalism’ ideals and I especially don’t think CEOs who ‘steal’ millions when their company goes under should get away with it.

  27. Steven C. Raine

    I can’t believe McCain said that baloneyabout the planetarium yet again!
    :-O

    Hasn’t somebody taken the old man aside and informed him of how utterly *mad* he’so sounding yet? Hasn’t someone shown him an overhead projector and a planetarium and taught him the difference? Has he ever even seen a planetarium?

    Or has thathappened but he’s already forgotten it and still keeps spewing out all the anti-science nonsense that’s bound up in that thick old head of his?

    Thanks John Armstrong for your illustration and your posts on this topic – I’ve justcome fromyour site & found them well written & worth reading.

    I really hope you don’t mind me quoting one of the lines from there but it sums everything up so well and says it better than I could so I just can’t resist quoting you here :


    “Is $3 million for science education really too much for a candidate who supports $850,000 million for bank bailouts and $1,000,000 million for the war in Iraq?”

  28. Nemo

    I donated $5… kind of a hassle, though; they make you go through the whole ordering process. They should put up a simple PayPal button for this or something.

  29. Daniel

    QD: If you think you can justify hate in any form… well, good luck with THAT.

  30. StevoR

    IVAN3MAN Said on October 16th, 2008 at 12:20 am :

    “Phil Plait, how about asking the “Hive Overmind” at Discover to provide a preview facility for people’s comments prior to submission, as is available on some other blogs/forums like JREF, or is that too much to ask? You have the luxury of being able to edit your own comments when you make an error, but for the rest of us, when we don’t our HTML tags just right, it’s FUBAR!

    Excuse me for being cranky, but it’s bloody 7:20 a.m. here in the UK and I haven’t had any sleep yet. Furthermore, I’m pissed off with McCain’s stubbornness over this planetarium business, and the realization that that crazy cow, Sarah Palin, could become President and plunge the World into a nuclear war just because the visiting Russian President at the White House left the bloody lavatory seat up!

    I’m off now to get some sleep. Goodnight, Phil, or should I say, Good morning?”

    Seconded by me.

    Well not the time bit – it’s 5.30 pm ish here inAdelaide, SouthOz but the rest – spot on.

    I saw the debate & heard McCain’s comments and I still can’t get over just how stupid he is -and more how stupid he thinks Americans are to fall for such humbug!

    Somebody should make the old man write out 100 or 1000 time sor until he finally gets it :

    Planetaria are NOT foolishness.
    Planetaria are far better value than futile wars. & even
    Soldiers are NOT teachers! ;-)

    What’s his problem with planetaria anyway? Has he ever been to a planetarium? Adler should get him to come see what they are – & show him an overhead projector as well so he can tell the difference! ;-) (Nice illustration again, John Armstrong THX! :-) (BTW. any relation to Neil? ;-) ) For as long as McCain’s fading mind allows anyhow.

    Or was that done already and has McCain’s early onset dementia robbed him of his knowledge of what a planetarium actually is and does? I really can’t think of too many other explanations for this bizaree antipathy to them. Unless he failed navigation by the stars and that was why he got captured or something ..?

    Memo to the Republican party : You might want to try somebody sane for your next nomineee you know…

  31. Nice to see some people still not understand what McCain meant by bringing up the Zeiss planetarium projector. It is one thing to attack him for not being up-to-date on the Adler’s funding situation, but to continue to say he is anti-science for disagreeing with using earmarks as a funding source, as opposed to go through a congressional committee, donations, or through a grant from the NSF, for example, meh.

    For the record, not all Republicans (or those voting for McCain) are ignorant “hicktards” who think Creationism should be taught in schools (the one major issues I disagree with Sarah Palin on), or any of the other non-sense I’ve read here. Though my two research focuses, Titan and Io, are red… But I also don’t like Mars and I like Neptune, so I don’t know…

    McCain did better in this debate, but I don’t think it will be enough to prevent the Dear Leader’s election.

  32. What R'th' Retardicans thunkin'?!

    Come even Republicna’s must be starting to wonder at thequlaityof their leaders now surely? Consider who they’ve put forward for the last few elections :

    Bush, George II aka George the mad as President qualified only by family birth and an evident half-wit. Who hears voices claiming to be “God” telling him to invade Iraq – yeah nice one that!

    Dick Cheney, who shoots his hunting companions and is the closest thing we’ve had to an evil emperor, ruling the country for Halliburton and taking it to hell for them -& for the NeoCon lobby.

    & now we’ve got

    Old man McCain with his superstitions and his anti-planetaria obsession, a man whose age should have been an instant disqualification – I mean whose taking bets on how long he’ll last in office before a stroke or heart attack or cancer or chronic incontinence forces him out?

    &

    the Alaskan Loon, Sara palin, who can’t teach her daughter about thefacts oflife and ca’t face the press because she’s toobusy reading every newspaper (yeah, sure Sara!) and following the logic of her Creationist mates on their drive off the bridge to nowhere? (You betcha!)

    Sheesh! Are these nutters the very best the Retardicans can put up on behalf of our country??

    If not why were they chosen over others whomightactuallybe, well yt’know sorta 1/2-way sane?

    If they are – well what does that say about the rest of the party & its supporters?

    (Like f’instance that racist lady at one McCain rally who shamelessly stated that she can’t trust Obama becoz “He’s an Arab” & who even McCain had to correct & the mob in the pro-McCain audiences who keep calling out for Obmaa’s beheading – coz y’know that’s no doubt what they think should happen to all “Arabs” and other uppity non-white folks. :-( )

  33. Beke

    Once again Phil you fail to see the point. True, Obama never got the money for the projector but it wasn’t because he did not TRY to get it. The bill that the projector was earmarked in simply did not ever see the light of day
    BUT THE MOST important thing you are missing is that people at Adler said they would raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for his campaign if he got them the money!!!
    On this McCain is right. This is the same old politics that we have become accustomed to!

  34. StevoR

    Uh Jason Perry your grasp of reality seems weak :

    the “Dear Leader” is North Koreas Kim Jong-il (who may by-th-by have been dead for years anyway) who is NOT actually running for USPresident.

    Although he could hardly do a much worse job than Bush or McCain-Palin… ;-)

    Is a 72-year fading war hero witha thingagainstplanetaria and an Alaskan loon on apersonal bridge to nowhere with her creationist buddies really the best the Retardicans can do?

    I mean sheesh look at their recent candidates too – George Bush the Lesser who led us into illegally invading a soverign nation that posed no real threat and had nolinkto 9-11 while letting bin Laden get away on a lie about non-existent WMDs. All because the voice in his head calling itself “God” told him too. Oh & that’s the same little “Shrubya” who has ruined everything he’s ever been given from oil companies (Arbusto) down to the ole US of A?

    Dick Cheney who mistakes his hunting companions for pheasants (or peasants maybe?) and shoots them and is about as close as we’re likely to get to an evil American Overlord, running the country for Halliburton and the Neo-Con lunatic Wrong wing?

    Really if *these* are the *best* candidates the Retardican party has then just how appalling must the rest of them be???


    (As bad as that shamelessly racist lady who stated she couldn’t trust Obama “Becuase he’s an Arab!” at one McCain rally or the members of the pro-McCain audience who’ve been calling for Obama’s beheading at rallies because no doubt that’s what they think should happen touppity “Arabs’ and non-White folk, perhaps?
    :-( )

    If the term ‘hicktards’ doesn’t sum up the Retardican party perfectly then I don’t know what does! (But it’d have to be ruder still!) :-) :-P

  35. Jose

    Nice to see some people still not understand what McCain meant by bringing up the Zeiss planetarium projector.

    And it’s nice to see people still not understanding why people would consider McCain anti-science for his statement. If McCain is against earmarks, then he should stick to saying that. Instead, he’s intentionally misrepresenting and belittling potential funding for a legitimate purpose in an attempt to make it appear frivolous.

  36. StevoR

    Considering who they’ve put forward for the last few elections – Bush, Dubya George the Second & Dick Cheney & now McCain-Palin – well come on even Republican’s must be starting to wonder at the quality of their leaders now surely?

    As I said – can’t the Republicans find any better people than those to put forward to run the world’s superpower and self-appointed “leader of the Free world?”

    If so, why are McCain-Palin & Bush-Cheney their chosen people?

    If not, well sheesh, just how bad must the rest of them be!

  37. StevoR

    Lionel L. noted :

    “Phil, you’ve got a link issue. This link (SNIP’d for moderating ease) resolves to a blank page. But this link (ditto) resolves to the correct page. Just a heads up.”

    BTW. That second link does NOT enable me to see the comments for that thread – when I click on it I just get ther error notfoundpage.

    What’s happened there & can it be fixed?

  38. Ad Hominid

    “It’s clear that this issue of a planetarium projector has irked Phil, mainly I believe, simply because he’s an astronomer and it’s personal to him.”

    Well, I’m not an astronomer but I am a Republican and an unreconstructed Goldwater conservative, and it irks me too.
    McCain’s description of this system as an “overhead projector” is just plain misleading and dishonest. It was bad enough the first time he said it, but now he has made it a minor but persistent fixture of his standard campaign line.

    Speaking of Goldwater, he wouldn’t recognize the Republican Party or a large part of what passes for “conservatism” today. Not being psychic, I can’t prove that but I worked for Goldwater way back in 1964, met him several times, and paid close attention to his career and views right to the end of his life.
    The GOP will have to do a lot of soul-searching in the years to come. Many will suggest returning to their conservative roots, but they will first have to learn what those roots really are. It didn’t start with Reagan. Indeed, I believe that Reagan’s decision to turn the nascent “religious right” into a major voting bloc was the beginning of the long decline to the disarray and ideological confusion that characterize the Republican Party today.

    On the positive side, I was glad to hear McCain mention the plan JFK and Goldwater cooked up for a series of town meeting debates in 1964. This would actually have involved a joint whistle-stop tour with both candidates on the same train and holding the debates at various stops along the way. It is sometimes forgotten today that these two were diametric adversaries politically but great friends personally. They were also both reputed to be major party animals, so this tour would probably have been a lot of fun as well. It was not to be, though, and anyone with the eyes to see can tell how far the process has deteriorated in the years since.

  39. @QD, try beating your head against a brick wall for years until you pass out from blood loss, and then not feel as frustrated as I do… Yes, it may not be constructive, but I doubt any of them here would EVER read this blog, so the ridicule is really immaterial to their senses. ;) Think of it as blowing off steam to confidants. And thanks for the correction about Flavor Aid. I’ll keep that in mind.

    As to the troops to teachers thing; there is ALREADY a program that does that. And ANY soldier about the very basic grade is regularly charged with leading and teaching the troops under their care. Even a squad leader has training responsibilities for not only teaching “dumb grunt” type of things, but courses such as Suicide Prevention, recognizing mental stress, Law of Armed Conflict, etc. The current program does offer all the required certification through the Veteran’s Administration program, and is quite good ever since the personnel overhaul the VA had about 9 years ago. Personally, I would like to see more people who have experienced more than just their home town, and whatever university they went to teaching our kids. It’s a small world, and people are people all over this planet. Only by going there do some figure that out, and hopefully they can teach just that one lesson.

  40. Quiet Desperation

    @Daniel
    Swing and a miss!

  41. Ken

    The ignorance conveyed on what is ostensibly a “science” blog site is simply astounding. Some of the comments so far could even qualify as stupid (i.e. they ought not be made when the author clearly doesn’t know the subject & has obviously made no effort to do even a few seconds of internet surfing to get conversant).

    RE First (& later) blog comment(s) aghast about putting returning soldiers into the classroom: those were references to a long-standing & well-established (perhaps over a decade, or more) government program dubbed “troops to teachers” — here’s the website: http://www.proudtoserveagain.com/

    If you’re just now getting worked up over that you’ve been out of touch with reality.

    McCain NEVER implied the Zeiss planetarium projector was funded. The ONLY way to reach that conclusion is to be ignorant of how the legislative process works…nobody with any insight would make that extrapoltion from the statements he made.

    And that thing IS an “overhead projector” — as noted previously (earlier blog entry), an unscientific workplace & neighborhood survey revealed a 100 percent correct understanding rate for those who heard “overhead projector” in conjunction with “planetarium” — most of which are non-technical by education or profession, and including some who had never set foot in a planetarium. Any adult that got confused by that remark & doesn’t get it is almost certainly someone that couldn’t care less. Or an idiot.

    Like a Stradivarius violin being called a “fiddle” — its just semantics. Get over it.
    With the informed debates & discussions throughout the web about real substantive issues, the near-mindless misinformed drivel about trivialities to which are ascribed substantive meaning from this site–a science site no less–is simply astounding. That & the recurring sensitivity to mere topical/generalized labels, and correct ones at that, illustrate a level of pettiness that is incongruent with the image DISCOVER ought to be trying to keep.

    Shame on you.

  42. I was convinced earlier that the planetarium / overhead projector gaffe was nothing more than that – a gaffe, or else plain stupidity. Unfortunately when he harped on it again today I was forced to admit that it was deliberate. Also unfortunately, I’d decided that it was so unlikely he’d go at it again that I’d decided that every time he mentioned it I’d have to chug my whole drink…

  43. jasonB

    Oh I just can’t wait till Obama “spreads the wealth around”. Planetariums for everyone!

    If money solved all of our education problems, would should have nothing but nuclear scientists (and astronomers) graduating from our schools. Walk in the average school/board of ed building and play spot the dead wood, and you’ll see were the money really goes. Bloat that bureaucracy baby!

    Hey Ivan, so glad you have no religion influencing your politics in the UK. I read that in certain cases Sharia law is allowed to be the rule of law in Great Britain. There’s a great step forward in “enlightened law”. How long till the honor killings start?

  44. Aodhhan

    First of all… the highest annual attendance was less than 400,000 people (you can bet many went more than once). Which is pretty good, it comes out to just over 1000 people per day it was open. Nice spin… millions…. but be a realist.

    I’m glad the planetarium is there. We have one here in the city I live in as well. The upgrades for it are paid through admissions and contributions. We don’t ask everyone around America to pay for it. Chicago is a large community. If the planetarium is important to them, they will pay for it themselves. If they have problems funding it, then obviously the public there does not believe it is important.

    Instead of planetariums, you should be more concerned with the amount of medium to large businesses which will move out of the country.
    Also, Obama thinking only 5% of small businesses make 250,000 dollars is rediculous. Any business employing 7 people (at a $22,000 salary) will make more than this net. It will have to just to pay for the employees salary, insurance,legal, workmans comp and other costs.

    What is really irritating is how it will allow marginal businesses (which should die) to stay afloat on the taxpayers dime.

    Say you had a small business making more than 250K and your competition is lazy poor performers who made just about 210K. The poor performers get help, while you bust tail and end up helping out the competition because your tax dollars go to them. Doesn’t look so great now, does it?

    On health care… I’m still waiting to hear just what the baseline will be. Just what will it pay for, what limits, co-pays, etc. There is no way it can be for everything without limits. Else you’ll have an over abundance of fake problems… ie the old system in the Netherlands.

    More than likely, it will be such a basic program, to have anything decent you will still have to take out a supplement. Also, if the Government does fully take over health care, what do you think it will do for the insurance business as a whole when it suddenly loses revenue from government taking over the healthcare aspect? Oh yes, other insurance rates will go up, and those who were in the health insurance business will be laid off. That is a lot of people. You’re crazy if you think the insurance companies are going to lose money. They will make up the revenue elsewhere… again, in the long run you gain nothing.

  45. Todd W.

    @StevoR

    While your sentiment is understandable and I agree with some of it, please try to keep the tone of your posts respectful, and avoid painting groups of people with such a broad brush.

    @Shane P. Brady and Jason Perry

    As already noted, Sen. Obama was not single handedly responsible for the earmark. Rather, a delegation from IL, consisting of both Democrats and Republicans, was responsible for the earmark being added. Also to clarify, Sen. McCain gives the impression that Sen. Obama was not only solely behind the earmark, but that he voted for it as well, which is false. Sen. Obama did not vote for that bill.

    On a different, but related, note, a hallmark of Sen. McCain’s campaign is that he will do away with earmarks, that he’s against them, yada yada yada. My question is, why has he voted for bills that have earmarks on them, such as the recent bailout package? Why not stick to his guns and vote against or abstain from voting on any bill that has earmarks attached?

    Just some facts and some questions to consider regarding the planetarium and earmark issues.

  46. @Larian

    No one ever said grunts are dumb. Grunts have a difficult job: to hunt and kill the smartest, meanest, most dangerous animals on the planet in the most hostile environments on the planet.

    In other words, combat soldiers are trained to kill people and blow things up. Suicide prevention, Law of Armed conflict, etc… these are things that they need to know in order to be effective at killing people and blowing things up. They are not a part of the civilian curriculum because civilians rarely need to kill people or blow things up.

    What you didn’t mention is that combat soldiers also become skilled at dehumanizing the enemy and detaching themselves from their actions and the events around them. This can lead to severe psychological problems when they return to civilian life.

    Fast tracking trained killers into a high stress environment filled with children is an incredibly stupid idea. Soldiers, especially combat soldiers, need time to readjust to civilian life. And any teacher should be certified in the subjects they teach. So a guffaw is in order for this suggestion from John McCain.

    @Quiet Desperation: I can see how you might have to settle for a slightly less opulent retirement, and I agree that this is irksome, but if your retirement plans are totally derailed by a moderate increase in taxes on income over a quarter million and capital gains over a half-million, I’m not overly sympathetic. You really should have built in a little higher margin of error when you were making your plans, and at your income level, there is a lot of margin available.

  47. Mike Dwyer

    Wow! Donating to help the planetarium was way more satisfying than donating to a political regime and way more useful too!

  48. @jeremy,

    1) whether it was funded or not is irrelevant to criticism of the earkmark process
    2) I should have said Obama and five other cohorts, but that still doesn’t change the issue of lack of debate over the funding. They don’t debate earmarks

    @Todd,

    I’m not a McCain supporter so his hypocrisy has no bearing on my points.

  49. Metre

    You know, I’m a science guy but I don’t think the federal government should be funding planetariums – funding NASA, yes; funding planetariums, no. We all talk about the need to cut federal spending so we can reduce our outrageous tax burden. Well something has to get cut when we cut spending.

    Everyone needs to stop looking to the federal government to fund local projects, no matter how beneficial. It’s best done through local fund raisers and local government. Earmarks come out of your wallet and mine, and I think Uncle Sam has hand too deep into my wallet as it is. I would prefer to keep that money and decide on my own whether to donate it to a local planetarium.

  50. B. Scott Andersen

    # JKH Says (October 15th, 2008 at 9:49 pm)
    “Perfect. That is how it SHOULD BE DONE!! Not by government… but by we who have money to donate to causes about which we care.”

    Disagree. We are in the economic fight of our lives. Investment in our nation’s infrastructure and education of our citizenry is the only way to ensure America remains a strong economic power and we who live here remain competitive in the global economy. Reducing our colleges, universities, museums, and other educational facilities to charities while other countries are ramping up their facilities is, and has been, a recipe for disaster.

    The GI Bill (The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act) is one of our best examples of this ultimately returning $6.90 for each dollar INVESTED in Americans. For all the foreign aid we give, for all the money spent rebuilding infrastructure in Japan, Germany, Iraq, and the thousand other places we’ve been, for all the billions spent on others, let’s invest at least a fraction of that on our children, on our economy, and on our future.

    – Scott

  51. James

    I actually yelled at the TV when the words “overhead projector” came out of his mouth…Then my eight year old son told me not to use those words, so I calmed down and went outside for a few minutes to listen for the explosion of Phils head coming from the West. Thankfully he didn’t watch the debate and will still be able to blog!

  52. Todd W.

    @Shane P. Brady

    The hypocrisy bit was aimed more generally at people who support Sen. McCain’s campaign stance, quite aside from the actual pros or cons of earmarks. Just some pondering points.

    I think the main thing, and what Phil is arguing, is not whether earmarks are good or bad, regardless of whether or not they were for a planetarium projector or something else, but rather how Sen. McCain has characterized it. Sen. McCain had quite a number of earmarks to choose from. He picked this one, likely because it had Sen. Obama’s name associated with it. However, rather than sticking to arguing the demerits of earmarks, he has been consistently dishonest in talking about it. He has characterized it as “frivolous”. He has called it an “overhead projector” numerous times, which puts in the average person’s mind the simple machine that’s found in classrooms. This equates to the idea of the million dollar toilet seat, i.e., excessively bloated amounts of money for something that should not cost even 1% of the sum, when the reality is that $3M is about the right amount to help fund a planetarium projector. $3M for a $100-$200 item, that’s frivolous. $3M for a multi-million dollar piece of equipment, that’s about right. Now, IIRC, he did not call the earmark process frivolous, but rather the planetarium project.

    So, again, the issue in Phil’s posts isn’t focused on whether earmarks are a good or bad thing. What he is targetting is how Sen. McCain has consistently portrayed the planetarium and the projector in a negative and anti-intellectual light. He has portrayed public science programs as being wasteful.

    I understand what he’s trying to say, but the manner he’s using to say it is totally wrong.

  53. Ken: you are simply wrong here. McCain is using his words carefully, knowing that the phrase “overhead projector” sounds like a small classroom device to most people. Otherwise, why the big deal on the cost? I don’t think anyone would be surprised that a planetarium projector is very expensive, but $3M for an overhead… it’s clear to a great many people that McCain used this phrase specifically to bring to mind things like expensive wrenches at the Pentagon and toilets for NASA.

  54. @Aodhhan: You don’t seem to grasp the difference between gross and net, or understand how businesses make money or what they pay taxes on. Salaries, cost of goods sold, furniture, rent, gas, vehicles, health insurance, any other insurance, software, hardware… businesses can deduct a lot. What they have left after deductions is what they get taxed on. So the idea that just about any business with $250,000 in payroll gets taxed on $250,000 in gross income is just false.

    Second, businesses will not close up shop and leave the country if their customers are in the country. Joe the Plumber isn’t going to go be a plumber in Uzbekistan because Obama marginally increased his tax load.

  55. Celtic_Evolution

    Ken… to add to what Phil said… McCain’s comments regarding soldiers becoming teachers was not an affront to the programs themselves, nor to the idea of helping soldiers become teachers. No… the ISSUE was with McCain’s specific phrasing: “where people, after having served in the military, can go right to teaching and not have to take these examinations which — or have the certification that some are required in some states.”

    Maybe he mis-spoke, or didn’t state this the way he intended, but on its face, this is a simply appalling thought. Do you really want your children being educated by someone, from ANY background, military, scientific, religious or other, that hasn’t gone through the same rigorous qualification and certification system that every other teacher needs to go through? If that isn’t what he meant, then McCain is certainly allowed to clarify… but short of that, the statement in and of itself is asinine and dangerous, and a bad precedent to set for an education system already falling behind much of the rest of the world.

    And the programs he referred to do not allow for circumventing of the certification requirements… they actually assist them in achieving those requirements… which is of course a noble cause. So why the immediate and direct contradiction from McCain? Maybe he just doesn’t fully understand how they work.

  56. Celtic_Evolution

    Oh… and I’m not going to get into the debate about the projector again. It’s been done to death. You either understand the reason why McCain’s position and presentation on this issue is a problem, or you don’t.

    Further debate becomes an issue of semantics, which I really am tired of doing as far as this issue is concerned.

  57. MattGS

    Well, maybe donating money instead of “forcing people at gunpoint” to pay for planetaria will calm Penn down a bit. What the heck was the deal with his outbreak on crackle.com? “All those skeptics that I used to like”? So he’s done with the skeptic movement because you’re not all extreme libertarians? That’s so Penn – for every clever and insightful thing he says, there’s another absolutely ridiculous and far out thing from him that makes him sound completely irrational. Maybe he should just visit a soothing Pink Floyd laser show once in a while, heh.

  58. Chris A.

    @Eric:
    Sorry, but your reality check has bounced. I distinctly heard McCain say “overhead,” as did CNN, the LA Times, and CBS, as they all have it in their independently generated transcripts.

    Thanks for playing, and enjoy your lovely parting gift.

  59. Katrina

    The “overhead projector” thing makes me nuts, too. My husband sees it from McCain’s side (whatever that is). He and I avoid talking politics whenever possible – makes for a much smoother, happier marriage.

    Nevertheless, Adler Planetarium has another $50 tonight. (heh)

  60. Ken

    Phil: You took the bait. This was way too easy. And way too predictable.

    1) McCain (his staff) culled the projector earmark from the legislative scrap heap. It was rejected before he picked on it. That makes its a big deal as McCain is not solely indicating this was wasteful, etc. — a whole bipartisan group did. Singling out McCain as the bad guy is simply misrepresenting the issue.

    2) Even a bigger deal was is B. Obama’s vacillation on his “support” — he co-sponsored the earmark…but didn’t vote for it!!! This is a common ploy for getting support without actually giving it. When a sponsor doesn’t provide the support where it counts, the others that vote are strongly influenced to likewise NOT support the sponsored item/person/etc. This is a very basic political ploy (in politics, interpersonal management, etc.) for getting the ‘sponsoree’s’ support without actually providing anything.

    3) Consider what you wrote: “Otherwise, why the big deal on the cost? I don’t think anyone would be surprised that a planetarium projector is very expensive, but $3M for an overhead… it’s clear to a great many people that McCain used this phrase specifically TO BRING TO MIND things like expensive wrenches at the Pentagon and toilets for NASA.”

    – Here your ignorance is showing again. The earmarks both candidates are debating apply to so-called political “pork”– where a Congressman selfishly arranges frivolous spending for his/her constituents with the aggregate benefit essentially being votes for that candidate paid for by the taxpayer. The wasteful spending indicated (wrenches, toilet seats) by the Pentagon & NASA is a compeletly different issue–those agencies wastefully spent funds authorized & appropriated for the purpose due to their own negligence, incompetence, corruption, etc. at a level way below the involvement of any Congress-person and in a manner not attributable to their benefit. Fraud, waste & abuse (FWA) by a goverment agency is a completely different issue than earmark abuse — this connection does not exist.

    4) In conjunction with ’3′ above consider your other statements: “McCain…KNOWING that the phrase…sounds like…to most people…McCain USED THIS PHRASE specifically TO BRING TO MIND things like…”

    - Two points there:

    a) like Florida’s infamous butterfly ballot which supposedly confused the voters, but which didn’t confuse the elementary school kids that were given it, my own survey shows that the average techno-illiterate understood exactly what the projector was despite the phrase used.

    b) You used some pretty bold terms (paraphrasing: ‘McCain knew’ … ‘McCain used the phrase to manipulate perceptions in others from earmarks to military & NASA program management fraud, waste & abuse’) that do not include any reference to the McCain campaign’s official intent–I bet you and/or your staff never asked, or event thought to ask McCain what their intent was (not that the response would be necessarily believed).

    Instead you put in writing terms associated with “mind reading” by attributing McCain’s knowledge and intentions. That is bad form in general as nobody can know what another’s person’s intent was. Coming from the new JREF President that’s a particularly bad habit to reinforce & example to set, much less defend.

    If you have a private heart to heart chat with your JREF boss he’ll convey how he has stuck doggedly to objective facts — and has still been sued & suffered for it. Most recently, this year, was the case involving a dowsing rod that didn’t work; the other famous story is about some foreign spoon bender & losing some involvement with another skeptical group. Being correct with ultimately unassailable facts can still get one in trouble & cost a lot.

    Presenting opinion that is obviously skewed by personal preferences & desires and interpreting the facts accordingly, rather than objectively, is a rookie mistake.

    I manipulated you into responding in terms associated with “mind reading” & I hardly tried. It was almost effortless on my part. Imagine what an experienced lawyer will do, an accomplished one funded by the millions gained from some scam JREF investigates, by seducing you into making some boneheaded remark. Again. You could put JREF in a hole so deep it will never recover before you even know you’ve dug it.

    You’ve got a tremendous lot going for you, but, unlike your JREF boss (who still gets occasionally burned despite his experience), you’ve negligible experience swimming with the sharks in the real world and that weakness is something you need to monitor closely. JREF cannot afford less. It certainly cannot afford its president making remarks suggestive of his assertions to mindreading or any of the sort of stuff he’s supposed to be skeptical about. It’s amateurish.

    So are remarks by a married guy, with child, about having a crush on someone else’s wife — its the sort of juvenile thing that presents an image inconsistent with a senior manager’s position. Its not the sort of thing one says if they want to be taken seriously. A JREF President needs to be taken seriously by a lot of diverse audiences, like it or not.

  61. Marsha

    Thanks for the link Phil. I spent many happy afternoons at the planetarium in St. Louis and was happy to donate some bucks to Adler.

  62. jasonB

    @Aodhhan

    Thanks. a beautiful sum up.

    @Seth Manapio

    Do you own a business? Or are you one of the many that think we that do, can just endlessly pour money into the government, so that people who’ve never done a days work for me are entitled to what amounts to a pay check from my business?

    Small business in this country does more “good” than any government ever can.

    Do you or any of you wanting higher taxes itemize your returns? Why, if more taxes are better?

  63. Aodhhan

    Seth…
    I absolutely grasp the concept; I also know about gross and net. If you think employee expenses are deductible, then you’re an idiot. They arent! Let me repeat… employee expenses are not deductible!! The taxable income in Mr. Obama’s plan is ALL INCOME RECEIVED THROUGH SERVICES.. in other words GROSS revenue. You don’t subtract fixed or variable expenses. Another… small businesses don’t compile net revenue in the same manner as large businesses owned by stockholders.

    Absolutly businesses will leave this country and go elsewhere, and already have. Many electrical/mechanical assembly has gone to Mexico; metal press has moved to Canada; textile, technology and fabric to the East. Don’t believe me? …ask anybody who is ‘big’ with unions. Unions are forced to accept lower salaries and conditions to compete with workers in other countries.

    The US is number two in the world when it comes to taxing businesses. Considering where our GDP and GNP is this is far too much. When you tax a business, you are indirectly taxing the worker (dont confuse this with taxing the individual citizen). Seeing as the American worker is among the best in efficiency and productivity, taxing them through business is just stupid.

    Businesses try to stay in the US where the wages and material cost are fair due to their efficiency, but its getting to the point where it is cheaper to move offshore/overseas, even when those workers arent as good; which is a fantastic indicator we are taxing businesses too much.

    Seth… as a big clue, businesses don’t have to remain in this country to sell to people in this country. So I don’t get how you think they will not leave. If you are speaking of Joe the Plumber… he is small business (my remark was to medium and large… re-read). Small businesses won’t be able to compete; they will just fail.

  64. Ken,

    I don’t think that characterizing one’s reaction to McCain’s gaffe about sending unqualified soldiers to teach in the classroom is “getting worked up.” I’m well aware of the program you linked to, and others, that take returning vets and retired executives and others and give them the training to go into the classroom and teach. But, the point is that they certify those people… they don’t, as McCain seemed to imply in his toss-away comment, bring them in from the battlefield and teach. That would be unfair to both the soldier and the students. The reaction I have is an honest one to an ill-th0ught-out zinger on McCain’s part. I’m not the only one who said “Huh?” when he said that. He, as usual, just puts these things out there and then expects the rest of us to figure out what he’s talking about. If he said baldly, “Bring soldiers in to be doctors because our health care system is screwed, and forget all about that stupid certification and training doctors have to have” would you think THAT was okay, too? Or maybe bring them in to be bankers or real estate agents without having to bother with that pesky training? I don’t think so. But, teachers make a convenient scapegoat for the failed educational policies of the past 8 years, and somehow threatening to bring in soldiers to the classroom isn’t the mental image you want of how to “fix” those policies. I understand that McCain was probably referring to that program and others, but the way he said it during a rambling and largely unfocused rant about education just didn’t sound right.

    This is not to say that ex-soldiers can’t do these things. They do, but they also understand the need for training and certification and I’ve had friends take exactly that route to better themselves once they leave the military. It’s a good program and I hope that if any of my family members who are in the military are interested, they’ll take advantage of it to bring their experience back into the communities they lived in before they chose military service.

  65. Robin

    Thanks for the link, made a donation. All I need now is for someone at Cafe Press to come out with a shirt that says “It’s not an overhead projector” with a pic of the Zeiss.

    Totally off topic: Guess what the UPS man just dropped off?
    My copy of your book!

  66. Cheyenne

    Regarding this entire planetarium funding topic at this point…..Borrrrrrrrrrring. Next?

  67. hale_bopp

    Sorry, Eric. I just watched the debate again and CNN got it right…he DID say “overheard projector” as the transcript says.

    And yes, words ARE important. They create a perception. In this case, the perception of a $600 hammer. If they aren’t important, than why didn’t he use a more accurate term? He (should) be intelligent enough to know the correct term.

  68. Aodhhan: do you own a business?

  69. Mitch Miller

    Look on the bright side, the 5 seconds he spent talking about overhead projectors was 5 seconds he didn’t talk about Joe the plumber.

  70. Todd W.

    @Ken

    Ah, semantics. The phrase “overhead projector”, in the English language, has a rather definite meaning in common usage. When someone says “overhead projector” in common conversation, they and their interlocutors generally have an understanding that they are referring to a rather simple device that consists of a lamp housing with a single lamp, a clear, flat surface on which to place transparencies, a neck with an adjustable mirror/lens housing, and the purpose of which is to project the image on the transparency onto a verticle surface, such as a screen or wall.

    When the term “overhead projector” is used, the interlocutors generally do not take as the meaning just anything that happens to fit the definition of the individual terms making up the phrase. A flashlight can project light overhead. A catapult can project a mass overhead. A movie projector projects moving images over the audience’s heads. Are these also “overhead projectors”? No. You want to argue semantics, then you need to understand what all that includes, i.e., the socially understood definition given to words and phrases. When someone sees a planetarium star projector (I’ve also heard “star machine” used in reference to one), I would venture that very few would call it an “overhead projector”, despite the fact that technically, yes, it projects stuff overhead, just like a flashlight or a catapult.

    So, when Sen. McCain uses the term “overhead projector”, we can’t say for certain, without asking him, whether or not he knows the difference between the commonly accepted definition of “overhead projector” and a planetarium projector. If he doesn’t get the difference, then he shows a lack of basic understanding that is, quite simply, an unsettling characteristic to find in a presidential candidate. If he does understand the difference, then he is purposefully using deceptive language to influence his listeners. By doing so, even if his listeners understand that a planetarium projector is different than an overhead projector, they may still be influenced into associating the cost discrepancy between a simple classroom device and the amount of the earmark, and consequently undervaluing the cost of the planetarium projector.

    In the end, Sen. McCain is using many of the same spin techniques as the Bush administration. It’s not a civil war, it’s sectarian violence. It’s not a recession, it’s an economic slowdown. It’s not torture, it’s aggressive questioning. It’s not a complex, scientific and educational device, it’s an overhead projector.

  71. Jose

    @Puppet Master Ken,
    Ha ha, you took the bait and walked right into Phil’s trap! Rookie mistake. Let’s assume that manipulation wasn’t McCain’s intent. The alternative is that he, and the people he surrounds himself with, are idiots. He’s used the same phrase at least 3 times now, and every time fact checkers have pointed out how what he said was grossly misleading. So which is it? Was Phil right about McCain’s intent? Or is McCain an idiot? I don’t think he’s an Idiot. I think he’s an unethical dirt-bag, but not an idiot.

    You really have to watch out for these traps if you’re going to comment with the sharks in the real world. Master manipulator Ken’s ego cannot afford less.

  72. Greg in Austin

    @Ken,

    What did you mean when you said,

    “I manipulated you into responding in terms associated with “mind reading” & I hardly tried. It was almost effortless on my part.”

    @Aodhhan,

    “Seeing as the American worker is among the best in efficiency and productivity, taxing them through business is just stupid.”

    I laughed out loud at this comment. While I agree that taxing businesses too much is a bad thing, Americans are NOT the best workers in efficiency and productivity. I’m sorry, but I’ve known too many fat, lazy, mostly worthless people. I personally have had a job where my own productivity was near zero for 6 months, and no one cared.

    There is a reason that sweatshops exist: They are efficient and highly productive. We used to have them here in the US, but as labor laws and wages grew, it became easier and more economical to farm that kind of labor out to other countries. First it was Japan and Taiwan, now its China and Mexico. Soon, we’ll farm out the work to some other developing country where labor is cheap, and the cycle will continue.

    8)

  73. “Thanks for the link, made a donation. All I need now is for someone at Cafe Press to come out with a shirt that says “It’s not an overhead projector” with a pic of the Zeiss.”

    I made a mug (see http://www.cafepress.com/spacewritershop) and am working on a t-shirt…

  74. Jose

    @Greg in Austin
    What did you mean when you said

    I don’t question what he meant. I just wanted to say that I was imagining a man twiddling the end of a long thin moustache as I read it. And then that man was foiled by Scooby Doo.

  75. Greg in Austin

    @Jose,

    And he would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for us meddling kids, and that dog!

    8)

  76. Tom Marking

    “Now look at this planetarium projector. Was there any debate over it? No. Was there any review to see if the money was being spent in the most effective way? No. The only reason it was funded was because Obama singlehandedly chose to add the earmark to a bill without review or debate. That’s not good government. That’s the *same* government we’ve had for years, not change.”

    Both McCain and Obama voted to add $150 billion of pork barrel spending to the original $700 billion bailout (i.e., ripoff) package. McCain needs to shut his big mouth about earmarks since he just voted for billions of dollars worth of them.

    I’m just surprised that he is even so stupid to repeat the same false claim about the $3 million earmark for Adler after it has been soundly refuted by the Adler Planetarium itself. Hello! McCain campaign – there is such a thing as RESEARCH!!! Hello!, anyone home? I could probably train a parrot to debate better than McCain. Polly wanna cracker … three million dollars … overhead projector … foolish … Polly wanna cracker.

  77. Ken– HAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Yes, you manipulated me. I am so weak-willed, gullible, and thoughtless that your superior skills have cut me to the quick.

    [I wish I had a roll-eye smiley handy]

    Sigh.

  78. Ijon Tichy

    Eric said:

    Basically this election (most of them in the last 25 years) come down to capitalism vs socialism/communism regardless of the actual candidates.

    Only someone from the USA could say this. What you have in the USA is an extreme right-wing party (the Republicans), and a less-extreme right-wing party (the Democrats). On top of that, you have a populace that has been drenched with anti-socialist and anti-government propaganda for generations. So it’s a rapacious capitalism vs a less rapacious capitalism, rather than capitalism vs socialism.

  79. Greg in Austin

    Roll-eyes should look like this:
    8-|

    8)

  80. Greg in Austin

    Well, that didn’t work.
    :(

    8|

  81. IVAN3MAN

    Phil Plait, don’t they tell you anything at “Hive Overmind”? The roll-eyes smiley function is done like this: “:” “roll” “:” and voilá :roll:

  82. IVAN3MAN
  83. IVAN3MAN, *Crickets*
    :roll:

  84. anonymous

    “Basically this election (most of them in the last 25 years) come down to capitalism vs socialism/communism regardless of the actual candidates.”

    You have got to be kidding me.. Is that a serious comment? I’m of the idiotic “free-market-at-all-cost” ideologues who for some reason don’t believe a modern democratic

    country should provide services for the people. You think universal health insurance (with capitalist hospitals, insurance companies, physicians, surgeons, clinic, etc) is

    ‘socialism’? Do you realize that every single capitalist country in the WORLD either has or is in the process of building a universal health care system. Want to know why? Because

    private health insurance without regulation just ensures that everyone who is not in the elite 1% of society can’t afford decent coverage and allows insurance companies to screw

    everyone. That is the mcCain plan. It’s worse than the status quo!

    America is not Europe. Americans don’t want a completely overbearing government that intrudes in all their affairs. I think we can all agree on that. No one is suggesting that

    average folks should get completely free medical coverage, nor should people who smoke, drink, and overeat not have to pay more for care. We don’t give citizens a large

    monthly stipend in cash for having kids. On the other hand, although there is certainly a lot of money spent on certain social programs like medicare/medicaid/social security

    much of it is wasted and many, MANY people truly in need do NOT get the help that they need. I’m not saying the current system is perfect or that it shouldn’t be overhauled and

    reformed to eliminate fraud and abuse, but we have got to start taking care of people who need assistance. Average hard-working folks deserve assistance when they are

    injured on the job and can’t work. They shouldn’t lose their homes and be forced in bankruptcy because of enormous medical bills. Homelessness shouldn’t exist in our society

    — there is not enough resources going to state mental health care. In this modern world, healthcare should be seen as a RIGHT, not a privelege only for the aristrocracy.

    The “free market” also fails in other areas. a countries transporation infrastructure is certainly one. Do any of these “free market” types refute the incredible economical gains

    seen after the building of the interstate highway system? Was that “socialism”? I think broadband network infrastructure needs to be seen in the same light. The citizens need to

    own the “last mile” to their homes. I think the vast majority of people would agree that a relatively small federal subsidy into building out a nationwide fiber optic network has

    unrivaled potential in creating future wealth and economic growth. Another issue would be renewable energy technology. Is it “socialist” for the government to invest in new

    high-tech energy infrastructure to lead our country to energy independence?? Is it socialist to have a concern for and wish to preserve our natural environment.

    I’m a somewhat young person still… I’ve only seen three presidents in office. And none of them have had the right mentality that the future of America is going to require. We need a 21st century FDR or Kennedy who has faith in the American dream and actually cares about making our country a better place for all of our citizens. Someone who values a healthy society, values the constitution, values compassion, values tolerance, and actually wakes up each morning with the desire for a better world.

  85. anonymous

    ### moderator – please delete post above in favor of this correctly formatted version###

    “Basically this election (most of them in the last 25 years) come down to capitalism vs socialism/communism regardless of the actual candidates.”

    You have got to be kidding me.. Is that a serious comment? I’m sick of the idiotic “free-market-at-all-cost” ideologues who for some reason don’t believe a modern democratic country should provide services for the people. You think universal health insurance (with capitalist hospitals, insurance companies, physicians, surgeons, clinic, etc) is ‘socialism’? Do you realize that every single capitalist country in the WORLD either has or is in the process of building a universal health care system. Want to know why? Because private health insurance without regulation just ensures that everyone who is not in the elite 1% of society can’t afford decent coverage and allows insurance companies to screw everyone. That is the mcCain plan. It’s worse than the status quo!

    America is not Europe. Americans don’t want a completely overbearing government that intrudes in all their affairs. I think we can all agree on that. No one is suggesting that average folks should get completely free medical coverage, nor should people who smoke, drink, and overeat not have to pay more for care. We don’t give citizens a large monthly stipend in cash for having kids. On the other hand, although there is certainly a lot of money spent on certain social programs like medicare/medicaid/social security much of it is wasted and many, MANY people truly in need do NOT get the help that they need. I’m not saying the current system is perfect or that it shouldn’t be overhauled and reformed to eliminate fraud and abuse, but we have got to start taking care of people who need assistance. Average hard-working folks deserve assistance when they are injured on the job and can’t work. They shouldn’t lose their homes and be forced in bankruptcy because of enormous medical bills. Homelessness shouldn’t exist in our society — there is not enough resources going to state mental health care. In this modern world, healthcare should be seen as a RIGHT, not a privelege only for the aristrocracy.

    The “free market” also fails in other areas. a countries transporation infrastructure is certainly one. Do any of these “free market” types refute the incredible economical gains seen after the building of the interstate highway system? Was that “socialism”? I think broadband network infrastructure needs to be seen in the same light. The citizens need to own the “last mile” to their homes. I think the vast majority of people would agree that a relatively small federal subsidy into building out a nationwide fiber optic network has unrivaled potential in creating future wealth and economic growth. Another issue would be renewable energy technology. Is it “socialist” for the government to invest in new high-tech energy infrastructure to lead our country to energy independence?? Is it socialist to have a concern for and wish to preserve our natural environment.

    I’m a somewhat young person still… I’ve only seen three presidents in office. And none of them have had the right mentality that the future of America is going to require. We need a 21st century FDR or Kennedy who has faith in the American dream and actually cares about making our country a better place for all of our citizens. Someone who values a healthy society, values the constitution, values compassion, values tolerance, and actually wakes up each morning with the desire for a better world.

  86. IVAN3MAN
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