Posted tagged ‘Huckabee’

Where Mike Huckabee Needs To Go

December 15, 2012

Mike Huckabee has never been what you might call my favorite person.  But it’s always depressing to see folks with influence plumb new depths.  By now, I’m sure you’ve heard he had to say about the Sandy Hook School shootings:

“We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools,” Huckabee said on Fox News.”Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?”

In other words:  Twenty-eight deaths, including the murder of twenty kids, was the fault not of the shooter, nor of a gun lobby that portrays military weapons as household tools.  Rather, said Huckabee, it was your fault and mine for having failed to appease his angry god by public worship in school.

Saying so is to implicate not just America at large in the crime.  It also adds up to a claim that those involved in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in particular were complicit in this massacre, for the banishment of one deity or another occured in that particular school too.  Lost a kid?  Too bad.  Shoulda prayed harder; shoulda held up a cross; shoulda, coulda, sorry old chum.

I can’t begin to write the rage and disgust I feel for that sanctimonious shit.  (Whether the word “shit” in that sentence applies to the man or the thought I’ll leave it to the reader to decide.) I want to say that it seems to me that there is a special place in hell Mike Huckabee.

37.262

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can say that any more eloquently  than a howl and a “with a rusty pitchfork too!” kind of remark.  Fortunately, there are others who could and did describe exactly the appropriate fate for Mr. Huckabee — from one of whom, with your permission, I will now borrow.

Here’s one possibility that would satisfy my sense of justice:

The sides were crusted over with a mould/Plastered upon them by foul mists that rise,/And both with eyes and nose a contest hold./The bottom is so deep, in vain our eyes/Searched it till further up the bridge we went,/To where the arch o’erhangs what under lies./Ascended there, our eyes we downward bent,/And I saw people in such ordure drowned,/A very cesspool ’twas of excrement./And while I from above am searching round,/One with a head so filth-smeared I picked out,/I knew not if ’twas lay, or tonsure-crowned./‘Why then so eager,’ asked he with a shout, ‘To stare at me of all the filthy crew?’/And I to him: ‘Because I scarce can doubt/That formerly thee dry of hair I knew…

But perhaps that’s not miserable enough.  How’s this?

Then we descended from the bridge’s head,/Where with the eighth bank is its junction wrought/And full beneath me was the Bolgia spread,/And I perceived that hideously ’twas fraught/With serpents; and such monstrous forms they bore,/Even now my blood is curdled at the thought./Henceforth let sandy Libya boast no more!/Though she breed hydra, snake that crawls or flies,/Twy-headed, or fine-speckled, no such store/Of plagues, nor near so cruel, she supplies,/ Though joined to all the land of Ethiop,/And that which by the Red Sea waters lies./’Midst this fell throng and dismal, without hope/A naked people ran, aghast with fear—/No covert for them and no heliotrope/Their hands were bound by serpents at their rear,/Which in their reins for head and tail did get/A holding-place: in front they knotted were./And lo! to one who on our side was set/A serpent darted forward, him to bite/At where the neck is by the shoulders met./Nor O nor I did any ever write/More quickly than he kindled, burst in flame,/And crumbled all to ashes./And when quite He on the earth a wasted heap became/He on the earth a wasted heap became,/The ashes of themselves together rolled,/Resuming suddenly their former frame.

(Dante, Inferno, Canto XVIII, lines 106-121 and Canto XXIV, lines 79-106)

The translation’s a little old-fashioned, I know — but that’s what Gutenberg.org had on hand.

In any event, if I were a believer, I’d be hoping that Dante’s description of the torments of the damned is spot on.  And if it were then I would suggest to Mike Huckabee that he be afraid.  Very, very afraid.

Image: Pieter Huys, The Last Judgement, between 1555 and c. 1560

The Passive Voice is the Tell: Mike Huckabee is a gutless sophist dept.

November 30, 2009

Update: A day late, but still:  Huckabee takes responsibility — and defends his decision to commute Maurice Clemmons’ sentence to make him eligible for parole.  His defense is coherent, morally consistent, and — incidentally — one which I find persuasive.  (That TomLevensonSealOfApproval™  is not worth very much:  the question of whether or not this was a sound decision at the time turns on more finely grained detail than Huckabee’s statement provides.  But within the context of this statement, Huckabee’s reasoning makes sense, morally and practically).

I stand by my rhetorical scorn for the first queasy remarks Huckabee’s campaign released in his name, as detailed below.  But credit where credit is due:  Huckabee confronted the issue directly, accepted executive responsibility, and presented a strong defense of his judgment.

_________________

I was just going over some student writing this morning when I came across a passage in Mike Huckabee’s attempt to dodge his own Willie Horton moment in the tragedy of the murder of four police officers in the state of Washington.

On question of commuting the suspect’s prison sentence, not a seraph or an angel of the Lord, but that righteous Presidential aspirant Mike Huckabee wrote:

He was recommended for and received a commutation of his original sentence from 1990…

Aha!  I said.  I know this game.

Just before I read that line, I had been hitting the red comment button a lot on one particular, quite promising student story, in which the writer had not completely shaken the MIT-inculcated rhythms of professional scientific communication.  In a section on the development of what a certain class of drugs could offer patients suffering from a particular mental illness here that writer defaulted again and again to the passive: “it was believed,” or “it was found,” or “it is known…” .

I pointed out to my student that writers use this kind of rhetorical gambit when they want to assert  authority without responsibility.  No actual person “believed” that a given drug would or wouldn’t work, but by FSM it is known — fer shure — that it does (or doesn’t).

Such writing is a standard trope in formal scientific communication, which makes the claim that whatever human process lies behind any result, the finding must speak for itself.  And in that context, such a rhetorical claim has value — and costs.  Certainly, MIT undergraduates get taught to see outcomes of scientific inquiry in this manner, and it takes some effort — a lot — to remember how to express the active, individual, present commitments needed to drive the work they do and mostly love.

But when it comes to “values-for-thee-but-not-for-me” Huckabee, there is no excuse.  It’s all about the duck-and-weave.

The suspect, Maurice Clemons, then serving a 95 year sentence of aggravated robbery, “was” recommended for mercy and that mercy, commutation of his sentence was received.  No one in particular seems to have had anything to do with this, at least in Mike Huckabee’s universe, (though not in that inhabited by Arkansas law enforcement at the time).

Huckabee screwed up.  Why he did, and whether he did it alone or with help are yet to be determined.  There is a lot in Clemons’ history to suggest that the former Arkansas governor was not alone in allowing this terribly violent man to slip through the cracks.  I do not for a minute wish to suggest that Huckabee acted in the expectation that tragedy would result from his decision.

But if you want to test the character of a person, see how they react in the wake of consequential failure.  Do they step up, own their error, explain their reasoning, and express their remorse.

Or do you find that according to them, their homework was eaten by some dog.

That is:   one crucial qualification for a job in which you have the lives of others daily in your hands is the character with which you face the consequences of choosing wrong.   In this moment of tragedy — or rather in his reaction to it — we have come the measure of Mike  Huckabee.

Image:  Jeff Crites for the U.S. Army, “I didn’t do it,” 2009.

Updates on the 100 mpg car front

July 28, 2008

Way, way back when there was a Republican fight for the nomination, Mike Huckabee made a little splash by calling for a one billion dollar prize to encourage the production of a generally available care capable of 100 mpg.

I ridiculed Mike here and here. Mostly because (a) the billion bucks was such a wildly disproportionate reward, given the X-prize being offered for the same basic goal seemed to think that ten million would do the trick, and, at least as important, at least one production vehicle on the verge of release, the Tesla roadster, could already lay claim to the milestone. (Latest news — as of a couple of weeks ago, 12 production vehicles had been completed, with the assembly line cranking away at a blistering four vehicles a week.)

But the what I want to highlight here is the power of 4 buck a gallon gas to concentrate the mass market manufacturer’s mind.

Most immediately, it looks like the GM Volt is real as of 2010 — though at a higher price than originally proposed, 40K instead of around 30K. It will have an MPG equivalent of 150 mpg running on its electric motor, which will drop if the range-extending gasoline engine gets called into use. GM also has a Saturn Vue plug-in SUV project in the works. Toyota is working on its plug in response, with a current, very short range claim of 99.9 mpg.

But what caught my eye today was this report from the Green Car Congress, showcasing the British Motor Show’s latest offerings of cool to cute electric, energy efficient cars.

The headliner? The four-seconds-to-60/10 minutes to recharge Lightning GT. 300 large, I’m afraid, so this is another pure fantasy. But taken all in all, and never forgetting the 350 mpg personal transportation available in the form of this electric scooter, it looks like the use of market mechanisms to control green house gas emissions is, pace the McCain campaign’s whispered walk-back on the issue, is working just as the econ 1 textbooks tell you it should.

Image:  Lightning GT, Lightning Car Company photo.

Election frivolity: Mancrush edition

February 5, 2008

More from my new favorite folly, mancrush.com

Barack Obama scores well: coming in at 11th 5th place as the man other men would most want to be — only one behind science’s top contender, Charles Darwin (sliding rising since I first posted on this meaningful topic.)

Hilary Clinton is, for obvious reasons, not a contender in this particular contest, though both Bill and George make the list:

As for the regard in which the Republican contenders are held? At least in this venue, not so much. Neither McCain nor Romney make the list at all (which has, after all, 1644 entries). Huckabee does score — but only at number 996.

Don’t blame me. I’m just your humble reporter.

PS: More wierdness. Adolph Hitler is on the list, at 1643. That’s pretty near dead last, but not quite. Who’s less crush-able, by whatever “standards” this site employs?

John Brown. John Brown! Wild eyed, hard charging, violent anti-slavery revolutionary. (Deplorable methods, perhaps– but he was at least on the good guys’ side, in case you were checking). Below Hitler? To quote the funniest movie of the last decade, Galaxy Quest: “Ohh! That’s not right.”

(at about 5:50 into the clip.)

Update:  A couple of links added, at which point I discovered that in the post election glow, Barack Obama rose from 11 to 5, still trailing Charles Darwin, also on a tear, by one.   That puts Darwin behind just Ernest Hemingway, JC, and Tom Brady as the fourth most admired/envied man in history.  The other big news — Jesus has slipped!  Ernest Hemingway now ranks first in the minds (sic) of men.  Who knew?

Update: More on Huckabee’s 100 mpg car (he wishes).

January 25, 2008

In this post I ridiculed Mike Huckabee’s pulled-out-of-some-orifice energy independence “plan” — the one where he proposed a one billion dollar prize (that’s right — a billion with a “b”) for someone who could come up with a 100 mile per gallon car.

Now, this idea is fatuous on many levels, anathema, I think from both right and left perspectives. Mostly it is a loser because it misses the point: energy indpendence depends on much more than increased efficiency in a use that accounts for something under one quarter of all energy use in the country. Getting there wouldn’t hurt — to the contrary — but it wouldn’t solve the problem, or even come close. (For many reasons — supply issues, oil being a resource that will begin to decline and has already been doing so for a long time from domestic sources; demand issues, given that a couple of billion folks in Asia want more of the stuff and so on; and more demand issues, given the fact that efficiency allows more people into the game, thus reducing the impact of gains on overall consumption; and so on.)

For more on energy use by sector, browse through the tables here for some interesting/depressing reading. Two things do stand out. Huckabee is right this far fuel efficiency is a problem, however feckless his solution might be. Efficiency totals for the American fleet of cars topped 20 mpg in 1990. As of 2005, total fleet efficiency had reached only 22.9. And second the SUV plague is a national security issue: over those same years, SUV efficiency went from 16.1 mpg in 1990 to a high of 17.6 mpg in 2001, and then back down to 16.2 mpg by 2003, where it has stayed. That’s a drop of about 9 % in just two years. All those Hummers and Porsche Cayennes take their toll, I guess. Given that SUVs and light trucks account for over half of domestic car/truck sales that’s just bad news. All numbers from the link above: the Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Review for 2006.

All that said, the bottom line is that if you want to increase the efficiency of US ground transportation the fastest way is through regulation: increased CAFE standards, applied to all light transport, with no distinction made between cars and light trucks. That’s something everyone knows, and no one –especially amongst the GOP orthodoxy — wants to admit.

But this post is not about the “I don’t wanna” idiocies of US energy/transportation policy. It’s about 100 mpg cars. The reason Huckabee’s offhand comment in a debate was not just stupid, but silly was that, of course, the technology to produce 100mpg cars does not need some Manhattan Project to generate breakthroughs to a brave new energy future. It’s already here, and, as I pointed out in my original post — there is one production >100 mpg sports car, the Tesla Roadster, about to be delivered to customers.

In that earlier post I noted that the 2008 model year is sold out. Since then, Tesla Motors has opened the waiting list for 2009 — so if $5,000 (against a base price of $98,000) is burning a hole in your pocket, go for it.

But I must say that I was perhaps too triumphalist in my crowing over Huckabee’s so-yesterday grasp of the technological possible. Tesla Motors has just deeply disappointed me. As the Wired’s Autopia blog reported yesterday, the high performance engine, capable of propelling the two-seater from 0-60 in 4.0 seconds, overwhelmed two different transmission designs. So when the car actually ships in March (promises, promises) it will come with a temporary fix, a beast of a transmission that can handle all the power generated, but that cuts acceleration to a mere 5.7 seconds for the 0-60 run. A newly designed transmission to restore the promised performance is promised for later model run cars (and as a retrofit to the tortoises off the line first).

All together now: awwww.

Now, its true that cars that cost less than $30,000 — the Nissan 350 ZX and the Ford Mustang GT for two — could smoke the transmission hobbled Tesla on the flat. But loathe as I am to agree with Gregg Easterbrook on anything, he’s right in the item in this column that ridicules the need for speed that is safe (and legal) only on the track.

Meanwhile Mike Huckabee’s naive paean to salvation by the technological deus ex machina (two dead languages in the same sentence — I’m cooking now) is simply a distraction from the real business of using policy incentives to change energy behavior. The big problem is not going to go away in the flash of a speeding Tesla, however delicious its technology may be.

And if you think that this was all an excuse to put up another couple of pictures of the car…you’re right.

(And if you think that I, c. 50 y. 0. want to live my second childhood in one, you’re right again.)

Images: Lesser Ury: “Paris, Sonnenaufgang,” 1928. Source: Wikipedia Commons.

Tesla Roadster, taken Sept. 27, 2006, licensed under Creative CommonsAttribution ShareAlike 2.0. Source: Wikipedia Commons.


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