Monday, September 19, 2016

DNA and Genealogy

We've been doing some genealogical research using dna tests recently. It has helped us find the family from which one of my great-great grandfathers came from. We still don't know the actual person who was his father, but we know his father's ancestors.

It's fascinating that the imprint of father to son continues on so clearly in the y chromosome so that test is pretty determinative.

One site, familytreedna gives you a visual presentation of how your chromosomes match up to other relatives. Below are three visualizations of the chromosome match between 1) both parents and a child, 2) both grandparents and a grandchild, and 3) a second cousin.

both parents chromosome match with a child (the gray areas not compared)

both grandparents (one one side) match with grandchild (gray areas not compared)
2nd cousin chromosome match (gray areas not compared)

Crazy Voter Morals

Clintons at Trump wedding
It's okay for a former businessman to lie, change his political position on a whim, say offensive things about people because . . . he's new to politics.

As though a businessman naturally has lower moral and civil standards than professional politicians who scrape the barrel on both.

One would have thought normal people, including businessmen, had higher standards than politicians. But no, apparently they have lower standards and are to be given a pass for having lower standards.

It's okay for a total political being to lie, change her political position on a whim, say offensive things about people because . . . she isn't the former businessman who donated big bucks to her political campaigns and charitable foundation.

Giuliani, Trump, Clinton
As though backing people and being "friends" with them is something you turn on and off from one day to the next depending on what your goal is any given day.

No wonder the country is in such a mess if average people treat their friends (and customers) like that and teach their kids to do the same. Though, to be truthful, the business people I do business with are far better people than the presidential candidates of the two major parties.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Evangelicals Choosing Between Baal and Asherah

A few evangelical leaders believe that choosing the lesser of two evils still means choosing evil. People like Drs. Russell Moore, Albert Mohler and Max Lucado still plunk for biblical values. My take is it's like trying to choose between worshiping Baal or Asherah instead of saying both are wrong. But, many evangelical leaders are weighing the negatives of Hillary and Trump and deciding based on whose scale goes a little less low than the other's.

Then there's the pie-in-the-sky hope that Trump recently became a Christian though he has said nothing about it publicly nor shown any understanding of how repentance and forgiveness play into Christianity. Which, of course, isn't Trump's problem. It's the problem of evangelical leaders who support him and supposedly do know about the importance of repentance, forgiveness and publicly standing for Jesus. But those leaders shy away from speaking of the questionable Christian orthodoxy of a man like Donald Trump because it is politically difficult.

As Steve Deace notes in the interview below, Trump is losing or tied in states where key evangelical ministries are headquartered. It's a crisis for evangelical leaders. Their political clout is tied to their fidelity to the Christian faith. But, like King Saul in I Samuel 13, these leaders think they must ignore "social issues" in 2016 because the nation's fate is in the balance*. That's why abortion and selling fetal parts is not a big point for them. It's not a matter for possible prosecution, but at most merely for cutting off public money. It's also why Dr. Robert Jeffress chimes in with Trump that Planned Parenthood, which kills about 300,000 babies each year, does a lot of wonderful things.** That's a position, pre-Trump, that no evangelical would have avowed. But, because Trump said it, these evangelical leaders have to back it and say that 300,000 abortions yearly and brutal killing methods to allow selling of fetal parts don't fundamentally taint the organization.

Conservatism has the same problem. A host of "conservative" commentators and politicians tout Trump as a conservative despite his call for more spending and increased national debt, the individual mandate requiring everyone to purchase medical insurance, Trump's lack of understanding of constitutional checks and balances, and his admiration for the strong man approach to governing. William F. Buckley, Jr., saw the problem sixteen years ago.*** But too many "conservative" commentators have no idea about the essence of modern American conservatism.

As Josh Painter tweets: "Not just "evangelical" but also "conservative" has no meaning thanks to @realDonaldTrump."

*"Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. offered a controversial endorsement of Trump in late January. 'All the social issues—traditional family values, abortion—are moot if ISIS blows up some of our cities or if the borders aren’t fortified,' he told The New York Times. 'Rank-and-file evangelicals are smarter than many of the leaders. They are trying to save the country and maybe vote on social issues next time.'"

**"When I asked about Trump saying abortion giant Planned Parenthood does 'wonderful things' for women apart from its abortion practices, Jeffress said: 'He’s right. There are some positive things Planned Parenthood does for women. But he’s been very clear as long as they continue to do abortions he would defund them.'"

***"What about the aspirant who has a private vision to offer to the public and has the means, personal or contrived, to finance a campaign? In some cases, the vision isn’t merely a program to be adopted. It is a program that includes the visionary’s serving as President. Look for the narcissist. The most obvious target in today’s lineup is, of course, Donald Trump. When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized by its reflection. If Donald Trump were shaped a little differently, he would compete for Miss America. But whatever the depths of self-enchantment, the demagogue has to say something. So what does Trump say? That he is a successful businessman and that that is what America needs in the Oval Office. There is some plausibility in this, though not much. The greatest deeds of American Presidents — midwifing the new republic; freeing the slaves; harnessing the energies and vision needed to win the Cold War — had little to do with a bottom line."

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Abortion Leading Cause of Death for American Hispanics and Blacks

American Hispanics and Blacks (called Non Hispanic* Black--NHB) lose more of their population to abortion than to other cause. In a study recently published on causes of death in 2009, abortion counted for 16.4% of deaths among Whites (called Non Hispanic* Whites--NHW), The percentage was quadrupled for Blacks and Hispanics. Of deaths among Blacks, 61.1% were due to abortion; for Hispanics 64% of their deaths were due to abortion.

In  the U.S. in 2009, there were 6,369,000 pregnancies among women of all racial and ethnic origins. Hispanics, NHB and NHW together accounted for 93.2% of all pregnancies. Abortions terminated 11.9% of NHW pregnancies, 17.1% of Hispanic pregnancies, and 35.5% of NHB pregnancies. The ratio of live births to a single abortion for each group was: 5.8 for NHW; 3.9 for Hispanics; and 1.4 for NHB.

For all racial and ethnic origins, there were 3,589,163 deaths (Figure 1). Abortions accounted for only 16.4% of NHW deaths, but 61.1% and 64.0% of NHB and Hispanic deaths respectively. For NHW, diseases of the heart (20.8%) and malignant neoplasms (19.6%) each account for a higher percentage of deaths than do abortions. For Hispanics and NH Blacks, deaths from abortions are 4.2 and 3.5 times, respectively, the number of deaths from diseases of the heart and malignant neoplasms combined. Homicide was ranked in the top ten causes of death for Hispanics and NHB, but abortion deaths were 79.3 and 57.5 times, respectively, the number of homicides. Suicide was ranked in the top ten causes for NHW, but abortion deaths were 12.4 times the number of suicides.
The authors of the study note that though abortion is the leading cause of death for Hispanics and Blacks there is neither "availability of consistently reported valid data" nor "allocation of sufficient resources for research" to track this information. They conclude that this is an example of science denial of the impact of abortions on deaths.
The exclusion of abortion as a cause of death, in spite of conclusive science to contrary, and the relative paucity of information and funded research on a topic of demonstrated consequence to the demographic composition of the society, may be the ultimate example of science denial. An abortion death is deemed necessary and performed by other humans in a purposeful and completely legal process. In these respects an abortion is similar to capital punishment and subject to the same clash of varying religious, political and ideological values. The appropriate role of science is to inform this societal dialogue with objective information. Labeling abortion as a preventable death is not an argument for restricting access to a legal abortion. However, refusing to acknowledge abortion as a death undermines the role of science and the value of transparency so fundamental to a free society.
*Interesting that scientific measurements are done in terms of being Hispanic or not.

H/T IJR and Sarah Palin

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Trump Exposes Trump

Cruz in his minor role looks pretty good. Trump looks bad, but his off screen voters and the supporter at the end look pretty bad too.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Trump Being Elected Will Not Result in Conservative Supreme Court Justices

Trump being elected will not result in conservative Supreme Court justices.

Point 1: Supreme Court nominees have to be confirmed by a majority vote of the U.S. Senate. (Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution) But, under current Senate rules, Supreme Court nominations can be stopped by a filibuster supported by 41 senators.

Point 2: Republicans currently hold a majority of 54 senate seats. Democrats have 44, and there are 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats.

Point 3: Republicans have to defend 24 senate seats; Democrats only 10. Of 10 senate seats in danger of flipping, 8 are Republican. Chances of getting to 60 to prevent a filibuster are infinitesimal.

Point 4: Trump doesn't much care if Republican senators get elected. Neither Trump nor Pence are backing John McCain of Arizona or Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire (in their primaries), and Trump has been critical of both. Further, Trump isn't campaigning or raising funds for Republican senatorial candidates.

Point 5: Trump's persona and campaign style of personal attacks have made electing any Republican hard.

Point 6: Trump has flipped on so many issues, the odds of staying with his conservative justices promise are low.

Even if he wins the presidency and keeps that one promise, there's no way Democrats will confirm any conservative court nominee. The Democrats have shown they know how to play political hard ball both with a majority (Obamacare) and a minority (budget votes they don't approve of). And they will have the mainstream media backing them almost unopposed since Fox has damaged itself in the eyes of many conservatives and Republicans with its pro-Trump rationalizations.

The best hope is that Trump will be able to confirm "centrist" (read: liberal light) justices. Hillary will also have the same chance because Democrats will not have 60 votes to prevent a filibuster in the Senate. But, since Republicans don't vote their conscience but vote for political utility she will probably be able to get liberal moderates through.

So, your choice will be liberal light at best and probably liberal moderate. Is it worth the shame and danger of backing a vile, unstable candidate like Donald Trump?

Note: Post has been updated to reflect filibuster numbers. Two-thirds vote of Senate is only required on treaties.