Mindless ignorance

Ten days left until the U.S. presidential election. And, almost every day, I have a reason to get all bent out of shape by the news reports. Today my outrage is directed at something that Gov. Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, said yesterday during a speech about special education. Simply put, she mocked fruit fly research. Did that turn my toenails purple? You betcha!


Here is a summary of that…something. She declared that the money that should be funding IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and special needs programs instead goes to, and I quote, projects having little or nothing to do with the public good — things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not! (You can watch the video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCXqKEs68Xk*)


Okay, let’s set aside the minor (!) detail that Sen. McCain has voted against fully funding IDEA, or any other special education program, for that matter. And we can also close our eyes to the fact that Gov. Palin herself has hardly been a champion for special needs kids and their families (See: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/07/us/politics/07needs.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=us).  


But claiming that fruit fly research has little or nothing to do with the public good? Fruit fly research is no joke, Gov. Palin. Let’s take a look at it.


Fruit flies are fruitfully used in cancer, cancer prevention and Alzheimer’s research, as well as in countless other fields (nerve injury research, stem cell research…almost-everything research). Just go to “Science Daily” and do a quick search for “fruit flies.” You will be amazed at how useful these tiny bothersome critters are. To science. Serious science.


Okay, but let’s keep our focus on special needs children, since that was the point, I s’pose, of Gov. Palin’s speech.


Fact 1: fruit fly research carried out in 2007 at the University of North Carolina may lead to advances in understanding autism spectrum disorders, as recently, human neurexins have been identified as a genetic risk factor for autism. See: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070905123832.htm


Fact 2: Dartmouth researchers have determined that the fruit fly Drosophila can be used for further study about why more mistakes occur during cell division as eggs become older. In humans, such errors can give rise to Down syndrome, a genetic disorder where people have one extra chromosome. See: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030505084219.htm  


Now, Gov. Palin’s stunningly thoughtless remarks probably referred to a $ 742,764 earmark obtained by California Rep. Mike Thompson for olive fruit fly research. Part of that grant, $ 211,509, is going to be spent in Paris, France. This realization does not appease me, for the following reasons.


Fact 3: a. the olive fruit fly has become a huge threat to California’s multi-million dollar olive crop; b. countries like France have been studying and developing ways of using parasites instead of toxic chemicals to control this devastating phenomenon, and c. hence, doesn’t it make sense that the research be carried out at a USDA (=U.S. Department of Agriculture) research facility that just happens to be located in France? Eh.


Fact 4: the “French” fruit fly grant money almost adds up to the sum that the Republican National Convention has recently spent on clothes and makeup for Gov. Palin and her family. Nope, I kid you not. 


*P.S. Tinyurls aren’t working today. I apologize for these endless links. I will change them to shorter ones asap.


  1. Yes Margaret, and who knows, one day the fruit fly research might help to discover a way to produce a Republican candidate who will be both eloquent and intelligent :-). Wasn’t it Johnson who said Gerald Ford was, “so dumb he couldn’t fart and chew gum at the same time?” Things don’t change then do they?

  2. He was an honest guy, and one of my personal favorites (Ford). He is the only president who took the time to personally write to me. I was a student at the time, and was interested in politics. I wrote to every sitting US President when I was a kid. I suppose just to say hello. I have no idea what I wrote to them about! When I was younger, it was more about how handsome or nice the guy was. 🙂

    As for Johnson, he was a champion of civil rights, carrying on where the Kennedy brothers left off. He was not at all popular. I was at a Peter Paul & Mary concert (folk music icons of the 60s), when someone came out on stage to announce that he would not be seeking another term. I never again saw a couple thousand hippies cheer so vehemently. Actually, I never saw a couple thousand hippies all in one place again after that.

    What was I trying to say? Be nice to Gerry Ford. He was a good guy. Johnson wasn’t in a position to judge anyone’s intelligence.

  3. Gov. Palin is almost NEVER allowed to speak without a well-rehearsed script. I think the whole Republican party holds its collective breath every time she opens her mouth. I’d call it the Dan Quayle Syndrome: “Shut up and smile, honey.”

    But her support of Special Ed – that kind of fickleness is evident in both parties, unfortunately. They are against something until it affects them personally. Then, suddenly, it IS vitally important, and a public issue, and deserves attention and funding.

    P.S. I’m with you on Gerry Ford. He heads my list of Least Hated Republicans. (And I like Betty. And I like his kids – and the fact that their parents never tried to muzzle them.)

  4. Hello Beth, Nancy, Margaret,

    I’ve re-read Gerald Ford’s biography and I can agree with you that he was probably a nice guy. However, my point is that the nice guys don’t necessarily make the best Presidents. Jimmy Carter is another good example.
    When you are voting, I recommend that you think very carefully about the qualities the new President must have to get the US out of the mess it’s in. He needs to be intelligent and decisive with good judgement and leadership skills. Hopefully he will be honest and upright too.
    Getting back to Gerry Ford, I’ve read that he also presided over a recession and that he struggled with economic policy. The incoming President will have the mother of all economic problems, in addition to trying to cope with the result of GB2’s failed international policies.
    This is not a job for a dummy, nice guy or not.
    I might be prepared to grant that Senator McCain is a nice guy and an honourable man but he’s not the man for the top job. Let’s hope the American public realise that. This time it’s critical.


    PS Did you really mean that Johnson and the Kennedys were unpopular for championing civil rights Beth?

  5. Hi Paul,

    It was the war that made Johnson unpopular. I know he was hated by the KKK and other groups for his civil rights accomplishments. Such a terrible shame.

    Now we have people in the US saying they won’t vote for Obama because they don’t want a black man telling them what to do. I’m serious! It’s been reported on the news!

    In our county, the Obama headquarters reports that 400 campaign signs have been taken out of the ground by unknown persons. A drive around town reveals a conspicuous absence of signs for democratic party candidates. As though stealing the signs will make people forget Obama is running for President.

  6. I am very sad to see how this wonderful website has turned political. This site has been a God-send to some of us who need info. We are all in this together, trying to find out to heal from this disease…why bring up things that divide us. We need all the positivity we can get. It.boosts your immune system to be happy and hopeful. Why try to divide us in this process…..

  7. Hi Nicki,
    In a way you are right and I’m sure that Margaret will want to get right back on track just as soon as the election is over.
    But you can’t seperate illness and healthcare from politics. Just think how much could have been achieved in healthcare if money had not been wasted on military expenditure and wars.
    The cancers we are suffering from are a reflection of a cancer in society.
    In my opininon, current US policies are very devisive and who better to heal those divisions that someone who has a white Christian mother and a black Muslim father. The fact that he is also very intelligent with good leadership skills is a bonus.
    What we need is a safer World and a healthier World.
    Good luck and best wishes,

  8. I’m know I’m opening myself up to the wrath of Paul…but I just can’t resist saying this! It’s too bad Paul can’t run for president since he seems to have all the answers!

    PS-Another Winston Churchill favorite of mine, “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”

    This is my last comment, I promise! : )

  9. Hi Donna,
    No, I don’t have all the answers but I’m confident in my judgement of people.
    I’m not sure who your Churchill comment is aimed at this time either. It might be another spectacular own goal! 🙂

  10. Dear Ones,

    Let us all vow to prayer for and/or send best wishes to who will be elected into the oval office this next week. We must all work together…educate each other…and educate the ones in office…We need each other!!!

    Best to you all.

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