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Two Sagas: State Senator Roy Ashburn's Gay Tripper Story, and a Blue-Eyed Surfer Boy Finds His Family's Out of Africa

I'm sure you remember hearing about Sen. Roy Ashburn; the Republican state legislator from Bakersfield was arrested for DUI after reportedly spending an evening at a gay club in Sacramento, and then confirmed he is gay.

He’ll be here on Wednesday to talk about how all of this has changed his thinking, and his voting toward policy matters like ‘’don’t ask, don’t tell.’’ He’s been on the program several times in the past on other political topics, and it’ll be good to have him back to hear about the before-and-after of his political life.

And talk about a yarn across centuries and continents. Joe Mozingo is the blue-eyed surfer dude, the writer for the Los Angeles Times [whose desk is one over from mine at the newspaper] who discovered a secret about his family. ‘’Mozingo’’ isn’t, as his parents used to theorize, an Italian name – it is, in fact, black African. A couple of centuries after the arrival of the original American Mozingo, a black man named Edward, there were white Mozingos in the Ku Klux Klan. Joe’s quest for his family is an engrossing American tale, and he’ll tell it here.

If I didn’t drink any coffee this weekend, it’s because I didn’t need caffeine to get me going – I was already riled up from reading ‘’Merchants of Doubt, How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming,’’ by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway.

It’s the story of how a group of scientists of more than a half-century ago first began snipping and trimming the science to suit their anti-Communist views, and now, all this time later, a huge industry of anti-expertise is paid for and profits by putting doubts in the public’s mind about science that is solid, from the dangers of tobacco and acid rain to global warming.

[The authors point out that the same volume of facts that is overwhelmingly sufficient to convict in a criminal court is still considered inadequate by scientifically unschooled Americans who seem to expect unanimity among scientists – and even then think that ‘’common sense’’ trumps data.]

This manipulation plays into many Americans' attitudes: a natural inclination to fair play and hearing ‘’the other side,’’ even when the other side is an empty suit, as well as our simultaneous reverence for science and our chip-on-the-shoulder attitude toward expertise. The result is paralysis; policymakers and politicians can always say something ‘’needs more study,’’ and postpone taking any action.

As the authors write, this is exactly what the manipulators want – nothing. They’re about serving ‘’free market fundamentalism,’’ and fighting off any government regulation, even if it means people are dying because nothing’s being done.

It really got under my skin, and yours too, judging from your phone calls – keep the attitude coming and comment on the Patt Morrison page, and while you’re at, vote with your bucks. After all, we’re a dollar democracy: every dollar is a vote for something, whether it’s junk food or organic, a Prius or a Hummer, so vote with your support for the radio you know you love!