Biology in Politics

In biology, specifically in the study of proteins, there exists the term optical isomer, which means that two organic compounds can exist which are identical in every respect, yet are mirror images of each other. To paraphrase my textbook:

The existence of optical isomers is an important issue in biology. Because the structures of each optical isomer of a molecule are different, they have different functions. In cells, only the left-handed forms of amino acids exist. If the right-handed form of an amino acid is introduced into cells experimentally, it does not function normally.

Now bear with me as I relate this idea to our current political situation.

Among all of the parts of Barrack Obama’s life, certain facts are indisputable:

  • He was an active member of Jeremiah Wright’s church.
  • One of his patrons is Bill Ayers, the former Weather Underground leader, who made this speech in Caracas, Venezuela in 2006. Read it, but note this paragraph:
    Let those of us who are gathered here today read this poem as “The Teacher’s Obligation.” We, too, must move in and out of windows, we, too, must build a project of radical imagination and fundamental change. Venezuela is poised to offer the world a new model of education– a humanizing and revolutionary model whose twin missions are enlightenment and liberation. This World Education Forum provides us a unique opportunity to develop and share the lessons and challenges of this profound educational project that is the Bolivarian Revolution.

    Viva Mission Sucre!
    Viva Presidente Chavez!
    Viva La Revolucion Bolivariana!
    Hasta La Victoria Siempre!

  • He has a long-standing affiliation with, and represented legally while in private practice, ACORN, an organization that has been charged with voter fraud on multiple occasions in multiple states. As well, ACORN stood to be a major beneficiary in the initial version of the Bailout Bill, thanks to Chris Dodd.

Let’s call Obama the left-handed optical isomer. He exists, and by all accounts is on his way to victory in November.

Now imagine his mirror image. Such a person might have his life and career comprised of these facts:

Let’s call this imagined candidate the right-handed isomer.

Of course, such a candidate does not exist, neither in biological terms nor in political terms. Yet, it is fair to say that Barrack’s associations and relationships are of the same degree but of a different orientation. He is, in reality, further removed from the prime meridian of politics than his opponent. Yes, he is charming, suave, and glib. His opponent is a crusty curmudgeon, who can barely bring himself to shake Obama’s hand. Maybe this letter provides a clue to the reluctance. But the fact is that Obama, as defined by his choices in life, is a candidate whose very leftward tilt should be of great concern to all voters come November, 2008.


10 thoughts on “Biology in Politics

  1. Dan

    I don’t really dispute anything you wrote here. I simply ask, with no flippancy: What’s so wrong with coming at things from a leftward tilt?

    American politics has always been a pendulum, and it’s time for a swing back from the right. And frankly, having lived overseas and poked around a bit, I suspect Obama doesn’t look so radical to those folks in the People’s Republic of Canada.

    The only thing I’m sorry to see here is the Ayers reference. It’s a weak inference and just the best the McCain folks can find at the moment.

    I think President Obama will do a better job than his predecessor and I sincerely hope that in four years we’ll be debating him in terms of effectiveness instead of his alleged radicalness.

    Because if Obama is radical, then I’m a Bolshevik. Which I don’t think I am, by the way. 😉

  2. Agricola

    If you can bring yourself to do it, read Stanly Kurtz’s article on the Ayers connection. It’s real, and they are friends, and they have had, over the years, a symbiotic relationship. The only concern should be why Obama wants to conceal it. As to what’s wrong with a leftward tilt, you know, I confess there probably isn’t much wrong, provided the seizure of the levers of power doesn’t act to prevent the swinging of the pendulum to the right, as it should naturally. People are getting so nasty, and so dismissive of other perspectives, that I really worry about the health of a two-party system.

  3. pcm

    Great stuff. Let me added a little about taxes: Obama’s tax plan as of a few weeks ago included a increase in capitol gains tax to 30% which will result in less tax revenues. Folks feel cheated by these high rates and will simply not take as many capitol gains. Obama says this isn’t true so maybe he has a plan to force people to take profits? OR..he continues to be misguided by his friends on the far left.

  4. Daniel

    A bit of personal history: I was raised on a rural commune by Christian counter-culture utopians.

    Consequently, I knew all manner of radicals as a child — from actual Freedom Riders to back-to-the-land hippies to veterans of various anti-war groups. My parents carried me on a march with MLK; my father was a United Church of Christ preacher at an all-black church on the south side of Chicago during the Civil Rights Movement; at age 5 or 6 I got tear-gassed at the Tallahassee airport during a tarmac rally for Richard Nixon. And so on.

    I knew about the SDS/Weatherman in the 1970s, and its entirely possible that I might have met people who were at least remotely connected to the groups. I knew the FBI was certainly curious about them (

    But here’s the perspective from inside: The most militant of the white, college-educated 60s radicals were, for the most part, just kids playing dress-up. Yes, they believed what they believed sincerely, but they were in way over their heads. Most of those who survived the experience grew up and moved on and became boring, wonkish, banal people. Some of them even became conservatives.

    Ayers was more serious than most, more militant than most. He blew things up (badly). He was more of a threat to his comrades than to “The Establishment.” He went underground. He and his wife gave themselves up. They were tried and sentenced and released to get a second chance at an American life. You may not think they deserve that chance. Our system of laws said otherwise.

    Ayers went on to become some kind of expert in education and apparently was active in local Democratic politics in Chicago. He became a law-abiding citizen. That board he served on with Obama was related to a grant from the Annenberg Foundation, which is not exactly a fringe group.

    The Obamas prefer to talk about their relationship with Ayers in terms of that board because it’s easier to dismiss without further discussion. They don’t want to talk about the fact that Ayers held a meet-the-candidate coffee for Barack’s first campaign because that’s easier to construe in open-ended, hostile terms.

    People on the right, particularly those who wish to believe ill of Obama, believe this is because Obama is hiding something sinister. I believe the truth is more mundane: They lived in the same neighborhood. They had common interests in some grass roots projects. Ayers supported Obama, and as a fledgling candidate, Obama was glad to have supporters.

    Now, how many words has it taken for me to create the context for this answer in this comment so far? Too many. Far too many for a simplistic soundbite. Which is all the McCain campaign wants from this: A vague allegation from which to suggest a string of suppositions and innuendos.

    McCain/Palin ask “What do we really know about Barack Obama?” Well, one thing we know is that he had these contacts with Ayers. He’s acknowledged them. He has said he doesn’t approve of Ayers’ actions back when Obama was in elementary school. The fact that he’s not volunteering information about Ayers isn’t quite the same thing as hiding him.

    I suspect the reason Obama has avoided long, detailed conversations about Ayers during this campaign is the same reason I don’t introduce myself to strangers by saying “Hi, I’m Dan Conover, and when I was 19 I drove from Boone, NC, to New York City with two African-American drug dealers in a stolen car.” Which is narrowly true, by the way, but the full truth is a long, boring story that has little to do with drugs and nothing to do with drug dealing.

    If I were running for something and you were inclined not to like me, you could say “DAN CONOVER ASSOCIATED WITH CONVICTED DRUG DEALERS. THERE WAS A RELATIONSHIP THERE. HE’S HIDING IT. WHAT ELSE DON’T WE KNOW ABOUT DAN CONOVER?”

    The truth is that Obama has answered those questions about Ayers. You’re not satisfied with the answer and you don’t like Ayers. Fair enough. I don’t like McCain’s association with John Hagee, or W.’s association with the House of Saud, and it’s OK to draw some inferences.

    But in the final analysis, this isn’t just saying “Obama has a vague connection to one guy who I dislike.” The question we all have to ask ourselves is, does the evidence suggest something both significant and sinister about whatever contacts took place between Obama and this former radical years and years ago?

    I don’t. Not even close. And I think you’re sophisticated enough to understand that this is nothing more than a political manipulation by a candidate who is trailing in the polls.

  5. Agricola

    Xark: First, as usual, I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Secondly, I appreciate your calling on my sophistication to appreciate the correctness of your view, which is much preferable to being called a member of the McCain-Palin lynch mob that met in Florida, in which a member of the crowd may have said some slightly untasteful things about “The One”…a situation which is not entirely unheard of when a significant number of the collective known as the far-left gather in support of their leader.

    But my point in making the connection between Ayers and Obama is not to slime Obama with the guilt associated with an “unrepentant terrorist”, but to charge that Ayers and Obama are of the same milieu, and I find that milieu disturbing. I linked to Ayers’ speech in Caracas to clarify Ayers’ political philosophy, which is extreme and would, I think, be rejected by a good percentage of democrats, if they knew about it.

    By any metric, Obama is the most leftward tilted persidential candidate of the last 50 years (of the major parties). The people that mentored his rise in politics come from that milieu, with the added “benefit” of having learned the Chicago style of machine politics. It is perfectly natural for the right to squeal, loudly, at the prospect of his election. Just as those on the left have feared the police state, federally sponsored criminality, and the supremacy of the executive branch, the right now senses the appliance of those principles in the near future, with itself in the crosshairs.

    Barack has a great organization, masterful campaign strategies, and more money than God. He is a gifted orator (when he has the telprompter), and he says the right things to the voters. But he hasn’t told the truth about his political lineage. The democrats have been so hungry for power for so long that they have sold their souls in return for their occupation of the White House.

  6. Dan

    Well, I don’t think your conclusion is correct, but I’ve got absolutely no way to disprove it. Sure hope I’m right on this one, because it looks like Obama’s our next president, and we need the next one to be successful.


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