Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Damn Dirty Apes

The Evolution in Schools debate continues to fascinate me. Even as a liberal Atheist, I have to admit I see wiggle room here. After all, no scientific theory is ever completely proven. So when I hear this morning that Florida (the state located under a burning Bush) is requiring teachers to present arguments against the theory of evolution, I can't whip myself into a high dudgeon. I'm contrarian by nature; I always want both sides of the argument.

The problem, I suppose, is that we have to keep religion out of the schools. Therefore, the syllabus will have to be something like this: "Scientists suggest this happened, but others say that's impossible because of this." "Who are the others?" "Ask your parents." Which is a fine sequence, come to think of it.

The people who fought to get this into the school system are clearly hoping for an endgame in which Christian creation stories are advanced; but what about Muslims? What about Buddhists? Each of these myths differ enough that they would deserve equal time, but I don't think these guys are fighting to have Islam taught in science class. In fact, I can't imagine they would let that happen without a fight. An ugly fight. Warner Todd Huston is whipped up because he fears the encroachment of Sharia Banking Laws in the lending industry. What's he gonna say about the Koran in 3rd Grade?

Why not just teach just Christian theory in public schools? Because that gives the United States an official religion. Even if you want to ignore the plentiful constitutional language forbidding that, you only have to look at Governments who DO have an official religion to see that we're better off without one. Even the Communists, who had an official absense of religion, ran into trouble. We're in Iraq right now in part to prevent a religion-based government from forming there. Granting an exception because YOUR religion is really really cool doesn't solve the problem.

As much as I hate slippery-slope arguments (they're fear-based), dragging God into science class is a luge race to oblivion.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day, Half The Country!

"It's April 22 and everybody knows today is Earth Day / Merry Christmas / Happy Birthday to whoever's being born." - Dramarama

I just want to take a moment to wish a happy day to everybody who isn't actively campaigning against environmental prudence, energy saving, and alternatives to fossil fuels which could destroy us all if they don't run out first.

Happy Earth Day to those who believe that the oil companies don't have people's best interests at heart; to those who don't think CFC bulbs are a political issue, who don't think that the majority of the worlds scientists are lying because they're liberals. Happy Earth Day to Al Gore, and to all those who don't make an issue of the fact that a guy with a bigger than average house uses more power than a guy with an average-sized house. Happy Earth Day to me, because I ride a bike to work.

Happy Earth Day to the Earth. Good luck to ya, baby.

No Happy Earth Day to the RNC Talking Points crowd, because you're trying to kill me.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Conan The Contrarian

Kudos to Arnold S*****************r *, the governer of California, for being a Republican and yet recognizing the value in easing off the fossil fuel use. He appeared on FoxNews over the weekend (HT to Crooks and Liars for the video) to explain that Republicans who deny global warming and fight green technology are missing the boat.

I think they’re just trying to protect business. And in the end, they’re hurting business. Because we’ve proven in California that you can do both, that you can protect the environment and protect business... I think people realize now, ‘wait, this does not hurt our economy, this is actually a big plus’ because we’re creating jobs through green, clean technology.

True dat, Arn. Additionally, a lot of global warming denyers somehow seem to think that only people would be troubled by climate change -- "oooooh, it's too hot here!" -- without considering that the economic effects are the real problem. It's not such a trivial thing to move a soybean farm three hundred miles north, pal. And if Allstate has to pay to replace expensive beachfront property because the ocean levels have caused seepage into that 4-car garage, then you're paying more insurance. Global warming causes inflation! Get it? That's your free-market solution.

Meanwhile businesses are the biggest user of fossil fuels, to heat their buildings and refrigerate their food and transport their goods. If we don't develop alternate energy solutions, and the price of gas keeps rising, businesses fold. Instead of being choked by regulations, they are bled by Exxon. Either way there's less competition, and prices go up. The sun has a few million years of life in it, why not tap some of that?

S*****************r * recognizes that there are incidental benefits to using energy more efficiently. He is the anti-Cheney. I'm betting the rest of the party won't pick up the message and run with it any time soon, but it's kinda like the denial of evolution and the insistance the Al-Queada was running Iraq -- it's a talking point that mainly helps Democrats because it makes the Right look a little dim-witted. So keep it up, boys, at least until November!

* I'm saving energy by not spelling it out.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Not-So-Great Debate

You know, I don't watch debates. They are not debates in any real sense of the word. They're more like sales meetings. Candidates appear and try to look like they might be good elected officials, but they seldom answer a question straight, let alone actually debate something. It's so frustrating that I've just given up, in the same way that I've given up on trying to devine the state of the union from the State Of The Union address.

From what I'm reading though, ABC managed to find a way around my objections with Wednesday's Democratic debate. Knowing they wouldn't get substantial answers about policy questions, they simply refused to go near those kinds of topics. They avoided any topic with substance apparently. Obama got hit with a lot of questions about people he knows who aren't running for President, Hillary was asked why she kept lying so much all the time. You could boil the first 40 minutes of the debate down to variations of "You're a really bad person, aren't you?"

And the answers were variations of "No I'm not, but my opponent might be."

Eventually they settled into the usual "what would you do if..." with the usual response of "I won't exactly say, but the Republican candidate eats babies."

Listen, you won't learn ANYthing from debates except that all politics sucks. Don't bother. The ultimate goal is for you to like one of the candidates more than the other, and you can get that from sound bites. I mean in the last two elections we (probably) chose the most likeable guy running and look where it got us!

If you insist on watching a staged, prescripted, disingenuous event with voting, may I suggest AMERICAN IDOL instead?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Where's MY 40 Acres and a Mule?

African Americans tend to vote Democratic, a demographic factoid which is puzzling to Lt. Colonel Frances Rice (Ret.) of the Lincoln Heritage Institute. She has published an Open Letter to the Democratic Party demanding that they apologize for their roles in the repression of African Americans over the years. Check out some of this!

Whereas the Democratic Party has never apologized for their horrific atrocities and racist practices committed against African Americans during the past two hundred years, nor for the residual impact that those atrocities and practices and current soft bigotry of low expectations are having on us today,

Whereas the Democratic Party fought to expand slavery and, after the Civil War, established Jim Crow Laws, Black Codes and other repressive legislation that were designed to disenfranchise African Americans,

Whereas the Ku Klux Klan was the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party, and their primary goal was to intimidate and terrorize African American voters, Republicans who moved South to protect African Americans and any other whites who supported them...
Yikes! And without doing any of the research myself, I expect that she's right. First of all, about asking for an apology. We can afford to apologize, because we stopped acting that way (with the possible exception of Sen. Robert Byrd) around the mid-sixties. We could admit the mistakes, point out the good works we've done since, and pry away the remaining 45 Black Republicans.

Nowadays, white Republicans are in almost utter denial that there's any racial problem in America. They're furious that we're still running affirmative action programs, they're enraged that African Americans percieve that they're still being kept down. How dare they! While we Democrats are falling over ourselves to be good to the people that America kidnapped and made to build our nation, Republicans nowadays have decided that we have done enough and it's time for those ingrates to stop whining and climb the corporate ladder. Which will be easy because nowadays, there isn't any racism.

The white Republicans were pretty good to African Americans for a hundred years or so there, from a little before Lincoln to a little before Nixon. Then it seemed to turn around. That's when they started saying, "Why is that guy getting breaks I'm not getting? Why should I have to have some kind of artificial barrier to prevent me from competing fairly, while another guy HAS to be considered because of the color of his skin?" The answer, of course, is that it's a corrective to unconcious racism, but they keep saying there isn't any such thing.

Look, I'm sorry you guys aren't getting the credit you deserve for your century of progress. Seriously. But voters can't re-elect Lincoln. I'm not black, but if I were I'd be considering what you've done for me LATELY when casting my ballot. And as a white guy who doesn't want to be surrounded by dissatisfied African Americans, I'm sticking with the Democrats, guilty and backpedaling as nobly as they can.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Learning the Lessons of the Cold War

Here's a scary thought.

I was having my usual argument about the efficacy of the war in Iraq. My opponent argued that being there somehow prevents attacks on our own soil. Even if that were true I said it's a 3 trillion dollar insurance policy against a couple million dollars damage.

But you know what? If you're a terrorist that's a great strategy! By funneling more and more of our assets into Iraq, we're devoting less to public services and infrastructure. You remember when we had fewer national guard troops and equipment for the aftermath of Katrina? That was the terrorists hitting a major American city. The weak economy? Terrorists striking a blow.

Sure it puts the terrorists all the way up into the coveted evil-genius Fu Manchu class, but they're not all stupid. In fact if they're not smart enough to see this plan themselves, they're hardly a threat. Even if we dismantle our own government without them being in on it the effect is the same.

We won the cold war without a middle missle being fired. It was enough to force the communists to spend more on missles than they could afford. Its possible that our enemies will accomplish the same spending pennies to our dollars.

Friday, April 11, 2008

They Might Be Giants Writes Exxon Slogan

I heard on the news today that the rising price of deisel gasoline is hurting students. Since the busses have to run, schools are taking the money out of books and pencils and teachers salaries.

Exxon - "We Don't Want the World; We Just Want Your Half."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

My, That George Bush Fellah is Evil

So this morning Bush announced that he was going to both withdraw the surge by summer AND reduce the time soldiers are out in the field back to 12 months, both on the advice of the commanders in... I dunno, sub-chief? He also announced that he will hold the line on any further withdrawals until Petreus and company can evaluate the situation caused by the first set of withdrawals.

Interestingly, NPR's hourly newscast is emphasizing the last point, that Bush is refusing to consider further withdrawls at present. Could be liberal bias, could be that they consider that the real news since we knew he was going to say the other stuff.

Bush also whined about the next emergency war funding bill, saying that unless Congress met his conditions for it he would veto it. I think that when Bush whines about stuff, he really believes it. It's when he's not whining that he's lying. The whining is his way of saying, "you idiots! Why are you fighting me on this? I'm right!" I gotta admire a man who so doesn't accept compromise that he's willing to underfund his own war in order to get his way. There's your rejection of nuance!

By the way, how is this an emergency? Were they planning on the war being over when they did the regular budget?

I think Bush made a good point about the need to keep troops in until we have defeated the terrorists. If we withdraw, they will be emboldened. But if we don't and we don't "defeat" them, they will also be emboldened. And the terrorist aren't likely to throw in the towel any time soon, because they're terrorists.

And how did poor Iraq get in this situation, with us taking over their country to lure terrorists away from our own soil and thus fight them there? Isn't that the worst possible foreign relations move? I'm deliberately ignoring the point in the narrative where we claimed to be invading Iraq because they were harboring the 9/11 attackers. Because they stopped saying that for a long time and only recently started saying it again.

It was amusing to hear the President say that 15 months ago we were on the defensive... I don't recollect that kind of assessment coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania 15 months ago. As I recall, victory was just around the corner back then. Well, the corner must be pretty damn vast.


Almost forgot my most important point! Why is Bush willing to draw down the troops? That's not like him!

Well, maybe even he recognizes that if he doesn't want to be the one to start up the draft again, he's going to need to get his Iran invasion force from somewhere. He's got till the end of the year to crank up THAT machine, and from the speech I'm guessing it's going to be sooner rather than later. Maybe that's the emergency which will postpone elections. Still too early to tell. I'm keeping some money on a bird flu epidemic.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Quit Whining About Liberal Media Bias!

I'll steal some numbers from Glen Greenwald, because they speak for themselves.

In the past two weeks, the following events transpired. A Department of Justice memo, authored by John Yoo, was released which authorized torture and presidential lawbreaking. It was revealed that the Bush administration declared the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights to be inapplicable to "domestic military operations" within the U.S. The U.S. Attorney General appears to have fabricated a key event leading to the 9/11 attacks and made patently false statements about surveillance laws and related lawsuits. Barack Obama went bowling in Pennsylvania and had a low score.
Here are the number of times, according to NEXIS, that various topics have been mentioned in the media over the past thirty days:"Yoo and torture" - 102
"Mukasey and 9/11" -- 73
"Yoo and Fourth Amendment" -- 16
"Obama and bowling" -- 1,043
"Obama and Wright" -- More than 3,000 (too many to be counted)
"Obama and patriotism" - 1,607
"Clinton and Lewinsky" -- 1,079

I'm begging, BEGGING, Warner Todd Huston to explain how this proves the media has a liberal bias. I know you can do it, Warner!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

My Life As A Trendspotter

When I wrote that thing about the right wing's weird support of any issue that helps the oil companies, even I didn't see this coming

"the story will center around all our favorite Muppets producing a show to raise money to save their old theater. They need the money, of course, because an 'evil character' is trying to buy the building so that he might tear it down to "get at the oil underneath." Why is it we have to turn everything into an anti-capitalism, anti-oil hatefest?"

Warner also helpfully supplies addresses, so you can write to Jim Henson co and, I guess, demand that the Muppets let the capitalist drill. What he's failing to understand is that, as sponges-rubber based puppets, the Muppets would inevitably absorb oil spills. And have you ever tried to clean oil out of a sponge? They'd never be the same again.

By the way, if you think I'm anti-capitalist, here's the deal with stories of this kind: The Muppets are raising money to RETAIN PROPERTY THEY ALREADY HAVE. The oil company is trying to take advantage of a perceived weakness. To support the oil company in this story is to support the practice of big Oil stealing the property of hard-working Americans for their own profits. Of course, legitimately they could be fighting eviction by OSHA because that theatre is in pretty bad shape. I bet those stairs are unsafe.