Sunday, November 7, 2010

It's not cheap or easy.... being green

Many pundits have compared 1994's political climate to this year's: A new, young Democrat in the Whitehouse, poor economic conditions leading to a major shift in control of congress during mid-term elections, little hope in sight for improvement at that point.  What we now know is that the internet and computer industries exploded causing a boom that resulted in a record 25,000,000 jobs being created under President Clinton. (And before you say anything yes, Al Gore, as the sponsor of the bill that funded the commercialization of the Internet, really did have a lot to do with that.  Bullshit media memes and misquotes be damned.)

The situation we face now really is similar.  And, just like in 1994 there's a technology boom coming.  This time, though, it's green tech: alternative energy, conservation, efficiency improvements, solar, wind, electric cars, insulation, geothermal, batteries, cogeneration and a lot more. The Chinese and Indian governments see this green wave coming and they're pouring billions of [INSERT CURRENCY HERE] into it because they know it's the economic driver of at least the next decade if not the next century.  We're not. We're falling behind.  FAST.

Whether or not you believe that humans are responsible for global warming or even if you doubt global warming entirely green tech is still a sure thing.  Natural resources are limited so reducing consumption preserves them for everyone. Reducing pollution saves lives and saves money.  Much of our current energy comes from countries that, even if they don't hate us, certainly aren't our best friends and don't share our beliefs in things like religious freedom, gender equality, human rights, etc.  There's no good reason *not* to change.  None. Sure, some business will make less profit but overall it will be a massive boost to our economy if we commit.

But we're not doing much about it. Ok, to there are a few research programs and a bunch of new start-up companies but it's nothing like the early 90's where every other garage had a high-tech company growing out of it. And this time we're not the ones driving the train.  Hell, we're barely holding on to the railing of the caboose.  Like the research that led to the Internet this kind of R&D requires a government seed.  Certainly it needs to balance the massive subsidies and give-aways to our existing energy industry to truly level the playing field. Or we could repeal those subsidies.

I'll wait while you finish the hysterics......

Over the next 10-20 years our energy sources will at least start to shift from fossil fuels to renewables and other cleaner technology.  If we don't act we'll just shift our dollars from the middle east to Asia, leaving us in a similar hole to the one we're in now.  Saudi Arabia and China have a lot more in common with each other than they do with us.  Clearly it would be better to keep that money here and, in fact, to attract it from the rest of the planet as happened with the dotcom explosion.  But it takes investment, commitment and vision.  Do we have it as a country?  Do our leaders have it?

I wish that were an absurd question.  Sadly it's not.

Monday, September 6, 2010

This is who we are now?

I was in a pharmacy this afternoon in suburban New Jersey (don't judge - I was visiting good friends and they're worth it) when I had a sobering and sad realization with a very nice employee there. 

The pharmacist who helped me had an unusual name so, after some pleasant conversation and as I am wont to do, I politely asked her the origin.  She quickly replied "My family is from Iraq, but I was born here and I'm a Christian".  I was taken aback and somewhat embarrassed that she felt the need to go into so much detail for such a simple question but after half a second I completely understood:  Anyone with a Muslim sounding name or Arabic appearance  immediately feels like they're on the defensive whenever they are asked about their race, religion or nationality.  I explained to her that people's names and family origins are two of my favorite things to discuss, greatly relieving her angst, but after what happened to the NYC cabbie two weeks ago I can't blame her for the initial reaction.

So is this what the United States has become?  People who were BORN HERE and are just as American as any President we've ever had are immediately defensive whenever their background is discussed?  Folks, that's repulsive. Yes, some lunatics wearing the cloak of Islam killed 3000 of our fellow citizens, but this woman didn't.  The 1billion other Muslims world-wide didn't.  Why should she feel so defensive in the country where she was born and raised?

All I'm saying is THINK before you label people.  You don't know them and the odds are that your label is wrong, making your assumptions hurtful and making you a jackass.  An absurd jackass.

PS: Yes, I suggested she not take a trip to Arizona any time soon.  She laughed and said "I know."  It's a sad state of affairs.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

An overlooked victim of 9/11

I've been wanting to say something about the Islamic Community Center being proposed in lower Manhattan just a few miles from where I sit right now and while much has been said about it I don't think it's been said quite this way.  Read on and let me know what you think in the comments.

Let's begin with some clarity: The "Ground Zero Mosque" isn't.  First, it is not at ground zero.  It's 2 blocks away from the closest corner, which is a long way by Manhattan standards and it's not even visible from the site.  And it's not a mosque.  Yes, there's a small prayer space inside but there are small chapels in airports and on military bases.  Are those churches? There are often small prayer areas in Jewish Community Centers.  Are those synagogues?  Of course not.  A true mosque does not permit entry to non-Muslims.  The Islamic Community Center, including the prayer area, will be open to all.  By any reasonable definition it is NOT a mosque and if you continue to call it that you're either misinformed, confused or you're lying and fear-mongering.

So with that out of the way:

The first amendment guarantees Muslims the same religious freedom as Christians, Jews, Hindus, Atheists, Buddhists, Mormons and anyone else who lives in the United States.  Of course this includes the right to build a cultural center anywhere they meet the zoning regulations, even two blocks from the WTC site.

Now, if it were Al Queda trying to erect a building near the site where they murdered 3000+ souls I would be marching in the street with just everyone else in North America.  But it's NOT Al Queda.  It's the OPPOSITE of Al Queda.  The Imam who is heading up the project was lauded by none other than George W Bush for his moderation and Presidents Bush and Obama have both sponsored his trips to Muslim countries to try to bridge the gap between the cultures.  This is exactly the kind of ally the United States needs against the radical monsters who so badly pervert their religion that they can excuse and even applaud the killing of innocents.

The murders of the 9/11 attacks are no more Muslims than the Klan are Christian.  Or the Nazis were.  Or the Aryan Brotherhood are.  All of them killed Blacks, Jews, Gays, and more in the name of Jesus Christ.  And let's not forget all of the bloodbaths that the Church itself perpetrated like the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, among others.  Then there are crazies like Scott Roeder, who killed abortion provider George Tiller in his own church and Eric Rudolph who bombed an abortion clinic, and all of their allies who have maimed and killed for Christ.  Can we paint all Christians with the blood from their hands?

Of course not.  Which brings me to one of the biggest and least-mentioned victims of 9/11: Islam itself.  There are over 1.5 billion Muslims world-wide and all but a tiny shred of a percentage of them are peace-loving and just want to provide for their families, especially those who live in Western countries like the USA.  Sure there are a few hundred monsters who have twisted it beyond recognition but how is that different from the monsters who've perverted Christianity for the same purpose: to kill or convert all who are different?

"Oh, but the Koran calls for killing infidels" some cry.  Have you actually read the old or new Testaments?  The first few chapters have one brother killing another and not long after there's the drowning of most of the world, followed by a father almost killing his son, husbands sleeping with their servants, enslavement of an entire people, calls for stoning and so forth.  It's not rated-G, to say the least, and it's no less brutal than the Koran.  Reasonable people ignore unreasonable passages in their holy books.

Through no fault of their own those 1.5 billion innocent Muslims and the very religion itself have been smeared and persecuted based on the actions of a few maniacs.  Is that fair? No.  Is that right? Hell no.

How many of them have lost their homes, their property, their loved ones to that persecution?  How many Americans have been beaten or killed for being Muslim or even just because someone thought they were were Muslim?  Islam has been dragged through the mud because a few hundred psychopaths have wrapped themselves in its name.  

If the 9/11 hijackers had come from Sweden and called themselves Lutherans would we have attacked Finland?  Would we have invaded Iraq if it were a Christian country? 

The best way to combat their disgusting hatred is to welcome and embrace the reasonable.

Anything less amounts to abandoning the fundamental ideals and freedoms of the Constitution and the very foundation on which this country was built.  It's doing the terrorists' work for them.

And that would be totally absurd.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Work Ethics

If your business had an open, entry-level position and you wanted to hire someone you'd likely conduct interviews, right?  What if a somewhat reasonable-looking candidate told you that once he got the job he wouldn't do the tasks you give him and that he'd spend all day harassing the other employees who were just trying to do their work.  Would you hire this guy?

Of course not.  Because you value hard work and dedication.

Then why are so many voters so enamored of the GOP?  Many of their candidates for the House and Senate have promised to sit on their hands if they win and do nothing more than conduct investigations of the Obama administration in an attempt to smoke out some scandal, any scandal that will play in an endless loop on Fox Vuze Channel.

Do these people lack all business sense?  They claim to be the party of business big and small yet they nominate  these ridiculous candidates and then proceed to elect some of them! Or are they just so wrapped up in partisanship that their sense of irony and grasp on reality are gone?  Not that these two options are mutually exclusive, of course.

Do yourself a favor if you have any GOP friends who might vote for these buffoons.  Present the scenario I outlined above and see that they say. If they won't hire a do-nothing to make their french fries why would they elect a do-nothing to make their laws?

The GOP: Proving that fact really is more absurd than fiction.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

IslamoJudeoChristian values

Undoubtedly you've heard the term "Judeo-Christian values".  It's trumpeted by the right wing as the basis for, well, everything.  While they're yelling about Jewish and Christian history they're conveniently forgetting that Islam is Christianity's fraternal twin.  Both are offshoots of Judaism, both have their own book that adds to the Old Testament; both offer salvation through a once-human savior who is expected to return any day now, both admit to worshiping the same god, etc. 

The three religions are actually stunningly close to one another if you look at them deeply.  Of course that hasn't stopped untold millions from killing each other over those slight differences and more that they've invented out of thin air.  Islam, as written in the Koran is no less peaceful than Christianity straight out of the New Testament.  And you can no more paint Muslims with the Al Queda brush than you can say all Christians are members of the Klan.  The fringe (or worse) do not define the group.  Now, it is up to the core to repudiate the radicals and, admittedly, Islam hasn't done as good a job of that as they could lately, but then again it took the Pope until 1964 to admit that the Jews didn't kill Jesus, so their track record is spotty at best.

So the next time you hear someone ranting about Judeo-Christian values remind them the proper term is "IslamoJudeoChristian". 

Then stand back or you're likely to be spatted with gray matter.

That's my job: showing you how to take absurdity into your own hands.

You're welcome.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A basketball game you'd never want to see

You're a basketball fan, right?  Well, even if you're not you probably enjoy watching the Harlem Globetrotters beat up on the Washington Generals.  Imagine you went to a game and saw this happen:

The Globetrotters are up by their usual 40 points around half-time at which point the Generals coach begs them not to score any more points, in fact, he asks them to remove all of the points they've scored so far this game.  Even worse he whines that point scoring confuses other teams so they should agree that neither side will score any further points the rest of the season. The Globetrotters would absolutely leap at the opportunity, right?

Of course they wouldn't. 

But they would in John Boehner's world. 

Back in reality what makes him think that the Democrats are going to stop producing regulations especially while he's whining about wanting to repeal everything they've done over the last 18 months anyway?  Has he forgotten that his party got trounced in 2006 and 2008 and they went from control of both Congress and the Whitehouse to control of neither?  He has no legislative power, no moral authority, no mandate. Yet he's out there demanding things that are laughable, at best.  The economic and environmental disasters over the last few years have been directly as a result of the GOP's push for deregulation and lax enforcement of the laws that were left.  We have to return to sanity, though I guess it makes sense that the Republicans have no concept of sanity.  Just look at their so-called leadership. 

Maybe all of the spray tanning has gone to Boehner's brain. 

I could be nuts but I think if he wants to have any influence on policy he needs to stop stamping around like a spoiled toddler and start participating in government the way it was intended to be done.  Opposition is vital and frequently constructive.  Obstruction is neither. 

Let's just hope that we, the American people see the difference in November and, once again, show these clowns that we're not falling for their hi-jinks any longer.

We're not laughing with you, John.  We're definitely laughing at you.

Because you're absurd.

As Roger Ebert Requests, so shall I do:

This evening Roger Ebert posted a link to a bunch of misspelled Tea Party signs and wondered what would happen if those signs were put through the "I Write Like" comparison engine that attempts to match your writing style with that of a famous author.  So I got inspired and typed in each one of them.  Here's what came out:

A couple of notes and observations first:
1) Some of the signs didn't have enough text to make a match
2) I did my best with spelling, punctuation and capitalization and what I have pasted here is what went into
3) There seems to be a small number of possible matches, though it's also possible that due to the similarity of the signs and their authors' poor English skills that the selection of writers is self-limiting.
4) I'll let the Tea partiers, their signs and message speak for themselves.

And with no further ado or comment here they are:

1) Socilism: not my cup of tea
        [too short]

2a) If you can read this sign your smarter than nancy pelosi
        Charles Dickens

2b) If you can read this sign you're smarter than nancy pelosi
        Charles Dickens

3) say no to socilsm
        [too short]

4) patriotic resisance
        [too short]

5) i am a arrogant american unlike our president i am proud of my country our freedom our military our
generosity no apology from me
        Kurt Vonnegut

6) wealth redistribtion = red communism
        Kurt Vonnegut

7) feedom doesn't come free
        [too short]

8) bank of barock = us going baroke
        Harry Harrison

9) I did'nt serve 22 years for socialism
        Kurt Vonnegut

10a) you cannot multiply wealth by deviding it
        Oscar Wilde

10b) don't spread my wealth spread my work ethic
        Margaret Atwood

11) control our boarder stop illegals
        Margaret Atwood

12) not a extremist just extremey over-taxed!!! no amnesty
        H. P Lovecraft

13) don't mortage my childs future
        J. D. Salinger

14a) Congress shred your taxing scholiast policies not my constitutional freedoms!
        Dan Brown

14b) My Name is HOPE not the congress taxing hope so stop using my name for you
        Charles Dickens

15) This is America and our only lanaguage is English
        H. P. Lovecraft

        James Joyce

17) thank you fox news for keeping us infromed
        Margaret Atwood

18) just say no to big ear's big goverment after 4 or 8 years of change=!!! All we can hope for is
another Bush to clean up the mess
        Daniel Defoe

19) don't give away my daugters' future

        [too short - bummer]

21) amensty
        [too short]

22) English is our language no excetions learn it
        H. P. Lovecraft

23) STOP waisting my hard earned TAX MONEY
        Harry Harrison

24) obama has a crisis of competnce
        P. G. Wodehouse

25) OBAMA My forefathers were christian yours were from kenya that explains a lot about you
        Kurt Vonnegut

26) one hugh mistake america
        [too short]

27)  you'r a fake we know it al sharpton acorn, rev wright, jesse jackson, americas poison
        James Joyce

28) Lets keep the Tea Dump The Polititions
        Margaret Atwood

29) THE US of A constution lives we arew awake now!!
        Bram Stoker

        [too short]

31) Impeah Obama Socialism is NOT the answer!!
        George Orwell

32) Make English Americ's Offical Language
        Dan Brown

33) ObamaCare best name for lobbyest payoffs EVER
        James Joyce

34) Remember Descent The HIGHEST FORM of PATRIOTIC
        H. P. Lovecraft

        Charles Dickens

36) Honk If I Baught You A Flatscreen
        William Gibson

        James Joyce

        James Joyce

        Mary Shelley

40) Preserve the SACTITY OF MARRIAGE
        Mary Shelley

        [too short]

42) 1930's Gemany all over again
        [too short]

43) were not slaves
        [too short]

        [too short]

        [too short]

        David Foster Wallace

47) Making Me Pay for Other People's Homes and CREDIT CARD bills: Rediculous
Responsibility: Priceless
        Chuck Palahniuk

48) Taxed Enoungh Already!
        [too short]

49) So... Hows that whole "hopey-changey" thinkg working out for ya?
        J. D. Salinger

50) I Am Joe The Plummer
        [too short]

        Margaret Atwood

52) No Hussien Obama
        [too short]

53) Birth Certifict where Obama
        [too short]

        [too short]

55) Stop Taking From Hard Wroking People
        Chuck Palahniuk

56) HELP MOM! a megalomaniacal narcissist and a band of rogue congressmen dressed as pirates just broke in to my PIGGY BANK!!  there there Honey, go back to sleep
        Stephen King

57) I'm a veteran and proud of it. If that makes me a right wing extremest then I'm proud of that also
        Mark Twain

58) if your not outraged your not paying attention
        Jane Austen

59) Don't Take My Rights. I'm Still Useing Them!
        Ernest Hemingway

60) Washington let's make a deal. Uphold our constitution and we'll let you keep your job.
        Charles Dickens

61) Repeel COngress
        [too short]

62) You work for me! Your fired!
        [ too short]

63) Recession: When your neighbor loses his job!
Depression: When you loose your job!
Recovery: When Obama losses his job!
        David Foster Wallace

64) Standing Together Against Tyrany
        Chuck Palahniuk

        David Foster Wallace

66) Carpenters against new tax's
        [too short]

67) Take Back Amercia Nov-2-2010
        [too short]

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Giving credit where credit is necessary

Hopefully I'm not about to describe you, but for a moment pretend I am. 

Let's say you lost your job a year ago and despite scrimping, cutting coupons, dropping HBO and the Playboy channel you've long-ago burned through your savings paying for the basic necessities like rent, food, gas, insurance, car.  You're now using your credit cards to simply keep yourself and your family alive. 

Fortunately you've just been offered a menial job that won't even pay the bills, but may start you on the road to getting back on your feet.  With some hard work, training and a bit of luck you could advance and within a year start rebuilding that nest egg.

Quiz time.  (Don't worry - this is easy if you have more than four brain cells to rub together)

Should you:
A) Immediately cut up your credit cards and never use them again
B) Keep on as before
C) Buy some decent, but not extravagant new work clothes to replace the scruffy jeans and t-shirts you've lived in the last year; and pick up a couple of books or even take a class on your new career so that you can move up the ranks faster, increasing your marketability and value to the new company..

If you're a member of the GOP I'll bet you answered A.  After all, that's what the party is advocating for the Federal government.  The economy is starting to show shoots of recovery so now they want to slash spending on things like benefits for those most effected by the down-turn; health care; infrastructure and other items that will improve life for most Americans.  Economists the world over have shown that benefits to the poorest members of society have the most stimulative effect but these idiots want to stop the spending now before the recovery is solid.

Don't get me wrong - I'm no lover of routine deficit spending.  I complained when Reagan tripled the debt and when Clinton increased it too before balancing the budget for the first time in my lifetime. But there's a time and place for tapping into credit.  Do you have a mortgage and/or car payment? Then you agree with me whether you like it or not.  Especially when times are tough - that's when you go into debt.  Once finances are better, though, the card should be used only when you have the funds to pay for it - *of course*!  You don't buy a new car every year.  Well, you *shouldn't* unless you're a Rockefeller or a Bieber.

When the economy is soaring and there's a yearly surplus but a national debt (if you don't know the difference leave me a comment and I'll be happy to explain) the LAST thing you do is give it away like George Bush did with the tax cuts for the rich and corporate in 2001 and again in 2003. The money should have been used to pay off the debt or at least invested for a rainy day.  Like the kind of torrent brought on by mostly-Republican deregulation and incompetence. (For the record, infrastructure improvements are an absolute investment in his country's future, but I digress, right Rachel Maddow?)

Bush's cuts amounted to 4 trillion dollars in lost government revenue. No, that's not a typo.  Never-mind the wars that were never funded honestly, the medicare drug benefit that was fraudulently overpriced and oversold, etc. And now those same a-holes are screaming about federal spending for the downtrodden to feed their families, pay rent and look for work? 

Their level of cruelty and heartlessness is positively, you guessed it, absurd.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Drill where? Drill how?

Every now and then someone comes up with what seems like a brilliant ad campaign or slogan but which ends up being very, very wrong.  The GOP's "drill baby drill" and "drill here, drill now" sound patently insane in light of the volcano of oil erupting into the Gulf of Mexico courtesy of BP, Halliburton, MMS and a host of others.  Yet there are those who insist that it's still the right strategy, never mind the unparalleled environmental damage we're only now beginning to see and the fact that it will take weeks to stop and decades to clean up.

I have to say I think the GOP was onto something, though as is typical they had it ass-backwards. It shouldn't be "drill here" it should be "drill there."  The US only has 2% of the world's oil reserves so even if we were to drill every known resource we wouldn't even make a dent in pump prices.  Experts estimate that if we were to go full-bore with domestic drilling we might reduce the cost of gasoline about $0.03/gallon by 2020.  At today's prices that's 1% and if you think prices won't go up between now and then I have a bridge with your name on it.

Additionally, as any econ101 student knows, crude oil is a fungible resource so, once it's refined, it makes no difference where it was drilled.  So why drill here?

Why not leave ours in the ground and use up what other countries have, all the while working on finding alternatives?  If oil is $75/barrel now it's a safe bet that it'll be double that in a few years, then double again not long after.  Who knows, maybe what amounts to 2% now will be 10% then giving us a lot more control and making sure we have oil when it's far more scarce and expensive than today.  The EPA recently published a study saying if the average car's mileage were to go up 10mpg, which is well within the reach of technology, that would be equivalent to a reduction of $1/gallon in 2020.  Which makes more sense: "drill, baby, drill" or "sip, baby, sip"?

And keep in mind that petroleum is used for a lot more than just automobile fuel: pharmaceuticals, lubricants, jet fuel, plastics, clothing, food, chemicals, etc and right now there is no cost-effective replacement for it in and of those applications. Would you burn something you knew was crucial to the manufacture of medicine if there was another viable option?

But more to the point, let the drilling and the accidents happen elsewhere.  Don't get me wrong: I don't wish these calamities on anyone and I'd love to see a world where there are no oil rig explosions or coal mine collapses at all, but at the moment that's nothing more than fantasy - accidents and human error happen with alarming ferocity.  Maybe in another decade or two we'll have more confidence that we can drill in miles of rock beneath a mile of water.  But that time isn't now. Who knows, by the time that technology does roll around we may be lucky enough to not need it at all.

But drilling near critical, fragile, irreplaceable environments like the Gulf coast, coral reefs (aka: fisheries) and ANWR?  Positively absurd.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

God? Complex. Part 1. (The Personal)

I'm not an avid believer in a hands-on, take-charge, active God.  I don't buy that there's an omniscient, omnipotent old man with a long, white beard who plays us like a game of meat chess.  But there are millions of Americans and billions of others who do.  They pray for big things like recovery from illness.  And they pray for small things like a good grade on a pop quiz or a better score for their sports team (because surely such a being would have nothing better to do).  If they don't believe that their God tweaks the world then their prayer is a silly waste of time so shouldn't they be doing something more fun like folding laundry or watching NASCAR instead?

People in that latter camp wait for signs that their prayers are being answered, or at least heard.  Some see signs in trivialities like a song played on the radio, an ad on a passing bus, or a leaf fallin at just the right moment.  Other signs are more obvious like large accidents or natural disasters (They're not called acts of God for no reason, right?)

Those looking for the larger signs have had quite a few lately.  Interestingly many could be tied quite closely to American politics.  (For the sake of this discussion, let's ignore the American egomania that implies.)

[Continued in Part 2: The Politics]

God? Complex. Part 2 (The Politics)

In January of 2009 Governor Bobby Jindahl of Louisiana mocked a federal proposal that would fund research on volcano monitoring.  Two months later the Mount Redoubt volcano in Alaska erupted, blowing an ash and steam plume 15,000 feet into the atmosphere but doing avoiding major damage because it's in a remote part of Alaska (and that's really saying something).  But then, just over a year later, volcano Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland erupted, causing the largest disruption to European air travel in history.  It slowed down after a week but now, two weeks later, it looks like it may be getting ready to go again. The cost to airlines ran into the billions of dollars and it wrought havoc on air travel for hundreds of thousands of people.

All through the 2008 Presidential campaign John McCain, Sarah Palin and the rest of the leaders of the GOP mindlessly chanted "Drill, Baby, Drill" at every opportunity. Less than 18 months later an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana collapsed, killing 11 workers and for the last two weeks has been dumping over 200,000 gallons of oil into the delicate Gulf waters every day, with the possibility of the flow increasing by a factor of 10 before it can be cut off at the source in 3-4 months.  A week later another Gulf of Mexico oil rig collapsed but, fortunately isn't spewing oil.  Yet.

That same campaign saw discussions of clean coal, a misnomer if there ever was one, and in April of 2010 the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia exploded, killing 29 workers in the worst mine disaster in three decades.

There have been other such disasters including mine collapses in China and the devastating earthquakes in Chile, Haiti and southeast Asia but those I've mentioned seem remarkably pointed at the USA and it's not like God would suspend his normal world-wide activities even while majoring in one country.

If you're looking for signs from God these couldn't be more obvious.  But I can hear the replies now: a year or two is a long time between events. Is it?  Isn't even a century as but a blink of God's all-seeing eye?  Why cause a disaster right away without the proper planning when you can wait an instant and get it just right?

Maybe God is trying to teach the Democrats a lesson, you say?  After all, President Obama is a Democrat. But He is going after distinctly Republican targets.  If he wanted to spank the Liberals wouldn't he be better off knocking over a couple of windmills instead of oil rigs?  Bankrupting Whole Foods rather than GM? Collapsing Ed Begley's ecohouse not a coal mine?  Allowing a terrorist to complete his goal rather than giving them all a chronic case of the incompetent stupids?  The list goes on.

Fortunately I don't believe in such things, but if you believe in a do-it-yourself, over-achiever God the signs are all around you and they're crystal clear.  Your God is telling you something.  And if you're still supporting the GOP you're not listening.  How do you think that makes Him feel?

Still looking forward to that afterlife?

That would be absurd.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Health Care Reform follow-up

One of the biggest complaints I keep hearing about the recently-passed health care reform bill is that people are being forced to buy something they don't want or can't afford: health insurance.

Well, folks, the government has been forcing me to pay for a war in Iraq I never wanted and can't afford.  I'm paying tax breaks for churches that preach what I believe to be the biggest hoax ever played on humanity. I'm paying subsidies to oil companies which make more profit in a quarter than some countries' entire GDP.  I'm paying for school boards in Texas and other states that makes a mockery of the very concept of education.  I'm paying for a military budget that is more than China's, France's, The UK's, Russia's and the next 10 countries' - combined[0]. I'm paying for upkeep of a nuclear arsenal that could destroy the world 10 times over.  (Why we need to be able to do it more than once I have no idea.)  I'm paying for tax cuts that turned a record surplus into a record deficit and cost twice what the health care bill will.  I'm paying for a war on (some) drugs that has been thoroughly counterproductive and which criminalizes some drugs while glorifying others.  I'm paying for foreign aid to governments who want to kill me.

What's the difference?  I'm paying for those things through my taxes.

Instead the government is going to coerce you into giving money to private industry.  I thought the GOP is fond of privatization and "the free market". 30,000,000+ more people will be paying money to the insurance companies so I suspect their bottom lines will look even better once this bill fully kicks in.  Isn't profit your motive?

How about this?  Rather than push you give money to private, for-profit companies  the government just takes a bit less of your money and uses it to pay for better service and coverage than the private companies will?  Would that be better?

For the record, that would be a single-payer system, akin to Medicare.  Welcome to the socialist party, Comrades.

- Some people are absurdly oblivious


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Absurdly good news

I can't remember the last time I watched CSPAN on a Sunday night.  In fact, I don't think it's ever happened, but I'm sitting here with a huge grin on my face watching Ayes count up towards 215.

The USA has finally joined the rest of the civilized world in (coming very close to) offering health care for all legal residents.  This is far from a perfect bill (I'm a big fan of single-payer, but you knew that) but it's a hell of a lot better than what we have now.

Democrats, I can't believe I'm saying this but, nicely done.  I never thought you would pull it off. Now, get in there and improve it.  Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (all three of which are sacred now) started off far weaker than they are today.  Use that as your model.  Let's see a public option.  Let's see real universal coverage.  Let's unwind the asinine restrictions on abortion.  Let's see this get rolled into immigration reform.

But not tonight.  This moment is for celebrating the hard work put in by millions, not least of whom was Ted Kennedy, who must be smiling down on right now. I propose we nickname this bill "Teddycare" in his honor.  He earned it. You earned it.  We earned it.

Surprisingly the GOP continues to lie about the bill, even minutes after its passage. They claim that abortion coverage is expanded.  It isn't - in fact, today's executive order reduced insurance coverage for what is still a legal medical procedure supported by the majority of Americans. They claim it's socialism.  Anyone who knows the actual definition of actual socialism knows that's bullshit.  They claim it's unconstitutional.  Most scholars I've read (including the President) disagree so I'll trust their judgment over people with an obvious axe to grind. 

Finally, President Obama, I had counted you out, but somehow you herded the cats and pulled it off.  The GOP and TeaOP are in for the shock of their life this November when they wake up November 3rd to find that they still don't have majorities in either the House or Senate.  And tonight is the reason.

- Absurdly happy tonight.

PS: As seen on Twitter: "Hello America! Germany says 'Welcome to 1883!' The UK says 'Welcome to 1911! 'France says 'Welcome to 1930!'"

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I have a two and a half year old son and while he does happen to be the cutest, best behaved boy on the planet he's still two and a half so he has his moments of rebellion.  The other night he was procrastinating before bed-time and insisted that he wanted to read books on the living room couch rather than in bed, which is our normal routine.  We told him no so after a few minutes of trying to negotiate with us he started crying and yelling "on the couch" every 5 seconds or so.

He kept this up for over an hour without taking a break.

As we sat in the other room listening to his tantrum I couldn't quite put my finger on what it reminded me of.  The next day while listening to the news it became crystal clear: The GOP's stance on the current health care bill. President Obama and the Democrats have bent over backwards to earn the Republicans' support, including adding more and more Conservative ideas (which liberals find boneheaded and counterproductive) to the bill yet all the GOP can do is stand on their side of the isle and scream "scrap the bill".  The more I thought about it the more perfect the analogy became.  Hell, "scrap the bill" even has the same number of syllables as "on the couch".  The party of Lincoln has devolved (er, I mean been unintelligently created into) a bunch of whining two-year olds with nothing to add to the dialog but visceral anger, threats and fear.

No, I take that back - I went too far.  My son did calm down after an hour.  When we tucked him into bed a few minutes later he said he was sorry and told us he loved us.  Seriously.  (I told you he was the best kid on the planet). 

Two-year olds: I did not mean to insult you so harshly. Please accept my humble apology.

Today's GOP, finding absurd and then digging deeper

Sunday, January 17, 2010

It takes a #tcot

It's finally dawned on me exactly what bothers me the most about the GOP.  It's not that their ideas have been tried over and over and failed miserably each time.  That should be easy enough to counter with facts, data and even anecdotes.  It's not that they do their best to appeal to their fringe while expecting everyone else to follow along quietly.  That sort of nutty arrogance should put an end to itself.  It's that they don't fight fair and you can't do battle with someone who doesn't follow the basic rules of decency.

Over the last year the Republican party has made it blatantly obvious to anyone paying attention that they have no interest in honest debate.  They would rather exaggerate, fling mud, distract and lie.  There were never death panels in any health care bill, or anything remotely resembling them.  Health care reform was never going to kill grandma or put a bureaucrat between a patient and doctor.  (Never mind the fact that there's already a fleet of insurance company bean counters there).   But sensational shouting gathers attention, and it's wildly contagious.

Most recently I've been seeing and hearing rabid right-wingers (many of whom call themselves libertarians despite backing only Republican candidates and only taking the Democrats to task) claiming equally ludicrous ideas like that the Democratic party hates blacks, or that Barack Obama hates the United States or that this administration is going to destroy America and our liberties (coming after the era of the Patriot Act, Gitmo, etc that very idea defies comprehension).  One prominent GOP blogger was calling the Obama administration the most corrupt in history - less than one month after inauguration in 2009.  It would be laughable if there weren't so many people following these fools and voting as they direct.

It is clear to any rational human being that the President doesn't hate this country, yet I see that repeated over and over and the speakers swear they really mean it. Now I agreed with almost nothing that George W Bush did, but I never dreamed that he actually hated the country.  I really believe that he thought he was doing the best he could, though a cluster of a dozen functional brain cells should have been enough to dissuade him of that notion.

And the very concept that Democrats hate blacks is actually quite insulting to both groups. Blacks are one of the most dependable Democratic voters and to say that for decades they've voted for a party that hates them insults every black voter, if not every Democratic voter.  Do Republicans actually believe Blacks are dumb enough to vote against their own interest and prosperity for over a generation?  Now that's what I call racist.

No, I'm not saying that all Republicans are racist, but there certainly are more than just a few.  I'll even go so far as to say that anyone who thinks as I describe in the previous paragraph needs to take a long look in the mirror to determine exactly how they feel about the races.

There are plenty of reasonable, logical reasons to oppose President Obama's agenda.  I happen to disagree with most of those, but there are certainly arguments to be made and debates to be had.  But when the opposition party, especially its leaders, dip into the sewage of lies and distortions we've seen over the last 12 months they lose all credibility and they should lose all political power.  Sadly they've convinced millions of their followers to slide down into the gutter with them, assuring them far more power than they deserve.

And that may be the most absurd thing of all.