Friday, July 27, 2007

Lindsay Lohan vs. the Astronauts

According to the head of a panel of outside experts, reviewing astronaut behavior in the wake of the actions of astronaut Lisa Nowak, "Two specific instances were described where astronauts had been so intoxicated prior to flight that flight surgeons and-or fellow astronauts raised concerns to local on-scene leadership regarding flight safety.  However, the individuals were still permitted to fly."

Consider that if astronauts cannot be trusted to be sober before getting on board a space shuttle, what chance do we have of hoping Lindsay Lohan will be sober when driving a mere car?

Slaves working on US Embassy in Iraq?

From the Wall Street Journal: Federal prosecutors are investigating the Kuwaiti company (First Kuwaiti) building the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, probing allegations that foreign employees were brought to work on the massive project against their will and prevented from leaving the country.

Exactly how low will this all go?  The list of outrages is already incredibly long but damn it if they cannot keep topping themselves!!!

According to the Washington Post, “Two American civilian contractors who worked on a massive U.S. Embassy construction project in Baghdad told Congress yesterday that foreign laborers were deceptively recruited and trafficked to Iraq to toil at the site, where they experienced physical abuse and substandard working conditions.

Yup, we’re talking slavery.  According to the testimony before Congress, 51 Filipinos who believed they were being taken to Dubai were instead shipped from Kuwait to Baghdad, which is quite a difference, and then had their passports taken away, preventing them from leaving.  Their job was to help construct the US Embassy.

The Post wrote, unsurprisingly, that State Department officials disputed the charges, telling a House committee that inspections had not substantiated the worst reported abuses.”

What a relief!  But then again, one can only wonder what this State Department would consider the “worst reported abuses.”

What next?  It is beyond imagining.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

To Impeach or Not Impeach – Is That the Question?

Cindy Sheehan has “threatened” to run for election against House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi if Pelosi does not allow impeachment charges to be brought up against President Bush and VP Cheney.

Of course, this is crazy talk; exactly how would it look for Pelosi herself to promote such an action when in fact she, Pelosi, would stand to gain the Presidency if indeed the impeachment was upheld in the Senate?  Answer: it would look bad, and, by extension,  it might look bad for the Democrats in general.  And anything that might prolong Republican Party rule by handing them an issue for the 2008 Presidential elections would be counter-productive for the Democrats, true or false?  Answer: True!

At the most, Pelosi would have to passively allow it; the Right-wing spin machine would have a field day (and would probably have one anyway) if she gave the slightest impression she was behind or supportive of such an effort.  Please remember that in past impeachment proceedings, the target was the President and the successor was to be the Vice-President, not the House Majority leader of a different party no less!  This is a huge difference.  And of course, is there any chance that enough Republicans would go along with this impeachment?  Unfortunately there is no chancewhatsoever.  It’s all moot, wing-nut craziness.

Here is the sad irony of this craziness, however; the US will solve none of its problems unless and until Bush and Cheney are removed from office.

Can the US find an adequate way out of Iraq that does not lead to civil war, ethnic cleansing or genocide?  Can it find a way out that does not drive the Iraqi Sunnis into the arms of Al Qaeda and/or does not hand over a portion of the country to Al Qaeda?  Can it find a way out that does not lead to a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran?

Whatever the best course of action might be, there is no evidence that Bush & Co. are capable of finding it.  Impeachment is the only course of action available that will speed up the process of bringing competence back to the White House, but unfortunately, that is just crazy talk.

Is Bush an Idiot?

Whenever I or anyone else makes the claim that President Bush is a dim, incurious empty suit, the reaction from both sides of the political spectrum can be outrage.  The Right, of course, objects because it would mean that they have been supporting this dolt for all this while.  That’s not flattering to their self-image.  However, many on the Left who lean toward conspiracy theories object as well because they want to believe that Bush and cronies had planned it all – because they are evil.  If the Bushites are incompetent, there is no way that they could have plotted 9-11 and the subsequent invasion of Iraq for the purpose of gaining oil, money and power; therefore Bush is simply a devious and cynical genius of sorts.

The problem is that in no facet of Bush’s life has he displayed a talent for anything but failure, stupidity and shallowness.  Here’s the latest evidence of his shallowness, which has even some conservatives shaking their heads.

It’s a statement Bush made on July 17, 2007, with ten conservative journalists in attendance and reported by National Review’s Rich Lowry. Bush told them, “The other debate is whether or not it is a hopeless venture to encourage the spread of liberty.  Most of you all around this table are much better historians than I am.  And people have said, you know, this is Wilsonian, it's hopelessly idealistic.  One, it is idealistic, to this extent: It's idealistic to believe people long to be free.  And nothing will change my belief.  I come at it many different ways.  Really not primarily from a political science perspective, frankly; it's more of a theological perspective.  I do believe there is anAlmighty, and I believe a gift of that Almighty to all is freedom.  And I will tell you that is a principle that no one can convince me that doesn't exist."

Here it is in all it’s juvenile glory: Bush believes that disasters such as his invasion of Iraq will succeed (when?) because it’s a faith-held certainty that freedom will prevail.  Please note, he specifically admits that this conclusion is NOT the result of scientific politcal analysis.  It’s purely a belief held on faith in his version of God.

Here is what the conservative Lowry had to say: “"You can believe freedom is a gift from the Almighty and still recognize that some cultural soil is more or less compatible with supporting political systems that protect liberty," he wrote.  "But Bush believes the spread of liberty is 'inevitable.'  If that is the case, why not spare ourselves all the effort and let the inevitable flowering of liberty take hold?"

Indeed, why?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Why Mitt Romney is Perfect!

Ever wonder why the Religious Right seems to be gravitating towards Mitt Romney, the Mormon candidate for president?  I know I have!

Well, I have the answer: It’s because of all the candidates running, Gov. Romney has the LEAST integrity, and it’s a lack of integrity that the Religious Right cherishes above all else.

Consider the RR’s support for all things Bush; that would include Karl Rove, a.k.a. Bush’s Brain.  Yes, Karl Rove is an agnostic; at least he has admitted that he is not spiritual and has trouble with believing.  There have been reports that Rove’s office mocks many of those Religious Right leaders behind closed doors.  Yet, rather than be disgusted by Rove and Bush, the Religious Right has supported them in an unprecedented manner.  Why?

Because the Bush Administration, as per Karl Rove’s direction, kow-tows to the Religious Right, giving them billions of dollars in un-Constitutional federal dollars for discriminatory religious programs.  (We can’t say they’re “charitable” programs if tax dollars are being used.)

So it’s clear: Rove’s lack of integrity is irrelevant to the RR.  What matters is the willingness to pander.

Now who has pandered more than Romney?  He’s reversed himself on gays, separation of church and state, you name it, and all for one purpose: to please the Religious Right.

Here’s the latest item: Here is Romney on the campaign trail critiquing Barack Obama’s position on sex education in public schools; "How much sex education is age appropriate for a 5-year-old.  In my view, zero is the right amount.  Instead of teaching about sex education in kindergarten to 5-year-olds let's clean up the ocean of filth, the cesspool in which our children are swimming."  However, according to a article, “In a Planned Parenthood questionnaire he filled out during his 2002 gubernatorial run, Romney checked 'yes' to a question asking, "Do you support the teaching of responsible, age-appropriate, factually accurate health and sexuality education, including information about both abstinence and contraception, in public schools?"

He’s perfect.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Freedom of Religion (for Certain Christians Only)

Item: (From Americans United for Separation of Church & State) Hindu Chaplain Rajan Zed, a Nevada resident, gave the opening prayer in the Senate at the invitation of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).  As he began his remarks, two protestors interrupted the proceedings, asking for forgiveness from Jesus Christ for the “abomination” of failing to pray to the “one true God.”  (The sergeant-at-arms had to restore order.)  Religious Right groups have been agitating against the Hindu leader’s prayer since it was announced.  The Rev. Donald Wildmon’s American Family Association has asked his members to complain to their senators about the invitation.  The group’s news service reported that “Christian nation” activist David Barton said that Hinduism has few followers in the United States and that prayer to a “non-monotheistic god” is “outside the American paradigm.”

So, let’s make this clear: the Religious Right does NOT want to allow "prayer" in public situations, such as in school or meetings of a legislature; they only want to allow THEIR prayers in such situations.

Absolutely no where in the Constitution is Christianity given any preference over any other religion.  Yet it is those same Religious Right activists that insist on strict interpretations of the Constitutions and rail against “activist” judges.

Utter hypocrites!

It is all a lie – everything they say about prayer when battling atheists goes out the window when they are battling Hindus or Muslims.  When battling atheists on behalf of Christians, the Religious Right wants a religiously accommodating government.  When battling Hindus or Muslims they insist on “no special privileges” for specific religions.

Idiots and hypocrites.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rushdie and Freedom

(Reuters) Osama bin Laden's second in command has warned that Britain faces fresh attacks as "punishment" for Salman Rushdie's recent knighthood… The British threat - addressed directly to the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown - came in a 20-minute audio tape posted on jihadist websites by Ayman al-Zawahiri.  He threatened "a very precise response" in retaliation against Britain for having knighted the controversial novelist in the Queen's Birthday Honours last month.  Zawahiri, considered the de facto leader of al-Qaeda since bin Laden has not been heard from for years, said it insulted Islam to reward the author of The Satanic Verses.  "I say to Blair's successor that the policy of your predecessor drew catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq and even in the centre of London," Zawahiri said, in an apparent reference to the recent failed car bomb attacks. "And if you did not understand, listen, we are ready to repeat it for you, God willing, until we are sure you have fully understood."

Now for those critics of the “West,” exactly what issue involving “social justice” is Zawahiri pursuing?  Is Salman Rushdie trying to steal Muslim oil?  Is he advocating the bombing of Muslim women and children?  Has, in fact, Rushdie done anything unethical?  The very fact that numerous Muslim leaders called for his death via fatwa over the years makes his criticisms of Islam valid at least a little bit, does it not?  Shouldn’t his most vigorous defenders be Muslims who appreciate his use of his right to freely express his thoughts?  Aren’t they the potentially largest beneficiaries of his past efforts?  Yet there is widespread support in the Islamic world, as well as sacred textual support for death to blasphemers and apostates to Islam.

In fact, there are Muslims who do support Rushdie, but the truth is that many “moderate” Muslims, justlike many moderate Christians or Jews, have no idea what they’re talking about, and cannot coherently argue a reasoned position.  A majority of Christianity, for example, in this country support school prayer which is clearly unconstitutional; they believe in a young earth which is clearly not true.  Hell, one survey claimed that over 20% say they believe in both Creationism and Evolution, which cannot both be true, and which was obvious from the context in which the question was asked.

What is the point of all this?  The point is that religious belief, even casual belief, clouds the mind and one’s use of reason.  And the result is that Muslims around the world often support the death of a person who represents freedom of thought and speech – for Muslims.

God Forgave Me

Is Christianity a force for good?  Does it encourage ethical behavior?

Consider the case of Senator David Vitter, a Republican (I’m shocked!) from Louisiana.  He recently confessed, after being told he was going to be “outed” anyway, to using a notorious escort service in Washington DC.

In a statement from the campaign trail in 2004 on "Protecting the Sanctity of Marriage" he said, "The Hollywood left is redefining the most basic institution in human history, and our two U.S. Senators won't do anything about it.  We need a U.S. Senator who will stand up for Louisiana values, not Massachusetts's values.  I am the only Senate Candidate to coauthor the Federal Marriage Amendment; the only one fighting for its passage."  Vitter once compared the devastation of gay marriage to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which as someone from Louisiana should know is pretty destructive, and said during the debate on the amendment, "I don't believe there's any issue that's more important than this one."

NOW he says “This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible.  Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling."

How conveeeeeeeeenient!

Yes, let’s summarize the situation: Sen. Vitter declares that homosexual marriage (which does not exist in the US) threatens the US and the institution of marriage; yet he commits adultery, asks for forgiveness from God, and, ta-dah!, gets it.  He’s backed to being “saved” again and will go to heaven for eternal bliss while gays burn in hell forever.


Wait a minute, this just in: the Republican Party, and much of the Democratic Party, has taken Senator Vitter’s lead and has asked for AND RECEIVED forgiveness from God for every disastrous policy, including the Iraq War, that they’ve lead this country into.

What a relief!  Everyone is saved, but the world is no better off.  Some system of ethics Christianity is.