Thursday, August 19, 2010

Which superstition are you?

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is a Christian who prays daily, a White House official said Thursday, trying to tamp down growing doubts about the president's religion. A new poll showed that nearly one in five people, or 18 percent, believe Obama is Muslim. That was up from 11 percent who said so in March 2009. The survey also showed that just 34 percent said Obama is Christian, down from 48 percent who said so last year. The largest share of people, 43 percent, said they don't know his religion.

I'd say that the 43% who don't know his religion are probably ahead of the game - and it is a game. Lately, there have been a few stories about some misconceptions about the President's religion. Some of it is the result of the proposed Mosque being built at the site of the former World Trade Center (sometimes referred to as Ground Zero) and some of it just nonsense brought about by people who like to stir the pot.

We're big on grave sites in America. They're sacred ground, and we go so far to put up stones and build granite structures commemorating them. Occasionally, you'll see flowers and a makeshift cross on a roadside where some careless driver lost his life. It's all part of the grand scheme.

The older I get (every day) the more I am convinced that religion is a superstition brought about by our desire to think that something bigger than us is in charge and how we are supposed to believe in something that will reap rewards later in ... death.

As far as our president is concerned, I'm at a loss to figure out why his religious beliefs make a difference in what he says or does politically. There are probably plenty of agnostics and atheists in office, but you don't hear about them. There may even be a few Satan worshipers around, if they'd dare to tell you so.

What religion does, mostly, is divide people into either believers or non-believers, or into sects that break down religion into groups based on which set of principles you adhere to. Personally, I couldn't care less about any of them, because there are just as many scoundrels in one sect as there are in another, and if any of them were worth anything, you wouldn't need any other sects or divisions. They were all made up by people - just like God was made up by people.

It's the perfect Ponzi scheme.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I weep for our Republic.

Our nation is, of course, a Republic and not a Democracy as we hear so often. Nevertheless, it doesn't stop those Tea Party folk from posting junk designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator - which is odd, considering that they are part of the fraction. Sometimes a mirror is a useful tool.

A local Minnesota Republican Party operative yesterday waded into one of the signature political issues of our time: "Who's hotter — Republican women or Democratic women?"
The Senate District 56 GOP Party posted a Web video yesterday laying out its position on the hotness question. It leads with images of prominent Republicans such as Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin, and Michele Bachmann; the soundtrack, naturally, is the Tom Jones chestnut, "She's a Lady."

So that's how it is now. Beauty pageants are deciding whom is the best candidate for public office. That's the part I weep about. Not to mention, the fact that the local Republican party cannot spell.

To wit:
OUR MISSION: "Senate District 56 Republians [sic] exist to promote our Republican principals [sic], to help elect Republician's [sic] to the various offices which represent our area and reflect our beliefs. We in the district support each other and our neighbors to have government enable us to succeed, and not us enabling government to grow."

My guess is
that the local Republicans in Minnesota don't know what sic means. It means you can't spell. It's great that they have a mission, but pathetic that they can't describe it.

This, in a nutshell (pun) is what scares me about the upcoming November elections. The Republicans (who I choose to spell Repugnicans) will choose to market form over substance, and the general public (who I choose to discount as non-thinking) will buy it hook, line and (pun) sinker. What might happen is as frightening as any novel Steven King has ever published.

So, go ahead and vote for the candidate that gives you a chubby or makes you feel like you'd like to sit down and drink a beer with. Chances are, they wouldn't want anything to do with you, and if you really knew these people you wouldn't want anything to do with them either. It's just pathetic the way marketing and selling images turns people into celebrities. I don't have enough space to describe my disdain for that practice.

Suffice it to say that what you see is what you will get.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Stupid scientists ruin everything.

Damn those researchers and scientists. If you can't trust your government, can you trust researchers and scientists? Yeah, probably.
Researchers are claiming that the Gulf oil spill is bigger than the government claimed, and that at least 80 percent of the oil is still remaining in the waters. Wow, who'd-a-thunk? Me and you, I'd guess. Consider this:

"The oil is not gone, that's for sure," University of South Florida's David Hollander said Tuesday. "There is oil and we need to deal with it."

University of Georgia's Samantha Joye said: "It's a tremendous amount of oil that's in the system. ... It's very difficult for me to imagine that 50 percent of it has been degraded."

Marine scientist Chuck Hopkinson, also with the University of Georgia, raised the obvious question: "Where has all the oil gone? It hasn't gone anywhere. It still lurks in the deep."

They say most of it is lurking underneath the surface and is settling in a crucial undersea plateau off the Florida panhandle. Maybe that's why President Obama decided to swim in the Louisiana offshore area last week? He proclaimed the beaches "open for business," which is great, since business is the most important thing, right? Why bother to check if the oil is gone, let's just get the tourist trade back, because we're all about making money in America. Oil, schmoil. Ask yourself why he would "risk" his children in oil-infested waters, if in fact, he was actually swimming in oil-infested waters. Maybe the oil was deeper than 4 feet?
Some even say the swim was fake. Go figure.

The oil stopped gushing
(so they say) a couple of weeks ago. Why then, were we told that most of it evaporated, was consumed by undersea bacteria or otherwise "disappeared" into the eco-system? Because maybe they didn't want us to know how horrible it really was - as if we didn't already know that.

Government and industry rely on our short attention span and short memories. Something that happened a few weeks ago could easily be eclipsed in our memory by the latest Snookie scandal or whomever is being laid, shot or fired over some stupid indiscretion that seems important until the next one comes along. All of it is made better because the oil has stopped. We're relieved and we can move onto the next big thing. But wait, there's more.

It hasn't miraculously disappeared,
and the people at BP who are in damage control - witness the TV commercials featuring the slow-talking Southerner supposedly in charge of the oll who tells us that those waters mean something to him, blah blah blah. It's so staged, replete with a guy hand-picked by BP to be in charge of the spill who happens to speak with a drawl. What are the chances that the guy was in the accounting department three weeks ago?

It's wonderful,
because they told us it was gone (mostly) and now we can get on with our mundane lives, rich with made-for-TV drama and junk that clutters our lives because we are told it is important. That's why a lot of government's bad news is released on Friday, so that it makes the Saturday newspaper - and almost nobody reads the Saturday paper. Our weekends are sacred, and we don't want them clogged with nonsense like ... facts and life-altering decisions.

What is really important, however, is the stuff that gets swept under the rug. Or under the water. Keep your eye on the ball.

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt.

Similar to those new traffic lights that spring up at suddenly "dangerous intersections," the region is now being alerted to several fiduciary indiscretions committed by the Delaware River Port Authority (lovingly referred to as the DRPA) ever since one of their legions loaned an EZ-Pass placard to one of his relatives a few months ago. Ever since the Inquirer reported this incident, the headlines have been rife with stories about misspent money and other such problems with an agency that sees fit to charge $4 to cross a bridge and pay about $3.50 of that to the people who take our money.
Similarly ... WASHINGTON – The government said Monday it is toughening environmental reviews for all new deepwater oil drilling, ending an easy path to oil riches that allowed BP to drill its blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico with little federal scrutiny.
The step is meant to help redress a history of lax oversight leading up to the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers and led to the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Some 206 million gallons spilled into the Gulf before BP stopped the leak at the Macondo well.
Oh, now all of a sudden (after millions of gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico) it's a bad thing to drill in the deep waters. "A history of lax oversight," eh? How many millions of dollars changed hands over that little ... oversight?
A report by the White House Council on Environmental Quality found that decades-old data provided the basis for exempting BP's drilling permits from any extensive environmental review.
Now the Interior Department is banning such "categorical exclusions" for deepwater drilling reviews, at least until it investigates how the exemptions are granted.
"Our decision-making must be fully informed by an understanding of the potential environmental consequences of federal actions permitting offshore oil and gas development," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality? Since when? Since there are mollusks and shrimp with greasy oil buildup, that's since when. It's no different than the 400-pound guy who suddenly decides that he "has to lose some weight" or that goofball on the Hoarders TV show who has a house full of junk and finally decides that since his head is bumping up against his ceiling, it's time to start trimming the junk from his life.
It's last-minute Christmas shopping. You know, the people that wind up on the local news at 5:55pm on Christmas Eve and can't believe that the mall is closing in five minutes. They "just wanted that one last thing," and decided that they had waited long enough.
We're a society of last-minute activity. We wait until we have a heart attack to start to eat right. That chest X-Ray that looks like a Dalmatian crawled into our lungs is impetus to get us to quit smoking. And when a pipe filled with oil spews millions of gallons of oil into a delicate eco-system ... maybe it's time to examine the ways we allow people to work there.
That's good, since it was almost dead.