Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Elections’ Category

The Three Biggest Issues Facing America, What Do They Have in Common?

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In my considered estimation (I have a lot of time to think at work,) the USA has three issues facing it that dwarf other issues of the day. These would be the upwards transfer of wealth, the so called “War on Terror,” and global warming. What do these all have in common, aside from taking place on Earth? Easy, as I’m sure my astute readers recognized, all three were basically completely ignored during the election. Furthermore, they get short shrift in the mainstream media at the best of times. The upwards transfer of wealth is the most ignored, most Americans aren’t even aware that the middle class and poor have stagnated since the late seventies, while the rich got ever richer. Global warming gets some coverage, but it’s lame coverage that claims there is still scientific controversy about the topic. And the War on Terror gets lots of coverage, all of it ranging from sickening adulation to criticism so tepid it’s embarrassing in a  so called free society. This is why we’re doomed, the agents of our destruction are running amok, and our national debates are about abortion, gay marriage, and marijuana.

The first of the big three would be the upwards transfer of wealth. This isn’t debatable, anymore than Evolution or Young Earth Creationism are debatable. Since the 1970s the rich have gotten ever richer, while the poor and middle class have stagnated. A process that continues to this day, over 90% of the gains from the last few years of “economic “recovery” have gone to the 1%. This is both a recipe for disaster, and the complete opposite of what made America great in the first place. Sure the richer the rich get, the more they figure out ways to make even more “wealth,” but none of that money goes anywhere. Having trillions of dollars sitting in financial instruments may make the rich very very rich … but it not only does nothing for the economy, it’s a brake on the real economy. This is why interstate banking shouldn’t be allowed, along with a host of other now-gutted laws and regulations that kept money circulating locally instead of piling up in offshore accounts. The Occupy movement at least succeeded in getting more people aware of this, but unless it is stopped, we will eventually (and maybe sooner than later) be a land of poor serfs with a  few fabulously rich overlords. History teaches us that this isn’t the road to national prosperity, it’s the road to national disaster.

Then there’s the endless “War on Terror.” OBL gave the people who want to maintain western hegemony over the planet, IE the upwards transfer of wealth on a planetary scale, a blank check. And they have spent it on building a vast “security” state and creating an overt world wide empire. This is crazy on several levels, not the least of which it’s the greatest over-reaction to a threat in history even on the face of its putative rationale. It in essence is a staggering waste of resources that would be far better spent on infrastructure, education, and health care. The US is lagging well behind the rest of the developed world in all three, just to maintain a military larger than the rest of the world combined? A military largely designed to fight a war with a country that no longer exists? And yes, building a giant security state is a threat to our liberties; it’s both unnecessary  and will eventually be misused when the wrong person gets in power. Lastly, waging war around the world and the ever increasing use of flying death squads, aka drones, isn’t making us safer, it’s creating new enemies. Look how well that policy has worked for Israel, they live inside of a fucking giant wall in complete isolation from their neighbours, yeah, that’s peaceful co-existence.

And lastly, the elephant in the room so big that it’s started flattening whole states, global warming. The facts behind this are overwhelming, the world is rapidly getting warmer, and human activity is contributing in a major way. Yet the energy industry’s legions of well funded think tanks, not to mention their just plain overt influence on the mainstream media and politics, continue to confuse the issue and create the illusion that there is some sort of scientific debate. And this process is made worse by a religous-political party that is actively denying all sorts of science, not just global warming. And when they aren’t denying it, they are claiming we can adjust. That makes about as much sense as “adjusting” when your house catches on fire. When your house catches on fire, you put out the goddamn fire, you don’t “adjust” to it.

Sadly I don’t see much chance of any of these issues being addressed any time soon. I hope I’m wrong.

(Noah’s Ark, oil on canvas painting by Edward Hicks, 1846 Philadelphia Museum of Art. Since it was painted in 1846, under current US copyright law this image is public domain. It’s a painting of Noah’s Ark, a Bronze Age myth that apparently many adults still literally believe in.  I still find it hard to get my mind around the idea that functioning adults believe in the reality of something in the same category as Santa Claus. Kinda scary really. Maybe I should have listed religious fundamentalism as the fourth crisis facing America, but I dunno, in some ways it over-arches all the others. Hell, in some way all of the crises facing America, and much of the world, have their roots in religious fundamentalism. A topic for another day.)

In with Obama, out with Petraeus, and Happy Veterans Day

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Well, been a  few changes the past few days. Obama won the 2012 election, no big surprise there. I was pretty sure all along that he would be hard to beat, the man is shrewd politician. Even his weak performance at the first debate was deliberate I now suspect, it just made his final two debates that much better. Though despite all the crowing on the liberal side, the popular vote was very close, this was not a landslide or a mandate. It was however a slap-in-the-face for the most neanderthal on the right, the five worst pro-rapist politicians soundly lost their elections, as did a number of tea partiers. And things like gay marriage and marijuana decriminalization won in a number of states. I don’t think the election results are all that surprising, though I hear many on the right are shocked. Yeah, well, many on the left were shocked when Bush was re-elected, the shocked righties will live. I think basically Romney alienated pretty much everyone but straight white males, allowing Obama to squeak by on a broad coalition despite the weak economy.

It would be nice if the Republicans decided to work with Obama the next four years instead of devoting themselves to obstructionism and making sure Obama didn’t win re-election. So far it’s not looking good. There’s even talk of employers retaliating against their employees because of the results of the election. Classy, real classy. And the interesting coincidence of the two maps above doesn’t inspire me with hope and change. The top map is the results of the election. The bottom map are the states that seceded during the civil war. Though the map was a bit premature, Obama did win Florida. I sometimes wonder if the south should be allowed to leave the union, lately it sure seems like they don’t want to be a part of it.

On the other hand, divided America aside, I have hopes that the results of this election means that despite what the Tea Partiers think, the nation is shifting back in a liberal direction. It’s been heading right since Reagan, it would be nice to live to see the pendulum swinging the other way. Not surprising really, it’s hard not to notice that borrow and spend, the upwards transfer of wealth, and endless military/security/police/prison spending … at the expense of infrastructure/education/health care … hasn’t delivered on all of its promises. Or any of them, unless one really wanted endless war. As I am sure someone has said better, if giving the rich tax breaks created jobs, everyone in America and their pets would be employed. Plus it would be cool to see another cultural revolution like the 60s, humans always come up with interesting new stuff. Some are dragged into the future kicking and screaming, some look forward to every new day.

Moving right along, General Petraeus is moving right along. Darling of the neocons and pro-war media (aka the mainstream media,) General Petraeus, the man who convinced Americans to shed more American lives so that we could pretend we “won” the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has resigned as Director of the CIA. I for one am relieved, the man was more politician than general, and his presidential aspirations sure seemed palpable to me. He resigned because it turned out he was having an affair with his biographer. There are also concerns that he may have allowed her access to information that she wasn’t permitted to access. It’s all rather vague at this point. It would be nice if he was replaced by someone who wasn’t going to use the office as a stepping stone to the presidency. Someone actually tuned into the real world. I’m not holding my breath.

Speaking of the real world, that’s the topic of the next blog. I plan to segue from politics to the real world. Then some fun posts on science, Vikings, neanderthals, and related subjects. It’s gonna take a lot to wash the election from my brain. Lastly, I hope everyone is having a Happy Veterans Day. I honour those who have served in uniform for their country, I spit on those who send uniformed men and women to die in senseless wars that have nothing to do with national defense. One can be pro-firefighter without being pro-arsonist, something our war culture obsessed media generally neglects to mention these days.

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s all over Facebook, no idea who to attribute it to. Yes, that’s the original Pledge of Allegiance, from before the USA started turning into a theocracy. Maybe this election means that tide has turned too, one can only hope.))

Written by unitedcats

November 12, 2012 at 6:39 am

Injured kittens, elections, and worse stuff

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On the way to work today the bus got mired in traffic. Then I saw emergency lights ahead, the police were routing traffic into one lane. Getting closer I saw why. There was an injured kitten in the road, a half grown little stripey guy. One of the cops was standing so as to keep him in the shade. For some reason the sight just about to broke my heart, I cried on and off all day. So much sadness in the world, this just put me over the edge I guess. I hope the little guy made it.

I’ll be glad when the election is over. It’s been one of the uglier elections in my memory, if not the ugliest. I still honestly don’t give a crap who wins, both candidates have aspects that are so so creepy it makes my flesh crawl. Both candidates are a tool of the bankers, militarists, and energy cartel. Obama’s social policy window dressing is a bit better, but living in a theocracy might actually make Americans snap out of their revery. More on point, I think if Superman got elected, we’d still be hosed. America is like a stately old oak tree … completely rotted out inside. It looks majestic, but one of these days there will be a stiff breeze and down it goes. It’s not going to be pretty.

Obama. Barrack “kill list” Obama. I find it more than disturbing that the POTUS maintains a kill list, a list that can and has included Americans. It’s disturbing in and of itself, but that no one is upset about it is just plain scary. Nixon had an enemy’s list, and was excoriated for it; Obama has a kill list, and no one cares? People went wild over non-existent “death panels,” but don’t care that Obama has set himself up as a death panel of one? I am not reassured.

Then we have the rapist’s right’s party. Think about this: We have a Senate candidate Mourdock claiming that a rape  pregnancy was a gift from God and couldn’t be aborted. He said he anguished over this question before coming to that conclusion. I’m a little unclear what he anguished over. He couldn’t have anguished over how he would feel if he were raped and impregnated, since that can’t happen to him. So he must have anguished over how he would feel if he raped and impregnated someone. And he concluded that whoever he, or any man, chooses to rape;  if the woman is impregnated, she must bear the child. The rapist gets to choose, the raped victim doesn’t. Right. Romney endorsed this guy. Ryan holds similar view. This is crazy, a perversion of Christianity, and an example of rape culture. Again, not reassured.

I like Jill Stein, but nothing short of a miracle will get her in the White House. It might make a good science fiction story, or an unlikely Hollywood movie. I think they put Ron Paul back in cryogenic suspension, I don’t know where he went. Probably conveyed to media purgatory. There’s other stuff on ballots. I’m cynical about it all. The special interests have it locked up, even when they lose, they have the lawyers and the money to fix it. Legalized corruption on a scale never before seen in history. See, the USA is still number one! On the other hand, unlike so many people, I’m not going to freak out no matter who gets elected. Whoever gets elected has my support, at least initially. Whoever wins has an unholy mess to contend with, and the last thing America needs now is sore losers. My studied neutrality may only last to the acceptance speech, tomorrow is another day.

Lastly, so as not to be accused of excess negatively, can I envision an encouraging outcome on election day? Yes. Yes I can. I hope the winning candidate sees an injured kitten in the road, and his heart is softened and his mind is cleared, and he gives an acceptance speech that resonates with all Americans, and opens a dialog that begins to heal this fractured land. See, I can still dream.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Not being used for profit, it’s just such a lovely image, I couldn’t resist. I got it from this site. It’s destruction from Hurricane Sandy. The image says a lot to me. Who is this woman? Where is she going?)

Written by unitedcats

November 5, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Hurricane Sandy and Related News

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This close to the election, everything seems to revolve around the election. At least if one is a hard-core Republican. Or more on point, everything seems to revolve around hating Obama. The bodies weren’t even cold in Benghazi and Romney was heaping criticism on Obama, and he never let up. Odd, I don’t recall the GOP ever criticizing Bush for his military fiascoes, but once Obama was in charge, nothing but criticism. Hurricane Sandy appears to be the same. A Republican governor praises Obama for his prompt and effective response to Hurricane Sandy, and right wing pundits are foaming at the mouth. Classy, real classy. I used to be a Republican, but the party I knew at least acknowledged that we were all Americans, and that it was the politician’s job to work together to run the country.  Now Republicans seem to be trying to outdo themselves at reaching ever more ridiculous levels of partisanship. Granted there are voices on the left falling into the same trap, but I’ve yet to hear any liberals criticizing Obama for helping out a Republican governor. Plenty of them have praised Governor Christie though, I was impressed. Yeah, the storm was a break for Obama, but the Republicans could have handled the situation with far more dignity, instead they made it clear no matter how bad things get, no matter how many Americans die; Obama and the people who support him, tens of millions of Americans, can go f**k themselves. I’ll be glad when the election is over and Romney can move on to being a rodeo clown.

Speaking of Hurricane Sandy, or Superstorm Sandy as some are calling it, it was quite the storm. At least 90 dead in the USA, far more in the Caribbean. It wasn’t a super powerful storm, but it was super huge, one of the biggest hurricanes on record, it affected 24 states in the USA and numerous nations in the Carribean. Sandy wasn’t unprecedented, but it was certainly unusual. It’s already on track to be the second most damaging USA East Coast hurricane ever. Still, several times a century a storm like this can be expected to hit New York. And the frequency will be going up as the tropical seas get warmer. The real damage was caused by the storm surge. A storm surge is a pile of water pushed ahead of a storm by winds, surges of over 30 feet have been recorded. Think a tide thirty feet high. Not a pretty sight, storm surges are the big killer in hurricanes and cyclones. On the plus side, they can be prevented. A storm surge killed thousands in Holland in 1953, giant coastal defenses were built to prevent it happening again. Such were suggested for New York long ago, the idea is being revisited in the aftermath of Sandy. We’ll see.

A discussion of Sandy wouldn’t be complete without some mention of global warming. Was Sandy caused by global warming? It’s impossible to say, global warming is about climate, not weather. A fact that global climate change deniers conveniently ignore pretty much every time there is a severe snowstorm somewhere. Granted plenty of global warming activists are claiming that Sandy is clear proof of global warming. I feel their frustration, the globe increasingly is having the kind of extreme weather events that global warming predicts, the fact that it’s not possible to conclusively say that a particular event was caused by global warming is very difficult to explain to people who want to resist science they don’t approve of. However, even if global warming didn’t cause Sandy, it made it worse. That seems to be pretty clear to the climatologists. And at least it got the topic back on the news, that’s a good thing. Good for everyone except the coal and oil industry, sadly they own a lot of think tanks, politicians, and journalists … and they’re not afraid to use them.

In other Sandy  news, a Brazilian model, Nana Gouvea, thought it would make a nice backdrop for a photo shoot. One pic helpfully posted above. Her pics went viral. She got heaps of criticism and outrage. Granted it is a tasteless and tacky thing to do. On the other hand, she got tons of publicity. No harm, no foul. It’s not like she’s aspiring for political office, and she didn’t actually hurt anyone. I think it’s a clever idea. Ya, people are outraged. So what? On a scale of one to ten when it comes to outrageous items in the news, this is a zero. There’s tons of sleaze and crime every day far more deserving of outrage than a tasteless photo shoot. Priorities people, priorities. Heck, as my friend Steve Burke said: “Some guys will be seeing the damage for the first time thanks to these photos.”

Have a great weekend everyone!

(The above images are claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, they aren’t being used for profit and are central to illustrating the post. I don’t know who to credit the top one to, the second I assume is owned by Ms Noumea herself. Since I linked to her site and praised her photo shoot, hopefully that’s attribution enough. It would be nice if someday copyright law could be re-written to reflect reality, alas industry is easily the slowest element in a culture to adapt to changing times, and often uses its influence to impeded progress.  Another blog post for another day.)

Disaster Relief is Immoral According to Mitt Romney?

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Hurricane Sandy Shark

Actually, that’s not quite what he said. He that borrowing money to pay for disaster relief is immoral. He also said that disaster relief should be left up to the states or even privatized. Mr Romney is wrong on several levels, scary wrong in fact. On the top level he is wrong for implying that it’s wrong for the Federal Government to be involved in disaster relief. Protecting the people of America from threats is the government’s job for God’s sake,  how can that not include natural disasters? And I am talking natural disasters here, huge events that affect large areas, multiple states in many cases. The whole point of being in a tribe is that the tribe looks out for itself, hell; it’s the whole point of civilization, people cooperating for the common good. I know Mr Romney wasn’t quite saying “disaster victims had it coming, so they can take care of themselves” … but he’s awful close. And he is giving at least tacit support for those that do say such infantile nonsense.

On a  more practical level, it’s simply cheaper and more effective to have major federal resources that can be used in the event of a regional disaster. If each state had to entirely take care of its own disaster relief there would be fabulous duplication of effort as each state tried to be prepared for the worst case scenario. Disaster preparedness would also vary wildly between states, they differ greatly in both size, wealth, and prevalence of natural disasters. Again, note I’m not saying that states shouldn’t have disaster relief plans, I’m saying it only makes sense to have preparation and resources on multiple levels. For example a state could suffer a disaster so great that even ample local disaster preparation is overwhelmed. Having a central agency to both send in government resources and coordinate rescue efforts from other states is going to speed up  recovery efforts and save lives. I find it hard to believe that some people think the government shouldn’t save lives, even so, simply from an economic standpoint everyone in the country benefits if the affected areas are brought back to normalcy as soon as possible so that normal economic activity can resume. Right? The sooner people can get back to work … the sooner they start paying taxes again. Humanitarian concerns aside, it still makes perfect sense to use the federal government resources to get a disaster affected region back on its feet.

The privatization remark is frankly, somewhere between weird and deceptive. First of all, we have privatized disaster relief. They are called insurance companies, any individual or business that wants to avail themselves of their services is welcome to do so. Since this is the case, I can only assume Mr Romney thinks that federal and state governments, instead of taking care of disaster relief directly, take out insurance policies on infrastructure and such? Really? So in the event of a natural disaster all the president or governor has to do is call an insurance agent? It takes very little imagination to see how that might go wrong. It also means that huge companies will profit from natural disasters. Again, think about some of the implications of that. Privatizing disaster relief isn’t just an impractical idea, it’s downright immoral on some levels. Note I am not saying that governments shouldn’t make full use of private contractors when the need arises for disaster relief, I’m saying that the government needs to be able to do whatever is necessary to save lives and respond to a natural disaster in a timely and effective way, and that it can’t leave such decisions up to private companies motivated purely by profit.

Lastly we come to the idea that borrowing money for disaster relief is wrong. Excuse me? First of all, since the government has been running a deficit for decades, this argument could be used against any government spending. Right off the bat that’s a sign of a weak argument. And it’s also a sign of a failure to understand that borrowing money is how business is done in the USA. An entrepreneur borrows money to build a factory, and if they are successful, they profit and the lender profits. Borrowing money is at the freaking core of capitalism, modern business couldn’t do without it. And the economic payoffs from disaster relief are enormous, getting commerce back on its feet quickly after a disaster is going to increase wages and taxes, a much better return than a lot of other government spending.

In conclusion, Mr Romney’s thinking on disaster relief is either blatantly deceptive, propaganda for insurance companies and other wealthy interests that would benefit from his policies … or it’s alarmingly naive and sophomoric. I see no other options.

(The above image is a shark swimming through the streets of New Jersey flooded by Hurricane Sandy. Poor shark. Of course it’s a fake, though such is possible. Many fake Sandy photos have been circulating, many of them can be viewed here. New Jersey was the site of the original shark attacks in 1916 that inspired jaws, one of which occurred in a  creek 16 miles from the sea!)

Written by unitedcats

October 31, 2012 at 1:15 pm

The very last Obama-Romney “debate.” Thank God, I couldn’t take another one.

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Here is my unscripted, unedited, sometimes patently offensive responses to the debate as it occurred. Apologies in advance, this is to reproduced to stimulate thought and discussion, not to get anyone’s knickers in a twist. And I was subsequently presented with reasonable argument and already changed my mind about one thing I said below, enjoy:

Debate started. 2 minutes of pure lies and BS by Romney. This will be fun.

Followed by two minutes of gibberish from Obama.

And now Mitt is promising to fix all the problems in the Middle East!

Lies and gibberish back and forth.

Israel is NOT our ally, tired of that lie.

Romney is going to wave a magic wand and turn Syria into our ally.

And now Obama is claiming Libya was a brilliant success. @@

How the hell did Americans get the idea that we get to decide who is running other countries? Worse, how the hell have they not noticed that this almost always makes things worse?

And Romney could have made things turn out better in Egypt, must be nice to have God like powers. And now he’s going to promote peace!

And now Romney is claiming our economy is the problem with our foreign policy, cheap shot.

Right, America is the “indispensable nation.” Dogmeat.

And Romney’s magic wand is going to work on the economy as well! He got in some teacher bashing, nice.

They ran out of “foreign policy” and are going on and on a about economic fantasies.

“Let me get back to foreign policy.” The moderator is pretending to have balls. They ignored him.

Lies and more lies about health care.

“You don’t balance your budget, you’re out of business.” I guess Romney wasn’t including Wall Street where if you don’t balance your budget, the government bails you out.

Arguing about military budget trivia when we are spending more money on our military than the rest of the world combined is surreal.

Right, Obama is going to help veterans. He forgot to do that during the past four years?

And now the comic book world where Iran attacks Israel. We are cooperating with Israel? Maybe. They return the favour by spying on us and influencing our politics. Some ally.

And now Obama’s bragging about destroying Iran’s economy. And apparently mixing up the real Iran with Hollywood Iran.

Neither of them seem to remember that Iran has China and Russia as friends, Putin has stated that an attack on Iran would be considered an attack on Russia.

Iran agreed to a deal a few years back that would have absolutely prevented them from developing nuclear weapons. The US put the kibosh on the deal. So we made this mess, and everything they are spewing about Iran’s nuclear program is lies. Lies, lies, lies.

Obama you LYING SACK OF SHIT. No matter WHAT Iran agrees to the USA will just make more demands.

Lies, lies, lies, lies. Romney will repeat the same lies though.

And now the mewling crap about American weakness and apologies overseas.

You are such a moron Romney, I think he actually believes that if he just puffs out his chest and acts tough other countries will magically roll over and do our bidding.

“Four years closer to a nuclear Iran.” No matter how many times Romney says it, it’s still a lie.

How terrible Obama feels about the tiny number of toy rockets fired at Israel, near children’s bedrooms even. When is he going to visit Pakistan and feel sorry for the hundreds of children our vastly more deadly missiles have killed?

Oh God, invoking 9/11. Um, we didn’t bring OBL to justice, we murdered him. There really is a difference.

“Move Pakistan in the right direction.” Romney has a vivid fantasy life, that’s for sure.

“Pakistan isn’t acting like an ally???? We’re fucking bombing them, what kind of ally does that make us?

Oh good, more flying death squads, Romney promises. News flash: The USA is more hated than India in Pakistan because of our drone strikes.

And now Obama is going to stop corruption, enforce women’s rights, and guarantee free enterprise and democracy in countries like Somalia and Yemen. He’s as delusional (or dishonest) as Romney.

Fortunately the moderator is making sure the debate is framed in the fantasy propaganda world that both sides are spewing, some debate.

“The world’s greatest security threat is a nuclear Iran.” Pure, unadulterated dogshit.

It’s all China’s fault. Romney is going to fix that too.

“You gotta play by the rules.” The US has ignored the rules since WW2, Snort.

And now they’re back on the auto industry, irrelevant lies and gibberish.

It’s like watching ten year olds “debate.”

Shoulda watched the Giants. At least there will be a clear winner and loser, and the rules will be followed.

Romney is going to save the middle class. Snort.

Romney’s concern for suffering Americans, Oh my.

“America as the hope of the Earth.” That’s beyond narcissistic, I think hubris is the word that applies.

It’s over, going to soak my brain in beer to get the taste of the candidates out of it.

Post debate: Obama fiddled to his base beautifully. Romney less so, but he didn’t eat his tie and he held his ground even when being pummeled; he played well in Peoria I expect. Both stayed safely within the America the Saviour fantasy script. I don’t really care who wins, I really meant it when I said this feels like when the Praetorian Guard auctioned off the Empire of Rome to the highest bidder. It didn’t really matter then who won the bidding, the forces already in motion weren’t going to be stayed by mortal man. Whoever wins this election reaps the whirlwind. That usually doesn’t end well.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. I think this was Romney’s biggest gaffe. Today’s navy is a little bit larger than the one Obama got from Bush, so it was insane to think they could attack Obama on this. And Obama handled it brilliantly to boot. My absolute final say on the debate: All posture, no substance.)

Written by unitedcats

October 23, 2012 at 7:56 am

Land Mines for Liberals

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I watched the debate. Much of it at least. Both Obama and Romney make my flesh crawl, so I had to take breaks. It’s over though. I don’t think a winner has been officially declared yet. I have debated the debate with some friends, and perused some Facebook Posts, but otherwise haven’t looked at how the pundits are reacting to the debate. My raw unscripted reaction as it were:

First off, I was appalled at how the mainstream media framed the debate. At least the channel I was watching made a big deal about how much “momentum” Romney had, and they so much as said that Obama had to win big to get back in the race. Yes, the election of the president of the most powerful nation the world has ever seen reduced to a shallow popularity contest at best. Racing cockroaches at worst. Hmm, did I type that aloud? As an aside from the facile shallowness of this approach to a presidential debate, it also sets Obama up to fail. Unless he dominates Romney, he loses. Say what?

Then, the questions. Every one I heard, and I heard most or all of them, seemed like a carefully constructed liberal land mine. IE a question designed to trip up liberals, basically questions that the conservative ideology on was very clear, so any answer that didn’t satisfy that was doomed to fail. There were no questions where Obama could shine. How the hell did this happen? Was the debate specifically set up so that Obama would fail? Hmm.

Worse, when presented with these clearly biased questions, instead of going on the offense, Obama fell back on liberal talking points. My favourite was the gun control question. Obama’s record on gun control is zilch, in fact he has let some gun control laws lapse without a fight. Even then, he has been endlessly pilloried by the right as a threat to gun ownership. So what does he do when the question comes up? He talks about gun control! He might as well have announced he was the anti-Christ. He could have pointed out that the Supreme Court had ruled that the second amendment guaranteed the Right to Bear Arms, and pretty much left it at that. It’s not like he was going to lose any liberal votes. Instead the next issue of the National Rifleman practically writes itself.

That in a nutshell was why I think by accident or design Obama threw the debate and the election. He preached to the choir, when he needed to appeal to Ron Paulists, intelligent conservatives, hard-core green voters, and militarists. I know this because I’m a card-carrying member of all four. Obama failed to redirect his message at the people he most needed to reach. This is the kiss of death. Granted Romney did no better, but he didn’t have to. All he had to do was look presidential while he pontificated, and he was golden. Romney looked Reaganesque to me, that may be all it takes to get a white back in the White House.

Granted I am biased, and there is absolutely no doubt that people’s preconceptions will colour how they view this debate. “They saw a game” as it were. I saw Obama set up to be a clown, and despite his best efforts, he came off as one. His liberal base is already crowing victory I see, but I also see that conservatives have ample new ammunition. There are advantages to having friends and associates from all over the political spectrum. I get to hear everyone’s prejudices. This makes me the most prejudiced one of all.

So my current thinking is that Romney is going to win the election, and the liberals are screwed no matter what happens. If things go great (snort, but it could happen) then of course Romney saved us all! And if things go to shit, it was all Obama’s fault!

Obama has been pwned. I hope I’m wrong.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Us under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, etc. It’s from the Facebook group: Binders Full of Women. yes, things move quickly in cyberspace. I used it because I thought it was funny, and an example of how quickly memes explode these days. Within an hour of the debate and Romney’s “Binders full of women:” remark there’s already a viral response to it. Such an age we live in. )

Written by unitedcats

October 16, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Sliming Towards Babylon

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I’ve been involved in a  work project the past four days that has kept me tired and covered in sawdust. Neither is terribly conducive to blogging. I did get one post sort of written, but it stalled. So here I am, churning out a random post. Well, not entirely random I suppose. In fact generating a post by random would just yield gibberish in virtually all cases. No, these are the disjointed and tired thoughts of an aging hominid on the surface of an unremarkable planet orbiting an unremarkable star. OK, mostly gibberish.

Well, Romney looks like he’s going down in flames. He can’t even make a joke anymore without getting pilloried. He does seem to have a way of putting his foot in his mouth. I’m back to my original 2012 election analysis of some time ago, The Repubs will field a weak candidate because no one in their right mind wants to take on Obama. And the Repubs are also paying for four years of obstructionism; I mean, for four years, if Obama did it, they were agin it. Their programmed core voters of course all know Obama is a socialist who is destroying the country, the same way Liberal core voters think Obama is some sort of liberal humanitarian, but to win the election the Republicans needed to appeal to middle of the road voters and just in general people who don’t strongly identify with either party. And not only have the Repubs failed to do this, they seem to have gone out of their way to alienate a number of demographics. Right now I’m calling the election for Obama.

In science news, scientists have been studying how slime mould might take over the world. Helpful illustration above. Yes, scientists really did cover a globe with agar and corn flakes to see how a slime mould would spread. For those unfamiliar with slime mould, it’s a mould that grows branches in search of food. Is there any practical use for this research, or are scientists just wasting money? Of course there is! People who think scientists should study useful things are idiots. Idiots in the sense that their opinion shows they know dipsquat about science. There’s nothing stupider than someone who holds an opinion about something they are ignorant about. Why is it idiocy? Because there’s simply no way to tell in advance what research may lead to useful advances. In this case scientists are interested in slime mould’s pathfinding ability, and this research someday might contribute to designing transportation systems. That’s a pretty practical application from growing mould on a globe.

Speaking of the global scene, the chances of war have gone down, though it’s still ugly. And it’s already war, so I mean a bigger war. It is fascinating to me how we have drifted from being more or less at peace to being in constant war. In the eighties if a US serviceman died overseas, it was front page news. Now they die all the time and no one cares. (Political posturing doesn’t count.) Syria is in full armed insurrection. It’s not really a civil war, but the media’s use of war terminology is muddy at best. Ahmadinejad showed that his international diplomacy skills are on par with Romney’s. A lot of what he says makes perfect sense, but if he’d leave out the egregious insults to Israel and Jews he’d make a lot more headway on the world scene. His term is almost up, that should be interesting. Afghanistan: We’ve surrendered to the Taliban, but aren’t going to admit it until after the election. IE all joint training and exercises with the Afghan army have been halted. It’s over folks.

BS aside, world drought and climate changes are the elephants in the room. My contacts in the Midwest say they’ve never seen anything like it before. There’s been serious global drought issues for a number of years now, and it may get worse. Arctic ice is at unprecedented lows this fall as well. World wide bacon shortage unavoidable at this point. Some sort of secret plot of Obama’s no doubt. I think humanity may survive, but the global civilization we have built has foundations of sand. And a Wind is Rising.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is being used for educational purposes. The fine scientist who holds the copyright: Professor Adam Adamatzky. I’ll end with a science nerd joke: We don’t allow faster than light neutrinos in here, said the bartender. A neutrino walks into a bar.)

Chemtrails, Romney, Clint Eastwood, and Turkey Vultures

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Well, not making much progress on the chemtrails post. OK, no progress. I want to be objective, but I keep running into a reef. For the chemtrails theory to be true, one of two things must be happening. The nation’s air traffic control system must be compromised as part of the plot, or somehow airliners or other scheduled flights must be secretly equipped with spraying apparatus. Either possibility would seem to involve so many co-conspirators as to defy credulity. Someone did post a video in a comment though, and I’ll watch it soon enough. I just tried to watch the video of Clint Eastwood’s speech at the RNC. I only watched a minute or so. It was painful. Incredibly painful. I guess the RNC thought they were getting a rousing speech by Harry Callahan, of Dirty Harry fame. Instead they got a rambling mumbling old man. Gran Torino could have been his legacy, if he’s lucky it will be and this sad swan song will be forgotten. It’s the end of an era.

I’ve given some thought to the comment left on the last post claiming that maybe rapists should be given some parental rights, because children raised with two parents do better than children raised by one. And after careful thought, the commenter is wrong. I don’t believe that forcibly impregnating a women gives a rapist any parental rights. That’s literally no different than the biblical: “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives” (Deuteronomy 22:28–29). This is barbaric. Though if one wants to read a lovely modern Christian apologist writing about this, go here. It’s a good way to give one’s gag reflex a work out. I’m really tired of people twisting the Bible’s sickeningly patriarchal view that women are property of men into some sort of faux concern for women. The fact that 31 states give rapists some parental rights shows how far we have to go. If a woman who was impregnated by a rapist wants to have the rapist in her life, that’s her decision. If she wants to give him some parental rights, he can adopt the child.

This election is starting to get to me like the invasion of Iraq did. IE I feel like being drunk all the time to make the pain go away. While I am no fan of the Democrats, the Republicans are clearly in a race to the bottom. They spent the past four years doing everything they could to obstruct and delegitimize Obama (Yes, I looked it up, record number of filibusters in Congress.) And now their campaign is that Obama didn’t accomplish anything! Well, actually, he accomplished quite a lot. And even Mitt waded into the mud shit with his “no one has asked me about my birth certificate.” There’s a reason for that Mitt, it’s because you are white. Mr Romney might as well have said “Vote for me and get that nigger out of the White House.” Classy, real classy. Then there’s the Republican platform, which among other things calls for changing the Constitution to make fertilized eggs into human beings. There’s so many things sick and wrong with that idea it’s scary. And no, it’s not about “saving babies.” It’s about making sure woman are breeding cows, as the Bible intended. (Don’t worry, I’ve got some uncharitable things to say about our war-mongering so-called progressives in an upcoming post.)

I put up the bird comic for a variety of reasons. For one I thought it was funny. Secondly it challenges people to look at things from different perspectives. Lastly a reminder that we aren’t that far away from Turkey Vultures evolutionary speaking. And we both started from the same place, segmented worms of some sort. Humans are basically a highly evolved segmented worm. Our ribs being the last vestige of the segments, but we’re still basically a worm, a big fleshy tube where food goes in one end and waste goes out the other. Evolution is awesome. I’m also getting tired of the endless efforts to teach the Christian Creation myth as some sort of theory on par with the Theory of Evolution. No, creationism has zero scientific creds, and since it isn’t testable, it’s not even a scientific theory. Creationism is no different than any other creation myth, and there are thousands of them. Which is not an attack on religion, it’s an attack on religions that are still stuck in the Bronze Age.

Have a great weekend everyone!

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s all over Facebook, so it’s likely in the public domain. Credit and copyright: Bird and Moon Comics. Yes, my posts are getting more random. It’s more fun to write a random post, what can I say.)

Written by unitedcats

August 31, 2012 at 10:22 am

Confessions of a Gun Nut … and the Lies of the NRA

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I admit it, as a young man I was a gun nut. I mean, yeesh, it was easy. Walk into a store, give them money, walk out with guns and ammo. Drive out to the desert and shoot everything in sight, how could I resist? I didn’t, I must have fired thousands of rounds through dozens of guns in my day. Even worse, I was an irresponsible gun nut. There were times and places where I should not have been shooting, and there were times and places where I stored or used guns in a terribly unsafe way. I can recall two accidental discharges where it was only a matter of inches and a terrible tragedy would have resulted. So I was a lucky gun nut, I grew up and became a responsible gun owner before something terrible happened.

I look back now, and yes, it was too easy for me to get guns. And some of the guns I was able to easily get were dangerous or completely beyond any reasonable sporting or self defence need. And the “education” I was required to get in order to buy and use these guns was a joke. There were reasonable and practical laws and regulations that would have made me a much safer gun nut. I wasn’t some lunatic who was determined to get a gun and kill people; and if I had been, yes, laws and regulations wouldn’t have stopped me.

Which highlights the first and possibly the biggest lie the gun lobby uses to derail discussion of gun regulation. The claim that “criminals and lunatics will be able to get guns no matter what the laws.” True. As far as it goes. The problem with this “argument” is twofold. If a law makes it harder for criminals and lunatics to get guns without taking away law abiding citizens rights, that’s a fucking problem? Arguing that criminals will always be able to get guns so gun regulation is useless, is literally saying “we should make it as easy as possible for criminals and lunatics to get gets.” Excuse me, but that’s fucktard insane. As Mr Holmes and many like him have more than amply demonstrated.

Secondly, and more insidious, the “criminals will get guns” argument completely ignores the fact that a tremendous amount of gun violence does not involve criminals or lunatics. More than half the gun deaths in the USA are suicides, over 15,000 deaths a year. And there’s more 20,000 accidental gunshot injuries in the USA every year, including over 500 deaths. Again, if laws and regulations might make some of these suicides and accidents less likely, there’s a problem with that? Wait some are saying, if someone is going to kill themselves, they will find a way, how can gun control prevent those deaths? Listen closely, because this is something that a lot of people don’t want people to know gentle reader. A lot of human behaviour, and that most certainly includes suicides, is impulsive.  It’s not planned, it’s not premeditated, it’s just a spur of the moment combination of opportunity and impulse. We know this, both from people who survive suicide attempts, and from the fact that when “suicide magnets” like the Golden Gate Bridge are made suicide proof, local suicide rates go down. And, obviously, a certain percentage of homicides have to be impulsive events as well.

And let’s look at the accidental deaths thing a bit more. A lot of these are children. Again, if we can reduce these deaths without infringing on anyone’s rights, what the hell is the problem? In fact (look it up,) the gun industry has managed to  insulate itself from most simple product safety law. It’s, literally, as if the automobile industry was able to prevent mandatory safety glass or seat belts. A great example, the Ruger company for several decades until the seventies manufactured and sold “Old Model” revolvers. These were revolvers built to a nineteenth century design. They were simple, they were elegant, they were beautiful … and if jarred or dropped, they would fire. At least 600 deaths, many children, have resulted from this company’s decision to market an unsafe gun. To this day they have avoided being required to recall them. Americans have a right to buy unsafe guns? Give me a break.

Speaking of infringing on rights, the NRA and it’s supporters ignore the fact that a few years back the Supreme Court ruled that the second amendment means that Americans do indeed have a right to bear arms. They continue to rant (yes, that’s the word) about how liberals and/or Obama are going to somehow confiscate American’s guns. Can’t happen without changing the Constitution, and that’s not about to happen anytime soon. Their hysterical preaching encourages Americans to buy and stockpile guns and ammo. One would think they were just a shill for the gun industry. Actually, that’s exactly what I think. I’d call them a prostitute for the gun industry, but that would be an insult to prostitutes.  They do everything they can to glorify guns, and wrap themselves in the flag while they are at it. The NRA was once a fairly responsible organization, I know, I was a member for years.

And while on the topic of glorifying guns, Hollywood has a lot of blood on its hands too. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the single person gun massacre is a late 20th century phenomena in the USA. Endless movies glorifying gun violence, and more importantly, glorifying retribution on your enemies by getting mad and shooting a bunch of them is a central theme in Hollywood. A meta-study of 5,000 studies looking at the the link between media and violence found that all but 18 of them found some linkage, and 12 of those 18 were funded by media interests. Sure, normal healthy people aren’t going to run out and shoot people because of violence on TV or in the movies, but not everyone is normal and healthy! Basically it’s a fact that media violence plays some role in inspiring real world violence, monkey see, monkey do.

My point, is that gun violence encompasses a vast array of violence with multiple and complex causes. It’s  simplistic and wrong to claim that guns are the problem, though frankly not as simplistic and wrong to claim that guns aren’t part of the problem. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” may sound all righteous and holy, but how the hell does that translate into “We shouldn’t do anything to keep guns out of the hands of lunatics and criminals?” It doesn’t of course, and there’s all sorts of things that could be done to address the problem without infringing on anyone’s rights. Which will be the topic of a upcoming post.

And yes, I decided to post this blog today because of yesterday’s mass shooting in Wisconsin. The details aren’t all in yet, but we do know that Wisconsin has some of the most permissive gun laws in the nation.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. That’s a recent cover of the NRA’s magazine, which used to be called “The American Rifleman” back when it was a reasonably responsible organization. Replace “election” with “organization,” and it describes the contemporary NRA quite nicely.)

Written by unitedcats

August 6, 2012 at 8:03 am

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