Stuff written in: “Politics”

Save a Pelican – Dunk Sarah in the Gulf

Jane says…

Here’s what Sarah Palin said about who is responsible for the oil spill in the gulf:

“With [environmentalists'] nonsensical efforts to lock up safer drilling areas, all you’re doing is outsourcing energy development, which makes us more controlled by foreign countries, less safe, and less prosperous on a dirtier planet. Your hypocrisy is showing. You’re not preventing environmental hazards; you’re outsourcing them and making drilling more dangerous.

Extreme deep water drilling is not the preferred choice to meet our country’s energy needs, but your protests and lawsuits and lies about onshore and shallow water drilling have locked up safer areas. It’s catching up with you. The tragic, unprecedented deep water Gulf oil spill proves it.”

Sarah Palin is a clown. A stupid clown. Not even a fun, non-threatening, balloon animal making clown, but a scary, dumb, John Wayne Gacy clown.

Because environmentalists argue against drilling in environmentally fragile and valuable ecosystems like the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, oil companies are FORCED to engage in deep water drilling and are FORCED, at gunpoint, I believe, by tree hugging vegan environmentalists weilding Kalashnikovs (commies, you know) to install faulty equipment and violate safety standards and claim massive profits. Those nutty, lying, freedom-hatin’ environmentalists are responsible for BP’s 760 safety violations citations. Apparently, the environmentalists were asleep at the switch or else their resources were spread to thin to attack all the oil companies at once, because Exxon has had 1 safety violation citation in the same time period.

Listen up, clownlady. Less yammering on about the poor oppressed oil companies suffering at the hands of greedy environmentalists, more talk about renewable, non-polluting sources of energy. You can’t be a leader, in whatever bizarro incarnation you are hoping to become, if you can’t offer solutions.

…but Dan thinks…

Jane and I aren’t always on opposite sides of an issue. True story.

Take today, for example. I’m pretty sure if you were to ask an environmentalist (a person for whom the term “nutbag” also comes to mind for me), they’d tell you they want cars to run on rainbows and sunshine.

Not oil from the sand.

Not a well on the land.

Not oil obtained using a bore.

Even when it came from way off shore.

I read the Sarah Palin quote indirectly blaming environmentalists for the BP rig explosion and subsequent unabated oil leak, and I’m reminded of a fight I broke up between my kids yesterday. You see, there was a spider on my son’s arm. So he hit my daughter.

Makes perfect sense, right?

I'd hit that. In the good way. And probably the bad way, too.I don’t hang out in the Self Improvement section at the local Barnes & Noble, but I’ve dabbled in Tony Robbins. I think Sarah should meet Tony. First, because he could hold her and squeeze her and pet her and love her like a little Daffy Duck (Tony’s ENORMOUS). But second, he could tell her that everyone’s responsible for their own actions/reactions. That you can’t blame someone else for the way you behave. Your behavior, a 3 year old punching his older sister or an oil company operating in a dangerous manner and not having plans prepared for swift intervention should something go wrong, is on you. Your fault. Nobody else’s. That’s the education my son got, and it’s the education I’d give BP and Sarah Palin. Childish for either to think otherwise. But my son’s three, so I cut him some slack. Palin I would totally spank for what she said. And not in the good way. (Ok, maybe in the good way.)

And here’s the other thing. There’s a finite quantity of oil in the ground. Even if you put everything else aside – the oil leak, combustion engines causing harm to Earth’s atmosphere, the pollution of ground water, etc? It’s still a finite resource. One day there won’t be anymore of it. And we need that oil to make plastic. You know, the mouse to your right? The frame of the monitor you’re reading this on? The thing you use when uh, your husband’s not around? Plastic, plastic, plastic.

We can fuel our daily travels on something other than petroleum, but I’ll be damned if we don’t need plastic as much as a diabetic needs syringes full of insulin (which are also made from plastic!).

Sarah. Sweetie. I’ll never be a member of your double entendre party, but I like to consider myself a conservative on many issues. You make it embarrassing for me to admit that in public.

You’re trying to assign liberal blame to everything, everywhere, and it makes you look either nutbag crazy, party blind or just plain old stupid.

Who won this debate? 121112

NASA Saved Your Boobs, So You Kinda Owe Them

Dan says…

Yesterday the space shuttle Atlantis returned from it’s final mission before being retired. The remaining two shuttles in NASA’s fleet, Endeavor and Discovery, will be flying their final missions later this year.

After that? In six months? The United States will not have a single vehicle capable of taking humans into space. If US astronauts want to go into space after that, they’ll have to either drink the cyanide-flavored Kool-Aid and wait for Hale-Bopp to come around again, or hitch a ride on a Russian rocket.

I know President Obama, and he is no astronaut.  Wait.  Yes he is.

Why? President Obama is scrapping Constellation, NASA’s program to succeed the shuttle program for manned space flight. High costs and changing priorities were his primary reasons.

But in the same breath he also said he’s committing $1.2 billion MORE dollars to the space program annually, over the current budget, and that he hopes that funding will help to create more jobs.

Well, sorta.

Some of that money is earmarked to help get the private sector up to speed on building spaceships. Uh, right. For less than a billion a year (not all of the money is destined for the private sector), President Obama expects the private sector to be able to design, build, test and deliver spacecraft that will be cheaper and safer than what NASA, a huge collection of the smartest people on the planet, with a much larger budget, can do.

Kind of like farming out the military budget to the local militias.

President Obama thinks we shouldn’t bother going to the moon again, and I kind of agree. We’ve been there. Six times. We’re the only country to ever have done it. However, the Constellation program was about building craft and developing technologies capable of sending humans to Mars. The moon was sort of supposed to be practice. Work the kinks out before the family truckster gets all gassed up for the really big trip. By scrapping the moon and Constellation, he’s effectively pushing a manned mission to Mars out well beyond the 2030’s, as he speculates, beyond the time that he’d “expect to be around to see it happen.”

Mars is doable, peeps. Robert Zubrin, one of space exploration’s bigger brainiacs, wrote a book in 1997 titled The Case for Mars (which I’ve read, twice), that lays out several ingenious, low-cost, efficient ways to get people to and from Mars with some regularity. $20-30 billion, from blueprints to sandy Mars footprints.

Obama’s right, though. Times are different. After all the financial giveaways and lingering shitbowl economy, money’s tight. And NASA’s expensive. NASA’s budget this year is $19 billion, and on average, $10 billion of that would go to the Constellation program for the next ten years. With Constellation scrapped, it’d free up most (not all) of that money to go toward other priorities Obama outlined, including upgrades to the Kennedy Space Center, the successor to the Hubble telescope, and unmanned missions deeper into space. All worthy objectives. But it ain’t Mars.

And b-b-b-billions spent on space is a lot of money, without question. Until you compare it to t-t-t-trillions. The national budget for 2010 is about $3.6 trillion. Of that, $1,700 billion is spent on social programs. Is another few billion siphoned from NASA really going to help the American condition?

Anyway, what does NASA do to help us in our daily lives? I mean, what does having men and women in space do for us, other than provide a library worth of video of guys in blue jumpsuits gobbling up floating m&m’s?

Well? You like boobs, right? Men like ‘em. Women like to keep ‘em, not losing them or their lives to breast cancer. Well? NASA SAVES boobs. Mammograms? Biopsies that don’t require massive breast resection just to get a tissue sample? That came from the imaging technologies developed for Earth-orbit telescopes.

And there’s In-home water purification. And rain water purification for developing countries.

Satellite radio and GPS systems.

Cordless tools.

Medical devices.

Fire-resistant materials.

Smoke detectors.

The list is really, really long.

And the technologies developed to get man to Mars will only add to that list. Better insulation technologies. Better heating technologies. Think of all the tech required to turn a vast desert into a somewhat hospitable place for humans to set up shop. That kind of tech can absolutely be translated to helping us Earthbound brethren in solving infrastructure challenges in underdeveloped countries, not to mention our own homes.

Obama claims the $6 billion (over 5 years) he’s adding to NASA’s budget is going to result in more jobs. And he’s right, in a robbing Peter to pay Paul kind of way. The 7,000 people estimated to be jobless as a result of the retirement of the space shuttle fleet and the cancellation of Constellation will be looking for jobs, and some of them may even find new jobs at NASA or in the private sector with that additional funding.

But probably not all of them. So no, it’s not going to result in NEW new jobs, just the re-employment of some of the people who used to have jobs.

Manned spaceflight is important. It forces our best and brightest to find solutions for problems we didn’t know needed addressing, and so far in NASA’s 50 year history, that’s resulted in tangible improvements to the daily lives of Americans and people less fortunate the world over. All of that makes manned spaceflight worth the investment.

The added pride, the celebration of the achievement of humanity, and the re-establishment of the United States as the pre-eminent leader in all things outerworldly (because China, Russia, India and Japan are all working toward manned moon missions in the next ten years)? That’s gravy. Everyone loves gravy.

…but Jane thinks…

If NASA engineering had gone into the construction of the now famous “blowoff preventer,” instead of Halliburton’s for-profit manufactured and seriously faulty work, the Gulf of Mexico might not currently be soaked in oil. The list of innovations and creative applications of technology afforded all of us because of NASA’s work is staggering. There is no question in my mind that as far as government agencies go, NASA has its act together more than most. Nevertheless, pursuing space exploration further at this time would be an irresponsible use of resources.

One of the critics of Obama’s “anemic” new space exploration budget, James Logsdon (professor emeritus at George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute and author of “The Decision to Go to the Moon: Project Apollo and the National Interest) said this in a round table discussion on the topic: ” The principal benefits from human spaceflight are intangible, but nevertheless substantial. The moon missions of the ’60s instilled in Americans a sense of “international prestige and national pride’…”

You know what else instills a sense of international prestige and national pride? Not having an economy on par with a third world banana republic on the eve of a drug cartel supported coup. Know what else? Not mucking up the planet to such a degree that we have to claim responsibility for the extinction of species, holes in the ozone layer, air and water pollution, and the squandering of precious natural resources.

There’s no reason why the innovations that have resulted from space exploration programs needs to come to a grinding halt. Our scientific capabilities allow for simulations of space travel that can yield tremendous benefits. The potential job losses due to the cutbacks in funding are as yet unknown; so many private companies are already massive contributers of parts, services, labor, and support to the space program, that it would be specious to imply, as some have (not Dan) that the entire population of space program associated employees of NASA will soon be out on the streets, pink slips in hand.

And, as Esther Dyson pointed out, “The U.S. Defense Department may have created the Internet, but had it kept control of the technology, it’s unlikely the Web would have become the vibrant public resource it is today. That credit goes to the investment and activity of private citizens and private companies, starting in the late 1980s and early 1990s.”

Didn't your mother tell you to clean up after yourself?

Exploration of space is cool. No doubt about it. Far more little kids go to bed at night dreaming of riding in a rocket to Mars than drift off contemplating their glorious futures as inventors of non-polluting, clean energy sources. But right now, we have bigger fish to fry (New! Pre-oiled for your convenience!). Beyond merely being cool, space exploration should be a goal for many of the reasons Dan cited. But until we’ve managed to secure our borders from people who wish to do us harm, protect and preserve our planet and its most fragile and defenseless inhabitants, clean up the already more than 6,000 satellites already launched and junking up the stratosphere as well as the debris from prior launches, explosions, and spacecraft breakdowns, steady and grow our economy, and provide for the educational, nutritional, and healthcare needs of all of our own citizens, it’s a luxury we can’t afford. And as for inhabiting Mars? Let’s prove that we can manage the planet we’ve already got before we go and screw up another one.

Who won this debate? 1817

Jock Ewing Nailed It

Dan says…

“Power isn’t something you’re given. It’s something you take.” – Jock Ewing, Ewing Oil

I’m worried that our president doesn’t know how to seize power. That he’s a sheep in Armani clothing.

During the campaign run-up to the 2008 presidential election, somewhere on the pages of, I commented about the candidate Barack Obama and what I felt was one of his shortcomings.

I said it had seemed that in positions Obama held leading up to and including public office, he was always feeling like he needed that next job up in order to make a difference. In order to have the power needed to really affect change, he needed to be one rung higher on the ladder. And my worry was that his lack of ability to make things happen in his other positions would occur in this one as well, as president, and there were no further rungs to climb on this ladder in the hopes of being more powerful before he could actually DO something.

Me smart monkey!Jock Ewing nailed it. If you can’t get things done as President, you can’t get things done. Power isn’t something you get from your position (though it can help). Power is something you create, straight out of thin air, from force of will, intelligence and a keen understanding of the motivations, strengths and weaknesses of those around you.

I’m worried that the man I voted for isn’t a powerful man. Clearly he’s a really bright man, but so what. I’m bright too, and here I am, an organ grinder monkey on a freakin blog.

Yeah, I'm gonna need you to go ahead and pass healthcare reformObama is also a good orator. I’m good with my mouth too, but, well, nevermind. It’s been suggested that I keep my mouth in my pants. Or something. I don’t recall. I like whiskey, remember? But Christ, it felt good when Obama stood in front of that podium and said “Universal healthcare in 12 months” didn’t it? Now it’s looking like he was more talk than action. The Bill Lumbergh of the White House.

Where was I? Right. Obama. He’s also good with PR. Like the Beer Summit. Live televised selection of his NCAA bracket on ESPN. Opining on Kanye West and steroids in baseball. Seriously? Fuck all that shit, Mr. President. You gave mansions full of money to prevent financial institutions from folding during the mortgage crisis, but it’s now looking like you were just a sucker with his money: soon parted. The financials knew you couldn’t allow them to fold, so they drove themselves Thelma & Louise style right off the cliff, and you caught them. And now they’re not behaving much better than they did before their rear wheels cleared the rock ledge.

And President Obama let weedhead Barney Frank off the hook for all of it. Why? Politics as usual. I guess that “hopey, changey stuff” was too much to actually hope for.

I can haz Gilette Quattro?And what about the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohaironmyback? As recently as a few days ago the President was hard down on a civilian trial, and trying to make it sound like it was the more badass of the two options when compared to a military trial. And now? Reports are getting out that he might turn 180 degrees and push for a military trial.

What about Afghanistan? Iraq?

Without question, President Obama has inherited a hornet’s nest. But when I cast that vote, I thought I was casting it for a kick ass hornet-wrangler. Not someone that stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Dan, with a slightly less crazy look on his face.  And less face paint.  Dan prefers pink and purple, anyway.Listen. I can’t shoot thunderbolts out my arse and I don’t stand 7 feet tall, but I do feel like I’ve got blue paint on my face and am addressing the Earl of Bruce when I say “Now tell me, what does that mean to be president? Your title gives you claim to the throne of our country, but men don’t follow titles, they follow courage. Now our people know you. Noble and common, they respect you. And if you would just lead them to financial freedom, justice and peace, they’d follow you. And so would I.”

The nickname for POTUS is NOT “Arbitrator of the Free World” or “The Most Powerful Go-Between in the World.” It’s leader. Of the free world.

So fucking lead, already.

…but Jane thinks…

it's the dummies who work in that building yonder, not meYes, he’s good with PR. But this isn’t exactly news, Dan. I would argue, though, that the beer summit didn’t really help him much. My biggest disappointment in Obama’s performance as POTUS so far is that he hasn’t made better use of those PR skills. He’s got an agile mind and he’s a fantastic orator. He’s been testing his voice again on the road lately to promote health care reform and I’m relieved. He won the hearts and minds of American voters because of his ability to connect and inspire, and he hasn’t been doing enough of that.

It is simply ignorant, how ironic given that “I” am nominally the ignoramus at the table, to say that he hasn’t come through and been able to get things done. The list of his accomplishments thus far is impressive. To say that he mishandled the financial crisis is laughable. Are we in a depression? No. Are housing starts up? Yes. Is unemployment, albeit slowly, on the decline? Yes. Are temp hires, an oft-cited indicator of economic recovery, on the upswing? Yes. The president, no matter who he is, cannot be charged with making corporations fall into line in terms of best practices. Commercial regulation is a legislative task.

And there’s the rub. It’s not that Obama isn’t making headway; he is. The appearance that not much is happening is a function of the smoke and mirrors in place at the other end of the mall in D.C. Congress sucks. As conservative commentator David Brooks said recently, “In a senseible country, Obama would be able to clearly define his modern brand of moderate progressivism without fear of offending the people he needs to get legislation passed. But we don’t live in that country. We live in a country in which many live in information cocoons in which they only talk to members of their own party and read blogs of their own sect…a lot of liberals think Obama’s been very weak and he’s not forceful enough. I think he’s been amazingly tenacious on Afghanistan, on health care, on education. Pretty tough guy, I think. A lot of conservatives think he’s a socialist, trying ot turn us into Sweden. Give me a break! Is that what this health care is about? But people like that because they want all differences to be 190 degrees rather than 30 degrees. And so they get to pick that reality because it makes them feel good.” The current and tenacious partisan reality is “Block that Kick.”

And speaking of sports and David Brooks, the conservative pundit, on Meet the Press this week, he said this, “My favorite sport is home runs or singles. And they believe in home runs, or the long bomb (the people saying Obama isn’t living up to it). I, I’m more of a singles guy. I remember when the Mets had a guy named Dave Klingman who like 30 home runs a year and struck out like 500 times a year. I’m more – especially in a culture where people are so cynical about Washington, I think you hit a few singles, you go – you get that thing going so people’ll have some faith in government, and hten they can trust you a little more. I, I’ve just become very averse to this home run mentality.” My god. It’s David Brooks. It’s not even like I have to pull out Olbermann or Maddow or even Chris Matthews to get this perspective. And Dan, you can totally call me on not having my own arguments and using New York Times writers to make my case for me. I happily concede that David Brooks is way smarter than I am.

Look at what Obama inherited. Massive debt, two aimless and expensive wars, a disenfranchised and bewildered populace, a financial crisis unlike any seen in decades, a broken health care system, a rising tide of working poor and unemployed poor, and a Congress so dysfunctional they make the Botwins look like the Huxtables.

Annual Congressional picnic

Why WOULDN'T I include a picture of him? I think Jock Ewing had was a senile old fictional fart who’d inhaled too many petrochemical fumes. If you can lead with a quote uttered by a character from an 80’s television melodrama, I can certainly close with a quote from someone who actually exists and is attentive to the political process, all the while managing to look hot and make kick ass movies. On Charlie Rose the other night, when asked about his perception of Obama’s performance as president so far, Matt Damon said this: “Look, being American is not about leaving it up to your leaders, it’s just not. It’s about agitating at the bottom, because that’s when your leaders listen to you. Your leaders respond to you, not the other way around. And anybody who’s waiting for Barack Obama or George Bush or anybody to lead them to the promise land is going to be waiting a long time. You’ve got to be involved. And change comes from the bottom and not from the top.

If you don’t think Obama is getting the job done, maybe you need to be doing more, not him.

Who won this debate? 1211

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