* When God rolls Her eyes - Blogger friend Ruth Deming raised an interesting question. Why do people such as Bishop Richard Williamson, who I spoke about last week, and actor Mel Gibson deny the Holocaust? I have observed with irritation and consternation such deniers. I imagine it has a strong element of anti-Semitism but belies widespread, objective truth. Perhaps it speaks to the blinding power of prejudice. So often said deniers claim to have a strong connection to their particular religious faith. But does not denying the murder, enslavement and degradation of millions of human beings undermine one’s sense of humanity or claim to a spiritual connection?
* Calling an electrician when the commode does not flush - Given the central role that Republican policy and leadership played in the implosion of the U.S. economy why does the mainstream media genuflect to Republican McConnel, Graham, Pence, Kyle, Cornyn and company for solutions to fix the economy? Especially troublesome is the fact that these “experts” are calling for some of the same policies that helped create the current recession that threatens to become a depression. These are the same legislators that approved tax cuts for the wealthy and rubber-stamped Bush’s debt-exploding budgets while insisting on avoiding oversight of financial institutions. Giving credence to Republicans to fix the economy is analogous to consulting a rectal specialist to do a tax return. Tax returns may feel like a colonoscopy but they require a sharp-penciled accountant.
* Humor of the Week - I had quite a chuckle when Republicans opposed Obama putting a cap on compensation (in the amount of $500,000) for executives whose companies accepted federal bail-out funds. Their reasoning was that these companies would lose the best talent. WHAT TALENT? These are the same incompetents who brought their companies to their economic knees. Rather than worry about losing them the first priority should be to fire the bastards.
Another good laugh occurred watching two Bush rubber-stamp Republicans, Lindsay Graham and John Boehner, crying and whining on virtually every cable news channel about what is wrong with the stimulus bill. I usually do not laugh at pathos but one must remember that we are dealing with thespians relegated from center stage to the supporting cast. YOUR PARTY LOST THE ELECTION(S). Republican policy, greed and hypocrisy were demonstrably rejected. While you wet your pants about the stimulus bill the vast majority of the American people are for it. Now go to your room and no TV.
* Not so funny ~ where did we put that damn rifle? – The Washington Post reports: “Tens of thousands of assault rifles and other firearms in Afghanistan are at risk of being stolen because U.S. officials have lost track of them, according to a congressionally ordered audit that warns that some weapons may already be in Taliban hands… There were no reliable records showing what ultimately happened to an additional 135,000 weapons donated by other NATO countries.” Not only are American troops jeopardized by such incompetency but the American taxpayer is paying for U.S. troop weapons and, in part, the enemy’s weapons. I would call this foreign aid gone awry.
* Not so funny ~ where did we put that damn computer? – The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), operated by the U.S. Dept. of Energy, is one of the largest science and technology institutions in the world. Much of their work is highly classified. This week we learn: “the Lab admits that 67 computers are currently 'missing', and that 13 have been lost or stolen in the past year alone… The magnitude of the security risk that the missing computers pose to LANL is unknown to DOE at this point.” A LANL BlackBerry was recently lost in a "sensitive foreign country." I am sure that there are many competent and conscientious people that serve in our federal government. It also seems that sometimes they all must be on sabbatical. Maxwell Smart meets Inspector Jacques Clouseau, who once said, “There is a time to laugh and a time not to laugh, and this is not one of them.”
* When is a politician a blowhard? ~ almost always - Case in point is Sen. Bill Nelson (D-NE). He is one of the “centrists” responsible for reducing the size of the House stimulus bill. A noted and respected writer for the NY Times, Paul Krugman, said the centrists made the bill weaker and worse. Nelson was asked for his response to Krugman and said, “Well, first of all, they’re not cuts. Let’s just get that up front. These are adjustments downward from numbers that were offered by the House in their version and by the Senate in its version.” The acuity required to make such subtle distinctions does not mask odiferous policy
Nelson and sister centrist Susan Collins (R-ME) exhibited typical political demagoguery when they touted the stimulus bill they helped reduce as being a benefit to education. Matthew Yglesias at Think Progress points out that Collins and Nelson brokered cuts, er, “adjustments” that reduced funding to the Head Start program, school construction and state funding that would contribute to education programs. In an interview on MSNBC Collins argued that what was not reduced from the spending for education was a benefit because some called for no spending. Perhaps there is some merit to such politic speak but it is also misleading in that it excuses not meeting the substantial needs of education in this country.
* When is a Presidential public appearance not public? - Almost every “public” appearance made by former president George W. Bush was staged in front of a specially selected group of people who were aggressively screened for their political/philosophical allegiance. Contrast that with Obama’s appearance at a town hall meeting on Monday in Elkhart, IN. The audience was seated on a first come, first serve basis in a community that strongly supported McCain in the November election.
I also found interesting the fact that under Obama, for the first time, a blogger was issued a White House press pass. During Obama’s first press conference Monday night blogger Sam Stein of the Huffington Post was called on to ask a question. It upset Faux (FOX) News and some reporters that work for traditional news organizations and that is a good thing. During the Bush years it was Huffington Post, TPM Muckraker, dailykos, Think Progress, Firedoglake, Crooks and Liars, americablog, Emptywheel and many other blogs that held Bush accountable while too often mainstream media was satisfied with Bush administration talking points and lies.
* When it’s sick, cure it ~ healthcare - There will be an increasing chorus in America demanding healthcare reform. The current system cannot be sustainable while remaining viable for the majority of Americans. “More and more employers are cutting or dropping health insurance coverage as the economic meltdown gains steam… A growing number of workers in 2009 will pay more for health benefits -- and in some cases receive less coverage… "The Corporate Executive Board found in its survey that a quarter of officials from 350 large corporations said they had increased deductibles an average of 9 percent in 2008. But 30 percent of the employers said they expected to raise deductibles an average of 14 percent in 2009.” The cost of healthcare and protection in America is reaching critical mass. In spite of strong lobbying from health insurers, health providers and the pharmaceutical industry the American people will finally demand reform. I anticipate that Congress will be hard-pressed by constituents to institute healthcare reform programs. The environment that favored special interests is approaching a toxic stage, making candidate Obama’s platform on healthcare more and more viable.
* The next expose – Most readers will recall a number of Michael Moore’s films that included devastating looks at General Motors, the Bush administration and healthcare in the U.S. An email this week from Mr. Moore spoke of a film he is currently producing that examines Wall Street. The note included an appeal to people working in the financial industry: “I am in the middle of shooting my next movie and I am looking for a few brave people who work on Wall Street or in the financial industry to come forward and share with me what they know. Based on those who have already contacted me, I believe there are a number of you who know "the real deal" about the abuses that have been happening. You have information that the American people need to hear. I am humbly asking you for a moment of courage, to be a hero and help me expose the biggest swindle in American history.”
* Evolution ~ despite Orwellian efforts to deny its validity – Today marked the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and this year is the 150th anniversary of the publication of his work On the Origin of Species. I found of particular interest a letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer by Frank Hartzell. He said, in part, “For ideological and religious reasons, political forces have repeatedly attempted to subvert or prevent the teaching of evolution in our public schools. They are intended to create doubt among students, when none exists among scientists.” The Bush administration pandered to influences that denied the validity of science and such narrow thinking was injected into policy throughout the federal government. Many of us are hopeful that the policy of anti-intellectual governance left Washington on the same plane that returned Bush to his ranch.
In a Gallup Poll about evolution conducted February 6 and 7, 2009 I was quite surprised to see the following results: 39% believe in evolution, 25% do not believe in evolution and 36% had no opinion either way. With only 39% of Americans believing in evolution maybe I am missing the proverbial boat and need to brush up on the tenets of Intelligent Design. Perhaps it is more than an ergonomic bathroom sink faucet.
* Quotes by Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882):
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”
“I fully subscribe to the judgment of those writers who maintain that of all the differences between man and the lower animal, the moral sense of conscience is by far the most important....It is the most noble of all the attributes of man.”
“If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.”