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15 September 2011

Laws I would Enact...

First of all, I would never run for public office.  Mostly because I don't think I have the right temperament for it (bullshit and assholes piss me off, and that's all congress seems to be made of).  Also, as an atheist, I am pretty much totally unelectable...  I know, it's a sad truth that somehow I am in America's most hated group (even though having served, I am also in one of the more trusted/respected groups...).  Anyway, I do think that there are several laws that need to be passed (some of these are only half hearted jokes, but some of them I am serious about):
  • Between the time the President's Budget is submitted, and Congress approves it, they shall not gather any pay, nor shall any pay be retroactively awarded.  This no-pay period cannot be bypassed through legislation to increase Congressional salaries.
  • All discretionary or supplemental riders to the President's submitted budget plan must be budget neutral through either cutting of  another program or an appropriate tax increase.
  • No Congressional salary increases shall take effect until after all legislators who voted on the bill have left office.
  • The Debt Ceiling shall be eliminated.  Instead, prior to passing any federal budget, if expenditures are greater than income, a statement shall be read and acknowledged by all members stating that they are also approving the required debt ceiling to pass this budget (that this should even need to be a law is incredibly silly, but this past August showed that it is apparently required...).
  • When Congress authorizes any deceleration of war, there will be an automatically enacted "War Tax" which will cover the expected expenses beyond the currently approved DoD budget.  Any military action taken by the President as Commander in Chief shall also enact a "War Tax" as to be budgetary neutral.
  • Term Limits!
  • Tort reform.
  • Campaign finance reform.
Some sillier laws that I wish would be practical:
  • Since a corporation is considered a person for purposes of campaign contributions, it shall be treated as a person for applicability to all other laws as well.  Much like you can't leave behind your hands or feet when you go somewhere, if any one individual of a corporation is subject to other laws, penalties, or restrictions, so shall ALL members of the corporation be equally subject to those laws.  (In other words, someone gets busted for a DUI or something, everyone in the corporation faces the penalties...  Hey, the corporation is a person, right?)
  • If you wholly deny evolution, then you are only allowed access to medical technology as it existed prior to 1859.  If you are convinced that evolution is somehow guided by something supernatural, then you are allowed medical technology as it stood in 1953. 
  • If you are a climate change denialist, you will be invited to move to Texas, Arizona, or Nevada and provided a free house sans air conditioning (okay this is the silliest one, but seriously how can one deny climate change in this day and age?  (See this comic for my take on it even if you are anti-reality, why you should support cleaning up our act.)
  • If you feel that any laws that protect the air, our food, product safety, etc. are a bad idea, a new chain of stores will be opened where you can buy products that have never been inspected.
Anyway, if you can think of more, maybe we should copy/paste this list and send it to our currently bought (I mean elected) politicians?

12 September 2011

Them thar chickens coming home to roost is a bitch, ain't it Parry?

I could joke about how there is some sort of causality to the problems Texas is having with wildfires, and their governor's bahviour.  However, I think instead, let's look at the sort of shit this idiot pulls, and then looks confused (a normal mental state for the man I think) as to why things are going poorly, even though at one time there were tools to help deal with this situation.  The American Independent has a few words to say about this.  I particularly noticed:
But while Perry complains about the feds’ response, he and Texas lawmakers have also been called to task for huge cuts to state firefighting resources passed earlier this year. The two-year budget that took effect last Thursday includes a 75 percent slash to volunteer fire departments — from $30 million to $7 million — and a one-third cut to the Texas Forest Service. State Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) said this year’s fires near the capital city underscore the need to better fund the emergency-services districts stretched thin at the outskirts of Texas’ growing cities.

Texas’ 879 volunteer departments are the first line of defense against wildfires for much of the state. The forest service, with 230 firefighters and 15 trucks, provides statewide support. After that, help comes from the federal government and other states.
And in case all the denialists legislators want to pass the buck and attempt to not accept at least partial blame:
In fact, the Texas firefighting force that’s battling flames right now is a result of a beefed-up budget approved by legislators in 2009, after the forest service succeeded in convincing lawmakers it was a wise investment. In 2008, Texas was coming off another serious drought, and a wildfire season two years earlier that required huge federal assistance including $34 million in FEMA grants.

In a funding request for 2010-2011, Texas Forest Service directors made a strong case for a bigger up-front investment from the state. “National mobilization costs 3-4 times per unit (a firefighter, a dozer) as it does to have our own state resources,” directors wrote, and take longer to arrive. “It takes three to five days to mobilize out-of-state resources. Our urgent resource requests could be efficiently alleviated if we had adequate state resources to rapidly attack and keep wildfires from turning into large, complex, multiple-day events.”

“We have examples of communities being burned because the state did not have enough resources,” directors wrote. The legislature responded with a $15 million bump in forest service funding, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in April.

This year, though, lawmakers rolled back the forest service budget, mostly by cutting its funding for grants that help volunteer fire departments buy new equipment.
And in case Parry thinks this is just a one time thing, keep in mind:
Texas’ drought is no temporary arrangement, though, and the ongoing urban sprawl will ensure homes keep crawling farther out into wildfire territory.

But thanks to cuts made this year by the Legislature, when those fires start up next year, and the year after that, Texas’ volunteer fire departments will head out to battle those flames with the same trucks and gear damaged in this year’s fires.
Yeah, I call this guy an idiot, and I think rightly so. It's his kind of anti-reality based fantasy thinking that will drag this country into third-world status faster than anything else.

11 September 2011

September 11th

I remember that I was getting ready to go fly that morning.  I was in maintenance checking out the 781s and saw the news about the first plane (at that time assumed to be an accident).  I actually watched it live as the second plane was deliberately flown into the South Tower.  I told the rest of the crew that we would not be flying that day, and commenced to go into lock-down and was totally absorbed by the news like the rest of America.  I know that all over there will be numerous remembrances, memorials, discussions, etc.  It's sort of arbitrary that the 10th anniversary will cause so much reflection (because of our base 10 mathematical system), but I did see a specific passage that I couldn't agree with more:
Ten years have now passed since many of us first felt the jolt of history—when the second plane crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. We knew from that moment that things can go terribly wrong in our world—not because life is unfair, or moral progress impossible, but because we have failed, generation after generation, to abolish the delusions of our ignorant ancestors. The worst of these ideas continue to thrive—and are still imparted, in their purest form, to children. 


09 September 2011

Since when is reality a career killer?

Poor Jon Huntsman.  He's the only GOP candidate that actually has a grip on reality, and because of that, he's totally unelectable.  As has been bandied about, lifted from Bad Astronomy, lifted from The Friendly Atheist, who lifted it from The Daily Dish…
Listening to GOP Presidential candidates talk about science is like listening to children talk about sex: They know it exists, they have strong opinions about what it might mean, but they don’t have a clue what it’s actually about.
And to make things even worse... Listen to this video, and see if you can spot not only a denial of reality, but a total misrepresentation of history:
I know Texas seems to have a fundamental problem with history as it is, but doesn't Rick Parry know who it was that disagreed with Galileo?  And how totally and abjectly wrong the pope and church actually were?  Okay, so all this plays well with their base, but doesn't anyone remember what happened when we elected an intellectually dampened individual to the White House?  We're still paying for this now!  Of course, the GOP and the teabaggers are busy blaming the black guy for "W's" mess, so it's all okay...

Keep in mind, the visceral appeal of some of these yutzes and yahoos that appeal to the GOP base is that they are down home, or just like them.  Okay, how many of you out there honestly think you have the brains and ability to lead the United States?  Be honest! I for one would prefer to have the smartest, most educated, and intellectually honed individual in the seat in the Oval Office.  Putting some rotin tootin Yosemite Sam idiot there is a sure recipe for disaster.  And to be honest, I measure people's intellect on their adherence to reality.  It does not speak well for this current field of candidates.  For fuck's sake, do you want a guy that could barely pass high school to be your surgeon should you need an operation?  Then why the fuck do you want someone as intellectually handicapped as some of these candidates running this country?

Hell, I saw the NBC News Poll where the public thinks that all this is a "long term problem" for the President...  Are you fucking kidding me?  The American public has the memory and attention span of a fucking goldfish (OMG! A plastic castle!  OMG! A plastic castle!  OMG! A plastic castle!).  In six months, most Americans won't even be able to recall the GOP debate or the President's job speech.  And the 24 hour news cycle will be all about whatever the next manufactured crisis or punditry will be, which will have no bearing on any reality as usual.  I think I will hide until election day, or better yet