Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Bill Maher Tweet

Bill Maher, famous for his anti-religious outlook, got into the Tebow mania by tweeting a less than complimentary comment about the Broncos blowout loss to the Bills. Allow me to quote Bill:

"Wow, Jesus just f***ed Tim Tebow bad! And on Xmas Eve! Somewhere ... Satan is tebowing, saying to Hitler 'Hey, Buffalo's killing them.'"

I think it precisely captures the stupidity that some Christians have been throwing around that Jesus is helping Tim Terrific win football games.

No one but Tim, backed up by strong defensive efforts, helped the Broncos win. But sooner or later an unbalanced team gets nailed. You need both defence and offence playing a full 60 minutes to be a championship football team. You can't rely on the defense to always hold while the offense fritters away three quarters. Or worse, like Saturday, hands the other team four picks.

Still, I think Tebow has demonstrated that he deserves a chance to play in the NFL.

In the meantime, no one seems to be paying a lot of attention to what Cam Newton has been doing. Put a few more quality players around him and shore up the Jaguars defense and they're going to be unstoppable.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Proof, Evidence and Christianity

People throw the words "proof" and "prove" around somewhat carelessly. The fact of the matter is that technically, outside the realm of mathematics, it is pretty much impossible to prove anything.

For example, can you "prove" that the sun rises in the east? No, technically you can't. The most you can do is demonstrate that throughout all of recorded history it has risen in the east and the odds are pretty good it will rise there tomorrow. As a matter of fact, the odds are so good that not to accept the conclusion "the sun rises in the east" would be somewhat irrational. But, still, technically, it cannot be proven to 100% certainty.

So much for technicalities. Let's talk about practical day to day existence. Most people would consider something "proven" if not to accept it as true would be irrational like not accepting the conclusion that "the sun rises in the east" is irrational.

But we're still really talking about probabilities. You can't "prove" to 100% certainty but you can get pretty darn close.

Now let's consider evidence. Evidence is anything that you believe increases or decreases the probability of something being true. When you present evidence to someone, the critical issue is how credible is that evidence.

This is where most Christians miss the point. They always claim they have lots of evidence for God, Jesus and Christianity. The problem is that none of it is terribly credible.

The most credible evidence is physical evidence. It's hard to argue with finger prints, DNA, blood, burn marks etc. The reason for this is physical evidence doesn't change and it is very difficult to forge or modify.

Next in credibility is documentary evidence because again, it doesn't change over time but it's much easier to forge or modify.

The least credible evidence is human eye witness testimony and the further away you get from the original source, the more it degrades. As a matter of fact most courts will not accept evidence which it even only once removed. It's called "hearsay" and is usually inadmissable."Hearsay" is still evidence, but very, very weak evidence. In addition, if the witness has a known agenda then the evidence is virtually worthless.

Here's the problem with all of the Christian's evidence. They have no physical evidence. They do have some documentary evidence in the Bible but (1) the authorship of the bible is unknown and anonymous testimony must always be viewed with suspicion and (2) with the possible exception of the Gospel of John, all of the testimony is at best "hearsay" and all of the gospels, including John, have an agenda. Paul I dismiss as so far removed from the events as to be completely worthless and the epistles attributed to Peter are considered by most reputable scholars to be forgeries.

The problem with John is even if it was written by the Apostle John, it was written so long after the events, and is so different from the Synoptic Gospels, it can't be considered credible. It is a known fact that human memory changes over time.

That leaves us with, at best, second and third removed hearsay which is basically useless.

So what about the "prophecies?"

I have to be honest that I just don't find the so-called prophecy passages terribly compelling. Most aren't even prophecies. Just passages that happen to be similar to some gospel event. The others are either clearly backfits after the fact or cases of heroic exegesis, reading into the passages something that simply is not there.

What about the "would the apostles be willing to die for a lie" argument?

Well, the word "lie" implies knowing something is untrue while claiming it's true anyway. It's not hard for humans to delude themselves into thinking something is true and then be willing to do ridiculous things to support or demonstrate their faith in that delusion. The apostles were ignorant peasants. That they deluded themselves into believing something doesn't surprise me. It is telling that no educated intellectuals accepted Christianity in it's earliest stages. That only came later when Christianity had managed to acquire some power.

So when Christians say they have lots of evidence, they do, None of it is very good though and none of it, in my opinion, justifies accepting Christianity as true.

The Religious are Ridiculous

Saudi Arabia is a Theocracy. If you want to see what Fundamentalist Christians would like to see here if they have a chance, just look at Saudi Arabia.

In it's latest idiocy, a 60 year old woman was executed for practicing Sorcery!

From the description it sounds like she was either daffy or a bit of a con artist. She would convince the ignorant that, for a fee, she could cure illness. Sort of the same way Christian faith healers convince the flock here.

If she really believed it, she was mentally ill; if she didn't, then she was a crook. Either way I'd say that execution by beheading for something NO ONE can do is barbaric.

Bears Dismiss Tebow

Apparently the Bears weren't impressed with Tim Terrific's 13-10 come from behind miracle victory. Maybe not, but he did manage, with a lot of help from his friends, to whip your butts when it counted didn't he?

Actually, more credit needs to be given to the Bronco's defense. This is football and if your offense stinks up the field for three quarters, then your defense kept you in the game. It's not likely Tebow would be working miracles if instead of 10 points or so down, the Broncos were 30 points down.

Still, you have to acknowledge that he continues to manage the near impossible week after week even if last Sunday it was more a case of the Bears losing it and one hell of a field goal kicker putting through 59 and 51 yarders in the clutch.

But here's the point, a player like Tebow makes EVERYONE play better. If you believe in the guy then the defense just keeps saying to itself "all we have to do is keep it close" and once Tim's gets started, everyone gets pumped up.

Morale and determination win lots of victories even when the edge in talent is on the other side. I can't explain it, but I damn well know it's true.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Now That's Ridiculous

I hadn't actually witnessed any of the Tebow magic. I'd just read about. Now I've seen it with my own eyes and I think I need to get them checked.

Through three quarters, nada. Only 3 completions in 16 tries and trailing the Bears 10-0. Then the 4th quarter begins and look out! It's super Tebow.

First Tim Terrific leads the Broncos on a touchdown drive and scores with 2:08 remaining to make it 10-7. That 8 seconds is significant because the Broncos get a free clock stop at 2 minutes.

The onside kick doesn't work. That takes the clock to the 2 minute warning and then I assume the Broncos called their last timeout on the 1st down play because I joined the game with 1:55 left, it was second down and the Broncos were out of timeouts.

Let's translate that 1:55 into football time. That's 115 seconds and you get 40 seconds on the clock after each play. That means before 3rd and 4th downs you can eat away 80 seconds and it's not unusually for a running play to take 7 or 8 second so this game is just about over.

Assuming the runner stays in bounds that is.

Marion Barber is an experienced and a good running back. On second down he got the call to stretch out a run wide and chew up clock. All he needed to do was stay in bounds. Incredibly, that's what he didn't do.

By going out of bounds, the clock stopped. The Bears failed to convert on 3rd down and were forced to punt back to the Broncos with 35 seconds left.

That's were things got a little spooky. Denver's field goal kicker had a career long of 59 yards. Guess how far the Broncos manged to get? Just enough for a 59 yard attempt which was of course good to tie the game at 10-10.

The Bears won the toss to start overtime (nothing like a little drama) and marched down the field to a 3rd down on the Bronco's 38. That's a long 55 yard field goal but the Bears still had one play left. They gave the ball to the same Marion Barber who popped through the left side and looked like he was heading for a big gain when a Bronco defender managed to jar the ball loose.

Needless to say the Broncos recovered. They moved into field goal range thanks to a circus catch or two and put the game away with another 50 yard plus field goal.

If I was a Bears fan I'd be pulling my hair out. You can't make this stuff up. No one would believe you. I never saw anything like it. There are certain truths one learns to take for granted in football. Games just don't end like this. Or at least they didn't before.

I feel sorry for Barber. Talk about a double set of goat horns. This is really starting to be a lot more than interesting. This is simply incredible. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Bachmann is an Idiot

I know that’s not a big surprise to anyone but she’s dumber than I thought.

I was watching a town meeting video with her discussing both Gay Marriage and prayer in school. Let’s start with Gay Marriage.

Her position was that the law allows marriage between a man and a woman and therefore allowing marriage between individuals of the same sex would be a “special privilege.” After all, gays are free to marry individuals of the opposite sex just like heterosexuals. The problem with this argument is you can use it to justify any law that is unfair. No one is questioning what the law says; the point is that the law is wrong. You could justify laws that prohibit interracial marriage with the same argument.

Marriage includes the right to marry someone to whom you are sexually attracted. If your sexual orientation is to the same sex, then you are prohibited from doing that if Gay Marriage is not legal. So it's not a "special privilege," it's a comparable right to heterosexual marriage.

In the second half of the video Bachmann addresses school prayer. She states that she would eliminate the Department of Education (DOE) which she claims would somehow then let local school boards decide whether or not school prayer should be allowed.

Where the hell did she get her law degree?

Here’s the deal. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was passed in 1965 as a part of the War on Poverty and was amended and reauthorized in 2002 as part of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) initiative of the Bush Administration. NCLB has an almost unbelievable 621 sections. Sec. 9524 relates to school prayer and states “The Secretary shall provide and revise guidance … to State educational agencies, local educational agencies, and the public on constitutionally protected prayer in public elementary schools and secondary schools, including making the guidance available on the Internet.”

Now the secretary and the DOE aren’t making the rules, they are just providing a summary of the current state of the law. Sec. 9524 goes on to state “The guidance shall be reviewed, prior to distribution, by the Office of Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice for verification that the guidance represents the current state of the law concerning constitutionally protected prayer in public elementary schools and secondary schools.”

Get it? The DOE is simply providing, in layman’s term, guidance on the current state of Constitutional Law. The executive department is not making up the rules, the judiciary is, and eliminating the DOE isn’t going to change things one bit.

The last guidance was issued in February of 2003 and provides the bottom line on school prayer as follows, “The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the First Amendment requires public school officials to be neutral in their treatment of religion, showing neither favoritism toward nor hostility against religious expression such as prayer… the First Amendment forbids religious activity that is sponsored by the government but protects religious activity that is initiated by private individuals.”

“Students may pray when not engaged in school activities or instruction, subject to the same rules designed to prevent material disruption of the educational program that are applied to other privately initiated expressive activities. Among other things, students may read their Bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, and pray or study religious materials with fellow students during recess, the lunch hour, or other noninstructional time to the same extent that they may engage in nonreligious activities.”

Again, it needs to be noted that the DOE is not making up the rules. Rather it is enforcing laws (the ESEA and NCLB) passed by congress and legal directives established by the Supreme Court of the United States.

The only school prayer related activities that are proscribed are school or teacher promoted prayer. The school and the teacher are extensions of the state and as such are restricted by the Constitution in the same way any other government agency is restricted. They must be neutral. They cannot encourage nor discouage prayer. They certainly cannot prevent a student from praying on his or her own time.

If Bachmann doesn’t know this then she’s a bigger idiot than I thought. If she does know, but is simply saying what the under 80 IQ Republican base wants to hear, then she’s dishonest. Either way, having her as even a second tier candidate for the Presidential nomination of a major political party is an embarrassment.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Text Book Calls Creationism a Biblical Myth

Now here’s the shoe on the other foot.

A text book approved for use by the Knoxville Tennessee school board describes Creationism as a “Biblical Myth.”

This has at least one parent up in arms and the man has demanded that the book be banned. So far at least the school board has pretty much ignored him. Fox News, on the other hand, provided him a soapbox to stand on. You’d think there might be a few more important things for Fox to focus on wouldn’t you?

So what’s the deal here? Now a “myth” need not be false but I think most people would interpret the text as stating that the bible account is untrue. The domino effect is once you declare Genesis wrong, then the bible is not inerrant and therefore the bible is not the word of god.

This implication directly contradicts conservative fundamentalist Christian teaching. The fact that it happens to be accurate, and Christians have their heads up their asses, is irrelevant.

It’s irrelevant because the Constitution requires the state to be NEUTRAL with respect to religion. Not only can’t the state promote religion it can’t be hostile to it either. One can imply that Genesis is allegorical by stating the facts and conclusions of science about the age of the universe or evolution but the state is prohibited from deciding which religious tenets are true and which are false.

As crazy as it sounds, the text book has stepped over the line and the “Biblical Myth” claim should be removed in the next revision. Banning the book is a bit much. Christians are always ready to ban books they don’t like which is why they cannot be trusted to uphold democracy.

Interracial Couple Banned

A Baptist Church in Kentucky has voted to ban interracial couples from becoming members of the church.

The issue came to a head when a long time member showed up with her black fiancĂ©e. The church claims it will promote “greater unity among the church body.”

As I’ve said for a long time, scratch a fundamentalist Christian and you’ll find a Jim Crow, KKK adherent underneath the outer skin of respectability.

The people who are today denying gays equal rights are the psychological twins of those that supported segregation in the 1960s and before that slavery in the 1860s. If you give them a chance, they’ll be quite happy to roll back all of the progress made in the last 100 years.

In other words they’re complete assholes that you don’t come to an accommodation with, rather you do everything possible to eradicate them from the face of the earth.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Is College Worth it?

I see a lot of mumbling these days about how college isn’t worth the expense. Basically, that's a lot of crap. Aside from the value of education and knowledge for its own sake, there is still a significant financial benefit.

All numbers here are taken from the U.S. Census Bureau income table H-13.

In 2010, the median income for a high school graduate was $38,976. If you managed a 2 year Associate Degree, the median was $56,811. That’s a difference of about $18,000. If you got a 4 year Bachelor’s degree the median increases to $75,568, almost double a high school graduate. That’s a $36,000 difference.

Now let’s consider costs. I’m using New Jersey college costs simply because I’m familiar with the schools.

Let’s start with the Community College route. An Associate Degree at Bergen Community College will run you about $6,500 a year if you go full time. This doesn’t include living expenses because Community Colleges don’t have dorms. That’s a total of $13,000 which you can expect to make back in a couple of years.

If you go the four year college route there are really two basic paths. You can go the private school path which is going to run you between $40,000 and $50,000 a year assuming no grants, scholarships or other financial aid that you don’t need to pay back. So that’s somewhere between $160,000 and $200,000. Those are big numbers but you can expect to recoup that amount, plus any interest paid on loans, in 5 to 10 years. Considering you’ll probably be working al least 40 years, it’s still a good deal.

If you manage to get into a state college the costs drop to $25,000 a year for a total of $100,000 which you can expect to recover, including the interest on loans, in 4 to 5 years or less. That’s pretty much a bargain.

Keep in mind that we’re talking medians here. If we look at mean salary then for a high school graduate it’s $50,561, an Associate Degree $67,790 and a Bachelor’s $94,207. These numbers make a Bachelor’s degree, with a $43,000 difference, even more valuable but an Associate Degree a little less so.

Can you make a lot of money without a college education? Sure, but the odds are against you so ignore the morons that say college isn’t worth it. The numbers say they’re wrong.

What kind of tree is it?

The answer sort of depends upon who’s tree it is?

A tree in front of a church is most definitely a Christmas Tree. The trees decorated every year in Westwood, River Vale and other towns around the country are whatever people choose to call them. Personally I don’t think I’ve ever used the term “Holiday Tree.” At my house it’s just known as “the tree” and we put it up on Christmas Eve.

You don’t have to be a Christian to recognize that most of the things we do around this time of year are Christmas traditions. Let’s face it, Christmas is the big kahuna of the season and, personally, I’m not threatened by that.

The Nativity Story is a myth. It’s no more real than Santa Claus and his reindeer. But since when have we allowed reality to ruin a good story? Why can’t we just enjoy things for what they are?

If you want to take the story as true, that’s your prerogative. Just try and remember that many of us don’t.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Wide Weird World

Sometimes, when considering the ups and downs of life, I feel like someone watching vaudeville skits at a rundown theater in some hick town.

American Airlines has filed for bankruptcy protection so it can restructure and get its costs and debt under control. Translated that means people are about to lose their jobs so “investors” can make money.

Let’s face it, everything is ultimately related to the redistribution of wealth. The Republicans won’t be happy until the top 1% of the population control 99% of the wealth and the rest of us are forced to live on debt and the forbearance of those with the cash.

On the other hand, a man who stole $20 from a cash register at Sears in the 1940s left $100 in repayment at a Sears store in Seattle. Sears says they have the man on video but don’t know who he is and they refuse to release an image for identification. They’ll use his $100 atonement money to help the needy.

And of course we have the woman of the week accusing Herman Cain of another round of sexual misconduct. This time it’s an affair that extended over 13 years. Given the really ugly condition of this lady’s finances, I have to take the story with a grain or two of salt.

Cain appears to have been well cooked by all of this and the new challenger entering the lists is Newt Gingrich. My question here is how can anyone take a man who abandoned two seriously ill wives seriously? We still do value integrity in this country don’t we?

On a more personal note rumors abound where I work of impending significant lay-offs. Do I care? Sort of, I would be forced to retire if my number comes up. Can you imagine me being turned loose on an unsuspecting world?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tebow, Tebow!

After whipping the Jets last night with a touchdown run with 58 seconds left, I BELIEVE!

Maybe there is a God?

Tim Terrific is now 4-1 and has the Broncos at .500. Now where did I put that Denver Bronco's jersey catalog?

This is unbelievable. How far can Tim go?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

How Credible are Cain’s Accusers?

I’m honestly not sure.

The first rule is to look for independent confirmation of alleged facts. In this case, that doesn’t appear to be feasible.

Since we can’t independently confirm the alleged facts let’s fall back on logic and common sense.

Four women have accused Cain of sexual misconduct and two women, Sharon Bialek and Karen Kraushaar, have gone public with their accusations. But only Bialek has provided any details.

It’s those details I’ve finding hard to accept. She’s not describing harassment but outright assault. Bialek’s claims moves things from the civil arena into the criminal arena and I can’t believe Cain would act that stupidly. We’re not even talking about someone that Cain had a long association with but someone that was practically a stranger. It makes absolutely no sense. That plus the fact that Bialek never filed any charges leads me to doubt her story.

Kraushaar is a little different. She did file a complaint and received what sounds like a “here’s some money now go away” payment of $45,000 from the National Restaurant Association. What concerns me about Kraushaar is she filed a complaint about “unfair treatment” in her next job. Either this lady has really lousy luck or she’s hyper sensitive. She also hasn’t provided any details so I think I’ll wait before coming to a conclusion.

As for the two unidentified accusers, the 6th Amendment to the Constitution says the accused has the right “to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” I support the Constitution so until that happens, I’m going to have to pretty much ignore them. I have nothing to base their veracity on.

Basically Cain is being asked to prove a negative, to prove something didn’t happen without even being provided with an adequate definition of what that something was. Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty?”

I’m going to reserve judgment for the moment but Occam's Razor is sort of pointing toward Cain being something of an insensitive boor on occasion.

Maybe they’re not so dumb

Since the 1960s I’ve been convinced that the people of Mississippi were the biggest idiots in the world. Phil Ochs’ song “Here’s to the State of Mississippi” and the movie “Mississippi Burning” will give you a pretty good idea why I say that.

But yesterday, Mississippi surprised just about everyone by rejecting the “Personhood Law” on the ballot that would have declared a fetus a “person” under the law from the moment an egg was fertilized.

The law had been proposed by an extreme anti-abortion group and would quite possibly have caused all sorts of legal chaos given that some birth control methods limit the ability of a fertilized egg to nest in the uterus.

Over 55% of Mississippi voters declared the proposed law as going too far and, quite possibly for the first time in my life, I find myself agreeing with the Mississippi majority.

Elsewhere, the voters of Ohio told the Republicans to take their union busting laws and stick them where the sun doesn’t shine. They also told Obama to stop trying to control their lives by approving a measure that said no federal, state or local law could force an employer or individual to participate in a health care system.

Just in case anyone wasn’t aware of it, the good people of Ohio just put all the politicians on notice not to tell them what to do anyhow under any circumstance as they’re quite capable of making their own decisions thank you very much.

In Arizona the architect of Arizona’s controversial immigration law got booted by a moderate Republican (are there still such things?) in a recall election.

And so the pendulum swings yet again.

This is all evidence that most Americans are still moderates with a strong streak of independence. At least for the moment, the Republic seems in good hands once again.

Monday, November 07, 2011

The Dishonesty of Politicians

Michelle Bachmann has accused her Republican rivals of beings “frugal socialists.”

Now clearly Michelle Bachmann knows what a socialist is and just as clearly knows that none of her opponents can be characterized as one by any stretch of the imagination. But she also knows that the under 80 IQ trailer park Republican base doesn’t know anything about socialism other than “they’re agin it!”

The irony of it all is how many of those red blooded, true American, socialist haters are probably accepting all sorts of government assistance without even knowing that’s Socialism.

Now the other Shoe

A fourth woman has come forth with allegations against Herman Cain and this time it’s a lot more than vague accusations.

The latest sexual harassment accuser is far more explicit in her charges and has come out publically with her claims. I don’t know whether to believe her or not, but it’s sure starting to get ugly.

Cain, of course, is denying everything in sight and let’s not forget that accusations aren’t convictions. The big problem here is all of this has taken focus off of his idiotic 9-9-9 plan. I would have preferred Cain going down in flames over his silly economic ideas.

And now here’s Timmy

I don’t hear anyone dissing Tim Tebow this week after he led the Broncos to a 38-24 win over the Oakland Raiders.

Tim Terrific ran for 117 yards in addition to going 10-21 for 124 yards. But the biggest difference, the really big difference, was he was only sacked once after being sacked 13 times in the previous two games.

Ok, let’s not reserve a place in Canton just yet but once the Broncos came up with a game plan that seemed to fit Tebow’s style, he did pretty darn well.

Of course things get really ugly now. Next week the Broncos go to Kansas City, who just laid an enormous egg losing to the previously winless Dolphins 31-3 and should be itching for redemption, then the Jets come to town. Should be interesting.

The Penn State Scandal

On the one hand my reaction is WTF? On the other I’m disappointed that media is splashing around innuendo unfairly.

That the Athletic Director and a school senior V.P. failed to report the predatory acts of a defensive coordinator at Penn State is bad, really bad, and smacks of a cover-up. But I don’t see that Joe Paterno should be criticized for not doing more than he did.

He reported an incident reported to him by a teaching assistant to his boss the A.D. That was the proper action to take. Anything beyond that would have been meddling where it should not have been necessary. Paterno can’t be blamed for not realizing the A.D. didn’t follow through as he was required to do.

The Herman Cain Accusations

Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller and Barry Goldwater must be spinning in their graves. The Republican party has become a club for buffoons. Of the current presidential candidates only Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman have any semblance of decorum.

Now we’ve hit the bottom of the barrel with multiple accusations of sexual harassment against Herman Cain. I don’t know if or what this fool may have done but I wouldn’t put anything past someone who came up with that 9-9-9 scheme.

I really wish the Keystone Cops group of Cain, Perry, Paul, Santorum and Bachmann would go away and take Newt Gingrich with them. That would leave Romney and Huntsman and then maybe we could have an intelligent conversation.

Right now the Republicans are lying to the American people. They’re promising quick fixes to complex problems that won’t work. Perhaps if we got things down to two reasonably intelligent individuals the need to woo the under 80 IQ trailer park set would subside a little and reality might rear its head.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Trip from Hell

I’m ambivalent about traveling. I like to see new places, but I’m not fond of the hassles usually involved in getting there and back.

However this last trip is one I’d prefer not to repeat too often.

Leg 1 from Home to Dallas
No issues here. I try to travel as early in the morning as possible in order to avoid woes and delays at the security check in and it worked here. I dragged myself out of bed around 6 AM and hopped on a Limo to Newark Airport around 6:45 AM. No problems on the road and the American Airlines (AA) flight boarded and left on schedule. I spent my lay-over watching the Jets and Chargers. Foolishly I decided to forego eating anything until I got to the hotel in Las Crucas.

Leg 2 from Dallas to El Paso
Things actually started to go sour on this leg two days before the trip began when I got a call from AA that it would be delayed 45 minutes due to an Air Show in El Paso. Well, there wasn’t much I could do about that and it gave me more time to watch the Jets while in Dallas.

We boarded and left at the expected later time and everything was ok until about 15 minutes from El Paso when the pilot came on the intercom. You remember that Air Show? The one that delayed the flight 45 minutes? Well, it still wasn’t over, and we didn’t have enough fuel to circle for as long as they wanted us to circle. So the pilot turned around and headed for Midway-Odessa airport about halfway between Dallas and El Paso.

We proceeded to land, refuel (I wonder who pays for that?) and sit for a little over an hour. We then took off and proceeded on the 45 minute or so flight to El Paso. That was the first time, in the hundreds of flights I’ve taken, that I’d ever been diverted to another airport for any reason. The irony of that statement will become apparent later.

All of the delays included, I got into El Paso about 3 hours later than I originally expected. The really bad part about this was I was stuck in a windows seat. I have a bad left knee and I really need an aisle on my left so I can stretch my foot out but I figured I could survive the short flight. By the time I got off the plane I could barely limp. The pain was bad until I managed to get some Advil the next afternoon and that helped a little. I clearly did some additional damage during that flight somehow.

Now, another reason I like to travel early is to avoid driving in unknown territory when it’s dark. I had never been to El Paso and I still needed to drive to Las Crucas New Mexico. I did get to see the sunset over Fort Bliss as we landed though.

By the time I got the car (a Nissan X-Terra) there was little more than a glimmer over the horizon; by the time I got on Interstate 10 West, it was dark; as I entered New Mexico it was pitch black. I only had a vague idea of how far it was so I started cursing profusely when, after already having driven for a while on IS 10, I saw a sign saying I had 42 miles to go. My knee managed to forcefully remind me of its presence for the entire trip.

The only thing that went well on this leg was the hotel was easy to find and I settled in until 5:30 AM the next morning although my knee managed to insure that I tossed and turned trying to locate a way to make it happy rather than sleep.

Leg 3 to White Sands Missile Range and Back (5 times)
Over the next week it was get up at 5:30 AM, shower, shave, hop downstairs for some free breakfast (scrambled eggs, toast, sausage, coffee and even some French Toast) and then, around 6:30 AM, head for WSMR about 35 miles over the mountains and then to my assigned area which was another 20 miles into the desert. That 20 miles included a 3 mile detour over desert because a stretch of the road was being repaired. I don’t know how many times I took that 20 mile drive over Nike Ave as either a driver or a passenger. I’m guessing at least 15 times over the week. During the entire week I popped a pair of Advils about once every 4 hours including in the middle of the night when my knee reminded me it was time.

If you like food, don’t go to WSMR. The top cuisine was Subway (which ran out of turkey, ham and chicken one day) and that was at headquarters 20 miles back over Nike Ave. Out at the post in the desert you got Boo’s Barbeque at lunchtime. Other than that it was snacks from the vending machine or go out and try to catch some wildlife.

I ate lunch at Subway twice and Boo’s once. That once was more than enough. The other two days I settled for a dark chocolate candy bar.

As for dinner, two days I got back in time to eat at Appleby’s in Las Crucas which I figured was slightly better than the McDonald’s next door. The other three days, including the evening I arrived, it was a bag of popcorn from the free hotel popcorn machine and a free root beer soda.

After five days of this I planned to relocate to El Paso on Friday afternoon in order to (1) get a decent meal and (2) get a decent night’s sleep for my 8 AM flight Saturday morning.

Sure, fat chance. I didn’t get out of WSMR until after 7:30 PM. That meant I had the pleasure of driving the 50 miles or so back to El Paso in the dark and then I had the additional pleasure of finding the hotel in the dark.

How hard could that be? It was at the airport. Yeah, right. The problems were (1) it was really dark and (2) there were no signs! People in El Paso must think it’s unnecessary to tell you what road you’re on anytime after you get on it. I found the Radisson; I found the Marriott; I found the Microtel, a gas station, a 7-11 and the rental car return but I couldn’t find the damn Wyndham.

I’m not the kind of guy that won’t ask for directions. I ask. I asked in the 7-11 and the girl sweeping the store didn’t know. I stopped in the gas station and the guy sweeping the mini-mart didn’t know either but he thought it was in the airport (duh, no kidding).

The problem was the hotel was on Airport Ave. Getting on Airport Ave. from IS 10 was easy but right after you entered the airport the road splits three ways and there was nothing to say which was Airport Ave.

The first time I went to the left and that got me out the other side of the airport where I found the 7-11. The next time I went to the right which got me to the main terminal, the rental car return and out the other side of the airport again. On my third try I went center and bingo, with a sign about the size of a large manila envelope, was the Wyndham. You would think hotels would want a really big sign visible from miles away wouldn’t you?

So much for dinner that night. I managed two fruit & nuts nature bars, six Oreo cookies and a bottle of water. I then popped two Advils and settled in until 5 AM the next morning. The room did come with a free breakfast buffet but that didn’t start until after I was long gone in the morning.

Leg 4 El Paso to Dallas
Considering the way things had gone so far I was a little concerned about this leg. I only had 40 minutes in Dallas to make my connection to Newark. If you know Dallas International Airport, you understand how easily that 40 minute limit can be blown through no fault of your own.

To my surprise, the flight from El Paso left on time, landed a bit early and, wonder of wonders, the gate for my flight to Newark was in the same terminal as the gate where my flight from El Paso landed. Ok, I landed at C4 and had to schlep to C31 with my knee objecting every step of the way but what the heck. The other minor downer was C31 is about the only gate in the whole Dallas airport with no food place in sight but I only had about 15 minutes before the flight boarded anyway.

Leg 5 Dallas to Newark
As I settled into my comfy 26D aisle seat on American Airlines flight 558 and stretched out my left leg luxuriously, I figured I was home free. Yes, I had heard the rumors about snow but it was only October. I was sure we’d just get some light flurries. No big deal. Goes to show you what I know.

About an hour and a half out of Newark, the pilot came on with the wonderful news that all New York area airports, including Newark, were closed due to the snow, and he had to divert to Raleigh-Durham.


I had never had a flight diverted before and now I had the pleasure twice on one trip. Once we landed I called home to get the joyous news that our power was out. They did let us off the plane though. That allowed me to wolf down some KFC and buy a new paperback to read since I had finished the one I brought with me.

After about an hour we got back in the plane and confidently headed for Newark. About half-way there the pilot came on with a little bad news that Newark was struggling with the snow and that we had to circle for about a half hour. Forty minutes later we got the news that we were heading back to Raleigh-Durham.

Again they let us off the plane and I decided I better recharge my cell phone. I was only at it for 10 minutes or so when the word came that the flight crew had exceeded their legal flight time limit and, since no replacement crew was available, we would be spending the night in Raleigh-Durham.

I ran back on the plane to grab my laptop and forgot to take both the book I had just bought and the one I had finished. Even though we boarded the same plane again the next day, I never saw them again.

I’m going to say that the AA agents at Raleigh-Durham did Ok. They did do a few things that made me grind my teeth but overall they managed to get everyone a place to stay. It took about an hour and I was far from the last person because they appeared to call for each person individually.

I got a room at the Holiday Inn, a dinner voucher for $12 and a breakfast voucher for $7. I managed to squeeze into a very full courtesy van to the hotel where I suddenly realized the problem. How many check-ins would one normally expect at a Holiday Inn in Raleigh-Durham around 9 PM Saturday night? Yeah, I wouldn’t expect many either and neither did the Holiday Inn. That left one poor clerk trying to check in the hordes that descended on her.

I actually did pretty well and managed to get my room in about 45 minutes. Some folks were in line until after Midnight. Then I tried to spend the $12 voucher. Forget it. There was an hour wait for even the simplest sandwich at the “Restaurant” at the hotel (which was really a lobby bar with a few tables and a kitchen in back) . One guy at the hotel suggested the Hooter’s next door and I clawed my way up the grass hill to get there despite the objections of my knee only to find out they didn’t accept airline vouchers.

Allow me to digress a bit. I had never been in a Hooter’s before. I’m not a prude; the option had just never presented itself as a solution for anything at any time. From the short time I was in there all I can say is I wish I was 40 years younger.

I slunk back to the hotel and hit the sack. At 5 AM I got up preparing to head for the airport and the 7:40 AM continuation of the infamous flight 558.

I caught the shuttle back to the airport to find a line zigzagging all through the lobby. Luckily, the AA folks were nice enough to provider a special drop off place for our baggage so waiting on the line was unnecessary.

I did manage to grab a breakfast sandwich and headed on down to Gate D19 (which I had been told would be the departure gate). D19 was completely deserted. So were gates D16, D17 and D18. I checked the Departure Board and there was no flight 558.
In fact there were no flights to Newark at all.

Hmmm. I dialed the 1-800 number they had given us to check the departure time and gate and they told me C22 which was completely on the other side of the terminal. As I munched my breakfast sandwich I debated. Stay at D19 or head for C22. I finally decided that the airport clerk was more likely to be right than the phone line clerk and held my ground.

Good choice, as C19 was the right gate.

Only one minor problem, they hadn’t de-iced the plane. A sudden cold snap in Raleigh-Durham had the ground crews scrambling to de-ice and we were an extra flight. That translated into an hour delay and we finally bid adieu to Raleigh-Durham around 8:45 AM Sunday Morning.

After finally landing at Newark, I located my limo driver and we managed to limp around all of the down trees and branches to finally arrive at my home sweet home about an hour after leaving Newark.

My very dark and cold home sweet home because the power (and heat) were still out.

It is now Tuesday afternoon and the power is still out. Supposedly PSE&G has restored power to 83% of its customers. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. Personally I don’t consider the trip over until I get power and heat back. I’m freezing my tail off. I wanted to go to a hotel but for some bizarre reason my wife didn’t want to go.

If it’s still out tonight, I’m going. Whether she comes or not is up to her.

I'm not that annoyed with American Airlines. They weren't perfect but they did pretty well. PSE&G on the other hand I'm ready to tar and feather.

A block in any direction from my house and there's power. Mine's been out since early Saturday afternoon while other people had it go out for only a few hours on Sunday. WTF guys? Doesn't the length of time its been out factor in?

To add insult to injury I called their automated line to see if I could get an estimate on when power would be restored. It said by Friday December 2nd. Here's hoping the guys doing the repairs are smarter than the guy that created the message.

Ok, Let’s Talk the NFL

I didn’t do NFL stuff this year because I knew I wouldn’t be able to address it weekly but I figured I should at least say a few things now that we’re almost halfway through the season. The three things I want to talk about are the Eagles, the Lions and Tim Tebow.

The Eagles got off to a rocky start but I’m still betting they’ll win the NFC East and be a factor in the NFC play-offs. I do not like Michael Vick personally but he is one hell of a football player.

As for the Lions, woulda thunk it? After seeing them as the league’s doormat for so many years it’s wild seeing them strutting their stuff. I expect them to also be a factor in the NFC play-offs along with San Francisco and Green Bay. Can’t wait for the first Lions vs. Packers game.

Now let’s talk about little Timmy Tebow. After a miracle finish to beat Miami, the aforementioned Lions dismantled Tebow and the Broncos. Next week the Broncos have the Raiders who I’m sure will employ the same constant pressure strategy that the Lions used.

What I don’t understand is why so many people seem to be taking such pleasure in Tebow’s struggles?

Is it because Christians are doing what they do best and are acting like jerks? Get mad at them and not Tim. Maybe he’s not going to be a top notch NFL quarterback, but he’s not getting any help from his team either.

I especially can’t stand it when these so-called football experts criticize him. Those dorky pundits that never put on pads really shouldn’t talk that way. You suit up and go out there and see how well you do.

As for my beloved Giants, it’s been a decent start but now things get tough. I’m not expecting much for the remainder of the season. I’m still thinking no better than 6-10 which means a 1-8 for the rest of the year. I think that would pretty much finish Tom Coughlin and it’s probably time for him to go anyway.

He and his offensive and defensive coordinators strike me as playing the game like it was played in the past. The game seems to have passed them by. A new coach with fresh ideas might be just what the doctor ordered.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Wall Street Protests and the 53%

These are two sides to the economic crisis. First you have the protesters who appear to have a vague understanding that something is wrong. They’re calling themselves the 99% and are trying to call attention to the ongoing wealth disparity in this country.

I agree with them whole heartedly that the disparity is approaching crisis proportions. Unfortunately the message is getting garbled.

On the other side is the conservative counter which labels itself the 53%. The name comes from the fact that some 47% of the population pays no income taxes. Conservatives have been posting their stories on a web site. The stories, typically, portray what I’ll call good old perseverance and hard work. Stories of people that have succeeded despite hardships and disadvantages without asking anything from anyone.

I’m not going to take anything away from these people. They have a right to be proud of what they view as their success in the face of adversity. They view the protesters as whining and looking for handouts rather than putting in the necessary effort to succeed.

To some extent they are correct. But they overlook a number of things. First of all, if they look a little deeper into their success they will find that even though they didn’t overtly ask for help, it was most likely there in the form of government regulations and subsidies.

Second, they don’t realize that it shouldn’t have been as hard as it was. It’s the disparity of wealth and the pure greed that seems to be endemic in society today that has made it such a struggle for so many people including themselves.

Third, and most important, to a lesser or greater extent they’ve been lucky, but there is no guarantee that luck is going to hold. Again, I do not want to disparage their accomplishments, but, in many cases, it’s a lot more fragile than it looks. Overnight their success can change to failure through no fault of their own and that’s the problem.

Now let’s talk about the 47%. According to a Brookings Institute and Urban Institute report, about half of these people pay no tax simply because their liability is eliminated due to the standard provisions of the tax system. These are the same rules we all adhere to. The overwhelming majority of the other half end up with no liability due to tax expenditures for the elderly and the working poor many of which were part of the Bush Tax Cuts.

In other words we’re not talking about people given special privileges here. These are either retired folks who worked their whole lives and the working poor who are doing the best they can. The conservative idea that these people are freeloaders is horseshit.

Let’s also remember that they do pay payroll taxes and state and local taxes. In fact, as shown in the graph, there isn’t a big difference between the percentage of total income and the percentage of total tax liability for the various income groups.

However this graph points out two problems. The first is that 1% of the population should not have 21% of the income. The second is the tax liability should be more progressive with the tax burden increasing faster than it does compared to the income percentage. These are the two primary things the Wall Street protesters need to focus on.

So, as usual, the conservatives have a distorted view of reality. So what else is new?

Missing Baby Lisa

I hate these stories because they never seem to have a happy ending.

An 11-month old baby girl is missing from a home in Kansas City. She’s been missing for about 2 weeks now and we all know that the longer it goes the smaller the chase for finding the child unharmed.

The latest twist (and these sort of stories always have twists and turns) involved the mom admitting she was drunk the night Lisa disappeared and that she lied about the last time she saw her. Originally she said she saw her around 10:30 PM when she checked on her. Now she’s saying it was closer to 6:40 PM. Four hours is a long time in these situations.

The Kansas City police, FBI and officers from neighboring communities have been taking the neighborhood apart house by house, tree by tree and blade of grass by blade of grass. Military Police from the Missouri National Guard joined the search Monday. So far, nothing. An “anonymous benefactor,” supposedly close to the family, has put up a $100,000 reward. I’m sure there’s a story there as well since these people don’t strike as having many friends with that kind of money.

So what the hell? Where is this kid?

Suspicion immediately falls on the parents in these cases. The father was working the night shift the night the child disappeared. Coincidentally this was his first night shift. I’m married, so I can sort of guess how the wife didn’t care for the change in schedule. Women rarely sit well with anything you do that upsets the routine. Perhaps that’s the reason why she got plastered that night.

This is not sounding terribly encouraging. People don’t break into houses and steal sleeping children. It’s not impossible, but It’s seems unlikely. The alternative is utterly horrible so one can only hope that’s what did happen and a good resolution is right around the corner.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tim Tebow to Start for Denver

And this matters why?

It matters because as much as I disagree with Tebow’s religious views, I don’t think they should a factor in whether or not he plays for the Broncos, or any other team, and I can’t help but believe they have been.

Even the story announcing that Tebow would start against the Miami Dolphins included a “Hail Mary Pass” reference saying how appropriate it was that Tim had flung one.

Well I hope the writer’s fooball knowledge exceeds his theological knowledge because I doubt Tim would be saying any "Hail Marys." As a fundamentalist Christian that would be roughly equivalent to him praying to Zeus.

Now let's talk football because that's how Tebow needs to be judged. I say he deserves a chance and John Fox is right to give him one. The man clearly has the kind of passion for the game that makes everyone else around him play better. He’s the kind of player that is capable of producing results way beyond his level of talent and I think the guy’s pretty talented as well. The big questions are how well does he fit into Denver’s offensive scheme and what’s going to happen when teams start preparing for him rather than Kyle Orton.

I don't care for his religious beliefs but that has nothing to do with football. Besides, he's free to believe whatever he wants.

I think some folks are letting their agreement, or disagreement, with his religious outlook color their football judgment. If there is a God (which I doubt), he doesn't play football and he doesn't participate in a fantasy league or weekly pool either.

Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan

Everyone else seems to be talking about it so I suppose I should too. For those who don’t know what 9-9-9 stands for, it’s a proposal to replace the current federal tax code with a 9% flat income tax, a 9% corporate tax and a 9% federal sales tax. I’m not sure where Social Security taxes fit but I believe they would still be separate under the plan.

I’m going to grade it based upon three qualities. First, Simplicity, I don’t think you should need four accountants to pay your taxes. Second, Revenue Adequacy, you have to take in enough revenue to keep the federal government operating. One can argue its gotten bloated over the years but it still performs a wide range of functions that we’re going to need. Lastly, Fairness, while a tax code doesn’t necessarily have to be fair, I think most people, including me, believe it should be.

As for quality importance, to my mind Revenue Adequacy and Fairness are 5 credit factors and Simplicity is a 3 credit factor. Simplicity is nice but it’s not essential and the other two are.

I wholeheartedly agree that something needs to be done about the federal tax code. It’s too complicated. Cain’s plan is simple and straight forward so, for Simplicity, it gets an “A.”

On the question of Revenue Adequacy I have two concerns. The first is I find it highly unlikely it’s going to bring in anywhere near as much revenue as the current code and, secondly, it’s unclear to me that we’re going to accrue any significant benefit from slicing the corporate tax rate so significantly other than enrich the CEOs, the major stockholders and the corporations themselves. More money means more power and influence and the big corporations have too much of those already. I give Cain’s plan a “D” here and that’s being generous.

Now we come to fairness. The plan clearly favors the rich. A 9% flat tax on income would cut my taxes dramatically and I’m not anywhere near the top income bracket. Pure Flat taxes, where everyone is taxed at the same rate, are regressive and further encourage greed. I believe the tax rate should increase with income and would much prefer a graduated flat tax that started at 0% and worked its way up by marginal income.

In other words, for example, for the first $X no one would pay any taxes. Then from $X+1 to $Y one would pay say 5%; then from $Y+1 to $Z dollars one would pay 10% and so on. For incomes in the millions I would have the marginal tax rate in the 75% range. There would be no deductions, no tax shelters, but the flat rate would increase with income.

A sales tax is also regressive. In fact it’s probably the most regressive type of tax because the poor pay a much larger proportion of their income than the rich. A sales tax is also too easy to get around by buying goods and services outside the country. I can see “duty free” zones springing up on dozens of Caribbean Islands selling foreign goods to rich Americans just to get around the 9% federal tax.

For Fairness, the plan gets a big whopping “F.” I’d give it an F- if there was such a grade.

So let’s do the old college index calculation. ( (3x4)+(1x5)+(0x5))/(3+5+5) = 17/13 = 1.3. That’s a D+ folks so Cain’s plan flunks out.

It’s an interesting idea but I think it needs work. Going with a graduated flat tax on income while reducing the sales tax might be enough to make it a plan I could support, but I can’t support it the way it is.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The “Real” Origins of Christianity

I took an online course entitled “The Real Origins of Christianity.” I put the real in quotes in the title because it was strikingly obvious to me that we’re dabbling more in opinion and speculation than historical fact.

I did learn a lot of things and did have a number of misconceptions corrected. However, I had some difficulty with the main hypothesis of the instructor.

The instructor was Dr. Richard Carrier who, it is safe to say, sits near the left outer extreme of the continuum associated with the reliability of the gospels. To the extreme right are the fundamentalists that insist that every word is literally true and the text, at least in the original autographs, is inerrant and wholly without contradiction or error. At the opposite end are the ultra-skeptics who don’t even concede that the gospels are based upon a real man. Carrier acknowledges there was a real Jesus, but seems to take the position that the gospels are fiction written to make a point rather than relate a true story.

I had always been of the impression that the gospel story, or at least the Synoptic gospel story, consisted of an accurate core to which had been added mythical elements and which had been massaged to make the message better fit the particular audience. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever consider the idea that the entire story was pure fiction.

Nor do I buy that conclusion now. Carrier is writing a book defending that idea and apparently Robert Price has addressed a similar hypothesis in the “Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable is the Gospel Tradition?” So I decided to buy Price’s book while I’m waiting for Carrier to finish his.

Now all I need to do is find time to read it.

The Mormon Question

There have been some mumbles about Mitt Romney’s religion. A Baptist preacher, who introduced Rick Perry at a forum, told reporters that Romney was not a Christian. The same preacher in 2008 said that Mormonism was a “cult.”

Now, personally, I happen to agree with the preacher that it's a cult. Mormonism was created by a third rate con man and is demonstrably false. It is total and complete crap. Anyone who has actually read the Book of Mormon, and has more than half a brain, could figure that out. Of course it’s so boring that reading it is a feat in itself. Mark Twain called in “Chloroform in print” and I think he was being kind.

Of course the Baptist preacher’s religion is complete crap also, it’s just not as demonstrably so. To my mind anyone that actually believes the tenets of Mormonism is unfit to be allowed anywhere the nuclear codes.

On the Republican campaign trail they’re tiptoeing around the question a bit. Newt Gingrich called the preachers comment “unwise and inappropriate.” Notice however that he didn’t say he was wrong.

Michelle Bachmann mumbled something about religious tolerance but also didn’t say the preacher was wrong.

Hermann Cain acknowledged that Romney was a Mormon and then said “I am not going to do an analysis of Mormonism versus Christianity for the sake of answering that."

Which sort of implies that Cain thinks they’re different doesn’t it?

And then there is Rick Santorum. He simply said something to the effect of if Romney says he’s Christian, I believe him.

Not one of them actually addressed the question. Politicians, you have to love them.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Palestinian State

The Palestinians have asked for recognition from the U.N. as a full member nation.

In order to achieve such status a Security Council recommendation is required. The U.S. has indicated it would veto any such recommendation so, unless the Obama administration has an epiphany, that’s not going to happen.

Plan B is to take the request directly to the General Assembly. If 129 out of the 193 member states approve, then the Palestinians would be granted non-member observer status which would be a step up from where they are now as an “observer entity.”

The big benefit would be such a status would allow the Palestinians to join U.N. bodies including the International World Court and that would afford them an opportunity to file charges against Israel for violations of International Law.

The Palestinians claim to have 122 votes and hope to accumulate as many as 150.

Both the U.S. and Israel are saying that such a move would slow down the peace process.

What peace process? Do you people live on the same planet I do?

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu clearly has no interest in negotiating anything while he continues to illegally build additional West Bank settlements.

Secure in the assumption that no U.S. president will risk the political fallout of not supporting Israel, Netanyahu isn’t going to budge. He demonstrated this by his raising such a hullabaloo about Obama saying that any negotiation STARTS with the 1967 borders. This has been the agreement for a decade. Note that this is the start and not the end point. No one expects Israel to return to the 1967 borders.

I say go for it Palestine. Time to shake some things up and see what falls out.

Michelle Bachmann and Arab Spring

Michelle Bachmann has decided that Arab Spring, which resulted in the toppling of three dictators and gave hope to the emergence of democracy in the Arab World, was a BAD thing.

Am I missing something here or a is Bachmann a bigger idiot than I thought she was?

Granted, the jury is still out on the final outcome of the popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya but I would think that the U.S. would support people rebelling against dictatorships.

Is it possible Egypt will emerge as a Islamic State? Yes it is. But if that’s what her people want, so be it. That’s how Democracy works.

Anwar al-Awlaki and Ron Paul

Al-Awlaki was an American born radical Islamic terrorist that has spent the last few years recruiting in the west for Al-Qaeda. He was killed in Yemen by an American drone strike.

Ron Paul, running for the Republican presidential nomination, thinks this was a terrible thing to do and that Al-Awlaki, as a American citizen, was entitled to a trial.

As I’ve said before, not only does Ron Paul not have any answers, he doesn’t even know what the questions are.

One of the few things I agreed on with George W. Bush was treating the confrontation with terrorism as a war. Article III of the United States Constitution defines treason as:

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

I think it is safe to say that Al-Awlaki, by this definition, committed treason. Article III goes on to say.

“No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”

I would consider his open recruiting for Al-Qaeda and bombastic sermons equivalent to a “Confession in open Court.”

Besides, no one has any rights in a battle during war. In this war, drone strikes are part of the fighting. Al-Awlaki wasn’t assassinated as Ron Paul claims, he was killed as part of a military action.

If he had been captured I would have agreed with a trial but I can’t justify not taking him out when the chance presented itself.

In other words, good enough for me and good riddance.  

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Little Extra at Lions Games

What could be better than an NFL football game, cold beer and food?

Apparently in Detroit some enterprising folks are providing a mobile strip joint for those tailgaters that have everything else.

According to the AP, The “Booty Lounge,” a black and red bus complete with two stages, associated dancing poles and a smoke machine were allowing Lions fans access after a $10 “donation.”

Needless to say the Detroit police are taking a dim view of the arrangement and are investigating the incident to determine if the setup is illegal. At the very least the operators haven’t paid for the special license needed by strip joints.

Hey, after the last 10 years of lousy Lions football I think they should give their fans a break. On the other hand, the Lions, along with the Bills are looking pretty good this year.

The Republican Race

Well, a month has gone by and Rick Perry has apparently talked his way out of first place in the race for the 2012 Republican nomination.

In the latest Fox News Poll, the numbers came out like this:

Mitt Romney – 23%
Rick Perry – 19%
Herman Cain – 17%
Newt Gingrich – 11%
Ron Paul – 6%
Jon Huntsman – 4%
Michelle Bachmann – 3%
Rick Santorum – 3%

The other two big stories are the sudden surge of Herman Cain after his Florida Straw Poll win and the total collapse of Michelle Bachmann. The falls of Perry and Bachmann lead me to hope that while the American people are really freaking dumb, they’re not all complete idiots.

I don’t know what to make of Cain. I’m betting this is a temporary bubble like Bachmann’s temporary bubble. I’m thinking it’s going to be a two man race with Romney ultimately beating out Perry.

Why? Because Romney has the widest appeal, he’s not likely to say anything so extreme as to turn people off and he’s got the best chance against Obama and most Republicans know it.

They’ll play around with the idea of nominating someone else but, in the final analysis, the fat cat portion of the party will have its way and that way will be Romney.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Troy Davis

Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed in Georgia tomorrow for the murder of an off-duty police officer in 1989. A last ditch appeal to Georgia’s pardon board was rejected on Monday.

The question on the table is whether Davis is in fact guilty of the crime for which he was convicted. A number of witnesses that testified against him have recanted their testimony. Other potential witnesses claim that another person actually committed the crime.

Yet, Davis was unable to convince a federal judge to give him a new trial and the Georgia Supreme Court has upheld his conviction. Prosecutors say they have no doubt they charged the right man with the crime.

I’m not sure what to say about this. While it seems there is significant doubt, the case has been looked at in detail and no one seemed to think there was enough doubt. This is precisely the reason I oppose the death penalty. The potential of an error easily outweighs any perceived advantage.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Psalm 46

At the 9-11 ceremonies yesterday President Obama reportedly read from Psalm 46. You will excuse me but I find the Psalm especially inappropriate.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

Well then why didn’t he stop the planes from hitting the towers? This is basically bullshit of the first order of magnitude. You can trust your own right arm and your intelligence and that’s about it. This is the kind of crap the elite spew to keep the riff-raff in line.

“Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.”

Yet the nations remain in an uproar, wars still rage and people still die. If this all powerful God can end war then why doesn’t he?

“He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.”

Not that I’ve noticed. As a matter of fact, wars go their merry way just as if there was no such thing as a God. Amazing isn’t it?

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’”

Conceited son of a bitch isn’t he? One wonders why an all powerful being would be such a megalomaniac as to require the exaltation and worship of his pitiful so-called creations.

Like I said, I find this Psalm particularly inappropriate given it was religious fanatics with an eye toward exalting their God that flew the planes into the towers.

Some 9-11 thoughts on 9-12

I’m not the sentimental type. I respect those that lost people close to them in the attacks and I’m especially prepared to recognize the courage of those who tried to help and in doing so became victims themselves.

I think a moment of silence on the anniversary or a modest ceremony at the three main sites is appropriate. What is not appropriate is a week of constant media noise and the violation of the U.S. Constitution with readings from the Bible.

I guarantee you that some of those lost on that day did not recognize the Bible as Holy Scripture nor the existence of God. So you might as well have spit on their graves especially considering the fact that it was religious morons that killed them.

Granted, this was the tenth anniversary, and cardinal anniversaries tend to be looked upon as having special significance, but enough already. How many others have died in the resulting conflicts around the world since 9-11-2001 and has anyone really bothered to address the problems that led to the attack so that countless others won’t die?

Of course not. That would mean putting aside our cherished notions and facing up to reality. We certainly wouldn’t want to do that now would we?

They keep saying everything changed on 9-11. I wish that were true, but it isn’t. Nothing has changed other than simmering antagonisms were escalated into full scale shooting wars perhaps earlier than they would have been. All of the underlying causes still exist. The tension in Palestine is still there and fundamentalist religion, both Islamic and Christian, continues to impede the maturing of society.

This guarantees there will be another attack. The only questions are when, where and how.

A fee for prison visits?

How do people come up with these ideas?

The state of Arizona is charging a one-time $25 fee for anyone that wants to visit someone in an Arizona prison. Supposedly the fee is to cover the costs of a background check (they do background checks on people that visit prison inmates?).

Unsurprisingly the fee is being challenged as unconstitutional on the grounds that it is a special tax. Critics have also argued that it has nothing to do with background checks and the money simply goes into the general fund for prison maintenance. A charge supposedly admitted to by a corrections official in an interview with the U.K. Daily Mail.

You would think that someone would realize such a fee would get challenged in the courts wouldn’t you?

Why not go all the way? Why make it a one-time fee? Why not $25 every time you visit or have a renewal fee every year?

Sure, just what you want, isolate prison inmates from their support group to insure they become hardened criminals and gang members.

Friday, September 09, 2011

The Jobs Bill

If nothing else Obama presented an “in your face we need to get our act together” speech to congress and the nation last night.

I sort of agree with a lot of what he said. I do think we need to reform the tax code. I do think the rich should be paying more taxes on excessive income. As a matter of fact I think that tax rate should be so prohibitive as to dampen the unbridled greed that is running amok in the U.S. I also agree we should be closing corporate tax loopholes and rewarding companies that manufacture here in the U.S.

I’m sure the Republicans loved the speech too because they could hear the coins headed their way from the corporate lobbyists to make sure none of these ideas are implemented in any way that would inconvenience corporate American and the wealthy elite.

In other words, expect the Republicans to place roadblocks in front of everything. Besides, why would they want Obama to succeed?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Drug Testing, more Conservative Bull

In Florida they have a “great” idea. They’re going to keep them welfare cheats from using taxpayer’s hard earned dollars for drugs. How are they going to do that you ask? By requiring welfare applicants to first take a drug test, at their own expense, before receiving any benefits. In the, according to Conservatives, “unlikely event” they’re clean, the state reimburses them for the test.

How has this worked out so far? Well, according to a Florida TV station, of the first 40 applicants tested only 2 came up positive and one of those is contesting the test. Not providing welfare benefits to the two that failed the test would save Florida $240 a month. Cost of the 40 tests? $1,140. That means it would take Florida 5 months to recoup the dollars spent on testing and the failed applicants can retest in 12 months.

And that’s not to mention what it’s going to cost to defend the policy in court as I guarantee you it will be challenged as violating the 4th Amendment.

It’s been my experience that there are two types of Conservatives. The rich ones and the poor ones. The rich ones play the poor ones like a fiddle and their objective is to get richer. The poor are uneducated, ignorant slobs that have somehow been convinced that all of their troubles are the result of their money being used to subsidize those even poorer than themselves.

In their left hand they have their bible and in their right hand they have their gun and between their ears is mostly empty space. They are kept riled up on nonsense issues like gay marriage. They’re constantly being told the government is spending their money when the fact of the matter is they’re far more likely to be beneficiaries of government spending and the cuts their rich buddies keep pushing for are most likely to land right on their own heads.

No one likes to live from pay check to pay check or be in dept but chasing boogey men isn’t going to help resolve the problem. I think government spending needs to be cut back as well but we also need to rebalance the distribution of wealth in this country and stop the constant rampant greed that has driven our economy to the brink of disaster.

As for the drug testing, I’m betting it fails the constitutional test and would lose money in the long run anyway so why bother?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene

This was just another example demonstrating that the media and our so-called leaders are out of touch with reality.

After days of dire warnings of doom, it turns out they weren’t even focused on the right issues. The massive storm surge never materialized but inland there was flooding and lots of it.

This turned out to be not nearly as bad as the storm in March of 2010 that knocked down trees all over the place but the amount of rain, piled on top of already swollen streams and rivers, was an absolute mess.

My power has been going off and on like a yo-yo goes up and down after being out all day yesterday and most of the night. The surges appear to have fried at least one power strip.

If half the effort spent on unrealistic predictions of doom had been spent on preparing for the inevitable flooding and power issues, this would have been a “disaster” that almost no one noticed. Of course, for some folk, it was a disaster.

That it wasn’t a total catastrophe is of course a good thing. That it was blown quite a bit out of proportion by the hype is not because, like crying wolf, the next time around people might not believe you.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oh That's Just Creepy

It seems Libyan rebels found a book with pictures of Condoleeza Rice in Omar Ghadafi's lair.

That's really creepy. If I was Rice I'd be really grossed out. Then again, I hear they shared a late dinner to break the Ramadan fast a few years ago so who knows?

I guess it could have been worse. It could have been a book with Dick Cheney photos.

The East Coast Earthquake

Yeah, I felt it. I could feel a slight tremor in the building and one of the table chairs in my office started to squeak as it shook back and forth.

It was sort of weird but so slight as to not be much of a big deal.

That's the second mild earthquake I've been through. The first was in California and was so slight that I slept through the whole thing.

I suspect hurricane Irene might be a tad dicier if it lands on the New Jersey coast. Maybe I'll get lucky and it will swing out to sea.

Rick Perry the Frontrunner?

According to a Gallup poll Rick Perry has overtaken Mitt Romney and has a 12 point lead. Ron Paul is third and Michelle Bachmann looks to be a fairly distant fourth.

The poll also shows that virtually all of Perry’s support comes from the extreme Right Wing of the Republican Party.

So now comes the question, can someone who is so extreme win a presidential election in the United States? The conventional wisdom used to be that neither an extreme right wing nor an extreme left wing candidate could win. But that was before Evangelical Christians organized themselves into a political power and the economy fell on its face.

Here’s the deal, some people are going to vote for Perry no matter what and some people are not going to vote for him no matter what. That leaves the so-called middle of the road moderate voters.

Obama has not done a great job. He especially has not done a great job with the deficit in particular and the economy in general. I now think that Mitt Romney could beat him. But could Rick Perry beat him?

I have my doubts unless Perry shifts toward the center in the general election and gets the electorate to buy it. The American electorate is certainly gullible enough to buy such a shift and the big business faction of the Republican Party still has enough clout to force it so you never know.

I find it utterly appalling, that in the 21st century, a man who believes that “Intelligent Design” is science and should be taught along with evolution might end up as president of the United States.

What’s with the Tim Tebow Hullabaloo?

Tim Tebow wouldn’t be the first college star to struggle in the NFL. He wouldn’t even be the first to utterly strike out in the NFL. So what if he may not be a Ben Roethlisberger ready to go almost immediately?

Give the guy a break already.

Playing in the NFL is hard. Playing quarterback in the NFL is damn near impossible. Tebow is facing three problems. First the offense run at Florida wasn’t a Pro-style offense. Second, Florida had a lot more football talent than most of its opponents. In the NFL, parity is the norm and Denver isn’t threatening to roll into the Super Bowl any time soon. The third problem is simply the high expectations and the glare of being under the microscope.

There’s nothing we can do about the first two problems, they’re water under the bridge, but at least the media can lay off the kid already and give him a chance. John Fox knows what he’s doing on a football field as opposed to McDaniels who I always suspected had the wrong motives with Tebow.

I have my issues with Christian Fundamentalists but that doesn’t have anything to do with playing football. I wonder if the guy ever got laid? Maybe that’s his problem. I don’t think there’s ever been a successful virgin NFL quarterback. Hell, I don’t think there’s ever been a virgin NFL quarterback period.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rick Perry and the Constitution

Rick Perry thinks the United States Constitution needs some changes. I don’t necessarily disagree with that, but let’s examine the seven changes he would like to make.

1. Abolish lifetime tenure for federal judges by amending Article III, Section I of the Constitution.

The whole idea of lifetime tenure is to isolate the judiciary from political ramifications. If a judge really goes rogue, there is always impeachment as an option. This is a bad idea. Sometimes the court has to make politically unpopular decisions and it needs to have the freedom to do so. Perry wants to make the judiciary politically accountable which is precisely what the framers of the constitution were trying to avoid.

2. Congress should have the power to override Supreme Court decisions with a two-thirds vote.

Congress and the states can already override Supreme Court decisions with a two-thirds congressional vote and the agreement of three-quarters of the state legislatures. It’s called the amendment process. The process is made difficult on purpose but it can be argued it has occurred seven times in U.S. history so when it’s necessary, it can happen. This also strikes at the independence of the judiciary and is another bad idea.

3. Scrap the federal income tax by repealing the Sixteenth Amendment.

First of all one doesn’t need to repeal the sixteenth amendment in order to replace the income tax. The sixteenth amendment allows income taxes, it doesn’t require them. Second, before I can say whether eliminating the federal income tax is a good idea or not, I’d need to know what Perry intends to replace it with.

4. End the direct election of senators by repealing the Seventeenth Amendment.

This would just about guarantee that senators would be owned by the big corporations and back room local politics. I don’t see any problem with direct election so why bother to change it?

5. Require the federal government to balance its budget every year.

I actually like this idea except that we all know that any such amendment would have to include escape clauses to cover times of emergency such as war or natural disaster. If it took a two-thirds majority of congress to allow deficit spending, I might go along with this proposal. We cannot continue down the road of spending more than we have.

6. The federal Constitution should define marriage as between one man and one woman in all 50 states.

Oh well, so much for State’s Rights and Libertarianism. Aside from the fact that this doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of passing, this would dramatically cripple the 14th Amendment by making an exception to equality under the law. If I can make an exception for Gays, then why not Muslims or Blacks? No, this isn’t a slippery slope argument because I’m not claiming this would happen, I’m simply asking how it is theoretically different. Obviously, I’m opposed to this idea.

7. Abortion should be made illegal throughout the country.

What is it that drives conservatives to want and regulate how people live? How about you mind your own business about what one does with their own body? Again, obviously, I’m opposed.

So, I sort of like one idea, need more information about a second before I can decide and oppose the other five rather vehemently. This is one reason why I wouldn’t vote for Rick Perry unless the only alternative was Michelle Bachmann.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Science and the GOP

The ignorance of the people we consider for the presidency never ceases to amaze me. Let’s go down the GOP list shall we.

Rick Perry
Perry believes the “issue of global warming has been politicized” and “there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects.”

Perry also says “we're seeing, almost weekly or daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that manmade global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”

The only people that have “politicized” global warming are the Republicans. As for accusing scientists of what amounts to fraud, Perry is walking on very thin ice, but then what do you expect from a man that accepts the support of hate groups. This accusation most likely dates back to the “climate-gate” e-mail furor from 2009 which turned out to be much ado about nothing.

As for scientists daily or weekly questioning the idea of manmade global warming, this smacks of the creationist claim that scientists are abandoning evolution. Neither statement is even remotely true.

Speaking of evolution, Perry says he is a “firm believer in Intelligent Design as a matter of faith and intellect,” which gives you a pretty good idea of his lack of intellect, and he believes “it should be presented in schools alongside the theories of evolution."

Now a lot depends upon what he means by “presented in schools.” Presenting Intelligent Design as a religious alternative to the science of evolution that some people believe, is not necessarily a problem as long as it is made clear that the scientific community rejects the notion.

Michelle Bachmann
Bachmann think global warming is based upon “manufactured science” and that carbon dioxide is a “harmless gas.” Michelle Bachmann is a moron. Ignorance is one thing but sheer stupidity is something else. As for evolution, Bachmann says “evolution has never been proven,” a statement that says volumes about her science ignorance, and she supports “putting all science on the table and then letting students decide."

Of course if we actually did what she says, nothing would change because the Theory of Evolution is the only science.

Ron Paul
Paul thinks climate change is “the greatest hoax I think that has been around for many, many years, if not hundreds of years" and "Pollution can be better taken care of under a private market system, under private property."

Hundreds of years? Earth to Paul, earth to Paul, come in Paul. That may well be the dumbest statement of the lot. As for pollution being better taken care of under a private market system, then why hasn’t it been? Why has it always required government regulations?

Paul says “nobody has concrete proof” for evolution which also speaks volumes about Paul’s science ignorance. He then goes on to mumble something about how it only matters in government schools whether you’re “fair in teaching that the earth could have been created by a creator or it came out of a pop, out of nowhere?”

Clearly Paul doesn’t even understand the question.

Mitt Romney
Romney is actually pretty rational for a Republican.

On global warming Romney has said "I believe, based on what I read, that the world is getting warmer" and "I believe that humans contribute to that."

On evolution, Romney takes the theistic evolution position. He says he believes "God designed the universe" and that he believes God "used the process of evolution to create the human body." He opposed the teaching of intelligent design in public-school science classes when he was governor of Massachusetts. "The science class is where to teach evolution, or if there are any other scientific thoughts that need to be discussed," he told The New York Times. "If we're going to talk about more philosophical matters, like why it was created, and was there an intelligent designer behind it, that's for the religion class or philosophy class or social studies class."

I can live with the theistic evolution position. I think it’s wrong, but I can live with it. The positions of the other three fools are totally unacceptable.

I wouldn’t be caught dead voting for a Republican but I could support Mitt Romney as president. If any of the other three get elected I’m moving to the South Seas.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A Bert and Ernie Wedding?

There are those pushing PBS to have Bert and Ernie, of Sesame Street fame, tie the knot as a gay couple.

Personally I think this is one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard.

First of all, Bert and Ernie, despite conjecture, are not officially gay. They're simply roommates. If PBS had previously made it clear they were a gay couple, then maybe. But, given the current situation, the idea makes no sense.

This is also introducing a cultural outlook that is (1) outside the pre-school educational mandate of the show, (2) way beyond the understanding of the audience and (3) violently opposed by the parents of many of the kids watching the show.

We wouldn't want the little ones to think mommy and daddy are bigoted assholes would we?

Ok, I couldn't resist that last jab. Seriously, this is an issue to be ironed out by adults in adult forums. I'm all for teaching tolerance, but this goes beyond simple tolerance. This is indoctrination.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Hasa Diga Eebowai

I went to see "The Book of Mormon" on Broadway last night and my favorite number had to be "Hasa Diga Eebowai." I'll leave it to the reader to find out the translation.

The play had kind of an interesting approach to the topic of religion. While making it clear that blind faith and accepting things that don't make any sense amount to intellectual suicide, the play also acknowledges that religion can often provide solice and guidance when life throws bad things your way. Something that it will do sooner or later.

I guess it's the old question of do you prefer a harsh and depressing reality or would you prefer a comforting lie. I'd rather have the reality, regardless of how harsh, then fool myself.

No more AAA Rating for the U.S.

Well, S&P has done it. They’ve downgraded the U.S. credit rating. The administration fired back with criticism of S&P claiming it made a $2 trillion dollar error. S&P fired back calling the whole “debt ceiling” process a debacle and warned of other downgrades to follow.

While they sort that out markets around the world tumbled and in Europe the central bank initiated a bond buying program to heads off a default by Italy or Spain.

Talk about an impending economic catastrophe.

Allow me to quote myself from February of 2010 “…not taking steps to correct the deficit will lead to, not only a new recession, but a potential economic catastrophe that would make the upheaval of the Great Depression look like boom times.”

We are in serious trouble and I don’t honestly see us making any progress to out of the morass we’re in. Balancing the budget has to happen and it can’t happen only with budget cuts. A tax increase is not only inevitable, but necessary, so let’s get working on it already.

Obama has not done a good job here and neither has the congress. The problem is the two parties have totally opposite objectives and answer to two totally different electoral bases. I say we kick the southern states out of the union and let them go elect their Tea Party and see how well that works out.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Christie Slams Sharia Law Fearmongers

Will wonders never cease. I not only agree with Governor Chris Christie on something but I'm sending him an "Atta Boy" e-mail.

The governor of New Jersey defended his decision to nominate a Muslin to the New Jersey Superior courts against conservative nut cases claiming the appointee would implement Sharia Law by calling the idea "crazy" and "crap."

Allow me to quote Chris, "Sharia law has nothing to do with this at all. It's crazy. It's crazy. The guy's an American citizen who has been an admitted lawyer to practice in the state of New Jersey, swearing an oath to uphold the laws of New Jersey, the constitution of the state of New Jersey, and the Constitution of the United States of America . . . .This Sharia law business is crap. It's just crazy. And I'm tired of dealing with the crazies."

A lot of us are tired of dealing with crazies but Rush Limbaugh still has a radio show, Ann Coulter still appears on Faux News, Creationists still try to undermine evolutionary science and Michelle Bachmann is still running for President.

When do we exceed our quota for crazies and shut the damn door on these morons?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Oh My

Almost a whole month without a single post.

Sometimes you just can't get around to doing all the things you want to do because of the things you need to do.

Ah well, complaining isn't going to change anything. I think I'll just put down some impressions from the last month.

The Debt Ceiling
I'd like to say that the stalemate is the result of two different viewpoints on what's best for the country. Unfortunately I have this feeling that it's based upon two different viewpoints on what's best for the politicians involved.

Casey Anthony
Not since O.J. Simpson have so many people been so incensed about a verdict. Why? Because a lot of people have this feeling that this is a case of "not proven guilty" rather than a case of being innocent. I have to respect the decision of the jurors. They heard the evidence and saw the body language and I didn't. I do think Nancy Grace should be ashamed of her biased coverage and CNN should seriously consider booting her rear end out the door.

Michele Bachmann
It's hard to believe that someone could actually make Sarah Palin look like an acceptable candidate but Bachmann is coming close. Not only is hubby engaging in Reparative Therapy but Bachmann herself claims to be receiving directions straight from God. She wins, I break out my sniper rifle.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dodgers File for Bankruptcy

That the Los Angeles Dodgers need bankruptcy protection boggles the mind. That one of the oldest, and I always thought most lucrative, baseball franchises can be broke strikes at the very foundation of the American Dream.

I could understand General Motors troubles but how the hell do you lose money if you’re the Dodgers?

Does the phrase glaring fiscal incompetency conjure up a picture for you because I can’t imagine what else could have gone wrong.

What would Walter O’Malley say?

I know what the Flatbush Faithful would say, “it soives dem Bums right for leavin’ Brooklyn.”

Muslim Women and Sports Uniforms

FIFA wouldn’t allow the Iranian Women’s soccer team to compete because they considered their head to toe covering uniforms a safety hazard.

A Muslim-American female weight lifter has been barred from competing at the higher levels of competition because she wears the hijab which fully covers her arms, legs and head. This violates the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) rules, which govern USA Weightlifting, designed to insure the judges can see whether the elbows and knees are locked which is required for a lift to be successful.

Billy Jean King’s Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), which apparently worries about stuff like this, has issued guidelines on uniform restrictions saying restrictions should focus on not allowing an unfair advantage, not introducing a safety hazard and not making it difficult for judges.

The problem of course is both of the current objections, by FIFA and the IWF, are within these guidelines. One was deemed a safety hazard and the other may in fact cause problems for judges.

This is the kind of story that can easily bring out the worst in someone. I have to admit that my immediate reaction was “it’s women’s sports. Who cares?”

When I got my male chauvinist inclination under control I thought why should everyone else have to accommodate Muslims? When the World Series interfered with Yom Kippur, Sandy Koufax simply didn’t pitch. He didn’t ask Major League Baseball to adjust the schedule.

Then I remembered that little thing called the 1st Amendment and reconsidered.

If you believe in the Constitution then you have to support what the Constitution says even when you’re not all that enthused about it. Either we live by the rule of law or we don’t’.

So, after considering it rationally for a bit, I sort of agree with the WSF guidelines. Unfortunately those guidelines are very subjective.

Still, I’m sure someone can figure out a way to work this out. Doesn’t sound like rocket science to me. As much as I think the Muslim idea of female modesty is utterly ridiculous, the 1st Amendment says they have every right to be ridiculous. I would also think it’s in the best interest of the governing bodies to work something out. Unless of course the governing bodies don’t care because it’s women’s sports.

The Republicans

A recent Iowa poll shows Michelle Bachmann now even with Mitt Romney and that scares the hell out of me.

Bachmann is a certifiable lunatic. I don’t want this lady anywhere near the nuclear codes. She thinks the world is 6,000 years old and that Climate Change is a hoax (by who and why one wonders?).

I will grant that her education appears to give her the necessary credentials to be president but clearly her schooling hasn’t made her educated. Just what we need, another god damned Christian fundamentalist in the White House.

Let’s face it, Romney can’t win the Republican nomination. He’s the type that will always be a bride’s maid and never a bride. So who does that leave? If I had to pick a Republican it would be Jon Huntsman but I think he’s too rational for the Republican base.

Then again, McCain won in 2008 so you never know.

I mean, talk about the inmates trying to take over the asylum. Hopefully Bachmann will self destruct in the not too distant future but perhaps not.

The problem with lunatic fringe candidates like her is her supporters are too irrational to ever give up on her for any reason and a lot of people may not take her seriously until it’s too late. That’s one good point about her polling high early, it forces people to take her seriously and notice what a moron she is.

On the other hand, I might prefer her over Palin which really tells you a lot about what I think about Palin. What is it about the Republicans that they attract such lunatic females? Oh yeah, that’s right, a lot of the males are lunatics too.

I'm not voting Republican anyway. I wouldn't vote Republican if you held a gun to my head. My only interest is how scary is the 2012 campaign going to be. So far, looks like it's going to be pretty scary.