Recent Current Events (5/10/10)

Here is where I shall vent my spleen on whatever political topic might cross my mind on a given day. Comments or responses may be posted to whatever forum might be appropriate to that particular topic.

Recent Current Events (5/10/10)

Postby Ferguson Foont » Mon May 10, 2010 4:28 pm

Obama Appoints Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court

I don't think that we need to worry much about Ms. Kagan voting with the "Gang of Five" anytime soon. Indeed, I doubt if she ever will except on those cases that are such obvious no-brainers that they're decided unanimously (rare these days since at least two and often all five among the "Gang" seem to have negative brains, or at least they devote whatever brains they have to pure contrarian evil). Nevertheless, because she will replace the MOST Honorable Mr. Justice Stevens, her elevation to the Court will once again move the court slightly, but measurably, to the right. Again.

She will almost certainly not exhibit the outspokenness in defense of liberty and justice -- as well as basic fairness and decency -- that was the hallmark of the great Mr. Justice Stevens. John Paul Stevens was the last of the proud tradition established on our Court by the likes of Mr. Justice Douglas, Mr. Justice Black, and Mr. Justice Brennan, all now mere memories of a more hopeful past a half century or so ago when the notion actually began to take hold that all men really WERE created equal. Those great men are now two full generations of Justices removed from the Court, and I sometimes wonder whether or not we will ever see their likes again.

I was hoping for Diane Wood, whose clarity and consistency in defense of civil rights in America has been unusually forceful and effective for a modern-day judge in these troubled times. Perhaps President Obama took into account, probably correctly, the fact that the Republicans in the Senate would mount a rabidly vicious battle against her elevation that would have stopped all legislative business over a protracted period of time. It is unlikely they will be able to attack Ms. Kagan with as much demagoguery that would appeal to their armies of ignorant bumpkins, but Ms. Kagan does have a set of rumors surrounding her personal life that might prove to be effective fodder for their bigotry. We now can only wait and see.

What we need is the resignation, or removal by some other agency, of one of the Gang of Five. It is THAT battle for which we must save our strength. I wish and hope, above all other wishes and hopes I hold for our Republic, for that to occur while a Democratic president is in office to appoint his replacement. Our liberty balances now on the edge of a cliff, and should it tumble, as it is so very close to doing already, we will fall into an abyss from which our democracy may never emerge, at least not without an unthinkable amount of grief that would result from the effort.

Offshore Drilling

Seldom have I been as disappointed in President Obama as I was when he decided a few months ago to permit drilling offshore near the mid-Atlantic coast. I used to live in Los Angeles and would sometimes go swimming down at Huntington Beach south of Long Beach. There were offshore oil wells within sight of that beach, but the people of the region had been assured, with all the confidence that we used to hear from Bush administration officials and oil industry executives, that it was all modern, safe and clean. The fouled beaches at Galveston, they assured us, were the result of methods that had long been abandoned, and such things weren't even possible under the modern, high-technology methods used in the '70s and '80s. It could not happen to Huntington Beach in the '80s.

And then you'd find nasty black tar spots all over your feet, spots that literally NOTHING would remove except running around barefoot on concrete for a couple of months and having it scrape off as new skin would replace the old. Who knows how many skin cancers resulted from that -- it was nearly epidemic in Los Angeles when I lived there, although the cause of it is open to almost any speculation.

Of course, they said the same things about the safety of offshore drilling until just a couple of weeks ago when that rig blew up in the Gulf. So much for the "It can't happen anymore" argument. That disaster is still in its earliest stages, and nobody can guess how it might unfold. It could conceivably become the worst man-made environmental disaster of all time, and indeed it is trending in that direction.

Now, of course, Mr. Obama has backed off giving his OK to drilling in the mid-Atlantic region, and that's good. Still, it's disturbing that he ever considered it in the first place, because the amount of oil there, and the timeline for its eventual extraction, and the rate at which it would produce oil even at its peak production, all ensured that it would never, ever, have as much as a penny's impact on the price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States. In return for this ZERO benefit to the American people, we would be putting our beaches at risk from Atlantic City to Hilton Head, an area that includes Ocean City, MD, Virginia Beach, VA, the Outer Banks in North Carolina, and Myrtle Beach in North Carolina, all areas where the tourist economy is critical to the economic well-being of their respective states. Furthermore, it would pose a horrific danger to the Chesapeake Bay's fragile but massively important ecosystem, unique in the whole world, an area essential to many forms of life. Drilling for oil in that region may be the dumbest idea anybody ever had.

Now enter Mr. Lindsey Graham, U.S. Senator from South Carolina. He had been, or perhaps he merely pretended to be, a supporter of comprehensive energy and greenhouse gas legislation. Republicans sometimes pretend to support reforms in order to get their noses under the tent in the early stages of consideration of those reforms, to better place themselves to achieve their goal of sabotaging the effort. When they have done as much damage as they can do pretending to help, putting in measures that cost the bill political support or adding various "poison pills," they then withdraw their support at a critical juncture, usually citing some contrived "flaw" in the bill (often a "flaw" that they themselves insisted on including in the first place).

Graham took this a step further. At first, before the oil rig blowup, he withdrew his support because the Senate calendar was being changed to give immigration reform the earlier timeslot. He never really explained why this would cause him to turn his back on a measure that he allegedly supported on its merits, as its merits were not altered in the slightest by the change to the calendar. Of course, though, that wasn't the real reason, which I theorize (with nothing to base this on but my own supposition) that he did not wish to be seen working with the Democrats, what with all these TEA Partiers running around.

But now, since the horribly tragic and frightening oil spill in the Gulf, he has changed his tune, and not in the way any reasonable person would have been moved to do by the nature of events. Instead of rejoining the effort and withdrawing his support for offshore drilling off of heavily inhabited and immeasurably valuable American coastlines, as any normal, logical human being would do given the now provable and wholly unacceptable dangers of such drilling, he has instead said that there is no way any energy legislation will be taken up "in the current climate," with the "current climate" defined as a situation in which public awareness of the dangers makes offshore drilling politically unpopular. He would prefer to wait until the damage is done, the public has turned its attention elsewhere, and the oil robber barons can once again proceed with their "reassurances" to the public that such a thing can never happen again, what with all our modern technology and all.

The problem is, it not only CAN happen, it WILL happen. It is a certainty. It might be quite a long time before it happens again, but hey, when it comes to ruining, destroying forever, the Chesapeake Bay and all the beaches on the American eastern seaboard, what would be a good time for you?

(The really scary thing is that it might become at least a partially moot point. The way the current oil spill is going, there is a possibility -- a STRONG possibility -- that the prevailing currents will cause THIS disaster to extend all the way around the Florida coast from Pensacola to Jacksonville, and even reach up as far as, and maybe farther than, Hatteras.)

But Speaking of Modern Technology...

I just got the coolest thing I have ever seen in my life. It is an HTC Droid Incredible, a cell phone of all things, offered on the Verizon network. I've learned new, unbelievable things it can do every day I've had it (for about a week now). Aside from all the things a smart phone is expected to do, like get your email (from any kind of server, Exchange, POP3, IMAP, Yahoo, GMail, whatever), browse the web and whatnot (and it's actually USABLE with this big, bright, high-resolution OLED screen), interconnect with your PC, and all those "normal" smartphone things, it is a GPS WAY better than the one in my car, you can speak, instead of having to type, TEXT messages (with a reasonable degree of accuracy), and today I discovered an add-on app that lets you take a picture of something, like a product in a store or a landmark, and it will actually identify the object (so far in my tests it has had a 100% accuracy) and do a Google search on it, like if you wanted to compare prices on some item you see in a store or learn more about the Jefferson Memorial while you're driving by it. If you take a picture of foreign-language text, it will translate it into English for you!

Amazing. Simply amazing. And it has an 8-megapixel camera! EIGHT! And it is small, lightweight, and particularly elegant. It just floors me.

The TEA Party

It appears that the TEA Partiers got Charlie Crist in Florida, which is no big surprise (although I do wonder why he just doesn't switch to the Democratic Party rather than this "Independent" guff), but somewhat more to my surprise they got the ARCHLY conservative Senator Bob Bennett of Utah. I mean, they don't get much more right-wing than Bob Bennett. They also seem to be beating the lunatic right-winger Jim Bunning's hand-picked successor in Kentucky in favor of Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul, the "Libertarian" whacko.

(I HATE calling those idiots "Libertarians" because it besmirches the good name of true libertarians like the aforementioned Hugo Black and William O. Douglas who understood that, without GOVERNMENT defense of American liberty for individuals, we will lose it and more besides.)

Although I was among the many Democrats who unwisely breathed a sigh of undeserved relief when the Republicans nominated Ronald Reagan in 1984 with the notion, which turned out to be BADLY mistaken, that the American public was WAAAAY too smart EVER to vote for that Bozo, I still consider this to be likely to bode well for the 2010 elections, as more and more Republican incumbents fall victim to this nonsensical, totally lunatic movement in return for having committed the unforgivable transgression of, at some point in their careers, behaving like responsible adults.

I think the Democrats in Florida are receiving the gift of a chance they wouldn't otherwise have had by this split in the Republican ranks, and perhaps Kentucky might turn out likewise. I'm not so sure about Utah -- one can never guess what's going on in the minds of a bunch of people who truly believe in the divine words of a salamander.

(Although there does remain the fairly strong chance that the Republicans, in 2012, will seriously consider nominating a Newt.)
Republicans whine and Republicans bitch: "Our rich are too poor, and our poor are too rich."
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Ferguson Foont
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