Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This is why Republicans aren't in charge anymore

In my post on the Republican complaints about the stimulus bill two months ago I pointed out that, at the time, Republicans seemed to take the attitude that any public health spending was wasteful. In that post I left out quite a few items for brevity, one of them was an op-ed written by Karl Rove.

Now I'm not so much on board with the Swine Flu panic that is so en vogue with politicians and the media right now, but I do find it funny that just two months ago Rove pointed out this piece of "waste" for us (sixth paragraph):
There's also $4 billion for health programs like obesity control and smoking cessation, $2 billion for the National Institutes of Health, $462 million for the Centers for Disease Control, and $900 million for pandemic flu preparations. Health care also added jobs last year.
Sometimes I almost believe that these guys can predict the future, figure out the right course of action, then argue to do the opposite.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Imbecility is not confined to the right wing.

One should always pick your battles, particularly in politics. It's all about maximizing your return while minimizing your investment. I find this concept is lost on much of the pro-gun-control community, and this particular blog entry is dedicated to them.

If you happen to be a member of this group I know one of the questions that confounds you daily is "how in the hell do the bunch of crazies at the NRA have so much political power?" This seems a perfectly valid question, their views are extreme, their spokesmen regularly come off as lunatics, and their base is composed primarily of rednecks.

The answer is simple - because you can't pick your battles.

Namely, I'm referring to the assault weapons ban that was passed under Clinton and expired this decade. You are focused on it, we know you are because that is all you can talk about. An editorial in today's NY Times holds a perfect example, the author spends the first 15 paragraphs laying out his case (in fine fashion, I might add) for increased gun control.

It's well written, very emotional and loaded with facts and relevant current events. The author has me buying in, I'm ready to write a letter to my congressman to take some action. But what to do?

The author then blows his wad on arguing for reinstatement of the assault weapons ban. Just to be clear, this is a ban affecting a hodgepodge of firearms related only in terms of appearance. Some of the arguments for the ban (and the simple counters):
  • Assault weapons are criminal's weapon of choice - they are used in less than 1% of gun crimes in this country
  • Fully automatic weapons are dangerous - irrelevant, fully automatic weapons are already illegal, the "assault weapons" discussed here fire at the same rate most other firearms
  • Their fire is deadly - the banned firearms fire bullets no larger, and with less power behind them, than most hunting rifles
  • They are designed to kill - I'm not sure how features like a bayonet stud or handle (two of the features that may cause a firearm to be banned) assist any criminal in doing any more damage than he already plans to do
I'm all for getting dangerous guns out of the hands of felons, crazies, postal workers, etc., but this ban doesn't do that. What it does do is allow the NRA to stoke up fear amongst the public by showing "a conspiracy" that wants to ban any and all firearms, regardless of their danger.

Assault weapons are bulky, thus they are hard to conceal, hard to transport, and hard to move around with. If more criminals used assault weapons instead of cheap handguns we would have far less crime, as you can't walk down the street with one of these stuck in your pocket.

If you really want to make a difference in the world, take an approach to gun-control with something that actually affects violence, like background checks. If you want to help inflate the political clout, bank accounts, and egos of the loonies at the NRA, keep pushing the assault weapons ban.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The gay agenda is coming for your children!

I'm on an email list that sends out regular notices discussing what rational, non-crazy humans are doing in Texas. Being a news/political junkie I enjoy these for their current-events value, but most of the time I just skim to the bottom where, every so often, they include copies of emails sent out by fundies. The lolz factor of these emails can range from an I'm-too-scared-to-laugh zero to a ten like the one I got today.

For a quick background, the Day of Silence is held by students every year to protest harassment and bullying of teh gheys in public schools. Simply put, kids that are participating will go to school, do their work, participate wherever possible, but they won't speak to anyone throughout that day. This is tolerated by many schools since, aside from the legal (and ethical) problems in attempting to punish a person for not speaking, harassment and bullying are things that are not generally helpful to learning in the first place.

Apparently, fundies hate this practice. Anyway, without further ado, I present to you a letter from the American Family Association:

Dear Friend,

The Day of Silence, which is sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), fast approaches. This year it will take place in most public schools on April 17. On this day, thousands of public high schools and increasing numbers of middle schools will allow students to remain silent throughout an entire day-even during instructional time-to promote GLSEN's socio-political goals and its controversial, unproven, and destructive theories on the nature and morality of homosexuality.

Parents must actively oppose this hijacking of the classroom for political purposes. Please join the national effort to restore to public education a proper understanding of the role of government-subsidized schools. You can help de-politicize the learning environment by calling your child out of school if your child's school allows students to remain silent during instructional time on the Day of Silence.

Parents should no longer passively countenance the political usurpation of public school classrooms through student silence.

If students will be permitted to remain silent, parents can express their opposition most effectively by calling their children out of school on the Day of Silence and sending letters of explanation to their administrators, their children’s teachers, and all school board members. One reason this is effective is that most school districts lose money for each student absence.

School administrators err when they allow the classroom to be disrupted and politicized by granting students permission to remain silent throughout an entire day.

I'm pretty sure this letter goes to the definition of homophobia. Hope you enjoyed the lulz.

p.s.-for a few added lulz, check out the first line of the Wiki page on the AFA, I'll let it speak for itself (emphasis mine):
"The American Family Association...promotes conservative Christian values as well as other public policy goals such as deregulation of the oil industry"