WACKO!! Featuring General McChrystal, Congressman Joe Barton & “The Lunatic Fringe” Band

Just when you thought it was safe to think life might return to some measure of sanity, two public figures whacked the stuffing out of that concept.

First:   Texas congressman Joe Barton, the senior Republican on the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, apologized (presumably in the name of the GOP and all Obama-hating conservatives) to BP CEO Tony Hayward.  Barton stated that BP’s commitment of at least US$20 billion to mitigate the financial and environmental damage of the oil disaster on us citizens and the Gulf environment that was reached the previous day with the Obama administration was a “shakedown”.  He made this incredible apology to BP just before Hayward’s “I’m not responsible, and I know nothing” testimony before the Energy and Environment subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing investigating BP’s role in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and subsequent historic oil spill.

Barton has since been criticized by just about every human alive.  He was almost immediately forced to retract his apology by his own republican party.  But the damage was done, and there was truly no way to reverse it, nor the damage done by Barton to his own political career and to his party, the oil-industry-and-big-corporation-supporting GOP.

In fairness, Barton did get some support from far-fringe right-wing extremists such as Republican Study Committee chairman Tom Price, who described the US$20 billion BP fund as a “Chicago-style political shakedown”, and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who told CNN that Obama is using BP as a “permanent ATM card” in an effort to take over “private industry.”  Or republican Mississippi governor Hailey Barbour, who claims that forcing BP to invest money for the purpose of paying out claims robs them of money to use for more offshore drilling so that they could make more money to pay out claims. (??)

Actually, though, they kind of add to that special “WACKO” atmosphere, don’cha think?  🙂

Second:  Perhaps even more bizarre, US Army general Stanley McChrystal, appointed by president Obama in early 2009 to command the war in Afghanistan, along his staff spoke freely (if you can even believe it!) to none other than Rolling Stone magazine, bashing the civilian policy-makers of the Obama administration and even mocking US vice-president Joseph Biden‘s last name, purposely misstating it as “bite me”.

Even if one dismisses the fact that constitutionally, in the USA the military takes its orders from the civilian government leadership, the fact are clear:  The USA is in its longest-war ever in Afghanistan.  This war was triggered by the 9-11-01 attacks on the World Trade Center twin towers in New York City and Pentagon building in Washington DC.   The USA allowed itself to be militarily distracted with the unnecessary and extremely expensive 2003 invasion into Iraq, which unfortunately (but predictably) allowed the insurgency in Afghanistan to regroup, rearm and reestablish itself.  Had that not occurred, it is possible that the war against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan would be over by now.

As a result of all of that, the Afghanistan war today is much more difficult, and requires at minimum a united allied effort to succeed.  But how on earth can a united allied front be presented when the commanding US general in charge of the entire military effort in Afghanistan is seen and heard mocking and insulting the folks he answers to?  After all, one would expect this commander to understand the absolute need for unity, right?  So what does it say about General McChrystal telling Rolling Stone magazine anything that demonstrates just the opposite to the entire world?

To give credit where it’s due, McChrystal did apologize humbly and publicly last night for the exercise of poor judgment in this debacle.  President Obama ordered McChrystal to present himself at the White House today to offer an direct explanation of his words and deeds   But evidently McChrystal could not adequately provide convincing justification to the Commander in Chief for his act of disunity.  As a result, McChrystal was asked to resign.

it’s hard to fathom how folks such as Barton and McChrystal can rise through the extremely competitive and challenging ranks of political or military service and not learn the most rudimentary lesson that discretion is often the better part of valor.  People who are insane or sociopathic can behave in this manner, but commanding generals?  Elected congressman??

People who observe such weird human behavior with secret amusement must be smiling at the almost endless parade of WACKOs and their unjustifiable acts and statements.  And the folks who support these WACKOs because of their fanatical and warped view of the world are just as much fun to observe.  They provide reaffirmation that humanity is far from being very superior or even very intelligent, all scientific evidence to the contrary.    🙂

One can expect more “WACKO” stuff to emerge as midterm election approach and as certain folks in power forget that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

But let’s face it:  A great human pleasure comes from watching bizarre and/or unbelievable behavior of others and being able to ask:

“Are you for real???”   🙂

Should Obama Don a Wet-Suit and Plug the Oil Leak With His fingers?

Last night, US President Obama gave a speech about the now-58-day old oil disaster caused by British Petroleum’s (BP’s) less-than-totally-effective emergency contingency plans.

In his address to the nation, the president outlined a three-pronged plan to address this disaster:  1.  Stop the leak; 2.   Clean up the leaked oil and repair its damage;  and 3.  ensure this never happens again.

Today the president emerged from an hours-long meeting with the leadership of BP, and announced that BP has agreed to place a minimum of US$20 billion into an escrow fund to be administered by an independent third party for claims by businesses and individuals negatively impacted by the oil leak catastrophe, as well as to pay for oil cleanup operations.   This escrow account in no way limits anyone’s capability to further sue BP in court.

Although multiple investigations are on-going including a US Justice Department criminal probe and other technical investigations into what worked and what failed in the run-up to the oli rig explosion and subsequent oil leak from the ocean floor, BP announced today that they are also conducting their own internal investigation into the causes and factors leading up to this disaster.

Considering their knowledge that other investigations are progressing, and coupled with the fact that BP is keenly aware that it cannot possibly skate away from this, it appears that BP’s leadership has decided to cut its losses and has made the very smart decision to simply own up to its role and responsibility in this fiasco.  They appear to have agreed to pay whatever they would have to pay, anyway, if they were sued by every single damaged party.  As part of this response, BP also announced that no further dividends would be paid to its shareholders this year.

To his credit, president Obama also publicly announced every step being taken and every expectation people can have regarding the ultimate total recovery from the 58-day, countless-millions-of-gallons-of-leaked-oil damage.

In the meantime, the GOP has been largely silent about BPs oil leak and the GOP-backed contributing abuses and safety shortcuts. They’ve also been extremely silent about offshore oil drilling in general.  But they found their voice in their attempts to make the oil leak the direct fault of president Obama.  They would have the American people believe that Obama actually “pulled the plug” on the oil well to create the leak “for sport”, or some other totally off-the-wall garbage.  The GOP keeps trying to convince Americans that the oil still leaking into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of perhaps 60,000 gallons a day is somehow Obama’s fault, because he didn’t scream and curse and jump up and down enough when it first happened.

In fact, Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Michael Steele said last night, in response to president Obama’s speech, that “the president’s actions demonstrate his inability to lead the nation out of a disaster and show an “appallingly arrogant political calculus.”

Hey Michael…are you for real??

Someone needs to remind ol’ Mikey of the flacid and totally ineffective federal response to the 2005 one-day event known as Hurricane Katrina (as opposed to the 58-day-and-counting BP oil leak), when tens of thousands of New Orleans residents that were trapped inside the New Orleans Sports Arena without drinking water, food or sanitation for a full four extremely hot & humid days while republican president GW Bush was seen on newscasts worldwide telling the Federal Emergency Management Agency head Michael Brown, “You’re doing a hell of the job, Brownie!

And besides the political efforts of the GOP during the BP oil crisis, it is amusing to note that that former US vice-president Dick “Tricky Dick” Cheney, whom while in office held an energy summit in secret with oil companies, the result of which have never been publicly released, has been totally silent (invisible?) during this debacle.  So has Sara Palin, and except for a statement that “sometimes accident do happen” early in the event, Rand Paul.   And the Tea Party?

Well…perhaps they’re enjoying a vacation in the South Pacific and are out of communications range.

Or perhaps…these supporters of the “drill, baby, drill” philosophy and “environment-be-damned” dogma are laying low because they cannot justify their misguided and/or selfish views with such a huge oil spill situation occurring as they speak (or don”t speak).

Either way, those whom are critical of president Obama’s response to the BP’s mess seem to require nothing less than for the president to put on a wet suit, jump into the Gulf of Mexico and stick his fingers into the leaking oil pipe to physically stop the oil  and gas being released into the water.  They also seem to want him to create non-existent equipment out of thin air to suck up every drop of oil on the water’s surface.  And if he can’t do these things, then he is a miserable failure…according to the GOP and its supporters, who normally hate for the federal government to get involved in anything!

Is it just We, the PEOPLE!!, or does anyone else see the shameless hypocrisy in all of this?

2010: Year of the Woman: Fanatics & Cults, Beware!

Last night’s primary elections highlighted the fact that anti-establishment (a.k.a the “good-ol’-boy” network) women are a force to be reckoned in this mid-term election year.

Four women won elections in republican primaries in South Carolina, Nevada and California. One of them, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, took a commanding 49% of the vote in a four-way race against three men

Incumbent democratic U.S. senator Blanche Lincoln from Arkansas won a democratic primary run-off, and Elizabeth “Libby” Mitchell of Maine won her state’s Democrat primary for governor.  A woman also won the New Mexico primary on June 2nd.

All told, seven of eight women candidates won their states’ races, which says that 2010 is the Year of the Woman.

Contrast this formidable accomplishment by women with life in the some of the more primitive regions of Earth, such as certain parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia.  In those places, women can be imprisoned, tortured or worse for simply exposing their faces in public, or expressing their opinions, or attempting to be human equals.  It is well known that fundamentalist Islamists and certain African and Asian cultures believe that women should not be allowed to drive or even be taught to read and write.  Such groups believe that it is the ultimate sacrilege for a woman to be in charge of anything involving men, money or property.  And to enforce the purity of their cultures, a number of these groups also practice a heinous and brutal ritual known as female genital mutilation (FGM).

Thank goodness this kind of stuff doesn’t happen in enlightened and evolved countries such the USA or other western industrialized nations.

Or does it?

The Women’s Ordination Conference has been challenging the Roman Catholic church’s prohibition against women becoming priests.  They correctly surmise that the lack of women in the priesthood, in concert with unrealistic and unnatural celibacy policies for priests and nuns has contributed greatly to the church’s clergy child sexual abuse scandal.  Clearly, the church’s demand of life-long celibacy upon a young man who joins the priesthood or young woman who becomes a nun is so biologically contrary that these celibacy vows have been so often violated, in hundred of thousands (or actually, more likely millions and perhaps billions) of cases over the centuries, with the most innocent victimized:  children.

But the Roman Catholic church, as stubborn as any group that believes that “God is on our side!”, has refused to budge.  Better to allow conditions conducive to sexual abuse and permanent scarring of trusting and unsuspecting children than to allow those pesky, egocentric, evil, unclean adult females to be equals, and, “‘Deity’ forbid!“..to engage in and enjoy sex, except for forced procreation.

And then, there’s FGM.  According to some resources, over 140 million living women have been subjected to this barbaric, brutal, painful, torturous ritual.  Incredibly, over 98% of all women in Somalia endure this outrage.  And while many of the practicing groups are Muslim, some are also Christian and other religions.  Groups in India and other parts of Asia, for example, believe in and implement FGM.

Learn more about FGM, including this site.  Although it is very disturbing, it is also important to be informed.

The National Organization of Women (NOW) is seeking to raise awareness and universal prohibition of FGM, including the transporting of girls and young women out of the USA and other western countries for the purpose of inflicting them with FCM, by criminalizing such acts.

For those that think this can’t happen here, over 140,000 women in the USA have been subjected to this.  And in utter defiance of belief, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) actually endorsed a mild form of FGM called “nicking the clitoris“, before reversing this policy in the face of extreme political pressure.  Yes, folks, shamefully this is real.

One can only applaud the National Organization of Women for their courage and strength in bringing and keeping this issue forefront in the collective consciousness.  Bravo!

And even though the women who won their elections in the recent primaries are generally conservative (some are, in fact, Tea Party candidates), We, the People!! is pleased that women are becoming more prevalent in politics and government in general.  Perhaps they will succeed where men have not only failed miserably, but, for the most part, have only halfheartedly attempted to right the wrongs against women which have been so pervasive in almost every society since before civilization (if one can even call present-day humanity civilized).  Even in the “enlightened” USA, only men could vote until the early 20th century!

What’s wrong with male humans, anyway?  Why do they feel so threatened by women?  Why have they made a total human history out of subjugating, controlling, imprisoning and enslaving women within the confines and chains that these self-same men have unilaterally chosen for them?  Are men so afraid of a womans’ allure that they have to treat women like livestock and brutalize them?

Is it a symptom of a man’s own sense of inadequacy and fear that some other guy might make a woman (or “your” woman) “happier”?

Guys…you better get a grip.  Because when women finally break out of the chains we men have put them in for millennia….they will own the planet in six months.

That would, in fact, be true justice.

BP and Cronies: The Best Case for Strong Government

The BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, already the worst human-caused environmental debacle in US history, and headed towards that title on a global basis, reconfirms what We, the People!! has been advocating, and what conservatives have been denying:  Big business cannot be trusted to always do the right thing.  It takes a strong central government to ensure that its citizens are protected from the public safety abuses that always creep into the free market profit model.

Executives of large corporations are under enormous pressure from their bosses and/or stockholders to produce as large a profit as possible, and they’re paid enormous salaries and bonuses to do so.  They naturally don’t want to lose that money.  So they attempt to meet the profit expectation by reducing expenses while concurrently maximizing financial return.  That’s how big business works.

However, it would be folly to believe that all of these executives will always do the right thing, or the human safety thing, or the expensive-extra-protection thing, particularly if there is no strong watchdog organization with enforcement power,  or no legal requirement to do so, or no incentive other than profit to consider.

For corporate executives, it’s throwing the dice:  If nothing bad results from whatever shortcut is taken, the executives are stars for enhancing the corporate profits.

For centuries, even if bad stuff did happen, there was no one and nothing to answer to, except the boss, the creditors, and company owners.  Good or bad, as long as the money rolled in, it was okay.  So sorry for the dead fish/miners/workers/child laborers/etc., but you know, sometimes accidents do happen.  Survivors…back to work!

Now imagine for one second if “big government” regulation did not exist today.  The BP oil spill would have simply been a case of “too bad, so sad”, and BP would simply move on.  It’s shareholders would be happy that BP’s profits continued to flow, despite the fact that off-shore oil industry was losing several rigs a year to explosions and other lack-of-safety issues.  But y’know…they’re so cheap to produce that losing a few is no big deal.  The environmental damage?  Not our problem.  The death of oil rig workers?  Not our problem.  The destruction of a fishing industry?  Not our problem.  Stuff happens, y’know.

When America was barely a hundred years old, it was common for children as young as five or six to be working twelve to sixteen hours a day in sweatshops and/or in conditions so dangerous that death and serious injury were commonplace occurrences.  Politicians that were backed by powerful industrialists resisted any kind of interference with the free market profit system.  The industrialists had no intention of spending any of their enormous profits on “unnecessary safety equipment” or other items that would enhance workplace safety.  It was far cheaper to just hire new workers as necessary.

Since the government sat back, unions became organized and ultimately forced change on the industrialists.  The unions also learned to be political, and slowly workplace safety regulations began to become law.  For the industrialists and their conservative cronies, this was big government interference with their right to make a profit.  But to the average worker, this was necessary protection from the abuses that always come with the free market profit system, i.e., the dollar is more important that the people producing it.

And it’s not just physical work environments that needed protection from corporate abuse.  Imagine if the laws regarding access to your credit rating and your right to dispute errors didn’t exist.  Imagine if anyone with a catchy label on a bottle could sell any substance claiming it was good medicine, when it either was colored water, or worse, possibly poisonous or fatal.  Imagine if the food you buy wasn’t inspected for wholesomeness and freshness. The list is endless.

Despite this, there are those that claim that the US government is way too big and involved in private enterprise.  The new darling of the ultra-conservatives, Rand Paul has said about the BP oil spill that “sometimes accidents just happen”.  Of course, even the shoddiest of research will reveal that BP took shortcuts regarding safety equipment on the oil rig that exploded in May 2010. In fact, BP is now under federal investigation regarding this and similar safety violations on other rigs.  In other worlds, this wasn’t a case of “sometimes accidents just happen”, but of a preventable disaster set in motion like a time bomb by human negligence.

So the next time you hear some ultra-conservative like Rand Paul or Sarah Palin, who strenuously promotes uncontrolled off-shore oil drilling as well as in the pristine Arctic wilderness…or if you hear those rodeo clowns who host hate radio telling you the government should stay out of it, think about what your life and your childrens’ lives would be like if there was no “big government” to protect your workplace safety, food safety, drug safety, medical safety, financial safety, housing safety, health safety, water safety, environmental safety….

Or put another way:  Would you like moldy-potato fries with that rat-meat feces-encrusted dioxin-soaked lard-cooked burger during your 3 minute lunch break in that 16-hour-a-day unventilated methane-gas-filled coal mine?

And our fish catch was already dead from petroleum overdose, but they’re still yummy!