Saturday, January 14, 2012

How This Particular Game Is Played, Part 2

President Obama's proposal for legislation allowing him fast track authority to consolidate federal trade and commerce agencies is precisely the sort of thing that has zero chance getting through our awesome 9% approval rating Congress, and it's easy to see why.   Politico sees this as a smart move, on the other hand my inner cynic says this is good tactics, bad strategy.

Obama’s plan would merge the Commerce Department, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade representative and other independent business agencies into a new, unnamed Cabinet agency.
The president would need congressional approval to consolidate the agencies, and he virtually dared Republicans to vote against it, putting the GOP on the defensive for the second time in a month. The payroll tax cut fight forced Republicans lawmakers to choose whether to support the president or a tax increase. This would force them to support the president or the status quo — a tangled web of regulatory agencies that Republicans have held up as a barrier to job creation.
“This is an area that should receive bipartisan support because making our government more responsive and strategic and leaner shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Obama said as he announced the initiative at the White House. “We can do this better. We can provide taxpayers better value.”

Not only will Republicans vote against it, I foresee they'll propose legislation eliminating those agencies instead and daring the President and Democrats to vote against that instead.  Meanwhile, we'll be treated to the theory that the President should probably be impeached for daring to ask Congress for anything and that because he's not serious about dismantling the entire Executive Branch and handing everything over to Orange Julius that he's really a tin-pot Chicago Way dictator who is nothing like the Republicans.

Meanwhile, at the same time we'll hear that this proposal means President Obama has abandoned unions, working-class Americans, and the idea of any government oversight over trade and commerce, making him a job-killing Wall Street puppet who never really liked American workers anyway, and that he's precisely the same as the Republicans.

It's about this point, when the Village is pushing both these theories on the news as "President loses union base" and "Why can't Obama reach an agreement with Republicans?" that everyone else will turn off their brains to avoid the headache and this idea will get quietly shelved.  There's just nothing to be gained by trying to make a common sense proposal to even look at doing something like this during something as clinically insane as an election year.

Iran, So Far Away, Part 6

Silly me, and here I was thinking that we might want to be concerned with reports that the Israeli Mossad was pretending to be the CIA in order to recruit Pakistani Sunni militants to attack Iran.  Clearly the Israelis are our buddies.

According to a report in Foreign Policy, agents with Israel’s Mossad spy agency posed as CIA operatives as they tried to recruit members of the Pakistan-based Sunni terrorist network Jundallah to launch attacks against Iran. The alleged revelations come at the tail end of a week where an apparent covert war against Iran’s nuclear program made headlines when a bombing in Tehran killed an Iranian nuclear scientist, the fourth such assassination in two years.

The latest report surfaced through a U.S. intelligence memo on Mossad’s work to recruit members of the militant group. Foreign Policy learned of the memo, which was prepared at the end of the Bush administration’s tenure, and launched an 18 month investigation.

In what was known as a “false flag” operation — posing as another country’s operatives — the Mossad agents sought to build contacts with Jundallah, which is now designated by the U.S. as a terror organization. Human rights groups have long documented repression of Iran’s Balochi minority, both on the basis of sectarianism (Shia constitute the majority of iran) and ethnicity. Still, the designation of Jundallah, which commits atrocities such as bombings of Shia mosques, bars U.S. contacts.

When President George W. Bush was briefed on the memo about Mossad’s activities, he “went absolutely ballistic,” according to Foreign Policy reporter Mark Perry’s sources. Other current and former intelligence sources corroborated Perry’s report.

And now a dead Iranian nuclear scientist turns up this week in the middle of rush hour traffic in Tehran.   Brilliant.  Wonder who's responsible for that, while we're at it.  To recap, our friends are pretending to be us, recruiting Pakistani terrorists to attack Iran.  How messed up is that little batch of realpolitik?  Dubya being furious about it sure didn't change our relationship with Israel much.

When President Obama came in, I wonder if he was briefed on it.  It would certainly explain the cold shoulder he's rightfully given Bibi Netanyahu.  Once again, I can't think of any other country on Earth that would be allowed to get away with doing this to us.

High School Stupidity. Like, I know, right?

A teenage boy claims he was thrown out from a notoriously rough high school after turning up to class dressed as a girl.

Jamie Love, 17, arrived at Govan High School wearing tights, mini-shorts, a high-waisted belt, hair extensions and make-up - shortly before he was ordered to leave.

Jamie, a dancer, who asked schoolmates to call him Keirny, claims he was speaking to teachers for months about how he felt trapped in a boy’s body.

He plucked up the courage to face his classmates as a girl on Monday - despite being taunted by some pupils for his outward feminity.

The school's reaction was what you expected. Love was pulled from class, and asked what he was trying to do to the school. In other words, zero concern for Jamie. I believe that they knew, not maybe that day but that it was likely. Their reaction could have been worse, but they did plenty of harm with how they handled it.

We've got to stop this pink is for girls stupidity. As long as there is a difference, there will be problems. Girls dress in guy shirts and carry wallets instead of purses. A guy in tights will not destroy the world as we know it. Siding against someone so young without thought is never the right answer. Even if the school wants to define a gender dressing policy, basic support should be mandatory. I see the difficulty for teachers committed to keeping kids safe. It's a nightmare for them, regardless of what they think about it. There are no easy answers, but there are plenty of wrong ones. This school did an excellent job of defining how NOT to behave.

Stupidity Takes A Loss

Jan 13 (Reuters) - Advocates of same-sex marriage won a victory in New Jersey with a ruling that a religious organization violated state law when it prevented a same-sex couple from using its boardwalk pavilion for a civil union ceremony.

The couple, Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster, believed it was discrimination and filed a complaint against the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, which refused in 2007 to allow them to use its open-air seating area that faces the Atlantic Ocean, according to the decision on Thursday by Administrative Law Judge Solomon Metzger.

In the ruling, the judge said the organization violated its promise to keep the property open to public use in exchange for a tax exemption under the state's Green Acres program that promotes and protects a system of interconnected open spaces

In other words, when you make a promise to let an area be used by the public, you don't get to pick and choose who gets to come in.  Gay couples are people too, and finally the courts are starting to enforce that.  If they had been here in Missouri, this could have ended entirely differently.

Seriously, good news.  The article is pretty cool, and the couple were very polite and courteous in their wish to have a great location for a wedding that was not meant to offend anyone, particularly those who were not invited.

Clearly Bon Has To Go Find Some People

PZ Myers flags this legislation under consideration in the Missouri House.  It seems HB1227 would not only redefine "intelligent design creationism" as actual science, it would then require that textbooks and classes in Missouri schools be forced to teach it as acceptable science along with "scientific theory" evolution.

It's bad enough that the bill attempts to redefine not just intelligent design but the process of science itself through legislation, but then the bill happily forces teachers to treat intelligent design and evolution as equals by radically re-categorizing what science actually means , which is a bit like saying every time you order your favorite meal at a restaurant, you must also be punched in the crotch, because both of them are equally satisfying according to the definition of "satisfying" placed in legislation by Republicans.  The practical upshot:  under this bill Missouri's kids will eat their intelligent design and they will like it.  (Also, the bill specifically says teachers can't call out either "theory" as crap, but must teach them as actual accepted science.)

And before you say "Well that's going to make it hard to get into college when you graduate with a background in basic science that has built-in air quotes", the law applies to universities and colleges in Missouri too, defined as "any introductory science course taught at any public institution of higher education in this state" having to meet criteria like this:

"If scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught in a course of study, biological evolution and biological intelligent design shall be taught. Other scientific theory or theories of origin may be taught. If biological intelligent design is taught, any proposed identity of the intelligence responsible for earth's biology shall be verifiable by present-day observation or experimentation and teachers shall not question, survey, or otherwise influence student belief in a nonverifiable identity within a science course."

In other words, college professors and instructors in biology have to teach intelligent design as serious science, and they have to like it. Full stop.  I'm thinking this bill will most likely die a slow and ignominious death in committee, but then again, anything involving Republicans and science always seems to end very badly for the country.

This makes me want to become a legislator, slap the definition of "douchebag" in a bill, then require that all Republicans be referred to as such in any official state capacity.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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