Wednesday, February 11, 2015

ТАСС уполномочен заявить . . .

In a move that could gladden the heart of any conservative supporter of Eternal War (until he learned the source), President Obama is going to ask the Congress for authorization under the War Powers Act to send troops to Syria and Iraq. 

Apparently this is to fight the Daesh troublemakers in that part of the world, but I do wonder what the final outcome of it will be.  We already gave the region to Iran by knocking Iraq down; what's next?

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Fresh from the Asylum

(SFX:  Teletype chattering)

And now, the latest from the asylum that is Modern American Politics.  Poekhali!

The new GOP majorities in both houses of the Congress anticipated doing Great Things.

Things like repealing Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare, and the President's executive action on immigration.

Things like declaring war in all directions.  Bang!

(Hmm, not a sausage.  Hardly worth the journey.)

So far, what have they done?

Well, they passed a bill denying Federal funding for abortion (which has been illegal since the 1980s, but they have no sense of history).

They voted to repeal Obamacare - for the 56th time.  So far, the effort to destroy Obama's signature domestic legislation has cost about $70 million in OUR money, to no result at all.  They're now relying on their hirelings in the Supreme Court to defeat key portions of it, but the legal position is rather shaky despite the horde of lawyers who have been unleashed.

Social Security requires just a tiny tweak to remain solvent until I'm old(er) and gray(er), but the GOP's been trying to kill it with fire since it was passed back in the Thirties.  Way to be humane about the elderly.

In the meanwhile, we've been treated to a wonderful smorgasbord of Stupid, garnished with Hurt Fee-fees.

The Stupid is twofold - the ignorant ravings of criminal lunatics about vaccination against childhood diseases, and the willful ignorance regarding the actual history of Christianity's dealings with people they don't like.

The anti-vaccination yahoos found aid and comfort from such Republican luminaries as Rand Paul and Chris Christie.  See what I meant about criminal lunatics?  With Aqua Buddha and The Zeppelin on their side, they must feel really secure in their frankly insane position.

And sorry Fox 'news' and all the other fatheaded legions of Dumb out there - yes, Christians have, in fact, perpetrated atrocities over their long history.  The Crusades (in the Fourth, a Christian town was sacked, as was the capital of Christian Byzantine Empire), the Inquisition, anti-Semitic pogroms, Southern US lynchings, Christian justifications for slavery, Jim Crow and the KKK, Christians blowing up Christians in Northern Ireland, and the modern US 'Christian Identity' movement.  I won't go on, as I'll get bored and run out of room.

Hurt fee-fees?  Oh, the butt-hurt was thick on the ground when Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) called Texas "crazy" at a Congressional hearing.  Now, I live in Flori-DUH, and any Flori-DUH politician who calls another state crazy deserves a hearty helping of Pot-calling-Kettle-black. 

However, you have to give Hastings some credit for spine - when the Texans demanded he apologize, Hastings brought up an old Texas regulating dildo possession as an example the Crazy in the Lone Star State.  The present Governor in Austin, in fact, defended that law back when he was Attorney General.

Texans believe in little or no regulation of deadly weapons, but believe in regulating friendly weapons, it seems.

And that's the latest from The Asylum.

(SFX:  Teletype chattering eclipsed by shotgun blast; explosion; bits of metal raining down)

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Way to Stake Out a Position, Lads

Measles, or rubeola if you're pedantic, is not the kind of thing you want to get. It's a nasty, easily communicable and contagious virus that killed - yes, killed - 96,000 people worldwide in 2013.

It killed about 545,000 people worldwide in 1990, and still flares up from time to time.

There's a vaccine for measles (known as MMR) that is extremely effective at combating the virus. Once enough people in a given area get the shot, the population develops what's known as herd immunity - outbreaks are small, limited in duration, and result in few deaths with proper care.

(Yes, I'm oversimplifying this, but I'll get to the point.)

There are populations in certain countries that have what's called low vaccine coverage, and there you get endemic measles, meaning that it's entrenched. There are also individuals who, out of fear or rank ignorance, don't get vaccinated or refuse to get their kids vaccinated. Much of their argument against vaccination is based on a discredited study in the British medical journal The Lancet, which was revealed to be based on bad data and faulty methodology. Still people cling to it as one of Skinner's monkeys clung to the terrycloth 'mother,' with very depressingly predictable results.

A Texas megachurch decided to stop vaccinating, and there was a large outbreak of measles. Whooping cough, another really nasty disease, has also broken out despite there being a very effective shot for it, and unless you've been hiding in a doomsday bunker for the past few months you will have heard about the measles outbreak traced to a bunch of unvaccinated kids who visited Disneyland.

So, when appealed to, you would think that our stalwart politicians would chide these parents for being dumb and insensitive to their children's need to avoid these diseases, right?


Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, said that parents should have a right to choose whether or not their kids get their shots. He immediately backed away from the position, which basically reinforced a similar stand against common sense he took back in 2009.

Rand Paul, Senator of Kentucky, basically parroted the discredited Lancet study.

Thom Tillis, Senator of North Carolina, went a step further in a recent conference by saying that it might be nice if restaurants could 'opt out' of requiring their employees to wash their hands after using the restroom. Isn't that nice?

Mo Brooks, Representative of Alabama, has chosen to stake out a position that should be all too familiar to certain people: He's decided to find a scapegoat for the recent Disneyland outbreak. He's an anti-immigrant hawk, so you get three guesses who he's decided to finger. No prize for guessing right.

Now, coming as this does after staking out anti-science positions on such things as evolution, it really shouldn't be surprising. It will become tragic if the kids or adults who contract measles because of stupid or ignorant actions get secondary infections and die. If any do die, there'll be a massive screech of "Why didn't the Government tell us to get our kids vaccinated?"

And so it goes.