News round up

Note: Potential spoilers at bottom of page on Olympic results for West Coast and Hawaiian viewers.

Invisibility cloak one step closer, scientists say | U.S. | Reuters Very interesting stuff, in my opinion. But then I’ve been reading about proposed technology like this for about a decade.

NASA abandons plan to fly new spaceships by 2013 | Reuters This is to be expected given the lack of funding available for NASA. Given recent tensions with Russia and potential future unreliability as a result, I think plans to retire the shuttle fleet may need to be reviewed or the government will need to increase funding to NASA to fast track Orion. I doubt either option is palatable in Congress given the current economy and world turmoil. Neither is allowing Russia, with its currently anti-Western leanings, to have sole access to the ISS in the immediate future.

Northrop contract for U.S. patrol plane upheld | Politics | Reuters
Good to finally have that dispute settled. I, for one, am getting tired of complaints being filed simply because I company lost a contract. Yes, there is a need to ensure fairness but it’s annoying when protests seem to be made more for spite than anything else.

Boeing may not bid on $35 billion tanker deal: report | Politics | Reuters Interesting, if true, though I doubt any aircraft company capable of competing for a contract would simply bypass an opportunity given the current lean times for the aerospace industry.

Half of all Americans have poor eyesight: study | U.S. | Reuters
I believe it.

Bush could weaken Endangered Species Act – CNN.com
*sigh* Bush and his ilk just don’t get it. What good is business and
projects if there is no environment left in which to run their
businesses and projects. I think the little protection and caution the
EPA provides is a good thing. Removing that protection and letting
agencies biased in favor of projects is like putting the fox in charge
of the hen house. The fox and its cubs will be fat and sassy for a short time but
eventually will starve to death. This attitude that business and the
environment cannot coexist needs to be eliminated from political
thought.

Russian-Georgian War

Polish, Ukrainian, Baltic leaders to visit Georgia | Reuters Well they are the ones who face the greatest threat from Russia’s current belligerence given the West’s rather lackluster response to the invasion of Georgia.

Anti-Russia protests over invasion of Georgia:
Anti-Russian protest by pro-Georgians outside London embassy – Telegraph

Georgians hold anti-Russia protest – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

And Russia’s counter: Russians decry Western “propaganda” over crisis | Reuters My previous posts about the conflict shows the double standard Russia applies when it comes to “propaganda”. The article itself ends with some hilarious propaganda claims. Don’t want to be called an ‘aggressor’ and a ‘militant empire’ then maybe Russia should not have behaved as one by invading Georgia. The U.S. has taken its knocks over the years by the international media over just about everything, including Iraq and Afghanistan. What Russia has done makes the U.S. look positively kittenish.

Olympics

I’m pleased to see the continue success of the U.S. swim team, both men and women. Phelps is one step closer to reaching his goal.

The energy from the crowd at the women’s water polo match between the U.S. and China was pretty amazing, with the crowd being pretty vociferous for both teams. It was almost as interesting to observe as the game itself.

In Women’s Basketball, Team USA defeated China. Russia squeaked by the ROK.

Azerbaijan scored it’s first medal: a gold in men’s judo. I always like seeing the smaller contingents succeed.

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Big Brother

Abortion is always a hot button issue and one few can find any consensus on but in my opinion Bush and his cronies have gone to far. (Again.) Bush and his religious nut buds couldn’t get abortion banned so they decide to try to get it done through Federal agencies instead. This attempt angers me in several ways: government enforced religious ideology, government interference, states rights, patients rights, federal departmental oligarchs, and sexism.

Family planning groups object to abortion plan | U.S. | Reuters

And this is one of the things that piss me off about anti-abortionists and religiously inspired politicians using the government and governmental agencies to twist laws and redefine definitions to suit their own agenda.

The Department proposes to define abortion as ‘any of the various
procedures — including the prescription and administration of any drug
or the performance of any procedure or any other action — that results
in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between
conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation,'”
it said.

(Note: bold is my own emphasis to highlight the part I strongly disagree with.)

WTF? Termination of life before implantation is abortion? How can it be life if everyone is saying it’s not life until implantation? Yes conception occurs before implantation but is it “life” at that point? Regardless of the debate over when life starts this new “definition” sounds too much like religiously inspired fascistic ideology than any meaningful medical definition. This redefining is dangerous and well beyond the pale of the normal ongoing debate over abortion.

Perhaps worse is this is a government agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, staffed by individuals making a unilateral and blanket change without any consensus or input from the public in an attempt to over ride many local governments’ positions on the issue of contraceptives and abortion that the Bush administration and it’s more extremist members oppose. If HHS is successful it sets a dangerous precedent as to when and where the government (or in this case a small sect with in the government) can impose its ideology on anyone. What next? HHS decides that since religious people supposedly live longer everyone will be required to attend church/synagogue/mosque/et. al.? The Department of Labor decides that since women don’t make as much money as men then they should simply be banned from employment? The Department of Justice decide children are more like to be criminals if from single parent homes therefor children are automatically taken away from single parents? Where does the imposition stop?

I have no problem with wanting to protect doctors who find birth control objectionable on moral grounds and do not wish to prescribe them. However, I draw the line at fanatics in the government who use the excuse of protecting said doctors to cover a religiously inspired attempt to remove a woman’s (or anyone’s) right to control their body. Look, I hate abortions but trying to define abortion to the point that
it would ban contraceptives is completely and utterly disgusting and quite frankly sexist. Why are they not clamoring in the same memo to ban condoms and contraceptives for men? After all, they are also forms of birth control. I’ve even heard some consider male birth control methods equal to abortion because they intentionally prevent conception. If the government bans all forms of birth control are they also going to re-establish and strictly enforce laws requiring men to financially support the children they fathered as well?

Just sayin’…

We all know it is no one’s business, especially the government, about people’s private medical decisions. What should have been a very simple clause protecting doctors with moral objections to contraceptives has now been turned into an attempt to further strip people, particularly women, of medical options based on religious ideology. As much as I dislike abortion I have a much greater dislike the government unnecessarily imposing itself into the private lives of its citizens. Simply let the doctors who have objections, have their objections and refer their patients to other doctors without such concerns. No need to impose ideological doctrine nor any need to redefine anything.

I do wonder where McCain and Obama stand on this one.

I know McCain is generally pro-Life/anti-Abortion, with some exceptions, but also gets dodgey when it comes to birth control such as when questioned why he supports allowing health insurance to cover Viagra but not birth control pills. On the other hand McCain has also shown a dislike for government intrusion into private lives. I’m guessing overall he’d support this stupid new redefining.

Now Obama is decidedly pro-Choice with in the frame work of Roe v Wade and staunchly against government intrusion in that regards. It is one of the issues I tend to agree with Democrats on over Republicans. Is it enough for me to vote for him as President? No. But if he should lose the Presidential race at least I know he and moderate Republicans can work together on this issue to take a practical approach without theological intrusion.

Political ramblings

Some interesting contradictions.

From BarackObama.com:

Bring Our Troops Home: Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.

So key points:

  1. U.S. out of Iraq in 16 months of ascension to Presidency.
  2. No permanent bases in Iraq.
  3. Keep troops in Iraq to protect embassy and diplomats.
  4. Keep troops in Iraq/region if Al Qaeda builds a base, and target said base for attack.

I have no real problems withdrawing troops from Iraq, as noted in point 1, only so long as it done in a fashion that will not leave Iraq or the region destabilized or would allow the rise of dictatorship or Islamic extremism be it from Iran, the remaining Iraqi or Syrian Baathists, Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabis, or Al Qaeda.

I also have no problem for their being no permanent bases in Iraq if that is what the Iraqi government and people decide. If they allow us and want us to maintain military facilities there the U.S. would be fools not to take advantage of such an opportunity should it prove of tactical or strategic value both militarily and economically.

Point 3 is in fact meaningless for the Obama campaign to state. U.S. embassy’s always keep a security detachment, including military personnel, to protect their compounds and personnel. If troop numbers over and above the normal security deatils assigned embassies is employed then the Obama campaign’s position contradits point 1, withdrawal of U.S. military forces.

Point 4 is the one that shows the contradictory nature of Obama’s stance on Iraq as his policies seem suspiciously identical to the current administration’s position when dealing with Al Qaeda. It’s also a reactionary position (wait until a threat has arisen) rather than a proactive one (preempt the threat). It’s also curious that when the current administration makes a  strike on Al Qaeda they’re promptly lambasted yet Mr. Obama indicates he would do exactly the same thing. To decry the current administration’s position and then co-opt for yourself and say that it is a suitable approach is disingenuous and hypocritical. Decry the questionable means from which the Iraq war came about, but refrain from adopting the same same tactics when you do so.

More inconsistencies:

  • Decrying the Republican led tax-break for American citizens and yet proposing another $1000 tax break via his “Making Work Pay” tax credit.
  • Claims to want fair trade by making trade agreements and treaties to open up foreign markets but wants to change NAFTA, block CAFTA, and end other nations “unfair” practices, and subsidies yet making no mention of the U.S.’s practices perceived as unfair elsewhere in the world. I won’t even waste time on the non-issue of NAFTA again. Free trade is a two way deal.
  • Freedom to Unionize, which is fine and I support those who wish to do so, but what about those who should have the freedom of choice to not join a union? I don’t hear anyone supporting right to work states like Arizona (where right to work is guaranteed by the State Constitution), where you aren’t forced to join a union in order to gain or retain a job, let alone promotion in their job field. So does Obama only supports union workers but not all workers in America?

An annoying inaccuracy (a variation on one that’s always made against opponents):

Under President Bush, the federal debt has increased from $5.7 trillion to $8.8 trillion, an increase of more than 50 percent.

What is failed to be mentioned is the fact that Social Security, Medicare, and other federal programs make a large part of the federal debt. Couple this with the negative influence a high debt has to the economy and you’ve got  the current state of the U.S. economy: weak dollar, lost jobs, inflation all being fueled by debt, local and world economic instability, and rising oil prices. According to government figures prior to the September 11, 2001 attack the U.S. was predicted to have a surplus of over $1 trillion. Post 9-11 led to more deficits largely attributed to the tax cuts used to keep the economy going, funding the War on Terror and Homeland security, and Medicare/Medicaid. All parties from the citizens to the highest elected officials are responsible for the debt, including Mr. Obama, not just Mr. Bush and his administration.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Obama and Democrats have a number of good ideas and policies as do Republicans on immigration, employment, energy policies, etc. Policies that could easily be meshed together if not for extremists and special interest groups on both sides interfering in order to have their pet agendas implemented. My problem with Obama arises when he co-opts policies that he then decries in others as wrong or disruptive or unhelpful. It’s a bit deceptive for one claiming to want to unify the country to be behaving in such a fashion.

Poltical Round-up

Bush 2009 Budget Plan While it’s too early to tell how Bush’s 2009 budget proposal will stand it is concerning that the rumors are that said plan would once more harm the poor and middle class once more. But then I have a problem with any budget, from any party, that continues to have rampant needless pork barrel projects and tax-payer funded allocations while the government continues to go into debt and punish poor and middle class America in the process by gutting programs or allowing private companies to reap huge profits for “running them more cost effectively” through overpriced government contracts. It is inexcusable and irresponsible behavior that must end immediately.

Which leads to one of my favorite quotes of which today I was reminded:

The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the constitution so the second will not become a legalized version of the first! –Thomas Jefferson

Obama, Clinton Debate Entertaining to watch if nothing more than to enjoy the snarkiness. Still, my preference is for the experienced Clinton over the fluff of Obama. But then I am a moderate Republican so take from that what you will. I did like Clinton reminding all that she is as much an agent of change for the party and the country by virtue of her gender as Obama is for his race. It was a valid point.

McCain got Schwarzenegger’s support today which is a good boost for Mr. McCain in California.

I still think a McCain vs Clinton presidential race would be all sorts of awesome to watch and partake in.