Saturday, February 28, 2009

Blog #77: A Republican Future?

Blog #77 Addenda: I discovered the above photograph of President Obama trading high fists with an obviously delighted young fan on the site of my latest time waster, I trolled this site all the while listening to Rush Limbaugh’s opening address to CPAC, or whatever that capitalist loving group calls itself. The photograph serves as a stark contrast to Limbaugh’s tirade. The president obviously delights in the company of the young admirer. Limbaugh’s extended remarks were punctuated by much throat clearing, as if his physical health is directly connected to the isolation of his political positions and the irrationality of his ideas, and the outlook for both seems bleak indeed. Mr. Limbaugh smirked all the while as if pretending he was being “cool.” Dream on, Rush, you are one of the planet’s most “uncool” voices. Suffering through the entirety of Mr. Limbaugh’s dissertation was a painful experience not recommended for the weak of spirit, but what I gained from the experience was a true appreciation of the enormity of the Republican and conservative isolation. And to give you a taste of it, here's The Daily Beast video clip. CHEERS!

This week’s Little Eddy Blog takes a long look at Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal’s Republican response to President Barack Obama’s address to the joint houses of Congress. We begin our coverage by turning our spotlight on Jack Cafferty, a television reporter who poses questions for his viewers to answer afternoons on Wolf Blitzer’s CNN program, the Situation Room. And, occasionally there are even an occasional one of interest. Mr. Jindal proved for once and for all that the Republican mantra that a tanking economy cannot be cured by government spending, only by tax cuts, is not dead, but alive and well. Of course, Mr. Jindal was not able to point to one single successful implementation of this theory, while under GOP control. Mr. Cafferty rightly pointed out that the Republican administration of George W. Bush had taken a national debt it had inherited of five trillion dollars, and in just eight years managed to triple it. Managing to spend more money during the years 2001 to 2009 than all of its predecessors put together. Therefore Mr. C. asked his listeners to take Mr. Jindal’s theorizing with a gigantic grain of salt, and then asked his viewers to consider whether the party of Mr. Bush should have any right to comment on Mr. Obama’s stimulus policy at all, after the massive running up they managed during their tour of duty.

I missed Mr. Jindal’s Republican response the other night, a Rocket’s game took precedence in my playbook. However, from what I have seen of Mr. Jindal on CNN since, and from what I have heard from those who did experience it, if Mr. Jindal is the new face of the future for the Republican Party, the GOP is in mucho, mucho trouble. It all goes back to that basic primer of government. Do we want a government that will stand aside and let you make a potful of money, shamelessly curbing tax laws and government payouts to the benefit of the wealthy and well to do. Or do we want one which treats all of its citizenry in a light of fairness, and attempts to distribute its services accordingly.

If there is indeed hope for the post 2009 Republican Party we can certainly not see the faintest glimmer of it. Governors Palin and Jindal don’t represent a wave of the future, they only represent the further isolation of the party, of which we of Democratic persuasion can be eternally grateful. For their voices narrow, rather than broaden, the Republican reach. And whereas the GOP’s direction seems to be coming from its loudest mouths, Rush Limbaugh comes to mind here, such a narrowing of vision keeps the GOP pure and hopefully keeps its practitioners isolated in their purity.

Let us look the horse in the mouth, as we begin our proceedings with the words of the good governor himself, and may attention starved Republicans take notice:

The scientific community rose up in arms at Jindal’s targeting of “volcanic research” funding, representing as it does a continuation of the Bush/Cheney policy of dumbing down science wherever it caused friction with its fundamentalists base. In his blog in Friday’s Daily Beast, Benjamin Sarlin pointed out the Louisiana governor’s attempt to protect the American taxpayer from over protection against volcano research.

In his response to President Obama's address, Jindal said he opposed the stimulus package's inclusion of “$140 million for something called 'volcano monitoring.'”

“Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C,” Jindal said.

While the claim was factually inaccurate (the $140 million will go to the US Geological Survey, of which volcanic research is only a part), scientists are also decrying Jindal's comments as a blast of hot volcanic air.

“Apparently the governor of Louisiana doesn't remember any of the major volcanic eruptions in recent history,” said Mark Brandon, a professor of geology at Yale University who has studied volcanoes around the world. “Volcanic monitoring right now is absolutely essential for protecting lives and property. The amount of money invested compared to the amount of money returned is trivial. It's not just some hobby—if the governor were in a volcanic eruption, he'd realize that the people who do that work are very useful in protecting you from direct hazards.”

Brandon was a student at University of Washington when Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, killing 57 people and destroying hundreds of homes. Many more would almost certainly have died without the volcanic monitoring that allowed authorities to evacuate the population ahead of time.>/p>

“I would give the honorable governor poor marks for his education,” Brandon said. “It's just na├»ve to live in a world where everything goes as you expect. The classic example of lack of awareness of this kind of hazard is the 2004 Sumatra earthquake, which led to that devastating tsunami. People had lost memory of what happened because the last one was several generations ago, and that's an example of how infrequent hazards can be particularly devastating, because we just don't have the generational experience.”

He said that increased monitoring was “our investment against these hazards,” and crucial to spotting signs of similar once-in-a-century or once-in-a-millennium events. Several other scientists expressed similar disbelief at Jindal's attack on their work, which was especially surprising given Louisiana's experience fending off a rare natural disaster in Hurricane Katrina.

Of all the critics of Governor Jindal that we ran across, perhaps the most devastating of all came from David Brooks of the N.Y. Times, who appeared on Jim Lehrer’s Newshour.

Kris Kristopherson is a many faceted individual, as Stephen Colbert pointed out in Kristopherson’s recent appearance on his show. However, what seemed to make the biggest ripple was Colbert’s statement, not refuted by Kris, that he had had occasion to see Barbra Streisand naked. (Gulp, gulp.)

How does this thought spin around? Social networking websites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Bebo, are causing alarming changes in the brains of young users, an eminent scientist has warned. Such sites are said to shorten attention spans, encourage instant gratification and make young people more self-centered.

The claims from neuroscientist Susan Greenfield will make disturbing reading for the millions whose social lives depend on logging on to their favourite websites each day. But they will strike a chord with parents and teachers who complain that many youngsters lack the ability to communicate or concentrate away from their screens.

More than 150million use Facebook to keep in touch with friends, share photographs and videos and post regular updates of their movements and thoughts. A further six million have signed up to Twitter, the 'micro-blogging' service that lets users circulate text messages about themselves.

But while the sites are popular - and extremely profitable - a growing number of psychologists and neuroscientists believe they may be doing more harm than good. Baroness Greenfield, an Oxford University neuroscientist and director of the Royal Institution, believes repeated exposure could effectively 'rewire' the brain.

And so go suspicious murmurings from overseas. We take all such murmurings seriously, but not as seriously as we take Facebooks’ recent attempt to claim ownership of all of the listings previously made to it, no matter whether the member had left the site and withdrawn his membership or not. The uproar its own membership raised caused Facebook to withdraw its plan to rewrite its terms of membership, and revert to terms that were previously established. But it clearly left people wondering what in the world Facebook had planned to do with all of that content they were claiming. Will we ever know now?

And so we put another Little Eddy post to rest. Sorry about this week, it was a week of distractions. Some good distractions, like And a Rocket team that seems to be winning once again without Tracy McGrady. Dare we dream of post season success without our star player? We certainly hope so, but of course we aren't the betting type. Bye now.

The Real Little Eddy

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