What’s the point of torture, or our presence in the Middle East

The long awaited Senate report on torture practices after 9-11 is scheduled to be released today.  Ahead of the report, Marines and other military units have been placed on high alert, with intelligence indicating that the report is likely to incite enemies and cause a higher risk of harm to U.S. personnel and interests.

So tell me again what’s the point here? What’s the point of torturing people to gain information?  To PROTECT us, as war hawks like Dick Cheney would say?  In the short term, perhaps torture may result in the gathering of information that could protect U.S. interests.  In the long term?  We’re about to find out how the use of torture fans the flames of terrorism and war.

There’s little doubt that negative feelings towards the U.S. have increased exponentially in the Middle East, ever since the first Gulf War.  As with the use of torture, overthrowing regimes may bring short-term benefits, but a long term presence in the Middle East simply serves to inflame anti-American sentiment.

What’s the point?  Torture? An endless cycle of war that only perpetuates animosity towards the U.S.?

Prairie Falcon Photo

Prairie Falcon - Falco mexicanus

Prairie Falcon in Flight - Lyman County, SD

A recent shot from Lyman County, South Dakota.  Prairie Falcons are a species that I have a hard time getting close to.  Usually they spook and fly away when you get anywhere close to one.

On this day, I came across this guy on a fence post.  Expecting “normal” Prairie Falcon behavior, I stopped the pickup, expecting him to fly off.  He did.  However, instead of flying away, he acted curious and was circling the car.  I hopped out, camera in hand, and took this shot as he flew by in the warm morning light.

A nice surprise!  I’ve come to the conclusion that birds have personalities too, with some oddballs like this guy breaking the typical mold for a species.

Like Father, Like Son…According to Ferguson P.D.

It seems that the Ferguson police department isn’t satisfied with just ONE member of the Brown family:

Police looking at Michael Brown’s Father

Yes, the Ferguson police are investigating Michael Brown’s father for “incitement”, claiming he intended to incite riots after the grand jury failed to indict Darren Wilson for killing his son.  The man’s boy was killed.  He seemingly wasn’t an angel, but he was an unarmed young man killed by a policeman, a policeman who never even has to face a jury for his actions.

If I’m Michael Brown’s father, I’m going to do a little “incitement” myself.  How tone-deaf can the lily-white Ferguson Police Department be?  Your city is at war with itself, due to not only the Michael Brown incident, but the history of unequal treatment of blacks in the region by an unrepresentative police department.  You’ve just used your “prosecutor” (it’s a joke to even call McCulloch that) to strong-arm a grand jury into a decision not to indict, even using the incredibly unusual step of allowing Wilson to present his case.  The community, and the world, views your town as a little hell-hole of black oppression, and yet you decide it’s the dead boy’s FATHER that needs to be investigated?

It’s not just Michael Brown’s father, it’s the St. Louis area police going ballistic that 5 St. Louis Rams players did the “hands-up” move before the game Sunday.  Don’t you think it looks just a wee bit defensive to throw a fit over the Rams move, even demanding an apology?

Ferguson P.D., perhaps you’d also now like an apology from Michael Brown’s father?

Disgusting.  It’s been a while since I’ve awarded the “Scum of the Week” award. I think I’ll give it to the entire Ferguson “justice” system for not only the LACK of justice, but for the completely tone-deaf way they’re continuing to handle the Michael Brown situation.

“God is a Man, and He is White…”

“God is a man, and he is white.”

“I’m not racist.  My friend isn’t white.”

“The ‘lil black man’ should have been shot and killed in the convenience store” (reference to Michael Brown and Ferguson).

Why am I back after a 6-month blogging absence? These are some of the brilliant comments I’ve gotten over the last day on Facebook, much of it in relationship to Ferguson, Michael Brown, and Darren Wilson.  Someone started a conversation about Ferguson.  Literally every person who was commenting was very happy with the grand jury decision not to indict Wilson.  Literally every person who was commenting provided very negative, often racist, comments about not only Michael Brown, but blacks in general.  I jumped into the fray, and as you can imagine the conversation took off.

The second quote is a classic, and a pet peeve of mine.  Whenever someone uses the line “I’m not racist, but…” or “I’m not racist, I know people (or have a friend) who isn’t white”…you know there are prejudice issues. They are old, tired lines you hear a lot.  The last statement came from a fine gentleman who said the store owner should have blown away Michael Brown in the store where he stole the cigars.  The conversation then turned to how BIG Michael Brown was.  Somebody piped in that Trayvon Martin was also a BIG black man.  As if that justifies killing them.

Then the top comment when religious belief came into another conversation, the comment that personifies everything that is WRONG about religion, race relations, and injustice in the United States.  The exact quote was “God is a man.  He is white.  God created Christ in his image”.  Because, as you know, god only cares about white people.  This quote, by the way came from a (white) woman, one who also noted she strongly believes in creationism and teaches it to her children.

Is it any wonder Darren Wilson didn’t get indicted? Is it any wonder why the black community is upset?  I certainly don’t condone the looting and violence, but we’re 50 years beyond Selma and Montgomery.  On the face of things, we’ve seemingly made progress.  But simmering under the surface there remains profound prejudice.

After about 100 comments on the aforementioned Facebook discussion, I tallied up the number of comments that said ANYTHING negative about Darren Wilson, the number of comments that implied he did ANYTHING wrong.  The grand total…ZERO, unless you count my responses.  A very long conversation involving many people, all of whom condemned Brown…and yet not a single comment that even implied Darren Wilson did anything wrong.

Granted, I live in lily-white South Dakota, and granted, Facebook conversations typically occur among like-minded individuals.  But it was seemingly impossible for these individuals to even rationalize another side to the story.  It was seemingly impossible for them to understand why events such as those in Ferguson drive protests.  After all, Michael Brown was black.  He was a BIG black man.  He committed a crime.  Despite contrary testimony from other witnesses, it’s (white) Darren Wilson’s story that was the only one that mattered to these folks.

I haven’t blogged in 6 months because, frankly, it’s depressing to talk about events such as this.  A breather was needed.  I’m not naive enough to think that blogging will change anything, but at least another voice will be heard to counter those who think it’s acceptable to kill an unarmed man, as long as they’re big and black. At least another voice will be heard to counter those who think god can only be a white man.

“Healthcare is not a right”

Access DeniedI try to avoid political conversations on Facebook.  Getting into a political argument on Facebook is one of the surest ways to make someone angry.  However, I just have to post political material on occasion.  I recently posted something on Facebook about political ads currently showing in South Dakota, noting how sick I was getting of the anti-Obamacare theme in all the ad campaigns from the Republicans.  Most of my true friends are quite intelligent…and thus, are quite liberal and are Democrats.  It’s not quite the same on Facebook, as some old acquaintances have political beliefs that frankly scare the hell out of me.

Thus went an exchange with one of those old acquaintances, starting with his response to my post about the anti-Obamacare political ads.  Here’s the “conversation”…

Me: Vote for me!! I’ll repeal ObamaCare! I support South Dakota’s decision to deny health care to the poor by refusing (FREE!) Medicaid expansion! I’m Mike Rounds!!  If I see his face on TV one more time I’m going to throw something at it.

Bud“: I’m just asking where this “free” Medicaid extension comes from. Someone has to pay for it.

Me: “Free” to the state of South Dakota, with Feds paying. Yet red states turn it down because, Obama. God forbid we try to ensure that access to health care is a basic RIGHT.

“Bud”: The “Fed” still has to find that money somewhere. Healthcare is not a right.

Me: Providing health care to your people is a basic MORAL right. Every other freakin’ western nation does it. In the U.S.? Richest damned country on earth? Nah…can’t afford it here.

“Bud“: But not constitutional.

Me: I’m rolling my eyes “Bud”. Next time I read a story about some poor schmuck who died because the richest country on earth couldn’t provide basic health care, I’ll send the grieving family a copy of the Constitution.

“Bud“: Yes do, and remind them that the money I earn is mine.

Ah, yes…”The money I earn is mine”.  The Republican motto should be “greed over need”.  To hell with our fellow Americans!  The ONLY person that matters i me, Me MEEEEEEEEE!!!! (picture the little Republicans all throwing a temper tantrum like a 2-year old).

The lack of care, the lack of MORALITY from the right is stunning.  Look at what the primary goal of today’s Republican Party…lowering taxes, and limiting government programs for the needy…a curious goal for the richest country on earth, particularly as the gap between rich and poor continues to widen.  Republicans wrap themselves up in the Constitution, and in the bible, trying to claim both constitutional high ground and the religious high ground.   Republicans try to portray liberals as the immoral ones.  Yet when push comes to shove, Republicans would rather ensure the wealthiest Americans continue to live it up, at the expense of even providing basic health care to America’s most needy.

“Health care is not a right”.  ”Remind them the money I earn is mine”.   Bravo, “Bud”…you’ve summed up the entire state of the Republican party in two short sentences.  Greed and personal gain…the perfect foundation for governing a nation.

Just when I think I like South Dakota(ns)…

May is a a wonderful month for birding.  After a long winter, not only do the summer breeding birds make their way back to South Dakota, but many, many species of migrants move through the state on their way north.  Friday after work, I headed out with my camera, looking for migrants. The birds certainly didn’t disappoint, with scads of shorebirds, ducks, and wading birds loafing around the wetlands I visited.

While heading towards some of my favorite spots, I stopped in a small town to get gas. Despite my cynicism and general anti-social behavior (shocking that I call myself anti-social, I know), every once in a while, you get the warm fuzzies when coming across some truly nice people.  While pumping my gas, an old couple pulled up in a pickup.  A gentleman in overalls got out and started to fill the tank while his wife went inside.  As soon as he had the gas running, he walked around the pump, just to chat with me, with a total stranger.  And a very nice chat it was!!  When I went inside to pay (old gas station, no credit card at the pump!), the wife was waiting at the counter, with two freshly made ice cream cones. “Darn that Earl, he found another person to talk to!!”, she “complained” to the clerk. Sure enough, I look out and “Earl” was chatting up another customer.  The wife wasn’t genuinely upset…she was having her own long conversation with the clerk.  As I’m paying, another person walks in, and the clerk and the wife both call out and ask how “Jodie” was doing.  Evidently “Jodie” had broken an ankle.

I walk back out to my pickup, and pass Earl, who’s finally coming in to pay.  He gives me a tip of the hat and a “have a good evenin’!” as we pass each other.  I literally could feel my cynicism melting away, being pushed down by a wonderful dose of good ol’ small-town friendliness.  It made me realize how nice it is to have a place like this, where the clerk knows the customers’ names, where people have no problem striking up a friendly conversation with a total stranger.

My gushy warm feelings lasted approximately 15 minutes and 38 seconds.  That’s about how long it took to get to one of my favorite birding spots, a big marshy spot that often has a lot of birds.  As I turned onto the gravel road to head towards the wetland, I saw a pickup about half a mile ahead, pulled over on the side of the road.  As soon as I got on the road, the pickup took off.  I didn’t think anything of it, UNTIL I got near the spot where he was parked.  Laying in the marsh grass…three VERY freshly dead Great Egrets.  One had a spot with blood, but although otherwise I couldn’t see what killed them, I assumed it was the tiny penis gun nuts in that pickup. A pretty safe assumption, given my past experiences in South Dakota.

Warm fuzzy feelings long gone, I continued on, turned a corner, and came across a pile of about a dozen dead snow geese, a mere half a mile from the dead egrets.  These were obviously long dead, with scavengers having already taken their toll.  However it’s obvious the birds were killed and then dumped in a pile on the side of the road.  It wasn’t for food, as they weren’t cleaned…just shot, and dumped.  The spot I was birding is a bit difficult to get to.  Officially, the road is closed.  With high water levels, water trickles over the gravel in a few places, and the road really isn’t passable except if you have a good 4-wheel drive.  Given the proximity of the dead egrets and the dead snow geese, my guess is that the local rednecks (of which South Dakota has plenty) use this quiet little spot for “target practice”…with my birds being the target.

I went birding later this past weekend, on Sunday, and again while out in a relatively remote spot, I came over a hill, and there were 3 young men with rifles, standing on the side of the road next to their truck.  Rifles…out in the middle of nowhwere…on a nice spring day.  Not exactly any hunting season I know about.  As I approached the three placed their rifles on the far side of their bodies, away from me.  Doesn’t take much imagination to know that people who try to hide something are generally up to no good.

Events such as these certainly are enough to fuel my cynicism for, oh…several months at least.  And given where I live, and how damned often I’ve come across dead birds and other animals that have been used as target practice, there aren’t very many occasions where my cynicism has a chance to melt away.

Alas, it’s not just the “hunting” (HAH!!! more like KILLING) culture of South Dakota. Underlying that good ol’ fashioned small town charm I encountered while filling my pickup, there’s also a lot of good ol’ fashioned bigotry and intolerance in the state.  Hell, it’s so ingrained in the culture of South Dakota that bigotry and intolerance has become a campaign strategy for some state politicians.  Check out the recent comments from Steve Hickey, a Republican (of course) state legislator. Last week he called gay men and gay sex “a one way alley for the garbage truck“.  Uh…OK…not even sure what that means, but I’m sure he meant it as a “clever”insult to gay people.  As if he wanted to make his point even clearer, this week he stated that gay sex is like “eight of your friends that you’re in love with take a dump in your bed and then you can sleep in it all year long.

Eloquent.

Small town charm in South Dakota?  Occasionally.  Every once in awhile, you may get a chance to enjoy that small town charm.  All you have to do to experience it is to put up with the gun wackos who think everything that moves is a target, as well as the bigoted people of the state and the politicians that they vote for.

Arizona Hummingbirds

Broad-billed Hummingbird

Broad-billed Hummingbird, in Madera Canyon.

Ah, Arizona.  I’d never been to Arizona, until about 8 years ago, when we went on a family vacation.  It’s such a diverse state, with mountains, deserts, the Grand Canyon, and the very large metro areas of Phoenix and Tucson.  For me, vacation is about seeing the natural world, and Arizona certainly offers some amazing experiences.  While I love the Grand Canyon, the forested mountains of the east, and the Sedona area, nothing for me can touch far southern Arizona, with the Sonoran desert habitat and the forested “sky islands”.

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird, on the outskirts of Tucson

We found a wonderful bed-and-breakfast on the outskirts of Tucson, nestled up against the eastern edge of the city and the eastern unit of Saguaro National Park.  Hacienda del Desierto is an acreage with natural Sonoran desert habitat surrounding it, with a pair of small ponds literally offering an oasis in the desert to the animals of the region.  We’ve seen coyotes, javelina, bobcats, jackrabbits, tarantulas, lizards, and snakes on the grounds of the B&B, but of course for me, it’s the birds that are the attraction.  And when I think birds in Arizona, I think hummingbirds.

May 7th.  Within a day or two, that’s the time our one resident hummingbird comes back for the summer in South Dakota.  It’s wonderful having Ruby-throated Hummingbirds around our house in the summer, but they’re the only species found in eastern South Dakota, and they’re only here from May through September.  A spring visit to Arizona on the other hand offers the chance to see a dozen or more species of hummingbirds, with several species found throughout the year.  Costa’s, Black-chinned, Anna’s, Broad-billed, Broad-tailed, Rufous, and Calliope Hummingbirds are some of the more common species to be found in the state at times, but lurking in the sky-island canyons of southern Arizona, and in nearby locations, a birder may also run across Magnificent, Allen’s, Blue-throated, Lucifer, White-eared, and Violet-crowned Hummingbirds, with yet rarer finds including a  Berylline Hummingbird or Plain-capped Starthroat,

Magnificent Hummingbird

Magnificent Hummingbird, on Mount Lemmon

After a long, very cold winter in South Dakota, we made plans for a week-long trip to the Tucson area around Easter. We again stayed at Hacienda del Desierto, and as always, the birding in the area didn’t disappoint.  My wife and son aren’t birders, so to maximize my birding time on vacation, I’ve gotten into a habit at getting up at dawn and birding until they’re ready for breakfast.  The B&B is wonderful for desert birding, but even with a few feeders up and a lush, flower-filled landscape, I’ve never found all that many hummingbirds around.  The exception is a wonderful Broad-billed Hummingbird female who annually builds a nest on the vines that cascade over the roof and trail down into the B&B’s courtyard. She didn’t disappoint on this trip either, as once again she built a new nest, and had two young that appeared to be about ready to fledge.

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird in Madera Canyon

Within the city of limits, there are a number of parks that are wonderful to visit, with our favorite being Tohono Chul park on the north side of Tucson.  It’s a botanical garden with a wide variety of micro habitats, and a vast array of flowering plants, and I’ve always had wonderful luck finding hummingbirds.  It seems to be a “hotspot” for Costa’s Hummingbirds, a species I’ve found without fail at the park.  Tohono Chul also has a wonderful cafe, where you can dine in the courtyard and enjoy the wonderful vegetation and birds.  On this trip, a Costa’s Hummingbird had built a nest in a light fixture on the courtyard wall, with a mother feeding 2 young and seemingly oblivious to the diners and servers continually walking by.

Saguaro National Park has two units, one on both the east and west sides of Tucson.  Hummingbirds can always be found there, foraging on blooming Ocotillo and plants, but they tend to be quite dispersed.  Sabino Canyon and Mount Lemmon are two very popular destinations on the outskirts of Tucson, for both tourists and residents alike.  Family hikes through both have yielded Hummingbirds.  On this trip, a feeder at the visitor’s center near the top of Mount Lemmon attracted many Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, but a gorgeous Magnificent Hummingbird would also occasionally fly in.

Anna's Hummingbird at Nest

Female Anna's Hummingbird feeding young at the nest

However, for both the sheer number of hummingbirds, and variety of species, nothing can touch the sky-island canyons.  Names like “Ramsey Canyon“, “Madera Canyon“, and “Miller Canyon” are famous among birders, as rarities from Mexico are often found here, and nowhere else in the United States.  The same holds for hummingbirds, with the canyons attracting an incredible number of hummingbird species.  Destinations such as the Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon, or The Nature Conservancy center in Ramsey Canyon, further enhance the excitement, with feeder complexes that attract large densities of hummingbirds.  On this trip, we visited Santa Rita Lodge.  While no rarities were seen, an hour at the Lodge feeders turned up a number of Black-chinned, Anna’s, Broad-billed, and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, and a Magnificent Hummingbird also made an appearance.

A week-long vacation interspersed with casual birding, and 7 hummingbird species were tallied (Broad-billed, Broad-tailed, Costa’s, Anna’s, Black-chinned, Magnificent, and Rufous).  Arizona never disappoints, and for hummingbird lovers, nothing can top a spring trip to the southern part of the state.

Scum of the Week – Cliven Bundy

Scum of the WeekGovernment is evil.  Personal responsibility?   Personal liability?  Federal Law?  Irrelevant, if you’re fighting against the federal government. Even when someone is clearly in the wrong, that’s the message those on the right would like you to believe.

Congratulations Cliven Bundy, you’ve received the prestigious “Scum of the Week” award.  In close second…Glenn Beck.  Who is Cliven Bundy?  A rancher from Nevada.  For over 20 years, Bundy has refused to pay grazing fees for his cattle that he’s loosed on federal land.  After other tactics to get him to pay failed, the feds recently rounded up Bundy’s cattle, on federal land.  Bundy’s response? Basically an armed rebellion, with a group of Bundy supporters, some armed, confronting BLM officials.  To avoid physical confrontation, the BLM relented and released Bundy’s cattle.

Bundy in the meantime appeared on Glenn Beck’s radio show, pleading for citizens to rise up and “disarm” the BLM and feds.  Wacko Bundy then goes on to claim that the “federal bureaucracy” is “overpowering us with guns” and ruling with “unlimited power“.  A curious claim, given that it was Bundy and his wacko supporters who confronted the BLM with guns, in order to get his cattle back.

There’s no disputing the facts.  Over the last 20+ years, Bundy has been grazing his cattle on federal lands.   Over the last 20+ years, he hasn’t paid grazing fees for using federal land.  In Bundy’s world, he’s allowed to use federal lands to make a personal profit, without having to follow the law and pay for the right to use those lands.  He’s clearly been in the wrong.  He’s clearly been openly defying and breaking the law for over 20 years, while 18,000 other cattle ranchers in the west have paid grazing fees to obtain access to federal lands.  And what does that make him in the eyes of those on the right?  A hero.

That’s what the right has devolved into, a group that by default defines the government as “in the wrong”, regardless of the situation.  Having a (gasp!) black Democratic President only has exacerbated the negativity towards government in general.  The clear message from the right…we will oppose anything that Obama does.  We will oppose anything the federal government does, even something as basic as collecting taxes and fees to enable government to operate.

The anti-government paranoia has been whipped up to an all-time high, and is to the point where armed confrontation, where physical threats, are now an accepted form of dissent.  Dangerous ground, particularly when those that feel the need to break even the most innocuous of laws are treated as heroes.  Cliven Bundy, you wacko, cheating, cheap, law-breaking son-of-a-bitch…YOU are hereby named as the Scum of the Week.

Life 1.0 – The Competition

I’m a nerd.  Surprising revelation, I know.  I’d rather read a book than go to a bar.  I used to play Dungeons & Dragons in high school.  I still like video games.  And, I like science fiction.  Of course, Star Trek is near the top of the list.  As a scientist/nerd, I can watch Star Trek and think/dream that most of it may NOT be “fiction”, but a vision of the future.  From a technical and scientific aspect, I can almost believe it, if you remove some of the scientific impossibilities from a Star Trek script.

But from a social aspect?  I’m not buying it for a second.  Sure, there’s always the bad guy to fight in Star Trek, but society as a whole is peaceful.  War is the exception, not the rule. People have evolved to such a state that even money isn’t used any more, for god’s sake.  Listening to a Captain Kirk or Captain Picard speak (especially the latter) is sometimes like listening to a preacher, although it’s not religion they’re expressing, it’s the inherent “goodness” of man.

Like I said…I’m not buying it for a second. If we ever reach a Star Trek level of technology, you can be damned sure things won’t be peaceful.  You can be damned sure money, greed, and the hunger for power will be there.  The Star Trek utopia, where everyone works for the common good?  A nice pipe dream, but a pipe dream is all it will ever be.

Think about your typical day. You get ready and head for work, only to find yourself in a drag race with the guy on his cell phone who thinks 5 mph over the speed limit is an insult to his manhood. You get to work, and in theory, are working towards whatever common goal your employer (or yourself) has established.  In reality? It’s more often every man for him or herself, with individual achievement, power, and money driving workers more than the overall common good.

I pity “management”…to a point.  Imagine a work group of 20 individuals tasked to work together towards a common goal.  In that group, you have the “Invisible 4“, those that do as little as it takes to continue getting a paycheck every two weeks.  You have the “Backstabbing 5“, the aggressive bunch who is working with, or against, each other, to ensure THEY achieve the recognition, the reward, for the group’s work.  Bob in the corner?  He just doesn’t give a shit, and is cruising towards retirement.  You have the “Naive Numbskulls“, 2 or 3 inexperienced youngsters who will end up doing 70% of the work but will get buried by the group and get no recognition.  The “Blabbing Blowhards?”  That’s the pair of idiots that have no idea how to accomplish the group’s goal, but are gifted at 1) monopolizing 90% of all discussion time, and 2) trying to tell others how to do a job they themselves are incapable of doing.

Yes, the exact proportions may vary from setting to setting, and there are a few other categories of folks, but out of 20 people, it’s almost guaranteed that at least half will fall into one of the categories above.  In general, that will leave maybe 5 honest, hard-working individuals, folks who DO generally believe in the overall goal, and will do an honest day’s work to reach that goal.  That’s the group I feel sorry for, for they are the ones who end up suffering due to the actions (or inactions) of the others.  The best and the brightest too often end up being the ones who are trampled upon.  Over time, they become the ones who are the most disillusioned.

I said I feel sorry for management, to a point, given that it’s an impossible task to try to build a perfectly effective team from such a group of individuals.  “To a point” is an important distinction, though, because 80% of time, management themselves falls into one of those categories.  Those that do reach management are often the most aggressive of the original 20.  The “common goal” becomes a means to an end, with the “end” being a promotion or other reward for the manager.  The process? The end product? The workers themselves? Secondary to the personal achievement that’s to be gained.

What, I’m being a little too cynical here?   There are undoubtedly exceptions to this general characterization of the workplace.  I’d take my own personal team at work to hell and back, as I think the world of them.  But it’s disheartening as hell though to see how the backstabbing 5, or the babbling blowhards end up affecting the workplace in general, and negatively affecting the individual recognition and rewards that the standouts deserve.

Life 1.0 – The competition.  Will we ever reach the Star Trek utopia?  Will we ever reach Life 2.0 – The Evolved?  Hell no….we’ll never even get to Life 1.01.  We’re biological creatures, the same as any other on the planet.  We have the same drives, the same instincts to survive and thrive.  Competition is biologically ingrained, and no matter your place in life, you can be sure that competition and the desire to “one-up” your fellow-man is driving one hell of a lot more of society’s behavior than is striving for the common good.

Cheery thoughts!  But sadly typical as one reaches the end of the work week.  Enjoy your weekend, rest up, and get ready for Monday Morning and the next week’s worth of competition.

Congressman kisses staffer, runs for re-election while staffer is fired

A Washington Post columnist has an article today stating that the GOP has just permanently lost the women’s vote . In a perfect world where voters were 1) halfway intelligent and 2) paying attention, the column should be right.  We don’t live in a perfect world.  Voters are 1) dumber than a box of rocks, and 2) are more concerned about the latest pop song than they are about the politicians that run the country.

The story in summary…male congressman kisses a female staffer. It’s caught on tape and released to the papers. Yes, there’s been blow-back in the press, and in the short term there will be condemnation against Congressman Vance McAllister of Louisiana (A Republican, BTW…shocking, I know).  This gem of a man ran on his supposedly strong Christian faith 2 years ago.  No worries though.  After this event, he’s already stated he’s going to continue running for reelection. Given that he’s a right-wing nut job from Louisiana, he’s likely to WIN reelection.

The staffer he kissed? She, of course, was fired.

If I were a single, very selfish man, perhaps I would thank my lucky stars I grew up as a white male in America.   However, I’m not.  It has to be as maddening as hell to be a woman in America and see this same kind of story repeated over and over again.

I have little doubt conservative wackos will forgive McAllister. God knows the GOP is full of lying, cheating, law-breaking SOBs, and there’s a long history of forgiveness for these losers. In today’s political climate, there’s little worry about repercussions for bad behavior, as the only thing that seems to matter is whether there’s a “D” or an “R” after your name. The female staffer? Obviously she too is in the wrong, given that she’s married and has a young son. But for her there will be no forgiveness.  She’s out a job, and what do you think the chances are that she could get another job on Capital Hill?

Has the GOP “permanently lost” womens’ votes?  I certainly wish that were the case, but sadly it’s not. If I had a nickel for every time a male politician has done something similar, yet gotten away with it and continued on with their political careers, I’d be a rich man.