Hoist By Their Own Retard

19 02 2012

It must be tough to be a christian Dominionist these days. They’ve been nibbling quietly away at the foundations of the Constitution for decades without attracting much notice, but now they have a serious PR problem. It seems that a bunch of Dominionists have managed to get in front of cameras over the past few months, and- to their dismay- have been spouting christian Dominion and similar theocratic drivel out in public. Worse still (from the Dominionist point of view), the enormous majority of the American public which is inherently opposed to Dominion Theology has seen or heard these American Taliban on TV and the internet. To further complicate the theocrats’ work, the video of their pet political mouthpieces has been aired unedited, and the press has been crucifying these religious fuckheads using nothing more than their own words- verbatim.

One would suppose that christian theocrats would be used to getting eviscerated in public- it tends to happen whenever one of them speaks candidly anywhere near a camera. They’ve apparently been spouting christian theocracy propaganda at each other for so long that some of them actually believe that their extremist positions are shared by the majority of Americans. As a result of this cognitive dissonance, several prominent would-be theocrats tend to babble freely to the media about supplanting the Constitution with their own version of Iranian theocracy, which generally makes every American with anything resembling a room-temperature IQ think that the Dominionists are bat-shit insane. The current untenable state of their affairs gets rather more ludicrous when they feebly demand that media organization stop posting unedited versions of christian Dominionist speeches- because the unedited comments of Dominionist mouth-breathers¬† make the American Taliban look bad. One could say they’re being hoist by their own retards (I really wish I’d come up with that phrase, but I stole it from one of the more clever commenters on FARK.com)

Assuming you can bear the toxic levels of derp, cast your gaze upon Rick Santorum. This imbecile honestly believes that a majority of Americans want to join him in creating a christian Caliphate here in the US. He has babbled freely and at great length about making extra- and pre-marital sex illegal, of federal investigations for murder against women who miscarry, creating a federal commission to evaluate college and university professors to ensure they are “conservative enough”, and that rape victims who get pregnant should accept the pregnancy as “God’s gift”. Why is this person allowed to wander about without psychiatric help, much less run for President?

Let’s take a brief look at christian dominion theology, where a lot of this bullshit has its roots. The christian fanatics who embody this “movement” believe that they have been called by their god to take over the institutions of power by any means necessary so they can bring about the return of their messiah. Dominion Theology teaches that it is their christian duty to take over the world politically or militarily and impose a christian theocratic government ruling by biblical fiat. They believe that their Christ will not return until their church has overthrown all of the world’s governments and civil institutions. This belief is not popular even among fellow christians, many of whom quietly decry the dominionist fanaticism. Those who agree with Dominion Theology have therefore been generally circumspect in what they say and to whom, limiting discussion of their true motives to small groups of like-minded lunatics.

Make no mistake, these people are out of their tiny little minds. They aren’t necessarily stupid (although many of them are), but their ability to deceive themselves that they’re doing this for the good of all while simultaneously trying desperately to conceal what they’re really up to from everyone except fellow believers is at best a type of group psychosis. You can’t have it both ways, people. If what you’re trying to accomplish really is in the best interests of everyone else, concealing your motives and activities from those people is disingenuous and counter-productive. Last I looked, there were perhaps a billion christians on the planet, separated by a common religious history. Almost every one of the multitudes of christian sects poisonously hates all of the others. Even if every single adherent of some flavor of christianity were fire-breathing fanatics about it (which is demonstrably not the case), the fact that each sect is smugly certain that only their particular set of beliefs and practices are the “right” ones and everyone else is a heretical unbeliever tends to reduce their effective numbers dramatically. The Pope can’t even count on the loyalty of all catholics, for example. Yet somehow these aggressively independent splinter groups will impose their will upon the six billion non-believers who share the planet with them.

Lunacy.

Fortunately, those of us who do not share in the beliefs of the Dominionists have a wonderful weapon at our disposal to defeat the christian jihadists among us- their own words. Much as I despise the media in this country, they’ve been doing an acceptable job of shining a light on the cockroaches of christian dominion theology. The dominionists do their best to scuttle out of sight when the lights come on, but they’ve wandered too far from shelter by putting forward one of their own in major political campaign. Too many of their colleagues and fellow-believers have been caught on camera telling the world exactly what they intend to do once they get the power, thereby helping ensure that this will not happen. Everyone else in the US is looking at these misogynistic, reactionary fuckwits and seeing them for what they really are: a collection of backward, sexist, racist, and deeply stupid people who espouse turning back the clock to the “good old days” of the dark ages. A time when men were men, and women were property. A time when only white male landowners were allowed to have a say in the affairs of government, and dark-skinned people were either servants or slaves. They’re also too stupid and smugly certain of their own righteousness to successfully hide their motives and goals from those of us who aren’t bigoted shitheads. All it takes is a camera or sound recorder, and they all-too-eagerly let it all out.

And that is the only good thing to come out of the current political season.

Current status: Bemused

Current music: Such Great Heights by The Postal Service

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So Much For Space

14 02 2012

I’m none too fond of NASA. In lieu of advancing the frontiers of manned spaceflight, NASA spent a couple of decades wasting time and energy on the pretty-but-largely-useless shuttle program. The space shuttle could have been a worthwhile component of a larger drive toward orbital manufacturing, followed by exploring and exploiting the inner solar system. Could have been. What it turned into was a political show-horse which leeched desperately-needed funding from actual science and exploration projects and essentially crippled the US space industry when the photogenic but limited-utility orbiters were inevitably retired without a useful replacement vehicle. The stupidly wasted opportunities over the last three decades make my blood boil.

NASA has managed to pull off some staggeringly good science in spite of the shuttle debacle. Rovers on Mars; robot spacecraft visiting other planets, moons, and asteroids; orbiting sensors watching the solar weather; and the enormous work of searching for and tracking potential Earth-impactors were all getting accomplished during the lean years when the lion’s share of the funding was poured down the shuttle rat-hole. Despite my misgivings about NASA management in general and the shuttle program in particular, the non-shuttle folks at the agency have been almost textbook examples of making bricks without straw. My mixed feelings about NASA aside, I am firmly convinced that a robust presence in space- specifically meaning more than just low-Earth orbit- is a key underpinning to continued US economic and military superiority.

The US got a huge amount of payback for the money spent on the Space Race in terms of follow-on technologies and spin-offs. We also got the infrastructure to maintain a constellation of satellites which continue to provide vital real-world service for our high-tech civilization. Learning how to put men on the moon taught us how to safely and reliably put stuff into orbit, which in turn gave us the ability to see and hear most of what goes on all over the world. This ability- taken for granted by the average American citizen- is literally priceless, and gives the US an enormous military advantage in preventing or fighting future conflicts. Our ability to see/listen-in on potential enemies and communicate with friendly units anywhere on the planet is a direct result of the US space program. Our current military peerlessness is based on it.

Despite all of this well-documented benefit from the space program, there are loads of people in this country who are chomping at the bit to gut or eliminate the US space program in a stupid rush to be penny-wise and pound-foolish. The Apollo program cost the equivalent of about $200.oo per US citizen when it was running. This was (and is) a bargain of stellar magnitude by any measure, but there are people in this country- sadly including many of our professional political class- who shriek and gibber about “wasting” money on space when we could be spending that money on vote-buying schemes here on Earth. The truth is that the US could have funded fifty Apollo-style missions for the price of a week of combat operations in the Sandbox. The space program has delivered proven real-world benefits for the money. Can our military adventures in the Middle East make the same claim?

When the current administration chose to retire the shuttle fleet, I was among many who were unhappy with the decision (they were lovely bits of engineering, and I’m a sucker for well-designed equipment), but accepted it under the assumption that the budget formerly allocated to the shuttle fleet might be turned to more useful ends at NASA. That assumption turned out to be so much wishful thinking. The people I once chastised for what I deemed hyperbole about “abandoning space” turn out to have been correct, as shown by the latest budget proposal from the White House.

In a time when the US is falling behind in science and engineering- historically American strong suits- the President has decided to throw the fiscal worrywarts a bone called NASA. In the interest of appearing to be financially prudent, the President is scaling back the poster child for American engineering and technological progress. How many kids will struggle through the tough scholastic requirements for engineering and the sciences when the biggest market for those fields is cutting back funding? Fewer NASA programs means fewer companies will be getting money to design and build spacecraft. Those companies will therefore have a reduced interest in hiring new engineers and technicians. Tighter NASA science budgets mean fewer science missions, which in turn mean less interest on the part of universities and businesses to employ scientists. Fewer engineers, scientists, and technicians being hired reduces the need for students of those disciplines. So much for American excellence in engineering and the sciences. The one thing America is traditionally good at is being put at risk to create the impression of fiscal restraint.

You want fiscal prudence? Try trimming back on wasteful military adventures. Stop paying farmers to not grow food. Stop paying those farmers who do grow food to turn perfectly good corn into largely useless ethanol for fuel. Trimming a few million dollars from a few NASA programs is the height of folly when we waste billions on the items I just mentioned. And those are just the ones I thought of while typing. Anyone willing to do a little research could almost certainly find more. Please do, by the way.

Reducing America’s presence in space- which is what the current budget amounts to- is a bold statement to the effect that the US is no longer looking outward. We’re no longer interested in pushing the boundaries of what we can do, because we seem to be more interested in wallowing around in what we can’t. This attitude has historically been a symptom of a civilization in decline. I’m not interested in contributing to the decline of the United States of America. I’m interested in science and engineering and technology, not least because those things make life better for everyone- including Americans. As an American, I want to do well while doing good. The technology we build today will help feed, clothe, and heal the people of tomorrow. Reducing the overall level of misery on the planet also reduces the competition for resources and the need for military genital measuring contests. This helps make the world to come safer and more stable than the world we live in now.

Why us? Why should America expend the time, money, and manpower to maintain a presence in space? Because- flawed and occasionally idiotic as we may collectively be- a future with an America strong in technology and the sciences is more likely to be a better future than one built in the absence of a US presence in space. Rest assured, humans are going to explore and exploit the solar system. I think it would be better for humanity as a whole if the ones who speak English didn’t have to use foreign currencies to buy tickets as passengers on another country’s spacecraft.

Current status: Peeved

Current music: Life’s Been Good by Joe Walsh