Obama on Blame Game: ‘Ridiculous Spectacle’

Trying to work on an epically huge, possibly more than I can chew post on prayer, but I’m also distracted by my work laptop being pretty busted up, so it might have to wait til tomorrow.

At least I have a minor tidbit of good news to report (with minimal comments). Via McClatchy, Obama’s remarks on the matter of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe included some choice comments:

I saw firsthand the anger and frustration felt by our neighbors in the Gulf. And let me tell you, it is an anger and frustration that I share as president.

And I’m not going to rest or be satisfied until the leak is stopped at the source, the oil in the Gulf is contained and cleaned up, and the people of the Gulf are able to go back to their lives and their livelihoods.
[…]
It would also help ensure that companies like B.P. that are responsible for oil spills are the ones that pay for the harm caused by these oil spills, not the taxpayers.

This is in addition to the low-interest loans that we’ve made available to small businesses that are suffering financial losses from the spill.

Let me also say, by the way, a word here about B.P. and the other companies involved in this mess.

I know B.P. has committed to pay for the response effort. And we will hold them to their obligation.

I have to say, though, I did not appreciate what I considered to be a ridiculous spectacle during the congressional hearings into this matter. You had executives of B.P. and Transocean and Halliburton falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else.

The American people could not have been impressed with that display, and I certainly wasn’t.
[…]
Now, from the day he took office as interior secretary, Ken Salazar has recognized these problems and he’s worked to solve them. Oftentimes, he has been slammed by the industry, suggesting that somehow these necessary reforms would impede economic growth. Well, as I just told Ken, we are going to keep on going to do what needs to be done.

And so I’ve asked Secretary Salazar to conduct a top-to-bottom reform of the Minerals Management Service. This week, he announced that the part of the agency which permits oil and gas drilling and collects royalties will be separated from the part of the agency in charge of inspecting the safety of oil rigs and platforms and enforcing the law. That way, there’s no conflict of interest, real or perceived.

We’ve also ordered immediate inspections of all deepwater operations in the Gulf of Mexico. And we’ve announced that no permits for drilling new wells will go forward until the 30-day safety and environmental review that I requested is completed.

We’re also closing the loophole that has allowed some oil companies to bypass some critical environmental reviews. And today, we’re announcing a new examination of the environmental procedures for oil and gas exploration and development.

Now, as I’ve said before, domestic oil drilling continues to be one part of an overall energy strategy that now includes more clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency than at any other time in our history.

But it’s absolutely essential that, going forward, we put in place every necessary safeguard and protection so that a tragedy like this oil spill does not happen again.

This is a responsibility that all of us share. The oil companies share it. The manufacturers of this equipment share it. The agencies and the federal government in charge of oversight share that responsibility. I will not tolerate more finger-pointing or irresponsibility.

Do read the whole statement. As long as Obama’s administration follows up on re-regulating the now-unchained behemoth that is the oil industry, and as long as we start pursuing the “future tech” (to borrow the term from Civilization) of clean energy a la solar/wind/geothermal, we might actually stand a chance at fixing the path of humanity to work with the planet rather than against it, for probably the first time since the industrial revolution. Hopefully in time to mitigate the disasters that are impending and maintaining humankind well into the future.

The Religion of Peace* (Unless You Draw Stuff We Don’t Like)

In case you haven’t already seen it, Lars Vilks was attacked by Muslims upset at his cartoon of Muhammad as a roundabout dog. It was caught on film.

* Religion of peace my pasty white ass. The man has religious fatwas and a $100,000 bounty on his head — with a $50,000 bonus if his throat is slit like a slaughtered lamb — from the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq. Over a FUCKING DRAWING. How small and insecure is your faith in Allah that you must attack a fucking cartoonist? And if you’re one of the people that honestly believes Islam means peace (rather than “submission”, the real translation of the word), then why aren’t you doing something about the vicious fucks that are wrecking your already tattered reputation?

Reconstructing Criticism

Those of my loyal readers who are fond of criticizing me, my actions, or my tone, but don’t seem to know how to do it constructively, should read these posts by the indefatigable Stephanie Zvan.  This is an ongoing series — the master post is here.

Or, alternately, you can drop the pretense of constructive criticism and just accept that you’re REALLY hoping to cow yr. humble scrivener into submission. Don’t worry, that’s okay with me. Just understand that it’ll take a hell of a lot to manage that. I’m pretty damned pigheaded and I enjoy a good smashmouth thread now and then. Like the one that started off being about people dodging responsibility with regard to ecological disasters and rapidly turned into a “stop bashing religion” thread that’s still ongoing presently. (Well, that is, unless I’VE cowed everyone else into submission…)

This is a really big problem

You can see the oil slick from space. What was once permanently sequestered underground was released in our ever-increasing lust for oil, and with a haste spurred on by that lust, we tapped more wells, wells that were more dangerous, more nearly inaccessible, and more seemingly remote from human civilization, to the point where we started tapping some wells with the deck stacked against us without any idea as to how to mitigate damage in the event of a catastrophe. A catastrophe that was bound to happen.

BP, arguably one of the most environmentally conscious oil companies (though that’s like saying “most tolerant televangelist”), has admitted to having no fucking clue how to plug the Deepwater Horizon tap now that the rig is sunk and the pipes are spewing oil like a firehose at a rate of 795,000 litres (about 5000 barrels) a day. This despite the accident happening on a day when several BP execs were on that very oil rig to celebrate their safety record, and their repeated protestations that offshore drilling is incredibly safe and efficient and nothing could ever go wrong. What’s worse, BP scientists have projected a worst-case scenario of ~9.5 million litres (60,000 barrels) a day if the pressure continues to shear at the comparative pinhole that exists presently. BP claims to have the capacity to handle a worst-case scenario of 162,000 barrels a day, but no action has yet been successfully taken despite the disaster happening 20 days ago and counting.

To compound the issue, Obama’s newfound love of “drill baby drill” appears completely unabated by the situation at Deepwater Horizon. Regulators are rubber-stamping new oil leases and waiving environmental impact studies at an alarming rate, despite the acknowledgement that this is on track to become a worse spill than the infamous Exxon Valdez. Granted, this is well down on the list of worst oil spills of all time, but knowing the damage the Valdez caused, due to human error and finger-pointing, it’s galling to see the current round of blame-game, the Shaggy Defense, between BP, Transocean and Halliburton:

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And frankly I’m getting sick of people dodging blame. It’s also sickening to see people honestly thinking that they can pray the oil away, because I see that as another way of dodging the blame.

We are all to blame, to a degree, for our complacency in maintaining an oil-based economy and energy policy. We are to blame if we give corporations cover to make profits without any repercussions when something goes wrong — as is the case if BP, Transocean and Halliburton all get off the hook for their part of the liability for the cleanup efforts. We are to blame if we elect into office people that deregulate and remove restrictions regarding protecting not only the environment but the sustainability of our present actions. And we are especially to blame if we do not shout loudly and with as much anger as we can muster about the vicious cycles of burning oil and drilling oil and spilling oil despite all the obvious long-term detrimental effects this will have for humanity.

This goes double for you idiots that are on your knees praying for relief from the oil disaster. Understand that there are people with as expansive of faiths as yours, who are praying for the acceleration of an apocalyptic final battle where everyone dies and some select few get to go to heaven. There’s something you can be doing instead — figure out the underlying reasons (hint: our dependence on oil) for our problems (hint: the environmental impact we have on our planet in pursuit of oil) and do whatever it takes to raise awareness and/or elect officials that give a shit about the problem (hint: people that recognize that the vast majority of scientists agree that the evidence shows we need to get the hell off of our addiction to fossil fuels ASAP).

And if you’re one of those people, you can run for office yourself. You know, in a last resort.

Christoga

Was just discussing on Twitter with @GarageRock the ridiculousness of Christians and their need to rebrand everything in Jesus’ name. I was referring, at the time, to the idiotic websites that have sprung up duplicating Facebook, Youtube or Twitter, only named stuff like GodTube or Gospelr.

Then I came across this.

Hey Everything Is Terrible, I demand my intertube-money back. I was expecting togas, not yoga. Also, you didn’t warn me that I might bust a gut laughing — your site needs warning signs.

(I wonder if these ladies can use their yoga powers to pass the collection basket twenty feet at a time… or light the votive candles with their Christoga Flame.)

Humanists Sending Ambassadors to Canada’s Prayer Breakfast

Theo Bromine, an occasional commenter on this blog, is apparently more active in humanist circles than I’d realized. She serves presently as President of the Humanist Association of Ottawa, and is apparently making some tangible inroads with the government’s nonsensical National Prayer Breakfast — Canada’s answer to the American National Day of Prayer. She sent along the following information, which I am more than happy to post for the benefit of those who are interested:

As you may know, the Canadian Religious Right Wannabees are holding the Canadian version of the Prayer Breakfast this week. It is sponsored by the “Canadian Fellowship Foundation” (which is not directly or officially linked to the US-based Fellowship Foundation, aka “The Family”, but it’s hard to believe that the similarity of names is a co-incidence). Members of the Canadian Secular Alliance, and the Humanist Association of Ottawa will be attending this event.

The National Prayer Breakfast, as described by its sponsors is:

an annual ecumenical event, where men and women from differing backgrounds gather together with our elected public officials to pray in the spirit of Jesus Christ for Canada. The Prayer Breakfast has been faithfully attended since 1964. In fact, except for 1968 when an federal election caused the Breakfast to be canceled, the National Prayer Breakfast is the single longest continuous event held annually on Parliament Hill. The first National Prayer Breakfast was held in Ottawa in June of 1964.

(See http://www.canadaprayerbreakfast.ca/ for more information)

CSA and HAO think that someone’s definition of “men and women from differing backgrounds” needs expanding, and we requested (and received, somewhat to our surprise) invitations to pay $40 for breakfast and/or $50 for dinner the night before. Everyone is invited to follow our live coverage of the dinner (starting at 6:30 pm EDT, Monday 10 May) and breakfast (starting at 7:30 am EDT, Tuesday, 11 May), here: http://humanistottawa.com/nationalprayer.php

Emphasis mine, because I couldn’t agree more. People who believe that praying to Jesus Christ will actually change anything about your country’s course are, in my estimation, far less than a majority. Consider not only that there are a great many non-Christians, there are also Christians that believe prayer is for showing fealty rather than imploring that change be enacted. And with the broad sampling they purport to have of the Canadian populace in attendance, it’s only right that non-theists — skeptics, humanists and atheists alike — see some representation in these proceedings where our elected officials are taking active part.

I won’t mince words, folks. Prayer does nothing but waste time and give you the false sense of absolution of any responsibility for the situations you are in. It gives only false hope where going out and doing something with your hands aside from clasping them in prayer might actually achieve something great instead. Be the change you want to see. Don’t pray for it.

Fatwa Envy

The main story thrust of the recent two-part South Park episode that sent Muslims into a hate-frenzy and induced Comedy Central’s genitalia to wither and die, was an attempt by celebrities — chief among them Tom Cruise — to kidnap Muhammed and somehow use his powers of avoiding mockery for themselves. To duplicate the mystical “censorship field” power (called “goo” in the episode) that Muhammed has apparently spontaneously developed over the past few decades. Suddenly, and very recently, nobody can make fun of him — or even merely depict him as a human being — on pain of death after religious fatwas are handed down from the Islamic clergy demanding retribution.

Don’t worry though, Islam doesn’t have a monopoly on religious zealots that are beyond-the-pale crazy. Their kissing cousin faith, the Christians, have a particularly hideous little toad of their own who apparently wants Muhammed’s goo as well: Bill Donahue. He has an obvious and very unbecoming case of fatwa envy over Comedy Central’s considering making a cartoon series about Jesus Christ, as a regular guy who “moves to New York to escape his father’s enormous shadow”.

“It’s not certain what is more despicable: the nonstop Christian bashing featured on the network, or Comedy Central’s decision to censor all depictions of Muhammad,” said William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, on Thursday.

It’s not certain to me, Bill, when you first started thinking your particular flavor of delusion trumps free speech, but it’s fairly obvious that you’re learning the wrong lesson from zealots threatening death over a perfectly harmless cartoon. The lesson should be “free speech is fundamental to free society”, not “they get to do it, so we should be able to cow people into doing our bidding out of fear of death too!”

Hat tip to Greg Laden.

Maddow on yet another gay anti-gay activist

Been gone for a while. Very large work project. Very much one failure after another. Know what perks me up a bit after a bad week like this one? Why, a little bit of schadenfreude, of course!

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I for one am shocked, SHOCKED, to discover that yet another prominent anti-gay activist is gay. It’s hardly news at this point that the people most prone to witch-hunting sexual outgroups, are people in those outgroups who develop self-loathing when certain elements (their religion, their parents, their political party) convince them that their proclivities are abnormal.

As Maddow points out, though, this anti-gay activist’s newsworthiness has nothing to do with his homosexuality — there’s nothing wrong with that intrinsically. It’s his hypocrisy and his Uncle Tom status. It’s like Ann Coulter fighting against women having the vote despite being, ostensibly, a woman (though she’s disguised her gender enough with her ambiguous adam’s apple that it’s possible she’s not!).