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While I normally don’t always care for the New York Times‘ Nicholas Kristoff’s position on a variety of subjects, I have to say that today he definitely put together a very amusing satirical opinion piece.  “Bonuses for Billionaires” does a fantastic job of doing a tongue-in-cheek discussion of the position of the Republicans and the Tea Party stalwarts in Congress on the U.S. debt and how to get it under control.  But even more interesting than his satire in the piece is one of the comments left by a reader of the piece.  The reader, MNW, from Connecticut suggests the following (and yes, it has been making its way around the Internet in one form or another for a few months now so this is certainly not original – but I think the way this individual wrote it is the best):

What we need is a total reform of the Congress and here is a good place to start. Bring them up to speed with the population as a whole – what is good enough for us is good enough for them.

Congressional Reform Measures for the out-of-touch in the Congress.

1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote itself a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12.

The American people did not make any contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

The greatest welfare system in the country is that enjoyed by the Congress itself. The time has come to raise their taxes and to impose term limits upon their jobs – especially in view of the fact that they spend the greater part of their time working for nothing more than their own re-election.
Welcome to a new world order, congressional persons. Do join us all.

It would be lovely if this actually happened as I (and I’m sure many other Americans) feel that Congress is so out of touch with the American public – especially the middle class – and they have become a new breed of individuals – Homo Politicus – that some measure of reset is necessary.  I’m not some radical left-wing activist, nor am I a right-wing Tea Party supporter, I tend to be more middle-of-the-road…but I certainly feel that Congress no longer works for the American people…Congress works for the those who can enrich their lives…and that is not good for the rest of us.  Just my .02.

Oh wow…just when you thought that the mullahs and Ahmadinejad couldn’t get sillier they now come up with a doozy! The Iranians are threatening (once again) to boycott the 2012 Olympics in London. You might ask “Why?” Seems that they feel that the 2012 Olympic logo is too similar to the word Zion (the Hebrew term which most often refers to Jerusalem). See for yourself:

Official Logo for the 2012 Olympics in London

The Iranians claim that the logo is “racist” (ostensibly because it resembles the word “Zion”). In the competition of nonsensical and stupid behavior the Iranian Olympic Committee proves that it is a Gold medal winner!

I heard it but couldn’t believe it. I had to whip out my phone and start surfing the web for information about it. Surely the quote was taken out of context. He must have been misquoted…but alas, no. I looked at the links Google had returned, selected one and started reading.

Apparently NASA, whose historic mission was to promote and help lead research and development in the field of science, math, and engineering in the US and to develop America’s space capabilities has now been charged with a new mission – to reach out to Muslim (and predominantly Muslim) nations – to help them “feel good” about their contributions to math, science and engineering – to “boldly” go where no one has gone before!

I read it and just about fell off my chair. What kind of nonsense is this? I figured that perhaps the writer of the column must have gotten it wrong. He must have misunderstood. Sadly…no. I heard it from the proverbial “horse’s mouth”:

Yep…you heard it right. Apparently President Obama charged NASA’s administrator, Charles Bolden, with a new mission for NASA. No longer was space exploration (either manned or unmanned) it’s primary goal. No longer was research into aeronautics and astronautics a goal. No…the new goals are:

  1. Help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math,
  2. Expand America’s international relationships, and
  3. Reach out to the Muslim world

Ok…#1 and #2 — that makes sense. When I heard #3 my brain did a quick double take to make sure I understood what I had just heard and read. #1 and #2 fit in with NASA’s historic missions of science, math, and engineering research and development as well as our cooperative efforts in space exploration with other countries. But #3? Now, NASA is supposed to “reach out to the Muslim world”? And not just reach out to the Muslim world (as well as the “dominantly Muslim nations”) but to “help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.” You know, I’m sorry if they don’t “feel good” about themselves or their past contributions to science, math and engineering…but is that really America’s fault? I mean come on, yes, Islam did make very significant contributions to math, science, and engineering but that ended centuries ago. Since the sack of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258 Islam’s advances in sciences has been on the decline and has continued to do so due to a wide variety of factors. But why does the American taxpayer have to pay for NASA to reach out to the Muslim world in order to make them “feel good” about those contributions? That is not what NASA’s mission ever was or should be.

And why does this administration single out Muslim and “dominantly Muslim” nations as a focus for this effort? Why not reach out to the Indians? Or the Congolese? Or the Zulu? Why the Muslims? As Charles Lane of the Washington Post put it:

But does it follow that the U.S. government should seek cooperation on space projects with the government of a particular country explicitly because its people are mostly Muslim?

Doesn’t this put us in the position of categorizing nations by religion as opposed to other characteristics, such as whether they are democratic? We did not pursue space partnerships with Europe because it was “Christian” or Israel because it was Jewish, did we?

Lane, Charles, “NASA: Mission to Mecca“, Washington Post, July 7, 2010

This is one of the most ridiculous re-visioning of NASA’s mission that I have ever seen. First, President Obama says that we can’t get anywhere beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO) without international help (hmmm….let me see…aren’t we still the only country who has landed a man on the moon and returned him safely to earth – even now…40 years after the accomplishment was made?) and now he wants NASA to become some sort of outreach organization to help Muslims feel good about their past accomplishments. If the Muslims want to feel good about their past accomplishments they can certainly do so without our help. On top of that it seems that this administration policy may well be in violation of the U.S. Constitution. As Charles Lane of the Washington Post continues:

[T]he Constitution expressly forbid[s] the establishment of religion. How can it be consistent with that mandate and the deeply held political and cultural values that it expresses for the U.S. government to “reach out” to another government because the people it rules are mostly of a particular faith?

Lane, Charles, “NASA: Mission to Mecca“, Washington Post, July 7, 2010

This has to be one of the worst ideas to come out of this administration. It is a waste of NASA talent, a waste of American taxpayer money, and it certainly doesn’t make sense…to me as well as to many other people. As Charles Krauthammer said in an interview on Fox News: “This is a new height in fatuousness…this idea to feel good about their past scientific achievements is the worst combination of group therapy, psycho-babble, imperial condescension, and adolescent diplomacy. If I didn’t know that Obama had told this I’d demand the firing of Charles Bolden.” Amen to that Mr. Krauthammer…Amen to that!

May 2017
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