Archive for oil spill

The Presidential Blame Game

Posted in current events, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2010 by Kyle Fleming
The Presidential Blame Game

Image from Jim Morin in the Miami Herald

It’s human nature to want to blame someone for the problems of the world. From the impoverished to the wealthy, there is always someone to blame for all of the wrongs in your life. Some people blame their parents for not raising them right, other people blame teachers or professors that they’ve had for not nurturing them as well as they should have. Still others blame God, because if God was truly watching out for God’s creation, then bad things would never happen to good people.

The latest in this trend goes toward politicians, and their trying to assign blame to a certain administration for certain terrible things that are happening to the country. It’s no secret that I believe that all politicians are children who never grew up, but this awkward, off-the-wall blame game that’s happening is extremely frustrating.

Take, for example, this video from the 29 June episode of the Daily Show. In it, Jon Stewart, with all of his wit and tact, shows different Fox News analysts and reporters blaming everything bad during the Bush administration, as well as part of the Obama administration, on the Clinton administration. Bad economy, 9/11, invasion of Iraq, the housing crisis, and the oil spill are all the fault of Bill Clinton.

The biggest problem I see with this whole debacle is that there is no reason to blame President Clinton for most of that stuff. Sure, there are some ties between Clinton and 9/11, in that he probably got some memos warning about a possible attack. But President Bush probably also received those memos as part of a “Welcome to Being President” package upon moving into the White House. I know that the new President gets all sorts of bomb codes and different secrets like that. Surely some memos of national security are bound to be included.

And while I could mention something hypocritical in the way that Fox News says, “Don’t Blame Bush” while simultaneously saying, “It’s Clinton’s Fault,” I’m not even going to touch that. It’s way too easy, and happens far too often.

Instead, why not focus on the real problem: the lack of personal responsibility. It a problem that reaches into all demographics of the world. No one wants to be the one that screwed it all up, so if they can think of a scapegoat, or can find someone else to share blame with, then they aren’t as bad as other people would think. It’s a tactic that is meant to keep up a cognitive bias known as Illusory Superiority, which is essentially the belief that people have that they are above average, even when everything else shows that they are not.

Fox News didn’t want Bush to be the worst President in history, so they blamed everything on Clinton, making Clinton the bad guy, and keeping Bush above average.

Fox News and conservatives can blame Clinton all they want, and they can shout down the Obama administration for “blaming Bush” for all of the bad things in the Obama Presidency, but the bottom line is: blame will fall where it is most justified. Any ill that comes from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be Bush’s fault, because it was his decision to go to war, not Clinton’s.

The BP oil spill will be partly Bush’s fault, because he passed legislation that allowed oil companies doing off-shore drilling to use lower standards, but it will also be Obama’s fault because the clean up effort is a mess, and not enough is being done to have BP take responsibility.

Every President is going to have some things that are obviously their fault. Everything that happened after 9/11 in Bush’s presidency is Bush’s fault, because the honeymoon was over, and Clinton’s scent was far removed from the Oval Office. And I’m stating this for the record: everything that happens after this oil spill is going to be Obama’s fault, because it’s been over a year since he took office.

But the bottom line is: someone has to step up and say, “Yeah, that was me. Sorry. I screwed up.” Playing the blame game will only go so far before people stop listening and start making their own conclusions.

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Obama’s Not Evil, Stop Marketing Him As Such

Posted in current events, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

I was wondering to myself today why I continue to watch Fox News when I know it upsets me. For everything else I’ve experienced in life, when I’m upset or frustrated with something, I remove myself from the equation. But for some reason, the torture I subject myself to when I watch Fox News makes me want to watch more. Secretly, I think it’s because I’m finally proud to be smarter or have more common sense than someone, but really, I’m not exactly sure what it is.

This was blatantly obvious when I was watching Fox last week, and the ticker across the bottom mentioned that Obama’s BP speech was the first time he addressed the nation from the Oval Office. It read, “Obama is the first President to not address the nation from the Oval Office within his first year.” W. Bush did it twice in his first year, including after 9/11. Clinton had also done it a couple of times in his first year.

Maybe it was because I was completely ready to be offended by something, or maybe it was because I was absolutely wiped from six hours of working with day camp kids, but to me, that read like Obama was a terrible President by not addressing the nation from the Oval Office. I mean, seriously, Bush did it twice. Why couldn’t Obama even do it once?

Probably because it doesn’t really matter where the President addresses the nation? The Oval Office is just as good of a backdrop as the Lincoln Memorial, or the Washington Monument, or the Gulf Coast. In fact, any backdrop that is at least relevant to the subject matter of the speech is a good back drop. Sarah Palin announced her resignation outside, next to a hydroplane, and not in her governor’s office. But no problem with that, because Palin is an outdoorsy sort of gal, so it made sense.

But it wasn’t just the location of the speech that got Fox News uptight, but the language used. Obama mentioned that we are “waging a battle” on containing the oil spill, and introduced a “battle plan” to fight it. “We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got,” said Obama. “And sadly, no matter how effective our response is, there will be more oil and more damage before this siege is done.”

Leave it to Fox News to call out Obama on his choice of words. “It’s too militaristic,” said Glenn Beck. All of the war metaphors were upsetting him. We’re declaring war on an Oil Spill? Isn’t that a little bit silly?

I’ve got three words for Glenn Beck: “Don’t Retreat, Reload.”

The “battle plan” from Obama is nowhere near the literal call to arms that was given to the Tea Party. Don’t retreat, reload. As in, don’t give up when people call you crazy; in fact, counter it with more crazy and violence. Bricks through windows not working? Try death threats and profanity. Not being noticed with your misspelled and grammatically incorrect (and factually untrue) picket signs? Feel free to spit on anyone you disagree with. And throw in a racial epithet while you’re at it.

Obama is not evil. He’s not trying to destroy America. That was Dubya’s job. Whatever crazy pills people at Fox News are inhaling, we better take them away, and hopefully the withdrawal symptoms are enough to knock some sense into them.

What BP Can Teach Us about Alternative Energy

Posted in current events with tags , , , , on June 21, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

It’s been over 60 days since the BP oil rig in the Gulf exploded, sending hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil into the water and onto the shores, and destroying much of that ecosystem. The images of oil drenched birds and turtles are infuriating, and are sending Americans into a rage, wondering when exactly we’re going to fix the damn thing.

I’ve not written about the oil spill, if only because everyone else is doing it. Every blog that I’ve seen lately has had an article or three on the oil spill, and the streaming video of the oil spilling into the water is on every major news network. Don’t get me wrong, I care about the environment. It’s just that everyone else is saying exactly what needs to be said, so why bother rehashing the same thing over and over again?

Because there are still some people out there that aren’t getting it.

Watching my buddy Glenn Beck last week, I was shocked to see him fully admit that the oil spill was awful, but then completely tear down those who are asking for more funding for alternative energies. It makes me wonder what is going on in that head of his. Is it really that bad to ask for research grants for safer forms of energy and prevent the waste that comes from accidents like BP’s?

Eventually the oil is going to disappear, plain and simple. There isn’t an infinite amount of dinosaurs buried under the surface of the Earth to make an oil shortage impossible. Especially if accidents like BP’s continue, it will run out faster than we care to imagine. What won’t run out, however, is the sun. Or wind. Or water. Or whatever geothermal energy comes from the Earth.

America’s dependency on oil is as frustrating as it is destructive; besides oil spills, there is also the destruction of ecosystems to build oil rigs on land. Sometimes the destruction of that ecosystem means that many species go extinct; it messes with migration patterns, mating rituals, and habitats in general. A lot of oil is wasted, in the form of plastics and the excess waste from gas and oil use in cars.

And yet, some people still think that moving to alternative energies is a terrible idea, and will ruin the foundation of America, a foundation, mind you, that had little to do with oil and a lot to do with freedom from oppression.

There are countries in the world that have already accepted the use of alternative energies. And in fact, many people talk down about alternative energies only when we talk about getting rid of oil. They have no problem with the millions of wind turbines that exist in America, and they hail the use of hybrid cars that run on electricity. But the moment someone starts talking about nuclear energy is cheaper and more effective than oil, it turns into a huge deal.

I say let’s cut the dependence on oil as soon as possible. Wind energy, solar energy, nuclear power, geothermal energy, water power, and all other forms of alternative energy is better for the earth in the long run. Some will cite studies that say that alternative energies aren’t as effective as oil, but that’s because they’ve never been allowed to surpass oil.

I believe that given time, alternative energies will be the norm, and we will wonder how we were ever addicted to oil in the first place.

Enough About Lindsay Lohan

Posted in pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

What I said back in February about Tiger Woods holds true about Lindsay Lohan: who cares?

I turned on CNN today after class today hoping to be enlightened about the world. I know that there is so much going on in the world–the BP oil spill, the deadly airplane crash in India, and Clinton’s talks with North Korea–that it was going to be a really enlightening hour before I had to leave to run errands for the day.

But imagine my dismay when, once the TV warmed up, I was greeted to a live feed of a courtroom. And sitting in the courtroom was none other than Lindsay Lohan. She was on trial because she missed probation classes. She was going to find out her fate of not seriously trying to sober up, and was eventually sentenced to some community service, and a bracelet that is able to detect alcohol content in the blood stream.

But the question returns: who cares?

I’m a firm believer that if someone’s life isn’t affecting mine, I’m not going to worry about it. If Lindsay Lohan wants to party all the time and get absolutely ripped on a bunch of different drugs, I don’t care. Let her do it. She can be an example to other young “starlets” that a life of partying does nothing but ruin your reputation and could kill you before your big break.

CNN, I don’t know why you thought this was newsworthy, but you were dead wrong. Instead of covering the drama associated with the BP oil spill, you fabricated “drama” about the dramatic sentencing of Lindsay Lohan. Even Lindsay wasn’t interested in her hearing: Her eyes were drooping, she looked tired, and it was obvious she didn’t want to be there, because she was four minutes late to the hearing. If anyone watched the “saga” unfold, you could see that Lindsay appeared absolutely bored out of her mind.

Either that, or she was completely hammered.

There are far too many news stories more important than “Celebs Gone Wild.” Front page of the Des Moines Register today had a fascinating article on the Guatemalan child labor trials in Postville, IA, something far more newsworthy than, “LiLo Sentenced To Wear Jewelry!”

My plea will probably fall on deaf ears once again, as we’re still talking about Tiger Woods’ impending divorce nearly four months after his accident, which lead to news about his affairs.

Honestly though, Lindsay Lohan is not worth the air time. If you’re that desperate to fill time with “news,” why don’t you find some feel good stories to balance out the tragedy in the world? Make the news something pertinant to your viewers interests. Celebrities are only interesting when they’re in movies, or in concert, or guest starring on TV shows. They are not interesting when they’re caught with hookers, drugs, or alcohol, nor are they interesting when they’re beating up their friends, family, and fans.

To quote that famous episode of South Park I mentioned before: Looks like another good harvest this year…