Wednesday, August 15, 2012


So, Paul Ryan is Mitt Romney's choice for Vice President.  Many Republicans (at least those of the "tea party" variety) are cheering this move, as it means one of their darlings has a chance to get to the White House.

How could this choice backfire?

Significant numbers of Republican voters are Christians, and many of those Christians are fundamentalists.  The Republican party has married itself to religion, and I would venture to say it is our nation's first religious political party.  It depends on the vote from the "religious right".  

From personal experience, I know that not all pentecostals/evangelicals/charismatics are on board with Romney to begin with, because he is Mormon.  I find nothing wrong with Mormonism if it makes its adherents happy, but there are large numbers of fundamentalist Christians in America who would call the LDS Church a "cult".  The thought that the presumptive GOP nominee is a "cult" member makes some voters very unhappy.

Now, while Romney has energized the fiscal hawks in the far right reaches of the GOP by his choice of Ryan, this will be another blow for fundamentalist Christians, as Paul Ryan seems to be a big fan of Ayn Rand.  Lots of those on the right practically worship Rand, the founder of the theory of Objectivism.  Much of that theory fits in with right wing ideology when it comes to glorification of the self and of self-advancement at the expense of others.  So at first glance it wouldn't seem like such a bad pick...

But back to that thing about the GOP needing the conservative Christian vote:  Ayn Rand was an avowed atheist.  This will not sit well with many born-again Christians.  Even the profound hatred of Obama by right wingers might not be enough to supercede in importance to them the fact that Ryan has said he is a fan of a prominent atheist.

It's sad to think that this could make a difference in the minds of a lot of voters, but when one takes the fundamentalist Christianity factor into account, Romney + Ryan sounds like the wrong recipe to me.  One guy may believe in a god that isn't considered the "right one" by Christian fundamentalists, and the other guy is a fan of someone who wants no God in government whatsoever.

As a Democrat, I find it sad but I also like the idea that it might dampen the enthusiasm of a number of right wing voters.  This might just dampen their enthusiasm enough to trim their numbers at the polls in November.

And one of the saddest things I find about it is that I don't believe Ryan himself is an atheist.  Being an atheist is the kiss of death for anybody who wants to be elected in America, so being a fan of Ayn Rand does not make him unelectable.  But saying one is the fan of an atheist in a national election could well be the near-kiss of death in the minds of many.

Ryan may be the kind of politician fiscal conservatives have been dying to see rise to prominence.  But for conservatives who place the most importance on religion?  Maybe not so much.  And I have always been of the opinion that the GOP can't win elections very easily without the enthusiastic support of religious conservatives.  

If you are a conservative reading this, and you think I'm just an angry "liberal" spouting off?  Check out Ryan in his own words.  Who is he really a disciple of, and how does he reconcile the two?

Sunday, August 05, 2012


I am very happy that the Mars Curiosity mission is a success so far.  Knowing that Curiosity is safely on the surface of Mars is a relief!

Why am I so excited about this?  I believe the human race shouldn't lose its need for exploration.  Most of Earth has been explored, and maybe it's time we should start seeing other planets.  Curiosity about our universe is a healthy thing, and this mission will open some new doors for us.

I personally don't think it's such a huge deal whether we find life or Mars, or even evidence that it once existed there.

I think the big deal is that JPL and NASA are proving they are still relevant, still viable.

I was just a baby during the time of the space race, when the Soviets launched Sputnik and we were suddenly launched into a race for the stars with our ideological opponents.  While some of us would say we need to fix our planet before we go spending all kinds of money on outer space and its exploration, I have to say I am glad this mission is going 'so far, so good'.

For it to be a failure would bring on a newer, heavier avalanche of conservative cries for privatization of all space exploration.  For them, it would have been proof of "yet another failure of a government program".  Do we want politically-motivated corporate interests exploring the universe exclusively, or do we want the United States of America doing the exploring too?  I opt for the latter.  NASA and private space exploration should be able to exist side by side and benefit from each other, and I am proud to say that some of my tax dollars go to NASA.

The one thing that would be fun about finding life elsewhere or evidence of it would be to see how the world's various religions would spin it.  How would that go?  So maybe I DO want them to find some evidence of life elsewhere after all.  8-)