Saturday, December 1, 2007

Mindless Sheep Herded into Religious Frenzy

I'm assuming you know the story, but I'll break it down to the bear facts:

Gillian Gibbons, a 54-year-old British school teacher, was teaching a second grade class in Sudan.

She allowed the kids to name a class teddy bear "Mohamed," a common enough name in a Muslim country. The bear was used for a class writing project.

One of her colleagues turned her in for the criminal offense of naming a toy (or animal, or whatever) the name of the prophet.

She was convicted, and the court was extremely lenient, sentencing her to 15 days in prison to be followed by deportation.

Now there are riots in the streets of Sudan of Muslims demanding she be put to death.


This is exactly what is wrong with religion! Any human being who would stop for a moment and use their brain could easily see that this was a simple misunderstanding, not a willful insult.

But religious sheep do not use their brains. They have been conditioned against using their brains.

Instead, they gather together in groups and listen to a religious leader who speaks passionately and feverishly about infidels and crimes against god. The sheep allow themselves to be swept up in a senseless fervor of rage, and mass hysteria ensues.

Of course, the leaders are using their brains.

They know that there was no intended insult to the prophet, the religion, or the country of Sudan.

But they see an opportunity to further their agenda: war with the non-Islamic world.

This is why we as a species must throw off the chains of religion. Whatever good religion may do is first of all obtainable through reason, and second, nullified by the evil it does.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pop Quiz

Name the deity described below:

  • He was born of a virgin
  • His father was a carpenter
  • His birth was attended by angels & wise men
  • He was persecuted by a tyrant
  • He was of royal descent
  • He was baptized in a river
  • He worked miracles
  • He raised the dead and healed the sick
  • He used parables to teach
  • He lived poor and loved the poor
  • He was transfigured in front of his disciples
  • He died on a tree
  • He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven
  • He is the second person of the Trinity
  • He is considered "the Beginning, the Middle, and the End"
  • He is to return to do battle with "the Prince of Darkness"
a) Krishna
b) Christ
c) Horus
d) All of the above

For more information, visit Gnostic Media.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Keeping the Peace


Here in San Diego, there has been a shortage of police officers since around 2005.

How scary is that?

Fewer officers on the streets to prevent crime.

Fewer officers to intervene when crime happens.

And what about traffic?

With fewer officers on the highways writing tickets, people will be out of control and there will be more accidents… right?

The officer shortage has gotten so bad, that this year the police are attempting to strong arm the city by denying liquor licenses to restaurants in the hopes that disrupting business will force the city to address this important issue.

But how important is it to get more cops on the streets?

First of all, car accidents have dropped so much here in California that insurance companies are giving us discounts.

And San Diego's crime rates have been steadily dropping all across the board.

I'm just going to come right out and say it: Fewer Cops = Less Crime.

Okay, but San Diego is just one city, right? Surely Fewer Cops = Less Crime can't possibly be the norm?

Actually, Fewer Cops = Less Crime is a national trend with most major cities experiencing a shortage of police coinciding with lower crime rates.

No, wait, it's an international trend! Tijuana lowered it's crime rate, not by getting rid of their police, but by disarming them.

For some of us, this data just makes perfect sense; cops are bullies with badges and guns who incite nearly as much crime and violence as they thwart.


But most Americans can't see the Fewer Cops = Less Crime equation even when the numbers are staring them in the face, so let me give you an example.

Several years ago when I could still stomach the fascist TV show COPS, I watched two officers on bicycles ride past a grungy long-haired man at a bus stop and spot an easy target. The officers stopped to question the man, apparently because it was well past the time that the busses run. The man looked alarmed and explained that he was just sitting there. At some point, the officers decided to search him and found a pocket knife in his back pocket. The scene ended with the cops wrestling the man to the ground and shoving him in the back of a cruiser.

Now, this is a perfect example of a "crime" that only occurred because the police were there to incite one. The man was not threatening or hurting anyone. He was literally just sitting there.

I'm not saying that we should completely get rid of police; they are a necessary evil. I'm just saying that we need to recognize the Fewer Cops = Less Crime equation and try to find the optimum ratio of police to citizens.

And the next time you open the paper and see a headline that says there is a police shortage, take a moment to call your mayor or city councilman and congratulate them on a job well done.

(Special thanks to Louis Netter for his "Keeping the Peace" illustration.)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Sorry About This


My blog is getting spammed, so I have to put up the word verification thingy for comments. I really hate word verification, so I'm looking into other ways to block spam. Any suggestions?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Apples and Oranges -an editorial

I would like to know how Robert Caldwell could possibly compare the San Diego fires to New Orleans in his article "Tale of Two Cities."

It's true that San Diego had New Orleans beat in preparedness, but only because we found out how unprepared we were with the 2003 Cedar fires. So our preparedness was not due to our "superior culture," but to our wake-up call just four years ago.

The only other way our situation could even come close to comparing to New Orleans would be if a massive fireball had descended from the sky and lit up the whole burned out area at once. This fire took days to advance; people had time to evacuate, and rescue teams had time to respond. New Orleans was under water in a matter of hours.

Comparing the order at Qualcomm to the disorder at the Superdome is also unfair. Most of San Diego was not affected by the fires, so we had an army of people ready to volunteer and organize the situation. Hurricane Katrina brought devastation not just to the city of New Orleans, but to the state of Louisiana as well as the neighboring states of Mississippi and Alabama.

The San Diego fires were a good example of a disaster where the chain of emergency response could be followed; local, state, then national. What happened in Louisiana was an example of a natural disaster of epic proportions, where the federal government needed to step in from day one.

I think it is an absolute outrage to completely trivialize the human disaster that happened in New Orleans and smugly pat San Diego on the back for rising to an occasion that in no way compared to Hurricane Katrina.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Now

There was a time

When God filled the infinite expanse

Claiming everything striking and awesome

Everything beautiful and perfect

So much so, that I wondered if those who couldn't see God

Could truly be struck or awed

Now

The sunset is no less beautiful

The moonlit outline of rocky cliffs on a dark night is no less striking

Moments of wonder and awe and beauty and perfection

Are not claimed or owned

But infinite

In and of themselves

My imagination is free to wander

Into the immeasurable spaces of nothing

Which surround an envelop everything

Now

I can truly be struck and awed

Friday, October 19, 2007

Kirsten Price - Freedom

I'd like to thank Wanda Acosta for submitting this video.

Karen Price has a beautiful voice, a smooth, funky sound, and a good message.

For more about Kristen Price, you can visit her YouTube page.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

UF Student tasered at John Kerry Speech

"When they come for the innocent without stepping over your body, cursed be your religion and your life."
-Anon.

There are so many things I want to say about this clip. I really want everyone to listen to the entire thing (I say listen because the picture is terrible).

A few things I noticed:

The police are surrounding this kid very early in his question; the moment the question seems hostile.

This kid never once threatened Kerry or anyone else verbally, physically, or otherwise.

At the end of the clip, the student holding the camera begins yelling "police brutality" and "Rodney King," and is told by a police officer, "You better shut the fuck up."

(I saw a T-shirt at the mall today and thought of Kerry. It said, "If I want your opinion, I'll beat it out of you.")

Okay, so the most hostile and inflammatory question that came out of that kid's mouth was, "Were you a member of the Skull and Bones Society?" Skull and Bones is a secret society at Yale (and Kerry was a member) that boasts such prestigious members as Bush I, Bush II, and Grandpa (Prescott) Bush.

The implication is that Kerry possibly conceded the election because he's down with that crowd, and that reminded me of something that's been pricking at me since the 2004 Iowa Primaries.

See, the thing is, according to polls taken between Jan 12th and 15th, John Kerry was pretty far down on the totem pole. He had 7% of the vote, behind Gephardt (11%), Clark (12%), and Dean (24%).

Then four days later, on January 19th, he won the Iowa Caucus with 38% of the vote. Of course, once you win the first caucus, the nomination is in the bag because people are sheep.

I'm no conspiracy theorist, honest, it's just something that's bothered me. How do you go from "Kerry Who?" to winning the caucus?

The important thing about Kerry, though, is that he stood there and let a college student who was grilling him get tasered by the police.

We like to think that we live in a country where a college student can ask tough questions of a politician, but that's the kind of right that is never a given. Each and every person must decide whether they will fight for such rights, or whether they will "shut the fuck up" and get in line.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

In Defense of Rove

Anyone who knows me is going to think that I would never defend Karl Rove; that perhaps this post is going to be satirical.

As much as I enjoy satire, I'm sorry to say, I really am defending Rove.

The Bush-Rove marriage began with the 1994 Texas gubernatorial race against Ann Richards. The race was heated and hateful, but what eventually helped secure the Bush victory was a whisper campaign courtesy of Mr. Rove.

Basically, Bush staffers called up voters and said something like, "Would you be more or less likely to vote for Ann Richards if you knew her office was staffed with lesbians?"

Okay, let's even forget the fact that the voters in Texas are stupid enough to base their vote for a governor on whether or not she employs lesbians-- let's just not even go there.

What I want to focus on is the fact that, time and time again, Rove has been able to engineer bald-faced lies without even lying!

That's how stupid our population has become. You don't even have to lie to us to convince us of something that isn't true.

When the Iraq war first began I argued with so many people, trying to convince them that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. I even pointed out that Bush himself never said that Iraq had anything to do with 9-11. Sure, he used the words "Iraq" and "Saddam" in the same sentences with "9-11" and "Al Qaeda" over and over and over; but he never actually said that Iraq had anything to do with 9-11.

And what was Bush's defense when he finally had to come clean and say point-blank that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11? Was our country's justification for preemptively attacking a sovereign nation a figment of our collective imagination? Did Bush finally have to come forward and own up to his malicious lie?

Well, that's just it.

Rove figured out a long time ago that you don't have to actually lie to people, and lying through implying has been the Bush strategy since that first race for governor.

So I'm not saying that Rove is a good person, or that anything he's done has been right; I'm just saying, how can you blame him? How can you possibly blame Rove for using people's own stupidity and prejudice and fears to his own advantage?

When we become a nation of courageous and competent citizens, we will deserve, no, we will demand leaders who respect us.

As long as we are a nation of spineless, cowering sheep crying out for our leaders to protect us from the lesbians, we will deserve, and we will get, leadership like the Bush administration.

Thank you Mr. Rove.

Thank you for giving us exactly what we deserve.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Taking a Break

I did a Google image search on "Taking a Break," and this is one of the images that came up. For some reason, I find it hilarious.


[I have no recollection what the image was.] 


I'm not exactly taking a break, though, I just need to devote my time to some off-line projects.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day Proclamation -by Julia Ward Howe 1870

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.
"Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Of the People


Our government has been hijacked and no one seems to care (enough). Our constitutional rights have been vanquished, our judicial system is being rigged, our economy has been on a twenty-year decline thanks to free trade (loss of industry, loss of the tax revenue from industry, and loss of tariffs), deregulation, tax cuts for the rich, and corporate welfare (which dwarfs the money spent on individual welfare by a long shot). The gap between the wealthy and the poor is widening and the middle class is disappearing.

The problem, I believe, is that our population is almost completely ignorant of the inner-workings of our own government. We vote based on the buzzwords that are spoon fed to us by the media. We vote for the politicians who are the best at whispering sweet nothings in our ear.

So I have a solution. It's an exercise in futility because few people will like it and it will never be put into practice, but I think it's worth mentioning.

The average citizen NEEDS a first-hand understanding of how our government works so they can be competent voters. We also need diversity in our government. We need more non-bureaucrats running the bureaucracy. We need more compassionate, non-control freaks working in our prison system. We need fresh minds and fresh ideas. Most of all, we need people in our government who would rather be doing something else. I know that sounds crazy, but you can't pull a cart out of the mud with people who have a vested interest in being stuck in the mud.

We need mandatory civil service by every citizen.

That's right, every citizen needs to serve a few years in the government in order to qualify for government services. In return for imposing on the lives and career tracks of every citizen, government services should extend to universal healthcare and higher education.


Not only would we be a country bursting with fresh ideas and renewed progress, but we would be a country of healthy, educated citizens.

Also, when Congress votes for a war, THEIR KIDS should be automatically enlisted in the military.

So now we would be a country of healthy, educated and involved citizens that would only go to war if there were an actual and serious threat to our nation's safety.

Oh well, it's a thought.

Monday, April 30, 2007

The Luck of the Draw

Politicians.

Are they all liars?


Maybe not, but the majority of the successful ones are.

But that's our fault. We only vote for liars.

Well, not our fault exactly, it's in our programming. I watched this documentary on TLC years ago where they proved that the best leaders are the best liars. They took a class of five-year-olds and gave them something terrible tasting to drink. Then they sent the kids one by one into a room with a couple of interviewers and instructed the kids to tell the interviewers that the drink tasted good.


The kids who could, after nearly choking on that terrible drink, look the interviewers in the eye and say it was great were the outgoing leaders of the classroom.


One girl broke down and couldn't lie at all. When they showed a video of free play in the Kindergarten classroom, she was the one hiding under a table.


But the fact that liars are outgoing people who tend to be leaders still doesn't completely explain why we vote for them.

George Bush I was constantly ridiculed for saying "Read my lips, no new taxes," during his campaign, then raising taxes once he was elected, but how would we react if someone said, "Look, I want to be the President of the United States, not the Wizard of Oz; if you folks want the government to do stuff, you're going to have to cough up some dough!"?

So our natural inclination to elect the people who are the best at telling us what we want to hear (while openly doing the exact opposite) has gotten us into quite a pickle. We're stuck with a president we don't want, in a war we don't want, and we've been stripped of basic rights that have been in place since the Magna Carta.


Well I have a solution, and you're not going to like it, but hear me out.


We need a president with no strings attached (you know, lobbyists, donors, etc.) right? Under our current system, that is absolutely impossible. So I propose that we draw the next president randomly out of a hat!


(Not an actual hat, of course, but you get my point.)

We take every American citizen who meets the requirements for age, health, IQ, and education, and we put their names in a giant swirling drum. Then we have a random, blind-folded six-year-old pull out the names of our next President and VP!
Problem solved.

At the end of their four-year term, we could vote to keep them for another four years or draw from the hat again.

The next thing we'd have to do is put term limits on high-level bureaucratic positions. These people can have their jobs for decades and no one even gets to vote on them.

For my next post, I have a great idea that even fewer people will like.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Walls -part II

It's only fitting that my post on walls, inspired first by the wall we're building in Baghdad and second by the Iraq memorial wall being built in North Carolina, be followed by a post on the world's premier graffiti artist, Banksy.

Everyone has their own idea of what art is, and few mainstream art connoisseurs would consider graffiti art, but Banksy's art has been featured in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, and American Museum of Natural History... until museum staff discovered his work hanging on their walls.

Banksy's art speaks for itself; his brilliant use of irony, his cutting social and political satire, and most of all, his unwavering commitment to nonconformity (which is being seriously threatened by his growing status as a beloved British icon).

But I'm thinking about walls and what he does with them.

He forces us to notice the walls we ignore.


He forces us to face issues we ignore.

Most interesting, was his trip to Palestine. 416 miles of wall, 26 feet tall.

Cutting Palestinians off from their jobs, schools, and family members.

His work there was met with some opposition.

Banksy's spokeswoman Jo Brooks said: "The Israeli security forces did shoot in the air threateningly and there were quite a few guns pointed at him."

He also received criticism from a few Palestinians who thought it was wrong to make something beautiful out of such a terrible and oppressive wall.I wonder if Banksy will make his way to Baghdad.

Long live the bleeding-hearts and artists!See more of Banksy's work on his website.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Walls

Why do we build walls?

Are they a symbol of power, or of powerlessness?

Do they solve our problems, or create new ones?

Why do we continue to build walls?

And if walls are good, why do we celebrate when we tear them down?

Walls are barriers, containers of human beings.

Walls are symbols; they send a message to the people being contained.

But sometimes, just sometimes, they stand between us and the desire to move on and forget.

They stretch out into the distance as a physical measure of the magnitude of an event.

Why do we continue to build walls?

Go to www.iraqwall.org

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Quick Note on Imus

I never liked Imus, so I never listened to his show.


Sure, what Imus said was vile and racist, but no more than usual, and no more shocking than the vocal feces that spews from the lips of Coulter or Limbaugh.


But that's what is so great about America.


Any damn fool can say any damn fool thing they want.

This is why I have a blog.


Actually, I think Coulter is to blame for the firestorm around Imus. Call it a delayed reaction. Like when a group of rowdy kids is getting out of hand, and one kid says something way over the top, but the adults are slow to react. You know those moments; when even the kids know they better shut the hell up. Then the next kid who says ANYTHING gets the wrath of God brought down on him.


But what's funny is how the other conservative pundits have attacked Imus.


I think the conservatives have taken to cannibalizing themselves to stay alive. The weaker rats have already jumped ship and now the languishing rats are resorting to desperate measures. Frankly, I think Rush Limbaugh would have been a more substantial choice, and I mean that on so many different levels. Imus is just a jerk who says things for shock value; Rush is a vile human being with enough real dirt to keep the 24-hour news networks busy for a week without repeating themselves.

But then, if they were interested in tackling issues of substance, they wouldn't be conservatives, right?

Sorry, Imus, looks like you got the short straw.

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Comfort You Seek in Permanence is an Illusion

"Everything that is living will one day die."

I think I was about five when my grandma hit me with this particular philosophical ton of bricks. I don't remember if it was before or after my dad tried to explain the concept of eternity. I was a relentlessly inquisitive child, and my elders were not trying to instill deep metaphysical contemplation in my young mind, but a reverent and obedient awe of God.

And this approach worked for many years. The despair at the thought of this temporal existence was tempered by the knowledge that my true eternal existence lay waiting for me on the other side of my physical death.

Though this fantasy is comforting, it is ultimately counterproductive. It's like depending on Santa Clause to pay your rent. Not only is that not going to happen, but if you believe it will, you won't be getting the money together to pay your own rent.

But we have come too far to deny reality now: the key to our own immortality is us.

Only through science will we conquer death, or continue to fend it off by adding decades, and eventually centuries, to our lives.

But to truly embrace the mindset that will allow us to take the reigns of our own destiny, we must relinquish completely that concept to which we so desperately wish to cling: permanence.

Death is all that is permanent. And permanence is death.

Life is change. And change is life.

Chaos. Cycles. Patterns. Adaptation. Evolution.

The struggle to live, and it is a struggle, produces, and is a product of, relentless change. Our survival has always depended upon our willingness and ability to change.

And yet, even in science, we insist upon establishing "norms" and "ideals." We want laws that we can say for certain will never change, even though the very concept of "unchanging truths" exist only in our imaginations and holy folklore.

Do you know why Latin is a dead language? Because the authorities wanted to preserve the "right" "proper" and "true" Latin with rules, and they did. Meanwhile, the language that people actually spoke continued to change until it barely resembled the "real" Latin which had been preserved in books. But which is more real; that which is alive and being spoken in Italy, or that which is dead and preserved for scholars in books?

Death is all that is permanent. And permanence is death.


Life is change. And change is life.


All comfort you seek in permanence is an illusion, so let it go.

And be free.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Now Acceptng Submissions

My friend Larry does this with CityBeat's Living Out Loud Blog, so I'll give it a try.

Damion, a recent commenter here, sent me a submission on WATER and it was pretty funny so I put it up.
So here are a few guidelines:

-Send submissions to sunshinehs@gmail.com

-I'm not editing the content, but I reserve the right to insert pictures at will.

-Try to keep posts under 500 words.

-I'm fine with linking the post to your site or your blog, but make an effort to contribute to the conversation you inspire here.

-I'm more than happy to post something with which I disagree. What I'm looking for is material that is brief, concise, well-written, and something with a clever angle. In other words, it's not so much what you say, but how you say it.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

New Environmental Menace --Is Progress Worth the Cost?

ICI has announced the discovery of a new firefighting agent to add to their existing range. Known as WATER ( Wonderful And Total Extinguishing Resource ), it augments, rather than replaces, existing agents, such as dry powder and BCF (bromine-chlorine-fluorine), which have been in use from time immemorial. It is particularly suitable for dealing with fires in buildings, timber yards, and warehouses.

Though required in large quantities, it is fairly cheap to produce and it is that quantities of about a million gallons should be stored in urban areas and near other installations of high risk ready for immediate use. BCF and dry powder are usually stored under pressure, but WATER will be stored in open ponds or reservoirs and conveyed to the scene of the fire by hoses and portable pumps.


ICI's new proposals are already encountering strong opposition from safety and environmental groups. Professor Connie Barrinner has pointed out that if anyone immersed his head in a bucket of WATER, it would prove fatal in as little as three minutes. Each of ICI's proposed reservoirs will contain enough WATER to fill 500,000 two-gallon buckets. Each bucketful could be used 100 times, so there is enough WATER in one reservoir to kill the entire population of the U.K. Risks of this size, said Professor Barrinner, should not be allowed, whatever the gain. If that WATER were to get out of control, the results of Flixborough or Seveso would pale into insignificance by comparison. What use was a firefighting agent that could kill men as well as fire?

A local authority spokesman said that he would strongly oppose planning permission for construction of a WATER reservoir in this area, unless the most stringent precautions were followed. Open ponds were certainly not acceptable. What would prevent people from falling in them? What would prevent the contents from leaking out? At the very least, the WATER would need to be contained in a steel pressure vesssel surrounded by a leak proof concrete wall.

A spokesman from the fire brigades said he did not see the need for the new agent. Dry powder and BFC could cope with most fires. The new agent would bring with it risks, particularly to firemen, greater than any possible gain. Did we know what would happen to this new medium when it was exposed to intense heat? It had been reported that WATER was a constituent of beer. Did this mean that firemen would be intoxicated by the fumes?

The friends of the World said that they had obtained a sample of WATER and found it caused clothes to shrink. If it did this to cotton , what would it do to men?


In the House of Commons yesterday, the Home Secretary was asked if he would prohibit the manufacture and storage of this lethal new material. The Home Secretary replied that, as it was clearly a major hazard, local authorities would have to take advice from the Health and Safety Executive before giving planning permission. A full investigation was needed and the Major Hazards Group would be asked to report.


Article by Norman Mischler (a dirty industrialist)
Post submitted by Damion


Submit posts for consideration to sunshinehs@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Global Climate History

[Edit Note: This is one of those posts that relied heavily on pictures, but since the internet powers that be removed my pictures... whatever.]

It's been hotter; it's been colder.

Without any help from us.


Man and polar bear has managed to survive; the hard way.

Nothing on this planet remains constant, and who are we to say that it should?

Should we find alternatives to oil? Of course!

Should we care for this planet and all life on it? Of course!

But we should approach all our endeavors with a clear head and a steady hand. Be cool and calm in the face of fear mongers and doomsayers; be ever-skeptical of the all-knowing.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Great Global Warming Swindle (Complete)

[Ammendment: Although my opinion on this issue evolved in later posts thanks to many wonderful debates on this blog and elsewhere, I thought it would be prudent to make some amendments on this particular post (because I feel that erasing posts is dishonest). I stand by my criticism of Al Gore's alarmist documentary (shouldn't we be under water by now?). The planet is clearly warming, though I can't say that it's purely caused by humans (which means I'm not sure that it's something we can just reverse). I should also clarify (which I do in other posts) that I have always supported environmental efforts to reduce waste and protect wildlife (I'm no conservative wanting to defund the EPA!). And I still believe that instilling fear is counterproductive to convincing people to make rational decisions, so alarmist tactics are usually the wrong way to go, especially when sensational predictions end up being inaccurate.]

Watch: UK (C4) Documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle

Don't listen to Gore. The sky is NOT falling!
Anyone who believes in global warming should at least watch this video.
I watched An Inconvenient Truth; I sat through the whole thing even though I think Gore can be a serious jerk. I even teared up when the polar bear couldn't find any ice to climb on.
Unless you are a scientist out there collecting and analyzing atmospheric data yourself, then you need to listen to scientists. And if you're only listening to one side of an argument, then you can't say your opinion is informed or well-thought-out.
Some Quick Facts:
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is not a pollutant, but a naturally occurring atmospheric substance.
CO2 makes up .054% of the atmosphere.
Volcanoes produce far more CO2 than humans.
Animals produce more CO2 than volcanoes.
Decaying vegetation produces more CO2 than animals (remember Gore's explanation for why the red line is so squiggly?; He left out half the explanation.)
The OCEANS produce more CO2 than vegetation, animals, volcanoes, and the puny, insignificant amount of CO2 humans produce.

Let's Get Philosophical -Part II

In Let's Get Philosophical part 1, we laid one of the foundations for talking about society by defining the major roles people have in society.

Today, I'd like to stay at the foundation we're building and talk about morality. How do we know right from wrong and how do we convince people they should behave accordingly?

In every society in recorded history, this has been the job of the shepherds and the dogs. The shepherds (priests are an example) teach the spiritual laws, which are almost always focused on morality. The dogs (police are one example) are the enforcers of the political laws, which have a lot to do with morality, and in some cultures are one-in-the-same with the spiritual laws.

But what about morality on an individual basis? How does each person decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong?

Of course, the overwhelming majority simply follow the herd without a second thought. Most of the time, this strategy works out pretty well. But sometimes the dogs and the shepherds are evil. Examples: the Crusades, the Inquisition, colonialism, witch hunts, slavery, Fascism; you get the idea.

So moral authorities really can't be trusted entirely on the issue of morality, can they?

But what about the Ultimate Authority? The Big Guy?

My problem with using God as a moral compass is that everyone has a different idea about what God wants from us (and now we're back to having to trust the word of the shepherds and dogs). And what about the idea that God gives everyone what's coming to them? That doesn't exactly work out in this lifetime, does it? There are far to many evil people prospering and good people suffering for anyone to argue that life on earth is anything close to fair and just.

And if everyone gets what's coming to them when they die, well, that still doesn't have much bearing on or lives here on earth. I mean, it's not like we can see who's being made an example of; we just have to take the shepherd's word for it.

I once found a large wad of cash that had been dropped near my apartment. As easy as it would have been to put it in my pocket and keep walking, I took it to the apartment office. I told them where it was dropped and counted it-- $120. They told me to hang on to it and if no one called about it within a week, it was mine.

When I was a child, I thought that God was watching me and taking notes on everything I did. I could feel him in my brain, judging all my wicked five-year-old thoughts. Shame, shame, shame! But I don't believe that anymore, so with no human or divine eye watching or judging me, why not just keep the money? (I certainly needed it!)

My motivation in making some attempt to return the money was empathy. I know what it feels like to lose money. I don't need to go to church to learn how to behave like a human being. I don't need anyone to scare me with threats of hell or divine judgment. And anyway, if you only do what you're supposed to do because you're afraid of a god, are you really a good person?

So I'd really like to get some feedback here. How does a person know right from wrong? How does a society know right from wrong? More importantly, how do we persuade people to behave for the good of everyone around them if "behaving" conflicts with what they'd rather be doing?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Giuliani Thinks Bush is a Donkey




Citgo Petroleum Corporation is the American subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, which means that Giuliani has been lobbying on behalf of Hugo Chavez.

Of course, the real problem here is that we have people who are both politicians and lobbyists: the people who make our laws, and the people who get paid by corporations to influence our lawmakers ARE THE SAME PEOPLE!!

But I digress...

Shh, darling... Let us not speak of true political issues when there is so much mindless political gossip at hand!

Giuliani is a partner in a firm that lobbies for Citgo.


And Citgo is run by Chavez!




Therefore....


Giuliani thinks Bush is a Donkey!


Okay seriously, the way I see it, Giuliani has two options.

He can admit that there is nothing wrong with his company working with Citgo because whatever President Chavez's political persuasions, the fact is that President Chavez has never done anything that even remotely constituted a threat to the United States, or any of his neighbors. Ever.

Or Mr. Giuliani can admit that money trumps politics, and he doesn't care who's buying the laws, so long as they're paying in American dollars.

If nothing else, this juicy tidbit should only serve to endear Mr. Giuliani to his base because it's not just the fact that Chavez calls Bush a Donkey, it's the ostentatious show of machismo he exudes in the process. That's an attitude any New Yorker can appreciate.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Garden of Eden


Okay, according to the bible, God told Adam, Don’t eat from the tree of knowledge, or you will surely die that day. (Gen. 2:17)

Then the serpent tells Eve, You’re not going to die; God just doesn’t want you to know what he knows. (Gen. 3:4-5)

Adam and Eve eat the fruit and God says, Oh no, man has eaten from the tree of knowledge and now he knows good and evil as we do. Now we have to kick him out of the garden before he eats from the tree of life and lives forever, too. (Gen. 3:22)

So here’s my question: If you read it literally, who was lying to Adam and Eve, and who was telling the truth?

There’s this guy named Ken Ham who’s building a $25 million creationist museum in Kentucky, and his whole premise is that you have to read Genesis literally.

So just for laughs, I picked up Genesis and started to read it literally, which is when I reached my epiphany: that it was God who lied and the serpent that told the truth (also, there is no literal reference to the serpent being Satan).

You want to see something really scary?

Here's Ken Ham "teaching" kids about evolution.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The WWFP Extremist Cage Match!

This is an open invitation from the newly created World Wide Federation of Peace (WWFP) to everyone who is willing to kill and/or be killed for their ideology (and noncombatant supporters of extremist organizations).
  • Do you know that the world is doomed unless everyone converts to your religion and listens to your God?
  • Are you a member of the only race God truly loves?
  • Are you a born leader, willing to pretend to be religious in order to manipulate others for your own personal gain?
  • Are you willing to kill others, send people to die for you or be killed yourself in order to accomplish your goals?
Well, what's stopping you?

International laws?

The whining of innocent bystanders about collateral damage?

Or maybe it's just too difficult to convince the world that you're right when there are so many other groups out there claiming that they're right.

Well, here it is:

The answer to all your problems!

As you probably already know, the leaders of every country on the globe have unanimously agreed to settle all of the world's ideological conflicts in one monumental battle:

THE WYOMING CAGE MATCH!

The United States has graciously offered up the state of Wyoming to be evacuated and walled off for this, the greatest event in human history.

Yes, beautiful Wyoming!

Not only is it square and sparsely populated (making it easy to evacuate and wall the perimeter), you'll have 97,818 square miles of battlefield. Wyoming has everything you'll need to fight and subsist for decades. There are mountains, plains, and 714 square miles of water.

Finally:

No laws, and no innocent bystanders!

Just you and everyone else seeking world domination or the proliferation of his or her own religion. Here's your opportunity to prove that God really is on your side.

Time to put-up or shut-up.

So what's the prize?

The world!*

That's right, all world leaders have agreed to hand over absolute authority to the winners of this epic battle, as they will have proven their moral superiority. *

The Rules:
  1. All extremist factions will be registered with the WWFP, including volunteers, individuals proven in an international court of law to be involved in terrorist organizations, and any world leaders who have sent their people to war for ideological reasons (i.e., religion, "freedom," to force sovereign nations to adopt the "right" form of government, or because God told them to).
  2. The leader of each faction will be given one key.
  3. After Wyoming has been evacuated and walled off, combatants and supporters will be flown into prearranged sites.
  4. In order to ensure the integrity of the wall, combatants will be furnished only with primitive weapons such as knives, swords and arrows.
  5. Cars, farm equipment and communication devices will be allowed, but no tanks or flying machines.
  6. In order to ensure your fairest chance of victory and prevent your enemies from escaping, any individuals crossing the sensor lines within a half-mile of the wall will be electrocuted.
  7. The winning faction must collect the key from every other faction, at which time they will be able to unlock an underground computer terminal located in the center of the state and establish communication with the outside world.
And the world belongs to the victor! *

But wait!

Don't be left out just because you're too squeamish for battle! If you support an extremist organization and want to see it victorious, you can support them from behind the front lines.
Each faction is going to need farmers to subsist in Wyoming for this decades-long conflict. They will also need communications experts, scouts, medical professionals and much more.

Don't miss this opportunity to finally prove that you know what's best for everyone else! *

THE WYOMING CAGE MATCH!

BE THERE!

*If, throughout the duration of the conflict, the world proves to have been better off without extremists, peace and moderation will be declared the ultimate ideologies, and the winning extremist faction will be given absolute authority over what is left of Wyoming (which will remain walled off).

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

More on the U.S. Attorney Bait and Switch

The Senate will be debating legislation this week that will roll back the provision in the Patriot Act that gives President Bush the power to bypass congressional approval and appoint interim U.S. attorneys.

Who knows, maybe while they've got the Patriot Act in front of them, they'll do something really novel like read it.

So we have to give the Democrats some credit, they are doing what we sent them to Congress to do: check the Bush Administration.

According to the New York Times, the congressional investigation into the U.S. attorney firings has uncovered evidence that key White House staffers, including Harriet Miers and Karl Rove, have been scheming to replace U.S. attorneys with party loyalists since early 2005.

Miers' original idea was to replace all of the U.S. attorney with party loyalists, but that plan just wasn't practical. The plot evolved mostly through the course of Miers brainstorming ways to undermine the U.S. Constitution in favor of the bestest-president-in-the-whole-wide-world, and bouncing her ideas off of D. Kyle Sampson, a top aide to Mr. Gonzales.

All of this new information was obtained via Sampson's email records of the correspondence between Miers, who left the White House in January, and Sampson, who resigned his position on Monday, March 12th.

All of this just serves to prove that the people in the Bush Administration have no respect for our country, our laws, or our system of government. Their only concern is how they can best manipulate the system to their own advantage.

Monday, March 12, 2007

How Religion Creates Sexual Predators

Life, death, sex and rebirth are all part of the natural order.

For human beings, the idea of death is so unbearable that we turn to the supernatural for comfort.

In most theologies, the natural and the supernatural coexist and counterbalance one another in harmony.

But in western theologies, Christianity in particular, the natural and the supernatural worlds are at war.

The most tragic casualty of this war on the natural world is sex. Sex, and everything associated with sex, is dirty and sinful.

But sex is an essential part of our selves. Without sex, we would literally cease to exist. Aside from being an essential component of our being, sex is wonderful. Sex is the direct or indirect motivation behind most of what we do. Sex is the reason we get up in the morning, and the reason we go to bed at night.

To pretend that sex is not an essential part of who we are is futile at best. To demonize sex, as Christianity has done; to make it shameful and villainous and dirty, is downright dangerous. No Christian church can compete with Catholicism when it comes to the demonization of sex, which is why no Christian church is as guilty of the level of sexual crimes against the innocent as the Catholic church.

When we take one of the most enjoyable pleasures in nature, as well as one of our most primal drives, and shroud it in a cloak of sin and shame, we are alienating a vital piece of our selves from our existence. We create a powerful kernel of self-loathing deep within our own psyche because we desperately want to enjoy that vile sinful act which God has forbidden us to have (except in the most practical of circumstances, and not for the sheer joy of it).

Of all the people who participate in this cycle of hating themselves for being human beings, the most dangerous are those in power. The laws of biology and physics have dictated that those in power shall be male, and the laws of the church have cemented this hierarchy into place. But it's difficult to have confidence in your own moral authority when you have that kernel of self-loathing gnawing at you from the inside; to chastise another human being for doing what you so desperately want to do yourself (or what you do, but have to hide because your trying to convince everyone that it's a terrible thing to do). Moreover, you can't be honest with yourself about your desires, after all, God can see right through to your soul!

Enter the scapegoat: Women.

The object of your own desire?

No!

Evil, lustful, temptresses! Pluckers of the forbidden fruit, beguilers of the faithful Adam. Witches: consorting in the moonlight with the vile serpent. They must be controlled because they are evil by nature.

So now, in a vain attempt to gain the favor of our supernatural god, we have twisted and suppressed our most powerful drive (without diminishing our desire to pursue that drive), and we have villainized half of our species (our mothers, our daughters, our wives, our sisters).

There's no way to come out of this without psychological damage. This is sexual predator psychology 101: self-loathing, women hating men in positions of moral authority. Of course children are going to get hurt! Children are easy to intimidate and manipulate, especially when their tormentor is a vessel of the almighty God.

Thankfully in America, we have a rule of law that is just secular enough that the church will not escape from these crimes unscathed. It is because of victims seeking justice in American courts against the Catholic church that we can all see the true spiritual sickness that western religion perpetuates in the form of systematic and institutionalized sexual assaults on innocent children.

But the San Diego Diocese may have found a way to slink out of the public spotlight by filing bankruptcy. Not to keep from compensating their victims, but to keep their victims from having their day in court; to keep all of us from witnessing the gruesome details of their crimes.

Because, let's face it, the surest way to end this sick and twisted cycle of sexual abuse is honesty; and that's the last thing the Catholic church wants.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Let's Get Philosophical -Part 1


I want to have an ongoing discussion about government and governance. We can tie this discussion to current events, but it will be mostly philosophical.


Let's face it, it's the same scenario all throughout history: those in power war and scheme in order to gain or to stay in power. This is to the detriment or benefit of everyone else (though they rarely care whether they're helping or hurting the people they control). I'm a student of Pink Floyd, so we'll call this group the Pigs.

Then you have the servants of those in power: soldiers, politicians, bureaucrats. These people are either serving the rulers faithfully, or scheming for power of their own. These are the Dogs (Floyd again).

Then there's everyone else. Everyone else just wants to live and be reasonably happy. They don't want power or control; their natural inclination is to eat, sleep and breed. That's right, the Sheep!

Last, but not least, we have the subsets of the "everyone else" category. Artists, intellectuals, dissenters. These are the black Sheep. They try to talk sense into the herd, but are usually ignored. Sometimes they try to gain influence by becoming political, military, or spiritual leaders, but then they run the risk of becoming Dogs or Pigs and losing their connection to "everyone else".

The criminal element, we'll call the Wolves.

Spiritual leaders are Shepherds.

These categories are not rigid or static. A person can change from one category to another, or fit into more than one category at the same time.

The definitions I've established here will probably evolve with the conversation. Don’t worry if you're not familiar with Pink Floyd (though you should be ashamed of yourself), I'm not strictly adhering to their original concepts of Dogs, Pigs, and Sheep, I'm just ripping off their general idea.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Why Politics?


In an attempt to become a successful blogger, I've been reading Mr. Steve Pavlina's blog. He's awesome, and I plan on incorporating a lot of his strategies, but his take on politics is disheartening.

He says that in the grand scheme of things, politics and current events are insignificant, and not really worth writing about. I get what he's saying, and I agree that people have very short attention spans, but I think that's why writing about politics and current events is so important.

I think it's the History Channel who has been running documentaries on Barbarians for the last week, and I've been riveted. I came to several epiphanies while watching these shows, so stay with me here, because I'm going to come full circle and make a point about the importance of writing about current events.

Rome warred its way right into oblivion, and I see the United States on the same track. If they weren't warring with someone, they were interfering in their politics; keeping neighboring regions in conflict with each other, staging coups from within tribes, assassinating troublesome leaders. All in the name of power, and where did Rome end up in the end?

Mr. Pavlina is right that scandals, even wars and tragedies, come and go, and if it's not one thing it's another. But I think that's why we have to pay attention to what's going on around us. We've all heard the old cliché that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

The human tragedy that is the Bush Administration is fleeting and temporal, but humanity's predisposition to allowing leaders like those in the Bush cabinet to come into power will remain eternal until more individuals start paying attention to what's going on around them.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

See the Ball? See the Ball? Go Get the Ball!

Here's my take on the whole Plame Affair:

Bush knowingly lied in the State of the Union Address when he said that Saddam had sought to purchase large quantities of uranium from Africa.

Joe Wilson knew it was a lie because he was the person originally sent to Africa to investigate the allegation, so he wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times detailing what he knew.

Cheney, Rove, Libby, and probably Bush, launched a campaign to discredit Joe Wilson and take everyone's focus off of what he was saying (that the President knowingly and willfully lied his way into a war, which is treason in my book since war compromises the security of our nation, and an unjustified war compromises our credibility as well).

Now, partly because Americans are ADD, and partly because we wanted to be distracted from evidence of our president committing treason (I mean really, couldn't Mr. Wilson have clued us in before we were knee deep in a war??), we took the bait.

His wife got him the job?


He wasn't really investigating anything!

He was sipping green tea coolers on the beach!

See the ball?

See the ball?

Go get the ball!

But they didn't even throw us a ball!

You know how sometimes when you're feeling really mean, you pretend to throw the ball to your dog, but you really have it behind your back?

So here we are out in the grass caught up in all the gossip and intrigue.

They outed a CIA agent!

Isn't that treason?

Well, classified and covert are two different things, and if they just leaked classified information, that's not treason.


Well it's bad!

Yeah, but it's not treason.

So what do we have them on?

Lying.


Is that all?


Yeah.

Did we get anyone good like Rove or Cheney?

No, just their lawyer.

Will he go to jail at least?

Probably not, and if so, not for long, and then he has a long, comfortable career ahead of him.

Meanwhile, the ball is behind Bush and Cheney and Rove's back.

The ball is treason; the original lie from which they were trying to distract us:

"The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

This lie is the most provable on the list of high crimes against the United States of America committed by the Bush administration.

Crimes against our security, our freedom, our young soldiers, our honor as a nation, our good will in the world, our decency as a civilized society.

Crimes that will only serve to make them and their cronies richer and richer.

And what are we doing about it?

We're wandering around the grass looking for the goddamn ball.


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Anarchy



I promised Sinincincinnati a post on anarchy, so here it is.

Anarchy would be the state of being without a state. No laws, no government, no social programs.

Who you gonna call?

Nobody!

The obvious benefits of anarchy:
  • No taxes
  • No speed limits (well, that could be good or bad, really)
  • hmm...
  • Squatter's rights! (I've got my eye on a couple of sweet unoccupied houses over by the beach)
  • Did I mention no taxes?
I think the majority of people who honestly believe in anarchy are good people. Too good. They have a lot more faith in humanity than I have, anyway.

Well, I'd really like to see some comments here. Anyone believe anarchy could work?

Tomorrow, we'll talk about Libby, and then on to drug decriminalization.

Monday, March 5, 2007

9/11 Conspiracy Theories -Was President Bush the real mastermind?


I've never really gotten into the whole 9-11 conspiracy thing. It's not that I'd put it past the Bush Administration to orchestrate something like that, and it was certainly the best thing that could have happened to his presidency (I think his pre-9/11 approval ratings were in the mid 40's).

But I know for a fact that Bush himself couldn't have been in on the particulars. It's the subtle points that clue me in here.

Sure he had a suspiciously perfect alibi, "Where was I? I was in a room full of school children! Where the hell were you?"

But, okay, I know Bush has seen enough movies to know how a president is supposed to act when he learns his people are in imminent danger. I mean, if you're expecting something like this, and you have time to plan your reaction, and you're planning on using this tragedy as a rallying cry for war, wouldn't you plan a more heroic (or at least competent) response?

"Okay, you come in while I'm with the school children and whisper it in my ear, then I'll sit there and look stupid for about seven minutes. When I tug nervously on my tie, that's your cue to come back in and get me. Make sure we get all this on tape, boys."

There is some footage on Wonkette that shows the BBC reporting the collapse of building 7 before it actually collapses. I don't know what that proves, but it's odd.

This administration has certainly used the events of September 11th to their full advantage, but executing a massive conspiracy with surgical precision just isn't their style.


Texas Chainsaw Massacre --that's the style of this administration-- with enough lawyers and political connections to carry out blatant crimes in broad daylight.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Check Mate


The Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act give the Executive branch the power to:
  • Spy on anyone, including American citizens, with no warrant
  • Abduct anyone, including American citizens, with no warrant
  • Detain anyone, including American citizens, without charging them, without giving them access to an attorney, without telling them what they're suspected of, and without notifying anyone of their detention
  • Use "necessary," though not clearly defined levels of force to extract information
  • Prosecute anyone, including American citizens, in a military tribunal (not a court of law) without the accused person being present to answer the charges that are brought against them
These two Acts render the Constitution of the United States of America null and void (and the Magna Carta for that matter).

How can we fight for freedom if we have no freedom for which to fight?? (sorry about the tongue twister. Say that 5 times fast! (No don't, they may think you're chanting and come for you in the middle of the night.))

Luckily, we have a system of checks and balances.

The Democrats have taken control of Congress, and I'm sure this issue is on the very top of their to-do list.

... Oh, right. Those Democrats.

Well, we have the courts! No honest US. judge or attorney will allow this.

...Oh, right. The Bush Administration is in the process of firing U.S. Attorneys who don't tow the line and replacing them with party loyalists (bypassing congressional approval thanks to provisions in -come on, let's say it together- The Patriot Act!).

But we always have the Supreme Court to fall back on! The Supreme Court Justices are above party loyalties.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Hasta la Victoria Siempre


In 2000, Venezuela's Annual Growth Rate was negative 7.2%

Now, I don't know exactly how the mathematicians and the bankers come up with these numbers, but I think we can all agree that Venezuela was in dire straights; starving people, homeless orphans huffing glue; it was a mess.

It was about that time that the IMF (International Monetary Fund), came to the recently elected President Chavez and said, "We're here to help your impoverished little country. We can give you a loan to get your public programs on track, and you can pay us back with your oil revenue...

Sign here, please."

But President Chavez could see the fire in the bankers' eyes and the way their mouths watered when the words 'oil revenue' oozed off their tongues. He looked around at all the other third world countries the IMF had "helped." He saw those countries straining to survive under the weight of crippling debts, and how the IMF had put so many restrictions on how the countries could use their loan money, that the leaders were powerless to truly lead their people to a better way of life.

"No, thank you" said President Chavez to the IMF. "I will find a way to help my people without making my country a slave of the western economic powers."

"You fool!" said the bankers. "You can't survive without us! We own the money by which your economy and every economy on earth is measured!"

"Then I guess we'll have to get rid of your money as well," said President Chavez to the bankers. "We will trade our oil for the services that our country needs."

"BARTER!!" The bankers laughed. "Okay then, Mr. Chavez. You go barter your oil! We'll be back when you learn how the modern economy works!"

Venezuela's Annual growth rate in 2006: 10.3%

The United States Annual Growth Rate in 2006: 3.2%

The Wrong Lizard -Who's you're 2008 presidential canidate?


Excerpt from So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish 
by Douglas Adams


[An extraterrestrial robot and spaceship has just landed on earth. The robot steps out of the spaceship...]

"I come in peace," it said, adding after a long moment of further grinding, "take me to your Lizard."

Ford Prefect, of course, had an explanation for this, "It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see..."

"You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?"

"No," said Ford, "nothing so simple. Nothing anything like so straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."

"Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy?"

"I did," said Ford, "It is."

"So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't the people get rid of the lizards?"

"It honestly doesn't occur to them," said Ford. "They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want."

"You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"

"Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."

"But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"

"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, 'the wrong lizard might get in."

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Supreme Court hears challenge to Bush's 'faith-based initiative' -By: , Los Angeles Times


In a closely watched church-state separation case, a Bush administration lawyer urged the Supreme Court on Wednesday to shield President Bush's "faith-based initiative" from legal challenges in court.

U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement said taxpayers who believe the White House is unconstitutionally promoting religion should not be accorded legal "standing" to sue in court. It would be too "intrusive on the executive branch" to permit lawsuits contesting how a president and his advisers conduct their affairs, he said.

The case involves a Wisconsin group called Freedom From Religion that sued in 2004 to challenge the "faith-based initiative" on First Amendment grounds. The group said White House officials were using public money to help church-based groups win grants and contracts.

It is the first major religion case to come before the Supreme Court since Bush's two appointees took their seats. In their questions Wednesday, both Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel Alito sounded as though they sided with the administration.

Overall, the nine justices seemed split during the hourlong argument. If they adopt the administration's view, the ruling could make it harder for critics to sue officials who use public money in ways that support religion. Roberts made clear he thought the group's claims should be thrown out of court. If taxpayers can sue the government whenever an official invokes God or religion, why couldn't anyone "sue our marshal for standing up and saying, 'God save the United States and this honorable court'?" asked Roberts, citing the invocation heard each day when the justices enter the court.

Taking the opposite view, Justice Stephen Breyer said courts and lawsuits are needed to enforce the separation of church and state.

"People become terribly upset when they see some other religion getting the money from the state" to subsidize their faith, he said.

This article appeared on page A - 7 of the San Francisco Chronicle

My Opinion -Unity '08 part II (revised)


Well, I think Unity '08 has a cool enough idea, as far as trying to find a candidate who truly represents the people rather than one particular political party.

And I like the fact that they refuse to take money from lobbyists.

So I'll participate and see where it goes, but honestly, my opinion changes from day to day.

Some days I think we just need a really inspiring leader to rouse the American people from their collective coma; that we could still become the world leaders in truth and justice: the America of my childhood fantasies.

Other days I think the vast majority of people are sheep who need to be herded in order to behave properly (those are really bad days, I don't think that way very often).

All-in-all, I'm sure that the fate of our nation will be exactly what we as a people deserve.

The only thing that changes day to day is how much I feel I can affect the outcome.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Unity '08 -And the 2008 Presidential Elections

I signed up to be a delegate for Unity '08.

I tried installing their widget, but it doesn't work in a post, so I'll just put a link to their site.

The whole point of unity '08 is electing a bipartisan presidential candidate through an online primary.

I'm staunchly liberal but I'm far from a staunch Democrat.

More like a Democrat by default.

Lesser of two evils...

...ugh.

More on Unity '08 tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Uri Avnery -Child of Israel part III


Uri Avneri is one of the few critics of Israel who can't be called an anti-Semite.

He loves Israel and he desperately wants to see it survive as a nation.

Uri Avneri is a Jew, and was a member of the Revisionist Zionist movement before he became an outspoken liberal peace activist.

"You can’t tell me about terrorism, I was a terrorist."

My husband (also Uri) and I have been reading his work for years and have a great deal of respect for him. Anyone wishing to get a greater understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should read Uri Avneri's articles. He is one who truly labors for humanity.

I wanted to do a post on Uri Avneri today because I was worried that my previous posts on Israel might give people the mistaken impression that I am against Jews, or even against Israel, when nothing could be further from the truth (my husband is a Jew). I would like to see Israel succeed, but I think it must drastically change its policies of aggression and oppression before it will be able to exist in peace.

I was reading through the Uri Avneri archives when I found his piece, "War Is a State of Mind," in which he spells out my exact sentiments in yesterday's post, "Cycle of Violence". Needless to say I feel much more secure in my original analysis when I see that someone else has said the same thing. Of course, Mr. Avery's account is a much more thorough and credible one since he has experienced the cultural phenomenon first hand.

I'll recap some of the main points, but I really recommend reading the article.

(Regarding the experiences of a child of Halocaust survivors) "This is violence--not physical violence, but violence nonetheless. Many Israeli children have experienced it, even when the State of Israel became more and more powerful, and Security--with a capital S--became its fetish."

"I once read the reports of a class of Israeli schoolchildren, who had been asked to write down their conclusions after visiting Auschwitz. About a quarter of them said: My conclusion is that after what the Germans have done to us, we must treat minorities and foreigners better than anyone else. But three quarters said: After what the Germans have done to us, our highest duty is to safeguard the existence of the Jewish people, by every possible means, without any limitations."

"This feeling of being the eternal victim still persists, even after we have become a powerful nation in the State of Israel. It is deeply embedded in our consciousness."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Cycle of Violence -Child of Israel part II

The "cycle of violence" is when a child who is the victim of abuse...grows up to be an abuser.

This usually happens because an abused child is a fearful and insecure child who grows up to be a fearful and insecure adult, and a person who turns to violence for a sense of security.


Could a sort of "cycle of violence" apply to nations?



I don't know.



But I do know that we live in a time of fear and insecurity, and we try to solve our problems with violence.

While violence can be necessary at times, it is never an acceptable way of life for a person.

And it is never an acceptable way of life for a people.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Child of Israel

Speaking of kids and war, I'm sure everyone remembers these images of Israeli children signing the bombs that would be used to kill Lebanese children during their latest 33-day conflict. The whole Israel thing is a touchy subject, but one that must be addressed, so I'm going to spend the next few days trying to address it.

Aside from the obvious evil insanity of encouraging children to sign BOMBS...



It's difficult to have a conversation about Israel because anyone who is critical of Israel is labelled anti-Semitic.The United Nations is the latest organization to fall under the "anti-Semite" banner, having recently confirmed what every human being of conscience already knew: that the Israeli government is imposing a cruel and inhumane apartheid on the people of Palestine.


Israel's crimes are mind boggling in their irony. Having been one of the primary victims of one of the most evil regimes in human history, they have become a mirror image of that which they claim to despise.
Though I would like to clarify up front that Israel and Judaism are not the same thing. Israel is a nation and Judaism is a religion. Criticism of the nation of Israel does not equal criticism of Judaism or Jews.

Dems Hemming and Hawing over Murtha Bill

The plan seemed simple enough. Tie war funding to proper equipment for the troops and giving the troops back their R&R.

The idea was to force Republicans to explain why they had not equipped the troops properly and why they had taken away their R&R.

Somewhere along the line, the plan fell apart. The Republicans united and the Dems split down the middle.

Frankly, I don't care why this issue fell apart because it's the wrong issue! I know the war is something tangible, and something the voters care about, but everyone is divided on a solution, and it's such a mess that there are no good answers right now.

If the Dems want to be the champions of the American people, they need to repeal the Military Commissions Act and give us back our Constitution!

Show us some backbone! Do something important! Win the support of the public while getting Congress and the media to debate the issue that will REALLY demonize the republicans who passed the Military Commissions Act.

Then maybe you'll have enough credibility to get something done about the war.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Fear of Clowns

Misplaced had a post about fears which got me thinking about my fear of clowns.

For some reason, I can tolerate Krusty.

When I was four, my babysitter made a toy clown for me. It had a plastic face and a knitted rainbow-colored body.

It's possible that I hated and feared the clown because I hated and feared the babysitter's teenage son in ways my four-year-old psyche couldn't really understand.

Regardless of the reason, I loathed the clown. My parents set it on top of the chest of drawers at the foot of my bed. It was by the window, and at night the moonlight cut rigid lines of light and shadows across it's squinting, grinning face.

Even when I hid beneath my covers I could feel it staring at me.

Squinting.

Grinning.

I think I had already turned five when I'd had enough. I needed to get rid of it, but I couldn't reach it. I decided to pull the dresser drawers out like stairs, climb up there, grab the clown and throw it in the closet.

I got halfway up the chest of drawers when the whole thing toppled over and pinned me against the bed. That damned clown must have figured out my plan!

My dad came in yelling at me. The moment he freed me from the chest, I seized the clown and threw it into the closet. Victory!

But I've never really shaken free of my fear of clowns. I'm not terrified of them or anything, they just really give me the creeps.

Child Iraq

My friend and mentor Larry Gross was kind enough to promote my blog on his today using a post I made here a few months back called "Crimes Against Humanity."

The picture he used for that post is touching on many levels.

I have looked for pictures of Iraqi children before while corresponding with my brother and trying to talk him out of joining the ARMY.

If you type "child Iraq" into Google, most of what you will find is absolutely heartbreaking.

There's something about pictures of children that reach the core of our humanity.

Those eyes, that little face, no different from our own little ones.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tax Time

Luckily we're usually due a refund, but it seems like every year there's an issue getting it.

Last year we were counting on our tax refund to help us with our move to California. We filed electronically and were due to have our refund any day when we received a notice saying there was a problem.

I called the IRS. They said we didn't pay our taxes in 2003. I told them we most certainly did. It turns out that it was a issue with the spelling of my husband's name. Okay, problem solved, but it would be three MORE weeks before we get the refund.

Three weeks later, no refund. What's the problem? You didn’t pay your taxes in 2003. Are you kidding me? Oh, I see what happened! No problem, you'll be getting your refund in about three weeks.

We moved to California in March and we got our refund in June.

More fun this year.

The IRS says we're scheduled to receive our refund this week, but H&R Block says the IRS has rejected our return. There isn't a single employee at either institution who is capable of thinking outside of what their computer screen tells them, and they are both equally sure that their computer is right.

Meanwhile, I'm struggling to make ends meet and just hoping that the refund comes without a problem.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Big Win for Bush Aministration -big loss for U.S. Constitution

It is now more important than ever for Congress to immediately repeal the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

The Washington DC Circuit Court of appeals has denied detainees at Guantanamo Bay the right to challenge their detentions in U.S. court. The decision is based on the Military Commissions Act, which states that any person deemed an unlawful combatant by the president, or anyone to whom he gives that authority, can be forcibly abducted, detained, and interrogated indefinitely without any access to due process of law and can be convicted by a military tribunal (not a jury) without being present at the tribunal to defend themselves.

Of course most of the media outlets reporting this court decision are failing to mention that the Military Commissions Act applies to U.S. citizens as well.

Luckily our laws are set up so that if this ever happens to an American citizen, they can appeal to the court system…

Well, you know, AFTER they've been released from custody because while they're in custody, they would have no access to the outside world, let alone a lawyer...

But let's not forget that the Military Commissions Act provides that they can be held indefinately.

I just cannot understand why more people are not FREAKING OUT about this!