Heather Annastasia is a professional writer discussing politics, religion and current events with wit and satire. No topic is off limits, everything is open for debate! Have a witty post? Send me your submissions or queries!
[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.]
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.
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?
Citgo Petroleum Corporation is the American subsidiary of Petróleosde 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.
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.
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).
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?
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.
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?
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. *
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).
The leader of each faction will be given one key.
After Wyoming has been evacuated and walled off, combatants and supporters will be flown into prearranged sites.
In order to ensure the integrity of the wall, combatants will be furnished only with primitive weapons such as knives, swords and arrows.
Cars, farm equipment and communication devices will be allowed, but no tanks or flying machines.
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.
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! *
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!
*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).
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
Is that all?
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.
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.
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. 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.
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%
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."
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.
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.