Archive for August, 2007

31
Aug
07

Iowa Sees the Light (*almost)

Seeing a story like this gives me the same glimmer of hope I get from seeing blog posts that are not all that different from my opinion.  It reminds me that there are people out there with enough sense to do the right thing (except for the gays who are having clandestine sex in bathroom stalls).  It reminds me that the theocracy hasn’t quite taken over yet, and gives me hope that they won’t especially when gay-marriage is sanctioned in a mid-western state.  Yes, that’s right ladies and gentleman, Iowa courts have determined that gays are people, too, and they deserve the right to have a committed relationship.  I would much rather the rest of the country, especially our over-extended military, finally get their heads out of their butts and recognize that homosexuals deserve the same rights and privilages as the rest of us, but I’m not holding my breath.  I will leave you with this thought, though: If your son or daughter were gay, wouldn’t you want your child to be able to be treated like every one else and have every legal protection afforded you? 

*Update – Judge Hanson, the judge who made the ruling, has already issued a legal stay meaning no licenses can be issued until the Iowa Supreme Court rules. The latest survey shows 61% of Iowans are against gay marriage so Laura, even “middle America” is against it. Judge Hanson is is in the minority. (Thanks, Ed)  My bubble is burst, my hope is dashed.  I hate middle America.

3,733 US soldiers killed in Iraq.  27,662 US soldiers wounded in Iraq.  Now including one more soldier I know and love.

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30
Aug
07

47 Million

That is the number of uninsured people in the United States (a 2.2 million person jump from 2005, or 21.2% of the population of the “wealthiest nation in the worldwhere 1 in 5 children live in poverty).  Let me rephrase.  That is the number of people who have to pay astronomical costs for health care because they can’t afford coverage, can’t find a job, or have been denied coverage because of some pre-existing condition, like asthma.  I don’t understand you, America.  I don’t understand how you can stand to live in a nation in which people who are dying of cancer, people who have debilitating or chronic diseases, or people who lost their coverage because they are too sick to work are further kicked in the nuts because they can’t pay anything but medical bills (which they HAVE to keep paying in order to receive care) so they lose their cars, their homes, and every speck of dignity they may have had in the past, simply BECAUSE THEY GOT SICK.  Explain yourselves.

$447,328,700,000 spent in Iraq.  Can you think of a better use for that money?

29
Aug
07

10 myths—and 10 Truths—About Atheism (Part 1)

By Sam Harris for The Los Angeles Times (I first saw this at Seeking a Little Truth)  December 24, 2006 My thoughts are in orange.

SEVERAL POLLS indicate that the term “atheism” has acquired such an extraordinary stigma in the United States that being an atheist is now a perfect impediment to a career in politics (in a way that being black, Muslim or homosexual is not). According to a recent Newsweek poll, only 37% of Americans would vote for an otherwise qualified atheist for president. Atheists are often imagined to be intolerant, immoral, depressed, blind to the beauty of nature and dogmatically closed to evidence of the supernatural.

Even John Locke, one of the great patriarchs of the Enlightenment, believed that atheism was “not at all to be tolerated” because, he said, “promises, covenants and oaths, which are the bonds of human societies, can have no hold upon an atheist.” That was more than 300 years ago. But in the United States today, little seems to have changed. A remarkable 87% of the population claims “never to doubt” the existence of God; fewer than 10% identify themselves as atheists — and their reputation appears to be deteriorating. Given that we know that atheists are often among the most intelligent and scientifically literate people in any society, it seems important to deflate the myths that prevent them from playing a larger role in our national discourse.

1) Atheists believe that life is meaningless. On the contrary, religious people often worry that life is meaningless and imagine that it can only be redeemed by the promise of eternal happiness beyond the grave. Atheists tend to be quite sure that life is precious. Life is imbued with meaning by being really and fully lived. Our relationships with those we love are meaningful now; they need not last forever to be made so. Atheists tend to find this fear of meaninglessness… well … meaningless. Mourning is more about the people who are alive than the person who has died.  I miss the people inmy lifewho are gone, but I don’t dwell on it or pretend they’re somewhere else.  They’re dead.  I never use the term “passed away”.  I think it’s silly.  My life is about what I’m doing right now and making sure I’m doing it to the best of my ability.  I focus on every experience I have, whether it’s good or bad.

2) Atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in human history. People of faith often claim that the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were the inevitable product of unbelief. The problem with fascism and communism, however, is not that they are too critical of religion; the problem is that they are too much like religions. Such regimes are dogmatic to the core and generally give rise to personality cults that are indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship. Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.  There are, however; many societies that have suffered because its people became too religious.  The Inquisition, the burning of “witches” at the stake, and Islamofascism are only a few examples.

 3,732 US soldiers killed in Iraq.  27,662 US soldiers killed in Iraq

26
Aug
07

He Asked For It

So why can’t he get itIraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said he would like to see the US begin to withdraw troops now.  If you’ll remember, he said the same thing a few weeks ago, but an embarrassed Bush Administration made him take it back.  Now the GOP is working to undermine the leader they practically hand-picked for Iraq.  The National Intelligence Estimate said that the intelligence community has little faith in the Iraqi leaders. So please, somebody, anybody, give me a reasonable explanation for why we are still fighting this illegal and immoral war.

26
Aug
07

Dreaming of Reform

The polls over at Politics Plus are usually interesting and informative, but I think this one is significant.  With all of this talk about how early the election is starting and how many debates there are, we’ve largely forgotten to talk about election reform. That should be the focus, especially since we have active Senators running (instead of working).  Here are some of the things I think are most important (but feel free to participate in the poll yourself):

Public financing of ALL federal elections: Why should only people with money be allowed to run in a public election?  The more personal money a candidate has, the less likely they are to be in touch with the average American.  They don’t know what we want, and they have no idea what we need.  It’s partly how we’ve gotten ourselves into this mess in the first place.  The current campaign financing system is NOT working for us, and making sure that all candiates have the same amount of money is at least an equalizing factor – one that is sorely needed.

Recountable paper records for EVERY vote: This is a no brainer, people.  If there is not a paper record, you might as well have not voted at all.  Electronic votes are easily manipulated (see Man of the Year or Hacking Democracy) and more difficult to tract.  Having a paper copy that is kept by your voting district as well as one you can print out for yourself reduced the ability to commit election fraud.  Why would we NOT want to do this?  I know it’s not great for the environment, but print it on recycled paper to reduce the impact.  This is too important to be inside the cone of uncertanty.

Making election day a holiday: A few years ago I might have said that making the election day on a weekend was good enough, but a lot of people in this country have to work on weekends.  making election day a holiday and allowing voters ALL 24 hours of the day to vote insures that everyone is able to vote even if they aren’t necessarily inclined to do so. The current system is discriminatory, especially to the poorest Americans who sometimes have to work 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet and just can’t afford to get to the polls on a Tuesday. 

Abolishing the electoral college: This is long overdue.  The electoral college is our government’s way of saying, “We don’t trust you to make your own decisions”.  This allows politicians to go against the popular vote.  That is NOT democracy.  That is just plain wrong.  If Americans have voted for someone, even if it isn’t an overwhelming majority, THAT person should be President.  The electoral college destroys the average American’s faith in the political system and seems to prove to them that their vote doesn’t really matter.

ONE single primary election day: I would add to this and say that Americans should have one primary and ALL Americans should be able to vote in ALL primaries.  It’s not that difficult to have a ballot with all candidates so that people can vote on the one from EACH party that they think would make a good President.  Of course, if we abolished all political parties, we’d all be voting in the primary anyway.  But, of course, we wouldn’t want to do anything that would make this country MORE of a democracy.

3,726 US soldiers killed in Iraq. 27,506 US soldiers wounded in Iraq

24
Aug
07

Christians vs. Pop Culture

Rallying against pop culture is not something you would expect to see from teens, but these Christian kids are trying to walk away from popular influences and find another path. I agree that popular culture can often be a destructive influence on teens, though I think some of the things these people are citing is a little excessive.  Going against popular culture is one thing.  Burying your head in the sand and pretending that nothing bad is happening in the world is something else completely.  I would rather these kids rally against sex and violence in music, video games, and movies than for them to believe that musicians and actors should not give their views on politics, the environment, and the state of the world in general, but that’s just me.  Some of the rhetoric is extremely harsh, and I’m against anything that lies to kids, but the idea is a decent one.  I’m wondering if here are secular organizations out there doing the same thing – rallying teens against the negative influences in our culture and helping them to create new and different ways of expressing themselves in a welcome and open (and HONEST) environment.

3,722 US soldiers killed in Iraq.  27,506 US soldiers wounded in Iraq.

23
Aug
07

More Questions, Fewer Answers

By now most people have seen the video of Dick Cheney talking about Iraq in 1994.  If you haven’t, or you feel the need to refresh your memory, here it is:

Remember now?  Okay, so the other day President Bush said that pulling out of Iraq now would create a problem similar to what the United States encountered when it left Vietnam and that the Iraqi government would collapse under to pressure of actually having to run their own country.  Now, think about all that we’ve been hearing lately about the Troop Surge and how well it’s working.  Got it?  Okay.  So if the Troop Surge is working so well and morale is so high, why are soldiers writting letters about how important it is for us to get the hell out of Iraq?  If the Troop Surge is working, then why are US officials losing hope for a democracy in Iraq?  If the Troop Surge is working, why is the Army considering another troop build-up in the fall, especially when we don’t have the numbers to be able to pull it off?

Thankfully some of our younger citizens are seeing the light and taking matters into their own hands rather than waiting for two thirds of the adults in the United States to WAKE UP and pay attention to what’s going on in the world.  Maybe they can figure out why we’re actually in Iraq, since their teachers, parents, and the media don’t know.  And really, truly, how long can you live with yourself if this goes on and YOU have done nothing to try and stop it?

3,722 US soldiers killed in Iraq.  27,506 US soldiers wounded in IraqShame on you, America.




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I am not perfect. I do my best to practice what I preach, but I am human. My mantra is, "DO NO HARM". I may not always succeed, but I will always try. My goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

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