Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Foundation

To Schulder...

After watching Obama's speech last night, and his reasoning for the allocation of more money and troops to fight a foreign war (which didn't seem all to outlandish), it made me think about what money we might need here in America. Which wars in our own country, that go unspoken, that need to be fought. There are plenty of necessities that we have here; equality of marriage, crumbling infrastructure and immigration. However, none of which pose the threat that my blog tonight is about. I feel that the largest issue in our country today, is that of our schools.

Don't get me wrong. This isn't a blog trashing where I work... in fact, there are plenty of times I enjoy where I'm at. I have issues though with the system in general; and the obvious yet ignored failures of it.

Coincidentally, I had some issues falling asleep last night. I happened to turn on Comedy Central, where Stephen Colbert was interviewing Cevin Soling. He has a book out called "The War on Kids," where he discusses how our school system is a complete mess. After hearing what he had to say, and just from my own anecdotes, I had to agree.

Going back to Obama... wouldn't it be interesting if instead of allocating hundreds of billions towards war efforts and towards wall street... how about a politician... any politician, giving that money to school districts? Especially districts in crisis?

I remember doing research while completing my Masters. One thing we looked up was the allocation of tax payer money towards the children. In more affluent Westchester districts, near $20,000 per child was paid. In others, like in the south Bronx... near $800 was ponied up. What a fucking disgrace.

The first politian to decree something along the lines of "each school district must give (for example) $15,000 per child in their schools. If they do not, the federal government will bring you up to that beginning level. Any other state, city and county tax can be used to further the educational standards at the choice of the board..." automatically has my vote. How difficult or insane is that?

I will never forget the Republican pundits like Sean Hannity chastising Bill Clinton for "gutting" the military because he somewhat cut their budget. Would Hannity, or anyone else for that matter, rip apart politicians today for sabotaging our schools by giving that money elsewhere?

On top of being underfunded... let's take a look at how our school system works. Per Mr. Soling, he stated that our current incarnation of schools is based on a factory system, created at the start of the Industrial Revolution. We have bells to tell you when to move, and repetitive days full of repetitive activity... just like if you were to work long hours on an assembly line. Is that truly how to reach our children today... from ANY socioeconomic background? Maybe from the 1920's!

Looking at many of the students growing up today, I can say, with full honesty, that many are frighteningly intelligent. I say that based on a short anecdote. It revolves around Madden on Playstation. A few years back, I sat and watched a few people play. They asked me to join, and I said sure. I was blown away. A million fucking buttons, each with its own specific action, having to be memorized at rapid speeds. Needless to say, I got schooled. I couldn't keep up. As simple as that sounds... if you just walked into that situation, as I did, with no prior experience with the game.... the complexity is astouding. And that's an easier type game...

I propose the concept of students not being dumb whatsoever... but being taught in a way that doesn't match up in any way with their current skill set. Kids today can sit at a computer and multitask like a pro. But they can't sit still at a desk for 40 minutes. That brings the obvious question... why do we then make all of them sit at a desk quietly for 40 minutes?

I once did a paper on educational systems in foreign countries. The one I did was South Korea. What I found fascinating was that instead of taking the SAT's at the end of high school, they took a similar type of exam at around the age of 12. Based on that exam, and teacher recommendations, the students were then put into one of 2 types of schools: an academic one, or a vocational one.

How DOESN'T that make perfect sense? Any teacher will tell you that there are students that, albeit smart, DO NOT belong in a classroom setting; it's just not right for them. I can agree with that, working with students all throughout Westchester! A system, similar to that, where the outcomes of a test, recommendations of the parent and of teachers can be used to determine the future schooling of a child can only be an improvement over our current system, where ALL STUDENTS are forced to try and be academics in the most tradional sense... when few are.

Recent history backs me up... Americans are falling further and further behind other countries in the world in terms of their academics. Forcing it further down their throats doesn't seem to be working. If students are meant to drive a truck, or work with their hands, or fix cars... then so be it. There is absolutely no shame in it. Not everyone is meant to be force fed Biology.

Again... Obama's speech. The need to fix issues abroad. I felt at the time of 9/11, that we weren't attacked by monsters, or by even by trained soldiers. I felt we were attacked by uneducated peasants brainwashed... by monsters. Education is the foundation of ANY strong culture. Our educational system, not abroad, but here at home, is in shambles. I do truly enjoy helping the young to improve. I know there are millions more like me. I just wish that Obama, instead of fixing issues abroad... fixed issues here at home. Starting with our foundation.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

5 Reasons We're Doomed

I gotta feel pessimistic here as we go into the season to be Thankful. What am I thankful for... politically? Not much. Maybe today we started with the ending of the term "preexisting condition." That's good. But that's about it. We're still in a pointless Afgan War. There is still continual violence in Iraq (even though it's not reported), and our debt is seemingly endless. In all likelihood, our recession isn't going away any time soon.

A lot to be worried about. I'm not saying the teabaggers are right... which by no means they are... but we do need to speak up to get our country back.

And not from our president... and by the way, when people say "I want my country back..." does anyone else find that overtly racist? We have a black president, and people feel they've lost their country? Come on...

No, not get our country back from our president... but get our country back from STUPIDITY. All throughout our land... that seems to be the one constant. Stupidity. Most people talk and have no clue what they're talking about. Ignorance is persistance, as well as being blissful. It's much easier to speculate than it is to research. So, after some of my own research, here are the 5 things I believe that if unchanged... will ruin this country.

5. The War
Why the fuck did we go into Iraq again? Oh yeah... WMD's. Did we find them? No. Did we leave? No. So what were, and are, we doing there? Stabilizing the country. Are we REALLY that good at stability? Are we really that good at nation building? Our own country is falling apart. Our own infrastructure is crumbling. I mean, shit, I can't drive through Manhattan without being witness to some kind of construction... ALL THE TIME. We can't build our own country properly... and therefore, what makes anyone think we can do the same abroad? Among a theocracy? Which we will never be able to appease or truly comprehend? Same now in Afganistan. What the FUCK are we doing over there? Fighting the Taliban or Al Qaida? Both? Neither? Very unclear. We are in Afganistan, to keep that country calm so they don't begin a conflict with Pakistan. That's the truth. We know Pakistan has nukes... and if they fire, then India fires, then that region becomes more of a clusterfuck than it already is... which might not even be possible. Our presence there only makes things more complicated. I'm not saying we need to be isolationist... but I'm saying if it's not our fight, in any way, get the fuck out. And by the way... count the BILLIONS spent so far on those 2 foreign wars. Complete and utter insanity.

4. Taxation
As George Carlin's famous routine goes... the 7 dirty words you can't say on air.... has now become 8. Taxes seem to be something that makes people foam at the mouth. People... when the country was first created, under the Articles of Confederation, there was no Federal tax. That system completely crumbled... because without a strong national force, we basically had 13 seperate countries, instead of 1 united America. Taxes are necessary. Now, am I one who thinks a majority of your money must go to fed? No way. However... these things we need, MUST get paid for. I just want to know why no politician is aloud to say... "In these rough times, we need help. Please... pay your way." If that was ever uttered, that person would be relegated to finding a career far, far out of the political arena. When did Taxes become taboo? I have to believe that the best system by far, is a flat tax. As I discussed in my previous blog... I feel that no matter what, rich, poor, or otherwise... everyone should have to pay the same percentage. It's flat out selfish to say... "Let's fight this war..." or "Healthcare for all..." or be for any other government program without wanting to chip in. As many of my Republican friends continue to tell me, it shouldn't be a free ride for anyone... and to a degree I'm with that idea... but when our ELECTED LEADERS need to spend for whatever reason... we do have a responsibility to kick in. However, in retrospect, I'm also 100% for transparency, and being able to see item by item what my money goes for. If I don't like it... in the next election, I'll make sure to vote in someone who can spend my money better. Welcome to responsibility. Pay your taxes, shut the fuck up, and realize that to do anything... it costs money. Pay it.

3. The End of 24 Hour News
This is, by far, the WORST thing to come from the internet. Because we all now have no attention span whatsoever, and most people need to know nowNOW and NOW... the news has become nonstop. It's also become something that the networks care about ratings wise... and that's why you have some of the stupidest shit being covered on the news. Not because of it's relevance... but because of it's ability to attract people. Violence attracts. Watch the nightly news and tell me how many stories have to do with violent crime. This shit boosts ratings! This is why it's shown... and things again, like Blackwater and the paying off of Sunni and Shiite radicals in the middle east by our own government isn't covered... no one cares. The other issue with our new news broadcasts is again... the name... 24 hour news. There is just not enough good and informative stories to fit into that ridiculous time frame... that's why things like the Octomom and Jon & Kate and the trainwreck that's Lindsay Lohan somehow is always relevant. Do you honestly care about the tabloids? If you do, please stop reading my blog. This bullshit is force fed to us because THERE IS NOTHING ELSE. They need to fill their insane time with ratings grabbing stories. Because of this... other imporant information falls by the wayside... like the 2 topics I wrote above. It's pure insanity... we have honestly been stupified by the media conglomerates by talk shows, "Opinion" news like Beck and Maddow, and tabloid stories. No one cares that much anymore about real shit that could help or hurt you. Stupified. As a culture, we care more about a sale than a slaughter. Frightening.

2. Partisanship
If you don't know what that word means... it's not partnership. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Partisanship means sticking with your buddies... no matter if you agree, disagree or otherwise. Basically, it's the political equivalent of "groupthink;" never going out of your comfort zone, and always sticking with your buddies and friends. Because of this, in Washington... nothing will ever change. I remember towards the end of the George W. Bush years... Scott McClellan had just resigned, and was discussing his book that basically tore the Bush administration apart. When asked if he felt Dems and Repubs could still work together, he said "there was too much blood in the water." Is that what our government has become? A place where it's only nonstop attacks on the people who think differently than you? Don't get me wrong... I do believe the Bush/Cheney era was HUGE for polarization... they did not believe in compromise, apology, or reaching across the isle. This is factual. Speaking openly about wedge issues like halting Hispanic immigration, ending Roe V. Wade and the ridiculousness of gay marraige will do that. You will energize the extremes of your base. But again, you will ruin any chance of political teamwork. And this is the topic in which I am discussing. Today's horrid incantation of Washington is one where Republicans WILL NOT vote with Democrats. Maybe that started with Reagan's "11th Commandment," which stated that "no Republican will speak ill of another." I find that repulsive. If you want complete and utter inaction in a 2 party system... that will work. However... with it... you'll get either laws the right CANNOT STAND... or laws the left CANNOT STAND. Either way, each party will work to end the laws created by the other, and truly, nothing new will get done. Like... as we see in government... right now. Pathetic and sad. Like a middle school playground during recess. We HAVE TO hope that leaders can be... how can I say this... mature? Sad... but it is truly a lot to ask.

1. The death of Lobbyism
Sorry to write about it again, but this is a big, big deal... and of course as stated before, one the media will NEVER report on. Why? Because many media conglomerates have lobbyists! As discussed in previous posts... a lobbyist is someone who talks to Congressmen about passing laws that their business is in favor of. They pay L A R G E sums of money to make sure that this occurs. Why will this system hurt us? Because this literally guarantees that the rich... stay rich and the poor have not even a fighting chance. Certain laws cannot get passed without the approval of lobbyists... they will not pay their men and women in Congress if they aren't happy. A wonderful example of this... is our 2000 page bill for Healthcare. In my opinion, if a law is more than 100 pages, I feel it's pushing the envelope. Now things won't be as short and as sweet as they once were... because you have hundreds and hundreds of people voting for it in both houses, and millions of Americans to consider. So having bills and laws, all of 3 - 5 pages like we did 2oo years ago, never going to happen. But today, we literally have lobbyists writing the bills. Here's how it works: lobbyists can't just hand over a briefcase of bills to a Senator or Representative. They can however give a campaign contribution towards their reelection. So, during that time, around September and October, before an election... they tell the person they're working with... here's the cash to get you in, and once your in, pass or create this or that specific bill. Presto... you have a lobbyist writing the law. Our healthcare bill is 2000 pages long. No... it's not about hunting a white whale, and no, it's not Charles Dickens. It's something that was written by the healthcare lobbyists. They refused to give contributions to their Congressmen if it still didn't allow them to make INCREDIBLE profits. Why do you think it costs a TRILLION dollars? It makes sure each and every concern those companies had was addresed by our government. Does this bill help us? In some ways I'm sure. Does it help the corporations behind our medicines and doctor visits? Much, much more. If you are in favor of laws and bills that truly help... US... then you have to be for the ending of lobbyism in our country. Don't just think that because Republican's are pro-business they are the only ones who have lobbyists... so do PLENTY AND PLENTY of Democrats. People that have money... always want more of it. And so goes our government.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Imminent Failure of Our Two Party System

As a registered independent, I have NO PROBLEM sitting here and talking about the downfalls, and the good sides of both of our major political parties. I honestly believe that most people in both parties want the best for us, their constituents, but at this time, have completely lost touch. I say that, because of the issue of lobbyism.

Lobbyism truly came to the forefront a few years back during the Bush administration. You had the arrest of Jack Abramoff, one of the largest lobbyists in our time. He was arrested, because lobbyists have to make sure their money is given in certain increments, for specific things, like campaign contributions towards reelection. He gave them money towards vacations and other things of that ilk.

Today however, if you really search through all of the politicians, Republican and Democrat, you'll notice that almost every single one operates with the use of lobbyists... either legally or illegally (like Abramoff).

What exactly is a lobbyist? A lobbyist is someone that goes to Capitol Hill, with money in their pocket, and tries to pay a Senator or a Representative to vote the way that interests their particular company. There's a NORML lobby (anyone reading this SHOULD DEFINITELY KNOW who that is), there's a teacher lobby, and there's a tobacco lobby. Quite honestly, there is a lobby for almost every business in every sector that you can think of.

In some respects, this might sound productive; people trying to get powerful men and women to hear them out. However... with this system comes a mighty pitfall:

Those with the most money, will win the most votes, and pass the most laws that help themselves.

Considering how that system operates, it just makes sense.

In fact it makes more than just sense... it makes the law. For example, the banking bailouts. How and why did that occur? Well, the banking industry like AIG and such, spent MILLIONS in lobbyist funds to make sure that they were bailed out. Now... most of that money, in a horrendous political move, really wasn't watched when it was handed over to the banks. The first bailout... the BILLIONS of dollars that we, as taxpayers, GAVE to the banks... was put back in the pockets of Senators and Representatives... to make sure a second bailout occurred. Basically... financial corporations took our taxpayer money... and instead of using it to fix the gigantic holes that existed in the way they operated, they used that money to bribe Congress... to get more money. That's my first example.

Gay marriage. There are half a dozen reasons I could give for why gay marriage is opposed in this country. However, the real reason most government officials won't support it... like Barack Obama, is because the Healthcare industry lobbies MILLIONS of dollars a year to make sure it won't nationally pass. They know that if gay marriage occurs in this country, MILLIONS of people who didn't get insurance, now can claim a family package. That's BILLIONS of dollars more that has to be spent in coverage. That's the second example.

In both of these examples, I've tried to explain how lobbyists can affect the creation, or lack thereof, for new laws to be enacted, that quite frankly, might actually be wanted, or needed in this country. The healtcare issue again, hasn't been passed because of the giant that is the healthcare companies. Even the Max Bauccus bill was basically written by lobbyists to make sure money does not, under any circumstance, leave the pockets of those corporations. Bill Maher called the bill a "blowjob" to the healhcare industry. Even though it's those unethical bastards who make it their business to find loopholes continuously to uninsure anyone they can, for any possible reason (ever heard the term "Preexisting Condition?" Who do you think came up with that?), they have found a way to make sure that they still have their hands in our pockets, taking our money while giving us half ass coverage.

My point: in our government today, a majority of ethical and helpful laws don't get passed because each and every representative is paid off to make sure that the interests of the corporations are looked at first and foremost. Our feelings are secondary. This goes for BOTH Democrats and Republicans.

In America... things don't really ever get fixed or better. The violence in Iraq has seemingly calmed down, not because we're a great nation building force, but because most of the "bad guys" left the country or were killed. We are paying the rest of the Sunni's and Shiite's off, to not attack one another. What work is being done at Ground Zero? What has been enacted to make sure 9/11 doesn't happen again? Important things, ethical things, are left to fall by the wayside today, because profit can't be made from them.

I propose then the only logical solution; the creation of a 3rd political party in this nation. Our Democrats and Republicans have failed us mightily... they truly only care about corporate contributions. We need a new grassroots party that stands up for important ethical issues. Here are the issues I suggest we champion:

Social liberalism: Anything involving your body should be allowed to occur. Government should not control what you do to yourself. This would mean the legalization of all drugs (18 or 21 and up, similar to alcohol), which would of course be taxed... complete legalization of abortion (even though I think it's a terrible thing, I, nor anyone else, should be able to tell a woman what they can or cannot do with something growing inside of them, and complete legalization of gay marriage (you love who you want, with no exceptions). How about immigration? I'm somewhat conservative on this issue... I just have a problem with somone bypassing the system. But, they do that because to become an American citizen is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT. Let's allow everyone to come into this country... as long as they register. I have no issue with a crackdown on letting illegals in... but I do have a problem with making it impossible to come in legally. Ease that burden, let them become taxpayers such as each and every one of us... and the issue then slowly goes away... while the government earns just a little bit more money. A majority of people wouldn't come in illegally... if coming in legally wasn't so damn difficult.

Financial conservatism: Both parties are very iffy on this, but I don't want to be. Liberals spend wildly, while conservatives spend nothing. Both ideals are bullshit. There should be no problem with the government spending tax payer money... AS LONG AS every dollar is watched and accounted for. NO ONE unbelievably does this! During the Iraq War, I believe it was 9 Million Dollars that was completely lost. During the Katrina "rescues," it was a similar figure. This money just "dissappeared." Unacceptable. Money should and must be spent, but it must be carefully watched, no questions asked.

Taxation in this country is also an issue. Let's have a flat tax. I don't care how much you make or you don't make... everyone should have to pay the same percentage towards this country. Make it around 9 - 11%. If you want a tax break, it should be given when you are charitable, or prove to employ large amounts of people. No tax breaks for people that already are making money.

There should be a "workfare" program enacted. I'm all for helping people out who have lost their jobs. Businesses should be given small tax breaks if they can give lists of jobs out to the government for them to fill. If someone's lost their job, give them 6 months to a year to find another while on unemployment. After that time is up, and they can't find a job, they get to choose from multiple jobs in their area. It gives you the freedom to try and find your own position, while knowing that if you can't Uncle Sam will help you out.

Of course we should all be given free and full healthcare. This is a nonissue... if you are sick, you must be given every opportunity to feel better. Hell... if you end the Iraq/Afganistan war, and legallize and tax pot... we could pay for the health of each and every citizen... while having money left over.

Lastly... no religion in our government. That's a 1st Amendment issue. If you wan't to practice your religion, go right ahead. Unless each and every American is of the same religion though... it has no place in lawmaking.

These are just a few ideas I have had for the creation of a new party. I feel we need this, because our 2 party system has failed ALL OF US. It hasn't failed the 2% at the top of the American food chain. But the average person, such as myself, has been left for dead by the government. So have you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Been awhile... been busy.

However, a lot has changed in the past month. First, we had Obama choose one of the longest tenured Senators in the Congress for VP, and McCain pick a virtual unknown. My feelings on Biden have always been what they've been; I truly like the guy. I found his Iraq Partition Plan to be one of the first Iraq plans to actually, in an easy to understand way, make sense. You can't say that about many things when talking about Iraq; easy to understand, and make sense. In fact, when candidates were first declaring themselves, he had my vote.

McCain on the otherhand, chose Sarah Palin. Upon hearing her name and knowing little to nothing about her, I figured she had been picked to get the vote of women who felt alienated due to the fact of Hillary not being anywhere in the running (for President, or VP). There were tons of pundits on television that also suggested that women would take to her, but "we shouldn't think women are so superficial that they would just vote for another woman." Really?

If you have been hiding under a rock for the past little while, let me introduce you to Sarah Palin. First of all, do you believe in evolution? She does not. She's a creationist. Palin plainly believes that there was a magical garden with a talking snake, woman was created from Adam's rib, and Jonah started a fire in a whale's stomach. What's even more sad on a side note, is that 61% of Americans believe that Noah lived for 900 years, had a child at 500, and built an Arc, containing both the male and female of every live creature on Earth. This is the America that we live in. Honestly though, if you are reading this and share any of those beliefs, please log out of this webpage and never read my blog again. This page is for INTELLIGENT people, not people who believe in the laughable idea of intelligent design. Second, Palin is pro-life. Personally, I am pro-choice, and I wan't to believe that a majority of women are as well. Now if you want to have a conversation about the horror of abortion in the final trimester, I'll humor you. Palin would not allow abortion even in cases of incest and rape. That I cannot fathom. Third, Palin has had numerous reported conversations with workers of hers, not allowing them in any way shape or form to talk to the press, especially members of her Alaskan cabinet. That, to me, is the exact opposite of what an American should do; censor others. It is plainly American to state your beliefs, be able to believe them openly, and without apology. However, if you work for her, don't say anything without her ok first. Censorship has been what's plagued the press during the last 8 years of the Bush presidency, and I have to believe that Palin would continue it.

Taking into account all the things aforementioned, Palin seems to be THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE of Hillary Clinton. If you were able to think whatsoever, you would come to the conclusion that no Hillary supporter could ever vote for Palin. You'd think that, but as proven continuously, American superficialism is stronger than ever.

After the naming of Palin, McCain's numbers have shot through the roof. This is no coincedence. The reason: white women. Women have come out now for McCain in droves. White women were Hillary's largest voting bloc. I just have trouble believing that Hillary, pro-choice and for evolution, can get the same voters as Palin, the exact opposite. What does this prove? Truly, if constituents what someone with breasts in the White House, it really doesn't matter what that candidate believes.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Keep Your Religion Out of My Politics

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State." -Thomas Jefferson

I'm always intrigued when discussing religion in America. Reading about religion; its rules, mysticisms and derivations always come as inspiring to me. These things are a pinnacle of human creation and imagination. I will always see religion as a man made tool, complete with man made rules.

Thankfully, and according to our First Constitutional Amendment, saying things like I just did are free for me to do. I don't have to worry here in my Westchester bedroom, watching for assassination attempts from true believers. Easily I can sit here and talk about how I think the entire establishment of religion is bullshit. Each derivation of it, monotheistic and polytheistic; these "theories" of how the world is, was, and will be, were deduced to help answer questions that a typical human could not. Religion gives guidance to the weak, and it gives pillars for those who need them, to lean on.

My personal philosophy: nothing and no one is dogmatic. It's impossible to know everything or have the answer to every question or be correct all of the time. Even mathematically speaking, the probability of such a person or a faith existing is astronomical. To therefore, believe in a religion is to believe in a philosophy that, over time, has called ITSELF dogmatic. You are acknowledging that someone else has called themselves a demigod, which in turn, challenges your own credibility or intelligence.

In Judaism, Jonah was swallowed by a whale, lit a fire in his belly, and was coughed out. Christians believe that after God took one of Man's ribs to create Eve, a talking snake warned them of what not to eat. Muslims believe that death in the name of Allah, brings you 72 virgins. As adults, I hope we can all laugh at these stories as others often sadly take them at face value.

Again, I believe religion, all religion, is to be ridiculous, pious, self-loathing, and a tool that attempts to possibly bring stability to what is the chaotic nature of Man. I'm comfortable saying that as my own set of beliefs. Others, of course, not only like to respect their religious traditions, but they lean on it as part of a daily routine. In all honestly, I have no issue with that. Having your own personal and private fait
h is completely fine, and even if I disagreed with it (I think its sad and foolish), a habit like that is protected under our same Constitution. I would never argue that one shouldn't be allowed to pray in their own personal way or nature.

Today, that's not my issue. My issue has to do with the first paragraph and the top of the page; Separation of Church and State. Now, we know that there is no talk of that in the Constitution, however it was a direct quote from one of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson. He used the 1st Amendment to justify it, and believed it to be a key in keeping our nation together. The reason I agree with him, simply put, is due to our nature as Americans. Being an American doesn't mean eating Apple Pie and watching fireworks, or waving an American Flag after exiting your 2008 Cadillac Escalade (with, naturally, would be bigger and better than your neighbors, who you are in a strict competition with for the biggest and fastest vehicle), no, being an American means coming from a different background from everyone else, and been allowed to come to a new land to find a hybridization between that "old" culture from your homeland, and the melting pot, tossed salad type culture that exists here. Everyone of us, aside from the few Native Americans that still are alive today, are a product of this hybridization, and it is the glue that binds us together. Naturally then, for all the things we have in common, systemically, we must have many things about us that are all different. That first thing, is religion.

This is the point of my conversation with you. We are not a homogeneous country in terms of religion; we can't be. I am Jewish. Many of my friends are Christians. My best friend is Protestant. My girlfriend is Catholic. I have worked with Muslims. I have partied with Pagans.

Here, in America, we are not from the same place, and do not have the same theories on life. That is why I believe in a separation of Church and State, just like Thomas Jefferson did; how can we force everyone to unite under 1 of these specific religious banners, when so many of us do not believe in it to begin with? In this country, without question, we are a majority of Christians. Should everyone have to believe in Christianity however? For Protestants, should they have to believe as Catholics do? Should all Jews pray in the same manner? Should Sunni and Shiite Muslims worship in the same mosque? The answer is absolutely not. Common-sense wise, knowing that there are so many different branches of faith (and the lack of faith) in this country, doesn't it make sense to keep religion out of the government? How could EVERYONE be represented at once? Thinking about ridiculous claims like Virgin Birth and the conversation between God and Muhammad in Mecca, can't we realize that faith truly has nothing to do with man's intelligence, but has everything to do with Man's emotion and timid, frightened nature? Shouldn't faith be left for our places of worship, and intellect be left for the election of our governing leaders?

When discussing religion and politics together, religion truly blinds us from the all of the truth that's involved. I believe that religion acts as the shepherd to the truly weak sheep that live among us. Government leaders would love us to act in that similar type fashion when discussing their policies; unquestioning, forever loyal, and willing to give and do whatever is asked. This is why in the last 20 years in American politics, religion all of a sudden has come out of the private homes of millions of Americans, and landed on the ballot. Starting with Ronald Reagan and Jerry Falwell; they ushered in this new age of religion affecting politics. Could you imagine an Atheist candidate today? They'd be laughed at. One of the first questions any politician today must answer, is "Are you a man of faith?" Can you think of one candidate that hasn't been "in touch with their own personal faith" from the past two decades?

This, my friends (quoting John McCain's introduction to ANY speech), is where it hurts me the most. Reading about how Barack Obama and John McCain had a "debate" in a Megachurch just turns my stomach in a multitude of ways. To begin with, how is a Church a reasonable place for a political debate? Again, if I was to talk about intelligent dialog, the LAST place I'd think that would occur is a place that believes in the Earth and Universe forming in 7 simple days (or that humans lived among the dinosaurs, when there are hundreds of years of archaeological evidence that contradicts it). On top of that, isn't it sad to see "the best" candidates we could find both pandering to the Evangelical right? Politicians cannot get their mouth off the dick which is the radical Christian conservatives. What upsets me the most, again as a member of a minority religion, who also has Atheist views, is that if these two puppets can speak to a Reverend in a Megachurch, aren't they going to be visiting Mosques? Or Synagogues? Will they even been going to other Churches from different derivations of Christianity? Probably not, and the reason for that is for the amount of money Evangelicals have invested in our government for again, the past 20 years. Bluntly speaking, if you are going to represent "faith" in this conglomerate of cultures that we are, then you better represent each and every one of them. If not, THEN DON'T PANDER TO ANY OF THEM. Favoritism will come back to haunt you, that I can guarantee.

Truly, I just don't understand what questions like "When do you believe life begins in a baby," has any relevance in the political landscape. Even if a president wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade, they couldn't. Yes, who they vote in as a potential Supreme Court Justice is important, but doesn't that never ending agenda overshadow other, more important things going on today? Yes, abortion isn't a great thing to do, but what about the killing of Iraqi's and Americans in Baghdad? How about the murder and raping of millions of Africans throughout the entire continent? The totalitarian rule of Communist China? Even discussing the sad superficial society we've become would be an improvement. Answering questions about one's own "faith" takes time away from true issues that exist, like current murder, genocide and war that is occurring while these ridiculous religious topics are being discussed.

I truly wish that more people, even ones of faith, realize that not all of us have that faith. Thankfully, in America, citizens do not have to. Our governing bodies shouldn't have to worry about that then either. Leaders shouldn't be judged on their religion; they should be judged solely on their policies. Maybe it's a pipe dream to hope that our leaders will stop making policy based off of religion, just to make a voting bloc happy. Maybe then, that's something I might have to strengthen my faith in. Until I SEE any reason to, I do believe I'll remain completely and utterly devoid of any of it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Search for Foreign Fuel

Just to piggyback on an earlier discussion; oil in this country, if found through offshore drilling, would truly have little to no impact on fuel prices in this country. Republicans have made us believe that if we don't drill in offshore locations, that we're leaving tons of energy behind, and not capitalizing on easy fixes. This couldn't be further from the truth.

Don't count my numbers too perfectly (it is past 1 in the morning), but I believe there are 300 million acres given to the oil companies to use for drilling in offshore locations. That sounds like a lot doesn't it? Republicans don't want you to know that. They want you to know that another 200 million acres are desired for drilling as well (which is what the argument is about). The problem; that last 200 acres is specifically protected by the EPA. Basically what I'm saying to you, is the Congressional Republicans want every last location possible to drill. 300 million acres just isn't good enough.

Another reason why this conversation is bullshit. We'd be drilling offshore, not for crude oil, because in many of these locations it doesn't exist in that form. We'd be mining for shale oil, which is a completely different product to start with. First off, not as much usable oil can be attained using this method, or the proper techniques don't yet exist to get the oil out of the shale in a financially responsible way.

The last bit of ridiculousness having to do with the oil we "might" get from our offshore shelves, is the distribution of it. With the way things are, we can't just grab some random oil, and sell it off. It doesn't work that way. The system is set up just so that ALL the world's oil, from multiple different countries, is filtered through OPEC (or the countries, mostly in the middle east, that produce the mass amounts of crude), and they decide how much oil to release for general consumption. No matter what you find, or get, OPEC must regulate it first. We're still dealing with foreign countries telling us how much power we're allotted, even when it's the power we're finding!

Basically, the offshore drilling that the Republicans are "threatening to shut the government down over," have to do with drilling in an added 200 million acres on top of the 300 million they've already been given, drilling into EPA protected lands, drilling for a product that we truly can't use anywhere near as well as crude, and are not telling the American people the major problems we'd have to deal with in regards to OPEC. Sad, mis informative, and true.

An Open Letter to Nancy Pelosi

Dear Madam Speaker,

I have to start out by saying how disappointed I am in not just your approval rating as the first Democratic Congress in quite awhile, but in the changes of heart that have taken place during your tenure as Speaker of the House.

Let me start again. Aside from the President and the Vice-President, you are the ranking politician in all of Washington. Not a bad transition from former house wife. It's ironic that Cindy Sheehan, another former house wife, might be challenging you for your seat in the upcoming Senate election. However; you are a politician ma'am, same as everyone else in DC. What politicians are supposed to do, is to stand up and voice the concerns of their constituents. It is seemingly a plain and simple job. I'm not that naive, and I know that nuance usually doesn't go in the same sentence as either the words plain, or simple. I'm sure your job is a stressful one; a job that leaves you sleepless many of the nights you've held it.

The fact is that being the Speaker is your job. Considering your sex, you might be the most prominent Speaker of all time. I know it's unfair that you've probably had more of the spotlight on you than you deserve, but again, this is Washington.

Being the representative of your constituency is truly the description of your job. This open letter to you is written by a constituent who is quite unhappy with the fruits of your profession, and of your tenure.

I'll start by talking about the broken system in which you work. Times change, and at this point in American history, your party, the Democrats, are looked upon with general disdain, and are considered to be the "weaker" of the two major parties. This is because in politics, as they're played today, compromise and a willingness to change are viewed as not having concrete and sturdy values; it's viewed as being weak near the core. The party in which you represent is considered to be a party that has no values, no morals, and no backbone. I, a registered independent, didn't want to believe this. However, your actions as of the past few days have made me change my mind.

Like most people who might lean to the left, I was happy to see a Democratic majority in Congress. I took you at your word when you said you'd end the Iraq War. It's coming on 2 years since you made such a declaration. We are still at war. In fact, we're in a two headed war; other problems such as Iran and Russia cannot truly be addressed as they should, due to the amount of funding and attention paid to Iraq and Afghanistan (not that I think the war in Afghanistan is without reason). I have seen numerous bills come through Congress, having to do with time tables and plans for escape. I commend you on that. However, due to Bush's veto, you gave up and allowed the President to get the bill he wanted. What type of message does that send to your constituency ma'am? I shallow attempt to do what you said you would... a quick failure, and then you give in and fold? Republicans were in power for so long because that is exactly what they didn't do; Republicans have the knack for sticking to their guns... whether it helps them or damns them. People see that as strength. People see your quick willingness to give into political demands, and therefore see you as weak. Watching your back break which such rapidity hurt to see. "Compromising" the way you did, hurt your party, your public approval rating, and your credibility.

I see now, another opportunity to take a stand, and you are not taking advantage. The offshore drilling issue is one to champion. When first mentioned by your Republican counterparts, your attitude was one of stubbornness and one of conviction; you knew that no relief would truly come from it (for at least a few years anyway), and if any did... it'd be just a few cents. We all know (the informed of us anyway) that offshore drilling, or what it should truly be called, THE DRILLING OF ENVIRONMENTALLY PROTECTED LANDS, is unnecessary, and just like No Child Left Behind; it sounds great, but truly does nothing helpful. The oil companies have plenty of places to drill off the coast, it's not as if they have no drilling areas (as they'd have you believe). The companies want it all however, and we all know that the Republicans in Congress today have no problem helping out a Fortune 500 conglomerate.

Again, I applaud your desire not to waver, and not to allow the Republicans to misinform, and then call a vote on ill informed material. I read today however, that due to a Republican threat to "stop the government," you're willing to change YOUR POSITION, and allow them to get the ridiculous vote they request (I say it's ridiculous because they again, say things that just aren't true, or don't give all the details, and then request voting proceedings). I'm appalled. A request Ms. Pelosi; let them stop the government. It won't happen. It's a bluff. The only way to get respect ma'am, is to stick to your values, no matter what. Let's discuss them, that's fine. But to give in due to a threat from the opposing party is flat out ridiculous, saddening and a slap in the face to all that voted your party members into office in 2006. I truly hope that you DON'T rethink your position; that you stick to your convictions, for at least once during your term.

I appreciate your time, and thank you.