Friday, December 28, 2007

Choosing Between the Top Three Democratic Candidates for President 2008.

I am often asked who amongst the top three Democratic presidential candidates would I choose between: John Edwards, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton and hands down I'd go with Edwards.

I've liked Edwards since the last election cycle in 2004. What do I like about him? Here are just a few reasons:

He has the best chance of defeating the Republicans in the general election:

On the Democratic side, Edwards performs best against each of the leading Republicans. In addition to beating Huckabee by 25 percent and McCain by 8 percent, the North Carolina Democrat beats Romney by 22 percentage points (59 percent to 37 percent) and Giuliani by 9 percentage points (53 percent to 44 percent).

His Populist message:

As someone who lives in the lower end of the financial spectrum (a nice way to say I'm poor) I really like his economic platform. He would cut taxes to the middle class reversing direction from the Bush tax cuts to the rich while the poor and middle incomes have had to cut back their budgets even more.

He is for strengthening labor laws, fighting currency manipulation, making sure trade deals put the American worker first and ending tax incentives for companies to go offshore. Those are just a few examples of the solid Edwards economic platform.

This includes a bold plan to ensure all Americans by taking on the health insurance and drug companies. This is a big issue for me as I live with a severe biological mental health disease, schizo-affective disorder and pay insane amounts of money for the medications I need. In contrast, "As of the first quarter of 2007 she [Hillary Clinton] was the recipient of more health-care-industry donations than any presidential candidate—Democrat or Republican—according to a recent study by the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy."

The Environment:

Living in the Rocky Mountain west I was raised to respect and protect the environment and became a real, "greenie." And Edwards understands the importance of taking drastic measures to reverse global warming and otherwise clean up our beautiful nature. He is for mandatory caps on emissions, leading the world with a new climate treaty. He believes is leading by example and that will help restore confidence in America abroad that we are committed to working with the rest of the world and not against it.

Here's a biggie, the former senator wants to end the gravy train for the oil companies by stopping the astronomical subsidies and tax breaks. Then, use that money saved to reinvest in renewable energy.

Also, I was extremely impressed with him when he apologized for voting for the Iraq war and admitting it was the wrong action. More importantly, however, then the apology has been backing up that admission with strong statements against the war and and a firm commitment to bring our troops home.

If I was an Iowa or New Hampshire voter then I would definitely go with Edwards. If things look over by the time Colorado comes around then I'm voting for Kucinich but if it's still close between the top 3 then I'll go with Edwards.

---End of Transmission---

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

HIllary's Experience is Nominal at Best

The mantra for Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign has been experience.

But during her husband's two terms in the White House, Clinton did not hold a security clearance. She did not attend National Security Council meetings. She was not given a copy of the president's daily intelligence briefing. And during one of President Bill Clinton's major tests on terrorism, whether to bomb Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998, she was barely speaking to her husband, let alone advising him, as the Monica Lewinsky scandal played out.

This would all be well and good if we were electing a First Lady.

In fact, even in the senate she doesn't have much experience either. She hasn't been the author of any major piece of legislation in her congressional career whereas Obama accomplished much more during his time in the Illinois state senate. He worked with Democrats and Republicans alike to pass legislation to reform ethics standards and health care in Illinois. He worked on laws to increase tax credits for lower income folks and welfare reform. He helped make the first campaign finance reform law in Illinois in 25 years. In addition he aided in passing the states first racial profiling law. Further, he was very influential in working with law enforcement on death penalty reform.

So what about Hillary's record, well she voted for the PATRIOT act for one and of the twenty bills that she passed, fifteen were merely symbolic in nature.To make matters worse she voted to allow Bush to implement his invasion and occupation of Iraq. Sure she sits on several committees but she basically just a "bench warmer." Here is a list of the stellar, Earth shattering, revolutionary bills that she helped pass:

• Establish the Kate Mullany National Historic Site

• Support the goals and ideals of Better Hearing and Speech Month

• Recognize the Ellis Island Medal of Honor

• Name courthouse after Thurgood Marshall

• Name courthouse after James L. Watson

• Name post office after John A. O'Shea

• Designate August 7, 2003, as National Purple Heart Recognition Day

• Support the goals and ideals of National Purple Heart Recognition Day

• Honor the life and legacy of Alexander Hamilton on the bicentennial of his death

• Congratulate the Syracuse University Orange Men's Lacrosse Team on winning the championship.

• Congratulate the Le Moyne College Dolphins Men's Lacrosse Team on winning the championship

• Establish the 225th Anniversary of the American Revolution Commemorative Program

• Name post office after Sergeant Riayan A. Tejeda

• Honor Shirley Chisholm for her service to the nation and express condolences on her death

• Honor John J. Downing, Brian Fahey, and Harry Ford, firefighters who lost their lives on duty.

Now here are the few major bills that she passed:

• Extend period of unemployment assistance to victims of 9/11

• Pay for city projects in response to 9/11

• Assist landmine victims in other countries

• Assist family caregivers in accessing affordable respite care

• Designate part of the National Forest System in Puerto Rico as protected in the Wilderness Preservation System

All this being said, the fact of the matter is that no amount of experience will prepare you for the awesome nature of the American presidency. I would rather go with someone who represents change, youth and hope then a tired, recycled, polarizing Clintonite.

In other news, check out this Christmas video from American presidential candidate Mike Gravel, talk about weird!! It looks like these guys all took some LSD and filmed a commercial.

---End of Transmission---

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Woman Sees Jesus and George Washington in Rock.

(Above: Jesus/George Washington rock)
A Tucson woman strolling the banks of the Santa Cruz river says she un-earthed a two faced rock.

Rae Oliver discovered the stone last week.

"So I pick it up and, lo and behold, it's Jesus! And I'm examining it and looking at it and I turn it around and on the other side is George Washington."

GOI: Hmm, it looks to me like a head of one of those stone statues on Easter Island. Maybe "God" is telling us to worship the Easter Island "Gods."
It does though look a bit like George Washington but not like any picture of Jesus that I've seen, in the least. Why George Washington I wonder? What about a picture of Moses, Peter or what about Mary? Washington didn't attend church that much and did not take communion. In all his writings he never mentioned, "Jesus Christ." He even mentioned that he would consider those of all beliefs when hiring workers to work on Mount Vernon, including non-religious Atheists!! THE HORROR!!! It seems that based on the evidence, Washington was more of a Deist then a Christian. So why would "God" send us this rock looking like George Washington when George Washington was more likely a Deist and most Deists reject miracles and believe that God doesn't interfere with human life? Sending us such a rock definitely interferes with human life.

The thing that I find humorous about all these supposed cases of seeing Jesus in rocks, doors and cheese sandwiches is that we have no historical evidence AT ALL as to what Jesus looks like. And all those that have been invented all look different. For all we know Jesus was black.

Her neighbor, Ron Mozitis, says it took him a few hard looks before seeing Christ's image. Rock in hand he says "I see President Bush with his mouth open. No wait... when you look at it like this I definitely see the profile of Jesus."

The meaning of this can be left up to interpretation. Oliver says she sees the G.W. initials of George Washington proclaiming God's Wisdom. And the likeness of Jesus on the other side? "It's a sign of the times to come and we have to change and be kinder and more God like."

GOI: And how does she plan to use the rock to "change" our greedy, materialistic, selfish society and become more "God like?" Why, by selling her divine rock on Ebay of course!!

Oliver says she doesn't have any big plans for the two faced rock. She says for now she's reserved a special place on her mantle for it. Or, "eBay is a possibility."

She says it's a gift from God coming just in time for Christmas.

GOI: So she plans on thanking "God" for this gift by selling it. Nice. Because nothing says "Thanks for the supernatural, rare, divine, thoughtful gift" like turning around and selling it for as much money as you can get. Only in America.

---End of Transmission---

Monday, December 17, 2007

Romney: The Tax Shelter Candidate.

While in private business, Mitt Romney utilized shell companies in two offshore tax havens to help eligible investors avoid paying U.S. taxes, federal and state records show.

Romney gained no personal tax benefit from the legal operations in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. But aides to the Republican presidential hopeful and former colleagues acknowledged that the tax-friendly jurisdictions helped attract billions of additional investment dollars to Romney's former company, Bain Capital, and thus boosted profits for Romney and his partners.

Romney has based his White House bid, in part, on the skills he learned as co-founder and chief of Bain Capital, one of the nation's most successful private equity groups.

GOI: Since he is basing a major part of his campaign on his business experience then we know that he would maintain the Bush tax policy (if not expand it) and in doing so continue to screw the average American.

I don't know if I have discussed this here before but I firmly believe in something I call, "Economic Patriotism." It means that you fight for your country not just during military conflicts but also in regards to our economy. The opposite means that you sell your country out when you ship jobs over-seas and take money from the rest of the country by not paying your fair share of taxes. If that's the kind of economic policy that you like then by all means support Mitt Romney.

Where in the Book of Mormon does it say that it is A-O.k. to help others cheat the system? Does it say that it is good to be greedy? I have read the B.O.M.--FIVE TIMES, twice in English and three times in French and I can honestly say that it does not say these things in EITHER translation, much to the consternation of Mitt I'm sure.

---End of Transmission---

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Buddhism and Secular Humanism. Or, "What I Believe Buddhism to be About."

I am one of those "Western Buddhists" who is also a secular humanist. So what exactly is secular humanism you ask? Well, this post will be my attempt to answer that question and show how my interpretation of Buddhism fits into it.

Humanism is often described as a philosophical system/way of life that emphasizes reason, ethics and justice and specifically rejects the supernatural. In this regard I do not believe in the supernatural reality of Bodhisattvas (or sort of supernatural beings found in some schools of Buddhist thought) as I can not confirm their existence via reasonable, scientific means which is a hallmark of the Humanism that I bring to my Buddhist beliefs. It is actually also a hallmark of Buddhism as seen in the Buddha's pragmatic, famous teaching found in the Kalama Sutra that is interestingly quite similar to the scientific method:

Rely not on the teacher/person, but on the teaching. Rely not on the words of the teaching, but on the spirit of the words. Rely not on theory, but on experience. Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. Do not believe anything because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything because it is written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and the benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."

In fact, Buddhism has a very accepting, positive attitude and view toward science. The Dalai Lama has even stated before that if science proves an aspect of Buddhism in error then Buddhism must change to reflect the new reality:

“One fundamental attitude shared by Buddhism and science is the commitment to keep searching for reality by empirical means and to be willing to discard accepted or long-held positions if our search finds that the truth is different,” he writes in his 2005 book, The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality.

If science proves facts that conflict with Buddhist understanding, Buddhism must change accordingly. We should always adopt a view that accords with the facts.”

That is all a little off track from my train of thought regarding Bodhisattvas. Part of my rejection of supernatural aspects of Buddhism comes from my practice of Zen Buddhism which tends (and I emphasize tends) to de-emphasize Bodhisattvas. I can not absolutely deny their existence and despite what many say, science doesn't and can not deny the possibility of something new being discovered and I, like many science based folks, am very open to new discoveries. That being said, either way, liberation from suffering (or happiness) is ultimately left up to us humans with the exception of perhaps Pure Land Buddhism. I do, however, believe in Bodhisattvas in a metaphoric sense as the ideal of altruistic excellence. As well as believing that certain living people can share many characteristics of the seemingly mythical Bodhisattva, such as great teachers, family members and friends who have changed our lives for the better. Also, I take great hope and refuge in the idea that we all have (sometimes latent within us) the wonderful attributes that the many Bodhisattva icons represent and we practice to cultivate those.

It would be a miscalculation to say that these Bodhisattvas are "deities" per se such as one would find in other religions. Though they are seen as supernatural, most Buddhists who believe in them see them as guides and teachers rather then "Gods."

In addition, I do not believe all the fantastic stories told in many of the ancient sutras as literal. I prefer to study, contemplate and ponder the essence of the teachings from these sutras rather then focus on the magical nature of some of their accounts. There are many Buddhist teachers who acknowledge their mythology and see their value in the messages their represent then whether or not they are "real."

In addition, Humanism and Buddhism both share the belief that there is no separable "soul" within sentient beings. This means the belief that we are a product of a series of subtle evolutionary changes over the years instead of the result of some divine creation such as being created in the image of a personal "God." Buddhists believe that nothing can exist on its own. It's the idea that in order to have paper you need not only trees but water, sun, soil and on and on. So if you mediate (which just basically means contemplation) upon this concept you can understand that there is all this other non-paper "stuff" within it. Here's another example, we label things such as this is my "body" but the body is merely the sum of its parts. You can not have a body without the brain and without blood you can not have the brain and without oxygen you can not have the blood and so it goes. So in reality we (and all matter) are all one giant organism experiencing itself in infinite ways, always changing, always adapting to new variations. It is the Buddhist concept of interconnection and interdependence.

Another aspect of Humanism is the belief in the value of this life. Humanists do not believe in an afterlife as such and thus emphasize realizing happiness now rather then constantly dreaming for some better life to come. For Humanists, the present moment is the only moment that exists and therefore it is in this moment, right here, right now where we find meaning and purpose. This is an idea that fits squarely within the Dharma (the teachings of Buddhism) and is in fact crucial and critical to the Buddha's teachings.

This leads in nicely to a discussion on rebirth. In a general sense I believe in rebirth within that frame work of interconnection and interdependence mentioned above. So that even though I will die, a part of me will live on in others as part of my genetic make up (DNA) lives in my young nephews and nieces and they will pass it on to others and so on. We are also reborn every time we influence another person's life for the better (or for the worse). For example, long after Einstein died his thoughts and essence live on in current scientists and the rest of us.

There are many Buddhists (especially western Zen Buddhists like myself--as well as many other Zen Buddhists and students from other traditions) who give concepts of an after life (rebirth) little thought, preferring instead to focus simply on present circumstances and let any afterlife that might occur take care of itself (or not). I personally believe that seeing the change and rebirth in every present moment to be more beneficial to our practice then constantly obsessing about an afterlife and what kind of rebirth we might experience. I'm not saying we couldn't literally be reborn as another being after we die but as I don't have enough scientific and logical evidence I haven't accepted rebirth to that extent in my practice and study of Buddhist philosophy. I believe that the bliss of "enlightenment" occurs in the seemingly mundane events of this humble human life. I do not spend much time contemplating Nirvana either as it is often said that such a "state" or concept to be beyond explanation or understanding.

For many Buddhists It is a matter of not assuming that our being is separate from everything else. If we are all interconnected then we can, for example, be reborn in the form of a plant when our ashes create fertile soil for a seed to thrive in. An actor playing a scientist in the American television show on the mafia, The Sopranos says it well. The scientist was sharing a hospital room with Tony (the Soprano mafia boss):

Pauli (one of Tony's most senior men): Look at you T. You do your uncle a kindness, you get shot for your efforts. You think you got family, but in the end they fuck you too.
Tony Soprano : [to the others in the room] He's grieving. His aunt just died.
Pauli: Each and every one of us, we're alone in the ring, fighting for our lives. Just like that poor prick. [referring to a boxer on the TV]
John Schwinn, a scientist: That's one way to look at it
Tony: You got a better one? ...
John Schwinn: Well, it's actually an illusion that those boxers are separate entities....Their separate entities is simply the way we choose to perceive them.
Tony: I didn't choose nothin.
John Schwinn: It's physics. Schrodinger's equation. The boxers, you, me - we're all part of the same quantum field...Think of the two boxers as ocean waves or currents of air - two tornadoes. They appear to be two separate things, but they're not. Tornadoes are just the wind stirred up in different directions. The fact is, nothing is separate - everything is connected ...
Tony: Get the fuck outta here
John Schwinn: The universe is just one big soup of molecules bumping up against one another. The shapes we see exist only in our own consciousness...

This brings us to karma. There are many misconceptions about karma that come from language differences, cultural differences, the distortion of the concept by popular culture (movies, etc.) and those who willfully twist the idea for their own gain. Missionaries seeking to convert people from their Buddhist philosophy to their religion comes to mind.

I will only mention one misconception in this post for the sake of brevity. The general misunderstanding is that karma is a form of "score keeping" of points to build up so that we can cash them in for a prize or suffer our prized toy from being taken away. Essentially karma is the law of cause and effect, if you constantly insult people then you will end up alone and most likely miserable--that is karma. Sorry to take the Hollywood out of the teaching but that's the basic frame work.

One can also think of it this way, our lives are like waves emerging from a vast ocean (totality of all observable matter) subtle changes in wind speed and water temperature affect the size, duration and speed of the wave. In reality, this is a collection of molecules and atoms interacting in a series of complex events. But we use the abstraction of a wave to deal with the overall effect of these interactions. We can watch a wave move from one location to the other with our eyes, even though nothing of substance is actually moving between those locations. We even create complex mathematical formulae to describe the activity and interaction of waves. However, waves don’t actually exist as discrete objects; rather, they are a pattern of the collective causes and effects.

We create so many changes in our second by second existence that it is hard to see those fleeting, subtle, actions as creating our future reality just as it is hard to see one age second by second. It appears over-night that we have aged but such is not the cause. Our aging has been a slow but methodical collection of changes over a long period of time that eventually results in our death.

Humanism also gives prominence to individual responsibility which harmonizes with the Dharma as there is no savior in Buddhism, no God. The Buddha was merely a teacher, a guide. While teachers are very helpful, again, in the end our happiness and liberation from suffering is up to us.

Humanism also believes that to better the world we all need to work together through reason, tolerance and an open minded exchange of ideas which is important to Buddhism as well. The Buddhist philosophy emphasizes interconnection and therefore interdependence upon others. We are therefore encouraged to work for the greater good of humanity rather then just for what is good for ourselves. Humanism (as does Buddhism) believes that all lives are precious and equal regardless of religion, faith, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or creed.

For me the secular aspect of my Humanist philosophy definitely emerges from my western culture, upbringing and education. I firmly believe in the separation of religion and state for the good, betterment and survival of both.

I find it important to state one more thing, not all Humanists think alike as not all Buddhists think alike.

And finally, of course I do not and would never assume that my interpretations here should be taken as "better Buddhism" or in any way taken to mean that others should adopt them. They are merely the result and conclusions that I came to from following the Buddha's advice in the Kalama Sutra.

~Peace to all beings~

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Straight Dope on Obama's Drug Use. Plus, Fred Thompson's Favorite Possession.

So the Clinton campaign is still looking as desperate and conflicted as a rat on a floating piece of cheese. Now they are attacking Obama for his youthful drug use just in time with Christmas (What a Grinch/Scrooge), kind of ironic coming from a campaign where Hillary's husband once absurdly claimed, "I did not inhale." What a load of shit, of course he inhaled!! In this day and age, who hasn't tried drugs??? O.k., besides Mitt Romney and Mick Huckabee but I'm talking about people who live in the real world. I'd rather deal with someone who was fully honest and said, "Yeah, I did drugs" instead of saying something like, "I rolled up the dollar bill but I didn't snort."

So then the staffer who made an issue of his past drug use apologized (as did she) and was "let go." Actually he isn't gone from the campaign like they first hinted, rather she said that he, "isn't in a leadership role in my campaign." So he could very well still be in an advisory position in her campaign, which is quite deceitful.

Then Mark Penn (Hillary's chief messenger and her Karl Rove) came onto Chris Matthews's show and mentioned Obama's cocaine "issue." "Issue," which makes it sound like he was twitching addict!! As if no, he didn't just experiment with it, he had an "issue" with it. Come on. That's the Clinton attack dogs mentality for ya!! So Penn mentioned it twice in a suggestive way while talking out of the other side of his mouth saying the issue isn't something we (the Clinton campaign) want to raise!! YOU JUST DID RAISE IT YOU DUMB ASS!!! AGAIN!!!

This is straight out of the same stale bag of tricks that brought us Hillary trying to slam Obama over his kindergarten desire to be president. It's pathetic and I it predict will backfire on her. The harder you throw shit at someone else the more splashes back onto you and your target can get sympathy, wipe it off, hold their head up high, play from a defensive position and you just end up smelling and looking like that shit your originally threw!!

There are only a few weeks left before the primaries begin and for her campaign to be sniping like this shows that she is grasping. She apologized to Obama for the comments but then turned around today and said that even though she disagrees with the drug comments by her staffer, she thinks the GOP will make an issue of it and he would be vulnerable because of it. Then she went on to say that she wouldn't be vulnerable because she's use to enemies dragging out her the skeletons in her closet so to speak. Yeah, whatever. It's not like she comes with any baggage or anything. ;)

I think that since Obama has been able to stay in stride with the Clinton political machine then he can hold is own with the Republicans. And just because she's use to fighting back doesn't mean we want to have to watch the whole Clinton dog and pony circus show all over again. If she is the nomination there will be blood in the streets after the massacre that will occur over her past. I think a little cocaine use in Obama's early years is better then the dumpster of crap that's following Shrillary around!!

Let's talk about issues that matter to the average Joe like you and I. Such as how we can afford our health care, how we can keep our jobs, how we can get out of the Iraq war. No, instead let's talk about some lines of blow that Obama did when he was a dumb teen-ager. I'm sure many of those guys in the Iraq could care less about drug use when they're being shot at. Hell, they could probably go for a snort or two over there to deal with the insanity!!

Now the Clinton lovers are trying to make hay out of the point brought up in the last debate that Obama has several former Clinton advisors and how can he claim he is going in a new direction while keeping them on board? I loved his response when Hillary said, "Yeah, I want to hear this" while cackling like the wicked witch of the west. Obama replied, "Well, I'm looking forward to you advising me too Hillary!!" Ouch.

To the point raised, however, doesn't anyone wonder why those former Clinton advisers with her??? I think it is because they do want to go in a different direction, blaze a different trail, turn over a new leaf and they realize that the Clinton race horse has fallen back into dustbin of political importance and want to go with something new. They want to be apart of something different and have a shot to make history not just keep having to wipe the ass of the Clinton's.

Shifting gears, the candidates were all asked by someone, what they favorite possession was. Obama said a picture of a cliff over-looking a beach where his mother's ashes were spread. Rudy said his grandfathers' pocket watch and Fred? His trophy wife. Yep, he sees his wife as a possession. Fred is dead.

---End of Transmission---

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Gov. Mike Huckabee, Mormons, Satan and Jesus

(Here's my description: Mike Huckabee laughing at Mitt Romney after Romney explained to him that his "magic underwear" protects him from political attacks).
There is a lot of noise in the MSM (mainstream media) about presidential candidate asking if Mormons believe that Satan and Jesus are brothers. Having grown up Mormon I can confirm that yes, they do believe that.

Satan is considered a "Son of 'God'" by the Mormons and therefore Jesus and Lucifer are indeed brothers. It is the classic story of two brothers, one good and the other the bad, "black sheep." It sounds like a script for an outlandish, fantasy movie. You know, the classic "odd couple" idea. Mormons also consider us all as brothers and sisters and to that end refer to each other as Brother (name) and Sister (name). As a Western, Modern, Godless, Zen Buddhist I feel that we are all family but simply because we are all apart of the larger human family via evolution and genetics but not because there was some Heavenly home that we all left to prove our love to our selfish "Father." This from the official Mormon website:

We needed a Savior to pay for our sins and teach us how to return to our Heavenly Father. Our Father said, "Whom shall I send?" (Abraham 3:27). Two of our brothers offered to help. Our oldest brother, Jesus Christ, who was then called Jehovah, said, "Here am I, send me" (Abraham 3:27).

Jesus was willing to come to the earth, give his life for us, and take upon himself our sins. He, like our Heavenly Father, wanted us to choose whether we would obey Heavenly Father's commandments. He knew we must be free to choose in order to prove ourselves worthy of exaltation. Jesus said, "Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever" (Moses 4:2).

Satan, who was called Lucifer, also came, saying, "Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor" (Moses 4:1). Satan wanted to force us all to do his will. Under his plan, we would not be allowed to choose. He would take away the freedom of choice that our Father had given us. Satan wanted to have all the honor for our salvation.

After hearing both sons speak, Heavenly Father said, "I will send the first" (Abraham 3:27).

GOI: By the way, the Book of Abraham and the Book of Moses are both scripture supposedly translated by Joseph Smith just like the Book of Mormon.

The irony here is that Satan plays an integral role in the plan of "God" and Jesus to allow free will. He represents the "other choice" and so without him "God" and Jesus would have to force us to follow their plan, which according to the above "scriptures" is the plan of Satan!! There's some classic circular thinking for ya!! So what does Satan get for helping "God" pull his plan off?? Eternal damnation that's what. So,
we are free to choose so long as we choose his plan. That's not much of a deal.

And where does the idea of evil that Satan supposedly chose to follow come from if not from "God himself?!! Isn't he the Creator of all things?

And don't you think that a father like him who is supposedly all knowing and powerful would do everything in his power to bring Satan back into the fold?? Instead he just kicks him out of the house for one disagreement!! It sounds like the family of "God" needs some therapy. Instead, Jesus, "God" and Satan draw us into their stupid war!! Maybe we don't want to have anything to do with them!! I guess I chose to run away from home because that home is/was clearly abusive. I mean, what would a psychologist think of such a family if you presented that story to them as that of your real family here on Earth??? Talk about dysfunction!!

---End of Transmission---

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chris Matthews on Religion and Science

From Chris Matthews today on his program Hardball on MSNBC:

Science, thanks to Judaism and Christianity both embraced science, Churchill figured that out. It's why our cultures have done so well and the others haven't because, well, not so much all the others but we've done well because our religions have embraced science, truth that set us free.

GOI: I like Chris sometimes but now and then he says something that totally makes my jaw drop and choke on my own spittle such as this comment. I would agree with him that our culture has done so well because we have embraced science but much of Christianity (Judaism less so) has not exactly embraced science, in fact the opposite has more often been the case. Christianity, Judaism and many other religions have long fought science and still do to this day. How can Chris ignore the Evolution vs. Creationism debate and the stem cell research debate to name a few? Ironically, however, early Islam was quite tolerant and even somewhat supportive of science but not so much in the modern age.

Yes, there are examples of science growing within a religious world but for the most part, science and religion have been at odds.

I would ask Chris, "How many innovations in science have occurred without Christianity fighting it every step of the way?"

GOI: Feel free to send Chris an email, I will. Here is the address for his show:

---End of Transmission---

Monday, December 10, 2007

Our President's Dumb Blond Press Secretary

It's only fitting that one of the dumbest presidents ever has a dumb blond for his press secretary, Dana Perino:

During a White House briefing, a reporter referred to the Cuban Missile Crisis -- and she didn't know what it was.

"I was panicked a bit because I really don't know about . . . the Cuban Missile Crisis," said Perino, who at 35 was born about a decade after the 1962 U.S.-Soviet nuclear showdown. "It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I'm pretty sure."

So she consulted her best source. "I came home and I asked my husband," she recalled. "I said, 'Wasn't that like the Bay of Pigs thing?' And he said, 'Oh, Dana.' "

GOI: And if you hear the sound bite of her talking about it on NPR she is laughing like it's "cute" or something. Since when did it become "cool" to be dumb??? It appears that a qualification for working in the Bush administration is to have failed history. This one really irks me because I have a history degree and it plays into this narrative that this administration doesn't bother to look into history before doing things. Give you an example? I'll give you a hit, it starts with "I" and ends with a "Q." And it rhymes with "attack."

It is also a reminder that our kids aren't being taught adequate history, geography and civics classes. It seems that these subjects are being cut and otherwise de-emphasized. When Bush hears the word, "history" be probably responds, "Who's story? The only story I know is My Pet Goat."

---End of Transmission---

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Parable of Kissing Hanks Ass

GOI: I'm sure you've all seen this but it's new to me. I laughed until It hurt and I couldn't bearth!! I had to read it in chunks so that I wouldn't pass out from laughter. :)

This morning there was a knock at my door. When I answered the door I found a well groomed, nicely dressed couple. The man spoke first.

John: Hi! I’m John, and this is Mary.

Mary: Hi! We’re here to invite you to come kiss Hank’s ass with us.

Me: Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who’s Hank, and why would I want to kiss his ass?

John: If you kiss Hank’s ass, he’ll give you a million dollars; and if you don’t, he’ll kick the shit out of you.

Me: What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?

John: Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever he wants, and what he wants is to give you a million dollars, but he can’t until you kiss his ass.

Me: That doesn’t make any sense. Why...

Mary: Who are you to question Hank’s gift? Don’t you want a million dollars? Isn’t it worth a little kiss on the ass?

Me: Well maybe, if it’s legit, but...

John: Then come kiss Hank’s ass with us!

Me: Do you kiss Hank’s ass often?

Mary: Oh yes, all the time...

Me: And has he given you a million dollars?

John: Well… no, you don’t actually get the money until you leave town.

Me: So why don’t you just leave town now?

Mary: You can’t leave until Hank tells you to, or you don’t get the money, and he kicks the shit out of you.

Me: Do you know anyone who kissed Hank’s ass, left town, and got the million dollars?

John: My mother kissed Hank’s ass for years. She left town last year, and I’m sure she got the money.

Me: Haven’t you talked to her since then?

John: Of course not! Hank doesn’t allow it.

Me: So what makes you think he’ll actually give you the money if you’ve never talked to anyone who got the money?

Mary: Well, he gives you a little bit before you leave. Maybe you’ll get a raise, maybe you’ll win a small lotto, maybe you’ll just find a twenty dollar bill on the street.

Me: What’s that got to do with Hank?

John: Hank has certain ‘connections.’

Me: I’m sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game.

John: But it’s a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don’t kiss Hank’s ass he’ll kick the shit of you.

Me: Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from him...

Mary: No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank.

Me: Then how do you kiss his ass?

John: Sometimes we just blow Him a kiss, and think of his ass. Other times we kiss Karl’s ass, and he passes it on.

Me: Who’s Karl?

Mary: A friend of ours. He’s the one who taught us all about kissing Hank’s ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times.

Me: And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss his ass, and that Hank would reward you?

John: Oh no! Do you think we're fools? Karl has a letter he got from Hank years ago explaining the whole thing. Here’s a copy; see for yourself.

From The Desk of…Karl

1. Kiss Hank's ass and he'll give you a million dollars when you leave town.

2. Drink alcohol only in moderation.

3. Kick the shit out of people who aren't like you.

4. Eat right.

5. Hank dictated this list himself.

6. The moon is made of green cheese.

7. Everything Hank says is right.

8. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.

9. Don't drink alcohol.

10. Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.

11. Kiss Hank's ass or he'll kick the shit out of you
Me: This appears to be written on Karl’s letterhead, not Hank's.

Mary: Hank didn’t have any paper.

Me: I have a hunch that if we checked we’d find this is Karl’s handwriting too.

John: Of course! Hank dictated it.

Me: I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?

Mary: Not now, but years ago he would talk to some people.

Me: I thought you said he was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the shit out of people just because they’re different?

Mary: It’s what Hank wants, and Hank’s always right.

Me: How do you figure that?

Mary: Item 7 says ‘Everything Hank says is right.’ That’s good enough for me!

Me: Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up.

John: No way! Item 5 says ‘Hank dictated this list himself.’ Besides, item 2 says ‘Use alcohol in moderation,’ Item 4 says ‘Eat right,’ and item 8 says ‘Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.’ Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too.

Me: But 9 says ‘Don’t use alcohol.’ which doesn’t quite go with item 2, and 6 says ‘The moon is made of green cheese,’ which is just plain wrong.

John: There’s no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you’ve never been to the moon, so you can’t say for sure.

Me: Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock...

Mary: But they don’t know if the rock came from the Earth, or from outer space, so it could just as easily be green cheese.

Me: Not knowing where the rock came from doesn’t make it cheese. And I’m not an expert, but I think the scientific theory that the Moon came from the Earth has been discounted.

John: Aha! You just admitted that scientists make mistakes, but we know Hank is always right!

Me: We do?

Mary: Of course we do, Item 5 says so.

Me: You’re saying Hank's always right because in the list that Hank dictated Hank says Hank is always right. That's circular reasoning!

John: Now you’re getting it! It’s so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank’s way of thinking.

Me: But...oh, never mind. What’s the deal with wieners?

(Mary blushes)

John: Wieners go in buns, with no condiments. It’s Hank’s way. Anything else is immoral.

Me: What if I don’t have a bun?

John: No bun, no wiener. A wiener without a bun is wrong.

Me: No relish? No Mustard?

(Mary looks positively stricken.)

John: (shouting) There’s no need for such language! Condiments of any kind are wrong!

Me: So a big pile of sauerkraut with some wieners chopped up in it would be out of the question?

Mary: (Sticking her fingers in her ears.) I am not listening to this. La la la la la la la la.

John: That’s disgusting. Only some sort of evil deviant would eat…

Me: It’s good! I eat it all the time.

(Mary faints.)

John: (Catching Mary.) Well, if I’d known you were one of those I wouldn’t have wasted my time. When Hank kicks the shit out of you I’ll be there, counting my money and laughing. I’ll kiss Hank’s ass for you, you bunless cut-wienered kraut-eater.

(With this, John drags Mary to their waiting car, and speeds off.)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Romney on Religion.

Presidential candidate Governor Mitt Romney addressed voters concerns regarding his Mormon faith today. In recent years the Christian right has taken over the Republican party and being a Christian is considered a non negotiable issue for many Republicans. Even though there is a section in the Constitution which bars any religious test being applied as a qualification for public office.

Now, I defend Romney in the sense that I do not believe that he or anyone should have to explain their religious beliefs as long as they pledge that their religious beliefs will not affect their public policy. As long as they use rational thought when it comes to leading then I could care less what they believe. However, the minute you start trying to influence government policy with your religious views then we have a problem and I believe such actions should require a severe rebuke (i.e. censure) by the people, thus, Congress. Romney however, doesn't seem to understand the very constitution that seeks to protect his faith:

"There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they are at odds with the nation's founders," Romney said.

GOI: Clearly the good Governor hasn't read article six of the constitution regarding the religious test and therefore Mr. Romney you are the one who is at odds with the founding fathers of America, not secularists.

Romney goes on:

"Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone," he said.

Let's break this quote down a bit. First he says, Freedom requires religion. No, it does not. There is not one word in the constitution which says that in order to have freedom, religion must be present in one's life and certainly not in the government. At least not the constitution that I read. The founding fathers left England and other states which had this idea in stone that freedom required religion. In many cases a persons rights (or freedoms) were dictated by religion and that is exactly what the first Americans sought to leave behind as they formed a new, more enlightened country.

Next Romney said, religion requires freedom and yes, that is true. That is what I was saying in the above paragraph. He went too far with his first statement and should have just simply said this second point. Romney wouldn't even be free to practice his Mormon faith without the founding fathers rejecting his notion that "freedom requires religion," let alone try to explain it as he was trying to do in this speech. Because which religion should they have chosen? Anglican Christianity? That would have indeed left Romney's Mormonism out as it didn't form until the 19th century. That is the crux of the issue that he is mixing up here.

Then he stated, Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone. I think here that there is an important distinction and that it isn't as simple as this statement. Yes, I do believe that without freedom you can not have religion or at least religious freedom. However, I also believe that you can have freedom without religion. In fact, the ability of government to function for all people as equally as possible, has and does require that there is no religion in such affairs and it is not hard to understand why. So the irony here is that without the government being free from religion there would be no freedom to choose or not choose what religion or non-religious belief you wish.

I don't understand why this is so hard for some religious folks to understand!! If this was a country with a radical, Islamic theocracy then the minority Christians wouldn't stand a chance to practice their faith openly and be treated equally by the law. That is what they do not see or choose not to see about imposing their Christian beliefs into the government arena. By doing so they are violating the constitution and actively or subconsciously discriminating against minority faiths in America just as that radical, Islamic theocracy would do to their Christian beliefs!!! This is a classic case of the problems that one can run into by not being able or willing to put yourself in someone else's situation. How would you feel, act and re-act if you were the minority? Doing so helps one understand the importance of balance in government and in life in general.

So let's now return to his first quote: There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they are at odds with the nation's founders. O.k., that is fine to believe that as your personal beliefs but then he contradicts himself again later in the speech by saying, Like him, [John F. Kennedy] I am an American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith."

GOI: So which is it Mitt? Should religion be a matter seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us, as you said. Or, should we not define a candidacy by one's religion? And that a person shouldn't be elected because of their faith nor should they be rejected because of their faith, as you also said?

It sounds to me like Romney is getting caught up in "mexed missages" as Bush once famously said. As far as I can tell this only muddies up the water even more for his campaign and is exactly why no religious test should be applied to one's candidacy!!

GOI: Let's return back to his speech. Romney goes on: If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest. A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States," he said. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes president he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths, he said.

But wait a minute Mitt, you just said that you wouldn't serve only one group but then you go on to say that you need the prayers of the people of all faiths? This clearly leaves out Atheists and other non-believers who do not believe in prayer. So let's be honest here. You just said "the people of all faiths," not the "people of all faiths" AND the support (not just prayers from the religious) of those of no faith. Perhaps you might think that such a criticism is splitting hairs but for many it is a very, very important distinction to make.

Let's return again to the speech, he says:

Romney said he thought some have taken the idea of separation of church and state beyond its original meaning by trying to remove any acknowledgment of God from the public arena.

"It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America -- the religion of secularism. They are wrong," he said.

GOI: (slams head against the computer sdsdaojfsoeashdflasdhaoeanew'aiwea[ohwefioawefhaw'oi)

Oh Mitt, here we go again!! The very idea that there is any acknowledgment of "God" in the public arena means there is no longer freedom from religion within government!! Don't you see, the word, "God" automatically means only certain religions, let alone those who have a right to be free from any religion in the public, government arena. It does not include for example Buddhists who do not believe in "God." Therefore, such behavior is not keeping with the separation of church and state at any level!! And, "the religion of secularism??" Secularism means NO RELIGION in the public arena therefore how can secular philosophy be a religion?!!! It's a philosophy that is on more solid, legal ground then pushing "God" into the public arena, that's for sure.

The Reverend Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State agrees:

"I was disappointed in Romney’s statement,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “The founders of our Constitution meant for religion and government to be completely separate. Romney is wrong when he says we are in danger of taking separation too far or at risk of establishing a religion of secularism. “I was also disappointed that Romney doesn’t seem to recognize that many Americans are non-believers,” Lynn continued. “Polls repeatedly show that millions of people have chosen to follow no spiritual path at all. They’re good Americans too, and Romney ought to have recognized that fact.

GOI: Of course, none in the media are mentioning or caring to mention his lack of inclusiveness of the non-theists and non-religious. Fair and balanced my hairy, bobbin' man ass!! (a nod to the late, great comedian Bill Hicks).

---End of Transmission---

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hillary Clinton Wrong Again. First it Was Iraq and Now, Iran.

Just recently President Bush threatened America that we would end up in World War III if we didn't act on Iran and Hillary Clinton has been sounding more like him then her Democratic base.

She has been one of the most hawkish candidates on Iran in the Democratic presidential field. Once again she is on the wrong side of a foreign policy issue and we are supposed to believe she has all this experience to lead us in foreign policy affairs? I don't think so, not so fast. Never mind an NIE (National Intelligence Estimate) from 2005 (let alone the current NIE) that stated Iran was a decade away from developing a nuclear bomb.

Either she didn't bother to read the estimate in 2005 (which makes her a terrible senator) OR she blatantly ignored it to stir up support just as Bush as done throughout his entire presidency, which would make her untrustworthy of our vote at best. Either way she looks less like a leader and more like a snake oil salesperson.

Now she is slamming Obama for missing an Iran vote when she herself voted to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group. Following the Iraq war lie we should have been more cynical toward another Bush drumbeat for war but Hillary was right in the mix stirring it up. We figured rightly that our credibility with rest of the world was in shambles after Iraq and now we've set it back even further. It will take decades, if not longer, to repair the trust that we have shattered in regards to the rest of the world.

After a John Edwards attack on that vote, Clinton is spinning the rhetoric like a drunk on New Years Eve claiming the vote was to encourage diplomacy. Yeah, sure, declaring a major part of a countries military as a terrorist organization isn't going to entice them to come to the bargaining table. Instead, it creates more unease, distrust and tension. Whether the IRG is a terrorist organization or not is not what we should be focusing on. We need to be building relationships of trust with the Iranians so that they feel heard and willing to work toward a peaceful settlement. Labeling them evil and this and that doesn't help, it only throws more gasoline on the fire.

Of course the current NIE could be wrong but it appears to be in line with the 2005 report and without other evidence to the contrary this news hopefully gives up breathing room within which to further diplomacy.

Now she is telegraphing an attack at Obama for saying that he wanted to be president as a kid. Are you serious?!! Just about every child in America wants to be president--this kind of cheap shot makes her look desperate and immature. I mean, for crying out loud I wanted to be a rhinoceros when I was in kindergarten!! Now, Mark Penn Hillary's chief political strategist is calling the attack, "a joke."

I just hope that the good people of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and across the country are waking up to the charlatan that is Hillary Clinton.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Bill Maher on Religion

Maybe some of you have already seen this one but it's a classic. Bill Maher is one of my favorite comics and especially since he's a master at satire as I dabble in satire myself.

The religious test comment in the clip got me thinking. There will definitely be a female and African American president before anyone of any other faith then Christian let alone Atheist/Non-Theist. I doubt if there will ever be an Atheist president actually.

If fact I know this is so, at least for now (and most likely for a long, long time to come). Here is Richard Dawkins (author of the already classic book, "The God Delusion" talking about it:

It is universally accepted that an admission of Atheism would be instant political suicide for any presidential candidate.

He goes on to mention a 1999 Gallop poll about the probability of an Atheist becoming president in America, less then half would vote for an Atheist (49%) whereas 59% would vote for a homosexual. Imagine then how unpopular a gay Atheist candidate would be!!! They would probably be assassinated. I wouldn't put that past the fundy crowd here in America.

I also like his scale or spectrum of probabilities regarding the existence of God (1-7): One being a Strong Theist who "knows" 100% that there is a "God" and Seven being a Strong Atheist that they "know" 100% that a "God" doesn't exist.

I myself fall into category 6, which Dawkins defines as: "Very low probability, but short of zero. De Facto Atheist. "I cannot know for certain but I think that God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there." Although, like Dawkins, I lean toward 7 but I doubt that I'll ever be a firm 7 because as a man of science I have to leave a small, very small crack in the door because I am open to new evidence. However, as of yet, the entire volume of current evidence from the dawn of civilization to present day is over-whelming that there is no personal God.

Here is another segment that I like in his book (which I am now reading for the second time). Here he addresses the theist argument against evolution which goes something like this, "What are the chances that life just "sprung up" on Earth by chance? It seems improbable." So lets take this at face value and assume it is the only way evolution could occur says Dawkins, "Suppose it was so improbable as to occur on only one in a billion planets. If the odds of life originating spontaneously on a planet were a billion to one against, nevertheless that stupefying improbable event would still happen on a billion planets.

He has written such an excellent book in "The God Delusion." It's a must read indeed.

---End of Transmission---