Friday, November 21, 2008

Judicial Discrimination - Its Illegal

From a story pointed out on The Wild Hunt.

Summary of the Story :
Woman looses custody based on her alleged involvement in Wicca.   She then looses the appeal.  The Judges who ruled against her use her alleged religion of Wicca to support the decision.

Two dissenting Judges agree that this is a travesty of justice and blatant religious discrimination.

The same kind of Judiciary religious discrimination has happened to a friend of mine.  She was ordered to keep her children away from Pagan influence and activities - or loose custody. 

Instead of ranting on how most christians will be gathering torches and protesting how any person be allowed to raise their child other than christian, I am going to provide some resources that might can help those in this situation.

If you feel that you have been discriminated against because of your religion (no matter what that may be), here are some contacts or ways to contact.
Other informative links:
Finally, to help keep watch on the government, join the ACLU!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bailouts, Bailouts, Bailouts

Fannie and Freddie. AIG. Financial Institutions and Wallstreet. AIG - again. Now the big three Auto Manufacturers.

People feared Obama would take us toward socialism. Bush not only ushered it in, his economic policies and his pet wars made it absolutely necessary (they say).

The Bailouts are the government "buying stock" in the companies, thereby becoming shareholders - or part owners of - each company. We now have government owned banks and insurance agencies.

People are asking, "Why?"

Well, for that, read Bailout pays Bonuses and Sugar Daddy and End the Bailouts and America Discovers.

I like to blame Bush for this economic crisis because of the policies of his administration, his decietful war and admittidly the fact that he sounds like an idiot when speaking. Here I will admit, there is a much broader blame to be placed.

I am not sure whether it's placement should be on the exectutives and boards of these companies or on the greed of human nature. Greed(1)(2)(3). I realize that Greed bears the fault of this crisis. However, the executives of these companies have gorged themselves on greed. The fables behind the links (1) and (2) are fine and good, but now we have another, more true fable to tell of greed. How the few greedy executives paid, praised and rewarded themselves to death.

They preyed on the people they were serving until the people they were serving no longer had money. The government tried to bail out the companies - and the executives did not use the money to re-invigorate the economy, no - they used it to reward themselves more, buy more companies and go on company-paid vacations. How much responsibility should rest squarely on the shoulders of these greed-filled people? Now, it seems, these executives and CEOs are not satisfied with eating themselevs out of food (draining our economy), they are gorging themselves on the public assistance and not using it to re-plant the fields. So, basically, the farmers are spoiling their fields and the fields of their neighbors who tried to help out as well. When does it end? When will these greedy people be held responsible for what they have wrought upon this country?

Are we going to face a "French Revolution" - complete with freedom fries? What is it going to take to get rid of this Greed-over-common-sense ideal in our financial markets? I would not mind at all if they were only hurting themselves, but they are hurting me and millions of other people with their endless, thoughtless greed. CEO pay is 15 times the average salary. For any idiot who thinks all of our money is not just going UP without any "trickle down" at all, WAKE UP!

I couldn't say it any better than S. Woods Bennett, a 57-year-old lawyer in Baltimore when he said, "Their sense of entitlement is appalling.''

There is not any situation that any one person 'deserves' a $125 Million Dollar bonus. None. If a company makes that kind of money off of people, it needs to cut back what it charges people. Not by a lot, but by some. Spread the money around a bit more - raise salaries for the next year, increase employee benefits. Cut the executive's bonus back to 1 or 2 million. It is just a bonus. Spread the other $123 Million around by giving bonuses to all employees who all helped contribute to the success. Give a Bonus to your customers who are soley responsible for the company's profit - make one full payment on their loan you hold for them.

One of the most, in my mind, idiotic practices of the Financial system is to charge people who have less money available higher interest. The less money you have, the more money they force you to pay for something. The 'system' calls this practice 'mitigating risk,' but in fact they are pretty much ensuring the defaults of those loans. In what kind of 'logic' does it make sense to make people who have less pay more?

The bottom line is that the Financial companies created their own misery by their culture of greed. They have devoured and deprived their customer base.

People have funny ideas that a financial analyst is a very smart individual and most people think of a simple farmer as, well, simple. Looking at the way the Financial complanies have run their business, I have to say that even a farmer knows to fertalize their fields to continue to reap a harvest. Farmers also rotate crops between ones like corn that deplete the soil and ones that are easy on the soil like wheat. They also plant cover crops after harvest, like winter rye or buckwheat and till those back into the soil before planting season. The Farmers know that you have to treat your "Soil" good to make sure that it will provide for you when harvest time comes. The Financial companies don't seem to grasp the concept.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama Wins!

Last night, I was able to witness Barack Obama winning the election for President of the United States of America - by 52% of the popular vote. Many called the results a "mandate" for Obama - or against G.W. Bush.

I made a twitter shortly after the victory was announced, "I am very happy, but still worried - the Republican corruption machine may not be done. They are tricky and evil to the core." Shortly following Obama's victory speech I tweeted, "I am trying to remain pessimistic, but that Obama speech gives me more hope than I have had in a long time." Honestly, I was barely holding back tears at the time and had to show the text message to my girlfriend because I didn't trust myself to speak.

I find my Hope in Obama to be for the Healing of the United States of America, to usher in a return to the hopes the founding fathers had in our country of Freedom, Liberty and Justice for All. I hope to see a Government free from Religion, a Government run by the People for the People. I hope to see this country able to stand tall and proud, generous and peaceful, confident.

I LOVE the line from Obama's Victory speech, "Its the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America."

Hopefully we will have seen the last of the Republican "Party First" politics. Hopefully they will, as McCain stated in his concession speech to the gathered rich-preppy-white crowd, offer Obama good will and earnest effort to help the country grow. Hopefully they will not continue to simply work against the Democrats in every way. Hopefully all politicians will now put Country First, not party affiliation.

I was terribly disappointed that the Right-Wing Fear-mongers got initiatives passed, in States belonging to a country that was founded on Freedom, Liberty, Justice for All and Pursuit of Happiness, that denied or revoked basic human rights. I really don't have a stake one way or the other in Proposition 8 or the others that passed, but it is a sad sign in this time of Hope. Thankfully, Anti-Choice items failed to be passed, so those Rights are preserved for the time being.

I pray and envision a United States of America that is again grounded in reason, consideration, tolerance and charity. I long for an end to unreasoned hatred of those who are different in some way - whether color of their skin, nation of their origin, gods to whom they pray or political leanings.

UPDATE: 11/6/08
Just two days after the Election, Republicans are already swearing vengeance and spewing hate. Articles like "Unity - no thank you" and the comments on it show that the unreasoning, blind hate is not subsiding. Many are calling for increased hate and sabotage of the USA. Some articles swing in the right direction then go just as far in the wrong direction.

Political Items:
  • I would like to see an adjustment to the Electoral College to make it more a reflection of the popular vote.
  • I would like to see Term Limits on House of Representatives and Senate.
  • I would like to see the elimination of the government exclusion of "third" parties and government support of the two 'big' parties.

Links of Interest:
Op-Ed on Powell Endorsement ; NPR's Fresh Air - Mickey Edwards ; Republican Corruption website ; Liberals Like Christ - GOP corruption ;


Monday, November 3, 2008

Bill Maher's Religulous

I went to see the Bill Maher's Religulous over the weekend. It was only playing in one out of five major theaters in the 10-city area.

The film was, for me, very funny. A great movie with a wonderful, logical conclusion. It was also very frustrating at times.

It attempts to expose the ridiculous beliefs of religions, their contradictory ideas and the vehemence with which the believers hold to their beliefs, even in the face of logic and rational thought to the contrary.
"It worries me to have a national leader who believes in talking snakes" Bill laughed at one point, referring to the tempting serpent in the garden of eden.

At one point, I did have to yell out at the screen. I thought it was a clip of George Bush, but apparently it was John McCain saying, "I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation," to which I loudly responded, "Bullshit." (see my second post on this blog) (McCain, Bush, whats the difference? 10%?)

Bill Maher 'interviews' people of various faiths and asks some hard questions about their beliefs. Sadly, he just makes fun of their answers instead of actually giving them room to speak. Granted, most of the answers are funny and deserve to be made fun of. Including the woman in Florida who is all peppy about dying, being raised to heaven and 'come back on a white horse.'
Still, I would have appreciated a more serious debate or discussion of religious beliefs and goals.

He is met often with the "you are questioning god!" mentality for defense of their beliefs. After one exchange where Bill points out how silly a belief in some 'miracle' is, the answer is, "He IS God." As if that explains everything. There is, indeed, no making a rational argument when someone has that defense, "its magic." "You just have to have faith."

The interview with the Vatican Bishop who scoffed at most of the church's tenants, including the 10 commandments could have been a lot more interesting. Why the segment with the Gay Muslims in a bar was even included, I have no idea.

If the purpose was to show that religions have no good answers, the movie showed more that Bill wouldn't let them give full answers. Granted, some of them refused to answer or gave blank looks.

I did enjoy the reactions to questions about the stories of Osiris and Mithra comparing them to Jesus.

I was a bit disappointed that there was no mention of my pet scripture - Matthew 15:21-26 - but, thems the breaks.

The conclusion of the documentary was basically that Religion in all its forms is destroying the world. Wars and hatred are all rooted in religion. Rational, thinking men who do not obfuscate reality with religion, will run the world, their own countries, better. Basically, Bill states that in order to save the world, we must eliminate religion.

Mostly, I can see his point and somewhat agree. Getting rid of the organized religion that preaches "One Truth" and that everyone else is lesser or in some way the enemy, would cut down on a lot of the killing and hatred in the world.

Religion is indeed a crutch, but people are lame.

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