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Elections

Presidential debates make me sick.  Two-year campaigns make me sicker.  Voter purges and people being shot for supporting their candidates make me want to fucking hurl.

Idea.  The world community should put a system in place that allows for the citizens of Country A to elect the leader(s) of Country B.  For example, instead of US citizens voting for either Obama or McCain this coming November, the citizens of Spain would make the choice.

Why?  We live in an international community where borders are blurring more and more with each passing day.  (It could be argued that their existence is now little more than a formality.)  The arena of foreign relations now decides the fate of nations both economically and physically.  In an age where nuclear weapon counts and threats of WWIII are tossed around like football scores, we cannot afford to risk our having our elections decided by (a lack of) main-stream media coverage and petty attack advertisements.

As a part of this system, Country A’s politicians would not be allowed to campaign in Country B.  Going back the the America/Spain example, American politicians would campaign in America for a period of sixty days before the primaries.  (Thanks Canada.)  American voters would vote in the primaries, every political party would decide which of their candidates they wanted to submit to Spain for voting, Spain would spend thirty days acquainting themselves with the candidates, and then would vote to decide who would be the next American president.

I realize this is very idealized and entirely impossible, but I do not think America can survive another election cycle like this one.  It’s bleeding us dry and taking all of our attention away from what the current administration is up to.  If I were president and I wanted to pull some crazy shit, I’d be doing it right now, when no one is watching.

Think about it.  In a little less than a month we’ll cast our ballots to decide our fate for the next four years.  Halfway, or less, through the administration of whomever we elect, new candidates will begin to make themselves known and campaign for the next election.  That’s just fucking depressing.  It becomes especially depressing when you consider how much money campaigns cost.  Shorter campaigns would at least guarantee that the cost of running a campaign would be lower, and maybe that would keep some money in the pockets of American citizens.

Of course, we may not have to worry about any of this.  Our current Idiot In Chief may decide that he wants to stay in office a little longer and suspend the election.  I’m not saying I think he will, but it’s a little more than slightly terrifying to know that he could if he wanted to.

Void damn the distance.

Eternal Life

It is a rare thing to hear the truth in church.  It is a rarer thing to see the truth on a church bulletin board.  However, just the other day I happened upon this jewel:

“Eternal life: an offer you can’t refuse.”

Very true, but for different reasons than the church member who arranged the letters on the marquee would like to realize.

Before I explain why, suppose for a moment that “eternal life”, as marketed by several world religions, is a reality: that by believing in their mutation of god and dedicating your life to his/her/its service, you can earn eternal life in a virtual utopia.  If this were actually the case, then it would, sensibly, be very difficult to resist the urge to join that faith so as to guarantee your ticket into such a paradise.  However, back in reality, buying the argument in favor of eternal life is much more difficult.

It seems to me that eternal life is the nail on which the whole of (western) religion hangs its hat.  To demonstrate this, ask yourself the question, “What’s left of religion if you remove eternal life from the equation?”  The answer is that if eternal life disappears, so does everything else.  Dietary guidelines?  Gone.  Behavior restrictions?  Gone.  Moral codes?  Gone.  Why?  Because there is no longer any reason, outside of pure, stubborn, personal commitment, to follow the laws laid down by religion.  What former believers would then discover is that there are and have always been reasons for getting along with others and having a moral code that are better than the reasons supplied by their discarded deities. Can it realistically be argued that the millions of Muslims and Christians in the world would stay true to their respective faiths if they did not think that there was a glorious reward waiting for them at the finish line?  Pausing for a moment to consider human nature, I think not.  Certainly, if eternal life were removed from the dogma of these religions, you would find some individuals who could not bring themselves to abandon their beliefs; perhaps pastors and imams would be saved from apostasy by the fear that they would not know what else to do with their lives.  But, to combine Hume and Occam, which is the easier argument to accept: (1) there is one god who is understood in many different ways and has devised a number of systems with which to test the mettle and commitment of humans to find out who is fit for heaven, (2) there are many gods, all of whom have designed their own gauntlets for humans to run to see who can get into the respective paradises of the respective gods, (3) there is a god(s) but no eternal life, (4) there is no god(s) and eternal life is simply a grandiose fabrication formulated by the founders of world religions to capitalize on humanity’s fear of death and keep the seats filled?  For anyone who picked (1) or (2), think about what you are asserting when you claim that there is a god(s) and that there is eternal life.  I’m going with (4), though I have not here argued against the existence of god (don’t worry, that post is forthcoming).

So, back to our church marquee.  (Which said, in case I’ve been rambling too long and you can’t remember, “Eternal life: an offer you can’t refuse.”)  True, you cannot refuse the offer of eternal life.  But neither can you accept it.  Why?  Because it is not being offered.  Indeed, the only form of an even extended life that I can think of is that which is being enjoyed by Einstein, Ol’ Blue Eyes, and Honest Abe.  And even this must be granted to us by others, not attained by completing a cosmic evaluation.  Perhaps, instead of longing for the eternal life of fairy-tales and mythology, we should strive to leave such an indelible mark, to contribute so much to our world, that we cannot simply be forgotten after our deaths.  That seems to be an afterlife worth pursuing.

Void damn the distance.

Karl Rover

Early last month (July), one of George W. Bush’s former advisors, Karl Rove, was subpoenaed by the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify regarding the firing of a number of federal prosecutors.  His lawyers immediately issued a statement claiming that Rove was “immune” from the subpoena, citing “executive privilege.” (1) (This excuse was, as it should have been, stamped as bullshit by the SJC (2))  But, just to make sure, Rove fled the country to avoid having to testify.

On July 25th, four Iowan citizens attempted a citizen’s arrest on Karl Rove while he was in Des Moines speaking at a GOP fundraiser .  All four were taken into police custody.  When brought before a judge, one of the four was asked what they were doing at the fundraiser.  “I was attempting to make a citizen’s arrest of Karl Rove, your honor.”  The judge’s response?  “Well, it’s about time.” (3)

A second subpoena was issued by the Senate Judiciary Committee for Karl Rove’s testimony on July 26th.  His lawyers again claimed that he was “immune” from the subpoena, and Rove did not testify. (4)

On the evening of August 6th I was playing cards with my brothers when I saw Karl Rove being interviewed on Fox News.  (Don’t blame me for having that shit on the tube, it wasn’t my house.)  WILL SOMEONE PLEASE GROW A FUCKING PAIR AND ARREST THIS MAN?!?!?!  “I mean what happened?   Did ya, did your balls drop off?”-Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight

Void damn the distance.

References

(1) http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/07/10/rove.subpoena/

(2) http://thinkprogress.org/2008/07/10/rove-avoids-subpoena-by-fleeing-the-country/

(3) http://thinkprogress.org/2008/08/01/judge-on-roves-arrest-its-about-time/

(4) http://rawstory.com/news/2007/Senate_Judiciary_Chairman_to_subpoena_Karl_0726.html

“All the lonely people, where do they all come from?  All the lonely people, where do they all belong?” (1)

Some people might say that the most powerful emotion an individual can experience is fear.  Others might say that it’s love.  I think it’s loneliness.  The space between, you know?

Loneliness is used as a mechanism of torture is some countries.

Sometimes I think the world would be okay if everyone just had someone to sit with.

Brilliance may be the bastard child of loneliness.

Void damn the distance.

References:

(1) Lyrics from Lennon/McCartney’s “Eleanor Rigby.” http://www.lyricsfreak.com/b/beatles/eleanor+rigby_10026674.html

Today is July 4th.  Some reflections:

: I think American flag pins, shirts, earrings, car decorations, and face paint are disgusting.

: The America we live in today is not the America envisioned by Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams.

: I hate the America we live in today.  I hate that we allowed things to get this bad.

: I want to believe that America can be changed, rescued, even.  However, the catalyst for change might have to come from outside our borders…

: Churches should not have Independence Day celebrations.

: People should enjoy their families more often than just on holidays.

: I think patriotic songs suck.

: The words “under god” were not added to the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954. (1)  Religious groups/individuals need to remember that.

: The Pledge of Allegiance was originally recited while performing the Bellamy salute.  This same gesture was later used by the Nazis to salute Hitler. (1)  Memetics is interesting.

: It’s ironic that today is supposed to be a celebration of America’s independence from tyranny…

: Holidays should not be so commercialized.

Void damn the distance.

References:

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pledge_of_Allegiance

This is a letter from the American people.

The first thing we’d like to say is, we’re really sorry. Instead of trying to understand you and your country and instead of gathering information so that we could at least become informed thinkers, we have simply written you off as a terrible man who rules a terrible country. This is a very child-like thing to do, and we’re sorry for behaving like children.

Secondly, we’re also really sorry for the way you were treated when you came to New York to speak at Columbia University last September. Instead of treating you with the respect that you deserve as both a member of the human community and a world leader, we treated you like and uninvited guest and even made fun of you. This was neither humane or professional, and we apologize for our behavior.

Third, our main stream media has done much over the course of the past year to try and convince us that going to war with your country is a good idea. Our President and other members of our government have also spent their time trying to force this idea down our throats. Fortunately their efforts have not succeeded.

“According to a new poll from Public Agenda, nearly 50 percent of those who follow the situation in Iran say “the one” best way to deal with Iran is through using diplomacy “to establish better relations.” Only five percent favor threatening military action, down from nine percent in fall 2007. Seven percent support taking military action:” (1)

iran3

With this information in mind, we would like to apologize in advance in the case that the leaders of the United States decide to take military action against Iran. We realize that we elected our leaders, but what you must realize is that our leaders no longer act in ways that represent the majority will of the people they govern. Our country’s continued involvement in Iraq is evidence of this. So, in the event that the United States government decides to take military action against Iran sometime in the next seven-and-a-half months, please understand that such action will not be in accordance with the will of the American people and that we will be getting a new president next January.

Cordially and respectfully,

The American People

References:

(1) http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/87251/?type=blog

1. Presidential campaigns last too long.

Honestly, how long have we been at this now? A year at least, and the election isn’t even for another five months! I think it’s ludicrous that we, the American people, have to sit through a year-and-a-half of this shit. New idea. A cap of one year on campaigning for the oval office. A day longer than this and you’re disqualified.

2. Presidential campaigns cost too much money.

Fundraising amounts: (1)

Obama: $265,439,277

Clinton: $214,883,437

Romney: $104,791,966

McCain: $96,654,783

These are the top four fund raisers in the current race for the presidency. Together they have raised $681,769,463. (Not including the totals for May)  This is ridiculous on two levels. One, it doesn’t take that much money: look at Ron Paul’s campaign. Two, it makes the race for president exclusive to those with enough dough, and sometimes the people with the best ideas don’t have the most money…Also, think about what could be done with that amount of money! I mean, I understand that this election is a big deal because we want to make sure we get it right this time (…) but $681,769,463 is a lot of money. New idea. Salary caps for campaigns. Each candidate can spend up to ten million on their campaign. A cent more and they’re out.

3. Doesn’t government exist for the people?

Last time I checked, which was 38 seconds ago, the government is supposed to “derive (its) just powers from the consent of the governed.” (2) I think it goes without saying that our current administration doesn’t understand this. Sometimes it even seems like they’re off in dreamland doing their own thing while the rest of the country sits here asking, “What the fuck?” But then maybe I’m overestimating the rest of the country. New idea. Elected presidents come with a one-year trial period. If, at the end of their first year in office, the country doesn’t like them, or, more probably, the president elect isn’t living up to what they said they’d be doing during their campaign, we get to kick them out and give the presidency to the other candidate. (I realize this is crazy and could never work, but there has to be some way of holding the President accountable!)

Void damn the distance.

References:

(1) http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/

(2) http://www.ushistory.org/Declaration/document/index.htm