Jeb would invade Iraq again?

Letter to the Editor

I would think that if I were Jeb Bush and I was running for president that I would distance myself from my brother George W as far as possible. But he’s doing the opposite and embracing all of Dubya’s mistakes. America barely survived the last Bush and we are going to vote back in a clone the worst president ever? If we do that then America is unworthy of survival if we are really that stupid.

US Trade Deals should not be in Secret

Letter to the Editor

Should America enter into the Trans Pacific Partnership or not? I have no way of knowing if I’m for it or against it because the deal is secret. We the People have no way of knowing what’s in it. Even members of Congress can’t have their staff review it because of the secrecy. And whatever they read they can’t discuss.

That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. This is supposed to be an open democracy with government transparency so that The People who the government serves knows what the government is doing. So on the basis that they don’t want us to know, I am strongly opposed to it. If The People can’t know what’s in a treaty then it shouldn’t pass. The process itself defies the core values of what America was founded on.

NSA spying violates the Constitution and Religious Freedom

Op Ed

On June 1st the authorization for the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on Americans expires. Congress is scrambling to reauthorize the massive spying that was revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013 for another 5 years. This spying is a violation of religious freedom, privacy, free speech, and is fundamentally a crime against humanity.

The spying started in 2001 after the 9/11 attack. Congress in their haste to protect America passed the “Patriot Act” that created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court commonly referred to as the FISA court. Unlike other courts FISA is a secret court under the control of the Supreme Court and supposedly reports to Congress on it’s activities. This court is a kind of emergency court structure that operates outside of constitutional authority for the purpose of dealing with issues of national secrecy in times of war. FISA is best described as a Black Ops court for covert operations.

Black Ops courts don’t have the same rules as regular constitutional courts that have rules and operate openly in the light of day. They can literally do anything they want and you can’t challenge what they do because any case against them is dismissed on the grounds that national security secrets would be revealed if a challenge were heard in public courts.

Under the authority of the FISA court the Bush Administration initiated a massive spying campaign against the american people. They track our phone calls, read our emails, track where we go, who we associate with, and how we spend our money. Everything about us is tracked by the government. Think of it as a freinds and family plan if it were run by Adolf Hitler.

When Obama took over he greatly expanded the spying after he ran on the platform to end it. Only after Edward Snowden revealed what was really happening did the general public become aware of the abuses. In fact apparently Congress, who was supposedly overseeing the operation, had no idea what was going on. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper admitted lying to Congress about what was going on.

I was raised barely Jewish. Most of the Judaism didn’t stick but I do remember when I was a child seeing people with numbers tattooed on their arm from when they were in concentration camps. I remember the story of Anne Frank who lived in her family in hiding for years until they were eventually found and executed by the Nazis in the early 1940s. So the idea of the government rounding up people for execution was a concept I was raised with as a child. I can just imagine what rounding up people would be like if Hitler had the technology we have today.

America was founded as a free society where the government was “of the people, by the people, and for the people”. The government isn’t supposed to spy on the people, the people are supposed to spy on the government. We are a constitutional form of government with 3 branches forming a checks and balance system so that if one branch does something they aren’t supposed to do then the other branches would put them in their place. But if a mere six people conspire to undermine our freedoms then we become a nation of secret courts and secret laws. And those six people are, President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Senate minority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker of the House John Boehnor, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts. 3 Democrats, 3 Republicans.

Under the Patriot Act the government can send me a national security letter to turn over information and I am required by law to lie about it. A nation that requires lying and prohibits the truth, as Edward Snowden has revealed, is morally offensive to not only all religions, but atheists as well. As a Realist it goes against the very core of what I believe in.

We would like to think that our government isn’t going become Nasis but if they were going to do that gathering this kind of information is the first step. I can imagine George Orwell (Author of Animal Farm, Big Brother is watching you) is spinning in his grave. And who would we round up? It could be the Muslims, the Christians, the Jews, the Mormons, the Atheists, or Seventh Day Adventists. Or they could round up intellectuals and activists. If the Patriot Act is extended the Osama bin Laden wins.

Would this actually happen? I hope not. But if it’s not then why should the government be getting the information to do it in the first place? We are not a nation of secret courts and secret laws. If we are a free nation, that has to mean something. Freedom can not be just a marketing label, it has to be real. This land is your land, this land is my land. From Occupy Wall Street to the Tea Party Patriots. From the Christian Conservatives to the Hard Core Atheists. This land was made for you and me.

Indiana anti-gay laws suck

Letter to the Editor

I’m somewhat disturbed by the rash of anti-gay laws coming from states like Indiana as well as laws in the works in North Carolina and Arkansas. As someone who is not a Christian I think that when a people has to put down other people for the purpose of feeling superior, that should be a sin. Ego self gratification at the expense of others isn’t something that going to lead anyone to Jesus.

I think it’s time that we put an end to the culture wars that divide this country. We go for the cheap thrill without any concern for the long term consequences of what it’s doing to America as a country and us as a people. I could take a cheap shot in response and say something like, “Thank God I’m an Atheist”, but I know that those politicians who exploit us through the culture wars do not represent the typical religious American. Those who define Christians as haters through immoral legislation designed to oppress do religion a disservice.

So let us all take a step back and reach out our hand instead of our fist and give up gratifying ourselves with negativity so that we might all prosper. Let us reject that passing laws that discriminate and belittle members of our society is the way civilized people behave.

Isn’t it time for America to Grow Up?

Now that Ted Cruz has officially thrown his hat in as the first presidential candidate for the 2016 election I have to ask myself, “Isn’t it time for America to grow up and get past the petty religious culture wars?”

Ted Cruz started off his campaign at Liberty University where he was welcomed by hundreds of religious students who were required, under threat of being fined, to be there. The very setting was setting the stage where Ted was going to champion his brand of religion and lead a crusade of morally superior Christians in a holy war for the hearts and minds of the American people. But in all of Ted Cruz’s bluster not once did he reference Reality. What I want to know is – what is his relationship with this world – the world that we actually live in?

Reality is a very important issue and it isn’t getting talked about enough in the political arena. What is Reality? I like Phillip K. Dick’s definition of Reality. Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

During the Bush administration, who like Ted Cruz also emphasized his Christianity, America turned its back on Reality, even scoffed at Reality. Carl Rove is attributed as saying in regards to the Iraq invasion,

… that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

When you sin against Reality, Reality will strike you down. Not only were Bush’s wars a disaster, but instead of spreading Christianity in Iraq Bush managed to get most all the Christians there killed except for those few who fled. We are now mired in national debt, still fighting Bush’s wars, recovering from the 2008 economic collapse, all gaining Bush the well deserved infamous title, “Worst President Ever!” A fitting punishment for his blasphemy!

As the founder of the Church of Reality – a religion based on Reverence for Reality – I have to ask these questions, “Wouldn’t we honor America if in this election we came together as one nation, one people, and we worked together for the common good of all people instead of engaging in petty sinful culture wars? Shouldn’t we make this presidential election about The Real Truth? Shouldn’t we ask our candidates to explain to us what their relationship is to The Real World?” The last thing we need is for Ted Cruz to be the next George W. Bush.

In the Church of Reality what we do matters. It is our Moral Duty to take Personal Responsibility for what happens in the real world. We are the Stewards of the Future which is a Sacred Duty to us Realists.  Our world view is that The Future is Calling us to Greatness and that the Story of America will be a Blessing to the Story of the Universe.

I therefore challenge Ted Cruz and all the presidential candidates to make this election about this world and how we is going to affect our children and grandchildren. We need to make Reality our friend and not our enemy. We need to see our Home Planet as something Holy and learn to Honor and Respect Creation. If America turns its back on Reality, then Reality will turn its back on us, and that’s something we don’t want to have happen – again.

Is America Ready for a Canadian Born President

Letter to the Editor

Now that Ted Cruz is running for president Americans needs to ask ourselves if it is ready for a Canadian born commander in chief. I for one am calling for Ted Cruz to release his birth certificate and to explain why he waited till 2013 to renounce his Canadian citizenship. We Americans need to understand how it is that he even qualifies to run for president as someone who has only been exclusively an American citizen for only 2 years.

Not Buying Hillary’s Email Story

Letter to the Editor

I have to say as a long time supporter of the Clintons (mostly Bill) that I am not buying Hillary’s email story. She keeps saying that she didn’t want to use 2 phones to support her 2 email accounts. But it’s very easy to configure one phone to access 2 email accounts. I also don’t like the mass email deletions as they remind me of Oliver North shredding documents during Iran-Contra in the 1980s. I think someone should ask the question “are there any backups of her email server or did she destroy them as well?” I am very much not happy about this.

Iran hard liners call Republicans brothers

Letter to the Editor

It appears that Israel, Republicans, and Iranian hard line Islamists all have something in common. they all want war. Radical Islam now calls the Republican Senators who wrote a letter on March 9th to undermine the peace process “brothers”, War is easy – peace takes work. But in the long run peace is the better idea, always. If peace talks break down then Iran is definitely going to want to develop the bomb. I would think that when the Revolutionary Islamic Council calls the Republican Congress “brothers” that should be a clue that you are on the wrong track.

Tech Giant CEOs snub Obama at Cybersecurity Summit

Letter to the Editor

Facebook Chairman Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, and Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt snubbed President Obama’s invitation to his cybersecurity summit today because of Obama’s illegal NSA spying.

I think it’s amusing that a summit to stop hackers is being held by America’s Hacker in Chief. President Obama, who is the worlds most notorious cyber criminal, has ordered the NSA to track every person in America and uses secret courts and secret law to undermine the Constitution. So I want to thank Zuckerberg, Mayer, Page, and Schmidt for taking a principled stand but boycotting Obama’s sham summit.

Why do insurance companies have our Social Security number?

Letter to the Editor

The government issues Social Security numbers for one purpose, Social Security. So when I hear that giant insurance company Anthem had millions of Social Security numbers stolen I asked myself, “Why do they have our Social Security numbers in the first place?”

I think they should pass a law prohibiting anyone from using Social Security numbers for anything not related to Social Security.

Pope gets it right – then reverses

Letter to the Editor

This last week the Pope seemed to finally get it that world overpopulation is a serious problem when he said “being a good Catholic did not mean people should breed like rabbits.” For a fleeting moment I thought “Yes – the Pope finally gets it!” But then he took it back. So much for the infallibility of the Pope.

The Catholic Church, with it’s stand on breeding like rabbits is an environmental catastrophe in the making. Poverty, war, global warming are driven by too many people going after a finite amount of dwindling resources. While large families might have made sense in ancient times when the child mortality rate was 50%, in modern times with a global population of 7.2 billion, the problem of overpopulation is one of humanity’s biggest challenges. The Pope could help solve it, but he chooses to turn his back on reality. What a shame.

Terrorism is not Religious

Letter to the Editor

Any religion that has to resort to cutting people’s heads off to raise money doesn’t deserve to be called a religion. I disagree with the Pope, who took the unusual position of siding with the terrorists, that there is no limits on free speech when it comes to criticizing a religion over violent acts. If we are silent or we are censored then the terrorists win. Terrorists have no respect for our religion and our civilization so why should we respect their so called religious views.

 

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Congress votes to let banks steal again?

Letter to the Editor

In 2008 the banks almost collapsed the American economy when they took our money and gambled it away at the Wall Street casino trading derivatives. As part of the recovery Congress passed laws to prevent the banks from doing the same thing again. Now Citibank slipped a law into the budget package that allows banks to do it again.

Banks can now gamble with our deposits, our savings, our pensions, and if they lose the taxpayer is stuck with the bill. And this time they just legalized the stealing. America, as a nation, is on the verge of committing suicide. And we have to do this so members of Congress can be home for Christmas. Where is the outrage?

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ISIS was created out of torture

Letter to the Editor

For those of you who think torture is OK we may end up having to fight another war in Iraq because of it. The terrorists organization ISIS started in an American operated prison in Iraq where they were all tortured together by Americans under the Bush administration. Torture is not who we are and it’s not what we do.  Torture is pure evil and it’s a crime against not just those who are tortured but against humanity itself. We, as a nation, are now paying a very heavy prices for our sins. People need to go to jail for this.

Everyone exploiting a great man – Bill Cosby

Letter to the Editor

What a shame! What an injustice! Bill Cosby is a great man and opportunists and the news media are exploiting him all in the name of making a buck. Reminds me of how they did the same thing to Michael Jackson. Now his shows are being cancelled so the news industry can make a buck off it.

Democrats should not have supported NSA Spying

Letter to the Editor

Democrats like Nancy Pelosi made a serious mistake in supporting Obama on the NSA spying. The government spying on Americans without a warrant is criminal. It was criminal when Bush did it and it is criminal when Obama does it. The Dems failed to appreciate how serious Americans feel about the constitution and the Rule of Law. I therefore call on Pelosi to step down as the House minority leader and let someone take over who is going to put Americans ahead of covering up for Obama’s failures.

NASA should be funding modern American Technology

Letter to the Editor

On Tuesday private rocket company Orbital Science’s rocket, which was suppose to carry supplies to the International Space Station, blew up 6 seconds after lift off. They were using a refurbished Soviet era engine made by the Russians 40 years ago. In contrast companies like SpaceX are using their own American made rocket engines using the latest 21st century technology that makes us independent of the Russians.

I think that if NASA is going to contract out space missions they should be investing in new American made technology rather that recycled Russian rockets. That would be better use of the US taxpayer’s money.

Not all religions deserve respect

Letter to the Editor

As we see yet another Muslim terrorist attacking the Parliament of Canada I have to ask, when is enough enough? How long to we coddle Islam because it’s a religion when these people don’t get it that murdering people is wrong. I’m an Atheist and even I know that’s not what God wants you to do. This isn’t just “a few bad apples”. All my life we have been involved in some religious war where religious people are killing each other in the name of God, and I have had it! It’s not a religion. These are crazy people who what to murder people and it’s not ok. Why should the rest of us have to live in fear and go to wars in the Middle East because of religious freedom? Why is their freedom more important than mine?

Supreme Court helps Republicans Cheat

Letter to the Editor

The Supreme Court has again intervened in behalf of Republicans in Texas to use voter ID laws to prevent 600,000 blacks, latinos, students, and the elderly from voting. This is the last move in a string of decisions the court has made to fix elections for Republicans that started in 2000 when they appointed Bush president and continued on through declaring corporations are people. I don’t know how we can call America a democracy when the courts are helping Republicans cheat.

California Plastic Bag Ban is Wrong

Letter to the Editor

As a citizen of California I want to apologize to the rest of the nation for California’s misguided ban on single use plastic bags. Although passed with good intentions this ban is actually more harmful than good. If anything should have been banned – it’s paper – not plastic.

The paper process is actually many times as polluting as plastic. Plastic gets a bad rap because it is usually manufactured out of oil industry by products. But plastic can be made out of anything including extracting carbon dioxide out of the air. Plastic waste can either be recycled, used as fuel, or stored underground to permanently sequester carbon from the environment.

Also, the amount of plastic in the bag is orders of magnitude less plastic that any plastic in the product in the bag, A plastic bottle has 100 times as much plastic as the bag. A ban on bottled water, for example, would be 100 times as effective as a plastic bag ban if plastic were actually a problem.

I am for saving the environment. Earth is our space ship and we have to protect it so we can continue to live here long term. But we have to put science first and our plastic bag ban is not based on science. So I’m concerned that California’s bad judgement not be replicated in other states.

Tired of Lame Congress

Letter to the Editor

Here we are at the start of yet another Iraq war which will include Syria and Congress, who is supposed to authorize wars, isn’t even going to vote on it. So we are going to just blindly blunder into yet another war. However the Republican House is already planning yet another vote to shut down the government. So we do have time and money for political stunts. Really?

I suppose it’s our fault. After all, we are the ones who elected them. And isn’t that just a little bit pathetic?

How are we going to pay for war?

Letter to the Editor

I find it interesting that when it comes to going to war no one asks the question, “How are we going to pay for it?” or even mentions the national debt. Seems to me that we should at least discuss it.

Arming ISIS Rebels is the wrong solution

Letter to the Editor

Although I agree with President Obama that something needs to be done about ISIS terrorists cutting peoples heads off, I don’t agree that arming the “good rebels” is the solution. Quite frankly, there are no good rebels. Today’s good rebels are tomorrow’s bad rebels.

Today the Sunni Muslims are chopping off the heads of Shia Muslims. Tomorrow the Shia will be chopping off the heads of the Sunnis. When Reagan was president Osama bin Laden was his best buddy and we supported the Mujahideen freedom fighters who turned into the Taliban and Al Qaeda. All these people seem to want to do when they are free is kill each other, rape each other’s women, put women in black bags, and throw acid in the faces of little girls trying to go to school.

So I’m wondering if we are wrong spreading democracy to those who aren’t ready for it. It seems to me that the brutal dictator form of government is the best solution for them. They actually are far more civilized under a dictator than a democracy. I find myself longing for the days when Saddam Hussein was in charge. Iraq was far better off then than it is now. I think we should support Assad if we are going to take a side

Overthrowing Saddam was a mistake

Letter to the Editor

No one is a fan of Saddam Hussein by it seems that America’s policy of overthrowing brutal dictators in the middle east in favor of democracy is a mistake. Muslims in the middle east, it turns out, are actually better off under brutal dictators because when they are given freedom the violence and slaughtering actually increases. Although it was noble of us perhaps to try to spread freedom we should also have taken into account if the people we are freeing are ready for freedom. If freedom means you can chop off the head of someone because they are a different religion then they aren’t ready to join the free world. Violence in Iraq was far lower under Saddam.

God is making things worse for Middle East

Letter to the Editor

If something isn’t working then try something else. Believing in God is not working in the Middle East. I’m 58 years old and my entire life all I see is Muslins slaughtering Jews, Jews slaughtering Muslims, Muslims slaughtering Christians, Christians slaughtering Muslims, and Muslims slaughtering Muslims. In spite of the “Thou shall not kill” commandment the slaughtering goes on and on and on.

The way I see it none of these religions actually believe in the God they identify with anyway because if they did they would at least respect “Thou shall not kill”. Their behaviour is fueling Atheism because if they don’t really believe it – why should anyone else?

I think it’s time to admit that the whole God thing doesn’t work and that it’s time to turn to Reality. Those of us in the Reality Based Community understand that killing is wrong. Scientists don’t kill other scientists because they disagree if Quantum Loop Gravity better explains black hole entropy than String Theory. Realists work to make the world a better place for all people and war interferes with our ability to discover the nature of the universe. God isn’t working. It’s time to embrace Reality. Reality changed my life, it can change your life too!

Ferguson Cops too dumb to serve

Letter to the Editor

I’m watching the Ferguson Missouri police on TV with my mouth open as they are arresting journalists. What are these people thinking? I have never seen a police department so disconnected with their community and with common sense. Can’t think of a way to get worse press coverage than to arrest and assault reporters. They should at least be fired for being stupid.

Israel does NOT have the right to exist

Letter to the Editor

Israel keeps stating over and over again that it has a “right to exist as a Jewish state”. Israel certainly does not. Any country that has a system where one religion has more rights that another religion is fundamentally wrong. There is absolutely nothing about being Jewish that gives a person a superior right over those who are not Jewish.

In any modern system of government all people have the same rights regardless of what they believe or don’t believe in. By accepting Jews have a right to a Jewish state is no different that any other religion claiming a right to a state. We can’t start dividing up the world based on crazy religions who think God gave them land. As we can see from the way they behave that this doesn’t work and that war and oppression is the result. And America should stop supporting Israel until they start treating everyone fairly and equally. Until then the oppressed will always rise up against the oppressor. The war will never end.

Solar Electric with NO MONEY DOWN!

This is going to be interesting, and I’m going to post updates on the progress. Just ordered a new solar system for my house from Solar City. And it’s not going to cost me anything out of pocket. They come out and put it in and then they become my electricity provider. I still get a small PG&E bill for the meter and gas I use, but the rest is billed from Solar City.

Yes – technically I could have saved even more if I built my own or bought one outright. And probably could have done that. But Solar City is one of Elon Musk’s companies (as in Tesla motors and SpaceX) and I like what he’s doing to improve the world so I decided not just to do what’s easy but I feel good about giving them my business.

Plan is to get 15 panels. I really only need 12 but I just wanted to generate a little extra power just for the hell of it. What’s amazing is that with an electric bill that’s only $75/month they still could actually save me a few bucks. But I’m doing it mostly because I like the idea of not burning carbon to make my power. And I get to save money doing it.

Technically because I had them add 3 extra panels my saving is less. I would have saved $12/month but not I’m saving only $1. That’s OK because that’s what I want. Money isn’t the biggest factor. But in the future my savings will increase because PG&E rates will go up faster than Solar City. The contract says they can only go up 3%/year max.

But – I want to get some personal experience with solar. That way I can talk about it from experience. There isn’t anything cleaner than solar power. Although I think the immediate threat from global warming is exaggerated, one can not deny that it has some effect. And I know that it will be bad in the long run to pump all the carbon into the environment. So reducing one’s carbon footprint and saving money doing it is a good thing. Most of the time being green costs more. This costs less.

Realistically I’ve been thinking about the big picture. In some ways PG&E is getting screwed because 1/2 of their costs is maintaining the power lines, not making the power. So since the solar power is effectively “stored” in the PG&E grid they are getting short changed from that aspect.

However, solar makes electricity on those hot summer days when PG&E needs it the most. PG&E has to have the ability to generate enough power in real time to meet peak demand. So if they can’t do that they have to ask some of their big power users to shut down so they can power our home air conditioners. But since I will be generating excess power not only will I not be a drag on the system, but I’ll be powering my neighbor’s air conditioner as well. The PG&E can sell their power to other customers and not have to shut them down. It also reduces their line posses on high demand days, and it makes it so they need to build fewer power plants to have the capacity to cover hot days. So PG&E gets some benefits too.

Also, as Solar City expands to more and more sites eventually they might become the nation’s biggest power provider. And that will get them some political clout to go up against big coal and oil. So I’m also stopping some strip mining and fracking, and I’m not funding Muslim terrorists as much. Although an electric car would make a bigger difference there.

There’s another interesting aspect to this as well. I might actually make some money at this. They have a referral program that pays me $250 if I get someone else signed up. And I get an extra $100 on a second level signup. And I’ve made a lot of money in the past with affiliate programs. So it’s going to be interesting to see how that works out as well.

 

God’s chosen people should be better behaved

Letter to the Editor

The Jews are supposed to be “God’s chosen people” and Israel is supposed to be the Jewish homeland. But when I see Israelis burning innocent children alive I have to ask the question, really? That’s what God wants? The way I see it God’s chosen people wouldn’t set children on fire. It makes Atheists laugh at you.

I was raised Jewish and I have higher expectations of behavior of Jews than I do Muslims. Israel should be setting a better example. Burning children alive is always wrong.

Have we no compassion for children?

Letter to the Editor

We have a flood of children who are running for their lives from Central America traveling thousands of miles in hope that Americans will take them in and save their lives. So what are we going to do? We’re going to send them back to die. Really?!? What kind of nation have we become? We’re just a country of fat stupid people. Makes me want to vomit on the flag.