Today, I bought another Quran

September 8th, 2010

Today, I bought another Quran.

I already have two of them. Translated by different people. They’re heavily underlined, highlighted, annotated (defaced some may say) just like my copies of the Jewish and Christian scriptures. I’ve studied them all in quests for understanding that have serves as the backbones of three novels — Daughter of God, Perfect Killer and an almost-completed (and so-far-untitled) work. That study has also helped me — a fairly heretical Protestant — to understand my own faith.

But why yet another Quran?

Because the same evil irrationality that has hijacked most of Islam outside of the United States has possessed Terry Jones — a Florida religious cleric — who says he wants to burn copies of the Quran.

I bought another Quran today as a preemptive strike against Jones’s sectarian bigotry. For, regardless of whether he ever sets match to a Quran, he has burned goodwill and torched the efforts of rational, earnest people who have made an effort to bridge the religious divide.

When the Quran I bought today arrives, I’ll donate it to a friend or a local church or synagogue and urge its careful reading. I will do this because a thoughtful reading of the Quran and the Jewish and Christian scriptures will reveal frighteningly similar tales of death, destruction, murder, mayhem and mutilation committed in the name of Allah, God, or Yahweh. While today we hear most about the Quran’s admonitions to “slay the infidels wherever you will find them,” Islam has nothing close to a monopoly on scripturally sanctioned violence against people of differing faiths:  The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and Israelite extermination of Canaanites and others come to mind.

I see my purchase of a new Quran today as a small, individual strike against the un-American actions inherent in book burning. Nazis burned books. So do the Taliban. Many Muslim states have outlawed all religious scriptures but the Quran. By contrast, American principles demand freedom of religion and expression.

Certainly Jones has a right to express his opinion. He has a constitutional right to burn copies of the Quran. And while he has that right, he has a duty as a citizen and a leader of a congregation to consider the consequences of his actions. The same should be said of those who wish to build a mosque at the 9/11 site in New York. They also have a constitutional right, but are showing the same emotional tone-deafness as Jones. The only difference between the two is that here in the United States, issues are to be settled by discourse rather than violence. And those who violate that are (or should be) prosecuted.

The same does not hold in most of the Muslim world. Unfortunately, irrationality easily possesses global Islam where mobs kill and burn over a cartoon, clerics call for the death of non-believers and especially apostates, and here governments outlaw the worship of other faiths and vow to wipe them off the face of the earth. Jones’s inflammatory actions are likely to lead to injuries and deaths beyond our borders.

I bought another Quran today because I support a different path. A careful, insightful reading of the Quran reveals a religion with fewer words devoted to violence that the scriptures of Christians and Jews. That careful reading reveals that Islam has truly been hijacked by medieval whack-jobs. Sadly, this is characteristic of relatively new religions. Christianity and Judaism went through the same berserk paroxysms of violence and intolerance perverted by politicians, and despots for their own selfish power grabs.

I bought another Quran today because I believe it is a constructive, individual action that opposes Jones’s Taliban-think by spreading knowledge and understanding.  And in the end, knowledge is the best — and only lasting — defense against ignorance, bigotry and intolerance.

It’s been a politically and economically disheartening almost-two years since the last post. I now have severe regrets about voting for Obama. But we all make mistakes.

On the other hand living with this one really hurts. Blue Shield just jacked up my health insurance by almost 20% which makes it a family budget buster almost equal to the mortgage. Obama wants to raise my taxes and the IRS has been auditing me because they can’t understand why an author needs books and other research materials.

I’ve had my head down, trying to ignore politics and concentrating on a new wine industry publication, Wine Industry Insight, which has started to produce substantial revenues and on a new thriller that I am nearly finished with.

So, this former-registered Republican, currently registered Democrat but highly independent voter is back. And pissed.

These posts will resume.

Now that both houses of Congress are solidly in the Democrats’ hands, Obama’s biggest worry may not be Republicans. His biggest challenge may be to try and infect people like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid with his same graciousness in victory and his vision of hope and change.

pelosi reid 300x225 Will Obamas Graciousness, Hope, and Change Rub Off On Dems?


Both Reid and Pelosi have shown themselves to be cynical demogogues whose angry, polemical invective only intensify divisions.

Obama’s election shows that he can transcend differences. But he can do little unless Pelosi, Reid and those they are supposed to lead can follow suit. It’s put up or shut up time for Congress. There are no excuses. Either solve the problems of ALL the people or get the hell out of the way.

We the people have voted for change, but that’s no guarantee that the bitter old dinosaurs beholden to special interests will alter their partisan ways.

Of course, if they don’t, 2010 and 2012 could see backlashes of epic proportions.

lewballot Heres Proof of My End of the Election Contract I wrote yesterday (Political Promises Must Be Treated As Legally Binding Contracts) about the contract between voters and politicians.

In summary: because civil law describes a contract as an offer, consideration and acceptance, in politics we have:

1. (Offer) – The candidate promises/offers to do/not do something specific.
2. (Consideration) – The candidate promises to do/not do this in exchange for a vote.
3. (Acceptance) – The voter casts his/her vote on the basis of the candidate’s positions/promises.

Yesterday, I mentioned that people who vote via absentee ballot can most easily record their votes.

This is exactly what I have done. I scanned every page of my filled in ballot – 37 MB of high-resolution color images. (The image on this page is reduced).

This .pdf contains a complete verification of my consideration (payment) in exchange for the offer (promise.) I’ve got the scan of my signature on the envelope (showing my name, address etc). I even sent it back Express Mail with a return receipt to verify it was received.

This is a complete record of every contract offered and my acceptance and consideration.

Failure of the person or proposition soliciting my vote to uphold their end of the contract is breach of contract. In such a breach, their campaign advertisements could be considered false and misleading (fraud) and those who engaged in the fraud are guilty of conspiracy and, perhaps racketeering.

A candidate could argue that:

  • A vote is worthless and not worthy of consideration.
  • She or he was insane or mentally incompetent and not capable of the offer.
  • The voter is similarly insane or mentally incompetent and cannot accept the offer.
  • That nothing they said should have been taken seriously because they lied

Right. That would be theater worth watching.

I’ll be watching my contracts closely. That’s less about Obama and more about local hospital funding, legislative races, California State Propositions and more. They need to do what they promised. Vote the way they said; spend money as written.

Regardless of which party or candidate you support, you do so because they or the candidate promised you something in exchange for your vote.

This is the essence of a contract. In civil law the legal definition of a contract consists of three items:

1. An offer by one party (to sell something, buy something, do something)
2. Consideration (money, property, labor, anything valuable)
3. Acceptance (of the terms by a second party)

There are some fine distinctions that tweak the contract terms: both parties must be legally and mentally qualified to enter into the contract and must do so without coercion or the presence of unconscionable terms. The consideration must be specific and have value. The offer must be clear and well defined.

The validity of an oral contract (the proverbial “handshake”) is usually hard to prove. In the absence of a verifiable record, being able to prove that in a court of law is difficult. However, in the political arena, we have records — video, audio and position papers.

Has there ever been any adjudication of a political promise as a contract? I am unaware of any, but believe there should be.

Let’s look at this in the light of the three legal requirements for a valid contract:

1. (Offer) – The candidate promises/offers to do/not do something specific.
2. (Consideration) – The candidate promises to do/not do this in exchange for a vote.
3. (Acceptance) – The voter casts his/her vote on the basis of the candidate’s positions/promises.

There is no doubt of the candidate’s position. It’s recorded.

The voter must prove that (a) they voted for the candidate and (b) they did so on the basis of one or more positions.

With the ubiquity of digital scanners, cameras, and camcorders, the concerned citizen has many ways of recording their votes and positions. Having witnesses who will verify the validity of the recordings and scans would serve to confirm the votes and positions.

People who vote via absentee ballot can most easily record their votes.

THE ADVANTAGES

While breach of contract lawsuits are heard in civil courts and decided by a “preponderance of evidence” and while the courts have their own serious flaws, the standards of evidence are far higher there than in the political arena and must be decided by facts.

Because the lawsuits could be brought against the individual, the potential for punitive legal action would offer a good reason for the successful candidate to uphold the promises made.

Opponents to this could rightfully argue that conditions can change unexpectedly, affecting the elected candidate’s ability to fulfill promises and govern effectively at the same time. These extenuating circumstances, obviously, could be considered by the court and ameliorate any penalties for breach of contract. Obviously, the elected official would need to prove (to the legal standards in court) that he/she had done everything in their power to uphold their end of the contract.

Ain’t Gonna Be No Truth

September 12th, 2008

I’m suspending this blog.

It’s too damn frustrating to try and sort through the adolescently craven onslaughts of gleeful lies, distortions, panderings and hypocrisy coming from The Left, The Right, both major parties, Ralph Nader, Ralph Nader’s Republican shadow, Ron Paul, the Mainstream Media, the Cable Blatherers, and all the rest who lack decency, manners, a respect for the truth and any concern for the country.

If this was a full-time job that could pay the mortgage, it would be possible to spend all my time absorbed in the existential task of chipping away at the great truth-cancer.

But it ain’t and I can’t,

So, here’s pox on all your houses. A big, honking, slatewiping pox.

Me? I’m just gonna vote this year. Nothing more. Y’all can just keep on pissing on each other just as you have done on intelligent debate, democracy, the electoral process and meaningful discussion.

I wish for ALL of you exactly what your opponent thinks you deserve.

According to television ratings giant Neilsen, John McCain’s acceptance speech broke Barack Obama’s record for the number of Americans watching.

In a summary of its research, Neilsen said:

John McCain’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention bested Barack Obama’s record-breaking viewership numbers from last week by 500,000 viewers.

More than 38.9 million people tuned in to coverage of the final night of the GOP convention. In comparison, Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic convention drew 38.4 million viewers.

For the third night in a row, more women (19.2 million) than men (17.9 million) watched the RNC coverage. Still, McCain’s speech drew significantly more men than Obama’s acceptance speech (16.2 million). In contrast, Obama drew more women (19.9 million) than McCain 19.2 million).

White viewers also flocked to their TV’s for McCain’s speech (32.2 million vs. 27 million for Obama). But among African Americans, the reverse was true: 7.5 million African Americans watched Obama’s speech last week, while just 3.1 million tuned in for McCain’s speech.

A comparison of Nielsen numbers for Day 4 showed McCain pulled 4.3 million Hispanic viewers to Obama’s 5.2 million.

So what it is about political conventions that make cops want to beat up on reporters? Geez, these thugs ought not to be cops!

Democracy Now! Host and Producers Arrested at Republican Convention

The Elite just don’t realize that the only reason that rational mobs in search of accurate reporting don’t wield a fencepost to beat them into dribbling road pizza is because it’s illegal.

The Elite might want to recognize that such restraint may have limits.

New York Observer | Slate

“It’s just part of politics,” says New York Times political editor Dick Stevenson. “I don’t think anybody here takes it personally. …There may have been a few moments when we looked around nervously and wondered whether the Republicans would storm out of the arena and into the workspace and come after us, but by and large we know we’re just a prop in the process.” || Jack Shafer: Beating up on the press always attracts votes, but rarely enough to turn an election.

TV Ratings: Palin 37.2M, Obama 38.3M – But Palin Only on 6 Channels to Obama’s 10

Nielsen Television ratings showed that Sarah Palin’s speech Wednesday night nearly broke Obama’s record-setting — 37.2 million viewers versus 38.3 million – despite her speech NOT being carried by BET, TV One, Univision and Telemundo.

Despite NOT being broadcast on those last two, she out-pulled Hispanic viewers and pulled in nearly 50 percent more women viewers than Hillary.

More detailed Nielsen data is HERE.

Here’s a thumbnail provided by Nielsen:

The Sarah Palin speech generated 37.2 million viewers, just 1.1 million viewers short of Barack Obama’s record-breaking speech on Day 4 of the Democratic Convention. The Palin speech was carried on only six networks while the Obama speech was carried on ten (including BET, TV One, Univision and Telemundo).

Palin attracted a large female audience (19.5 million women, or 4.9 million more than Day 3 of the Democratic Convention).

Ratings for viewers 55+ (25.2) continue to be about ten times higher than for teens (2.2)
Day 3 for the GOP attracted more Hispanic viewers (1.4 million) than Day 3 of the Democratic Convention (1.2 million), even though Univision and Telemundo did not carry the speech.