If Your God Is Better Than Their God, Is Peace Even Possible?

sunni v shiaI’d say at least 99.9% of the people I encounter daily have absolutely zero concept of the difference between Sunnis and Shi’ites; and that’s being generous. Iraq once was a nation that was fairly secular and not terribly fundamentalist in any way. The United States brilliantly marches in carrying freedom fries and liberty bells and voilà! The two warring sects of Islam are now at each other’s throats. When fundamentalists feel their religion is being mocked or modified in any way, like the Benghazi mastermind admitted after recently being captured by US Special Ops, they react with extreme fervor. Let’s go back to 2003 when 2008 GOP Presidential Candidate Senator John McCain offered this brilliant prediction of future  sectarian violence in Iraq:

“There is not a history of clashes that are violent between Sunnis and Shi’as so I think they can probably get along”.

Never have a group of people gotten things so wrong on EVERY issue and yet their opinion is sought for “news” programs.  It’s astonishing.  They invaded a country with no consideration for consequences, cost, loss of human life or a basic understanding of the complex history of the region.  Let me try to elucidate the difference between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims.

The Sunni branch believes that the first four caliphs–Mohammed’s successors–rightfully took his place as the leaders of Muslims. They recognize the heirs of the four caliphs as legitimate religious leaders. These heirs ruled continuously in the Arab world until the break-up of the Ottoman Empire following the end of the First World War.

…Shiites, in contrast, believe that only the heirs of the fourth caliph, Ali, are the legitimate successors of Mohammed. In 931 the Twelfth Imam disappeared. This was a seminal event in the history of Shiite Muslims. …Shiite Muslims, who are concentrated in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, [believe they] had suffered the loss of divinely guided political leadership” at the time of the Imam’s disappearance. Not “until the ascendancy of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1978” did they believe that they had once again begun to live under the authority of a legitimate religious figure. Another difference between Sunnis and Shiites has to do with the Mahdi, “the rightly-guided one” whose role is to bring a just global caliphate into being.  The major difference is that for Shi`is he has already been here, and will return from hiding; for Sunnis he has yet to emerge into history: a comeback v. a coming out, if you will.”

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They simply disagree with each other like the  Scientologists disagree with Jehovah’s Witnesses, like Mormons disagree with Catholics etc. etc. etc. The difference is the American presence in the region made the two sects more extreme in their fundamentalist differences and created the violence that plagues the region.   Religions, none proven by science, are beliefs.   As the great Christopher Hitchens asserted:

We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.

Perhaps, some day man will understand much of the world’s injustices, abuses and atrocities are carried out because one group believes their god is better than the other group’s deity.  Most importantly, one must understand religious differences do exist and potential volatility is inevitable if these differences are not understood.

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Defense Contractors Since Vietnam Have Always Demanded A New War

The Hawkish McCain and Graham (L to R)
The Hawkish McCain and Graham (L to R)

The two Senators most outraged and openly aghast at every foreign policy decision made by President Obama are Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ).  With Eric Cantor’s stunning loss on June 10th, many suspected Graham would face the same demise, but he actually fared very well.  Perhaps because he’s a very good friend to the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) and would never be seen meeting with the likes of VP Biden as Cantor has done.   These are two of the biggest hawks in the Senate because they have a sordid history of accepting donations from defense contractors. Defense Contractors don’t play by the same rules, thanks to an executive order signed by President Eisenhower in 1958.  They receive tax payer subsidies without facing any criminal liability.

This  personal and LUCRATIVE friendship became de rigueur with President Lyndon Johnson’s massive financial ties with Brown and Root (now KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary).  Speculation this close alliance between LBJ and Brown and Root may have been the cause of JFK’s assassination, but anyone who spoke of this was silenced in one way or another.  This ushered in the era Eisenhower himself warned against:  where the government is wholly owned by the MIC.  Senators and Representatives alike maintain their Congressional tenure indefinitely if they play ball with the most lucrative industry in America.

It’s unclear how many defense contractors have secret indemnification agreements with the military. Under the law, most government agencies are banned from entering open-ended indemnification agreements, but the Pentagon and a handful of other agencies were exempted in an executive order signed by President Richard Nixon in 1971.

Rarely these mega-corporations have their feet held to the fire over criminal negligence causing injury and death. The continuous beat of the war-drum by these bought and paid for Senators is not a mystery, with a closer look at President Obama’s harshest foreign policy critic, Senator McCain:

(in 2013) Republican John McCain received more defense lobby cash than any other senator who cast a vote Wednesday on Syria: $176,300.

It’s no secret how profitable the short Iraqi conflict followed by a painfully long occupation was for Cheney’s Halliburton.  The fact President Obama averted another war with Syria vexed the Graham-McCain duo.  But never fear, a fresh new conflict is here!

The nation we invaded on false pretenses, Iraq,  is in shambles.  Who do they blame?  Who else? President Obama is always at fault for the messes of the Bush Administration.  Thanks to free publicity on  Sunday Morning GOP TV, these hawks have the chance to drum up more support for yet another war.   Meet The Press interviewed Paul Wolfowitz on Sunday, June 15th.  The Wolfowitz/Rumsfeld/Rice/Cheney group got everything wrong on Iraq the first time.  Thankfully, President Obama has the sense to ignore their opinions on the mess he inherited.  He’ll carefully weigh our options while battling Senators who beat the war drum to satisfy their masters’ thirst for blood money.  Seems like it’s going to be an ugly fight.

Australians Know Obama Is the Right Man for the Job

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Obama Clearly Won Debate #2

A Guest Blog by Derek Wood of Sydney, NSW, Australia

The second of the Presidential debates has now taken place and it was a welcome return to form for Barack Obama. The President took a more aggressive stance and certainly scored a number of hits to the (largish) chin of his opponent Mitt Romney. The GOP candidate certainly didn’t help his cause by slipping up on a number of occasions and then mentioning the now classic comment “binders full of women”. It certainly was not a great comment to have come from someone aspiring to be the next President of the United States.

So after the first two debates it is 1-1 between the two candidates. As for the Obama supporters, they are now buoyed with the President showing his true debating skills, coupled with enough aggression to show he is the real deal. As for Romney, well, his team will need to regroup if they are going to come out on top in the final debate. Interestingly, after the second debate Romney appears to have garnered extra support – if the latest opinion polls are to be believed.

From an Australian point of view, there has been a feeling that Obama is back in control and is starting to hone in on his opponent. The Australian government has made it quite clear as to whose side they are on, and it is not Willard Romney. This is predominantly due to the risk that Romney would pose to world peace, especially that in the Middle East. His friendship with Israel and Netanyahu in particular needs to be put into the spotlight. Neither the US nor the West can afford another war in that part of the world. Alas, the signs are that a Romney Presidency would raise the odds of that happening. He wants to increase the Pentagon’s budget by $2 TRILLION!

Also, Mitt seems to have a regular occurrence of ‘putting his foot in his mouth’. Aside from upsetting a number of countries on his recent fund raising junket, he has since become famous for his 47% comment, and can now add the “binder” one to the list of calamities. Maybe he should now be known as ‘Calamity Mitt’. The “binder” comment does seem to cement the view that Romney has issues with women in general. Whether it is his religious upbringing, or otherwise it does appear that there is a problem here.

There is a parallel to this in Australia with the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott. Two events have happened recently. Firstly, there was the misogyny attack he received from the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, following the recent death of her father. Then, in an unprecedented move, Tony Abbott’s wife and daughters went public in an interview to tell all and sundry that he does not have any issues with women. Strange indeed. There is another similarity between the ‘pretenders to the throne’ both here in Australia and the United States. Both Mitt Romney and Tony Abbott are lacking in actual policy. Whilst this is a strategy that can work well (ex PM John Howard used this strategy to beat incumbent Paul Keating to the top job in Australia), the vast majority of voters want to know what the candidate and their party really stand for. To date, I cannot see too many policies spewing forth from the mouth of Mitt! However, banal comments are definitely to the fore with Romney!

Julia Gillard and Tony Abbot

So to conclude, the third debate will be important. Hopefully, Obama will continue on from the second debate and turn those proverbial screws on Romney and the GOP. As this is looking like a very close election, it is important for the President to make his mark. He could do no worse than watch video footage of Julia Gillard tearing strips off Tony Abbott!

We’d all appreciate that sort of honesty as Americans prefer candor in their representatives. VegasJessie

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Follow Derek on Twitter @Main_Man

Do We Need More Military Spending, Willard Romney?

Can you believe Willard Romney wants to increase military spending by $2.1 trillion?? The Roman Empire overextended itself militarily and that lead to its eventual demise. Can’t we learn from history? Not if history is no longer taught in our schools. Willard and his cronies want to defund and privatize it to the point where Americans won’t even be able to read this chart.

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Remember, a vote for Willard is a vote to bankrupt America. He’ll embroil us in more wars. Don’t doubt this for a second. Obama2012!!

Atheists Can’t Win The Whitehouse & Why That Sucks

Thomas Jefferson 3rd US President
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People say this is a nation of God. It is such a predominant part of a candidate’s electability. Unfortunately, people don’t realize, most of the founding fathers were actually followers of Deism Thomas Jefferson always questioned his beliefs. He said,
“Fix Reason firmly in her seat. . . . Question with boldness even the existence of a God. . . . Do not be frightened from this enquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it end in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise and in the love of others which it will procure for you.” I ask, how can our morals be rigidly bound by ancient texts rather than guided and modified by reason and compassion?”. This statement would terrify Michelle Bachmann. Jefferson, for merely having uttered it, would have been labeled a godless heathen & smeared out of government. Let’s face it.

Why is this the case? Why must we be believers in a book created by man based on third or fourth hand accounts of unsubstantiated pre-scientific era miracles? Watch Eyewitness Accounts of Miracles Remember, I’m not trying to be offensive. “Let me assure you that my intent is not to offend or merely be provocative. I’m simply worried.”
― Sam Harris

What’s really telling is this poll:
A 1999 Gallup poll conducted to determine Americans’ willingness to tolerate a Jewish president (Joseph Lieberman was the Democratic candidate for Vice President at the time). Here are the percentages of people saying they would refuse to vote for “a generally well-qualified person for president” on the basis of some characteristic; in parenthesis are the figures for earlier years:

Catholic: 4% (1937: 30%)
Black: 5% (1958: 63%, 1987: 21%)
Jewish: 6% (1937: 47%)
Baptist: 6%
Woman: 8%
Mormon: 17%
Muslim: 38%
Gay: 37% (1978: 74%)
Atheist: 48%
Us non-believers are the least likely to be elected. Does anyone ever consider the possibility this president or several others have maybe pretended to believe? I believe that probability is likely.

Here’s a notion to ponder:
“According to the most common interpretation of biblical prophecy, Jesus will return only after things have gone horribly awry. Imagine the consequences if any significant component of the U.S. government believed that the world was about to end and that its ending would be glorious. The fact that nearly half of the American population apparently believes this should be considered a moral and intellectual emergency.” (Sam Harris)

It is troubling for those of us without religion how our leaders believe in such things as the Rapture or an afterlife of everlasting bliss and forgiveness. In my opinion (as stated by Sam Harris) “People who harbor strong convictions without evidence belong at the margins of our societies, not in our halls of power. The only thing we should respect in a person’s faith is his desire for a better life in this world; we need never have respected his certainty that one awaits him in the next.” These people are dangerous. Their beliefs are irrational and detrimental to the here and now. Live to make this world better, not some afterlife.

Sam Harris

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