Sunday, January 29, 2012

Honourable Jury

Today in the Shafia murder trial, a jury did the honourable thing and found all four defendants guilty of first degree murder. This case involves so-called "honour killings" in which a father, his second wife, and his son murdered (we can dispense with the allegedly now) his three daughters and his first wife. The motivation for the murders was a belief that the family's honour had been tarnished by the daughters. Clearly the man, his wife, and his son have no understanding of what the word honour actually means.

Though the most important issue in this case was seeking justice for the murdered victims, this was obviously a case that was more loaded than your run-of-the-mill quadruple homicide trial. The fact that the murders were motivated by a patriarch's warped perception that other people can affect his own honour had profound implications for our society. The fact that the accused were found guilty sends a strong message to the community of insane, violent people who would think of committing similar acts against their own children. The law not only serves justice in each case, it also sets precedent, and this is a very good precedent to set clearly. Let us hope that some young women somewhere in Canada are spared as a result of this verdict when their fathers or brothers reconsider the consequences of cold-blooded murder followed by statements of glee at their daughters spending an eternity in hell.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Challenge

Religion and science have always been in conflict, and I believe they always will be. There are those who feel that religion and science can co-exist peacefully, that the two answer different questions in life and that they need not be in conflict. But religion is the very anti-thesis of science because the two go about answering life's questions in entirely different ways. Religion relies on revelation, usually to one individual, for life's answers, whereas science relies on repeatable, independant, unbiased observations for the answers to life's questions. The two are not compatable. Throughout history science, as it slowly advances knowledge, has completely crushed the accepted "truths" of religion, and continues to do so today. That millions of people reject evolution only because it threatens their religion only shows the immense power of science to free us from falsehoods of religion.

But I would go even one step further and state that science offers the answers to every question for which there is an answer. I submit that any question for which there actually is definite answer, science is capable, given enough time and resources, to discover the answer. Some questions are not answerable by science, but they are only the questions that do not have an answer at all, such as: "Is blue or green a better colour?", or "Does tea taste better than coffee?" These are purely philosophical questions that are only answerable by each individual depending on their particular preference. Science, obviously, can answer many fundamental questions about the natural world around us, such as: "How do kidneys work?" and "How did the universe begin?". But many people would dispute the ability of science to answer questions such as: "Why are we here?", and "Where does morality come from?", claiming instead that these questions are only answerable by religion. I vehemently disagree. If there is an answer to the question of where morality comes from then science, not religion, will provide the answer. The question of why we humans exist may not have a philosophical answer. We exist because of a process of evolution that resulted in our species' development and survival. That is all. There is no greater answer to that question. Many people think there should be a deeper answer to the question, but by wishing for deeper meaning they are simply dismissing the uncomfortable reality of the only answer.

My challenge is this. I challenge anyone to provide a question, for which there is a definite answer, which science cannot provide an answer.

Missing Hitch's Superior Intellect

It's been a month since Christopher Hitchens passed away. The world has probably grown a little darker in that time. Major war in the Middle East is potentially a bit more likely given the escalation of tensions between Western countries and Iran, the irrational clown show that is the Republican primary electoral process continues, and some of world's major economies seem no closer to solving their long-term problems. But, with the loss of Hitchens, the world grew slightly darker simply through lack of his incessant demand that arguments appeal only to reason. Hitchens was known for eloquently blowing arguments out of the water. If he didn't agree with your position, you had little chance of looking like much other than a fool when engaging in a debate with him. But, this was not only because of his incredible intellect and seemingly limitless knowledge, but primarily because he always structured his position in a reasonable, rational manner. This is not something that most people do. Most people pick a position on an issue, and then try to justify it no matter whether their justification is reasonable or not. The very reason Hitchens was so effective in his arguments, and in dismantling others' arguments, was his rational approach. He zeroed in on the main thesis of an opponent and generally dismissed their case while showing them and the audience how foolish it was to even have that position in the first place. All of this he usually did without getting personal (there are exceptions, such as his infamous post-mortum description of Jerry Falwell: "Falwell was so full of shit that if you gave him an enema you could bury what was left in a matchbox.").

In this light, here's a classic Hitchens moment in which he dismisses his opponent's "argument" in support of the divinity of Jesus:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Modern Conservatives: Consistently Inconsistent

I heard a high school friend of mine once asked what characteristic he valued most in his friends. I was somewhat surprised to hear him say consistency. At first I thought that loyalty, love, or even common interest might be more important, but when the more I thought about it, the more I recognized that consistency really is a foundational basis of every healthy relationship. If someone is completely inconsistent, it is very difficult to establish any level of intimacy in a relationship of any kind, whether romantic, frienship, political, counselling, et cetera. We take for granted that our friends will have at least some level of consistency in their behaviourr, beliefs, and values. For someone to genuinely earn my respect, I find that I do demand consistency of them. Even if I don't know them personally, it is hard to respect someone whose views appear inconsistent. We tend to associate inconsistency as a character flaw in political candidates, a sign of weakness indicating that the candidate will simply form their views based on popularity rather than inner conviction about what is right. Even someone with whom we strongly disagree on an issue but who is consistent is much easier to communicate with than someone whose opinions are all over the map and changing daily. If you think about it, almost any human conversation, certainly any argument, demands consistency. If we perceive someone being inconsistent, we immediately call them out on it, saying things such as: "But earlier you said such and such, now you are contradicting yourself." Children are, of course, inconsistent in their position all the time, constantly changing their minds as it suits their personal needs. Consistency is a characteristic of the mature adult.

Consider for a moment the modern conservative in North America. Europe is somewhat different when it comes to political conservatism since it tends not to muddle the issues of religion and conservatism so much. It is entirely possible to be a popular conservative leader in Europe without having to be a religious wingnut. Just think of Maggie Thatcher. She might have been a wingnut, depending on your political viewpoint, but no one ever accused her of being Britain's version of Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann. In the United States, and increasingly in Canada since the union of the Progressive Conservative party (a European-style conserative party) with the Reform Party (an American-style religious conservative party), conservatism and religion are inseparable. Religious people in the U.S. generally vote Republican. In Canada, it is very rare to meet a Christian who does not vote for the Conservative Party of Canada. Many of the members of parliament in the Conservative Party in Canada rely on the Christian vote to be elected, and many of them form the basis of their political beliefs and agenda around Christianity.

It is this religious influence that infects the conservative parties in North America with an incredible inconsistency. In order to be a true believer of Christianity demands a fair amount of inconsistency. You must believe that Jesus is the son of God and you must believe that he died and rose from the dead to save humanity from their sins. Almost every Christian must believe those two things. Yet those two beliefs are completely at odds with the world in which we live. There are no documented cases of fatherless (or more specifically sperm-less) fatherhood in humanity. There are no documented cases of people ever coming to life again after being genuinely dead for three days. This inconsistency, bought into by the religious since childhood, infects their mind with an acceptance of inconsistency in the politcal arena. As long as their policial veiws are in line with their version of Christianity, then they consider themselves to be consistent.

Consider you knew nothing whatsoever about the political process and you were being introduced to it by someone else. You might, at some point, ask the differences between liberals and conservatives. In North America you would be told that conservatives are generally pro-life. But then you'd be informed that they are also generally pro-capital punishment. You'd be told that they believe it is acceptable to surgically remove part of a little boy's genitalia at birth and the right of the parents to do so should be legally protected, but you'd also be told that to do the equivalent to a female would be considered abuse and should remain illegal. You'd be told that most conservative voters believe in a religion in which peacemakers are blessed and in which it is important to respect and love other people, but then you'd also be informed that it has been conservative leaders who have started the most atrocious and illegal wars in the past fifteen years. You'd be told about the conservative viewpoint that government should be small, social spending should be limited and reduced, but then you'd be informed that conservative voters don't think the defence budget should ever be cut at all. You'd be informed that conservatives want to reduce government spending, but then you'd be told that in Canada the only government in the past generation to balance a budget has been a liberal one, and in the United States the largest deficits in history have traditionally been under conservative rule.

Many politicians of every stripe demonstrate inconsistency. Politcians, after all, want to be elected. Making statements that help them do so is more important than demonstrating consistency. Liberal politicians might be considered as inconsistent as conservative ones. But when it comes to the voters, conservatives are incredibly inconsistent. Their values and beliefs simply flow along the illogical and bizarre path laid out before them according to the Bible.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Love Your Neighbour As Yourself...The Downside

The Golden Rule. Treat others as you want to be treated. Love your nieghbour as you love yourself. Some form of this rule seems to be understood and encouraged in many different societies. It is often attributed to Christianity, as though Jesus was the first person to think of it (but that's a topic for another post). It is heralded by many Christians as a sort of trump rule that overrules much of the nastiness in the Bible. Don't worry about all the Old Testament, the New Testament and its Golden Rule are all that really matter. How could anyone disagree with that?

I recently watched a video showing a discussion between Bill O'Reilly and Bill Maher on religion. The video can be found here:

Now, I would hope and assume that anyone who has gotten as far as this point in having a desire to read my blog is already rolling their eyes at the inclusion of Bill O'Reilly as an embedded video. The man is incapable of disusssion, his idea of a conversation is to cut off the other person whenever they even begin to say something he might disagree with (or more likely when they say something that might legitimately challenge his own position) and speak loudly and immediately change the topic. Whether one agrees with anything he says or not is irrelevant, he is the anti-thesis of intellectual debate in which each party is given time to be heard and must back up their position rationally. However, this video does have some relevance to what I want to say about the Golden Rule. O'Reilly, at about the 3:15 - 3:30 mark of the video, promotes the "love your neighbour as you love youself" philosophy, and states that he doesn't see the downside of that. Bill Maher sort of agrees with a vague "right", but his disagreement seems to be other issues. My disagreement is with that very point: the downside of the Golden Rule.

At first the Golden Rule seems fair enough. Who wouldn't want to live in a considerate society in which people care for each other and treat each other with genuine respect? A society in which people are treated the way they want to be treated? Yet, there are major problems with the Golden Rule.

Firstly, and most obviously, how does one know that others want to be treated the same way as you do? Maybe someone I know is into some seriously devious behaviours that I find repugnant and distasteful. My assumptions that they want to be treated the same way I do is simply self-absorbed and narcissistic.

Secondly, there is the whole "he started it" routine. Children, when asked to show respect to another child, very often respond with "he started it", as a justification for their anti-social behaviour. Bill O'Reilly, I'm sure, would even extend the Golden Rule to foreign policy. Don't fly airplanes into our buildings because that's not what you would like done to you. This simple minded approach, completely fails to notice that, in the minds of terrorists who flew planes into buildings, they were acting out of revenge for a similar act against them. America started it, the terrorists would argue, by bombing and invading us to begin with. You started it, Bill O'Reilly would argue, by committing acts of terrorism that forced us to invade you so we could protect ourselves and our way of life. Like two children who both claim the other one started it, there is no peaceful solution to this approach. The Golden Rule fails massively on this account.

Thirdly, there is the problem of legislated morality. Many fundamentalist Christians in the U.S. would love nothing more than to base the country's laws on the Bible (or at least their interpretation of its laws) and to "bring back" morality to the nation. What better law that the Golden Rule if you want to base laws on the Christian message? But, how do you enforce the Golden Rule legally? Anytime you're convicted of a crime, your immediate and justifiable defence is: "Well, I would have liked it if someone did that to me, so I was treating him as I would want to be treated." You can't legislate morality. Basing a country's laws on the notion that people should just be "nice" to each other isn't going to work at all. The only thing that keeps a civil society civil is the legislation that binds us all to very specific behaviours with predictable consequences when they are not adhered to. As a nation progresses, these laws have to be modifed and interpreted as people push the boundaries. Something as simple as the law to not murder someone can become incredibly complex when you try to define murder in the context of self-defence versus premeditation versus accidental manslaughter, et cetera.

In this particular instance, in reference to Bill O'Reilly, one could hardly think of a man who doesn't put his claimed Golden Rule into action more than Mr. O'Reilly. He shouts at his guests, cuts their microphones, bullies them, cuts them off mid-sentence, ridicules them. Is that how you want to be treated? Is that how anyone wants to be treated? No, O'Reilly is just a primitive primate who likes to claim the Golden Rule as some sort of fake trump card in promotion of a softer version of his monstrous and ignorant religious views, but which he need never actually put into practice. Like a child, he is the first to point out when someone else has violated his version of the Golden Rule, all the while never abiding to it himself.

The Golden Rule fails every time. I don't know why anyone even bothers trying to pretend that it holds any value whatsoever.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Politics and Sport...both sliding away from their gentlemanly heritage

I enjoy sports, always have. I have always enjoyed playing sports and there are many sports I have enjoyed watching, particularly ice hockey. As I age, however, I find my interest in sports waning. In particular I find little joy in watching sports on TV anymore, and my interest in participating in team sports has all but disappeared. This is not a result of a middle-aged beer gut (I don't have one) or of slowing down too much to be competitive (I think I can still outperform most young people in their physical prime). Part of the loss of interest, at least in sports on TV, is the constant barrage of marketing, something for which I have no time in life. Marketing is so pervasive on sports broadcasts these days that it is unavoidable. Gone are the days when you could walk out of the room for a refreshment or bathroom break when the commercials come on. Now, television, and particularly sports broadcasts, include marketing at every turn. The playing surfaces, and even uniforms in some cases, are littered with corporate logos. Every instant replay is sponsored by a corporation. Each half-time or pre-game show is "brought to you by" someone who wants you to buy their product. Marketing is a big turn off for me, so I've largely tuned out sports on TV. But there is another, more important factor that turns me off sports both on TV and in real life, and that is the unsportsmanlike conduct that is now often considered the norm. In the past, my perception of sports was that a set of official rules governed the game, but there were also a set of unofficial rules that governed the conduct of the players. It was understood that you were in competition to find out who would win within the set of rules. Now, the only thing that matters is winning. Now, most athletes, both professional and recreational, would rather cheat and win, or act in an unsportsmanlike manner and win, than act professionally and courteously and lose. Coaches who subcribe to this philosophy abound. "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing," is a well known quote in professional sports (which likely originates from Henry Russell Sanders but was made most popular by Vince Lombardi. Really though? Winning is the only thing? Would you really rather win and see four or five opponents (and teammates perhaps) end up in the hospital, than lose and have everyone walk away at the end of the game and go home to their families? My personal philosophy on this is the exact opposite of this quote. Sportmanslike conduct is everything. Winning within that conduct is very important.

I am no fan of C.S. Lewis's Christian writings, but his children books are generally well-written. In the last of his Narnia Septet, there is a scene in which Eustace Scrub, a young boy caught in a sword battle, yells insults at his enemies after they perform a particularly dastardly act. His leader, King Tirian hushes Eustace, and explains that an honorable warrrior has only two forms of communication with his enemies: courteous words or hard knocks. I have always felt that is an appropriate approach to the sporting arena as well.

Ice hockey is my sport of preference. It is a highly skilled and fast-paced sport. It requires teamwork, good skating skills, and a deep understanding of tactical skills to be successful at. But, there is a darker side to hockey as well. For some reason, likely historical, the culture of hockey in North America condones violence as a means to resolve conflict. Fighting is essentially allowed in ice hockey, with some relatively light penalites for the combatants. Fighting has always had its place in hockey and, while I think it does not belong in any sport, it has seemed to fit into the culture more respectfully than one might imagine. The players have typically understood that there is a time and a place for a fight, and that fighting demands accountability for generally clean play. But lately, an even nastier, dirtier, and more violent side of the game has reared its ugly head. Plays made with the intent to injure an opponent have become commonplace. Coaches have subscribed whole-heartedly to the maxim: "Winning is the only thing." If an opponent ends up in hospital, or having to take significant time off due to injury, or even having to prematurely end their career then, oh well, so long as we won the game it's just fine. An example of this was the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, the culmination of two months of playoffs that results in the crowning of the Stanley Cup, hockey's holy grail, which hockey players spend a lifetime pursuing. Last season the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks faced off in the Stanley Cup Finals. One of the themes that emerged from this series of seven hockey games was Boston's willingness to do anything to win, even if it bent or broke the rules, and certainly if it involved unsportsmanlike conduct. Several players did end up in the hospital. At least three or four Vancouver players required surgery, including one for a broken back. In the end Boston won. I'm sure they figured it was worth it. I'm sure other teams in the league that watched from the sidelines figured that their model of play was one worth eminating if it resulted ultimately in victory. I didn't. Had I been a Boston Bruin fan or even a player, I would have felt that I had cheapened the sport. I would have felt unsportsmanlike. This is not all to say that only the Boston players behaved unsportsmanlike. Many of the Vancouver players also did so, but that is not my point in this example. My point is that winning was worth behaving that way for the Boston players. Nothing else mattered, so long as they won. I would have felt like my family was disappointed in me, not proud for me winning. I would much rather lose gracefully than win through unsportsmanlike conduct.

I find there are many analogies between sport and politics and this shift seems to also be occuring in politics. I firmly believe that democratic political systems, when they were originally established, where intended to give everyone an equal voice, and then to make decisions based on the majority of opinions, assuming that everyone who cast their voice did so in an informed manner. Playing within the rules, and within the bounds of politicalmanlike (is that a word?) conduct. More than almost anything in life, I value the opportunity for everyone to have their voice heard. I hate scenarios in which people are cut off mid-sentence by someone who can shout more loudly. Inclusiveness is key to democracy. Opposition voices are an important part of the process. Not just to be heard and then disregarded, but to be heard, debated honestly, and then to contribute to the overall process of decision making.

That process never happens in politics anymore. In Canada at least, decisions are made based on party-loyal vote casting. Members of Parliament (MPs) are often asked (told) to vote along party lines to match a decision already made by the party leader, before any debate has taken place in the House of Commons. Why have the debate at all? (Indeed, I worry that that is a step we may end up taking in our political system).

An example of this approach is a decision that will be made in the coming two years here in Canada. There is a proposal, by a corporate oil giant, to build an oil pipeline from Northern Alberta to Northern British Columbia to ship Albertan oil to Asian markets (i.e. China). Currently, a process of hearing both sides of the debate on this controversial project has begun. A government body will, for the next two years, hear voices from both sides of the table. On the one side, the very well funded oil corporations will lobby the government for the economical benefits this project will undoubtedly bring. On the other side, poorly funded environmental groups, Aboriginal peoples, and local communities will lobby for their voice to be heard on the issues of safety, health, and environmental destruction. What is interesting in this process is that, already, before the process has even begun, both the Prime Minister of Canada (Stephen Harper) and one of his cabinet members, have spoken out against those with an agenda to stop the pipeline project from happening. The Prime Minister has said that those with an environmental agenda have "hijacked" the process. His cabinet minister has essentially said that those who are against the pipeline are "radicals." So where is the debate? How can the government have made a decision, in the best interests of all Canadians (not just those who voted for the current government), without having heard one day of debate from either side of the table? The decision is already made. Mark my words. The pipeline will be built, no question about it. Billions of dollars of money will win out over clean water, potential oil spills off the coast, and the destruction of Aboriginal culture everytime.

The process is rotten. Voices are not being heard. Unsportsmanlike conduct is the rule of the day in the modern political arena. What is most alarming about the above example is the classifying of one set of voices in a debate as "radical" or as having "hijacked the process with their agenda" as though they have no right to be heard in the debate. You can almost hear King Tirian scolding the Prime Minister now. But, the distinction I would draw that I suspect most of my fellow citizens would not, is that I don't believe all politicians fall into this category of win at all costs. Indeed in Canada, I would even go so far as to say that I find the win at all costs is relatively specific to the Conservative Party. In one of the leadership debates in the most recent election in spring of 2011, Stephen Harper kept referring to the bickering of the opposition parties in the House of Commons everytime his government took any action. Finally, in frustration, Michael Ignatieff, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada at the time, told Harper that it is not bickering it is democracy. Sadly, he sounded like a tired old man whining and complaining, and it only served to illustrate to voters what Harper was saying. But, the point is, Ignatieff seemed to understand that there was a process that should be followed, that debate and dissent were part of the process. As much as he wanted to be Prime Minister, he didn't give me the impression that he would sell his own mother to do so. But even more noteable in his respect of the process before his untimely death was the leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, Jack Layton. Layton spent a long time as a city councillor in Canada's biggest city before becoming elected to parliament and eventually becoming leader of the official opposition. I suspect the council type approach to decision making had a profound impact on his approach to politics. City councils tend to run much more like democracy should, with voices being heard and then decisions being made, than do federal politics in which the leader typically decides everything based simply on policy or party agenda. Jack Layton seemed to really have the interests of Canadians at heart. Unfortunately, perhaps because he was such a genuine person, he was attacked harshly by other parties, notably the Conservatives, as someone who was only interested in raising taxes on Canadians. Again, smeer your opponent with untruths and win at all costs.

Winning is the only thing. That is a scary proposition. The only thing. That is not to say that it is the most important thing, that somehow, if you could add up all the other things, they might be of equal value in their summation as winning is. No, it is the only thing. The other issues not only don't matter, they don't even exist. Nothing else matters at all. Hearing the voices of your opponents does not matter because it might interfere with you winnning the next election.

I dream of a government and political process that would respect the process more than winning. A party that would prefer to see the process of democracy continue in its best form than gain power themselves. A leader that recognizes that mis-representing another party's leader in an attack ad is actually counter-productive to the process of democracy, effective though it may be.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Is proper taxation finally coming to the church?

As we all know, the church enjoys a special position when it comes to taxation. Churches do not pay taxes in the same way that other organizations do. No politician will ever touch this issue, for although it would be nice to increase one's tax revenue in this manner, the political pushback would be huge, especially in places like the United States where the religious hold significant voter influence. But, a new possibility may be slowly emerging on this front.

In 2001, Canada conducted a census. There was a small grassroots movement afoot at the time to encourage people to tick the "other" option on the section dealing with religious beliefs, and to fill in the word "Jedi" as one's religion. The movement was based on the premise that, if enough people in Canada claimed a specific religion, then the religion would have to be officially recognized. In that case, the motivation behind the movement was mostly for entertainment purposes, but there may be some groups that are starting to see the light, so to speak, when it comes to having themselves declared a religion.

Recently in Sweden, a group of people have organized a religion around the practice of file-sharing. The smarts behind this move is that religious practices are, of course, protected by law. Therefore, the abilty to continue file-sharing legally would be protected by law if one can get the practice declared a religion. Smart. The other factor, of course, is that taxation would have to fall under the church rather than corporation structure for any file-sharing company. It looks like, at this point, this concept is still not ready to take off. But it will. How long before groups who are traditionally non-religious start to eye up the goodies and exemptions that religious groups get, and try to join the party.

This issue promises to make for some interesting discussions in government. Perhaps most amusing of all, Canada's new Office of Religious Freedom would be legally bound to protect the human rights of such groups! The whole issue might spiral into a legal complexity the likes of which are hard to imagine. Maybe, just maybe, if that were to start happening more, the solution would be to treat religious organizations in the same manner as every other group: with proper taxation and having to play by the rules.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Democracy in Action

It's easy to look at the craziness happening in the Republican primaries in the U.S. these days and to be critical of the candidates and everything they stand for. And, indeed, I will be critical of them in a moment. But first, let me be critical of the preposterous process.

Yesterday was the first primary in Iowa. Iowa will send 28 of the 2,286 delegates to the Republican convention in the summer. That is about 1.2% of the total. The insignificance of this, in terms of real democracy, is evident. In a democracy the way it was supposed to work, Iowa and its delegates would have a tiny impact on the outcome of the Republican nomination process and even less on the eventual presidential election. But, of course, it doesn't. It has a very large impact on the process. Mitt Romney, the lunatic Mormon "businessman" who seems likely to eventually be nominated to compete for the presidency with Obama, "won" Iowa by eight votes. That is not eight delegates (of the 28), but eight votes of the people who choose the delegates. Statistically an insignificant result. In reality, and statistically speaking, both Santorum, another lunatic in the race, and Romney both won Iowa. Yet, this morning the news is full of Romney's victory. It is all about "on the New Hampshire" and how this will spring-board Romney into the leading candidate, full of momentum. Indeed, we didn't need to wait until this morning to have the media frenzy surrounding the results. Media outlets were buzzing with predictions barely a couple of hours into the proceedings, certainly well before the polls had closed.

This system is utterly broken. I have written before about how I think a beneficial change to democracy would be to ban the reporting of any results until an election is over. This would be a benefit on a national scale but also in these smaller preliminary rounds. In the end it is the media, not the voters, who choose the nation's leaders. Is that in the best interest of voters?

Romney, with his overly coiffed hair, his mid-winter orange skin, and his ivory white teeth, was all smiles this morning. Surely God has ordained that he win Iowa and eventually the presidency. But wait, Santorum was on the radio this morning saying that God is with him in this election. I'm so confused. Does God support them both? Perhaps the Mormon God and the Christian God aren't the same deity after all?

I took at look at the news online this morning and saw a picture of Mitt Romney and his family. I looked at the group of them and I honestly thought to myself: "There is not one person in that photo that I would trust with anything I value in my life." How can voters not see that? Maybe they do. Maybe there's a good reason why no one bothers to vote in America.

If nothing else, the next eight months might be entertaining. I just saw on the news a few minutes ago that Michelle Bachmann has quit the race. Too bad. She was always good for a laugh.

Many people think it makes no difference whether a Democrat or a Republican is elected in the fall as they are both just puppet organizations run by very, very big money. In many ways I agree. But, as a non-American, I have to say I'd rather see a Democrat in the president's office for one simple reason. As much as the Republicans tend to beat the drum of isolationism and America being able to solve all her problems without involving the rest of the world, when elected they tend to do the exact opposite. Democrats, for the most part, seem to go about the business of governing America, whereas Republicans, for the most part, seem to go about the business of governing the world. Ronald Reagon, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, all had profound effects on the world at large. As a non-American, I'd rather that America just keep to itself and stop invading people all the time. I think that is much more likely with a Democrat in office.