If you subscribe to HuffPost Politics, then you're probably concerned with some aspect of government. But when you do learn of governmental behaviour you don't like, what do you do about it, other than post angry comments online? What could you do about an issue that concerns you?
There's a common perception that the only two options for political involvement are to vote or to run for office. These avenues are certainly open to us all, but most of us seem to forget a third option: Lobbying. And the perfect how-to guide is now on the shelves.
Lobbying isn't the exclusive domain of well-funded groups with huge memberships and infinite political connections. You, the individual, can just as easily make an appointment with a government official and discuss matters you'd like addressed at a council, state or federal level.
You just need to know how.
The Citizen Lobbyist - A How-to Manual for Making Your Voice Heard in Government (Pitchstone, 2013) takes readers step-by-step from concept to results, whether one's issue is signage at a local intersection or an amendment to the federal constitution. Author Amanda Knief learnedly details the intricacies of the lobbying process, including how to identify and appropriately articulate an issue for lobbying, hands-on instructions on how to get in to see the right official, how to comport oneself during the meeting and follow-up procedures to ensure a favourable outcome.
The unfortunate but unavoidable reality is that some things simply don't make sense. There's a large and fast-growing demographic in the United States -- possibly 60 million or more -- who accept the reality and finality of death and, in troubling times, simply need community, upon whom they can lean without someone meekly attempting to explain an event in the context of a powerful entity who, apparently, could have prevented the whole catastrophe.
It's saddening to me and to these countless millions, that as much as half of the Massachusetts population was left out of last week's memorial service that involved all levels of government.
Though the speakers did so with the best of intentions, quoting from a Bible is as comforting to an atheist as quoting from Mein Kampf might be to a Christian. In the Boston interfaith service, though there were some words of comfort that dispensed with religious phrasing, a secular humanist could be forgiven for being distracted and put off by the repeated invocations to the Abrahamic god.
It continues to befuddle my mind that the USA permits its citizens to arm themselves with a personal arsenal. In some states, I understand, it's even legal to carry concealed weapons to work.
After the Aurora shooting, handgun sales in Colorado soared, assisted in no small way by certain politicians claiming that if others had weapons in the cinema they could have taken out the shooter.
Yes. In a dark, smoke-filled theatre full of panicking patrons and gunfire, the solution is for more people to start firing rounds in whatever direction they think the shooter might be. I have a simple solution for the USA. It might be a tough sell, but I think you're at that point:
I'm Australian, I have European citizenship and I live in Asia. On behalf of the 6.7 billion people on this Pale Blue Dot who are not permitted a vote for the leader of the Free World, I beg you: Vote for Barack Obama.
It's not just me. In a GlobeScan survey of 21 countries, the residents of all but one have overwhelmingly indicated a preference for Obama. Please understand that your vote affects us, your international family. By an accident of birth, you have both the right to vote for your nation's leader and the privilege to vote for the man (this time around) who will set the world's economic and diplomatic tone for the next four years.
This table shows just how much we Earthlings prefer Obama. Spain's Christians, Indonesia's Muslims, India's Hindus, Japan's Buddhists and Australia's drinkers-of-beer are all in agreement. For once. Your three closest allies, the next six largest economies in the world and both of your adjacent neighbours. Latin America, Asia, Europe and Africa all strongly prefer Obama, up to 45-to-1 over Romney.
Such cultural, economic, political and religious differences, yet the world agrees on this one choice. Everyone but Pakistan, that is. Pakistan, where a man in Romney's former position, the governor of Punjab, was murdered by his own bodyguard for suggesting that the death penalty for blasphemy might be a bit harsh. Yet even in this deeply religious, atrociously conservative place, Obama's only trailing by a couple of percent.
But why? What reasons could there be for the entire planet agreeing that Barack Obama is the right choice and that Mitt Romney is not?
It's because the United States has the world's largest economy, whose stability dictates the economic stability of the world. It has the world's most powerful military, whose budget is higher than the military budget of the next sixteen countries combined, with active forces deployed to 150 countries. Your population, 4.5 percent of the world, produces 16 percent of the CO2 emissions.
We care about these things and I think most of you do, too.
But this new fiancee-mistress "scandal" in which he has become embroiled is the embodiment of both the proverbial storm in a tea-cup and the abuse of religious power over even high-profile individuals. Fancy losing one's job over dating.
It seems that a conference organiser suspected Dinesh of (gasp! spending the night in a hotel with a woman. He has been separated from his wife for two years, apparently at her behest, and the divorce is progressing. Meanwhile, he has started dating someone else. Where's the scandal?...
there are new calls at the United Nations to introduce an international law restricting blasphemy.
before we condemn a violent reaction to it, we'll always be bestowing power upon those who wish to pass this kind of law.
kind of law, precisely? If an anti-blasphemy vote is passed at the UN, what will the definition of "blasphemy" be? by his own bodyguard, not for blasphemy, but merely for suggesting that a death-sentence for blasphemy might be too harsh; what actions will constitute blasphemy and what penalties will be prescribed under this new international resolution?
More than that, what sanctions will be imposed upon a country who fails to stamp out blasphemous speech, print and behaviour to the satisfaction of the OIC?
No, a Blasphemy Rights Day is crucial, given today's religio-political climate....