Monday, 20 July 2015

Is it illegal to collect rain water?

Collecting rainwater is not illegal. In a few states it was very restricted like in Colorado, Utah and Washington. That ended in 2009 when those three states relaxed their bans. In a handful other states, rainwater harvesting is regulated. In these states you have to obtain a permit, which is in most cases is about making certain that your harvesting equipment doesn't contaminate groundwater. So it isn't illegal. It is like saying "Building a house is illegal" no, it isn't. Building a house without following the law is illegal.

There was a guy in Colorado who was jailed for 30 days back in 2012 but this is because he had been denied a permit, but went ahead and built three HUGE reservoirs anyway. So he broke yes he broke the law but not in the way this graphic suggests. Should he be allowed to defy the state regulatory agency?

Think about the situation tho. The idea of regulation of rainwater harvesting is pretty simple. Water falling from the sky is public property, not private property, and belongs in the water table where it can restore diminished streams and reservoirs. Those who collect it privately are "hoarding" it. Of course the opposite theory is: a person who uses rainwater first is consuming less public water. So it isn't a simple issue especially in places. You'll find that there are even communities that require rain water collection because it reduces the burden on the public water works.

The problem here is that on the Internet people are not being subject to any kind of screening, editing, fact checking, or anything else. It is a great place to plant and spread misinformation for political purposes.

Here is a good article about the actual situation instead of converting it into a sound byte that makes it sound like it is just big government getting in peoples faces for no reason.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Obama Hope and Change?

Yup he didn't enact most of the Change I wanted and I lost a lot of Hope on him because of that.  Like  many other presidents he disappointed me in many areas including the A.C.A. His position to be thought of at the great compromiser compromised the ideas he should have been known for.

What the average person hoped for was a better health care system.  What they got was a better health care system but not as good as it should have been.  Why? He compromised using a republican plan that still gives too much to a bloated and corrupt industry.  There are too many examples around the world of better health care systems to ignore them and go for a solution that ultimately is a big boon to the health insurance industry.  For example here in Australia we have a single payer system augmented by an individual mandate for those over a certain income level. This gives the government the power to control exploitative practices by the healthcare industry while still having a private healthcare and insurance option.  This leads to better healthcare across the board by providing a baseline of coverage that everyone gets with the option for persons to still have higher level coverage and access to doctors of their choice.

What the average person hoped for was a change to the politics in Washington.  What they got was the GOP stating that their number 1 goal was to make Obama a failure as a president by voting against him regardless of the benefit of the policies put forth.  Even when he compromised and decided to go with a “republican plan” as with the A.C.A. the GOP would vote against it. If you think about it he could have pushed through a better health care plan but compromised with an opposition that didn’t want compromise. Fuck they didn’t even want their ideas.  They just wanted Obama to fail.

What the average person wanted was some sensible gun regulation.  What they got is a few speeches and a ton of people not only not willing to even listen to some sensible gun regulation but even a loosening of gun regulations in many cases.  All backed by the straw-man argument that sensible gun regulations = take away all guns.  Often using false dichotomy that if everyone didn’t have guns America would be a lawless land. Using a Historian's fallacy that the founding fathers thought everyone should be able to have any type of weapon they wanted and that they would think that the same combat tactics of the 1700s could be used today against a 21st century military.

What the average person wanted was corporations and those running them to be held accountable for their actions.  What they got was more of the same privatization of profits but socialization of the risks. What they got was the words that corporations can be “too big to fail”.  What they got was inaction by the DoJ to pursue criminal charges against executives who commit white collar crime that dwarfs blue collar crime by several orders of magnitude.

I could go on and on. But I ask what was the alternative?  With Romney we probably would have got the A.C.A. at best and at worst a watered down A.C.A. where insurance companies could deny you coverage or cut you off when you got a major illness.  We would have still been kicked out of Iraq by the government there because the people were sick of seeing innocent people be killed by US contractors with no repercussions.  We probably would have seen social security get abolished and those funds used for more tax breaks for the highest end of the economic spectrum with the same flawed trickle down economic justification we’ve heard for the last 3+ decades.  We would see more workers rights eroded away leading to more corporate welfare like the abolishment of minimum wage in the argument that it hurts the economy to pay someone enough that they can live without working 80+ hours a week leading to a shifting of the burden of those people from their employers onto the social program systems.

Was Obama against marriage equality? Historically no.  We have his statements from over a decade before he ran where he was clear that he supported it.  He then did a typical politician move and changed that position when he needed votes.  He finally went back to that position when he needed the money from those that supported the position.  So his moral convictions wavered, as most politicians convictions do, when faced with a population that doesn’t care about getting rid of a bigoted law.

I’ll leave it there. You can read more about my position, both positive and negative, with respect to President Obama in other posts on my blog.

A review of a review of a book of a collection of essays.

This is a post in response to the following blog post about the content of a book found at

I've got a few problems with that abstract and I'll highlight them here. First: the need for a Western “forward policy” in the Gulf in order to protect U.S. and European interests, particularly oil and its transport, against both Soviet adventurism and the greed of Middle Eastern potentates. translated : the need for policies to protect western multinational corporations and their greed and shift the risks on to the American public via a cost in both American citizens lives and tax dollars to protect said western multinational corporation's interests. The mentality that the Middle East, or for that matter any place in the world where multinational corporations want to exploit local resources, fighting against said multinationals is a bad thing is simply "Fuck the locals, the world's rich people we identify as like us deserve that resources, and ultimately money, more than they do". When the Eastern block countries do it then it is "adventurism" when the Western multinationals do it then it is called "capitalism". One only has to look at the number of times crony capitalism, or as we call it in the USA 'Capitalism', has little to no regard for anything but short term gain because they know the risks they take will most likely not be shouldered by those that take the risks and get the reward regardless of the outcome. The "greed of Middle Eastern potentates" is also rich. It rubs us wrong in the west because of its imperial implication but our rich are effectively the same. They often inherit their wealth and control the politicians and thus the laws to keep themselves wealthy and thus in power. Would you complain if a US leader stopped Russia from trying to exploit any of the US's natural resources? Nope. Funny enough we let western multinational corporations rape those same natural resources further demonstrating Western potentates or as we call them "the mega rich American's" The issue is many American's look at those rich people and think "If I work hard enough I could be just like them" when the reality is it will never happen. Even winning the lottery a few times in a row wouldn't get you there. The American dream is just that. A dream that has been swapped out by those that already have theirs. So it is not much different then a "Royal family" in the Middle East. Second: The use of the word "liberal" in this synopsis with reference to the "West". The article refutes it's own claims by its own lead "how little we’ve learned about the Middle East.". One can not start out by pointing out how little the west has learned about the Middle East then call the US liberal. Third: The “affirming a disjunct” logical fallacy throughout the entire article. Is there truth to many of the reasons they claim there are problems? Fuck yea! But that doesn't mean that the way the West has exploited the area for almost a hundred years isn't also a significant part of the issue. You can’t handwave away those issues. Yet this is what many people want to do or are just ignorant of those issues. It reminds me of Bill Cosby. Denial that he did anything wrong. Shifting the blame and rationalisation when he is forced to a point that he can’t deny what he did wrong any longer. Much of the USA does it with regard to the black community. The idea that slavery was oh so long ago. “The got the right to vote decades ago!”. All the while ignoring the reality then trying to claim that blacks deserve to be targeted by law enforcement because they are just thugs. That all crime in the black community should cease before we attempt any further discussion about racism within the USA. Fourth: The idea that the "West" only wants democracy for the area and it is just these primitive people that won't accept it is the major problem. The reality is we've never really brought democracy to the area. We supported and often put in place the same autocrats the article complains about. Fifth: The idea of tribalism as bad. The USA can be thought of, in one respect, as one huge tribe. You'll hear it coined by other terms like "National Exceptionalism". The article will complain about a "tribe" wanting what is best for their local people while we want what is best for "our nation" which these days isn't really for the nation but again what is best for the multi-national corporations. We often subdivide our national tribe when we don’t like what is good for the national tribe. We push these things into terms like “State’s Rights” The fact is we are humans with a fairly well understood social evolution. For hundreds of thousands of years most humans, Homo sapien, whole social world was a few hundred people at most and tribal. People point to the bible thinking that it is a moral code for all people but in reality it is a code for a tribe. It is full of laws on how you treat people within the tribe compared to how you treat people outside of your tribe. Even western people still pull this tribal mentality all the time. Look at any competitive activity we are involved in. Fuck even things that shouldn’t be competitive we still do it. Every sporting team is drilled how they are some how better and more deserving than the others. When anyone tries to belittle “tribalism” like they are above it I’ll point out the hypocrisy they display every day of their lives. The comment of “Any progress towards political maturity has been stultified by their inability to comprehend any loyalty other than that to family, tribe or religious sect. Loyalty to the nation or to the constitution is a concept devoid of meaning for them.” ignores so much it isn’t funny. Look again at issues we have in the USA where people bitch about “State’s Rights”, often in a vain attempt to hold on to some bigoted view that most of the country finally recognizes is bad for society. Look at the religious divides in the USA. A small but vocal component of the Christian majority will cry persecution any time their doctrine isn’t allowed to be shoved down the throats of all Americans. Non believers make up about 14% of the US population yet when you look at representation within politics, especially federally, it is devoid of non believers. Why? For the same reason every president ever elected so far has claimed to be Catholic. Most people in the USA will vote for a candidate based on their stated religion over an opponent even in the face of the politicians actual positions. Iraq should not have been 1 country. It would be like if the USA the North East was primarily Secular Humanists, the South East was primarily Southern Baptists and the West was Hindu. You’d see that the USA wouldn’t work very well together. We need not look far to see this type of behavior. Look at Canada and the strong divide between the East and west and their mentality. Fuck look at Texas and tell me a decade that has gone by where there hasn’t been people bitching that Texas should secede from the union. When a national disaster hits you always hear people bitch how their tax dollars should not go to aid some other state. Realistically Iraq should have been 3 countries. The north which is primarily Sunni Kurds, the West where are primarily Sunni Arabs and the south which is primarily the Shia Arabs. It is understandable that a Sunni Kurd will have little ties to the Shia Arabs in the south and may not want to risk their lives for them. Fuck you have plenty of Americans that wouldn’t want to risk their lives for their neighbors because their neighbor is Black or White or Latino or gay or Muslim or atheist. If we had a civil conflict in the USA how do you think it would pan out? Oh fuck me we did and look America almost split in 2.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

FGM Female Genital Mutilation, what it is, what it is not, why you should care and what can you do about it.

This is probably something many of you don't want to know or let alone even think about.  For various reasons people will not discuss issues such as this.  The largest reason is society has a number of taboos when it comes to the topic of sexuality and things relating to sexuality.  This reason, like all reasons, any one can give about why people should not talk about topics like this are deeply flawed and far out weighed by the reasons to bring topics like this to light.  So I hope you will continue reading and find out what the facts are and what you can do to help combat against this torture of young women.

So what is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?  FGM is the complete or partial removal of the external female genitalia.  Some may claim that it is often no different then male circumcision.  The reality is much different.  Some argue that it is a cultural issue and no business of anyone else's to comment on another culture's practices.  But this argument ignores the fact that any time we identify a cultural practice as demonstrably harmful to an individual, group of people and/ or society as a whole we should make efforts to stop such practices.

  FGM falls under all 3 of those categories. It is clearly harmful to the individual.  Any procedure done against the will of an individual that is for non-medical reasons falls under this category.  Even if the girls are "talked into it" they are often to young to understand the ramifications of the decision and the pain, both short and long term, that they will have to endure.  The practice is demonstrably harmful to all women because its sole use is as a tool to oppress women.  To literally make sex unpleasurable for women and remind them that they are the property of men.  Finally it is demonstrable that it is harmful to society as a whole because we see time and time again that when women are oppressed in societies those societies do not do as well.  Societies where women are treated as equals have higher quality of living then those that do not.  The most successful way you can help a community flourish is to empower the women of those community and that includes giving them reproductive autonomy.

  Now to the specifics to demonstrate that this isn't just a form of "female circumcision".  The most minor version of FGM most closely resembles male circumcision.  Some apologists will claim this is the most common form but while the removal of the clitoral hood would be anatomically the same as a male circumcision, the reality is this rarely ever happens.  So Type 1 is normally the removal of the hood and the clitoris.  This is like saying that instead of a male having their foreskin removed they had not only the foreskin removed but at least the whole head of the penis.  Anatomically it it more like chopping off the entire penis.  And this is the most minor version of FGM performed.

  More severe versions of FGM removal of the labia minora, the "inner lips".  This is called type 2 FGM.  Type 2 can even include removal of the labia majora.  To shock you even further there are a total of 4 types each worse then the previous with varing amounts of damage being done in each level.  Type 3 includes actually sewing up the remaining vaginal orifice.

  There are other procedures done with FGM in various regions.  This includes cauterizing or even removal of tissue not by cutting but by abrasion.  Think of it like this.  A doctor says "We need to remove your hand." then whips out a large file and starts at the tips of your finger.

  While some procedures are done to babies, who won't remember the procedure, many are done to little girls around the age of 5.  Most procedures are, in fact, done to girls between the age of 7 and 10. Pretty much always these are done with absolutely no anesthetic.

  FGM has further complications and results in an extra 1-2% in  perinatal deaths.  Death rates from the actual procedure is recorded at 2.3%.  Compare this to the most overblown rates of death from males circumcision which is less then 0.009% or over 255 times less likely.  The more accepted numbers for deaths do to male circumcision is between  0 and 1 in 500,000 which means FGM is over 10,000 times more deadly.

Do you think this is just a problem of Muslims?  Nigeria has the highest rates of FGM and the occurrence in the Christian community is higher both in number and percentages.  Do you think it is only a problem in Africa?  A 2015  study estimates that over a half a million females in the USA are at risk of or have undergone FGM and that number is up from about 228,000 women in 2000.  It is illegal, thankfully, in the USA under 18 U.S. Code 116 - Female genital mutilation.  But this does not help girls when they go back to their parent's country of origin on holiday.  While it is illegal here the parents are not subject to prosecution if it is done overseas.  The Girls Protection Act of 2010 tried to address this issue and was cosponsored by 156 democrats and 21 republicans.  The republican controlled Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations blocked it from going to a vote.  I have no idea why they would prevent this bill from going to vote.  I can guess that the oppression of women is just part of most of their world view when you look at their voting records.

The problem needs to be brought to light.  Legislation needs to be enacted to protect those women in the USA from this practice.  More broadly we need to apply political and social pressure to stop this practice that at the end of the day serves no other purpose then to oppress women.  Something that in 1915 should not have been acceptable let alone 2015.  I encourage everyone to research this topic.  If you keep your head in the sand on the issue then that is your choice.  But as with all bad positions you hold it reflects on the type of person you are.  Yes I'm trying to guilt you into action because staying silent on issues like this is unacceptable in my opinion.

Read more about FGM here World Health Organisation
Google "FGM charity" to find were you can go to help.   Here is one article that lists 16 various organisations trying to tackle this issue.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Remember Solyndra?

Do you remember Solyndra?  This is the solar panel manufacturer that went bankrupt after receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in government money.  The Obama administration was blamed for the program.  Loosing and wasting your tax dollars on left wing liberal projects that were supposed to help lower our carbon foot print.  So, was it really as bad as you remember?

This is a short post in reply to a FB post where I'm talking about how peoples views are often distorted by misreporting and out right lying by not only Fox News but most media outlets.  To often people latch on to this stuff and don't let go.  I still hear people make comments about Solyndra and frankly most people have no real clue what happened or even what "Solyndra" was.  They just use it as a "buzz word".  When people bag Obama there are a few "go to" terms.  Solyndra! Benghazi! Obama Death Panels!

The reality is most often very different from the shit that is in people's heads.  Yes "shit".  It is a very apt word to describe the "information" it is largely all the stuff that wasn't useful and probably just out right fake.  Much like what you flush down the toilet every day from your previous days meals.

Did you know that the program that gave Solyndra money was supposed to loose hundreds of millions of dollars.  $780 million dollars has been lost by 4 companies including Solyndra.  The Department of energy factored into the loan program these types of losses.  The whole program was supposed to loose money over all.  The costs was deemed acceptable because of the innovation it was expected to spur.  So Solyndra lost about 528 million dollars.  Three other companies folding lost the program another 150 million dollars.

Before I go on let me talk a bit about the DOE's renewable-energy loan program.  Normally we would hope that private equity providers, like Mitt Romney has made so much money off of, would be the source of funding for programs like this but people like Mitt Romney don't like these "risky" investments do they.  He doesn't actually like investments full stop when you talk about building up companies.  He's more for going in, transferring debt then dumping or dismantling the companies.  So the government had to step in.  The government has been doing this type of stuff for a long time.  Obama's administration isn't the first and it certainly won't be the last to issue loans like these.  Hell the banks get loans like these all the time from the government and they loose hundreds of billions to trillions of dollars.

Anyway what is the state of the renewable-energy loan program that was budgeted to actually loose money.  Well turns out that the program is going to make any were between 5 and 6 billion dollars.   Not bad aye.  Have you heard Fox News or any other news organization talk about that?  Did they explain that the program was supposed to loose money but ended up being a bit of a cash cow?  Probably not.  Doesn't work well with the view that the vocal right wing want to push that Obama wants to destroy America.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

A response to Bob Francis

This is in response to the following face book discussion.

First off psychology is a science. It is highly statistical science but if you want to be a Scientologist like Tom Cruise go for it.
Second you don't start with a theory. You start with repeatable observations and experiments, analyse the observations in unbiased manners, things like double blind tests, and you formulate a falsifiable hypothesis which can also be independently verified. A scientific theory is a well substantiated explanation of some area of the natural world that arrived at after repeated applications of the scientific method. Continually testing new and existing data to see if the current theory is still accurate. If it isn't either the theory is falsified and may have its domain of applicability reduced and it is replaced by a new theory that makes more accurate predictions or more predictions.
Newton's law of gravity is an example of a Theory that while wrong is still widely used but its domain of applicability is reduced.
Your statement that they've stopped checking observations is disingenuous or ignorant, take your pick. It is like saying biologists have stopped checking if evolution. It is continually examined. New scientists in learning their field continually test current hypotheses and theories and many main stream scientists do the same.
Your example of Einstein is a good one. He originally predicted that GR indicated a non static universe and introduced a cosmological constant to keep it static. He later said that was "the biggest blunder in my career" and it was removed from GR for a very long time. Then we continued to test GR over the next 80 years. ~20 years after GR was published we found something that didn't add up within GR and that was the galactic rotation curves that indicated that galaxies where rotating to fast for the amount and distribution of matter within the observed galaxies. Pop forward another ~60 years and we discover that there is unseen mass around almost all galaxies. Mass that is at best very weakly interacting electromagnetically. Pop forward another 10 years and we discover that the expansion of the universe doesn't indicate that it is going to slow down but never quiet reach zero thus will expand forever and it isn't slowing down and never has been slowing down to cause a "big crunch" but in fact is speeding up and dark energy is introduced as the cause of the Hubble expansion.

The SAME type of stuff goes on with climate change. To say it doesn't ignores all the scientific work out there and frankly shows a very poor understanding of the scientific method.

You know why appropriate action isn't being taken. Because of people like you that want to deny the science kick up a stink if money was sunk into fixing the problem. Would you right now be willing to go through the pain and expense that it will take to fix the problem? The IPCC report is not only about the science but there is a whole volume that goes into mitigating the problem and it factors in how much people are willing to do. The science of psychology on this matter is pretty clear. People generally have very short term impulses that work against fixing problems like this. Politicians have short term goals of getting reelected. People might like the idea of not fucking over the environment or even other people but when they can be fooled or self deluded into believing that there isn't a problem they'll take the greedy option. Take Easter island as an example. That society kept cutting down trees and at some point you'd think that they might consider it a bad idea to continue to do so but no...they didn't. They cut down EVERY tree on that island. They destroyed their civilization. This isn't some "soft science" hypothesis. We know they did it. Captain Cook discovered the island before the population completely dwindled out. The boats they had were pitiful meaning they couldn't even fish properly any more.

So again if you don't know what is in the IPCC report please shut up and stop making false statements about the report and all the science in the report because YOU and everyone like you, including Fox News, CNN, etc. Everyone that either knowingly or unknowingly makes it look like the science isn't in or says that it isn't science because, even though you haven't investigated the issue you are sure that all those scientists are doing bad science, it it is treated as a "religion" is the problem.

Religions have "Truths" that are not independently verifiable. That is why we have thousands of denominations of the "Christian" religion, forget about all the other religions. Science, including the science of climate change is search for the best explanation to observed physical facts. The observed physical fact is our climate is changing. The fact isn't based off of 1 piece of data. It is from many different areas of the relevant sciences using data from many different sources. If you want to know about it then there is the IPCC report which makes it very easy to get a very large amount of work that has been done on the topic. Think of the IPCC report as a HUGE scientifically reviewed paper.
Are there still questions? Yes! Does that mean we should ignore everything we know until all those questions are answered? Not if you care about your grand children and great grand children. You and I might miss much of the problems. But Steven, Melissa, Bryan and Joshua won't. They'll be in the thick of it. And because simply pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere isn't a instant fix they are quickly being set into a future they'll not even be able to properly mitigate given the current science. It will take hundreds of years to get the oceans to return to normal. We'll never get back some of the aquatic life that is dying off because they can't evolve quick enough to the changes in their environment do to climate change.
The "taxing production" isn't a scientific solution. It is a political solution to try to motivate companies to change in a manner that is less economically impactful. I don't think that carbon should be taxed either. It is a stupid political trick to get people to think that the governments and companies are trying to do something. What needs to be done? Read the volume of the IPCC report that goes into that. There are many ideas that can be implemented put forth by many people much more knowledgeable then you and I. Not only "scientists" but others like economists.
It is like if you went to the doctor and they told you that you have a tumor in your head and they recommend an invasive surgery because based on their knowledge you'll die if it isn't removed. You might go to a few other doctors to get a second, third and forth opinion. Now imagine you've gone to 100 doctors about the issue and 98% of them agree that you need to get it operated on. None of them will guarantee your survival. Of the 2 others 1 suggests you use this drug that they say will help and you know that doctor has received a lot of money from the pharmaceutical company that makes that drug. Last doctor isn't sure that the tumor will continue growing or even if it does that it does you might have a better quality of life not operating. Then Alex, your neighbor, comes over and says that through meditation you can heal yourself. A work mate comes to you and says all you need to do is use a pillow with magnets. And another person that noticed you reading up on the topic of brain tumors while on the train tells you they heard that brain tumors actually can make you smarter. Who are you going to listen to? In reality you probably wouldn't get to 10 doctors. You'd be faced with doctors on one side pretty much in universal consensus about what you should do and quacks on the other side. Then CNN picks up your story and they'll bring 1 of the doctors on and Alex on to have a "debate". Hopefully most people will walk away hearing that all the doctors you went to see agreed on the treatment but a good percentage of people will hear that meditation has been found to work, even though there isn't any science or real evidence behind it, and they'll think you should go down that route because it is less invasive. That is what it is like. You can disagree but, by what you've posted, you clearly don't understand the issue.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Please stop with the persecution complex!

Do you really think that Christians in the USA are persecuted?  Is your opinion of your religion that inflated that you think that Christians need more rights and respect at the cost of American citizens of different beliefs?  Do you really think that given a Christians receive less respect then those with other beliefs?

The USA has a majority of people that identify as Christian.  73% at the latest count.  Almost 20% of American self identify as non religious.  Yet Congress is about 90% Christian and 9% Jewish. Hmmm seems we have about 20% of our country not represented yet if you listen to Fox News it is Christians that are the powerless ones.

It isn't Christians that are looked down upon by the majority of the country.  There are polls and studies that show that the majority of Americans would trust an atheist LESS then they would trust a rapist. As scared as many American's are of Muslims they are more likely to vote for a Muslim for president then an atheist.

You have government officials that instead of giving equal treatment to a secular organisation they prevented a Christian organisation from doing the same thing just to spite the secular organisation.  So here you have two organisations that want to help people. One is Christian and the other is run by an atheist.  The Christian politician decided that he would pull support from the Christian organisation rather then affording the secular group the same privileges.  Who is the one that is being persecuted and who is doing the persecuting?

 How many times do I have to see memes like this?
Let us look at the logical fallacies here.

First off  America is NOT a Christian Nation.  From the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796.

"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims]; and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Mohammedan] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

America is a nation for people of ALL faiths and religious beliefs.  Not just the thousands of Christian denominations that can't even agree on the interpretation of most of their holy book.

Second, who exactly says that YOU can't say "Merry Christmas"?
When has someone bitched you out for saying "Merry Christmas"?

Many people and organisations say "Happy Holidays" because there are other people in the USA that celebrate different holidays around this time of year, including pagans from which the Christmas Holiday was co-opted from the holiday of Saturnalia.

So if you are offended that other people and organisations are not paying your religion enough attention that is your problem.  There is no war on Christmas or Christians.  There are just people of other faiths that would like to pay and receive respect to people of all faiths and the rights our constitution guarantees. Every time someone claims the USA is a "Christian Nation" they marginalize all American's that don't self identify as Christians.  I didn't serve my country for 6 years just for Christians. I served my country for the benefit of ALL its citizens.

So for once I'd like to see Christians actually act as suggested in Ephesians 4:1-3 "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace"

If you want to say "Merry Christmas" then go for it but don't EVER tell someone else that they must express a greeting in the manner which you demand.  Are you going to bitch me out if someone sneezes and I say "Gesundheit" instead of "God bless you"? Do you even want a blessing from a heathen like me?  Sure, with 80% of America worshiping the Abrahamic god I'd probably be fine with that response.  I'm sure most of the other 20% wouldn't care that I said "God bless you either".  I may get a few people say something like "Actually I don't believe in God but thank you" and I know this because I have at times said this and heard other atheists say it.  So isn't saying something like "Health" a more inclusive response?  You won't hear a Swede yell at me because I didn't say "prosit".  They wouldn't go away and start a meme implying they where discriminated against because someone didn't greet them in the way they normally greet others.  They'd probably say thank you and move on grateful that they were acknowledged

Stop with the persecution complex because when minorities, that are really persecuted, see/ hear you complain then it just leaves them with a bad feeling about your self righteousness.