Archive for the ‘Irreverance’ Category.

Three News Items This Morning

First, in South Carolina with all the rain and flooding they are saying this is a once in 500 year storm.  Not any more.  I know you have heard of climate change and global warming, but since a large portion of the state (at least their state government) denies it, maybe this will wake them up.  Oh, and when all you hate government Republicans start screaming for Federal help, we will be there for you.  Hope you remember that next time you go government bashing and cutting budgets.

Fareed Zakaria on CNN had Bibi Netanyahu on as his guest.  All I could think of during this interview was how much he reminds me of Dick Cheney with his total self-confidence about his views, all of them wrong.  All his predictions about doom and gloom have failed to materialize, while he pushes more and more settlements to make the problem that much more intractable.  Bibi needs to get out more and get some new friends.

Finally, Meet the Press began with a report that the father of the shooter in Roseburg had called for more control.  Then the reporter countered with the fact that one of victims opined that if more kids at the school would have had guns, it would reduce these things.  At this point Chuck Todd, told us that there are lots of opinion and we would explore them in a few minutes.

I have to stop them right there.  Yes there are lots of opinions, but the facts are clear, less guns, less gun violence.  Now we can continue on the same path, even arm more people, but that is accepting the status quo, or we can do something about it.  But let’s make no mistake.  We know from other countries and even within our own country with states that have tougher gun laws, fewer guns equals less gun violence. The fact that we can’t even have a debate on how to make the guns we have safer tells you all you want to know about “this debate”.

Why is Religion Special?

In a country where religion is unquestioned and ubiquitous, that may seem like a stupid question, but I am talking about in the legal sense.  Why should religion be treated any different or any other belief system or ideology as say conservative or progressive?  Seem like a dumb question?  Why do religious organizations get treated differently than non-profits in the tax code?  Why do religious objections get preference over good public policy like exemptions for vaccines? Why do we “respect” religious beliefs that fly in the face of known facts?

Well, I think the answer is our history.  In order to establish our Constitution and government for all the people, we had to assure people that government would not interfere with their religious freedom and that the tyranny of the majority would not ostracize those with minority religious beliefs.  On the other hand the Founders did not want government that was religious in nature (whose religion?) so there is no religious test for office, and government is prohibited from making a “law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free expression thereof”.

Ay,  there’s the rub. When does the free expression of religion impinge on the rights of others and when should that be limited? The problem with that question is the very reason for the Enlightenment and a government established by the Founders that tried to restrict religious interference and influence in its governing.  It’s not rational.  The problem is when deeply held religious views are challenged, in many cases they are not subject to logic, reason, or compromise.  When does your deeply held belief against abortion infringe upon my right to control my body (assuming I was a woman)?  When does my right to traffic in the public square supersede your religious intolerance of me?

The Founders and our solution has been to allow any silly or religious or superstitious belief you have until it crosses a line of infringing on others rights, and because religion has been such a controversal force in public affairs, we have tried to give it a great deal of sway.  But we have now seen Hobby-Lobby where an employer’s religious freedom can dictate how an employee is treated regarding medical benefits.  We have seen how states controlled by the religious right are trying to deny access to a perfectly legal abortion.  We have seen how once again religious conservatives have pushed laws that would allow them to discriminate when providing public services to those they choose on religious grounds.  And we have seen how religions, while given non-profit status, do not have to show how their money is spent for the betterment of their fellow-man like other non-profits.  I think it has gone too far.

It is time to recognize that religion has no special place in entitlement of intolerance.  The intent was to allow the free expression, but that expression when it tramples on others does not deserve special exemptions because it is a religion.  Note that Wicca (witchcraft) has been ruled by the courts to be a religion. If we go down this road, pretty soon nothing can be enforced because it violates someone’s religious beliefs.  We don’t think about this because religious tolerance is infused in our culture and we think only of mainstream religions.

This is going to be especially hard because instead of what Fox News has claimed is a war on Christianity, some elements of Christianity are waging a war on the rest of us.  We have to keep these policies of special exemptions out of the public sector.  We could start by treating religions just like we treat other non-profits under the law.  We need to understand that they are pushing a political agenda and where they do, remove their non-profit status.  And finally we mustn’t allow them, under the guise of religious freedom, to enslave the rest of us under the rule of their dogma.

Make no mistake, these types of antics by the religious right are multiplying and taking us back to a dark, dark time.  Ask the Republican candidates for President where they stand on evolution, gay marriage, religious freedom laws, and global warming and you will see the hand of religious intolerance reaching out from history not only enabling religious intolerance, but stifling science. It is not an accident, and if secular government is to survive, we must be clear about basic human rights and how religion cannot trump them.


An Atheist’s Sunday

Ever wonder what an atheist does on a Sunday?  It is pretty simple.  He is hoping the faithful are being faithful so he can get to the store, ski slopes, golf course, beach, lake, or whatever, and beat the crowds.  He is thanking his lucky stars for the faithful.

You probably thought I was going to make fun of the faithful since I am an atheist.  Mostly I don’t care.  One of the things the faithful get perpetually wrong about atheism is that they assume it is like their belief, just another form of religion.  Actually it is just the opposite.  We don’t have any beliefs.  Oh sure, you can find the anecdotal atheist that is out to convert all the religious to atheism, but think about what you just said.  What is it you are converting them to?  Religion is mainly made up of a belief in some magical being, with a whole lot of dogma attached via their sacred  books.  Atheists simply believe there is no magical being and all that magical stuff is nonsense, full stop.  That is why atheism school doesn’t exist.  You can get the whole ideology off a bottle cap,  “There is no god, Live with it”.

There is another thing the religious don’t get about atheists.  It is not a need.  I will get to Sigmund Freud in a minute, but religion for most fills a need.  Needing to believe colors everything you see and hear (think about confirmation bias).  The religious think atheists have that same need, to not believe.  It doesn’t work like that.  Many atheists were raised religious and want to believe.  They simply can’t take that step beyond their own perception of reality.  Atheism is not faith-based, it based upon a lack of evidence and our inability to suspend our disbelief.  It is a totally different way of thinking than those with faith and they simply can’t understand it.  As that commerical once said, “Where’s the Beef?”

Some scientists have postulated that there is a religious gene, that religion had a positive effect on the survival of our species, and so the need to believe, to have a social community organized around that belief, helped Homo sapiens survive.  I just read an article that people with faith are more likely to partake in risky behavior (like ignoring global warming). All I can tell you about that is I do not have that gene, and most of my fellow atheists, as near as I can tell, do not either.  We don’t have a need for you to not believe.   When we look at the modern world without the need to believe, without the need to have a mystical and magical all-powerful, all-knowing God managing the world around you defining moral codes, what we see is amazing amounts of energy, not mention death and destruction, spent on ridiculous superstitious beliefs, uniformed by intellect and reality testing.

It is amazing when you talk to a believer.  We certainly live in two different universes and talk right past each other.  From an atheist point of view, our life view is based upon reality testing.  Does that make sense in terms of the known world and are there other more compelling explanations for what the faith-based claim?  I guess that is it in a nutshell, faith-based thinking versus reality testing.  When you are talking with someone who thinks in a faith-based manner, logic is useless.  But for us atheists, it is everything.  As Tom Cruise’s character once said, “Show me the money.”

So I thought I would layout in a logical manner some of the things that bother us atheists about religion that prevents us from accepting the magical father in heaven theory.  Oh, and don’t get me wrong.  There are a lot of things right with religion in terms of a moral philosophy (and a lot wrong, see ISIS or religious freedom laws).  But we atheists would tell you that you can arrive at the same moral philosophy (good or bad) without the magical god creature.  And without dogma, you are free to change your moral philosophy as your understanding evolves.

I think I would like to start with H.L. Mencken, journalist and writer in the early 20th century.  What Mencken did was try to list some of the gods of our antiquity and asked the question:  “Where is the graveyard of dead gods?”.  In other words throughout our very short history we have had a bunch of gods and they were feared and revered.  Feared to the point of tens of thousands of deaths due to sacrifices and wars and yet where are these feared creatures today? “What has become of Sutekh, once the high god of the whole Nile valley? What has become of:” and then he list feared gods from the old testament.  I counted over 80 he listed that are now relegated to the trash bin.  And his point was simply this: “They were gods of the highest standing and dignity— gods of civilized peoples— worshipped and believed in by millions. All were theoretically omnipotent, omniscient, and immortal. And all are dead.

So we have had a lot of them and so you might be saying, yeah, but now we got the right one.  So if you buy that consider Christopher Hitchens  and his thought about why the Old/New Testament god (there seems to be two of them) is the right one:

The human species has been in existence as Homo sapiens for (let us not quarrel about the exact total) at least one hundred and fifty thousand years. An instant in evolutionary time, this is nonetheless a vast history when contemplated by primates with brains and imaginations of the dimensions that we can boast. In order to subscribe to monotheistic religion, one must believe that humans were born, struggled, and expired during this time, often dying in childbirth or for want of elementary nurture, and with a life-expectancy of perhaps three decades at most. Add to these factors the turf wars between discrepant groups and tribes, alarming outbreaks of disease, which had no germ theory to explain let alone palliate them, and associated natural disasters and human tragedies. And yet, for all these millennia, heaven watched with indifference and then— and only in the last six thousand years at the very least— decided that it was time to intervene as well as redeem. And heaven would only intervene and redeem in remote areas of the Middle East, thus ensuring that many more generations would expire before the news could begin to spread!

Because they are the chosen people!  Not buying it.  So why did we even invent gods?  Because we needed them to explain a world around us and make sense out of chaos.  To give us control.  Carl Sagan tells us this:  “The gods watch over us and guide our destinies, many human cultures teach; other entities, more malevolent, are responsible for the existence of evil. Both classes of beings, whether considered natural or supernatural, real or imaginary, serve human needs. Even if they’re wholly fanciful, people feel better believing in them.”  And you have to ask the question, why are the descriptions of demons and gods culturally centric?  Carl gives us this insight:

How is that apparitions of the Virgin Mary are common in the West but rarely occur in places in the East where there isn’t a strong Christian tradition? Why don’t the details of the religious belief cross over the cultural barriers? It is hard to explain unless the details are entirely determined by the local culture and have nothing to do with something that is externally valid.

In other words, there is a ton of stuff that raises the issue of why this is the “real god” and those other gods are the false ones?  As I believe Christopher Hitchens once said, most religions deny other religion’s gods so they are only one god’s denial away from becoming an atheist.

Then there is the whole issue of the sacred books being overcome by science, the conflicts in the books, the incestual story telling*, the hypocrisy of an all powerful and merciful god being anything but in reality.  The clearest example of this is when we see a tragedy strike and someone thanks god for sparing them.  And you as an atheist say, if he was responsible for sparing you, isn’t he responsible for the killing of all those others?  And if he is all powerful, why did he let it happen in the first place.  Ah, but “God works in mysterious ways” is the faithful’s way of inserting an untestable hypothesis into the debate.  Well, we atheists just won’t have it.  It makes no sense, or as John Stuart Mill tells us when talking about his Dad’s view of religion:

He found it impossible to believe that a world so full of evil was the work of an Author combining infinite power with perfect goodness and righteousness. His intellect spurned the subtleties by which men attempt to blind themselves to this open contradiction.

But wait you say!  What about the miracles?  My favorite one comes from David Hume, another of the philosophical thinkers that greatly influenced the thinking of the writers of our Constitution.  He first gives a long explanation of what is evidence, especially the eyewitness kind, and what is reliable human testimony (not much as he considers comfirmation bias even back then).  He questions the eyewitness testimony of an ignorant people who have a need to believe,  He then questions the fact that we never see “miracles” in our times.  And finally concludes with the thought that the only miracle he has been able to uncover is the miracle that people believe this stuff in the first place.

Then there are the arguments that without religion, there is no morality.  I do laugh at this one.  I believe that the immoral acts committed throughout our history has no preference to the religious and the unbelievers.  Remember that the Old Testament tells you how to treat your slaves.  Just reading this book gives you a whole list of immoral acts done by “god”.  See how our view of gays are evolving.  As Aemin Havabi, a Muslim who ultimately rejected his faith tells us (Why There is No God):  ” … moral standards, as we understand them, are social constructs. They are tied intimately to cultural circumstances and can change over time. Nevertheless, the source of these standards is rooted in sentiments such as sympathy towards our fellow conscious beings and a desire for living in a peaceful and cooperative society.”  

I guess all in all for most of us atheists, none of it, religious belief, makes any sense.  Why do all religions have an end game where the sheep get slaughtered and the chosen move on to a place most of us do not want to go (*From Hitchens:  All religions must, at their core, look forward to the end of this world and to the longed-for moment when all will be revealed and when the sheep will be divided from the goats, or whatever other bucolic Bronze-Age desert analogy might seem apt.”)?  ISIS right, up there with evangelical Christians, are waiting for the second coming and redefining when that is going to be.  In the meantime all this nonsense uses up resources and lives to worship nonsense and enslave people’s minds.

Like I said at the start, mostly I don’t care, but when faith-based thinking intrudes into our logical world and starts redefining reality, passing laws that would allow religious discrimination, and impacts our ability to use science and data to solve our problems, well then I care.  And so should you.  Enjoy your Sunday.

Note:  Most of the quotes were taken from Hitchens, Christopher (2007-12-10). The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever . Da Capo Press. Kindle Edition, and Navabi, Armin (2014-10-06). Why There Is No God: Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments for the Existence of God (Kindle Locations 420-422). Atheist Republic. Kindle Edition.

*As some Biblical scholars have pointed out, the Gospels were compiled decades after the events, from those who are eager to promote Christianity, edited over time, and the claim of multiple independent attestation are clearly not independent.** Some like to argue that Christianity has lasted 4000 years and is proof this is the real religion.  Well that would be Judaism.  Christianity as we know it is about 2100 years old and Buddhism is 2500 years old.  Hinduism could be far older than that.  We know Islam began about 1400 years ago.  Then there is the Roman Empire realizing the threat from Christianity, worsening the problem by persecuting them, and finally co-opting the religion to the only true god of the new Christian Roman Empire.  And it has been such ever since, a wonderful tool to wield power and enslave people’s minds.

**People who start quoting the Gospels as historical proofs remind me of Dick Chenney.  Remember when he leaked a WMD faked proof, then went on the Sunday talk shows to quote the leak and the news media’s printing it as independent confirmation?  Not much different.  I guess they could be true, but they could also be nonsense and there is just no way to tell.  Revelations are not proof to most of us, but faith based nonsense.


Super Bowl Sunday

And sadly all I can think about is I hope all those people who are attending have had their measles vaccinations. Frank Bruni pointed out this morning that the centers of population where people forego their kids vaccinations is in affluent communities (steeped in pseudo science) with this great quote that applies to more than just the choice not to vaccinate:

You can be so privileged that you’re underprivileged, so blessed with choices that you choose to be a fool, so “informed” that you’re misinformed

Reminds me of some Facebook posts posted by the usual suspects.

But there is more! Pro-team cheerleaders are using this focus on football to lobby for employment rights and fair pay. It certainly is a job and they deserve to be paid like any other job, even if the profession is to appear to be a bimbo sex symbol. Athletic dancers for sure, but sex symbol is a must. It is the perfect balance for the game, sex and violence. Let’s not kid ourselves about the art.

And like professional baseball, who are the New England Patriots or the Seattle Seahawks? Hometown boys holding up the honor of their town? Hardly. Highly paid professional hit men is more like it. So in reality, it is a fantasy to say they represent the hometown. They are a gang of highly paid athletes who went to the highest bidder and we hope that is our team.

And many of them will pay a price for our entertainment in brain damage resulting in loss of cognitive function, increased aggression, and quite possibly suicidal thoughts. But forget that, have you seen Friday Night Tykes? Kids as young as six are now head butting each other. A survey of NFL players showed that if they played contact football before the age of 12, they were 20% more likely to show signs of brain damage than their already brain damaged compatriots.

The part I like best is that somehow their winning for us makes some kind of a statement about us. My team won! We are number one! Oh, and I can’t afford a ticket to the game, any game. But somehow I feel pride in their winning as though it says something good about me. That would be followed by drinking and burning cars in the hometown I love so much.

Okay, okay, it is better than gathering on a Sunday and talking politics. While there can be violence and aggression in sports among the fans, usually nobody gets killed (except sometimes). And in sports there is always next season while in politics, it is take no prisoners. Besides some of those players you hate so much might get traded to your team and be your next best friend. That never happens in politics.

For me, I don’t care. I kind of really like the guy (Marshawn Lynch) who would not play the game (of sideshow) and was only there so he wouldn’t get fined. In a way he had a fix on this whole circus that most of us are missing. What is really important today is the food (I love good hot wings), and the commercials. Both say something about us as a civilization which may be that we will not long endure.

Veteran Worship

I went to a very nice party tonight hosted by a local couple who wanted to recognize those who served on this Fourth of July weekend. It was really a nice gesture and it was a lovely barbecue. But I never feel comfortable at those things. They wanted each of us who were veterans to bring a picture of ourselves in uniform, and any medals. Well I will tell you right now, the medal thing was out.

Medals back in my day (Vietnam) were issued kind of like merit badges, put up with x amount of shit and here is a medal. Now that is not to belittle medals won by many who did valiant things for them. I did not, and got medals based upon how many combat mission I had flown (and survived). It wasn’t like there was one moment where you did something extraordinary, it was like you are still breathing so here. So I don’t feel comfortable brandishing my medals.

I also am really uncomfortable with the modern hero thing. Again, don’t get me wrong. There are true heroes out there and they should be recognized. I and most of my fellow servicemen are just not one of them. We joined because … well, it was your duty. And we got up every day and did the job because, well, it was your duty. Some days required more get up and go than others, but it was not heroic. It was the job. Yes it was dangerous, and you could die, but so is driving in to work everyday with those nut jobs on the highways.

So all in all, I don’t too much like this thank the veteran thing. It was what you are supposed to do, and thank you is not expected. Once again, that doesn’t mean that there are not many who deserve our heartfelt thanks and the support they will need because of what it cost them. It just means that for most of us, serving our country does not mean we are heroes, just citizens. It just amazes me in this day and age how many never have served our country in combat, but then considering that the last war we really had to fight was maybe Korea, that is not a bad thing either.

Real Trouble in America

Things we are not doing or indicate we are slip sliding away:

Space Station – Now this one may would think would not be on the top of the list, but it is the epitome of our slip sliding. Our grand investment in space is dependent on the Russians to get us there. You know, that Vladimir Putin who is invading Ukraine. Our short sided planning and failure to invest in the program has put us at the mercy of others and is model for every thing else we are doing.

Roads and Bridges – I think the Civil Engineering community gives the status of our roads and bridges a D-. It is like a leak in the roof of your house. You can’t afford not to fix it because it will just cost you much more later, yet we do nothing. Here is the way to create jobs and invest in tomorrow and we do nothing. Oh, wait, we will get the private sector to fund them and make them all toll roads, further restricting the poor and middle class who can’t afford to travel in the fast lane.

Rapid Transit and High Speed Rail – One of the more interesting study, unless you are a conservative and don’t believe in social science, shows that the poor and middle class do much better in areas where they can use mass transit to get to better paying jobs. And their income is my income and my income is their income so why wouldn’t we be making this investment. Did you know that even Mexico has a high speed rail and we don’t. Another great investment in our future that would provide high paying jobs and we do nothing.

Airports – Even Vice President Joe Bidden commented on the sorry state of our airports compared to other nations. We look like a “third world country”. Why is that? Why do other countries update their major transportation centers and we don’t. Can you say Republicans and be afraid of the debt, until of course we are all in the poor house because we did not invest in our future (except for the 1% who can fly out of their private airports). It is critical to our ability to compete and we do nothing.

Water Supply and Water Treatment – Our water supply is going to be tested as water is going to be the next gold rush and we do nothing. Some 80% of all water used in California comes from to some extent wells and yet nobody is managing the amount of pumping going on. Are we building more storage? Have we changed anything except to ration and wait for better times? Are we upgrading and expanding our facilities for the future? No, we do nothing.

Sewer and Gas Infrastructure – It is aging and failing and we do nothing. The future will take care of itself, right?

Global Warming Impacts – We deny global warming, or at least that is the litmus test for Republicans these days when the science is conclusive. We are already feeling its impacts and we can predict its future impacts. So have we done anything to meaningfully reduce carbon usage like a carbon tax? Have we done anything to start preparing our infrastructure for raising sea levels, more severe storms and tornados? We have all this science and we do nothing.

High Speed Internet Capacity – We have some of the worst internet capacity in the advanced world. It is critical to our ability to compete and new innovation. Are we doing anything about it. Well in this case we are! We are ending net neutrality and making the big boys that provide this more of a monopoly and stifling innovation. Why don’t we look at internet capacity as a utility and expand it and make us competitive with other countries? You know, start laying the fiber. What a job creator! Yet we do nothing.

I could go on and on. Let’s not forget about immigration, long term unemployment, investing in education, helping the poor, all of which would boast our economy and yet we do nothing. Also don’t forget how the Supremes have put more money into politics making all of us even more unequal, and moving toward denying a woman’s right to choose. Yesterday there was an article in the NYT about how Millennials had lost faith in the political process. They haven’t been paying attention as most Americans haven’t. It isn’t politics, it is Republicans.

Right now they (Republicans) are obsessing about Benghazi, not about have we fixed the problems with our security, but with finding a conspiracy in the White House. And they seem even less interested in looking into their lack of funding for adequate security. As Jon Stewart pointed out, they are wondering where the outrage is, and yet they had none in the real scandal of the Bush/Cheney War lies.

Oh, and don’t forget repealing Obamacare, cutting funds to study social sciences so we have data to support policies, and their budget continues more tax cuts, failure to invest in tomorrow, and pay for tax cuts with more cuts to the poor and taxes on the middle class. Oh, and don’t forget less regulation.

It is the Bush years all over again and Millennials are confused? They are brain dead along with the rest of America. Maybe we have all become Cliven Bundy, squirreled away in our ignorance. Their’s just looks more hip because they can hide in their culture of technological denial (buried in their IPhones while the country falls apart while they withdraw.

I get angry about this maybe because I grew up in the 60’s. Instead of hiding in their technology, kids got out into the street and demanded change. Things today are far worse and while the draft no longer personally affects these new kids on the block, they are being drafted into the destruction of our country by their inaction. Republicans are winning by turning them off by their obstructionism.

To think people are clueless about what where we are going if we elect more of this anti-intellectual, anti-science, anti-choice, budget cutters, is just mind blowing. Ask yourself this if you think your choice is more guns, less taxes, less regulation: How is that different from the road we are already on that you so dislike?

Religion is the Problem

Have you noticed one common characteristic that most of the crazies on the right have in common? They are in one form or another conservative Christians. From Rick Perry to Michele Bachman, across the whole spectrum of science and fact denying Republican crazies, they are deeply religious. I don’t think that is an accident.

Now one could argue that conservatives by nature like structure so a dogmatic religion meets their psychological needs for certainty and structure in a chaotic world. But I think there is another reason or maybe the primary reason, their ability to suspend their disbelief, in other words their unquestioning faith.

If you are a rational person then your belief system has to align with your rational mind. Religion isn’t just irrational, the more conservative (dogmatic) your religious beliefs, the more of science and logical thought you have to deny. You know, things like evolution, age of the universe, the virgin birth, trying to reconcile the vain and violent God of the Old Testament with the all merciful God of the New Testament, and all the contradictions and impossibilities in the stories.

So the more you adhere to fundamentalist Christian ideas, the more you have equipped yourself to deny science, logic, and the world around you. You have hard wired yourself to believe that if you feel it, it is true. It builds a whole way of thinking that allows you to limit your experience to what you know is true and to deny reality if it does not comport to your belief system.

I am not arguing that an argument for religion cannot be made, but I am arguing that those who have a dogmatic adherence to religious ideas that do not stand the test of reality or logic have developed a way of processing information that is highly flawed. With half of our Congress denying evolution, global warming, studies that show their economic and social policies are counter productive, and believing in unlimited regenerating oil, it is not a coincidence that most of these people are conservative Christians.

I think that is why rational thought no longer makes any difference. Sure there can be honest disagreements, but most aren’t and the solutions to most of our problems we know, we have done them before, and yet today, we deny them. I can only attribute this to fuzzy religious thought that has become endemic. I feel it is so, it makes me comfortable, therefore it must be true. To quote Al Gore, we are in for some inconvenient truths if we continue down this path.

Note: I was wondering what the conservative reaction would be to Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey where Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson presents the scientific basis for the universe and life while walking a respectful line between what we know and religious belief in a supreme being. Well they “have their panties in a knot.”

News Creating News

I had to run some errands today and this is what I heard while listening to national news:

We don’t know anything about what happened to the downed Malaysia flight but it could have been caused by someone illegally smoking in the lavatory after a release of methane from the lavatory storage tanks, or not. There are terrorists everywhere.

There may be a new investigation of Chris Christie, but we are not sure. It could be related to political manipulation of the Port Authority, but we have no facts to support that and won’t know anything until someone is indicted. Now we turn to our panel to discuss what we don’t know.

Justin Biebir was charged with driving while intoxicated … Sorry just the mention of his name and I kind of drift off.

California needs to free the whales and legalize marijuana for fun and profit, although the Governor fears too many potheads.

Will Hillary run in 2016. Let’s talk to a few experts that know as little as we do about this…

Now I feel equipped to handle the issues of the day and make informed choices at the polls.

Breaking News: God Wrote the Constitution!

Tom Delay declares that the Constitution was written by God. That just furthers my thesis that evangelical Christians are the problem. I guess he missed that whole Constitutional Convention thing where they spent all summer fighting over the wording, or the next few years adding the first Ten Amendments and ratifying the document. Oh, and let’s not forget that most of the Founders were Deists, who believed that if there was a god, he didn’t dabble in human affairs. Delay and his brethren give us Atheists a good name.

I hate to break it to most people, but God didn’t write the Bible either. A bunch of guys wrote it hundreds of years after the fact and it is full of contradictions. Maybe some good literature there and a few good ideas, but it is the work of man, just as God is.

Blinded by the Light

I almost never listen to Republicans anymore. And for that matter there are quite a few older Democrats I ignore too. They are blinded by the light. The light is their political/religious philosophy that colors everything they hear and see, warping it into their fixed belief system. Before I attack Republicans for their gross denial, I will point out that I don’t think Bill Clinton is a savior for the Democratic Party and I think his hewing to the right while listening to his banking friends help bring about the crash in 2007. His description of unemployment as a structural problem (not enough workers trained where the jobs are) is just flat wrong.*

But what I see is mostly from Republicans who have a fixed idea about what it means to be a Democrat (some wild eyed spending nutcase), and is in deep denial about what his/her party has become and who controls it. Probably the most destructive force for our country is the anti-intellectualism we see in Southern politicians who are blinded by their evangelical beliefs and that they are the chosen people. Science be damned, God will take care of us.

As Rachel Maddow pointed out last night on her show, the head of North Carolina’s environmental department believes in the immaculate conception oil theory (if the world is only 4000 years old, then oil is being made within earths bowels continually and there is a limitless supply). The head of the the Congressional Committee on Science (Georgia Congressman Paul Broun) is another one who disavowals evolution and the Big Bang theory. Blinded by the light.

But in more mundane circles I heard/read two “moderate” Republicans once again blinded by the light. The first was Kathleen Parker who was being interviewed by Alex Wagner about the Republican war on women. Ms. Parker launched into a moderate ploy, there is not really a war and tried to refocus the discussion on the framing of the argument instead of the argument itself.

When you look at the record number of bills passed to restrict women’s choice, when you look at the Republican opposition to the Violence Against Women Act, when you look at Republican opposition to equal pay for women, what would you call it. Instead Ms. Parker pointed out that poor men were threatened as women became more empowered and while we should not call it a war on men, you can understand their feelings, right? Blinded by the light.

Then there was David Brooks this morning. David is the classic example of the “smart” Republican that goes into convoluted and twisted logic to try to hang on to failed ideas. This morning’s tome was David trying to explain why raising the minimum wage is a bad idea (destroying 500K jobs!):

The big new problem, Brooks (conservative Authur Brooks, no relation) writes, is that labor markets are sick. Fewer people are working and enjoying the sense of reward that is a key to happiness. Democrats embrace a raise in the minimum wage that could drive another half-million workers out of the labor market.

Much better, he says, would be to expand the earned-income tax credit (EITC) or maybe use direct payments or loans to help people move to opportunity.

This is another hammock argument, that entitlements are killing the middle class (“Then they need to point out that it is the web of middle-class entitlements, even the home mortgage deduction, that really threaten benefits to the poor.”. But as Dean Baker points out, the earned-income tax credit has this giant disincentive to expand your income when you lose your benefit. And as Dean points out, had President Obama proposed an expansion of the EITC, Brooks would have been against that. Blinded by the light.

*Sadly when it comes to the economy, both Clinton and Obama were captured by the fear the debt campaign. There understanding of economics comes from their banking pals and is their Achilles Heel. Sadly they are in the home budget analogy camp looking for the confidence fairy. Believing in a Grand Bargain as an answer to our long term debt is just waiting for the confidence fairy to appear.