After posting some cryptic messages on his Facebook page on the morning of November 28, 2016, 18-year-old Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a refugee from Somalia, drove his car over a curb at Ohio State University into a crowd of people, then exited the car and began attacking people with a butcher knife. Officer Alan Horujko arrived on the scene within a minute and, as a police spokesman put it later, “eliminated the threat.” That’s cop-speak for “he killed him.” But did he really have to? Was killing Artan the only option available to “eliminate the threat”? You and I weren’t there but, even so, I seriously doubt Officer Horujko had no other option to “eliminate the threat.” And what exactly does “eliminate the threat” mean? Which was the “threat”? Artan himself or the butcher knife he was using on people? If Artan was disarmed of the knife, can one automatically assume he was still going to continue to try to kill people? It’s certainly possible, I agree, but can it be automatically assumed, and therefore used as justification to say that killing him was the only option available? Don’t cops carry several kinds of weapons? Don’t they have batons with which to beat down on someone’s arm to knock a knife out of his hands? Don’t they have tasers? Don’t they have any other options besides guns? And even with the guns, do they always have to shoot to kill? Is it because they’re such bad shots (more…)
December 4, 2016
November 26, 2016
In his series “The Resistance” (formerly known as “The Closer” until the election of Donald J. Trump), Keith Olbermann spells out how Republicans in Congress can remove Trump from office without going through the process of an impeachment. And it’s all perfectly legal and constitutional, because the procedure is spelled out in Article of Amendment 25, Section 4,of the US Constitution. It reads as follows:
4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
So how would this work? Well, upon returning from the swearing-in ceremony, Vice President Pence and a majority of the heads of the cabinet departments (and it could be the ones still in office on January 20, or even the ones who act as heads of the departments should the heads all have resigned effective at noon that day) could write a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan and President Pro Tempore of the Senate Orrin Hatch (the President Pro Tem is the oldest serving member, not the Majority Leader) simply stating the Donald is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. They don’t have to give a reason. They don’t have to prove anything. No hearings. No nothing. Just a letter.
Now, of course, the Donald could fire back a letter within minutes (and I’d bet he’ll have such a letter pre-written, ready to go) saying no such inability exists. Within four days (in case there’s a holiday weekend in there), Pence and his department heads could fire back another letter (again, they should have this one written along with the first because it would be needed) saying the inability does still exist. Then the matter would go to the Congress. It would require a two-thirds vote of both the House of Representatives and the Senate to remove Trump from power permanently.
I can only hope the Republicans in Congress recognize the danger of having Trump be POTUS and take the legal, constitutional path to remove him from being able to do damage. He could keep the title, since I’m sure that’s all he really wanted out of it, but he wouldn’t have the authority to do anything. Not that I would be much happier in a Pence administration. Unlike Pence, I actually like women and want to see them have the autonomy over their bodies that men take for granted. That’s even less likely to happen under Pence than under Trump, but at least Pence knows something about governing. Trump does not. In fact, based on his comments on the campaign trail, I’m convinced Trump doesn’t understand how government works at all. He talked as if the POTUS had powers he doesn’t really have. In fact, at times it sounded like he thought a POTUS was a dictator, possibly because a lot of Republican citizens think he is. That’s just projection on their part.
And while it is perfectly constitutional to remove Trump from power (if not office) in this matter, it’s actually harder than impeaching him. Invoking Article 25, Section 4, requires two-thirds of both Houses to remove him. But to impeach him (for Treason, Bribery or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors) would require only a simple majority of votes in the House of Representatives. It would still require a two-thirds vote in the Senate to remove him. But you’d have to produce actual charges and conduct an actual trial for that process to work. And while Trump will be in violation of the Constitution at 12:01 PM EST on January 20, 2017, it will not be because of a crime. Instead, and possibly among other reasons, it will be because he had a group of foreign dignitaries come to his hotel in Washington, DC, and encouraged them to stay there when they visited the United States. In other words, he would personally profit from his job beyond what the Congress provides as compensation. (It’s called an Emolument, and its definition depends on what the Framers took the word to mean, not what it may have come to mean since.) Unless, of course, he lets them and their entire staffs stay there completely free of charge, including meals. Then he might argue that he’s not receiving any emoluments. But does anyone believe a man driven by the lust for money, who campaigned on a bigoted platform designed to make white people feel good about themselves, would let foreigners stay at his hotel completely free of charge? I don’t. And I wouldn’t believe a word Trump said about whether or not he was making any money on it. He’s a billionaire because he says he is. He’s the one deciding how much his properties are worth, not an independent auditor. There is very little that Trump says that can be taken at face value. And that’s one of many reasons why he should never be allowed to be POTUS. Also, he’s a bit of an asshole, but there’s no law against that. Otherwise I’d be in a lot of trouble, too. 🙂
September 30, 2016
Here are three more driver types who seem to live to make life miserable for the rest of us who have some place to be and not all that much time to get there. They are the Passhole, the Zippy, and the Creeper. [The other posts in this series cover The Pacer, Turn Signals, and The Pokey and The Gapper.]
I’ve been encountering a lot of Passholes lately. The Passhole is that guy who just won’t go more than one or two miles an hour faster than the trucks (though sometimes cars) he’s right next to and allegedly passing, but who then moves over once he has eventually passed the truck or ten-plus line of cars and then speeds up! He’s just too afraid to pass others on the highway. It’s frustrating because right up until he starts to get even with those big trucks or line of cars, he’s fine with doing the correct speed for the left lane. But then he drops down about ten miles an hour or so as he slowly inches his way beside the people he’s supposedly passing (but won’t actually pass this week) until he finally gets past the first vehicle in the row. Then he steps on the gas or, worse still, he moves over into the other lanes and speeds up. I don’t understand this behavior at all. Look, if you’re afraid of the big trucks on the highway then I have two things to tell you. First, the interstate highway system was built for them, not you. Second, if you’re so afraid of the damn truck, (more…)
July 27, 2016
I’m going to be taking a little break from posting. I will be back. Those of you who subscribe, I thank you, and you’ll be the first to know when a new post arrives.
Thank you for your support.
Peace on Earth.
July 24, 2016
The Christian Post (CP), which calls itself “the nation’s most comprehensive Christian news website” (see their Statement of Faith at the bottom of their About page, showing the inherent contradictions in their viewpoints), published two posts detailing thirteen items from the Republican and Democratic convention platforms they deemed to be of interest to Christians. Specifically, Conservative Christians, as explicitly stated in the article on the Republican platform. [NOTE: In order to discuss what CP says about the platform, I will be quoting from their articles. Also note that I am taking the inclusion or not of amendments from the CP articles. I did not compare anything from the actual GOP platform as passed. And, obviously, the DNC is about to begin their convention later today.]
Staring with the Republicans, CP points out that the GOP will no longer be calling for a constitutional amendment to define “marriage” as being between one man and one woman. Instead they’ll say (more…)
July 9, 2016
I was once a terrorist in the BLA, but it’s not what you’re thinking. I’ll explain later.
When large scale tragedy strikes we depend on our media for information about what happened, what’s still happening, and what’s going to happen. But the media isn’t usually the source of the information we get. That’s usually some government officials at either the local, state or federal level, depending on the geographic scope of the tragedy in question. When it’s confined to a single city, especially a large metropolitan one, it’s usually the local police who give out the information that the media gives us. So when lives may be at stake, it’s important that this information be reliable. When such a tragedy struck Dallas, TX, this past Thursday, the government officials giving out the information upon which we relied was the Dallas Police Department. And they failed utterly to give us accurate information, and thus failed to keep the public safe.
Although Micah Xavier Johnson’s motivations can generally be traced back further, what happened Thursday in Dallas essentially began early Tuesday morning in Baton Rouge, LA. Police responding to a call about a black man pointing a gun at passersby and threatening them encountered Anton Sterling, a 37-year-old man who sold CDs outside a convenience store. Though Sterling did have a gun on him, at no time did he (more…)
July 1, 2016
We Americans traditionally celebrate our declaration of independence from British rule on the fourth of July, but did you know that it really should be celebrated two days sooner? The Continental Congress actually voted for independence on July 2, 1776. In a letter to his wife, Abigail, First Vice President (because he lost to George Washington) and Second President (because he beat Thomas Jefferson) John Adams wrote that July 2 would be remembered in history and “marked with fireworks and celebrations.” But the actual written document, the one we all see, is dated July 4. And it wasn’t even actually signed until August 2. And the people who eventually signed it weren’t all there that day. And King George III didn’t hear about it until August 30th. FFS, is there anything they taught us in school that was accurate?
The volunteer fire department of the next town over from us, about three miles away, is having their annual fundraising carnival and fireworks shows. For reasons not spelled out, they’re having two fireworks shows, one on the 2nd and another on the 4th. Jane and I are lucky because we can sit on the rear hatch of our car in the driveway and get a pretty good view of the show, especially if the weather is clear (they shoot them up higher in clear weather.) And when it’s over, we close up the car and walked back to our front door. No need to drive there when we can see it well enough from home.
So how are you celebrating our nation’s decision to declare its independence from the Tyranny of England? Fireworks? Barbecue? Fireworks thrown into your barbecue? I advise against that. Exploitation of child labor to help carry out said barbecue? Happens all the time in this country, just like in some others. Speaking of which, did you know that there is a still-pending proposal for a Child Labor Amendment to the Constitution? It did not get immediate ratification, and a subsequent law passed by Congress to regulate labor, including the labor of children, met with the Supreme Court’s approval. But I’m not sure if that’s not quite the same thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if Republicans somewhere tried to deregulate child labor. Wait, I’m getting told in my ear that they already have, which is strange because I’m not wearing an earpiece and there’s nobody else in the room.
Anyway, have fun blowing shit up, but please, please, please be safe about it. In the meantime, may the Good Lord take a liking to you, and blow you up real soon.
June 25, 2016
Great Britain stunned the world when a referendum on whether or not to leave the European Union resulted in the Leave forces winning. The EU’s reaction was to say, “Fine, then let’s get it over with as quickly as possible,” with the word “quickly” meaning “following a two-year negotiation”. This has spurred Danial Miller, of a group called the Texas Nationalist Movement, to push their own bid to secede from the Union, which they are cleverly (not really) dubbing “Texit.” Here’s the problem with it: It won’t mean anything. Unilateral attempts to secede from the Union are unconstitutional, according to a SCOTUS decision handed down in 1869. In it, the Court said a state cannot unilaterally secede. They must either achieve their goal through revolution (like the Civil War) or with the consent of Congress (which won’t ever happen.) I can think of several reasons why Texit is a bad idea, but that’s only because unlike the people in favor of this movement, (more…)
June 18, 2016
A Super PAC calling itself “Americans Against Insecure Billionaires with Tiny Hands” released this video asking if someone could be President with tiny hands.
The group originally wanted to call itself, “Trump Has Tiny Hands,” but were told by the FEC that they had to change it because the “committee does not appear to be an authorized committee of that candidate,’ and therefore cannot use his name in the PAC’s name. An understandable rule considering what people would do if they could. I know what I would do if I could. “Americans Against Donald Trump’s Bigotry, Racism, Misogyny, Homophobia, Xenophobia, Fraud, Mendacity, and General Sleaziness.” My first ad would feature, of course, kittens. I hope the group is able to get its ad spread around, and I encourage you to share this post to help that endeavor.
People like Donald Trump need to be (more…)
June 13, 2016
When you get right down to it, many things in history happened on any given date on the calendar. But today I’m going to discuss just a few of the many important (and unimportant) things that happened on various June 13ths throughout history. Without further ado, on this date in:
1633: The charter for Maryland is given to Lord Cecil Baltimore after whom, of course, the city of Silver Springs, Maryland is named.
1731: Future First First Lady (more…)
June 5, 2016
I want to believe. I want to believe that democracy can work in America. But can it? Can it really?
Although it was originally posted more than two years ago on Alternet, Raw Story reprinted an article that makes me wonder. It seems humans will believe what they want to believe, facts be damned. People who thought there were WMDs in Iraq clung to that misperception even harder when shown an article correcting that story. People who thought President George W. Bush banned ALL stem cell research still believed that even when told only a partial ban was put in effect. (No new stem cell lines could be created for research, but research was allowed to continue using the 60+ lines then in existence. Which isn’t nearly enough.) These were examples making conservatives look bad, but political leaning has nothing to do with it. It’s true of all humans, regardless of political philosophies. Facts simply don’t matter. But Education does. If you’re taught the truth about things when you’re younger, you’re less likely to believe false things when you get older. Kids grow up believing what their parents teach them to believe, which is fine if the parents aren’t complete idiots. But if they are, by the time kids enter the public education system they’re already off to a bad start. It would help if schools were allowed to teach actual critical thinking skills, as people would learn how to verify new information and not just accept it because it confirms what they already believe. But as the study shows, that seems to be the essence of the problem. We do not seem to be wired to process information this way. At least, according to how the scientist interpreted the results. There was no measure beforehand of how well the participants could use critical thinking skills, and therefore may have had pre-conceived ideas (however false) but couldn’t process the new information in a way that would make them change their opinion. Hence, the tendency to cling harder to what they previously believed to be true.
Religion may also be responsible for much of this. And not just Christianity, but organized religion of any kind. Particularly in America, we have a lot of people who claim religion is important in their lives, but who don’t even know basic facts about their own religion as well as atheists and agnostics do. But the areas in America where religion is least important are also the areas where literacy rates tend to be higher. Religion requires no critical thinking, and discourages questioning what one is told to be the truth. And while there have been men (almost entirely) who were allowed to explore questions about faith, their answers were heavily censored and only allowed publication if approved by the religious leaders. In other words, not a lot of objectivity, and essentially just an addition to what people are being told to believe. The approved philosophical writings were used to justify why what you were being told is the truth, which is what the study seemed to indicate happens even with so-called smarter people. People still believe what they want to believe and use their reasoning to justify it afterwards. The problem is, there are way too many people in this country who believe provably false things like the Sun revolves around the Earth, and a large percentage who don’t know the Universe began with some kind of large explosion (as opposed to being brought into existence as is). Even more frightening is that more than half do not understand or believe in Evolution. How many times have you heard someone (often a religious conservative) say, “If we’re descended from monkeys, how come there are still monkeys?” (Evolution doesn’t say all monkeys turned into humans. Evolution says humans and monkeys share a common ancestor.) If you can’t start with the most basic of factually correct information, how can you possibly make a well-reasoned decision on which direction to take our country? If you think voting for someone who actually believes the Earth is less than 10,000 years old is going to solve our nation’s problems, then you’re one of the problems.
As I said before, Education can help, especially when started at an early age. As soon as children learn there are natural explanations for the way the Universe works (even if we don’t fully understand them yet), and that it’s not all attributable to an impossible Being with severely psychotic tendencies who kills at a whim, there is hope for Democracy in this country. And a better life for all, too. Studies have shown that elsewhere in the world, the highest standards of living tend to be found in the least religious countries, and the poorest in the most religious. America seems to be the exception. We have both a higher-than-average standard of living and yet are among the more religious countries in the world. But that will change if more Americans grow up believing nonsense before they are taught to think for themselves. Otherwise we just end up with another generation that doesn’t have enough sense to realize someone like Donald Trump is too ignorant and unqualified to run this country. And because he loves the poorly-educated, he’ll create more because they love him so much. And the Great Experiment known as America will have finally failed.
Please don’t let anyone you know vote for Donald Trump. You’ll just be voting for the end of America.
May 30, 2016
America is far from perfect. We have achieved many great things in our history, but it has been despite our flaws, not because of them. And among the worst of our flaws is this country’s history of racism and white supremacy. Yes, not just the racism but the white supremacy, too. We on the Left post many words decrying white supremacists, but we rarely admit our country has elected many white supremacists POTUS, and they weren’t all Conservatives and/or Republicans and at least a few were Progressives and/or Democrats. As a Liberal, that bothers me. I want what’s best for everyone, and the color of one’s skin does not determine whether one is a human being or not. But there are many people, white people in particular, who feel this is not so; they feel that one’s skin color DOES determine how human one is. And sadly, these people often get elected to public office, where they are able to put their racist viewpoints into law. A President Donald J. Trump would be such a racist president.
May 22, 2016
We on the Left often talk about low information voters more than they do on the Right, but that’s only because the Right depends on them so much to stay in power. Without the low information voter and the low effort thinkers, Republicans would never have been able to grab onto and retain the political power they currently enjoy and abuse, not only on the national level, but at the state level, too. An informed voter would never vote for a Republican unless that voter was a greedy, rich, selfish bastard who couldn’t care less about helping his or her fellow human beings who are in trouble (often due to Republican policies.) And face it. If you aren’t greedy, rich, or selfish, you really have no reason to vote for a member of a party that openly admits to doing things that help the super rich far more than they help you or anyone else you personally know. I mean, seriously, do rich people need more tax cuts? We are talking about taxing income beyond a ridiculously high point at which they’ll literally be bringing in (not necessarily earning) more money than they can possibly use in their life times or their grandchildren’s, so why do Republicans insist on lying and acting like taxing more of that income will take away all incentive to make money? That’s pure selfishness talking, not sound public policy. And if it’s sound public policy you want (more…)
May 14, 2016
Last night’s closing segment of “Real Time” had Bill Maher addressing the accusation that Donald Trump’s popularity is the fault of Liberals. Like so many things Conservatives say, this is the exact opposite of the Truth. But as we all know, in political debate in America, facts don’t matter. They don’t. Regardless of political leanings, when people are confronted with facts that contradict something they believe, they will simply refuse to accept that they are wrong. Most of what Conservatives believe to be true is not, while a substantially lower percentage of what Liberals believe is false. Studies have shown that even Liberals normally willing to be persuaded by new evidence will still cling to about ten percent of their belief system against evidence to the contrary. By comparison, Conservatives are persuaded by almost nothing that contradicts their beliefs, even personal experience. To Conservatives, facts are just somebody’s opinion about Reality. What matters is what you believe to be true. Even when it isn’t. Here’s how Bill Maher (more…)
May 7, 2016
I want to talk about something that’s important to me and I know that along the way I’m going to greatly offend a significant portion of you wonderful people reading this. And even if it isn’t what I say that you’ll find offensive, I’m sure some of you won’t like the way I say it. But as the closing song in “Night Shift” (sung by Rod Stewart) goes, “That’s What Blogs Are For.” I am atheist. I do not believe in the existence of gods. To be clear, I do not believe in the existence of gods as they have been portrayed in most religions, entertainment depictions, and writings known to many. I don’t believe the set of gods worshiped by the ancient Romans and Greeks actually existed. Ever. Nor do I believe the “One True God” worshiped by Jews, Christians, and Muslims actually existed. Ever. Nor do I believe any of the other gods worshiped by billions of other people throughout human history actually existed. Ever. I do not believe that the Universe was created by some kind of sentient being, often, and for purposes of this discussion, referred to as “God.” I also do not believe that a Universe without God means we got “something from nothing.” People who say that do not understand the Big Bang theory. It wasn’t “nothing,” it was a hot, almost infinitely dense singularity that exploded, expanded outward, and eventually formed what we often think of as the “Universe.” And when I refer to “the Universe,” I am specifically referring to the Matter and Energy that directly resulted from the Big Bang event that created “our” Universe. I have reason to think there are things out there unrelated to our Big Bang, but I’ll eventually get into that in a later post. My point is simply that there is a scientific explanation for how things came to be (the Big Bang event being just one possible part of it; other scientific theories exist), and that there doesn’t need to be anything like a god to explain it all.
This may surprise some of your Christian relatives and friends, but in many other religions, (more…)
April 17, 2016
America is supposed to be a Democracy. It’s supposed to be a country with a government of the People (according to the dictionary), and by the People and for the People (according to President Lincoln.) Let’s face some cold hard Truths. It isn’t. Any of those things. The few rich and powerful in this country (and Donald J. Trump is one of those rich and powerful people) really do control things beyond what the People want to have happen. I’m not so naive as to think that isn’t a cold hard Truth. I know. It sounds conspiratorial. Bitter. Even a tiny bit ignorant. Oh, sure. They hold these annual or semi-annual events they call “elections,” but it’s not like we have the greatest of choices for which to cast our ballots. We get the choices the folks running the show want us to have. They decide who the parties will put up, and we get to pick from the choices we’re given. But are we really fit to be doing that?
Bill Moyers sat down with Rick Shenkman, the author of Political Animals: How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics (and Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of History News Network), to talk about how and why someone as clearly (more…)
April 9, 2016
I know you’re at least a relatively intelligent person. I know some of you are at least as intelligent, though nowhere near as vain, as I. I know you’re not incredibly stupid, because you wouldn’t even be trying to read this blog if you were. You’d be perplexed by the preponderance of polysyllabic put downs pointed at perennially petrified prevaricators of poison posing as presidential possibles as you probe your proboscis with a pinky. You poopy-head. So I know you’re not so foolish as to believe what self-titled “historian” and delusional snake oil salesman David Barton had to say about the relationship between how one reads, interprets, and understands The Bible (specific edition and reasons why it’s better than the other versions unknown) and the Constitution of the United States (the one that makes no mention of The Bible or God, and which even says you can’t require a religious test for any public office in the United States, including Chaplain.) Barton’s been known to say ridiculous things many, many, (more…)
April 3, 2016
Political discourse in this country has sunk to a depth I feared we would one day reach, and it shows no signs of rising again anytime soon. We no longer talk about issues starting from a common point of view. Liberals and Conservatives don’t agree on what role our government should have, so any discussion about what it should do is really pointless if we don’t know from where the other guy is starting. According to George Lakoff, where Liberals would see the nation through the Nurturing Parent model, Conservatives would tend to see it as the Strict Father. When you screw up, should the government find an appropriate punishment for your wrongdoing and sit you down and explain why what you did was wrong, with discussions on how to be a better person afterwards, with the goal of making you want to choose to be a better person, or should it just spank you in the ass, lock you in your room without supper, and let you out after so much time has passed saying, “Next time’ll be worse”? Who should be deciding what our government does? People who believe in doing what’s best for all of us, or people who think only certain people should get preferential treatment? We all agree in equality for all, we just don’t necessarily agree on how important that is, or to exactly what “equality for all” refers. We agree in Justice and Fairness, but we don’t agree on how important those morals should be. If we say everybody should participate in discussing Society’s problems, shouldn’t we make sure everybody agrees on exactly what the problems are that we are discussing? Are you talking about the two faces staring at each other? Or are you talking about the candlestick in between them? Both of you see a problem. but what is the problem you both see? There are many differences in the way the brains of Liberals and Conservatives process information. To find a common solution, we must first have common ground. I’m not really sure how that’s possible, but I do know our discussions aren’t getting us anywhere because (more…)
March 26, 2016
No matter what the Evangelicals tell you, God does not want you to pray in public. God doesn’t need to hear them out loud, because God knows what you do in secret. God knows when you secretly give to the poor with your right hand without letting your left hand know what’s happening. And God doesn’t want you to gather out in the streets and in the public square and pray to him so everyone can hear you. Instead, God wants you to go into a private place in your own home, a closet even, and pray silently to God. Bryan J. Fischer told me that the admonition against praying in public was about the reason for doing it, to be seen doing it. [I’ll update it if he answers me. I’m surprised he did at all, considering how rude I’ve been to him before. And it wasn’t just because I’m from New York, he had it coming.]
Conservative Christians are so afraid of (among many, many other things) (more…)
March 20, 2016
John Hinderaker and Jeffrey Lord, two men who can best be remembered from me mentioning their names at the start of this blog post without the word ‘miscreant’ attached to either of them, are at it again. And by “it” I mean “spreading falsehoods about Liberals”. I was going to use the word “lying,” but then somebody would say it’s not really lying because they honestly believe it’s true. Fine. It isn’t true, it’s false, so I said they were spreading falsehoods. Whether they knew they were falsehoods or not is irrelevant, because they still spread them. But if it makes you feel any better, I think they knew they were falsehoods when they spread them like manure. I say that because I don’t think they’re entirely stupid, and you would have to be entirely stupid to believe the things they said about Liberals and MoveOn.Org recently. [Full disclosure: I am a member of MoveOn.Org. I had my picture used in a commercial they ran several years ago. I wish I could find it.] So I think they know they were spreading foul-smelling crap when they sprinkled it throughout their columns. Because they know their fans just eat that shit up, on account of that’s much easier than having to actually think about it. And Conservatives do not like to put a lot of effort into their thinking, which explains their Conservatism. (Science has been able to document many ways in which Conservative and Liberal minds differ. Read more about them here. Truth be told: the science does not support the idea of Conservatism being a bastion of curious, inquisitive, intellectual discovery. Or even one of just trying to learn the basic truth about things.)
A little over a week ago in Dayton, OH, a man named Tommy DiMassimo attempted to get up on the stage where Donald Trump was speaking but (more…)
March 19, 2016
There are people going around expounding ridiculous theories on the history of Earth and the Life that has existed on it, and we have to stop encouraging them. I’m not suggesting they be locked up in prisons or mental institutions (the former might be a bit harsh but I do think the latter might do them some good), but I am saying that we have to stop treating these ridiculous ideas as if they have any merit whatsoever just because there are still people around delusional enough to believe them. There are many such ideas, but the one I want to talk about today is the Biblical story of
the farmer’s daughter and the traveling salesman Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood. They never happened. There was no flood 4,400 years or so ago that wiped out all humans and other living land-based animals on the planet. There may have been flooding in various parts of the world, but it wasn’t a global phenomenon, and it didn’t rain for nearly six weeks, and then take nearly six months for the waters to recede. For one thing, even if all the ice on all the land melted, the waters would never rise enough to submerge all the mountains or come anywhere close to doing that. And if, as the story goes, the waters rose high enough to cover the mountains all over the world (not just in the know part of it at that time), then to where did the water recede? Did it just evaporate off the planet? Did it go down some giant drain that God temporarily plugged up while it rained? The water that rained down had to have come from somewhere. If it came from the oceans, then they would have been depleted by the amount of water they gave up to become rain. So the water coming back down out of the sky couldn’t possibly have been more than what went up into them. So the waters from the rain couldn’t possibly rise higher than the mountains. It’s just not possible.
March 11, 2016
“Spring Forward, Fall Back.” It seems we learned that one before we learned the Lord’s Prayer. (Some of you may have learned that one faster than the rest of us.) But why do we do it? Wasn’t Daylight Savings Time something Ben Franklin thought up? Wasn’t it supposed to be for the benefit of the farmers, so they would have more daylight to harvest their crops and work their fields? Don’t they have alarm clocks now? Can’t they just let the rest of us sleep?
The answers are: To save energy. Yes. Yes. I’m sure they do. No.
Not going along with it may defeat the point, to save energy. You see, the theory goes that if daylight lasts a little longer, there will be less demand for turning on lights. It is assumed that during the extended hour of darkness the next morning, you’ll have fewer lights turned on.
But, contrary to (more…)
March 6, 2016
As I get into my occasional Twitter fights with conservatives, I find that many still believe the false notion that the Democrats and Republicans of today have the same ideological position on the Left/Right-Liberal/Conservative scale as the parties of the same names did 150 years ago. Nothing could be further from the truth. For these people, political ideological history ends about fifty years ago. The Civil Rights Movement didn’t happen, and the famous Southern conservative, pro-segregationists of the Democratic Party didn’t switch to join the Republican Party (cough, Strom Thurmond.) So now along comes Dinesh D’Souza with a movie trying to make that very same bad argument. It’s idiotic and shallow. It completely ignores the content of Republican policy today and how it compares to 1860 Democratic policy. And worst of all for them, it’s hardly an intellectual argument at all since even I can debunk it, and my only intellectual achievement was to be (more…)
February 28, 2016
Monday, February 29, 2016, marks another nearly-quadrennial observation of the triumph of Science over Faith. Leap Day. The day we add to the calendar to correct for the fact that God didn’t make the Earth go around the Sun in a way that has any relation to how long it takes to spin once on its axis. Nor did God make the Moon orbit the Earth in an even number of days, or in relation to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, which turned out to be the Center of our own Solar System (one of, it turns out, a hundred billion in just this Galaxy) contrary to what those men who had a direct pipeline to the Almighty Creator told everyone was true. Not for nothing, but doesn’t the fact that some otherwise ordinary man who was in charge of a Religion tortured people for not believing something that was scientifically inaccurate and still got to be called “infallible” make you think, even for a second, that maybe their Religion was wrong about other things, too? But I digress. Or not. Now the Moon goes around the Earth 13 times for each revolution of the Earth around the Sun, depending on how you measure them. I thought the number 13 was supposed to be bad. So why would God make our Moon go around the Earth a bad number of times in a year? In fact, assuming God did make our solar system, why make our planet have such a strange orbit? Why not a regular, circular, easily predictable, revolution, with no tilting of the planet and changing of the seasons? And why not start life in the tropics, instead of a desert? And why even bother with the other planets and planetary debris and asteroids if the point of this planet was to support life for the only living things in the universe? If there’s nothing on Mars for us to see, then why would God make Mars for us to see? Or let us name it for an inferior god? Sorry, but the whole Christian Creation Myth makes no more sense than any other cultures’ creation myths. When something doesn’t make sense through Reason, they tell us you have to have Faith. But Faith is just the rejection of Reason, so they are really telling us, “It makes sense if you don’t think about it.” Then why believe it? Why believe something is literally true if it makes no sense when you think about it? Then explain to me why you should threaten peoples’ lives for not believing it? But I digress. Again. Leap Day is a triumph because it was Science, not Religion, which revealed to us our method of keeping track of time needed adjusting if it was to keep in alignment with whichever celestial body was guiding our long term time reckoning. The ancient Egyptians used a much simpler calendar, which they knew needed tweaking every four years. To understand why we do it today, you have to (more…)
February 21, 2016
According to the website Gun Violence Archive there has been a shooting incident or spree in which at least four people have died almost every single month since January 2014, the furthest back their site’s statistics go. And where last month’s mass shooting involved one family member killing five others before taking his own life during police negotiations, this past weekend’s incident in Kalamazoo, MI, involved someone apparently shooting people at random. That’s even worse. As tragic as the family shooting was, if you weren’t related to them (or living next door), odds are you were never in any danger. But the Uber driver who killed
six and injured two another in between passenger pickups should scare the crap right out of you, because there was no rhyme or reason to how his victims were chosen. The only comforting thing is that he was caught so quickly, unlike the DC Beltway Sniper who terrorized people in the capital area for three weeks in October 2002 (during the time that President George W. Bush supposedly “kept us safe,” as certain delusional people like to keep repeating.) You only heard about this latest mass shooting because: A) it was the latest incident of a mass shooting out of far too many in this country, and B) more than one person died, unlike the other multiple shootings incidents that happened the same day.
We’re not even talking here about people shot and killed by our own (more…)