In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and misinformation, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe; natural wonders and supernatural blunders.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

Christian militia calls for Obama’s assassination on Facebook

The Christian American Patriots Militia is openly calling for the assassination of President Barack Obama on their Facebook page. The Christian militia calls Obama a “dictator,” and claims the “authority to kill Obama comes from the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution.”

According to a report issued by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dated Nov. 22, the U.S. Secret Service is aware that Everest Wilhelmsen, leader of the Christian American Patriots Militia, is calling for Obama’s assassination.

The Christian American Patriots Militia sent out a post to the more than 1400 members of their Facebook group declaring the militia now has the “authority” to assassinate President Barack Obama:

“We now have authority to shoot Obama, i.e., to kill him,” Wilhelmsen wrote on the group’s Facebook page.

What Is She Even Talking About!??!


A Christian activist absolutely tortures logic to explain how Obama is turning us all into pro-gay European zombies. This is your brain on dogma.

cognitivedissonance:

quickhits:

Conservatives shocked to discover that the White House practices leadership.

Fox News: The federal government is hiring what it calls a “Behavioral Insights Team” that will look for ways to subtly influence people’s behavior, according to a document describing the program obtained by FoxNews.com. Critics warn there could be unintended consequences to such policies, while supporters say the team could make government and society more efficient. 
While the program is still in its early stages, the document shows the White House is already working on such projects with almost a dozen federal departments and agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture. 
"Behavioral sciences can be used to help design public policies that work better, cost less, and help people to achieve their goals," reads the government document describing the program, which goes on to call for applicants to apply for positions on the team.
The document was emailed by Maya Shankar, a White House senior adviser on social and behavioral sciences, to a university professor with the request that it be distributed to people interested in joining the team. The idea is that the team would “experiment” with various techniques, with the goal of tweaking behavior so people do everything from saving more for retirement to saving more in energy costs.

Needless to say, the rightwing blogosphere believes this is the worst thing ever! Who knows, maybe they’ll manage to work themselves up into a Benghazi-style hysteria over it. In any case, it’s definitely a Benghazi-style scandal — i.e., not a scandal at all.
How long as government been doing this sort of thing? Pretty much forever. From the Forest Service’s Smokey Bear campaign to the Department of Health and Human Services ads raising awareness of various health issues, government tries to shape behavior without resorting to legislation.
I suppose the freak out may be over the fact that the White House isn’t trying to legislate behavior. After all, that’s the “limited government” conservative approach. From when you’re allowed to be free of pregnancy to who you’re allowed to love and marry, rightwingers are all about micromanaging people’s lives.
Maybe they look at efforts to shape behavior like this and think, “You’re doing it wrong!”

Never mind the government’s obsession with game theory…
Look at World War II propaganda posters, the presidential fitness club, anti-terrorism PSAs. Hell, this has been going on forever.

The fact is if we don’t find a way to drastically change our collective behavior, we’re fucking done. Humanity will have been a biological flash-in-the-pan. And no matter how we decided to go about it the effort will be susceptible to being painted as a new world order plot to control the masses.

cognitivedissonance:

quickhits:

Conservatives shocked to discover that the White House practices leadership.

Fox News: The federal government is hiring what it calls a “Behavioral Insights Team” that will look for ways to subtly influence people’s behavior, according to a document describing the program obtained by FoxNews.com. Critics warn there could be unintended consequences to such policies, while supporters say the team could make government and society more efficient. 

While the program is still in its early stages, the document shows the White House is already working on such projects with almost a dozen federal departments and agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture. 

"Behavioral sciences can be used to help design public policies that work better, cost less, and help people to achieve their goals," reads the government document describing the program, which goes on to call for applicants to apply for positions on the team.

The document was emailed by Maya Shankar, a White House senior adviser on social and behavioral sciences, to a university professor with the request that it be distributed to people interested in joining the team. The idea is that the team would “experiment” with various techniques, with the goal of tweaking behavior so people do everything from saving more for retirement to saving more in energy costs.

Needless to say, the rightwing blogosphere believes this is the worst thing ever! Who knows, maybe they’ll manage to work themselves up into a Benghazi-style hysteria over it. In any case, it’s definitely a Benghazi-style scandal — i.e., not a scandal at all.

How long as government been doing this sort of thing? Pretty much forever. From the Forest Service’s Smokey Bear campaign to the Department of Health and Human Services ads raising awareness of various health issues, government tries to shape behavior without resorting to legislation.

I suppose the freak out may be over the fact that the White House isn’t trying to legislate behavior. After all, that’s the “limited government” conservative approach. From when you’re allowed to be free of pregnancy to who you’re allowed to love and marry, rightwingers are all about micromanaging people’s lives.

Maybe they look at efforts to shape behavior like this and think, “You’re doing it wrong!”

Never mind the government’s obsession with game theory…

Look at World War II propaganda posters, the presidential fitness club, anti-terrorism PSAs. Hell, this has been going on forever.

The fact is if we don’t find a way to drastically change our collective behavior, we’re fucking done. Humanity will have been a biological flash-in-the-pan. And no matter how we decided to go about it the effort will be susceptible to being painted as a new world order plot to control the masses.

And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these ‘stand your ground’ laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?

African religious leaders reject Obama’s call to decriminalize homosexuality

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) suggesting it’s the reason why he received a less-than-warm welcome during a recent trip to the continent.
Cardinal John Njue addresses journalists at a news conference in Nairobi on 29 June. He said we have to be proud of who we are. Photo by Fredrick Nzwili

In a news conference in Senegal during his three-nation tour, just as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on same-sex marriage, Obama said African nations must grant equal protection to all people regardless of their sexual orientation.

“My basic view is that regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation, when it comes to how the law treats you, how the state treats you … people should be treated equally,” Obama said. “And that’s a principle that I think applies universally.”

But Obama’s words rubbed religious and political leaders the wrong way. In Senegal, the West African nation where Islam is the predominant religion, homosexuality is a crime.

Christianity and Islam are growing fast on the continent, and religious leaders in both faith communities responded with vehement denunciations.

continue to source article at religionnews.com

(Source: richarddawkins.net)

confrontingbabble-on:

Effectively…all religious belief contains aspects that are pure bigotry…views not founded on fact, but simply preferences…To legislate in favor of one group’s views, would be to force the sectarian opinions they freely chose for themselves…onto everyone…
Best to separate church opinions from legislation…

confrontingbabble-on:

Effectively…all religious belief contains aspects that are pure bigotry…views not founded on fact, but simply preferences…To legislate in favor of one group’s views, would be to force the sectarian opinions they freely chose for themselves…onto everyone…

Best to separate church opinions from legislation…

mediamattersforamerica:

Some facts about climate change, since the media is yawning at the President’s climate proposals today:
1. Courts have ordered the EPA to regulate greenhouse gasses. http://mm4a.org/14pzyjG2. The “war on coal” story going around today is missing a lot of context: http://mm4a.org/1aKwd3N3. 97% of climate papers published agree that human activity is causing climate change. That’s called scientific consensus.http://mm4a.org/11EyBWj4. How are the media covering all of this? They bailed. In a stunning act of ignorance, Megyn Kelly cut directly from President Obama to a climate change denier and said that the President was wrong that the planet is warming. Other cable networks cut away shortly thereafter (though, thankfully not as crassly). Fed up?

mediamattersforamerica:

Some facts about climate change, since the media is yawning at the President’s climate proposals today:

1. Courts have ordered the EPA to regulate greenhouse gasses. http://mm4a.org/14pzyjG

2. The “war on coal” story going around today is missing a lot of context: http://mm4a.org/1aKwd3N

3. 97% of climate papers published agree that human activity is causing climate change. That’s called scientific consensus.http://mm4a.org/11EyBWj

4. How are the media covering all of this? They bailed. In a stunning act of ignorance, Megyn Kelly cut directly from President Obama to a climate change denier and said that the President was wrong that the planet is warming. Other cable networks cut away shortly thereafter (though, thankfully not as crassly). 

Fed up?

Selective Outrage: The Media and NSA Surveillance

This story starts with Hannity, but the entire news media is implicated.

Back in 2006 during the Bush administration, when the same type of surveillance was under the apparent cyclical scrutiny, Sean Hannity became the biggest supporter of the policy. In fact on his show he excoriated those who opposed it many times. The Mediamatters mash up below is a classic that shows the hypocrisy. While this may be funny to some and upsetting to others, the reason this type of hypocrisy must be explored is because of the corrosive effect it has on the body politic.

Pre-Obama:

We know that you are against the NSA data mining. We know that you are against the NSA surveillance program. So the question is, where does the Democratic Party, what will you do if you are elected to power to make our country safe from the war on terror. Specifically what would your party support.

You have Pat Leahy saying that he doesn’t want an NSA surveillance program. Nancy Polosi, the woman who’d love to be Speaker, she is against the NSA surveillance……

Is it right to say that issues regarding national security be it the NSA surveillance program, the data mining program, the Patriot Act, Guantanamo Bay that Democrats are weak on issues involving national security.

Our techniques are working. We’ve got the NSA program here, we have the Patriot Act program here. In light of this how close this was,it’s staggering to me that we are even debating the use of these techniques in this country even at this time.

During Obama:

Big Brother is monitoring your every move whether it be online or on the telephone. Let’s talk about why this story, why is it important to you.

Number one, this is America and as law bided American citizens you have a right to privacy. Number two, these actions by the Obama administration are clear, very clear violations of the fourth amendment, which prohibits unlimited search and seizure. Number three, the Constitution, it is our rule of law. If we do not respect and honor the Constitution, then anarchy and tyranny will then follow.

The intent here is not to solely point out the hypocrisy that is being engendered by this recycled debate. It is to show how the American people are being hoodwinked by the media. One can make an argument on either side of this debate that is both plausible and constitutional. This debate however must be intellectually honest. To date it has not been on either side.

The problem is the inconsistency of those engaged in the debate, the lack of pragmatic logic on some, and the complicity of the media in misleading Americans. It is true that Sean Hannity is nothing more than an ideologue with a dedicated following for which he is the puppeteer. It is also true that most Americans do not take him seriously.

The ‘respected’ media however is not very far behind Sean Hannity in either being manipulated by stories or being a party to the manipulation of stories. The NSA story has been out since 2006. The surprise and outrage being articulated by the mainstream media is at best fabricated for ratings.

Using and manipulating these stories have consequences. They take all the oxygen away from more important stories. Why is there no continuous story of a job recovery comprised mostly of substandard jobs? Why is there no continuous coverage of the real effects sequester is having on the poor and the middle class?

Allowing the same parties to take different sides of the same issue for political gain simply allow the metastasis of misinformation. Who can forget the media not stressing that the Healthcare Mandate was a Republican/Heritage Foundation idea that under Obama Republicans ran from. Who can forget that the carbon tax was a capitalist/Conservative/Republican approach, trading carbon, that Sarah Palin and others then labeled cap and tax.

Source

Republican IRS agent says he instigated ‘Tea Party’ inquiries

abaldwin360:

WASHINGTON (Reuters, Raw Story) – A U.S. Internal Revenue Service manager, who described himself as a conservative Republican, told congressional investigators that he and a local colleague decided to give conservative groups the extra scrutiny that has prompted weeks of political controversy.

In an official interview transcript released on Sunday by Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, the manager said he and an underling set aside “Tea Party” and “patriot” groups that had applied for tax-exempt status because the organizations appeared to pose a new precedent that could affect future IRS filings.

Cummings, top Democrat on the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee conducting the probe, told CNN’s “State of the Union” program that the manager’s comments provided evidence that politics was not behind IRS actions that have fueled a month-long furor in Washington.

“He is a conservative Republican working for the IRS. I think this interview and these statements go a long way toward showing that the White House was not involved in this,” Cummings told CNN’s “State of the Union” program.

read more

If this turns out to be true, it may confirm a suspicion I’ve had since this whole IRS/Tea Party ordeal broke.

Maybe it wasn’t an organized effort on part of the GOP, but the Tea Party has definately become a thorn in the Republicans’ side, and maybe a few of them (republicans) decided to try and do something about them …

abaldwin360:

It’s like the GOP approves of the actual fucked up shit that is going on with the Obama Administration and would rather make up or trump up shit to try to smear them with.

Why aren’t they raging about this internet tracking and phone records shit the way they were raging about Benghazi?

Just today, Pat Toomey said of the background-check bill:

“In the end it didn’t pass because we’re so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it.”

A helpful admission on his part, and a rare piece of Republican candor. But this is the case time after time after time. It’s not normal. It’s not—and I mean not remotely—“the same thing” the Democrats did under Bush. Today’s GOP is a complete historical outlier.


Yes, I’m sure there were many Democrats who didn’t want to hand Reagan or either Bush a political victory. But historically, that is one of a handful of legislative considerations, and not even the first. Probably more like the fourth, after votes and money and what’s right for the country. But today’s GOP has turned it into iron law. It is relentlessly destructive.

A Word on “Obamabot”-ism from Michael Tomasky (via wilwheaton)