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


Yesterday, the Republican Majority Leader in Congress, Eric Cantor, said that right now, he won’t even let the jobs bill have a vote in the House of Representatives. He won’t even give it a vote. Well I’d like Mr. Cantor to come down here to Dallas and explain what in this jobs bill he doesn’t believe in. Does he not believe in rebuilding America’s roads and bridges? Does he not believe in tax breaks for small businesses, or efforts to help veterans?

President Obama, on Republican obstructionism and his jobs plan.  (via workonprogress)

“This is not class warfare. It’s math.” (Transcript) President Obama’s remarks on a balanced deficit reduction


Remarks by the President on Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction

It is wrong that in the United States of America, a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker who earns $50,000 should pay higher tax rates than somebody pulling in $50 million.  Anybody who says we can’t change the tax code to correct that, anyone who has signed some pledge to protect every single tax loophole so long as they live, they should be called out.  They should have to defend that unfairness — explain why somebody who’s making  $50 million a year in the financial markets should be paying 15 percent on their taxes, when a teacher making $50,000 a year is paying more than that — paying a higher rate.  They ought to have to answer for it.  And if they’re pledged to keep that kind of unfairness in place, they should remember, the last time I checked the only pledge that really matters is the pledge we take to uphold the Constitution.

Now, we’re already hearing the usual defenders of these kinds of loopholes saying this is just “class warfare.”  I reject the idea that asking a hedge fund manager to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or a teacher is class warfare.  I think it’s just the right the thing to do.  I believe the American middle class, who’ve been pressured relentlessly for decades, believe it’s time that they were fought for as hard as the lobbyists and some lawmakers have fought to protect special treatment for billionaires and big corporations.

Nobody wants to punish success in America.  What’s great about this country is our belief that anyone can make it and everybody should be able to try -– the idea that any one of us can open a business or have an idea and make us millionaires or billionaires.  This is the land of opportunity.  That’s great.  All I’m saying is that those who have done well, including me, should pay our fair share in taxes to contribute to the nation that made our success possible.  We shouldn’t get a better deal than ordinary families get.  And I think most wealthy Americans would agree if they knew this would help us grow the economy and deal with the debt that threatens our future.

It comes down to this:  We have to prioritize.  Both parties agree that we need to reduce the deficit by the same amount — by $4 trillion.  So what choices are we going to make to reach that goal?  Either we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share in taxes, or we’re going to have to ask seniors to pay more for Medicare.  We can’t afford to do both.

Either we gut education and medical research, or we’ve got to reform the tax code so that the most profitable corporations have to give up tax loopholes that other companies don’t get.  We can’t afford to do both.

This is not class warfare.  It’s math.  (Laughter.)  The money is going to have to come from someplace.  And if we’re not willing to ask those who’ve done extraordinarily well to help America close the deficit and we are trying to reach that same target of $4 trillion, then the logic, the math says everybody else has to do a whole lot more:  We’ve got to put the entire burden on the middle class and the poor.  We’ve got to scale back on the investments that have always helped our economy grow.  We’ve got to settle for second-rate roads and second-rate bridges and second-rate airports, and schools that are crumbling.

That’s unacceptable to me.  That’s unacceptable to the American people.  And it will not happen on my watch.  I will not support — I will not support — any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary Americans.  And I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share.  We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are most vulnerable.

Read full transcript…

Or watch the video


Video / transcript: President Obama’s jobs speech & reactions from Krugman and O’Reilly

TRANSCRIPT of the speech here

FACT SHEET: The American Jobs Act

PAUL KRUGMAN’S comments on the jobs plan:

O.K., about the Obama plan: It calls for about $200 billion in new spending — much of it on things we need in any case, like school repair, transportation networks, and avoiding teacher layoffs — and $240 billion in tax cuts. That may sound like a lot, but it actually isn’t. The lingering effects of the housing bust and the overhang of household debt from the bubble years are creating a roughly $1 trillion per year hole in the U.S. economy, and this plan — which wouldn’t deliver all its benefits in the first year — would fill only part of that hole. And it’s unclear, in particular, how effective the tax cuts would be at boosting spending.

Still, the plan would be a lot better than nothing, and some of its measures, which are specifically aimed at providing incentives for hiring, might produce relatively a large employment bang for the buck. As I said, it’s much bolder and better than I expected. President Obama’s hair may not be on fire, but it’s definitely smoking; clearly and gratifyingly, he does grasp how desperate the jobs situation is.

But his plan isn’t likely to become law, thanks to Republican opposition. And it’s worth noting just how much that opposition has hardened over time, even as the plight of the unemployed has worsened.

[…] leading Republicans are basically against anything that might help the unemployed. Yes, Mr. Romney has issued a glossy, well-produced “jobs plan,” but it might best be described as 59 bullet points with nothing there — and certainly nothing to justify his assertion, bordering on megalomania, that he would create no fewer than 11 million jobs in four years.

The good news in all this is that by going bigger and bolder than expected, Mr. Obama may finally have set the stage for a political debate about job creation. For, in the end, nothing will be done until the American people demand action.

BILL O’REILLY’S comments on the jobs plan:

During an interview with White House press secretary Jay Carney, Bill O’Reilly criticized President Obama for using investor Warren Buffett as an example of the unfairness in the tax code. Obama, in his speech on jobs before a joint session of Congress, said that “Warren Buffet pays a lower tax rate than his secretary — an outrage he has asked us to fix.” O’Reilly took exception that remark, suggesting that it was an “apples to oranges” comparison because Buffett pays mostly capital gains taxes while his secretary likely pays mostly income tax.

His criticism is off base. Taxes on “capital gains” are taxes on income derived from capital, as opposed to income derived from labor. Both capital gains taxes and income taxes are taxes on income. O’Reilly is wrong to suggest Buffett and the president are being misleading or unfair.

O’Reilly and the rest of Fox “News,” and radio entertainers like Limbaugh, count on their audience to be of the “low information” variety. They even have a club:

Hey, Michele Bachmann: if the big red floppy shoe fits…


What Obama said last night:

“The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities. The question tonight is whether we’ll meet ours. The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy; whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning.”

What Michele Bachmann heard:

“It was interesting to me that if you look at the president’s remarks, almost out of the gate, the president began by insulting members of Congress. He invited them to be a part of this address this evening…And yet he began with an insult — for a circus tent. That isn’t what this is. I don’t consider the greatest, most deliberative body in the United States, the House of Representatives, a circus, a political circus. It isn’t at all.”

I suppose we should give Bachmann a break — it can’t be easy to focus on one thing at a time with all the shouting voices and train sounds in her head. Sometimes she also hears a dial tone or a door bell in between the shouting but… no wonder!

I’d say that with an approval rating at around 14%, congress deserves some insults. Lazy bastards. Go home an cry to mommy, or Jesus, or whoever it is you cry too.

American companies that aren’t investing in the U.S. are unpatriotic — Jim Hoffa


“I think the president should challenge the patriotism of these American corporations that are sitting on the sidelines. The problem in America isn’t that we don’t have enough money. We’ve got more money than any other country in the world. The problem is American businesses not spending it and not getting it in the game.”Jim Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, blasting American companies who are not spending their capital in the U.S. as “unpatriotic”

Hoffa says that as if American businesses would be shamed by such a label. We’re teetering on the verge of Corporatism, and the only allegiance being pledged by American (multinational) companies is to their CEOs and their stockholders. There are no more ‘countries.’ There’s no such thing as patriotism anymore.


Siphoning the country for personal profit should constitute treason, not just being unpatriotic. And that also goes for what the financial industry did to fuck us all over by knowingly eroding the strength of our entire economy on a hedge bet. If you consider the entire population of our country as the sovereign body, as opposed to just the government (or military) itself.