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

 

Let's never forget that to powerful American politicians the Iraq war was seen as a holy Christian crusade.

iranianatheist:

A war that has killed thousands and left millions in complete devastation. A war that has increased hatred for America, a war that has also resulted in the death of thousands of American soldiers and personnel, a war that did not even go after the terrorists who had attacked America .. a war which…

"Rumsfeld, not a man who wore religion on his sleeve, appeared to be trying to manipulate - or curry favor with - the Bible-quoting Bush"

George W. Bush to Raise Money for Group That Converts Jews to Bring About Second Coming of Christ

Next week, former President George W. Bush is scheduled to keynote a fundraiser in Irving, Texas, for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, a group that trains people in the United States, Israel, and around the world to convince Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah. The organization’s goal: to “restore” Israel and the Jews and bring about about the second coming of Christ.

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I’ve always found it odd that the very People who were supposedly witness to all the miracles in the bible stories, including the dramatic resurrection, were perhaps the least convinced that anything special had happened. Now, a couple thousand years later, people from other places have to try and convince them that their messiah already came and they missed it. The Jews are like, nope, we were there and we obviously weren’t impressed.

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

Those who go to George Bush Jr.’s museum, for purposes other than mocking laughter are internalizing a false narrative. They are reproducing a lie as truth; the lie is also reinforcing their standing priors. There is no need for the character Winston. The petit authoritarian who has nostalgia for George Bush Jr. is a living vessel of propaganda. He or she is a walking and talking incubator for lies.

The Ministry of Truth: George Orwell Predicted the Post-Truth World That is George Bush Junior’s New Museum (via azspot)

"Museums should serve the Common Good and be places where questions about public memory are debated, contested, and worked through in a critical manner.

George Bush Jr.’s Orwellian museum serves none of these functions. In a righteous world, his museum would be a site that both warns and cautions us about public incompetence, and all that can go wrong when a boy king is made President. In the world in which we live today, the public is denied that lesson.”

Dying veteran’s ‘Fuck You’ letter to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney

 To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

-Tomas Young

Dying veteran’s ‘Fuck You’ letter to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney

To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

-Tomas Young

Obama and Bush are Cousins! (2008)

skepticalavenger:

Obama and Bush are Cousins!

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Hell froze over. A month of Sundays hit the calendar. Barack Obama and George W. Bush are cousins.

According to Factcheck.org, Obama and Bush are 11th cousins, both descended from Samuel Hinckley, who lived in Massachusetts in the 17th century.

Meanwhile, Obama is also related — even more closely — to Dick Cheney. They are eighth cousins, both descended from a French Huguenot named Mareen Duvall who settled in Maryland in the 17th century.

No word on whether the Obamas are going to be invited to the Bush family reunions each summer in Maine.

Well, the family reunion thing never happened.  This is interesting and amusing, but I have a feeling that just about everyone is going to be a cousin if you go back far enough.  :)

When Republican politicians are asked to explain how they differ from George W. Bush, they will need to have an answer, and they’ll need to be able to articulate it in a way that doesn’t insult the intelligence of the audience.

confrontingbabble-on:

Romney’s ‘secret’ economic plan, is the same old failed Republican plan…
Mitt’s “proposed more than $2 trillion in new federal spending so far, and that’s a lot, even for a senator from Massachusetts.
Mitt Romney’s 5 point plan to jumpstart the economy is actually John McCain’s 2008 5 point plan to get the economy moving, which was George W. Bush’s 2004 five point plan to grow the economy.
The plan for the Republicans is always the same, cut taxes, reduce spending, a talking point about school choice, more domestic oil drilling, and free trade.
The last time this plan was tried by a president the economy collapsed.
Voters rejected a rehash of the Bush ideas in 2008, and Mitt Romney is back trying to sell the same plan in a different order in 2012.
The reality is that Republicans have no idea how to fix or grow the economy, but they do have an ideology that tells them government is bad, and tax cuts for the wealthy are good.
Mitt Romney isn’t some bold visionary who has the secret to unlocking our national economic power. He is just the latest in a long line of Republican salesmen who are peddling an economic plan that didn’t work then, and won’t work now.
If you are early voting now, or will be stepping into the voting booth on Election Day, remember that you aren’t voting for Mitt Romney’s plan. You’ll be voting for George W. Bush’s, and we all remember where that got us the last time we tried it.”
see http://www.politicususa.com/mitt-romneys-5-point-plan-plan-mccain-08-bush-04.html

confrontingbabble-on:

Romney’s ‘secret’ economic plan, is the same old failed Republican plan…

Mitt’s “proposed more than $2 trillion in new federal spending so far, and that’s a lot, even for a senator from Massachusetts.

Mitt Romney’s 5 point plan to jumpstart the economy is actually John McCain’s 2008 5 point plan to get the economy moving, which was George W. Bush’s 2004 five point plan to grow the economy.

The plan for the Republicans is always the same, cut taxes, reduce spending, a talking point about school choice, more domestic oil drilling, and free trade.

The last time this plan was tried by a president the economy collapsed.

Voters rejected a rehash of the Bush ideas in 2008, and Mitt Romney is back trying to sell the same plan in a different order in 2012.

The reality is that Republicans have no idea how to fix or grow the economy, but they do have an ideology that tells them government is bad, and tax cuts for the wealthy are good.

Mitt Romney isn’t some bold visionary who has the secret to unlocking our national economic power. He is just the latest in a long line of Republican salesmen who are peddling an economic plan that didn’t work then, and won’t work now.

If you are early voting now, or will be stepping into the voting booth on Election Day, remember that you aren’t voting for Mitt Romney’s plan. You’ll be voting for George W. Bush’s, and we all remember where that got us the last time we tried it.”

see http://www.politicususa.com/mitt-romneys-5-point-plan-plan-mccain-08-bush-04.html

wilwheaton:

election:

thecallus:

mohandasgandhi:

quickhits:

Filed under “Things that are real — but shouldn’t be.”


“One thing he’s gonna be asked is, why did he jump on [the hurricane] so quickly and go back to D.C. so quickly when in…Benghazi, he went to Las Vegas?” Brown says. “Why was this so quick?… At some point, somebody’s going to ask that question…. This is like the inverse of Benghazi.”

I quit.

What part of “crawl into a hole and never come out” does this guy not understand?

Presented without logic: His comments.
— Ernie @ ShortFormBlog

Die in a fire, Brownie.

wilwheaton:

election:

thecallus:

mohandasgandhi:

quickhits:

Filed under “Things that are real — but shouldn’t be.”

“One thing he’s gonna be asked is, why did he jump on [the hurricane] so quickly and go back to D.C. so quickly when in…Benghazi, he went to Las Vegas?” Brown says. “Why was this so quick?… At some point, somebody’s going to ask that question…. This is like the inverse of Benghazi.

I quit.

What part of “crawl into a hole and never come out” does this guy not understand?

Presented without logic: His comments.

— Ernie @ ShortFormBlog

Die in a fire, Brownie.

What’s remarkable about Romney’s answer was that he didn’t even acknowledge or endorse the questioner’s main concern, which was that the Bush administration presided over major debacles that are still adversely affecting the U.S. The questioner was worried that Romney would repeat Bush’s errors, and he responded by rattling off a campaign agenda that Bush could and did run on. Like Bush, Romney talks about fiscal conservatism, but Romney gave the woman no reason to believe he would govern differently. It was Romney’s “just trust me” argument all over again, and he failed to acknowledge that one of the reasons so many people don’t trust him is that he doesn’t seem to have many major differences with Bush.

American Conservative Magazine (yes, you read that right), “What Romney Didn’t Say About the Bush Record.” (via diadoumenos)