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


Unfortunately, Congress consistently brings the Government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the Federal deficit would soar. The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations. It means we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility—two things that set us apart from much of the world.

Maybe the debt ceiling was the wrong place to pick a fight, as it related to trying to get our country’s house in order…maybe that was the wrong place to do it

GOP Senator Bob Corker • In a shockingly frank admission that the Republicans overplayed their obstructionist hand. The phrase “pick a fight” implies antagonism for antagonism’s sake which, if one reflects on the Republican party’s behavior over the last three years, would seem an appropriate implication. Another Senate Republican, Lindsey Graham, had a similar confession: “Our problem is we made a big deal about this for three months…we’ve got nobody to blame but ourselves.” Yes, indeed. These confessions bode well for the prospects of a deal passing the Senate, but the House remains another question entirely. source (viafollow)

(Source: shortformblog)

Our problem is, we made a big deal about this for three months. How many Republicans have been on TV saying, ‘I am not going to raise the debt limit’? We have no one to blame but ourselves.

GOP Senator LINDSEY GRAHAM (R - South Carolina), describing how his party has pigeonholed itself into what is now an untenable position on the debt ceiling; Graham says he, too, had taken a hardline stance on the matter.


(via the New York Times)

(Source: inothernews)

GOP Wants Elections, Could Care Less About Country



For all of his many flaws, Mitch McConnell’s candor is occasionally refreshing.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that his fall-back plan for the debt ceiling negotiations would prevent President Obama from blaming Republicans for the economic fallout from a default.

“If we go into default, [the president] will say that Republicans are making the economy worse … The president will have the bully pulpit to blame the Republicans for all of this destruction,” McConnell said, indicating that default would hand the re-election to Obama.

“I refuse to help Barack Obama get re-elected by marching Republicans into a position where we have co-ownership of a bad economy,” McConnell said.

A more thoughtful argument might have referenced the senator’s desire to do right by the country. Maybe something about the public suffering in the event of a self-imposed economic crash.

But that’s not where the Minority Leader is going with this. Avoiding an economic catastrophe? Whatever. What really matters here is McConnell avoiding blame and electoral consequences for the misguided hostage strategy he and his party never really thought through.

They’re so brazen that they don’t even give a fuck anymore. It’s sad, and even sadder that people will continue to vote for them.


Why Mitch McConnell Will Win the Day


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s compromise on the debt ceiling is a win for the President disguised as a win for Republicans. But it really just kicks the can down the road past the 2012 election – which is what almost every sane politician in Washington wants to happen in any event.

McConnell’s plan would allow the President to raise the debt limit. Congressional Republicans could then vote against the action with resolutions of disapproval. But these resolutions would surely be vetoed by the President. And such a veto, like all vetoes, could only be overridden by two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate – which couldn’t possibly happen with the Democrats in the majority in the Senate and having enough votes in the House to block an override.

Get it? The compromise allows Republicans to vote against raising the debt limit without bearing the horrendous consequences of a government default.

No budget cuts. No tax increases. No clear plan for deficit reduction. Nada. The entire, huge, mind-boggling, wildly partisan, intensely ideological, grandly theatrical, game of chicken miraculously vanishes.

Until the 2012 election, that is.

McConnell, like most other Republican leaders, has all along seen the battle over raising the debt ceiling as part of a master plan to unseat Obama. Remember, it was McConnell who openly admitted the GOP’s “top goal is to defeat President Obama in 2012” – a brazen and bizarre statement in the face of the worst economic crisis in seventy years.

The GOP will weave Obama’s decision to raise the debt ceiling into the 2012 presidential campaign –- as well as Senate and House races — so 2012 becomes what they hope will be a referendum on Obama’s “big government.”  

McConnell’s compromise will win the day. Expect much grousing from the GOP, especially those who feel they need to posture for the tea party. But McConnell – or something very similar – is the only way out. Obama can’t agree to a budget plan lacking tax increases, especially on the wealthy. Republicans can’t agree to one including them. In Washington, when an immovable object meets an irresistible force, something’s got to give. A compromise that allows both sides to save face is the easiest give of all.

Moreover, as the August 2 deadline approaches, big business and Wall Street (who hold the purse strings for the GOP) are sending Republicans a clear signal: Raise the debt ceiling or capital markets will start getting nervous. And if they get nervous and interest rates start to rise, you guys will be blamed.

Washington insiders will consider the McConnell compromise a win for Obama. But the rest of the country hasn’t been paying much attention and won’t consider it much of a win for either side. Their attention is riveted to the economy, particularly jobs and wages. If those don’t improve, Obama will be a one-term president regardless of how the GOP wants to paint him.

Warren Buffett: We raised the debt ceiling seven times during the Bush administration. Now in this administration they are using it as a hostage. You don’t have any business by playing russian roulette to get your way in some other matter. We should be more grown up than that.



In an interview with CNBC, Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha and one of the world’s wealthiest men, took sharp shots at politicians in Washington negotiating over raising the debt ceiling. Buffett said if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, the U.S. would default on its debt and that is unprecedented and we simply don’t know how that would turn out. That’s why he compared the situation to a game of russian roulette. He said five times out of six everything would be fine but that one bullet could do a ton of damage. Playing, he said, is “silly.”

“We raised the debt ceiling seven times during the Bush administration” he said. “Now in this administration they are using it as a hostage. You don’t have any business by playing russian roulette to get your way in some other matter. We should be more grown up than that.”

Buffett said Congress is playing with “fire when you shouldn’t be playing with fire.” He said corporate America should be telling Congress, “shame on all of you.” And said that Republicans and Democrats are both to blame. There is “enough blame to go around.”

[Video of CNBC interview @]

Bear in mind that G.O.P. leaders don’t actually care about the level of debt. Instead, they’re using the threat of a debt crisis to impose an ideological agenda. If you had any doubt about that, last week’s tantrum should have convinced you. Democrats engaged in debt negotiations argued that since we’re supposedly in dire fiscal straits, we should talk about limiting tax breaks for corporate jets and hedge-fund managers as well as slashing aid to the poor and unlucky. And Republicans, in response, walked out of the talks.

So what’s really going on is extortion pure and simple. As Mike Konczal of the Roosevelt Institute puts it, the G.O.P. has, in effect, come around with baseball bats and declared, “Nice economy you have here. A real shame if something happened to it.”

Paul Krugman, “To the Limit” (via bfargz)

GOP Negotiations/Conflict of Interest?


By Silence Dogood – June 30, 2011Posted in: News, Questions

What would happen if Republicans positioned themselves to gain monetary rewards if the debt ceiling is not raised?  Would there be repercussions for a House Majority Leader who stands to win financial gain for tanking our economy?  Would you believe that this is not merely a hypothetical? reported:

Last year the Wall Street Journal reported that Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House, had between $1,000 and $15,000 invested in ProShares Trust Ultrashort 20+ Year Treasury EFT. The fund aggressively “shorts” long-term U.S. Treasury bonds, meaning that it performs well when U.S. debt is undesirable. (A short is when the trader hopes to profit from the decline in the value of an asset.)

According to his latest financial disclosure statement, which covers the year 2010 and has been publicly available since this spring, Cantor still has up to $15,000 in the same fund. Contacted by Salon this week, Cantor’s office gave no indication that the Virginia Republican, who has played a leading role in the debt ceiling negotiations, has divested himself of these holdings since his last filing. Unless an agreement can be reached, the U.S. could begin defaulting on its debt payments on Aug. 2. If that happens and Cantor is still invested in the fund, the value of his holdings would skyrocket.

“If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, investors would start fleeing U.S. Treasuries,” said Matt Koppenheffer, who writes for the investment website the Motley Fool. “Yields would rise, prices would fall, and the Proshares ETF should do very well. It would spike.”

The fund hasn’t significantly spiked yet because many investors believe Congress will eventually raise the debt ceiling. However, since Cantor abruptly called off debt ceiling negotiations last Thursday, the fund was up 3.3%.

Or in other words, the person who is playing hardball in bipartisan debt discussions stands to benefit substantially if negotiations collapse and the debt ceiling is not raised, causing the U.S. to default on their loans.

Our elected officials should be working towards stabilizing our economy, not betting against it.

What. The. FUCK!