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.

"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

 

youngprogressivevoices:

I second that! We’re apart of the environment, we depend on the environment, so lets save the environment!
Find us on Facebook, Young Progressive Voices.


I’ve been saying it for ages.

youngprogressivevoices:

I second that! We’re apart of the environment, we depend on the environment, so lets save the environment!

Find us on Facebook, Young Progressive Voices.

I’ve been saying it for ages.

tinfoilandtea:

“The world has changed, but the current arsenal carries the baggage of the cold war,” Cartwright told the New York Times on Wednesday. “There is the baggage of significant numbers in reserve. There is the baggage of a nuclear stockpile beyond our needs. What is it we’re really trying to deter? Our current arsenal does not address the threats of the 21st century.” (via Influential Ex-General: Cut US Nukes Now | Mother Jones)

tinfoilandtea:

“The world has changed, but the current arsenal carries the baggage of the cold war,” Cartwright told the New York Times on Wednesday. “There is the baggage of significant numbers in reserve. There is the baggage of a nuclear stockpile beyond our needs. What is it we’re really trying to deter? Our current arsenal does not address the threats of the 21st century.” (via Influential Ex-General: Cut US Nukes Now | Mother Jones)

dobbaaa:

destroythegop:

tinfoilandtea:


House Republicans are set to advance legislation to replace automatic defense spending cuts they agreed to last year with cuts to programs for the poor and working class.

Only the rich and war matter.

“When you look at this final agreement… I got 98 percent of what I wanted.” - John Boehner, August 1, 2011
Boehner & The House GOP = Dishonest. Untrustworthy. LIARS.

SURPRISE.

dobbaaa:

destroythegop:

tinfoilandtea:

House Republicans are set to advance legislation to replace automatic defense spending cuts they agreed to last year with cuts to programs for the poor and working class.


Only the rich and war matter.

“When you look at this final agreement… I got 98 percent of what I wanted.” - John Boehner, August 1, 2011

Boehner & The House GOP = Dishonest. Untrustworthy. LIARS.

SURPRISE.

(Source: )

joshrushing:

Have you watched all the Holiday movies you can stand? Time for something different? Join me tonight at 5:30 pm EST to watch my new Fault Lines episode on killer robots (see promo above). It’s a Capraesque look at what happens when killing can be automated. Critics rave, “It’s the feel-good Fault Lines of the year!” I’ll live tweet throughout the show, so it’ll be like we’re watching it together. Pass the popcorn…

PS — If you can’t get Al Jazeera English at home: first, shame on your cable provider, go here for help; second, you can stream it live for free here; third, I’ll post the video here on tumblr tomorrow,where you’ll be able to ask me questions about it, reblog it, even share it with friends and family as a hoilday bonus gift. ;-)

the show will be online by tomorrow, I’ll post it here

ajfaultlines:

Tonight at 2230 GMT/ 5:30 p EST, our new Fault Lines episode on how drones change the way the US fights wars airs on Al Jazeera English. Above, the trailer, and we’ll post the entire episode here after it airs. 

Watch online.

Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don’t need little changes. We need gigantic revolutionary changes. Schools should be palaces. Competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be getting six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge for its citizens, just like national defense. That is my position. I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet.

Sam Seaborn (via myimaginationsavesme)

All-time fave Sam quote.

(via mommapolitico)

(Source: winterhollynoel)

culturerevo:

mohandasgandhi:

Glenn Greenwald: With the new National Defense Authorization Act, Congress has formally declared that the entire world (including the U.S.) is a battlefield and the war will essentially go on forever

A bill co-sponsored by Democratic Sen. Carl Levin and GOP Sen. John McCain   (S. 1867) — included in the pending defense authorization bill — is  predictably on its way to passage. It is triggering substantial alarm in many circles, including from the ACLU –  and rightly so. But there are also many misconceptions about it that  have been circulating that should be clarified, including a possible  White House veto. Here are the bill’s three most important provisions:

(1) mandates that all accused Terrorists  be indefinitely imprisoned by the military rather than in the civilian  court system; it also unquestionably permits (but does not mandate) that even U.S. citizens on U.S. soil accused of  Terrorism be held by the military rather than charged in the civilian  court system (Sec. 1032);
(2) renews the 2001 Authorization to Use Military  Force (AUMF) with more expansive language: to allow force (and military  detention) against not only those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks and  countries which harbored them, but also anyone who “substantially supports” Al Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces” (Sec. 1031); and,
(3) imposes new restrictions on the U.S. Government’s ability to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo (Secs. 1033-35).

There are several very revealing aspects to all of this. First, the 9/11 attack happened more than a decade ago; Osama bin Laden is dead; the U.S. Government claims it has killed virtually all of Al Qaeda’s leadership and the group is  “operationally ineffective” in the Afghan-Pakistan region; and many  commentators insisted that these developments would mean that the War on  Terror would finally begin to recede. And yet here we have the  Congress, on a fully bipartisan basis, acting not only to re-affirm the  war but to expand it even further: by formally declaring that  the entire world (including the U.S.) is a battlefield and the war will  essentially go on forever.
Indeed, it seems clear that they are doing this precisely out of fear that the justifications they have long given for the War no longer  exist and there is therefore a risk Americans will clamor for its end.  This is Congress declaring: the War is more vibrant than ever and must be expanded further. For  our political class and the private-sector that owns it, the War on  Terror — Endless War — is an addiction: it is not a means to an end but the end itself (indeed, 2/3 of these war addicts in the Senate just rejected Rand Paul’s bill to repeal the 2003 Iraq AUMF even as they insist that  the Iraq War has ended). This is the war-hungry U.S. Congress acting  preemptively to ensure that there is no sense in the citizenry that the  War on Terror — and especially all of the vast new powers it spawned —  can start to wind down, let alone be reversed.
Second, consider how typically bipartisan this all is. The Senate just voted 37-61 against an amendment,  sponsored by Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, that would have stripped the  Levin/McCain section from the bill: in other words, Levin/McCain  garnered one more vote than the 60 needed to stave off a filibuster. Every GOP Senator (except Rand Paul and Mark Kirk) voted against the  Udall amendment, while just enough Democrats – 16 in total — joined the GOP to ensure passage of Levin/McCain. That includes such  progressive stalwarts as Debbie Stabenow, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeanne  Shaheen and its lead sponsor, Carl Levin.
I’ve described this little scam before as “Villain Rotation”: “They always have a  handful of Democratic Senators announce that they will be the ones to  deviate this time from the ostensible party position and impede success,  but the designated Villain constantly shifts, so the Party itself can  claim it supports these measures while an always-changing handful of  their members invariably prevent it.” This has happened with countless votes that  are supposed manifestations of right-wing radicalism but that pass  because an always-changing roster of Democrats ensure they have the  support needed. So here is the Democratic Party — led by its senior  progressive National Security expert, Carl Levin, and joined by just  enough of its members — joining the GOP to ensure that this bill passes,  and that the U.S. Government remains vested with War on Terror powers  and even expands that war in some critical respects.
Third,  I haven’t written about this bill until now for one reason: as odious  and definitively radical as the powers are which this bill endorses, it  doesn’t actually change the status quo all that much. That’s because the  Bush and Obama administrations have already successfully claimed most  of the powers in the bill, and courts have largely acquiesced. To be  sure, there are dangers to having Congress formally codify these powers.  But a powerful sign of how degraded our political culture has become is  that this bill — which in any other time would be shockingly extremist —  actually fits right in with who we are as a nation and what our  political institutions are already doing. To be perfectly honest, I just  couldn’t get myself worked up over a bill that, with some exceptions,  does little more than formally recognize and codify what our Government  is already doing.
(Continue reading…)


impeach every senator who voted for this.


The war on terror is to the defense industry what the war on drugs is to the prison industry.

culturerevo:

mohandasgandhi:

Glenn Greenwald: With the new National Defense Authorization Act, Congress has formally declared that the entire world (including the U.S.) is a battlefield and the war will essentially go on forever

A bill co-sponsored by Democratic Sen. Carl Levin and GOP Sen. John McCain  (S. 1867) — included in the pending defense authorization bill — is predictably on its way to passage. It is triggering substantial alarm in many circles, including from the ACLU – and rightly so. But there are also many misconceptions about it that have been circulating that should be clarified, including a possible White House veto. Here are the bill’s three most important provisions:

(1) mandates that all accused Terrorists be indefinitely imprisoned by the military rather than in the civilian court system; it also unquestionably permits (but does not mandate) that even U.S. citizens on U.S. soil accused of Terrorism be held by the military rather than charged in the civilian court system (Sec. 1032);

(2) renews the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) with more expansive language: to allow force (and military detention) against not only those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks and countries which harbored them, but also anyone who “substantially supports” Al Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces” (Sec. 1031); and,

(3) imposes new restrictions on the U.S. Government’s ability to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo (Secs. 1033-35).

There are several very revealing aspects to all of this. First, the 9/11 attack happened more than a decade ago; Osama bin Laden is dead; the U.S. Government claims it has killed virtually all of Al Qaeda’s leadership and the group is “operationally ineffective” in the Afghan-Pakistan region; and many commentators insisted that these developments would mean that the War on Terror would finally begin to recede. And yet here we have the Congress, on a fully bipartisan basis, acting not only to re-affirm the war but to expand it even further: by formally declaring that the entire world (including the U.S.) is a battlefield and the war will essentially go on forever.

Indeed, it seems clear that they are doing this precisely out of fear that the justifications they have long given for the War no longer exist and there is therefore a risk Americans will clamor for its end. This is Congress declaring: the War is more vibrant than ever and must be expanded further. For our political class and the private-sector that owns it, the War on Terror — Endless War — is an addiction: it is not a means to an end but the end itself (indeed, 2/3 of these war addicts in the Senate just rejected Rand Paul’s bill to repeal the 2003 Iraq AUMF even as they insist that the Iraq War has ended). This is the war-hungry U.S. Congress acting preemptively to ensure that there is no sense in the citizenry that the War on Terror — and especially all of the vast new powers it spawned — can start to wind down, let alone be reversed.

Second, consider how typically bipartisan this all is. The Senate just voted 37-61 against an amendment, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, that would have stripped the Levin/McCain section from the bill: in other words, Levin/McCain garnered one more vote than the 60 needed to stave off a filibuster. Every GOP Senator (except Rand Paul and Mark Kirk) voted against the Udall amendment, while just enough Democrats – 16 in total — joined the GOP to ensure passage of Levin/McCain. That includes such progressive stalwarts as Debbie Stabenow, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeanne Shaheen and its lead sponsor, Carl Levin.

I’ve described this little scam before as “Villain Rotation”: “They always have a handful of Democratic Senators announce that they will be the ones to deviate this time from the ostensible party position and impede success, but the designated Villain constantly shifts, so the Party itself can claim it supports these measures while an always-changing handful of their members invariably prevent it.” This has happened with countless votes that are supposed manifestations of right-wing radicalism but that pass because an always-changing roster of Democrats ensure they have the support needed. So here is the Democratic Party — led by its senior progressive National Security expert, Carl Levin, and joined by just enough of its members — joining the GOP to ensure that this bill passes, and that the U.S. Government remains vested with War on Terror powers and even expands that war in some critical respects.

Third, I haven’t written about this bill until now for one reason: as odious and definitively radical as the powers are which this bill endorses, it doesn’t actually change the status quo all that much. That’s because the Bush and Obama administrations have already successfully claimed most of the powers in the bill, and courts have largely acquiesced. To be sure, there are dangers to having Congress formally codify these powers. But a powerful sign of how degraded our political culture has become is that this bill — which in any other time would be shockingly extremist — actually fits right in with who we are as a nation and what our political institutions are already doing. To be perfectly honest, I just couldn’t get myself worked up over a bill that, with some exceptions, does little more than formally recognize and codify what our Government is already doing.

(Continue reading…)

impeach every senator who voted for this.

The war on terror is to the defense industry what the war on drugs is to the prison industry.

Serious conservatives should examine the defense budget, which contains tons of evidence of liberalism run amok that they usually decry. Most talk of waste, fraud and abuse in government is vastly exaggerated; there simply isn’t enough money in discretionary spending. Most of the federal government’s spending is transfer payments and tax expenditures, which are — whatever their merits — highly efficient at funneling money to their beneficiaries. The exception is defense, a cradle-to-grave system of housing, subsidies, cost-plus procurement, early retirement and lifetime pension and health-care guarantees. There is so much overlap among the military services, so much duplication and so much waste that no one bothers to defend it anymore. Today, the U.S. defense establishment is the world’s largest socialist economy.

Ryan’s Dirty Trailer: Seven Billion In Cuts Proposed to Defense Spending, Republicans Lose Their Shit

blogvader:

Looks like the Republicans are still sour that they weren’t the ones to nab Osama Bin Laden, because they’re grasping at the flimsiest of straws to attack Democrats on national security these days. (That or their corporate overlords are paying them overtime to say the dumbest things.)

The latest: Calling seven billion in potential defense cuts “Armageddon” or “a national security crisis”.

As much as I love Mother Jones it infuriates me that I don’t see major networks calling bullshit on the idiotic statements that senators and Pentagon officials make over necessary defense spending cuts that probably won’t even materialize anyway. Cutting a paltry seven billion dollars from a trillion dollar budget is hardly “the knowing destruction of the US military”, as the distinguished blowhard Jon Kyl hyperbolized. I will give Defense Secretary Panetta a little credit for stating the obvious: “We must come to realize that not every defense program is necessary, not every defense dollar is sacred or well-spent, and more of everything is simply not sustainable”.


Per Mother Jones:

In theory, the debt deal will cut discretionary security spending by $7 billion over the next two years. How would those cuts impact the Pentagon? The Pentagon’s base operating budget typically runs between $500 and 600 billion a year. $7 billion is roughly the cost of 3 submarines, or 20 fighter jets, or one-fifth of one KBR contract in Iraq. In other words, chump change. And that’s if the cuts actually come from the DOD. According to the text of the debt bill (PDF), it’s up to Congress to decide what parts of the total security and defense budget—which includes the Veterans Administration, Homeland Security, international affairs, and nuclear weapons—actually take a hit. One thing that won’t take a hit is the funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is specifically preserved in the bill.

The White House and Congressional leaders insist that the debt compromise will slash $350 billion from the Pentagon over the next 10 years. Additionally, if Congress doesn’t cut another $1.2 trillion across the board by December, a “trigger” in the bill is supposed to kick in, reducing the defense budget by another $500 to 600 billion.

But those hard numbers aren’t spelled out in the bill. “The actual amount will be decided by Congress in the future,” Wheeler says. And there’s no guarantee that Congress, particularly Rep. McKeon and his pork-loving Armed Services Committee members, will take any cuts out of the Pentagon’s hide. The bill “is classic Washington Kabuki theater,” Gordon Adams, a political science professor who worked as a security budget expert for the Clinton White House, tells Foreign Policy. “The whole deal is designed to be opaque about the things you really want to know, such as how much defense will be cut.”

There is no amount of spending that can’t be justified by fear.

The Pentagon is not just incompetent. It is corrupt. In November 2009 the Pentagon’s Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), the federal watchdog responsible for auditing oversight of military contractors, raised the question of criminal wrongdoing when it found that the audits that did occur were riddled with serious breaches of auditor independence. One Pentagon auditor admitted he did not perform detailed tests because, “The contractor would not appreciate it.” Why would the Pentagon allow its contractors to get away with fraud? To answer that question we need to understand the incestuous relationship between the Pentagon and its contractors that has been going on for years, and is getting worse. From 2004 to 2008, 80 percent of retiring three and four star officers went to work as consultants or defense industry executives. Thirty-four out of 39 three- and four-star generals and admirals who retired in 2007 are now working in defense industry roles — nearly 90 percent. Generals are recruited for private sector jobs well before they retire. Once employed by the military contractor the general maintains a Pentagon advisory role.

The United States faces no credible conventional military threat from any nation. Our primary military threats are from a handful of terrorists armed with little more than a willingness to die for their cause. Yet we devote more than half of the federal government’s discretionary budget to the military, an amount roughly equal to the military expenditure of all the world’s governments combined.

vinegarwilliams:

Truth

Not to mention that the defense budget is 50x higher than the next country on the list, China. So we could cut it in HALF (down to about 500 Billion annually) and still have like 25x more military might than them. What could we do with 500 billion dollars per year? All I know is that if we don’t start taking care of the inside of the country (health, infrastucture, education) there will be little left worth defending. Like a ‘78 Ford Pinto with the most expensive and elaborate security system in the world.

(Source: socialuprooting)

Taboo Economics

I have a proposal: Let’s double US government funds devoted to promoting renewable energy. Let’s expand allocations for foreclosure prevention to help another million Americans keep their homes. Let’s launch a $10-billion infrastructure programme to repair crumbling roads and bridges. Let’s double the number of new maths and science teachers that President Obama hopes to train, bringing the total to 200,000. And let’s hire back all of those police officers fired by the city of Camden, New Jersey – already among the most dangerous places in the country before budget constraints compelled it to dismiss half of its police force in December.

While we’re at it, let’s reduce the deficit by about $40 billion.

This proposition is not voodoo economics. It is taboo economics. All of these things could be accomplished by trimming US military spending by just 10 per cent. Some of these suggestions (teacher training, Camden cops) are trifling items by the standards of Pentagon budgeting, together accounting for less than the cost of a single Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet.

Could never happen because it makes entirely too much sense.

(Source: azspot)

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

Eisenhower. (I wish ten million Americans would send this quote to President Obama.)

(Source: wilwheaton)

Spending cuts & the deficit: Let’s not forget all the money lost during the Bush years

underthemountainbunker:

Do we even know for sure how much money the Pentagon and Department of Defense lost during the Bush years? This lost money has contributed in a big way to our deficit… where was the Repulican/Teaparty outcry over this news?

  • Fed News Radio | July 2010: The Defense Department is unable to account for $8.7 billion of the $9.1 billion in Development Fund for Iraq monies in received for reconstruction in Iraq. This according to a study published today by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

More amusing, given this information, the Republican/Teaparty House members are bringing another continuing resolution to the floor for a vote today (a bill written to be rejected by the Democrats) with one of the requirements being that the Department of Defense will be funded through the remainder of the year!

There wasn’t a threat of a government shutdown back then or threats to not raise the Debt Limit until someone “found” the money. Why not?

motherjones:

House GOP leaders triumphantly announced a plan to cut the defense budget: no more color photocopies!
No, seriously. And we wondered: How does that measure up with the rest of America’s military spending? Well, the money the GOP is saving could:
Run the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for about 2.5 hours.
Buy 8.6 percent of a fighter jet. One (1). Fighter. Jet.
Cover the cost of one-sixth of the Tomahawk missiles we’ve lobbed at Libya…so far.
Purchase a crapload of Humvees that the Army doesn’t want…but a GOP congressman is forcing them to buy, because the vehicle’s maker donates a lot to his campaign fund.
We’ve put it all in visual form for you here. The original story lives here. Check ‘em out, pass ‘em on.


They are so brave to take on the defense budget like that. It’s about time they reign in the out of control printing costs… Wait, what?

motherjones:

House GOP leaders triumphantly announced a plan to cut the defense budget: no more color photocopies!

No, seriously. And we wondered: How does that measure up with the rest of America’s military spending? Well, the money the GOP is saving could:

We’ve put it all in visual form for you here. The original story lives here. Check ‘em out, pass ‘em on.

They are so brave to take on the defense budget like that. It’s about time they reign in the out of control printing costs… Wait, what?