Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.
"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."
“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.
“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
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.
BAGHDAD — If there were such a thing, it would probably be rule No. 1 in the teaching manual for instructors of aspiring suicide bombers: Don’t give lessons with live explosives.
In what represented a cautionary tale for terrorist teachers, and a cause of dark humor for ordinary Iraqis, a commander at a secluded terrorist training camp north of Baghdad unwittingly used a belt packed with explosives while conducting a demonstration early Monday for a group of militants, killing himself and 21 other members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, army and police officials said.
The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.
I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.
In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.
Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown our any logically based intentions [unclear], it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.
Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.
As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”
I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.
If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.
Statement by Bradley Manning read after his sentancing, by his lawyer David Coombs (via mollycrabapple)
Tony Perkins: "If Congress wants to stop these tragedies, then it has to address the government’s own hostility to the institution of the family and organizations that can address the real problem: the human heart. As I’ve said before, America doesn’t need gun control, it needs self-control. And a Congress that actively discourages it—through abortion, family breakdown, sexual liberalism, or religious hostility—is only compounding the problem."
Are you a feminist? Do you support a woman’s right to choose? Are you a single parent? Do you support gay adoption? Do you have unmarried or homosexual sex? Do you oppose an employers right to dictate the terms of their employees healthcare coverage based on their own religious objections?
If you answered yes to any of that, Tony Perkins and the FRC think you share some blame for Newtown and Boston. You thought you were just sharing your life with the person you love, or supporting your friends in doing the same… who would have thought you were actually supporting domestic terrorism!? I guess it’s a thought that only occurs to the the most reactionary right-wingers.
1. White terrorists are called “gunmen.” What does that even mean? A person with a gun? Wouldn’t that be, like, everyone in the US? Other terrorists are called, like, “terrorists.”2. White terrorists are “troubled loners.” Other terrorists are always suspected of being part of a global plot, even when they are obviously troubled loners.3. Doing a study on the danger of white terrorists at the Department of Homeland Security will get you sidelined by angry white Congressmen. Doing studies on other kinds of terrorists is a guaranteed promotion.4. The family of a white terrorist is interviewed, weeping as they wonder where he went wrong. The families of other terrorists are almost never interviewed.5. White terrorists are part of a “fringe.” Other terrorists are apparently mainstream.6. White terrorists are random events, like tornadoes. Other terrorists are long-running conspiracies.7. White terrorists are never called “white.” But other terrorists are given ethnic affiliations.8. Nobody thinks white terrorists are typical of white people. But other terrorists are considered paragons of their societies.9. White terrorists are alcoholics, addicts or mentally ill. Other terrorists are apparently clean-living and perfectly sane.10. There is nothing you can do about white terrorists. Gun control won’t stop them. No policy you could make, no government program, could possibly have an impact on them. But hundreds of billions of dollars must be spent on police and on the Department of Defense, and on TSA, which must virtually strip search 60 million people a year, to deal with other terrorists.
Anti-abortion violence has been a critical part of the so-called culture wars since the 70s. And it raises profound issues that as a democratic society, built on a constitutional system and carefully constructed culture of religious pluralism, we have dealt with poorly.
Although the vast majority of anti-abortion leaders condemn violence and consider acts of violence to undermine their cause; serious crimes, including acts of violence against abortion providers continue. Most recently, there have been three burglaries and two arsons against Atlanta area clinics and the offices of ob gyn physicians, making regionalnews. However, the doctors who have been victims of the burglaries and one of the arsons believe that although they do not perform abortions, they were being targeted in retaliation for public opposition to antiabortion “fetal pain” legislation recently signed by the governor.
These are the actions of terrorists.
Terrorism for damn sure.
The failures of Congress, or for that matter the (to quote…ahem…Sarah Palin) “lamestream press” to pay any heed to these myriad [transpartisan] voices [of dissent against the NDAA] suggests a process problem even beyond military detention. If our elected leaders are beholden to executive power and hellbent on eroding the judiciary’s (and their own) ability to check future abuses, does it even matter what We the People do?
It’s a bit like watching a Republic fall apart at the seams, in slow motion.