Sunday, September 25, 2016

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

C'mon, You Nonbelievers: VOTE!

Seriously?  Turnout 10 points lower than average?  Are you fucking kidding me? You know what that means?

It means that atheists and all the other Nones are TO BLAME for the repug/freakazoid/know-nothing takeover of this country.

Yes, all you non-believers: unless you are voting in every election including primaries and specials, and voting in every single race, this repug catastrophe we've been suffering for the past 40 years is YOUR FAULT.

Christopher Ingraham takes a look at a recent survey of atheists and agnostics and asks, "Why don't the unaffiliated vote?"
As Pew Research Center's Greg Smith told me earlier this year, "It could be the 'nones' are not connected, almost by definition, to religious institutions, which can play an important role in spurring turnout and interest in politics." It's also the case that the unaffiliated tend to be younger than the population as a whole. And younger people in general are less likely to vote than their older peers.
If you are aware at all of what goes on at churches, those motherfuckers TURN OUT.  Voting - voting repug - is a fucking sacrament to them.  If you're not voting, you're handing the country and the future of us all over to the people who represent the absolute worst of America and humanity.
As President Obama likes to say, "Don't boo, vote." If you're unhappy with the influence that conservative Christians have on American politics, go out and vote for someone who's more likely to favor evidence-based policy than faith-based policy. If you're not willing to do that, then don't gripe the next time some yahoo manages to get evolution expunged from your local textbooks.

Political Correctness

If you're not reading the Rude Pundit every day, you're missing some of the best political truth-speaking out there.
In other words, "political correctness" is now shorthand for the rule of law, for civil rights, for the guarantees of fair treatment in the fucking Constitution. You can throw that into the catch-all bucket for the phrase, along with not being able to say "nigger" or "fag" with abandon, treating immigrants like human beings, and sexing up the lady employees being a no-no.

Fucking hell, times change. Civilizations advance. What you once thought was fine is now fucked up. That's the way it goes. The march of progress, as we once liked to call it. You don't fucking spear the bull anymore because we know that's fucked up. And if you don't think it's fucked up, you're fucked up. And we get to say that because we're the ones who want the world to move forward. You're the ones who want to hold it back or send it back to a mythical time of greatness.

You just came up with a fancy way to make being a dick sound like a you're taking a mighty stand when, really, you're just a dick. It's so convenient and so useful.

At this point, Trump could fuck the corpse of that drowned Syrian toddler at a rally, and, when people responded with revulsion and anger, his idiot hordes would say that it's just political correctness, not that baby corpse fucking is, in and of itself, wrong.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

KY Supreme Court to Bevin: Stop Strip-Mining State Economy

Really, the best part of all of these court decisions stomping on Gov. Lying Coward's balls is how his propaganda shop responds exactly the way any democratically-elected five-year-old would.

Kentucky's highest court has ruled against a recent round of higher education budget cuts made by Gov. Matt Bevin, which touched off an increasingly hostile legal battle with Attorney General Andy Beshear.

The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled 5-2 Thursday to reverse a Franklin Circuit Court decision to uphold the cuts, which Beshear has repeatedly argued are illegal.

The Supreme Court's conclusion states that "the Governor's reduction of the allotments of the Universities in this case exceeded his statutory authority to revise allotments under KRS 48.620(1) and his authority to withhold allotments under KRS 45.253(4)."

"Whatever authority he might otherwise have to require a budget unit not to spend appropriated funds does not extend to the Universities, which the legislature has made independent bodies politic with control over their own expenditures," the ruling continued. "We therefore do not reach the question of whether his actions were constitutional, as the statutes do not give him the authority to act as he proposed. For these reasons, the Franklin Circuit Court's order upholding the Governor's actions is reversed, and this matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."

Beshear released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court's ruling.

"Today, the Supreme Court enforced Kentucky law, reminding us that 'the governor, like everyone, is bound by the law.' Based on today’s ruling, I am calling on Gov. Bevin to immediately release the $18 million he wrongfully withheld from our public colleges and universities. As the court stated, it is my job as Attorney General 'to vindicate the public rights of the people of the Commonwealth, and I will continue to do so. I am also calling on the governor’s office to use today's ruling as a turning point. It is time for him to stop attacking, and to instead join me in building a better Kentucky. We live in a state where far too many of our children are abused. Our seniors face daily scams that seek to rob them of their hard-earned savings. Thousands of victims of sexual assault have been denied justice based on our rape kit backlog. And our communities face the most deadly drug epidemic imaginable. These are the problems Kentuckians expect us to address, and they are problems that all of us — Democrats, Republicans or independents — can address together. So I would hope that after today, the nasty press releases and name-calling stop, and the governor joins us for the real work that needs to be done to help Kentucky families."

In March, Bevin made an immediate 4.5 percent cut in state spending for colleges and universities in order to ease the burden of the state's $30 billion pension debt at the time.

In April, Bevin lowered the cuts to $18 million— about 2 percent — and restored funding to Kentucky State University. But although Bevin reduced the cuts, Beshear said they were still illegal.
From the trumpist toddler's press release:
"We are disappointed in the Court’s decision today and strongly disagree with its reasoning. The Attorney General clearly does not understand the severity of the pension problem which became the nation's worst funded plan under the watch of his father's administration. 
You already know every word of it is lies. 

Yes, Kentucky's state pension system is a mess.  It's a mess because for more than 20 years - including four years under repug governor Ernie Fletcher and more than a decade with a repug-run state senate - Kentucky has failed to properly fund the pension system as required by law.

The general assembly failed to fund the pension system because it was way easier to steal money from impoverished retirees than to address the Commonwealth's third-world tax system that strips workers of hard-earned income to let millionaires and billionaires - like Matt Bevin - skate.

When is Terrorism Not Terrorism? When It's White and christian.

But because Cary Lee Ogborn is a 50-year-old white guy who plotted to blow up a building, he gets a few paragraphs in the Houston Chronicle and nobody cares to ask "Where was he radicalized?" or questions about his religion or his international travel or if Houston police should be racially profiling middle-aged white men.  Nobody is on CNN or FOX or MSNBC asking if Christianity is really just a terrorist ideology masquerading as religion and if it should actually receive any First Amendment protections as a result, or whether we should just accepting Christians at all in this country, and maybe deport all the Christians we already have here just to be safe.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Opinion vs. Theory

Every time I hear some repug or freakazoid say she doesn't "believe" in a scientific fact like global warming or evolution - or even the non-existence of biological "race" - because it's just a theory, I want to ask if she "believes" in the theory of gravity. 
I have a theory, too.  My theory is that creationists are people who did not do well at science in school and want the answer to every question on the science test to be, “You know, God.”
I sure wish more people understood the meaning of theory in science, but at least Piers Sellers does a good job of explaining the concept. I try to hammer into my students (as my teachers hammered into me) the primacy of evidence — observation and measurement — but evidence always has to be for or against something, and that something is theory. You can’t have a theory without evidence, and you can’t have evidence without a theory to give it meaning. So I’m always happy to see another explanation of this core concept of science.
Fundamentally, a theory in science is not just a whim or an opinion; it is a logical construct of how we think something works, generally agreed upon by scientists and always in agreement with the available observations. A good example is Isaac Newton’s theory of gravitation, which says that every physical object in the universe exerts a gravity force field around itself, with the strength of that field depending on its mass. The theory—one simple equation—does a superb job of explaining our observations of how planets orbit around the sun, and was more than good enough to make the calculations we needed to send spacecraft to the moon and elsewhere. Einstein improved on Newton’s theory when it comes to large-scale astronomical phenomena, but, for everyday engineering use, Newton’s physics works perfectly well, even though it is more than three hundred years old.
One danger of the public misunderstanding of this idea is that they do equate theory and opinion; they tear down successful theories with rhetoric and ignorance, and they also elevate nonsense by labeling it, without comprehension, a theory. And I could piss in the snow and call it a book, too.
But theories are abstract, after all, so it’s easy for people to get tricked into thinking that because something is based on theory, it could very likely be wrong or is debatable in the same way that a social issue is debatable. This is incorrect. Almost all the accepted theories that we use in the physical and biological sciences are not open to different interpretations depending on someone’s opinion, internal beliefs, gut feelings, or lobbying. In the science world, two and two make four. To change or modify a theory, as Einstein’s theories modified Newton’s, takes tremendous effort and a huge weight of experimental evidence.
This is something that should be explained to everyone visiting Answers in Genesis and their horrible dishonest “museum” and “ark park”. The central argument Ken Ham always makes is a demolition of the whole concept of theory — he claims that any alternative explanation, no matter how much it ignores the evidence, is a theory, and all theories are equal, and therefore, his bizarre, highly subjective and ideologically driven interpretation of the words of his holy book are just as much deserving of the title of “theory” as the hard-earned, constantly tested, well-supported by evidence theory of evolution.
And that’s dangerous. Ken Ham uses the degradation of theory to peddle nonsense to the rubes and make money and promote his narrow religion, but as the article explains, it’s also being used to corrupt decision-making about climate that endangers every human being on the planet.

1,500 Years Ahead

reblogged from diverseatheism

Saturday, September 17, 2016

RFK Shredded Trump's Economic Plan 50 Years Ago

Yeah, the Orange Menace is going to create 25 million jobs (sic) by eliminating the food and work safety regulations that keep us alive and turning the Treasury over to his billionaire friends so we can beat Somalia on the Galtian Paradise scale.

Donald Trump is running on the erroneous belief that ending regulations, particularly environmental ones, is the key to faster economic growth. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY), who was assassinated June 6, 1968, explained just how misguided that view was just weeks before he was killed.

U.S. economic growth has emerged as a major issue in the presidential campaign. Donald Trump has many untenable ideas, as the Washington Post explained in an April piece headlined, “There is math, there is fantasy math, and then there’s Donald Trump’s economic math.”

That article quoted an economist at the Tax Foundation (who helped model Trump’s tax plan) saying, “It’s not consistent with historical experience. It’s more consistent with a world where we’re hiring butlers for our vacation homes on Ganymede” [Jupiter’s largest moon].”
I wanted to zero in on one of Donald Trump’s fictional strategies for boosting economic growth: As he explained last month to CNBC, “we’re going to be getting rid of a tremendous amount of regulations.”

In particular, when Fox News’ Chris Wallace pressed Trump in March on how he’d cut the federal budget, Trump answered “Department of Environmental Protection [sic]. We are going to get rid of it in almost every form.”

In reality, slashing regulations, particularly regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, would be very counterproductive, as a 2015 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) report to Congress made clear. The OMB found that ten years’ worth of major Federal regulations provided annual benefits to the nation (in 2001 dollars) of between $216 billion and $812 billion, while the estimated annual costs were only between $57 billion and $85 billion.

Of that, EPA regulations delivered the majority of benefits ($132.5 to $652 billion) but only about half the costs ($31 to $37.5 billion).

Of course, lots of those benefits were things like reduced health care costs because the air got cleaner — and those benefits don’t show up in our primary measure of economic growth, GDP. Indeed, reducing sickness and death actually lowers GDP.

Who can doubt that our wildly unsustainable global economic system is now the biggest of Ponzi schemes — where the economy appears to grow faster the more we burn fossil fuels and destroy a livable climate?

Robert F. Kennedy explained why GDP is a useless measure of economic well-being back in the 1960s.

Robert Kennedy was one of the few national politicians ever to challenge our monomaniacal pursuit of GDP to the exclusion of true economic well-being. In Detroit on May 5, 1967 he pointed out: “Let us be clear at the outset that we will find neither national purpose nor personal satisfaction in a mere continuation of economic progress, in an endless amassing of worldly goods.”
Weeks before he was killed, he spoke on this subject at the University of Kansas, March 18, 1968 — in what President Obama called “one of the most beautiful of his speeches.”
Here are the key lines:
Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product — if we judge the United States of America by that — that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.
It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.
It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.
It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.
And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.
When you take this view of economic well-being, a President Trump could well bring this country greatest depression we have ever known.

Now We Have Proof That Charter Schools Are Worse Than You Thought

Any day now, some trumpist repug in the Kentucky General Assembly is going to file a bill to mandate that Kentucky public schools turn over all their funding to corporations and freakazoid creationist outfits to run charter schools.

Let's get our fact ducks in a row now to abort this abomination before it passes second trimester.

The evidence is now abundantly clear in a number of states: As it is presently constituted, the charter school movement is far better as an entry vehicle for fraud and corruption than it is for educating children. The fact that the charter industry is fighting to maintain its independent control over taxpayer funds is proof that the industry knows it, too.
The Nation:
Geetha Nambissan, a professor of sociology in education at Jawaharlal Nehru University, calls these PPPs “a ‘creeping’ form of privatisation where private organisations are given easy access to public institutions and resources while not subjecting them to public scrutiny.”
Are charter school operators motherfucking racists? Is the Orange Menace a psychopathic liar?  Erik Loomis:
With charter schools educating as many as half the students in some American cities, they have been championed as a lifeline for poor black children stuck in failing traditional public schools.
But now the nation’s oldest and newest black civil rights organizations are calling for a moratorium on charter schools.
Their demands, and the outcry that has ensued, expose a divide among blacks that goes well beyond the now-familiar complaints about charters’ diverting money and attention from traditional public schools.
In separate conventions over the past month, the N.A.A.C.P. and the Movement for Black Lives, a group of 50 organizations assembled by Black Lives Matter, passed resolutions declaring that charter schools have exacerbated segregation, especially in the way they select and discipline students.
They portray charters as the pet project of foundations financed by white billionaires, and argue that the closing of traditional schools as students migrate to charters has disproportionately disrupted black communities.
There’s also the many problems with how charter schools operate:
Although charters are supposed to admit students by lottery, some effectively skim the best students from the pool, with enrollment procedures that discourage all but the most motivated parents to apply. Some charters have been known to nudge out their most troubled students.
That, the groups supporting a moratorium say, concentrates the poorest students in public schools that are struggling for resources.
Charter schools “are allowed to get away with a lot more,” said Hiram Rivera, an author of the Black Lives platform and the executive director of the Philadelphia Student Union.
Charters are slightly more likely to suspend students than traditional public schools, according to an analysis of federal data this year. And black students in charter schools are four times as likely to be suspended as their white peers, according to the data analysis, putting them in what Mr. Brooks calls the “preschool to prison pipeline.”
Another platform author, Jonathan Stith, the national coordinator for the Alliance for Educational Justice, chose a charter school in Washington for one of his children because it promised an Afrocentric curriculum. But he began to see the school driving out students. It was difficult, he said, for parents to push back against the private boards that run the schools.
“Where you see the charters providing an avenue of escape for some, it hasn’t been for the majority,” he said.
Mr. Stith came to think the money would be better spent on fixing the traditional public school system.
Once again, the problem of education is the problems of poverty and inequality. If you want to improve public education, you don’t give over public monies and responsibility to private entities. You work to fix poverty. But where’s the money for that? Plus if you fixed poverty there might be room for teachers’ unions and we couldn’t have that now, could we. After all, who is more concerned about a child’s education, a Silicon Valley investor or a teacher trying to reach out to a children and pay her mortgage at the same time?