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Trump Continues to Double Down

Yet again we find that the former President must rely on doubling down, rather than trying to own his errors. Because the man cannot possibly do anything that makes himself look weak to his followers, he’s again taken to his social media platform to try and spin his way out of his own mess. Expect that he continues to push this kind of nonsense:

The Fake News is actually trying to convince the American People that I said I wanted to “terminate” the Constitution. This is simply more DISINFORMATION & LIES, just like RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA, and all of their other HOAXES & SCAMS. What I said was that when there is “MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION,” as has been irrefutably proven in the 2020 Presidential Election, steps must be immediately taken to RIGHT THE WRONG. Only FOOLS would disagree with that and accept STOLEN ELECTIONS. MAGA!

Former President Trump

Disinformation and lies you say Donny? Gee, I don’t know what you call it when you said that we should “[terminate all] rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.” Sounds to me like you’re saying that we should terminate the Constitution. Don’t know what exactly is fake news about it. Maybe some enlightened reader can help me out, because I just don’t see it. Just because you have repeatedly claimed that the 2020 election was stolen (without providing any credible evidence to back up your claim) doesn’t mean it was stolen. The fake news, ironically, is you. The hoaxes and scams are your repeated lies about the election results.

While you can probably dupe your conservative evangelical supporters, who usually believe anything you say, the rest of us aren’t so easily swayed by simply repeating an allegation over and over, ad nauseam.

Face it Donny – you lost. You’re a big, fat, ketchup throwing, losing loser who lost. Maybe we can top this all off with a couple of nice indictment too.

Every American Voter Ought to Read This Quote

So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great “Founders” did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!

Donald Trump on Truth Social

Read this sentence over again and again until it becomes clear to you what Trump is saying in his unhinged rant: “A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.”

In other words, a claim about election fraud, which has shown itself to be little more than a lie perpetrated by Trump and his crew, ought to be enough to suspend the Constitution. If this kind of thing doesn’t scare the shit out of you, it really should, given that this man was President and is attempting to run for President again.

How can I put this simply? How about: There was no election fraud – it was all a giant lie, and now we have this straight from the horses mouth: It’s obvious that he wanted (and still wants) to subvert the Constitution for his own political ambition and ego. I think it’s really that simple. Trump doesn’t care about the Constitution, or the rule of law – he only cares about himself and power.

What should also scare people is that 40% of the American public still believes that the 2020 election was stolen, despite no credible evidence to the claim. It’s clear that people are easily swayed by claims without any evidence (which is why I ask people to embrace skepticism.) I don’t understand how anybody can say they support the Constitution and are still willing to support Trump?

If you have the power to vote in American elections, make sure that you hold the torch to every single candidate that has supported Trump since January 6th. Put their feet to the fire when it comes to candidates that have pushed election conspiracy theories. Every one of these people are dangerous, and none of them should be allowed near the levers of power, and it is up to the voters to make sure of that. Voters are the single best defense against the threat that MAGA represents.

The Bankrupting of Cities

I found this interesting video talking about how the growth of low density, car dependent, suburban housing is causing cities (predominantly in the US) to go bankrupt. Watch the video below for an explanation of why.

My thoughts

According to the video, the main problem is that the cost of supporting the infrastructure in low density areas of cities are a net negative, while the highest density areas cost far less than the tax revenues that are generated.. Build too many low density areas, particularly with lots of roads, and the cost can start to sink the city. Fortunately, some cities have figured this out and are starting to find ways out of the urban sprawl death trap.

Building cities that are not so car dependent is good for everyone. While it’s important to shift ourselves away from fossil fuels, because of the environmental cost of climate change, I do not see that electric vehicles and more low density urban sprawl are the answer. At best EV’s are a stop gap that will help a little bit, but ultimately we need to get people living in neighborhoods that significantly reduce car dependency. I have long been of the opinion that our dependency on and addiction to personal private transportation is one of the most destructive forces that humans have created.

Your thoughts

What are your thought? If you live in a city, do you want to live in a higher density area that reduces your dependency on owning a car? Do you live in suburbia and love it? How do you feel about how your lifestyle may be subsidized by others in your city?

More Apologetic Nonsense

The following was posted on Twi***r, and reposted by Capturing Christianity, from Christian apologists Josh Rasmussen:

A priori, it is strange and unlike that I exist. Empirically, there are no peer reviewed scientific studies that verify my existence. Belief in my existence is fringe — most scientists don’t even know about it.

Carry On.

This is what Christian apologetics, and philosophy, have brought us. That belief in Josh Rasmussen is a fringe scientific position. Shake my head.

Yes, a priori it is incredibly unlikely that any particular person should be born, but this is also a really silly point as well, as the a priori concerns itself with the meaning of words, and how human constructed concepts relate to one another, rather than whether something exists. The same can be said about just about everything, whether it’s the internet, a particular book, whatever. The point is, and I cannot stress this enough: We do not determine that things exist by using a priori methods (as Kant pointed out centuries ago: “existence is not a predicate”), rather determining what exists is the realm of the a posteriori.where evidence is the primary basis for conclusions. So right off the bat, this post seems to go off the rails.

To the second sentence of this post, I’m reminded of what one of my professors told me years ago: “You don’t send a man to do a boys job.” In this case, you don’t setup a peer reviewable study to determine if a particular human exists when we have much easier, and more informal, methods of doing the same thing. It’s a bit like hiring the worlds best chef to cook a bowl of oatmeal. Science works by creating models and then using those models to attempt to make testable predictions about reality. To use such a methodology to determine if a particular human exists is (to put it mildly) overkill. Is there some causal relationship about Dr Rasmussen that you want to study? If not, science isn’t the right tool.

So what is this post trying to say. I suspect it’s somehow supposed to be making a point against non-believers who point to the lack of good evidence for God as a reason to not believe, and say that “but hey, there’s not much reason to believe I exist, yet I do.” Here’s my problem: We know people exist, and that lots of people have existed across human history, the vast majority of them have completely disappeared into history without a trace, yet we know that humans exist.

When we looks at God, or any god, we have no objective evidence that any of them have ever existed, yet regularly hear from believers that God is a causal force for all kinds of things, where science would be appropriate to use as an examination tool. Given what Christians tell me they believe about God, I think I’m well justified in rejecting the idea completely, given how incompatible God is with the reality that we see. For instance:

  • God is all powerful and all loving, yet there is suffering and even gratuitous suffering
  • God wants to have a relationship with us, yet is so hidden as to be indistinguishable from the non-existent
  • God is all powerful, yet no religion stands out as one as obviously correct, let alone that Christianity (or any Abrahamic religion) is correct

Comparing the existence of a human with the existence of God is stupid, and only serves to show how dishonest religious apologists truly are. “Carry on” you say? I think I will, and continue to give apologists the scorn and derision they deserve.

Another Argument for, er, Something

A Probabilistic Argument for Theism from Persons

(1) There are persons.
(2) If reality is not fundamentally personal, there would very likely not be any persons.
(3) If reality is fundamentally personal, it’s not nearly as unlikely that there would be persons.
(4) Therefore, the existence of persons is evidence for reality being fundamentally personal.

Capturing Christianity

I found the above argument posted on the “Community” section of the Capturing Christianity YouTube channel. The argument is, well, rather strange to me, because it doesn’t even appear to be an argument for theism as, sadly, the words “theist”, or “theism”, or even “god”, never once appears in the argument. Naturally, this leads me to a bunch of questions.

What does it mean to say that reality is “fundamentally personal”? What exactly is the difference between a reality that is fundamentally personal, and one that is merely personal, or even not personal? Definitions matter, so it’s important that I understand what is being discussed before I can even think about accepting the argument. As it stands it’s an argument that uses vague terms that require clarification, so I’ll not be convinced without more information.

Second, how did you go about determining that reality is “fundamentally personal”? What criteria make it so? What criteria would falsify this position?

Also, how does one go about figuring out that reality must be personal in order for it to be likely that there would be persons within the universe, or that if reality wasn’t personal that it’s unlikely there would be persons? Can anyone demonstrate the truth of this claim? Given that we have exactly one reality, and no apparent way to alter such a fundamental thing, I fail to see how one can justify this premise without just baldly asserting it. I certainly see little reason to accept premises 2 and 3. Show me the data that makes these claims true.

And finally, how do I go from “reality is fundamentally personal” to “therefore theism is true”, which is the point that Christian theists are fundamentally trying to make? How exactly does one leap from one to the other? As far as I see, this argument would actually be better suited towards justifying pantheism – the universe being divine – rather than something like Christian theism. So why does CC see this as an argument that favors theism? It really doesn’t make lot of sense to me.

What about you? Do you have other questions, or see other glaring problems with this line of argument? If you’re not a believer, does it start to make you think of changing your mind? If you’re a believer, does this seem like a good argument to you? If you think this is a good argument for God, why? Let me know.

Loretta Lynn, a Believer, and God

WOW, this is crazy… If you don’t believe in God, it will make you question, and if you do believe in God, it will affirm His presence… What happened? Well, this morning, when I stirred at 7:00 a.m., I sat up in bed and, out of the blue, asked Siri about Loretta Lynn… “How old is she?” I said, but without ANY IDEA that she had passed away… None. I sat awhile thinking of her, of what a sweet lady she is… For unknown reasons, my thoughts turned to her… Then, amazingly, from Mom, I received a text: Rest In Peace, Loretta Lynn… 😳. Did God tell my subconscious, He had taken her home? I believe He did, and, yes, it’s AMAZING!! 🎻🙏🎻

Evangelical Christian poster on Facebook

This is something I saw several days ago, and I wanted to take a few minutes to dissect this nonsense.

So let’s see if I understand this correctly. A person woke up one morning, asked a question, and got an unexpected answer, got a text message about the same person famous person from their mother a moment later, and this somehow shows that God put that message into their head? Nothing here strikes me as extremely unlikely, so it’s a bit puzzling to me that somebody can draw such a conclusion from so little information. Naturally, this post leaves me with questions.

Frankly, how is it that they determined that it was God that caused them to want to find out the answer to this question? What makes God the most likely answer, or even a remotely plausible answer, rather than anything else? What about some kind of demon, or other malevolent force? What about a god from another religion? We also know that our memory is quite malleable, so are they even sure their memory is what they think it is? Frankly, how did they rule out other phenomena like ESP or telepathy? There are so many other possible explanations, yet for some reason they are convinced this is the work of God.

I think a more important question to ask here is how this person figured out that it wasn’t just a strange set of coincidences? We know that coincidences happen all of the time, but yet it looks like the poster has attached some particular significance to this set. We have many millions of events happen to us every single day, so it shouldn’t be that surprising that every once in a while a number of these events line up peculiarly, and look significant. From my outsider perspective, it looks like they had a few related events happen within a short period of time, dared not to think too hard about it, and immediately chalked it up to God. It really seems like the poster is falling victim to his own credulity and confirmation biases.

But let’s suppose that it was God that delivered this message to them. Why this particular message and at this particular time? Of all the things that God could reveal, all so much more important, the death of some country singer, which would have discovered within another moment, was somehow at the top of the list? Why send this message to just them, and why not the rest of us? If God revealed this to his subconscious, it seems like a giant cosmic joke in my eyes.

Do I, as a nonbeliever, question whether this was God at work, or think that it’s crazy? Not really – actually not even close. This seems pretty mundane, if only very slightly interesting, but certainly nothing that makes me think God (or anything supernatural) is at work. How would anyone even begin to show a causal connection between an entity we cannot study (and don’t even know exists), and a bunch of loosely related event?

I’m often struck by how often credulous believers will appeal to weak anecdotes and then allow their confirmation bias to take over. It’s really no surprise that they find meaning in so many things when they are willing to attribute meaning to almost anything. If this was the work of the Christian God then I am, to put it mildly, severely unimpressed and underwhelmed. If this is what God does then God seems impotent.

Birthright Citizenship in the US

Birthright citizenship is a moral AND legal abomination… No nation on Earth REWARDS lawbreakers by granting CITIZENSHIP to their kids if they’re born on U.S. soil… The entire premise is INSANE — Birthright Citizenship must END, and it SHOULD NOT be controversial.

Conservative poster on Facebook

I found this little doozie on Facebook today. What I find so fascinating, and yet mindbogglingly insane, is that the poster of this bit of pompous personal opinion calls himself someone who respects the constitution, and “loves freedom”, yet seems to believe that the 14th amendment is a much less important part of the constitution when compared against his most favored second amendment, or his freedom of religion clause of the first amendment.

I think that good part of the problem with conservative Christians, like the poster of this tidbit of verbal vomit, is that they read the constitution like they ready the Bible – only the parts that they really like are emphasized and remembered, while the parts they do not like are utterly ignored and forgotten about. Apparently cherry-picking isn’t just a job for low paid foreign workers.

And yes, it should be very much controversial to just declare that an entire section of the constitution be eliminated, no questions asked. If that’s how it works, perhaps we should just eliminate your second amendment rights while we’re at it. Why should that action be controversial when there are only three countries (Mexico and Guatemala being the other two) in the world that grant people the right to own guns in their constitution, yet 33 countries (interesting that Mexico and Guatemala are also in that list) allow for unrestricted birthright citizenship, meaning that, yes you ignorant buffoon, “lawbreakers” are “rewarded” for their birthplace tourism in a number of countries. That you don’t like it doesn’t make it immoral, or mean that everyone should agree with you.

The confounding level of ignorance, displayed by fundamentalist Christian conservatives, never ceases to amaze me.

Goodbye Liz Cheney

According to NBC News Liz Cheney has lost her primary for the one House of Representatives seat in Wyoming to her Trump supporting challenger. This isn’t much of a shock, given how Trump won the state so handily in the 2020 election, and the population is mostly rural.

About the only good thing I can say about Liz Cheney is that she was able to put her principles over her career, and warned her fellow Republicans of how much of a threat Donald Trump is to the Republic. For that bit of bravery, which is sadly what virtually no other Republican has been willing to do, I commend her. But here’s the thing that bugs me: We shouldn’t have to commend people for pointing out that a corrupt goon, who tried to hold onto power by starting a coup with his unhinged lies, is dangerous. We shouldn’t need to congratulate people for pointing out what is otherwise obvious. It’s like patting people on the back because they recognize that water is wet and shit stinks.

And so Wyoming starts a new chapter, with a conspiracy theorist, almost certain to take her seat in the House of Representatives, who believes that the 2020 election was stolen from the former President, despite the fact that we have had piles of Republican witnesses at the January 6th hearings tell us that they knew DJT lost the election. It seems that some people just don’t want to accept reality, and would rather cling to some vain hope that they can pray hard enough, and that their prayers will bring the former President back into the Oval Office. While the prayers won’t do much of anything, the voting for people who are willing to throw the rules away should be a more serious concern.

As for Liz Cheney, shedding tears is for her loss is not something I plan to. She’s a rich woman from a well established family, with deep ties to the Republican party. She lost her seat, but she’s very likely to be fine (assuming that the MAGAT’s don’t decide to try and kill her.) There are much bigger things to worry about.

Goodbye Liz. I’ll miss you only because I’m sure that your replacement will be a complete whack job. But such is to be expected from Trump country, and people who put the desires for a cult leader before the rule of law.

What a Week!

Two huge stories in the news this week that really shook things up a bit.

Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie, a writer and atheist, was attacked and stabbed multiple times on the stage at an event in New York, and is in critical condition in hospital. Since the 1980’s Rushdie has had to endure the threat of death because he dared to write something that was considered offensive to some Muslims.

Nobody, absolutely nobody, should ever have to fear for their life for writing something that causes and risks no harm to others, even if it offends their particular set of religious beliefs. Nobody should have to fear for their life because they exercised their right to free expression. If God is so concerned then God can deal with it.

Islam, as a whole, needs to come out of the sixth century and embrace the modern ideals of freedom of expression. All Muslims should have the right to embrace apostasy, should they wish, without fear for their lives. If the modern values of freedom of expression ever do find their way into mainstream Islamic thought they will almost certainly, like Christians, retcon these ideas into their holy book, as they so often do. “Those ideas were always there, we’ve just now discovered them” much like their apologists do with modern scientific discoveries, and like Christians do with ideas like slavery.

The very idea that an all powerful God would decided to reveal its desires to the world through an illiterate merchant is nothing short of baffling to me. It certainly speaks highly to the power of indoctrination, and that critical thinking need not be applied.

Regardless, my sincere best wishes to Mr Rushdie, and his family. May modern medicine help him recover from this, and may the person who attempted to kill him be locked away where they cannot harm others who express themselves.

Donald Trump

The legal troubles continue to pile up for the former President of the United States. After the FBI executed a search warrant on his Mar-a-Lago residence, they recovered a large number of boxes of TS-SCI documents, some of which were improperly securely. The walls appear to be closing in around the former President, and he appears to face no end to his legal woes.

Make no mistake, finding these documents on Trump’s property is a serious breach of national security, and he’s likely to face federal prosecution for this. If Trump were anyone but a former President he would almost certainly have already been arrested, and now would be sitting in a federal prison facing interrogation to find out who those documents had been leaked to.

This event has also caused a complete uproar among the MAGAT crowd, with claims that this is some kind of political smear job to discredit the former President, and help his political rival Joe Biden, but there’s nothing new about conspiracy theories and this crowd. We’ve already seen one MAGAT attack an FBI field office, and the party of “back the blue” is now unironically calling for the abolition of the FBI.

If one thing is certain it’s that the MAGAT crowd will continue to do everything they can to rationalize away the problems with the activities of the former President. They will simply deny, no matter the evidence put in front of them, that anything criminal ever took place with their orange messiah. Denialism is always at the front and center of that cult. Nothing is allowed to tarnish their chosen one. It should be interesting to hear what new excuses the professional Trump apologists will come up with next.

I also look forward to seeing how Trump behaves as he starts to realize just how bad his legal situation is becoming. Expect that he will whip his loyalists into a frenzy to protect himself, and throw everyone and everything under the bus in an effort of self preservation.

What to do About Joe Manchin?

For Democrats, it’s become incredibly difficult to do much of anything in congress, and the reason tends to come down to two senators who don’t seem to want to change much of anything – Kristen Sinema and Joe Manchin. Of the two, Manchin seems a bigger offender as he uses his position to make sure nothing is done about climate change.

I was looking around on social media recently and found a suggestion, by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, that the Democratic party should expel Joe Manchin. I think that this would be one of the dumbest, and short sighted, moves that could be made by Democrats, unless your objective is to simply hand over whatever little power Democrats still have.

With Democrats having control of the senate, expelling Manchin would mean that control of the senate would immediately pass over to Mitch McConnell. Have we forgotten so quickly how Mitch allowed bill after bill after bill to stack up and never be brought to the floor for debate or voting? Have we forgotten how he left Obama with no ability to fill vacancies on the courts that were almost immediately filled by his Republican successor? That’s basically the world that Democrats would be consigning the country to if they kicked Manchin out of the party at this stage. It would be a disaster for Democrats, as they would lose what little power they still have, and would turn a bad situation into a disaster.

So what should be done about Manchin? The answer appears to be simple, at least on the surface, although it will take hard work to implement: Democrat rank and file need to work hard to primary him, and setup somebody to replace him that can also win an election in West Virginia. No easy task. The state is highly conservative, yet has a very high rate of child poverty and other problems – things that Democrats should be able to build a foundation upon and promise to address.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m frustrated with Manchin, but kicking him out of the party, in a act of “you’re not progressive enough to be in our party” does nothing good for the country. Resist the temptation to cut off your entire arm to spite your finger. There are definitely better answers, and Reich’s idea serves nobody except those who are threatening to drive the country off a cliff and into an ocean of fascism.