Archive for March 1st, 2011

The real national security budget

| March 1, 2011 | Reply
The real national security budget

What does the U.S. spend on national security? It’s far more than the Pentagon’s budget of $700 billion. It’s actually more than 1.2 trillion, as reported by Christopher Hellman.

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Bradley Birkenfeld still serving prison sentence

| March 1, 2011 | Reply
Bradley Birkenfeld still serving prison sentence

What the federal government has done to whistle-blower Bradley Birkenfeld is one of the most outrageous things I’ve ever heard. He blew the whistle on UBS and thousands of tax cheats, and he ends up being the only person associated with that scam to serve significant time (thousands of prominent well-to-do tax cheats are still running loose). Birkenfeld deserves immediate clemency, and you can lend your voice to this effort to help him out. Here’s an earlier account with more sad details.

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Republican budget cuts would cut GDP growth and cost jobs

| March 1, 2011 | 6 Replies
Republican budget cuts would cut GDP growth and cost jobs

The Republican budget cuts would cut GDP growth by 2% and cost 800,000 jobs.

The federal budget cuts supported by the US House Republicans will stifle US economic growth by some 2% of the GDP and cost some 800,000 jobs. The state budgets cuts by Republican and other governors have caused .5% less growth in the US GDP in the 4th Quarter of 2011. It is apparent that Republicans are cutting spending at federal and state levels so they can defeat President Obama in 2012 because the worse the economy is, the better chances Republicans will defeat President Obama and make him a “one term president.”

The US House Speaker, John Boehner (R-OH) says; “So be it!”

Governor Mitch Daniels (R-IN), mentioned as a future GOP presidential nominee, told Meet The Press said; “…yes” to state budget cuts even if they would result in fewer jobs and less economic growth.

I guess the 2010 mid-term voters who voted for Republicans all thought that it would be a good thing for their Republican office holders to stall economic growth by 2% of GDP and cost some 800,000 jobs.

Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs?

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After the revolutions

| March 1, 2011 | Reply
After the revolutions

Over at Daylight Atheism, Ebonmuse discusses what comes after the dust settles in Egypt, Tunisia and potentially other countries in the Middle East, focusing on women’s rights.

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Teachers versus Bankers

| March 1, 2011 | Reply
Teachers versus Bankers

Jon Stewart weighs in:

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Useful fragile accidents

| March 1, 2011 | 42 Replies
Useful fragile accidents

I have long struggled to understand how it is that otherwise intelligent adults can make religious claims that make no sense at all. For instance, otherwise intelligent people will claim that Jesus walked on water, or that Mary had a baby even though she was a virgin. These claims have no factual basis. To my ears, these are ludicrous claims. How is it that the human intellect allows these things to be uttered? Well, perhaps the intellect barely tolerates this. The human intellect is a relatively weak Johnny-come-lately to our cognitive apparatus. What really drives our decision-making is a big elephant underneath a tiny lawyer. Each of us is a tiny lawyer riding a big elephant.

It turns out, however, that the elephant has almost irresistible power to reach up and invade the lawyer’s ability to articulate. It takes great training to resist the elephant and to maintain disciplined abstract self-critical thought.  When we speak words, then, it is rarely the lawyer in full command of the mouth. That elephant is smart in the sense that it was evolutionarily honed over many millions of years to allow us to survive; most of those years, we survived even though we were not even conscious. And that elephant is still powerful, compelling decision-making based upon millions of years of trial and error. And the intellect? We give it far too much credit, even though this is where humans can sometimes shine above and beyond the other animals. After all, other animals cannot calculate a 15% tip, and they cannot figure out how to invent medicines or discover DNA.

[More . . . ]

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