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    • What Toronto’s Election Means for Progressive Viability
      As many have heard, John Tory, the mainstream right wing candidate, won convincingly in Toronto and Olivia Chow came in third place, even doing worse than Doug Ford (brother of the famous crack-smoking Rob Ford.)  Much hand wringing has ensued that progressive just can’t win elections in Toronto. While it’s true that Toronto is hard [...]
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A ponderable about bombing in Turkey and Contraceptives

A suicide bomber killed two at a US embassy in Turkey today.  It looks like the carnage was limited to the area around the security check point.  Kurdish rebels or Islamic militants are suspected.  But I got to wondering, would the world be a less violent place if so many people weren’t convinced of an afterlife?

Just think about all the suicide bombers who might have second thoughts, about all the so-called Christians who might be nicer to women and children and less forgiving of badly behaved rich people, if they thought that this life was all there was and they wouldn’t get anything extra after their death.  For all we know, God might have intended this life to be the ultimate thrill and it doesn’t get any better than this.  It might make people more careful and kinder.

Like I said before, God needs a major rewrite.

Oh, and it looks like the Obama administration has caved to the Red Beanie Boys and will offer religiously affiliated employers an opt out on contraceptive coverage:

The administration is expected to detail how it will handle two of the more controversial situations, said a source familiar with Friday’s announcement.

“Religiously affiliated organizations will be given the option of exempting themselves from the requirement of providing their employees with contraceptive access or service that they are morally opposed to,” said the source.

A spokesman for the Health and Human Services Department refused to comment on the expected policy announcement.

If an institution opts out of paying for contraceptive coverage, individual employees will get coverage through a third entity. That separate exchange, said the source, would be paid for by the insurance company.

What??  The Obama administration is caving to the religious right on contraceptive coverage in insurance policies??Whoa! Didn’t see *that* coming.  Oh, sure, it’s just a technicality and there will be a workaround.  (For women, just the first of many workarounds to overcome in the years to come, no doubt)  Still, it very much feels like there is something distasteful and unsavory about contraceptives now that the Obama administration has caved.  Yep, and somehow, I think the religious right has won this round.

And how is this going to work anyway?  Will the option to go to the insurance company directly be clearly and explicitly spelled out to each female employee at the time the policy commences for her?  Or will the employer ask for another exemption specifying that they are under no moral obligation to provide the female employee with the details?  Because you know some asshole representative from a red state is going to want to put that into legislation somewhere.  Oh, heck! This exemption has opened the floodgates to all the Republican dominated state legislatures around the country to go on a free-for-all extravaganza of gag rule legislation. (Ahhh, I see that Texas got a head start)  It will be like the Mexico City rule for all American women.  So, technically, a female employee would have the right to full contraceptive coverage from the insurer but not be aware of it. Maybe if she wants contraceptives, she has to approach her human resources department and make a direct inquiry.  Now, the company knows that’s she’s a slut and in this job market, character counts.  Hiring managers want to see your facebook account these days.  Lovely.   See how this works?

Funny, I’ll bet these kinds of scenarios never crossed Obama’s mind.  Thus we see the true value of a Harvard law degree.  Or maybe he just doesn’t give a shit.  Or at least not enough of a shit to actually, you know, stand up for women, who stupidly just handed him the presidency for four more years without demanding anything in return.

Now, to my completely untrained eye, it looks like people who believe in supernatural beings and 3000 year old bronze aged texts, who are under no obligation whatsoever to provide any evidence for their beliefs, have more freedom and are more equal than women who can now fight on the front lines for their country but are forced to abide by the supernatural and unverifiable belief systems of male dominant institutions.  If she were black back in the 50’s, she could still ride the bus.  She’d just have to sit in the back.  Why is she complaining?  The bus is still going to take her where she wants to go, right?

Is that what’s happening here or am I just seeing things?

Anyway, have a nice day, Obama ladies!  God knows you need a rest from all the stress the campaign put on you.

Revulsion

This is why more and more people are turning away from religion:

Any god that leaves little children to die because their government said their teachers couldn’t lead them in what would be overwhelmingly Christian prayers is an evil god. Or non-existent.

Yeah, I said it.  That god bystander who shrugs his shoulders at the bloody death of innocents when he could intervene and stop it?  That’s evil.

As one of the commenters to this video said:

so god is a petty, sulking baby because we dont kiss his butt?

stay classy god

God 2.0 needs a major rewrite and a better PR apparatus. (Hint: don’t hire this guy)

***************************
Update on the NPR “expert” and patterns:

This morning on Weekend Edition, it sounded like a different expert was on to tell us that, sure, we can find “patterns” but those patterns are not “profiles” and are therefore useless. It is only with “profiles” that we are able to predict the future and we can’t predict the future so that’s that.

Bullshit. Any dark skinned man passing through an airport or thrown off a plane by a bunch of hysterical passengers will tell you this isn’t true. Oddly enough, none of the recent shooters, with the exception of the psychiatrist at Fort Hood, were dark skinned or middle eastern looking dudes.

Any “profile” you develop is only as good as the data you have. You can’t predict with absolute certainty which compounds in a library of millions is going to be THE next PERFECT drug. All you can do is identify the potential drugs that you can work on. During the discovery phase, we add to our knowledge of the drug-target interaction and we get better at predicting future drugs but we’re never going to be able to just look at the structures of all of the compounds and pick out the blockbuster on the first, second or third go around.

What we can do is eliminate the non-starters and focus in on the potential winners. That investigation is still worth a lot of money because the potential winners still exhibit significant activity even if they are not perfect. We’re never going to get to the stage where we can identify them just by looking at them without any additional testing and that’s the case with people too.

So, it is still worth screening and testing even if you end up with a lot of first round hits that you have to narrow down later. I think most Americans would agree that we don’t want to take away the guns from every person who fits a pattern. What we want to do is take away the guns of people who can’t be eliminated. We don’t have to predict the future. We just need to find the pool of most likely shooters and take away their guns, if only temporarily.

The alternative is to treat all 300 million of us as false positives and force all of us to undergo ritual bodyscanning and metal detecting before we can pick up our kids from school for their dental appointments. While I’m sure the security industry is going to LOVE that idea, it’s another burden of time and frustration for busy parents and others who do not fit any pattern at all except that they’re human. Are “experts” suggesting that we are all potential shooters because they refuse to come up with a set of criteria that eliminates the vast majority of us? Is the second amendment so precious that a whole country has to be constantly inconvenienced to take off our shoes and be exposed to radiation on a regular basis? There isn’t any set of patterns that we could use to prevent that?

Right now, insurance companies can charge you a fortune based on your record and your peer group. Marketing companies can profile you and target ads to you based on your purchases, demographics and other behavior. But for some reason, the “experts” say that it will not be possible for the ATF to reduce the number of mass shooters from killing people because “we can’t predict the future”. There’s something very wrong with that picture aside from it being completely unbelievable. Normally, I’d be a freak about privacy but owning a lethal firearm puts things in a different light. Should you be able to own a gun for hunting purposes or to defend yourself against intruders or a potentially tyrannical government? Yep. Should you be able to own a gun if you’ve got the makings of a mass shooter? Probably not, at least not until you’ve been thoroughly checked out.

Today, we learn that the mother of the shooter was the registered owner of the guns. Leaving aside the fact that looking through patterns probably wouldn’t have prevented this tragedy, I have to wonder why she felt she needed these guns and how they came to be at her house. That’s a lot of firepower for a Kindergarten teacher. It was probably not to protect herself from 20 five year olds.

On the other hand, when your auto insurance representative asks you whether there are any permitted drivers or kids of a certain age living with you, they are recognizing the fact that cars can be dangerous in the hands of inexperienced or recklessly young drivers and presumably, their statistics back that up. So, gun buyers should be asked similar questions. Do you have any young males living at home with a history of behavioral or mental problems? Has your family undergone any significant changes lately? Divorce, loss of job, bankruptcy, relocation? This is not an insurmountable problem.

Late Night Open Thread: Evan Thomas says Obama is “God.”

Soros%20and%20his%20messiah

This is too much. Peter Daou posted on Twitter earlier this evening about Evan Thomas’ appearance on Hardball tonight. I found a post about it at Newsbusters and it’s actually true. Check out the video. Evan Thomas says Obama is like God, standing above the world. What is wrong with these people? Here is the relevant portion of the transcript:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Evan, you remember ’84. It wasn’t 100 years ago. Reagan and World War II and the sense of us as the good guys in the world, how are we doing?

EVAN THOMAS: Well, we were the good guys in 1984, it felt that way. It hasn’t felt that way in recent years. So Obama’s had, really, a different task We’re seen too often as the bad guys. And he – he has a very different job from – Reagan was all about America, and you talked about it. Obama is ‘we are above that now.’ We’re not just parochial, we’re not just chauvinistic, we’re not just provincial. We stand for something – I mean in a way Obama’s standing above the country, above – above the world, he’s sort of God. He’s-

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

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