Skeptic Magazine: How Michael Shermer Became a Card-Carrying Skeptic

Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

If you want to make this about religion, I come from a German-American family in Maryland, but my father is a hardcore card-carrying Atheist, who if anything has gone Communist when it comes to religion and perhaps other issues and perhaps would like to see religion outlawed in America as Communists tend to. Growing up my mother I believe was an Atheist as well, but not as hardcore and partisan about it. She’s now officially an Agnostic herself. Or that is what she tells me. Germans tend to be Lutheran or Catholic, so I guess our family is unique when it comes to religion.

Myself having heard about religion being so great for people and people need to church to live well and only God can save you and all this nonsense ( outside of my family ) but on TV and in and around school and from friends families that I grew up with, I got the other extreme version of what religion is supposed to be about. So I get this argument and philosophy on one side that only morons and mental patients are religious, even though I knew a lot of intelligent people growing up who were religious. And then on the other side I get that religion is the only way of life and not just that but only moral people are religious and I know that’s not true just from my own family alone and from other people I knew growing up weren’t religious at all but were good productive people.

So that is why I’m not just an Agnostic but a skeptic as well. Not because I can’t make up my mind or I don’t want to offend hipsters who hate religion and see it as uncool or so not awesome or whatever and are people who claim to be spiritual but not religious as if there’s any difference between being religious and spiritual. Like there’s any difference between being tired or fatigue or two lemons, or crooks and liars. You might need Superman’s X-ray vision to see any difference whatsoever. Or the fundamentalists who again believe only moral people are religious especially if they’re not just Christian but Evangelical or Muslim when it comes to the eastern world.

I’m an Agnostic simply because like any other intelligent person who is of sound mind and has the right to free express them self who has ever lived on Planet Earth, (whether they care to admit it or not ) I literally don’t know if there is a God or not. Or if there are multiple God’s or not. Show me a God and I’ll not only believe you but I’ll believe there is a God. And then I might start believing in Santa Clause as well. While you’re at that you might as well show me a plan for the Cleveland Browns to win a Super Bowl. I’ll give you the rest of that decade to figure that one out and most of the next decade. Hopefully the Browns will have won another game by then. But on the other hand for you Atheists out there especially the hardcores, show me that there is no God and I’ll become an Atheist. I’m an Agnostic because I’m skeptical I simply don’t know if there is a God or not. It’s that simple.

Skeptic Magazine: How Michael Shermer Became a Card-Carrying Skeptic

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The Economist: Srdja Popovic Interviewing Bassem Youssef- Revolution For Dummies

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Source: The Economist– Bassem Youssef 

Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

What I would say about this is that it takes a special type of narcissist to want to be a dictator, let alone actually be a dictator. Regardless of whatever authoritarian ideology you come from. Whether it’s communism religious theocracy, militarism, oligarchy, nationalism, whatever it might be. It takes a special type of narcissist to believe that you’re so great and you’re like a God ( even if you’re a Communist ) to believe you’re so great and so brilliant, that you’re not only great with your own personal life, that you’re qualified to run the personal lives of everyone else in your country.

You believe you’re so brilliant that you can make great decisions for people you’ve never met before and know what’s best for perfect strangers. That you just don’t just see yourself as a dictator, but a psychic and a mindreader as well. You see into the future and see what perfect strangers need and what they should think and how they should act and every other personal decisions that people make in their lives everyday. Maybe that is why Donald Trump admires dictators ( or at least Vladimir Putin ) because he sees himself that way as well.

Dictators might see themselves as brilliant and godlike before they come to power, but once it becomes clear even to the regime that things aren’t going very well and country is now in bad shape that power is not just over centralized with the national state, but the dictator himself, the dictator has to find others to blame or the people and even his own regime will lose faith in their so-called great leader and look for other leadership. According to Fidel Castro it was never his fault that the Cuban Marxist economy was failing. It was always the fault of the Americans according to Fidel. The same thing is now going on in Venezuela where of course the Maduro Regime won’t take the blame for their failing socialist economy that doesn’t have the ability to provide their people with even the basic necessities of life like toilet paper.

Mark my words ( or some cheesy bullshit like that ) if the American economy were to start sliding in 2018-19, President Donald Trump won’t take an ounce of responsibility for that. The economic downturn will become the Obama downturn according to President Trump and his Administration. Even though President Trump would’ve been in office for 1-2 years at that point and the Trump economic policy will have a;ready been in place. If the economy starts to fall, the deficit and debt will go up even more than it’s expected to go up because of the new Tax law. And according to the small world or brain of Donald Trump, it will become the Obama deficit and debt.

And I know I’m using the word dictator with Donald Trump loosely. President Trump as much as he would like to be a dictator and have the U.S. Justice Department and White House Office of Legal Counsel, as his personal law firms and lawyers and the Congress as lackeys who are only in office to please their master which is what you see in Russia and China, even Donald Trump as President has real checks and balances in the U.S. Government. The independent Russia investigation is a perfect example of that. But Trump sees himself as a dictator and wants the power to be able to do whatever the hell he wants to protect himself and stay in power and damn the consequences.

The Economist: Srdja Popovic Interviewing Bassem Youssef- Revolution For Dummies

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National Constitution Center: NCC Staff- Alexander Hamilton’s Vision of Federalism, National Authority & Judicial Review

Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

There is very little if any mention and discussion about federalism in this video even though Alexander Hamilton’s vision of federalism is part of the title of the video. But I’ll give you the vision of federalism that our Founding Fathers ( our Founding Liberals ) gave us.

There was no such thing as America or the United States pre-Revolutionary War when the British colonies in what is now known as the United States of America broke way from the United Kingdom. The 13 original colonies came together to form this one new nation and created a Federal Republic. Which is sort of stating the obvious but important for this discussion. A big reason why the colonies or American colonies broke away from Britain was because they wanted more autonomy and more ability to govern themselves.

The United Kingdom was a unitarian superstate both in mainland Britain but in their colonies as well. With all of the governmental power being centralized in London and with the King back when the U.K. Monarchy ran Britain. Britain is still a unitarian state with most of the governmental power rested with the U.K. Government, but they do have cities now and municipal government’s with at least some control over their own local governmental affairs. And now Northern Ireland and Scotland, have some control over what Americans call their state affairs. What other countries call their provincial affairs.

So when the Founding Fathers created the United States of America, they just didn’t want a republic but a federal republic. Where Americans wouldn’t just be free from Britain, but from dictatorial power from a supersize central government where most of the power would be rested with the national government. A governmental system that Liberals, Conservatives, Libertarians, all love and want to keep. While Social Democrats or Socialists in America, want to replace because it severely constrains what the national government can try to do for the people.

Federalism is a governmental system of how government works in America and in other countries, including Europe like in Germany where the national government is much larger than in America’s when you talk about percentage of the economy that is taxed and by national government. In a federalist system you have a national government that is called the federal government. But you also have state and local government’s.

And you don’t just have these other government’s within the country, but they have real governmental authority over their own governmental affairs. And have the power to govern themselves and do for themselves what they choose to do as long as they’re within the U.S. Constitution. So they can run their own law enforcement and education department’s, but they can’t discriminate based on race or try to create their own currency or military, try to eliminate property rights, the right to privacy, the right to free speech. State and local laws, like federal laws, have to be within the U.S. Constitutional. With all laws from all levels subject to judicial review.

I’m what I call and perhaps others call a Liberal Federalist. I’m both a Liberal and a Federalist. Which might sound like an Oxymoron to people who view Liberals as the same thing as Socialists and Communists. But I’m a Liberal in the classical and real sense and if you’re a real Liberal you’re not a fan of big over centralization of power whether it’s private power with how business’s and private organizations are run, or with how government is run. Which is why federalism is a perfect governmental system for myself and other Liberals because we don’t want one big government trying to run everything for everybody in a country this huge and diverse. And don’t believe Washington even with all their brilliant people are capable for making decisions for Los Angeles, Denver, Milwaukee, or any other jurisdiction that the U.S. Government doesn’t have direct control over.

Federalism is the only type of governmental system that can work in a liberal democratic constitutional republic like America, because again of our physical size and being so huge physically, but also having such a large diverse population as well. Culturally, racially, ethnically, and politically diverse a country that we are. You try to impose a socialist unitarian superstate in America, which is what they still have in Britain today even with their new municipal government’s, and you would see states like California, Texas, the Northwest, Alaska, Hawaii, Florida, the states in New England, and others break away and try to form their own countries. Being a Federalist doesn’t mean you approve of every law that another jurisdiction or your own jurisdiction passes. But it means you believe they have the right and should have the right to pass those laws and govern themselves as long as those laws are constitutional.

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Marilyn Monroe The Ultimate Collection: Marilyn Monroe and The Making of The Misfits

Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

Have you ever seen a gorgeous woman or any woman in general, look better in Levi’s and boots, than Marilyn Monroe? If you look at The Misfits movie you have about 40-45 minutes of Marilyn in dark wash Levi’s denim jeans were she’s either wearing a tank top of white blouse and about 10-15 minutes or so of Marilyn with a blue Levi’s denim jacket as well. And keep in mind, this movie was made in 1960 wear women weren’t wearing tight jeans including Levi’s on a regular basis at least on TV or in the movies. And you have this gorgeous baby-faced adorable blonde with a beautiful body in these dark wash Levi’s and boots.

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Source: Google

Women were barley wearing pants at all on TV and in the movies back then and if they were wearing pants at all, generally they were business pants. Tight jeans and boots for women especially that combo, didn’t become common and mainstream for American women until the late 1970s with the designer jeans revolution. Marilyn was sort of like Catherine Bach ( who played Daisy Duke on The Dukes of Hazzard ) in The Misfits as far as style and looked gorgeous and sexy during the entire movie.

As far as the movie itself it wasn’t a great movie. It was entertaining and at times pretty funny. But Elie Wallach who was one of the best actors at least of his generation and in this movies is right about the word misfits. The four main characters in the movie including Marilyn, but also with Burt Lancaster, Eli Wallach, Thelma Ritter, and Montgomery Clift, were basically all drifters who went from place to place and got involved in this or that. Gary Langland, ( played by Burt Lancaster ) Guido, ( played by Eli Wallach ) and Pierce Howland, ( played by Montgomery Clift ) were all Nevada cowboys but they were part-time cowboys at this point.

Roslyn Taber ( played by Marilyn Monroe ) and Isabelle Steers ( played by Thelma Ritter ) were even bigger drifters than the cowboys. Roselyn was just recently divorced and not knowing where she was going from there and how where her life was going. Isabelle was Roselyn’s friend but perhaps even more of a drifter than Roselyn and just being with her friend to help her out and try to start over. They end up in Reno, Nevada and stop at a bar which is where they meet Gary and Guido and start to get to know each other. And they tell the two woman that they’re cowboys which is where Roselyn gets interested and find out that Roselyn has nowhere to stay and Gary brings her back to his cabin.

The Roselyn character is so sweet, adorable, and innocent in the movie. Idealistic and naive and overly idealistic as well. Expecting people to better than they actually are. Marilyn was literally the kid in the movie both figuratively and literally. With the other four main characters all having real world experience and knowing people for who they are. The seen when they start to go rodeoing is a perfect example of that. Roselyn thinks that the guys there are just there to catch horses and then let them go for sport. When the fact is they’re doing it for money and are going to sell the horses to people that are going to kill the horses and use them for meet to sell on the market. The only person in the group who is not aware of this going in. Like a kid.

This is not Marilyn Monroe’s worst movie and certainly not her best movie. I believe she physically looks her best in this movie along with The River of No Return where she plays a woman with a lot more experience and sense for the real world. In The Misfits I believe she comes off as 15-16 year old little girl and not just because she was adorable enough enough to pass for a girl that young physically. But her character’s personality in this movie is very immature and inexperienced. Good movie if you love gorgeous sexy women in jeans and boots and love cowgirls. But the movie itself leaves plenty to be desired.

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National Constitution Center: NCC Staff- How Dr. Martin L. King Cited The Constitution in His Mountaintop Speech

Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

Dr. King used the Constitution to make his case for the civil rights movement all the time and did it in a very intelligent and accurate way. Saying that African-Americans had the exact same constitution rights as every other American including European-Americans and even English-Protestants simply because they were Americans. That the Equal Protection Clause in the U.S. Constitution does exactly that. It protects all Americans regardless of race or ethnicity equally. It doesn’t say that some Americans are more valuable and worthy than others simply because of their race or ethnicity.

With Southern Anglo-Saxon states in America who were govern by Neo-Confederates who decided that they since they lost the Civil War that what they would do now is simply deny African-Americans their constitutional rights and argue they can do that under some bogus ( to be nice ) argument that under the 10th Amendment and what they call states rights that they states can essentially do whatever they want. The problem with that argument is that the Constitution supersede’s states rights. The states have to be inline with the Constitution just as much as the Federal Government has to be.

Another part of the Constitution that Dr. King consistently cited in his argument for the civil rights movement is the First Amendment. The guaranteed right for all Americans to free speech and free assembly in America. The right for all Americans to peacefully assemble together and express their free speech rights and speak out against injustices and anything else that they want to speak out against. Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and other states back in the 1960s, obviously had another interpretation of the First Amendment. And simply saw African-Americans as not much more than criminals and terrorists and in some cases still as animals like in the era of slavery and believed they could breakup these protests and deny these Americans their First Amendment rights.

The civil rights movement even if it was considered radical back in the 1960s before racial and ethnic minorities became prevalent in America and before minorities had large numbers and before racism was considered to be evil by in large in the Caucasian community, the civil rights movement was about as mainstream as any political movement we’ve ever seen in America. Because it was about the U.S. Constitution and enforcing it for all Americans. Which under the Constitution itself it’s supposed to be enforced equally for all Americans anyway. And I believe Dr. King always understood that.

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Marilyn Monroe Family: The Death of Marilyn Monroe

Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat Plus

Marilyn Monroe is now such a pop culture icon and hero to so many fans of pop culture and hipsters in America, that they simply can’t handle the fact that a woman like this who is so popular and is now such a fashion icon, could actually kill herself and did kill herself. Whether it was accidentally, which has always been my argument since I’ve been following this case closely for three years now, or intentionally which I don’t believe happened.

The followers of John F. Kennedy who can’t believe that a career loser like Lee Harvey Oswald, could actually put together the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, have the same love and devotion to JFK, as the followers and admirers of Marilyn Monroe. One side believing that a loser couldn’t kill their hero. The other side believing that their hero couldn’t had possibly kill herself. This is my more positive approach and take about the conspiracy theorists regarding the death of Marilyn Monroe.

My my more realistic and cynical view about the conspiracy theorists when it comes to the death of Marilyn Monroe, has to do with people who view this as a money making opportunity for them, a business investment. Knowing that there is small but large enough faction of Americans who are willing to believe that the official position on the death of Marilyn having to do with being suicide and accidental overdose, couldn’t possibly had happen because Marilyn was such an icon and goddess that she couldn’t have possibly had kill herself and that people will be more than willing to buy books, documentaries, view documentaries on TV about conspiracy theories involving how Marilyn died that night. Ranging from President Kennedy ordering the murder of Marilyn, to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy the President’s brother committing the murder himself.

Anybody can have a conspiracy theory. But if you want to have that theory be taken seriously by people who aren’t already there with you and ready to believe you, who don’t come off as people who just got out of a mental institution, perhaps escaped from one, or act as if they might need to be in one and are headed to one, you need real evidence. You need evidence that puts someone in the room at or about the time that Marilyn died. And you need a cause of death and show that someone else other than Marilyn is responsible for her death. And the people who believe or claim to believe that someone other than Marilyn Monroe herself is responsible for her own death, have never offered any evidence that someone other than Marilyn killed herself on that summer might in 1962.

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Marilyn Monroe History: Mysteries and Scandals- Her Death in 1962

Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

I don’t believe there is much if any mystery to the death of Marilyn Monroe. Hate to break it to the people who have to believe that there was some suspicious Hollywood like scandal involving the death of one of their Hollywood icons and celebrities. People who believe that John F. Kennedy had ordered the death of Marilyn and perhaps had her pint-size brother Bobby commit the murder himself. The same people who perhaps believe that Lyndon Johnson ordered the death of President Kennedy. Maybe they also believe that LBJ ordered the death of JFK because he wanted Marilyn for himself.

But thats an issue with conspiracy theories they tend not to have a lot of intelligence and reasoning behind him. And tend to be put together by people who simply have too much time on their hands or have a tough time dealing with the real world what the rest of us call Planet Earth and they escape to the planet of Fantasyland where they simply see things that no one else can. And not because they have even better than 20/20 vision or borrowed Superman’s supervision. But because they see things that simply don’t exist. Their bodies might be on Earth but their minds are on Fantasyland.

You could argue suicide and not sound like someone who just escaped from a mental institution. Marilyn Monroe did have a history of depression and lacked self-confidence. Here’s a woman who was 5’5-5’6 who had a great body who cill fill out denim jeans and tight dresses and skirts as well or better than any woman who has ever lived, who had a beautiful body obviously. Who was the hot baby-faced adorable woman with a little girls’ personality to match her baby face and yet you have this beautiful hot Los Angeles August Saturday night and she’s home alone in her big house. With only her maid as far as any possible company. Which I believe could back any possible suicide theory . Why is this Hollywood goddess home alone on this gorgeous summer Saturday night?

55 years later I still believe the best theory to how and why Marilyn Monroe died during the summer of 1962 was an overdose. Again, she had a history of depression, was a borderline alcoholic if not an alcoholic and was addicted to pain killers. A lot of those pills dealing with the depression that she had. I’m not arguing suicide but when you’re drunk you tend to do a lot of stupid things unintentionally. (Not that I’m speaking from personal experience) Especially if you get drunk on a regular basis.

And its very believable that she simply not just drank too much that night but even after having all of that alcohol still wasn’t feeling very well and decided that she needed something else to make her feel better. So she turns to pills. Pills and alcohol together, is like fire and gas together. You only put those things together when you want a big explosion. So she’s drinking too much and then taking not just pills but too many pills and I still believe the best theory is that she unintentionally overdosed which is what killed her and that she unintentionally killed herself.

People who are going to argue that someone murdered someone else need a better theory than the supposed target has dirt on them that they’re about to release which is why the supposed suspect or suspects had their target murdered. You need to at least be able to put a suspect at the place where the supposed target was murdered at the time or about the time that the target died. Again, people who believe that both Jack and Bob Kennedy were involved the death of Marilyn Monroe, perhaps also believe that Lyndon Johnson ordered the death of Jack Kennedy. Lyndon just happening to be the Vice President of the United States when he supposedly had President Kennedy murdered. The same evidence to offer LBJ being behind the death of JFK, is the same evidence that has been offered to support JFK and RFK, being behind the death of Marilyn Monroe. Which is nothing.

Marilyn Monroe History: Mysteries and Scandals Marilyn Monroe

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