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I have been an atheist since about the age of 12. Once I realized that, I went to science, and am now a biochemist and a neuroscientist. Having thought about this issue quite a bit, over what is now a long span of time, I've come to the conclusion that the specific belief in "god" is not really the most important philosophical concept; I think the belief in a soul is.

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Do you personally believe in a god or a soul?

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| 67 votes | Vote | Results

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I see virtually no commentary about the Gelb/Biden plan for Iraq, but there should be more. The current situation provides a controlled experiment of their plan, without getting much commentary on its value.

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Do you believe that Gelb/Biden were correct?

44%8 votes
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| 18 votes | Vote | Results

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Wed Oct 09, 2013 at 08:33 AM PDT

"Speaker" Boehner

by wildhypotheses

Boehner must realize that the pressure is on him now, as strongly as it's ever been. But has anyone gotten through his fog to explain to him that there is probably no way for him to retain the speakership after this? If he hangs tough, the republicans will almost certainly lose the house. If he does the decent thing, allowing an open vote in the House, as he should, he likely will be voted out of leadership by his ridiculous caucus. As I have commented before, I really think his best chance is to save a little face by having a discharge position get around him. It would still cost him, as Nancy Pelosi would come out looking much stronger if it succeeds, but that may be the best scenario for him.

If Boehner faces the fact that he will almost certainly not be speaker in the next congress, he just might do the right thing and allow an open vote. In order for this to happen, it may be necessary for someone to take him aside and impress this on him, while he's at his most lucid moment (whenever that might be).

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I understand that discharge petitions have only rarely been used for major legislation, and that members of the majority party are often reluctant to sign on to them. However, given the weakness of Speaker Boehner and the stated positions of several republican members of the House that they are willing to vote for a "clean" bill, such as the one sent to them by the senate, why not try? No sane person wants a government shutdown or a credit default, and there are a few remaining sane republicans in the house. It only takes 17 republicans to support a discharge position; perhaps they can be found.  And there actually is competent, rational, realistic leadership in the democratic party; let's urge those people to try.

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Should we call for a discharge petition?

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| 27 votes | Vote | Results

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Many people speaking for the right-wing are raising hell about the Obama administration's rule on contraceptives. They are presenting it as a violation of the "freedom of choice" of those institutions, predominantly Catholic and Mormon, that will have to provide contraception for their employees. They should not be allowed to set this framing. The fact is that the new rules do not force anyone to use contraceptives; they instead increase the freedom of choice of the employees. What the rule does do is take the opportunity to make the choice about contraceptives away from administrators and give it to individuals. This is, of course, what right-wing rhetoric tends to glorify, but often violates in practice.

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Truman (HST) assumed the presidency in the Spring when I was in the 6th grade. He left office in the winter of my sophomore year of college. I learned a lot from him. For example, he said that one couldn't get rich in politics if you were honest. I think of that often, when observing current politicians who did not start off wealthy, but became so during or after serving in office, parlaying political influence into money: Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum.

 HST pushed for universal, compulsory health insurance, which caused the Republican party to have a collective seizure. My classes were visited by local dentists and MD's to instruct us in the evils of such a system, and to convince our innocent minds of the great dangers in 'creeping socialism.' (It didn't work; I wound up a right-wing socialist.)

He once proposed in a speech that higher executive pay should be capped at a certain percentage of the workers' pay in the company. This really set off a storm among conservative republicans. (I grew up in an extremely right-wing, although libertarian, part of the country.)

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Which do you believe the greatest president?

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There is a lot of discussion of this topic currently, because of the shootings in Tucson, AZ. While there is considerable evidence that right-wing provocation may not have been a contributing factor to Mr. Loughner’s rampage, there are examples that make this point in a better way. Why aren’t people using the better examples?

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do you believe that right-wing, violent rhetoric contributes to gun violence?

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There is clearly an important difference between the behavior of intelligent and stupid people(ie, Obama vs. Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton vs. Michelle Bachmann, etc.)

Having said this, it is clear that Gen. McChrystal is intelligent, not stupid. Occam's razor says the simplest explanation for any complicated problem is probably the correct one. Therefore, the simplest explanation for McChrystal's behavior is below the fold.

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McChrystal's motivation

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| 70 votes | Vote | Results

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Mon Apr 12, 2010 at 11:14 AM PDT

who's the dumbest senator?

by wildhypotheses

My wife and I were talking about this one evening, so I went through the current senators to decide which one I thought was least intelligent. I've made a poll below, to find out your opinions. I've excluded Bunning, because I think he is actually demented, much worse than stupid ("little green doctors"). I've included those who have been mentioned by others as possibly dumbest, and I've indicated their education, for those who think that might offer a clue (only one senator does not have a college degree, Mark Begich, but he's not likely for the list). I've included college majors, when they seem possibly indicative of intellect. I've also included comments about previous occupations, if they seem relevant. Lawyers are obvious from their degrees. I'll include a comment later, with our choice.

Poll

Who's the dumbest senator?

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| 583 votes | Vote | Results

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It is clear to all of us that single payer is the best plan for national health care. Most of the opposition lies (and lies and lies) primarily in the system for campaign finance that we now suffer with. A member of congress, either chamber, has to spend a significant fraction (sometimes a major fraction) of their non-appearance on the floor time raising money.

Follow me over the fold for the solution.

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What's most important?

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| 42 votes | Vote | Results

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It's important for health care delivery reform to curb the greed of the health insurance industry. But that's not all. There is other greed in the system. As an article in "The New Yorker," by Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Harvard, pointed out, there is also a significant amount of greed in the health care delivery industry, including from some MD's. Most MD's are not in it for money, but a significant minority is.

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What is more important?

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A second way to get to single payer

(I diaried a first one a while back, which was swamped by up to four comments.)

follow me below the fold

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How to get to single payer

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| 72 votes | Vote | Results

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