The problem with prayer

Atheists are becoming more open about their atheism. I am, by definition, an atheist, but I think of myself more as a nontheist, mostly because there’s some baggage that comes with the word atheist, and I don’t like baggage. I think what separates me from some (certainly not all) atheists and from some (but certainly not all) believers is that I honestly don’t care what somebody else believes, and I’m not the least bit interested in trying to make believers reject their belief, nor am I the least bit upset or disappointed if an atheist starts believing in God. I honestly don’t think we have much of a choice about it, and none of it is based in fact (either way), so, from where I sit, it’s not like arguing over whether or not gravity is real, it’s like arguing over whether or not dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate. I certainly have a very strong opinion on that, but I’m not comfortable telling somebody they’re wrong if they like milk chocolate better. So what’s my problem with prayer?

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“Politicizing” tragedy

Bad things happen. Tragedies happen. When they happen, it’s good to help those affected, and it’s good to think about ways to prevent those things from happening again. If they can’t be prevented, it’s good to think about ways to protect us from the damage they cause in the future. These seem like normal responses, yet so often, doing these things gets blasted as an attempt to politicize a tragedy. I really don’t like that critique, and the critique itself seems to be more “political” than actually talking about solutions and prevention.

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Timelines and subthreads (part 4: Who is Felix Sater?)

This is the fourth of a series dissecting the timeline of Trump-Russia connections that’s kept at Bill Moyers’s website. For a bit of intro, and the first subthread click here. This one is all cut and pasted, with the links included. None of the text is my own, not even paraphrased.

This is all about a man named Felix Sater, who I think we should get to know a bit. Follow past the jump for this one.

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Timelines and subthreads (part 3: All about Manafort)

This is the third of a series dissecting the timeline of Trump-Russia connections that’s kept at Bill Moyers’s website. For a bit of intro, and the first subthread , click here. This one is all cut and pasted, with the links included. None of the text is my own, not even paraphrased.

Paul Manafort seems to be a pretty central figure here, so I thought it was worth a search for his name in the timeline. Follow past the jump for this one.

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Timelines and subthreads (part 2: GOP platform on Russia and Ukraine)

This is the second of a series dissecting the timeline of Trump-Russia connections that’s kept at Bill Moyers’s website. For a bit of intro, and the first subthread, click here. Some text is copied and pasted directly from the timeline, other text is paraphrased.

I found this one interesting, even though I can’t say that I was paying too much attention to it at the time. One thing to keep in mind is that these exchanges were all happening after the June 9 meeting between Trump Jr and Veselnitskaya, and after the April 2016 DNC hack. There’s a fair amount of mingling with this thread and Paul Manafort, but I’ll take on the Manafort stuff in another thread. Follow past the jump for the timeline.

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Timelines and subthreads (part 1: Trump Jr emails and meetings)

Steven Harper has assembled a very useful and impressive timeline of all the connections between Trump and Russia. It’s posted here, and updated regularly. As impressive as I find it, the problem with it is that it’s a series of overlapping timelines, rather than one single timeline. A way to sort it by a specific topic would be helpful, and certainly possible electronically. I hope they will do this in the future. For now, there are a couple of subthreads that I found particularly interesting to follow, and worth putting together here. I’m sure more will be added to these in the future. If I’m moved to update, I’ll do it in a separate post to preserve the sense of what we know now. I’m also going to keep the subthreads in separate posts so they don’t get buried under each other. Some text is copied and pasted directly from the timeline, other text is paraphrased.

The Trump Jr email/meeting timeline is below, and others will follow:

Subthread 2: Trump campaign and the GOP platform position on Russia and Ukraine.

Subthread 3: all about Manafort

Subthread 4: who is Felix Sater?

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“It’s all about trust”

My wife has some strong opinions about things, and some of them she raises over and over again. One (of the many) with which I agree is that trust plays a fundamental role in how we feel about our leaders. We trust some leaders, and we don’t trust others. If we trust a leader, we assume that some action is legitimately justified. If we don’t trust a leader, that same action can be nefarious or a sign of incompetence. I’ll come back to something more contemporary in a minute, but let’s start with Obama and Bush.

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