Friday, January 27, 2017

A lie is a lie, even when the president says it

From Charles M. Blow's column in the New York Times yesterday:
Trump does not simply have “a running war with the media,” as he so indecorously and disrespectfully spouted off while standing on the hallowed ground before the C.I.A. Memorial Wall. He is in fact having a running war with the truth itself.

Donald Trump is a proven liar. He lies often and effortlessly. He lies about the profound and the trivial. He lies to avoid guilt and invite glory. He lies when his pride is injured and when his pomposity is challenged.

Indeed, one of the greatest threats Trump poses is that he corrupts and corrodes the absoluteness of truth, facts and science.

It is no coincidence that the rise of Trump is concurrent with the rise of “fake news.” It is no coincidence that his rise comes during an age of severely damaged faith in institutions.

And now that he has been elected, Trump wants absolute control over the flow of information, to dictate his own version of facts rather than live with the reality of accepted facts. Trump is in a battle to bend the truth to his benefit.

He hates members of the press because, when properly performing, they are truth seekers rather than ego-strokers. The press may sometimes get things wrong, but it most often gets them right. A truly independent press is not stocked with political acolytes but political adversaries.

This doesn’t sit well with an administration that wants to be perpetually patted on the back and never rapped on the knuckles.

After Trump and his press secretary, Sean Spicer, got called out by the press for lying about Trump’s inauguration crowd size and viewership, Spicer limped back to the mic and whined of Trump’s press coverage: “The default narrative is always negative, and it’s demoralizing.”

No, sir, the default is to call a lie a lie; lies are negative because they are the opposite of the truth; and Trump continuously lies. ...

And Trump for his part continues to rage about three to five million illegal votes causing him to lose the popular vote in November. This, too, is a lie. A lie. Not the euphemisms you hear on television, like “unsubstantiated,” or “unproven,” or “baseless.” It is a lie, pure and simple.

But Trump won’t let it go. His pride is hurt, his vanity tarnished. The man who prides himself on winning lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly three million votes, the biggest popular vote loss by a winning candidate in American history. That stings.

So, even after his lie is reported and rejected, he continues to perpetuate it. This is what makes Trump qualitatively different from our leaders who came before him: He believes that truth is what he says it is, and the only reason it has yet to be accepted is that it has yet to be sufficiently repeated. ...

We all have to adjust to this unprecedented assault on the truth and stand ready to vigilantly defend against it, because without truth, what’s left? Our president is a pathological liar. Say it. Write it. Never become inured to it. And dispense with the terms of art to describe it. A lie by any other name portends the same.

I only disagree about one thing. The default - at least in the news media - isn't "to call a lie a lie." Even today, even with Donald Trump, it's common for the national news media to use euphemisms.

"Lie" is so harsh, right? And they're still desperate to get along with the man and the political party who control our country and lie pretty much nonstop. Even after all this, their first instinct is often appeasement.

Democrats, too. Through most of the past eight years - certainly in the early years of his presidency - Barack Obama bent over backward to appease the Republicans. But Republican leaders had agreed before he'd even taken office that they'd do nothing our first black president wanted, no matter what it might be or how badly America was hurting.

The Democrats even adopted the Republican health care plan, only to see every Republican immediately turn against their own plan. Every Republican.

Today, Democrats in the Senate are still voting for Donald Trump's terrible cabinet picks - not all Democrats, not even a majority, but enough that the Republicans can call it "bipartisan" approval. Will they never learn?

I don't want the Democrats to be carbon copies of Republicans, no, but it would be nice if they understood that this is politics. I don't want politics to be the only concern of Democrats, as it is for Republicans. But it would be a nice change of pace if Democrats understood the contest they're in.

Republicans are playing kick-boxing, while the Democrats are playing tiddlywinks. We've seen how that plays out, haven't we? We've watched this game for decades now. Will the Democrats never learn?

Of course, Blow was talking about the news media, but I have to wonder the same thing about them. When will they learn that the president needs them more than they need the president?

If Trump gets mad and cuts off access, then interview the people who oppose him. It's not your fault if Trump's people won't talk to you. If Republicans refuse to talk with you, then talk with Democrats. How long do you think Republicans will hold out then?

You have the upper hand here. They need you more than you need them. They know that, so why don't you? And note that this would be the case even if Donald Trump wasn't polling at 36%.

Well, Trump's lies have been so outrageous that even some of the news media are calling them "lies." Some of the news media. Unfortunately, they're competitors, so some will always suck up to power, no matter what. (And I'm not talking about places like Fox News, which are basically the propaganda arm of the GOP - PR people, not journalists.)

Others in the news media seem to be like the Democrats. They still haven't learned that you can't appease people who won't be appeased no matter what you do. Even complete surrender wouldn't fully satisfy them. Certainly, anything short of that will be met with bitter denunciations and, yes, more lies.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

National insecurity

As pretty much his first action as president, our new clown-in-chief, Donald Trump, has gone completely off the rails about... the size of the crowds at his inauguration.

Incredible, isn't it? TPM called it "National Insecurity," and I liked that so much I borrowed it for the headline here, too. What's next? Apparently, Trump still thinks he's a 'reality TV' star.

It's not just Trump. His whole team has become equally hysterical about this. At the first White House press briefing of this new administration, Trump's press secretary did nothing but rant about the press and lie about the crowd at the inauguration, without taking a single question from journalists.

Here's how TPM describes it:
On the one hand it is chilling, bizarre, un-American to see the President's spokesman begin the term excoriating and threatening the press, telling demonstrable lies, speaking with a palpable rage in his voice. On the other, the President and his toadies are on the second day almost vanishingly small. They are embarrassing themselves. They look silly. They look ridiculous. It is hard to be intimidated by ridiculousness. I suspect this will be the abiding duality of the Trump presidency.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager and now a senior White House advisor, has been trying desperately to make insanity seem... well, slightly less crazy.

It wasn't lying, you see. It was just "alternative facts":
Senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway said in an interview Sunday morning that White House press secretary Sean Spicer wasn't lying about crowd size at the President's inauguration—he was just giving "alternative facts." ...

"You did not answer the question of why the president asked the White House press secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood," [Chuck] Todd interrupted. "Why did he do that? It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office on day one."

"No, it doesn't. Don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck," Conway replied. "You're saying it's a falsehood, and they're giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point really is—"

"Wait a minute. Alternative facts? Alternative facts?" Todd interjected, looking incredulous. "Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true."

Conway tried to interrupt, but Todd continued.

"Look, alternative facts are not facts," he said.

But they are for faith-based people. For faith-based people, reality is whatever you want it to be. They don't care about the truth of their beliefs, but only about whether or not they want to believe them. These are the same people who've decided that facts don't exist.

They're wrong, of course. Facts do exist and, unlike gods, they don't cease to exist when you stop believing in them. Donald Trump can push his 'alternative' reality all he likes. That still won't make it true.

Even Fox News agrees that they're lying. Even Fox News thinks that this is crazy. And when Republicans get too crazy for Fox News, you know it's bad.

But I haven't even mentioned the craziest part of all this. On his first day in office, Donald Trump went to the headquarters of the CIA and spent his time bragging about how smart he is, whining about the media, and... yes, arguing about the crowd size at his inauguration.

Yes, at the CIA. On his first official day in office.

Again, from TPM:
A presidential speech that was intended to thank the intelligence community quickly went off the rails Saturday as Donald Trump talked about himself, his inauguration crowd, the dishonest media and how great his party was.

Trump appeared at the CIA on his first official day as the 45th president after a rough few weeks where he'd heavily criticized the agency, blamed it for leaks and questioned their assessment that Russia had interfered in the U.S. election. In a brief 15-minute statement, Trump meandered, but without the kind of discipline or grace one might expect from the commander in chief. ...

It seemed at every turn, Trump would pivot to himself. As he talked about his choice to lead the CIA Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Trump noted that he himself was smart.

"I met him and I said, he is so good. Number one in his class at West Point. I know a lot about West Point, and I'm a person that very strongly believes in academics. In fact, every time I say I had an uncle who was a great professor at M.I.T. for 35 years, who did a fantastic job in so many ways," Trump said. "He was an academic genius, and then they say, there's Donald Trump, an intellectual, trust me, I'm like a smart person." ...

It was a strange juxtaposition: a President, standing before the memorial wall at the CIA that honors the lives lost by agency officers as he talked about crowd size and his intelligence. According to the pool report, there were about 400 CIA employees at the agency Saturday. At first, the cheering came from across the crowd, but the pooler noted that as the speech continued, the senior officials in the front grew "subdued."

I'll bet they did! Keep in mind that this was a speech that was supposed to show support for the CIA (so it should have made them happy).

Trump himself said, "I am so behind you and I know maybe sometimes you haven't gotten the backing that you've wanted and you're going to get so much backing. Maybe you'll say, 'don't give us so much backing. Mr. President, please, we don't need that much backing.'"

Who talks like that? Who says, "...and then they say, there's Donald Trump, an intellectual, trust me, I'm like a smart person"?

I've known lots of smart people. None of them talk like that. That's like a dumb person's idea of what a smart person says. How scary is that when you're talking about the President of the United States?

After her "alternative facts" gambit failed, Kellyanne Conway was reduced to arguing that size doesn't matter. No, of course it doesn't. But this wouldn't have been news at all if Donald Trump hadn't thrown a temper tantrum about it:
"I completely agree with that. We spent eleven hours on the air during the inauguration, barely talked about the crowd size if we brought it up at all," George Stephanopoulos replied. "The question is, why does the President choose to talk about that at the CIA? Why does he send his press secretary out to talk about it in his first White House briefing and say things that aren't true?"

This just gets scarier and scarier. After one day in office, Donald Trump already seems to be going insane from the stress. What has America done to itself?

For the record, there were a lot of people at Trump's inauguration, just as you'd expect. But from every bit of evidence (i.e. everything but unsupported claims from Donald Trump himself or his spokespeople), they didn't match the crowds at either of Barack Obama's inaugurations. (Here's, too.)

Please note that the National Park Service doesn't release official estimates of these crowds anymore, not since the organizers of the Million Man March threatened to sue because, like Trump, they wanted to believe they had a bigger turnout. (And, of course, Trump has banned the Park Service from Twitter after they posted a picture comparing the crowd size this year with Obama's 2009 inauguration.)

Is the crowd size important? No, not even slightly. Rather, it wouldn't have been important if Donald Trump hadn't had such a meltdown about it, if his press secretary hadn't lied about it, and if his campaign manager hadn't made such ludicrous claims about "alternative facts."

This is only important because of Trump's clownish reaction to any perceived slight. Remember how he claimed that he'd won one of the biggest Electoral College landslides in American history (false) and also that he'd actually won the popular vote? (That's even less true. Hillary Clinton received almost three million more votes than he did.)

But if Trump wants to talk size, let's compare. One of the few hopeful indicators of this new year is that the Women's March on Washington yesterday - protesting Trump - apparently had a crowd three times as big as the inauguration the day before.

You can believe whatever you like - Trump supporters certainly will - but there are pictures from the same EarthCam at the same time of day. Well, until Russia hacks it, I suppose. :)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

How big alt-med tried to silence a scientist

So, you thought you'd heard all of the downsides of a Trump presidency? Sorry, but... not even close. I'm sure we'll be learning of new downsides for the next four years. (Let's just hope it's not eight.)

And yes, some liberals can be just as gullible as conservatives when it comes to this alt-med bullshit. But liberals tend to have a lot better attitude towards regulations and libel laws (among other things).

Friday, January 20, 2017

How to destroy the White House press corps, Russian-style

Interesting, isn't it? My thanks to Keith Olbermann.

Moving in

OK, I had a few extra political cartoons I didn't want to skip. Donald Trump may be a turd sandwich for America, but he's a godsend to political cartoonists and comedians.

The inauguration

Yeah, the inauguration of Donald Trump doesn't bear thinking about. But we can still laugh, right? And what better way to document a clown than with cartoons?

Monday, January 16, 2017

The case for not being crybabies

This is another great editorial by Josh Marshall at TPM. An excerpt:
On top of this, in the last couple days there's been a medium post circulating from a Russian journalist warning his American colleagues of what to expect under Trump. One key paragraph reads ...
You're Always Losing. This man owns you. He understands perfectly well that he is the news. You can’t ignore him. You’re always playing by his rules — which he can change at any time without any notice. You can’t — in Putin’s case — campaign to vote him out of office. Your readership is dwindling because ad budgets are shrinking — while his ratings are soaring, and if you want to keep your publication afloat, you’ll have to report on everything that man says as soon as he says it, without any analysis or fact-checking, because 1) his fans will not care if he lies to their faces; 2) while you’re busy picking his lies apart, he’ll spit out another mountain of bullshit and you’ll be buried under it.

Let me say first the piece is quite good. It's worth reading. But as a prediction of what awaits the American press, I think it is way, way off the mark and the kind of pusillanimous, defeatist attitude we've seen in this cattle call of Trump outrages listed above. Presidents don't validate what is and isn't news. If you're expecting them to, you're doing it wrong. Almost nothing that is truly important about the work of a free press is damaged by moving the press office across the street.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that these things are not important or that all these threats aren't a very bad sign. It is vastly preferable to have a President who believes in or at least respects American and democratic values. But let's get real: we don't or won't as of Friday. Trump is a would-be authoritarian and a bully. He's surrounded by mediocrities who owe all to him and feel validated by enabling his endless transgressions. Of course, he's doing these things. We know Trump's MO. He will bully people until they're cowed and humiliated and obedient. He'll threaten to kick the reporters out of the White House and then either cut a 'deal' or make some big to-do about 'allowing' the reporters to stay. These are all threats and mind games meant not so much to cow the press as make them think Trump is continually taking things away from them and that they need to make him stop.

They don't need to. That access isn't necessary to do their jobs. And bargaining over baubles of access which are of little consequence is not compatible with doing their job. Access can provide insight and understanding. But it's almost never where the good stuff comes from. Journalists unearth factual information and report it. If Trump wants to turn America into a strong man state, journalists should cover that story rather than begging Trump not to be who he is. America isn't Russia. And I don't think he can change us into Russia. So unless and until we see publications shut down and journalists arrested or disappeared, let's have a little more confidence in our values and our history and our country. ...

The truth is that his threats against the press to date are ones it is best to laugh at. If Trump should take some un- or extra-constitutional actions, we will deal with that when it happens. I doubt he will or can. But I won't obsess about it in advance. Journalists should be unbowed and aggressive and with a sense of humor until something happens to prevent them from doing so. Trump is a punk and a bully. People who don't surrender up their dignity to him unhinge him.

Much the same applies to the endless chatter about 'conflicts of interest' and the insufficiency of his plan to separate himself from his businesses. Why are we still saying Trump isn't doing enough to avoid conflicts of interest? He's made clear he wants to profit off his presidency. Let's accept that. That is what he wants to do. If you're a journalist, start documenting the details. If you're an activist or politician start mobilizing against his corruption.

Trump is the most unpopular incoming President in American history. We only have data on this going back a few decades. But there's little reason to think any President in previous decades or centuries has been this unpopular. Indeed, he's getting less popular as he approaches his inauguration. People need to have a bit more confidence in themselves, their values and their country. As soon as you realize that the Trump wants to profit from the presidency and that the Republicans are focused and helping him do so, all the questions become easier to answer and the path forward more clear. His threats against the press are the same. He's threatening to take away things the press doesn't truly need in order to instill a relationship of dominance.

There's nothing more undignified and enervating than fretting about whether the President-Elect will brand real news 'fake news' or worrying whether his more authoritarian supporters can be convinced to believe - pleaded with, instructed to, prevailed upon - actual factual information. The answer to attacks on journalism is always more journalism. And the truth is that Trump's threats are cheap stunts and bluffs, threatening to take away things journalists don't need.

Well put! And I agree with Marshall,... with a few minor caveats.

First, I don't have confidence in our country anymore. I lost that in November. Maybe it will return. I certainly hope so, because we can't accomplish anything without a certain amount of optimism, of confidence in our fellow countrymen.

But at this point,... no, I'm sorry, but it's gone. I'm deeply ashamed to be an American. And as Trump lurches closer and closer to inauguration day, it's not getting any better. Maybe if everyone boycotted the inauguration - or even every Democrat...

But that's just not going to happen, is it? It's going to take a lot to re-establish my confidence in America.

And second, I agree with him completely when it comes to journalists. But we're not just talking about journalists here. We're talking about profit-driven media companies. Our media are in business to make money. Period. And by and large, they've shown that they're hopeless cowards.

As far as I can see, they continue to demonstrate that. There are exceptions, of course. And there are certainly good journalists who work for those cowardly media companies. But the media in general? They're in business for the money, and anything which threatens - or even seems to threaten - that money terrifies them. (Not to mention that they're owned and controlled by wealthy people who will likely make out like bandits as Trump bankrupts the rest of America.)

Were you impressed with our media companies during the George W. Bush years? I wasn't.

This might be related to my first problem, my loss of confidence in America. I hope so, because that means I could be wrong. And I hope I'm wrong.

But even if I'm not, there is one ray of hope. As Marshall points out, Donald Trump's poll numbers are terrible. He does seem to be the most unpopular incoming president in U.S. history. (And rightly so. For one thing, he continues to demonstrate that he's controlled by Russia! Well, if he has any control at all...)

And our cowardly, profit-driven media are far more likely to be cowed by a popular president than by an unpopular one. As long as they see a profit in... being journalists, they'll do so. Trump's petty bullying might not have much effect, in that case.

Of course (not to be too optimistic here), his remaining supporters tend to be rabid fans. Raw numbers don't matter very much, if one side is active, angry, and unrelenting, while the other side isn't as committed. Look at how gun nuts have gotten their way in pretty much everything, despite their relatively-small numbers. They just care so much more.

All in all, Josh Marshall is right. I fully agree with him. But,... I can't be optimistic going forward, even that much. I hope I'm wrong. It would be a nice change of pace to be pleasantly surprised, wouldn't it?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Donald Trump's war with... America

I can barely stand to even look at this stuff anymore. What has happened to my country?

Donald Trump brought cheerleaders to his press conference - and props that couldn't have looked less real. What, no Trump Steaks?

And he praises himself for avoiding impeachment. He seems to think he deserves credit for that. Is the bar really that low?

His cabinet picks are as bad as he is, and he hasn't even gotten to the Supreme Court yet.

Note that Republicans wouldn't allow Barack Obama to pick a Supreme Court justice with nearly a year left in his second term. They said that the people should decide. Well, the people had decided when they elected Obama. Twice.

But OK, if the people should decide, then Hillary Clinton should pick the next justice, because she received nearly three million more votes than Trump did. She might not have become president, but the people chose Hillary.

Of course, those Republicans were lying about that, and they continue to lie. I can't imagine why America still believes them. That just blows my mind - and crushes my heart.

Well, it's full employment for political comedians, at least - until the concentration camps get built, anyway.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

It must be true if Russia says it, huh?

Well, that settles the matter, doesn't it? I mean, would Vladimir Putin lie about being a blackmailer? LOL

In case he removes or edits that tweet, Donald Trump said: Russia just said the unverified report paid for by political opponents is "A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FABRICATION, UTTER NONSENSE." Very unfair!

This is in response to the latest report that Russia has "compromising personal and financial information" about Trump (i.e. blackmail material).

Keep in mind that this hasn't been verified by U.S. intelligence. It apparently comes from a former British intelligence operative whom our people consider "credible." It's something U.S. intelligence is taking seriously (at least, until Trump is inaugurated and takes control of U.S. intelligence agencies, himself).

This isn't just the fact that Vladimir Putin interfered with the recent election in an attempt to get Donald Trump elected president (or, at least, Hillary Clinton defeated). That is a matter that's been verified by U.S. intelligence. We know that Russia did that.

Of course, we knew that even before the election. It didn't seem to matter to Trump supporters - or to Americans who either threw away their vote on a ridiculous third party candidate or couldn't be bothered to vote at all.

So what if we elect the president Vladimir Putin wants, right? No doubt he just wants to make America great again, huh? LOL

This latest allegation goes much further than that. I suppose it's a reason for swinging the election Trump's way, if they have blackmail material against him. But it's hard for me to imagine them needing a better reason that the damage Donald Trump, and his Republican colleagues, will do to America (even worse than what George W. Bush did to us, don't you think?).

Still, I thought it was... well, "funny" implies humor, so I'm not sure if I want to use that word. It's very easy to laugh at Donald Trump, of course. But nothing about him becoming president is funny.

So, let me just say that Trump's tweet is... noteworthy. Yeah, Russia denies everything. Well, that settles that, huh? If you can't trust Vladimir Putin's regime, who can you trust?

No doubt if they were blackmailers, they'd willingly own up to that, right? Or would you expect them to lie as readily as Donald Trump does?

Friday, January 6, 2017

What did Trump know and when did he stop knowing it?

Jebus! It's going to be a long four years.

I'm still waiting for that 'IRS audit' to be over, so Trump can release his tax returns. LOL

But when it comes to Donald Trump, this cartoon sums it up:

Only the start

These are all to a theme. See if you can figure it out. :)

Welcome to 2017. Nice start, huh? My own congressional representative (for my sins, apparently) is Jeff Fortenberry, who voted in favor of gutting the independent Office of Congressional Ethics.

If you're curious about your own Republican representative attempting to gut the ethics office in a secret vote behind closed doors, check out this list. Or call his office. They'd be glad to hear from you. :)

In the election, we heard a lot of claims from the GOP that Hillary Clinton was 'corrupt.' But afterwards, they first thing they do is attempt to gut the independent Office of Congressional Ethics.

Keep in mind that this independent office was established by Democrats, in the very brief period in which they controlled the House after the 2008 election, in response to the corruption we'd seen during the Bush years (and the clear lack of interest in Congress in policing itself).

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

My New Year's resolution

My New Year's resolution is to keep laughing. The alternative, after all, is to cry.

Still, I don't know how long I can keep this resolution. How black can things get and still let me laugh?

Monday, January 2, 2017

The perfect story in your head

Happy New Year, everyone, and my apologies for the state of this blog. I've been slacking off for some time, but the election really ended things. And it's not going to get any better, I'm sure. (Right from the start, I pledged that I wouldn't let this become a chore, and I'm holding to that.)

But today, I thought I'd post a comment I made somewhere else. It's already written, after all. :)

There's a woman who writes a monthly column in my local newspaper pushing Christianity (Everyday Faith). Michelle DeRusha seems like a very nice woman, just entirely faith-based.

She's the woman who claims to have been an atheist before God came to her in church one Sunday. Yes, as an 'atheist,' she never missed church - the church she'd been raised in since infancy, of course. And as an 'atheist,' she had to take her kid to Sunday School every week, right? (I'll note that being a "former atheist" is very popular among Christians these days.)

Anyway, there's lots of Christian propaganda in my local newspaper, and never any opposing views. So I supply one. Heh, heh. I don't subscribe to the paper, online or otherwise, so I don't normally comment there. But I usually post a comment every month to DeRusha's column.

In her latest post, "God is the author of the story," she explains how she built up a "perfect story" in her head and was disappointed when reality didn't match God's plan.
You see, I had written a perfect story in my head -- a fairy tale, complete with a knight(ess) in shining armor and the quintessential happy ending. I had it all worked out: the poignant meeting at the airport, the excitement of the kids when they saw their bedrooms, their new backpacks, the cute stuffed animals propped just so on brand-new sheets, the friendship we would forge -- dinners together, laughter, conversation, pass the lamb stew!

The problem was, I had forgotten one critical detail: God, not me, is the author of this story. And long before I knew a single detail about the Yazidi people, long before “sponsorship” and “refugee” and “resettlement” were part of my daily vocabulary, he had already begun to write it. He had plans for each one of us in this story. My disappointment arose from the fact that my plans didn’t match his. The truth is, they rarely do.

This is so typical of DeRusha. She's a very nice woman who goes the extra mile to do good things, but wraps up everything in a God wrapper. Even when she recognizes that she built a fantasy story in her head, a "fairy tale" that was disproved by reality, she refuses to learn the real lesson from that and remains entirely faith-based.

Anyway, I thought I'd post my (long) comment to that column here. Why not? As I say, it's already written. And I'm certainly not swamping you with posts these days, huh?
"God, not me, is the author of this story."

Actually, you're more the author of this story than 'God' is. There's no evidence that a god even exists outside of your imagination, let alone your particular God, let alone that you have any idea of what a god might be doing.

Do you see what you did? You imagined a fantasy in your head. That fantasy didn't match reality, so you were disappointed.

You've imagined a fantasy about 'God,' too. But reality doesn't enter into it. Thus, you have no check on your imagination. You can - and do - just imagine whatever you want to imagine.

You think you'll
meet 'God' after you die, but that's a fantasy that can never be disproved while you're alive. When you're disappointed, you imagine that it was all 'God's' plan, and that can never be disproved, either. Thus, when it comes to 'God,' your fantasy is never challenged by reality.

You know exactly what 'God' wants, unless something bad or unexplainable happens, in which case, 'God' has a reason that we mere mortals can't understand. Thus, when it comes to the fantasy you've imagined in your head, it can never be disproved. Even when it's wrong.

This is why science advances, but religion never does. A scientist may imagine a beautiful hypothesis, a lovely idea - brilliant, inspiring, perfect in every way. But if it doesn't match up to reality, it has to be discarded.

Science stays grounded in reality, rather than in the imagination of some pleasant fantasy, because it's evidence-based. The most beautiful idea in the world can't be accepted without evidence. And although any individual - scientist or otherwise - might be reluctant to find evidence that disproves his own beloved ideas, science relies on other scientists for that. No one, after all, is reluctant to disprove someone else's beloved idea.

Religion doesn't have that. In religion, your fantasies are immune to reality. If you disagree with your church, you can just find a different church or start your own. That's why science comes to a worldwide consensus about what's true and what isn't, while religious believers can't agree about anything.

I find your columns very interesting, because you often get halfway to the truth, but then refuse to take that extra step. This column is a perfect example of that. You recognize that you built up a fantasy in your head, a story that ended up not matching reality. Unfortunately for you, for this story, reality showed you that your fantasy was wrong. So you were unhappy.

But that fantasy about 'God,' that story which you've also imagined in your head, can't ever be disproven by reality, even in theory. Even if you were wrong, you'd never know it. And that's the case with every faith-based believer of every competing religion, too. You all just believe what you want to believe, such that even those of you who supposedly follow the same holy instruction manual can't agree about much of anything.

Thus, all of you can keep your pretty fantasies. Every religion in the world, every interpretation of every holy book, every 'personal relationship' with a god, every story about who your god is, what he wants, what he does,... it's all immune to reality, as long as it doesn't claim something which can be tested by science. (Even then, how many faith-based people reject evolution, or global warming, or the actual age of the Earth? They're not willing to give up their fantasies even when they have been shown to be wrong.)

Unlike you, I care about the truth of my beliefs. I want to believe as many true things as possible and as few false things as possible. So I'm evidence-based, not faith-based. I want to have good reasons backing up my beliefs, and if I'm wrong, I want to know that, so I can change my beliefs. That's why real-world evidence is so critical. Science has shown us that. Science has progressed so rapidly and so greatly for just that reason.

Yes, in your story, this was all God's story. Unfortunately, your story is fiction. At least, there's zero reason to believe that it's anything else.