Friday, August 05, 2005

Yay, BYU!

Congrats to Steve Young on his entrance into the Football Hall of Fame. It's richly deserved. It's also another testament to the greatness of LaVell Edwards, his college coach.

Our Senator Byrd

Senator Byrd is being attacked by ads in his home state. His counter ads sound maudlin, but the fact that he's airing them may indicate that he may be in trouble. You'd hope that he'd know when to hang it up, but he doesn't impress he as the kind of politician who can give up preening and pontificating and being at the nodes of power.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Is there intelligent life on the left? I wouldn't use that term to the politicization of Bush's comments on teaching intelligent design. What he said was:
"Both sides ought to be properly taught . . . so people can understand what the debate is about. Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. . . . You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes.
In other words, he didn't advocate teaching intelligent design as scientific fact, but as one view of the debate over evolution, so that people know what the debate is about. I don't think it should be taught as a scientific fact, but I would be happy if they just mentioned that not every pronouncement of science in the past has turned out to be correct. In fact many new ideas that have later been accepted were at first denounced as nonsense. Continental drift, for instance. That doesn't strike a lot of Americans as an unreasonable position. I wouldn't go any farther than just pointing out that some people think that random mutations are enough to account for the diversity and complexity of life. Evolution is pretty clear, but the pace and the exact mechanisms by which it operates aren't.

The fossil record supports evolution, but does it justify the idea that it was the result of random mutations in DNA? That's a mathematical problem and when you compound the likelihoods of beneficial mutations among all other possible ones occurring over and over over millions and billions of years, it's pretty difficult to comprehend the numbers involved. Some smart and educated people think the numbers don't add up, and it isn't good enough to dismiss them as religious kooks.

It always strikes me that science programs on television very seldom use the language of random mutation and natural selection to describe evolution. They use terms implying strategy, response to changing conditions, even going so far as to personify nature and evolution as intelligent forces making choices. Indeed as scientists recognize how early in earth history life emerged, they begin to posit ways it could have come from other planets. One thing that impresses everybody is the persistence of life in all kinds of hostile environment, and it's ability to reconstitute itself after devastating mass extinctions. I'm a religious person, but I'm beginning to believe that human beings aren't intended to occupy earth for eons like those in which the dinosaurs thrived. At the very least, one must wonder how civilization would be effected by catastrophes like those which have occurred in the past, such as supervolcanic eruptions, collisions with comets and meteorites, tsunamis thirty times larger than the one last Christmas. We'd do well not to repeat the example of Babel.

Witness for the Prosecution

Robert Novak answers the lynch mob after Rove:
At the CIA, the official designated to talk to me denied that Wilson's wife had inspired his selection but said she was delegated to request his help. He asked me not to use her name, saying she probably never again will be given a foreign assignment but that exposure of her name might cause "difficulties" if she travels abroad. He never suggested to me that Wilson's wife or anybody else would be endangered. If he had, I would not have used her name. I used it in the sixth paragraph of my column because it looked like the missing explanation of an otherwise incredible choice by the CIA for its mission.

How big a secret was it? It was well known around Washington that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. Republican activist Clifford May wrote Monday, in National Review Online, that he had been told of her identity by a non-government source before my column appeared and that it was common knowledge. Her name, Valerie Plame, was no secret either, appearing in Wilson's "Who's Who in America" entry.
Naturally, when Wilson launched his "Bush lied!" campaign, how difficult was it for someone to remember hearing that his wife worked at the CIA? Good luck finding the original leak. It will probably be Wilson or Plame at a cocktail party. This is looking more like a set up all the time.

Beneath contempt

George Galloway's latest on Arab TV:
Two of your beautiful daughters are in the hands of foreigners - Jerusalem and Baghdad. The foreigners are doing to your daughters as they will. The daughters are crying for help, and the Arab world is silent. And some of them are collaborating with the rape of these two beautiful Arab daughters. Why? Because they are too weak and too corrupt to do anything about it.
You can't say he hasn't earned his bribes. Maybe they should quit allowing him out of the country.

Words Matter -- Moral Clarity Matters

Best of the Web describes the work of Steven Vincent, a reporter who was murdered in Basra, Iraq, and quotes extensively from an essay printed in last Sunday's NYTimes. His reporting and commentary seem to be exceptional among press reporters for their clarity and understanding of what the war on terrorism is all about. The post includes a great quote from Vincent's writing about the connation of terminology such as "insurgents" and "guerillas" for the terrorists.
Supporters of the conflict in Iraq bear much blame for allowing the terminology--and, by extension, the narrative--of events to slip from our grasp and into the hands of the anti-war camp. Words and ideas matter. Instead of saying that the Coalition "invaded" Iraq and "occupies" it today, we could more precisely claim that the allies liberated the country and are currently reconstructing it. More than cosmetic changes, these definitions reflect the nobility of our effort in Iraq, and steal rhetorical ammunition from the left.

The most despicable misuse of terminology, however, occurs when Leftists call the Saddamites and foreign jihadists "the resistance" What an example of moral inversion! For the fact is, paramilitary death squads are attacking the Iraqi people. And those who oppose the killers--the Iraqi police and National Guardsmen, members of the Allawi government, people like Nour--they are the "resistance." They are preventing Islamofascists from seizing Iraq, they are resisting evil men from turning the entire nation into a mass slaughterhouse like we saw in re-liberated Falluja. Anyone who cares about success in our struggle against Islamofascism, or upholds principles of moral clarity and lucid thought--should combat such Orwellian distortions of our language.
Read the whole thing. It is a scathing indictment of the media who refuse to use the word "terrorists" which they justify with the inanity, "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Does anybody in his right mind really believe that bin Laden, Zarqawi, the Baathists, Syria, Iran or the Taliban are dedicated to freedom? Vincent's writings deserve to be famous, and discussed. This quotation in particular deserves to be repeated everywhere. It's an instant classic. Vincent's death should be mourned along with the death of Michael Kelly. People with this clarity of mind and prose are too few in the world, and the loss of two such writers is tragic.

Suggestion for Talk Shows

One of the things I appreciate about Hugh Hewitt's radio program is that he reads his emails during the program and sometimes reads comments on the air. Having called into such programs in the past, I'm never going to do it again. I hate the sound of my voice on these shows, and the imprecise way my thoughts spill out. But email is so easy, and quick, I can comment quickly and send them much faster than waiting on the phone waiting to be answered. I think it would also be easier for a call screener or host to flip through emails for interesting comments than to ask each caller what he's calling about, and sometimes being deceived by someone who turns out to be a troll. It's exhilarating to get a short response from the host or producer when they have time and inclination. Hugh has read a number of my comments on the air.

I wish Michael Medved would do something similar. As programs become more and more popular, it might be impossible for the host to review all the email personally, but it could be screened by an employee such as a webmaster, who can screen out the spam and trolls much more effectively than a call screener can and knows what the host would find interesting, just as newspapers have letters editors who choose what missives get published.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Fatwa follies

So the celebrated fatwa against terrorism is a phoney. You know, I'm starting to think that the gentlemen at CAIR and FCNA aren't acting in good faith.

I guess we shouldn't be surprised, nor should we have expected that Muslims would pay much attention to it, even if it were all in proper form. Islam has no priesthood. It doesn't really even have the concept of divine authority being vested in any human, except perhaps the prophet Mohammed. That's what the whole Sunni/Shiite split was about, who should be the leader of all Muslims. As we can see, it was never resolved, although if the Wahhabis get their way, it will be through the liquidation of every Muslim who disagrees with them.

I've always found it curious that the three main religions based on the Old Testament all believe that God revealed his will to prophets in the past, but ceased to do so after some point, although the time of such cessation varies. Generally this assurance that God has quit speaking is delivered by non-prophets who have taken over the role of the real priesthood, generally the intellectuals of their day, scribes, rabbis, or doctors of philosophy who began to be elected to ecclesiastical office after the Christian apostles were no longer around to guide the Church. What we see today is the result of the arrogance of scholars who have changed doctrines, wrested the scriptures or changed them and arrogated to themselves the power to establish doctrine. In both Christianity and Islam religious leaders have resorted to violence once they got a taste for power, and behaved in ways at odds to the founding revelations of the past. In any event, today the value of a pronouncement by any of them is based on how many accept his holiness.

I come from a tradition that believes the true religion will be lead by people choseen by God to whom he reveals his commandments, and that any religion that doesn't allow for continuing revelation is not representing God. Pronouncements that are in the nature of philosophical treatises or legal briefs, don't impress me much, especially when they turn out to be dishonest.

Where's the abuse of power?

Why do the Democrats in the Senate expect the president, after nominating someone for the Supreme Court, expect him to furnish information to try to disqualify the nominee?

If I were the president, I'd tell them to go pound sand. The executive branch has already vetted the candidate, presumably, and thinks he'd be a good justice. They now want to examine every document he ever worked on, going back to when he was just out of law school. NARAL argues, "What's he hiding?" Since when is that a justifiable ground for attacking someone's character? The attorney-client privilege belongs to the client, not the attorney. If the client withholds documents, you can assume it's all evidence against the attorney's competence or character.

All you can ask from a judge is that he/she knows the law and knows how to apply legal prinicples in resolving issues. You can't anticipate every issue he/she will ever be called to rule on, nor can you dictate how he/she will rule on current issues. If you expect to do so, shouldn't you have to disqualify yourself as a fair judge of his qualification? In a normal court, you'd be able to object to jurors with the kind of conflicts of interest that Ted Kennedy, Pat Leahy and Chuck Schumer and the entire Democrat Party has. They get a lot of money from pro-abortion groups intent on protecting their victories of the past. Of course, if you tried to press that, you'd probably have to disqualify every member of the Senate no matter what party they belong to.

This is the result of the courts' failure to stick to their knitting. These conflicts are harmful to the judiciary as well as to the government as a whole, which requires the respect of the people in order to function. As the government shows itself to be more sensitive to big contributors and special interest groups than to the results of elections, citizens are likely to feel that their votes have no meaning, especially when laws passed by their elected representatives are overruled again and again by courts.

Bush appointed John Bolton in a recess appointment after a minority of the Senate blocked him from getting a vote. And they accuse Bush of an abuse of power? Are they really this stupid or do they just think their constituents are? This tactic is being enabled by a group of "moderate" Republicans and Senator Voinivich, who seems to fear that John Bolton is a threat to his grandchildren. (Is he really so dumb as to believe that the U.N. is going to deliver world peace after Saddam Hussein, one of the most blatant enemies of peace since Joseph Stalin, was able to buy off members of the Security Council? If so, what's he doing in the U.S. Senate?)

Clinging to Mortality.

Glenn Reynolds seems to have made anti-aging research a personal cause. He hasn't gotten to feeling old, yet. With his attitudes, activity and genes, he'll probably live long and prosper. I won't.

The subject really cries out for more serious attention from the government, however, since with people living longer the future of Social Security is not rosy. There are a lot of retired people around who could still be working as more and more still are doing. One wonders, then why they should be drawing on a fund that is being paid for by other workers who are trying to buy homes, raise and educate children, while they are enjoying life.

The issue has all kinds of relevance to the rising costs of health care, especially the affordability of medicine. I know that I can't afford any of the latest treatments for rheumatoid arthritis. Should we really be spending ever more public resources on people who aren't contributing or creating wealth anymore. It's not that I don't appreciate the knowledge and wisdom of old people. With the exception of Helen Thomas, they are a link to the past that young people should value more than they generally do.

The problem is that we have locked ourselves into a non-maintainable system that, as a political issue, can't or won't be addressed until they reach a real crisis. Real statesmen could do something about it, but we'll never have a majority of statesmen in Congress. It's just contrary to human nature. It should have been part of the Constitution to tax workers to transfer the money to those who don't work, but that horse left the barn long ago. I'm starting to feel grateful that I probably won't live to collect Social Security.

A needed corrective

Last week I was treated to the vision of a pair of nubile young silly girls in church showing off a two-inch swath of midriff over a short denim shirt or low-rise jeans and a shorter teeshirt with a saucy message on the front. After thanking heaven that I never had a daughter, I wondered where this would end.

Maybe hope is here in the form of a new expression, muffin top, referring to the way the skin comes over the top of the jeans or skirt. This has been a staple of red-neck wear for a long time, along with the butt-cleavage exposure when large men stoop or bend down. When I was in high school, I used to think that girls weren't aware of how their immodest attire affected boys in the throes of adolescence. Now, I know better. They know, but sometimes they don't quite understand the nature of the interest they arouse. Increasingly, though, they do understand and like the feeling of strutting on the brink of sin. What they don't get is that despite what these styles cost, they will always look cheap.


Michelle Malkin and Brian Maloney are keeping the Air America scandal in front of us. Hugh Hewitt and Ed Morissey are also on it. I'm sure that those involved in fronting money from a 501(c)(3) organization to such a worthy cause as taking back the media from Rush Limbaugh still can't see what was wrong with it, but one must wonder when they thought the Great Left Hope was going to repay the loan. The more that comes out, the more we see that this project was never expected to really make money. Which begs the question, what was the Gloria Wise group doing lending money to commercial ventures. Or did they think the new network was also a charity?

It's another case of a scandal the MSM don't want to cover, with the exception of The New York Sun. Why, if they feel threatened by bloggers, why don't they try harder to scoop them, instead of looking like hypocrites by trying to stifle stories like this?

Every time one is tempted to ascribe intelligence to the left, . . .

along comes a story like this one. I realize that outrageous statements may be made for rhetorical reasons, when they become so common that they lose their impact, they just demonstrate the extent of your weirdness. Combine this with the repeated absurdity that conservatives are out of the mainstream of opinion, comparing the Boy Scouts of America to a terrorist organization might get a few thumbs up from one's gay friends, but it won't help your claims to represent the mainstream.

Welcome back, James Taranto

His vacation has sharpened his wit, as the first item on the liberal responses to John Roberts' nomination illustrates. Yes, President Bush could have found a gay, Latino, African-American female in a wheelchair, but one must wonder what sacrifices in qualifications would have to made in order to find the most politically correct person to assume the post. Maybe we should create some symbolic justiceships to represent all the minority groups who think they're entitled to be represented. They could go around giving speeches paying lip service to the ideal of perfect representation.

Judicial Appointments as a voting issue

Since the election, Democrats have fulminated, fretted, blamed and sometimes asked what they are doing wrong. Now Manuel Miranda offers them some good advice for free: Give up the obstruction tactics and using the Supreme Court as a political instrument. That issue might not have motivated a broad constituency, but those it did motivate were galvanized by it. The votes in state after state against redefining marriage to include same-sex marriages were 70%, and the issues brought a lot of voters to the polls who weren't concerned before. They don't like judges making decisions like this, effectively placing themselves above democracy.

Will they listen? Maybe, if the Miranda's newest column is true.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Stem cells

I don't believe the argument that using frozen embryos for stem cell research is murder or that they could all be adopted by infertile couples. The practical fact is that they won't be and that many will be discarded, as many have been already.

The argument put forth by a lot of conservatives is that they are people. For me, it begs the question of what a soul is. If, at the instant on fertilization, a new soul pops into existence, perhaps the Catholic position makes sense, but it also raises a whole lot of religious metaphysical questions that get pretty thick:

If a soul comes into existence at fertilization, is it damned by reason of original sin unless and until it comes to full term and is born and baptized? On what basis?

If for some reason the embryo doesn't attach to the wall of the womb, or it attaches but is later miscarried, is it a death? Is it a murder by nature?

If death is defined as a separation of the spirit or soul from its body, what happens to all the little souls who are created by fertilization but never get implanted?

I believe that resurrection is the reuniting of the body and soul, but I'm not sure what other Christian religions think about this. A lot of theologians think that the material world is totally incompatible with God and Heaven. If getting to heaven means shedding this body, why is it so serious to commit murder? There seem to be some incongruencies here.

John Bolton, et al.

Take your pick:

The left's tactic of blocking Bush's nominees is:

1. supposed to lay ground for arguing that he hasn't done anything;

2. all they have left to offer their base, spite;

3. an attempt to show that they still matter;

4. pointless and futile, like terrorism;

5. an attempt to protect ground gained with bad legal precedent;

6. all of the above.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Doesn't Helen Thomas have a family?

Surely, if she had, they would have put her in a home by now.
She's become a bitter crone, almost the personification of the Democrats' madness.

And speaking of the Democrats' madness, who better exemplifies it that John Dean. We saw how successful his "I'm mad as hell . . ." approach was in the last election. It's rousing and gets the true believers fired up, if you could have them vote right at the peak or their outrafe, he might win, but it doesn't work that way. They have time between the rally and the voting booth in which to think. Does anybody really think that an Elmer Gantry of politics could govern Ameria?