Thursday, December 22, 2005


What do they all have in common? They are losers in the eyes of the electorate.
Preliminary results in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad indicate that Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress scored a minuscule 0.36 percent of the votes.
Out of almost 2.5 million voters in Baghdad, only 8,645 voted for Chalabi.
In the Shiite city of Basra, the results indicate he had an equally dismal showing of 0.34 percent of the vote.
In the violent Sunni province of Anbar, 113 people voted for him.

Ouch! that's got to hurt more than Joe Lieberman finishing fifth in New Hampshire with 9% (and that was his best finish outside Delaware and Connecticut).

Atrios wonders if Rummy et al will start defending Chalabi's claims of massive election fraud. Idiots like Doug Feith and the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee crew might, but they are the biggest jokes out there.

ID and its place in schools

This follow up is a response to commenter "Joe" from the previous post. He made two points, 1) any discussion of philosophy invariably involves a discussion of God or some sort of supernatural explanation for the way the world works and 2) there has to be gaps in the fossil record even assuming what science tells us is true--namely, that the Earth is billions of years old and is very dynamic. I will deal with the second one first as it is the easiest to dispense with.

Joe, when I talked about gaps in the fossil records, I am referring to ID proponents claims that there seems to be sudden changes that cannot be explained by gradual change, ergo creatures must have been created by some intelligent designer (which ID people won't say is the Judeo-Christian God, but let's face it, that's to who they are referring).

Undoubtedly, we cannot trace the evolutionary development of every single species from the dawn of life until present day, due to volcanoes, meters, earthquakes, erosion, etc. But the Plaintiff experts certainly convinced Judge Jones (and me) that none of these "gaps" necessitate that the theory of evolution is flawed. "Dr. Padian’s unrebutted testimony demonstrates that Pandas distorts and misrepresents evidence in the fossil record about pre-Cambrian-era fossils, the evolution of fish to amphibians, the evolution of small carnivorous dinosaurs into birds, the evolution of the mammalian middle ear, and the evolution of whales from land animals." Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Board at 85.

In short, the judge analyzed each and every critique of evolution and every critique of ID and came out in the favor of evolution as good science and ID as non-science.

To your first point, that discussions of God and the supernatural are long traditions in philosophy. In the ancient days, philosophy and science were inseperable, they both sought to discover the way the universe works. That's why Aristotle was both a botanist and a ethicist (other than the fact that he was really smart).

In my courses on philosophy (one taught in a German college prep school, another taught at Brown University), we talked about supernatural explanations of things, but never about God or the will of God. That was for religion classes.

Personally, I think scientists do what they do not because they want to be or think they are God(s) but because they are trying to understand God's work. God could have very well created the rules that we call physics, how chemicals react, etc. This still seems consistant with the beginning of the Gospell according to John [which by the way really should be "In the beginning was the idea..." because the word John actually used Logos does not necessarily mean "Word"]. To me, there can still be a creator and Lord of us all without having to disprove or discount evolution. Natural section could be God's way. I truly belive that "everything happens for a reason."

Philosophers, like theologians, are involved in figuring out how one should live their life. But ethics is completely independant of evolution, notwithstanding ID supporter's statements that evolution contridicts "every word in the Bible." Philosophy no longer muses about the origin of life, that is again left to either biology or theology.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Utah legislature: (un)intelligent design

"That ruling won't affect my bill at all. . . . My bill isn't written in that manner," Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, said about yesterday's ruling on intelligence design in Pennslyvania. Buttars wants ID tought in an humanities or philosphy class. That sounds like making a philosphy class a theology class. But, wait it gets worse.

"It does challenge the school board, that they're going to have to rewrite their position on evolution to some degree," Buttars said. "Let me put it this way: There is no consensus in the scientific community regarding how life began . . . (so) to have a teacher teaching how life began and calling it fact really offends me. . . . I'm going to stop that. That's all I'm going to say right now."

From yesterday's Kitzmiller decision: "Despite the scientific community’s overwhelming support for evolution Defendants and ID proponents insist that evolution is unsupported by empirical evidence...[Plaintiff expert and paleontologist] Dr. Padian’s demonstrative slides, prepared on the basis of peer-reviewing scientific literature, illustrate how Pandas systematically distorts and misrepresents established, important evolutionary principles." Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, --F.3d -- (M.D.Pa. 2005) pp.83-84 of Document 342.

I guess Buttars really didn't have time to read this through debunking of ID as any sort of science and that ID backers distort and misrepresent any dispute amoung scientists about evolution. There are no "gaps in the fossil record" and the book "Of Pandas and People" is bad science, even the Defense experts acknowledged that.

Slate's William Saletan, argues that, "Scientifically, [Judge] Jones settles the issue. Culturally, he fails." Perhaps this is a better explaination for why Buttars insists on going forward, despite there being scientific consensus on how life began and developed. There is still cultural debate about how allegorical or literal the Book of Genesis is. Yet the whole ID movement is premised on the idea that you can either believe in God or Darwin, and not both.

One of the Plaintiff's experts, Brown Biology Professor Kenneth Miller, is an ardent Catholic, yet he is one of the leading defenders of Natural Selection and doesn't see it as conflicting with his beliefs. "Certainty of outcome means that control and predictability come at the price of independence." Miller explained to Brown Alumni Magazine. "By being always in control, the Creator would deny His creatures any real opportunity to know and worship Him. Authentic love requires freedom, not manipulation." That freedom, Miller concludes, "is best supplied by the open contingency of evolution, and not by strings of divine direction attached to every living creature."

Miller has even written books about this very notion, called Finding Darwin's God.

But let's get back to public policy. "The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the board who voted for the ID policy," Jones wrote, "The students, parents and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources."

And yet, Buttars was well recieved by his GOP collegues behind (of course) closed doors. This is the same group that thinks it is ok for LDS Institutes of Religion to be across the street from High Schools, and to get course credit for it (this has since stopped). Or who stop everything to ban all High School clubs and groups because of gay-straight alliance clubs. The culture wars are winning issues for Utah Republicans, but a losing issue for the progress of society here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Cheney thinks we're all Homer

Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
Lisa: That's specious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you dear.
Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
Homer: Oh, how does it work?
Lisa: It doesn't work.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: It's just a stupid rock.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: But I don't see any tigers around, do you?
Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock. (Cohen, 1996)

VP Dick Cheney, defending Bush's domestic NSA spying sans FISA warrants: "It's not an accident that we haven't been hit in four years." 12/20/05

the golden rule of presidenial power

Thanks to the power hungry Ford Administration veterans like Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, along with the Al Qaeda attacks on 9/11, the hotest area of constitutional law these days in executive authority.

Folks like Bill Kristol and John Yoo are arguing that the president has the authority to go above the law and the constitution when there is a threat to national security. Besides the fact that this is utter lies, I would bet any amount of money that had Gore won the recount, and a president Gore done what Bush did with the NSA, these same folks would be screaming bloody murder.

My golden rule is this, if it is something you would grant Richard Nixon/Ronald Reagan/GW Bush to do, it has to also be something you would grant Bill Clinton/Al Gore/John Kerry to do. For example, I am fine with all of their fingers on the button, but I am not cool with all of them locking people up without charges or access to lawyers. Or spying on Americans in the US without a warrant.

First Bush compared himself to Churchill and FDR, but now he is trying to compare himself to the extraconstitutional actions of Lincoln, who ignored supreme court decisions he didn't like and suspended habeas corpus. Not surprisingly, neither action is viewed today as legal and we only don't talk about it so much because he won the civil war and freed slaves.

During the War of 1812, the president didn't have the powers that our does now. And then we were actually being invaded. Washington, DC was aflame. And Lincoln was at war with the Southern states. Bush is at war with an extreme religious ideology that is transnational and decentralized. The Al Qaeda of 2001 is gone, now we have a Hydra-headed organization whose primary goal is to kill Americans, especially American soldiers in Iraq.

Destorying it will take creativity, cunning, and people able to infiltrate parts of the organization; data mining Arabs and extreme left groups isn't the ticket.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bush: "Congress"=4 Senators

Bush and Gonzales claim that they met with and consulted "Congress" several times while wiretapping via the NSA without FISA warrants. Of course, he failed to mention that only 4 senators knew about this, Rockafeller is the only one I know of so far that knew about it. Since Rockafeller was told (and not allowed to consult is staff or committee attorneys) the obstructionist yes man Roberts must have known too. So who else? It wasn't Min. Leader Reid, who found out hours before the story broke (which had been held for a year). My guess, two republicans. I wonder if Jane Harmon in the House knew, or was the Senate Intelligence Committee it?

There was no consultation, there was only we will tell you but you can't tell anyone. If these Senators said no, would the Bush administration have stopped? What kind of details were revealed (whom were they listening to)? If the Senators had leaked the information, I am sure the White House would have pushed to expel them from the committee.

Liberals in the House and Senate are seriously talking about impeachment. I wonder if in 2007 Bush's number will be up.

FEC pay for play

The Bush White House will leave no sector of the federal government under utilized as a carrot or stick for its political agenda. Case in point, the FEC, usually a bastion of party hacks, who collectively agree to let the big parties do whatever they want within reason. But now, Bush has appointed a replacement whose wife just testified before Fitzgerald's Grand Jury on the Plame Affair. How much can we really trust her testimony?

Let's hear from anti-campaign finance reform ex-FEC member (appointed by Clinton) Bradley Smith:

"Lenhard’s name has been in play – indeed, more than in play, the presumptive nominee - for two and a half years, not one. The first scare release was issued back in the summer of 2003.

Of course, the plot could be more devilish than we think. Clearly Lenhard was offered the opportunity to serve on the FEC, knowing that his wife would become a player in the Rove scandal, and then was left hanging by the White House for two years while they made sure that his wife lived up to her end of the bargain.

Will the corruption never cease?"

The end line of this line of logic is that Bush will pardon lots of people say January 2009 and resign a tad early to have Cheney pardon him too.

another reason Gonzales should be dismissed

The strength of a good attorney is not coming up with some argument to defend what you want to do anyway, but to honestly look at the law and give their client the best advice they can. And some times that advice is "don't do it" or "ask Congress for more power" or "sue" to get what you want. But to stretch statutes and the constitution beyond recognition doesn't do anyone any favors.

I guess Bush doesn't care about the law, he just wants to know how he can do what he wants to do. Afterall, this is the same guy that said things would be easier if the US were a dictatorship, if only he were the dictator. And that to me sums up his outlook on the Presidency-- I should be able to do whatever I want to becuase I have good intentions.

Who cares if we are a nation of laws and not men, Bush has looked into their hearts and his own and seen that they are good men and knows they will do what is alright. Just go back asleep and don't worry about a thing, I will keep you safe he says. Only, they have made things much much worse. More groups hate us, and more countries are less stable than they were prior to his actions. We have no support from the rest of the non-bribable world.

Despite their illegal and unconstitutional wiretapping of American citizens, we haven't stopped any plots, we haven't been able to convict anyone. The Bush legal team has been a disaster. I know we haven't stopped any plots becuase we would have heard about it, like we heard about that "sleeper cell" near Buffalo, NY whose only crime was traveling to Afghanistan. As far as I know, they never recieved any orders from Al Qaeda or training, even if they ended up in one of the camps. They held Jose Padilla for about three years without any charges and barely access to attorneys, yet they dismissed criminal charges against him and other than their leaked complaint/information, there was no legal action taken against him.

And who are they spying on anyway, radical Islamic folks? People who makes lots of trips to the middle east? Nope, anti-war protestors. That the best part, those fools can barely organize a rally, and you are worried about them? Wiretapping could save lives when dones against real threats, but you could always get rhetroactive FISA warrants 72 hours after the fact and 99% the courts approve it, and ther other 1%, they just amend the warrant.

So please, explain to me why the President must circumvent the constitution and the US Code, because he means well, because he is a war president? Because Cheney wants to move executive powers back to pre-Watergate levels? No president could lawfully do what this guy is doing, and none should. It doesn't help us, it only hurts America.