Archive for July, 2005

Fifth Column, an etiology

John Perazzo describes the history of the term ‘fifth column’ and provides examples of its members in the current G-SAVE (Global struggle against violent extremists, which is replacing GWOT, the global war on terror).

The term “Fifth Column” was coined by a Spanish Civil War General named Emilio Mola. As four columns of his troops advanced on Madrid, he stated confidently that, within the city, he also had a “fifth column”of supporters

In the GWOT or the G-SAVE or whatever you want to call it, the iceberg analogy applies. The enemy does not fly consistent colors tied to a geographic entity recognized in the community of nations. The tactics are those of a very small army broadly dispersed using terror rather than confrontation. The goals of the enemy and the reasons for its behavior are not easily tied to any cause for war and they are often misrepresented to suit the context of the moment. The most violent actions part of the enemy cadre is the part of the iceberg above the waterline. It is the smaller part of the enemy.

It is the part of the iceberg below the water that cannot be ignored. This part includes the madrasas and imams who teach jihad. It includes those who rationalize and excuse kidnapping, the killing and murder of innocents, and suicide as a proper tactic, – those who pretend the struggle is what it is not. Much of this part of the enemy resides within. It is the fifth column.

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Kyoto done the capitalist way

John Hinderaker gets in a bit of sarcasm in noting what the US is up to in reducing greenhouse gases.

consider Bush’s latest master stroke: the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. The pact includes the U.S., Japan, Australia, China, India and South Korea; these six countries account for most of the world’s carbon emissions. The treaty is, in essence, a technology transfer agreement. The U.S., Japan and Australia will share advanced pollution control technology, and the pact’s members will contribute to a fund that will help implement the technologies. The details are still sketchy and more countries may be admitted to the group later on. The pact’s stated goal is to cut production of “greenhouse gases” in half by the end of the century.

What distinguishes this plan from the Kyoto protocol is that it will actually lead to a major reduction in carbon emissions! This substitution of practical impact for well-crafted verbiage stunned and infuriated European observers.

The difference is between a top down mandate and a bottom up empowerment and enticement. Dafydd has a rundown on what it is all about at Captain’s Quarters.

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If we would tackle terror the way some go after confederate

Katie describes an interesting take on the assault of the word “Confederate” in a building name.

Vanderbilt University wanted to sandblast the word “Confederate” from its Confederate Memorial Hall, which was built 70 years ago with donations from the United Daughters of the Confederacy. After the UDC sued, the courts determined that Vanderbilt would have to pay the UDC the modern-day equivalent of its original $50,000 donation–almost a million dollars–to be able to complete the name change.

The latest news [as of May 24] is that Dr. Eddie Hamilton, a black Vanderbilt alumnus, has offered $50,000 to the United Daughters of the Confederacy if they will allow Vanderbilt to change the name of the building. He’s encouraged others to chip in as well and the UDC has stated a willingness to “look at any offer on the table.” …

This is a part of an ongoing effort to expunge and expell any rememberance of the Confederate States of America. Remember the efforts to remove the bars and stars from various state flags or the efforts to remove momuments honoring Confederate soldiers?

It has been an ongoing and long term effort to erase a part of US History. Now there are people willing to invest significant sums of personal money in the effort.

Can you imagine these same people turning this same amount of effort and dedication towards the GWOT instead?

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The issues raised by the judicial nomination

pyrodeus wrote in TR Forums:

He’s also no Solomonic jurist. He doesn’t mind if an individual has to be unfairly screwed by the system if that’s what the law says. Permanent arrest record forever hanging around the neck of a ten year old girl and screwing up her chances of employment for the “crime” of eating a single french fry on the DC metro?

He seems to view “wisdom” as the realm of the legislature, and his job is merely to read the laws that they they, in their wisdom, have promulgated.

I have no problem with Kerry’s asking for documents.

These issues are interesting because of their implications. They define some of the more significant philosophies about governance and privacy that we face today.

The ‘wisdom’ of the legislature is the wisdom of the people who elected them and delegated powers to them. If the people cannot be entrusted to govern themselves, then who should? If the people can or should govern themselves, then what limitations should be placed on that governance to inhibit rashness or impulse or temporary whims of the public, if any?

Whose responsibility is it to correct screwed up laws? How do they gain this responsibility? How are they held accountable to make sure that what they consider as ‘screwed up’ is really screwed up?

What kinds of records and documents should be made public? Should there be any client and professional (e.g. attorney or doctor) records or documents that should remain protected and privileged? Is the government allowed any privacy in its internal affairs? And what should we think of people who want to ignore established practice for personal politcal gain?

Solomon was not a jurist. He was a king with absolute power. Bringing in such analogies to compare with judicial nominees is just as bad as the tear jerk story obfuscating the issues that were at hand. The need in consideration of nominees is to avoid such poorly considered tactics of ill repute. These issues need a higher degree of intellectual integrity in the debate.

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Ollie identifies the ‘hostiles’

Oliver North (Anti) military operations (Washington Times Comentary 05jl24) describes why he thinks the people we are fighting are not all dressed in robes murdering women and children with bombs in public places.

Unfortunately, all the “hostiles” aren’t in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some are politicians, some are in the media and others are part of the old, anti-military, “Blame America First” crowd.

Last month California Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein’s assessment of the war was “everything seems to be going the wrong way.” Illinois liberal Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin likened America’s armed forces to those of Cambodia’s Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. New York Rep. Charlie Rangel actually proposed legislation to “bring back the draft.”

The mainstream media has been even worse. The New York Times’ Chris Hedges described those serving in today’s military as “poor kids from Mississippi or Alabama or Texas who could not get a decent job or health insurance.” CNN’s Eason Jordan claimed U.S. troops in Iraq killed journalists after having them “arrested and tortured.” And for months, the press beat the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo stories like rented mules.

For those of us old enough to remember coming back from a war we won on the battlefield but lost on our college campuses and in the corridors of power, all this is ominously familiar. In the ’60s, this kind of rhetoric helped alienate America’s citizen-soldiers from the citizens they served.

Current re-enlistment rates indicate those serving today — and volunteering to serve tomorrow — still believe this country is worth defending. We can be grateful that, in a war where every American is a terrorist target, there are still enough bright, tough, young Americans willing to stand up and fight.

Dr. Sanity has similar worries.

What worries me is the disrespect the media routinely demonstrates toward the soldiers on the frontlines of a war that threatens our very way of life. Here they are doing a difficult task and facing a cowardly enemy that only knows hate from their religion. What worries them the most is how the media is reporting their work, and how their loved ones must feel when they see the news that makes it seem like everything is falling apart all the time.

Fortunately, the ‘letters from the front’ are now available to more of the public and alternative sources are available so that it is possible to hold the MSM and the left accountable for thier excessive pessimism and doomsday rhetoric.

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The manner of attack in debate

Dr. Sanity talks about the propagandist’s problem You Never Know What’s Going to Happen Yesterday.

Further projection and paranoia are fairly common when one attempts to confront delusion. The confronter almost always becomes incorporated into the delusional “plot” in the eyes of the paranoid (that is why so many on the Left accuse Right-leaning bloggers of being “paid off” by the Republicans or that they are merely regurgitating the “talking points” of thw Administration–as if we don’t have independent thinking faculties that have logically brought us to the same conclusions).

If I were dealing with a patient, I wouldn’t bother to confront him so directly, as it doesn’t work very often in inducing them to change. The stakes are too high because their sense of Self is on the line. And for those on the extreme end, that identity would shatter into a million pieces without the glue of delusional fantasies.

But we are not dealing with a single patient. We are dealing with a delusional group whose committment to the group delusion varies. No, it is with the hope that there are some Democrats and others on the Left who still retain enough rational capability; and who are not inextricably tied to the failed ideologies of the 20th century–whose adherents are desperately attempting to regain the power and influence they accuse others of stealing from them–it is with the hope of reaching them, that I bother to write about these issues at all.

While those who want to change the past are forever dealing with how to know what happened yesterday, those who want to understand it for what it is are whittling away at the fringes. By direct confrontation, those most committed will express even more silly behavior trying to maintain some rational perspective on their views. Meanwhile, those not so fully committed will start to learn, to think, to see what really is and what is not. In this process the group that is least rational becomes smaller and smaller and less and less potent.

So, to them I say: open your eyes. Check the facts. Check the history. Go back and read what was said then versus what is being said now.

More and more will ‘get it’ and eventually we will all be the better for understanding what it really takes to solve the great social problems that face us.

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Crashing the funeral to dimish the death

Can you imagine a state Lt. Governor showing up univited to a fallen soldier’s funeral and asserting that the government was against the war?

This is almost to the same level of crassness as the Washington Post columnist complaining that the judicial nominee’s family was too well dressed at the White House announcement.

What is interesting about this peacenik activity is the insight it provides about the value given to life. Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll was saying that the reasons for which the soldier gave his life were of less importance than his life. In other words freedom and a defense of our country and its citizens are not worth dying for and Patrick Henry was an idiot.

UPDATE (05jl24): There has been quite a bit of notice about the Post-Gazette story in the blogs. The story so far is from one side and a response of Knoll has yet to be heard. One should be cautious about being outraged until it is clear that circumstances are what they appear. Meanwhile, the incident, real or no, provides an example of a way of thinking that deserves consideration.

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It takes a village – with the right values

Jay Tea describes the mother of a gang member in Boston who has made T shirts with the message “stop snitching” for people to wear at the gangster’s trial. The shirts have gained some popularity. He also notes

Gangs are a problem in most major cities, Boston included. Police are always looking for ways to break up the gangs, and one of the best tools they have is getting gang members and witnesses to testify against each other. The gangs have been fighting back against this, threatening and killing potential witnesses. They denounce and threaten them in rap songs and videos. Some have even put together DVDs that threaten people who would testify.

Those who engage in such activity have to consider the implications of their actions. The citizens of Iraq are facing a very severe case of this same issue. It is also one that the anti-war, hate Bush crowd need to confront as well.

The neighborhood watch program was developed for much the same reasons. If you do not want crime in your neighborhood, you have to band together with your neighbors to keep watch and take note of suspicious or criminal behavior. You have to witness, confront, and stand against theft and murder and vandalism. You cannot pick and choose and decide that if one of your ‘tribe’ did it then it is OK.

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One of the tactics being used to delay and obstruct judicial nominations is now being called Estradification. You may remember Borking after the tactics used to sink the Bork nomination. Estradification is the name given to the tactics used to sink the Estrada nomination.

Rather than attack the nominee directly with innuendo and smear, Estradification is a process of asking the administration for documents that are legally privileged and should not be divulged. In some respects, this is the same problem Rush Limbaugh is facing with his medical records.

In the Estrada case, every living solicitor general signed a letter objecting to the requests citing precendent and other issues. This didn’t make any difference. In the vein of “when did you stop beating your wife” the reluctance and refusal to turn over privileged and protected documents was portrayed as having something to hide. This then was extrapolated to mean the nominee had hidden flaws that should disqualify him from office.

The issue is one of responsible exercise of rights. There is a right to know about nominees if your job is ‘advice and consent’ but there is also a responsibility that must accompany that right. Due dilligence does not mean voyeurism nor does it mean a lack of civility in your inquiries nor does it mean playing games to fit a predisposition.

Estradification, like Borking, is an example of where a predisposition has lead to abandoning proper exercise of responsibilities. The ends have, for some on the left, become more important than the means – what they do to themselves to achieve those ends.

[hat tip Captain Ed]

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It means what I want it to mean

Thomas Sowell describes a Calculated confusion (Washington Times Commentary 05jl21) that is being used to rationalize innapropriate behavior and to confuse and cloud an issue as a means of ‘winning’ a debate.

But now a massive effort to muddy the waters has been launched by those who want judges who will continue to impose the liberal agenda from the bench. Words like “activists” and “intent” are being twisted beyond recognition.

Liberal law professors have joined in redefining words. One has given a numerical meaning to “judicial activism” by counting how many laws particular Justices have declared unconstitutional. As Mark Twain said, there are three kinds of lies — lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said it in plain English that interpreting what was meant by someone who wrote a law was not trying to “get into his mind” because the issue was “not what this man meant, but what those words would mean in the mouth of a normal speaker of English, using them in the circumstances in which they were used.”

Such contemporary followers of Holmes as Judge Robert Bork have said the same thing in different words. More important, nobody ever voted on what was in the back of someone else’s mind. They voted on the plain meaning of obvious words.

The term “constitution in exile” has been borrowed to put a label on this disengenuousness that makes it sound profound and impressive and scholarly. The idea is to paint those who think the constitution says what it means and means what is says as radical extremists who deny the court its proper duty. These ‘radical extremists’ seem to think the court’s duty is that of helping to reign in and hold accountable the legislative and executive branches. This means that the judicial branch looses the flexibility to make its own laws and act as an oligarchy to put into effect legal positions that are not approved by the dumb and illiterate masses.

Meanwhile, those who delve into nuance and mind reading and ‘enlightened’ interpretation of law to suit current needs and desires and philosophies of the intellectual class, why, these are just normal, well meaning, middle of the road, good people with the best of intentions of everyone! Its the other guys who are radical extremists.

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Abuse of power?

One of the allegations being tossed around with abandon is about the “abuse of power” by the current administration. On any vote they loose, the outcome is defined as an abuse of power. Eric, at Viking Pundit offers this view:

This the state of a political party that cannot even formulate an opinion on the cornerstone of New Deal politics. With no issues to run on, Democrats are now entirely defined by their opposition to the Republicans. The “abuse of power” argument is a perfectly logical extension of their deep-seated belief that Americans really want to vote Democratic, since it’s self-evident (to them) that too many Republicans are a threat to the country.

Such allegations beg the question of the definition of the word ‘abuse.’ They poison perception and lead to further, even more exagerated allegations.

If the exercise of power is done via previously accepted methods of authorization and execution and stays within the scope of existing law and regulation, then calling it abusive is destructive. The allegations themselves become the abuse – the abuse of a right and a privilege and a responsibility.

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Wrangling words: it depends upon what the meaning of is is.

Well, its not looking so good for the Rove smear campaign so the backup in the Bush Lied Paradigm is getting pushed. Neal Boortz summarizes the situation.

Ah ha! The media immediately ran right out and wrote a bunch of stories accusing Bush of changing his position. To them, it sounded like he wasn’t going to fire anyone unless they committed a crime.” Ted Kennedy put his pants on long enough to run right out and issue a press release condemning Bush for moving the goal posts. The only problem?

Bush’s position hasn’t move one bit. On September 30, 2003, when Bush was first asked about the leak, here is what he said: “If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.” Essentially the same thing.

The mainstream media these days really is slowly graduating from liberal bias to outright political propaganda.

Examples of this “political propaganda” can be found in headlines at SF Gate headline:

Bush alters standard for firing in leak case. President says an aide would have had to commit a crime, not just be involved. – Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, Washington Post 05jl19

or The Guardian:

Bush dilutes pledge to fire aides. – Julian Borger in Washington 05jl19

The commentaries have also weighed in to provide examples of how reality can become a bit distorted by biased perception.
John Hawkins illustrates the equivalencing argument trying to assert that both sides are just as guilty in their tactics:

Let me also add that this scandal has turned into a hair splitting festival on both the right and the left and, in my opinion, this whole thing has been over-analyzed into the ground.

To me, it comes down to whether Plame was a covert agent or not when her name came out. Right now, the answer to that question appears to be, “no.” Since that’s the case, it means that revealing her name wouldn’t have been illegal or unethical. That means that Rove did nothing wrong and shouldn’t be fired.

There’s your whole case in a nutshell and nothing else matters very much in comparison…

And then there is Andrew Sullivan’s equivalencing to attempt to show that the Bush haters are just the same as the Clinton haters.

QUOTES OF THE DAY: “If anyone in this administration was involved in it [the improper disclosure of an undercover CIA operative’s identity], they would no longer be in this administration.” – Scott McClellan, September 29, 2003.

“I don’t know of anyone in my administration who has leaked. If somebody did leak classified information, I’d like to know it, and we’ll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing.” – president Bush, September 30, 2003.

“I would like this to end as quickly as possible so we know the facts and if someone committed a crime they will no longer work in my administration,” – president Bush, today.

I think it’s possible to parse these statements as meaning the same thing. I just don’t think you can and have any record deploring Bill Clinton’s use of legal semantics.

What is at issue here? The fundamental allegation is that the administration undertook underhanded means to discredit its critics. Since such action would be a repression of the right to freely express opinion it should be condemned and anyone tainted with such underhanded means should be pilloried.

At this time there is sufficient evidence on the table to cast significant doubt on any underhanded activity being pinned on the administration in this matter. There is also good evidence that ‘taint’ is very much in the eye of a beholder not using a very high standard of discrimination. There is good argument about the idea that an appearance of impropriety is also subjective and is fundamentally flawed as well.

There is a criminal investigation that was called to answer the raising of this fundamental issue by the administration’s opponents nearly two years ago. The ruckus currently in the news appears to be a result of those opponents becoming worried that the investigation will not support their views and opinions.

Measure it yourself. It is easy to see. Who is engaged in word wrangling? Who is sticking to the fundamental positions in an appropriate context? What improprieties have really occurred?

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Hugh summarizes left and right methods of argument

Hugh Hewett makes an observation that you can see as well.

First, I think the methods of argument on the center-right are much, much more fact specific, much less prone to vulgarity, profanity or the sort of personal attacks that create barriers to new readership. No matter what you think of Betsy Newmark’s thinking on a subject, for example, her language will never be in itself an obstacle to a reader’s return to her blog. Keeping this culture matters a great deal to the future growth and certainly influence of the center right bloggers.

Finally for today, though I may be expanding on this post from time to time, the intellectual seriousness of the center-right blogs is simply light years ahead of the left. That seriousness means an appreciation for argument, self-correction, and a willingness to absorb and respond to new information, which are habits which if transferred to center-right activists generally and the GOP specifically, will strengthen effectiveness at every level.

Support for this observation is why the Rove-Plame-Wilson nadagate story is interesting. It illustrates so many of these left vs right debate values and tactics and helps to identify who where in terms of intellectual integrity. The media and Democrat Partisan leaders and left side fanatics are heavily invested in an ‘evil administration’ paradigm. It lead them to early judgments and the effort to fit all of the investigation results into that paradigm has lead them to more and more ridiculous distortions.

There are several dangers involved. One is that the attempt to maintain the delusion is destructive. It becomes a self and other propaganda effort that atttempts to hide and distort reality and that leads to poor decisions, confusion, and empowerment of the wrong elements. The other is that realization will not come easy but will be cataclysmic. This tends to leave pieces scattered all over the landscape making healing more difficult.

Perhaps the first step is that illustrated by Hewitt. There are many people who assert that the problem exists on both sides. It seems it is difficult for them to believe that sincere and highly regarded people could devolve to some of the inanities and deceit that is so visible in public. Observation shows, though, that there are patterns in behavior that are distinct and different. Playing games with the meanings of words or using population outliers to represent the mean does not produce forward progress.

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I want a head on a pike

Patrick J. Buchanan (05jl15) President vs. Press: The Media’s Attempt to Take Down Another Republican President

But with the baiting and hectoring of McClellan and the “death watch” of TV cameras outside Rove’s home every morning, the press should know it is not perceived here as advancing “the people’s right to know.” Everybody knows this is about what Watergate was about and Iran-Contra was about: ruining a Republican President the Left could not defeat at the ballot box.

Joel Mowbray (05jl15) Joe Wilson’s Credibility Problem

Which brings us back to the fundamental problem faced by the “get Rove” crowd: they need Wilson to be credible. He’s not. That’s all Rove was pointing out to Cooper—and only after the Time reporter asked him about it.

The press harangued the White House press secretary with allegation, innuendo, and even calls for his head.

Democrats in the Senate attempted to introduce a bill to remove Rove’s security clearance. Republicans responded with ammendments to remove Democrat leader security clearances.

Meanwhile, a reporter sits in jail for refusing to testify, a special prosecutor continues to try to find out what really happened, the Senate Intelligence Committee report is ignored by the Left, a parsing game is going on to try to assert that Ambassador Wilson didn’t say what he said, faux outrage over the revealing of a covert CIA agent is butting up against both legal conditions and real-life behavior, and the show continues.

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Conspiracy ethos

Mark Noonan

For quite a long time, conspiracy theories have been the grist of angry, ignorant people who want a quick and dirty explanation for why the world doesn’t make the sort of sense they believe it should. Faced with the lack of perfection in life, a subset of the human population finds itself easily gulled by knaves who vend all manner of conspiracy theories to explain away all the troubles in the world.

For those of us who live in the real world, what this means is that we’ve got a real problem on our hands – a minority of Americans who will go along with anything as long as an anti-Bush/GOP angle can be put on it. There is nothing a full-blown fanatic wont do in order to thwart such a conspiracy as the left is foisting on us regarding President Bush. It is said that the bombers in London last week were British citizens – they, too, probably believed that we’re in Iraq at the behest of Israel and in the service of Haliburton profits.

Most of the time, the conspiracy theories are rather innocuous. They can lead to entertaining movies and may even actually provide an idea or provoke some research that actually contributes to a better understanding of some event, even if only by contrast and comparison.

There are other times, though, that conspiracy theories can be highly destructive. One of those times is when a nation is in a period of conflict and the theories tend to inflame, rationalize, and support the enemy.

So far, all of the ‘get Bush’ conspiracy theories, including this latest about a CIA operative, have been destructive and empty. Repeated significant efforts to get to the bottom of various theories have shown that these theories are not only based on unsupported allegation but also often supported by lies and deceit. In other words, they have often crossed the line from passive speculation to created assignation. They have ceased to be rantings of a few on the edge and become rather the attack by opponents to an administration. The problem is that, in attacking the administration, they also attack their own country.

There is an appropriate means to express divergence of opinion. Creating scandal and attempting to smear with innuendo and allegation that are based on created and deceitful assertion are not in the realm of these appropriate means.

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Captain Ed notices a key to identifying the enemy

Capt. Ed, in his entry Unprecedented Consultation Not Enough; Schumer Wants A ‘Summit’ (05jl13) notes the verbiage being used by Democrat leaders that reveal how they see their role in governance.

A summit? Perhaps Schumer has listened to the Cold War rhetoric emanating from the Left too long, but Presidents do not hold summits with partisan hacks over executive nominations. The very use of the term, popularized by the press for meetings between American presidents and Communist heads of state, serves as an ironic and revealing look into the mind of Schumer and his political allies. They don’t see themselves as a loyal opposition or an opposition of any sort. They see themselves as the mortal enemies of the administration and want to do everything possible to obstruct its exercise of Constitutional duty.

Who is the enemy?

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The evolving moral equivalancing

Frederick Turner (TCS 05jl13) provides another example of the disease of making false equivalances that seems to plague modern debate.

The battle between the evolutionists and the creationists is a peculiarly tragic one, because it is amplifying the worst tendencies of both sides, and making it more and more difficult for most people to find a resolution.

The problem in finding a resolution is not to pretend both sides are the same. Turner’s equivalance does not even withstand his own listing.

On the polemical creationist side, the sin is intellectual dishonesty.

The polemical evolutionists are right about the truth of evolution. But the rightness of their cause has been deeply compromised by their own version of the creationists’ sin. The evolutionists’ sin, as I see it, is even greater, because it is three sins rolled into one.

The first is a profound failure of the imagination … The second sin is a profound moral failure … The third sin is again dishonesty. … A truth used for unworthy purposes is quite as bad as a lie used for ends believed to be worthy.

and then he dismisses the importance of the argument:

The controversy over intelligent design and evolution is, like many current quarrels, largely artificial,

There is good reason to believe that arguments about intellectual integrity are not something that can be dismissed as “largely artifical.” In Turner’s own arguments, he suffers in claiming a dishonesty in evolutionists not by reality and sticking to the truth but rather by motivation and perception. In other words, he creates a dishonesty on one side in order to match one about where there is not doubt on the other. This is how a moral equivalence can be achieved. And that equivalence is how Turner can pretend that both sides ‘do it.’ And, since both sides are equally bad, we can then dismiss the argument.

This is like the BBC using the word “terrorist” to describe the recent London bombings. This only lasted a few days before the BBC caught itself and re-asserted the “one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter” ethos and went back to rationalizing and excusing and mislabeling those who prey upon the innocent as a primary tactic. When we do not discriminate, then we cannot make effective choices. When we cannot make effective choices, then we make the worst choice.

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Accountability is only there if we get Rove

David Corn was one of the first to suggest that there was a serious breach of law in Novak’s revelation of the identity of Mrs. Wilson. His point of view provides a good illustration of the sorts of thing that debase modern political dialog.

Rove may be in trouble. Or this could be a false alert. But this did-Rove-do-it bubble is a useful reminder. Two years ago, senior Bush administration officials revealed classified information, undid the career of a national security official, and endangered ongoing anti-WMD programs in order to pursue a political vendetta against a critic, and to date there has been no accountability.

The assumption is that someone in the administration is guilty of a serious (“despicable”) crime of intentionally revealing the identity of a CIA operative in order to discredit a critic. The hope, the presumed guilty party, is Rove and this is welcomed because that would get the President’s right hand man frogmarched out of the White House in chains. Oh what satisfaction that would bring.

Two years later, the heat is not on the administration but rather on a couple of reporters who refused to cooperate with the grand jury investigating the situation. It has also come to light that it was Wilson who had credibility problems with his ‘Iraq not seeking uranium from Africa’ report and other matters. It also appears that the identity that was revealed was not so unknown as Corn et al choose to insist.

O’Donnel, who is renown for shouting down O’Neil on Scarborough, claimed that the reporter information would reveal that Rove was the source. This turns out to be another overheated expression of desire.

Meanwhile, the Corn Crowd has taken the basic assumptions and created a massive scandal and conspiracy to rival Watergate and done so out of whole cloth with invisible threads. The conspiracy has to exist in order to explain away all of the anomolies that arise from the faulty assumptions and logical inconsistencies and grossly strange implications of their view of what actually happened.

The sad part is that their measure of reality has trancended observation into the realm of belief. Standard issues of accuracy, precision, and perception can not be tolerated. The effort to prove out the fiction must either succumb to reason and reality or it will end in catastrophic breakdown. The latter is frightening, especially in light of the view of its probability and the damage it will cause given essays like Corns.

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Fisking: N Korea, Clinton, Levin

B. Preston’s Junk Yard Blog (North Korean Blame Game) provides an illustration of how disengenuousness has permeated politics.

I missed this editorial on Monday but thanks to a reader I’m now caught up. It’s written by two Democrat Senators, Clinton and Levin, one of which is sure to run for the White House in 2008. Thus, the thinking it exposes and espouses is interesting. And so we begin an old-school fisking:

And there is another one about the mother of all connections

Shrinkwrapped calls it “extremism” and seeks to discover “What kinds of objective factors could be used to define the term ‘extreme’ in political terms. ” He goes on and on trying to figure out how to objectively define extreme in politics.

However, as a first approximation, if your arguments are based on passion and you have little ability to support your conclusions by citing factual data, and especially, if your pronouncements are liable to put people at risk, you are most likely an Extremist. You may “know” that Bush lied and that American soldiers have abused the Koran and “know” it in the absence of any ability to confirm your “knowledge”…but absent confirmation, repeating the charges ad nauseum makes you an Extremist; if you believe things in the absence of confirmatory information (as opposed to opinion) you are treading on thin, paranoid, ice. This deserves further discussion.

It seems that this is being a bit easy on the extremists. Using the North Korea and Iraq terrorist connections examples provided by Junkyard Blog, the ‘extreme’ label can start with the severe disconnect between belief and reality and there is no need to pussyfoot around it. The “first approximation” has many examples to show that there is more than just passion driving a warped view of reality. It seems that this harsh reality is something many do not want to confront and call for what it is.

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Darwin Update

It is 80 years since the 10 July 1925 Scopes trial and the argument is as hot as ever. New Scientist has a good summary of this history of the Darwin Debate.

This time the creationists’ proposals are “far more radical and much more dangerous”, says Keith Miller of Kansas State University, a leading pro-evolution campaigner. “They redefine science itself to include non-natural or supernatural explanations for natural phenomena.” The Kansas standards now state that science finds “natural” explanations for things. But conservatives on the board want that changed to “adequate”. They also want to define evolution as being based on an atheistic religious viewpoint. “Then they can argue that intelligent design must be included as ‘balance’,” Miller says.

The current status is in USA Today Schools confront science of life debate or the same story, just slightly different at MSNBC: Teachers debate how to handle evolution. How to address creationism without stifling creative thinking

This debate of ideas, normally welcome in a classroom environment, is not embraced by instructors such as Terry Uselton, a high school science department chairman in Knoxville, Tenn. [ideas must earn the right to be a part of science education]

Yet proponents of alternative views say they want young learners to hear critiques of evolution, and that science should be able to withstand the scrutiny. [let’s concentrate onf the weakness to create distrust and suspicion]

Religious accounts of life’s creation are not permitted in public schools under the First Amendment, the Supreme Court has ruled. [put them in a philosophy class?]

“We want the scientific evidence for and against Darwin’s theory taught. That’s it,” Chapman said. He said intelligent design is not sufficiently developed to be required teaching, but he points to more than 400 researchers who have signed onto a scientific dissent of Darwinism. [is might right? is the validity of ideas in science determined by a vote?]

National science leaders are alarmed by these renewed questions about evolution. Bruce Alberts, a cell biologist and immediate past president of the National Academy of Sciences, recently wrote all of its members to warn of the “growing threat” to the teaching of science.

At the college level, the American Association of University Professors has deplored any efforts to force public school teachers or higher education faculty to teach theories of the origins of life that are “unsubstantiated by the methods of science.”

Meanwhile, Uselton, the Tennessee teacher, fears the political feuding over evolution will turn off students and drive them into other disciplines. He encourages students to embrace the fact that science doesn’t have all the answers, with hopes they’ll see it as an opportunity. [this is a false premise about the purpose and nature of science and matters of truth]

“Like I tell my kids,” he said, “somebody’s got to be out there filling these gaps.” [somebody? is this what science is all about, finding someone to blame things on?]

Many isssues: The government and religion; the nature of science education; the creation of doubt and cynicism by emphasis on flaws whether supposed, created, or real; the obfuscation of the purpose and goal of biology education;

Volokh provides an update to his illustration of the political divide in this brouhaha.

As a policy question, there is one difference between religiously-motivated science on the left and the right may or may not be relevant. This is that the right’s program is to add new (dubious) ideas to the educational system (i.e., add intelligent design to the teaching of evolutionary theory) whereas the left’s goal is to censor and exclude investigation of certain (potentially explanatory) scientific hypotheses from the educational system.

What seems to be always forgotton in this argument is why we teach biology in the public schools and the purpose of that teaching or the market for the output of that effort.

There is a deep falshood in the presentation that this argument is about an honest debate of ideas or that there is a repression of creative thought. Darwin knew his ideas would be unpleasant to many so he had to be dragged to publication over his reluctance to face the knee jerk reaction he knew would come. The attack continues and its characteristics tell of its qualities. The attack comes from a corner with a well defined ideology. It does not address the value or process system that is the proper context for ideas in science. It tends to obfuscate its base assumptions. It has no objective measure. It is highly emotional. It is adamant. It misrepresents its opposition. It flies under false banners. It will take no quarter. It will not allow coexistance.

Arguments such as this will continue. The characteristics of the attack are not isolated to attacks on evolution but can be seen in argument about many other issues as well. In evolution, they only slow things down a bit and the few people who die as a result will be lost in the noise. In matters of war it may be a different story. Millions were killed as a result of the Vietnam argument – a fact that puts those who made the attack in a severe state of denial. And, with other issues, who knows what the death toll will be from the destructive nature of argument that allows no learning?

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