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Eminent Domain Stuff

New London Update (2/24/06)
Coverage of the Rally at New London's City Hall (w/ pics)

Thursday, September 30, 2004


Wellsville Montessori School Fire Update

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the Wellsville Montessori School suffered a serious setback when a fire did some serious damage to their still-under-construction building that is to house their new school.

I have some inside information that currently the Montessori people are waiting on the insurance money so they can begin repairs. While the building appears to be ok structurally, they are going to have to most likely replace the entire roof in addition to fixing the interior smoke damage.

Given the extent of the damage this small school could certainly use some help. If you have found some of that Spanish bullion since last we spoke, click on the Paypal link on their homepage and help them out.


Media Stupidity

I just can't figure out how these things get written, proofread, edited and printed/posted. This is from a story about Kerry's tan-in-a-bottle and how important image is, or may it isn't:

It is also possible that Kerry, like many older men, thought a tan would help him get the chicks in. He needs them. Time magazine said he had somehow managed to alienate women voters, who normally back Democrats over Republicans by a wide margin.

Kerry knows the debate will not be about issues, but image. Important topics will be treated superficially. But if he thinks a tan will help him woo women he is probably wrong. Surveys show they are worried about terrorism, and wonder whether he can handle the heat - and not the heat from sun lamps.
So Kerry knows that the debate will be about looks...but somehow the voters identified as important here (women) are not all that concerned with it. I don't get it. Either I'm really confused or Caroline Overington severely contradicted herself in the space of just a few sentences.

The only reason I bring this up is that not only do I see the Media as having a bias and refusing to admit it and have a propensity for sloppy research (cough-Dan Blather-cough)...but they also seem engage in sloppy writing and thinking.



JunkYardBlog has an absolutely amazing post on, well a number of topics. Read it, you'll be happy you did.


Hey, I Didn't Say It...

Who said Iraq/Saddam was an imminent threat? Wasn't me. Wasn't Bush. Can you guess:

You know, Kerry is running around -- and even in his answer to Diane Sawyer -- is running around saying that Bush said there was an imminent threat in Iraq, and Bush has never said there was an imminent threat in Iraq. He said there was a gathering threat. We needed to take action before it became imminent. But we found out who has said it was an imminent threat. A senator, in fact, and it occurred on CNN's Late Edition some time in the year 2002. It would be Senator Edwards, the vice presidential running mate with Senator Kerry. In fact, here is what he said.

EDWARDS: I think Iraq is the most serious and imminent threat to our country, and I think Iraq and Saddam Hussein present the most serious and most imminent threat.
Thanks Rush, as usual.


Media Loses Site Of Large Intestine

Sadly it would appear that the Media has yet lost site of their large intestine in favor of cramming their collective head further up their GI tract. Why do I use such graphically anatomical language? Simple, I literally just finished reading this story (by way of Drudge) about part of the Patriot Act being struck down. I then went over to The Volokh Conspiracy to see if I could find an update about Orin Kerr's questions, only to find this post at the top:

Mainstream Media Ruled Unconstitutional: No, not really. But is it too much to ask that when the mainstream media reports on court decisions that they properly identify the law that is struck down and the Administration that is rebuked? Apparently it is, at least if the Thursday morning papers are any guide.

As I noted in my post below, a recent decision of the Southern District of New York struck down part of a 1986 law known as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. How does the press report the decision? No mention of the 1986 law, of course. Instead, the press is reporting that the court struck down a major part of the Patriot Act, in a blow to the Bush Administration's overzealous response to terrorism. As I trace the history of the statute, this is quite inaccurate: the basic law was implemented in 1986, almost 20 years ago. To be fair, the Patriot Act did amend some language in this section; just not in a relevant way. As best I can tell, the court's decision does not rely on or even address anything in the Patriot Act. (See page 14-22 of the Court's opinion for the details of the statute's history.)
I'll take me chances and choose to believe Mr. Kerr (a GW law professor) over the venerated Grey Lady.

This yet another sad example of the Media not just getting the story wrong, but (will wonders never cease) just by coincidence making it sound like the Bush Admin's nefarious plot was narrowly thwarted by a Judge-Paladin. Amazing.

Thank you Orin. Keep up the great work.


Orin again comes through and points us to this press release by Sen. John Cornyn setting the record straight:

In a press release, the ACLU’s Executive Director claimed that “[t]his is a landmark victory against the Ashcroft Justice Department.” In truth, it was a judicial action against a Leahy-sponsored amendment.

The court did not rule that any part of the USA PATRIOT Act is unconstitutional. Yet the ACLU immediately and falsely claimed—and the media reported—that the court had struck down the USA PATRIOT Act as unconstitutional.

In the case, Doe v. Ashcroft, decided yesterday, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero struck down 18 U.S.C. § 2709 as unconstitutional. But as he noted, “Section 2709 has been available to the FBI since 1986.”

Update 2:

The Volokh Conspiracy (Orin, in particular) gets attention. Blogger Power!


Wednesday, September 29, 2004


I Shot The Gun Before I Owned It...

Yep, Kerry caught in yet another waffle...but it was really a staffers fault...and it's ok because I never committed a crime...I got the gun from a buddy...so it's his fault...

My heads starting to spin. Can't wait for tomorrow night!


Run Fox Run!

Congratulations to the FoxNews people! Next competitors to bring down: Broadcast News!


New On The Blog Roll

I've added A Physicist's Perspective to the blog roll for a number of reasons, chief among them that Dave seems to be a kindred spirit in the blogging world (a Conservative blogger who just happens to dabble in science to pay the bills =)). And I suppose it doesn't hurt that I like his blog.

Dave's also got a research webpage. Interesting stuff.


Debate Feed

As you can see, I've added a Bush/Cheney Debate Feed to the right sidebar (thanks to The Command Post). I'll take this down in between debates in the interest of space, but it'll go back up if I like it. Hey, anything that makes my blogging life easier =).


Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Another Triumph for the U.N.

Indeed. Read this piece by David Brooks and then tell me that not only do we need the UN, but that we should not physically escort the whole lot of them to the edge of US terratorial waters and then dump them into the Gulf Stream.

(Thanks for the tip Dad)



No, I don't think ridiculous quite captures it. I think that I won't type the words that describe my reaction to this article:

OAKLAND -- Oakland police officers have stopped setting up roadblocks to check whether drivers are under the influence because of a rash of complaints from the Latino community and City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente.
The checkpoints, which allow officers to demand licenses and proof of insurance, are an effective way to get drunken drivers off Oakland's streets, city leaders agree. But the checks also have ensnared dozens of illegal immigrants who are not licensed to drive yet otherwise obey the law.

"These checkpoints make people's lives miserable, not make them safer," said Jesus Rodriguez of Oakland Community Organizations, which filed most of the complaints about the checkpoints. "I've watched while the police have towed away cars (full) of groceries, leaving children crying on the sidewalk."


The new checkpoint guidelines, which are not final, may call for police to notify Latino community organizations of the time and location of coming checkpoints. The checkpoints will be held after the evening rush-hour commute and rotated throughout the city, officials said.

"It's simple common sense," De La Fuente said. "You don't want to stop

people going to or from work. If there are kids in the car, give someone an opportunity to call someone to pick up their kids rather than create chaos."


While officers have some discretion, the cars of unlicensed drivers are usually towed. To get their cars back, owners must pay $125, plus any storage fees. That is a significant burden to many illegal immigrants, Rodriguez said.

Reid said he has little sympathy with Rodriguez's position.

"I don't care if they are illegal immigrants," Reid said.

"They should not be driving on our streets without a license, without insurance. I expect the Oakland Police Department to do its job and get them off the street."
No s$&t! You mean people with a Driver's License shouldn't be Driving?! Man, how insensitive.


Individual Ready Reserve

Could someone please point out if I'm missing something here?

I've been reading now and then about the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). It seems that every story on this topic goes something like this:

Former soldiers slow to report

By Tom Squitieri, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Fewer than two-thirds of the former soldiers being reactivated for duty in Iraq and elsewhere have reported on time, prompting the Army to threaten some with punishment for desertion.
From that opening paragraph (and indeed every paragraph except the last one) it appears that the US Government is calling up individuals who are literally Former Soldiers. But here's how the final paragraph of this particular story defines the IRR:

Ready reservists are soldiers who were honorably discharged after finishing their active-duty tours, usually four to six years, but remain part of the IRR for the rest of their original eight-year commitment. The IRR call-up is the first major one in 13 years, since 20,277 troops were ordered back for the Persian Gulf War. (emphasis added)
It seems to me that these guys got a pretty good deal. The signed up for 8 years. They served 4-6 on active duty and then were let go with the understanding that if they were needed they would come back. This allowed the soldiers to get on with their lives, albeit with the chance that changing circumstances would require that they finish out their the terms of their original commitment. The alternative would have been for the military to hold on to these guys (and girls) until they had completed their full 8 years. This scenario has the dual drawbacks of forcing soldiers to stay in the Service when they'd rather be doing something else and forcing the government to pay them when their services are not needed.

There are two issues I have with this situation. The first is that some of these individuals are resisting the call to return. I completely understand their motivation. Being called back up is a huge hassle, puts a serious dent in whatever you're doing to earn a living, and is potentially dangerous. However, as I understand it, they agreed to these terms.

The second issue I have here is that the Media seems intent on presenting these soldiers as victims of the Big, Bad, US Government. They continually refer to individuals in the IRR as "former soldiers." I would argue that this is a very misleading label. Perhaps a more accurate and honest term would be soldiers on extended leave or (will wonders never cease) they could be referred to as members of the IRR, who were allowed to reenter civilian life with the understanding that if called up, they would go.

Am I missing something?


Evolution vs. Creationism: Round 6

Not to worry, I promise this will be a short round (although not due a KO =)).

I was thinking about something Dr. Meyers wrote concerning the problem of evolving from one protein structure to another (i.e., from one function to another). He points to a few papers to illustrate the point that the transitional protein structures found in 'structural-space' between known functional protein folds are often unfolded (and therefore nonfunctional).

Just today I ran across a paper that adds an interesting twist to the discussion. The paper is by Dr. Nick Grishin at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He has done a lot of work looking at protein folds and how they relate to function and to the primary amino acid sequence of the protein.

The traditional view has been that a protein's primary (amino acid) sequence determines it's fold and therefore it's function. It has been assumed, therefore, that any proteins with similar primary sequence will have similar functions and vice versa. The newer view is that this is a bunch of washed up crap. Obviously primary sequence will determine the fold and we still use primary sequence to determine the level of 'homology' between two proteins of unknown structure. However, it's not always safe to assume that the resulting percentage is of any true value without functional data.

This principle has been reviewed by Dr. Grishin in the paper linked above. Here are a few key points from the abstract:

Significant sequence conservation, local structural resemblance, and functional similarity strongly indicate evolutionary relationships between these proteins despite pronounced structural differences at the fold level. Several mechanisms such as insertions/deletions/substitutions, circular permutations, and rearrangements in beta-sheet topologies account for the majority of detected structural irregularities. The existence of evolutionarily related proteins that possess different folds brings new challenges to the homology modeling techniques and the structure classification strategies and offers new opportunities for protein design in experimental studies.
Translation: We know that proteins with similar structure can have different primary amino acid sequences. The newer question is: Can proteins with similar primary sequences adopt distinct folds (and therefore have different functions)? The answer that Dr. Grishin finds in his review is that yes, indeed there are proteins with similar ("evolutionarily related") sequences that contain major structural differences.

Dr. Grishin points out that this poses "new challenges" to our ability to draw conclusions from primary sequence similarities. I would add that this also increases the likelihood that relatively minor changes in primary amino acid sequence (and, therefore, relatively minor changes in the genetic code) can have drastic effects on the fold and function of a protein. While obviously none of this validates Evolution as a hypothesis, it does give it a bit of additional credence.


Run Away, Run Away

In the grand tradition of his European Buddies, Kerry has decided that the best stragety is to run away from the 'negative' TV ads:

Kerry said the avalanche of negative television spots and attacks being shown on US screens was scaring off voters.
I say it's because he knows full well that the ads aimed at him have been far more effective than those aimed at President Bush.

This line was just too funny (all you have to do is replace 'Bush' with 'Kerry' and it's absolutely on the mark):

"I'm calling them 'misleadisments,'" Kerry said of the adverts. "It's all scare tactics ... because (Bush) has no record to run on."
This guy could do standup (without the Botox, of course =)).


Why I Support Iraqi Liberation

Yesterday I posted my answers to Orin Kerr's three questions concerning the Iraqi Liberation. All though the submission lines are still open (so get on it you Hawk bloggers!), Orin has decided to post links as he goes. The links are at The Volokh Conspiracy (Link has been fixed. The permalink seems to be broken so I've linked to the main page. The date of the post is 9/28/04 12:22am).


Monday, September 27, 2004


Come Again?

Could someone please explain to me how Kerry, if (shiver) elected would increase international support for the security and rebuilding of Iraq?

No French or German turn on Iraq

French and German government officials say they will not significantly increase military assistance in Iraq even if John Kerry, the Democratic presidential challenger, is elected on November 2.
Makes me wonder which 'World Leaders' Kerry's been talking about.


Answering Orin Kerr

Orin Kerr over at The Volokh Conspiracy has posed three questions to the Iraq hawks in the Blogosphere. Since I count myself among them I have decided to answer his queries, as I think it is a useful exercise for myself as well as acting as a catalyst for wider discussion. Here are his questions and my answers:

First, assuming that you were in favor of the invasion of Iraq at the time of the invasion, do you believe today that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea? Why/why not?

Yes, I still believe that the Liberation of Iraq was a good idea. I based my initial support of Iraq's Liberation on a number of factors, including (but not limited to, and in no particular order): Saddam Hussein's continuing violation of his agreements that ended Gulf War I, SH's continuing defiance of the UN's many resolutions, SH's lack of cooperation with weapons inspectors, SH's gassing of the Kurds and his brutal tactics against his own people, the apparent existence of WMD stockpiles, the apparent existence of WMD programs, SH's support of Terrorists (both Al Qaida people and Palestinian homicide bombers). (*See also below*)

Looking back, there are only two among those reasons that are even remotely suspect and both involve WMDs (Update: Although not as suspect as some would have you believe). Since we have found at least some WMDs (although admittedly no huge stockpiles thus far) and evidence of WMD programs in various stages of dormancy, I think the balance tips in favor of the Liberation...then and now.

Second, what reaction do you have to the not-very-upbeat news coming of Iraq these days, such as the stories I link to above?

I think that the Media sells more soap by grabbing our attention. Unfortunately, our attention seems more easily grabbed by bad news than good, and so that's what makes the news cycles. That's the innocent explanation. The other is that the Media are trying to undermine our efforts in Iraq. The truth is probably a little of both, depending on whom you mean by 'the Media.' Regardless, the fact is that I do not believe the situation is nearly as bad as some would have us believe. How 'good' is it over there? For some answers try:

Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq Part 1
Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq Part 2
Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq Part 3
Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq Part 4
Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq Part 5
Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq Part 6
Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq Part 7
Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq Part 8
Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq Part 9
Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq Part 10
Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq Part 11

Further, anyone who thought the post-Liberation road to Democracy in Iraq was going to be easy misunderstood not only the specific situation in Iraq, but also the general rule of what happens after a war. For anyone questioning the correctness of our action in Iraq based on the bad things happening in the post war period I would ask this in return: We all 'know' that WWII was one of the most resounding victories ever won in the history of warfare. Yet even with the unconditional surrender of two (or three, if you count Italy) massively successful countries, how long after the official end of WWII did American soldiers continue to die at the hands of 'insurgents' (i.e., holdout Nazis with nothing to lose)? Don't know? Look it up.

Once you figure out that the answer is 'quite a while,' I would ask: Does the fact that the post-WWII situation was quite bumpy mean that we should never have entered WWII? Of course not. The purpose of my asking the question is to put our current situation into some much needed prespective. Every life lost is a tragedy, but the greater tragedy might very well have been inaction. If you need any evidence of that then you truly are blind and I'm not sure I have the power to restore such badly damaged moral sight.

Third, what specific criteria do you recommend that we should use over the coming months and years to measure whether the Iraq invasion has been a success?

There are few.

First, Iraq must become inhospitable to Terrorists. In other words, the Iraqi government must no longer actively sponsor terrorism or passively allow Terrorists to live free in their country. I think that this is nearly accomplished considering the Iraqi public's growing displeasure with the Terrorists and their government's apparent dedication to wipe out such evil elements.

Second, the Iraqi people must become and remain free and adopt some sort of representative government. Ideally, we would see a stable republic of some sort form and remain in place forever. Realistically, we can only expect that America and her allies might be able to give the Iraqi people the chance to accomplish this feat which, in the end, is truly their responsibility. Additionally, accomplishing this goal/criterion will, by definition, contribute to the completion of the first (above) as free people tend, as a group, to not support Terrorism.

In my opinion, if these two conditions are met, the Liberation of Iraq will have been worth the costs. I will consider any further effects of the Liberation to be icing on the cake, so to speak. Specifically, some especially sweet icing would be that a stable, free and democratic Iraq act as a primer and model for other Middle Eastern countries to travel down a similar path towards freedom and away from their current despotism. I think that seeing freedom, peace and prosperity (as they generally flow in this order) come to the Middle East would be the absolute pinnacle of success. I can only hope that we achieve even the modest but imposing goals of helping to create a free Iraq, but I will continue to pray that we see positive changes on an even grander scale.


*I left a glaring example of Saddam's total defiance of his Gulf War I obligations, as pointed out by one of my most constant readers...my Dad =):

Hey, I just read your blog. What about the fact that Saddam Hussein was ROUTINELY firing on coalition aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones. They were called no-fly in reference to Iraqi aircraft, not coalition. In fact, coalition aircraft were SUPPOSED to be there and NOT supposed to be shot at. Is that not an act of war? Must those airman be subjected to the risk of death or capture and torture to satisy some liberal-mandated acceptance of aggression? Are not THOSE mothers sons entitled to protection and safety?
Add one to the 'Liberate' side of the scale.


Arthur's Good News

Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq, Part 11 is up. Arthur continues to out-do himself.

For anyone out there who thinks Arthur is nuts, consider this logic behind his own assertion:

These small steps forward might not mean much in themselves but cumulatively they point towards a better future. Every Iraqi child that dreams of becoming a sport star is one less child that dreams of becoming a martyr or a holy warrior. Every group, club or association that springs up across the country helps teach Iraqi people the habits of trust and cooperation, two qualities that are the mortar that binds together every successful democratic society.
And then compare that to the reveared and quite overweight Senator from Taxachusetts:

WASHINGTON (AP) The Bush administration's failure to shut down al-Qaida and rebuild Iraq have fueled the insurgency and made the United States more vulnerable to a nuclear attack by terrorists, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy said Sunday.
So long as the dirtbags are willing to die in Iraq, they're not dying in America while taking us with them. We each have the freedom to decide which side we're on, Arthur's or Ted's. Where do you stand?


Friday, September 24, 2004


Kerry's Not A Waffler, Huh?

Mr. Drudge gives us a bit of prespective on Sen. Kerry's flip-flopping:

During a 1997 debate on CNN's "Crossfire," Sen. John Kerry, now the Democratic presidential nominee, made the case for launching a pre-emptive attack against Iraq.
Compare with his current stance:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry faulted President Bush on Friday for pursuing Saddam Hussein instead of Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, a choice Kerry contended had made defeating terrorism more difficult.
Now let me think. Who was President in 1997? Humm...Gosh, could it be that Kerry puts politics above National Security?! Say it ain't so!

Before anyone says that 9/11 changed Kerry's priorities let me preemptively say that we knew then and know now that Saddam had offered and provided safe haven to terrorists, he had funded terrorists and had allowed terrorist training camps within his country's borders. So to say that Saddam is not a threat in terms of terrorism is not only wrong, but dangerous. Don't believe me? Ask the Israelis.

Oh, and did I mention that there is an entire country worth of people no longer living in fear that they or a loved one will 'disappear' into the night? But I suppose that doesn't count for anything with the Left.


Iraqis on Iraq

We in America and the rest of the world can sit back and pontificate on Iraq's current state and future possibilities, but let's cut the you-know-what go to the source. Here is a summary of a recent poll conducted in Iraq, and here is James Robbins' take at NRO.

Mr. Robbins does a good job of pointing out just which side of the optomism spectrum is more grounded in reality regarding Iraq. Give it a read.


Fear And Loathing In Iraq

Looks like CBFTW is back, although his blog's name has been shortened to just My War. Again, slightly slow on the uptake here but I'm glad to see that things are back up and running and that our friend 'over there' is all right.


Girls Gone Wild, Baghdad Style

This is too funny. (via Wat Dan Ook)

(Really, I swear it's totally G-rated...in this country =))


Thursday, September 23, 2004


Montessori School Donation Update

As I have mentioned previously, the Wellsville Montessori School suffered a fire a few days ago. They now have a PayPal account setup for donations on their frontpage. Stop by and check them out.


CBS And The Kerry?

Makes a guy wonder.


Evolution vs. Creationism: Round 5

Here we go again.

I've just finished an article by Michael Behe, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Science and Culture, in which he argues that the irreducible complexity of a few biological systems defy, in principle, their development by any gradual, Darwinistic, mechanism. Therefore, he argues, the only logical conclusion is that such systems were designed by an intelligent being.

The members of this group have so far proven to be quite adept at forcing me to think about the various issues and deficiencies concerning evolutionary theory. This particular article is no exception. Let me state upfront that I do not have the answers that would definitively turn Darwin's Theory into a Law. On the other hand, I do not believe that Dr. Behe has the answers that would definitively relegate Darwin's Theory to the trash bin of history and/or elevate Intelligent Design to a true Scientific Theory. I will try to explain why.

Dr. Behe spends most of the article pointing out various biological systems that he labels "Irreducibly Complex." The definition of such being a system whose function is completely dependent on the proper arrangement of all it's parts. He deftly describes such systems as cilia and protein targeting within cells, comparing them with the common back-breaking mouse trap. Since none of these systems work without all of their constituent parts properly arranged, none of them (according to Dr. Behe) could have possibly developed by the process of Natural Selection acting on Genetic Variation.

Michael hedges his bets, however, in saying that:

Similarly, evolutionary biologists have recognized that a number of factors might have affected the development of life: common descent, natural selection, migration, population size, founder effects (effects that may be due to the limited number of organisms that begin a new species), genetic drift (spread of "neutral," nonselective mutations), gene flow (the incorporation of genes into a population from a separate population), linkage (occurrence of two genes on the same chromosome), and much more. The fact that some biochemical systems were designed by an intelligent agent does not mean that any of the other factors are not operative, common, or important. (emphasis added)
So, according to Dr. Behe, only Irreducibly Complex (IC) systems are intelligently designed. Further, it seems reasonable to extend this thinking to conclude that any system that is not IC was, in fact, not designed by an intelligent force. Extending this reasoning even further I think it fair to conclude that Dr. Behe would agree that any supposedly IC system that is shown to be not IC would then be assumed to have come into existence through some natural process (and yes, I am going to continue to refer to Intelligent Design as 'unnatural').

When you get right down to it, the problem I have with Intelligent Design is that its proponents attempt to describe what is currently considered a natural process by ascribing its genesis to an unnatural cause. This act, if accepted and allowed to stand, jeopardizes the very drive behind science. That drive being the simple assumption that all natural phenomena are understandable by the human mind through the processes of observation and experiment. The question is how do we determine which systems are intelligently designed and which are not? Do we stop looking for the answer once a particular system has been labeled irreducibly complex and therefore designed by some active intelligence? I think Dr. Behe and his colleagues would answer that of course we continue to look at those systems that appear irreducibly complex. Who knows, maybe we'll some intermediate that allows for gradual development.

Regardless of their answer the fact is, in my opinion, that such a mindset would harm science in a fundamental way. Further, if we were to generate data that definitively proved a supposedly irreducibly complex system could actually develop via a gradual mechanism would that forever refute the Intelligent Design inference? By Dr. Behe's reasoning, apparently not. Why not?

Simply, Dr. Behe concedes that, "The fact that some biochemical systems were designed by an intelligent agent does not mean that any of the other factors are not operative, common, or important." So let's transport ourselves back to Darwin's time. He and his contemporaries saw life as reducibly complex, and so Gradual Evolution made sense. Now we see systems to which we cannot ascribe intermediate states and so some conclude that they were actively designed by an intelligent force. In the future, we may very well find that intermediate state, disproving at least one example in support of ID. But would that really be the case? Would we really only be disproving one example in support of ID? I would argue that finding a single example refuting even one system previously 'shown' to be IC would destroy the entire system and relegate Intelligent Design to its own place in the trash bin of history. Why? Read on.

I would argue that there are no arguments in support of Intelligent Design. Rather, it is the default theory that takes over when we don't have the answer. Further, we cannot, by definition, obtain data in support of Intelligent Design. Any data that would, at first glance, appear as supporting ID in a positive sense are really data refuting Gradual Evolution in a negative sense.

If you can think of an example that does not fit into this mould I would appreciate you alerting me to it. If not, then there is no choice but to agree. In doing so, Intelligent Design begins to sound suspiciously like religion. There my very well be plenty of reason to believe the ID theory in a specific case because scientific knowledge is insufficient in that area. However, as science advances it inevitably answers questions, pushing the frontier of religion/ID back and back until we hit the new boundary of science. Since I cannot fathom a way by which something could be proven Irreducibly Complex beyond the possibility of future refutation I cannot accept ID as a scientific inference/hypothesis/theory/whatever.


Public Confidence in Media

Here's a misleading (media generated) headline on how the public doesn't trust said media:

Thanks, Dan: Gallup Finds Trust in Media at New Low

From this headline one might almost feel safe in assuming that 1) this article is going to conclude that Dan Rather is solely responsible for the public's distrust and 2) this conclusion is true. Surprise!

"Clearly, something new has happened to shake public confidence in the media," Gallup reports, "but whether that 'something' is the recent CBS News controversy is a matter of speculation.

"One might assume that if the CBS News story were the culprit, that this would be reflected in a disproportionately large drop in confidence in the media among Republicans. However, the data on this is [sic] not conclusive.

[Data by the way, are or are not conclusive as data is the plural of datum...but I guess I shouldn't expect the E&P Staff or their editors to know that.]
I do think that the supposedly recent drop (although the numbers in this article don't measure any recent drop, unless one year ago is considered recent) is significant and is certainly tied to Dan Blather's Blunder. However, I don't think that the Media are worthy of the self-righteous surprise they seem to be expressing. The issue is not Dan Blather's act of journalistic stupidity, but rather it is the fact that he got caught red handed...and by a bunch of smelly shut-ins wearing pajamas, at that.

If anything a much larger drop in the public's trust in the Media is long overdue. I hope that this episode will alert people to the possibility, nay likelihood that anything gushing from the mouths of these talking heads is suspect until vetted by the new Editorial Board of All Things Factual (previously known as the Blogosphere).


Apparently part of the problem might be that the Old Media types are only getting older and more out of touch:

Redstone [chairman and chief executive of Viacom, CBS' parent] told the 443 delegates to the Forbes conference that journalistic integrity was "one of the most valuable assets of CBS News," and that he never gets involved in any aspects of the network's news coverage. "I read about this in the newspapers just as you did," he said.
Maybe he could have jumped on this problem just a little earlier if he'd been reading any portion of the newly minted EBoATF.


A Good, Cold, Cause

Buy 'em a Beer.

(via Vodkapundit, of course)


Arnold Takes It To PCism

You've gotta love this:

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California schools can continue calling their teams the "Redskins" after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have banned the use of the term as racially derogatory.
Schwarzenegger said he vetoed the bill because it would have usurped the authority of local school boards.

"Decisions regarding athletic teams names, nicknames or mascots should be retained at the local level," the Republican governor wrote in his veto message.
I think he's exactly right. Now here's the disgusting part of this story:

The author of the bill, West Hollywood Democrat Jackie Goldberg said that reasoning was flawed and vowed to press for a ban.

"You don't argue local control on civil rights," Goldberg said. "If you did, we'd still have slavery in this country."
Oh, I see. So calling an athletic team "Redskins" is equivalent to buying and selling human beings. I'm glad we've gotten that straightened out.

The only thing I can figure is that people like Jackie Goldberg never went to high school or college and never watched a single sport in their entire lives. Answer this question: What is the purpose of a team mascot? The answer is simple: To drive fear into the hearts of your opponents. Now I'll admit that this has gone by the wayside in recent history...but I think we should also recognize the connection between the symbols that warriors of old (and even today) chose and what we now call team mascots. The old King of England wasn't called Richard the Cut-Baby-Seal Hearted, now was he? Nor was it Uther Penpuppy.

So too where/are school mascots chosen. My high school had the Bear as a mascot. Right next-door were the Indians. Now do you think that 'Indians' was chosen to denigrate Native Americans? Or, rather, might that name have been chosen because of the Indians' reputation for ferocity in battle?

I think the answer is obvious...and if a reputation for ferocity in battle offends the descendents of those ferocious warriors I have three suggestions, 1) Grow a spine 2) Take pride in your heritage and 3) Consider the constant and unrelenting shame you'd feel if, like me, your heritage where that of a short, drunk and querulous guy dressed in green.

And since I am fair in the extreme, I'll even provide a link to someone with the opposite opinion here. While there may very well be valid points contained on this fine page, consider this one statement as evidence of this author's ideology:

The "fighting" stereotype

For starters, the problem with any warlike name—the Warriors, the Braves, the Fighting Sioux, et al.—should be obvious. It's a stinkin' stereotype. It compares Indians to soliders [sic], killers, thugs, barbarians, and animals.
So, soldiers are on the same moral plane as killers, thugs, barbarians and animals. Hard to take him seriously after that bunch of BS.


Rush On The New Media

I just couldn't pass up posting part of Rush's transcript from yesterday. His combination of optomism and accuracy is truly uplifting:

Well, take a look at this CBS story. Take a look at it. What actually happened here? What actually happened here is that one of the time-honored, greatest institutions of highest repute in the history of media attempted to pass off a fraudulent story attacking a sitting president for the purpose of dooming his reelection in the middle of a campaign using forged documents. And look what happened. Ordinary people, sitting at home, with computers, were able to deduce in two hours that CBS was perpetrating a fraud on the American people. This would not have happened 16 years ago, it would not have happened 30 years ago.
You want to go into TV news, that's where you want to end up. These are the best of the best, and look what happened, ordinary Americans, using average, ordinary, everyday American products, a computer, a telephone line, American written software, have brought down one of the most powerful and unassailable institutions in the history of American media. And don't think they haven't been brought down. And they haven't yet, they're in the process. They've been cut down. Now, this is a classic illustration of what I mean. And this is not to criticize the bloggers by calling them ordinary Americans. I'm merely using this as a comparative term. To me, remember, the ordinary American is a person who makes the country work. The ordinary American you never hear of, who is by definition anonymous because nobody can know everybody. Here's who's making the country work. And look who brings down the great Tiffany network, CBS. It wasn't other news networks who doubted this. They're late to the chase. It wasn't CBS that brought themselves down in an effort to save themselves and get the story right. Nope, they were prepared to perpetuate the fraud. "The documents were true before they were forged, but they're still accurate," is the CBS line today.

And, of course, in the midst of all this, the same thing that's happening to the bloggers today is the same thing that happened to me 16 years ago. The bloggers, ah, you can't take these people, they don't have any checks and balances, they don't have any editors, they can say whatever they want, there's no guarantee of honesty. This is what the people at CBS say. This are the people that perpetrated the fraud criticizing the ordinary Americans who caught 'em. The ordinary Americans who caught 'em are there because they have been informed, attuned, sensitized to the operating techniques of CBS over the years.
This little blogger story here can illustrate to every other ordinary American what is possible against these big, powerful, supposedly unassailable institutions, so big and powerful, nobody could get close to them, so big and powerful, they can't be defeated, they can only be stopped occasionally, it's not true. Ordinary Americans. And ordinary Americans have dragged, slowly but surely, other big institutions to the truth. The big institutions were the last to arrive at the truth, and some of them to this moment are still not there.


Response To Meyer's ID Paper

The Scientist has published three reader responses to Dr. Stephen Meyer's paper arguing against evolutionary theory and for Intelligent Design. My previous thoughts are as follows Rounds 1, 2, 3, 4, Evidence? Here are some good points:

The story "Intelligent design study appears" on September 3 dealt with a major unresolved scientific question concerning evolution. I suspect that many scientists, Dr. Meyer included, may not fully realize that biological organisms are not designed the way that humans design mechanisms. Engineers, who deal with complex human-designed systems on a daily basis, have long recognized that the best designs are those that completely separate the functions of subsystems. Thus, the spark plugs of an automobile have an entirely separate function from the tires.
Mr. Robinson goes on to point out that Life is not designed this way. Rather, Life seems almost to be the antithesis of what a human engineer would design. The counter argument would be, I suppose, We can't know the mind of God (Creator, etc.) but it must have made sense. Of course, I dispensed with that sort of nonsense in Round 4. The third letter also does a good job of addressing this particular point:

In contrast, the theory of intelligent design makes the claim that the existence of complex systems and phenomena, lacking any justification for their existence that is known to us, implies that such systems exist as the purposeful result of the activity of a powerful, conscious being that designed the visible complexity into them. This is not a scientific explanation, as it posits the existence of something that cannot be tested or demonstrated by experiment, but must be taken on faith.
The ID side of the argument might respond that the same could be said for currently-accepted scientific explanations of the origin of life and its subsequent development. As I have pointed out previously (again, in Round 4), this is incorrect because Evolution can in principle be tested whereas the Mind of God cannot.

The letter in support of Dr. Meyer's argument is ultimately unsatisfying:

So why all the fuss? The answer isn't complicated: a large part of the scientific community is determined to make science a field of endeavor that can simultaneously explain away all theistic ideas, while never allowing the possibility of support or even allowing much room for theism in human thought. They're happy to trot out scientists who somehow cling to belief in a God who never did anything in our universe, but they dare not allow one paper to point out the incredible design in living things that doesn't at least toss a bone to the gods of evolutionism: time, chance, and survival (natural selection). Having censored anything that doesn't toe the party line, they then turn around and use this shutout as support for their argument that ID isn't scientific. This gives them all the more motivation for keeping the blinders of censorship in place.
I suppose where one sees censorship another might see perfectly rational exclusion of non-scientific theories from scientific publications.

Since this topic fascinates me to no end (for which I apologize to those of you who think I'm nuts =)) I was reading some of the material on the Discovery Institute's website (which is headed by Dr. Meyer). The next article I plan to read is by Michael Behe, whose book Darwin's Black Box I read back in high school. I'm looking forward to revisiting what I remember as a very skilled author. Stay tuned.


Wednesday, September 22, 2004



Totally amazing. Michelle Malkin is all over yet another amazing display of liberal stupidity, this time concerning the Muskegon County school districts' terrorism preparedness drill:

"The exercise will simulate an attack by a fictitious radical group called Wackos Against Schools and Education who believe everyone should be homeschooled. Under the scenario, a bomb is placed on the bus and is detonated while the bus is traveling on Durham, causing the bus to land on its side and fill with smoke."
Amazing. But then I suppose that those nutty home-schoolers really are the only terrorists who would blow up a bus full of innocent civilians. Wait, maybe there are other groups that might. Something's tickling my memory...


ACLU And Free Speech

I was really impressed when the ACLU came to the defense of Rush Limbaugh regarding the privacy of his medical records. Typically I find myself opposing nearly everything the ACLU actually does (as distinct from what they purport to stand for). Unfortunately, The Volokh Conspiracy has brought to my attention yet another issue on which I disagree with the ACLU. The truly disappointing thing about this particular case is that the ACLU has now broken with its previously staunch support of Freedom.

It would appear that the ACLU wants a judge to make a ruling prohibiting the publication of the plaintiff’s name who is suing over the display of the 10 Commandments in a public place in Nebraska.

As Eugene points out:

...the ACLU's reputation for principled defense of free speech, and the grudging admiration that this has at times earned the ACLU even from some of its opponents, is one of its most valuable assets.
This is absolutely true. Before this case I counted the ACLU among a very small group of people/organizations with whom I generally disagree but respect because of seemingly-uncompromising consistency. Well, if the case is as it appears (and here I'm relying on the always-insightful commentary of Mr. Volokh himself), the ACLU will have brought itself down multiple notches on my personal ranking of respect. Not a huge loss, I suppose, but they may run into problems if I am not be alone.



Yet another shining example of life under an Islamofascist Autocracy:

'Beat me once a week' says Iranian woman

22 September 2004

An Iranian woman, beaten every day by her husband, asked a court to tell him only to beat her once a week.

Maryam, the middle-age woman, said she did not want to divorce her husband because she loved him.

"Just tell him to beat me once a week ... Beating is part of his nature and he cannot stop it," Maryam told the court.

The Tehran court found the man guilty and banned him from beating the wife, the paper said.

"If I do not beat her, she will not be scared enough to obey me," the husband said.
Very little need to wonder why the Iranians have never had to deal with an illegal immigrant problem.


No Child Left Behind

There is a new website launched by Results for America that has managed to complie and organize a ton of information about the No Child Left Behind plan (via The Command Post). I haven't had time yet to look at it too closely, but the site is organzied to enable news articles to be browsed by state or subject. Check them out when you get a chance.


Interestinger And Interestinger

This CBS story just won't quit. Here are two stories on Drudge that caught my eye.

CBS Says Producer Violated Policy by Putting Source in Touch With Kerry Aide


Published: September 22, 2004

CBS News said yesterday that the producer of its flawed report about President Bush's National Guard service violated network policy by putting a source in touch with a top aide to Senator John Kerry.

"It is obviously against CBS News standards and those of every other reputable news organization to be associated with any political agenda," the network said in a statement.
No way! Tell me more. I honestly don't care what they do with Ms. Mapes. It is so painfully obvious that she violated that old 'journalistic ethic' of pretending to be objective that I'm sure she'll be strung up for this one.

The question I have is: How many more of these Mapes-style producers still exist at CBS and at the other objective news outlets? That's what bothers me. One could argue that this scandal will flush some out and scare others straight...but for how long? I suppose the most optimistic (and for once perhaps even the most likely) is that the New Media (read: bloggers) will provide the high-quality fact-checking necessary to keep the Old Media on the straight and narrow. Hey, a guy can hope.

A bit more on Ms. Mapes:

Her reputation was burnished in the spring, after the Wednesday edition of "60 Minutes," then called "60 Minutes II," reported in detail the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, Iraq.

Now executives at the news division say that high regard may have poked a fatal hole in its checking procedures, perhaps making some news executives less vigilant in asking hard questions about how the producer obtained documents.
Humm...hard to imagine, huh?

Here's the second story that got my attention:


Wed Sep 22 2004 00:05:20 ET

Bill Burkett, the man identified yesterday by CBS as the source of the controversial documents used in its September 8 “60 Minutes II” report questioning President Bush’s Air National Guard service, plans to sue the network, the NY SUN reports.

Burkett has had “several meetings with lawyers to determine the best course of action.” The planned lawsuit would center on “defamation of character and libel.”

Mr. Burkett “told me everything about the process” of his dealings with CBS and how he came into possession of the documents at the heart of the controversy, a lawyer close to Burkett said.

The lawyer said the CBS News producer, Mary Mapes, promised to protect Mr. Burkett with complete anonymity and CBS was to “expend both time and money authenticating” the memos.

“Bill Burkett went with CBS News on this over ABC News, the New York Times, and the Washington Post because they promised to work the hardest to protect him and authenticate the documents. ,” Mr.Van Os told the Sun. “Bill leveled with [CBS] about his doubts over the papers, and they promised him they would take their time. They spent all of three days, maybe less, on authentication.”

Well, this may or may not be true. I have no doubt that a major news organization should promise all of these things...and heck, maybe they should even follow through just for fun. The problem I'm having is deciding whom is more likely lying, CBS or Bill Burkett. It's a tossup as far as I'm concerned.


Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Kerry Quoted Out Of Context

I have it from a highly-placed source* that Matt Drudge quoted Kerry out of context. Matt's original quote read: I have one position on Iraq

This is incomplete (notice the missing period). The actual quote is: I have one position on Iraq...today...right this second...well, at least until someone else asks me...[unintelligible]...[unintelligent]...Bush mislead us...did you know I served in Vietnam?

So there you have it folks. Full and complete coverage in the fine journalistic tradition of Dan Blather. Thank you and goodnight.


*Me...but I did have the decency to ask myself while looking in the mirror, so it sort of seemed like I was talking to someone else.


Bush Addresses UN

What a great speech. Seriously, I love this guy. I am struck by the stark contrast between the sincerity and straightforwardness of President Bush and the Don't try to understand me too quickly drivel we get from John Kerry.

Here are a few of my favorite lines:

When it comes to the desire for liberty and justice, there is no clash of civilizations. People everywhere are capable of freedom, and worthy of freedom.

Finding the full promise of representative government takes time, as America has found in two centuries of debate and struggle. Nor is there any — only one form of representative government — because democracies, by definition, take on the unique character of the peoples that create them. Yet this much we know with certainty: The desire for freedom resides in every human heart. And that desire cannot be contained forever by prison walls, or martial laws, or secret police. Over time, and across the Earth, freedom will find a way.

The proper response to difficulty is not to retreat, it is to prevail.

The advance of freedom always carries a cost, paid by the bravest among us. America mourns the losses to our nation, and to many others. And today, I assure every friend of Afghanistan and Iraq, and every enemy of liberty: We will stand with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq until their hopes of freedom and security are fulfilled.

These two nations will be a model for the broader Middle East, a region where millions have been denied basic human rights and simple justice. For too long, many nations, including my own, tolerated, even excused, oppression in the Middle East in the name of stability. Oppression became common, but stability never arrived. We must take a different approach. We must help the reformers of the Middle East as they work for freedom, and strive to build a community of peaceful, democratic nations.

This commitment to democratic reform is essential to resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. Peace will not be achieved by Palestinian rulers who intimidate opposition, tolerate corruption, and maintain ties to terrorist groups. The longsuffering Palestinian people deserve better. They deserve true leaders capable of creating and governing a free and peaceful Palestinian state.
Even after the setbacks and frustrations of recent months, goodwill and hard effort can achieve the promise of the road map to peace. Those who would lead a new Palestinian state should adopt peaceful means to achieve the rights of their people, and create the reformed institutions of a stable democracy. Arab states should end incitement in their own media, cut off public and private funding for terrorism, and establish normal relations with Israel. Israel should impose a settlement freeze, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people, and avoid any actions that prejudice final negotiations. And world leaders should withdraw all favor and support from any Palestinian ruler who fails his people and betrays their cause.

Because I believe the advance of liberty is the path to both a safer and better world, today I propose establishing a Democracy Fund within the United Nations. This is a great calling for this great organization. The fund would help countries lay the foundations of democracy by instituting the rule of law and independent courts, a free press, political parties and trade unions. Money from the fund would also help set up voter precincts and polling places, and support the work of election monitors. To show our commitment to the new Democracy Fund, the United States will make an initial contribution. I urge other nations to contribute, as well.
As always: Hard to argue with that.


Little Red Blog

Marvin has an outstanding post entitled America At War. This post is right on target and contains very possibly one of the best lines I have seen in a long time:

The wars of the last century, like the current war, were against an enemy not of the United States, but of mankind’s inalienable rights.
He could not be more right. We're not being attacked because we want land. We're not in it for money, fame, glory or even oil. America has always fought against those who would deny freedom to others. Today is no different, only a variation on the theme, albeit a deadly serious one.

One final excerpt that cuts through the usual BS straight to the Truth:

Islam, as practiced by a majority of the worlds Muslims, allows for no such individual variance of thought. Our enemy is often described as economically or politically motivated, while the truth that his argument for his actions comes directly from his understanding of his faith and its teachings, is ignored. Not having such justifications, our enemy will not flinch in his attempt to destroy us. Islam, the religion, may or may not be agreeable with liberty, equality of opportunity, and justice. What is clear is that the people, who practice Islam, while waging war of terror on the United States and our allies, do not concern themselves with such things.
Read the whole post and put the subtitle of Marvin's blog to the torch by making Little Red Blog a regular stop in the blogosphere.


Smile, You're On City-Camera

Chicago has decided to install a new camera network that will drastically increase the government's ability to efficiently monitor public spaces. The total number of cameras will be around 2250 or so, but the big upcoming advance is in the monitoring software. Apparently, the computers will be able to recognize predefined 'suspicious' activity and alert the human monitors for follow-up. According to Mr. Huberman (whose credentials include being referred to as a "techno geek" (I kid you not)):

"The value we gain in public safety far outweighs any perception by the community that this is Big Brother who's watching," Huberman said. "The feedback we're getting is that people welcome this. It makes them feel safer.
Positive feedback, huh? They obviously didn't ask me.

Seriously though, who is currently watching is not the point. The fact of the matter is that these sorts of 'advances' have the effect of tolerizing people to the sight and the idea of cameras watching their every move. With that accomplished, who's to say that a bona fide "Big Brother" couldn't start watching? Give me one solid reason why we will certainly not end up in Orwell's 1984 nightmare. Just one.

Here's a great quote that really highlights wrongheaded thinking about this sort of thing...from the Mayor of Chicago, no less:

City officials counter that the cameras will monitor only public spaces. Rather than curb the system's future expansion, they have raised the possibility of placing cameras in commuter and rapid transit cars and on the city's street-sweeping vehicles.

"We're not inside your home or your business," Mayor Daley said. "The city owns the sidewalks. We own the streets and we own the alleys."
Wait a second. Who owns the sidewalks, streets and alleys? The City owns them. Jeeze, and all this time I kept thinking back to the old We The People thing. Hum. Guess I forgot who elected whom.

I understand and share the desire to keep the country safe from crime and terrorism. But there are a few questions that need to be answered before we all go diving headlong into an Orwellian horror story. I don't care if these cameras actually reduce crime or not. The first question that needs to be answered is: Are we willing to be monitored by video whenever we step outside of our homes? My answer is Absolutely Not! Unfortunately, I don't get a vote, right? After all, the City owns public places...not me.

The second question that comes to mind is: Are we willing to surrender our personal safety to the Government? To some extent we really have no choice. I can't do anything by myself to stop Terrorists' Master Plans. I can, however, do something to protect myself from a mugger. Namely...carry a freaking gun. I think the we ultimately end up with the ago-old choice between security/safety and freedom. The two are inversely proportional. More safety = less freedom. Think about it and remember the mindset of that one particular elected official in Chicago:

The city owns the sidewalks. We own the streets and we own the alleys."
"We're not inside your home or your business."
No. Not yet anyway.


Evidence of Evolution?

I thought this might interest those of you who have been following my thoughts (and the ensuing discussions) about evolution (the most recent post is here).

Don't get too excited, this isn't going to blow the lid off the Evoultion vs. Intelligent Design debate. However, these data do suggest at least a hit of a mechanism by which an increase in brain size might have been induced, or at least allowed. The paper is not yet published (it will be in the October issue of Nature Genetics), but The Scientist has a good summary.

Obviously there would need to be a whole lot more alterations in development of, for example, the skull to allow the brain to increase in size. However, the inherent complexity does not preclude our finding genes responsible for that concurrent phenomon in the future. Just something to think about.


Jeeze, I Hope Not

I don't know much about Germany's domestic politics, but if the Nationalist Democratic Party really are a bunch of Neo-Nazis I sure hope they don't gain any sort of foothold. We say it alot, but we must Never Forget.


CBS, The Kerry Campaign and Bill Burkett

Absolutely amazing. What a nice little lovefest between CBS, Kerry's campaign and Bill Burkett. From USA Today (via The Command Post):

CBS arranged for a confidential source to talk with Joe Lockhart, a top aide to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, after the source provided the network with the now-disputed documents about President Bush’s service in the Texas National Guard.

Lockhart, the former press secretary to President Clinton, said a female producer talked to him about the 60 Minutes program a few days before it aired on Sept. 8. She gave Lockhart a telephone number and asked him to call Bill Burkett, a former Texas National Guard officer who gave CBS the documents. Lockhart couldn’t recall the producer’s name. But CBS said Monday night that it would examine the role of producer Mary Mapes in passing the name to Lockhart.

Burkett told USA TODAY that he had agreed to turn over the documents to CBS if the network would help arrange a conversation with the Kerry campaign.
Isn't that nice. CBS agrees to hook Burkett up with a Kerry adviser in exchange for getting the big (phony) exclusive story on Bush's horrid Guard service. Truly heartwarming.

You know, this just keeps getting better and better. Have you ever noticed that the Chicken Littles of the Left cry about the sky falling when someone gets elected to office (say Vice President) who once ran a large oil company (but no long has any finical interest in that company), but it's somehow ok for a major news organization to actively collude with 1) a Democratic Presidential Candidate's campaign and 2) an avowed Republican President Hater?

Can anyone say: Double Standard?


I agree.

Also...Why the living you-know-what should I believe Burkett now?

In earlier conversations with USA TODAY, Burkett had identified the source of the documents as George Conn, a former Texas National Guard colleague who works for the U.S. Army in Europe. Burkett now says he made up the story about Conn's involvement to divert attention from himself and the woman he now says provided him with the documents. He told USA TODAY that he also lied to CBS.

Burkett now maintains that the source of the papers was Lucy Ramirez, who he says phoned him from Houston in March to offer the documents. USA TODAY has been unable to locate Ramirez.
Tell me another Bill. I love these bedtime stories. There's nothing quite like smearing multiple people's reputations to "divert attention" away from yourself and your lady friend. I wonder if Ms. Ramirez really only came to know of Mr. Burkett by seeing him on MSNBC, or if perhaps that is also a lie.

I guess in the end I don't really care. The fact is the documents were fake. Unless somebody comes up with some real evidence that Bush did or didn't do whatever I think they should all just shut their lying traps. True to form, there's no hope of that:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Democrats Monday acknowledged some documents it touted in attacking President Bush's U.S. military record were false, but continued to push other evidence.
I'll defer to Rush's wise advice: The best way to beat these people is to just let them talk. Well, keep it up Terry McAwful.


Cold Fury posts an extremely strong opinion on the correct response to CBS's most recent lie. You know, it's pretty hard to disagree with Joe on this one.


Monday, September 20, 2004


Beg, You Scumbag

That's right! I hope Saddam is begging for mercy. He deserves zero, and I am confident that the Iraqi people will give him as much of what he deserves as possible.


On a related topic, for anyone who's confused it's Saddam who is the Scumbag...not anyone who disagrees with her heiness.

I'm melting...melting... Posted by Hello


In the interests of fairness you should check out this article. Apparently, Ms. THK was quoted out of context re: the "Scumbags" remark. I guess that only leaves, "Shove it" and "Idiots" in her publicly-insulting repertoire.


Oh Dan!

Dan, Dan, Dan. You know that lack of contemporaneous knowledge is no defense for being fooled. Just look at the Bush haters. They don't care that the whole world (including Saudi Arabia, Bill Clinton, CIA, MI5, etc., etc., etc.) thought that Saddam had stockpiles of WMDs. All that matters is that we haven't yet found them...and that amounts to an indictment of Liar being leveled at the President. I wonder, Mr. Rather, whether or not the Left will be as forgiving with you.

(Link via The Command Post)


Good news from Afghanistan, Part 4

Arthur's at it again with his 4th installment of Good News From Afghanistan.

You might also be interested in reading his response to a recent post about Chrenkoff Syndrome.


Saturday, September 18, 2004


Face Off

Yet another Sci-Fi type thing seems poised to move from the sliver screen to reality:

Doctors prepared to do face transplant

This is an interesting ethical issue. Obviously a face transplant is fundamentally different from, say, a kidney transplant. A person's face is so integral to our interpersonal relationships that it's hard to imagine the effect of a complete and radical change. Obviously, we have had plastic surgery since around WWI, and people have had to deal with facial disfigurement throughout history. But this would be the first time that we would be able to so radically alter someone's appearance.

There are a lot of good arguments on both sides of this issue, but before I bother considering any of those I have a question: Just how drastically would a face transplant change a person's appearance?

I'm not sure the movie Face/Off does justice to the exact effect on one's looks. Obviously, the skin and color and texture would be that of the original 'owner.' However, the underlying bone and cartilage structure would be that of the recipient. So putting John Travolta's skin on Nicholas Cage's face wouldn't have quite the effect that the movie would have you think. However, I honestly don't know just how drastic the change would be. I suppose it's entirely possible to use some computer program to at least get an idea of the effect, but not by me. Does anyone have the capability? I'd be really interested, and it might just have an effect on the outcome of the debate.

As for the arguments pro and con. The pro side is pretty straightforward. People who have been disfigured can have a very difficult, or even impossible, time adjusting. Giving them a new face might be just what they need.

In the middle, neither an argument pro nor con...those supporting such surgery will say that such procedures will be reserved only for those who need it. This is most definitely false. I'm sure the same thing was said about plastic surgery as it was being developed for horribly burned post-WWI soldiers. We can all see what happened with that.

Arguments against face transplants are summarized (somewhat poorly) in the article:

Rumsey, the English researcher, wrote that potential recipients might have to wait a long time for suitable donors and might be tempted to put their lives on hold in the interim. They might also have to endure lots of media coverage, she said. Socially, she wrote, such a procedure might convey the notion that people can't live well with disfiguring conditions.
I just don't see how any of these arguments are less persuasive in terms of regular old plastic surgery. Might not someone put his/her life on hold until after the plastic surgery? What about the fact that the prevalence of plastic surgery does "convey the notion that people can't live well with disfiguring conditions"? I guess these arguments just strike me as stale, rehashed concerns that are raised whenever something new comes along. I think the debate would benefit from more specific potential problems.

In the end, I still think the most important question that needs to be addressed it just how much will this change a person's facial appearance. Only with that established can we even begin to consider how the procedure will affect a person's life in general.


Are You Listening MoveOn.org?

via The Command Post:

Navy Says Kerry's Service Awards OK'd

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Navy's chief investigator concluded Friday that procedures were followed properly in the approval of Sen. John Kerry's Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals, according to an internal Navy memo.
"Conducting any additional review regarding events that took place over 30 years ago would not be productive," he wrote. "The passage of time would make reconstruction of the facts and circumstances unreliable, and would not allow the information gathered to be considered in the context of the time in which the events took place."
Are you listening MoveOn.org? How about you JF-ingK? How about all of you on the Left? Are you all happy with these conclusions? I would image so. Now the question is: Can we all move on from these 30-year old issues?

I know the answer: Sure we can...but what about Bush being AWOL?! Right?

Wrong! Kerry and the Left will never come on back to the present and deal with current issues. Why? Because as Douglas Brinkley, the author of Tour Of Duty said:

"Kerry decided to make Vietnam the centerpiece of his campaign for one clear reason: Imagine him without his military record -- he would just be another liberal from Taxachusetts."
Yep. And that's not going to win you any Presidential elections, now is it?


Welcome To The 'World Community'

Just over a month ago I blogged that there was a plan by the Bush Administration to allow out November elections to be monitored by outside observers. Back then I was unaware of the independent efforts to have our elections monitored. It would appear that a group called Global Exchange is also going to be inviting some outside observers to keep tabs on our electoral process (via The Command Post).

I am still insulted that anyone thinks that we need to have our elections monitored. Consider from whence these various 'observers' hail:

Argentina, Australia, England, Canada, Chile, Ghana, India, Ireland, Mexico, Nicaragua, Philippines, Thailand, Wales and Zambia.
Call me crazy, but I haven't exactly heard great things from any number of these countries concerning their electoral processes. I'm sure some would say that such experience would be advantage in finding problems here. Perhaps.

The basic problem I have with international observers keeping tabs on our elections is that in doing so we are moving down a road that leads to surrendering our national sovereignty. This is just the sort of thing that JF-ingK-types love. They want the US to be dependent and subservient to the World Community because they feel that we are somehow not worthy of our current standing in the world. They are filled with such self-loathing that they would rather let the World Community decide our future rather than take fate into their own hands and do what they can to make this country a better place. That is what gets under my skin about this whole situation.

As for the observers that Bush as invited, I can only hope that his plan is to use them as leverage against any potential attacks by the observers brought in by independent groups like Global Exchange. But even if this is the case, it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.


Thursday, September 16, 2004


Wellsville Montessori School

Wellsville NY is a small town on the Southern Tier of New York State. The Wellsville Montessori School is a small organization that currently suffered a major setback. They have been constructing a new building to enable them to move out of rented space at a local school. Most of the work has been done, in fits and starts, by students from nearby Alfred State. After running behind schedule for some time they just recently got everything back on track.

Then, last night Lady Luck fell asleep at the wheel. An electrical fire did serious damage to at least the building's interior. Fortunately no one was injured in the fire and while the extent of structural damage has not yet been assessed, they will certainly be put far behind schedule with only 3 months remaining in their lease at the local school.

Since the fire happened only last night I have not yet been able to directly contact anyone from the school. When I have more information I will pass it along. For now, if you have any desire to offer help to this worth organization here are the pertinent links:

Building Info
Contact Montessori
Local Newspaper


From the Wellsville Daily Reporter

Fire Damage Posted by Hello

Thank You

Thanks to my fellow Homespuners who have blogged about the current plight of the Wellsville Montessori School...

In Search of Utopia
The Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill


86 + 35

Well, I guess in my last post I missed at least one possibility...that Dan Rather would try a quick end around and rely on the 35 year old memory of an 86 year old woman. I'm sure that Mrs. Knox is a very nice woman and I have no particular reason to doubt her recollections. However, did anyone else notice that Rather completely lacked any embarrassment that CBS (according to their new favorite 'expert') was taken for a hugely embarrassing ride with these FORGED DOCUMENTS?! I read the transcript, and I am absolutely dumbfounded:

RATHER: Mrs. Knox says the information in the four memos cbs obtained is very familiar, but she doesn’t believe the memos are authentic. She does remember her boss, colonel Jerry Killian, being upset over mr. Bush’s failure to follow orders to take a physical. Did or did not lieutenant Bush take a physical as ordered by colonel Killian?
How do you do that? Rather and CBS have been relying so heavily on these docs, then the very person who would have typed them comes out and says she didn't...and they manage to immediately drop any concern for the documents and rely on this woman's memory. I am amazed.

This is so outrageous. Maybe we will end up with something resembling scenario #3 when all the dust (and BS) settles.


Drudge has rounded up a few articles of interest:

Rather Concedes Papers Are Suspect

CBS Guard Documents Traced to Tex. Kinko's

Ex-Guardsman Is Said to Be a CBS Source

The question I have is: Will Dan Rather keep his word? Will we see these stories mentioned on CBS News tonight? Somehow I doubt it.

Update 2:

Oh, and Bill Burkett isn't exactly a huge fan of W to start with:

I was a pawn then caught in a struggle for right and wrong, but also caught within a political struggle between a man who would do anything to be 'king' of America and an institution of laws that we knew as America.
Read the rest. Judge for yourself.

Update 3:

Thank you Mr. Drudge. You warm my fuzzy little VRWC heart =).

Update 4:


WASHINGTON - Bill Burkett, who has emerged as a possible CBS source for disputed memos about President Bush's Guard service, has a long history of making charges against Bush and the Texas National Guard.

But Burkett's allegations have changed over the years, and have been dismissed as baseless by former Guard colleagues, state legislators and others.

Even Burkett has admitted some of his allegations are false.
But hey, I'm sure that's not going to stop CBS from putting him on the air. After all, it's the seriousness of the charge that matters.

And this should seriously help his credibility with the Left:

In an article Burkett wrote for the Internet last year he compared Bush to Hitler and Napoleon as one of "the three small men" who sought to rule through tyranny. "Three small men who wanted to conquer and vanquish," Burkett wrote. Burkett confirmed authorship of that article in the February Chronicle interview.
Hey, does this guy work for MoveOn too? If not, why?


Wednesday, September 15, 2004


Cut To The Chase

All right, I'm pretty much convinced that the CBS documents are fakes. The question is: What are the repercussions for CBS and Dan Rather?

There are, to my mind, a few possibilities.

1) Dan Rather resigns and CBS goes the way of the post-Jayson Blair NYT, which is to say slightly more sullied in the minds of those on the Right and still the Old Grey Lady to the Middle and Left.

2) Dan Rather stays at CBS (with some sort of admission of fault, if not guilt) and their journalistic reputation (as a news source) is somewhat tarnished but recovers because of the general short attention span of the country.

3) Dan Rather stays at CBS (without some sort of admission of fault, if not guilt) and their journalistic reputation is forever destroyed because the stonewalling only serves to breath new life into the story and cause more damage.

4) The whole dang thing blows over and the Liberals remain kissy-kissy with CBS for ever and ever amen.

I think we'll probably see something resembling #2...once CBS hops off their high horse and admits that they were taken for a seriously embarrassing ride.

One thing that's worth pointing out. Consider the bare bones of this story. Prominent public individual (PPI) says Proposition A (PA) is True. PA later turns out to be False. There is no reason to presume PPI knew of PA's falsehood at the time.

What is the public response once the truth comes out? Well, that all depends on whom PPI is and what PA is. Two scenarios:

Scenario #1:
PPI = Dan Rather
PA = Fake Memos
Response (from the Left) = "Eh, who cares?"

Scenario #2:
PPI = George W. Bush
PA = Pre-war evidence of WMD in Iraq
Response (from the Left) = "Liar! Liar! Liar! Liar! Liar! Liar! Hitler! Liar! Liar! Hitler!!! AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!"

I think I've made my point.



Drudge reports:

Kerry finds himself in a dead heat with Martha Stewart and Joseph McCarthy, and behind Herbert Hoover -- although he narrowly beats O.J. Simpson.

Michael Jordan: 83 (2000)
Tony Blair: 76 (2003)
Pope John Paul II: 73 (2003)
Democratic Party: 54 (2004)
John Ashcroft: 49 (2003)
Michael Dukakis: 47 (1988)
Prince Charles: 45 (2003)
Herbert Hoover: 43 (1944)
Jesse Jackson: 38 (2003)
Vladimir Putin: 38 (2003)
John Kerry: 36 (2004)
Martha Stewart: 36 (2004)
Joseph McCarthy: 35 (1954)
Do you suppose that Johnny F-er's rating out be statistically higher than Michael Jackson's? Hey, he's got to beat somebody, would you say?


Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Kerry's After Action Reports

I know, I know...McCain has told us all that it doesn't matter what happened in Vietnam. Well, if Kerry is going to lie so obtusely, I'm going to hold him accountable.

The Command Post has the PDF of the After Action Reports of the day which Kerry won his Silver Star (Captain's Quarters translates). Here's the important section (apparently written by Kerry himself):

“PCF 94 beached in center of ambush in front of small path when Viet Cong sprung up from bunker 10 feet from unit. Man ran with weapon towards hootch. Forward M-60 machine gunner wounded man in leg. Officer-in-charge, LTjg Kerry, jumped ashore and gave pursuit while other units saturated area with fire and beached placing assault parties ashore. Kerry chased VC inland behind hootch and shot him while he fled — capturing one B-40 rocket launcher with round in chamber.”
Doesn't quite sound like the old Him 'er Me thing, does it? As always, you be the judge.


Monday, September 13, 2004


Evolution vs. Creationism: Round 4

For those of you following my thoughts on this topic, I will now provide my response to Dr. Meyer’s Intelligent Design argument (if you’re new to this line of posts, see Rounds 1, 2 and 3 while Dr. Meyer’s article can be found here).

Here’s the synopsis of the review:

1) Evolutionary theories (including neo-Darwinism, Self-Organizational Models, Punctuated Equilibrium, Structuralism and Cladism) fail to adequately explain the available data (i.e., the fossil record and the current state of Life on Earth).
2) Based on the evidence (i.e., the fossil record and the current state of Life on Earth), the most logical theory is that of Intelligent Design (ID).

(Where Intelligent seems to be defined as the existence of “mental” capabilities usually associated with Humans in exclusion to the remainder of Life and Design appears to imply a Teleologically driven series of events.)

The first portion of the article is a decent review of the problems currently recognized with the various scientific theories developed to explain the development of Life on Earth. The second portion of the review is in support of ID, and the section with which I take issue.

Having some background in science, I will concede that Dr. Meyer provides a good argument against the adequacy of the current evolutionary theories’ power to account for the development and existence of Life as we know it. However, I believe that there are at least two fatal flaws in his line of reasoning. As I said, he does a good job of highlighting the shortcomings of the currently accepted theories (although I will deal with the areas I think he fails in that task…hopefully at some point in the near future), but his argument for his own theory falls prey to a few very basic flaws, totally aside from any technical scientific issues.

The first major flaw I see is that Dr. Meyer never defines exactly what he means by Intelligent Design. Does this refer to God, Aliens or something else entirely? Does he suggest that all things were made according to a literal reading of Genesis? I don’t think so, but I am forced to draw that conclusion indirectly because he never makes it explicit. This flaw is only made more noticeable by the fact that he goes to such lengths to define exactly what he means by the labels he applies to the various other theories he sets out to discredit. This problem notwithstanding, I will do what I can to continue having made the best inference as to what he might be trying to convey.

The second major flaw is a lack of ascribed purpose (you’ll see what this is important in just a second).

His argument for ID can be boiled down to this:
- All current theories are unable to fully explain the development of Life.
- ID fits the data better because it accounts for the apparent teleology in the design and development of Life.
- Therefore, ID is the best theory available.

Here is the problem: Dr. Meyer attacks, for example, neo-Darwinism for its inability to provide a mechanism for the geologically-sudden development of the majority of major body forms during the Cambrian Explosion. Fair enough in that neo-Darwinism is a materialistic theory and, therefore, is required to provide a material mechanism by which it explains the available data.

Dr. Meyer’s ID theory, on the other hand is not a materialistic theory. Rather, he argues from a Teleological standpoint. He ascribes purpose to the development of life. Specifically, he builds the argument that some Intelligent force/being/whatever had a purpose that preexisted the creation of Life as we know it and that purpose was actualized by some (apparently unknown) mechanism. There are two questions that arise from this ascription of purpose that must be answered:
1) What is that purpose in causing Life to develop as it has?
2) What is the direct evidence for the existence of the Intelligent Designer?

Dr. Meyer is not necessarily bound to answer these questions. However, if he does not, then he has not provided a full mechanism to explain the development of Life…and his theory falls prey to exactly the same problems that he so adequately points out as inherent in neo-Darwinism and friends. One might think these shortcomings would put his ID theory at least on even footing with the other theories he critiques. However...

Without solid answers to these questions, the answers default to:
1) We can never know the mind of the Intelligent Designer.
2) We can never know the Intelligent Designer.

These answers place Dr. Meyer’s theory not in the realm of science, but rather that of religion. While there is no inherent problem with this fact, there is a problem with a religious belief being publishing under false pretenses in a scientific, peer-reviewed, journal.

In the end I found this review to be unsatisfying and anticlimactic. I had been hoping for a solid argument for ID to follow the argument against the competing theories. Alas, I was disappointed.

I encourage you all to read Dr. Meyer's article. It is pretty heavy in terms of evolutionary science, but it is entirely readable if you don't worry too much about the specifics. If you happen to not be well-versed in evolutionary science just take my word that he does a decent job of pointing out the flaws of the current theories and focus instead on Dr. Meyer's argument for ID (approx. the last 1/5th of the paper). Then, come on back and let me know what you think. After all, that's what it's all about (and here I thought it was all about the Hokey-Pokey for the longest time).


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