Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hey, Wait A Minute, Atheists. Get Your Own Evil!

Michael Egnor:

But there’s an issue with Coyne’s question. This is it: I believe in God, and as such the question, "Why is there evil?" is a natural question for me.

But what warrant has Coyne to ask that question? Coyne is an atheist, and therefore he believes that there is no transcendent purpose in the world. And Coyne is a Darwinist, so he believes that there is no purpose in the origin of man. And Coyne is a materialist, so he believes that the human mind is, in some way, merely the brain — evolved meat.

Does it make sense for an atheist to ask, "why is there evil?"

Atheism of Coyne’s sort entails materialism and Darwinism, which are the denial of such categories as "good" and "evil." Atheism merely posits "is"; matter stripped of teleology provides no "ought." Why would Jerry Coyne, a purposeless amalgam of atoms, lie in bed at night contemplating events that occur to other purposeless amalgams of atoms? Whence the "ought"? It will do no good for Coyne to assert that somehow he and his species has transcended (due to his large brain, no doubt) mere matter. One cannot obtain that which does not exist. If there is no "ought" in existence itself, then our sense of "ought" is merely an illusion.

If Darwinism were true — if man were the product of mere purposeless variation and natural selection — then there would be nothing "evil" about catastrophes that afflicted genetically unrelated competitors. A child in Coyne’s daughter’s class dies of cancer? Bingo: more time the teacher can spend with Coyne's kid. A Tsunami kills hundreds of thousands in the Indian Ocean? Score! They won’t be competing with Coyne’s kid for jobs in the global economy.

So what is "evil," in the Darwinist understanding of man? "Evil" is if Coyne’s daughter delays childrearing in order to attend college and start her career, and thereby gives birth to two children in her lifetime, instead of three. Because of her obstinate un-Darwinian desire to get an education, Coyne’s genomic posterity is diminished by a third. Wicked. "Good" and "evil" necessarily take on very different meanings if the Darwinian understanding of man is true.

The Problem of Evil, as described by Coyne, is a theist’s problem. Atheists lack standing to ask it. If the Darwinian understanding of man were true, "evil" wouldn’t be a problem, and evil suffered by others who don’t carry our genes wouldn’t be perceived as a problem. The vast majority of "evil" afflicts others, and such "evil" to others would be of benefit those of us who are unafflicted in the struggle for life.

Coyne asserts:

And, of course, the best answer [to the Problem of Evil]: there isn’t a God, much less one who’s omnipotent and beneficent.

But just the opposite is true. The fact that Coyne is a compassionate man who asks, "Why is there evil?" — and I’m sure feels the angst inherent in that question no less than I do — mitigates powerfully against Coyne’s own belief in atheism and materialism and Darwinism. Why bemoan unfairness if there is no Source of fairness? Why care about the bereaved as long as your own genes are replicating — in fact, flourishing because of another’s loss? Why bemoan evil when man himself is the product of evil — a Hobbesian struggle for survival? If atheism and Darwinism and materialism were true, why would we see "evil" as a problem, rather than as an opportunity?

The problem of evil is a problem for theists. If atheism and Darwinism and materialism are true, there is no "problem of evil." There is no good and there is no evil. "Good and evil" is merely a trick that our evolved-meat-computer-brains play on us. We just survive, or we don’t survive. Except there’s not really a "we." "We" are merely selfish genes, sometimes replicated, sometimes not. And "selfish" genes aren't really selfish. They have no motives.

If atheism and Darwinism and materialism are true, there’s no good, there’s no evil, there’s no point to anything. To paraphrase Chesterton in a slightly different context, if you believe in atheism and Darwinism and materialism, that’s fine, but that’s all you can believe, because if you’re right, there’s nothing more.

Yet the Problem of Evil is a real problem; it is perhaps the root problem of man. Only theists have anything meaningful to say about it. Atheists have no standing to even ask why there is evil; they’ve abdicated on the question, "Why is there anything?" and in doing so they abdicate on any questions about good and evil and meaning in life.


Althouse Fisks Bernard-Henri Lévy


Honesty Is Not A Government Policy

Charles Hugh Smith:

Do we as a nation now fear the truth so much that we prefer deception and lies?


[M]y sense [is] that our government's policies are fundamentally based on the opposite of open honesty. Virtually every policy with any fiscal or financial consequence is shrouded in lies, deception, obfuscation, disinformation and propaganda.

Yes, there is outrage in some quarters, and this is a positive sign. Even more positive is the growing demands for transparency and an honest accounting of our government's (and the Federal Reserve's) backstops, guarantees, actions and obligations.

Yet I also sense a great fear of honesty, as if we don't really want to know how bad it is. On one level, this is understandable. Many of us sense something is terribly wrong, but like people who sense they might have cancer, we don't go to the doctor to receive the diagnosis: we react with denial and magical thinking, thus dooming our chances of recovery. (I've had melanoma, so I'm sympathetic to this feeling.)

I see plentiful evidence that honesty is extremely threatening to the status quo. The Federal Reserve is in a full-blown panic that its machinations might be revealed to the public it claims to "serve."

Here in California, a newspaper had to go to court and sue the local governments to release the salaries and total compensation of public union employees. Why would the unions and their employers be so terrified of transparency, of actually allowing the taxpayers who pay their salaries a glimpse of where their money is going?

We all know the answer: because the public would be outraged to see the $200K salaries and double-dipping, the fat "consultant fees" paid the day after the employee retired, and on and on and on.

The Fed is terrified of transparency for the exact same reason: that the citizenry will be outraged by the squandering of trillions of dollars, the machinations to protect the wealthy few at the expense of the many, and perhaps most damning of all, the utter failure of the Fed's manipulations, prevarications and obfuscations.

The average American does not want to hear the "diagnosis" that Medicare and Medicaid are doomed to insolvency in a few short years, as is their entire government. They prefer soothing lies that nothing need be done except borrow another $2 trillion a year from now until Doomsday, which is but a few short years away. The truth is that Medicare is doomed and we shall not get the lavish care "promised" by our government. What year this becomes apparent I cannot say; it might be 2012, 2014 or 2019. Regardless, that year will come, and sooner than most think possible.

The great sad irony is the fearful patient who refuses to even go to the doctor expires not from the cancer but from their unwillingness to get the truth early on and have an open, honest discussion about treatment options.

I am saddened by the prospect that this describes our nation at a fundamental level. For it is insecurity and a total lack of confidence and faith that drives people to choose denial and magical thinking over truth, honesty and an open dialog. If one is confident that one can restore one's health, then the diagnosis, no matter how terrible, is welcomed so the treatment can begin immediately.

Thus the current preference for lies, deception, propaganda, magical thinking and denial is deeply troubling, for it suggests America has lost its faith and confidence that it can solve its pressing financial/fiscal problems.

Well, I Mean Come On. There Are Crimes And Then There Are Crimes.

Hollywood values:

Pleading guilty to unlawful sex with an underage girl — the drugging, raping and sodomizing of a 13 year-old — isn’t stopping Hollywood from ginning up an indignation campaign over the possibility of fugitive director Roman Polanski being held accountable for his crimes. Yes, these are the values of those who control the most powerful propaganda device ever created. Which begs a question: If his unspeakable deed doesn’t meet the standard, what exactly would Roman Polanski have to do in order to become a pariah in this town … I mean, besides vote for Sarah Palin?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Complete, Self-Serving Hoax

AJ Strata on the real data concerning global warming. H/T Brutally Honest.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Thanatos, Not Eros

From a comment to this article:

Leftists persist in trying to divide Americans any way they can, by race, sex, ethnic background, social class, etc. Americans prefer to be united as Americans, no hyphens, no class warfare, no civil strife, ideologically manufactured resentments, etc.

The Left is the party of division, strife, conflict, struggle and malice. Leftists define themselves by who and what they are against much more than what they are for. One sometimes almost suspects that the only reason Leftists are or claim to be for something, e.g. social and economic justice, etc., is so that they can feel justified in being against those they desire to be against. The Left is the party of NO! if one realizes that the NO! is the clinched fist against everything now existing on earth and heaven too.

Leftists bring hate and personal malice with them wherever they go. They smear and defame and try to harm and silence all who express opinions they do not like. They accuse opponents of every vice, fault, defect and even crime without the slightest hesitation or need to prove their case. They are not interested in proving their case, merely intimidating, delegitimizing, and silencing all opposition. The Left is dogmatic, intolerant, malicious and bent on acquiring total power and complete control in order to impose its quasi-religious utilitarian rationalism upon others whether they want it or not.

Leftist fanaticism has a lot in common with Islam if one regards the structure and dynamics of the ideology rather than the specific content. Leftism believes itself under an obligation to conquer the world and divides humanity into the faithful and the unbelievers. It regards any tactic against unbelievers justified if it leads to world domination by the faux-religion of Leftism. One does not reason with Leftists any more than one reasons with committed adherents to any religious faith, including but certainly not limited to Islam. The dogmatic certitude of Leftists is indicaive of revealed rather than acquired truth.

Radical and militant Leftists have much in common with Islamic jihadists. In some cases this extends to terrorist bombings such as those perpetrated by Distinguished Professor of Education William Ayers and friends. Such believers are not only strangers but active enemies of reason and all existing institutions and norms when these oppose their personal ideology.

Looking somewhat afar from the antics of militant Leftists and Islamists one might be forgiven for concluding that both groups are driven by hatred of what actually exists and a ruthless desire to tear down and destroy society in its present form. The excuse both sets of fanatics give for such manifest and wanton murderous destructiveness is that they desire to clear away the evil to make way for the good. This has long been the justification of Marxist haters for their sustained attacks on everything that actually exists.

But suppose they are kidding themselves? Suppose what really motivates all such people is not the love they claim to feel for humanity and the heartfelt desire they claim to attain the better world for all, but just the malice, hatred and urge to destroy and murder that we have no trouble observing in their actual behaviors?

It would simplify matters and explain much if one concluded that the raison d'etre of the Left was hate and nothing else. Individuals who for whatever reason are hateful and in need of a community of like-minded haters are naturally attracted to malicious Leftism with its cartoon gallery cast of designated and approved targets for their collective hate.

Wouldn't it be something if the Left's true dynamic was sadism and its true aim therefore not the greatest happiness but the greatest harm to the greatest number? Could the Left be the party of Thanatos rather than the Eros it claims to champion? Is there anything in the actual history or observable behavior of radical Leftism that conclusively falsifies such a strange and unsettling hypothesis?

If Health Care Is A 'Right' That Government Needs To Provide, Then Just What Wouldn't Be?

There is no reason socialism would stop with health care, since there are lots of other things that are absolute necessities for survival, and even more so. Great points in this American Thinker article.


Another great Bill Whittle segment, which also contains the explanation for a certain Latin phrase you might have encountered.

Cut Him Some Slack! It Takes A Lot Of Time To Prepare For So Many Important Media Appearances And Campaign Rallies!


How often would one imagine that a wartime President, as Commander in Chief, would meet in the first eight months of his term with the overall commander of the theater of war that this President had said was too often overlooked by his predecessor? Once a month? Especially given how much public consideration this President has given the political and strategic questions of the fight, perhaps that might be once a week over the last couple of months?

How about once a … lifetime?

The military general credited for capturing Saddam Hussein and killing the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq says he has only spoken to President Obama once since taking command of Afghanistan.

“I’ve talked to the president, since I’ve been here, once on a VTC [video teleconference],” General Stanley McChrystal told CBS reporter David Martin in a television interview that aired Sunday.

“You’ve talked to him once in 70 days?” Mr. Martin followed up.

“That is correct,” the general replied.

In June 2008, Barack Obama said that it was time for a redeployment from Iraq that “refocuses on Afghanistan and our broader security interests.” In the same speech, he committed to “taking the fight to al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. … as President, I will make the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban the top priority that it should be. This is a war that we have to win.”

Five months later, Obama won the election and prepared his transition. That was ten months ago. If Afghanistan is his “top priority” and “a war that we have to win,” wouldn’t Obama have carved out a little time in his schedule to meet with the man tasked with winning it more than once since appointing him in June? It may have forced him to skip a Wagyu beef dinner and perhaps a night on the town in New York City, but those are the sacrifices that a CinC has to make from time to time.

In comparison, how many conversations will Obama have in Copenhagen to land the Olympics for Chicago? What does that say about the Commander in Chief’s priorities?

How To Quell Conservative Anger

Good parody. It begins:

Conservatives are very angry these days. I haven’t seen conservatives this angry since the last time a Democrat was president. So the anger is probably because the president is black. While that might not seem so bad, conservative anger could lead to something disastrous: their mobilizing to vote against Democrats.

If that occurs, what happens to the Democrats’ dream of spending lots of money on seemingly random things? One day the American people will become enlightened enough to surrender democracy to their betters, who would give them such rewards as free (FREE!) health care, but until then conservative anger has to be dealt with. If not, crazy people like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck will force absolutely anyone who happens to be an avowed Communist out of public office.

Despite the apparent menace, imprisonment of conservatives for their dangerous attitudes is not yet an option (we’ll be pushing that bill right before the midterm elections). Thus we must make other efforts to quell conservative anger. Here are some ideas...





Saturday, September 26, 2009


The author of the splendid book The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions answers a question:

ENV: Darwinism is fiercely guarded by a scientific guild. What does the guild have at stake in this? Prestige? Money? To some observers, the defense seems impermeable. Do you see cracks in the fortress wall opening up?

DB: Fiercely guarded, but not, mind you, effectively guarded. If the Darwinian Guild, to adapt your phrase (since science has nothing to do with it), was interested in rational self promotion, the Guild would have never allowed its members to display in public their characteristic attitude of invincible arrogance and sheep-like stupidity. Just listen to them as they limber up in the insult room: Dumbski, Little Mikey Behe, Stevie Meyer (a regression to school yard taunts irresistible at both the Panda’s Thumb and Talk Reason), the creationist playbook, creationist pablum, creationism in a cheap tuxedo, tired creationist canards, creationist cranks, ID'iots, creotards, creos, sky fairies, liars for Jesus. I've even seen Disco'Tute, this the invention of an elderly fellow at the Panda's Thumb who, like Polonius, imagines that he is the soul of wit. One lunatic named Quick or Quack — or is that simply the sound of his posts? — has become fond of the phrase "mendacious intellectual pornography" and has so overused it that his fellow bloggers have taken to attacking him. When they do, Quick as a Quack responds that they are guilty of "mendacious intellectual pornography". The gabble is as unedifying as it is unending.

What is wonderful, I think, is the way in which membership in the Guild so runs to type, P.Z. Myers, to take the loudest case, reveling in his role as the hearty American rustic, a man prepared as circumstances demand either to desecrate the Catholic wafer or at dinner to immerse his feet in a platter of boeuf bourguignon. If in public he now refrains from withdrawing long spools of lint from his navel and examining them studiously that is because Richard Dawkins has advised him that at Oxford, it is no longer done.

When it is late at night and my old war wounds ache, I very much enjoy chasing down discussions on the Panda’s Thumb in which members of the Guild begin to abuse one another, their indignation discharging itself in a series of menopausal hot flashes, the discussion skipping from disagreement to disgruntlement to peevishness and finally to insult, until at last someone stands accused of being a lying scum for Jesus.

I offer nothing as invention. I have made nothing up.

What I find most remarkable about the Darwinian Guild is what is least remarked. There is not a single first rate intelligence in the bunch.

Not one.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Rush On Leno

Good stuff:

Biting The Hand That Feeds

Atlas will Shrug, even if Atlas has foolishly embraced liberalism:

It’s difficult to decide who deserves more derision in this Washington Post report on fundraising woes in the Democratic Party. Should we laugh at the Nancy Pelosi-led politicians who thought that a year of populist pandering and the launch of a radical, aggressive anti-business agenda would have no effect on donations from the wealthy they demonized? Or should we instead mock those who lent their wealth to Democrats in the apparent belief that they didn’t intend to act on their class-warfare rhetoric?

Hey, why choose?


This last point is most significant. Donors flock to power, especially those with serious commercial interests in policy decisions on Capitol Hill. They suck up to the party that controls each chamber (in this case, the one party that controls both) in order to make sure their issues get on the agenda and get favorable treatment. That impulse helps keep incumbents in power.

However, that impulse has declined sharply in this Congress, and for good reason. The Democrats plan on radically restructuring two industries that comprise about a third of the economy, combined. While some in the health-care industry may gain with some of the “reforms” pushed by Democrats, more will lose. In the energy industry, just about everyone in that industry loses with cap-and-trade.

Nowhere is this trend more obvious than on Wall Street...

Who would have guessed that the people that Democrats demonized as evil in the first half of the year would be reluctant to donate now? For both the Democrats who are shocked, shocked! to find former donors alienated from their class-warfare campaign and the business interests shocked, shocked! to find class warriors in charge of the Democratic Party they supported unthinkingly last year, I award the Captain Louis Renault Award...

Recovery, My A**

We're still thoroughly screwed. For those who want to know.

There Is No Such Thing As Coerced Charity

The wisdom of Davy Crockett. This was linked in an interesting post at Brutally Honest.


A great one can be seen here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Andrew Klavan

Quite amusing.

Ayers Wrote Obama's Book

More evidence.

All They're Trying To Do Is Get In Touch With Their Inner Stalin

Mark Tapscott:

If nothing else, the Obama eruption in American politics is steadily revealing the stark reality behind the progressive movement - the totalitarian temptation is always there and, for more than a few, possessing the official power to compel sooner or later becomes irresistible.


Consider: Nowhere does the Constitution grant Congress authority to require every American to buy a particular private service or product on pain of forfeiture of a significant portion of their wealth. Yet, every version of Obamacare currently being discussed in Congress requires just that.

Forcing all of us to buy officially approved health insurance is essential to a functioning government-run system. As Obama told Congress, "many of insurance reforms we seek - especially requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions - cannot be achieved" without the individual mandate.

Why? Because the politicians and bureaucrats who will manage the government-run health care program know that, without the force of government behind them, they won't be able to make the rest of us do what they tell us to do.

Once the power is granted, the question becomes how severe will the enforcement be. Fines will suffice, for Obamacare, for now. For Stalin, the first choice was usually the Gulag, or a bullet. It's just a matter of degree.

But that is what government always does as it becomes more costly, intrusive and intolerant of dissent. As if to drive the point home, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a gag order this week telling all private companies participating in the Medicare Advantage program to shut up. Violators would face fines and jail time. Forget the First Amendment.

The gag order was issued after Humana Corp. sent a letter to its policyholders who participate in Medicare Advantage telling them the facts about Obamacare's effect on the program. The companies were ordered "to end immediately all such mailings to beneficiaries and to remove any related materials directed to Medicare enrollees from your website."

The bureaucrats added this blunt threat: "Please be advised that we take this matter very seriously and, based upon the findings of our investigation, will pursue compliance and enforcement actions. ...."

Those, my friends, are the words of soft tyranny. How much longer before it becomes a hard tyranny?

History - and the words of progressives themselves - suggest not long. Consider New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's telling admiration for the communist thugs who run the Chinese government:

"One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonabley enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century."

That in a nutshell is the totalitarian temptation that plagues all who would use the power of the state to impose their vision of the good society on the rest of us.

It's the ever-present Stalin whispering in the progressive ear: "Ignore those reactionary, loud-mouthed, ignorant Tea Party protesters and decree Obamacare, Waxman-Markey, and all the rest of it. Do it now while you have the power!"

And if the dissenters won't be quiet, Bill Ayers, Obama's once-and-future colleague, can always dust off his copy of that old Weather Underground plan for FEMA re-education camps in the desert southwest.

You think I exaggerate? Read National Review Editor Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism," or historian Paul Johnson's "Modern Times," two books without which you cannot understand where we've been or where we are headed.

I agree with his book recommendations wholeheartedly.

Ruthless And Baseless Leftist Propaganda Decisively Nullified By Ruthless And Baseless Leftist Propaganda

Superb job:

I hope this gets seen by Maddow and Schaeffer. Maybe they don't realize what a couple of hapless tools they are. If this doesn't wake them up, nothing will. And Schaeffer, your dad must be rolling over in his grave seeing what you've become.

H/T Brutally Honest.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What Goes Around Comes Around

Great blog post concerning the growing new anti-atheistic Enlightenment.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Makin' Stuff Up

Character assassination via fabricated quotes, followed by a retraction after the horse is already out of the gate. Standard operating procedure for the Palace Guard. Perhaps "AP" should really stand for "Audacious Propagandists".


If We Want To Change Darth Vader, We Must Become That Change Ourselves.

We just weren't ready for this in 1977. We were not yet enlightened enough.

Commies Lie

Par for the course.

Hair Of The Dog

Stephen Green has an entertaining video round-up of the Obama Weekend Blitz.

Monday, September 21, 2009



In A Nutshell

Hugh Hewitt:

The reason behind President Obama's frantic retail television yesterday has to be that every debate over Obamacare everywhere in the country has to be going just as mine did. Proponents of Obamacare from the president down to Obamacare advocate in a two person discussion on a park bench are not just losing the argument. They have lost it. Decisively. And no series of interviews, no matter how gentle the questions or advantageous the setting, are going to persuade anything close to a majority of Americans that it makes sense to trade in their health care for whatever it is that the president, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have behind Door Number 3.

With his health care drive now dependent only upon the willingness of vulnerable House and Senate Democrats --an increasing number thanks to the president-- to sacrifice their jobs for his agenda, the president next must decide whether to throw Afghanistan under the bus with Poland and the Czech Republic.


Thursday, September 17, 2009



A Theism So Weak And Wretchedly Subjective That Even Dawkins Speaks Up For Something Stronger

Karen Armstrong and her squishy theology don't cut the mustard even with an arch-atheist.

Details here.

Gagdad Bob

Has a great post.

The "Mainstream Media" Isn't

Ace of Spades:

BTW, Bernie Goldberg is dead-bang right, we have been giving the media an accolade it never deserved by calling it the "Mainstream Media." It is not mainstream. It is leftwing.

We are the mainstream media. We're also the minor media, but we are the mainstream.

And so I'm never going to refer to them as "MSM" again.

Another Good Point by Goldberg: In that same interview -- maybe Monday? -- Goldberg challenged O'Reilly's question about the leftwing media taking an interest in this, asking, basically, "Why do we care if they've taken an interest?"

His point is that this is no longer David vs. Goliath. (Or an Army of Davids vs. Goliath, if you will.) It's now more like an up-and-comer vs. an aging, past-his-prime boxer. Sure, maybe the older boxer still gets a bigger share of the gate, but it's getting close to an even match. Not there yet -- but it's not some huge gulf.

It's no longer really the Dominant Media vs. the Outlaw Media. Well, it is that, but it's no longer "Dominant" -- it's now merely "Establishment, But a Shadow of Its Former Self, and Losing Audience Every Day" Media.

So his point was: Who cares if this fossilized incompetent corrupt old media covers it? Why are we even giving them that validation that what they assert to be true is in fact true -- "It's only a story when we say it's a story" ?

That's not true anymore. They said it's not a story -- the practically screamed it with their silence -- and we said "Oh yes it is."

And who won?

We did.

So who cares about them?

We're covering it -- we, the mainstream media -- and that's all that matters.

They will follow eventually, as they usually do these days.

And who really cares if they don't.

Anyone ever get linked by a legacy media outlet? We're linked right now by the NYT's blog and the referrals barely show up in the SiteMeter stats.

A link from a small blog throws a hell of a lot more traffic than the NYT. NiceDeb and Cassy Fiano are both linking us, as I can tell from my SiteMeter; there are zero referrals right now from the NYT. I only know I was linked because DrewM. told me so.

Who cares about them.

Who cares what they cover.

Who cares what they believe and what they think they "know."

The hell with them. They're losers. And they stink of desperation.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Please Tell Me 13 Underage Salvadorean Sex Slaves Is The Line"

John Stewart is a must-see as he takes it to Acorn and the Press.

It's Only Fascism When The Other Guy Does It

The Anchoress:

[I]t is very difficult to cry “racism” when President Obama was elected by a plurality of Americans, of all races, all classes, all backgrounds, and even all parties.

My registered-Republican mother-in-law voted for Obama proudly. She’s regretting it now. Does that mean she wasn’t a racist when she voted for him, but she is one now, because she objects to his policies and feels—with some justification, I think—that she and many in the nation had a bait-and-switch played upon them?

The people who loudly scream “racist” at those who dare to dissent need to ask themselves a question: Bearing in mind that President Obama has maintained so many of President Bush’s policies, which should already more than annoy the left and the press (but seems not to), what would they be doing, right now, if it was Bush who was firing the CEO of the UAW but not the head of GM? If it was Bush’s Justice Department that was ignoring a case of voter intimidation? If it were Bush declaring that he didn’t want to hear from people who disagreed with him and who told his supporters to “hit back hard”? If it was President Bush who was increasing the deficit to 1.3 trillion dollars and doing nothing to help create jobs in a time of record unemployment? If Bush was naming one unaccountable czar after another, without so much as a raised eyebrow from the press?

What would they be doing, if President Bush were the guy taking his wife out for a date in New York that costs tens-of-thousands of dollars, while people are out of work and facing long-term high unemployment?

They’d be protesting in Washington, in huge numbers—that’s what they’d be doing. They’d be demanding accountability and decrying czars. They’d be calling Bush “Bushhitler” and hanging him in effigy, writing books and films about what it would be like to assassinate him. They’d be drawing pictures of him being decapitated. They’d be calling him Stalin, or using gunfire sound effects when mentioning him on the radio. They’d be yelling, “hey, hey, ho, ho, this president has got to go!” They’d be demanding to see pictures of the coffins from Afghanistan and saying “we have lost; we are murdering innocent civilians; we love our troops, so bring them home, miserable failure . . . unwinnable situation.”

But, because the president in the White House doing all of these things is a Democrat, these same people are silent. There are no problems. Everything is great.

They Thought The Public Had Come Around To Their Superior Way Of Thinking. They Were Wrong.

Frank J. Fleming:

The liberals were crazy angry while George W. Bush was president. Part of it was that for a time after 9/11, they were made completely irrelevant — when people are dying, who is going to listen to a liberal?


Now conservatives have more reason to be angry these days, with liberals in charge and all the spending and government takeovers. But with Democrats having complete control of the government, you’d think liberals could be dismissive of conservatives and be calm themselves. But no, they’re still crazy angry. Maybe even angrier than before. Biting-fingers-off angry. They’re screeching about how all the people opposed to Obama are racists and neo-Nazis and stupid, and they’re using sexual slurs against protesters and boycotting everyone who disagrees with them. They’re still nuts, but why?

See things from their point of view. The most fundamental principle liberals have is that they are all very, very smart, and everyone should listen to them. Nothing angers them more than something that challenges them to reexamine that core tenet. And that’s why they were so delighted by the election of President Obama and further wins in the House and Senate. For a moment they thought the American people had recognized liberals as their superiors and said to them: “Please! Smart people! Lead us and tell us what to do!”

Of course, it is quite obvious right now that that’s not at all what the election was about. The Republicans had been screw-ups for a while, and with the failing economy (people tend to vote for the president based on the economy, which is only a tad smarter than voting based on the weather, but whatcha gonna do?), most people just felt they couldn’t reward the Republicans with leadership again. Also, many people were tired of the hostility between conservatives and liberals (though I’m not sure why Republicans got the blame, since we could have had bipartisanship if at any time liberals had decided to stop being a bunch of screeching ninnies who mindlessly opposed whatever Bush was for). Then came along Barack Obama, who promised non-specific hope and change, and everyone was like, “Non-specific hope and change sounds like a great idea!”

But now we can see the problem. After Barack Obama was elected, he started doing specific things. Liberal things. No one voted for that, so Obama’s approval ratings have dropped faster than those of any president before him. And you can see why liberals are so frustrated. They had a charismatic liberal overwhelmingly elected with Democratic majorities, and even he is utterly failing to sell liberalism to the American people.

This was the best chance they could ever possibly imagine, and it’s already pretty much over. Liberal ideas are still in the ghetto. While conservatives can still openly call themselves conservatives and argue directly for things they like (such as gun rights and free markets), liberals still have to run from their label and never dare say out loud the things they want, such as socialism and single-payer health care. How could liberals not see this coming? Are they not as smart as they think?

Having to even contemplate such a horrible possibility is enough to drive a liberal mad.

So they lash out. Since they are obviously so smart (obviously!), the only reason anyone could oppose them is that the person is stupid and evil. Thus everyone protesting must be a stupid racist. It’s the only conclusion possible without having to reexamine the central tenet that liberals are super smart and should totally run everything. And if you were under the delusion that you were surrounded by stupid racists who won’t listen to your obviously smart ideas, wouldn’t you be pretty angry all the time?


Americans don’t like liberalism. Obama was only elected because Americans like people who say happy things, but it was in no way meant as an endorsement of liberalism. As liberals start to realize this, they’re only going to get screechier and angrier. So we might as well figure out a way to use that.

Who knows, maybe one day we can even figure out how to direct it against America’s enemies.

Beautiful Photo

The Anchoress highlights a splendid one. She also has a good roundup post here, in which she points out this observation:

Frank Fleming wonders Why are the Liberals still so angry?:

But now we can see the problem. After Barack Obama was elected, he started doing specific things. Liberal things. No one voted for that, so Obama’s approval ratings have dropped faster than those of any president before him. And you can see why liberals are so frustrated. They had a charismatic liberal overwhelmingly elected with Democratic majorities, and even he is utterly failing to sell liberalism to the American people.

Miller Is The Best They've Got

Which isn't saying much. Excellent post.

Why do I say that Miller is the best they've got? Because of all the times I've seen the assertion that Miller has somehow annihilated Behe's arguments!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Barbarian In The Mirror

This guy knows:

I confess to believing at one time or another nearly all the pervasive and persistent fantasies of the sixties. In the words of Joni Mitchell's anthem for the Woodstock nation, I thought all I had to do was "get back to the land to set my soul free." I thought that flowers had power, that love could be free, and that the system was to blame. By 1968, I had the whole world figured out. I knew the cause of every evil — America — and I knew the solution to every problem — freedom and tolerance.

If truth be told, of course, I knew nothing, at least nothing worth knowing. I knew how to posture, but not how to stand. I knew how to protest, but not how to protect. I knew how to work up an impressive case of moral outrage, but I didn't know morality. I knew about peace, but I didn't know enough to fight for it. I knew about self-indulgence, self-preservation, self-esteem, and self-expression, but I didn't know about self-sacrifice and self-control.

Worse still, I didn't even know myself. I didn't know what Socrates knew about me — that I entered this world in a state of total and seamless ignorance, and that my ignorance could never be breached as long I remained blissfully unaware of it. I didn't know what St. Augustine knew about me — that the well of my soul was poisoned, and that whatever was down in the well would come up in the bucket. St. Augustine also knew this about my soul: No matter how hard it tried, no matter where it looked, it could never find its rest anywhere but in God. I didn't know what Edmund Burke knew about me — that no government could fix what ailed me, either by the things it did or by the things it did not. The most any state could do was to help protect me from myself and from others. Most importantly, however, I didn't know that I was Everyman. When I learned that, I stopped being a liberal.

Like almost all dissidents of my generation, I was a protestor without a plan and a visionary without a vision. I had not yet learned that you see only what you are able to see, and I was able to see only the egalitarian, relativistic, self-gratifying, superstitions of the secular, wayward, left. Please do not think that this was simply a case of prelapsarian innocence. It was not. It was ignorance and it was evil, although I would have denied it at the time.

Only slowly did I come to understand that my fellow dissidents and I had taken for ourselves the easiest and least productive of all tasks, that of denigrator. And only slowly did I come to understand that to destroy is easy, that to build is hard, and that to preserve is hardest of all.

But it was worse even than that, because my fellow dissidents and I were blind to the most obvious truths, especially to what Russell Kirk and others have called the tragic vision of life — the profound realization that evil is not something “out there,” it is something “in here.” The tragic vision of life arises from the fact that we are flawed — deeply, desperately, tragically flawed — and we cannot be trusted. We are broken at the heart; our defect is life wide and soul deep. Though we are capable of reason, because of our selfish passions and our moral weaknesses we are rarely reasonable. We ourselves are what is chiefly wrong with the world. We are this planet’s most malignant and enduring ailment. We have our dignity, to be sure, but we have our horror as well. I can tell you this: I did not wake up until I met the enemy face to face. I met him in the mirror. We all do.

I had to learn to stare squarely into that face in the mirror, into the face of hard, fallen reality, and not to flinch. I did not, in fact I could not, comprehend the tragic vision of life until I learned that the problem of the human heart is at the heart of the human problem. Once I examined with care and honesty the habits of my own heart and those of my dissident friends, I learned that C. S. Lewis was right: to be one of the sons of Adam or the daughters of Eve is both glory enough to raise the head of the lowest beggar and shame enough to lower the head of the highest king. I am a human being. That is my wealth; that is my poverty.

Before that undeception, I was like all other cultural and political liberals. I had fallen prey to what Jeane Kirkpatrick identified as the error of misplaced malleability. I thought that human institutions could be reshaped at will to fit the plans already existing inside my head. It cannot be done. Human institutions arise from human action; human action arises from human nature; and human nature is notoriously intractable. Apart from the grace of God, human nature cannot be fixed, no matter how badly it needs fixing. I finally learned that my deepest need was not more freedom. I needed the grace and guidance of God. Until I understood that, I remained shamelessly superficial...

The whole essay is tremendously good.

Well Said

Gagdad Bob:

[Y]ou will never see me get excited by a commonplace political scandal. Of course politicians are corrupt. That's why I am a conservative. I want fewer of them, with less power over me.


All by Lisa Benson.




If All Else Fails, Visualize Secession

Leftists think the Tenth Amendment is just something for the kook fringe to worry about.

Here's a good American Thinker post on the topic:

Who are the dastardly people who are now unhinging the left? They are the "Tenthers," those who believe the 10th Amendment -- reserving to the states and the people all powers not delegated to the federal government nor prohibited to the states -- isn't dead letter.

America is seeing a reawakening of interest in the Constitution, particularly how it should limit government power. People realize there is some foundational flaw with what's happening in Washington, and are tired of feeling helpless.

When the President exceeds his powers, what's to countermand him? When Congress succumbs to special interests, what can people do? When the courts create rights not found in the Constitution, and deny ones that exist, what's the solution? When all three branches abdicate their role of providing checks and balances, what's to stop the corruption that flows from authoritarianism?

Americans view the Bill of Rights with an almost sacrosanct reverence of what is good and special about America. The 10th Amendment is key to a structural view of limited federal government. People are now beginning to realize it as a vital Amendment. That it may be stale or dormant does not make it meaningless.

Liberals are just in their beginning phase of denigrating the conservatives and independents who now realize one reason why we have problems with abusive, corrupt government is that the 10th Amendment has been neglected. But what's to say one of the first ten Amendments is dead letter, as some on the left suggest for ideological reasons, yet be able to deny that weakening one Amendment weakens all of them? If that's the ideological debate in which the left wants to engage, I say, bring it on.

As with nearly any ideological debate involving the Constitution, the left engages in hypocrisy. As Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center does point out, some lefties have used 10th Amendment arguments for their causes.

By exposing their insufferable, intolerant, hypocritical ideology, the left continues to add numbers to the cause of freedom.

Leftists, if the Constitution is really null and void, then please just say so. We can all then proceed accordingly.

Monday, September 14, 2009

You Shouldn't Base Science On Bad Theology

Steve Fuller:

Peer review might also usefully intervene in an issue that Cornelius Hunter repeatedly raises, namely, the theological commitments of Darwinist claims. Surely, Hunter and I are not the only two people who find it absolutely bizarre that atheists routinely make claims about what God would or would not have done vis-à-vis the design features of nature. The people making these claims don’t even believe that theology has a real subject matter, yet they make claims as if it did and are then expected to be taken seriously by people who not only believe that theology is a real subject but also know something about what it says. Moreover, it is not that these atheists have disproved the existence of God and hence officially invalidated the domain of theology. At least, such disproofs have not appeared in peer-reviewed publications.

The fault here really lies with professional theologians and clerics who let claims by Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, etc. pass in silence rather than calling for peer review over their claims. For example, theodicy starts with the assumption that the design features of nature are not especially intelligible if one considers particular organisms or events in isolation. So anyone who tries to cast doubt on God’s existence by pointing to the seemingly awkward construction of an organism is like the ignoramus who denies the earth’s motion because the ground appears still to him. An argument of comparable stupidity that would not pass muster in physics should not be allowed to pass muster in theology.

So, my view on peer review is as follows: It has an important but limited role in Darwinism disputes, which have been overextended in some respects but underutilised in others. In particular, editorial errors relating to natural science matters are often illegitimately leveraged into grounds for censoring alternative explanatory frameworks, while blatant ignorance of theology is allowed to pass as reasonable counterargument in the spirit of ecumenical tolerance. A balancing of the dialectical ledger is in order.



Couldn't Happen To A Nicer Bunch

Jay Tea:

Well, gosh golly, does it get more fun than this?

The whole ACORN video sting story just keeps getting better and better. It started off with Baltimore ACORN employees trying to help an admitted pimp and prostitute buy a house to turn into a brothel, complete with illegal-alien underage girls brought into the US as sex slaves. ACORN responded by saying that the stingers had tried their scam at several other offices and were turned away, and the Baltimore "rogues" were promptly fired. They also threatened to sue the filmmakers and Fox News, and Baltimore officials (staunch Democrats) muttered about bringing criminal charges.

Then the filmmakers dropped shoe #2 -- a second video, at a second ACORN office (this one in DC), and a second set of ACORN employees advising them on how to set up their brothel for underage illegal alien sex slaves. This led to a second round of firings and more legal threats.

Apparently the filmmakers are part millipede, because shoe #3 fell over the weekend -- a third ACORN office (Brooklyn) with more "rogue" ACORN employees eagerly helping set up the brothel for underage illegal alien sex slaves. I'll go out on a limb and predict ACORN's response: more firings, more legal threats.

The filmmakers won't say how many more ACORN offices they visited, or even if there are more videos. They are content to release one, then sit back and wait for ACORN to issue their pro forma repudiations, then drop another in a few days. It's simple, but brilliant strategy -- it keeps the story going, and gives ACORN plenty of rope to hang themselves with between tapes.

So, how about those legal threats?


The state's case is much cleaner. If prosecutors choose to push it, then the filmmakers could be in a bit of hot water.

But any victory by the state's Democratic machine would be purely tactical. Strategically, it's a huge loser.

First up, you KNOW these kids will have a legal defense fund set up. And you KNOW that fund will break seven or eight figures in very, very short order.

Second, it will do precisely what their "death of a thousand cuts" release strategy has been doing -- keep the story going. But it'll do it far, far better than letting the videos out in drips and drabs.

Third, it will subject ACORN to the whole "legal discovery" mess, as the filmmakers' attorneys will be going over every single document within ACORN with a fine-toothed comb.

Fourth, it will encourage the now-fired employees to turn on ACORN, as they will be hard-pressed to show that what they did was not simply them going off on their own, but following ACORN's rules -- both written and unwritten. Rules such as "don't ask too many questions" or "sealing the deal is foremost" or "we're not the police, and we're not here to judge" or the like.

So far, this whole mess has cost ACORN its deal with the Census Department (and good riddance). It's led to more and more calls for Congressional investigations into just what they're doing (especially with taxpayers' money), and sooner or later even the Obama Justice Department (which chose to drop a voter-intimidation case against the Black Panthers after they had won a conviction) will have to start answering questions why ACORN is NOT the subject of a RICO investigation.

Until then... pass the popcorn, please. I'm fresh out.

A Refreshing Lack Of Euphemism

Newsweek quits beating around the bush. Article title? "The Case For Killing Granny".


Also, a screenshot, in case they change it:

Image Hosted by

Here's a link to the full-resolution screenshot:


Green Shoots

Pertinent evidence.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Ancients Saw The Problem Clearly. The "New Atheists"? Not So Much.

Interesting philosophical post contains this gem from Democritus:

Intellect: “Color is by convention, sweet by convention, bitter by convention; in truth there are but atoms and the void.”

Senses: “Wretched mind, from us you are taking the evidence by which you would overthrow us? Your victory is your own fall.”

Information, Not Affirmation

Propagandists are losing their own choir.

Great post:

In recent days and weeks three major news stories have broke here online, at Fox News or the Washington Times; everywhere but the mainstream media. Worse still, as the stories unfolded, the media willfully ignored them until, much to their embarrassment, they were forced to give grudging coverage only after official action — in the form of a resignation (Van Jones), reassignment (the NEA) or dismissal (ACORN) — occurred that could no longer be ignored.

Mainstream news outlets have been caught off guard before, but they used to play catch up. Today they play “hide the ball.” For as long as I’ve been politically aware the media’s been biased, but willfully ignoring a major national news story at great cost to their credibility and relevance is a new low. So what changed?

Ironically enough, scrutiny and accountability is the cause of much of the media’s increasingly disgraceful behavior.

Once trailblazer media watchdogs like talk radio, The Media Research Center and Bernard Goldberg were joined with the awesome power of the Internet and Fox News, the media’s sins of omission and commission could no longer be hidden from the general public, or denied. This gave the Fourth Estate two options. They could either: A) Clean up their act and do their jobs honorably … or B) Surrender their fig leafs of objectivity and run amok as the ideologues they really are.

Doing their jobs honorably would mean a setback for the Leftist cause, and so they chose B.

The good news is that this appears to be a suicide run.

The Dinosaur Media is losing money, viewers and readers hand over fist. The reason they’re folding or on life support isn’t because there aren’t enough left-of-center Americans to keep them in business, it’s because, like everyone else, liberals don’t want to sit in a choir and be preached to. They want information. They want to know what’s going on in the world.

Our liberal friends may not like hearing Van Jones, the NEA and ACORN are under fire, but they still want to know. What a disappointing revelation it must be to open the New York Times or turn on the network news only to discover after the curtain has already fallen that one of Obama’s Czars was forced to resign or that the U.S. Census Bureau let ACORN go.

The liberal media is failing for the exact same reason a dozen-plus anti-war films flopped: propaganda is dull. No matter your politics, people want stimulation and information, not affirmation. Obviously, that’s not true for everyone, but it’s true enough that those media outlets who haven’t figured it out are either dancing on the edge of financial ruin or, like MSNBC, continuing to double down on stupid thinking it will increase their abysmal performance metrics.

The rise of those who watch the Watchmen forced smart, savvy individuals to consciously choose between being tenacious, curious journalists who will hold the powerful accountable, or to finally come out of the closet and declare themselves the ideological warriors they really are.

They have chosen to become the Palace Guards.

They are also cornered, scared and armed with the mighty weapons of the unethical: lies and the inability to feel shame.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, we must continue to do our best as they let loose their worst.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Wages Of Reckless Foolishness

This is for those too unimaginative to take the problem seriously.

Grassroots Creativity

Thursday, September 10, 2009

45-18 Is Pretty Close To 50-50


Poor Guy

Hot Air:

Tucker Carlson marvels at the transformation of Barack Obama from candidate to rookie President to … grumpy old man. Nothing about last night’s speech reminded Carlson of the man who ran for the office on a promise of Hope and Change. Instead, Carlson saw a man who has already turned bitter, paranoid, and inflexible after only the first serious challenge of his administration:

Never has a president been warped by Washington quicker. At times tonight, Obama sounded like an embattled second-termer with a 35 percent approval rating. What percentage of his speech was spent lashing out at his enemies, real and imagined? Radio and cable-television pundits, George W. Bush, former Congresses, unnamed ghouls employing “scare tactics,” whose “only agenda is to stop reform at any cost”—they’re all against him, Obama said. And they’re lying.

This isn’t how confident leaders speak. These are the complaints of a man on his way to bitterness. So soon?

Usually, a president has gone through a number of political battles before assuming the highest office in the nation. Most hold executive office at another level before running for the office, and have to deal with policy battles and at least occasional defeats before entering the Oval Office. They build a thicker skin, get a better sense of their strengths and limitations, and these experiences make for better presidents in the long haul.

Obama, on the other hand, has never held executive office in politics. He has spent his short political life as a legislator, and not even a particularly bold legislator. Obama was much more of a bandwagon man as a legislator, offering rhetorical instead of political leadership, and for the most part receiving nothing but warm praise bordering on tongue-baths from the media.

What Carlson sees is a man completely unprepared for the fact that he can’t sell refrigerators to Eskimos. Whether that comes from a narcissistic personality or just plain inexperience, the fact remains that Obama has reacted poorly to the rapid disintegration of his own popularity and that of his policies. Like a petulant child, Obama has assumed that the problem is that he hasn’t spoken often or loudly enough, which is one of the reasons that his speeches on health care have not changed an iota in substance but have gotten louder and angrier in tone.

Obama couldn’t sell ObamaCare, and now he wants to scold America for not agreeing with him. Carlson is right to call this bitterness, but it’s the bitterness of a man who may have been told no for the first time in his political life, and clearly doesn’t know how to react to it.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A Sneer Is Not A Refutation

Jerry Coyne gets schooled re: The Argument From Motion.

The philosophy-in-a-nutshell piece ends thusly:

Furthermore, contra Coyne, the conclusion that a First Mover is logically necessary to explain change in the natural world is the denouement of extraordinarily detailed “further explanation”; in Summa Contra Gentiles, Aquinas devoted hundreds of pages of meticulous philosophical reasoning to the explication of the argument. Coyne again:

The people who make this argument are claiming, in effect, that God is by definition an uncaused cause, but we can properly ask “What caused God?” with exactly the same tenacity that theists ask “What caused matter?”

Coyne can indeed ask what caused the First Mover with “tenacity,” but not with cogency. The logical conclusion of the Argument from Motion is that the First Mover can't be "caused." The First Mover is pure actuality. The First Mover cannot move from potency to act (i.e., "be caused") because it has no potency. Matter (substance) is caused because it has potency; it's not pure actuality. It changes, and thus it is a mixture of potency and act. Matter (substance) cannot be the First Mover, because it's not pure actuality. Coyne:

And why is God exempt from having a cause, but matter or physical laws are not? This is just sophistry.

Coyne doesn’t understand the Argument from Motion. The natural world needs a cause that is pure act because an essentially ordered series requires a First Mover that is Itself unmoved. This isn’t sophistry — it’s a detailed logic argument that Coyne doesn’t understand.

Faitheist philosophers are always telling us that we don’t grasp the subtleties of theological argument, but that won’t wash here…

The Argument from Motion was originally made by a pagan (Aristotle), not a “faitheist philosopher.” It has been held by countless thinkers representing an enormous range of metaphysical persuasions. It is an argument that depends entirely on philosophical, not "theological," premises. And if you make a modicum of effort to understand it, it's not particularly "subtle." It's routinely mastered by freshmen in Introduction to Philosophy courses.

There have been brilliant atheists (Hume, Russell, Quine) who have struggled with the profound philosophical issues raised by Aquinas’ Five Ways and by a host of other demonstrations for the existence of God. Their contributions warrant respect, but they have never successfully refuted the classical arguments. These powerful and elegant demonstrations of the necessary existence of a First Cause have been set aside by stipulation, not by refutation. It is merely fashionable to deny them. Yet this denial isn’t a denial of the truth of the arguments; it’s a denial of philosophical rigor. It’s a sneer. It now seems that our materialist intelligentsia’s understanding of classical philosophy has degenerated to the point where public intellectuals like Coyne can make arguments that would embarass a teenager in a first semester philosophy course.

Coyne doesn't understand the Argument from Motion. His arguments are too uninformed to even be sophistry. He’s all spittle. But there are people who do understand, and they’re taking notice. Thanks to the high public visibility of New Atheists like Coyne and Dawkins and Harris and Hitchens and Dennett, the anti-intellectual nature of New Atheism and the sheer malignity and fatuousness of what passes for New Atheist thought is becoming increasingly apparent to those who are paying attention to this debate. Many non-theists are cutting ties with New Atheism. The damage that Coyne and other New Atheists are doing to their own atheist cause is incalculable.

"The Lone And Level Sands Stretch Far Away"

Barack Ozymandias:

The real story this summer, the one that the scholars will be pondering for decades to come, concerns the absolute collapse of the American messiah.

It looks as if Rush can rest easy -- the Big O has failed, and failed completely. You couldn't say the same about an ordinary president at this stage of his first term. At eight months after inauguration, the run-of-the-mill chief exec is still gearing up, getting a feel for things, beginning to put his plans into motion. But Obama, as we have been told time and again, is in no way ordinary. He is a man spoken of in religious terms -- the One, the Messiah, the Lightbringer. On the stage of history, we do not create our roles. We fill them as they have been previously established through repeated human activity across the millennia. Obama's role is one familiar to anyone versed in the history of the ancient world: he is the god-emperor. Obama was elected to do more than was possible for any ordinary president, and to do it more quickly than is possible for the merely human. His apotheosis was to be like nothing else in history, a redemption of promises so deeply pledged as to have become axiomatic. The age of Obama was to be a time of sweeping, an epoch of transformation. When he strode across our horizon, nothing would remain unchanged.

Now, unless I've been paying too much attention the New York Dolls reunion to notice, nothing of the sort has occurred. It's been a dull summer on the messiah front. In fact, Obama's performance so far has been dramatically below average even for the sorry run of mortal presidents. We have, in the past few months, witnessed one of the great anticlimaxes of political history. The god-emperor has failed, and no one can deny it.


To cap the redeemer's woes, we have a world-class case of buyer's remorse on the part of the voters, with presidential approval ratings dropping to 50% across the board. Rasmussen has Obama at 46%, a drop of some 30% in little more than six months. Zogby, among the most dependable of pollsters, reveals that Obama is losing support even among his core constituency.

So there it is -- a political agenda in ruins. Massive ruins, awe-inspiring ruins, ruins unprecedented in their size and majesty. For an epitaph we can turn to Shelley:

Nothing beside remains: round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands stretch far away

So what does he do now? Deliverers cannot simply fail. Jesus cannot shrug and become a Jerusalem rabbi. Moses cannot return to Egypt and open a travel agency for Sinai tours. A fallen messiah does not become half a messiah or a third of a messiah, his original power and influence shrinking to match. He becomes a joke.

Obama will not tolerate becoming a joke. Not with his personality, smug, self-involved, and egotistical as it is. Particularly after being exposed to adulation given to no man since the heyday of Rome (not even Louis XIVth, the Sun King, who embodied the divine right of monarchy, was ever hailed as a "god"). So what are his alternatives?


Obama could easily prevail by setting aside his status as god-emperor, dropping the effort to leave his imprint on the age and ignoring the cries of his more fanatical followers. In other words, by acting as a president. But this is unlikely on any number of cultural, political, and personal grounds. He is on the descending escalator, and is doomed to take it all the way to the bottom. It is our business to see that he doesn't drag the country down with him. Fortunately, his failures have a flip side. The past few months have shown us that Obama is extremely vulnerable to public pressure, as clearly shown by the town halls. We will have plenty of opportunity to put those tactics into effect in the months and years to come. When would-be imperators appear, the people have to step in. But that's why they call it democracy.



What a difference a month makes! When my last controversial column posted on Salon in the second week of August, most Democrats seemed frozen in suspended animation, not daring to criticize the Obama administration's bungling of healthcare reform lest it give aid and comfort to the GOP. Well, that ice dam sure broke with a roar. Dissident Democrats found their voices, and by late August even the liberal lemmings of the mainstream media, from CBS to CNN, had dramatically altered their tone of reportage, from priggish disdain of the town hall insurgency to frank admission of serious problems in the healthcare bills as well as of Obama's declining national support.

But this tonic dose of truth-telling may be too little too late. As an Obama supporter and contributor, I am outraged at the slowness with which the standing army of Democratic consultants and commentators publicly expressed discontent with the administration's strategic missteps this year. I suspect there had been private grumbling all along, but the media warhorses failed to speak out when they should have -- from week one after the inauguration, when Obama went flat as a rug in letting Congress pass that obscenely bloated stimulus package. Had more Democrats protested, the administration would have felt less arrogantly emboldened to jam through a cap-and-trade bill whose costs have made it virtually impossible for an alarmed public to accept the gargantuan expenses of national healthcare reform. (Who is naive enough to believe that Obama's plan would be deficit-neutral? Or that major cuts could be achieved without drastic rationing?)

By foolishly trying to reduce all objections to healthcare reform to the malevolence of obstructionist Republicans, Democrats have managed to destroy the national coalition that elected Obama and that is unlikely to be repaired. If Obama fails to win reelection, let the blame be first laid at the door of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who at a pivotal point threw gasoline on the flames by comparing angry American citizens to Nazis. It is theoretically possible that Obama could turn the situation around with a strong speech on healthcare to Congress this week, but after a summer of grisly hemorrhaging, too much damage has been done. At this point, Democrats' main hope for the 2012 presidential election is that Republicans nominate another hopelessly feeble candidate. Given the GOP's facility for shooting itself in the foot, that may well happen.


Why did it take so long for Democrats to realize that this year's tea party and town hall uprisings were a genuine barometer of widespread public discontent and not simply a staged scenario by kooks and conspirators? First of all, too many political analysts still think that network and cable TV chat shows are the central forums of national debate. But the truly transformative political energy is coming from talk radio and the Web -- both of which Democrat-sponsored proposals have threatened to stifle, in defiance of freedom of speech guarantees in the Bill of Rights. I rarely watch TV anymore except for cooking shows, history and science documentaries, old movies and football. Hence I was blissfully free from the retching overkill that followed the deaths of Michael Jackson and Ted Kennedy -- I never saw a single minute of any of it. It was on talk radio, which I have resumed monitoring around the clock because of the healthcare fiasco, that I heard the passionate voices of callers coming directly from the town hall meetings. Hence I was alerted to the depth and intensity of national sentiment long before others who were simply watching staged, manipulated TV shows.

Why has the Democratic Party become so arrogantly detached from ordinary Americans? Though they claim to speak for the poor and dispossessed, Democrats have increasingly become the party of an upper-middle-class professional elite, top-heavy with journalists, academics and lawyers (one reason for the hypocritical absence of tort reform in the healthcare bills). Weirdly, given their worship of highly individualistic, secularized self-actualization, such professionals are as a whole amazingly credulous these days about big-government solutions to every social problem. They see no danger in expanding government authority and intrusive, wasteful bureaucracy. This is, I submit, a stunning turn away from the anti-authority and anti-establishment principles of authentic 1960s leftism.

How has "liberty" become the inspirational code word of conservatives rather than liberals? (A prominent example is radio host Mark Levin's book "Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto," which was No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list for nearly three months without receiving major reviews, including in the Times.) I always thought that the Democratic Party is the freedom party -- but I must be living in the nostalgic past. Remember Bob Dylan's 1964 song "Chimes of Freedom," made famous by the Byrds? And here's Richie Havens electrifying the audience at Woodstock with "Freedom! Freedom!" Even Linda Ronstadt, in the 1967 song "A Different Drum," with the Stone Ponys, provided a soaring motto for that decade: "All I'm saying is I'm not ready/ For any person, place or thing/ To try and pull the reins in on me."

But affluent middle-class Democrats now seem to be complacently servile toward authority and automatically believe everything party leaders tell them. Why? Is it because the new professional class is a glossy product of generically institutionalized learning? Independent thought and logical analysis of argument are no longer taught. Elite education in the U.S. has become a frenetic assembly line of competitive college application to schools where ideological brainwashing is so pandemic that it's invisible. The top schools, from the Ivy League on down, promote "critical thinking," which sounds good but is in fact just a style of rote regurgitation of hackneyed approved terms ("racism, sexism, homophobia") when confronted with any social issue. The Democratic brain has been marinating so long in those clichés that it's positively pickled.

Throughout this fractious summer, I was dismayed not just at the self-defeating silence of Democrats at the gaping holes or evasions in the healthcare bills but also at the fogginess or insipidity of articles and Op-Eds about the controversy emanating from liberal mainstream media and Web sources. By a proportion of something like 10-to-1, negative articles by conservatives were vastly more detailed, specific and practical about the proposals than were supportive articles by Democrats, which often made gestures rather than arguments and brimmed with emotion and sneers. There was a glaring inability in most Democratic commentary to think ahead and forecast what would or could be the actual snarled consequences -- in terms of delays, denial of services, errors, miscommunications and gross invasions of privacy -- of a massive single-payer overhaul of the healthcare system in a nation as large and populous as ours. It was as if Democrats live in a utopian dream world, divorced from the daily demands and realities of organization and management.

But dreaming in the 1960s and '70s had a spiritual dimension that is long gone in our crassly materialistic and status-driven time. Here's a gorgeous example: Bob Welch's song "Hypnotized." which appears on Fleetwood Mac's 1973 album "Mystery to Me." (The contemplative young man in this recent video is not Welch.) It's a peyote dream inspired by Carlos Castaneda's fictionalized books: "They say there's a place down in Mexico/ Where a man can fly over mountains and hills/ And he don't need an airplane or some kind of engine/ And he never will." This exhilarating shamanistic vision (wonderfully enhanced by Christine McVie's hymnlike backing vocal) captures the truth-seeking pilgrimages of my generation but also demonstrates the dangerous veering away from mundane social responsibilities. If the left is an incoherent shambles in the U.S., it's partly because the visionaries lost their bearings on drugs, and only the myopic apparatchiks and feather-preening bourgeois liberals are left...

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

This Ship Was Supposed To Be Unsinkable

Charles Krauthammer:

Obama [compuned his problems] by vastly misreading his mandate. He assumed it was personal. This, after winning by a mere seven points in a year of true economic catastrophe, of an extraordinarily unpopular Republican incumbent, and of a politically weak and unsteady opponent. Nonetheless, Obama imagined that, as Fouad Ajami so brilliantly observed, he had won the kind of banana-republic plebiscite that grants caudillo-like authority to remake everything in one's own image.

Accordingly, Obama unveiled his plans for a grand makeover of the American system, animating that vision by enacting measure after measure that greatly enlarged state power, government spending and national debt. Not surprisingly, these measures engendered powerful popular skepticism that burst into tea-party town-hall resistance.

Obama's reaction to that resistance made things worse. Obama fancies himself tribune of the people, spokesman for the grass roots, harbinger of a new kind of politics from below that would upset the established lobbyist special-interest order of Washington. Yet faced with protests from a real grass-roots movement, his party and his supporters called it a mob -- misinformed, misled, irrational, angry, unhinged, bordering on racist. All this while the administration was cutting backroom deals with every manner of special interest -- from drug companies to auto unions to doctors -- in which favors worth billions were quietly and opaquely exchanged.

"Get out of the way" and "don't do a lot of talking," the great bipartisan scolded opponents whom he blamed for creating the "mess" from which he is merely trying to save us. If only they could see. So with boundless confidence in his own persuasiveness, Obama undertook a summer campaign to enlighten the masses by addressing substantive objections to his reforms.

Things got worse still. With answers so slippery and implausible and, well, fishy, he began jeopardizing the most fundamental asset of any new president -- trust. You can't say that the system is totally broken and in need of radical reconstruction, but nothing will change for you; that Medicare is bankrupting the country, but $500 billion in cuts will have no effect on care; that you will expand coverage while reducing deficits -- and not inspire incredulity and mistrust. When ordinary citizens understand they are being played for fools, they bristle.

After a disastrous summer -- mistaking his mandate, believing his press, centralizing power, governing left, disdaining citizens for (of all things) organizing -- Obama is in trouble.


[W]hat has occurred -- irreversibly -- is this: He's become ordinary. The spell is broken. The charismatic conjurer of 2008 has shed his magic. He's regressed to the mean, tellingly expressed in poll numbers hovering at 50 percent.

For a man who only recently bred a cult, ordinariness is a great burden, and for his acolytes, a crushing disappointment. Obama has become a politician like others. And like other flailing presidents, he will try to salvage a cherished reform -- and his own standing -- with yet another prime-time speech.

But for the first time since election night in Grant Park, he will appear in the most unfamiliar of guises -- mere mortal, a treacherous transformation to which a man of Obama's supreme self-regard may never adapt.

Everything I Ever Needed To Know, I Learned From 'Dragnet'

H/T Brutally Honest.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Unclean! Unclean!

David Klinghoffer:

The imbroglio over editorial policy at would be of minor interest if it didn’t present such an evocative window on the psychology of the Darwin-believing community. Did you ever think about what actually drives these people?

To recap: Robert Wright, the site’s editor-in-chief, was out of the shop when his staff pulled down an interview, six hours after it was put up, between linguist John McWhorter and biochemist Michael Behe. Somehow, pressure was applied to McWhorter resulting in his actually issuing a public apology. He was forced to cringe and beg forgiveness. Anyone could see the reason he had given offense: McWhorter in the interview expressed undisguised admiration for Behe’s specialty in the intelligent design field, irreducible complexity. When Wright returned, he reversed the move and restored Behe/McWhorter. The lesson to be drawn is that were it not for Wright’s doing the decent thing, then intelligent-design advocate Behe would have remained censored. Whoever intimidated McWhorter would have won the day -- illustrating a dynamic well known to ID sympathizers in the academic science world, and in intellectual life in general. When it comes to intelligent design, silence is the safe policy. The preferable strategy is to align your view with Darwinian orthodoxy.

The next act has involved more public pronouncements -- this time from disgruntled science contributors to Bloggingheads: physicist Sean Carroll and science writer Carl Zimmer. The two participated in a conference call with Wright, demanding that he formulate a policy that would never again allow a “creationist” to speak for himself on Bloggingheads. Wright knows the difference between creationism and intelligent design -- he articulated it nicely in a 2002 article in Time magazine. Carroll and Zimmer seemingly don’t. That or they prefer to use the more inflammatory language to refer to Behe, who merely disputes the mechanism of evolution.

As he wrote in a comment on Carroll’s blog, Wright wasn’t pleased either by the McWhorter interview or by another with Paul Nelson, but he was unwilling to capitulate and make the blanket promise that Carroll and Zimmer wanted, forever to exclude from attention anyone who dissents from evolutionary dogma. So both men wrote preening, self-congratulatory declarations on their blogs that they were through with Bloggingheads. They quit.

Carroll wanted “a slightly more elevated brand of discourse.” He wrote, “Certainly none of we [sic] scientists who were disturbed that the dialogue existed in the first place ever asked that it be removed.” Yet it should never have been posted. An ID advocate could speak on Bloggingheads if he has “respectable thoughts” on other subjects. But not on ID. That would create a “connection with a brand,” that brand would be shared by the “creationist” and Sean Carroll, and that would not be acceptable. Participants should be “serious people.” Some years ago he “declined an invitation” to a Templeton Foundation conference because “I didn’t want to be seen” at such an event. Harry Kroto was disappointed “that I would sully myself” by indirect Templeton connections. And no wonder: “we all have to look at ourselves in the mirror.”

Notes of self-regard peek through again and again in his long blog post. Respect, brand image, the appearance of seriousness, personal associations, sullying yourself by down-market affiliations, gazing upon yourself in the mirror.

In a comment on the blog, David Killoren of Bloggingheads cements the point by unabashedly flattering:

I want to voice agreement with Sean about a few things. I agree that creationists and ID’ers are crackpots. I agree that these crackpots do harm (e.g. by corrupting public perception of science). I agree that appearing on a site that has featured crackpots could damage the reputation and integrity of reputable scientists, so I fully understand Sean’s choice to stay away from BhTV (although I’d be very happy if he were to reconsider) [emphasis added].

He concludes: “One Sean Carroll diavlog is worth any number of creationism conversations. If I could rewind and start over I’d aim to do it all differently.” David Killoren too is seeking someone’s regard, whose prestige should rub off a bit on him. As the guy who himself set up the Paul Nelson interview, he anxiously wants no one to mistake what side he is on.

How much of this is about science and how much of it is about personal status, social and professional esteem? Evolution, the history of life, whether any known material mechanism alone can account for life’s development -- these are scientific questions but they are surrounded by auras of psychological and social significance that can’t be understood simply in scientific terms.

Everyone wants to be esteemed by others and, more importantly, by himself. Dangers to your status are scary things, for all of us. But in the world of Darwinism, as this Bloggingheads episode reveals, the normal, healthy care for your personal reputation becomes intensified. The touch of “creationism” becomes something weirdly akin to ritual contamination as the ancients understood it. No one is going to think Sean Carroll is soft on “creationism” just because he appears on Bloggingheads, even if the latter were to invite Michael Behe to interview a different intelligent-design theorist every week of the year.

But if he continues his association with Robert Wright’s website, even if Wright in fact never again has an ID advocate on, just because Wright has failed to offer the demanded promise, then this does threaten to contaminate Sean Carroll by a mechanism that can only be characterized as magical, occult, beyond rational. Sitting on a chair or bed where a creationist sat, being under the same roof as his corpse, being associated with a website that provided a platform for two “creationists” and won’t absolutely promise it will never do so again -- it’s all the same.

As for poor John McWhorter, he presents us with the dread spectacle of the person already contaminated, seeking a remedy for his affliction -- and not finding it. This incident will contaminate him with creationism for years to come. He is the man in Leviticus, afflicted with a skin contamination, and compelled to live for some time outside the camp. “His garments shall be rent, the hair of his head shall be unshorn, and he shall cloak himself up to his lips; he is to call out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’”

Am I scoffing? Not at all. Evolutionary psychologists no doubt have their own explanation, another just so story, for why so many ancient cultures share ideas of contamination. We could probably all agree that there is an underlying structure in the human mind that responds to the idea of contaminants. Where did we get it from? You tell me.

One thing’s clear. Social anxiety plays some role in the fear and dread that intelligent design provokes among people who are too dedicated to their own brand image. We’ve long known this. But it doesn’t explain entirely the absolute horror not of being thought of as a “creationist” but merely of being touched by the slightest taint, the merest hint, of the idea. For that, I think we need to go a little deeper.

In any case, this is the current culture of science. Does anyone seriously think it doesn't impede the free exploration of ideas?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A Tantrum Is Not A Scientific Argument

The saga continues.




Statist Media Way Behind The Curve

When you expect to be creating reality rather than narrating it, you can find yourself blind-sided by events.

Jennifer Rubin:

David Broder, the dean of Washington insider-ism, concedes:

I badly misjudged the broad public reaction to the angry August congressional town meetings. Instead of provoking a pro-Obama backlash, as I had expected, the town halls, amplified on sometimes hostile cable channels and talk radio, spread disquiet about what the president has in mind. And Obama’s patient, didactic responses have not quieted the reaction, let alone built fresh support for a vitally needed overhaul of our expensive, dysfunctional health system.

Who knew all those people would be upset with a big government power grab? You’d have had to be a mind reader to see that ordinary citizens, who never show up for their congressmen’s in-district chats, would show up in throngs, right? Well, if you ignored the tea party movement, you might have missed the groundswell of popular opinion and the rising activism among libertarians and conservatives. But then, come to think of it, the mainstream media did ignore or ridicule the tea parties. The hundreds of thousands who showed up on April 15 and the tens of thousands who showed up since then were the nucleus of a populist, small-government movement. It’s been out there for months now, but you wouldn’t have heard about it from mainstream media — or taken it seriously if that was your only source of news.


In sum: in their area of presumed expertise and where their journalistic efforts have been most focused, mainstream news reporting and punditry were the most inept and most inaccurate. So now the mainstream media is in catch-up mode. Having quietly fretted as Obama’s poll numbers drifted lower and misrepresented the extent of independent voters’ support, they now must explain that the town hall crowds weren’t simply crackpots or dupes of the insurance industry. Those people are actually quite representative of the electorate — especially the electorate willing to turn out to vote in the 2010 congressional elections. And while they swooned at Obama press conferences, the media must now admit that Obama has been colossally ineffective at persuading the public.

The “catch-up” phenomenon is nothing new. We saw it with the Iraq war surge. For months and months the military, a few stalwart senators like John McCain and Joe Lieberman, conservative media outlets, and bipartisan military experts reported back that the surge was making a difference. The New York Times, the weekly not-much-news magazines, and the network broadcasts kept mum. But then shortly before then-candidate Obama was to visit Iraq, the mainstream media rushed to close the gap between the reality on the ground and their own gloom-and-doom reporting. It was catch-up time. The surge hadn’t suddenly worked; its success just couldn’t be ignored any longer.

It therefore shouldn’t come as a surprise that the mainstream media and their stable of Beltway pundits missed the boat on the public’s reaction to Obama’s health care offensive. Chatting mostly among themselves, susceptible to (if not anxious to pass on) Democratic talking points, and devoid of many (any?) conservative colleagues willing to challenge their assumptions, they are easily blindsided when reality intervenes.

So when looking for the next major news development or the next stumbling block for Obama, think about what’s not on the front pages of the major newspapers or on the cable or network evening news. Chances are, whatever the mainstream media is ignoring is the next really big story.