Wednesday, April 30, 2008

High Key Technique

I just learned a fun photoshop portrait technique:

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Big version here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Exact Millisecond When The Nuance Changed



Good article by David Berlinski. This gem jumped out at me:

And there is Darwin’s theory of evolution. It has been Darwin, Richard Dawkins remarked, that has made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

A much better case might be made in the other direction. It is atheism that makes it possible for a man to be an intellectually fulfilled Darwinist.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

What Could Be The Connection?? I've...Got...To...Think!


YES, THIS IS REALLY A STORY FROM THE BBC: "Despite the fact there are more than 200 million guns in circulation, there is a certain tranquility and civility about American life. . . . I have met incredulous British tourists who have been shocked to the core by the peacefulness of the place, the lack of the violent undercurrent so ubiquitous in British cities, even British market towns. . . . It is a paradox. Along with the guns there is a tranquillity and civility about American life of which most British people can only dream."

The Transcontinental Burrito Tunnel

The little-known story about a vital cultural backbone. H/T Peeve Farm.

If The Term Is Good Enough For Dawkins And The AAAS, It's Good Enough For Me

When Darwinists have no real arguments, they'll attack you for calling them Darwinists. The complaint is without merit:

The AAAS’s “Darwinism” Blunder

The AAAS statement also attacks Expelled through the amusing comment that “[t]he multi-faceted modern science of evolution” is “inaccurately and derisively described in the movie as ‘Darwinism.’” Yet the AAAS’s own journal, Science, commonly has used the term “Darwinism” to describe modern evolutionary biology. In 2005, a Science news article promoted two pro-evolution websites by stating, “In a section on obstacles to teaching Darwinism, this primer from the University of California, Berkeley, profiles different strains of anti-evolutionism.” (“Standing Up for Darwin,” Science, 308:1847, 6/24/2005, emphasis added.) The following year, Science writer Constance Holden wrote in an article in Science titled, "Darwin's Place on Campus Is Secure—But Not Supreme" that “Public controversies over Darwinism have inspired college presidents to defend science and professors to sign petitions.” (emphasis added)

In fact, a literature-search of Science revealed that the journal used the term “Darwinism” over 40 times from 1995-2005. A more recent review of their expanded search engine finds that the journal has printed the word “Darwinism” many hundreds of times.

Even prominent scientists use the term in their popular writings. Richard Dawkins writes that "There are people in this world who desperately want to not have to believe in Darwinism." (The Blind Watchmaker, W.W. Norton, 1996, pg. 250) The term "Darwinism" has over 20 entries in the index to Stephen Jay Gould's magnum opus, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory.

Again, if the AAAS objects to using the term “Darwinism,” it should stop attacking Expelled and start scrutinizing its own journal and the many leading scientists who employ the term.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ten Ways Darwinists Help Intelligent Design

Great set of posts by Joe Carter.

Can't We All Just Get Along?


My friend Bill Otis writes:

One way of testing whether Obama is the candidate of "bringing us together" and "getting past partisan divisions" is to ask him to specify one -- just one -- significant issue on which he would be willing to break ranks with his party and join with the other party. We know McCain has done this all the time, on immigration, campaign finance, tax cuts, "torture" and on and on. In other words -- to state what should be a tautology -- if Obama is going to "bring us together," he has to have a little something for those who in general disagree with him. And that would be....................what? The MSN of course isn't going to ask this, since their version of "bringing us together" is to have conservatives live with getting a 100% liberal agenda jammed down their throats.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Step 1: go to

Step 2: type “find chuck norris” in the search box (do not press enter).

Step 3: click “I’m feeling lucky” instead.

(I found this here)

For Democrats Scripture Is Actually A Living Document, Not The Dead Letter It Is For Everyone Else


( - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is fond of quoting a particular passage of Scripture. The quote, however, does not appear in the Bible and is "fictional," according to biblical scholars.

In her April 22 Earth Day news release, Pelosi said, "The Bible tells us in the Old Testament, 'To minister to the needs of God's creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.' On this Earth Day, and every day, let us pledge to our children, and our children's children, that they will have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and the opportunity to experience the wonders of nature."

Cybercast News Service repeatedly queried the speaker's office for two days to determine where the alleged Bible quote is found. Thus far, no one has responded.

Distinguished biblical scholars, however, cast doubt on the existence of the passage.

John J. Collins, the Holmes professor of Old Testament criticism and interpretation at Yale Divinity School, said he is totally unfamiliar with Pelosi's quotation.

"(It's) not one that I recognize," Collins told Cybercast News Service. "I assume that she means this is a paraphrase. But it wouldn't be a close paraphrase to anything I know of."

Claude Mariottini, a professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Cybercast News Service the passage not only doesn't exist - it's "fictional."

"It is not in the Bible," Mariottini said. "There is nothing that even approximates that."

Other scholars agree that nothing remotely resembling it can be found in any version of the Scriptures - Old Testament or New Testament.

"The quote does not exist in the Old Testament, neither in the New Testament," said the Rev. Andreas Hock, a doctor of Scripture who teaches in the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Denver's St. John Vianney Seminary.

"Even in pieces or bits, (it) cannot be found in the Old Testament," he added.

Interestingly, Pelosi has mentioned the quote before, Mariottini noted.

"In truth, (she) has used this 'passage' in many different ways, and all of those usages have nothing to do with the Bible whatsoever," he said.

Indeed, Cybercast News Service has learned that Pelosi has repeatedly used the quote...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Apt Comments

From this thread:


1. Anyone who holds that life could have developed spontaneously here on Earth would likely concede that in principle it could also have developed at one or more other locations in the universe. True? (If false, the claim Earth is in principle unique in the universe would be quite interesting.)

2. If life advanced here, it could have advanced elsewhere. True?

3. We are approaching the ability to manipulate and perhaps even create biological organisms. If we could do so, then there is no reason in principle that another advanced life could not have done so. True?

4. We are already potentially introducing life into other worlds, e.g. Mars, though we have not done so intentionally. That being so, it is possible in principle that others from elsewhere could have done so here. True?

5. Ergo, it is possible in principle that the biological life we see here on Earth may have been designed rather than being the result of entirely undirected processes (just as Dawkins acknowledges in Expelled).

6. In short, it may be the case that our biological life is truly designed in regard to its origin, not merely apparently designed.

7. If so, it may be hopelessly futile to try to distort and disfigure our understanding of undirected processes in the vain attempt to force them to account for what are actually the products of intelligent agency.

For the sake of a proper and correct understanding of undirected processes, such as chemical processes, it is essential that science must be able to distinguish between artifacts and the actual results of undirected processes.

“Can undirected chemical processes plausibly create peer-replicating RNA from scratch?” is not a question that can be addressed by a religion class or any other non-science class. Neither is “Can undirected chemical processes invent symbolic codes and encode symbolic information?” Likewise for other relevant questions.

These must be addressed and answered within science. If the answer is “No”, the best causal inference science can make is that biological life is an artifact of intelligent agency, i.e. it is designed.

This is highly pertinent to science and to sound scientific investigation.

Imagine for a moment the distortion to our understanding of the Earth if we were forbidden to consider the moon when explaining tides? Excluding intelligent agency from consideration likewise distorts our research about undirected processes, including Darwinistic processes.


The argument being made here specifically has nothing to do about educational systems denying Christian doctrine. But rather that objectively thinking scientists who don’t fit into the hive mind of Darwinistic society are making more and more discoveries that lead them to question fundamental holes in Darwinistic theory.

You do not have to be a creationist or even a supporter of ID or any other alternative stance in order to hold a theory up to scientific scrutiny. You do not require religious motives to be able to critically question a theory that is gradually going down hill.

The fact is that a major part of the true spirit of science is being quelled by the suppression of critical scientific freedom of inquiry. This is the focus of the movie, not the scientific details that serve to challenge Darwinism on a fundamental level (which, by the way there are many).

I’ll say it again in this fashion, you could be the most influential scientific proponent of evolution one minute, and then make new discoveries that challenge evolution on a fundamental level the next minute. If you brought up these new discoveries, questions, scrutiny, and/or critical analysis, you’d be thrown right back into the cage with the rest of the dissenters and even possibly labeled as religiously motivated. Regardless of how much scientific weight your argument carries, evolution has become such a dogma that it can’t so much as be questioned in modern day society without serious repercussions.

THIS is not science.


The notion that no discussion of religion should be allowed in a science classroom is recent aberration that should end. All important disciplines overlap. That is why truly educated people understand such subjects as the philosophy of religion and the philosophy of science, while uneducated people have scarcely even heard of them. It is one thing to bracket various areas of study in order to focus the mind, it is quite another thing to radically separate them as if one had absolutely nothing to do with the other. This attempt to “purify” science from religion was introduced by elitist power brokers who want to create a nation of myopic specialists—faithful little worker bees who will follow the party line and avoid the hard questions.

This artificial line of demarcation among disciplines is one of the reasons why a college education today is equivalent to a high school education of past generations. Indeed, many of the important questions occur at the intersection of the various specializations such as [sociology/anthropology] , [[paleontology/archeology] ,[ psychology/social psychology/sociology], [biology/embryology/fetology], and [theology/philosophy/ science], just to name a few.

That is also why some of the most na├»ve questions come from specialists who have never even begun to enter into the life of the mind, much less consider the various meta-theories, world views, or systems of thought that frame these issues.. Notice, for example, how often some raise that mindless objection about Dembski’s discussion on ID and ‘Logos’ theory,” attempting to prove that ID is faith based. What do you say to those who know nothing about contextual frameworks or overlapping paradigms?. How do you debate with those who are clueless about the theological and metaphysical foundations of science? At what point do you stop debating and start the remedial education?

True education is less about accumulating facts and more about mastering paradigms that allow the intelligent processing of facts. Without some knowledge of the big picture and the ability to see how the pieces of the puzzle fit together, a man is a slave, even if he doesn’t know it. Indeed, I have noticed that those who know the least are the most cynical. They are the ones who flood the internet with spams, militate against freedom of speech, and allow only one perspective on science. They are the one’s who lampoon, persecute, and “expel,” and yes, they are the ones who insist that no discussion of theology and religion should ever take place in a science classroom.

Profiles In Materialist Know-Nothingism

John West methodically fisks an MSNBC review of Expelled. Of all things, the reviewer consider Stein a holocaust denier. I suppose Stein is, but only in the same sense that Dawkins is a Catholic stigmatist saint.


From The Corner:

Race and the Democratic Race [Jonah Goldberg]

I was just listening to a fairly uninspired discussion on NPR about race and the coverage of the Democratic primary (while driving to the airport). One interesting tidbit from the Washington Post's Kevin Merida is that the Obama campaign has met with some serious racial antagonism in Pennsylvania. How extensive it was I couldn't gather from the conversation. But the n-word was tossed around, some signs burned etc.

Now, let me ask you something. If there was a similarly viable black guy running for president in the GOP primary and he met with anything like this sort of thing, don't you think there'd be more than a little Krugman-like hysteria about how racist the GOP is? About how conservatism = racism? About how the curtain had been pulled back on the "true nature" of the Republican Party?

But when this happens among Democrats, it seems not to dawn on anyone to make any connection whatsoever between the Democratic Party or liberalism or anything of the sort and racism. Rather, to the extent these things are discussed at all, they are more proof of "America's original sin," in the words of one of the panelists.

Now I don't really object to calling racism America's original sin. Nor do I really think that racism is anything like a central tenet of the Democratic Party (racialism is another thing and that does breed racism). But I don't think racism is central to the GOP either. And yet, as sure as shinola, if the situation were reversed, we'd be hearing a drumbeat about how a few isolated incidents like this prove that the GOP is a racist party and how conservatism is intellectualized bigotry.

As I argue at some length in my book, conservatives must own their sins, real and imagined. Liberals get to outsource culpability for their wrongdoing to America writ large, for liberalism is never wrong, never part of the problem and always the only real solution.


In The Corner:

Reductio ad Obamum [Mark Steyn]

Stanley's analysis below is correct - and dear old Nora Ephron's sneer over at The Huffington Post about whether Pennsylvania's embittered white men are more racist than they're sexist or vice-versa gets things completely upside down. The embittered white men are just about the only demographic weighing these candidates on their merits. The significant proportion of women and blacks in the Democratic base for whom identity politics trumps all is what's stopping either candidate from gaining the momentum that would have emerged in a contest between two squaresville dead European males. It's the identity-uber-alles blocs that prevent the black guy from finishing off the feminist or vice-versa. As the Bee Gees so shrewdly observed:

Whether you're a mother
Or whether you're a brother
You're Staying Alive...

As for the New York Times editorial, that's pitiful for all the reasons Lisa said, and then some. This contest is the logical reductio of the identity-group fetishization that they've been peddling for years. They're just feeling suckered because they plumped for the establishment diversity candidate and then found themselves out-diversified. But, if they think this is a low, mean, petty, unbecoming contest, wait an election cycle or two when the Democratic primary offers the gay guy versus the imam.


I call this one "Pentecost".

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Big version here. I used Tiffen macro filters on my Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

There's A Reason It Strikes A Chord

Mark Shea:

Barb Nicolosi Enjoyed "Expelled"

Gives it straight A's in fact.

I know this will create a lot of screaming from certain of my readers. Here's the thing: it gets hard to buy the whole "Unless you are a scientist you have absolutely no voice in this argument" thang. The quarrel here is between people who use science as a cover for atheist materialist agitprop and (quite often) those who find the agitprop unconvincing. Stein's no scientist. But he is a theist who can tell when theism is being shouted down in an unconvincing manner and skewer such tactics with aplomb. People can complain all they like about problems with ID. Knock yerself out. But Barb's reaction is the reaction of a lot of normal healthy theists to the arrogance of the atheist naturalist crowd: "I remember encountering some of this when I was in a Catholic high school, and having witnessed the entrenched Marxism (ie. social Darwinism) jerking everybody around at Northwestern University where I went to grad school, I found Expelled painfully true, and actually understated."

Until the defenders of atheistic naturalism can find some way to move past "Shut up, he explained" tactics they will continue to be sitting ducks for people like Ben Stein. As long as people like Richard Dawkins continue be not only self-appointed, but also *enormously popular* Popes of the Church of Darwin, the claim that this is a simple quarrel between unjustly aggressive religionists bent on Lies and dispassionate scientists who just care about Truth will ring hollow. The reality is that there is a huge and aggressively anti-God agenda at work for a large number of Darwin Mythos devotees.

Good Quip


You know, it may be hard to find a candidate who doesn’t belong to a church whose leader delivers eyebrow-singing speeches on the evils of America and also built a house Jim Bakker would approve, and it may be hard to find a candidate who doesn’t move with ease in the same social circles as some people who bombed the Pentagon, but it can’t be that hard to find one who doesn’t do both.

Jerry Pournelle

Views on ID, from Chaos Manor. Good stuff (although he makes the common error of asserting that ID theorists regard the eye itself as an irreducibly complex structure).

They Will Enjoy Their Carefully Guided Life

Rachel Lucas (mild profanity, because it's Rachel Lucas) fisks an anti-man column.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Great Review

Well said:

Short version: Your opinion of the film will with almost complete certainty be predicted by your opinions on Darwinism vs Intelligent Design.

Yes, I know everyone is looking for reviews of Morgan Spurlock's Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? Here's a spoiler: He doesn't find Osama. His movie is funny and entertaining, but I think this film will generate far more debate and discussion and is as relevant to what's happening today as Spurlock's movie.

Having said that, I believe that writing this review is almost a pointless exercise, but I'll write it anyway. Why? Because your opinion of the film will with almost complete certainty be predicted by your opinions on Darwinism vs Intelligent Design.

I've been scouring a few sites looking to see what people thought of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed and it is expectedly getting skewered. Rotten Tomatoes has it at 9% at the time of this writing and over at it's sitting at 3.3/10. The interesting thing about the rating over at IMDB is that 88% of the votes are either a "1" or a "10," with very few in between. I'm guessing that most of the votes on the "1" side are from people who haven't even seen the film.

Much like the reviews and viewer opinions of Michael Moore's psuedo-documentaries or Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" are influenced by whether the person in question agrees with the views espoused in those films, that will be the situation here in even more stark relief. Considering the fact that most reviewers over at RT loved those films, it's no surprise to me that Ben Stein's film was skewered.

I don't blame anyone - it's just about impossible to judge a documentary on a hot-button subject without bringing personal bias into it.

A couple of the eventual items that will be highlighted in the movie are hinted at with the opening credits, which are made up of what looks like old archival footage from World War II. The movie credits are blended in to look like they are part of the original footage, which I thought was kind of cool. Ben Stein walks onto the stage of a crowded auditorium to talk about the fact that no matter the era, freedom is the one constant that has defined America throughout its history.

From there he goes on to expand on his main point: No, it's not that Intelligent Design theory is superior to Darwinism... but that the mere mention of I.D. by someone in an academic position can lead to not only denial of tenure, but to outright censure and loss of their position. You read that right: not the teaching of the theory - just the mention of it as a possible valid theory.

He interviews a number of academicians and scientists who have met the fates described above and cites what led to their firings, etc.. Stein also interviews those in institutes of higher learning that came pretty close to visibly spitting whenever they were questioned about the topic.

One of the things that has people up in arms about this film is that Ben Stein draws a connection between Darwinism and Nazi Germany. He says quite clearly that he is NOT implying that Darwinists are Nazis - only that Hitler was influenced by the theory and sought to "accelerate" human evolution by eliminating the weak, infirm and supposedly inferior races.

I understand Stein's reason for including this in the film - more than one athiest in the film emphasized the belief in no ultimate moral standards. The logical conclusion from that is that due to the idea of moral relativism ("well, maybe that was considered bad 50 years ago but times have changed") is that eventually we could go beyond abortion and voluntary euthanasia to selecting people to be euthanized "for the good of mankind/the human race/our country" with no guilt of sense of wrongdoing.

The problem here is that the idea of a "designed" universe is rejected out of hand, there IS no room for discussion (similar to the global warming debate). If someone disagrees they are shouted down with "idiot/ignorant/stupid" and of course, "creationist." End of conversation.

As far as I'm concerned, the unadulterated hubris of those in academia in their 100% certainty that there is no God in a universe where so much is still unknown is for lack of another word, galling.

You're either going to think that Ben Stein's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is a huge disinformation campaign of a film and hate it, or you're going to think that it's a big eye opener when it comes to the current dangers to our freedom and the discussion of important issues.

On a final note, I'll be monitoring the comments below carefully. I've said before that I have NO problem with people with opposing opinions as long as those opinions are stated in an intelligent and civil manner with no personal attacks. In any case, especially online, I've found these discussions pointless as no one is going to change anyone's opinion on either side.

True enough about online discussion. One can have a change of mind from reading books in depth on the subject, however. I've certainly found that one of the sides wants to discourage that at all costs. And that's what the movie is about.

He's All Class, That Obama

Ann Althouse:

"Does he condemn them? Would he condemn someone who that says they're unrepentant and wished that they had bombed more?"
McCain asks.

"[Obama] became friends with [William Ayers] and spent time with him while the guy was unrepentant over his activities as a member of a terrorist organization, the Weathermen."

And here's the response from the Obama campaign:

"Unable to sell his out-of-touch ideas on the economy and Iraq, John McCain has stooped to the same smear politics and low road that he denounced in 2000. The American people can’t afford a third term of President Bush’s failed policies and divisive tactics."

Wow, they are on autopilot. Any criticism is met with bland disqualification: It's negative. Don't say anything negative. If you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything.

I know Obama said when he was in kindergarten that he wanted to be President. But he isn't still in kindergarten.

So , for Obama, the definition of divisive is disagreeing with Obama. I'm glad Obama is here to end divisiveness. He is the people we have been waiting for.

The Debate Is Now Over

Chuck Norris endorses Expelled.

Sunday, April 20, 2008



"Whatever Darwinism's Ramifications For Morality, It Certainly Doesn't Do Much For Your Temper"

Great Expelled review by Martin Cothran.

Another piece highlights the strange lack of consistency on the part of reviewers who hate the film:

“Expelled” Movie Sparks Tantrum by New York Times
John West

The frustration level at The New York Times over Ben Stein’s new documentary Expelled can be gauged by the tone of its movie “review,” which might be described more accurately as a tantrum. It opens:

One of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” is a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry.

One of the sleaziest documentaries in a very long time? This comes from the same paper that hailed Michael Moore as “a credit to the Republic” and praised his dishonest Fahrenheit 911 as “achieving an eloquence that its most determined critics will have a hard time dismissing.” And it comes from the same movie reviewer who just last month lavished praise on an “endearing” gay sex comedy for “its breezy shots of male genitalia and characters nicknamed Long John and Tripod.”

As I’ve said before, it’s getting really hard to parody the Darwinists. They parody themselves.

But perhaps I should feel sorry for those at the Times, as they obviously had a bad week. The same day the Times blasted Expelled, after all, it reported that its “main source of revenue—newspaper advertising in print and online—fell 10.6 percent, the sharpest drop in memory.” Why am I not surprised?

Also, see the comments in this thread by a commenter named "interested" who is comparing what the reviewers had to say against Expelled for being tawdry propaganda vs what they had to say in fulsome praise for Michael Moore, even praising the tawdry propaganda techniques Moore used. Of course these reviewers know deep down that praising a socialist hack is a zero-risk proposition, but praising anything by "creationist retards" carries consequences. They're very brave for taking a bold stand against Stein!

And this:

Mainstream reviews of Ben Stein’s EXPELLED are going apoplectic over the movie’s connection between Darwin and Hitler. Take, for instance, the review in the Village Voice: it describes the connection between Darwinism and Naziism as “bizarre and hysterical.”

Yet this weekend saw the opening not only of EXPELLED but also of CONSTANTINE’S SWORD. Here’s what the Village Voice has to say about that film:

X marks the spot, literally, where Christianity and the Catholic Church fostered the centuries of religious hatred and anti-Semitism that culminated in the Holocaust…. But if his film is more provocative personal inquiry than reportorial knockout punch, it still pokes needed holes in the concept of papal infallibility and provides historical context for the dangers of linking the church and military. If nothing else, it demonstrates why we should feel cold shivers whenever President George W. Bush bandies the term “crusade.”

So a film that shows how Christianity “culminated in the Holocaust” constitutes cutting-edge cultural commentary. But a film like EXPELLED, which shows explicitly how the Nazis appropriated Darwin’s ideas, is “bizarre and hysterical.”

War Is Not The Answer! Free Tibet!

Too much good stuff here to excerpt.

It begins:

I don't know what the "Free Tibet" bumper sticker crowd must be thinking these days, but I can assure you it most certainly doesn't involve the 101st Airborne, tanks, guns, or any of that other "culture of violence" stuff...

It Takes One To Know One, Glenn

Calling one side of a debate "pernicious twaddle" doesn't exactly put you above the fray, Professor.

They Just Don't Want To Know

The dark side of Obama worship, by Rick Moran.

As a bonus, his piece contains this great quote:

“The difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad.”

--Salvador Dali

We've Got The 'Green', Maybe The 'Soylent' Will Soon Be Added?

Sign of the times.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ben Stein, Expelled The Movie

With the release of the humorous and, at the same time, serious movie Expelled, now seems an apropos time to point out a very popular post I made two years ago, which asks the question:

"How Many Darwinists Does It Take To Screw In A Lightbulb?"

Ben Stein

Expelled The Movie

Rove Gives 'Em What For

This letter from Karl Rove to MSNBC is a glory to behold.



ABC Sorry for 'Character' Debate, Plans 'Policy' Forum
by Scott Ott for ScrappleFace · 8 Comments

(2008-04-19) — ABC News today issued an apology to the Democrat party and progressive pundits, on behalf of journalists George Stephanopolous and Charles Gibson, for allowing this week’s Democrat presidential debate to descend into ‘tangential character issues‘ like honesty, integrity and personal association with terrorists and racists.

To atone for this ‘gross disservice‘, ABC News said it would set aside up to three full minutes in prime time on the eve of Tuesday’s presidential primary in Pennsylvania to allow Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama “to fully debate their substantive policy differences.”

As a further demonstration of its commitment to serious coverage of the issues that divide the Democrat rivals, the network said it would air the policy debate with “limited commercial interruption.”


The LA Times has figured out why Obama's insults to middle America have caused such a problem. It's not him. It's you.

Barack Obama has offered poor defenses of his “Crackerquiddick” remarks over the last few days, but none quite as daft as Meghan Daum in today’s Los Angeles Times. According to Daum, Obama’s comments got him in trouble not because they revealed him as an elitist snob, but because Obama is an intellectual. Echoing Obama’s remarks in San Francisco on a perfect harmonic, Daum says Americans can’t handle an intellectual because … well, let her explain:

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m beginning to think she might have had a point. As dumb as things were back then, it’s fair to suggest today’s culture is even dumber. Granted, the police aren’t raiding highbrow cultural events and arresting anyone who uses a three-syllable word, but something uncannily similar is playing out, minute by minute, on television and the Internet. With political discourse reduced to screaming contests and actual news eclipsed by exclusive and shocking footage of celebrities without makeup, we’ve become not only impatient with but downright opposed to the kinds of ideas that can’t be reduced to a line on a screen crawl or a two-sentence blog entry.

What’s more, a lot of people who harbor an intolerance for complexity see it not as a character flaw but a cognitive virtue. That’s because they’ve fallen into the trap of believing that complicated ideas (”complicated” now constituting anything that requires reading, watching or listening to in its entirety) are the purview of the “elite.”

The effect of that trap has been on a continuous loop in recent days, following Barack Obama’s ill-chosen remarks about bitter rural Americans clinging to guns and religion. The takeaway, of course, is that this sentiment proves once and for all that Obama is an elitist fatally out of touch with the average American. But in deference to my onetime dinner companion, let me ask this: Is he vulnerable to the out-of-touch charge because he is an elitist, or because he is usually (even if not in this case) comfortable with and in command of nuanced ideas? Is he bashable because he’s a snob or because he’s an intellectual?




Any Stick Will Do

There is no such thing as leftist consistency:

Character Issues Weren't "Tangential" When the Story Was Bush's ANG Service
[Stephen Spruiell]

A bunch of liberal journalists have written an open letter to ABC to whine about its handling of Wednesday night's debate. "We're at a crucial moment in our country's history," they write. "Large majorities of our fellow Americans tell pollsters they're deeply worried about the country's direction... Tough, probing questions on these issues clearly serve the public interest... excessive emphasis on tangential 'character' issues do not."

The signers include at least seven contributors to The Nation, whose editors never saw anything "tangential" about George W. Bush's Air National Guard service and what that said about his character. A Google search of The Nation's website for stories on that topic yields 72 stories — none of which called on the media to stop focusing on such a tangential character issue.

ABC's critics also continue to insist that the American people don't care about issues like Obama's association with William Ayers or Clinton's lying about her trip to Bosnia, but they undermine their own argument by getting furious with anyone who mentions these topics. They're furious because they know that Americans do care about their president's character, and they know that these stories — if they get too much attention — will hurt their candidate in the fall.

Great Collection Of Quotes

The movie Expelled (which I saw yesterday), while highly entertaining and making some very important points, does not (rightly or wrongly remains to be seen) go into the intellectual case for intelligent design. The movie is instead more focused on the issue of academic freedom and the right not to have your scientific career derailed by bullying ideologues, ideologues who don't know remotely as much as they claim to know.

I just ran across this collection of quotes by IDists, which serve to add a bit more philosophical/scientific heft to the issues raised by the movie.

My intuition is that the Darwinist ideologues will become even more intransigent after the release of this movie. At some point, in their arrogance and increasingly aroused fury, they will go too far, and the scales will tip against them.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Calling The Main Issues "Fake Issues" Says A Lot About You

David Limbaugh:

The dirty little secret about Barack Obama's indictment of flyover country is that he said what liberals, including Hillary Clinton, believe. Sufficient proof of this can be found in the liberal outrage at Wednesday night's Democratic presidential debate, where Obama was pressed both by the moderators and Clinton to explain Bitter-gate, Wright-gate, Ayers-gate and Flag pin-gate.

Consider the uncannily similar reactions of columnists Tom Shales and Stephen Silver.

Shales expressed indignation that ABC News moderators Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos would dare ask Obama to justify his insulting remarks about small-town Americans and his relationships with certain anti-American people.

Shale's fumed, "For the first 52 minutes … Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with."

Shales was particularly perturbed that Stephanopoulos "came up with such tired tripe as a charge that Obama once associated with a nutty bomb-throwing anarchist."

He was equally peeved at Gibson for bringing up, "yet again, the controversial ravings of the pastor at a church attended by Obama."

Columnist Silver is annoyed that Gibson and Stephanopoulos "asked shamefully superficial and gotcha-oriented questions" and for the first half of the debate dwelt only on "rehashes of the nonsense non-stories of the past month -- it was all-Wright, all-'bitter,' all-Bosnia sniper fire, all flag pin all the time." These were all, wrote Silver, "questions about nothing."

Silver characterized the recent stories about Obama's association with unrepentant terrorist William Ayers as "the sort of stuff that only right-wing bloggers and e-mail forwarders care about."

Excuse the quotes, but nothing captures the sneering condescension of media liberals better than their own words.

What do the assessments of these two fairly typical liberal columnists have in common? Well, quite simply their agreement that reports about Obama's pastor, his terrorist friend and his obvious contempt for small-town Americans are superficial distractions that are irrelevant to Obama's suitability for the highest office in the land.

The mainstream media's trivialization of this string of damning stories on Obama brings into sharp relief the ever-widening worldview chasm that separates liberals from conservatives. For them to let Obama get away with brushing off his elitist, contemptuous remarks about small-town Americans as a mistake or as a mere "mangling of words" proves they not only don't understand the gravity of the insult but also probably agree with it.

It is impossible to spin Obama's statement as misspeak. As witnessed by his "typical white person" remark, Obama liberally engages in the type of stereotypical thinking he so readily condemns in others. If a conservative had offered such stereotyping, it would be off with his small-town head.

The Obama stories are anything but superficial and couldn't be more relevant. Obama has revealed more about himself by advertising his obvious misapprehension of what makes small-town Americans tick and his voluntary associations with a racist, anti-American, obscenity-spewing pastor and an unrepentant terrorist than we could ever learn through rote repetition of his policy preferences.


If Hillary weren't so widely disliked, the Obama stories might be devastating to his candidacy. But the media don't get this either, thinking that Obama's failure to plummet in the polls is because Americans don't care about these stories. There's nothing there; let's move on.

If they're right -- that Americans don't care that this presidential candidate looks down on them based on categorical assumptions by which he has sized them up, thinks he knows better than they do about what motivates them, what's in their best interests and that government largesse is their only salvation -- we're in worse shape than I thought.

If I'm right, these are big stories that won't -- and by all means shouldn't -- be ignored.

Religion Is Just Peaches When You Don't Really Mean It

American Thinker:

It was Des Moines, Iowa, December 13, 1999. The occasion was a Republican presidential debate. The governor of Texas was asked to name his favorite philosopher or thinker. "Jesus Christ," was the quick answer of George W. Bush.

Bush's response was no surprise to those who knew him, or to anyone with a modicum of knowledge of his life. But that wasn't the way the media saw it. You would have thought the Republican presidential hopeful had cited Torquemada.

At America's forum for sophisticated religious thought, a fuming Maureen Dowd fired off a New York Times op-ed titled, "Playing the Jesus Card." Dowd chalked up Bush's reference to sheer political opportunism. He had "finally scored some debate points" by citing Jesus. "This is the era of niche marketing," explained Dowd, "and Jesus is a niche. Why not use the son of God to help the son of Bush appeal to voters? W. is checking Jesus' numbers, and Jesus is polling well in Iowa. Christ, the new wedge issue."

The press was apoplectic. On NBC, a concerned Tim Russert followed up by confronting the governor:

"Governor Bush, in the last debate when you talked about Jesus being the philosopher-thinker that you most respected, many people applauded you. Others said, ‘What role would religion have in the Oval Office with George W. Bush?' Fifteen million atheists in this country, five million Jews, five million Muslims, millions more Buddhists and Hindus. Should they feel excluded [by] George W. Bush because of his allegiance to Jesus?"

The oddest thing about these reactions is that Governor Bush had said nothing odd. He was a Christian, after all. Few to no presidents would disagree with his sentiments. "The philosophy of Jesus," wrote Thomas Jefferson, our most secular founder, "is the most sublime and benevolent ... ever offered."

And yet, the media onslaught was ferocious, especially compared to the silence four years later, in December 2003, when Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt, likewise in Iowa, opined, "He [Jesus] was a Democrat, I think"-or when Bill Clinton in 2004 stood behind a New York City pulpit and accused the Republicans of bearing "false witness" and being "the people of the Nine Commandments."

The examples of the media's double standard in its treatment of Republicans and Democrats who talk faith is truly remarkable. And now, once again, we have another glaring example, courtesy of CNN:

Last Sunday evening, CNN hosted a forum in which the two Democratic candidates for president, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, waxed philosophical about their relationships with Jesus Christ and how their faith applied to their politics and their policies. In other words, while George W. Bush should not dare cite Jesus as his philosopher in response to a question during a debate in Campaign 2000, the two Democratic Party candidates in 2008 can be given an entire primetime forum to do just that. They can even hold forth at a Christian college -- by the name Messiah College, no less -- in a crucial swing state, on the Lord's day, and call it the "Compassion Forum."

The article goes on to examine what the two had to say about abortion at the forum. Guess what? Somehow faith just doesn't make any real difference on the question. Odd how that works.

The Long And The Short Of It

Mark Steyn/Hugh Hewitt transcript:

HH: But now Mark Steyn, the Ayers connection is going to be a very interesting aspect [of the campaign]. What did you make of that exchange?

MS: Yeah, for a start, I think it’s hilarious that the lefty commentators are now denouncing George Stephanopoulos as some kind of Karl Rove plant for asking this. And one accepts that Hillary Rodham Clinton has to go through the motions of saying oh, well, you know, certainly the Republicans are going to make a lot of play out of this. No, it isn’t. This is for the Democrats. The fact is, it’s entirely legitimate. Senator Obama is a man of no accomplishments, a man of no accomplishments other than getting elected to the United States Senate, and before that, to the Illinois State Senate. He’s done nothing, he has a wafer-thin legislative record, he wrote an autobiography about nothing. So when you have such a man running for president, all you can tell about him are who he has chosen to spend his life with. He’s chosen to spend his life with this kind of yuppy play terrorist who led the Weather Underground, and the neo-segregationist, racist, ranter like Jeremiah Wright. That’s really all we know about Barack Obama, and it’s entirely legitimate to ask him about it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Heroes Fight The Real Enemy. Cowards Go In For Environmentalism.

Classy move by Time magazine. You won't believe this cover.

Superdelegates Are There For A Reason

Will they act to save the party from the Obama trainwreck? Ed Morrissey:

In my earlier post, I failed to identify the big loser from last night’s debate. It wasn’t Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and it certainly wasn’t ABC, despite the general spleen-venting on the Left. Superdelegates lost last night, and the pressure now will build on them to make a decision from which most of them hoped to escape.

Superdelegates exist in the Democratic party for one purpose: to invalidate the popular vote when disaster looms. Most of the media has ignored this as campaign activists from across the spectrum have demanded that superdelegates honor the decision of their constituents. If the party wanted that, superdelegates wouldn’t exist at all. They would simply have pledged delegates attending their August convention, and the constituencies would have their votes recorded accordingly.

The DNC deliberately created the college of superdelegates and made them 20% of the convention for a purpose. They wanted to block a narrow victory by a train wreck of a candidate who would lose the White House in a landslide. The debacle of George McGovern prompted it, and Jimmy Carter’s disastrous loss to Ronald Reagan provided the final impetus for such a structure. And in this race, regardless of the rest of the vote, superdelegates will have to provide the nominee with the margin of victory, since neither Hillary nor Obama can mathematically win enough pledged delegates to sew up the nomination.

After last night’s debate, the superdelegates have to ask themselves whether they are rubber stamps or whether they serve a purpose. Obama had already kneecapped himself with his Crackerquiddick comments in San Francisco, alienating a large portion of middle America with sneering comments about Midwestern voters “clinging” to religion and guns because they hadn’t had enough federal intervention in their lives, and all but calling them bigots in the same breath. Last night, when challenged on those remarks, he did nothing to reverse the damage:

And so the point I was making was that when people feel like Washington’s not listening to them, when they’re promised year after year, decade after decade, that their economic situation is going to change, and it doesn’t, then politically they end up focusing on those things that are constant, like religion.

People don’t “focus” on religion because Washington doesn’t listen to them. People “focus” on religion because they have faith in God. Obama said exactly the same thing he did in San Francisco, changing “cling” for “focus” — and this is after having most of a week to develop a response.

Afterwards, when asked about his years-long political association with unrepentant domestic terrorist William Ayers, Obama tried equating the Weather Underground bomber with Senator Tom Coburn:

The fact is, is that I’m also friendly with Tom Coburn, one of the most conservative Republicans in the United States Senate, who during his campaign once said that it might be appropriate to apply the death penalty to those who carried out abortions.

Do I need to apologize for Mr. Coburn’s statements? Because I certainly don’t agree with those either.

I doubt Senator Coburn will remain friendly with Obama after equating him to a terrorist because of a policy dispute. Coburn wanted to pass a law through legitimate democratic and political means; Ayers tried to terrorize people into policy changes by blowing up buildings, for which he remains unapologetic to this day. Does Obama really see no difference between the two? And if not, what does that say about Obama?

On policy, Obama turned out to be just as incoherent last night. He couldn’t specify where his payroll-tax expansion would hit, couldn’t explain how capital-gains tax increases would work, and offered (along with Hillary) the laughable notion that local communities could override Constitutional rights, as long as it was only the 2nd Amendment that was under consideration. It was an unmitigated, wall-to-wall disaster.

If superdelegates weren’t aware of Obama’s spectacular weaknesses before last night, they know them now. Under pressure, Obama looks lost and sounds unprepared. He will have no time to prep against John McCain in the fall, whose own personal narrative trumps Obama’s and whose lengthy track record in the Senate dwarfs the meager accomplishments of the one-term Senator from Illinois. The train wreck appearing on the horizon may have a scope approaching 1972 or 1984, even without the hurdle of incumbency.

Will the superdelegates act on their responsibility to avoid that? Or will they essentially make themselves irrelevant?

The Suit Is Only Getting Emptier

Hugh Hewitt has some telling clips from the Obama/Clinton debate. Obama makes Clinton look good. I swear, in the second clip, Obama reminds me of a young Richard Nixon. I note that he darned near slipped up and referred to economic issues (as distinctly opposed to religion and cultural issues) as the things that people *really* care about. Poor guy has been reading too much of "What's The Matter With Kansas?".

A Crime That Cries Out To Heaven For Vengeance

But hey, it's also a senior art project at Yale. You may not want to read this at all. It concerns self-induced abortion as a means of expression/art/provoking discourse.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Doubling Down

Must be read to be believed. Jane Smiley and (as quoted by Ace) Bob Herbert.

From the Jane Smiley post:

So now, Barack Obama tells the truth about conditions as we know them--that the countryside and the small towns are dying in many places in our country, and that the corporatocracy doesn't care enough to do a thing about it. He points out that immigrant-baiting, gay-baiting, gun-baiting, and religious pandering have helped to destroy those towns and that countryside, that those being destroyed have been cynically enlisted by their very own destroyers to provide the votes that help accomplish the destruction. And this is what Senator Hillary Clinton says about it: "Senator Obama's remarks were elitist and out of touch. They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans."


I cannot believe how angry this makes me. I cannot believe that after the last seven and a half years, I can even get this angry...

From the Ace of Spades post:

Well! Controversy over!

There is no mystery here. Except for people who have been hiding in caves or living in denial, it’s pretty widely understood that a substantial number of those voters — in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and elsewhere — will not vote for a black candidate for president.


Senator Obama has spent his campaign trying to dodge the race issue, which in America is like trying to dodge the wind. So when he fielded the question in San Francisco, he didn’t say: “A lot of folks are not with me because I’m black — but I’m trying to make my case and bring as many around as I can.”

Instead, he fell back on a tortured response that was demonstrably incorrect. Referring to the long-term economic distress of many working-class voters, Mr. Obama said: “It’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or antitrade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

He danced all around the truth. Unless you’re Fred Astaire, if your dance steps get too intricate you’re bound to make a misstep. This was a big one.

That's the third inconsistent media defense I've heard for Obama's Redneck Rampage speech.

Let's see:

1) He could not possibly have intended something so offensive and absurd.

2) But he's 100% right about that offensive and absurd characterization.

and now three:

3) He can't be held responsible for his offensive and absurd characterization, because he misspoke; he actually intended something more insulting.


[T]he MSM is very heavily invested in claiming this is all about "bitter" and defending Obama and attempting to declare it a non-story which is not worth discussing. They've been doing that since the story broke; it would take an awful lot to reverse themselves at this point.

They would have to admit -- gasp! -- they got the story almost entirely wrong from the get-go, and mostly because they're so uniformly liberal that neither they nor anyone they even know could imagine what could possibly be offensive about the remarks apart from "bitter."

Lileks On Obama


Happy tax day, all you God-clinging gun-nut anti-NAFTA fools. The Rubeoisie, as Mencken might have called you.

What annoyed me about the Obama comments was the crude reduction of everything into economic terms, the most dismal prism through which to regard humanity. So the factories close, and the sullen mass of the lowly workers ball their fists, feel a strange sour bolus of resentment bolting up their throat, and think: must – channel – confusing - emotions- into – unreasoning – opposition – to – redefining – marriage. If the factories magically reappear, does everyone sigh with relief, quit church and drop off their guns? I have money! No need for the Magic Carpenter and that poorly-worded amendment. Call off the border patrol, too – there’ll be jobs and upward wage pressure for everyone. It’s not exactly an unusual thesis; I’ve encountered it for years. People cannot possibly believe these crazy things for their own sake; they must be driven to them by external forces.

It’s possible there are bitter people who regard their station in life as a direct result of the current rate of capital gains taxes, but it seems an insufficiently reasoned basis for a national economic policy. Oh, it’s possible; at this very minute one of the country’s innumerable domestic terror cells could be planning a bombing of a Planned Parenthood center, driven to extremism by the very possibility of a Colombian trade pact. But I doubt it.

Not to say economics don’t affect people; I’m not that stupid. But like any adversity, you meet it with a certain amount of psychological capital. The more grounded you are in things that transcend the dollar, the better you can deal with the downturns. Some seem to suspect that the “grounding” is nothing more than a stake in the ground to channel the bolts tossed off by madmen in the pulpits, but those are the people most likely to believe that church services either consist of yelling and snake-handling, or gaseous bromides pumped out over a complacent stack of prim-faced morons and hypocrites who spend the service lusting after young women in the choir. There is no goodness, only the momentary self-delusion accorded by participation in a consensual charade.

I’ve been trying to find the right words for a certain theory, and I can’t quite do it yet. It has to do with how a candidate feels about America – they have to be fundamentally, dispositionally comfortable with it. Not in a way that glosses over or excuses its flaws, but comfortable in the way a long-term married couple is comfortable. That includes not delighting in its flaws, or crowing them at every opportunity as proof of your love. I mean a simple quiet sense of awe and pride, its challenges and flaws and uniqueness and tragedies considered. You don’t win the office by being angry we’re not something else; you win by being enthused we can be something better. You can fake the latter. But people sense the former.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Gaffe For The Ages

Could it have been more perfect?

Mickey Kaus:

What's the Matter With Obama?
The four sins of "cling."

Nein, bitter: There would seem to be four distinct, major problems with Obama's "cling" gaffe.

1) It lumps together things Obama wants us to think he thinks are good (religion) with things he undoubtedly thinks are bad (racism, anti-immigrant sentiment). I suppose it's logically possible to say 'these Pennsylvania voters are so bitter and frustrated that they cling to both good things and bad things," but the implication is that these are all things he thinks are unfortunate and need explaining (because, his context suggests, they prevent voters from doing the right thing and voting for ... him). Yesterday at the CNN "Compassion Forum" Obama said he wasn't disparaging religion because he meant people "cling" to it in a good way! Would that be the same way they "cling" to "antipathy to people who aren't like them"--the very next phrase Obama uttered? Is racism one of those "traditions that are passed on from generation to generation" that "sustains us"? Obama's unfortunate parallelism makes it hard for him to extricate him from the charge that he was dissing rural Pennsylvanians' excess religiosity.

2) Even if Obama wasn't equating anything on his list with anything else, he did openly accuse Pennsylvanians of being racists ("antipathy to people who aren't like them").

3) He's contradicted his own positions--at least on trade and (says Instapundit) guns.. Isn't Obama the one trying to tar Hillary as a supporter of NAFTA? Is that just 'boob bait'?

4) Yes, he's condescending. It's not just that in explaining everyone to everyone Obama winds up patronizing everyone. He doesn't patronize everyone equally. Specifically, he regards the views of these Pennsylvanians as epiphenomena--byproducts of economic stagnation--in a way he doesn't regard, say, his own views as epiphenomena.** Once the Pennsylvanians get some jobs back, they'll change and become as enlightened as Obama or the San Franciscans to whom he was talking. That's the clear logic of his argument. Superiority of this sort--not crediting the authenticity and standing of your subject's views--is a violation of social equality, which is a more important value for Americans than money equality. Liiberals tend to lose elections when they forget that.

Please note that Obama's characterization of Pennsylvanians as "bitter" doesn't even make the top four.

Also, Human Events has a good piece on the whole situation.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Letter From The Central Committee

The letter is a parody a la The Snakebite Letters. However the quotes in the letter are absolutely real. And quite damning.

Translation: Religion Is The Opiate Of The Masses, And Government Is Our Only Savior

I'm glad Obama has made his Marxist ideology clear:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Not Over

Susan Estrich:

LOS ANGELES — Judging from my e-mail lately, quite a few people are angry at me, including some of my closest friends. All of them, I should note, are supporters of Barack Obama.

They’re not angry at me for criticizing Obama, for insulting him in any way, which is something I try not to do; while I make no secret of my longstanding relationship and friendship with Hillary Clinton, and my belief that she would be an excellent President and that having a woman in the White House would itself be the sort of major change that I have always hoped to see in my lifetime (I wrote a book about that, after all, a year before Obama got in the race), I have also said, over and over, that if Obama wins the nomination, I will do everything I can to help and support him.

As it happens, that’s the rub. The “if he wins the nomination.”

In my view, he hasn’t – at least not yet.

“It’s over,” one of my friends writes me curtly, in a personal email after my last column here suggesting that it isn’t.

Others aren’t that polite. I won’t quote. They question where my head is, and worse.

A little too much protesting, dare I say? If it really were over, what difference would it possibly make if someone like me kept her head in the sand?

Frankly, I’ve been in campaigns where it was over, and we knew it, but were perfectly willing to go along with the charade that we were still running hard and hoping to win, turning every Tuesday into another victory that got us press, positive attention, and more money in the mail.

I used to joke, but only half in jest, that from early April-on in 1988, everyone knew it was “over,” but there was certainly no need to announce it, not when we could look like the “winner” every Tuesday defeating our honorable opponent who had no chance of the nomination and getting all that good-will (not to mention money) that “winning” brings.

I was almost disappointed when the so-called fight finally ended with the last scrutiny, and instead of covering our victories, the press started focusing on our shortcomings.

If it really were over, Barack Obama would be happy to beat Hillary Clinton week-after-week, plan his convention program, start gearing up for the general election, and dismiss any off-days as nothing more than the kind of “sour grapes” one occasionally finds at the end of the process, the sort of protest vote we have seen in past primaries when, at the end, voters hand candidates with no chance of winning the nomination a victory as a way of sending a message to the nominee to not move too far to the right.

If it really were over, super-delegates would not be holding back coyly, waiting til the last minute and then some, risking the wrath of the winner by holding out the possibility that they might support the loser.

The whole point of superdelegates was that in a close contest, they were supposed to pick the electable candidate, not necessarily the one that the party’s grassroots activists support, but there would be no need for them to hold back, or play games, or risk alienating the next President, if it were over.

There would also be no need to attack their right to do what they were supposed to do – make a judgment, especially about electability – if the judgment were already so clear that it begged discussion.

It doesn’t.

The danger with the Obama folks complaining endlessly that “it’s over” is not only that it may distract them from doing what it actually takes to win it (I have no doubt they are capable of doing both, or at least trying to), but that it contributes to what would be the wrong impression that should he ultimately not win, it is because it was stolen from him: that it was over, and then Hillary/the press/whites/ me took it away.

That’s how the party could end up torn in two. That’s how black could end up feeling robbed. And it wouldn’t be true. Not when has the power to take it away from you once you win. That’s what it means to win.

Once you have that list of delegates, the majority, committed to voting for you, there is nothing Hillary or I or anyone else can do to take it away. But until you do, it’s not over.

Welcome To The Obama Nation!

Mark Steyn:

Hicks nix clique's shticks

I'm about done with Obama over this mill-closures-drive-small-town-losers-to-guns-and-God business. If you're running as a glamorous blank slate on which people project their own utopian fantasies, you've got to be very careful not to give the game away - especially when the game turns out to be the usual cliched elite disdain for the great unwashed. I mention in the current issue of NR how odd it is that Michelle Obama is in many ways more condescending on the stump than Teresa Heinz Kerry. Now her husband's at it, too. As Ed Driscoll says:

Leave it to Obama to make John Kerry's Brahmin hauteur seem earnestly goofy in retrospect.

Quite. I had a ton of fun covering Kerry's awkwardness with Americans but, in fairness, it was essentially a consumerist snobbery: he preferred the Newburgh Yacht Club for lunch over the local Wendy's, he'd rather be windsurfing off Nantucket than rednecking at Nascar, etc. Obama's snobbery seems more culturally profound, and unlike Kerry he can't plead the crippling disadvantage of a priviliged childhood. Rather, Barack's condescension reveals a man out of touch with the rhythms of American life to a degree that's hard to fathom. As Michelle says, they "chose" to "leave corporate America", and Barack became a "community organizer" and she wound up a 350-grand-a-year "diversity outreach coordinator". I've no idea what either of those careers involve, and most of us seem able to get along without them. But their remoteness from the American mainstream perhaps explains why the Obamas seem to have no clue how Americans live their lives.

And yes, I'm a foreigner. But it takes one to know one, and this guy seems weirdly disconnected from everything except neo-segregationist Afrocentric grievance politics and upscale white liberal condescension. Not much of a coalition.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Absurdly Obvious, But Only To Those Who Want To See

Michael Egnor:

Is ID Falsifiable? Of Course It Is. Its Falsification Is Darwinism

Darwinist Steven Novella asks and answers a question central to the intelligent design/Darwinism debate: is intelligent design falsifiable? Dr. Novella predictably answers in the negative, and concludes that because ID cannot be falsified it is not science. I’ve long thought that the claim of unfalsifiablility of ID is one of the most bizarre claims of Darwinists. But, as we’ll see, there is method to the claim.

Let’s take a look at Dr. Novella’s arguments. I’ve condensed them, because he characteristically rambles. He first makes the bizarre claim that design in nature isn’t necessarily intelligent.

So the ID proponents are asking the wrong question - always a fatal problem in science. The question is not whether or not there is design in nature, but what is the nature of that design. Evolution is a bottom-up process whereby design and complexity emerge out of blind but non-random processes. “Intelligent” design, by contrast, is a top down process where the final result is known ahead of time by the designer and is achieved with purpose.

No. Design is always the result of intelligent agency — by definition. It's always top-down. Design is a mental act. Complexity can arise without intelligent design, but complexity is not the same thing as design. All design arises by intelligent agency, because that’s how design is defined. Consider the definition of design:

de•sign v. de•signed, de•sign•ing, de•signs 1. a. To conceive or fashion in the mind; invent: design a good excuse for not attending the conference. b. To formulate a plan for; devise: designed a marketing strategy for the new product. 2. To plan out in systematic, usually graphic form: design a building; design a computer program. 3. To create or contrive for a particular purpose or effect: a game designed to appeal to all ages. 4. To have as a goal or purpose; intend. 5. To create or execute in an artistic or highly skilled manner. v.intr. 1. To make or execute plans. 2. To have a goal or purpose in mind. 3. To create designs.

Design is always the product of a mind. There is no such thing as 'bottom-up' design. Design always has purpose, and purpose is always a hallmark of intelligent agency. When things happen in nature without intelligent cause, they are not design. They may be uncanny, extraordinary, astonishing, but without intelligent cause, they are not designed. As Richard Dawkins wrote: "Biology is the study of things that appear designed, but aren’t." Even Richard Dawkins understands the distinction. Dr. Novella not only struggles with the science. He struggles with definitions.

Dr. Novella goes on to draw an astonishing analogy:

There are many analogies we can draw to illuminate this difference. For example, a city that grew over decades without any central planning, but based upon the decisions and actions of individuals acting in their own interest is like an evolved city. An ID city, however, is one planned and mapped out ahead of time, by a committee, corporation, or some other body. In the evolved city there will still be design — streets and utilities will follow residences and business, for example. Shops will tend to pop up and survive to meet the demand. But it will be messy, with lots of redundancy, with abandoned buildings where neighborhoods collapsed or business failed. Streets would likely not be optimally arranged. A planned city, however, would look vastly different — more clean, purposeful, and direct. The streets would be laid out in a deliberate way — one that could not have emerged spontaneously with use.

There are no ‘evolved’ cities. All cities are designed, in that they are the product of human minds. Not all designed aspects of cities are carefully designed, of course, and not all designs are coordinated with other designs. But shops and streets don’t ‘pop up’; they are put there by conscious agents acting for purposes. And the changes that take place in cities that are not the product of intelligent design, such as erosion, wear and tear on infrastructure, and so on, are changes that would never be mistaken for intelligent design. You can tell the difference between architecture and grafitti, on one hand, and rust on the other.

Dr. Novella's blunder is an example of 'Berra's Blunder'. Tim Berra is a Darwinist biologist who, in his 1990 book Evolution and the Myth of Creationism, used the example of changes over time in Corvettes to illustrate the enormous power of natural selection. Of course, Dr. Berra's example was a designed change in the automobiles with time. Corvettes don't 'evolve' by natural selection. They are the product of very intelligent designers.

It’s ironic that neither Dr. Novella nor Dr. Berra, in searching for an analogy to Darwinist ‘design,’ could think of a single example of design that wasn’t the product of a mind. Darwinists fall into the trap of Berra's Blunder often. It's not simply because they don't understand the issues, although that no doubt plays a role. Darwinists genuinely have trouble drawing analogies between natural functional biological complexity and undesigned non-biological structures, because most biological complexity is analogous to intelligently designed artifacts. Living things are full of DNA codes and nanotechnology that in any other area of science would be recognized as artifacts of intelligent design. Berra's Blunder is almost inevitable for a Darwinist trying to find analogies to biology. Biology is replete with hallmarks of intelligent design.

Next Dr. Novella meanders through common descent and irreducible complexity, claiming with tangential anecdotes that science provides evidence against ID. He argues, in effect, that intelligent design is contradicted by the evidence, and is untestable as well. You can’t make this up. It's witless.

His final argument is that ID is a ‘negative’ theory, defined by what it denies:

The notion of ID falsifiability also has a deeper logical problem — that ID is defined entirely but what it isn’t — namely evolution.

Here Dr. Novella gets to the root of the issue, and characteristically does so in a way that destroys his own argument. Here's how. Darwin’s theory is this: all natural biological complexity arose by the mechanism of random non-teleological heritable variation and non-teleological natural selection. Intelligent design theory is this: some aspects of natural biological complexity show evidence of teleology. By teleology, I mean purpose, intelligent agency — design. It is on the question of evidence for intelligent design in biology that the ID-Darwinism debate turns.

Thus ID and Darwinism are merely two opposite conclusions drawn from the same question: is there teleology in biology? If there is, ID is true. If there isn’t, Darwinism is true. The falsification of intelligent design is Darwinism. The falsification of Darwinism is intelligent design. Either biology shows evidence of intelligent agency, or it doesn’t. Either intelligent design and Darwinism are both science, or neither is science. If you can’t test the hypothesis of intelligent agency in biology, then you can’t test Darwinism, and Darwinism is immune from evidence and must simply be accepted on faith.

Darwinism is intelligent design's doppelganger. So why would Darwinists like Dr. Novella claim that ID isn’t falsifiable, when their own theory is the falsification of ID? As it turns out, there’s a method and a reason. If ID isn’t falsifiable, then the question of design in biology can’t be adjudicated by science, and this renders Darwinism immune from evidence. Darwinism must then be accepted on faith.

The truth is that Darwinists aren’t concerned that intelligent design isn’t falsifiable. They’re concerned that it isn't false.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

This Post Created By The "Blogging Community"

Mark Shea has a great post on the authorship of the Gospel of John. I especially liked this part:

Yet another criticism of Johannine authorship turns the very sophistication of the gospel against it. Some declare that John bar-Zebedee, a mere fisherman, could not have been an educated Greek-speaking theological genius and therefore could not have written such a theologically sophisticated work.

Here’s the problem: The assumption that a Jewish fisherman living two thousand years ago couldn't be multi-lingual, or educated, or a genius or a contemplative—or all four—is a very fine illustration of what the great Christian writer C.S. Lewis used to refer to as “chronological snobbery”. This is, roughly speaking, the notion that we are, by virtue of our blenders and hi-def TVs, 2000 years smarter than people who lived in Jesus' time and that we are therefore comfortably ensconced on the final and permanent platform from which to look down on all human history. It is to forget something a reader of mine puckishly pointed out:

I mean, come on—the Greek text clearly indicates someone who had at least 4 years of Koine Greek in college, and maybe even some in grad school (classics major, perhaps?). And Aramaic, on top of it. That's TWO foreign languages to learn. And it was someone with intimate knowledge of Judaism (religious studies minor?).

How could John have had time to take these courses, much less pay for them? I mean, Hebrew and Bar-Ilan wouldn't even be founded for nearly 2,000 years!

And where'd he pick up all that theology, if it was John? After all, John was spending all his free time running around with Jesus, so he wouldn't have had time to study theology.

Sheesh! To think that a Jewish fisherman in ancient Hellenized Palestine would have had time to learn ancient Greek and Aramaic and theology while he was running around with Jesus...I mean, it's ridiculous!

[In further exchanges, we can argue about the authorship of "Caesar's" Gallic Wars:

How could a mere military commander have time to learn Classical Latin and French geography while he spent all that time encamped on remote Gallic battlefields? He wasn't a professional geographer with a flair for ancient languages, after all!

And the plays of "Shakespeare":

How could a regular guy living just after the Middle Ages, of all times, take the time to learn Shakespearean English? I mean, all those thees and thous—do you expect anyone other than a tenured English professor to manage those?]

Will They Ever Figure It Out?

American Digest:

The "team" responsible for tossing litter onto my lawn every so often grew smaller today. Seattle Times to Cut Approximately 200 Employees via The Stranger "Seattle's Only Newspaper"

A memo just promulgated onto the web by the odious "Stranger" details the reasons for the mass sackings -- 45 from the newsroom. [Full text after the jump] The money shot is right up on top with

Our circumstances are in line with the newspaper industry nationally, which continues to see steep declines particularly in areas of Classified ad revenue and also a slowing of online revenue growth.

Translation: 1) Craigslist bites deep in high-tech metro areas these days, so deep that large bleeding chunks of staff are now being torn from the news body. 2) Online revenue ain't making it either since who wants to go to the website of a dead-tree product they don't read in the first place? And even if they did, the money sites get from ads online just isn't at all in the realm of what they get for print ads.

Online ad revenues, often touted by blathering publishers with "a vision", never have and never will replace the revenue lost to the print edition.

Of course, the real elephant drooling in the room of newspapers like the Seattle Times these days is "the forgotten reader." These are the potential readers who, because of the unremitting liberal tone and slant of the Times in both the news hole and on the editorial page, loathe the Times and the whole sector of Seattle society it represents.

Now you may say, in a town as overwhelmingly liberal as Seattle, "Screw those troglodyte, Republican morons!" Well, you can say that but then you will, sooner or later, fire 200 of your employees. And that will be only the start.

Why? Because in an "overwhelmingly liberal town" you are talking about, at most, around 55% of the potential readership that agrees with you. This means you are leaving about 45% of potential readership out of the equation altogether. King County has about 2 million people. That means that 45% of potential readership is not at all a trivial number, and yet the Seattle Times takes every opportunity to alienate them. Result: Mass sackings and many millions lost.

And yet the Seattle Times, as well as numerous other newspapers now dying in the US, never ever cops to its point of view as the reason why it is failing...

I've said it before, I'll say it again: Give me a newspaper that provides what I get from blog reading, and I'll happily buy it. I'd much rather read stuff on paper than from a computer screen.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 Lens Is Sharp

Just got one (and also have switched from Elements 6.0 to Photoshop CS3). Example:

Image Hosted by

Be sure to see the full sized version.

Picture Of The Day


Woowoowoowoowoowoo! Nyuh nyuh nyuh. Oh, a wise guy, ay?

Monday, April 07, 2008

What We Will Become Has Not Yet Been Revealed

But perhaps there are glimpses. This video is well worth watching in its entirety. Astonishing.

And here's a different sort of impressiveness.

Gosh, They Were Just Trying To Help, Or, In A Pinch, The Government Is Always Glad To Be The Greater Fool Of Last Resort


Affordable Housing Project Turns Radioactive

Was there ever an "affordable housing" program that actually worked? I am not aware of any. Let's take a look a recent affordable housing plan that has gone completely awry. The Monterey County Herald is reporting Developers of affordable Salinas housing seek change in rules.

The Commons at Rogge Road was to be the model for providing low-cost homes and apartments for people priced out of a superheated Monterey County housing market. The project — 171 homes and apartments on 12 acres just outside Salinas to the northeast — was praised at every juncture as it made its way through the approval process to its March 2006 unanimous blessing by Monterey County supervisors.

The Commons was the first project brought forth under a county program to give builders incentives — more units, fee waivers, less required parking — to build below-market housing. And praise gushed forth from public officials, housing advocates and others for Chapin's vision.

A great project, they said. Thinking outside the box.

Today, the first 46 homes in the phased development are empty. They have been on the market since August. Not one has been sold.

And the developers — Chapin and Woodman Development — are seeking changes to the original deal designed to ensure affordability of the homes and apartments. They want the changes just to sell the homes, complete the project and avoid big losses.

The plan originally was to sell the homes to income-qualified buyers — families making up to 180 percent of median county income — for $273,553 to $483,517. Silva said they've cut prices by up to $84,000 to lure buyers, but to no avail.

Those one-time affordable prices — up to $300,000 below what some homes in North Salinas were selling for a couple years ago — are now bobbing on the wave of a deflated housing market, where new or foreclosed homes in the same area may be going for the same price or less, he said.

Another condition, which Chapin voluntarily put on the homes to ensure they would remain affordable for many years, has added to the developers' woes as housing values have plummeted. As a resale condition, homebuyers in The Commons would have to share their equity for 20 years with an affordable housing trust.

Buyers can now find homes in the same price ranges without those kinds of strings attached. The resale restriction is radioactive. "No discerning buyer in their right mind is going to buy our house, as nice as they are, with a 20-year deed restriction," Silva said.

Another problem is that some would-be buyers, who may have been able to get a home loan a couple of years ago, can't qualify today, as the credit market has been screwed tight. Other potential buyers — nurses, public safety officers and other "essential workers" for which the project was tailored — can qualify for loans, but they make too much money to fit the program's income cap, Silva said.

Last week, the five county supervisors held a brief hearing and gave their blessing to Chapin's application for $6 million in tax-exempt bond financing for affordable housing to complete the apartments. There were no questions asked or public testimony.

After the vote, Supervisor Fernando Armenta offered the latest words of praise for The Commons. He said the project will be "a great addition" and represents "the way to take care of affordable housing."

The best way to ensure affordable housing is to stop promoting affordable housing plans, end government sponsorship of the GSEs, Eliminate HUD, stop promoting the ownership society, and in general just let the free market work.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Race Is The Only Thing Obama's Candidacy Is About

Very astute analysis.


Imagine the current situation with identities reversed: picture Clinton's having built up a small but, for nomination purposes, inadequate pledged delegate lead by winning states the vast majority of which she had no hope of carrying in November (e.g., Mississippi, Wyoming, South Carolina, Utah[!], Montana etc.); imagine further that Obama were nipping at her heels in pledged delegates because he had won practically every state which the Democrats will, or can reasonably hope to, win in November. Finally, imagine that the media only recently had given serious attention to a potentially major political liability of Clinton's that called into question her electoral viability, and that a large test of that liability's weight was about to unfold in a key state for the Democrats: e.g., Pennsylvania.

Under this hypothetical scenario -- the perfect reverse of what the Party now faces -- does any even slightly knowledgeable observer of the US political scene not on drugs believe that the Party's VIPs and media sycophants would be demanding that Obama retire from the fight "for the good of the Party"? Inconceivable.

Rather than slink from the field, Obama would be rushing forward as the Party's savior, to rescue it from a candidate whose appeal is perversely concentrated in states which Democrats cannot win, and who may turn out to be terminally flawed by a recent revelation that is about to receive further critical testing in Pennsylvania. Calls for Obama's withdrawal from the fight by Clinton under these circumstances would be met with jeers and derision.

Why is it all so different in the real world set of facts? Why are the media and Party peasants, torches and pitchforks in hand, gathered at Clinton's door, and growing more menacing each day? The answer is race, race and race. Barack Obama, who risibly claims to be America's post-racial candidate, will one day be viewed as the most overtly racial candidate in the history of American presidential politics.

Obama's entire claim that he be awarded a nomination he has not yet won, and, by pledged delegates, cannot win, is based on the huge unstated racial premise that no black man who has fought to slightly better than a draw may be denied the Democratic Party presidential nomination. But the argument goes even further: that the very weighing process by Party leaders, called for where the primary contests produce no winner, cannot occur.

Any other candidate with a slight but indecisive delegate lead permissibly could be denied the nomination, if, with all the facts in, the Party's leaders concluded he would be the weaker nominee. Indeed, the Party's nomination system was designed to create precisely this check on a democratically driven error. Obama's supporters (speaking for Obama, of course), in claiming that this result is impermissible, are arguing that the Democratic Party's existing presidential nomination system does not apply to blacks.

That nomination process was designed to work just as it is now working, to afford Party seniors a final look, and the exercise of independent judgment, where two or more candidates fight to no decision in pledged delegates. In such circumstances, the Party's elders (its "superdelegates") weigh in, independently judging the candidates' qualifications, including their electability, and make the final choice. Unlike many of the primary and caucus voters, superdelegates don't have to exercise their judgment until the convention after the primary/caucus process and then the summer, with the benefit of all the information that has been revealed. Not a bad system for breaking ties, really. At any rate, that is the nomination system the Democrats created -- call it pure democracy, seasoned and improved where necessary, by the exercise of independent judgment from those who have devoted their lives to Party and the art of electoral politics.

But it would appear this is the nomination system of the Democratic Party in all instances save one: where one of the contestants to the stalemate is a black man. Then he, and not the other, must be awarded the nomination despite every other consideration that might disqualify him, were he a member of any other Party identity group.

There can be no other justification for all of the following demands:

* that Clinton retire from the struggle before she is beaten;

* that the superdelegates not exercise independent judgment in circumstances plainly calling for such exercise after all the facts are in; and

* that the slimmest popular vote or delegate majorities, built up in large part before all the facts about both candidates were known, must be determinative (if that had been how the system was to work, why have superdelegates at all? They would not exist, and would have been replaced by the simple sentence: "Where neither candidate gains an absolute delegate majority from the primaries and caucuses, the nominee shall be the candidate receiving the greater number of delegates/popular votes.")

The word "audacity" comes to mind. All of these audacious claims by Obama's surrogates, supporters, and Democratic Party elders, are tenable only if Obama possesses some characteristic that trumps the Party's nomination system. And of course Obama does possess such a characteristic: he is the candidate of the only Democratic Party voter bloc whose near monolithic electoral loyalty allows it to dictate to the Party.

And so, no matter what comes tumbling out during the last phase of this increasingly bitter personal struggle, no matter what key voter demographic is conclusively revealed to be beyond Obama's reach, no matter what gross error of judgment Obama is shown to have committed, or lack of political courage he is justly seen to have exhibited and to continue to exhibit, no matter how long and how closely he is shown to have been aligned with a viciously lunatic and intensely anti-American race-hustler, the Party cannot, and will not even engage in the weighing process called for by its rules, let alone deny Obama the nomination, after he has come this far. The risks of thereby fatally damaging its relationship with its most important and devoted coalition member are too great...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Darwin Fish

Jonah Goldberg:

During a 1991 visit to Istanbul, a buddy and I found ourselves in a small restaurant drinking, dancing and singing with a bunch of middle-class Turkish businessmen, mostly shop owners. It was a hilariously joyful evening, even though they spoke nearly no English and we spoke considerably less Turkish.

At the end of the night, after imbibing unquantifiable quantities of raki, an ouzo-like Turkish liquor, one of the men came up to me and gave me a worn-out business card. On the back, he'd scribbled an image. It was little more than a curlicue, but he seemed intent on showing it to me (and nobody else). It was, I realized, a Jesus fish.

It was an eye-opening moment for me, though obviously trivial compared with the experiences of others. Here in this cosmopolitan and self-styled European city, this fellow felt the need to surreptitiously clue me in that he was a Christian just like me (or so he thought).

Traditionally, the fish pictogram conjures the miracle of the loaves and fishes as well as the Greek word IXOYE, which not only means fish but serves as an acronym, in Greek, for "Jesus Christ the Son of God [Is] Savior." Christians persecuted by the Romans used to draw the Jesus fish in the dirt with a stick or a finger as a way to tip off fellow Christians that they weren't alone.

In America, the easiest place to find this ancient symbol is on the back of cars. Recently, however, it seems as if Jesus fish have become outnumbered by Darwin fish. No doubt you've seen these too. The fish symbol is "updated" with little feet coming off the bottom, and "IXOYE" or "Jesus" is replaced with either "Darwin" or "Evolve."

I find Darwin fish offensive. First, there's the smugness. The undeniable message: Those Jesus fish people are less evolved, less sophisticated than we Darwin fishers.

The hypocrisy is even more glaring. Darwin fish are often stuck next to bumper stickers promoting tolerance or admonishing random motorists that "hate is not a family value." But the whole point of the Darwin fish is intolerance; similar mockery of a cherished symbol would rightly be condemned as bigoted if aimed at blacks or women or, yes, Muslims.

As Christopher Caldwell once observed in the Weekly Standard, Darwin fish flout the agreed-on etiquette of identity politics. "Namely: It's acceptable to assert identity and abhorrent to attack it. A plaque with 'Shalom' written inside a Star of David would hardly attract notice; a plaque with 'Usury' written inside the same symbol would be an outrage."

But the most annoying aspect of the Darwin fish is the false bravado it represents. It's a courageous pose without consequence. Like so much other Christian-baiting in American popular culture, sporting your Darwin fish is a way to speak truth to power on the cheap.

Whatever the faults of "Fitna," it ain't no Darwin fish.

Geert Wilders' film could very, very easily get him killed. (He's already guarded around the clock.) It essentially picks up the work of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who was murdered in 2004 by a jihadi for criticizing Islam.

"Fitna" is certainly provocative, yet it has good reason to provoke. A cancer of violence, bigotry and cruelty is metastasizing within the Islamic world.

It's fine for Muslim moderates to say they aren't part of the cancer; and that some have, in response to the film, is a positive sign. But more often, diagnosing or even observing this cancer -- in film, book or cartoon -- is dubbed "intolerant" while calls for violence, censorship and even murder are treated as understandable, if regrettable, expressions of well-deserved anger.

It's not that secular progressives support Muslim religious fanatics, but they reserve their passion and scorn for religious Christians who are neither fanatical nor inclined to use violence.

The Darwin fish ostensibly symbolizes the superiority of progressive-minded science over backward-looking faith. I think this is a false juxtaposition, but I would have a lot more respect for the folks who believe it if they aimed their brave contempt for religion at those who might behead them for it.