Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Deed Is Done


The Nouveau Riche

Have you ever wondered why states and municipalities are always in such a precarious financial situation? Wonder no more:

Astute reader R. provides additional insight on public pensions:

I read the latest article. Are You Part of an Elite, and Don't Know It? (July 22, 2008).

A friend told me the other day that a fireman is getting $10,000 a month in a pension. I hear this all the time. Another friend says her 92 year old uncle gets $8,500 a month from being a fireman and he retired 45 years ago.

What people do not realize is this. At today's interest rates on cash at 3% or so, You and I have to save up 3 million dollars to get $90,000 in income per year. We also risk the chance of losing our capital by a fund failure or bank failure and more.

These government pensions are better than winning a million dollar lottery. A million dollar lottery pays less than $50K a year, and stops after 20 years, with no health care.

These pensions are like being a multi millionaire, like having saved, put away, 3 million dollars of after tax money. And we know it would have taken many more millions in order to save 3 million after taxes.

These pensions make people millionaires, or as you said, Elite. But the pensioners never had to save it up. It is one thing to pay someone while they are working, but it is outrageous to pay them that much when they are not working. And they are allowed to work elsewhere, collect other pensions, and earn income from other investments, while the taxpayer continues to support them..

I have saved up quite a bit, and bought income producing assets, but have much further saving to go in order to retire with a decent income from my savings or estate.

When you understand investing and passive income, you realize that the goal in life is to create an estate that pays you income later in life. You live off the income the money or estate generates. You don't spend your savings / capital. Then you can pass income generating assets to your children, or whomever you choose. So as I said, these pensions are like having millions in an estate that is producing income. Something that I have scrimped and scraped and saved to achieve. I rent a house now that prices are falling, and shop at garage sales. I rarely buy liabilities that lose value. Boat, RV, toys, etc. I almost always buy used items. Pensioners live much better than me, and drive brand new cars, boats, RV's and other liabilities.

Even better for example, a woman who marries a male government pensioner, and maybe soon for a man, LOL, is that a woman can come along and marry the government pentioner, then take the equivalent of half the future pension in a divorce, and pay no taxes on it like most divorces, or she can inherit the pension on his death after doing no work at all. Taxpayers then support her for no work ever done. It is insane. The entire government has a spending problem, not an income problem. Yesterday, my accountant told me I owe some more in taxes.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Common Sense

This guy has it.

myers cracker wafer eucharist desecrate

Thursday, July 17, 2008

All Righty, Then

Posting will be intermittent the next three weeks, as I will be on a summer road trip...

It's All About Tribal Totems

According to this guy. Good presentation, although I disagree with his premises with respect to Catholicism. He may have, however, have hit the nail on the head with respect to the PZ tribe.

Interesting Angle

It's a basic rule of science that scientists need to show their work:

Mr. Myers, before you do your big project, you better prove that the host is really consecrated. You need to show the evidence, including information on from where, which church, who consecrated. (I hope you don’t have anything to hide on this.) Otherwise you will be totally wasting your time, because people cannot believe it’s truly consecrated. It seems that you are the type who likes to prove things and show evidences, therefore, you should also prove that what you are saying is authentic. You mentioned that people just gave you the consecrated host, but it’s just your word. You need to prove it.

Yes, Professor. Elucidate for us the exact chain of custody. Anything less would be woefully unscientific.

"It Is Hard In This World To Do Well. It Is Hard To Do Good. When I Hear A Claim That An Institution Is Going To Do Both, I Reach For My Wallet."

Lawrence Summers:

Here is a really good creative capitalism idea. All Americans benefit from increases in home ownership because of the values like hard work, community, and respect for property that ownership instills. Families want desperately to own their own homes and accumulate equity. Yet it is very hard for conventional banks that borrow money over the short term to lend over the kind of 30-year horizons that best help families buy houses.

How can the objective of ownership be best supported and how can the most adequate financing be assured? Voila, creative capitalism! How about chartering private companies as government sponsored enterprises with the mission of promoting home ownership affordability? Give them boards with some private representatives and some public representatives. Make clear that government stands behind their capital market innovations so they can borrow more cheaply and pass the savings on. Exempt them from the state local taxes that others pay. Give them specific objectives on affordability that they must meet. Rely on a special government regulator to assure that they balance their social responsibility with their drive to profit. Harness the profit motive to meet a social objective.

This is roughly the rationale behind Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I would submit that it is about as good or as bad as most creative capitalism ideas involving joint profit making and social objectives. But one hopes that we are now witnessing the end of this particular experiment in creative capitalism: the government is moving to pick up the pieces of the mess the GSEs have made and their shareholders are losing most of their money.

What went wrong? The illusion that the companies were doing virtuous work made it impossible to build a political case for serious regulation. When there were social failures the companies always blamed their need to perform for the shareholders. When there were business failures it was always the result of their social obligations. Government budget discipline was not appropriate because it was always emphasized that they were "private companies.” But market discipline was nearly nonexistent given the general perception -- now validated -- that their debt was government backed. Little wonder with gains privatized and losses socialized that the enterprises have gambled their way into financial catastrophe.

I wonder how general the lesson here might be. My fear is fairly general. Inherent in the multiple objectives urged for creative capitalists is a loss of accountability with respect to performance. The sense that the mission is virtuous is always a great club for beating down skeptics. When institutions have special responsibilities it is necessary that they be supported in competition to the detriment of market efficiency.

It is hard in this world to do well. It is hard to do good. When I hear a claim that an institution is going to do both, I reach for my wallet. You should too.

A Few Great Posts

By an agnostic (I think) who understands the problem.

There Are A Few Reasonable Internet Atheists

Here's what one has to say:

We should hold our friends to a much higher standards than we hold our adversaries. There is no way in which PZ is comparable to the folks sending him death threats. I completely agree with him on the substantive question — it’s just a cracker. It doesn’t turn into anyone’s body, and there’s nothing different about a “consecrated” wafer than an unconsecrated one — the laws of physics have something to say about that.

But I thought his original post was severely misguided. It’s not a matter of freedom of speech — PZ has every right to post whatever opinions he wants on his blog, and I admire him immensely for his passionate advocacy for the cause of godlessness. But just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. And there’s a huge difference between arguing passionately that God doesn’t exist, and taking joy in doing things that disturb religious people.

Let me explain this position by way of a parable, which I understand is the preferred device in these situations. Alice and Bob have been friends for a long time. Several years ago, Alice gave birth to a son, who was unfortunately critically ill from the start; after being in intensive care for a few months, he ultimately passed away. Alice’s most prized possession is a tiny baby rattle, which was her son’s only toy for the short time he was alive.

Bob, however, happens to be an expert on rattles. (A childhood hobby — let’s not dig into that.) And he knows for a fact that this rattle can’t be the one that Alice’s son had — this particular model wasn’t even produced until two years after the baby was born. Who knows what mistake happened, but Bob is completely certain that Alice is factually incorrect about the provenance of this rattle.

And Bob, being devoted to the truth above all other things, tries his best to convince Alice that she is mistaken about the rattle. But she won’t be swayed; to her, the rattle is a sentimental token of her attachment to her son, and it means the world to her. Frankly, she is being completely irrational about this.

So, striking a brave blow for truth, Bob steals the rattle when Alice isn’t looking. And then he smashes it into many little pieces, and flushes them all down the toilet.

Surprisingly to Bob, Alice is not impressed with this gesture. Neither, in fact, are many of his friends among the rattle-collecting cognoscenti; rather than appreciating his respect for the truth, they seem to think he was just being “an asshole.”

I think there is some similarity here. It’s an unfortunate feature of a certain strand of contemporary atheism that it doesn’t treat religious believers as fellow humans with whom we disagree, but as tards who function primarily as objects of ridicule. And ridicule has its place. But sometimes it’s gratuitous. Sure, there are stupid/crazy religious people; there are also stupid/crazy atheists, and black people, and white people, and gays, and straights, and Republicans, and Democrats, and Sixers fans, and Celtics fans, and so on. Focusing on stupidest among those with whom you disagree is a sign of weakness, not of strength.

It seems to me that the default stance of a proud secular humanist should be to respect other people as human beings, even if we definitively and unambiguously think they are wrong. There will always be a lunatic fringe (and it may be a big one) that is impervious to reason, and there some good old-fashioned mockery is perfectly called for. But I don’t see the point in going out of one’s way to insult and offend wide swaths of people for no particular purpose, and to do so joyfully and with laughter in your heart. (Apparently the litmus test for integrity vs. hypocrisy on this issue is how you felt about the Mohammed cartoons published in a Danish newspaper a couple of years ago; so you can read my take on that here, and scour the text for inconsistencies.)

Actually, I do see the point in the gratuitous insults, I just don’t like it. Like any other controversial stance, belief in God or not divides people into camps. And once the camps are formed, the temptations of tribalism are difficult to resist. We are smart and courageous and wise; the people who disagree with us are stupid and cowardly and irrational. And it’s easy enough to find plenty of examples of every combination, on any particular side. There is nothing more satisfying than getting together and patting ourselves on the back for how wonderful we are, and snorting with derision at the shambling oafishness of that other tribe over there.

My hope is that humanists can not only patiently explain why God and any accompanying metaphysical superstructure is unnecessary and unsupported by the facts, but also provide compelling role models for living a life of reason, which includes the capacity for respectful disagreement.

I say all this with a certain amount of care, as there is nothing more annoying than people who think that professions of atheism or careful arguments against the existence of God are automatically offensive. Respectful dialogue cuts both ways; people should be able to explain why they don’t believe in the supernatural or why they believe. Even if both atheists and believers are susceptible to the temptations of tribalism, that doesn’t make them equivalent; the atheists have the advantage of being right on the substance. Richard Dawkins and his friends have done a great service to our modern discourse, by letting atheism get a foot in the door of respectable stances that one has to admit are held by a nontrivial fraction of people — even if they stepped on a few toes to do it. But stepping on toes should be a means to an end; it shouldn’t be an end in itself.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Very Effective

Also, I was trying to place the song. It had a kind of Proustian effect on me. After some searching around, I found that the original is by Tears For Fears. I probably haven't heard it in 20 years. But it takes me back. The mid 80's were a positively magical time to be a college student, with New Wave in full swing. No iPods, no notebook computers, no internet, no cell phones, no voicemail, just dealing with people directly, and with a musical culture that was still shared and unified. Oh, it was very good.

Anyway, here's a link to the original.

Pretty Good Jib-Jab


Bravura Post

Mark Shea, as I expected he would, has an excellent new post about the Myers affair.

See also this.

John Stewart Is Brilliant

The clip here is well worth watching. Some LOL stuff.

Okay, So What's The Bad News?

Nouriel Roubini, as always, is a must-read.

An Allegory

The atheist supremacists plotting to desecrate the Eucharist seem to be utterly uncomprehending of the nature of what it is they are planning to do. This nature obtains, regardless of one's belief about transubstantiation. I would certainly hope that, if an analogous action were carried out against our Jewish brethren, folks (including university administrators) would be able to clearly discern the nature of the offense. I would hope that the revolting and bigoted nature of the planned actions (and their rationalizations) would be quite manifest. Why it isn't manifest in the case of Catholics being treated this way is a mystery to me. Hence I offer the following allegory from a parallel world:

There was a university student who was upset that campus funds were going to religious organizations. So he went with his friend to the next synagogue service, and in the middle of it, made a show of unwrapping a BLT, and passing half of it to his friend. They began to eat. Many of the attendees were incensed. An old lady even grabbed his arm and pulled him out the front door. Some of the concerned attendees contacted Abe Foxman of the ADL, who put out a press release that this was the beginning of a new Holocaust. In response the student put out the word that he'd been jumped by a bunch of Jewish thugs when he was just trying to eat his lunch. He has a right to eat his lunch.

Regrettably, (if the student is to be believed), some of the Jews made death threats against him. Such death threats, obviously, are wrong, and completely unjustifiable.

Biology professor P.C. Mired got wind of all of this and became even more outraged than his usual baseline level. On his blog Uvula he stated that he had had it up to here with Jewish irrationality and militancy. He'd be damned if he was going to accede to their demands that he keep kosher, and he intended to demonstrate his support for anyone to eat his lunch wherever he damn well pleased. It was high time to teach the Jewish thugs a lesson.

He asked his readers to send him 50 BLTs, which he intended to take to the synagogue and pass out during the next service. He then intended to eat five of them in front of everyone, maybe ten if he had a light breakfast that day, which he just might do. Of course it was implicit that none of his readers were expected to go to their local synagogues and do anything similar (wink-wink, nudge-nudge). And of course he'd put it all up on YouTube. And if any Jewish thug tried to interfere with his right to have his lunch and hand out sandwiches free of charge, well he'd show 'em his metaphorical brass knuckles.

Many of his thoughtful readers told of how they intended to bring BLTs with avocado and maybe even some polish sausages or pork chops. The Jewish thugs would be shown exactly what everyone thought about their demands that everyone else keep kosher.

His readers and supporters brilliantly argued that Mired was doing the correct thing. No one's right to eat his lunch should be messed with by Jewish thugs. No one should be forced to keep kosher. And if the ungrateful Jews don't appreciate free sandwiches, well, they can stuff it! His supporters gleefully hoped that they could start a movement. If every synagogue service could have BLTs consumed, perhaps the idiot Jewish thugs would finally see how wrong they are and give up their asinine 3000 year old kosher delusion. They'd see that YHWH wouldn't strike you with lightning for the crime of enjoying a delicious sandwich. And they'd finally stop trying to force the rest of us to keep kosher.

Soon, his band of freethinking followers, in a glorious lockstep, came up with a clever slogan to answer--no--annihilate the contemptible foolishness of the illegitimate Jewish complaints: "It's just a goddamned sandwich, people!" Many of them were even broadminded enough to concede that if it could be scientifically shown that pork products were more blasphemous than any other food, then they would be happy to relent. Until then, as any fair-minded person not blinded by religious prejudice could see, synagogues were fair game.

Of course, Mired's university saw no problem with any of this, because it was just a bunch of whiny Jews, people have the right to eat their lunch in peace, and, hey, academic freedom.

And an added bonus: The prestige of the field of evolutionary biology grew by leaps and bounds.

just to get this indexed:
myers eucharist cracker desecration wafer

I've Gotten My Answer

In response to my e-mail to the U of Minn, Morris Chancellor, I received the following:

Thank you for your e-mail expressing your concerns about Professor Myers blog.

The views expressed by biology Professor Paul Myers do not reflect those of the University of Minnesota, Morris (UMM) or the University of Minnesota system. Professor Myers’ views are expressed on his personal blog.

Through a press release issued last Thursday, a national advocacy organization pointed out that there was a link to Myers’ personal blog on a university Web site. Per university Web policy, it was determined that the link should be deactivated.

Whoah, hold your horses! I wasn't advocating anything harsh!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I've run across some good ones in the various comments I've seen.

One (I'm paraphrasing): What if Myers wrapped copies of the Koran in bacon, covered them in chocolate, put them on sticks, and sold them at the county fair? Would he keep his job?

Several from here:

I am puzzled as to why professor Whatsit is making such a big deal out of what is to him, admittedly only a cracker. I don’t know a lot of people who would be so single-mindedly obsessed with, say, eating a cheeseburger at a PETA meeting, or going out of their way to eat pork in front of a group of orthodox Jews.

The action is calculated to offend. That is all. It advances no argument and illustrates no point. It’s just a big “F*** you” to Catholics. Please don’t try to paint that as somehow courageous. It’s as courageous as sucker-punching Gandhi.


I will challenge Professor Myers to the following: instead of desecrating the communion wafer, I challenge you to desecrate the Jewish seder dinner. Invite the president of your university and the Board of Governors to your “Desecration of the Seder” dinner, and see how long you keep your tenure at the university where you teach.

Of course, the point is not to give other ideas for desecration, but to illustrate what is the essence of what is being incited against Catholics. For some reason, and I suppose it must be because Catholicism is the Truth, it is very hard for most "tolerant" people to see this (although I suspect that if Myers could come up with some similar outrage against any other Christian group, the same dynamic would apply). What is totally obvious in any other context somehow becomes invisible in this instance. It is a fascinating blind spot.

One Heck Of A Summary Of Events

Brilliant. Includes an eyewitness report from someone at the Mass where Cook removed the Eucharist, which kicked off the whole incident.

At Least One Senator Has His Head On Straight

Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning:

Bunning Statement To The Senate Banking Committee On The Federal Reserve Monetary Policy Report

Senate Banking Committee
Tuesday, July 15, 2008

By: Senator Jim Bunning

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I know we have a lot of ground to cover today, but I want to say a few things on the topic of this hearing and of the next.

First, on monetary policy, I am deeply concerned about what the Fed has done in the last year and in the last decade. Chairman Greenspan’s easy money the late nineties and then following the tech bust inflated the housing bubble and created the mess we are in today. Chairman Bernanke’s easy money in the last year has undermined the dollar and sent oil to new record highs every few days, and almost doubling since the rate cuts started. Inflation is here and it is hurting average Americans.

Second, the Fed is asking for more power. But the Fed has proven they can not be trusted with the power they have. They get it wrong, do not use it, or stretch it further than it was ever supposed to go. As I said a moment ago, their monetary policy is a leading cause of the mess we are in. As regulators, it took them until yesterday to use power we gave them in 1994 to regulate all mortgage lenders. And they stretched their authority to buy 29 billion dollars of Bear Stearns assets so J.P. Morgan could buy Bear at a steep discount.

Now the Fed wants to be the systemic risk regulator. But the Fed is the systemic risk. Giving the Fed more power is like giving the neighborhood kid who broke your window playing baseball in the street a bigger bat and thinking that will fix the problem. I am not going to go along with that and will use all my powers as a Senator to stop any new powers going to the Fed. Instead, we should give them less to do so they can do it right, either by taking away their monetary policy responsibility or by requiring them to focus only on inflation.

Third and finally, since I expect we will try to get right to questions in the next hearing, let me say a few words about the G.S.E. bailout plan. When I picked up my newspaper yesterday, I thought I woke up in France. But no, it turns out socialism is alive and well in America. The Treasury Secretary is asking for a blank check to buy as much Fannie and Freddie debt or equity as he wants. The Fed’s purchase of Bear Stearns’ assets was amateur socialism compared to this.

And for this unprecedented intervention in the markets what assurances do we get that it will not happen again? None. We are in the process of passing a stronger regulator for the G.S.E.s, and that is important, but it allows them to continue in the current form. If they really do fail, should we let them go back to what they were doing before?

I will close with this question Mr. Chairman. Given what the Fed and Treasury did with Bear Stearns, and given what we are talking about here today, I have to wonder what the next government intervention in private enterprise will be. More importantly, where does it stop?

Conservatives Would Have No Problem Both Identifying And Handling The Satire. And, Oh, Yeah. Also Enjoying It.

Leftists, not so much. One picture is worth a thousand words.

He's Really Not An Atheist

Clever point made here. No "atheist" who would bother to harangue others for their ideas has the courage of his own convictions.

Why Iconoclasm Matters



Jeff Martin:

P.Z. Myers Thinks Like a Bronze-Age Pagan
by Jeff Martin (Maximos)

Via Tom Piatak, writing at Taki's, it would appear that Myers has befouled a comment thread over at Rod Dreher's blog, averring that

The point of desecrating the host isn’t to make people angry--it’s to demystify and desanctify nonsense. It’s how we wake people up--by showing that their beliefs are powerless.

That's quite right. In this enlightened age, we do not settle religious and philosophical questions of inestimable importance by reasoning, examining the historical evidences, or any such recondite activity, but by subjecting the participants, or symbols dear to them, to the ordeal, to the end that Fate, the womb of possibility, the numinous power of whatever, might speak and deliver its verdict. We may as well bind the participants and cast them into a river, declaring the one, if any, who survives, the victor. Or, perhaps, we could emulate the Muslims, and associate the claimed veracity of the message with the world-conquering potency of its armies: it is true if it conquers. In fact, why don't we have a grand civilizational throwdown between the remnants of Christian reaction and the avatars of enlightened, secularist atheism - it's not as though we've not already had one of those, you'll recall, with the Evil Empire, the Poles, the Pope....

Yes, but such an appeal to history, even recent history, by way of demonstrating the incompatibility of militant atheism with human dignity, would lie beyond Myers comprehension, presumably, as he would prefer to have the 'truth' established by means of his contrivance: let a singular communion wafer represent the entirety of the Christian claim, and let his sacrilege represent the claims of enlightenment, and if no bolt of lightning or pillar of fire descends from the heavens to smite him, Christianity stands exploded as rank superstition. Let us be forthright about what such presumption is: it is not merely indicative of a mental imbalance, an obsession or mania, but expressive of mental primitivism. Truth is established, not by reasoned discourse upon evidences and arguments, but by what amount to tests of strength, defiance, and pride. Might makes right, by the infernal glow of impudence. And mankind undergoes a spiritual and intellectual regression of some score of millenia.

Does Myers really think that any Catholic in his right mind would be surprised if lightning doesn't strike? His thinking is of the same grade as the jihadis who thought that if they struck the first blow on 9/11 the glorious fist of Allah would take care of the rest.

All rationalizations aside, he still clearly intends an intolerant act of bigoted "atheist supremacy". It doesn't matter what he thinks he's doing. Bigotry is as bigotry does.

Obama: Immigration Enforcement Is Terrorism


Left All In A Dander About Magazine Cover That Was A Slam On Conservatives


"Change You Need Forensics To See"

Title from the "puch-line" on the Hot Air main page. It seems that Obama was against the surge before he was for it. But now he's purging all references to his previous opposition from his website.

Succinctly Stated

In this comment:

El_Mexican says:

There is another point no one seems to have touched upon: unbelievers (especially atheists) are NOT being forced to believe in the corporal presence of our Lord in the Host. The blessed communion is kept inside our churches, locked away from the general public, and is only distributed during mass. How then, can non-catholics claim that they are being “forced” to believe, when in reality, men like Myers are INVADING our churches and STEALING a sacrament that belongs to us Catholics for petty reasons. Where is the religious tolerance and respect you demand from us Catholics towards your unbelief? I’ll tell you where it is: it is embedded in a double standard where atheists and others are allowed to desecrate our beliefs and traditions while we are forced to “respect” their ideas…
God Bless.

News Is Spreading

Vox Day, author of The Irrational Atheist chimes in on World Net Daily.

The Kindergarten Of Good And Evil

Great philosophical essay in the Asia Times. It's quite hard to picture any such thing appearing in an American newspaper.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My Letter To The U of Minn Chancellor

Just sent:

From: [Me]


Subj: What is your position re:Dr. Myers and threatened Eucharist desecration?

Dear Chancellor Johnson,

A troubling ongoing situation concerning one of your professors has recently come to my attention. It seems that Professor of Biology Paul Zachary Myers has publicly called for (via his blog named Pharyngula) the public desecration of the Catholic Eucharist:


"Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers? There's no way I can personally get them — my local churches have stakes prepared for me, I'm sure — but if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I'll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won't be tempted to hold it hostage (no, not even if I have a choice between returning the Eucharist and watching Bill Donohue kick the pope in the balls, which would apparently be a more humane act than desecrating a goddamned cracker), but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web. I shall do so joyfully and with laughter in my heart. If you can smuggle some out from under the armed guards and grim nuns hovering over your local communion ceremony, just write to me and I'll send you my home address."


Myers, it seems, has also inspired his readers to perform the same act. One of them said (in a comment to a Pharyngula post):


"So this is my idea, similar to others in the original thread, but adapted to the current situation.

We all go to Mass and get the consecrated cracker, if we haven't done so already.

We go twice between now and whenever, which should be easy enough (just look up the daily Mass schedule and see if you can't make it before work/class/whatever). We get TWO consecrated crackers.

We post videos to YouTube, in which we desecrate ONE of the crackers (I plan to dip mine in gin and set it on fire for for visual effect). We tell Donahue to shut the fuck up by next week, or we'll do the same to cracker #2. We email links pointing to our videos to Donahue.



There are many other examples similar to this. Such seem to be the intentions inspired and instigated by one of your professors.

I am curious as to how you view this in light of your mission statement:

"MM attracts and serves a student body, faculty and staff reflective of our multicultural society. The college empowers the campus community to participate fully and thoughtfully in a diverse society, regionally, nationally, and globally."

As a Catholic, I am quite appalled by Dr. Myers incitement to desecrate the highest sacrament of my Church. I have no problem with someone speaking against my faith, arguing against my faith, mocking my faith, and calling me an idiot because of my faith, etc. Such things are part of a free and open society, and Dr. Myers has done much to contribute in just this way to public discussion concerning religious matters.

Fomenting a conspiracy by which people are encouraged to enter a Catholic Church under false pretenses, with contempt for the rules concerning reception of Communion, all with the intent of performing a public act of desecration, is a different matter entirely. It is quite hard to imagine that an equivalent act performed against some other group (Jews, Muslims, blacks, GLBT?) would pass without some sort of disciplinary or preventative action by the University. It is my hope that the same courtesy would be extended to Catholics.

Be that as it may, it would be sufficient for me that Dr. Myers refrain from the threatened act, and publicly ask others to do so, as well, hopefully in a gracious way without further anti-Catholic vitriol regarding this incident. Afterwards, if he wishes to continue to mock and ridicule my faith in the future, I have no problem with that, but, please, no more incitement to desecrate our Sacrament or to enter Catholic churches with the intention of performing bigoted acts of mischief under false pretenses.

My assumption is that you would not want the good name of your University associated with the intolerant activity being incited by Dr. Myers, and I'd be interested to hear your take on it.

Best Regards,

Menlo Park, CA

But He Can't Be A Real Scientist

Here's what the former Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and recipient of NASA’s Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement has to say about ID.

Ignorant creationist.

Good Points


Academic freedom means never having to say you’re sorry, P.Z. Myers thinks

P.Z . Myers’ encouragement of theft and desecration of the Eucharist over at Pharyngula marks a new low point in the Death Valley that is internet atheism.

Myers not only encourages his readers to disrupt religious services, a crime in many U.S. jurisdictions, he endorses using deception with vicious intent to acquire a consecrated Host.

Every priest, deacon, and extraordinary minister of the Eucharist presumes in good faith that those who present themselves to receive Holy Communion are Catholics in a state of grace. Myers carelessly sows distrust among those who have done him no harm.

His dishonesty calls into question his dedication to truthful inquiry. Academic freedom ends where blatant mendacity begins.

His deception also renders untrustworthy any of his complaints about “death threats.” Even if he is receiving angry threats from seventeen-year-old zealots and albino Opus Dei monks, it is not a stretch to believe that some of his readers, having absorbed Myers' lesson that deception is noble in the service of their cause, are penning their own hoax missives in hopes of stoking the controversy.

It is doubtful Myers will post any Catholic’s intelligent, well-written reply. It is a cheap trick of bloggers and newspaper columnists to take outrageous and indefensible stands and then report only the most outrageous responses from their most illiterate critics. This makes the original writer appear to be the voice of reason in the eyes of his own naïve supporters.

This is a lucrative tactic if one is paid on the basis of internet traffic.

This is not, however, a method productive of worthwhile public debate.

Not that there is reason to believe Myers thinks his atheism needs to be presented for public debate. Otherwise he would not be endorsing such Propaganda of the Deed.

He has lost his sympathy for his religious opponents, which is why he is so vile to them. This is to be expected, since he sneers at the Man who said "Love your enemies..."

But let’s imagine an analogous situation that might prick what’s left of Myers’ conscience. Say there is a nationwide chain of public reading libraries which freely make available to the public cheap copies of Darwin’s Origin of the Species and Myers’ friend Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. The library’s only caveats are that the books must be treated with respect and may leave the library only rarely and not without the authorization of the librarian.

Along comes Enoch Emery of the Church of Christ without Christ, whose blog reaches thousands of readers each day. Emery incites his enthusiasts to enter the library and hide a free copy on their person. “After smuggling it out,” he has ordered them, “burn it on YouTube while shouting claims that Darwin and Dawkins are Nazis who have no place in good society! Or send them to me at my office, and I'll do it for you!”

(Come to think of it: will Myers be accepting stolen Hosts mailed to his university office address on the grounds of academic freedom?)

Surely Myers cannot claim outrage would be unjustified at such an incident. Surely he would not see limited restraining force from the library staff as a just means to keep the library open and functioning.

Because of Enoch Emery’s fanatics, the library has to clamp down. Even though the economic costs of what is lost are nominal, the intangible costs are great.

Rather than focus on their own reading, the staff must scrutinize new visitors. Anyone who resembles an Emeryite falls under suspicion of the staff. Every time a book is successfully burned, the staff become more and more hostile to outsiders. Library patrons inundate Emery with complaints.

Suppose further this Enoch Emery then claims that such hostility, which he and his allies have encouraged, is further justification for more book burnings.

Is this bit of imaginative sympathy beyond Professor Myers? I am not calling for Myers to be fired. Unlike Francis Beckwith, however, I think his university colleagues and his superiors at the University of Minnesota Morris and need to rebuke him, with disciplinary action if necessary.

Myers’ support for public dishonesty is unprofessional and undermines the prerequisites for academic inquiry. His endorsement of disrupting religious services is an unjustified threat to civil peace. Myers needs to be reminded of the standards of society.

His readers sure won't do it for him.

The Principled Speak Up

This is good. By an atheist who doesn't appreciate what the militant ones are about.

Also a good post and discussion at Rod Dreher's blog.

The Man Is An Unprincipled Coward

Desecration? Go for it! Freedom of speech? Uncool. I wonder if any of this has to do with how Muslims react to things vs how Catholics do. Could it be?


Contrast Professor Myers' public treatment of Catholics and their beliefs with his public posture when, over two year ago, Muslims were upset about Danish cartoons published that depicted Muhammed in unflattering ways. He writes:

There are some things a cartoonist would be rightly excoriated for publishing: imagine that one had drawn an African-American figure as thick-lipped, low-browed, smirking clown with a watermelon in one hand and a fried chicken drumstick in the other. Feeding bigotry and flaunting racist stereotypes would be something that would drive me to protest any newspaper that endorsed it—of course, my protests would involve writing letters and canceling subscriptions, not rioting and burning down buildings. There is a genuine social concern here, I think. Muslims represent a poor and oppressed underclass, and those cartoons represent a ruling establishment intentionally taunting them and basically flipping them off. They have cause to be furious!

I've seen the cartoons, and they are crude and uninteresting—they are more about perpetuating stereotypes of Muslims as bomb-throwing terrorists than seriously illuminating a problem. They lack artistic or social or even comedic merit, and are only presented as an insult to inflame a poor minority. I don't have any sympathy for a newspaper carrying out an exercise in pointless provocation.

So on the one hand I see a social problem being mocked, but on the other—and here comes the smug godless finger-wagging—I see a foolish superstition used as a prod to mock people, and a people so muddled by the phony blandishments of religion that they scream "Blasphemy!" and falsely pin the problem on a ridiculous insult to a non-existent god, rather than on the affront to their dignity as human beings and citizens. Religion in this case has accomplished two things, neither one productive: it's distracted people away from the real problems, which have nothing at all to do with the camera-shy nature of their imaginary deity, and it's also amplified the hatred.

In short, Professor Myers did not write "It's Just a Frackin' Cartoon."

Come Clean

Some hard hitting economic commentary.

Action Figure Sold Separately

You know, I saw the following ad on Instapundit, and at first glance, I thought it was a G.I. Joe doll on his miniature helicopter (I had one of those 35 years ago). On closer inspection, I realized I was wrong.

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The Nature Of It

Good post. Excerpt:

Myers, who sometimes makes some intellectually interesting arguments in his little corner of ScienceBlogs, a wonderful website hosting numerous scientific blogs, accomplishes nothing with an attempt to desecrate the Holy Eucharist other than to insult many people and show how bigoted he is. Is this science? Is this planned desecration an experiment? He is asking that someone mail him a consecrated wafer. How will he know that he has the real thing?

"[I will] treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web. I shall do so joyfully and with laughter in my heart."

I have in my mind the image of a small frail women I once saw in a small parish church in England. Dressed in black and wearing a communion shawl over her head, she knelt at the communion rail to receive. "Amen," she said as she struggled to her feet. You could see in her face how meaningful this was. She probably knows little about molecules and atoms and cares nothing about arguments of substance about substance. It is, for her, the body of Christ. It is the moment of receiving the elements that for her is important.

Myers thinks this is mere superstition. He is entitled to this opinion. He is entitled to his belief in scientism, for ultimately that is his philosophy. Myers, who frequently argues intellectually, scientifically and rationally well, now wants to make a point with a stunt to has none of those redeeming qualities whatsoever.

Myers wants to shake the silly woman and explain to her that her belief is "silly superstition." On his blog he repeatedly tries to do this. His attacks on creationism and Intelligent Design and the existence of God have often been formidable and well articulated. But that is not what this is about now. He seems to have lost it, emotionally and intellectually."Okay, woman," he now seems to say. "Since I can't convince you I will trample on your holy bread, on your holy moment, on your faith."

It is a hurtful act.

I'm an Episcopalian. I don't believe in transubstantiation in the sense that there is a change in the substance of the bread. But the word substance, in this sense is a theological term and not a scientific one. For me the bread is the body of Christ and the wine is the blood of Christ. It is not about chemistry or physics. Nor is it about magic. The consecration by the priest and the acceptance by me is a shared moment in communion with God and God's people. That makes it sacred. That makes it holy. That makes it substantive. That gives it substance. Without that sharing, and the belief it entails, it can not be desecrated. But that is my personal point of view. For others, for the woman dressed in black wearing a communion shawl, it is mean-spirited, hateful desecration.

The Buddhas of Bamyan in Afghanistan may not have been a god or a godly person in an incarnate sense, but the destruction of them by the Taliban was nonetheless a desecration. A purposeful mistreatment of a consecrated communion wafer , regardless of one's belief about presence or substance, "with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented . . . on the web . . . joyfully and with laughter in my heart" is a desecration. It is no less a desecration than the desecration of a Buddha, a church or a temple.

Not all white people are white supremacists. But sometimes because of arrogance, sometimes because of a sense of inadequacy, sometimes because of a sense of feeling threatened and sometimes because of utter ignorance, a few white people become white supremacists. We find some of the same seeds in anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny and radical religious fundamentalism. Often, these bigotries lead to hate crimes.

Sullivan said: "Myers' rant is the rant of an anti-Catholic bigot. And atheists and agnostics can be bigots too."

No, it is more. First of all, it is anti-Christian, not only anti-Catholic. But when a capable scientist, a biology professor, an able critic of creationism and Intelligent Design (and I agree with him on this) abandons all reason and even meaningful demonstration and resorts to a senseless act he goes beyond bigotry.

The term Atheist Supremacist comes to mind and a reading of Myers' more recent postings to his blog seems to support this...

In Sharp Contrast To The Barbarian Hordes

A quick look at P.Z. Myers blog and its comments is sufficient to show what a cesspool of irrationality and vicious yes-man hyena-pack thinking it is (in fact, any single person at Myers blog who politely disagrees in any way with what Myers or the pack are expressing is dismissed as a "concern troll", whatever the heck that is). In sharp contrast is Uncommon Descent, where the following discussion among gentlemen is occuring. Dave Scot posts:

What do Design Detection and Nazis Have in Common?

Perhaps someone can explain to me what the science of design detection has to do with Nazis, the Holocaust, or Hitler.

I sure can’t think of anything. Help me out here.

It’s things like this that undermine ruin the effort to get ID accepted as good science. It gives our critics the ammunition they need to convince people that ID is nothing more than a tool being used to promote social reform.

Science has left the building once the Nazi card gets played. As far as science is concerned it doesn’t matter if Hitler and Darwin were the same person. The only thing that matters is whether his theories can stand up to scientific scrutiny.

It’s a crying shame that people just can’t seem to drop this obsession with Darwin and Nazis. If we can stick to the science we can win this thing. Evolution solely by unintelligent causes doesn’t have a leg to stand on when put under the microscope of math & physics. The only legs it has are the ones we intelligent design proponents give it when we wander off the reservation of science and reason and start waving our hands in the air shouting that Darwinism is evil, Darwin led to the holocaust, and Darwin is killing God. Those are not scientific arguments, they never will be scientific arguments, and if we keep doing it we’re never going to get ID accepted as scientific argument. Period. End of story. Keep it up at your own peril and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

An excellent, well argued, civil discussion filled with plenty of polite disagreement ensues. Here's one post in the comments:


Each time this subject comes up, the rudimentary issue is never discussed. In fact, if Darwinism is pure science, then the attempt to link Darwin to Hitler is misguided and unfair. If, on the other hand, Darwinism is part science and part metaphysics posing as science, then the link is reasonable and fair. We do know that “social Darwinism” clearly did play a role in eugenics, and we also know that social Darwinism is not pure science. So the real question is this: is Darwinism pure science and therefore immune from the present charge being made against it.

For my part, Darwinism is not pure science. What is important about it is false (mind arose from matter) and what is true about it is trivial (things change and adapt). The former is a metaphysical formulation and the latter is a scientific observation. In fact, Darwinists are peddling metaphysics as science, and that is why they impose so many metaphysical rules on non-Darwinists, including the intrusive and arbitrary rule of methodological naturalism. So, if Darwinists will abandon their philosophical materialism, which, by definition devalues life, then I will suspend my charges concerning their inhumanity to man.

By the way, this is one reason why it is important to discuss philosophy as well as science on this blog. Like it or not, ID and Darwinism take us to the intersection of science and theology/philosophy. The idea that the two disciplines ought not to be discussed in the same context is a carry over from the Kantian split from years ago. Those three subjects (theology, philosophy, and science) are distinct, but related. They overlap in important ways. Any attempt to draw a hard line of demarcation reveals a naïve conception of history and ignorance about how one subject relates to another. Indeed, that is the problem. Many among us think of science as the highest form of knowledge, and treat its subject matter as if was a single little bottle on a shelf. Both assumptions are false and naïve. In fact, science is but one part of a hierarchical network of knowable subjects, each of which influences and illuminates the other.

And another:

I think it misses the point to not keep things in context. When was the last time Christians murdered people for nothing more than expediency?

The latest I’m coming up with is the exploration of the New World — or I guess the persecution of the Puritans by the Church of England — and some of that is iffy as to the “Christian” motivations. Even granting that — it’s 300-500 years in the past.

We are talking about entire countries who until 20-30 years ago [some still are] systematically followed[ing] Kant, Hume, Hegel, Marx, etc.; who scientifically applied the latest and greatest technology, the latest and greatest understanding of Psychology.

And it ended in one bloodbath after another. No exceptions.

and another:

bravo to Dave, I concur completely.

Like him I am sick to death of this Darwin=Hitler conceit, as Dave has pointed out before it has no relevance to the science either for or against both ID and neo-Darwininism. However more to the point (and Dave has mentioned this before as well) the other side has at least as much ammunition to use against theists of all stripes and all denominations when it comes to the abuse of ideas in fuelling racism, fascism and outright genocide, heck if anything they have more ammunition in this regard. It is much worse than the usual oft-repeated litany of Inquisition/Crusades, much much worse if truth be told.

As an IDist myself, I find this relatively recent excessive blaring of Hitler=Darwin posture, not only unfortunate and counter-productive but the most negative of anything bearing on ID as a cultural/sociological “phenomenon” (for lack of a better word). In fact I would go so far as saying that future historians of science who may even be sympathetic to ID or at least neutral, will rightly see this “culture war” aspect of ID as a black mark on our side. I know I do, and let me stress, this Darwin leads to Hitler blather wins us no friends among the neutral fence-sitters out there who are undecided as far as the controversy of evolution is concerned, in fact it will only turn many otherwise thoughtful people away from ID, and without them being bothered to look at our actual scientific arguments. In other words it is tremendously counter-productive.

The rest is of like manner both pro and con.

See also this excellent post.

It's obvious to me. Between the raving atheists and the theists, it's all over but the (atheist) shouting. Shouting that will last until the end of time.

Photo Toning

I've learned quite a bit in recent days about how to "tone" a photo, with the goal being "density", nice colors, and a harmonious blend of light and dark without being cartoonish or artificially contrasty. Here's my latest attempt:

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Big version here.

Incidentally, the photo was toned from this version, which is what I got out of my "tone-mapping" software to increase the dynamic range. Here's what that looked like:

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And the image with no special processing of any kind (which doesn't do justice to how the scene looked in person, unlike the first one above):

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Institution Of Science Is Going To Keep Losing Prestige

Richard Dawkins holds the Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He has chimed in on the Myers affair:

Readers of yesterday's thread "It's a Goddamned Cracker" will be aware of somebody called Bill Donohue, whose grasp of reality is so poor that he can't tell the difference between a wafer and Jesus. The shrieking hysteria of Donohue and other Roman Catholics over the temporary removal of a communion wafer from a church service epitomizes all that is ridiculous in the religious mind.

Now, how can institutional science hold forth this guy as one of its greatest spokesman, and then claim that its far-from-settled "theories" of origins are no threat to religion, and that it is free from metaphysical/religious bias when it evaluate scientific evidence? This sham is wearing mighty thin, and the Myers debacle has certainly accelerated the process. The proposition that only theists bring a bias to their science is now completely anti-empirical, and absurd in the extreme. Just how stupid do the Science! poindexters think the rest of us are?

Self-Consistent Definitions

From the comments here:

Stefan Molyneux on what is a Christian...

"Someone who believes that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever, if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree."


BenYachov replies

What is an Atheist?

A set of biochemical reactions with a deterministic outcome whose specific configurations cause it to be without a "belief" in a "Zombie Jew" that faults other biochemical reactions with a deterministic outcome whose specific configurations cause it to have a "belief" in the "Zombie Jew".

Sort of like the ocean faulting the wind for blowing instead of sloshing.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Science! Updated

Updating this post.

Here's where this is going. One of Myers fanboy commenters says:

So this is my idea, similar to others in the original thread, but adapted to the current situation.

We all go to Mass and get the consecrated cracker, if we haven't done so already.

We go twice between now and whenever, which should be easy enough (just look up the daily Mass schedule and see if you can't make it before work/class/whatever). We get TWO consecrated crackers.

We post videos to YouTube, in which we desecrate ONE of the crackers (I plan to dip mine in gin and set it on fire for for visual effect). We tell Donahue to shut the fuck up by next week, or we'll do the same to cracker #2. We email links pointing to our videos to Donahue.


A Much Better Way To View Flickr Photos

I just discovered something called Flickriver. It displays flickr photos in a nice large size against a black background, only loading the next photos as you scroll down. I've had some pretty good shots lately. You can view them here.

Or, Flickriver let's you embed a scrollable gallery:

I like it!


Mark Shea says this:

PZ Myers Really is a Sick Puppy

I wonder how long the University of Minnesota will continue to subsidize a guy who is supposed to be teaching science but who has somehow made it his life's mission to go around slapping total strangers in the face in demented rage at somebody he insists is not even there.

The guy's a bag lady screaming at the traffic--on the Minnesota taxpayer's dime. Tell me again what the hell any of this has to do with science?

about this:

Paul Zachary Myers, a professor at the University of Minnesota Morris, has pledged to desecrate the Eucharist. He is responding to what happened recently at the University of Central Florida when a student walked out of Mass with the Host, holding it hostage for several days. Myers was angry at the Catholic League for criticizing the student. His post can be accessed from his faculty page on the university’s website.

Here is an excerpt of his July 8 post, “It’s a Frackin’ Cracker!”:

“Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers?” Myers continued by saying, “if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won’t be tempted to hold it hostage (no, not even if I have a choice between returning the Eucharist and watching Bill Donohue kick the pope in the balls, which would apparently be a more humane act than desecrating a goddamned cracker), but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web.”

Catholic League president Bill Donohue responded as follows:

“The Myers blog can be accessed from the university’s website. The university has a policy statement on this issue which says that the ‘Contents of all electronic pages must be consistent with University of Minnesota policies, local, state and federal laws.’ One of the school’s policies, ‘Code of Conduct,’ says that ‘When dealing with others,’ faculty et al. must be ‘respectful, fair and civil.’ Accordingly, we are contacting the President and the Board of Regents to see what they are going to do about this matter. Because the university is a state institution, we are also contacting the Minnesota legislature.

“It is hard to think of anything more vile than to intentionally desecrate the Body of Christ. We look to those who have oversight responsibility to act quickly and decisively.”

And P.Z.'s fan club is all hepped up about commiting sacrilege with him.

I figured at some point the Darwinists would crack into full-blown, self-defeating psychosis...

UPDATE: Here's where this is going. One of Myers fanboy commenters says:

So this is my idea, similar to others in the original thread, but adapted to the current situation.

We all go to Mass and get the consecrated cracker, if we haven't done so already.

We go twice between now and whenever, which should be easy enough (just look up the daily Mass schedule and see if you can't make it before work/class/whatever). We get TWO consecrated crackers.

We post videos to YouTube, in which we desecrate ONE of the crackers (I plan to dip mine in gin and set it on fire for for visual effect). We tell Donahue to shut the fuck up by next week, or we'll do the same to cracker #2. We email links pointing to our videos to Donahue.


Atheists can be such blithering idiots. Lord have mercy.

Bad News: They Are Covering Up His Radical Record. Good News: They Need To.

Hugh Hewitt:

Camouflaging Obama

In his very brief United States Senate career, Barack Obama was at the far left edge of his party. The non-partisan and widely respected National Journal rated him the most liberal member of the United States Senate in 2007.

In his brief state senate career in Illinois, Barack Obama was at the left edge of Illinois politics.

In his primary challenge to Congressman Bobby Rush he did not run as a centrist alternative to Rush, but as a younger, more energetic version of the left-wing Congressman.

His first memoir, Dreams of My Father, has only the sort of left-wing critiques of society and government that one would expect from a "community organizer," and the cases he brought as a young lawyer were the sort that left wing public interest lawyers bring.

In the Democratic primaries, Obama to the left of Clinton, successfully flanking her on the war and the FISA bill which he pledged to filibuster. It was easy for Obama to do because that was his genuine self --a man of the left, uninterested in any of the bipartisan causes championed by the handful of centrist Democrats, such as the Gang of 14 deal.

Obama's the real deal --a genuine radical, who sat comfortably in Jeremiah Wright's church for 20 years and served alongside of radical Bill Ayers on a board and opened his state senate campaign in the home of Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn.

So it is quite amusing to see the Washington Post this morning announce in a headline: "Obama's Ideology Proving Difficult to Pinpoint," the start of the least artful bit of political camouflage work I have seen in many years.

Only a MSM reporter has troubling pinpointing Obama's ideology. Obama's for sharply raising taxes and for massive increases in spending. He favors immediate retreat in Iraq and wants to parlay without preconditions with Ahmadinejad and Chavez. Obama supports the abortion on demand in every situation, and thinks Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the two most liberal members of the Supreme Court, the model for future SCOTUS appointees. Obama endorsed the D.C. gun ban that was struck down by the Supreme Court and Ibama endorsed the Court's decision conferring habeas rights on the Gitmo detainees. On immigration, Obama worked to undermine the flawed compromise of last year because the amnesty it offered was in his view not far reaching enough. Until this week he opposed the effort to extend the surveillance authority of the U.S..

Obama strongly supports same-sex marriage, and opposes the California amendment to restore the definition of marriage and rebuke the California Supreme Court's usurpation of the people's authority to define such a basic right, in a stroke putting himself on the far left edge of the crucial debates on marriage and the role of the judiciary. On Monday he lectured parents on their need to teach their children Spanish and announced himself embarrassed by the inability of Americans to speak foreign languages, an echo of the anti-American rhetoric employed by Michelle Obama on many occasions during her campaigning for her husband.

Obama bluntly declared rural people bitter, and dependent on guns and God for meaning in their lives, and served notice that we have to stop using our SUVs and generally lower our standard of living because we consume too much energy.

In the space of 24 hours he declared that an undivided Jerusalem would be the capital of Israel and then reversed himself after receiving criticism from Palestinian sympathizers.

In a radical break from past practice and his own promises, Obama has abandoned public financing of presidential elections, and his commitment to debate John McCain anytime and anywhere has been thrown overboard as well as his weakness away from a teleprompter became apparent.

Obama opposes increasing domestic exploration for oil on the outer continental shelf, and wants to "save" social security by dramatically increasing the tax burden on the highest earners without increasing even the illusion of the benefits they would receive.

By any fair measure, Barack Obama is quite obviously the most radical major party presidential candidate in history. Only the Washington Post and other accomplices in the MSM could fail to figure that out because either (1) they are so dazzled by empty rhetoric, or, as is much more likely (2) they wish to assist Obama in the deception that his campaign has become in the last month in order to elect a candidate who would be rendered unelectable if the public was aware of how far outside the mainstream he really was.

It might work, but it is encouraging to know that the left in the Democratic Party and the MSM still thoroughly understands it cannot win elections in America if it advertises what it truly believes fully and openly.

Fisking Elitism

Lileks takes on two targets today.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Much Dimmer Than Dan Quayle


Also, video here.

That's right, Obama. Insult Americans. Tell us we need to be more like Europeans. Pure genius.

The Anchoress skewers him here.

The Four Freedoms

How daring. How transgressive. Ably mocked by Ann Althouse who says:

In the mall at least, the artists’ instincts seemed to be borne out. In an hour and a half, more than 100 people walked by the exhibit. Only 8 stopped to look.

Oh, my lord, the people really are complacent about freedom! They continued going about their business despite the presence of giant crappy posters!

Apparently, the NYT has not heard of some of the less-frequently-invoked American freedoms: the freedom to ignore propaganda, the freedom to avert your eyes from artists who scream for attention, the freedom to shop without genuflecting at sanctimonious criticism of your country, and the freedom to loathe hideous art.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Well Stated

Glenn Reynolds:

WORST CONGRESS EVER: "Remember when only 14% approved of the job Congress is doing? A year later, only 9% do." The Pelosi/Reid leadership team is taking Congress places it's never been before!

UPDATE: So why are the Republicans running scared, and why aren't they going after the "new Democratic Congress" hammer-and-tongs? Beats me. Because they're idiots, I guess.

Hit Him Hard!

The RNC has actually put out quite a devastating ad against Obama. See it here.

Good Quote

Jonah Goldberg via Instapundit:

JONAH GOLDBERG: "The story of the South's sloughing off of racism and its movement into the GOP fold, is one of the most egregiously under-told and distorted tales of modern political history. . . . The bigotry aimed at the South never ceases to amaze me. Indeed, it is astounding to me how the left tells us we need to understand the nuance of, say, the Jihadi mind in all of its shades of gray, but when it comes to the voting habits of law-abiding white North Carolinians all you need to know is that if a white hand pulls a lever for a Republican politician, that hand must be attached to a racist."

Monday, July 07, 2008

Trajan Is The Movie Font

Well done. Brian also notices some other overused fonts.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Other Than That, What More Could You Ask For?

Hugh Hewitt:

Here's the core of Obama:

He's hard left.

He wants the marginal rate on total federal taxes, including his social security tax hike, to immediately rise at least 57% on the highest earners. Obama wants to raise taxes even in a weak economy, though this is a recipe not just for recession but worse. Obama also wants to raise taxes on dividend income and to return the death tax to its highs of eight years ago.

Obama has proposed more than a trillion dollars in new spending.

Obama wants to cut and run from Iraq, with withdrawals of crucial forces beginning immediately upon his entry into office. Obama has never met one on one with General Petraeus and has not been to Iraq in more than 900 days. He is indifferent to the incredible progress made by our troops and the Iraqi Defense Forces and the Iraqi government in the last 18 months.

He supports the decision extending habeas rights to Gitmo detainees and he thinks the most liberal member of the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is a great model for future Supreme Court appointments.

Obama supports gay marriage, and opposes the California constitutional amendment to restore marriage to the definition overturned by a 4-3 vote of the California Supreme Court in May. He supports abortion on demand, including partial birth abortion.

Obama has the slightest grasp on history, and routinely makes the sort of errors about basic facts that shock knowledgeable observers, like arguing the Kennedy-Khrushchev summit in Vienna was an example of the benefits of one-on-one diplomacy.

Obama is not a strong friend of Israel. He spent 20 years in a church that was openly hostile to Israel, and he reversed himself on Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel after one day of criticism by Palestinians.

Obama is running a dirty campaign, and the serial assaults on John McCain's service, most visibly by Wesley Clark but by many others closely associated with Obama, is repulsive. These are not hits by independent 527s but by close associates and advisors of Obama.

Michelle Obama's campaign rhetoric has been very divisive, is full of anger and resentment about "moving the bar," and not being proud of the country, and has led to her high negatives with the public.

Obama's close friends, mentors and associates are deeply troubling: the radical pastor Jeremiah Wright, the unrepentant terrorists William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, the convicted swindler Tony Rezko, and now a long line of "public housing developers" who took the money and failed to deliver on promises of safe and secure housing for Obama's poorest constituents.

Obama's judgment on key appointees is suspect, and he has had to fire the head of his vice presidential search team because of ties to the subprime mess and dump numerous "foreign policy advisors" for their hostility to Israel.

Obama's deal with the Teamsters to end federal oversight of the union smells very bad indeed and telegraphs the sort of cronyism we could expect from an Obama Adminsitration.

Obama, like the other leaders of the Triple D Democrats --the Don't Drill Democrats-- doesn't care about the price of gas, and refuses every initiative to increase supply and thus bring that price down.

Obama has broken his word on his commitment to public financing of the campaign and to meet John McCain in frequent debates. Obama can't be trusted to keep even high-profile promises he made even only weeks ago.

Away from a teleprompter Obama stumbles and stutters and lapses into a closed circle of cliches that betrays almost no reading or curiosity about the world around him,and a massive ignorance of the war in which we find ourselves. Even when he works from a prompter he says nothing at great length with wonder phrasing but zero substance.

His crowds are enormous and his coffers overflowing, the products of a highly energized and vitriolic left that expects --believes it will be owed, in fact-- the spoils of the election. If Obama wins, the sharpest lurch left in American history is ahead of us.

Barack Obama is not only the most radical nominee of a major American political party in history, he is also the least prepared and the least informed. He has spent less than four years inside of the United States Senate, and much of those years have been spent away from his job and away from the capital he wants to lead. But he is protected and his campaign nurtured by a MSM that swooned for him long ago. The prolonged and serious scrutiny of his background and his proposals will not be forthcoming in any consistent way between now and November.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Dropping The Fig Leaf


Barack Obama has reversed himself yet again, but this time he has done a double backflip with a half-twist to the Left. After previously saying he opposed gay marriage and that he respected the rights of states to set conditions for marriage, Obama has now said that he opposes California’s initiative to ban gay marriage — and that he would use federal law to end such efforts:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who previously said the issue of gay marriage should be left up to each state, has announced his opposition to a California ballot measure that would ban same-sex marriages.

In a letter to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club read Sunday at the group’s annual Pride Breakfast in San Francisco, the Illinois senator said he supports extending “fully equal rights and benefits to same-sex couples under both state and federal law.”

“And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states,” Obama wrote.

Obama had previously said he opposes same-sex marriage but that each state should make its own decision.

His letter to the Alice B. Toklas GLBT Democratic Club will effectively toss traditional marriage under the same bus as his opposition to FISA reform and his pledge for public financing. However, his allies on the Left will enjoy the reversal on this position much more than they did with his other flip-flops, even if they have to wonder how long this new position will last.

Once again, voters have to ask themselves what Obama is thinking. I’m no big fan of the gay-marriage ban, but we’re getting past the point of the issues themselves and what all of these reversals mean about the candidate. There are only three possibilities for why Barack Obama has had to change his mind on almost every policy he has mentioned in this campaign:

1. He’s a liar who says what each audience wants to hear.
2. The election debate has changed his perspective on every issue.
3. He has no clue on any of the issues.

Only the second reflects any positive quality, that of open-mindedness, but it also carries with it the underlying unreadiness of a man who has only three years of national political experience for the Presidency. Assuming the best of intentions, Obama has no firm stands on any principle or policy. That doesn’t even recommend Obama as a Senator, let alone a President. If option 2 is the case, he needs to set out this election while he makes up his mind.

The most disturbing aspect of this new reversal is Obama’s sudden abandonment of federalism. What happened to letting California decide on the public recognition of marriage? This twist reveals a little more of what we can expect from a President Obama — a further aggrandizing of power in Washington DC and a reduction of the scope of authority for state and local communities.

Rumor has Team Obama bolstering its outreach to evangelicals. How long before this reversal gets reversed?