Wednesday, September 28, 2005

For Great Justice!!!!!

Does it make me a bad man to say that when the Washington Post email alert I got this afternoon stating the House Majority Leader was indicted on conspiracy charges that I let out a hearty "WOOHOO!!!"?
If you've been reading Andrew Sullivan regularly, like me, you know the Republican revolution engineered by Gingrich back in '94 has been dead for quite a while. The GOP is as rife with corruption and incompetence as the Dems were back in the day. The difference though this time, and it's a cause for concern is that the Dems have yet to recover from their losses in '94, so while voters may vote some of these bums out next year, I don't know if we'll end up in any better shape.
As I get older, I appreciate Reagan's quote "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem" more.

The Age of Ignorance

You know I thought this was all settled way back in 1925. No, first Kansas and now Pennsylvania have become new battlegrounds for a battle that was supposed to have been over 80 years ago. (Did somebody forgot to tell the Creationists they lost?)
You would think in this brand new Internet Age with more information that we could possibly need at our fingertips, people (especially journalists) would be more informed. You would be wrong. Why, because with just a little digging, or a little Googling, you'd see that that all this fire and brimstone about Intelligent Design being a competing scientific theory to the Theory of Evolution is circumspect at best.
There are two points that, if people would bother to inform themselves about, would clarify why ID is not Evolution's equal and why it may never be. First, is the semantics of the term "theory." A scientific theory is result of thoroughly and rigorously testing a hypothesis and has the weight of other scientists scrutiny and testable results as facts and evidence to back it up. A theory, in common parlance, is unproven speculation. (Though a quick look at a dictionary, or, reveals that most of the definitions of theory relate to the scientific meaning.)
If you'll notice, most of the proponents of ID are very quick to use the latter meaning of theory when discussing the Theory of Evolution, and they cite gaps in the fossil record or some still unexplained aspects as proof that the Theory of Evolution is nothing more than unproven speculation.
Which is, frankly, bullshit. Starting with Darwin, the Theory of Evolution has been around for well over 100 years and has at least that many years of tests, experiments and evidence supporting it's basic premises and presumptions. I'm not a scientist, (but I play one on TV) but, I'm pretty sure that if after a century or more, if the Theory had flaws in it, it wouldn't have survived lo these many years. Science and medicine would certainly not be at the level it is today, if the Theory was fundamentally flawed.
Second, if you look at the theory of Intelligent Design, it's only a theory in the common sense, not in the scientific sense. Applying the scientific method to Intelligent Design has not yielded a positive consensus in the scientific community, mainly because ID is untestable. If you can't apply the scientific method to support your hypothesis, it can't become a scientific theory. That's one of the core principles of Science, and the way science and technology have changed the world in the past 100 years is testament to its soundness. Or if you like, a proven assumption to work from. Or how about: the scientific method works, that's a fact.
But proponents of ID just want to use the common usage of theory because on that level their argument works better. To use a legal analogy, (I'm not a lawyer, but I did stay at Holiday Inn Express last night) it's like pursuing a civil case instead of a criminal case for murder. In a civil case the standards are lower, you just need a preponderance of evidence instead of proving beyond a resonable doubt. Though, IMNSHO, Evolution wins on both standards.
Unfortunately, I'm not on the jury in Dover, PA hearing this case, and if this poll is accurate, it might go either way and that's depressing to think about.
Anyway, I've rambled long enough on this, and I barely touched on the religious and political angles, Maybe next time.
In the meantime check out this link for more on the ID/Evolution "debate." And the Inquirer has been tracking the trial in Dover, PA, now in it's 3rd day, so check there too.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


So, I've been trying to gather up enough steam to write something about this whole Katrina mess. But, all I really have is just my rambling incoherent voice to add to the chorus of those who are pissed off and angry about the failure of our government, at all levels, to provide for one of its most basic services: providing for the common defense.
I'd go through the list but, it's easier just to link to Andrew Sullivan, who has already put in the work of finding out why we should be upset with our elected officials. (Even more than usual.) Be sure to read the whole thing, and you'll know where I'm coming from.
My good friend Jonathan has lived in New Orleans after moving down there quite a few years ago. If you know Jonathan, you know New Orleans fits him like a ruffled shirt or velvet smoking jacket or leather pants. So, as news of Katrina started breaking two weeks ago, naturally, my wife and I worried for his safety. Fortunately, heeding the warnings, Jonathan emailed us from the safety of his father's house in Dallas on the Monday the storm hit. He was safe, sound, weary from an 8 hour drive that took an extra 12 hours to complete, and had little more with him than the clothes he was wearing and two small bags.
But he was safe and out of potential danger, and we figured, at the time, that while he might have to stay in Dallas for maybe a week at most, he'd be able to get on his life back in New Orleans. But, that was on Monday, by Wednesday we all knew that Jonathan, like most New Orleaneans, probably won't be able to go back for months, if at all. Katrina was both a natural and man-made disaster of the highest order. A number of factors over quite a number of years contributed to this state of affairs, but the end result is an US city had to be completely evacuated because they were essentially unprepared. And this is post-9/11. Post W's quote to Ashcroft "I want you to make sure this never happens again."
Some have or will say, that I really shouldn't be so surprised, and I'll tell you why I still am. This is the first time that I can recall when a lot of shit has hit the fan and the country didn't get the job done. Regardless of their politics and whether or not you like them, politicians, when faced with a disaster or crisis of this magnitude, natural or man-made are supposed to suspend politics as usual to save the lives of their fellow American citizens, even if all they do is suspend the bureaucratic process so the right people can get things done. That people should be fired is a given, and in any other industry, or business, and under any other President the only question we'd be asking is when.
From what I remember prior to being Governor of Texas George W. Bush owned, or partially owned the Texas Rangers and ran an oil company. In 2000, the spin was that then Gov. Bush would parlay his business experience to the Presidency and bring the corporate mentality and M.O. to the good of the country. Unfortunately, the Texas Rangers and the oil company were not very sucessful under W's stewardship, so that was one more reason to not vote for him.
But, in hindsight, I guess his success and calm leadership in the wake of 9/11 was more of a reflection of Guiliani, and NYC than of George's federal leadership. And as many having been saying, Hurricane Katrina has exposed the soft, rotten underbelly of incompetence and croneyism of this Administration.
And it's little comfort now to the people of New Orleans and Mississippi, but I'm quite sure that W's legacy will talk about squandered opportunities and breaking government. Worst. President. Evar? Don't know about that, but he might rank up there. Say what you will about all the Presidents since JFK, but again I'm pretty sure that even Carter would have done a better job than W has done, especially, since since it was the cornerstone of his re-election campaign. A safer America, or something like that.
Hopefully, this is a watershed event for positive change, because I don't want to think about the other direction. I don't harbor anymore illusions about changing the system, but hopefully this will be a wakeup call for some people that we need at the very least competent and responsible people in government at all levels to balance out the ones who aren't so that in times of crisis, government can perform its most basic functions as laid out in the Constitution.
I mean really, is that so much to ask?
Oh, I'm sure most of you have already done this, because in times like this Americans are the most selfless and giving people in the world, but be sure to donate something to the relief effort, clothes, money, food, whatever.
I got this link to good charitable organizations from Erica, so if you haven't donated, check that out first to make sure you're giving your money, food, clothes, whatever to the right people who'll actually help Katrina survivors.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Mix Bag

It's been a long time since I last posted so here are some thoughts on things that have happened in the recent past. More recent stuff to follow.

London Bombing: Feel free to disagree, but anyone who still thinks that Islamism is not a threat to our way of life is, at best, naive. Diplomacy and negotiations only work when the other side desires peace. Islamists don't desire peace, they desire control. The same old totalitarianism and fascism under a new guise. Just because you think that by understanding them, and where their hatred stems from, you can address some of their grievances, doesn't mean they won't kill you if given the chance. My biggest complaint, however, is how the current administration has squandered and blundered their way since 9/11, stubbornly refusing to admit mistakes and making things harder than they really need to be. I agree with the ends, but totally disagree on the means.

Supreme Court: Oh boy. Sandra Day O'Connor retires after a curious end of term that saw them make a really misguided judgement. Does anyone really think that Court ruled correctly on eminent domain this past term? And Rehnquist is still ailing, and probably should retire. And Bush is still saying he wants to appoint a strict constructionist to the court, though I think he really wants a conservative, like Scalia or Thomas. If Rehnquist retires, he might get one, and I'd be fine with that, so long as he appoints a moderate as well. But, I'm guessing the potential hearings will be contentious regardless. The conservative leadership is just salivating at the prospect of putting someone on the court who overturn Roe v. Wade. Though, I'm hoping that whoever they appoint turns out to be less conservative than they thought. Anyway, I'd say stay tuned for the relentless media assault, but since I'm sure the MSM will regard the hearings as less interesting than an eccentric, hasbeen, pedophile celebrity being sued by a sleazy, opportunistic family, we won't get the media onslaught.

Karl Rove and Valerie Plame: I'm interested to see if they manage to make anything stick to Teflon Karl. Though, judging by this, Bush might be willing to sacrifice Karl, since he's already done his job for Bush, getting him re-elected, though I'm sure Bush will honor Karl somehow for "his years of dedicated service to the country." We'll see.

Rick Santorum is still an ass, and I can't wait for Nov. '06 to vote out that self-righteous, fundamentalist prick. Hopefully, this will be Rick's ultimate legacy. Is that wrong? ;)

Michael Jackson trial : Why was this news again? Oh, right, because he was famous once upon a time. I guess the need to fill air time is and make sure the bottom line is black is the reason we are inundated with the inane ramblings and foibles of an entire class of people who believe their voice carries weight because they are paid inordinate amounts of money to sing, dance, act or play a sport.

Judge Roberts: It's early still, but juding from the political spam I'm getting from the right and the left urging me to tell my Senators to block this nomination, means that George might have actually picked a reasonable man for the Court. Which is certainly not a bad thing, the fact that so many on the left and right are upset that Judge Roberts might actually take the time to weigh and seriously consider the issues brought before him in the role as a Supreme Court justice tells me his vote, while I may or may not agree, will have been arrived at in a reasoned manner. And that's all I really hope for in a SCOTUS Justice, someone who takes the weight of the office seriously and carefully measures and reasons for justice. Most of the times I think the Rehnquist Court has made decent decisions, most of the time. I still don't know where that imminent domain ruling came from. Hopefully, a later court will reverse that decision.