June 9, 2013
The Disabling Danger of Datagate
I agree with most commentators of the Right that the program initiated by the National Security Agency some time ago -- scooping up all the "metadata" surrounding phone calls by and to Americans, immigrants, transient residents, and illegals, then trying to match the other end to known terrorists -- was probably constitutional and not necessarily intrusive to ordinary people.
Nevertheless, I have a very strong feeling (I'll make it a prediction) that, strangely enough, this non-scandal will turn out to be the most devastating scandal of the Obama administration:
- It feels very Nixonian.
- It enrages the Left at Barack "You didn't build that" Obama at a time when the Right is already enraged at and mobilized against him, leaving no friendly forces other than a handful of universally despised, Democratic members of Congress and the tuned-out Plantation Media.
- Almost everybody in America now realizes that their very own "metadata" has surely been captured, along with such trivialities as credit-card transactions; this scares the bejesus out of most folks.
- I suspect that a very large percent of those same suddenly awakened citizens believe or suspect that all their phone calls are being recorded and analyzed as well. (This is almost certainly false -- though I would never say absolutely false, considering the current POTUS; but that doesn't stop people thinking that they're phones have been "tapped".)
- The other Obamic scandals -- especially the IRS targeting of conservatives and the potential prosecution of Fox-News reporter James Rosen -- play right into the same fear of intrusion, keyhole listening, tribalism, and a totalitarian Obamunist apparatus that wants to destroy the very concepts of privacy, liberty, and freedom.
- It's incredibly easy for conservative or libertarian Republicans like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY, 100%) and Sillicone Valley technocrat Democrats to demagogue the issue and whip up an absolute firestorm of hysteria, and a deep distrust of the government. (I'm all in favor of the latter but not the former!)
Ergo, I see the NSA scandal twisting out of control, dragging Obama and many of his Donkey-Party allies down into the big muddy, like a crocodile's death spiral.
Keep watching the sties...!
June 6, 2013
The Medved Heresy
Last post of mine, I promised an essay on heresy; now I -- unlike Barack "Skeets" Obama -- am pathologically honest; so here she blows.
(Yes, I know the title sounds like a Robert Ludlum novel.)
A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that Michael Medved and his posse, minions, and groupies have linked hearts and hands with the Discovery Institute [DI]... a pseudoscientific organization whose one and only function is to "prove" that evolution is hooey, and that all species currently extant were specially created by God.
Medved seems convinced that the DI is a "scientific" body; at least, he keeps saying so. And the connection between the talk-show host and the snow-job hoax is no secret; Medved himself announces it proudly on his radio show with great fanfare and frequent repetition.
Needless to say, Medved is yet another former radical liberal Progressivist who was converted to the opposing team by the election of Ronald Reagan. As Romanian playwright Eugène Ionesco said (in an interview in World Press Review, don't recollect the number), "A fanatic can never be convinced but only converted."
Now the DI's mainstay is one Michael Behe, a biochemist and Creationist, though he prefers the term "Intelligent Design." I don't mind; for similar reasons, liberals prefer to be called Progressivists: The euphemism always sounds more scientific and intelligent, if somewhat vague and ill-defined. (As C.S. Lewis might ask, "Progressing towards what?" As I might ask, "Designed by whom?")
Behe pins his entire belief system upon one solitary argument: That he can find occasional "irreducible" complexity in biological systems. That is, Behe hunts through the scientific literature until he finds one tiny element of evolutionary biology that is not yet explained by theory. Then he announces that that element is irreducible; that is, he issues a pronunciamento that since it cannot be explained today, it will never, ever be explained. It's inexplicable!
In that miniscule module that is unexplainable (by Behe), that is where Behe concludes we will find the Intelligent Designer, i.e., God. The thesis is simple:
- Michael Behe cannot fathom how some aspect of evolution could have occurred.
- Thus, nobody can fathom it.
- Thus it's impossible within the scientific framework.
- Therefore, God must have stuck in His thumb and pulled out a miracle... there no other possible explanation.
Then a few months pass, and lo! That very eensy element is thoroughly explicated in some peer-reviewed biology journal. Its complexity is no longer irreducible, since it has just been reduced to a collection of simpler functions and proceeses, and its evolutionary track is described in detail.
At that point, Behe drops his previous counter-argument; and it's off to the races again, discovering yet another, even tinier element that he can claim is irreducible.
By definition, science is always tentative; that is, a scientist should never say, "This is reality," but rather, "This fits the current facts but is subject to change as new data arrives." In every scientific theory, no matter how well founded, there are always tiny areas that cannot be explained today. If that weren't true, it would mean we literally know everything. Therefore, there will always be some aspect of evolutionary theory that Behe can point to and scream, "Irreducible!" It's like unto the fact that in between any two rational numbers -- say, 1.50 and 1.75 -- there is always an infinity of other rational numbers.
But from a theological point of view, this line of argument is fraught with peril. Every time Behe thinks he has found a miniscule irreducible complexity, he has to push the totality of God into that microscopic pinhole. Then when the march of science fills even that in, God is pushed into an even teensier crack.
You see the problem, of course: With each such cycle, God Himself is diminished. Eventually, God becomes so Lilliputian that He vanishes entirely. Therefore, and somewhat perversely, the very act of trying to disprove evolutionary biology itself drives observers to atheism!
But there is an even stronger theological objection to Creationism in general, Beheian, Medvedian, or Steinian: Its central tenet -- that evolution cannot have occurred -- is itself utter heresy. (In fact, it's Gnosticism, as far as I'm concerned.)
How do I mean? The brutal truth is that nobody with even a high-school level of scientific understanding seriously questions the science behind contemporary evolutionary biology. Even Michael Behe accepts the basic premise, that organisms change due to mutations and variations, acted upon by survival of progeny. (He spends all his time trying to find a tiny corner where biologists cannot yet explain the evolutionary changes, so he can point out God, hiding in a microscopic dot somewhere.)
As science, evolutionary biology is settled; so the only potentially valid argument against it is theological, not scientific; indeed, all such arguments reduce to the same Ur-argument: Evolution by variation and natural selection mustn't be true, because it would be so dreadful were it true!
But why would it be dreadful if the creation of our physical bodies could be well explained by non-supernatural processes that are still occurring on the Earth today? Because somebody has convinced the Creationists that either they could believe in evolution, or they could believe in God -- but not both, because they are completely contradictory.
And who told them that whopper? Shocking but true: the atheists themselves!
It's true that many scientists and science popularizers are atheists, and they are very comfortable believing that evolution and God are mortal enemies. These political scientists write books making that very claim, like Richard Dawkins, the God Delusion, Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Stephen Hawking, and Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great.
And the Creationist fools swallow it whole, hook, line, and sinker. The atheists reel them in, knowing that they've landed their ideological opponents on an impossible no-man's land between Scylla and Charybdis, where the Ichthus-fish must either renounce evolutionary theory -- and by consistency, virtually all of Western science -- or must renounce God, and join with the atheists. Not a very satisfying set of options.
(There are also many scientists who see no conflict between Judaism or Christianity on the one hand and the scientific method on the other; for example, Francis Collins, who headed the Human Genome Project, makes a persuasive argument in the Language of God.)
But the dichotomy is entirely in the minds of the Creationists. There is no theological inconsistency between a theistic God and evolutionary theory: A God who is truly omniscient and omnipotent certainly could have, had He so chosen, created a universe that included the physical laws of our own universe, as currently understood by the scientific community. Then, following the Big Bang, the universe would unfold in such a way as to result in galaxies, stars, planets, life, and ultimately, an intelligent being with a moral sense.
No traditional theologian would dispute this as a possibility; if God is "big enough" to create any universe, it seems plausible that He can create the particular universe He wants. To argue otherwise is to say that it's beyond God's reach to initiate a universe in which evolution occurs, without God having to intervene directly every tiny fraction of a nanosecond to keep totality on track. (Another way to put it: Was God too stupid to envision the proper plans in the first place? Does He have to make never-ending course corrections, like a shakey student pilot on his first flight?)
Is that what Michael Medved and Ben Stein believe? That God simply hasn't the brains or the welly to have set up the universe correctly the first time? Because that would indeed be heresy, as I understand it!
At most, Creationists have only one logical point: Maybe God could have created a universe that would, through the workings of the laws of physics, eventually produce beings with a moral code and a conscience; but that doesn't prove that He chose to do so.
Fine, I'll grant that; but thern we must resort to the physical evidence, to see which path He chose; and Michael Behe to the contrary notwithstanding, all the scientific evidence points towards evolution of species, and of new species growing out of the old.
It's both inexplicable and disappointing that so many religious people take the word of their bitterest atheist opponents as gospel!
June 2, 2013
Paging Captain Obvious
And so it came to pass, that the Lords of Intellect at Barack Hussein Obama's White House (soon to open a franchise near you) finally started to grumble that it might be time to make a little more room under the bus for one Eric "Heckuva Job" Holder. What's really funny, though, is how those same wonder boys still manage to add two and two and come up with five. To wit, in regards to the Justice Department spying on the Associated Press:
“The White House is apoplectic about him, and has been for a long time,” said a Democratic former government official who did not want to be identified while talking about friends.
Some advisers to Mr. Obama believe that Mr. Holder does not manage or foresee problems, the former official said. “How hard would it be to anticipate that the A.P. would be unhappy?” the former official said.
Um, maybe because the Battered Girlfriend Media has done everything in its power to cover up Obama's scandals since before he was even inaugurated? If the BGM couldn't be bothered to investigate Fast & Furious -- where dozens of people, ya know, actually died -- why wouldn't Eric Holder assume that they'd do the same when it came to spying on reporters?
Guys and gals of the media, it's about time you assumed responsiblity for this monster that you've created. In case it's never occurred to you, a free press was enshrined in the First Amendment so that it could keep an eye on what the government was doing, holding it accountable for corruption and wrongdoing. But that doesn't work too well when reporters, in the thrall of a cult-of-personality president, look the other way. Obama and his minions understand that, you see, which is why they've been running the White House like the Chicago pols that they are.
Is that really so hard to understand?
June 1, 2013
Hit Me Baby One More Time
I took some flack in my last post for using the term "mainstream media" to describe Barack Obama's freelance staff of spinners, note-takers and stenographers -- also known as "journalists" -- and I must admit, after several news organizations actually took Eric Holder up on his off-the-record offer to do some 'splainin yesterday, I'm now inclined to agree with my naysayers: MSM is definitely a misnomer. From here on in, I'm calling them the Battered Girlfriend Media -- or BGM for short.
I mean, seriously. How else can you describe a bunch of people who covered for Obama through the course of four years and two elections, dutifully diverting everyone's attention away from a lousy economy and a feckless foreign policy with the War on Women and same sex marriage, only to discover that the man's Justice Department was tapping their phone records and looking to jam them up for publishing leaks from inside his administration? And then when he gets caught in the act, they still go running back to hear about how he was under some serious stress, that it was just the one time and how he swears, baby, he'll never smack them around like that again. The situation has all the ingredients of a Lifetime made-for-TV movie event.
Will they ever learn? Probably not. There's a reason abusive boyfriends get away with their abuse. Like any good predator, they know how to spot weakness and exploit it. Eric Holder (and by extension, Obama himself) knows that the media are desperate to forgive them, so they engage in some token groveling to smooth things over. This does not, however, change the balance of power in the relationship -- which means, after a requisite period of time, the abuse will continue. Because that's what abusers do, until something gives them a reason to change.
By attending Holder's little pow-wow, though, the WaPo, the WSJ, the New Yorker and their ilk are doing just the opposite. They're enabling the bad behavior, which guarantees that it'll never stop. Makes you wonder why they didn't start going with a nice guy like Mitt Romney when they had the chance.
Dafydd adds: Henry Rollins wrote a song that so perfectly fits el Presidente and his astonishing relationship with the Plantation Media -- and considering 2012, with the American electorate as well -- that I simply can't resist this YouTube:
May 28, 2013
Few people realize how California's San Joaquin Valley (a.k.a. the "great central valley"), which used to be the breadbasket of the Golden State, has been devastated by one of the most inhuman federal rulings in the nation's history: In 2007, the aptly named Judge Oliver Wanger ruled that in order to protect the tiny Delta smelt, the California Aqueduct must be virtually shut down, causing severe water shortages throughout the southern two-thirds of the state... and especially ravaging the central-valley farmlands. It was a classic case of putting "pristine nature" ahead of mere human beings, with jobs and lives and families to support.
Only a tiny fraction of previously contracted water has been allowed to flow down from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta into inland and Southern California. The judicially induced drought resulted in massive agricultural failure, which in turn produced sky-high umemployment, as much as 30% in some districts of the San Joaquin Valley.
Alas, there was nothing those south of Sacramento, the state's capital, could do; for voters had seen fit to install a veto-proof Democratic majority. But following last Tuesday's special election in the 16th state Senate District, an electoral earthquake may be at hand.
It's the first hint of a swing away from liberal monopoly (and eco-insanity), back towards the pluralism that had generally blessed California until the new millennium. For as the Wall Street Journal and other organs have reported, Republican Andy Vidak appears poised to defeat Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez for state senator.
This is a very big deal, and Democrats are starting to panic. The special election was caused by Democrat state Sen. Michael Rubio's unexpected resignation to take a high-paying job lobbying for Chevron. Despite his political party, Rubio has consistently advocated jobs for his constituency, hard hit by the environmentalist nightmare, over the liberal dream of an $80 to $100 billion high-speed railway running through California. (Do liberals expect it to take the place of air travel?)
Retread Gov. Jerry Brown touts the "railway to nowhere" as the savior of the debt-ridden Golden State -- presumably based upon the Obamunist argument that any government spending at all, no matter how useless, foolish, frivolous, or corrupt, is necessarily "stimulative." But Republican Vidak, and his Democrat predecessor Rubio, think it's more important to restore water to the parched central valley than to subsidize empty bullet trains -- or deify a fish the size of a pinky finger.
From the Journal:
Democrats were writing obituaries for California's GOP after winning a supermajority in the state legislature last November, thus gaining veto-proof power to raise taxes. But their legislative lock may have slipped after this week's special election in which Republican farmer Andy Vidak appears to have defeated a Democrat -- in a heavily Democratic senate district -- who had championed high-speed rail and a higher minimum wage.
A high-speed railway to nowhere, plus a higher minimum wage for the job you don't have; can't beat that! Except it appears that Vidak is about to do so. So who is Republican Andy Vidak, and why is he likely to win the runoff election against a Latina running in a heavily Democratic state-senate district with a 60% Hispanic population?
Local farmers and businesses recruited the 47-year-old Mr. Vidak, a third-generation Valley farmer who narrowly lost his challenge to Democratic Rep. Jim Costa in 2010, to run on the Republican ticket. The white, middle-aged man appeared to come straight from the California GOP's central casting, but Mr. Vidak is more salt-of-the-earth than many of his new compatriots in Sacramento.
Mr. Vidak is a farmer and local. He lives there and understand what the local farmers are going through. They want water back to their farms, not a useless railroad tearing through the farmland, wreaking further destruction of jobs and property.
Leticia Perez, however, is about as far from "local" or "salt of the earth" as one can be:
Notwithstanding her Hispanic heritage, Ms. Perez appeared out of touch with Valley voters' values and concerns. She raised twice as much money as Mr. Vidak, but 90% of her contributions came from outside the district.
She spent nearly all her campaign trying to persuade broke and desperate, out-of-work farmers that Brown's Boondoggle will be a golden ticket for the stricken San Joaquin Valley. (She even had to issue a public apology for a campaign flier that implied Perez had gained the endorsement of the Virgin of Guadalupe, last seen in Mexico in 1531.)
By contrast, Vidak focused his underfunded run on more immediate (and secular) relief:
"It's fish versus farmer," [Vidak] says, and liberals are siding with the fish.
Other species-protection policies have removed thousands of acres of land from production, endangering the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers. Meanwhile, California's bullet train, beloved by liberals, will slash through Mr. Vidak's district and raze hundreds of farms, homes and businesses.
"We don't have clean drinking water in some areas of our district," Mr. Vidak says. "And they want to build an $80 billion bullet train!"
Vidak came close to winning outright; he needed 51% of the vote but got only 49.9%. However, he is 6% ahead of Supervisor Perez. The election isn't in the bag; if Perez can pick up every last Democratic and leftist vote, she could squeak into office... but one would have to say that the leader in a runoff is generally favored. The final election will be held July 23rd.
In a rational world, this would not be a Democrat versus Republican issue. The Old Left was as pro-growth, pro-job as Republicans were (and still are); the Labor-Left would unquestionably have sided with the farmers, not the fish!
Restoring flow to the California Aqueduct is a survival issue for California farmers, and indeed to anyone who likes to eat now and again. I hope Democratic voters in the great central valley understand that the Sacramento Democrats are not their friends; they are radicals who care more about raw political power, ruinous spending, and lunatic lefties with quasi-religious yearnings for Gaia Worldmother.
But I also hope that Republicans get it through their thick skulls that a liberal candidate with a Hispanic surname can still lose an election, even in a heavily Democrat-Hispanic district, if the candidate refuses to treat constituents as individual people with local problems -- and instead tramples them underfoot in the name of bigfoot Progressivism and "saving the world."
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