Thursday, May 19, 2005
Friday, May 13, 2005
1) The social Darwinism mistake.
From the Boston Globe article, “Evolution is controversial in large part, [
Darwinism pertains to biology, and biology alone. It is neither a social theory nor an economic theory. Granted, many scientists and nonscientists alike have been enamored with the sheer elegance of natural selection over the past century and a half. History has been littered with sociologists and economists such as Herbert Spencer, T.H. Huxley and Karl Marx who could not resist the temptation of (inappropriately) applying
Supposedly, even Darwin himself considered the social manifestations of natural selection, but his conjecture was never pursued further than a few idle thoughts in letters to personal friends. This could hardly serve as the basis of widespread dissolution of Darwinian biology as certain creationists have argued. Creationist, David N. Menton, PhD states: “When man ceases to give credit to God as Creator, he generally gives the credit to nature (evolution). Not only is nature then perceived as ‘creator’, but also man's guide for morality and behavior.” As obtuse as this statement seems to me, after reading it a few times I guess I can see why Old Testament literalists would take issue with Darwinism taken to social and moral extremes. As someone who understands Darwinism, I would reassure Dr. Menton that biologists are not out to steal his morality or his faith in God—he can have them. We just want science taught in science class and religion taught in religion class.
2) Science as knowledge; religion as belief.
The Globe article says that “according to a
This disturbing statistic demonstrates my point exactly that science as taught today is not presenting evolution in a responsible way. Every new finding since Darwin published Origin of Species in 1859 has corroborated his theory of natural selection and disproved the Biblical teaching of an earth lifespan of 10,000 years; yet more believe the latter than know the former. Science should not be subject to the wiles of democratic votes. Just because millions of red-state troglodytes believe something doesn’t make it true. Likewise, Galileo was nearly executed because he disagreed with the erroneous conventional wisdom of the day about planetary motion*. Our school systems are charged with turning out the next generation of scientists and researchers who will have a lot of problems to solve; let’s not prolong this conspiracy of ignorance any longer.
The Globe article states: “But
I feel that E. O. Wilson is one of the least understood philosophers of our time. His book Consilience has been much maligned by religious people as being anti-religious, and having read this work a few times, I cannot see the argument. As a scientist
3) Evolution vs. Mythology.
The Globe article says: “If the book raises hackles, though, it also raises critical questions. Given the inherent conflict between evolution and a literal reading of Genesis, does it really matter what evolution's advocates say? Or are creationists bound to attack evolutionary science regardless? And to what extent does
Intelligent design is the theory du jour. It maintains that plant and animal species are too complex to be a product of gradual evolution and some higher intelligence must be responsible. Arguments fly back and forth, and evolutionists cite biochemical and genetic mechanisms and physical evidence in the form of fossils to support their theory that chemicals and energy can form single-cell life forms which in turn evolve over time into complex organisms. [Kenneth Miller’s Finding
The Globe article says that “
Eugenie C. Scott, an anthropologist who is executive director of the
*thanks to Vorkosigan at www.dailykos.com
This blog has also been published at dailykos here.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
The erudite contributor known as Commonsensical has accused the Florida Supreme Court of “legislating from the bench” during the Florida 2000 election when they allowed Florida’s Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris to delay her vote certification. I vociferously disagreed and I’ll explain why. (Furthermore, I feel that this issue of “activist judges” is pure unadulterated bullsh*t, and becomes dangerous when Republican politicians make veiled threats to judges who disagree with their views--but that’s another issue.)
We all know that I never made a big deal over the 2000 election results. As Vincent Bugliosi and others stated at the time, Gore was in a Catch-22, and coupled with partisan decisions made by
Gore lawyer David Boies said the Gore campaign's appeals raised two questions:
• When can Harris certify the statewide ballot?
• Should Harris wait for the manual recount tallies from
Boies appealed after Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis, a Democrat, ruled against Gore earlier Friday.
Lewis ruled that Harris "exercised her reasoned judgment" in deciding to reject manual vote recounts filed after a November 14 deadline.
All 67 counties submitted their vote totals by deadline.
But the counties of
Lewis on November 14 said Harris has the authority to accept or reject such amended totals filed after the November 14 deadline.
However, [Judge Lewis] told [Harris] to base her decision on proper "discretion," ordering her not to reject any amended total simply because they were filed after the deadline.
On Wednesday, Harris announced that she would reject the amended totals.
On Thursday, the Gore campaign told Lewis that Harris had violated his order by acting in an arbitrary fashion, asking the Democratic judge to declare the preliminary statewide vote certification "null and void."
Lawyers for Harris and Bush argued that Harris exercised proper discretion.
They said the law requires counties to file by deadline unless natural disasters or malfunctioning balloting equipment prevented vote tallies. The counties did not raise such problems, therefore Harris rejected hand recounts, they said.
The problem from Gore’s standpoint is that the law allowed Katherine Harris to use her “discretion” and she made an arguably partisan move by rejecting the prospect of amended totals. We all know that the Florida SC agreed unanimously (7-0) with Gore that if manual recounts are allowed by the Florida Constitution, then a reasonable amount of time should be given for such recounts. Commonsensical, that’s an “interpretation of the law”, NOT legislating from the bench.
The US Supreme Court eventually intervened in a split decision (5-4) that the 2-county recounts should stop because they violated the equal protection of the other 65 counties who did not enjoy recounts. (SCOTUS never mentioned the lack of protection for the 5 or 6% of the 2-county vote that was not counted versus the 2 or 3% in the other more Republican counties: no equal protection there?) So, Gore was in a Catch-22:
I do not see Judge Lewis “legislating from the bench” as Commonsensical has accused him of doing. Now, if he had mandated Harris to delay the vote certification, then that would possibly be an example of “legislating from the bench”, but many would still argue otherwise. The courts are required to interpret the intent of the law, and to protect the rights of the minority—in this case the citizens whose ballots were not counted properly.
The Democratic argument has always been that:
1)According to the US Constitution, the states are allowed to choose their electors by their own prescribed methods, unless their methods do not allow equal protection for all voters.
2)Florida law states that the election judges have a duty to attempt to determine the intent of each individual voter, to the best of their ability. Running faulty ballots through scanners does not necessarily fulfill that obligation.
3) If equal protection is an issue in state Florida, then SCOTUS did not ensure proper attention to equal protection of the 2-county region whose votes were not counted to the same degree as the other 65 counties.
In conclusion, I have always opined that on that cold November morning, more Americans and more Floridians intended to vote for Al Gore. This, however, is an unproveable hypothesis and therefore I have never pushed the issue. As far as the Florida SC “legislating”, I would say that you should truly re-think this premise and come up with a better example of “legislating from the bench.” Furthermore, I would argue that the best examples of activist judges are actually Republican appointees, with Justice Scalia the best example (here’s the link of a NY Times opinion piece.)
I’ll go one step further and say that I feel that the events of the past 4 years have shown evidence of the Bush team lying and cheating and cooking intelligence to meet their predetermined goals; so, I am becoming more and more convinced that stealing the
Sunday, May 01, 2005
I will be the first to speak when I disagree with Bush, so it is only fair that I give the guy his props on the rare occasion that I agree with him.
Michael Kinsley has offered a magnanimous olive branch to the Republicans and I think the Democrats should heed his advice. Bush has inexplicably taken on Social Security, a federal program with a few problems; when other programs—Medicare and Medicaid-- are arguably in much more desperate shape. Let’s give Bush the progressive SS fix and privatization, as long as it’s voluntary. Then we can move onto more pressing issues…
"Even more to Bush's credit, the plan he's backing is highly progressive. Benefits for low-income workers would keep rising with average wages, as now, but benefits for middle- and high-income people would be geared more toward merely keeping up with inflation. This allows Bush to say that no one's benefits will be cut, although some people will be getting as much as 40 percent less than they are currently promised. But in the
So Democrats now face a choice: Are they going to be alligators on this one? Why Bush has taken this on remains a mystery. There is no short-term political advantage, and there are other real long-term problems that are more pressing. But he has done it, to his credit.
Kinsley goes on to opine that the Democrats know deep in their hearts that SS must change eventually, so why not let Bush take the heat—that’s what he is paid to do after all. This is not to say the Democratic leadership will be wise enough to heed Kinsley's advice; they seem to never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Sen Reid, Rep Pelosi, are you listening?
New evidence now shows that in 1997 Pope Benedict XVI, then a bishop, attempted to cover up the sex abuse scandal occurring in the
I also find it odd that many socially conservative, mostly Protestant, middle Americans feel they have an ally in this Pope merely because he has a reputation for conservatism. They seem to forget that the new Pope views them as heretics who have left the one true