Saturday, February 5, 2005

Ernst Mayr, Dead at 100

Ernst Mayr, the very prominent Harvard evolutionary biologist, and author of numerous works on the subject is dead at age 100. Mayr was a key architect of the neo-Drawinian synthesis, the blending of Darwin's theory of natural selection with the science of genetics, and was instrumental in persuading biologists to accept the view that species evolved only when isolated from their parent populations. His influence among modern evolutionists is probably second only to that of Charles Darwin himself.

A Democratic Paradigm

Omar at Iraq the Model posts an amusing parody of a Syrian news article praising elections in Syria. Omar writes:

I received this sarcastic article via e mail from a Syrian friend who's a member of the "Reform Party of Syria". The article talks about the latest election in Syria and compares between this one and the Sunday elections of Iraq. Here's the whole article:

Doubt reigns over the outcome of Syrian elections; Outside observers question legitimacy of Bashar Assad's 99% victory over (now presumed missing) opponent.

Results from Monday's Syrian elections were announced today, with a clear mandate handed to Bashar Assad, with his ruling Ba'ath party sweeping the elections with a staggering 95% of the votes. However, opposition parties such as the Communist Party and the Liberal Syrian Nationalist Party voiced complaints that their election results of negative 5 and 3 percent respectively were products of an unfair and rigged election process.

The head of the Ba'ath party regional politburo promised to immediately look into allegations of fraud and "resolutely and mercilessly deal with complaints so that they never ever happen again...ever."!

CNN analyst Fareed Zakaria however moved fast to point out that the high voter turnout rate ought to be looked at as a positive developmental sign for democracy in Syria. "With a 90% voter turnout rate, Syria remains light years ahead in the field of democratic involvement as opposed to one certain neighboring Arab so called democratic state...I don't want to start naming names here or getting into a game of my-Arab-country-is-more democratic-than-yours...but lets face it, Syria's elections went off without a hitch and were never marred with the uncertainty and chaos of not knowing who was going to win."

When asked for their opinion on the remarkably high turnout of Syrian voters, unfriendly election 'monitors' simply shrugged and pointed to their bats.

A number of Middle Eastern experts also praised the convenient simplicity and easy to understand ballot for the Syrian presidential elections. While the ballots in the recently conducted Iraqi elections included as many as a hundred different entities and nearly seven thousand candidates, the Syrian ballot was in contrast much more compact allowing for little room for voter confusion (in most instances the ballots were already pre-marked in favor of Bashar Assad).

In addition, Ba'athist officials this year introduced a new 'voter friendly' ballot to ensure that absolutely no Syrian citizen would be faced with the dilemma of indecision (let alone chaos) that plagues many voters in the democratic world. At the top of each ballot now stands a picture of a smiling Bashar Assad above a caption that reads: 'Vote, your life may depend on it'.

Ba'athist elections officials were mulling using a more direct slogan next year 'Vote or die' but feared comparisons with a similar slogan by American channel MTV urging young people of that country to vote. However, Syrian Ba'ath officials were quick to remark that any superficial similarities between the slogans were completely coincidental and not to be taken in similar context. 'Believe me, we mean it in a totally different way' said Nabil Wahshi, general secretary of the Damascus Ba'ath party.

In a New York Times editorial, Michigan University's professor of Middle Eastern studies Juan Cole said that he saw the elections in Syria as a model for other Arab countries to follow. "The last thing the Arab people need is a red herring like 'free and open elections' to distract them from the international Zionist/Neo-Con conspiracy to take their oil" Professor Cole then added that President Assad's ability to gain such a high percentage of the vote "all the while maintaining an oligarchic cult of personality oppressive regime mired in nepotism and corruption" was "truly impressive" and a positive sign of "Arab solidarity."

Indeed, many regional experts contend that the Syrian elections are the most legitimate to date among any held in the Arab world. According to one (unnamed) Syrian political analyst, "The Syrian elections are totally legitimate and a great advancement of Arab pride. No one can say that Bashar Assad heads a puppet regime, it is not controlled by foreign outside forces... or by the people, and it is completely unbeholden and unaccountable to anyone!"

In a sign of international solidarity, Richard Gere phoned to give his congratulations to president Assad and according to one observer was overheard playfully teasing Assad - reportedly remarking -"Hey buddy, 20 more years, eh?"

Assad in a televised address this Tuesday said that he wished to thank the Syrian people "from the bottom of my heart" for their support and continued faith in his Baathist regime, cryptically concluding that "While I may not be able to thank each and every one of you who voted for assured, someone on my behalf will be paying a visit for those of you who did not."!

Ninety percent turnout?! We Americans could certainly learn something from the Syrians about the importance of voting in a democracy. Maybe they'd be willing to send some advisors over here in 2008 to help us develop a deeper appreciation for the beauty of free elections. The Syrian government would probably insist, however, that no advisors be permitted to come unless there are guarantees that they won't be allowed to defect while they're here.

The Wild Ride to the Bottom Has Begun

Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost informs us that New York has pushed the toboggan over the brow of the slippery slope, and the wild ride to the bottom, monotonously predicted by Viewpoint on a number of occasions (see here, for example), has commenced:

In a stunning decision handed down earlier today, a New York state court ruled that same-sex couples cannot be denied the right to marry. What is even more surprising, however, is the way in which the judgment leaves the door open for the legalization of polygamy:

"The challenges to laws banning whites and non-whites from marriage demonstrate that the fundamental right to marry the person of one's choice may not be denied based on longstanding and deeply held traditional beliefs about appropriate marital partners."

If longstanding and deeply held traditional beliefs are not enough to restrict who may marry, then it is unlikely that previously held views of marriage could be denied either. In fact, the court even opens the door for polygamy by including it as an acceptable definition of marriage:

"Defendant's historical argument is no less conclusory than amici's tautological argument that same-sex marriage is impossible, because, as a matter of definition, "marriage" means, and has always meant, the legal union of a man and a woman. Further, the premise of that argument is factually wrong; polygamy has been practiced in various places and at various times, for example, in the Territory of Utah. See Davis v. Beason, 133 US 333 (1890); Genesis 29: 21-30; Deuteronomy 21: 10-17."

Carter says he can't decide which is more ironic: "the fact that the judge uses the Bible as a reference source in making the case for same-sex marriage or that polygamists will use that wording to justify extending marital rights to their own relationships."

It won't stop with polygamy, nor can it. Once the breach is opened in the traditional definition of marriage, there is no non-arbitrary stopping point. Next up: Group marriage.

Another Media Fantasist

The Washington Times reveals the rich fantasy life, while noting the execrable behavior, of CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. During a discussion on media and democracy, Mr. Jordan apparently told the audience that "he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by U.S. troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted..."

Jordan has made similar accusations on previous occasions. According to the Times:

In November, as reported in the London Guardian, Mr. Jordan had said, "The reality is that at least 10 journalists have been killed by the U.S. military, and according to reports I believe to be true journalists have been arrested and tortured by U.S. forces." This is very serious stuff, if true. Yet aside from Mr. Jordan's occasional comments, there's no evidence to support it.

The MSM has chosen to completely ignore Mr. Jordan's irresponsible allegation, realizing, no doubt, that any claim this bizarre should probably be supported with at least some evidence, a minimal requirement Mr. Jordan has completely disdained. An unsubstantiated charge of this magnitude sounds like another Dan Rather scandal in the making, and Big Media doesn't want to be the catalyst for destroying the credibility of yet another major news institution.

Since the MSM won't do their job one must turn to alternative media for the details. Luckily, Hugh Hewitt and Ed Morrissey are on the case. Between the two of them all the sordid details can be pieced together.

The director of CNN News evidently thought he could get away with slandering American troops without anyone noticing. The American public should demand that he come forward with evidence for his libels or else be fired (and sued) for lying about our troops.