Monday, January 30, 2006

Brief History of the Evolution of ID

Mike Gene at Telic Thoughts has a fascinating post that traces the early development of the modern Intelligent Design movement. He shows quite convincingly that its connections to Creationism were tenuous at best and that attempts to conflate ID and creationism are inapt.

You've no doubt heard the argument which claims that ID grew out of Creationism and that therefore ID is just creationism "in a cheap tuxedo." Even if it were true that ID descended from Creationism, which Gene's argument rebuts, nothing much about the nature of ID follows from that. It could be noted, for example, that the anti-IDer believes that mankind has descended from ancient microbes, but he would never think to say that mankind is just a microbe in a cheap tuxedo. It is just silly to argue that because two conceptual paradigms share a common lineage that therefore they are identical, or nearly so. If that argument were valid then chemistry would be very nearly the same as alchemy, and Darwinism would just be Lamarkism with make-up on.

And to think that this is the argument that convinced Judge Jones in Kitzmiller v. Dover that ID is just Creationism and therefore not real science. It sure doesn't take much to convince someone who's eager to be convinced anyway.

The Coming World Oil Crisis

The Guardian's Heather Stewart reports on the coming world oil crisis:

Oil markets are braced for a nail-biting week, as world leaders demand action against Iran over its nuclear ambitions, and analysts warn that crude prices could reach $90 a barrel if the oil-rich state retaliates by blocking supplies. The International Atomic Energy Agency meets on Thursday to decide whether to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president, has threatened to respond to any punitive action by cutting off the 2.6 million barrels of oil a day it pumps into the markets - 5 per cent of the world's supply.

Kona Haque, commodities editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said the worst case scenario of a shutdown of supplies from Iran would be 'absolutely devastating ... I wouldn't be surprised to see the price go over $90 a barrel'. She said fears about Iran are already adding a $10 risk premium to oil prices, which could remain in place for months as the crisis escalates. Davoud Danesh-Jafari, Iran's oil minister, has warned that the result of punitive action against his country would be 'the unleashing of a crisis in the oil sector'.

Haque said that with little spare capacity in the market, prices are much more vulnerable to political shocks: 'We need a lot more supply capacity to have a cushion; it's going to take another couple of years until that happens.'

The oil producers' organisation Opec meets in Vienna on Tuesday amid calls from some members, including Iran, to cut back production and push up prices further. But most analysts believe production quotas will be left unchanged. 'There's no pressure on Opec to do anything,' said Rob Laughlin, oil analyst at Man Financial.

He said the Nigerian situation could potentially be worse for oil prices than fears about a supply squeeze from Iran. Production levels in Nigeria have already been lowered by 200,000 barrels a day in an effort to protect facilities from the rebels, who have deliberately targeted foreign oil companies. 'Nigeria is probably as big a problem as Iran for us. We're pretty politically squeezed, between the Nigerian rebels and the Iranian president,' said Laughlin. The president of Opec, Nigeria's Edmund Daukoru, fuelled market fears on Friday when he told Reuters that his organisation was unlikely to step in with extra supplies if the Iranian crisis worsened. 'If Iran decides to stop production, or is forced to stop production because of a sanction, I don't think Opec necessarily has a role to play there,' he said.

Investment in Russian oil production has been weak since President Putin's tax raid on the oil giant Yukos, and Iraqi output is well below the levels Washington hoped for before coalition tanks rolled into Baghdad. A cold snap in the US, which has so far had an unusually warm winter, could push prices up further in the weeks ahead. 'Should cold weather return to the US, then we'll really be in trouble,' said Laughlin.

The Left's mantra of no blood for oil prior to the Iraq war was silly, but if Iran cuts off production, and Nigeria and Venezuela, the latter not mentioned in Stewart's article, choose to tighten up their supply just to harm the U.S., the public clamor to strike back will be irresistable. Cutting back on oil supply in the present climate would be a clear invitation to war, and the U.S. would probably not be alone in waging it.

Iran seems determined to hasten Armageddon. They are fools and madmen, but they're driving this bus, and the rest of the world has little choice but to try to stop them. Even though the cost of doing so may be nightmarishly high, the alternatives are even worse.

A Conservative Breeze

Is there a conservative breeze blowing across Western civilization? First George Bush defeated Al Gore in 2000 to become president of the United States. Then Silvio Berlusconi became Prime Minister of Italy, then Angela Merkel defeated Gerhard Schroeder in Germany and Pope Benedict was chosen to succeed John Paul II. Now Stephen Harper has defeated Paul Martin in Canada.

Perhaps the defeat of conservative Jose Aznar in Spain two years ago was a mere aberration. Perhaps there is a growing disenchantment in the West with leftist political parties and their stultifying, counterproductive economic policies and their head-in-the-sand attitudes toward the Islamist threat.

If only the same were true in South America.

Another Finger Points to Syria

FrontPage Mag has this fascinating story from Iraqi General Georges Sada, author of the forthcoming book Saddam's Secrets:

The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein's air force says Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed. The Iraqi general, Georges Sada, makes the charges in a new book, "Saddam's Secrets," released this week. He detailed the transfers in an interview yesterday with The New York Sun.

"There are weapons of mass destruction gone out from Iraq to Syria, and they must be found and returned to safe hands," Mr. Sada said. "I am confident they were taken over. "Mr. Sada's comments come just more than a month after Israel's top general during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Moshe Yaalon, told the Sun that Saddam "transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria."

Democrats have made the absence of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq a theme in their criticism of the Bush administration's decision to go to war in 2003. And President Bush himself has conceded much of the point; in a televised prime-time address to Americans last month, he said, "It is true that many nations believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. But much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong."

The discovery of the weapons in Syria could alter the American political debate on the Iraq war. And even the accusations that they are there could step up international pressure on the government in Damascus. That government, led by Bashar Assad, is already facing a U.N. investigation over its alleged role in the assassination of a former prime minister of Lebanon. The Bush administration has criticized Syria for its support of terrorism and its failure to cooperate with the U.N. investigation.

Mr. Sada, 65, told the Sun that the pilots of the two airliners that transported the weapons of mass destruction to Syria from Iraq approached him in the middle of 2004, after Saddam was captured by American troops. "I know them very well. They are very good friends of mine. We trust each other. We are friends as pilots," Mr. Sada said of the two pilots. He declined to disclose their names, saying they are concerned for their safety. But he said they are now employed by other airlines outside Iraq.

The pilots told Mr. Sada that two Iraqi Airways Boeings were converted to cargo planes by removing the seats, Mr. Sada said. Then Special Republican Guard brigades loaded materials onto the planes, he said, including "yellow barrels with skull and crossbones on each barrel." The pilots said there was also a ground convoy of trucks.

The flights - 56 in total, Mr. Sada said - attracted little notice because they were thought to be civilian flights providing relief from Iraq to Syria, which had suffered a flood after a dam collapse in June of 2002.

There's more on this turn of events at the link. We wonder how much play the story will receive in the MSM and suspect the answer is very little. If it turns out to be true, it would be a public relations disaster for the Democratic left which staked an enormous amount of credibility on the assumption that President Bush lied about WMD in Iraq. Fair-minded people have always assumed, of course, that it was possible that the weapons were never found because Saddam moved them to Syria or Iran, but the left has never had much inclination to be fair-minded.

If the story is true, Bush and the Republicans will get a huge boost in their favorability ratings and the Democrats will join the whale dung on the political abyssal plain. So, don't look for MSM stories on General Sada's testimony unless they're attempts to discredit it. The left will never admit that Bush was right and they were wrong.