Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pelosi Then vs. Now

Kathryn Lopez at National Review Online shows that Nancy Pelosi must have been spending some time studying at the feet of the master flip-flopper, John Heinz-Kerry:

Pelosi on Iraq: Then vs. Now

June 14, 2006

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has called Operation Iraqi Freedom a "war of choice" and a distraction from "the real war on terror." At a "Take Back America" rally yesterday, Pelosi elaborated on her rationale:


"During the debate on the war, I was the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. I saw all the information, all the intelligence. And my statement was that I will not vote for this war because the intelligence does not support the threat being claimed by the administration."

But in fact, during the long debate on whether to authorize the use of military force against Iraq, Pelosi indicated that the intelligence she saw DID support the administration's claim of Saddam Hussein as a "gathering" threat:


"As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."

During debate to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq, Pelosi said:


"Yes, he has chemical weapons, he has biological weapons, he is trying to get nuclear weapons." And she told Tim Russert on a November 17, 2002 appearance NBC's Meet the Press, "Saddam Hussein certainly has chemical and biological weapons. There's no question about that."

But flash forward to the "Take Back America" rally where Pelosi insisted:


"[T]here was never anything in the intelligence that said Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States, never."

So which is it? As the House prepares to debate the war in Iraq and the Global War on Terror, these brazen flip-flops only further underscore Capitol Hill Democrats' lack of seriousness in combating terrorism. When it comes to strengthening national security, the American people have a clear choice between Republicans who want to meet the challenge and Democrats who want to relent and retreat.

K-Lo shouldn't be too put out by Pelosi's prevarications. After all, what does the truth matter when there are elections to be won and Republicans to be bashed? As postmodern philosopher Richard Rorty famously observed, "Truth is just whatever your peer group will let you get away with saying," and Pelosi's peer group will let her get away with saying anything at all that helps liberals like her look good to the voters.

Faith of a Scientist

Francis Collins is an erstwhile atheist turned theist who has a book coming out in which he discusses his faith. Collins is not just any former atheist. He's the scientist who led the team that cracked the human genome. His book explains why he now believes in the existence of God and is convinced that miracles are real:

Francis Collins, the director of the US National Human Genome Research Institute, claims there is a rational basis for a creator and that scientific discoveries bring man "closer to God". His book, The Language of God, to be published in September, will reopen the age-old debate about the relationship between science and faith. "One of the great tragedies of our time is this impression that has been created that science and religion have to be at war," said Collins, 56.

"I don't see that as necessary at all and I think it is deeply disappointing that the shrill voices that occupy the extremes of this spectrum have dominated the stage for the past 20 years." For Collins, unravelling the human genome did not create a conflict in his mind. Instead, it allowed him to "glimpse at the workings of God".

"When you make a breakthrough it is a moment of scientific exhilaration because you have been on this search and seem to have found it," he said. "But it is also a moment where I at least feel closeness to the creator in the sense of having now perceived something that no human knew before but God knew all along.

"When you have for the first time in front of you this 3.1 billion-letter instruction book that conveys all kinds of information and all kinds of mystery about humankind, you can't survey that going through page after page without a sense of awe. I can't help but look at those pages and have a vague sense that this is giving me a glimpse of God's mind."

Collins joins a line of scientists whose research deepened their belief in God. Isaac Newton, whose discovery of the laws of gravity reshaped our understanding of the universe, said: "This most beautiful system could only proceed from the dominion of an intelligent and powerful being."

Although Einstein revolutionised our thinking about time, gravity and the conversion of matter to energy, he believed the universe had a creator. "I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details," he said. However Galileo was famously questioned by the inquisition and put on trial in 1633 for the "heresy" of claiming that the earth moved around the sun.

Among Collins's most controversial beliefs is that of "theistic evolution", which claims natural selection is the tool that God chose to create man. In his version of the theory, he argues that man will not evolve further. "I see God's hand at work through the mechanism of evolution. If God chose to create human beings in his image and decided that the mechanism of evolution was an elegant way to accomplish that goal, who are we to say that is not the way," he says.

"Scientifically, the forces of evolution by natural selection have been profoundly affected for humankind by the changes in culture and environment and the expansion of the human species to 6 billion members. So what you see is pretty much what you get."

Collins was an atheist until the age of 27, when as a young doctor he was impressed by the strength that faith gave to some of his most critical patients. "They had terrible diseases from which they were probably not going to escape, and yet instead of railing at God they seemed to lean on their faith as a source of great comfort and reassurance," he said. "That was interesting, puzzling and unsettling."

He decided to visit a Methodist minister and was given a copy of C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity, which argues that God is a rational possibility. The book transformed his life. "It was an argument I was not prepared to hear," he said. "I was very happy with the idea that God didn't exist, and had no interest in me. And yet at the same time, I could not turn away."

His epiphany came when he went hiking through the Cascade Mountains in Washington state. He said: "It was a beautiful afternoon and suddenly the remarkable beauty of creation around me was so overwhelming, I felt, 'I cannot resist this another moment'."

Collins believes that science cannot be used to refute the existence of God because it is confined to the "natural" world. In this light he believes miracles are a real possibility. "If one is willing to accept the existence of God or some supernatural force outside nature then it is not a logical problem to admit that, occasionally, a supernatural force might stage an invasion," he says.

Sir Francis Bacon noted that "a little philosophy (science) inclineth man's mind toward atheism but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion." The adage does not always hold, of course, but it certainly seems that the more one considers the grandeur of the cosmos and of life the harder it is to think of it as just a mindless accident. Just ask Antony Flew. Or Francis Collins.


According to John Leo the left is on a fact-free diet.

Writing in Rolling Stone, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. assures us that the 2004 presidential election was stolen. This popular conspiracy theory has attracted many Democrats, from the clearly unbalanced to John Kerry himself. (Professor and activist Mark Crispin Miller of NYU says Kerry told him he believes the election was stolen.)

Kennedy thinks it's fishy that the recorded vote didn't match the exit polls in four battleground states where Kerry was supposedly ahead. He also thinks the Republicans discouraged voters by creating long lines at voting stations in heavily Democratic areas. But bitter surmise isn't proof. And according to a long and detailed analysis on -- no hotbed of Republican thought -- the evidence Kennedy cites isn't new, and his argument is filled with distortions and the deliberate omission of key data.

Why would Kennedy damage his credibility this way? This may not be breaking news, but if an assertion reflects a widely shared emotion, it can make great headway in this culture without any need to prove its truth. We have been through this many times. The 2000 election was allegedly stolen, though no credible investigation backed up the claim, not even the one by the Civil Rights Commission, which was then firmly in Democratic hands.

The Katrina theory that blacks died because of racism wasn't true, but it fit both the emotions and the beliefs of the political and media establishments. The Duke rape case also unfolded along the lines of conventional liberal beliefs about privileged whites and allegedly dumb jocks. The leadership at Duke should be ashamed. As the facts emerge, ever so slowly, it is becoming apparent that the prosecutor should be disciplined for his shocking behavior. Assertion doesn't always beat facts, but it happens a lot. For example, many of President Bush's detractors are saying that his argument for keeping troops in Iraq -- to achieve a democratic transformation -- is a new rationale meant to distract from the missing WMDs. The New York Times made that charge in an editorial on April 27. But it isn't true. Bush listed democratic transformation in Iraq as one of his aims before the war, as the Times acknowledged in an editorial on Feb. 27, 2003. Distilling the president's various arguments on Iraq down to the one on which a lot of people think they were snookered -- the WMDs -- is a distortion, but it accurately expresses a popular feeling, so who cares if it isn't so? Not the Times, apparently.

Some fact-free assertion still fails. For a while, many people seemed to believe (wanted to believe) that abortions in the United States rose 25 percent after Bush was elected in 2000. Howard Dean was sure of it. Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, too. But no, facts unexpectedly intruded. Abortion continued to decline, albeit slightly, during the Bush years. And lots of people seemed certain that anti-Bush voters would flock to Canada after the 2004 vote. Despite the many predictions ("Canada Awaits American Influx," was one headline), the expected stampede turned out to be a trickle. U.S. migration to Canada declined in the six months after Bush won.

With a big boost from the news media, assertion managed to topple Larry Summers at Harvard. Some reporting mangled Larry Summers' controversial comments on women and science. A headline in The Washington Post magazine said, in part, "When Harvard's president questioned the scientific aptitude of girls ..." But Summers didn't say that the best women couldn't achieve at the level of the best men. He said that there are more males than females at the very top, "about five-to-one at the high end," which is roughly what the research shows. The bell-shaped curve for the distribution of intelligence is flatter for males than for females; there are more very bright males at the top and more very dull males at the bottom.

Discussing this evidence is a no-no at Harvard, so Summers would have been driven out even if he had been understood and quoted correctly. But he was ousted by yet another fact-free assertion -- that he had somehow demeaned women. He hadn't, but the strategy of his detractors worked. Summers apologized and then quit for hurting some people's feelings. That's what happens when emotions are allowed to beat facts.

Leo could have written an article perhaps ten times as long if he had wanted to include all the examples he could have of the left's disdain for facts.

It must be frustrating for the lefties who get so excited that events are on the verge of turning their way, that Bush is going to soon be destroyed by some scandal or whatever, only to have their hopes dashed every time the truth finally wiggles its way to the fore. It's no wonder they find facts so uncongenial.

Defaming Religion

It amazes us that in these times and in the liberal West a woman is going on trial for the crime of defaming a religion. One thing you probably could guess about the charges against her before you even read the synopsis below: The religion isn't Christianity.

Italian author and veteran journalist Oriana Fallaci goes on trial Monday, charged with defaming Islam in a 2004 book. Fallaci, who lives in New York, was not expected to attend the hearing in Bergamo, northern Italy.

Muslim activist Adel Smith filed a lawsuit against Fallaci, charging that some passages in her book, "The Strength of Reason," were offensive to Islam. Smith's lawyer cited a phrase from the book that refers to Islam as "a pool ... that never purifies."

Fallaci told The Associated Press last year that "I have expressed my opinion through the written word through my books, that is all."

Where are the staunch defenders of free speech and freedom of the press in Italy, or here, for that matter? If Fallaci were going on trial for having defamed the Catholic Church the media would be in full-throated dudgeon over the injustice of it all. As it is there's hardly a peep heard about this outrage beyond the conservative blogosphere and a few left-wing outriders like Christopher Hitchens and Nat Hentoff.

The dhimmitization of the West continues. In the global jihad to establish a world-wide caliphate the Islamists have already secured the surrender of most of the liberal/left simply by threatening them with death.