Saturday, September 9, 2006

Re: Young People

A student of mine responds to the post titled Young People and the Church on our Feedback Page.

How the Senate Race is Shaping Up

Real Clear Politics has the polls on thirteen senate races where there is still some doubt about the outcome. Of the thirteen contests the Democratic candidate is ahead in five and very close in a couple of others. Where they are ahead they have a substantial lead. In three of the five races where the Democrat is leading, the Republican is the incumbent. The Republican senators most at risk are Dewine (OH), Santorum (PA), and Burns (MT). One race (MN) in which the Democrat is ahead the contest is for a seat vacated by another Democrat. One Democratic incumbent is trailing (Menendez, NJ), and one Democratic incumbent is leading (Cantwell, WA).

So, the upshot is that it appears that if the election were held today, and if these polls held up, the Republicans would lose a net two seats in the senate. A lot can change between now and November, however, and if the Republicans start campaigning on the issues Newt Gingrich lays out here, especially if they campaign hard on border security, they may be able to cut their net loss of seats to zero. Perhaps they'd even pick up a seat.

Learn a Hundred New Things

Tom Bethell at The American Spectator, a man who knows a few things about the controversy surrounding the theory of naturalistic evolution, reviews the new book by Jonathan Wells, author of the very popular Icons of Evolution. Wells' new title is The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Evolution about which Bethell says:

Jonathan Wells' [new book] is surely the best book ever written on the problems of Darwin's theory of evolution. I was about to say the best for laymen, but it will also be invaluable for experts. The evidence and arguments deal with such a broad range of topics that few will be conversant with them all. Wells cites scholarly literature throughout, copiously footnotes his sources, uses plain-language quotations and translates technical terms where necessary. The book is accessible to readers with no prior knowledge of the field.

Open-minded readers will surely conclude that the propaganda campaign on behalf of Darwinism has become so furious precisely because the scientific evidence for it is so weak. Much is at stake-this is no mere storm in an academic teacup. Did we get here as a result of blind chance, as the more candid Darwinists maintain? Or was life on Earth intelligently designed?

Darwinists sometimes define evolution as "change over time" or a "change of gene frequencies." Since life and gene frequencies certainly do change over time, this allows Darwinians to claim that evolution is "a fact." What they really want to insinuate is something more ambitious: The factual basis of the claim that life, in all its complexity, was generated by chance and random mutations. And that has not been established-not even remotely.

Bethell goes on to summarize Wells' arguments that Darwinian evolution, i.e. the emergence of one species from another by purely material processes, suffers from a want of sufficient evidence.

He closes his review with this:

I strongly recommend this book. Even those already conversant with the subject will learn a hundred new things, all tending to persuade us that life is a matter of design, not chance.

I'm on my way now to my favorite bookseller to pick up a copy.

Kooks and Crooks

Where do the Democrats get these people?

"George Bush let people die on rooftops in New Orleans because they were poor and because they were black."
Claire McCaskill Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Missouri.

"A federal investigation has been launched into the financial dealings of New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez and a nonprofit agency he has helped over the years, sources said."

McCaskill has shown herself, with this kind of irresponsible Cynthia McKinneyism, to be an unserious candidate.

Menendez, for his part, is running in a close race with Republican challenger Tom Keane. The last time a N.J. Democrat was in a senate race and looked vulnerable to a Republican challenger the Dem godfathers made him an offer he couldn't refuse, and he dropped out of the race. That was Senator Bob Torricelli in 2002 who was replaced by the popular former Senator Frank Lautenberg a couple of weeks before the election. Lautenberg won the general election and has been a reliable liberal vote in the senate ever since.

No doubt Senator Menendez is in deep doo-doo with the Democratic dons in N.J. If any of them offer to take him out fishing on the lake he'd do well to decline the invitation.

Meanwhile, while we're on the subject of Democratic larcenies, what ever happened to Louisianna Democratic congressman William "Icebox" Jefferson? You'll recall that the honorable Mr. Jefferson was found to have stashed almost $100,000 in bribe money next to the ice cream in his freezer. He should be due for an indictment soon, shouldn't he?

Guilty, Even When Proven Innocent

David Broder at the Washington Post expresses my feelings on the Valerie Plame affair better than I can:

For much of the past five years, dark suspicions have been voiced about the Bush White House undermining its critics, and Karl Rove has been fingered as the chief culprit in this supposed plot to suppress the opposition.

Now at least one count in that indictment has been substantially weakened -- the charge that Rove masterminded a conspiracy to discredit Iraq intelligence critic Joseph Wilson by "outing" his CIA-operative wife, Valerie Plame.

I have written almost nothing about the Wilson-Plame case, because it seemed overblown to me from the start. Wilson's claim in a New York Times op-ed about his memo on the supposed Iraqi purchase of uranium yellowcake from Niger; the Robert D. Novak column naming Plame as the person who had recommended Wilson to check up on the reported sale; the call for a special prosecutor and the lengthy interrogation that led to the jailing of Judith Miller of the New York Times and the deposition of several other reporters; and, finally, the indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff -- all of this struck me as being a tempest in a teapot.

No one behaved well in the whole mess -- not Wilson, not Libby, not special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and not the reporters involved.

The only time I commented on the case was to caution reporters who offered bold First Amendment defenses for keeping their sources' names secret that they had better examine the motivations of the people leaking the information to be sure they deserve protection.

But caution has been notably lacking in some of the press treatment of this subject -- especially when it comes to Karl Rove. And it behooves us in the media to examine that behavior, not just sweep it under the rug.

Sidney Blumenthal, a former aide to President Bill Clinton and now a columnist for several publications, has just published a book titled, "How Bush Rules: Chronicles of a Radical Regime." It is a collection of his columns for Salon, including one originally published on July 14, 2005, titled "Rove's War."

It was occasioned by the disclosure of a memo from Time magazine's Matt Cooper, saying that Rove had confirmed to him the identity of Valerie Plame. To Blumenthal, that was proof that this "was political payback against Wilson by a White House that wanted to shift the public focus from the Iraq War to Wilson's motives."

Then Blumenthal went off on a rant: "While the White House stonewalls, Rove has license to run his own damage control operation. His surrogates argue that if Rove did anything, it wasn't a crime. . . . Rove is fighting his war as though it will be settled in a court of Washington pundits. Brandishing his formidable political weapons, he seeks to demonstrate his prowess once again. His corps of agents raises a din in which their voices drown out individual dissidents. His frantic massing of forces dominates the capital by winning the communications battle. Indeed, Rove may succeed momentarily in quelling the storm. But the stillness may be illusory. Before the prosecutor, Rove's arsenal is useless."

In fact, the prosecutor concluded that there was no crime; hence, no indictment. And we now know that the original "leak," in casual conversations with reporters Novak and Bob Woodward, came not from the conspiracy theorists' target in the White House but from the deputy secretary of state at the time, Richard Armitage, an esteemed member of the Washington establishment and no pal of Rove or President Bush.

Blumenthal's example is far from unique. Newsweek, in a July 25, 2005, cover story on Rove, after dutifully noting that Rove's lawyer said the prosecutor had told him that Rove was not a target of the investigation, added: "But this isn't just about the Facts, it's about what Rove's foes regard as a higher Truth: That he is a one-man epicenter of a narrative of Evil."

And in the American Prospect's cover story for August 2005, Joe Conason wrote that Rove "is a powerful bully. Fear of retribution has stifled those who might have revealed his secrets. He has enjoyed the impunity of a malefactor who could always claim, however implausibly, deniability -- until now."

These and other publications owe Karl Rove an apology. And all of journalism needs to relearn the lesson: Can the conspiracy theories and stick to the facts.

It's not just publications that owe Rove an apology, but also indioviduals like Chris Matthews and Keith Olberman at MSNBC who had the hapless advisor to the president all but swinging from the gallows in their coverage of this non-event.

The really interesting thing about this editorial is that so many of the administration's critics don't really care about what the actual truth is, what they care about is that the "Rove is guilty" meme has enormous psychic resonance on the left and is therefore their truth. Whether Rove actually did what Joe Wilson mendaciously accused him of is not important to them because surely he did other things just as evil.

And these are the people the public trusts to provide them with the truth.