Monday, June 9, 2008

Remaking a Great Nation

Mark Steyn skewers the pretensions of Sen. Obama who wants to "remake this great nation" and promises, for good measure, to halt the ocean's rise:

The short version of the Democratic Party primary campaign is that the media fell in love with Barack Obama but the Democratic electorate declined to.

"I felt this thrill going up my leg," said MSNBC's Chris Matthews after one of the senator's speeches. "I mean, I don't have that too often." Au contraire, Chris and the rest of the gang seem to be getting the old tingle up the thigh hairs on a nightly basis. If Obama is political Viagra, the media are at that stage in the ad where the announcer warns that, if leg tingles persist for more than six months, see your doctor.

Out there in the voting booths, however, Democrat legs stayed admirably unthrilled. The more the media told Hillary she was toast, and she should get the hell out of it and let Obama romp to victory, the more Democrats insisted on voting for her. The more the media insisted Barack was inevitable, the less inclined the voters were to get with the program. On the strength of Chris Matthews' vibrating calves, Sen. Obama raised a ton of money - over $300 million - and massively outspent Sen. Clinton, but he didn't really get any bang for his buck. In the end, he crawled over the finish line. The Obama Express came a-hurtlin' down the track at 2 miles an hour.

But what does he care? Sen. Obama has learned an old trick of Bill Clinton's: If you behave like a star, you'll get treated as one. So, even as his numbers weakened, his rhetoric soared. By the time he wrapped up his "victory" speech last week, the great gaseous uplift had his final paragraphs floating in delirious hallucination along the Milky Way:

"I face this challenge with profound humility and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people ... . I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal ... . This was the moment - this was the time - when we came together to remake this great nation."

It's a good thing he's facing it with "profound humility," isn't it? Because otherwise who knows what he'd be saying.

Read the rest at the link. It's good stuff.

The line about halting the ocean's rise reminds me of John Edwards' promise in the last election that if John Kerry won, paraplegics like Christopher Reeve would rise up out of their wheelchairs and walk. Liberal Democrats sure don't lack for self-confidence. Unfortunately, their confidence is such that they apparently all think they're the second coming of Christ.


Object Lesson

Here's an item you might have missed on last night's evening news:

Whereas once [AIDS] was seen as a risk to populations everywhere, it was now recognised that, outside sub-Saharan Africa, it was confined to high-risk groups including men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and sex workers and their clients.

Epidemiologist Dr Kevin De Cock said: "It is very unlikely there will be a heterosexual epidemic in other countries. Ten years ago a lot of people were saying there would be a generalised epidemic in Asia - China was the big worry with its huge population. That doesn't look likely. But we have to be careful. As an epidemiologist it is better to describe what we can measure. There could be small outbreaks in some areas."

Anyone who read Michael Fumento's book The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS knew back in the early nineties that media prophecies regarding the scourge about to be visited upon our planet by heterosexual AIDS was all hype and no substance.

AIDS was never a threat to the heterosexual population outside of Africa, but we were nevertheless assured by various government and gay rights organizations that it was so that we would continue to subsidize research into a cure. The AIDS lobby feared that if the general population no longer thought itself to be at risk AIDS would quickly come to be seen as strictly a gay problem and funding would just as quickly evaporate. They also feared that if AIDS was seen as a uniquely gay disease it would diminish sympathy for gays in society. Thus the need to keep anxiety about the threat high.

Fumento's book exposed all this for the scam that it was, but because the book was so far out of the PC mainstream many stores wouldn't even carry it. Fumento argued to much derision that unless one is a homosexual, a sex partner of bisexual men, or an intravenous drug abuser, one was more likely to get struck by lightning than to contract HIV/AIDS. Everything we know today about the disease vindicates his claim.

There's a good lesson here for those of us who may be prone to get caught up in the crisis du jour. There's always something that the left and the media are in a panic about and which portends the end of civilization as we know it, but which never seems to amount to anything. In the seventies it was (American) nuclear weapons, in the eighties it was AIDS, today it's global warming. What will it be ten years from now? The only thing I can say with relative assurance is that there will be something.

Be skeptical.


The God Delusion Ch. 2

Richard Dawkins doesn't like God. He makes that quite clear in the opening lines of chapter 2 of The God Delusion (TGD) where he avers that "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all of fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser;a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniac, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully." Having exhausted his thesaurus' pejoratives, Dawkins mercifully jogs to a panting halt and gives us a preview of his main argument against the existence of the monster he has just described.

He recognizes, of course, that he has just created a straw man and that it's possible some believers in God do not see him quite the way Dawkins portrays him. Thus, he defines the God whose existence he will disprove by laying out for us what he calls The God Hypothesis: "There exists a superhuman, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us." One might think that it'd be very difficult to refute the existence of such a being and that the best Dawkins could do would be to argue that there's no reason to believe such a being exists. After all, what evidence might be adduced against it? But Dawkins is undaunted. He believes he has a knockdown argument and he's eventually going to give it to us, but first he wants to take a few more swipes at religion.

Confusing the question of the existence of God with popular religious expressions of belief in that existence, a confusion he indulges throughout the book, Dawkins launches into a rambling catalogue of complaints about tax exemptions, trinitarian theologizing, and the religious views of the American Founding Fathers. He claims to be attacking God ("I am not attacking any particular version of God or gods. I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural..."), but busies himself in chapter 2 with peripheral concerns having little to do with the question of the truth of The God Hypothesis.

At pains to show that the Founders were not Christians, he adduces a document drafted by Washington and signed by Adams as giving the lie to the belief that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation. Washington writes in a treaty with Tripoli that "[T]he government of the United States of America is not in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." This is true enough as far as it goes, but what it elides is that the U.S. was founded on the principles of equality, liberty, and human rights which arguably could not have been derived from any other worldview. In other words, the Founders imported into our nascent government ideas which were rooted uniquely in their Christian heritage while at the same time keeping the government neutral with respect to matters of religion. This distinction, however, escapes Dawkins' notice.

Dawkins repeatedly quotes Thomas Jefferson's hostile comments about the Christianity of his experience and deduces from these quotes that ... Jefferson didn't much like Christianity. This rather banal conclusion is hardly a surprise nor is it much to the purpose of demonstrating that God doesn't exist.

Dawkins is contemptuous not only of Christian believers but also of those timorous agnostics who hide behind their ignorance and refuse to take a stand against belief in God. In the course of chastising them for their pusillanimous fence-sitting he makes an astonishing claim, one that he insists upon several times throughout the chapter: He asserts that the question of God's existence "is a scientific question."

In one single sentence the dean of contemporary Darwinism has undone all the arguments that have ever been adduced against teaching intelligent design in public schools. Those arguments have been founded on two premises: Intelligent design is all about God, and, second, God doesn't belong in the science classroom. Now the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University has assured us that indeed God does belong in the science classroom. I'm sure the ACLU and Judge John Jones of the Dover Intelligent Design trial were not amused to read this.

Lest you think you maybe didn't read him right here he is again on pages 72 and 73: "I shall suggest that the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any belongs in the as the controversies over the Permian and Cretaceous extinctions. God's existence or non-existence is a scientific fact about the universe..." And again on p. 82: The presence or absence of a super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question....So also is the truth or falsehood of every one of the miracle stories...."

As more than one commenter on the book has observed, one can almost hear Dawkins' Darwinian comrades yelling at him: "Richard, please shut up! You're giving away the game!"

The rest of chapter 2 is given to scoffing at such things as prayer experiments and those evolutionists who deny that evolution leads to atheism: "Any creationist lawyer who got me on the stand could instantly win over the jury simply by asking me: 'Has your knowledge of evolution influenced you in the direction of becoming an atheist?' I would have to answer yes and, at one stroke, I would have lost the jury."

Yes, and he's also blown the case for keeping intelligent design out of our science classes. If ID is forbidden because it points to God, why should not evolution be forbidden because it points away from God? If we are going to allow our children to be taught the one, why not the other?