Thursday, May 7, 2009

Those Anti-Intellectual Republicans

This video shows why people have so little respect for both politicians and media talking heads. Republican Congressman Mike Pence, an otherwise admirable man, simply doesn't know how to answer a question that probably 99% of people in Congress wouldn't know how to answer, but instead of admitting that he hasn't really given the matter much thought he bobs and weaves and temporizes hoping that the clock will run out and rescue him from Chris Matthews' hectoring. It's not his finest hour.

Matthews, on the other hand, doesn't know any more than Pence, and probably wouldn't understand a reasonable answer to his question if Pence had given him one. The host of Hardball claims that there are people in the GOP who oppose stem cell research, but I challenge him to name one. His assertion is completely uninformed. There are people who oppose embryonic stem cell research, to be sure, but that's hardly the same thing as opposing stem cell research. He later avers that some Republicans believe that liberal scientists have "planted" fossils in order to provide confirmation of evolutionary theory, a notion that is certainly a revelation to me. I have never heard of anyone who believes such a ridiculous hypothesis except, of course, for those scholars who freely acknowledge that exactly this was done in the case of the Piltdown hoax (c.1912).

Anyway, I was hoping Pence would ask Matthews to define "evolution." That would have ended the matter right then, I suspect, because I doubt that Matthews could have given a non-trivial response to the request. Anyone who believes that the debate today over evolution is between science and religion, as Matthews apparently does, simply doesn't understand the issues. If Matthews was able to give an adequate definition of what he meant by evolution he would have had to define it in such a way as to make Pence's objections to it seem perfectly reasonable to the majority of his viewers. But, alas, Mr. Pence didn't ask for the definition. Too bad. It would've been fun to watch.

It would've been even more fun if Pence had thought to ask Matthews, who is a Catholic, if he believed in transubstantiation, the immaculate conception, the assumption of the virgin Mary, or papal infallibility. If Matthews affirmed these doctrines of his Church Pence might have then asked his audience to judge whether such beliefs are more scientifically plausible than the belief that the universe and life show evidence of intentional engineering.


Man Without Conviction

Remember the old Boy George tune, Karma Chameleon? It could've been written about Arlen Specter.

It must be plain by now even to someone who has been on a space voyage for the last twenty years that the senator is a man without principles. He announced Tuesday that he wanted the courts to declare Minnesota senator Norm Coleman the winner in his prolonged contest with Democrat Al Franken and then realized that this wouldn't set well with his new brethren in the Democratic party, so before you could say "so long seniority" he started backpedalling.

It didn't matter, though. His new friends in the Democratic party stripped him of his seniority anyway, and now poor Arlen is about as consequential as a midget in the NBA.

Senator Specter's explanation for his moonwalk away from Coleman is precious:

"In the swirl of moving from one caucus to another, I have to get used to my new teammates," Specter said. "I'm ordinarily pretty correct in what I say. I've made a career of being precise. I conclusively misspoke."

In other words, he's made a career of knowing what to say and what to do in order to get himself elected, but somehow in this instance he lost his focus. We can be assured it won't happen again.


Gay Marriage and Black Outrage

African-American ministers are incensed at the decision of the District of Columbia City Council to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere - Marion Barry, succumbing to the temptation to hyperbole, predicts a "civil war" - but I don't know why these gentlemen are blaming the Council. They should be incensed at their own parishioners. Blacks vote Democratic at rates in excess of 9 to 1. If African-Americans are going to vote for liberals they can hardly fault them for doing what liberals do. Until socially conservative blacks realize that the Democratic party is the very last organization that will defend socially conservative policies black ministers are going to find themselves with lots to keep their outrage occupied.