Posts Tagged ‘Daily Kos’

Ben Carson and Evolution

November 9, 2015

I got this meme off of Facebook. I think it originally came from the left-wing blog Daily Kos.

Carson Evolution

Why is this an issue in any presidential campaign? Since the duties of the President of the United States do not include teaching a science class, how is any candidate’s opinion on the theory of evolution particularly relevant? I would be more concerned with a candidate’s opinion on the theories of Marx than of Darwin. Marx’s ideas have contributed to the murder of millions and has caused more misery than any opinion on evolution ever has, yet candidates with ideas derived from Marx never seemed to be questioned by the media. The fact that Bernie Sanders calls himself a socialist or that Barack Obama had as mentors such left-wing Marxist radicals as Bill Ayers and Frank Marshall Davis seem to me to be of far more concern than Dr. Ben Carson’s thoughts on evolution.

I suppose that the people at Daily Kos would argue that Dr. Carson’s beliefs about evolution disqualify him for the presidency because they show that he is anti-science. If that is the case, that Carson really is against science, what do they imagine he will do as president? Cut all funding for research? Insist that universities that accept federal funds teach creationism? Even if he wanted to do this, and there is no indication that he did, President Carson would find it very difficult to impose creationism on the scientific community. The President of the United States is not a dictator, at least not yet, and cannot single handedly control the education policies of the entire country. I think that science is safe from a president who does not believe in evolution.

But is Ben Carson really anti-science? For that matter are creationists really anti-science? They certainly do not believe that the theory of evolution is a valid explanation for the origin and adaptation of life on Earth and they disagree with current ideas about the age of the planet and the universe, but is this being anti-science? According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, the definition of science is:

The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

Science can also mean “an organized body of knowledge on a particular subject”, so one might argue that Dr. Carson and creationists  are not knowledgeable in the sciences of biology and geology but that is not the same as saying that they are anti-science in the first sense. In fact, hardly anyone is actually anti-science in the sense of being against the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world. Even people people espousing wildly unscientific ideas try to assume the mantle of science. Creationists like to say they have scientific evidence for their position, even when it really boils down to, “The Bible says it”. Disbelief in evolution does not necessarily imply disbelief in the scientific process.

The real importance of evolution to the left does not seem to be its status as a scientific hypothesis subject to falsification but as a means to differentiate between the elite intellectual elite and the bitter clingers in flyover country. To them, belief in evolution is a sign to show that you are on the right side of science and history. It, along with climate change is sacred knowledge, not to be questioned or doubted. By demonstrating a disbelief in evolution, Dr. Carson shows that he is lacking in intelligence and should be disqualified from the presidency.

The irony here is that Dr. Ben Carson is probably a good deal more intelligent and educated than the person who put together that meme. He is certainly more accomplished, being a gifted neurosurgeon. It is even possible he is more scientifically knowledgeable, even about evolution. I wonder how much that that person who created that meme really knows about the theory of evolution or can explain why it is accepted as an explanation for the development of life by nearly every scientist knowledgeable in the relevant fields. I would guess that he believes in evolution because it is what was taught in school and that it is what all of the smart people believe. Well, that is not the same as actually investigating the matter for oneself and actually trying to understand why a given theory is believed to be true. You don’t get to give yourself credit for being in the intellectual elite for simply remembering what you learned in school twenty years ago and you don’t get the right to sneer at people better than yourself.




Prosecute Them?

December 19, 2014

Shortly after I finished that last post I checked my e-mail and found this.


Please sign the petition by Daily Kos and Demand Progress demanding accountability for the just-revealed torture by the CIA.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has released the CIA torture report — after over 170,000 people signed our petition demanding they do so — and the details make us sick to our stomachs.

Simply put, the United States has tortured people — meaning “waterboarding” and much more — in direct violation of its own War Crimes Act.  And it violates the U.N. Convention Against Torture — which President Ronald Reagan signed.

We cannot allow what happened in the Bush-Cheney Administration to happen again.

Attorney General Eric Holder must appoint a special prosecutor to hold accountable those who committed such crimes, and the Obama Administration must dismiss CIA head John Brennan and all employees at the CIA who were involved.

But despite his purported opposition to torture, President Obama isn’t going create meaningful repercussions for it unless we force him to:

Sign the petition by Daily Kos and Demand Progress: Demand accountability. Dismiss and prosecute all those at the CIA responsible for authorizing and overseeing the implementation of torture.


-Demand Progress

As I said before, it is unfortunate that such things as enhanced interrogation techniques, or torture if you will, are used by agencies of the United States government. In an ideal world, no one working for the US government would ever use such techniques nor would they be necessary. We do not live in that ideal world. In the real world, there are people who want to do us harm. I am not greatly concerned about the civil rights of such people nor do I care very much for their reasons for wanting to harm us. It may well be that they have legitimate grievances against US policies.  I do not care. Whatever reasons they may have do not justify the murder of innocent Americans. I am not willing to risk the lives of my fellow Americans just to satisfy critics who will never be satisfied. If torture is at all effective at gaining information that will prevent another 9/11 than it can and should be used. I am also not willing to see the people tasked with preventing another such atrocity prosecuted for trying to protect us.

Torture is bad, there is no doubt about it, but we are not always given a clear choice between good and bad. More often the choice is between less bad and more bad. I can think of worse things than torturing suspected terrorists. If the people at Demand Progress and Daily Kos believe that the use of torture somehow causes the US to lose the moral high ground (as if these people on the left will ever concede that the US has ever held the high ground) perhaps they need to be reminded of just who our enemies are and what they can do.

Waterboarding doesn’t seem so bad, does it?


New Constitutional Convention

December 15, 2013

Over at Daily Kos, they are really worried about the possibility of a National Convention to amend the constitution. They explain their concerns in a typically classy and well mannered way in a email I received.

I know many of you don’t pay much attention to the right-wing noise machine, and when you do dismiss what you hear for obvious reaons — like they’re generally full of shit.

Well, that’s all true, but that doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous.  After all, many liberals and progressives laughed at and dismissed Rush Limbaugh and the other right-wing talk radio shock jocks as clowns, back in the 90s, but look how much influence he has had and how much damage he’s done to our civil discourse.  These things have a way of flying under the radar until they reach a critical mass, then they explode to cause no end of trouble.

Reaons? What’s spell check? If they really want to know who has done the most damage to our civil discourse I would recommend they read The Real Radio Hatemongers,  a publication put out by the Media Research Council. It’s a little old but I doubt if the vile rhetoric of the left has changed much.

That’s why I’m writing today about a growing movement in far-right circles that sounds like a bunch of crackpots, but could actually pose a serious danger to our democracy.  Spurred on by Mark Levin and others, there is a grass-roots conservative movement to convene an Article V convention of the States to amend the Constitution by enacting so-called “Liberty Amendments” that would eliminate the popular election of Senators, require a balanced federal budget, prohibit the federal government from any activity conducted by the states (including healthcare), effectively eliminate the commerce clause and the general welfare clause, enact term limits on judges and enable the States to overturn judicial decisions, impose nation-wide voter id laws, and enshrine several other far-right hobbyhorses as Constitutional imperatives.  And this movement has support from people who should know better, like state representatives from Indiana and Georgia.  While obviously on the fringe now, these sorts of things have a tendency to become mainstream conservative thought if unchecked.  Follow me below the squiggle for more details.

There is a meeting of representatives from at least 30 states scheduled just three days from now, Saturday, December 7, at the library in Mount Vernon.  (Is nothing sacred?  George Washington is probably spinning in his grave even as we speak.)  Elected officials will be among the attendees: David Long, President of the Indiana State Senate; and Jason Spencer, Georgia state representative.

In fact, the state of Indiana has actually enacted legislation to facilitate the appointment of delegates to such a convention, and to govern their activities.

To take a step back, I should explain that Article V of the Constitution provides two ways to amend the Constitution.  The first, with which we are familiar because it is the way all amendments have been enacted to date, is for two-thirds of the House and Senate to vote for an amendment, which is then sent to the States for ratification (which requires approval by three-fourths of the States).  But alternatively, if two-thirds (34) of the States so request to Congress, Congress must then call a convention to propose amendments (which must then be ratified, again, by three-fourths of the States).  Although the procedures for such a convention are unclear, the folks currently pushing this take the position that such a convention would be a creature of the State legislatures, with delegates appointed by the legislatures and bound by their instructions.

Yea Indiana! Actually I suspect that George Washington would approve of most of these “right wing hobby horses”. It is important to remember that the men who made up the Constitutional Convention did not really intend to create a “democracy”. The word democracy did not have the positive connotations it has today. Instead it meant something closer to mob rule. One of the fears of the founding fathers was of a tyranny of the majority, the idea that a majority could vote away the rights and property of a minority.

English: Painting, 1856, by Junius Brutus Stea...

Time to meet again? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The intent of the framers was a balanced system based on an idealized view of the British constitution and the government of the Roman Republic. This system was to include a monarchical element, a president elected by an electoral college, an aristocratic element, a Senate with senators selected by state legislatures and functioning as representatives from the states to the federal government, and a democratic element, the House of Representatives which was elected by and represented the people. Over time, this system has become more democratic and yet has functioned less well to guarantee liberty, especially in recent years.

The procedure that Daily Kos paints as somehow illegitimate is completely constitutional though it has not been done before. It is less irregular than the Senate changing centuries old rules to suit the political party in the majority or amending the constitution through judicial reinterpretation by activist judges. Despite their description of the liberty amendments as far right fringe, I suspect that a large plurality of people would support many of them, perhaps even a majority. If this were really a crack-pot fringe movement, I seriously doubt this movement would be any particular threat to anybody. I don’t think that very many people believe the country is heading in the right direction and more and more are coming to the opinion that some kind of drastic action is needed to halt and even reverse our slow slide into despotism. That, of course, is precisely what Daily Kos fears most.

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