November 16, 2006 - November 9, 2006
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
You see that teeny tiny white dot
just to the left of the big square thing in the
middle? That's Hugh
Hewitt throwing himself into the fray as a human shield.
THE SMART ONES
There's much to respond to in Hugh Hewitt's latest blast
at Tom Tancredo. Most of what he argues isn't too hard to understand
and can be responded to forthrightly. The bitterly emotional tone is
more of a mystery, and so I'll save that for last.
Hugh is apparently outraged and offended that Tom Tancredo would dare
to defend his remarks in print:
Congressman Tom Tancredo takes to the
pages of the Denver Post today in an effort to resurrect his
reputation. He fails because he doubles down on his absurd insistence
that "bombing Mecca" ought to be "on the table." No serious politician
in the country has come to Tancredo's defense, and indeed I have not
seen any credible authority on war or religion endorse this
foolishness. No serious Christian theologian can endorse what is
obviously an immoral threat against another faith.
Hugh has a tendency to conflate governments with peoples, which will
become more evident as we go. This causes him to be baffled by
phenomena that are really quite easy to comprehend. Here he seems to be
trying to position himself as either a "serious politician" or "serious
Christian theologian." Perhaps he considers himself both. Still, he
misses what should be obvious. Those who agree with Tancredo's attempt
to expand the debate know very well that politicians are far too
cautious and politically correct to agree publicly with anything he
said. And no one expects a professional theologian to endorse a gritty
tactic of warfare. It's their job to say, "no, no, we must be
peaceful," even if they're speaking from behind the cover of a tank.
Tancredo is drawing encouragment from
the small percentage of Americans who have fallen into the erroneous
belief that all of Islam is arrayed against the West.
That's right. How small that percentage is and how erroneous that
belief is are still open for debate.
Point number one. Tancredo's ego is
really astonishing, attributing the widespread comment on and
embarassment at his remarks to the veiw that they: "served to start a
national dialogue about what options we have to deter al-Qaeda and
other would-be Islamic terrorists."
Speaking of astonishing egos, one wonders whether Hugh is actually more
astonished by the fact that something of a debate has been occurring --
at least here in his precious blogosphere -- despite his own blatant
demand that no such debate be permitted. His words: "I want to be very
clear on this. No responsible American can endorse the idea that the
U.S. is in a war with Islam. That is repugnant and wrong, and bloggers
and writers and would-be bloggers and writers have to chose [sic] sides
on this, especially if you are a center-right blogger. The idea that
all of Islam is the problem is a fringe
opinion. It cannot be welcomed into mainstream thought because it
Tancredo's blunder does not offend you, then you do not understand the
Uh, sorry, Hugh. We have been debating it. So Tancredo is merely
Twice in the column Tancredo makes
absurd leaps of logic in an effort to obscure the central issues of the
morality or utility of a threat on Muslim holy sites. Here's the first:
"[I]n this battle against fundamentalist Islam, I am hardly preoccupied
with political correctness, or who may or may not be offended. Indeed,
al-Qaeda cares little if the Western world is "offended" by televised
images of hostages beheaded in Iraq, subway bombings in London, train
attacks in Madrid, or Americans jumping to their death from the Twin
Towers as they collapsed."
In fact Tancredo is preoccupied with attention-getting statements that
play to the frustrated edge of the conservative camp that sees any
denunciation of "political correctness" as an endorsement of their
desire for blunt talk against media elites.
But not threatening Islamic countries and populations with the
destruction of the places they devoutly esteem is not p.c.-generated
double-talk. It is sensible respect for a vast group of Muslims abroad
and a few million Muslims who are our fellow citizens from whom we must
ask cooperation and to whom we must pledge a non-bigoted appreciation
for their religious choices.
The jump Tancredo makes from Americans disgusted with his foolishness
to al Qaeda's reactions to American outrage is incoherent. Really,
Oh? It might be incoherent if mainstream moderate muslims had been as
vocal about condemning al qaida as Hugh Hewitt has been about
condemning Tom Tancredo. But they haven't been. And while we're on the
subject of incoherence, Hugh's second paragraph in this passage
certainly verges on it, and the next sentence, with its "not... is...
not" construction serves to remind us which of the two is speaking more
directly and clearly about the matter at hand.
In fact, Tancredo's logic is coherent; it's just not lawyerly. He's
saying, look, people of their faith have assaulted major symbols of
American life and they are reluctant to condemn the perpetrators.
Meanwhile, we seem to be more respectful of their religious
sensitivities than we are of domestic Christianity. Doesn't this make
us look like saps in a time of war? Mightn't it give them an attitude
adjustment if we started talking the way they talk? Two and two still
do add up to four. The problem is, Hugh is working like hell to make
two and two add up to three. Just because he thinks it's more prudent
and helpful to make nice with muslims, he tries to declare any other
kind of arithmetic indefensible. But there are other kinds of
arithmetic. That's why it's good to talk about these things openly, not
default to the position that we should be quiet and leave it all up to
the smart people who know better.
The next incoherence follows quickly:
"People have accused me of creating more terrorism by making these
statements. Indeed, we often hear that Western governments bring these
attacks on themselves." Tancredo's foolishness will no doubt be used,
as was Dick Durbin's outrageous comparison of the American military to
Nazis and Khmer Rouge, by propagandists for Islamist extremists. But
Tancredo's attemp to hide himself under the wings of John Howard and
other eloquent spokesmen who reject the dangeorus idea that the West is
generating the attacks on itself overlooks Howard's --and Blair's and
Bush's-- refusal to be drawn into Islam bashing or incediary rhetoric
On Thursday, Howard bluntly stated, again: "[T]his is about the
perverted use of the principles of a great world religion, that at its
root preaches peace and cooperation, and I think we lose sight of the
challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the
context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse through a
perverted ideology of people and their murder."
Serious leaders in the West refuse to indulge the hatred for a
different religion that is implicit in Tancredo's frothings. No doubt
Tancredo and his supporters deem Howard, Blair, and Bush "soft" on
Practically everything a westerner says will be used by al jazeera in
its propaganda. (Note that InstaPunk
was more concerned by what Durbin's remarks said about him and his
liberal apologists than about the propaganda impact.) If the words
aren't inflammatory enough, they'll be twisted into something that is.
Tancredo is covered by the Blair/Howard defense. He didn't start the
war on terror. He hasn't killed any defenseless civilians. He is
exercising his freedom of speech, and he is -- we must keep returning
to this -- voicing the thoughts of many Americans who, right or wrong,
would benefit from hearing their ideas considered in the market of
public opinion. The fate of an unexpressed idea is that it grows ill
and malignant in the dark. Of all people, Hugh Hewitt should know this
and accept that speech in a free country can be untidy indeed. It is
the role of sunlight not censors to burn away the dross.
I also object to the imputation of "hatred" to Tancredo and his
supporters. His remarks bespeak a mentality more Roman than crusader.
The Romans didn't hate the constituencies -- religious or political --
that threatened the safety of Roman citizens. They were rather
matter-of-fact in squashing the infant powers which undermined order
before a rabble could become an army. They understood the potency of
striking at symbols too. One can argue whether or not the U.S. should
adopt a more Roman strategy to protect its citizenry, but to dismiss it
as hatred is a
deceitful bit of cunning.
I doubt, too, whether Tancredo's most avid supporters think Bush,
Blair, and Howard are soft on terrorism. They understand the politics
that accompany the "religion of peace" rhetoric. What's different about
them is that they're not afraid to ask whether or not this coldly
calculated and executed policy is working. The questions we don't ask
ourselves are the ones whose answers can prove most disastrous, because
those answers come in the form of real consequences, not theoretical
Tancredo then quotes a couple of
extremist Islamists and/or apologists for such extremist Islamists
before finishing with this flourish --a libel on every Muslim who has
indeed condemned terror and especially on the between 5,000 and 10,000
Muslims serving in the American military: "In many respects, the
decision of "moderate" Muslims to acquiesce to these actions and even
provide tacit justification for them is just as damaging to global
safety and security as the attacks themselves. Until "mainstream" Islam
can bring itself to stop rationalizing terrorist attacks and start
repudiating and purging people like Ali and Hajjar from its ranks who
do, this war will continue. As long as this war goes on, being
"offended" should be the least of anyone's worries."
This insult to every Muslim who has courageously stood up to Islamist
terror should not be allowed to pass uncondemned by supporters of the
GWOT. There needs to be more and more and louder and louder
condemnation of Islamist terror from within Islam. There needs to be
more and more cooperation from among Muslims in the identification of
Islamist threats at home and abroad. But Tancredo's absurd
hypotheticals injure that prospect. The Congressman needs to review the
record, finding the good --not just the evil-- and praising it. He
might want to start with the fact the Muslim community in upstate New
York helped DOJ uncover and halt the operation of a cell there.
If you were a Muslim, would Tancredo's outrageous speculations make you
more or less likely to assist in the GWOT? Obviously the latter. After
braving Islamist threats to help the authorities break a cell, you open
the paper and find that your holy places will be "on the table" if
terror takes another huge toll in the United States.
Not so fast, Mr. Hewitt. The answer to your question is not "obviously
the latter." If members of my faith were responsible for murdering
innocent civilians all over the world in the way that al qaida and its
affiliates have been doing, I would not be surprised if the peoples of
the victimized nations began grumbling about nuking the Vatican or
Robert Schuler's Crystal Cathedral. And even if I had been fighting
hard in my personal life to defeat the terrorists, I would still be
aware of the lack if my clergy had been dragging their heels and
hemming and hawing about condemning the crimes of "renegade"
parishioners. And if a significant percentage of my clergy had been
guilty of fomenting the terror acts, I would feel compelled to begin
fighting for access to a microphone so that I could rally others of my
faith in a joint act of condemnation.
If you don't believe me, look at the response of lay Catholics to the
pedophilia scandal. When the church evaded its responsibility,
Catholics came forward as ordinary citizens to demand accountability
and justice. As devout Catholics, they knew that the reputation of
their faith was in grave jeopardy and that they had a greater
responsibility than non-Catholics to rectify the wrongs.
Even you concede that there hasn't been nearly enough of this kind of
action. The fact of a resistance doesn't excuse all those who stand
aside and go with the flow. Was there a French resistance in WWII? Yes.
Was France still a collaborator nation in the Nazi assault on Europe?
Yes. Is it painful to point this out? Perhaps. But however painful it
is to lance a boil, it's sometimes necessary to relieve the pressure
and allow healing to begin.
"Being 'offended'" is not my worry.
Having progress in the GWOT compromised handicapped by a
publicity-seeking Congressman is my worry. Handing propaganda to
Islamists is my worry. Encouraging the wrong-headed belief that the
world cannot be made safe until Islam is destropyed is my worry.
Here are some basic facts for Tancredo
fans to ponder: "Islam is the
second-largest religion in the world, counting more than 1.3 billion
believers. Americans have the misconception that all Muslims are Arabs
and that all Arabs are Muslims. In fact, less than 20 percent of the
Muslims in the world are Arab, and all Arab countries have populations
that believe in other religions. The nation with the world's largest
Islamic population is Indonesia -- 88 percent of its 280 million people
are Muslims. In the United States, Islam is the fastest growing
religion, a trend fueled mostly by immigration. There are 5 million to
7 million Muslims in the United States. They make up between 10,000 and
20,000 members of the American military. Army Chaplain (Capt.)
Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad is a Muslim Imam stationed at Walter Reed Army
Medical Center in Washington. In his chaplaincy, he ministers to all
Uh, there are a lot of muslims? We knew that. Not all muslims are
Arabs? We knew that too. We also know that muslim nations, including
non-Arab ones, have shown a distressing tendency to kill innocent
civilians in campaigns the U.N. really hates to classify as
genocide -- notably in the Sudan and in Indonesia (East Timor ring a
bell?). Al qaida and its minions have also committed acts of terror
and, obviously, found cover in many other nations with muslim majority
and minority populations.
I'm also not terribly moved by the citation of muslims in the military.
They are American citizens and they've made their choice. In WWII,
plenty of German-Americans and Italian-Americans went to war against
the Axis. I knew a German-American who went to war against the Kaiser
in WWI. Except for his accent, he was as German as they come, and to
the end of his life he made free with such locutions as "Huns" and
"Krauts." He knew who the enemy was because they tried hard to kill
him. And if it's the religious angle you're primarily concerned with,
American Catholics may have resisted the notion of bombing the
Montecassino Abbey during the Anzio invasion, but bomb it we did to
save American lives. War is not chess. It is, as the generals remind
us, "killing people and breaking things."
The United State is locked in a deadly
war with Islamists who would indeed use nukes against American cities
if they could, or any other WMD for that matter. There are some states
that support these Islamists, including the governments of Iran and
Syria, and some of the elites in Saudi Arabia.
But there are also governments like those in Eygpt, Jordan, and
Pakistan that are providing us enormously valuable assistance in the
war, governements which come under huge pressure from their
fundamentalist Muslim populations to stop assisting the "crusaders."
Tancredo made all of their jobs more difficult, and ours as well, by
sounding exactly like a Christian jihadist would sound, even though it
is clearly contrary to Christian teachings to threaten retaliation
against non-combatants even in a just war.
This is where Hugh conveniently plays both ends against the middle by
erasing the lines between nations and governments. Members of the
Bush administration's policy team have to be punctilious about referring to
governments as if they were fully representative of their people, but
the rest of us ordinary citizens don't have to be. If we want to, we
can feel and express the conviction that Musharaf of Pakistan is
helping us in the war on terror only because he has to, and we can recognize
that Pakistan as a whole is a hotbed of muslim extremism that contributes as much
(or more) to terror as its government does to the war against terror.
We can harbor similar feelings about Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc, because
there's a lot of truth to the rumor that even the most supposedly
friendly governments have subsidized Islamofascist propaganda to deflect
criticisms of their own despotism into anti-American, anti-western, and
anti-Christian feeling. If they are now being burned by their own bad
decisions, it doesn't mean the fire they started among their peoples
has been extinguished. Hugh acknowledges this when he concedes that
such "governments.. come under huge pressure from their fundamentalist
Muslim populations to stop assisting the 'crusaders.'"
Think about this. We're 'crusaders' because we want your crazies to
stop killing our women and children? So, just who is it, Hugh, who's
going to be moved and converted by your profound deference for their
religion of peace?
I have repeatedly invited Congressman
Tancredo on my show over the past week. He has declined every
opportunity, and Tancredo fans have repeatedly asked me to "drop it."
Well, Tancredo doubled down today, and his attempt to camouflage his
inanity in a variety of ways does nothing but highlight again and again
why he doesn't deserve invitations to GOP events or leadership
positions in Washington.
By Golly, Tancredo has been summoned to appear before the Office of the
Holy Inquisition, and he has refused to obey. Damn. Is this where all
the heat is coming from? Think about it, Hugh. You've been more polite
to the America-hating muslims than you've been to a Congressman who
disagrees with your politics. Why should he subject himself to the
inherently unfair format of a radio talk show hosted by someone who
slanders him repeatedly? Why? Because you're somehow in charge of the
all-important blogosphere? I don't think so.
"Supporting" Congressman Tancredo on
this issue identifies you as an American interested in comforting noise
rather than progress in the GWOT.
Now, for good measure, he wants to be clear that he's also slandering
all of us. Thank you, sir.
I am sure I will hear --again-- from
all the "realists" who want to quote the Koran to me and instruct me on
how blind I am to the threat of Islam. Look, feel free to write me, but
try and find at least one quote from a serious conservative on the
American or world stage to back you up. Dick Cheney's pretty solid,
right? So is Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, right? O.K., then, send me some
citations to their Tancredo-like remarks. There's a reason they are
leading and Tancredo is simply milking rage and anger for personal
benefit. They are interested in the national security and victory in
the GWOT. Congressman Tancredo is interested in, well, Congressman
Here we go again. We're only permitted to disagree with Mr. Hewitt if
we can "find at least one quote from a serious conservative on the
American or world stage to back (us) up." Sorry, Hugh. We're not the
one who is pretending to be some kind of shadow government
spokesperson. We're just citizens who happen to disagree with you and
retain the luxury --
unlike all the "official" leaders such as, ahem, yourself -- of speaking
our minds about matters that really do affect us. I am sure that even
our soft-spoken conservative leaders would privately allow that we do
have that right. Otherwise, they wouldn't be conservatives any more.
They'd be autocrats.
A few final thoughts. I don't believe Mr. Tancredo has ever suggested
that "putting Mecca on the table" was tantamount to waiting for Mecca to
fill up with civilians before bombing it. In fact, I have a hunch his
idea includes delivering a clear warning about how much time people
have to evacuate the place. Bombing Mecca is in the category of
"breaking things," not "killing people." Mr. Hewitt's repeated
characterization of Tancredo's remarks as slaughtering innocent
civilians is disingenuous if not dishonest.
Which leads to the question I posed at the start: why all the emotional
bitterness? I hate to say it, but I think Mr. Hewitt may have
contracted Blogger's Disease. He thinks he's in charge of something,
something that Tancredo and his supporters have somehow violated by
having and expressing an unacceptable opinion.
Well, Mr. Hewitt, you're in charge of your blog and your radio show.
That's all. You're not in charge of us, and you're not entited to
control what we say and think. It' still America, and we're pretty
determined to keep it that way.
And just to be clear, I personally still stand by what I said yesterday
More on Hewitt and Tancredo from Lump on a Blog
, who seems
to have survived his recent excommunication
in good shape. Thanks for the link.
Here's an interesting link
I received from RattlerGator
It may relate to this discussion only tangentially, but it's
interesting in its own right. Thanks for the email, RG.
POSTSCRIPT: After reading Mr. Hewitt's outburst, I thought of this
nasty old politically incorrect opus by that old imperialistic bastard
Kipling. So I just had to share it with all of you. Without apologies.
OH, East is East, and West is West,
and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at
God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West,
Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to
face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!
Monday, July 25, 2005
The Unreality Trap
. Ace columnist Mark
begins his latest with the tale of a U.S. Department of
Agriculture employee who met twice with Mohammed Atta to consider his
request to get $650,000 in government funds to help finance the 9/11
attacks. Atta used a different name each time and explicitly referenced
the possibility of attacking Washington, DC. She thought he was just an
eccentric example of multiculturalism. Confident that he's got us
us all rolling in the aisles with this anecdote, Steyn proceeds to
For four years, much of the western
world behaved like Bryant. Bomb us, and we agonise over the "root
causes" (that is, what we did wrong). Decapitate us, and our
politicians rush to the nearest mosque to declare that "Islam is a
religion of peace". Issue bloodcurdling calls at Friday prayers to kill
all the Jews and infidels, and we fret that it may cause a backlash
against Muslims. Behead sodomites and mutilate female genitalia, and
gay groups and feminist groups can't wait to march alongside you
denouncing Bush, Blair and Howard. Murder a schoolful of children, and
our scholars explain that to the "vast majority" of Muslims "jihad" is
a harmless concept meaning "decaf latte with skimmed milk and cinnamon
The piece is published in the Australian and might be aimed more at
them than the western world in general, but Steyn appears to be making
two points -- one, that the London bombings are having an effect on the
ostrich left and, two, that multiculturalism is a kind of labyrinthine
denial mechanism that makes it difficult to locate common sense on any
Steyn is always brilliant, but I think there's another point that needs
to be made. Reading the paragraph I quoted above, I couldn't help
musing on the Internet contretemps about Tancredo's
and the odd fact that mainstream conservatives have been
taking positions of the sort Steyn is mocking in his second and third
sentences. Captain Ed
and Hugh Hewitt
multicultural dupes, so why have they joined this very nonexclusive
I think I know why, and I mean no disrespect to Hugh and Ed in
returning yet again to this peculiar controversy, because there's a
lesson here for almost everyone.
I've seen the same phenomenon at work in corporate organizations. I
call it the Unreality Trap. Imagine a bad situation that probably can't
be fixed. Imagine you're in the Coca Cola marketing department on the
eve of the launch of "New Coke." You suspect that you are involved in a
business catastrophe -- a company conspiring to kill its own flagship
product, perhaps the most successful single brand name product in the
history of the food industry. What do you do? All the alternatives
suck. If the campaign proceeds as planned, the company will lose
millions and become the laughingstock of the world. If you could
somehow halt the campaign, the company would still be a laughingstock
and many careers would come to an end. There's no solution to the
problem that isn't almost unbearably costly and difficult. What do you
In the corporate world, the response to these kinds of situations is to
pretend that reality is different from what it obviously is to
otherwise intelligent observers. You follow the most intelligent course
you can think of given that the
situation itself is out of control
. For example, you decide to
waste a little less money wherever you have some control of spending on
promoting the turkey called "New Coke." It's sensible and defensible.
After the catastrophe, you'll look comparatively smarter, and at least
you didn't fling gasoline on the bonfire. You may even succeed in
convincing yourself that this course of action is shrewder and better
advised than running around corporate headquarters screaming about the
need to stop the launch of "New Coke."
That's what's going on with Hugh and Captain Ed and all the other
conservatives who got so stuffily self righteous about Tancredo's
remarks. The truth is, there isn't an easy or automatically right
solution to the problem of Islamofascism. It's true that every attempt
to defeat them, kill them, or stop their murderous plans will create
more terrorists. That's the real bitch of fighting an irrational enemy.
Deep down, Hugh and Captain Ed know as well as we do that Islam itself
is a major part of the problem, no matter how condescendingly they
respond to those of us who are willing to say it out loud. Otherwise,
why would they be so frightened that one politican's remarks are going
to seriously increase the threat against all of us? They wouldn't. If
some congressman suggested that the best way to deal with the
corruption of the U.N. would be the nuking of Paris, everyone of sound
mind would just laugh.
So what's up with Hugh and Captain Ed? They don't want to think about
just how awful the problem is, and they can't see any way out of the
situation we're in that doesn't involve bloodshed and sacrifice on a
massive scale. And so they choose to remake reality in more comforting
terms. Our enemy is only a few million malcontents. Therefore, we can
navigate our way through the gauntlet by selecting some judicious set
of military, diplomatic, and economic measures.
The only problem with that strategy is that it's wrong. The world
economy can't afford the United States to take a gigantic blow that
erases the confidence of ordinary people in going about their daily
business. The Islamofascists know that, and it is their ovverriding
purpose to deal just such a blow. When they succeed, their numbers will
increase immeasurably beyond what they are now. The proof that
crippling America is actually possible will be a more potent recruiting
tool than anything any politician can say on his most insane day.
But there's another problem of denial that must be confronted by those
who are willing to stand up to Hugh and Captain Ed. Defeating and
controlling the considerable population of muslims who are cheering on
the terrorists will not be achieved simply by killing a bunch of them
or eliminating their holiest places. Yes, PC games are worse than
accepting the facts as they most probably exist, but what then? What
strategy can be successful for those who see with unblinkered eyes?
Because they won't all lay down their arms and put their hands up the
day after Mecca starts glowing like the dial of an alarm clock. What do
you propose to do to win the war on terror? It's an important question,
much more pertinent in the scheme of things than how best to respond to
the silly denials of the self-deluding. What will it take to win this
Forget all the ordinary assumptions about what Congress will fund, what
any U.S. president will have the guts to do. Those assumptions will be
the biggest casualty of the first real assault on America. Start
thinking now about how we will have to fight the nightmare war that
begins the day after that attack. And by fighting, I mean fighting to
HINT: The right answer isn't going to be a paragraph or two in the
Comments section. It's got to be far more than a few bellicose
declarations of spleen and will.
Hugh and Ed need to end their fit of denial. And so do the rest of us.
We really are in a war for civilization. And we really do have nearly a
billion opponents. Think about it.
I see that the Pope
has issued another
on the Tancredo matter. I'll have more to say about this later. He's
starting to become positively obnoxious.
UPDATE: This is a continuation of the discussion started HERE with continuing analysis
Friday, July 22, 2005
Hockey -- which is an excellent way . . .
We did it! We now play
the hockey in the fall. I can not believe. Off my bike. On to the ices.
My father called me last night. My banker called me this morning. All were very happy at the time for me.
Even the guys at InstaPunk seemed really really happy though they don't seem to like the hockey
all the times.
Now you have to watch. Comcast
is looking to give us T.V. deal and you can get the anyshell Center
Ice from DirecTV satellite company. Get it right now that you think of it. I don't know why but they only
show 40 games a week but at least you can see some of the hockey with it.
And, no more of the poker on ESPN. You have to know by now that the Lebbannese Australian Chiropractor guy won
the World Series of Poker and the $7.5mm prizes. You can read all about it HERE.
You can even see all the 231 hands played in the final tables HERE.
Sorry, ESPN, now nobody watch they already know the winners. Now they watch the hockey.
Here is his picture with all the monies.
Here I go to the rink. Maybe I write in the season but it is very busy times but I will see.
Puck Punk covers the NHL for InstaPunk.com --
here are his previous posts:
7/13/2005 -- World Series of Poker
4/14/2005 -- Terry Schiavo and Pope John Paul II
2/23/2005 -- No Mini Season
2/1/2005 -- Money Problems; Looking for more $
1/6/2005 -- Christmas and a trip to the bank
12/13/2004 -- The NHL can learn from NASCAR
12/2/2004 -- President Bush gets involved
11/15/2004 -- The Bender
10/21/2004 -- World Series, big deal
10/12/2004 -- Lockout, not Strike
10/5/2004 -- First Post
Congratulations to the anyshell (we just had to) players, coaches, owners, sponsors, play-by-play announcers, color analysts,
and -- oh yeah -- the fans -- from all of us at InstaPunk.com.
A Can of Worms, Briefly
is a middle ground.
THE LESSONS OF SCIENCE
. Dangerous waters here, perhaps the most
dangerous in the whole wide world of the intelligentsia. It's called
the Evolution Debate, and it's being fought tooth-and-nail by
meticulously educated scientists on the one hand and harebrained
religious Luddites on the other. Or so the most illustrious reporters
of the conflict would have us believe. They are also the primary source
for telling us the available sides of the debate -- that one must
choose starkly between the Theory of Evolution as propounded by
generations of biologists or the fantasy called Creationism defended by
zealots who are armed with nothing but a tattered copy of the Bible.
This would seem to make it an easy choice, which is why we get regular
little reminders from the intellectual elite about the impossibility of
challenging the biologists. A current example of this occurs in a
column by Frederick
at TechCentralStation. I am moved to write on this explosive
subject because the column does a beautiful job of explaining what is
at stake and what constitutes the real power of the scientific
establishment. I am persuaded that it provides a means of demurring on
a few points in a format nearly as brief. Let's see if this is also a
fantasy. Turner's piece is a followup to a previous essay that upset
both sides, and he recapitulates his own beliefs thus:
In the essay I did state flatly that
the theory of evolution had been proved. I wanted it to be clear where
I stood. Much of the mail I received protested about that statement. I
hold to it, and hold to it not as my own opinion, but as a fact, like
the existence of Australia, which is not my opinion but a fact. But I
do know that there are many who sincerely, and given their range of
knowledge, rationally, do not believe in the theory of evolution.
Like the existence of Australia. Mark that. Turner also does what few
others do when manning these particular battlements: he offers us a
concise definition of what he believes to be fact:
By the theory of evolution I mean the
origination of new species from common ancestral forms by an iterated
process of genetic mutation, natural selection, and hereditary
transmission, whereby the frequencies of newly altered, repeated, and
old genes and introns in a given lineage can cross ecological,
structural, and behavioral thresholds that radically separate one
species from another. In one sense, this can be summed up in a
syllogism, which must be true if we make the basic and essential act of
faith that logic itself is true: survivors survive.
Further to his credit, Turner is economical but comprehensive in his
assessment of the stakes:
For biology is not the only field for
which the theory of evolution is an essential foundation. Geology,
physical anthropology, agricultural science, environmental science,
much of chemistry, some areas of physics (e.g. protein folding) and
even disciplines such as climatology and oceanography (which rely on
the evolutionary history of the planet in its calculations about the
composition of the atmosphere and oceans), are at least partially
founded on evolution.
In other words, the Theory of Evolution really does underlie the whole
story we are telling ourselves about who we are and where we came from.
The Creationists' dog in this hunt is easy to spot. The biologists tend
to be cagier about their agenda, but Turner conveys it clearly:
The angry evolutionists were especially
interesting, as they often wound up admitting implicitly that their
real agenda was atheism -- while denying that there was any social
policy message in that agenda.
It's actually rare for a member of the scientific establishment to come
so close to admitting that this has become as much a religious war
as a scientific debate: devout theists vs devout atheists. It's no
surprise that Turner finishes by handicapping the opponents. The
measure he uses, though, is more instructive about the contemporary
scientific mindset than it is accurate:
The work of the biological teams
is required to be backed up by exhaustive experiment and observation,
together with exact statistical analysis of the results. There is a
continuous process of search through all these articles by trained
reviewers looking for discrepancies among them and demanding new
experimental work to resolve them. Since every one of these articles
relies on the consistency and truth of the theory of evolution, every
one of them adds implicitly to the veracity of the theory. By my
calculation, then, opponents of evolution must find a way of matching
and disproving, experiment by experiment, observation by observation,
and calculation by calculation, at least two million pages of closely
reasoned scientific text, representing roughly two million man-years of
expert research and perhaps trillions of dollars of training, salaries,
equipment, and infrastructure.
This sounds a formidable obstacle, and it would be if the logical error
Turner commits earlier in the piece were not an error, but it is.
Remember this passage, quoted above, which I have stripped of its
obfuscating flourishes: "By the theory of evolution I mean the
origination of new species from
common ancestral forms by an iterated process of genetic mutation,
natural selection, and hereditary transmission
... which must be
true if we make the basic and essential act of faith that logic itself
is true: survivors survive." [emphasis mine].
I would suggest that the fact Turner believes to be as incontrovertible
as the existence of Australia is actually "the origination of new
species from common ancestral forms," not the precise mechanism by
which changes occur. I further suggest that the "genetic mutation,
natural selection, and hereditary transmission" part of the
evolutionary puzzle is responsible for the religious component of the
scientific perspective. Yes, they have a lot invested in their
description of the process by which changes occur, but that does not
mean that science has actually solved all problems about process. Do
not forget that there is still no satisfactory explanation by science
about the origin of life on earth in the first place. Nobel prize
found this riddle so impossible of resolution that he
proposed the concept of panspermia -- introduction of life from an
extraterrestrial source -- to account for the astonishing complexity
and similarity of DNA across species. it would seem there are still
some sizable holes on the process side of evolution.
I'll clarify the point I'm making by explaining that I believe the
Creationists are dead wrong in their whole approach to the problem, and
I believe the evolutionists are substantially wrong about process. And
if I'm right, I do not have to disprove each and every experiment
performed by biologists since Darwin first stated his theory. What I
have to do is discover an additional agency which resolves the logical
paradox employed by all evolutionists in their descriptions of adaptive
What am I talking about? You can see examples on every nature show
broadcast on television. We are shown an example of an attribute some
species has developed to better its chances for survival. I saw one
last night on the National Geographic Channel in a program titled
"Hornets from Hell." The hornets are Japanese, extra large and deadly
to humans, smaller hornets, and honey bees. In particular, European
honey bees imported to boost honey production are helpless against the
super hornets. Thirty hornets can slaughter a hive of 30,000 European
honey bees in about three hours. Interestingly, though, the less
honey-productive Japanese honey bees have an amazing defense against
the hornets, which must send a scout to mark the target hive with a
pheromone so that the hornet death squad can find it. The Japanese
honey bees detect the scout's arrival and lure it into the hive. When
she attempts to leave, the honey bees swarm the invader. Hundreds of
bees surround the scout and become a squirming pulsing entity. Are they
stinging the invader to death? No. Unlike hornets, honey bees die after
they sting. Instead, the honey bees are vibrating their abdomens,
increasing the body heat of the mass to precisely 117 degrees. A honey
bee can survive temperatures of 118 degrees; a hornet, only 115 degrees.
The scout hornet dies, the hive is safe from attack, and no honey bees
Now when an evolutionist describes this or some other trait or physical
characteristic which serves as a defense mechanism, he speaks in terms
of purpose. This trait or feature was developed in order to increase
the chances of survival against some predator or environmental
condition. This makes it easier for us lay people to understand. When
we have understood the value of the change, the biologist retraces the
steps of his argument and subtracts the purpose from the process
altogether, because it must be -- according to current theory -- a
blundering series of genetic accidents and a slow cumulative sequence
of minor and meaningless changes that eventually add up to a feature
which works so well that it has the appearance of design.
This is a bait-and-switch use of logic. Purpose is employed to appeal
to native common sense. Then purpose is removed and, along with it, the
persuasiveness of the process description.
With respect to our honey bee example, it's important to remember that
each bee brain consists of only a few hundred neurons. Actual learning
is not a capability of such primitive brains. The behavioral
change acquired by Japanese bees to deal with the super hornet must be
hardwired into those few neurons. How did that happen?
Scientists love to haul out Occam's razor -- the simplest idea is
probably right. I'll haul it out here. It's far easier to explain the
process by which Japanese bees acquired this defense mechanism through
the inference that some kind of intelligence exists within the species
as a whole which does explicitly recognize the hornet threat and
responds appropriately by reprogramming the brains of Japanese honey
This kind of intelligence does not have to be God. But the
evolutionists resist it because the appearance of any kind of
intelligence within their materialistic system opens the door to the
possibility that intelligence, and therefore consciousness, and
therefore possibly some supreme consciousness, is an intrinsic
attribute of the universe. This is unacceptable not for scientific
reasons but for religious reasons. The atheists can't stomach it.
It's important to remember that evolution is one of the earliest
examples of systems theory -- that is, how minute changes in input
change the output of the entire system. Another simpler example is
mechanical systems theory, such as the description of how changes in
input to a manufacturing system affect changes in output. In the
mechanical world, the relationship is linear: increase input by a unit
and output increases by a unit. This is the core of the incrementalism
which drives the evolutionists' process description of one genetic
mutation, one improved unit of survivability, one more generation of
improved survivability, and so on.
But now we live in the age of systems theory as it has been changed by
computer technology. Our new models, which probably relate better to
organic life, demonstrate that tiny changes in system input can result
in huge changes in system output. The power of this theory is that it
has led to computer simulations of artificial life and artificial
intelligence, in which the system begins to write and rewrite its own
rules. This has led to new speculations, including one called complexity
, which proposes that systems are driven to the "edge of
chaos," where some kind of capability to receive new information from
outside the system is created. This is not a discipline in which the
evolutionary biologists have much interest, though, because no matter
how independently an artificial system evolves through time, all such
computer systems begin with a programmer who writes the initial set of
rules and sets the process in motion. Danger, danger, danger.
Note, too, that the basic Darwinian theory is also much older than the
field of quantum physics, which is also flummoxed to the point of
despair over the seeming evidence that consciousness directly affects
outcomes at the particle level.
I am not proposing an answer here. I am proposing that the Creationist
vs Scientist debate has been oversimplified to the point of nonsense
for the purpose of preventing any reopening of the antique assumptions
underlying "state-of-the-art" evolutionary theory. The chief mechanism
of oversimplification is an obviously duplicitous bit of illogic which
falsely equates the given that "survivors survive" with the still
theoretical working explanation offered by science about how survivors get
better at surviving.
I'll close with a quick explanation of the graphics at the top of the
page, which represent another realm of trickery by evolutionary
biologists. They're fond of explaining speciation and adaptive response by using
the example of dog breeds, whose stunningly varied attributes reflect
changes made through breeding to improve capabilities in certain
specific areas. This kind of example is supposed to help us understand
the process by which nature makes changes in species, although
biologists are always careful to remind us that the difference between
dog breeding and nature is that man breeds dogs deliberately and nature
breeds species by accident. As if this were a completely trivial
One thing the biologists never talk about is where the vast realm of
potential changes in dogs might come from. Oddly enough, members of
individual breeds when released to the wild almost immediately revert to
a completely standard dog design -- same size, same conformation the
world over. So why and how is it the case that it is possible to
develop extraordinary capabilities -- of sight, of smell, of fleetness,
of intelligence, of strength, of size, of appearance -- if that
potential were not already part of the basic dog gene pool? It really
does seem as if that gene pool were in existence for the purpose of
being invoked in response to the demands of environment and other
factors, as if it were a system equipped with all the latent potentials
that might be called upon by a conscious reprogramming effort. Cambrian
Of course, in a final bit of irony, all dogs are still part of the same
species, theoretically still
capable of breeding with one another, size discrepancies
notwithstanding. Does this make anyone nervous about the scientific
definition of what a species is? Why is it that lions and tigers can
mate and produce offspring? Are they not different species? Or are all
the big cats somehow merely breeds of the same super-species, like
Boston terriers and Borzois? And if this might be the case, can we not
glimpse the possibility that what the evolutionists call
macro-evolution, which is the weakest and most unproven of their
theory's components, is really nothing but a radical version of the
micro-evolution science has indeed proven to exist?
If there were some middle ground between the two poles of thought on
evolution, wouldn't we all benefit from the process of studying it
seriously? We might evolve
a better theory that doesn't require such contortions of logic to
POSTSCRIPT: I'll predict that if any evolutionists read this piece,
they'll attack me in one or more of three ways. 1) They'll get personal
immediately, calling me an idiot, a moron, a religious nut, etc. 2)
They'll deny my right to discuss the subject at all because I don't
have a degree in evolutionary biology, as if freedom of speech were now
subject in the scientific world to a kind of poll tax. 3) They'll find
one or several errors, or anything that might be interpreted as an
error, to argue that this makes the whole discussion invalid. But it
isn't. They can patronize and condescend to me all they want, but not
one of them can persuasively explain the process by which wild plants
became useful domestic crops. I'll keep my powder dry on that one till
Another briefer response to Turner's column can be found at Rand
's site (HT InstaPundit). There's also a considerable body
of comments which are amusingly similar to what you'd expect.