The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Friday, November 18, 2005


Via John at AmericaBlog, we see that Charles Krauthammer has a column today which rips Intelligent Design to shreds:
Let's be clear. Intelligent design may be interesting as theology, but as science it is a fraud. It is a self-enclosed, tautological "theory" whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge -- in this case, evolution -- they are to be filled by God. It is a "theory" that admits that evolution and natural selection explain such things as the development of drug resistance in bacteria and other such evolutionary changes within species but also says that every once in a while God steps into this world of constant and accumulating change and says, "I think I'll make me a lemur today." A "theory" that violates the most basic requirement of anything pretending to be science -- that it be empirically disprovable. How does one empirically disprove the proposition that God was behind the lemur, or evolution -- or behind the motion of the tides or the "strong force" that holds the atom together?

In order to justify the farce that intelligent design is science, Kansas had to corrupt the very definition of science, dropping the phrase " natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us," thus unmistakably implying -- by fiat of definition, no less -- that the supernatural is an integral part of science. This is an insult both to religion and science.
Whoa... wait, bacdafucup, CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER???

Yep. In fact, this shouldn't be a surprise. In July, Krauthammer was among 15 prominent conservatives surveyed by TNR's Ben Adler on the subjects of evolution and ID. The article is now behind TNR's subscriber wall, but if I recall, Digby posted some of the responses. Here's Krauthammer's:
Whether he personally believes in evolution: "Of course."

What he thinks of intelligent design: "At most, interesting."

Whether intelligent design should be taught in public schools: "The idea that [intelligent design] should be taught as a competing theory to evolution is ridiculous. ... The entire structure of modern biology, and every branch of it [is] built around evolution and to teach anything but evolution would be a tremendous disservice to scientific education. If you wanna have one lecture at the end of your year on evolutionary biology, on intelligent design as a way to understand evolution, that's fine. But the idea that there are these two competing scientific schools is ridiculous."
There you have it. Of the conservatives surveyed, only a couple of them are as unequivocal as Krauthammer regarding their acceptance of evolution and the rejection of ID as science (Richard Brookhiser gets a gold star, and William F Buckley and Jonah Goldberg each get a solid B+).

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Associated Press:
One Arabic linguist was discharged from the military for violating its "don't ask, don't tell" sexual orientation policy in fiscal year 2004, according to records obtained by an advocacy group.

In the first 10 years of "don't ask, don't tell," the military discharged 54 Arabic and nine Farsi speakers for violating the policy, according to the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military. In fiscal year 2004, however, there was just one Arabic and no Farsi speakers discharged, the center said Wednesday. That compares to at least three enlisted personnel discharged the previous year.

"The military does not like to admit firing gay Arabic linguists during a dire shortage because the public doesn't understand why we would rather fire gays than have enough Arabic linguists to translate intercepted cables," said Aaron Belkin, director of the center based at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In 2004, the 9/11 Commission found the government "lacked sufficient translators proficient in Arabic and other key languages, resulting in a significant backlog of untranslated intercepts."
(I'm a proud member of the "I <3 Belkin" Facebook group)

"Don't Ask Don't Tell" has always been a stupid compromise policy, but beyond that, there's the irony of catering to religious fundamentalists at home, and how doing so in this case impedes our efforts in the war against... religious fundamentalists elsewhere.

What a great moral statement it would have been for, in the aftermath of 9/11, when the American people would have lit their own farts if Bush told them to, if the President had ended that policy in favor of inclusion. But alas, that was never going to happen. I don't know what the Vulcans were thinking with that Nixon/China proverb.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Hmm. I wonder if this...
An attorney for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) said Monday that he will request an early December trial date for the former House majority leader, if the case gets that far.

Lawyer Dick DeGuerin said in a letter that "time is of the essence" in the case that has forced DeLay to temporarily step down from his House post.

Judge Pat Priest has set a hearing for next Tuesday to consider requests to drop the charges against DeLay and his co-defendants. Defense attorneys have asked that the charges be dropped for various reasons, including alleged misconduct by a prosecutor.

"Should the indictments survive the hearings of November 22, we will request a trial date in early December," DeGuerin wrote in his letter to Priest.
...might have something to do with stories like this one:
In a stunning breakdown of Republican unity, House leaders failed Thursday to muster enough votes to pass $50 billion in budget savings, their ranks torn between moderate and conservative wings that rejected pleas for party discipline.

The GOP leaders, faced as well with unified Democratic opposition, were forced to pull the budget bill off the House floor rather than see it defeated.

At the same time, rebellion by Sen. Olympia Snowe, a moderate Republican from Maine, blocked the Senate Finance Committee from approving a $70 billion tax-cut package, another Republican priority.

The disruptive rifts in Republican ranks in Congress underscored the changing political landscape in Washington, as President Bush's popularity is waning and the governing party faces mounting public opposition on everything from the war in Iraq to sky-high gasoline prices.
"Don't worry, Donovan, I'll be back in time for the Super Bowl. And besides, if we lose our majority in the midterms, I'll just blame my teammates!"

(Sorry, I was determined to see that analogy through. And it isn't really appropriate anyway.)

Monday, November 14, 2005


President Bush, as you may have noticed, has been speechifying lately on Iraq, trying out a few new lines of rhetorical attack, and dragging out a whole host of old ones for good measure. (The old ones don't seem to pack the same punch when your approval rating is in the mid 30's.)

Slate's Fred Kaplan goes over Bush's new round of carefully-worded assertions and finds them, well, all stem and no cell.

(And if you have any interest in not developing a stye, you'd be well advised to steer clear of Chalab-o-phile Christopher Hitchens' useless, lazy drivel on a related matter.)