Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The lugubrious game

Check out LGF for all sorts of links about the press's coverage of what I'll call the 2,000th serviceperson's Iraq-related death. I use that odd phrase because it's false that 2,000 soldiers have died fighting on the ground in Iraq.

This debate about the media's coverage of the 2,000th death, with liberals saying "grim milestone" and conservatives saying "irrelevant," is cute, because it obscures multiple more important issues: one, that (contra the liberals) the number of deaths has little to do with whether or not the war was justified; and two, that (contra the conservatives) American soldiers do continue to die on a daily basis. 67 American servicepeople have died THUS FAR in October--that makes October the 9th deadliest month in this 32-month war, and we have 6 more days to go.

We don't want to grapple with the real issues of Iraq--the intelligence failures, the dissent of top brass, the fact that our children are going to have to pay for this war, that we need to continue to support the troops that are fighting and pray that they succeed. (Read Slate's fascinating attack on something I posted about here.)

I would like to point out that the "MSM" is making a big deal out of #2,000's NEWS. Not because they're die-hard gay-loving universal health care having abortionist relativists. Because they need news, and they'll make news out of anything.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

That's pretty weak, Anne E. Kornblut

An article over at the NYT about Andrew Card features this subtle dig at conservatives:

"Mr. Card personally managed the selection of Harriet E. Miers for the Supreme Court, a choice that has splintered the Republican Party and left the administration scrambling to rescue her nomination."

I hate to be the one to point this out, but the Republican party is anything but splintered. And I don't hate to point out that this is a clear example of--not bias--but bad reporting. (If you read my past blog posts, I've argued that "biased" is an incoherent term that should be replaced with more specific ones.)

A George Will column here and a William Kristol column there are interesting, but hardly indicative of a splintering in the Republican party, which is a well-oiled machine right now with 55 senators and a president in power. I guess planless, spineless liberals will grasp at anything they can--they'd rather criticize than actually do anything about the current situation. (And so I'll criticize them.)

"Democracy and power" just didn't get people's motors running, eh?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Democracy and power

I recently reread 1984, and it prompted this post.

Democracy, it seems to me, is not just a balance of power, or checks on power by other power, but the actual, occasional ceding of power by individuals or groups. I think we tend to forget that many of the reforms that have made this country so great were accomplished not just by the actions listed above, or even by personal sacrifices, but by someone's permanently giving up of power, control, and influence and making it impossible for people in their positions to regain it.

That presidents can serve for just two terms is one example. The existing laws about lobbying and campaign donations are another. Read this:

"On July 14, 2005, Russ Feingold introduced a bill to the Senate that would ban lobbyists from giving gifts to senators and impose a $50,000 fine for violating the ban; force lawmakers to sign statements saying that lobbyists did not pay their travel expenses; bar congressmen, staffers, and executive branch officials from serving as lobbyists for two years after leaving office; and require that lobbying reports be disclosed on a quarterly, rather than semi-annual, basis. At the same time, Congressman Marty Meehan of Massachusetts, who co-wrote the House version of McCain-Feingold, and Congressman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois introduced a similar bill in the House. Neither bill has yet come to a vote."

I'm amazed that a senator would sponsor such a bill, and it serves as a perfect example of what I'm talking about: someone permanently making themselves and their successors less powerful in order to make life better for everyone. The transition from monarchy to our current democratic republic seems to be this principle in action.

Now, I'm not talking about our economic system, free exchange for mutual benefit; I'm talking solely about the political system. A transparent political system enables capitalism to succeed, and transparency is accomplished by those actions I wrote about above.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The powers of the state

Tough issue. I do think she should be allowed to keep the baby. And that she's naive. Let's analyze her argument logically:

If he was this miserable monster, I wouldn't be able to close my eyes at night.
I can close my eyes at night.
Therefore, he's not a miserable monster.

If A, then B.
Not B.
Therefore, not A.

It checks out!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Evolution, schmevolution

This New York Times article takes on the creation/evolution debate by way of the Grand Canyon--specifically, the creationist rafting trips that one can take down the Colorado river. This quote is absolutely priceless:

"Diana Panes began questioning evolution, which she had studied in school like most everyone else, seven years ago when [her ten-year-old son] Andrew came home from school asking whether Genesis was fable or history, and about dinosaurs dating back millions of years. "I was gobsmacked," Mrs. Panes recalled. So she started reading, attending lectures, watching creationist videos. "I don't want to believe in fairy tales. I'm interested in truth," Mrs. Panes said."

So how did she answer those questions?

There is one philosophical point that I would like to make. Different thinkers (among them Hilary Putnam and Karl Popper) have pointed out different criteria for good science. One criterion on everyone's list is always coherence--that our beliefs should not contradict each other. Coherence has even been been made into a theory of truth, albeit a deflationist one, by relativists like hans who have given up on absolute truth. Since there can be no such thing as correspondence of beliefs with reality, the coherentists say, the best we can hope for is to generate as many beliefs as possible that don't contradict one other. We can't test them against something else, something external, so as we pick them up we just see if they fit.

The point that I want to make is that despite the fact that (1) we should aim for coherence, that (2) we often do aim for coherence, and that (3) coherence is an end of science, coherence has still never stopped anyone dead in their tracks. Nothing in your mind short circuits when you're presented with a belief that contradicts another of your beliefs--you have several options at this point, and there's no algorithm that tells you what to do. So, this is to say that even if a creationist's belief system is incoherent AS WELL AS in opposition to established science, there is still nothing that forces them to change their minds. They will only change their minds when...they decide to.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Sorry, children

Here we learn how Americans are coping with the high price of gas. This kinda made me mad:

"We have stopped spending on things that aren't necessities, and we've been forced to halve our grocery bill. The kids no longer get fresh fruit or vegetables and no longer get turkey sandwiches. Now we buy only canned goods and the cheapest lunch meat possible. With the price of gas up, everything else is up... except for our wages."

Probably it's not so good of an idea to stop giving your kids fruits and vegetables...but hey, you do what you have to. The other funny thing is the headline for that paragraph, which is:

Reigning in the spending

This clearly shows CNN's liberal bias, because the correct term that the illiterate editor didn't put in, "rein", is neutral, whereas "reign" voted for John Kerry and loves Tom Brokaw.

Anyway, has the price of gas affected any of us in the blogosphere? As brian spilner would say, discuss.