Strain Out a Gnat and Swallow a Camel: How Reverse Statism Endangers the Republic

If you want to send a message to Washington, you must speak in its language. Washington only comprehends the electorate’s desires based upon the margin of victory between the winning candidate and the losing candidate from the opposing major party.

If Obama wins, third party votes will go unnoticed and unheeded, and liberals will take the victory to be an electoral mandate to buckle down on the policies we don’t want.

Third party votes do not say, “I don’t like either candidate, so I’m voting for a better choice,” but rather, “I’m comfortable enough with the way things are to spend my vote on a losing cause.”

If Romney wins, the message will be that Americans want Obama out of office NOW, and prefer the general direction that Romney is willing to take. The Romney administration will receive this as an electoral mandate to move as far away from Obama’s worldview as possible.

THE PHARISAICAL PATRIOT: "Ugh, that gnat! I'd rather be dragged through the desert than use that filthy blade." (Click to enlarge)

You might think that your one vote in a liberal district is meaningless anyway – although of course if everyone subscribed to that idea and resulting course of action, it would make a huge impact. Even popular vote-wise, every vote for Romney is a slap in the face of Obama. Every vote for a third party candidate is mere graffiti on the wall.

Many third-party voters are humble and well-meaning, and many are just angry and feeling insubordinate. Either way, I ask you to respectfully reconsider the situation. America made one of the worst decisions in her relatively young life four years ago, and to prolong it would be painful for generations to come.

I now present to you a pamphlet on the 2012 election and Mitt Romney’s candidacy. Hopefully it will answer all of your questions.

Romney praying before making a commencement speech. (Jae C. Hong AP)

But Mitt Romney’s a Mormon! (Fear not)

Our White House has been residence to Unitarians, at least one likely Deist, and multiple Freemasons. Is Romney’s Mormonism really any weirder?

Romney walks down the central staircase inside the Statehouse during a ceremony marking the end of his term as governor on Jan. 3, 2007. (Josh Reynolds/AP)

Romnesia: Misconceptions about Romney’s record

Romney is often mocked for being inconsistent. In reality, he has been consistent in a way that would be difficult for most of us.

THREE-WAY WRECK: George H.W. Bush, Ross Perot, and Bill Clinton at the second presidential debate of the 1992 election season. Due to America's mostly winner-take-all system, third parties virtually never win, but can still influence the outcome of elections. Scholars speculate that Perot's candidacy might have given Clinton victory, since Perot garnered 19% of the vote that most likely would have otherwise gone to Bush. (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander)

Reverse statism: A reality check for voters considering third party

If you think an election that can’t be won with your ideal candidate is an election not worth winning at all, think again.

Also of interest: My research paper “Odd Ones Out: Why Third Parties Don’t Fit in the American Political System“.

Just remember: The Federal Reserve. The United Nations. Osama Bin Laden on the loose. The 2008 Financial Crisis. Obamacare. What do these things have in common? Third party voters along with conservatives and libertarians who refused to vote were complicit in their existence.

UPDATE (11/06/12): Why The Founder Of NotMittRomney.com Has Already Voted For Mitt Romney; Former Libertarian candidate: Mitt Romney is the only sane choice for libertarians.

Dissecting ‘Darwinocracy’ UPDATED – 10/30/2011

Armin Cifuentes/Ronald Martinez (Getty Images)

This post is an appendix to my Washington Times Communities article, Darwinocracy: The evolution question in American politics.

Does Darwin rule the electorate? Why does a stigma surround those who are skeptical of Darwinism, and how should candidates respond?

Ah, the evolution question. It’s one of the latest politipop culture quizzes posed to American political candidates (Republican candidates, to be specific).

The stigma surrounding some conservatives’ answers to the question is grounded mostly in confusion about what actually encompasses Darwinian evolution. The two core principles of Darwinian evolution are natural selection and common descent with modification. The Galapagos finches, dogs, chickens and horses are a few organisms in which the power of natural selection and artificial selection is blatantly obvious to even the casual observer (my college textbook for political theory class erroneously states that conservatives want to ban Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection from schools).

Those who are skeptical of evolution are actually skeptical of common descent with modification, because they think there are reasons to believe that natural selection is limited.

Why?

There is evidence that many Darwinian predictions in this area have been inaccurate. To mention a few: The list of vestigial organs in the human body has been reduced to practically nil; there have been out of place fossil discoveries (as well as soft tissue found in dinosaur fossils); there is an immense gap between prokaryotes and eukaryotes; 99% of evidence from molecular biology does not reflect a trend of common descent (if you scrutinize the results of cytochrome C amino acid sequences according to the metabolic needs of an organism, for instance); there is an increasing absence of “junk DNA”; experiments have shown generations of mutating bacteria to not necessarily increase in fitness (biochemist Michael Behe explains that E. coli experiments have shown “Mostly devolution…[t]he lesson of E. coli is that it’s easier for evolution to break things than make things”), and those are experiments on asexually reproducing organisms – the experiments with sexually reproducing organisms are even less thrilling.

Do evolutionists have explanations to avenge all these dead ends of Darwinism?

Of course they do. They generally operate on the circular premise that evolution happened because it must have happened, so the only questions for them involve defining and refining specifically how evolution did it. The possibility of the evidence actually contradicting evolutionary predictions evidently never crosses their minds.

Amusingly, this is similar to what they accuse Biblical creationists of doing – clinging to predictions derived from historical records in the Bible and never daring to consider the possibility that creation didn’t happen.

These rival perspectives run deep in the soul and neither can be dismissed as merely the result of stupidity or ignorance. One difference between the two is that Darwin loyalists have an image advantage thanks to caricaturing media.

In the scant 150 years since the evolutionary ideas of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace were formally presented, the handling of evolution from a public relations stand point has been brilliant (as I explained in a college essay that can be read here).

Essentially, Darwin (and his followers) won the public debate by defining who the debate was between: The scientific and the unscientific.

Thus, before much speculation about the different means and limits of evolution appeared, any potential doubt about them was destined to be labeled “unscientific” by the academic majority that was more afraid of being embarrassed than being wrong.

Yet however much popularity and longevity the theory of evolution has appreciated, if we know anything about the history of science, it is that science is tentative and not governed by majority rule (except when it’s absurdly politicized, of course – which is irrelevant to data).

New data often results in subtle changes in scientific positions that are held for a brief time. For instance, the Davson-Danielli model for cell membranes was “generally accepted” by scientists from 1935 up until the early 1970s, when the Singer-Nicolson model offered a better explanation.

Sometimes new data causes a tremendous upset that age-old politically correct establishments have a difficult time tolerating, such as when Aristotelian natural philosophy dominated for about 900 years until the likes of Copernicus, Galileo and Newton gradually chipped away at the likelihood of it.

For all our nearsighted society knows now, Darwin could be the next Aristotle.

By the way, some Christians and theists – rightly or wrongly – are convinced that evolution is the process that God used to create life on Earth, while others think there is not sufficient scientific or historical evidence for it. This illustrates that believers can, without squeamishness, leverage evidence for and against evolution.

The same cannot be said for most unbelievers, whose leftist obsession with Darwinian evolution is misguided and not so much evidence-based as it is agenda-driven. If Darwinism is shown to not be entirely true, then the very foundations of their ideologies will be uprooted. The slightest amount of evidence to the contrary risks pulling the rug out from under the feet of naturalism and thus they cannot tolerate it.

Q. Do you think evolution should be taught in schools?

This was a question posed to Miss USA contestants earlier this year, and I squirmed the entire time I listened to their bubblegum responses. This isn’t even a difficult question.

Evolution has been so influential in shaping worldviews prevalent in the past century (even affecting Woodrow Wilson’s constitutional philosophy) that you cannot be well-educated without knowing about it.

Furthermore, the most powerful thing you can do for truth is the most devastating thing you can do for error: Thoroughly study it.

Teach the origin of the concept, teach what evolution is observably capable of, and teach what its puzzling limitations are. But to teach that everything about it is settled, unquestionable fact is to undermine and make a mockery of science itself.

Why would any evolutionist be afraid of teaching evolution in its entirety, warts and all?

Well, I’ll admit that most creationists I know have the same story: “I was an evolutionist until I started seriously studying evolution.”

Science is never fully settled. There is data in my college biology textbook that came out just two years before the textbook was published – and new information might one day contradict it (that’s why new editions are constantly being written and published). Those who believe that everything about one principle of one theory of science is “settled fact” appear to be desperately seeking a stable, unwavering substitute for GOD. Science simply cannot offer such a substitute.

LONG OVERDUE UPDATE (10/30/2011):

My “evolution question in politics” column generated many long, thoughtful comments. I was pleasantly surprised by this. I’m glad to see that more and more evolutionists and unbelievers are putting effort into original thought and sharing information in comments – quite an improvement over the short, profane comments I used to get.

Let me begin with posting some of the excellent comments left by the Communities’ very own Politics editor, Jim Picht (I’ll highlight points I find important):

(In response to another commenter)

“”There is no controversy among the science community …” There’s always controversy in the scientific community. That’s not a sign of weakness, but of strength. It’s when people lack the courage of their convictions that they become fundamentalists, whether fundamentalist Christians or fundamentalist secularists. People who have mature confidence don’t mind at all having the weaknesses in their arguments pulled out and examined in minute detail.

Science is as prone to dogmatic thinking as any other facet of human existence. The glory of science is that it has built into the mechanisms for the discovery and elimination of its own dogmas. But in a number of disciplines (climate science and evolutionary biology spring to mind), politicization has created a knee-jerk defensive posture that plays into the hands of people who want to discount science altogether.

Science doesn’t have all the answers, as you observe, and it can’t. It shouldn’t ever pretend to. Yes, admitting to problems and inconsistencies and gaps emboldens critics, and in these fractious times no one ever wants to embolden critics (hence like medieval popes, politicians and scientists today are forced into positions of inerrancy), but whatever the tactical gains, it’s a strategic error not to let it all hang out, warts, ad hoc-ery and all. We don’t know how life began (and evolution isn’t about origins, but about diversity, so what’s the big deal?), we don’t know exactly what the impact is of human activity on climate, and some things that science claims it knows today will be found silly tomorrow. Life goes on, and science is still the best tool we have for figuring out the physical world around us.

There’s no such thing, Chris, as “a true fact based science curriculum.” There’s only tentative truth and facts as we know them. The curriculum can do without dogma, religious or scientific. Science education is a whole lot more fun and a whole lot more positive and powerful a force to create a population of critical and original thinkers when we look at it as a voyage, not a destination. Capital-T Truth may be the destination in principle, but it’s the destination we’ll never achieve. Let’s not mess up young minds and sour them on science by pretending otherwise.” – JWPicht

“…In fact I’m an evolutionary “true believer” through and through. I degreed in life-science and worked in a genetics lab (Howard Hughes Medical Institutes) before wandering off to become an economist. I don’t claim to be an expert in evolution, merely a well-informed layman, but it seems clear to me that Darwin gives us the only scientific game in town for understanding the diversity of life on earth.

Scientists should be very pleased with that, trumpet the successes of the theory, and be excited to grapple with its failures. Instead when they write for the lay public, they defensively act as if they have perfect knowledge of absolute Truth. That’s just silly. Science should upset religious and political beliefs. I have no objection with that. What science should not do is impose its own dogmas. Most scientists are like most economists – they don’t have an agenda, they do try to do good, honest work. But the thought that people like Dawkins (the “village atheist”) don’t have an agenda is laughable, and the defensive posture taken by many scientists is predictably human in the face of the political firestorms they sometimes face. Scientists get paid to be objective, but when they apply for grants, they know that some perspectives are preferred to others.

Scientists usually try to be objective (even when their funding comes from energy companies or the NIH), but they aren’t machines, nor are they monsters of logic. I haven’t argued that scientists politicized evolution. But it has been politicized, and they respond in a knee-jerk defensive way. The fact that you read my comments as blaming the scientists for politicization and saw in them an assumption of dishonesty is indicative to me of that sort of knee-jerk response. All I really said is that a defensive posture that refuses to admit to the outside world the possibility of error is the antithesis of science. More than being paid to be objective (a nonsense proposition in the human world), scientists are paid to think critically. If many of the criticisms leveled at evolutionary biology are trivially rebutted, fine, but there’s a great deal of disagreement within the scientific community about the hows of evolution, there’s incomplete understanding about the process, there are gaps in our understanding. That’s the way it is in science.” – JWPicht

“Amanda, arguments about evolution itself were a predictable response to your article. What has been ignored is the question of whether belief one way or another in evolution is relevant to a person’s qualifications for public office.

As it happens, I’m quite convinced that evolution is the only scientific explanation for the diversity of life on earth. It’s imperfect, but scientific understanding always is. We don’t every know the absolute truth, but only tentative truths. That’s not a defect of scientific models and method, and if we understand the limits of scientific thinking, they also underscore its power.

But I really don’t care what Rick Perry believes about evolution, and I’m puzzled why anyone wants to know his views on the subject. I don’t care about his views on quantum mechanics, either. What I want to know is what he plans to do about the deficit, unemployment, the deployment of American forces abroad, when he thinks it’s appropriate to intervene in the affairs of another country, and so on. Unless we want the White House to set science curricula in American schools (a serious violation of the principles of minimalist federal government that so many conservatives claim to admire), his views on science just aren’t an issue. (If he wants the federal government to start dictating what’s taught in biology classes, then we have an issue.)

Liberals take disbelief in evolution as a symptom of general intellectual laziness or stupidity, hence they see it as disqualifying for high office. As an economist, I might see their inability to understand the destructive effects of minimum wage on unskilled black men under 30 as equally a symptom of stupidity, or perhaps racial malice and moral degeneracy. I prefer to think that they place emphasis on different outcomes than I do on the basis of different values, but it remains the case their views on minimum wage and their economic literacy are much more important qualifications for public office than their views on evolution.

We all think that whatever it is that interests us is what’s really important. I think that it’s terrible that kids don’t study economics more in school, my wife (a professor of Romance languages) is convinced that learning languages is the key to success, and our neighbor (a professor of math) thinks that math is what people really need to know. As it happens, geophysicists can do their jobs just fine without giving a second thought to evolution. My son’s piano teacher need never give a thought to economics, and I don’t care whether the person flying my airplane has ever read Anna Karenina, so long as he’s read his pilot manuals.

The evolution question is just a political shibboleth. It turns a matter of science into just another religious test. It’s not a constructive question, but destructive. It’s not a constructive question, but destructive. The more candidates talk about their views on evolution, the less I like them, whatever their views happen to be. The more we focus on the subject, the less interested we are in serious policy debates and the more interested in making political points. I wish that in response to the question, “do you believe in evolution,” candidates would simply answer, “none of your d*** business.”” – JWPicht

One reason why I wrote the article is because I noticed that no matter how candidates respond to the EQ (evolution question), the media or opposition (which might often be the same thing) still fixate on the issue. For instance, in her debate with Chris Coons, Christine O’Donnell said that her personal view of evolution was irrelevant to the discussion, and that she would allow local school districts to have the freedom to educate their children as they saw fit. Coons insisted that the people of Delaware wanted to know O’Donnell’s personal views on the issue anyway.

(Funny that a candidate’s personal views on abortion aren’t considered relevant as long as they support Roe v. Wade, isn’t it?)

This brings me to the inference of a candidate doubting Darwin in the first place.

“So pardon me for challenging you Amanda and questioning whether it is authority that is being challenged by the Americans. When so many poorly educated people feel free to be dubious about the scientific evidence for evolution when the principal influence on their lives is a pastor who can preach to them that evolution is the work of Satan I can’t help but wonder whether you should reconsider that patriotic claim you make on the behalf of your people.”

- sjbolton77

“As has already been noted, Republican candidates are in thrall to an utterly ignorant Republican electorate. It is therefore an entirely sensible thing for any liberal to do to enquire what the candidate thinks about such things as evolutionary theory. There answers might appeal to the great unwashed Republican masses, but it reveals to everyone else with a vote that these people are unprincipled opportunists. So, they know what to expect if they elect them.”

- Mike Magee

This is point has actually crossed my mind before. I know there are plenty of people (Americans included) who blindly accept the ideas of creation and evolution without seriously questioning the concepts. Many people defer to popular evolutionists without understanding science (I call their activity “Reader’s Digest science” – no offense to RD, but you know…), and many defer to creationists without understanding science. I’ve known Christians who believed both and never even suspected they contradicted each other. Some people just aren’t that interested in science. They’re caught up in the present, and aren’t deep thinkers.

But lo and behold, there are intellectuals all over the map in this debate who do think deeply and do research. There are also some lay people on the sidelines that occasionally take a look at the scrimmaging and find one side to be more convincing than the other. Because of this, it is downright wrong to dismiss an evolutionary unbeliever as an idiot.

What do I think about political candidates’ personal views of Darwinian evolution?

Well, I don’t mind as long as they don’t operate on a consistently naturalistic philosophy. Extracting naturalism from evolutionism can result in many things that I find morally reprehensible (i.e., basing the value of life on evolutionary embryology could be used to make an argument in favor of abortion).

SEE ALSO:

Would You Vote For An Atheist?

Weinergate, women and a secularized society

DISGRACED: Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY) could no longer dodge questions about congressional internet security when more scurrilous photographs surfaced that clearly identified his Twitter hacker to be Weiner himself. (John Minchillo, AP Photo)

DISGRACED: Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY) could no longer dodge questions about congressional internet security when more scurrilous photographs surfaced that clearly identified his Twitter hacker to be Weiner himself. (John Minchillo, AP Photo)

OHATCHEE, Al. June 15, 2011 — Last week, I happened to be running errands on a military post when the nearest TV displayed Fox News Channel announcing that Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was about to make a statement concerning his rumored online affairs at any moment.

The next thing I knew, Andrew Breitbart approached the empty podium. Yes, Andrew “that-fool-lying-punk-fake-journalist” Breitbart, who happened to get all the facts straight in this outrageous scandal while (if I’m not mistaken) recovering from the brink of pneumonia and intending to be on Memorial Day vacation.

He was promptly rewarded by some with the slanderous accusation of being the Twitter “hacker” that Representative Weiner flippantly referred to.

To make a long story short, Weiner – who has been a representative from New York since I lived there as a little girl – could no longer dodge questions about congressional internet security when more scurrilous photographs surfaced that clearly identified the “hacker” to be Weiner himself.

Thus, the 46-year-old congressman who has not yet reached his first wedding anniversary tearfully confessed that his adulterous internet flings (and subsequent deception about it) were “destructive”.

“I don’t know what I was thinking,” said Weiner, as he took responsibility for the crazy photos that were sent to various women across the country, most of whom he had met on Facebook.

While watching coverage of this scandal, it appears to me that old school journalists have made some misconceptions about the use of online social networking. There is nothing inappropriate about a member of Congress or political candidate following a young constituent, supporter or media contributor on Twitter or Facebook. For instance, I am followed unobtrusively by Michele Bachmann, Eric Cantor, Thaddeus McCotter, Joe Miller and Dale Peterson, among others. That is merely using a social network for what it is – a network. Twitter is a great way to observe the public’s reaction to various breaking news stories and policy issues.

The line between inappropriate relationships in a network is as clear on the internet as it is off the internet. Weiner crossed it with no qualms whatsoever, and then unconvincingly lied about it to cover up his indiscretion. He would have done well to consider the divine admonition that his ancestors received through Moses: Be sure your sin will find you out.

Perhaps Weiner was taking cues from Machiavelli instead. To the Renaissance political theorist, it was completely possible and advisable to separate public morality from private morality. Essentially, Machiavelli’s warning was that all subjects are immoral and yet admire morality, so a ruler out of necessity must disregard morality in private while maintaining a public façade of righteousness. (What do you think happens to the messengers who blow his cover?)…

Click here to continue reading at The Washington Times Communities.

International Women’s Day and the post-feminist era

REMEMBER THE LADIES: Abigail Adams warned us. If women didn’t have basic civil rights in the first place, things might foment out of control one day – which is exactly what happened.

REMEMBER THE LADIES: Abigail Adams warned us. If women didn’t have basic civil rights in the first place, things might foment out of control one day – which is exactly what happened.

March 8th was International Women’s Day. In fact, this month marks the 100th anniversary of the international feminist celebration initiated by Clara Zetkin, a socialist German politician who took the last name of her Russian lover, eventually married a fellow eighteen years younger than herself and became an executive member of the Comintern.

Well, I don’t suppose many of us women have much in common with her. What does the feminist legacy of Zetkin and others mean to females in my generation?

Throughout my girlhood, I viewed feminism as a sort of lingering ball and chain more than a movement to be proud of. It was something that commanded girls to be in perpetual competition with men whether we wanted to be or not. The presence of feminism was like a ghostly matriarch frowning over me with disappointment in even the subtlest matters.

When I casually wore my favorite denim skirt or floral print dress, I encountered interrogation from observers: “Why do you like to wear 18th century clothes?” “What cult are you a member of?” “Why do you always wear dresses?”

Those are real questions – I didn’t make any of them up. What I began to realize, much to my distaste, is that dresses with hemlines past the knees are subliminally perceived as prison garbs from days gone by. Liberal feminism fought to emancipate women from dresses, from kitchens, from homes and from babies. To embrace any of those things is to disrespect the goddesses of women’s rights.

But colloquialism aside, there are no such things as “women’s rights”. There are only human rights…

Click here to continue reading at The Washington Times Communities.

Moral imaginations, blood libel and the meaning of words

Sarah Palin, Barack Obama

“What is government if words have no meaning?”

Such was the question that Jared Loughner asked Representative Gabrielle Giffords at an event in 2007. Unsatisfied by Giffords’ response (or warranted lack thereof), Loughner targeted her with an apparently vengeful fixation.

The budding thought processes of this anarchical philosopher-wannabe clearly had nothing to do with then-obscure Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck – nor did they have anything to do with the then-nonexistent Tea Party. According to a CBS poll, 57% of Americans agree that today’s political tone did not impact Loughner’s attack. 

It is unlikely that anyone would have seriously considered otherwise had Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik not blamed America’s political climate without evidence (disgracing his status as a law enforcement officer). Left-wing leaning media outlets subsequently seized Dupnik’s talking point with zeal and defined the debate in their favor.

However, just hours later, the primary sources that average citizens have access to via the internet flatly contradicted the politicization.

From online message boards to YouTube videos to the classroom, Loughner demonstrated himself to be a pathological riddler who was angry at the world for refusing to answer his intellectually dishonest questions. As Loughner’s incoherent ramblings and love of conspiracy spiraled downward to senseless bloodshed, King Solomon’s warning proved true – “the lips of a fool consume him; the beginning of his talking is folly and the end of it is wicked madness” (Ecclesiastes 10:12-13).

In response to the tragedy, President Obama’s January 12th speech in Tucson was a bit better than I expected. It was tender, and for the most part above-board and presidential (it is unfortunate that the hooting and hollering disrupted the atmosphere). Obama even dared to go off-script to emphasize that political rhetoric – and “a simply lack of civility” – did not cause the Tucson massacre…

Click here to continue reading at The Washington Times Communities.

Nonsense: Politicizing the tragedy in Tucson

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Jared Loughner

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) remains in critical condition after being shot in the head by Jared Loughner on January 8, 2011. (GiffordsForCongress.com/Mamta Popat, AP)

The atmosphere surrounding the Tea Party has been ruthlessly blamed. But assassination attempts and lone gunmen are not 21st century phenomena. What age-old train of thought did Jared Loughner actually express?

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was greeting constituents during a “Congress on Your Corner” meeting at a Safeway supermarket in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday morning when bloodshed interrupted. Lone gunman Jared Lee Loughner (age 22) shot Giffords in the head and continued the rampage by shooting a total of 19 people, murdering at least 6.The dead include conservative U.S. District Judge John Roll and nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green.

Attempts to politicize the horror came absurdly fast. On the internet, opponents of the Tea Party movement could be found lambasting Sarah Palin and other conservative communicators for inciting the attack.

They spoke too soon, of course. Loughner turns out to be a textbook case of the social misfit suspect – who otherwise appears to be identified as a left-wing atheist obsessed with conspiracy theories. His odd mix of favorite literature includes “The Communist Manifesto” and “Mein Kampf”; he also posted a video on YouTube that scrolls the following words (amidst other incoherent ramblings):

“If I define terrorist then a terrorist is a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon.

I define terrorist.

Thus, a terrorist is a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon.

If you call me a terrorist then the argument to call me a terrorist is Ad hominem. You call me a terrorist.

Thus, the argument to call me a terrorist is Ad hominem.

Thus, the argument to call me a terrorist is Ad hominem.

Every United States military recruit at MEPS in Phoenix is receiving one mini bible before the tests.

Jared Loughner is a United States military recruit at MEPS in Phoenix. Therefore, Jared Loughner is receiving one mini bible before the tests.

I didn’t write a belief on my Army application, and the recruiter wrote on the application: None.

…In conclusion, reading the second United States Constitution, I can’t trust the government because of the ratifications: The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.

No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver!

No! I won’t trust in God!”

We’ve heard this Luciferian logic before. Just last year James J. Lee (the Discovery hostage taker) expressed the same no God, no government, no master but my oh-so-enlightened-self mindset before bringing an end to his own life. Such was the mindset that plagued the disturbed minds of Timothy McVeigh, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold and the leaders of totalitarian regimes. It is the very insane villainy that King David lamented in Psalm 14 and Psalm 53:

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God”. They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good. The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:1-3)

That passage of Scripture isn’t talking about any civil, genuine skeptics out there. Rather, these fools are the megalomaniacs who despise authority in all shape and form, beginning with hatred against God, the ultimate higher power…

Click here to continue reading at The Washington Times Communities.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Primary sources matter. Loughner disliked Giffords in 2007, BEFORE Sarah Palin appeared on the national scene and the Tea Party erupted.

UPDATE – 10:42 P.M. – More information on Loughner from the Associated Press:

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — At an event roughly three years ago, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords took a question from Jared Loughner, the man accused of trying to assassinate her and killing six other people. According to two of his high school friends the question was essentially this: “What is government if words have no meaning?”

Loughner was angry about her response — she read the question and had nothing to say.

“He was like … ‘What do you think of these people who are working for the government and they can’t describe what they do?’” one friend told The Associated Press on Sunday. “He did not like government officials, how they spoke. Like they were just trying to cover up some conspiracy.”

Both friends spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they wanted to avoid the publicity surrounding the case. To them, the question was classic Jared: confrontational, nonlinear and obsessed with how words create reality.

The friends’ comments paint a picture bolstered by other former classmates and Loughner’s own Internet postings: that of a social outcast with nihilistic, almost indecipherable beliefs steeped in mistrust and paranoia…

…Loughner had at least one other contact with Giffords. Investigators said they carried out a search warrant at Loughner’s home and seized a letter addressed to him from Giffords’ congressional stationery in which she thanked him for attending a “Congress on your Corner” event at a mall in Tucson in 2007. Saturday’s shooting occurred at a similar event.

Other evidence seized from his home included an envelope from a safe with messages such as “I planned ahead,” ”My assassination” and the name “Giffords” next to what appears to be Loughner’s signature. Police say he purchased the Glock pistol used in the attack in November…

…Mistrust of government was Loughner’s defining conviction, the friends said. He believed the U.S. government was behind 9/11, and worried that governments were maneuvering to create a unified monetary system (“a New World Order currency” one friend said) so that social elites and bureaucrats could control the rest of the world…

…An ardent atheist, he began to characterize people as sheep whose free will was being sapped by the government and the monotony of modern life.

“He didn’t want people to wake up and do the same thing every day. He wanted more chaos, he wanted less regularity,” one friend said.

The friends said Loughner told anyone who would listen that the world we see does not exist, that words have no meaning — and that the only way to derive meaning was during sleep. Loughner began obsessing about a practice called lucid dreaming, in which people try to actively control their sleeping world…

…When other students, always seated, read their poems, Coorough said Loughner “would laugh at things that you wouldn’t laugh at.” After one woman read a poem about abortion, “he was turning all shades of red and laughing,” and said, “Wow, she’s just like a terrorist, she killed a baby,” Coorough said.

“He appeared to be to me an emotional cripple or an emotional child,” Coorough said. “He lacked compassion, he lacked understanding and he lacked an ability to connect.”

Cates said Loughner “didn’t have the social intelligence, but he definitely had the academic intelligence.”

Read more here.

UPDATE – January 16, 2011 – Ann Coulter pointed out that some inaccuracies may be in that report:

“In the most bald-faced lie I have ever read in The New York Times — which is saying something — that paper implied Loughner is a pro-life zealot. This is the precise opposite of the truth.

Only because numerous other news outlets, including ABC News and The Associated Press, reported the exact same shocking incident in much greater detail — and with direct quotes — do we know that the Times’ rendition was complete bunk.

ABC News reported: “One Pima Community College student, who had a poetry class with Loughner later in his college career, said he would often act ‘wildly inappropriate.’

“‘One day (Loughner) started making comments about terrorism and laughing about killing the baby,’ classmate Don Coorough told ABC News, referring to a discussion about abortions. ‘The rest of us were looking at him in shock … I thought this young man was troubled.’

“Another classmate, Lydian Ali, recalled the incident as well.

“‘A girl had written a poem about an abortion. It was very emotional and she was teary eyed and he said something about strapping a bomb to the fetus and making a baby bomber,’ Ali said.””

Read more here.

Alabama Policy Institute Dinner features Fred Barnes, Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Moore

Photo by Brandon Robbins

Photo by Brandon Robbins

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., November 11, 2010 – The conservative outcome of the midterm elections was a reigning topic of the Alabama Policy Institute’s Annual Dinner, which took place at the Cahaba Grand Conference center. Established in 1989, the API is “a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families,” and drew an audience of 1100 people to its annual dinner.

Alabama’s newly elected governor and lieutenant governor, Robert Bentley and Kay Ivey attended the event. Kellyanne Conway, Stephen Moore and Fred Barnes formed the panel of guest speakers, all of whom have spoken at previous API events.

“The panelists are all people whose opinions and insights are highly regarded,” Gary Palmer, API president and panel moderator told me via e-mail. “In addition, they are all individuals that I have known for many years and that have also known each other for many years. I think the familiarity helps account for the excellent chemistry of the panel.” …

Click here to continue reading at The Washington Times Communities.

My father took this picture of me with Fred Barnes

My father took this picture of me with Fred Barnes

Femininity in the Public Sphere

“Women are the last line of defense.”

- Fire From the Heartland film trailer

The following is a letter to Christian conservative women on the subject of the Bible and women in state government.

Dear Sisters in Christ,

As I write on this chilly October morning, the media is swarming with news concerning the midterm election candidates. Citizens must be pondering how they will directly affect our nation’s leadership. The crispness in the air conjures up memories of election season two years ago – and the chaos that ensued. I submit to you not a dissertation, but an open letter imploring women to search their hearts and the Scriptures during our nation’s era of humiliating decline.

Woman is arguably the most controversial figure ever created. Pages upon lectures upon books upon pop culture magazines are obsessed with the way the woman must behave and dress and look. An entire term was coined to commemorate this ancient controversy – Querelle des Femmes, “that woman problem.” In Plato’s Republic, we can read Greek philosophers puzzling over the place of women. They noticed that although women are naturally of a more delicate and nurturing build, women are equal to men in intelligence and possess some strength and skills that the male gender lacks. Should the ladies then be allowed to have a hand in public policy? They mused.

This year marked the 90th anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which guaranteed American women the right to vote nationwide. I wonder what First Lady Abigail Adams would have thought about it. I can imagine that she would have appreciated women being allowed to vote alongside their fathers, brothers, husbands and sons. Having an equal voice in the public sphere was something a smart woman like herself would love. She would also be angered at the subsequent exploitations of women that were made in the name of equality. But she wouldn’t be surprised.

Mrs. Adams once asked her husband to “remember the ladies” and their keen perception of and contribution to building the government. She also admonished him that women would one day rebel if they weren’t given a voice in the electorate. Like a practical, present-thinking man, John Adams laughed it off. Though we can only speculate, I’m particularly curious as to what would have happened if Adams had taken his wife’s advice…

Continue reading at Latitude 821 or Luke Historians.

Dr. Wiley would not approve: BP’s Corexit mythology

Harvey Wiley in his lab; heart shaped oil glob at Gulf Shores, AL (courtesy Rachel Read)

Harvey Wiley in his lab; heart shaped oil glob at Gulf Shores, AL (courtesy Rachel Read)

What part of “acute health hazard” does BP not understand? History shows why government approval doesn’t mean much.

This month Orange Beach, Ala., resident Margaret Long discovered residue of BP’s dispersant of choice – Corexit – floating by her house on Cotton Bayou. The uncomfortable proximity of toxic dispersant is not a surprise to those of us living in Gulf states.

Two months ago, I strolled along the Gulf Shores, Ala., beach to find a long, snaky boom floating across the surf and “BP mobiles” (as we dubbed them) scuttling about, scraping petroleum residue off the white sand. While examining the boom, I stepped on a sticky tar ball. Along with other beachgoers, I had to stand in line near the hose and bucket labeled “Tar Wash” to scrub the stubborn substance off my bare feet. One man present told me about a friend of his having asthmatic attacks during a beach visit. “From the petroleum in the air?” I asked. He seemed to both nod and shrug at once. The air did have a faint tarlike odor.

But, ironically, the petroleum substance causing allergic reactions probably didn’t spill out of the depths of the Gulf.

The petroleum-based dispersant employed by BP in cleaning up the worst environmental disaster on record actually may be an agent of disaster in itself.  Corexit is fast becoming an infamous name, with the toxicity of its makeup being more than suspicious. The same brand of dispersant was used during cleanup of the Exxon Valdez spill more than 20 years ago, and the average lifespan of every cleanup member exposed to it is 51 years. Nearly all of those crew members are now dead.

None of this matters to a panicking oil company, of course. Corexit is government approved.

But government approval isn’t genuinely worth much and hasn’t been for quite a while.  To figure that out, simply follow the story of Harvey Wiley (1844-1930), chief of the Bureau of Chemistry (a precursor to the FDA). He also happens to be the star of the screenplay mentioned in my silly little bio. During the Teddy Roosevelt administration, Wiley managed to bring the hazardous adulterations in the food and drug industries to the attention of Congress. After years of researching the effects of preservatives and additives used by many manufacturers, Wiley helped write the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act.

The law was barely enacted before a convoluted legal battle took place that manipulated the definitions of the act for the dissenting manufacturers’ benefit. The Pure Food and Drug Law was far too popular nationwide to overturn, so the companies that were sloppy in their practices managed to find scientists who produced data that made their crimes look less heinous. Their allies in Congress subsequently amended the law to suite their tastes. The result was power vested in a new board of unscrupulous scientists instead of the Bureau of Chemistry. All the substances that Wiley predicted would insidiously cause disease – from sodium benzoate to saccharin – were “government approved,” and the American public has been consuming them (plus more) for more than a century.

Thus, BP’s Corexit splurge is certainly not the first time that long-term health and safety has been sacrificed for short-term profit.

We could possibly cut the instigators at BP a little slack if no other cleanup option existed. But, in reality, there are plenty of effective, less toxic and natural methods available, such as that offered by OSEI. Corexit is actually known to be less effective than some of the other options. Furthermore, we have even more vivid historical and scientific evidence of its harmfulness than Wiley ever could have acquired about toxic preservatives through his Poison Squad: We have the chilling aftermath of the Exxon Valdez cleanup to observe!

But money speaks louder than evidence to ticklish ears.

Nalco, the synthetics company that makes Corexit, has Rodney F. Chase among its board of directors. Before coming to Nalco, Chase worked at BP for 38 years. That leaves much financial expediency to the imagination. Furthermore, BP obviously wants to dump into the sea whatever it takes to make the oil “disappear” quickly and easily, and, thus, help keep its fines low and reputation high. The dissenting manufacturers in Wiley’s day wanted to dump into their sub-par products whatever it took to make them look fresh and nutritious and, thus, keep their profits and reputation high. Both schemes have been scorned by the American public – we the people who end up suffering the consequences.

The primary purpose of our nation’s government is to protect its people. Wiley insisted that, for the safety of the American people, the Bureau of Chemistry ought to abide by the standard that no substances are to be released to the public until first proved harmless. The Food and Drug Administration standard of today seems to have eroded to allow anything on the market until it is proved harmful.  Based on the dispersants given the green light, the Environmental Protection Agency seems no different.  I have to add here that the FDA seems to have jumped onto the Corexit bandwagon, even arguing back in May:

“As part of FDA’s effort to monitor the development of this crisis and its potential impact on the safety of seafood harvested from the Gulf of Mexico, this is an assessment of the potential toxic human health impact of the chemical dispersants as per their potential to adversely impact seafood…Though early dispersants contained agents highly toxic to marine life, manufacturers have refined formulations of more recent generations of dispersants to dramatically reduce toxicity…In conclusion, the available information indicates that dispersants have little or no effect on the bioaccumulation potential of oil contaminants, nor do they themselves accumulate in seafood.”

That argument sounds eerily similar to arguments with which Wiley was faced.  I don’t mean to make you ill, but that’s coming from the same department that approves the food and medicine on your shelves.

While researching for and writing The Crusading Chemist (which I hope to revise again), one of the historical threads I discovered and worked to incorporate into the script is the tension between government and science. Government, in this sense, can refer to the political operations of a country or company, and, by nature, it desires some sort of stable, unchanging system to rule. Science, however, is a tentative medium. In politics, tentative equals manipulative.

At the beginning of this month, federal scientists were unabashedly announcing that most of the oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico was gone. In other words, “Look, our strategy is working! The dispersant is busting up the oil – who cares if it’s busting red blood cells too?”

But soon scientists in Georgia called attention to evidence that perhaps 80 percent of the spilled oil remains, merely drifting deep beneath the surface of the sea. That’s what Corexit does — mess with the oil’s molecular structure so that it sinks rather than floats. The oil spill is being swept under the rug, not cleaned up.

Reflect for a moment on the origin of this disaster. It wasn’t oil or offshore drilling alone that contributed to it.  These industries offer a great deal to our economy and should not be naively considered to only equal bizarre disaster.  Rather, notice that it was the preposterous notion of drilling in dangerously deep water that initiated the fiasco.

Meanwhile, 19 million acres of flat, empty, essentially barren land brimming with oil are sitting atop Alaska: ANWR. As Greta Van Susteren discovered while touring the enormous state with Todd and Sarah Palin, many misconceptions about ANWR exist because of misleading agendas. So, while BP is shooting itself (and the coast – and ocean life) in the foot way out at sea, there is untapped potential way out in no-man’s land that could be utilized in far safer ways.

The ruthless antics of British Petroleum are not signs of a capitalist problem or whatever-ideology-is-politically-expedient-to-attack problem. They are rooted in the human problem of careless ambition. As sources of order and information, both government and science are powerful tools. But, as human institutions, both are only a human ego away from imploding.

Powerful men can’t stand to be proved wrong.

Read more of Amanda’s column Not Your Average Read in the Communities at The Washington Times

Two Decades Down…

Amanda Read, 20th BirthdayYesterday I turned twenty.  Well, I can now say that the first decade of my life was spent spread across the globe, and the second decade of my life was spent in Alabama.  The next decade is yet to be told.

I had a great birthday.  My twelve-year old sister Abigail did my birthday photo shoot for me.  For each birthday I like to get one decent photograph taken to last me the rest of the year.  It’s sort of a funny tradition that will probably become irrelevant as my face ceases to change very much (haha).

My mom and sisters made chocolate cake and whoopie pies (a desert that should be featured on the Farm Girls blog soon).  We certainly had our fill of deserts, after a dinner of roast and rice, etc.  We played the games “You’ve Been Sentenced” and “Scattergories” late into the night.

By far my biggest surprise was my family’s gift to me – Sarah Palin’s book, Going Rogue.  As much as I’ve been interested in reading it, I didn’t expect it.  I’m not “big into” getting presents anyway (unless I can think of something I really need).  But a surprise is still exciting!

Sarah Palin's book, Going Rogue

~Amanda~