Archive for June, 2010

Unlike Solomon, Supreme Court divides the living baby

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

The First Amendment, the first of the ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution known collectively as the Bill of Rights, is short:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

On Monday, the Supreme Court cut the living – if nearly comatose – First Amendment in half.  In Christian Legal Society v. Martinez the court announced its decision that you can have freedom of assembly or free exercise of religion, but not both.  Briefly stated, the Supreme Court ruled that the Christian Legal Society at Hastings College of Law in San Francisco cannot bar from leadership any student – Muslim, atheist, Wiccan – on the campus.  If the Christian students at Hastings want to peaceably assemble, they must give up the free exercise of their religion.

The fascism of the left has grown suddenly more powerful. 

You can read the legal society’s summary of the case here.  Some useful commentaries can be found at Human Events, Beliefnet, and First Things/On the Square.

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Posted in Christianity, Culture | No Comments »

Off to college – is your kid prepared?

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

Most parents of recent high school grads who are now preparing for freshman year at some distant college or university are around 40-60 years old. That is, they are a generation or more removed from what their college experience was (or what they would have expected it to be had they gone).  And I suspect that a fair number of these parents don’t really understand how radically the experience has changed on residential campuses.

While I may have more to say in the future about the moral and intellectual quagmire of the post-modern academy, this post captures the spirit of contemporary college life:

The bacchanalia of the contemporary American college experience can be resisted, by young people who are strong enough and determined enough to oppose a personal code to the riot all around them. But lots of the young are not that tough. They’re weak and silly and susceptible—they’re young and uneducated, in other words—and they just want to do what everyone else is doing. In its way, that makes them just like the administrators of those colleges: weak and silly and susceptible.

What’s surprising – and terribly disappointing – about college in the 21st Century is the stifling sameness of schools that have become ashamed of who they were and where they came from:

The identity of American universities reaches deep into their psyches—where all of them want to be Berkeley and Madison, and all of them are ashamed of being elsewhere.

Valparaiso University has a new diversity program, of which the school is proud—oh, so proud—for it makes the Lutheran Valparaiso just like every other school. A friend recently took her high-school-aged daughter to a college presentation in which the representative from Georgetown never mentioned that the school is Catholic. The University of North Dakota is ashamed of its gender-segregated dorms. Everybody at the University of Texas in Austin will tell you, shamefacedly, that even though Austin is in Texas, it’s different. And everybody at the University of Texas in El Paso will tell you that they’re really just like the folks in Austin—different from other Texans. Their school is really like the universities in California or New York, you know. No difference. No difference at all.

Is your quasi-adult child equipped to survive intact in this chaotic world? I hope so, because if he or she is leaving this fall, it’s probably too late to begin preparations.

Posted in Academia, Culture | No Comments »

Obamanation: No limits

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Does anyone else appreciate the extreme irony of referring to the feudal lords that infest the Obama administration as “czars”?  It was, after all, Czar Nicholas II that Obama’s Marxist heroes overthrew and assassinated in 1917-1918. So, it would be much more appropriate to refer to Obama’s deputy dictators as “Commissars”. For example, consider this Q&A between Katie Couric and BP Extortion Escrow Czar/Commissar Ken Feinberg:

Couric: Will BP have any jurisdiction over which claims are actually paid out or will that company just hand over the money?
Feinberg: That company has no say on the claims that I declare to be legitimate and eligible. [emphasis added]

Evidence? Courts? Accountability? Of course not, not in the brave new world of Obamanation. If one of Obama’s minions “declares” that a claim is “legitimate”, “that company” will be forced to pay it. I can see former ACORN activists lining up with bogus claims right now.

The money in question, of course, is the promised $20 billion that Obama extorted from BP under threat of ordering his fellow travelers in Congress to pass possibly unconstitutional legislation to accomplish the same end. It’s worth remembering that our Bigot-in-Chief didn’t even want to talk to the BP CEO because “when you talk to a guy like a BP CEO, he’s going to say all the right things to me. I’m not interested in words. I’m interested in actions.” Count among the words that Obama is not interested in the ones found in the Constitution.

[It’s also worth remembering that Obama’s bigotry has always extended to white people in general, and his white grandmother  – “a typical white person” – in particular.]

Make no mistake – BP is absolutely responsible for all costs associated with the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The company may well face criminal charges related to gross negligence or willful misconduct. If their actions were criminal, BP people should spend some time in jail. It is in part for such things that the law – and the Constitution as the supreme law of the land – were intended. But mere law is not enough for this President.

There was a time when we Americans believed in the rule of law. Then we made the grave error of electing a Marxist ideologue who sees the law as either a weapon for his personal use in accomplishing his objectives or an obstacle to be circumvented.

Posted in Politics | No Comments »

The global-warming hoax on trial

Friday, June 11th, 2010

A review of the peer-edited literature reveals a systematic tendency of the climate establishment to engage in a variety of stylized rhetorical techniques that seem to oversell what is actually known about climate change while concealing fundamental uncertainties and open questions regarding many of the key processes involved in climate change. [emphasis added]

Jason Johnston is Robert G. Fuller, Jr. Professor of Law and Director, Program on Law, Environment and Economy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He holds JD and PhD degrees from the University of Michigan. From these and other facts, I conclude that (a) he is not a dummy, (b) he is trained in the examination and evaluation of both written testimony and physical evidence, and (c) he knows something about the relationship between the environment industry and the fields of law and economics (his PhD is in economics). He is the author of “Global Warming Advocacy Science: a Cross Examination” (which can be downloaded for free here).

The cross-examination conducted in this paper reveals many additional areas where the peer-edited literature seems to conflict with the picture painted by establishment climate science, ranging from the magnitude of 20th century surface temperature increases and their relation to past temperatures; the possibility that inherent variability in the earth’s non-linear climate system, and not increases in CO2, may explain observed late 20th century warming; the ability of climate models to actually explain past temperatures; and, finally, substantial doubt about the methodological validity of models used to make highly publicized predictions of global warming impacts such as species loss.[emphasis added]

Consensus Science

At the heart of the hoax is the phony assertion that there is a “consensus” among scientists that anthropogenic global warming is an undeniable “fact”:

In recent Congressional hearings, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts stated that not a single peer-reviewed scientific paper contradicts the “consensus” view that increasing greenhouse gas emissions will lead to a “catastrophic” two degree Celsius increase in global mean temperatures. Senator Kerry is hardly alone in this belief. Virtually all environmental law scholars seem to believe that there is now a “scientific consensus” that anthropogenic greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions have caused late twentieth century global warming and that if dramatic steps are not immediately taken to reduce those emissions, then the warming trend will continue, with catastrophic consequences for the world. [emphasis added]

If ever there was ever a red flag in any discussion of science, the word consensus is it. The late author Michael Crichton warned of this sort of anti-science in a speech at Cal Tech in 2003.

I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had. [emphasis added] [The text of this speech seems to have mysteriously disappeared from the “official” Crichton site. I’m just sayin’.]

With politicians like Kerry, it’s hard to know if he is just ignorant or willfully lying in order to promote Obama’s Marxist agenda, but Johnston cites dozens of peer-reviewed papers in the course of his cross-examination of the hoaxers.

It is virtually impossible to find anywhere in the legal or the policy literature on global warming anything like a sustained discussion of the actual state of the scientific literature on ghg emissions and climate change. Instead, legal and policy scholars simply defer to a very general statement of the climate establishment’s opinion (except when it seems too conservative), generally failing even to mention work questioning the establishment climate story, unless to dismiss it with the ad hominem argument that such work is the product of untrustworthy, industry-funded “skeptics” and “deniers.”

The danger to America is that, since

the most significant ghg emission reduction policies are intended to completely alter the basic fuel sources upon which industrial economies and societies are based, with the costs uncertain but potentially in the many trillions of dollars, one would suppose that before such policies are undertaken, it would be worthwhile to verify that the climate establishment’s view really does reflect an unbiased and objective assessment of the current state of climate science.

But the leaders to which we have entrusted our economic and political future are not interested. Al Gore, Congress, White House advisors, and the UN’s fraudulent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are focused on destroying America’s free-market economy. Real science can only get in their way, so they evangelize us with their brand of true religion – unquestioning faith in “consensus science” and an inquisition for the “untrustworthy, industry-funded ‘skeptics’ and ‘deniers’”.

Posted in Politics, science | No Comments »

ESPN: Entertainment and Soccer Programming Network

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

The Lords of ESPN have apparently decided they don’t need many viewers this month. After regular showings of games from some British soccer league, they have decided that World Cup soccer is just what American sports fans are pining for this summer. Or maybe they’re not so sure – they’ve been inundating their viewers with World Cup hype for several months now, complete with tie-ins to the movie Invictus. Disney/ABC/ESPN is a very politically correct empire, and, as far as sports are concerned, you can’t get much more PC than soccer – or Invictus, for that matter. I suppose there is something strangely admirable about putting cultural engineering ahead of mere dollars.

The heavy-handed effort to get someone in America to care about soccer in general and the World Cup in particular does seem to be paying off: According to the Onion, America’s soccer fan is getting worked up enough to annoy his family and co-workers. Who would have thought that there would come a day when ESPN’s prime time fare would consist of soccer and the National Spelling Bee? Oh, for the days of Australian rules football and international table tennis.

Posted in Culture, Sports | No Comments »