Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither, and lose both.
-- Benjamin Franklin

Incompetent Design

I like this interview with Don Wise.

Don Wise advocates a theory of “Incompetent Design” which argues basically that if a higher intelligence is responsible for the design of the universe, and the human species, why did he/she/it screw it up so badly?

Their theme song, sung to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic::

My bones proclaim a story of incompetent design.
My back still hurts, my sinus clogs, my teeth just won’t align.
If I had drawn the blueprint, I would cer-tain-ly resign.
Incompetent Design!
Evo-Evo-Evo-lution! Design is but a mere illusion.
Darwin sparked our revolution. Science SHALL prevail!

It’s worth a read, and a chuckle.


bush priorities

What’s Bush’s opino on Roe v. Wade? He doesn’t care if people get out of New Orleans, let alone how they do it.

Homeland Security

homeland security office

Bill Mitchell’s cartoons can be found on the CNN website. Usually animated in some way, they are worth a look.

From CNN:

“My guys are coming back and telling me, ‘Sir, I went into a house, and there are three elderly people in their beds, and they’re gasping, and they’re dying,’ ” Coast Guard Capt. Bruce Jones said.

“And we got calls today, ‘We need you … to go to a place in St. Bernard Parish. It’s a hospice, … and there are 10 dead and there are 10 dying.’ But those people were probably alive yesterday or the day before.”

Though pilots, rescue crew members and maintenance workers are red-eyed and exhausted, they’re refusing to rest, CNN’s Karl Penhaul reported.

Meanwhile, also from CNN, the Secretary of Homeland
Security tries the patently false claim that
no one could have foreseen this

Chertoff, fielding questions from reporters, said government officials did not expect both a powerful hurricane and a breach of levees that would flood the city of New Orleans. (See the video on a local paper’s prophetic warning — 3:30 )

“That ‘perfect storm’ of a combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners, and maybe anybody’s foresight,” Chertoff said.

But, of course, this is patently false:

But engineers say the levees preventing this below-sea-level city from being turned into a swamp were built to withstand only Category 3 hurricanes. And officials have warned for years that a Category 4 could cause the levees to fail.

Now, what actually is going on? Who is the current director of FEMA? Well, he’s MIchael Brown, a political appointee whose prior claim to fame was being fired as the director of the Arabian Horse Association. That’s it. Somehow, mishandling a horse owner’s association is qualification, in this administration’s mind, for running the federal office responsible for handling national disasters.

Of course, the administration has had an agenda of dismantling FEMA also, they have repeatedly cut back funding for strengthening the levees around New Orleans, as engineers and the Army Corp of Engineers have requested.

As the first quote above shows, the average joe is doing heroic work, to whatever they can manage, to handle this disaster. The same is true for our servicemen and women in Iraq. Today I spoke to a pilot on leave from Iraq. He had spent several months there, and was trying to brew a few beers, before returning to ferry A10′s to the gulf.

Our soldiers, coast guarders, fireman, policeman, and pretty much every citizen, continue to show what america is truly about, giving more than their best for their fellow americans. They deserve to have leadership, and a government, equally committed to the values we espouse.

Instead, we are stuck with a corrupt, juvenile, and simplistic administration which ignores real warnings for false, and spends vast sums of money and lives on an illegal and unnecessary war, pulling our national guard away from their true duty, and ignoring the requirements of our true national sequrity.

Is President Bush responsible for this natural catastrophe? Of course not. Though I believe if he could, he would somehow misdirect the courses of hurricanes. Fortunately, he does not have that power. He is, however, responsible for the failure of our national guard to respond until five days after a hurricane for which we had two days warning, and for the lack of preparation which might have ameliorated this disaster.

His insane policies have cost not only the lives of close to 1900 american personnel in Iraq, they are also responsible for thousands of lives yet to be counted in New Orleans and throughout the south. The blood of all these people is on his hands, as well as on the hands of all those who voted for him, returning him to office.

Ohio, Kentucky, what’s the difference?


The governor of Ohio has pleaded no-contest to charges he accepted illegal contributions, but vows to stay on. Of course, we’ve not really yet investigated the shady dealings where state funds were invested in a risky rare-coin fund, run by his buddy.

Not to be outdone, I guess, Ernie Fletcher, the republican governor of Kentucky, has issued blanket pardons to nine of his cronies who are (I guess were, now) being investigated by a grand jury for violating personnel hiring laws.

God, I’m so glad the republicans are restoring integrity to government (sarcasm, for those slow of wit).

What is the possibility of having two republican governors impeached simultaneously in two adjoining states? It would be justified, but will probably never happen, due to the principle of IOKIYAR.

Not to ignore our president for too long, here are some stats:

1871 Number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
66 Number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since Bush went on vacation earlier this month.
35 Approximate price of a barrel of oil (in U.S. dollars) in 2000 when Bush said, “What I think the president ought to do is he ought to get on the phone with the OPEC cartel and say we expect you to open your spigots. … if in fact there is collusion amongst big oil, he ought to intercede there as well. I used to be in the oil business. … And so I understand what can happen in the marketplace.”
63.59 Price of a barrel of oil (in U.S. dollars) last Thursday.
$1.52 Average price for a gallon of gasoline in September 2000.
$2.55 Average price for a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. last week.
49 Bush’s overall approval rating on August 2 (Rasmussen)
43 Bush’s overall approval rating on August 18 (Rasmussen)
338 Number of days Bush has spent on vacation during his presidency, a new record. The previous record was held by Ronald Reagan, who spent 335 days on vacation during his eight-year presidency. Bush has topped that in just four-and-a-half years.

From ABC News:
WASHINGTON Aug 2, 2005President Bush said Monday he believes schools should discuss “intelligent design” alongside evolution when teaching students about the creation of life.

During a round-table interview with reporters from five Texas newspapers, Bush declined to go into detail on his personal views of the origin of life. But he said students should learn about both theories, Knight Ridder Newspapers reported.

“I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought,” Bush said. “You’re asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes.”

The theory of intelligent design says life on earth is too complex to have developed through evolution, implying that a higher power must have had a hand in creation.

OK, this proves that Bush is a nut-job.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines “science” as: The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.

Science is the attempt to observe, and formulate through those observations, a rational explanation for the observations. It is by nature contrary to the primitive attempts to explain things by recourse to magic. Science rejects magical intervention, looking for reasonable explanations for what is observed.

“Intelligent Design” is an attempt to roll magic back into scientific study. It is not only religion, of the same order as tribal shamans trying to explain the the changing of the seasons, it is the epitome of hubris, in that it assumes that because some things may not be explainable now, that they will never be explainable. Are we really ready to claim we have learned all we can learn about the universe?

So called “Intelligent Design” is also not science, in that it can never be tested – no experiment can be run, no observations can be made, which will prove it to be true. It is a mask for religious teaching, pure and simple.

I have a bargain for those who champion this – Don’t teach your religion in the public schools where I send my children, and I promise I won’t think in your churches.

Top Ten George W. Bush Solutions For Global Warming

This was posted today on “The Daily KOS“, a fun blog. I like it:

Top Ten George W. Bush Solutions For Global Warming…

10. NASA mission to turn down the sun’s thermostat

9. Federal subsidies to boost production of Cool Ranch Doritos

8. Fast track Rumsfeld’s “Colonize Neptune” proposal

7. Convene Blue-Ribbon Committee to explore innovative ways of ignoring the problem

6. Let Hillary worry about it when she takes over

5. I dunno—tax cuts for the rich?

4. Give the boys at Halliburton 90-billion dollar contract to patch hole in ozone

3. Switch to Celsius so scorching 98 becomes frosty 37

2. Keep plenty of Bud on ice

1. Invade Antarctica

From the NY Times:
“WASHINGTON, July 27 – Senior military lawyers lodged vigorous and detailed dissents in early 2003 as an administration legal task force concluded that President Bush had authority as commander in chief to order harsh interrogations of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, newly disclosed documents show.

Despite the military lawyers’ warnings, the task force concluded that military interrogators and their commanders would be immune from prosecution for torture under federal and international law because of the special character of the fight against terrorism.

In memorandums written by several senior uniformed lawyers in each of the military services as the legal review was under way, they had urged a sharply different view and also warned that the position eventually adopted by the task force could endanger American service members. …”

The administration has repeatedly argued that any abuses reported at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, if they existed at all, were just bad soldiers acting on their own. Now we know that military leaders argued against these techniques and were ordered into them by the administration. Read the whole article.

The “I was just following orders” defense is certainly not sufficient, but shouldn’t those who gave the orders be held responsible? Not to be one-sided, I think Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney deserve fair trials. I might suggest they follow the same rules of procedure as the hearings for detainees in Guantánamo.

How to get to the bottom of the Plame affair.

The whitehouse has repeatedly stated that it wants to do whatever necessary to get to the truth about the leaking of Valerie Plame’s covert status. Given the arguments they advance in the preceeding post, are they willing to use torture to force Judith Miller to reveal her sources? If someone is obstructing the investigation into the exposure of our international information sources, isn’t that supporting the terrorists? See a tongue-in-cheek newsreport suggesting this.

Oh. Wait. Nevermind. She’s protecting someone inside the whitehouse who leaked this information. That makes it different, I guess. It does raise a question, though: if the whitehouse is cooperating fully, why is she still in jail?