Showing posts from November, 2004

The Way of Truth

Cross-posted to GNXP . The person you agree with 100% of the time is yourself. And sometimes, even that isn't so! Running a weblog focused on diverse topics I stumble on to many areas where I disagree with person X and agree with person Y, and many areas where the converse happens. The person with whom I will disagree will sometimes attempt to call me back to Reason, or suggest that I Really Can't Believe That. It's like my mental faculties just escape me now & then! To paraphrase H. L. Mencken there are individuals who live in terror that someone, somewhere, out there can conceive of a rational opinion at variance with their own! I exaggerate for effect. We all succumb to this tendency now & then. As a species we seem intent on focusing on individual battles rather than tracking the progress of the war, perhaps this is what makes strategic thinkers "geniuses," they are not modal personalities. This shouldn't be too surprising when you rea

Naturalism v. Intelligent Design

(At the invitation of Aziz Poonawalla, I'm cross posting this from RedState to Dean Nation. Thanks for the invite!) In a previous thread , I posed a question whether creationism and evolutionism could be considered to be scientific ideas, given Karl Popper's stipulation that science must be able to accept that its core theories may be proven false at any time. In that thread, a core idea seemed to leap out. In comparing the two ideas, the theory of evolution depends upon the philosophy of naturalism , while creationist theories rely upon the concept of intelligent design . When speaking about the emergence of life, the core difference that is the root of the differences between the two ideas is the origin of specific features of living organisms that result in life. The theory of evolution states that these features are the result of random natural processes influenced by intelligent considerations. The theory of intelligent design disputes that random processes and

The compatibility of scientific literacy and faith

I'm fully aware that my last post was somewhat uncharacteristically strident. Do read the updates to that post for some responses to good critiques I received. However, it did provide a starting point for the next Dean Nation "theme" - the neccessary compatibility of scientific literacy with religious belief. Here's the two main principles at play: 1. religious teachings have no place in a science curriculum. In a school setting, religious beliefs belong in religion or cultural classes, not biology or geology. 2. religious beliefs shoudl not be excluded from the public sphere, but shoudl occupy their proper position within it. A strong distinction must be made between evidence-based approaches to inquiry (such as Science) and faith-based-approaches to inquiry (such as Religion). I'd also like to plug these old posts of mine that relates to the discussion: Proof denies faith The falsity of the Kalam Cosmoslogical Argument

How to talk with Bush voters

Just (barely) in time for Thanksgiving, probably the first family get-together since the election for most people.... how to respond to the Bush voters in your family UPDATE (Aziz): The single most important one is reprinted below the fold: Show respect to the conservatives you are responding to. No one will listen to you if you don’t accord them respect. Listen to them. You may disagree strongly with everything that is being said, but you should know what is being said. Be sincere. Avoid cheap shots. What if they don’t show you respect? Two wrongs don’t make a right. Turn the other cheek and show respect anyway. That takes character and dignity. Show character and dignity. Also note that of the lengthy list of guidelines in the link, they can all be distilled into four simple rules: 1. Show respect, 2. Respond by reframing, 3. Think and talk at the level of values, 4. Say what you believe.

No compromise on science

There are some issues that I simply don't see a route for reasonable compromise. One of these is in math and science education. There is a disturbing trend by the culture warriors to promote religious belief as scientific fact, within the public domain rather than in their churches where it belongs. See below the fold for an example, on how national park service officials are forced to give lip-service to Creationist accounts of the Grand Canyon's origin, and prevented from discussing the scientific natural history. Being Purple does not mean that the "median" position of every ssue must be embraced. Sometimes the Blue position, and sometimnes the Red position, is truly the Purple one. When it comes to scientific fact, there is no place for the discussion of religious belief. Likewise in the schools. The proper place to inculcate religious teaching is at home and in the church. It is true that science is not about fact, it is about thery. The scientific method

Theater of Abortion

Since Aziz posted about abortion, I figured I would give it a try. Unlike many people who assert that they personally oppose abortion but back the right to choose, I personally support first trimester abortion without qualification but am ambivalent about the courts imposing its universal national legality via the right to privacy. Though in the generality I support Roe vs. Wade I worry about the corroding impact it has had on the legitimacy of the courts and the respect for law by the citizenry of the republic. But I come here not to rehash my own qualms, but to address something a bit different: the reliance on reflective thinking on the issue of abortion and its limitations. When individuals speak of abortion in a political context, they have their talking points. For example, if you are "pro-choice" (support abortion-rights) you believe that a woman has a right to privacy, a right to her own body, etc. (if you are an anarcho-capitalist you would reframe it as a woman hav

Clintonian shade of Purple

Thoughtful excerpts from Bill Clinton's speech at the dedication of his Presidential Library: I believe the job of a president is to understand and explain the time in which he serves, to set forth a vision of where we need to go and a strategy of how to get there, and then to pursue it with all its mind and heart, bending only in the face of error or new circumstances and the crisis which are unforeseen; a problem that affects all of us. When I became president, the world was a new and very different place, as I said. And I thought about how we ought to confront it. America has two great dominant strands of political thought -- we're represented up here on this stage -- conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barrier that are no longer needed or should never have been erected in the first place. It seemed to me that in 1992 we needed to do both to prepare America for

Evolution Discussion

A conservative friend of mine and I have been discussing how evolution, intelligent design, and the like fit into a hypothetical school's biology curriculum. His initial post is here , my response here , and his response here . The thing that leaps out in all this is that we are having a discussion rather than calling each other names like anti-religious leftwinger and rightwing theocrat. If people can discuss this stuff, what can't they discuss if only they focus on solutions rather than winning a zero-sum game?

NOT a purple Dean Nation

Two of Aziz's posts this week generated a bit of a dust-up in the comments ( Divider not a uniter , and Defuse the demonization cycle ). It seems to me that this shows a bit of a "red-blue split" here in Dean Nation, and one that can be explained by by George Lakoff's concept of framing . Further, this might help us all understand the red-blue split in the country a bit better. The dust-up stemmed from Dean's use of the name "Slobodan Milosovic" in connection with his description of techniques which Bush used in winning the election. For some people, "Slobodan Milosovic" evokes a strong, dominating frame of a demon, Bush is obviously not a demon, so the facts of what the rest of what Dean said did not fit that frame. For others, the frame was not evoked, and we just saw a very loose analogy between types of techniques used. (Actually, Dean inadvertantly created a NEW frame, and if repeated and repeated then the words "Slobodan Milosov

Rights of Life

I support Roe vs. Wade. The states-rights solution is simply not acceptable to me for the same reason that states' rights would not be acceptable for civil rights. As a classical liberal, I firmly believe that the right of an individual over their person is supreme, and inviolate from interference from (1) government, (2) social entities, or (3) other individuals. As a humanist, I believe that the dignity of life is its single most important metric. These two principles, taken together, are why I consider myself a "modern" liberal. However, with rights come responsibilities... The problem with most pro-life positions is the complete denial of the classical principle of indivdual liberty. Liberal not in the "leftist/progressive" sense, but rather the concept of liberty itself. Fundamentally, "pro-life" is an autocratic, not a liberal, stance. Using the power of the state to prevent abortion is just as illiberal as using the power of the state

defuse the demonization cycle

I took some heat in comments for arguing that Dean's rhetoric about Bush and Milosovic hurts rather than helps the Purple cause. David Neiwert, whom I admire tremendously for his yeoman's work in chronicling the illiberal extremism on the right, has a solid post that relates to the issue. He writes: Unfortunately, the response of many blue-staters has not exactly been helpful. Somewhat unsurprisingly, they have in some cases returned the contempt with contempt. These have ranged from suggestions of blue-state secession and flights to Canada to rebuking the South in no uncertain terms. Some of this reaction is silly, and most of it is understandable catharsis, but liberals have to understand that it only fuels the dynamic at work here . One of the keys to this dynamic is that both sides have been portraying the conflict in terms of broad stereotypes of urban, suburban and rural dwellers. When the red-state ideologues view the political landscape, they see pockets of go

Divider, not a uniter

Howard is already taking heat for this one: "The truth is the president of the United States used the same device that Slobodan Milosevic used in Serbia. When you appeal to homophobia, when you appeal to sexism, when you appeal to racism, that is extraordinarily damaging to the country," Dean charged. "I know George Bush. I served with him for six years [as a fellow governor]. He's not a homophobe. He's not a racist. He's not a sexist. In some ways, what he did was worse … because he knew better." A fair charge? As usual with Dean, he makes a valid point but drapes it with an inflammatory metaphor that completely obscures it - and in the process, undermines his own goal. Dean's point is that the GOP strategy solidly rests on a foundation of drawing a dividing line across America - where "Us" are righteous and "Them" are craven, and that teh very concept of a principled vote for Them is a contradiction. There are p

Letting history do your work

Update : I have cross-posted over at my blog. Feel free to join any discussion threads that might pop up over there. Last week I linked to a page which indicated that my political preferences were "Right Libertarian." In four words I could be described as "socially liberal fiscally conservative," but that's a simplification, because my emphasis on process and localism means that I am a republican federalist before I am an ideologue. As a background for this post I would like to offer that I have lived for the past four years in a very "blue" small town in southern Oregon, but I went to a high school in a very "red" small town in eastern Oregon. On an individual level I have known people who were convinced that Democrats worshipped Satan and Republicans were Nazis. In a Republican milieu I often feel somewhat like a Democrat, and in a Democratic milieu I feel like a Republican... During the last election cycle I voted for John Kerry,

faith, not culture. values, not marketing.

The link to Brad Carson's lucid editorial in TNR has been widely praised, with good reason. If you don't have a TNR account, read it here . However, New Donkey has a very cogent analysis that is in one sense even more important: If I sometimes seem obsessed with the cultural dimensions of contemporary politics, it's because I am in a continuing rage over two dumb ideas that far too many Democrats are determined to embrace, losing election after losing election:(1) economic issues, if you scream about them loudly and abrasively and "populistically" enough, will trump cultural issues, which are essentially phony, and (2) there's no way to deal with voters' cultural anxieties without abandoning Democratic principles, since cultural issues are all about banning abortion and gay marriage and so forth. Agreed. As a devout man myself, who just ended 30 days of pious observance (Eid Mubarak to everyone), the very word "cultural" is itself a k

Fight brewing over Dean for DNC Chair

what a surprise... Democratic moderates are gearing up to mount a campaign to block a former presidential candidate, Howard Dean, from succeeding Terence McAuliffe as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, arguing that his election to the top post would prevent the party from moving to the political center. Look, I've been arguing for a Purple State approach myself, but the "political center" that the supposed "Democratic moderates" are speaking about is not a true synthesis of ideas from left and right, but rather Republican-lite. Look at the evidence: Speaking on CNN, an outgoing Democratic senator from Louisiana, John Breaux, warned that Dr. Dean is the wrong man for the job. "We're going to have to move to the center," Mr. Breaux said. "There's nothing wrong with that," he added. "We can keep the base in by having good, solid Democratic ideas. But you'd better know how to expand them. Otherwise you

Administrative notes

Some new rules in town, especially with regard to comments. Read on.. We now have two different types of comment systems: * The Daily Open Threads are a free for all, anyone may post there, even anonymous users. No moderation will be performed whatsoever, it's a pure Darwinian environment. * The Discussion threads attached to each post require registration with Blogger. No partisan insults, personal attacks, or other kinds of disrespect. No stereotypes of red staters or denigrations of President Bush. Basically, these comment threads are for an elevated tone and a serious debate. I will be deleting comments without warning to enforce this. Note that registration with Blogger has the side benefits of automatically giving you your own blog! Any Dean Nation regular who registers to post comments and then starts blogging will be listed on request in a dedicated blogroll on the Dean Nation front page. I can't think of any other blog that has a dual-comment system

The Electoral Dragon

Along the lines of the 2004 electoral maps earlier, here is a county-level map, with the counties adjusted for population size. Counties that were more than 70% red or blue are colored solid, as per Kevin Drum's suggestion. As some have observed , the result looks like a dragon! Click below to see it... Adjusting for population is I think essential to understanding the electoral layout, because after all our democracy is "one person, one vote" and not "one acre, one vote" as some partisans clearly pine for a return to . Others have pointed out reasonably that since the number of electoral votes is actually the number of representatives plus the number of Senators, smaller states are technically under-represented in this map - states such as Wyoming get double the EC they would based strictly on population. But since that is a constant offset, applied to all states, it can be subtracted out - even from the larger states like California. All states are t

abortion morality vs professional ethics

There have been reports of pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for birth-control pills . These illustrate the fundamental contradictions in the conservative case against abortion, which I think ultimately harm the pro-life cause. Make no mistake on my own position here - I agree that a pharmacist shoudl be able to refuse to dispense a medication on moral grounds. However, professional ethics require that they acknowledge the patient's medical needs - as prescribed by a doctor. For a year, Julee Lacey stopped in a CVS pharmacy near her home in a Fort Worth suburb to get refills of her birth-control pills. Then one day last March, the pharmacist refused to fill Lacey's prescription because she did not believe in birth control. [...] Lacey, of North Richland Hills, Texas, filed a complaint with the Texas Board of Pharmacy after her prescription was refused in March. In February, another Texas pharmacist at an Eckerd drug store in Denton wouldn't give cont

Turn the DNC Purple

I have a feeling that Dean is going to make a bid for DNC Chair: UPDATE: The inevitable Draft Howard petition website has sprung up. Former presidential candidate Howard Dean is considering a bid to become chairman of the national Democratic Party.   "He told me he was thinking about it," Steve Grossman, himself a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said Monday. Grossman was a Dean backer during the former Vermont governor's failed presidential bid."I strongly urged (Dean) to seek the position," he said. "Howard is a voice of political empowerment and that to me is important, for the Democrats to get their sea legs back as quickly as possible, to get beyond the disappointment of the last week and to believe there is a bright future ahead for the Democratic Party." Dean has been outspoken since the beginning of his presidential bid in saying that the Democratic Party must establish a separate and unique identity from Repub

Redistricting and Democracy

Over at Cliopatra, K.C. Johnson looks at gerrymandering as a crisis in American democracy : "Excluding the Texas gerrymander, last Tuesday three incumbent congressmen (two Republicans, one Democrat) were defeated; three more open seats changed parties (two previously held by a Republican, one by a Democrat). In only 12 other contests (CA 20, CO 4, CT 2, CT 4, IN 2, IN 8, MN 6, MO 3, NY 29, OR 5, SD AL, PA 6) did the winner prevail by less than 10 percentage points. (Two seats in Louisiana remain to be decided.) This outcome occurred at a time when a majority of voters believed that the country was on the wrong track and the country is mired in a war that (regardless of one’s opinions on its merits) clearly has not gone as the administration promised."   When our Constitution was designed, the founders saw the House a representing the changing whims of the masses, while the Senate with its lesser turnover would be where the issues of the day were deliberating by those of wi

Dean's daughter in SUV rollover accident

Thankfully, no one seems to have been hurt. Thoughts and prayers go out to the family. With Elizabeth Edwards' breast cancer and now this, one could be forgiven for wondering if the Curse of the Bambino found a new home.   The daughter of former Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean and four other young women were sent to a hospital after their sport utility vehicle rolled over on Interstate 91, state police said. Anne Dean, 20, was treated and released from Yale-New Haven Hospital, said a hospital spokeswoman, who would not describe any injuries. State police said Mona El Sayed, 17, of Tinton Falls, N.J., was the driver of the Ford SUV, which is owned by Howard Dean.

Two faces

Change is in the air...and here I am. This morning I talked with Aziz a bit about politics and he invited me to post here to offer a different perspective. My plan is to post once a week on a politically related topic. If you don't know who I am, and most of you likely don't, I am Razib Khan, and I run the weblog Gene Expression . I have filled out a political quiz, and you can view the results here . I am by self-description a small-l "libertarian," though I am a small-r "republican" first and foremost. Though Aziz and I disagree on many political issues, talking to him a few times in the past week (I am visiting Houston for business) has exposed the reality that though we are very different individuals we share deep ontological commitments.   As an illustration of my priorities, I will offer that I would rather live in a socialist or social conservative democratic republic than in a libertarian regime headed by a "benevolent" monarch. Pro


I've been reflecting on what direction this blog needs to go to remain an independent and useful voice in bringing true dialog back to American politics. I started this blog solo, but recruited an amazing number of people like Heath and Dana and Anna and everyone else who posted here with such passion and excitement for two years. But I think it's time to rethink what this blog stands for and what its purpose is. It can't be about Howard Dean, the man, anymore. Nor can it be about Barack Obama the same way. It needs to be about something larger than a single politician, or even a single ideology. Reading Dean's quote at left about reaching out, and Obama's quote about One America, it inspires me - to think outside the boxes that Dean and Obama themselves still inhabit to a large degree.   I have been talking about "purple states" recently. If you look at where most of the liberal left-leaning blogs are going, they are debating how to turn states bl

Bush vs Clinton, 2008

The Bull Moose argues it's time to repeal the 22nd. I heartily agree! We can sell the concept across the aisle. After all, by 2008 Bush will have been hagio-ified into Reagan II. They'd be drooling at the opportunity to run him again. It would be indeed the most epic election of all time!

Kerrry's campaign: behind the scenes

This is a press release on Yahoo about Newsweek's upcoming issue, which takes a peek behind the scenes of Kerrys campaign. The following anecdotes struck me as possibly decisive in Kerry's failure to really make any inroads in the South: Clinton Advice Spurned. Looking for a way to pick up swing voters in the Red States, former President Bill Clinton, in a phone call with Kerry, urged the Senator to back local bans on gay marriage. Kerry respectfully listened, then told his aides, "I'm not going to ever do that." [...] Shades of Dukakis. In early August, when the Swift Boat story started to pick up steam on the talk shows, Susan Estrich, a California law professor, well-known liberal talking head and onetime campaign manager for Michael Dukakis, had called the Kerry campaign for marching orders. She had been booked on Fox's "Hannity & Colmes" to talk about the Swift Boat ads. What are the talking points? Estrich asked the Kerry campaign. The